Week Ending 2 September 2007

If Knot Y Knot
Patricia Day
Sun 2 Sep 2007 16:20

Week Ending 2 September 2007


The beginning of week 8 on the hard, you cannot imagine how depressing this gets sometimes.  The mud and the grit and the mosquitos and most of the jobs are difficult, which is why I am here.  I am writing down what I am doing so that I can try to explain to myself why it has taken so long, when nothing much needed to be done; I got so much more done in a month in Tenerife last time.


This morning it is time to tackle the cutlass bearing.  First I dug out the set screw, there wasn t one, I think it was just filler.  Second I hacksawed just over ¼ inch off the end of the stern tube, which was just the fibreglass end where the shaft came out of the boat.  Where were all those people who said grab the end of the cutlass bearing with the molegrips and you can pull it out.  I went and got Colin to help.  This was not going to work.  We got the propeller off, and then the Prop Scan man came to do it, so I let him take the prop to scan it, which is what he does – the clue is in the company name.  Then I had to get everything out of the back cabin so that we could get the shaft undone from the engine, this I have done before when changing the prop seal.  The prop seal does not look as though it needs changing again, which vindicates me for ignoring it this time.  There is not enough room to get the shaft out either into the boat, because of the engine, or out of the boat, because of the rudder.  There is no alternative other than to drop the rudder, for which there is the emergency tiller hatch in the deck, but that is not enough access.  I remembered that I had to take the back section of the roof down in the cabin  to get access to cut a section away when fitting the backing plates for the hydrovane, so I knew how to do that too.  Take out two split pins and the bar should come out, but one of the steering cables was in the way, so we had to undo the nuts on that.  We hammered a long bolt in and the bar came out.  Then it was just one more through bolt, which Colin undid while I stood under the boat hugging the rudder to stop it falling.  The rudder stock is longer than expected, to get the rudder off completely I would have to dig a hole in the ground, but this would not be necessary as the shaft pulled out past the stock without a problem.  All that remained was to pull the old bearing out, huh.  The bearing was hacksawed into quarters along the notches in the rubber and dragged out kicking and screaming.  It doesn t sound much, but it was hard work, up and down in the boat, lots of tools and the boat is in uproar throughout and it took two of us probably the best part of 4 hours, 4 hot drippy hours. 


All I needed now was a new bearing.  I tried one chandlers, they had an empty box that looked like it was the one I wanted, they would get one from another branch for tomorrow.  I went to the other chandlers and they had that same bearing and I realised that it was too big on the outside.  My bearing was bakelite type material, but I would have been ok with a bronze one with a thin rubber inner and a thick bronze outer that I could have had turned down to fit.  It was 25mm x 40mm, but unfortunately had a thick rubber inner and the outside casing was too thin to shave down.  They sent me to the other shop which held bearings, which was the Volvo dealer, a good chance for a cutlass bearing for a Volvo engine.  I wanted 25mm x 36mm x 100mm and he had the Volvo one which was 25mm x 38.1mm and again the casing was too thin to turn down.  Budget had said if push came to shove to come back, so I went back.  I had been round and round explaining that it has to be metric, not imperial, they are not exact conversions.  Eventually we found one, not bakelite, not bronze, but solid rubber, 25 x 36 x 75, a bit short, but should be ok.  NLA – no longer available.  When was my deadline - yesterday.  I have ordered one from St Martens and the freight costs more than the bearing, but this is not important, hopefully it will be here by Friday.  Friday is a bank holiday, again.  We have had Emancipation Day and this will be Independence Day.  Trinidad is multi-cultural and everybody gets all the holidays off.  Trini-Time is a well voiced phrase, it makes the Spanish Manyana positively speedy.  I will have to go and get the part from Customs, so that will be next Monday, if I am lucky.  This had taken another 2 hours.


Back at the boat I cleaned up the rudder stock, the shaft and the anode nut.  Tidied all the tools and put everything in the back cabin until next week.  I must remember to get my propeller back this week.



I did the washing early as I seemed to have got behind with it, even though I have been throwing lots of clothes away.  One of the yard guys came to move my props so that I can go over the patches underneath and finish the antifouling, but not today.  On Friday I had promised the electricians that I would come and pay on Monday, but I did not get round to them yesterday, so I will have to do that today.  That was really all I had on the list of things to do except the movies at 4pm.


9am I set off.  I stopped off at Marine Warehouse who had found a cutlass bearing for me, they had found one in a catalogue, but it was not the right size – I had already found lots that were the wrong size.  They had e-mailed the US and the reply was that I had the measurements wrong, sometimes it is very hard to be laid back and polite and this was going to be one of those days.  I then went to the engineers that I had asked to change the bearing, but had not got back to me.  They had not forgotten me, they were just very busy.  Well, I have taken the bearing out without them, but they may have to help me put the boat back together as it is a little more dismantled than I have taken it before.  The guy was quite impressed and tried to help with finding a bearing to fit.  We went over all the same ground and I am still left with the only option being the rubber one on order.  I will have to get on the net and find a European stockist that should have more choice in mm. 


I popped in on Coral Cove and dropped off some CDs to another boat to borrow and took one more look at the boat Jim was contemplating buying.  Then I went to Tropical and picked up my Yellow Fever International Vaccination Certificate, booked for the movies tonight and shopping tomorrow.  Onward to the bank.


I checked that I could get the money I needed to pay the electrician as it was more than the cash machine would allow.  If my card works in the cash machine then it would be ok in the bank.  Off to the electrician to check the final bill.  I got 600TT off the battery meter, which was a straight overcharge, the identical gauge was on the shelf with the price on it.  I said that the guy had been good and consciencious, but slow, so I got 3 hours off the labour.  A strange system where the girl on the desk could reduce the bill if you paid cash, but would have to get it authorised if it was by credit card.  I asked her to check the price of the batteries, as I had never actually been given a cost for those.  Maybe it was still too much, but I just wanted it ended, so I trotted back to the bank for the money.


They keyed in the number and even before they put the amount my cash card came back as unsupported; so much for if it is accepted in the machine then it will be accepted in the bank.  No negotiation there, so let’s try the credit card, that should not have a problem, but it came back as a No.  I explained that the message meant that they had to phone the bank and deal with the security issue.  They would not do anything and I had to go off and find a phone to ring the bank.  Listening to the eternal music while on hold on an international call is frustrating – polite version.  Yes, the bank here should have phoned my bank and been told to ask some security questions, but I explained that they would not do anything.  My bank said they would fix it their end to allow the transaction to go through within the next hour, after that they would block it again for security reasons.  An hour seems a long time to make a cash withdrawal, but this is Trinidad.  As I was having problems with the cash card the bank said that they would cancel the credit card charges, but I will have to check this online tomorrow. 


Back at the bank, luckily I got a different assistant and I got my money.  They have comment forms in the bank, which fold into their own freepost envelope.  I have taken 3.  One I started to fill in at the bank, one I will fill in later and then when I have calmed down I will rewrite it on the third one.  It remains to be seen whether I will post it.  There is no point if I do not give contact details, but I am not sure I want to be identified.


I went off and paid the invoice and hopefully that is over, I will not bother with a new solar panel at the moment.  I took the shuttle back to my marina and it was 2pm.  I got the washing in, had something to eat and changed for the movies.  When I get back I will go to bed, I am exhausted and all I have really done is pay a bill.  Is it any wonder I am into week 8 and still not rushing to the office to give them a week s notice to launch.



Today I have borrowed a card and am going shopping in Pricesmart.  This is American style warehouse bulk shopping.  I thought I would try it, but there is no point me becoming a member.  Everyone has something on their boat that I do not, like a washing machine, dishwasher, icemaker, breadmaker; so I was thinking of buying a lawnmower just to get ahead.  I do not have the room, nor really the need, for a lawnmower and I bet nobody would want to borrow it very often.  I bought some food, but nothing that I could not get in the big supermarket.  I did buy a big box of butter popcorn, normally I cannot buy this because you need a microwave, something else I do not have, but this time I forgot - I forgot it needs to be cooked, I did not forget that I do not have a microwave. 


After putting the shopping away I put a first coat of antifoul on the patches from where the props were.  



There is no point finishing the antifouling until the boat is back together, so I looked at my new revised ‘To Do’ list, but there was nothing I fancied doing, which is probably why they are still on the list. 


The sails need repairing before they go back on.  The cruising chute had ripped in two mid-Atlantic and was always too big, so I measured how long I needed.  The bottom portion had the two reinforced corners, but I converted this to an awning with some velcro for where it has to split round the topping lift and some loops for ties.  The top portion was the right length, but now had no strong corners.  I have turned the lower section over four times and will thread a rope through and see if it will work.  The sail might still be too wide for the boat, but I will have to see.  I can take the corners off the awning at a later time if needed, but to sew them on the sail is quite a lot of work.  I had to mend some patches and there seemed to be miles of material to hem.  This took the whole day until it was time for a shower.  Then it was off to Poker, where there were 8 of us tonight and it was a good evening.



Today is Independence Day, a holiday, except for yachties on the boatyard where at 6.30 you can hear the familiar sounds of birds singing and sanders whirring.  We have a tropical wave forecast, but some of our weather gurus think that this will become a depression and were very strongly warning everyone to protect their boats.  In marinas masts have to be checked to ensure they will not clash, on the anchorage boats should really move round the other side of the peninsula and if you were on one of the exposed docks you should get off.  We do not want a repeat of the recent damage as the SW swell could be bad.  The steel boat that lost its nose when Dean went past is now the screensaver on one of the internet cafes, on the dock surrounded by white surf.


I put a new impeller in the pump for the engine, sanded my propeller ready to antifoul when it is back on the shaft, did a few bits to the watermaker and tidied the cockpit locker.  It started to rain, I turned on the hose and cleaned the decks.  It is by no means white and shiny again, but it is much better than it was.


The weather guys are giving very frequent updates.  The Hurricane Hunter plane is being sent up to get the updated conditions, but by the time this is back and analysed and issued the system is expected to be on top of us.  I went to sit by the waterfront and found out that a man I have been chatting to over the last week or two was the third person on the boat that was abandoned in last year s ARC and taken onto Mirabella – amazing how many sides there are to the same story, depending on who is telling it.  Several yachts have left the bay, but there are still a lot here.  The wave has been upgraded to an official depression, but no effects to see by 16.30.  There were trips to see the fireworks tonight, but these were cancelled as people would not be prepared to leave their boats unattended, even in the marinas. 



The depression has been officially named Tropical Storm Felix.  The anchorage is sensibly a little emptier.  A boat that left a couple of days ago is back round the corner, they will have to sign back into Trinidad again.  My part of the yard is two inches of squelchy mud, I have recovered my shoes and a few things that blew away and will wait to see if I get to keep the jerry can that has come my way – I wanted one with a breather cap. 


I am sitting watching the anchorage, there may be some more feeders come our way, but the storm should be heading away from us.  The water is brown from the mud from the land.  There is a little yacht, it is unoccupied and had dragged yesterday and was tied to a mooring, but has now dragged to the shoreline.  With the next swell it will be turned sideways on the keel and its mast will endanger the boats in the yard.


The road to Port of Spain is blocked by a mountain slide and the computers in the chandlers are down due to the weather.  I got 10 feet of chain for my spare anchor, if I need to use it the rest of the length will have to be rope.  I asked the  manager for a remnant piece of chain, cheap, and he sorted through to find just what I wanted and it only cost 100TT.  I must have done something right because he says his door is always open and now I get a discount. 


After several trips through the mud I realised that I could go across the part of the yard that had gravel and approach the boat from the back by dodging through the props. 


I spent the afternoon mending the spare genoa.  I was going to make the sail suitable for the mast as a spare main, but have abandoned this…for now.  That sail is going to go back in the transom, I will get it in there somehow, it was in there before I tidied.  I cannot get in the aft cabin at present, so that will be after I have put the rudder and the shaft back together. 


I started mending the genoa, just about every seam across the sacrificial strip need sewing.  Then I was invited out for the evening and so it was time to stop and have a shower.


I decided to have a look at the beached boat and a rescue operation was underway.  There were people on the boat and people in small boats with big outboards; the idea was to create a wash and rock the boat and then be able to pull it off while there was still enough water.  It is possible that the boat, which had been secure for the last two years, had had its anchor snagged by another boat, thus it had dragged.  The ropes on the boat were not very substantial and the boat looked quite fragile being rocked from side to side.  More small boats joined, their outboards were big, but designed for speed and not working and they could not make much progress.  More boats were waved down to help and more ropes from the yacht, it was only a matter of time before one of the ropes got round one of the props.  A couple of the boys did not hesitate to jump in the water, this is a dirty anchorage with floating debris and underwater obstructions, so it was good of them. 


One of the ropes got round the wrong side of the spreaders and things were not looking good until this was noticed and rectified, but still no luck.  I think it was then appreciated that the only way to get the boat off was to pull it from the top of the mast.  This was extremely scary to watch.  The boat was rocked and pulled to get it off the keel, this meant the boat heeling with the deck all the way down to the water, with the worry that it was just going to go over.  It worked and the boat was tied to a mooring and all the onlookers that had gathered then dispersed and I went for my shower. The rudder has broken, but not at the joint and so the boat should float until its owner comes to take care of it.  There was someone there who was a friend of the boat owner, I hope he bought everybody involved a few drinks.



I was fed up with having the duvets take up room, but did not want to dump them.  I had put one over the mattress on the forepeak, this solved the storage problem and made the bed more comfortable, but the V shaped berth left too much quilt to tuck in and left bolsters along the sides and prevented the sheet from tucking in.  I had to cut the quilt down to fit the berth.  I did not have the room to take out the mattress and get a template, so I did the best I could.  I now have a quilt that fits the mattress, with extra cover material but no filling, to tuck down the sides.  I was going to cut the sheet down, but that seems to tuck in ok over the top.  I will have to see how practical it is, because there are large storage areas under that berth.  There are some lockers that may have to be re-organised for bits I need more often, but it should be easier once I am off the yard and do not need to get to the power tools that are in there and, be honest, how often will I need to get to the other things – ironing board, spare autopilot, ski boots and paragliding helmet. 


Felix has now been upgraded to a hurricane and it should follow the same sort of path as Dean, but it is West of us now.  There was record flooding, causing landslides here and Grenada had a power cut.  Tropical Disturbance 41 is the next concern, which the weather people are not saying much about because they are focussed on Felix, but it could cause us problems.


I will trot down to the wifi spot to send this and then, yes, it will be time to go to dominoes.  This is my excuse for the treat of the week, when I can go into Café Del Mar and have an iced coffee or ice cream milk shake and a posh cake.


It has come up very windy and I will have to check the boat and all the stuff on the deck is secure before I set off.