I have decided not to wear my wristwatch during this race prep period. I do a lot of manual work in confined areas of the boat where it’s an obstacle, but more importantly I check off the days like minutes and the weeks like hours in my calendar. There is just one year to the start, and Puffin is still half-naked.
After another 2000-mile-long drive I collected the custom-made crash bulkhead, the reinforced bob stay replacement fitting, and the modified sliding hatch for my companionway from one of my most solid supporters, Gary Bass (Precision Marine, Florida). I picked up other nuts and bolts in Ft. Lauderdale, and the new deck chainplates from the Rigging Company, in Annapolis.
I love to rationalize my moves and hit as many birds as I can with one stone. So I stopped by the BoatUS Headquarters in Alexandria, Maryland while driving from Florida to New York, to meet one of my donors in person and say thank you. God must have thought the same way, scheduling a local race presentation for me in Oyster Bay just one week after I made a PowerPoint update presentation for a fundraising party hosted by the DeNatale family. Bob and Mark DeNatale have been the most loyal and productive supporters of my race participation, and thanks to their effort I will be racing under Seawanhaka burgee.
The road of the race prep has been steadily bumpy, but I am still on the road! I am not lacking surprises; they come daily—both bad and good. I started to reinstall my Whitlock steering system, and when I serviced all the parts I found a major keyway deficiency on the arm of the rudder stock. There is a serious play—which I did not notice when I stripped the boat—that has also become apparent. My buddy Gary has a new mission to fix this for me…
Detours are common in boat repair, so the professionals prefer to give you a guesstimate than an estimate. But my detours in this project have been countless, due to the age and make of Puffin and the lack of needed boat parts currently available on the market. A good example is the Lavac head (toilet), which has been a brilliantly simple system, but Lavac stopped making the model I have on Puffin in 2005. It took a week (and a small fortune) for me to get the needed replacement rubber seals. I started seriously considering the bucket alternative for a while…
I just cannot recall any part of the reinstallation project without hiccups, from the saga of getting replacement compensator rods for my Suunto compass to the shaft seal replacement on the Bukh engine. The Roaring Forties are roaring on land already!
The good news is that at the peak of my frustration I always get a rainbow—either from an old or new friend sending me an unexpected donation, or a company with goodwill and matching support. The recent big one is Selden US, in Charleston, South Carolina, where my new mast has been under construction. I dreamed about a Selden mast even during my first circumnavigation, but sooner or later the dreams come true :-). It’s not free, but the support is generous and Bernie and Scott are the best representatives of this great company. It has been a real pleasure to work with them!
The conclusion is clear: Never give up! And there is and must be hope to get new sails, safety gear, and the rest of the race-required items before the start.
To be continued… in Part 11