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Published: August 20th 2011
View towards the landing from the mooring where I Wanda awaits her repaired transmission.
Some of you know that we have experienced a transmission failure here in Maine. So it goes on a cruising boat!
We were just talking this morning-- these lovely Maine mornings when dawn slips in about 4 am... it was CLEAR and that surprised us as we expect a gray rainy day... but I digress! We were talking about how happy we are. And how that could seem strange since we have had one of those rare breakdowns on I Wanda that could cost many boat units and eat up most of the summer. True. Yet we are happy as little clams. One of my FIRST reactions when the transmission did not engage as we were 4 feet from the mooring next to Mike (Madeline, Maddie now Valkyrie) here in Falmouth Foreside was to be grateful. When the engine died back in 1997 we were at anchor in Spa Creek right before the Annapolis Boat Show. We were safe. Lots of friends in town to assist, Boat Show price on the replacement engine. What could be more civilized? Same thing here. The FIRST time since we have had I Wanda (18 years) that we experience a transmission
South and east of the mooring fiels is Clapboard Island.
problem we are on a mooring next to a friend in a LOVELY location in Maine in the early summer. So many folks experience disaster in a bad storm, or negotiating a difficult cut (or both) in the dead of night... you can fill in the possibilities. We must all experience equipment failures but I Wanda always seems to choose the perfect time and place.
We love Portland and you can find most anything you want or need here... and it is just a lovely little city. We feel our spirits soar as we walk around. In the first day of trying to resolve what to do about the transmission we got nothing but bad news. There were no rebuilt units like ours in the regular pipeline (Maine to FL and beyond) and only ONE new unit, and it was in Japan. None of the local reputable boat yards do transmissions like ours in house but ship them to Yanmar/Mack Boring places. The one for the Northeast in Massachusetts is backed up at least 3 weeks before they would look at it, and we were told 3-6 weeks in the Mid Atlantic Region. The new unit would be $3400
View from the mooring field towards Yarmouth.
(ME price) or $4300 (NJ price for the SAME single unit available...) before installation and of course no one can tell you how much the rebuild will be until they break it down and inspect the innards. They don't do that until your turn in the rotation comes up and then they have to order the parts if they are not on hand and I was warned that some of those often have to come from Japan too...
Still our hearts were light and we were happy. Literally dozens of cruiser friends offered encouragement and advice and we were referred to new folks who are sure to become "new best friends". Boat yard mechanics encouraged us to keep digging and I always asked for referrals to people who might be helpful. Yesterday a friend of Mike's came over just as Christian had the transmission safely on deck to help him open and inspect. If it looked like it was really trashed we would try harder to find a rebuilt unit somewhere in the US before ordering the new unit from Japan. Christian had a wonderful morning doing a job that he would not have wanted to do alone. Turns
Falmouth Mooring field
There are actually three mooring fields: one to serve Handy Boat yard, one for the Portland Yacht Club, and then the one at Falmouth Landing. we are in the latter.
out the unit is in surprisingly good condition, though the bearings are shot. Another cruiser we know a bit (Gerry formerly Lucky Bears and now Bear Holiday) called with information about a local transmission place that had done work for him. He was in and confirmed that his shop does marine transmissions and is familiar with ours AND he would be open the Saturday of July 4th weekend! Gerry drove us to the place and we are optimistic that they will open and inspect our tranny early next week and that good bearings and races are readily available here-- though the mechanic said you need to be VERY particular, and he is.
So what started as a 3-6 weeks + job costing thousands of $$ MAY be accomplished much sooner and for a more manageable price. That feels especially good since we had accepted the longer time and higher cost as part of the price of the cruising, with grateful hearts that we would make this long wait in Portland and not in some hot buggy out post in North or South Carolina where we wouldn't have even a cell phone signal!!
The clouds have started to roll in confirming the forecast but we are heading to shore for a walk. There are some lovely wooded trails here and Falmouth Market on the way. All good. We will keep you posted on our progress!!
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