The smallest of things can sometimes become a huge problem when travelling the seas on a sailboat.
For example, this past weekend, Kinship’s anchor windlass failed (fortunately with the anchor already up). We had to head into a marina to tie up to a dock, but once there, the Captain quickly diagnosed the problem: a broken roll pin. Good news, he thought, as this is a standard engineering part that any motor shop should have for pennies. We would just have to wait until Monday and go find one. Well, actually, make that Thursday, because we soon discovered that Carnaval week in Guadeloupe is kind of like that week between Christmas and New Years in Ottawa where lots of industries and shops close down for the holidays. That meant an extra few days at the dock, but Marina Bas-du-Fort is quite lovely, and we got to go to the Carnaval parade, so no real hardship.
Finally when the shops re-opened, we dinghied over to Point Jarry where the industrial parks are located. Who knew this was going to be so hard?! Seven shops and two and half hours later we found a “good enough” substitute. Everyone was very helpful, they just didn’t have a 5m x 25mm roll pin handy.
Our first stop, CPH Pneumatec, was very helpful, giving me the first tool I needed, the French words for the things I described. Having no clue what the French word for a windlass was, I described it as a big electric winch used to wind up the anchor chain on a boat. “Ah…le treuil”. I have never heard that word used before. I am pretty sure it’s called “le windlass” or simply “le winch” in Ottawa/Gatineau.
And a roll pin is a “goupille”. They had a box of them in the workshop, but they were all too big. “Try the next shop, they are bound to have one”, so off we went on a “goupille” hunt.
Electro Nautic, Tropic Marine and other marine shops could sell us a whole new windlass, but not an 85 cent part for one. The “Quincailleries” didn’t know what we were talking about. Top Pro Motors, Soco Meco and SFM all knew exactly what we needed, but the answer was always the same, try the next guy.
My technical knowledge, along with my French vocabulary, was getting better with each person I talked to. I now know that the motor drive pin (goupille) sticks into the drive shaft (l’arbre de transmission) which transmits the drive from the motor (moteur électrique) to the gear box (boîte à vitesses). Wouldn’t I make a fine French mechanic now!
We finally scored one at a parts distributor called VMA. It was the right diameter but too long, so Matthew will have to cut it to fit, but it will do. Yippee! We will be back out on the water in just under a week!