Week ending 18 November 2007 - still Grenada
Week ending 18 November 2007
It has been so windy that yesterday the wind generator took the batteries from 90% to 100% and I had to keep checking and turning switches on at two hourly intervals all night to use up the power. I have not had the meter to tell this before, but it was wonderful. I could have tied up the wind generator, but that seemed ungrateful.
I put the engine on and ran the watermaker, the ppm count was still too high, so I decided to use the alkaline cleaner. The cleaning fluid has to re-circulate round the system, this means sucking the fluid up with the extra intake hose and taking the exit hose off the through hull fitting and into the bucket of fluid. Now that I had relocated the filter under the sink in the bathroom and the exit hose was in the cockpit locker this brought an extra dimension into the process – the hoses would not both reach the bucket. I could have taken the time to get a longer piece of hose, but initial laziness precluded this, so I had to scoop the fluid from the bucket outside at the exit end and pour it back into the bucket inside at the intake end; for 15 minutes. Short cuts are not always the best way to do things as there was then the cleaning up at both ends and the trail down the steps in between buckets. Before I had finished the process, the catamarran behind me decided to up anchor. He got close and I put the engine in forward for a short burst just to make sure I was out of the way. He has watermaker problems too, they are so great when they work. I also took the pipes apart at the filter end and re-assembled them with sealant in the hope that I could get rid of the air in the system.
I checked the engine, the coolant level is ok, but I had to top up the oil. I have to continue the cleaning process for the watermaker tomorrow and I will check the oil again. I may have to tighten up the filter or the nut at the bottom of the engine as there is some oil on the engine bilge floor, but this could just be the oil dripping down from when I changed the filter and refilled the tank.
It was too sunny to do anything outside until the afternoon. I tidied the remaining locker with the sewing things in. I tried to run the sewing machine from the inverter, but the inverter did not like it. The inverter squeaks even when I plug in the computer and I am sure it was always ok with that. I was going to make a handle to use the machine without electricity, but I have not come up with a solution to this. I spent the afternoon sewing up rips in my sailbags by hand.
I have a bikini I like, but the red in the trim ran and it has to go. I had bought some material to make a new bikini and started to unpick this one to use as a pattern.
With all these amps pumping into my batteries I treated myself to watching a DVD – Pygmalion, the black and white original film, which made a nice change.
Ok, so yesterday I may not have felt that I was level with the boat as far as maintenance goes, but I definitely felt that I was up there near the front. Today I was to learn my place again.
I continued with the cleaning process for the watermaker. I made the effort to get a long piece of tube to add to the waste drain, because this time I had to re-circulate the cleaning fluid for 30 to 60 minutes and that was not going to be by jug from bucket to bucket. I ran the watermaker off the batteries, it is 12v, but I had never done this before; however since my batteries were 100% I thought I would try it. I re-circulated and then I flushed the system. Then I ran the watermaker for real, with the engine on for half an hour. I was getting lots of bubbles in the tubes, the filter container kept nearly emptying and the ppm count was too high. This was bad enough, but I had taken the extra tube off the waste outlet and the short tube had fallen back into the cockpit locker so the waste water was going direct into the bilges. I admitted to the boat that I was not winning, I was not even coming close to any of the minor medals and I gave up.
I could not hear the river people on the SSB, but tomorrow Dick may be round here and then I can go and listen on his radio and even talk to them; should I turn round and go down there?
I have declared that the problems with my in mast furling are just down lubricating the mast fitting and making sure the ropes and blocks are free running. I will consider getting new ropes for the inhaul and outhaul and maybe blocks with bearings in. I changed the inhaul block at the mast for one with bearings and will see what this will do. If determination counts for anything I should win this round.
I filled up as many empty botttles as I could find from the tap to try to empty the tank. I checked and the tank water was coming out at 200ppm and so I am suspicious that perhaps the water tester has been playing up, perhaps it flashes the 1 in the 000 column by mistake. I retested all the bottles and anything less than 300ppm I poured into the main tank. I checked the tank and the water level is about 6 inches from the top, which means that it would have taken me for ever to empty it. I put the bottles over 300ppm back on the deck, I will use this up first for washing etc, before using the tank water. The reading is still well within potable levels and it is not as though I drink it, I use bought water for that at present, although I will convert to watermaker water when, not if, I win that battle.
This made me feel much better as I could now reclaim the bathroom, which was previously full of the bottles of water that have gone in the tank. Time for another round with the watermaker, there is no reason why it is worse now than it was. I took the filter cap off and removed the fittings and put them back with non-setting sealant, previously I had used ptfe tape. I put everything back together and ran the watermaker again, on the batteries as they were back up to 100%. It takes 16amps and so if I can keep the batteries charged then I can run the watermaker without running the engine. I will just have to stay in windy anchorages and try to make water whenever the engine is running, which I do try to do, I have not had much opportunity so far. It took longer than I would have expected, but I did get the ppm down to under 300 and so then I ran the water directly to the tank, something that I have not done for a very long time.
It was nearly 3, I had been working for 8 hours, I was exhausted and this was the second day that I had not been ashore. It was Dicks birthday and they had been in a different anchorage, but they moved round and had saved me a piece of chocolate cake. I rowed in to join them at the marina; they had pizza, I had cake. I do feel that I have made slight progress today; let’s hope the boat lets me keep my delusion.
Another birthday, my daughter Kym is 24 today – Happy Birthday.
The dinghy smelt of fish and I realised that this could only mean that there was a fish in it. Sure enough there was the remains of a small fish squashed against a plank. Yuk. So I had to clean that up.
I wanted to speak to the guys up the river on Dicks SSB, so 7.15 I set off for where they were anchored over the other side of the bay, against wind and tide, but I could not find them and my handheld would not work. My handheld radio works fine every time I turn it on on the boat, but it fails to work whenever I take it off the boat, I am not sure that it is quite aware of its purpose in life. Eventually I gave up and decided to go back to my boat and call them from there. After 45 minutes hard rowing I got back to see their boat just up from mine, so much for they were not moving until after the Net.
I went over and spoke to Bob and decided that I would continue North.
I went to shore again and found a piece of used plastic plumbing pipe in the building site. I asked in the office and they said I could take it. It was 2” round and 3 metres long and I put it in the dinghy.
I had been trying to get hold of Judy, she knew I was here, but last week she had Dengue Fever and was too ill to move. Dengue is endemic, always here, and there have been quite a lot of cases and a few deaths in the islands, but it is not an epidemic. Judy came over from the bay her boat is anchored in and I picked her up at the dock. I had not mentioned that I would be rowing and the dinghy was not large. Judy had brought a piece of rigging to have repaired and with that and the pipe it was a bit of a squash, but we made it back to the boat. John came out and towed us the last little bit and I put the pipe on the boat and then he towed us to the other dock where we could walk and get the bus.
We went into St Georges and I got the spark plugs and outboard oil – must put the outboard on the dinghy some time soon. I also got some coolant and a battery water tester, I had ditched the old one when I got maintenance free batteries at the end of 2005. In the chandlers I met the folks from Tixi Lixi, which was a nice surprise. They are also part of the ‘Are we having fun yet?’ group. Then we got on another bus to Spice Island Mall and had a sugar cane juice drink with ice from the street vendor and it is refreshing, not sweet.
In Trinidad whenever we went to town our treat was Rituals for a smoothie or coffee and donut and they had opened a branch here yesterday, so that was a must do. I took the opportunity to buy some painkillers without aspirin, just in case I got bitten by a Dengue mosquito. It was good to get out and meet people.
I cut the tube up and have two pieces cable tied to the pushpit. One has the danbuoy in it, ready to deploy, whereas before it was tied on to stop me losing it as the previous tube disappeared at some point. The other tube is just for the boathook. I have an original 3” tube which now only has the broom and fishing net in, it was crowded with the boathook in there as well. Just about every inch of my pushpit is now used up.
I was keeping one side deck clear and the other one for clutter, but even so it needed tidying and re-organising. The diesel and petrol cans and the wood planks are now tied nearer the front where it is wider and the aluminium poles are inside on top of the diesel tank, one day they will be just what I need for something. The diesel tank is a bit too full and leaks a bit in the rolling.
Then it started to rain. I did some washing and hung it out in the rain as it saves the trouble of a final rinse. It was squally and rough and I took the awning down. It continued to rain and I put the raincatcher up in the cockpit. It is not very successful and still needs thought; I did fill a 5 litre bottle, but that is only a small amount of what I missed.
It was not really cold, but it was very overcast for the rest of the morning and all afternoon. The only real way to deal with this sort of day is to resort to a book and snuggle down in the duvet – I do not expect many people admit to doing that on their Caribbean holiday.
I watched a DVD in bed, but the computer overheated and hibernated just before the end of the film.
After missing all that rain yesterday I had another go at the raincatcher. I have moved the hose fitting down nearer the front and gathered the front seam to make it like a triangle with the top cut off, rather than a rectangle with the hose in the middle. Now all we need is some more rain.
There was lots of water in the dinghy, but because of the fish I am going to rinse it a few times before I use that water.
I ran the watermaker, not because I need the water, but because it has to be run every 3 days in this heat. I ran it off the batteries for 15 minutes, but the water was not quite up to potable standard - more washing water.
At lunchtime I watched the last 5 minutes of the film I had sat through 1 hour and 40 minutes of last night. Then I went to dominoes.
The weather was supposed to be turning rough overnight and tomorrow.
It had rained and there was water in the catcher, but the material had bagged and made pools all around the hose fitting; it was 6am and I felt duty bound to go and give it a hand. I was rolling the water around over the hose fitting, but not much was going down, so I went and got a mug to help it along. There was always the possibility that the tank was full to the brim and could not take any more, but that was so faint that it was not worth checking. I checked anyway and, no, the tank was not full. I was about to go back and collect the water in a bottle when the wind picked up and all my lovely water was thrown out.
I made a cup of tea and waited for the next shower. I had not bothered to put the hose clip back on the pipe several adaptations ago and decided this would be useful as it may help keep the material down in the wind, but not a lot. There is a surprising amount of water collected in a short shower and this bit I saved. When you think that the buckets have been out all night and they only have a little in the bottom the idea of a raincatcher is a good one. Really it should not be a stretchy material, but it will do while I perfect the design.
This morning the batteries haad dropped to below 90% for the first time since I had them fully charged on the way here. I used to not worry until they were right down to 50%. This was running the watermaker yesterday, but it must be better than putting the engine on. I plan to move when the weather improves and that will certainly mean motoring up the island, so there should not be any problem. It is odd how your idea of what is important changes over time. I have been away from mains electricity and water for two months now and am learning how to survive without using the engine at all for charging the batteries.
We had a trip into the Mall and then it was still wet and horrid, so we spent the afternoon playing dominoes.
Nice sunny day, the batteries were back down to 88.5% this morning, but hopefully the sun and the wind will maintain them. My hands and lower arms are getting more and more painful, just when I need to do sewing.