The Scratch, Escape to the Sea, and an Unserviceability.

Nigel North
Tue 4 Dec 2012 23:57

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The SCRATCH (continued)

Well my pessimism on the likelihood of the scratch being rectified before launch has proved unfounded - Paint Guru came round, interrogated me on what kind of paint is on there (dont know!), peered disapprovingly into my old tin of touch up paint that came with the boat, sniffed it, gave to his painter to sniff, dismissed it. Its not a gel coat as I thought, he informed me, its two part paint, and handed the pot back. Next day the scratch has been filled, sprayed, rubbed down and is invisible. Fantastic job. I am impressed. A very professional job..


Took a maxi taxi into town to recover my passport with US visa yesterday (50p) driven by a young fellah unusually, who was actually chatty. Maxi taxi drivers do not normally like speech, and all transactions are conducted in silence. As I was going to the American Embassy I stayed on beyond my normal stop to see if I could get any nearer, and succeeded, as we ended up on Ariapeta Avenue which was fine for me. But when I handed in an extra dollar (10p) for the extra distance, it was promptly returned, with a smile too.

The visas are processed in a cattle shed at the back of the otherwise smart embassy, down a side street. To avoid the morning queues of hopefuls I had deliberately left it to pm, and the street was empty. Peering through the grey painted metal grills that did for windows I grabbed the attention of one of the guards inside, showed my receipt through the grill and after a bit of shouting inside - to the girls on the Post Desk who issue visa'd up passports back to their owners - I was allowed in.

'D'ya have a phone?'

'Yes, sorry.. I'll only be a minute! Can I leave it with you?' I'd forgotten that all electronics are banned inside. She relented, and I left her my bag - also banned, full of banned articles.

The visa is valid for a surprising ten years. I asked how long it allowed me to stay - I'd heard it was six months. But that decision is left up to the Customs Man who greets you, apparently. 'Its however long he says you can stay' she replied.

When I looked at it, it took up an entire page. My ten page extra large passport for wanderers was filling up rapidly..

I stayed at Tim's in town overnight, but was up early and out by 0800 as the anti-fouling needed to be got on with. Relaunch Day had had to be moved to this coming tuesday, and time was ticking by..

By late pm the red bottom had been finished, but rain stopped me from doing the boot-top white line around the waterline. It was still very much the Rainy Season, with rain most days in showers, and occasionally like today longer greyer bouts worthy of UK, except the temperature remained in the high twenties. So if it rains you just walk around in it - you will soon dry out!


Sunday, 25 November 2012

What a night last night. Very humid after yesterday's drizzle, I found it quite unbearable inside the newly tape-sealed mozzy net even with my top off, and had to vacate it and sleep topless on the other bunk and just get bitten. Then at 0100 The Party started up the road, thunderous Caribbean music at serious volume - and went on until gone 0330. Not a good night, and I'm knackered now

Finished the anti fouling, filled up with water, did my best to stuff some insulation behind the fridge (not very successful), and cooked a huge pile of onions with some spammy chicken and potatoes for supper. Still being eaten alive..


The RELAUNCH. Tuesday 27 November 2012

Last night I just had two jobs remaining - service the Yanmar 40HP inboard engine, and check all nine seacocks were serviceable ie, not siezed. The seacocks were the most important as any rectification work couldn't be done at sea! Of the nine, four were of the old style Blakes variety which do tend to sieze up if not used and must be serviced. The others are ballcock sealed units which keep on working. I was not expecting any particular problems. Wrong!

Checking the most difficult to get at first - right at the back of the engine compartment and hardest to get at - and it was seized up solid. To get at it you have to lie on top of the engine and hot water tank, which is quite claustrophobic under the cockpit decking, and I had to control myself. Not nice! For the technically minded, to fix it you remove two bolts, whack the handle with a big hammer until it unseizes, apply some grinding paste to grind the two surfaces together, clean it and apply Blakes Seacock grease - a green delight. The other one was ok.

Next were the two cocks under the basin in the heads compartment; both seized. The job itself takes 15 minutes a piece, but getting those bolts off in a confined space took hours. It was gone 0100 when complete, and the engine service was put off for another day - easily done at sea.

Booked for 1100, the boyz arrived promptly with a 'ARE YOU READY CAPTAIN?'

bellowed from below. I was to be lifted by the biggest longest fork lift ever, taken down to the boat lift proper, transferred into its loving strops and float tested. All went well until they tried to hook down the ropes from the bow which I had carefully left hanging for them. They were to control the boat once in the water. My careful coiling didn't stop both coils from fouling up on the cleats, and took some time with a boathook to sort, and even then one of them was partially caught up. This is embarrassing for a Skipper - who wants things to go well to show what a wonderful Skipper he is, and so experienced too! Git.

PW floated ok, and most importantly the engine started - phew! Before starting up there is a procedure with the deep sea bearing on the prop shaft whereby you have to poke the spring bit behind the engine with a boathook until water gushes out. I had practised this as I usually push the wrong bit, but managed to produce some of the wet stuff - which lubes the seal.

The ropes were thrown on deck, and I was free!



The decision was to motor out into the bay clear of other boats and just get sorted out first before entering Coral Cove marina. The ropes had to be sorted out for a start, then fenders, and run the engine for a good while to recharge its battery. I also had a go at rehearsing the arrival procedure coming in stern first in an east wind, to see what would happen. PW doesn't particularly like going backwards and usually veers off. And so it was to be. Clearly this was not a good idea single handed. So I'd come in bow first like I always do, and be done with it.

Whilst I was doing these strange things an official motor launch had taken an interest and were just watching my antics - pilots or customs or police or some such. So I busied myself with rope tidying and after a while they got bored and roared off at full throttle 40knots just to show me who's the daddy.

I had visited the marina the day before to ensure they were expecting me, and had been given dock 6 - an inner berth and not easy to get to as there was a yacht berthed on the approach. Chugging slowly back in, I called the marina to no effect whatsoever on VHF #68 about six times, only getting an answer after I'd arrived. Dock 6 had a yacht in it. An American cruiser lady off one of the boats kindly ran around for me mustering help, having heard my unanswered radio calls. I was given dock 10 instead - much easier to get into - and was met and boarded by John of Bright Eyes next berth. 'Permission to come aboard?' he drawled politely.

There are two posts to lassoo with the stern lines as you come in between them , whilst John and friends kindly sorted the bow lines. Well I got one lassoo'd, and I think I would have stood a chance of hooking the other if it wasn't for being severely handicapped by solar panels, outboard motor and wind generator poles getting in throwing way. John kindly hopped in his dinghy and did it the easy way.

'Not born in the Wild West then,' he said.

John, my age, ex US Navy Chief, likes to chat when he's smoking on the foredeck. He's been cruising around the Eastern Seaboard and Caribbean for six years, and likes to spend time at places - eg 7 months here. He's also, previous boat, done all the inland waterways of the USA worth talking about - ICW, Great Lakes where he comes from, Mississippi, full circuit. Took him a year. I shall miss his easy listening chats and helpful advice when he sails in Bright Eyes for the Pacific on Saturday. Nice guy..

WIP. Main problem is the autopilot, which having worked perfectly now doesn't do anything but make a noise. So after a struggle, and the help of Lee - son of the Raymarine dealer who I hope will fix it - the hydraulic ram is out and being investigated. (I hope). The Hyd pump is still in there - through bolted to a piece of decking I cannot get out - so hoping its not the pump. The outboard now has a new plug, clean oil in both ends and a greased driveshaft. John showed how to get it going with a little petrol in the plughole. It worked then. But it had conked out on me last time I used it, in Union Island, and I only just made the boat under oars with the stiff easterly that was blowing across the reef.

But the big success has been getting Junior Thomas in to recharge the fridge with refrigerant, as it just wasn't doing anything at all. Now, it works! Cold milk! Well, it works whilst the sun shines, lets say. It goes off at night.

It is so much better here in the marina - a nice cooling breeze in the cockpit, and usually no mozzies. I still get the occasional one, risking death. So the mozzie net has been put away, and peace reigns once more.

Life is good again.