W/E 15 February 2009

If Knot Y Knot
Patricia Day
Mon 16 Feb 2009 01:24

Monday 9 February

OK even I am bored with maintenance, but I have to do these things.

I realized that it is no good checking where it comes to, I have to find out where it comes from.  In an effort to find the source of the water in the bilge I emptied the transom to get to the windvane bolts, they were dry and cannot be blamed for the water.

I tried to fold up the genoa to take up less room in the transom.   My great effort has resulted in a sail that now takes up more room than it did before and will not fit in the space it came out of.

Back to the water.  I have eliminated the bathroom, the back cabin and the engine.

I took everything out of the cupboard under the sink and they put an extra layer of wood on the floor of the cupboard.  One side I take up to check on the fridge hull cooler, which is also not leaking.    I found where the fridge drain is not sealed and has leaked into the bilge.  It is a separate bilge, but when the boat heels it will spill over into the main bilge.   Between the two pieces of wood on the other side was where my ants had made their nest.  These little critters had come on board when I was on the yard in Trinidad, or in the sail when I got it back from repair.  I thought I had got rid of them.  They are tiny and fast and a real nuisance.  If they get together with ants from Columbia while I am away who knows they may have learnt Spanish by the time I get back.  It’s about time someone on this boat did.

I cleaned all the bilges and so far no water has run back in.

I started varnishing the new shelf and rack in the aft cabin. 

A tiring morning, but so productive;  today I didn’t even remember to listen to the Net on the radio. 

I do not go into the dock every day, but when I do I usually take in some containers to fill with water as I cannot run the watermaker in this water and it has not rained since I arrived.

I put the rack up on the ceiling for the last coat which was a good idea, but the disadvantage was that if you don’t look up you might get varnish in your hair and if you do look up you might get varnish in your face.  Most people probably wouldn’t, but then I’m not most people.


Tuesday 10 February

I cleaned up the back cabin, there seemed to be varnish where it shouldn’t have been, despite the masking tape.

It was too soft to load up the shelving, so I started varnishing the shelves in the forecabin. 

I dragged the sail out of the cabin and onto the deck.  I folded it the long way in an effort to get it into the inaccessible (perhaps I should look that word up in the dictionary) space in the transom.  Never let facts and the laws of physics get in the way of a good plan.  The key was getting it round the sharp bend and with sweat dripping in my eyes this was difficult, but I did manage it and then if you put enough sheer effort in it goes.  I hope I never need it or to get to that space in a hurry. 

Then it was a matter of feeding ropes into the rest of the space with the ends taken to a hook, it’s not as though they are going to knot up in there, is it?  I loaded up the shelves and the rack and the back cabin is done.  The result in a transom that is not piled up past the back window.

A second coat on the front shelves,  then I went to the dock and into town. 

I visited the shop at the emerald museum, trying to make a decision on a present for someone else, but fell in love with one myself. 

Back at the boat it was just time to put the final coat of varnish on the front shelves.  I was able to put most things back on the shelves before going to bed.  It is just the front strip that is tacky, so I will keep the teddies away from that.  You tell them not to touch, but they just can’t keep their paws off it and then they will be sticky and the varnish will be furry.


Wednesday 11 February

I got up at 6 to take the genoa down while there was no wind.  I was going to wash the sacrificial strip as everything is covered in grime, but soon realized that was not going to work on the boat with no hosepipe and water supply.  I folded the sail and it is perfect, that would be good except that I am going to have to undo it to clean and dry it and then do it again.  I think there is only one small area that needs mending.  

I varnished the wood around the kitchen area.  3 coats before I went into town.

I did the washing, including the bedding.  The problem is hanging things where they will not get dirty as they dry.  Double sheets and duvet covers are difficult at the best of times and with all the parts of the boat dirty it is very difficult.  Luckily with the wind and the sun the washing dries quickly.

The sheet did knock my favourite mug off the cockpit table and the handle broke, now I will have to have my tea in another mug, but it will not be the same.

I went to the cash machine that I think gives the maximum and asked for more pesos than yesterday.  It says ‘let me think about that for a moment’ and then churns out the money.  

I was in the supermarket and the food came to 5600Pesos.  I handed over 20000 and wanted to give the 600 in change.  I was sorting it out and the man next in the queue counted it out as I did; in Spanish, so not much help if I had actually needed it.  The assistant handed over the receipt and 15000 pesos change – to the man!

Wednesday is Happy Hour, although they had run out of lemonade, which is their best fresh juice. 

Gary wanted to know why he had spent the last two days looking at my red (bikini clad) backside up in the air.  I explained that Tuesday I had folded the spare sail and today I had folded the genoa.  Although Gary is ok with the view from his boat, I am going to leave the main on.   

There was a Herbalife stall in the marina, so I did the usual Weight, Bodyfat and BMI tests.  Surprise, surprise I am still just into the overweight category, but at least it hasn’t got worse.

It was 10pm before I looked and saw what a bomb site my cabin was, no bedding and lots of clothes.  That is what happens when you drop the washing down through the convenient front hatch when it is dry, if I had taken it indoors perhaps I would have put it away and then again, perhaps not.



Now I am varnishing the fiddle on the nav table.  I am not buying another tin and I am hoping it will run out before I have to start anything else.

I got in the dinghy and unbalanced it, my fault , it was really close to me going in the water.  I went into the dock and asked AKKA if he would test my fridge.  He was prepared to come in my dinghy, but when I tried to rush to get the water out I tipped it up and the engine went in the water before the water drained out.  Too late, now the motor won’t go.  He went to get his dinghy which would not start.  I was flushing my engine with fresh water and he was taking his apart and putting it back together.  His worked, mine didn’t.  We got to the boat and his gauge did not have the right connection for my fridge gas.    Disappointing.

I went into town to the ATM, just for a change, but at least I went a different way, past the Fort.  I would not come back this way with the money.

I came straight back and chatted to some people in the marina until it was time to head back.  I had to row into wind and with the motor on it is a handicap that I do not need.  I will have to decide what to do with it tomorrow.

I pulled a light off the ceiling trying to turn it on and will have to rewire that.  Not being able to reach things really sucks sometimes.



I have put a final coat of varnish on a few areas and that is enough.  It is difficult not to get dust in it, but it is shiny and better than it was.

6.30 I started trying to give the outboard another lease of life.  I had the dinghy hauled up on the side of the boat, which was not the most sensible, but to take it round the other side and haul it up on the bracket seemed more trouble than it was worth.  I stripped down the carburetor and lost a socket in the water, so that makes me pay for not going to the trouble of getting it inboard.  I could not tell where the oil level was so I opened the top and it ran out, but I have to lie it down on its side to fill the oil so I hope there is enough to get it through the next week or two.  I changed the spark plug.  I used carburetor cleaner and jump start fluid and I pulled the starter cord, and I pulled and I pulled.  I did take the skin off my knuckles on the shrouds, but eventually it coughed.  I could not run the prop out of the water so I launched the dinghy and tried again.  It did go, but it was spluttering and not happy.  The only thing left was to dump the fuel.  I tried siphoning it out, but this still left some in there, the tank does not have a flat bottom, that would make it too easy.  I resorted to sucking it up with a straw and spitting it into the container.  This is not something I would recommend, but it does do the job.  I then had a burning mouth and had to take a mouthful of washing up liquid to dilute the petrol.  Mmm, orange flavour.   After the petrol, it wasn’t that bad and it did work.  The outboard works, I think I can be pleased with myself, I did it.  Not in style and not quickly, it took me 4 hours, but it works.

I have leant on the varnish at least 5 or 6 times this morning to reach the computer, the radio and the instrument panel, so I am going to put one final coat on the fiddle and go out.  I have a small amount of varnish left, but that I will keep for touching up, so there is no need to start anything else.

Back to the ATM and once more round the emerald shops.  I went to see the one that had been set for me and when I got there they told me that it broke when they were setting it and it has to go back to Bogata to be  re-cut or whatever they do - superglue?.

I bought a few things from the street sellers, I would rather give them the trade and leave the shops to the cruise liner people who were in today.


Saturday 14 February

The Navy has had big boats, at least 4 of them, blockading their half of the area.  So any incoming destroyers would have to wend their way through the anchorage.  Something must be going on.  And the helicopter goes round and round, especially at night.

My cash card will not work in the ATM, again.

The only food I have left on the boat is the tins of tuna and corned beef, some rice and pasta.  I am on my last packet of biscuits, Dutch digestives, and they are so awful they might even be nutritious.

I wanted to go to the Carnival in Barranquilla and was going to try the Childrens Parade first.  I am not sure that I want to go to the final two days on my own.  There was just Judy (nicknamed the Culture Vulture in Trinidad) and I.  We were trying to find a way to get there.  I asked at the club.  I could get a car, with driver and gun, but that seemed expensive and I thought the gun was overkill.

John phoned a door to door taxi service and that was arranged for tomorrow 9.30. 


Sunday 15 February

I was at the kerb waiting about an hour early and no minibus arrived.  Candelaria came out to say there had been a phone call, but John was not there and so now what, were they coming.  Phone calls were made and received and it was nearly 11 by the time the car arrived.  It was just an ordinary taxi, because there were only 3 passengers.  We picked up the other person on the way and set off. 

We took the scenic route along the coast, out by the airport and through the countryside.  It was interesting to see the wildlife, pelicans, vultures and herons as there are large areas of lagoons.  There were horses, Brahma bulls and donkeys and cows and very large goats and even a ranch hand on horseback.   There was the usual contrast of grinding poverty and the latest towerblocks.

There were police or military checkpoints and toll booths on the main road.

Oh, and we pulled into the filling station and I found out that it was not air they put in under the bonnet, it is LPG that runs the car.  That is why we all have to get out, it could be dangerous if it blew up while we were in the car.  Obviously if we are 2 feet away there is no danger.

We arrived at 1pm just in time for the parade.  Good idea to have the parade right in the heat of the day so the children can get hot trotting along.

A lot of people obviously put in a lot of effort with the kids and the costumes.  We paid for front row seats so that I could see.

3pm we got up to go and get a drink and something to eat before the return trip, but I couldn’t see how to get through rows of seated people and opted for the road route.  The street was lined with seated areas and then there were barricades to stop people getting into the road, but it meant I could not get off the road, so now I have been in a carnival parade.   I did get out at the road junction where they were letting the kids out.

The taxi was supposed to pick us up at 4 at a big hotel.  The taxi could not get there because of the blocked road, so we were told we had to get a taxi to the office.  Excuse me, but if we can get a taxi to the office, why can’t our taxi at the office get to us?  Many phone calls later, with Judy getting quite rattled at the woman allegedly running the service who seemed to do nothing about the screaming child in the foreground of the call. 

There was a minor complication in that the woman in Cartegena could not tell us where the office in Barranquilla was, not even the name of it, so it was going to prove difficult to find.  We settled on McDonalds, but we had to be there by 4 as there was only this one car coming back.  We jumped in a taxi and a short distance up the road we spotted our taxi on the other side of the carriageway, but it was empty so we carried on.  The taxi driver had taken over dealing with the woman on the phone and she might have been negotiating to get him to bring us home, he was quite surprised when we got out at McDonalds, so he overcharged us, but we were there.  Now what? 

There was a minibus firm there and a van going now so we got on.  When the woman phoned back, too late we were on our way.  They had been very disorganized and would have thought nothing of stranding us, so we took what we could get.

The minivan was cheaper than the taxi, but it was well used.  I was at the back in the corner and I could hear the exhaust blowing, every time we went over the speed humps the springs went boing.  The seat in front was crooked and so far back he was practically in my lap. 

Surprisingly after the first checkpoint I think I must have snoozed until the one just before the airport.  By this stage when we went over the speed bumps the aircon was leaking and sprinkling me with water.  I and the two guys pinned in next to me had a tough time trying not to laugh.

We were dropped out at the end of town and walked back to the Club. 

I was in a hurry to get to the boat before dark, but as people were asking how it went I referred them to Judy.  It was certainly an interesting experience.  I do actually like travelling by bus, perhaps it’s just that I don’t have to drive.