Final Preparations for Over-Wintering

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Tue 13 Apr 2010 20:55

Date: 12 April 2010


I’ve been ticked off by the Downstairs Skipper. Not for the first time it has to be said. In my last despatch I reported on the tragic mudslides in and around Rio de Janeiro without mentioning that the DS and the poor dognapped Snoopy were, as the hills started to crumble, making their way in the torrential rain by bus from Angra Dos Reis, through Rio, to the airport. Had they set off an hour or two later, the roads would have been blocked with mudslides. And an hour after their plane left, the airport was closed for the day due to flooded runways. Indeed the roads were still half blocked six days later when I left, with enormous earth moving equipment clearing the mudslides. On one stretch, sitting in the middle of the road was an enormous rock, literally the size of a house, which had crashed down the mountainside. The death toll of those whose slums were swept away by the deluge has risen to more than 250.


The rain continued to fall after the DS’s departure, frustrating my efforts to bed the boat down for the “winter”. I had been warned that the steamy tropical climate meant that everything had to be as dry as possible down below or when I returned I would not only find mildew over everything, but mushrooms growing on it as well. Likewise, the water here is so warm throughout the year that it is like a Petri dish and a static hull would attract every form of animal and vegetable growth. It was essential that I got a diver down to put plastic bags round the propeller and the bow thrusters or I ran the risk of returning in October to find them completely seized up. In addition, our mooring in the marina was only temporary; we had to relocate before I left, and again this required a diver to go down, find the concrete block to which the back end of the boat would be attached and secure a rope to it. But there was so much mud in the water swept down the river by the rain, and the light was so bad under the gloomy sky that neither job was possible.


But in the last three days, the clouds dispersed, the hot sun came out, the waters cleared and everything started coming together. The decks were festooned with ropes, clothing, pillows and mattresses to dry them out thoroughly, and Paulo the diver appeared. And just as well. He discovered that the anode on the propeller (which stops the propeller from being eroded by electrolysis) had all but fallen off and needed to be replaced. He also found the concrete block further along the quay, pronounced it in perfect condition and position, and attached a stout rope to it. Paulo had done a good job and we have agreed that he’ll go down every six weeks and clean the bottom of the boat to keep the weed in check.





Bracuhy Marina


The following morning we were to relocate Mina2 to her new permanent mooring. As I now had a plastic bag round my propeller Mina2 needed a tow, so Asis (one of the incredibly helpful friends we had made since our arrival) arrived in his dinghy. With his 8-horsepower outboard straining away to move Mina2’s 20 tons, we very slowly backed out into the middle of the marina at which point his outboard packed up. I was adrift with no means of propulsion. Interesting moment. But Asis managed to coax the outboard back into life before we started making contact with other boats and dragged us round to our allotted space where Asis’ wife Marie-Therese was waiting to take my lines. Asis and Marie-Therese will be keeping an eye on the boat for me and will be arranging for someone to open the boat up every couple of weeks, give it a good airing and brush all the cushions and mattresses to prevent mildew. Mina2 will be in good hands and her skipper will sleep easily at night for the next six-months. Another new friend, Luis – an Argentine doctor who lives on his boat in the marina - gave both Maria and, later, me a lift into Angra to catch the bus to Rio.