I Know Kung Fu…

At the beginning of today I knew nothing about Rockford power take offs (PTOs), but now I know how to fix them! A little like Neo in the first Matrix, the power of the net, Youtube and my good friend Bill (kind of the Morpheus of engineering), helped me fix our broken PTO.

We decided to go to a different calmer harbour this morning after a bumpy night, but the windlass that brings up the anchor just would not work. It’s a monster hydraulic system that runs of a huge pump that in turn runs off the PTO at the back of the engine via two industrial sized belts. When the anchor windlass wasn’t winding the chain in, I looked in the engine bay and the PTO wasn’t turning as fast as the engine, which was very odd.

I opened up the inspection hatch on the PTO which had written instructions on it saying it had a clutch and how to adjust it. I then investigated what to do using the internet and Bill guiding me on text from the UK.

Amazingly I fixed it and the anchor comes up like it did in the old days!

If you’ve ever watched the film Apollo 13 or know the story, we’ve been having the same kind of luck this past couple of days. Sailing is a bit like being in space. You’re in a hostile environment, you can communicate with people, but when it goes wrong you have to fix things with whatever you have on the ship. It’s a huge challenge sailing a boat, not the sailing piece, the keeping a complex craft fully operational all the time piece.

20 minutes after fixing the PTO, the anchor broke free again and we were dragging across the harbour and out to sea in 20+ knot gusts! When we pulled up the anchor with our just fixed PTO driving the windlass, the anchor had caught in some fishing net and a huge wooden beam that the windlass had winched to the surface. So I was back in the tender with a knife cutting this free and we’re now safely anchored again, I hope…

Give me strength and just one day to do the flipping varnishing!!!