Pulling Teeth (gear teeth)

disconnecting fuel, mechanical, and electrical connections to the engine
 in preparation for removing the gearbox
June 15

Monday is the Day that Mathias leaves, heading back to New York, then on to Europe to continue his post-discharge walk-about year. The problems with Ripple have distracted from the passing of the torch from my oldest son to my closest friend, but the three of us will have a couple of hours together in any case.

Wes arrived fairly early in the morning. We arranged to meet him on the town-side of the ferry that connects Ketchikan with the airport, which is across the channel.  Bar Harbor Marina is perhaps a half mile from the ferry dock, so Mathias and I walked up to meet him.

We got back to the boat, fixed some breakfast, and the three of us reminisced about previous trips we've shared, a rich collection of the best experiences of my role as a parent.

The highlight of the year for many years in our family was an expedition of some sort that involved both of my sons and any of my friends who had the time and inclination to go.  Wes was on most of them.  We undertook many desert backcountry trips in Southern Utah, canoeing in the Boundary Waters, and even a ski-camping trip in the mountains around Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The last of these was the shortest of all our expeditions, but perhaps the most intense. We pushed ourselves to the limits, we bivouacked in the snow when we couldn't make it to our destination cabin, crossed avalanche fields, finally found the cabin the following day, and had to turn around and go back the next morning. A sublime, unforgettable death march. All of us on that trip -- myself, Mathias, Brendan, Pete, and Wes -- would take their place on this one as well.

Pete, Wes, Mathias, Brendan, Stu
 at the Gros Vent WIlderness ski cabin in 2002
Wes has had an intimate connection to the upbringing of our sons: these memories, as well as a host of others, create a bridge between our families that has grown ever stronger down through the years. The voyage of 2015 would be different than our previous expeditions in that all of it was done two at a time.

Wes's segment took place amidst the uncertainty of the mechanical problems.  We still hoped we would get onto the water for part of the trip, but what we knew for sure is that we would have a good time, whatever happened.

Derek contacted us to confirm some engine model details, and later confirmed that the parts were available and would be on their way to Ketchikan later that day, and that he would be by that evening at 7 PM or so to take the gearbox out.  Hoping to make his job as easy as possible, Wes and I spent a good part of the afternoon disconnecting the various parts of the engine in preparation for its removal. We documented each step in writing and photographs so we could get it all back together.

When Derek arrived it took only a few minutes to rig a chain hoist from the boom to lift the engine. He made short work of getting the engine out far enough to detach the gearbox and then set the engine back on its mounting bolts.  That was that.

The chain hoist to lift the engine off its mounting bolts
It had been a long day at this point, but we had heard that there would be a party that night at The Fish House downtown to honor the early finishers in The Race to Alaska. Tired as we were, we almost didn't go, but we roused ourselves and made the trek, and were glad. It was good fun to see people dancing and laughing and eating and drinking, celebrating this first running of a very unusual event.

Having fun already at the R2AK party


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