|Mantanchen Bay sunset|
Shortly after we got the sails set and trimmed, I heard a strange creaking noise coming from somewhere down below. This was a new noise, not the typical creaks that I was accustomed to. I searched around the boat in all the likely places that creaks might come from, but couldn't find the source of the noise until I opened the starboard lazarette hatch. When I looked down into the compartment I noticed that the bracket for the autopilot ram was moving back and forth in an unusual manner. Then I realized that the bulkhead was flexing and the joint where I assumed Beneteau had spliced or scarfed together two pieces of plywood to make the aft bulkhead was not a joint at all. It was not lapped or scarffed, or even glued together. Nope, Beneteau apparently saw fit to just butt the two pieces of plywood together without the benefit of any adhesive or mechanical fasteners. Then whoever installed the autopilot ram drilled the mounting holes less than a quarter inch of the edge of this imaginary joint. The bracket was mounted with massive 7/16" bolts and a stainless steel backing plate so it looked like a proper job, but looks can be deceiving.
By mid-afternoon we were gliding into Mantanchen Bay and got the anchor down in about eighteen feet of water three quarters of a mile from the beach, which I hoped was well beyond the range of the no-nos that live around here. Then we had a decision to make: We could go back roughly 50 miles to La Cruz or continue on to Mazatlan, another 130 miles north from here. After looking at the weather forecast we decided to press on to Mazatlan. The wind would be on the nose the entire distance but it would be light most of the way. We would be motoring into it and that would put the least stress on the wobbly bulkhead.
|Mountains behind Mazatlan at dawn.|
|View from the aft side of the bulkhead. When I replaced the autopilot ram back in 2012 I assumed this joint was lapped but it's not.|
|View from the forward side of the bulkhead.|
The repair was easy enough. I went over to Marine Services Mazatlan, which is located in the shipyard next to Marina Mazatlan and had them cut out some plywood reinforcements that I bonded to both sides of the bulkhead with WEST epoxy. Once the epoxy cured it was a simple matter to reinstall the bracket and ram.
|Both sides of the bulkhead were sanded and prepped.|
|Plywood reinforcements bonded in place. The screws were used to clamp everything together while the epoxy cured.|
|Bracket and ram reinstalled and ready to go.|