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Old 01-10-2008, 11:45 PM   #1
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Does anyone have any tales they'd like to share about Creative Repairs in Challenging Locations... far away from chandleries, hardware stores, the West Marine Catalogue... or even land - where one has to make do with raw materials and tools on hand to fix a problem in order to press onward?

If so... I'd enjoy hearing about how you "saved the day" through the wit and ingenuity of a sailor.

To Life!


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Old 01-11-2008, 03:24 AM   #2
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Anchored in Malampaya Sound a beautiful place in the north west corner of Palawan 10 49' North x 119 24' East - Philippines. Just three of us, far from anywhere :- My catamaran "Symphony" , Richard Hayes's power boat - Nordhaven "Nyami Nyami" and the Irrawaddy Dolphin Orcaella brevirostris.

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Sitting in the cockpit enjoy my early morning coffee - surprised by huge splash just few yards away - then another - then the splash came close and the strangest creature popped his head out of the water, as if to ask 'is there any more coffee left in the pot?' My immediate thought was that it was a dolphin - but no , it was so different.

Went to the VHF to call Richard - NO answer , must be sleeping with the aircon running! Got into my dinghy - a new Achilles inflatable - sped over to "Nyami Nyami's" boarding ladder - which was hinged up - the dinghy slid nicely under the hinge which was SHARP and in an instant the Achilles starboard tube had a 2ft slit ! Oh 'expletive' ++**_~~! Richard appears, wiping sleep from his eyes " What's the problem? "

Limped back to my boat on one tube and a bit, dragged it on board - not happy ! How was I going to fix the dinghy - still had a month to go on this cruise?

Found the Achilles brand new pristine repair kit - I recollect a few patches - the biggest about 2" across , a scraper, a tube of a 'contact' glue. Richard had less!

Searched some more, found some Xynole cloth - left over from a repair job - found my 2 part Ciba epoxy glue.

Knowing full well that that repairing a hole of this size would fail, because the epoxy when set would not allow flexing when the tube was inflated.

Anyway , Victor Hugo's "Necessity is the mother of invention" determined that I apply an epoxy saturated length of Xynole to the gaping slit - when set, pumped up the tube and went looking for the creature.

A few days later our friendly Irrawaddy Dolphin arrived back with friends. Two years later that very same repair was good enough for me to donate the Achilles to a couple of youngsters on another yacht. I replaced it with a RIB.

The other Richard

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Old 01-11-2008, 07:33 PM   #3
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Out fishing with girl friend's father and friends when the outboard stopped running about 2 miles from shore. Girl friend's father who is an automotive expert and has built dozens of engines, strips the spark plug thread when trying to re-insert the plug.

I was only 15 at the time and sat there observing these grown men who all have years of automitive expertise scratch their collective heads for about fifteen minutes trying to figure-out what to do.

I asked one to give me an empty Coors can and I pulled out the fillet knife and cut strips of aluminum can just long enough to wrap around the threaded end of the plug. I hand the plug to my GF's father and he has a look on his face like this won't possibly work. It did... and we were able to make it back to the dock without any issue.

Almost 30 years later, he still tells the story to people.
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Old 01-11-2008, 08:20 PM   #4
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The two posts above remind me of the old saying, "There is nothing so permanent as a good temporary solution".

Anymore good temporary solutions?

Aye // Stephen
Yacht NAUSIKAA | Call Sign: 2AJH2



= Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Lithuania
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Old 01-12-2008, 01:13 AM   #5
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Well Done!

It's amazing what can be accomplished when the going gets rough.

My personal best was when I realized that "Otto" (our autopilot) was steering eratically and way off course on the third day of our Atlantic crossing. The seas were big, lumpy and coming from three directions. Otto (a second-hand, factory re-built Navico / Simrad WP-5000 belt pilot - the most in-expensive wheel pilot on the market) had already steered nearly 25,000 nautical miles... and had finally met his match. The drive sprocket had stripped the plastic hub and was no longer positively attached to the drive shaft. Yikes! I could spin it easily with my fingers!

I woke my wife and asked her to take-over on the helm while I dug out and rigged the pieces of our Saye's Rig windvane (Windy) and eventually tweaked her into steering a wide course toward our destination - 2500 miles westward. It took three hours, much of which was spent hanging over the transom. But we could at least let go of the wheel.

We carried on throughout the night - steering wildly across confused seas - at a third less velocity made good - toward the Caribbean. This could easily add a week to the passage.

Windy certainly worked hard - but Otto steered a much finer course. So I put my mind to repairing Otto.

In lockers, I found a sheet of sandpaper, a piece plexigless, a cordless drill (still charged), hole saw kit, jewler's files, a hacksaw blade and a tin of nuts & bolts.

The ultimate key to success was finding a small fender washer with a center hole measuring smaller than the output shaft of the autopilot.

So - the following afternoon, I cut three holes in the plexiglass (one 2" dia and two 1.5" dia) and extracted the three discs remaining inside the two holesaw blades, sanded the edges smooth and set them aside. Next, I carefully enlarged the hole in the washer with the files and fashioned a flat section which roughly matched the O.D. and shape of Otto's drive shaft. Then, I bolted the three plastic discs & fender washer together and carefully drilled three small holes through all four pieces and bolted them all together using three small machine screws & nuts, arranged with the stainless fender washer captive in the middle and the larger disc on the outside. Next - I dis-assembled it all, removed the larger outside disc and then cut some "teeth" around the outside edge of the two smaller discs (to grip the belt) with the hacksaw blade. Lastly - I re-assembled the four pieces and was able to finally secure it to the drive shaft with a tiny machine screw and washer (canabalized from a broken Icom hand-held VHF radio) which - by the Grace of God - matched the thread pattern in the end of the autopilot drive shaft.

Voila! - We'd manufactured a sprocket out on the high seas and it drove us all the way on to the Virgin Islands!

And the most remarkable thing about it is that this home-made sprocket is still driving the boat - five years later!

I'm sure there are still more and better tales of "Sailor Inginuity" in this community (enough to write a book!) and I'd love to hear about more creative solutions to boat problems when we've had our backs up-against the bulkheads... taking on water... and the sails were torn... three sheets to the wind... over a barrel... red handed... on fire... between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea... cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey... and thought you were gonna DIE! but yet survived to tell the tale... somehow... because you figgured it out... on your own.

"What would Popeye do in in a Fine Fix like this?"

I'm sure every one of us have had to struggle to get back into port at some time or another. Come on - let's hear more.

To Life!

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