A true shakedown
This past summer’s short expedition to Maine was intended mostly as a shakedown cruise, a chance to put some serious miles on the boat and gauge the effects of the past year’s worth of repairs and upgrades. I should, of course, had taken more notice of the other dictionary definition of “shakedown”—a form of extortion. You’d have thought that after so much diligent work and expenditure I’d have been rewarded with some stress-free cruising. But no, I returned with a punch list considerably longer than the one I’d left with.
Some of this I’d expected, some not. The new sheet winches, for instance, are exceedingly effective, but their bases are two inches shorter than the ones they replaced, which I soon discovered was enough to change the lead from the sheets and greatly increase the risk of an override. The deck layout is such that this can only be cured by removing them and adding a pair of risers, a project I had not counted on. The new windlass worked perfectly, except that in the pre-departure rush I had put off swapping out the breaker from its smaller predecessor. The result was that every time we raised anchor it popped at the most inconvenient moment, a real issue in some of those tight Maine coves. Fortunately the winds were mostly light.
I had thought I had fixed a deck leak above my cabin, until the heavens opened one day. I put my head down that night with a grateful sigh only to find my pillow was sopping wet. Then a few days after that, while we were enjoying a rousing breeze across Casco Bay after a long motorsail, I stuck my head down the hatch to see water slopping over the sole. I hauled the treacherous bilge pump out of its murky trench to find its strum box plugged with a disgusting mixture of whatever it is that finds its way into bilges. Its little motor had expired after struggling in vain for so long. Fortunately the manual bilge pump
is both powerful and easily accessed, for I gave it a serious workout that afternoon. The source of the leak remained a mystery until I happened to check the shaft and coupling while we were under power. The dripless shaft seal had looked fine with the shaft locked, but was anything but dripless when the shaft was turning, as something had lodged itself between the bearing faces. Another one for the list, along with adding a bilgewater alarm.
I had replaced everything electronic except for the ancient Autohelm autopilot, which until then had behaved with such impeccable good manners that I had hoped I might get away with keeping it. Nope. Departing Boothbay Harbor, it developed a sudden and almost fatal attraction to a navigation mark, turning toward it so suddenly I was nearly thrown off my feet. Had we been any closer we’d be sporting green paint on the bow. Luckily the crew hit the “standby” button at first stab. From that moment on, its scrambled electronic brain thought we were going in the opposite direction to our actual heading. Since I refuse to live without an AP, that’s a serious shakedown—so much for the new mainsail.
There was more, of course, but only the usual things—drawer catches needing to be replaced, lines re-led and whipped, etc. I suppose I could have been shaken down for much more than that. s