A honeymoon? Cutless bearings, prop shafts, and general boating fun

I’m not sure that this is quite what I pictured my honeymoon would look like…

…but then you can never really predict these things, right?

We’ve been on the boat in San Carlos, Mexico for one week exactly, and it has been a busy one. It started with a baggage conundrum: how do we get 7 suitcases, 2 backpacks and one rolling carry-on bag from the crappy hotel in Phoenix to the work yard in San Carlos?

We worry at every step: can we fit all this crap in our little rental car to get to the bus station in Phoenix? Yep. Will the bus, who advertises “2 bags, 80 lbs maximum”, let us on with our 400+ pounds of stuff? Yep. Will we make it across the Mexican border with a “green light” so we don’t get stuck paying 14% duty on everything? Yep (after “tipping” the little man that comes on the bus his $2 tip, the bus just rolls on through the border. We’re not exactly sure about the legality of any of this, but we go with it). Will we find a taxi big enough to take us to the boat with all our crap? Yep. Jon goes to find a taxi and this guy insists that his mini car is big enough for everything…

Taxi in Guaymas shoving bags in the trunk

…and you know, with a few bungee cords and a little ‘creativity’, it does.

And so, 10 hours of bus riding later, we’re at the boat, with all our stuff intact (what’s in these 7 bags you wonder? Besides a small amount of clothing and a new sail, mostly it’s boat parts and Christmas presents. My loving family generously sent us with two duffel bags full of Christmas presents… some of which may have come unwrapped… it’s like “Heyyyy, mast steps? We need those!!! What else should we ‘accidentally’ unwrap??”). You might think that a week would be long enough to put away all this stuff, but nope… it doesn’t rain here, so the boat still looks like this:


Brio once had a deck... somewhere under there...

…such a good look, right? But notice that our lifelines and stanchions are off — we’re in serious project mode, and re-bedding everything is on the list. What other projects have we been doing? I know you’re dying for these pictures 🙂

Removing the prop shaft to re-pack the stuffing box and replace the cutless bearing has been one of our bigger projects. It started all good…

Jon under the cockpit removing the prop coupler

(Jon loves working under there — here he’s removing the coupler that connects the prop shaft to the transmission. At least I think that’s what’s happening. I’m still learning all this mechanical stuff).

“Shaft coupler” is loose… now to get the shaft out of there…

Shaft is free

And then the shaft is free… so it’s time to pull the prop off (NOT easy) so the shaft can slide out past the rudder…

Ooohhh shaft is free!Jon let me have the honours of pulling out the free shaft. Kind of a scary moment. I know we’re supposed to be a sailboat and all, but seriously? I like having a motor. And a motor without a prop is really not that useful.

Anyways, all this is just leading up to the best part. We love our boat, and we appreciate everything that her previous owners did for her. However, when it came time to pull out this old sucker…

Old cutless bearing looking crappy(that’s the cutless bearing — I’ve been learning all this — which is the thing that lets a small amount of water in around the prop shaft, so that it is supported on “a curtain of water”… whatever that means)

… we discovered that maybe we hate some unknown previous owner a little too. Because the bastards used 5200 to literally glue the cutless bearing in. So instead of loosening the set screws, cutting some longitudinal cuts and crushing it in on itself, making it simple to remove, this sucker just held on…

A seriously terrible looking cutless bearing removal!… becoming a mangled mess! Cold chisels, hammers, cursing, huge screwdrivers, saw-zalls, lots of work yard advice and two days later, we finally got it out (and by “we”, I really mean that Jon got the freaking thing out while I stood around taking pictures and handing him tools 🙂 there are advantages to being the girly wife) (not that I can use words like “husband” and “wife” without choking a little. don’t know how long that takes to become normal!)

The pieces of the cutless bearing once it finally came out

…this is what the cutless bearing looked like once it was finally out. Being the thoughtful optimist that I am, I thought we should put the new cutless bearing back in with 5200, and just make sure we sell the boat before we have to do this job again. Jon disagreed, so we used a combo of bees wax mold-release and thickened epoxy to put this one in with…

Which means that we can now slowly start putting stuff back together. We’ve got the quadrant off, the rudder shaft is being repacked, Jon’s scrubbed and painted the bilges (so much nicer under there now!), I’ve been re-wiring our electrical panel (bad story — let’s just say Leah let a little water loose where it shouldn’t have been, fried a few important things, and is now getting to learn ‘Boat Wiring 101’ to make it all good again), we’ve got the re-bedding started, and of course Jon is painting things…

Those are the oars that came with a gorgeous hard-bottom dinghy (also in this picture) that someone gave us. The oars were a little sad looking, so Jonathan epoxied and painted them blue and has been drying them off the boom for the last few days. They look quite intriguing swaying in the breeze actually.

Rebedding the toerail from the lazarette

One day we’ll be able to put the boat back together a little, and start some of the fun projects! We figure we’ll be in the work yard another 2-3 weeks, and then we’ll go from there. In the meantime, we’ve got a new favourite appliance…

Fagor pressure cooker with new working stove burners… the Fagor pressure cooker (a wedding present!) which has so far made us potatoes in 4 minutes, lentils in 10 minutes, rice in 7 minutes, and a quite delicious chocolate cheesecake in 35 minutes too. The other fantastic thing about this picture are those stove burners… friends on another Nor’West 33 were replacing their stove and oven, so they dismantled the bits and pieces and sent us new burners for our unit. We are so happy to have a fully functioning stove — to be able to make coffee without a foot-high flame — I’m not sure I can even explain it 🙂

Anyways, that’s basically our story so far. We’re meeting new cruisers (the best part of a work yard is that there’s always someone whose bad day can make yours seem not-so-bad-after-all! Oh and there are lots of awesome people to swap stories with :)), hanging out on the beach when the boat gets too disastrous, and genuinely enjoying working on Brio. It’s a bit of a change from planning a wedding (was that only 3 weeks ago?!?) but we’re happy and sappy and generally enjoying this slightly off-beat honeymoon.

Brio in Marina Seca, San Carlos



A honeymoon? Cutless bearings, prop shafts, and general boating fun — 8 Comments

  1. Leah it gives me goosebumps to see you coming out of that box! Auntie does not much like high places or small places. It’s so good to see you all made it in one piece and have settled in. I can’t wait until you get underway and see your pictures and read your posts. One question … where are holiday cards to be sent to? Love you and be safe

    • Auntie Dana it was giving me goose bumps to be in there!! haha Although the more time we spend in that little box the roomier it starts to feel 🙂 Holiday cards can be sent to either mom — although if you send it to my Canadian address we’ve got a friend coming down in January that we hope to pick up mail from! Canadian address is 923 Quadling Avenue, Coquitlam, BC, V3K 2A6. Thank you!!

  2. By coincidence I’ve just had to haul Puffin because I noticed a leak in the shaft log. I think I may have caused it because the stuffing gland was leaking badly (Puffin doesn’t have an automatic bilge pump and I was pumping every day) and I force the locking nut which turned the whole stuffing box hose. I may have damaged the the fiberglass shaft log. Long story short, the boat is on the hard at Svendsens. How strong is the fiberglass tube for the shaft log? Do you have any advice from your experience?

  3. You two are so cool! Seriously, I always brag about our cool, adventurous friends who do things like buy a boat, live in Mexico, and take a honeymoon that involves fixing said boat themselves…Misha and I can’t wait to see you two again, and we’re serious about trying to come down either maybe fall 2013? Big hugs from Vancouver Island!

    • haha thanks Ioana!! Being covered in fibreglass dust and grease does not always feel cool, let me tell you that!! You know we would LOVE to have you visit whenever you guys have time, so just consider yourselves forever invited!!

  4. Hi Leah and Jon, is this some sort og marriage test, changing cutless bearing. Well if you fix that you fix everything. We saw your fantastic photes from the wedding, you all looks so great and happy. Mexico or Main, you had a wonderful day and lovely memories and soon Brio will be shining nice for you. Seeing all the work you do, we also have done looooong list of things to be done when we get back in June. We will bring a good friend with us to help us, thats what good friends are for! We will be back in Vancouver mid July. Spoke to Mary on Skype yesterday. Big swedish hugs from both of us, safe working and sailing, Eric & Birgitta

    • Hi Eric and Birgitta — thank you so much for the kind words!! We did indeed have a wonderful wedding day and it’s hard to believe it was only 4 weeks ago! I have a few more wedding pictures that I’m going to put up soon — just need to find the time in between boat projects haha! Will be wonderful to see you next summer, and I’ll be sure to bring home the Mexico cruising guides that we love for you guys. Have a great winter!!

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