The shaft log on 'Swell' doesn't look like a mammal, but it's been Liz's 'white whale'. Glassing over the tube failed to stop the leaking.
more fuzzy head popping up. Instead, I found only piles of progress-less projects staring at me. Despite grinding off the recent epoxy job on the shaft log, and making an even more precisely-fitting steel washer, my slide hammer still failed to get the shaft log out. In fact, a mighty swing by my friend Josh Humbert broke my slide hammer for the third and final time, slicing it in half at the upper threads, and sending it flying across the yard! So the shaft tube remained stuck in the hull, and the behavior of Laurent, the yard glasser who was supposed to help me, was troubling. He'd walk past me stone-faced and cold, dead-set on ignoring me. It was obviously time to seek out other help, but who? Rain poured down and I wandered in circles around the yard in a cloud of despair. It seemed useless to try any more. I was defeated,
broken, sinking on land, doomed to boatyard purgatory. But then Mike, whose boat Apple was hauled out in the yard, yelled down at me from his boat. “Hey Liz! We got my rudder shaft out today using a hydraulic jack.” “Fantastic,” I replied, struggling to sound happy for him. “You don’t understand, the jack could be the answer to your problem!” he shouted. “Take it over to Swell and see if it might work by pushing instead of hammering against the shaft log.” You’ve never seen a girl sprint faster with a 15-lb hydraulic jack in hand. I hauled it up the ladder, eager to see if it would fit. “It does!” I cheered, doing a little shuffle-step-wiggle. Sure, I’d have to remove the vdrive and make some wood and steel supports,
and I'd need some more hydraulic fluid, but at least there was new hope. Plus, Mike said he'd give me two hours of his time the next day. I didn’t sleep much that night, but it wasn’t because of shaft log anxieties. No, at 3 a.m. there was a pounding on Swell’s hull. I wondered. I peered over the side and saw Taputu standing below with a flashlight. “Sorry to wake you,” he said in French, "but there is a tsunami coming. It’s supposed Fifty years after it was to arrive at 6 a.m. put in, the prop shaft on “Tsunami,” he re- 'Swell' was almost out. peated. “Go to Simona’s house and ride up the mountain with her." I couldn’t believe it, but it was true, a severe tsunami warning had been issued for the entire Pacific, For the second time in less than two months, I had to pack up my survival bag with my passport and a few precious items, secure Swell as best I could, then head down the road to Simona's house. By 8 a.m., the local radio station declared that the wave had passed through the Marquesas at less than 30 centimeters, Tsunami warning or not, an hour later Mike, the successful Hollywood director, began directing what I hoped would be his greatest hit — the removal of Swell's shaft tube. I spent two hours running around the yard in the glaring sun, looking for pieces of wood and steel to wedge things in. I thought I was going to puke. By the time the clock struck The boatyard cover-up, an unfortunate necessity when working in the yard, is not the best look for Liz.
The May 2010 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.