So what have we been doing that's taken so long?
That’s a good question.
First, there was the clearing up from the storm. It’s unbelievable just how much dead foliage was blown into lockers, hatches and the mast cavity where the old furling sail used to live. It’s everywhere!
That the hard top survived was amazing but it did and so it needed to be finished. Or at least the underside which has been a mish-mash of raw epoxy and primer staring down at us since it was hoisted into position two seasons ago. We were NOT going to spend another winter in the Bahamas staring up at the thing looking unfinished. Work commenced with the sander and epoxy filler to smooth off the joins followed by numerous coats of white paint. It’s not exactly the ceiling of the Sistine chapel but at least it’s now all the same colour and that’s what counts. We also took the opportunity with some manual labour close-by to remove the solar panel sitting on top of the hard top and gloss paint the area it covers. We still haven’t finished the top side of the top yet but that can wait a while (we don’t have to look at that side everyday!).
Thank God that’s over with! The Led light display has proved to be a very good beacon for mosquitos from miles around.
An annoying issue we have been fighting with is the anchor windlass. It mysteriously ‘siezed’ up whilst we were away for the summer. Having left all the chain on a pallet on the ground back in May (so it wasn’t languishing in a damp and hot locker for five months) the electric windlass motor refused to lift it all back up a few days before we were due to lift in. It would let down but not haul up. So out came the handle to undertake a manual hoist and that was jammed solid as well!! So ‘Skip’ assumed there was an issue with the shaft or electrics or both and off it came to be taken below the boat to be worked on. The two ‘faults’ proved to be unconnected. The manual operation was impaired due to a dry and seized clutch and the haul up issue down to a faulty solenoid and bad deck control buttons. Another instance of poor maintenance. Slap wrists.
A job that’s been on the list for a few years is the installation of improved aft step-down drainage. Prout never provided drains despite both the back deck and top step being inclined forwards instead of aft. Our initial Mk1 drains were quite small in diameter but did at least drain the step and all the water that cascaded off the side decks. Until, that is, the Sea Crows and other bird species of Titusville start chomping on the berries produced by the palms in the park behind us. The indigestible seed from the berries are exactly the same diameter of the drain hole in our steps and are as hard as steel ball bearings. The flexible hose that carries the water down below and out under the back deck is slightly flattened when bent to a 90 degree turn and these seeds get stuck at that point. Then eventually swell up as they want to grow into a palm and the whole lot has to be removed from below deck and rodded through to clear the seeds. That problem is now in the past as we have one inch diameter drains that will let all the seeds from any bird’s backside through them and keep the water draining as well.
Another project was to finish off the hatch cover over our port fuel tank in the cockpit. Being the No.1 boat Prout hadn’t quite worked out what to do with that area and stuck a piece of board with a fake teak and holly grain finish. After 20 odd years the effect had been worn away and we had a horrible piece of melamine board which was like a skid pan when wet. ‘Skip’ had partially started to do something with it last time onboard but couldn’t get the colour to match the adjacent areas. This time although still not matching it has been epoxied and finished with non-slip stick-on stripes and looks a lot neater than before. But then he dropped an electrical plug onto the still soft surface and chipped a piece off the edge!
Before it got chipped! New vents and speakers.
A couple of small jobs were the installation of two new vents and two new cockpit speakers to replace the old speakers that had perished in the tropical heat. The vents were bought to replace a second set of speakers we had originally fitted. We left the UK with two stereos and a combined total of eight speakers! Yes we like our music!! The real reason was that we also left with hundreds of stereo cassette tapes (remember those?) which needed their own stereo system. That’s how we came to have such a set-up. The cassettes are long gone. Even the CDs are becoming obsolete now and we’ve hundreds of those onboard taking up space. All our music now is played through MP3 players or the smart phone. Please don't anybody mention keeping it on a cloud or whatever!
One sad task undertaken by the ‘Admiral’ was to remove some of the starboard aft cabin headlining. Again, due to the heat, all the foam backing has broken down leaving a horrible mess of foam and sticky glue which if trodden in to the carpet will never come out again. It’s a shame as the interior linings would have done the factory proud when we replaced it all before leaving the UK. Now, like many catamarans we’ve seen that used such materials, we have headlinings sagging throughout the boat. Very disappointing.
Looks like a mirror effect but what is hanging down should be stuck up. I’s a mess. ‘Skip’s’ not kneeling down in despair – but merely changing the cracked toilet base unit in the heads next door.
Other projects undertaken this time round were:-
Replacing the starboard heads toilet base.
Doing away with the main fridge drain system and increasing the amount of insulation in the base of the box. This involved much work with poly foam and epoxy as well as fitting a new fan to transfer air from the freezer section to the fridge area.
Install our new two burner cooking hob purchased last February.
Replace a Blakes seacock that was beginning to show signs of wear and re-grease all the others we have onboard.
Remove and re-seat one of the port side stanchion bases which was beginning to loosen in it’s socket.
Replace two of the Oceanair suncover handles which had failed. This involved separating the entire assembly to enable the new handle to be installed. This would have been done last time but we were sent the wrong handles.
Change a block on the dinghy davit hoist and try and improve the method of lifting to avoid aerial capsize of the dinghy as we winch it up to the stowed position. Unfortunately that was unsuccessful but at least we changed the block.
Not withstanding the usual re-commissioning job list as well as those above a trip up the mast became a necessity. Whilst trying to pull the cruising chute halyard down from the masthead with the sock attached to it (after washing the chute and pulling it up to dry) the sock suddenly became unattached and fell quickly to earth leaving the halyard with it’s snap shackle right at the mast head. Never a popular task but it was good to check everything was OK up there and to enjoy a view of the surrounding area. Oh! and recover the halyard of course.
‘Skip’ up the mast – ‘Admiral’ securing the errant halyard to the bow.
Now can we leave?