THE DAY WE BEACHED \”BEACH HOUSE\” (intentionally!)…..

Dear F&F,
Bahia del Sol, El Salvador
March 2, 2009

This style of \”haul out\” is known as \”careening\”. It is very similar to the techniques used during all world traveling vessels in the \”Golden Age of Sail\”.
It is still widely used around the world today in those far flung corners of the earth where mechanical assistance isn\’t available. It\’s just that we\’ve never done it…..

3:00 am – Scott restless not really sleeping, consequently I am not sleeping much either.
4:00 am – Scott gets up & starts preparing the boat per his checklist
4:20 am – Alarm goes off, get up. Put on bug spray per Scott\’s reminder that mosquitos & no-see-ums are most active in the evening & morning. Shut off power breakers at electrical panel. Scott brings power cord onboard.
4:40 am – Wake up call to Alex on VHF radio. No wind, so Scott moves fenders from port side of boat (against dock) to starboard for panga towing.
4:55 am – Alex arrives in his dinghy, parks it out of the way at inshore dinghy dock.

5:00 am – Alex takes our instant coffee black. Tightens lower oil screw of new transmission.
5:15 am – Alex & Scott go out in our dinghy to pre-set 2 anchors on port side of beaching site. (Carlos said don\’t do it the night before or that they might be stolen during the night by the locals!)
5:45 am – Alex & Scott return. Waiting for Carlos & dos amigos to show up in pangas.
5:50 am – Scott having a cow that Carlos is late.
5:55 am – Carlos, son Carlitos & Hiero show up in 2 pangas.
6:00 am – Lash Carlos\’ panga to starboard rear of our boat.
6:10 am – Alex shoves off our boat from the dock & Carlos turns \”Beach House\” around.
6:30 am – I am using our wheel to control the rudders & help steer \”Beach House\” along with Carlos. We follow Alex out to the site per the GPS track that we made yesterday in the dinghy.

7:00 am – Tense time while we are trying to hold \”Beach House\” in line with our pre-set bamboo poles & secure the port anchor lines to \”Beach House\”. The tide is still rising for about 15 minutes so we are being pushed from left to right. Alex uses our dinghy to push us closer to the anchor lines.
7:15 am – Port bow & stern anchor lines secured. High tide is slack & will start to reverse soon. Set starboard bow & stern anchors & tie lines to \”Beach House\”. Carlos uses panga to adjust our position front to back. We must have our rudders down the slope of mud because they stick down the lowest, about 4 � feet.

8:00 am – We have been adjusting position & waiting for \”Beach House\” to start to touch down. Owner of the trimaran that careened out here a few days ago comes out in his dinghy. Blaze emphasizes that we do not want the weight of the boat on our rudders as this can cause damage. We know this & agree. We shift \”Beach House\” back a bit to make sure we are hanging well enough off the end of the slope.
8:15 am- Alex gamely jumps in with a mask to check the progress of how close we are to touching down & see what part of \”Beach House\” will touch first. The next 20 minutes is our last chance to adjust our position. Once we start to bear weight on the bottom we will not be able to shift her as the water continues to recede. I feed the helpers bean & cheese burritos. Typical breakfast in Mexico, my El Salvador crew happily eat it. Gatorade all around.
8:30 am – We feel \”Beach House\” bouncing more & more hitting the sand. The skegs are touching first & the rudders appear to have enough clearance.
8:45 am – Scott jumps in with mask also and is satisfied with our position. Alex holds his breath, dives down & digs mud out with his bare hands from below the rudders to insure clearance in case we sink down into the sand/mud a bit.

9:15 am – \”Beach House\” is effectively beached. The working area of the hulls are not fully exposed, but Alex starts diving below & taking apart what he can. We say Adios to Carlos, Carlitos & Hiero & ask that they call us on the VHF radio in 1 hour to check on our progress. They need to return when we float with the next high tide, about 5:00 pm.
9:45 am – There is a thin fiberglass \”skirt\” that must be removed. It is screwed & glued to the hull. Alex & Scott working together to remove the screws, chisel off the glued-on skirt.

10:15 am – Carlos & helpers return to check on us. Scott decides we should have new skirts made. We have spare pieces of the material. Give this to Carlos, he will take it to the shop (1 mile away by panga) & cut in the correct shape per pattern of the old skirts.
10:30 am – Scott & Alex are trying to remove the propeller. This has to come off before the old transmission can be lifted out.
10:40 am – A screw on the propeller that normally does not spin is spinning. BAD NEWS: something is wrong with the propeller in addition to the transmission.
10:50 am – Satellite phone call to Canadian dealer that we have dealt with for propeller service. He says he is no longer a distributor. There is no North American distributor, only Europe. He indicates that he no longer thinks highly of these propellers. Oh joy.

11:00 am – Scott & Alex muscle the propeller off despite the broken piece. Sheared off 5/16\” pins only visible after the prop is removed. Confirmation of broken propeller; very minor superficial transmission damage.
11:15 am – Old transmission removed & begin installation of new one. Old one slips as Scott tries to move it. Owie to Scott\’s knee & our fiberglass hull.
11:30 am – Satellite phone call to Yanmar technical support to see what propellers they are currently recommending to use with these transmissions. They are out to lunch, need to call back in 40 minutes.

12:20 pm – Carlos & gang return with new cut & painted skirts. Send them back to shop to get a grinder & sander to smooth off surface where old adhesive was.

1:20 pm – Scott drains oil from starboard side sail drive while he has the opportunity to do a full change. When we are in the water he can only do a partial oil change. Put a sample of the old in plastic bottle to mail in for testing when we are in LA. Dig out 3 liters of new oil from storage space behind port holding tank locker – STINKY! Scott puts 2.8 liters new oil in starboard sail drive.
Alex suggests we change the O-ring for starboard sail drive oil plug washer. These kind of spare parts are in a hidden storage area in the salon. Pull all salon cushions & Velcroed fabric off settee. Get into hidden storage area & dig into spare parts bins. Find necessary washer. Replace all.

2:45 pm – Carlos & company return with grinder & sander. Scott & Alex smooth the surface, apply adhesive & stick on the new skirts. The water is rising�

3:00 pm – One edge of the plastic skirt is not sticking well. Scott requests cordless drill to put in 2 screws to hold that edge. Alex is apprehensive about using the drill while lying in the water which is steadily rising. Scott reminds him he was a dentist. Holes drilled, screws screwed. Done!
3:30pm – I try to do damage control as two greasy muddy men wander about. Feed them peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. More Gatorade.
The wind has picked up in the channel, but where we are on the sandbar is protected by a bank of mangroves.

4:00 pm – Scott calls Yanmar again and gets specifications for our propeller requirements. We wait for the tide to float us.

5:30 pm – Carlos & company return in pangas. The still rising tide is flowing from our port to starboard. The port anchors are taking all the pull. Untie starboard anchors & tie the lines to a float to retrieve anchors later. Lash panga to our starboard stern again. Alex is driving our dinghy again. Hand starboard anchor lines to Alex who ties them to a second float for later anchor & line retrieval.

6:00 pm – It is blowing 20+ knots (\”mild Papagayo\”). We had wanted to move to an interior slip with due to our limited maneuverability via panga tow, we opt to return to the more accessible end tie slip. Still an exciting landing as the wind is blowing us beam on to crash into the dock. Two men on the dock help Scott as he leaps off the boat to push off hard & soften \”Beach House\’s\” arrival.

Scott calls our primary \”LA Angel\”, Mike Lonnes, to alert him of our needs. Tomorrow they will further research what propellers we should buy. We must have a matched set for proper performance, so despite the fact that only one is broken, we must replace both (Scott has no confidence the other propeller won\’t have the same problem!). Good thing the beaching went so well, as it looks like we will be doing it again!

After showers, we take our hard working crew (plus Carlos\’ wife & youngest son) to dinner at the hotel\’s palapa restaurant. The wind is still blowing hard, making it unusually cold. I return to the boat to fetch sweaters.

I am discouraged to see the rain of ash as bad, or worse, than Puerto Quetzal. Scott is exhausted but satisfied with how the day went. He looks me in the eyes & says resolutely \”I will not be beaten by boat problems!\” I am endlessly amazed at his persistence & resilience. We will overcome & carry on. Thank you for your many supportive emails and for cheering us on. Sometimes the hardest days make the best stories�

9:30 pm – Sound a sleep! Next time we will start at 2:00 am at the end of the month (such are the ways of wind and tide!)

Scott & Cindy