I have never been so hot in my life! The temperature inside Salila is almost 40 degrees C, and the humidity is 100%. There are frequent squalls which means the hatches and windows are often closed, which just makes it worse. The sweat literally runs off you, and the heat is debilitating; getting anything done takes twice as long as normal. I’m very glad I opted to lash out on an air conditioned apartment, otherwise I suspect I would be unable to function at all. As it is I’m drinking gallons of water and actually eating salt, but still feel crippled by the heat.
But the people are great. The yard is very well managed and professional, with good security – which is needed in a country with 15 times the murder rate of the UK, and only last year had a state of emergency due to the crime levels. But the people here are brilliant. The staff in the office could not be more helpful, the contractors are all vetted and keen to do a good job, and they even turn up when they say they will, usually. Frankly, given my poor experience with the UK boat industry last year, I would rather have work done here.
There is a thriving yotty community here, with a mixture of people stopping in to haul out and some who have been marooned here for some years. As ever a boat yard has some nice looking yachts and some broken dreams. Here is one that’s well past its sell by date. Once it was obviously someone’s pride and joy, and the window on the stern has a marvellously carved wooden flower, but sadly the wood is now all rotten and warped. And behind Salila is a nice American lady who was sailing with her husband for 14 years, but he died in South Africa last year and she is now alone. On top of that her boat has a lot of wood rot, so she is ashore trying to get it back into a seaworthy condition. Tragic really, but such is life.
But the other side of it is more cheerful. There is a lovely community spirit, with people helping each other every day. Each morning there is a radio net for yotties with social events and trips, as well as swopping of “the treasures of the bilge” things that one person wants to be rid of and someone else has need of.
Last night I went to a dockside BBQ with a dozen other people, and amongst others met a fine old gentleman called Verne, I think he is Canadian. He is 87 and still cruising. He raced International 14’s in the 40’s and 50’s, and came over to the UK several times. His children have apparently stopped trying to get him to come home and “settle down”, and have accepted that he is doing what he wants to do, and if that is how his life ends then he will go happily. At the other end of the spectrum was a lovely family with a son of 4 and daughter of 5; their energy and laughter made us all smile.
Work continues on Salila – I was there at 0700 this morning and sweated away till it started to get dark at 1800. The big menace here is the humidity, and the ants, and the cockroaches, and the birds nesting, oh and theft… but at least Trinidad is south of the hurricane belt!
Wash and dry the sails (all four). Sails off, mainsail to sailmaker for some chafe repairs, change the anodes (another new experience) pickle the watermaker, service the engines (all three) with some help from an engineer cos I needed have the saildrive seals replaced, etc etc. the list has only today started to get shorter rather than longer each day. How true the saying “Cruising is boat maintenance in exotic places”
Do you sometimes wonder why you started a job? I thought it would be a good idea to wash the curtains, especially as some kind crew member had obviously left their side window open to the elements which then erupted in black mould. Easy eh? I now know that Salila has twenty curtains, yes twenty, all of them with lots of those curly hooks, and each is delicately pleated. I risked bleach on the mould, which was partly successful, then off to the laundrette. Wash, tumble dry, tumble dry (must get them dry to avoid more mould while here for 6 months). Now the one “luxury” I didn’t bring is an iron (although I do know that Beyzano has not only an iron but also an ironing board! ). So let’s fold them carefully and maybe time will put the pleats back in… I tell you, the looks I got from the ladies in the laundrette as I fumbled with concertina pleats on a huge pile of curtains. Hopefully my manly swearing persuaded them I’m not batting for the other side.