05 April, 2015

Malua on Slip

After a short sail in the bay I dropped anchor in Chain Bay for the night to wait for the morning's high tide to cross the bar.  I dived over the side to clean off some growth from the bottom and propeller and I noticed that the one blade of the Autoprop was a bit loose.  I had serviced the prop during its haul-out in the USA in February and added grease to the ball bearings in the self aligning three blades.  All seemed OK but I guess the cold had made the items smaller and the locking nuts where not as effective as I had thought but I would have believed that having traveled almost a quarter way round the world the prop would have developed some symptoms prior to this but no.
I motored slowly across the bar and into the marina.  I booked in to be pulled out of the water for a short haul right on the high spring tides.  I had serviced my fixed blade prop and put anti-fouling on it.  All was ready for a quick turn around.  Off with one and on with the other.
We motored to the cradle and started to go onto it but the upright arms had not been set well enough apart so the cradle had to be taken out the arms adjusted and the wood plank on which Malua was to rest removed.  I, mean time, was going forward and astern trying to keep my place just off the slip.  I moved forward and onto the cradle.  The tide was almost at the top and the fit very snug but OK.
We waited as the cradle was dragged up the railway lines and Malua came out of the water.  I climbed down the ladder to find one of the three blades of the Autoprop missing.  What a blow. All I could see was $$$$ thinking of replacing this prop.
I set about pulling the prop off with my pullers and tools.  The new three blade prop slipped on as designed and I put the nut on. Tightened it up and looked for the hole for the split pin to go through to hold the nut in place and low and behold there was no hole.  The Autoprop does not require one and I have never drilled a hole in the original shaft.  What could I do? nothing because time and tide waits for no man and the tide was going out and the water around the cradle dropping at an alarming rate. So give the instruction to let the cradle go back in the water and hope we have not left it too late to get Malua off the cradle.
Back in the water Malua is wedged between the two forward uprights and the water is not up to the boot strap so Malua was not floating but sitting firmly on the cradle.  Out came the rescue line - a 28mm polypropylene line of 120m which I keep in the back locker for just these occasions.  Out is went to a solid pillion down the fairway and I took a turn round the two electric Anderson winches and pressed the button.  The line gets taught but Malua does not move.  Been there done that.  Well rock the boat and as was the case previously hope a large French canal barge comes by and creates a big wake to rock Malua off the hard ground.
With a few turn of the winch handle and a few more revs astern Malua slowly moved off the cradle and into deeper water.  Now back in the pen I need to don scuba gear and search for the lost blade.
Three hour later after scouring the bottom on the marina I could find no trace of my propeller only a electric motor housing off a fellow's submarine who the set about helping me with the search. No luck.
Now to send the Autoprop back to the UK to have a blade added and balanced.  A small price to pay seeing I paid more than $5,000 for the original prop ten years ago. Wait for the update.

No comments: