Prince Rupert Bay,
We normally do no relate the trials
and tribulations of commissioning Oriole prior to our annual cruising. But
for the record here are a few painful memories of this year. Our keel
required sandblasting for a third year running as the paint would not
adhere. Various professional and amateur Jonas had predicted it was caused
by stray DC currents from inadequate wiring in the boat. I am
convinced that the juxta position of the lead keel and tin based antifouling
bottom paint separated by an inadequate paint system was producing a battery
when immersed in salt water and the tin being more active was being
consumed. We are glad to say that two independent experts
have declared our electrical circuitery A1OK. We have now covered the
newly sandblasted keel with five layers of epoxy resin so there should be an
effectiev electrical barrier between the lead and the tin. For the
uninitiated tin antifouling is seriously toxic to marine growth and is very
effective but has been banned in the UK and US and probably Europe too.
The part of the yard where the sandblasting is done is known as the Sahara,
no shade and black blasted sand on the ground - hell. Our only neighbour
was a Taiwanese fishing boat having its annual maintenance and I had to remove
one of the inquisitive fishermen from our deck. Perhaps he was only being
inquisitive, but the theft rate in the yards is high at the
moment. Oriole had to be lifted and moved six times to complete this
job, but it was done with consumate efficiency.
We were launched after ten days
during which we were as usual living in an air conditioned bedsit. Once in
the water we started the two other major upgrading tasks we had set
ourselves for this year. Firstly to convert the inadequate V drive belts
for the alternator to the modern wide flat automotive type. New
pulleys had been supplied by Betamarine our engine manufacturer and John
installed the main crankshaft and waterpump pulleys but had delegated the
alternator pulley to our local alternator supplier. Here the trouble
started. The pulley brought from England was slightly too big for the US
alternator and we had to send to the US for a replacement. It should have
arrived in three days but actually took nearly two weeks. When finally
installed there were more problems but these were rapidly overcome.
Finally the watermaker on which we
rely heavily which produces 20 gallons of water an hour needed a rebuild after
16 years of trouble free service. We had set up this project with the
watermaker people in April before we left, sent them an email to confirm before
we left UK but arrived to find them too busy to start for two weeks.
The job should not have taken more than 2 days. The chapter of excuses for
not getting on with the job are too painful to relate, but they will be related
in glorious technicolour to the manager of the company who chose to go home
early on the afternoon I came to pay the bill. With the support of the
lovely girl who strove to co-ordinate her technician, I paid slightly over
half leaving the remainder to discuss in due course. The requested
amount was horrendous. However after many repeat visits the technician has
now cured all the leaks and it works again. Perhaps it is relevant
that the owner of the company is on a World cruise.
While he was making the final three
curative visits Chris was preparing Oriole for our departure and I was checking
out with Customs and Immigration, paying marina bills, collecting our duty free
while supervising him at the same time. Our wonderful friend Don whose car
we borrow while we are in Trinidad was very generous with his valuable time and
drove me back to the boat after I had returned his car to Port of
In defence of Trinidad it is much
better than most places to get work done but URGENT or NOW are
not words in the local vocabulary. The nearest you get to it is the
phrase "one time" which more or less means now.
Don and Cathryn Kelshall and their
family are the major light relief of our time in Trinidad and they make it
very special. We often get together with them in the evening for a meal
and at the weekend they often invite us to join them at their delightful holiday
home out on Monos Island to the west of Trinidad. Their hospitaity and
generosity is quite wonderful. One weekend we sat down for alfresco lunch
with 17 adults 8 children and one foetus (the next grandchild) which included
the UK High Commissioner and his family and a member of the House of Lords who
was visiting Trinidad to oversee a childrens charity, and finally members of
the extended family. The following weekend weas very quiet
with just Don and Cathryn and Chris and me.
tied to the new dock at Monos Island on
Sunday. Cathryn and Chris try their paddleboarding skills
Nobody would try to pretent that
yachting does not carry some risks. This year with our very efficient and
delightful day worker Julius fell off the scaffold while polishing our
hull. He was bruised and battered and shocked but nothing was broken
and he was smiling and back at work in a few days. The other incident
concerned a Brazilian yachtsman in the same yard who for some extraordinary
reason undid all the rigging holding up his mizzen mast. Why it did not
fall down immediately is difficult to understand but he was down on the ground
underneath the boat when it fell across the overhead 12,000 volt main electrical
cable. He tried to get on board and was killed instantly when he touched
the steel ladder to climb onto his boat! Fire is an ever present
danger on boats, particulary dangerous when down below, and we saw a
beautiful yacht burned to the waterline in Antigua a few years ago.
The fire which broke out on deck in Crews Inn Marina on Monday was quickly
brought under control. Several yachties have been in hospital with dengue
fever which is a really nasty mosquito borne disease which in its haemorrhagic
form can be fatal. The authorities are normally up to date with their
spraying programme but had missed out Chaguaramas.
I hope those who perhaps have
little interest in the technical detail will forgive us this diatribe but we had
to get it off our chests, but the next blog should be back to the brief text and
photos as usual.
More smoke than flames, this was a mild one.
We left Trinidad at 0500 on Tuesday
morning in light airs and motor sailed all the way to Carriacou where at 2100 we
were welcomed on the VHF radio by friends who were looking out for us.
After a brief rendezvous with them and friends on an RCC boat in the
anchorage we left again on Wednesday morning to continue our journey
north to meet up with son Andrew in Antigua for Christmas. The weather is
giving us unseasonably light winds but they are forecast to increase this
weekend but not from the right direction ie NORTH which is of course the
way we want to go.
Since I wrote this on Wednesday we
have sailed up to Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica where we were welcomed by Martin
with presents of bananas, delicious oranges and passion fruit which we are now
consuming as a rum punch. Rodney Bay, St Lucia gave us a very rolly night
with a NW swell which was persisting in Martinique yesterday, but we escaped to
the tranquility of Les Trois Islets where the swell cannot penetrate.
Until today we have had very little wind, but today a great sail with more wind
than was forecast. We should make Antigua on Monday unless the weather
gods bowl us a googly.