Mack found a crack in our traveller car. After he told me what that was, my next question was WHY WERE YOU LOOKING SO CLOSE?
A traveller is a track that the traveller car moves along to move the boom (aka the metal brace for the bottom of the sail) from one side of the boat to the other. It basically lets you align your sail with the direction of the wind and get the most out of it.
To get the traveller off the boat, we had to remove the companion way (aka sliding roof door). To do that, we had to remove the wood slats that serve as the track for the companion way. To do that we had to drill out little wood circles to find a screw and then unscrew the screw. That was the easy part.
Once we got the companion way door out, we had to unscrew the screws attaching the traveler to the deck of the boat. The boat designers kindly left about 2" of space to access these screws. Mack put all his weight into the screwdriver to extract them while I shoved my hand into the cramped quarters and held onto a ratchet and held the nut still. We had to do this 10 times. Of course the last one was a foot into the abyss and I can't remember how we even got it out.
After we got it off, Mack sent me on a tour around Los Angeles to find its replacement. Actually I had a bunch of errands to run in far away cities ... had to get foam for the mattress from my favorite foam shop and had a doctor's appointment on the way other side of LA ... so I offered to swing by Upland on my day-long journey and take the traveller to Garhauer Marine. When I met Guido, it was all worth it.
Guido's office had about 40 old travellers standing up against the walls. There were boxes full of clunky metal things and old papers and general old man chaos clutter. It reminded me of my grandpa's work sheds, places I'd linger for hours when I was a kid and find all sorts of gadgets and trinkets and leave smelling like keys. I told Guido I was here about a traveller, he looked at our old one and walked me into the workshop to show me this.
Seeing this powerful machine made our traveller look pathetic. Weak and pathetic. Puny and ineffective. The slidy bits (aka the traveller car) on this sample went from end to end with a whisper of effort, like a well-greased roller-skate. Ours was like a creaky old woman's wheelchair. I texted Mack these photos, and Guido and I went into his office where he and Mack went over the measurements that he had sent with me to the shop. The final damage was about $900. And the heartache of knowing that our boat would be out of main sheet sailing commission for 4-6 weeks of summer.
I left the shop with a handwritten invoice, crossed fingers, and this block. Mack spun those little black wheels for about an hour when he got it in hand. He couldn't believe how smoothly they rolled, which meant he was going to be blown away by how awesome the traveller car was going to be. After a week of spinning the wheel, though, Guido called and told us to send back this block because he was going to put a block on a spring so it wouldn't be flopping all over if there wasn't tension on the rope.
Once the traveller FINALLY arrived, about 5 weeks later, it was time to install. We'd been sailing with just the genoa most of the summer, but we missed the main. Mack put down some butyl seal tape and set the traveler in place. Then we had to tighten the screws. Which meant shoving my hands back into a cramped, fiberglass adorned abyss while Mack shredded his palms driving in screws. The ratchet was NOT getting the job done this time, nor was the drill. We made a run to the hardware store and got a T-handle screwdriver and Mack fashioned an extension for the ratchet out of the cockpit table leg and some electrical tape.
Once we had the right tools, we got everything locked in place. I still can't believe we were able to do this with JUST THIS MUCH SPACE to work.
Once we got the traveller mounted, Mack skated the cars back and forth like a toddler with his Hot Wheels. We got the rigging back on the block, reattached the companion way slats, and have been enjoying some oh-so-smooth sailing.
Two people dumb enough to think anything is possible and smart enough to bumble their way into discoveries.