Finally, heading Down East It’s the waning hours of the July 4th weekend and I am busy with the many last minute details of getting Pandora ready to head to Maine as part of the Salty Dawg Down East Rally.

generic cytotec online I plan to be in Newport this coming Saturday to join up with the fleet as of this coming weekend with about 2/3rds of the 30+ boats heading there from Hampton VA and Annapolis.  However, with the remnants of hurricane Elsa heading our way, they may be delayed a day so we will see how that develops.

Getting the fleet ready to go, in my role of rally director, has been very time consuming in spite of the fact that there are many other volunteers supporting the effort.  And, as this rally gets underway, our biggest rally, the Rally to the Caribbean, with perhaps as many as 100 boats, is really heating up, with requests for information and details to manage, almost every day.

Getting Pandora ready this year has proven to be quite an ordeal with many more details than I had anticipated cropping up.  It’s always amazing to see how much “breaks” when Pandora is laid up for the winter instead of being commissioned full time as she has for much of her life.  Somehow, when I shut her down for a few months, systems just stop working.

Aside from the problems with the rudder bearing (a big one), which is now fixed, other systems have developed problems, in particular the bow thruster, which worked fine last fall and now won’t run.  Getting parts for this unit is very difficult as Lewmar, the company that marketed the unit, is no longer supporting it.  New England Bow Thruster, the company that originally did the install, still has some parts but getting them to show up and do the work is a nightmare.  The owner Bill, is generally supportive but like everyone in the boat market these days, he is so busy that getting his attention is tough.  I am hopeful that we can get things solved this week before I leave.

Back to the rudder bearing for a moment.   The yard that did the work, Pilot’s Point, is a huge place with many skilled workers.  The service manager, Kip, did a very good job of keeping things moving, diagnosed the problem, ordered parts and got things back together in record time.  It took nearly two weeks to get everything under control but the job is done and she’s ready to go.  And having steering gear that works is important.

The bearing looks very simple in place but let me tell you, it was EXPENSIVE and came all the way from Denmark.  I won’t say how much but to say that it is “worth it’s weight in gold” would not be an exaggeration.   However, whatever it cost to avoid being offshore and loose steering is “priceless”.

It’s a complex assembly with a lot of tiny roller bearings in an assembly that is also gimbled so that it is self-aligning.   I guess that’s why it cost more than a few boat dollars, a lot more. Additionally, the bearing sleeve, epoxied to the carbon shaft, was also replaced as it was a bit scored.   Shiny and expensive?  Yes, it is and was…The lower bearing on the shaft and the rudder all cleaned up. Contrast that to the upper bearing sleeve that is in fine shape but not nearly as shiny. And, speaking of shiny, I had the whole hull to take out any small scratches.  They filled the bad ones, repainted and you absolutely can not see where the repairs were done.  I also replaced, myself, some of the letters on the logo that had become scratched and ripped.  It was actually easier than I expected to put them on JUST RIGHT.

I was pretty proud of myself when I put the letters on right the first time.  Some of the guys working nearby were suitably impressed and thought that I had done it many times.  Nope, first time… Shiny right?

It’s amazing how much still needs to be done with my new mainsail arriving on Tuesday, driven up from Annapolis by the good Salty Dawg friend, Dave Flynn of Quantum sails.  He’s very supportive of the group and especially me, it seems, driving up himself to put the sail on and be sure that it fits perfectly.

I do wish all the vendors that I work with were as attentive as Dave and Kip because it’s very stressful to have details hanging with no sense of when they will be resolved.  If you’ve followed this blog for a while you will recall that I replaced the headliner two years ago and that process was terribly frustrating with deadline after deadline missed.  Well, there are still some details on the headliner that need attention and getting them finished has been like pulling teeth.

Way back in November I gave the canvas shop a number of items that needed adjustment, cockpit enclosure panels, a dirty cushion that needed recovering and a several other pieces.  Here we are more than six months later and getting the final items back and finished has been terribly painful.  They even “lost” one of my salon cushions when someone took off the old fabric and stuck the foam under a bench.  “Oh, we were wondering who that cushion belonged to.”  Not at all helpful, thank you very much.

I am told that Tuesday he will come to finish things off, finally.  I wish that I felt more confident that it was going to work out.  I do understand that everyone is so busy these days but when a plan is made, it should be kept.  I guess we will have to see if he shows up as promised.

I am excited about being back on the water again and am looking forward to my run to Maine.  My friend Craig will be with me for the run and the short cruise with the fleet in Maine.  After that I am hopeful that Brenda and perhaps our son Christopher with his partner Melody will join us for a week of cruising before I head back to home waters.

Once I am back there will still be plenty to do to get Pandora ready for the run south and the summer is fast ticking away.

Let’s hope that the weather is nice and sailing down wind.   Soon I will finally be heading Down East.  That’s good!





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