Friday, 23 October 2009

Work, work, work

Having hit some sort of underwater wreck over a year ago, we had a dent in the side of Irony and wanted this checked out. We have had to dismantle the saloon and remove one of the fuel tanks to access the area inside the boat so, although the surveyor thought it was safe to leave it, we decided to have the piece cut out and replaced. We are lucky that we are in a place accustomed to working on everything from small yachts to huge commercial vessels and there is no shortage of skilled, experienced professionals. We had a great team who arrived in the early morning and remained smiling despite having to finish the job after dark.
The mess and disruption is unimaginable inside the boat. We had screened off the area as best we could but, to keep down the heat and smoke, they had a huge industrial fan blowing all the dust and dirt everywhere. That combined nicely with several guys coming in and out all day with large boots on and a torrential rainshower in the middle of the proceeding turning the boatyard into a lake. Halfway through the cutting process we had a fire, put out fairly quickly but it filled the saloon with smoke.
The final blow today was finding out that it's going take 2 weeks and a small fortune to get some bearings for the props. Our two week haul out is now turning into four weeks.

Monday, 19 October 2009


Saturday was a public holiday – Divali, the Hindu festival of light. It’s a huge celebration here as there is a large Indian population and we joined a group going to the village of Felicity in the central plains area of the island to check it all out. It was great to have a break from the work and change of scene.

We were invited to a temple where we were treated to dancers and Tassa drummers. After a delicious meal served on banana leaves, we explored all the streets of the village. Bamboo is used to create arches and huge sculptures of Ganesh, cobras etc. They take gloopy mud and stick little clay oil lamps along the constructions to light them up. Bamboo arches across the roads, strung with lanterns, had oil lamps inside. Prayer flags and millions of lights adorn all the houses and gardens. The villagers were dressed up in glittering saris and elaborate brocade kurtas; they generously plied us bags of traditional sweets and other gifts as we walked past. Alarmingly there were firecrackers going off everywhere and home-constructed fireworks of bamboo and kerosene.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

and Moves!

Well, it was quite a day yesterday. We got up at dawn (5.30am) to get to Port of Spain for Nic’s visa appointment at the US Embassy. We thought we’d allowed masses of time to get there and be able to seek out a coffee somewhere before the appointment at 7.30am. The capital is pretty ugly and soulless but there is the odd gorgeous Victorian gingerbread villa tucked away between the modern buildings; typically the embassy is a hideous fortress. When we arrived there were dozens of people already queuing outside, so no chance for some refreshment and I had to leave Nic as they wouldn’t let me in despite my US passport.
I returned to the boatyard to discover Nic had the keys to the boat with him! Then I was accosted by the yard manager who said they had to move us so they could get a trimaran out of the storage area near us. There was an hour or more of panic as I couldn’t get into the locked boat to prepare for going back in the slings. The travel lift showed up and they were about to go ahead when Nic ambled through the gate! He had to raise the keel and the switch chose that moment to die. To fix it necessitated dismantling some woodwork inside while everyone was poised for action. Then there was a torrential downpour soaking us all. By the time the whole saga was over it was midday and we were able to have our first food and drink since we got up. Then back to work until nearly 8pm.
So we are now in a new position in the working boatyard – very industrial and grim. Our hearts sank initially because we were sitting over mud and huge pools of oily water. A small tip to some of the workers produced a couple of loads of clean gravel which has made a more workable surface under the boat. Miles now to the loos and showers, thankfully we have a bike to use.

Lots of work to do. In addition to the antifouling, we have to do repairs on the props, shafts, keel and we have to take out one of the fuel tanks to inspect a ding we have underwater. This means the entire saloon is being dismantled - currently the back 2 cabins are piled to the ceiling with everything. That leaves us part of the cockpit (piled with paint cans, brushes, rollers etc) to eat in and yesterday it was dripping with all the rain we had.

Thursday, 15 October 2009


Just so you don’t think our cruising life is all “plain sailing” ...we were being moved to a new spot last Thursday morning and, although we were originally promised 4 days to work on the keel while it was down over the ditch, that gave us 2 days. So the pressure was on to get the inaccessible areas prepared and painted.

We started work at 6am Wednesday morning – grinding and sanding – and put the first coat of paint on at 5.30pm. That was all on an hour’s breakfast and an hour for tea. After 2 hours of painting we showered, had some dinner, then did coat #2 at 9.30pm which took over an hour. I should mention at this point that there was a BBQ going on under the trees beside us - just to torture us! A short sleep was interrupted by the alarm at 1.30am and coat #3. A little more sleep and up at 5.30am to do Coat #4. At 9.30am we started coat #5, hoping to get it done before the travel lift would appear. At 10am the travel lift manager came along and said he'd decided to leave us where we were!

In meantime we’re enjoying the fun of using communal showers and toilets in the yard although they are much better than the primitive offering in our last boatyard in Turkey. One of the first days I found a snake in them and subsequently had to go in with a stick to make sure the coast was clear! Any water used on board has to go out via a bucket down the ladder making washing up etc a pain. Nothing can go down our drains.

We have been the centre of attraction in the yard while we’ve been marooned on our island! Everyone is apparently talking about us – typical that we don’t manage to do a normal haul out!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Hauled out

Well, we’re out and the work begins. The yard have been very friendly and professional, so far so good. It is blisteringly hot...nearly 35 degrees in the shade this afternoon. We have an unusual position in the yard - over a drainage ditch so that we can have our keel down - not so good for mosquitoes. We are a little island in the middle of the road near the gate to the marina and, as a consequence, we have attracted quite a lot of attention from passers-by. We’re banked by trees on either side and it’s nice to hear the bird song but they are already “making their mark” on the decks. We are only in this spot until Thursday to get the keel box prepared and painted and then we’ll be moved to a more normal place to finish everything else.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

On to Trinidad

During our last week in Grenada we spent a lot of time scraping the hull to prepare it for our forthcoming haul out. We decided it was far better to do it in a nice anchorage than on the hard in a dusty, hot boatyard. We combined it with some wonderful snorkelling and diving (below is a picture of a huge angelfish we saw) and really enjoyed beginning to get some use from our compressor.

The night before our departure we went to the opening of a jazz club in St Georges, Pebbles. The music was excellent and we had a great time. The next afternoon we set off for Chaguaramas, Trinidad and sailed overnight under a full moon arriving early the next morning. We experienced some incredibly strong currents which, at times, required a 25 - 35 degree course change.

Trinidad is quite a change from Grenada. The anchorage is a huge bay ringed with numerous boat yards and associated facilities, all very industrial. Our view out to sea is on to gas rigs and ships. It's extremely hot here and the water is far too dirty to swim in. We had a southerly come through the bay yesterday morning which caused panic as huge waves tossed the boats around and caused a few near crashes. We have been talking to the boat yards and come to an agreement with Peakes, all being well, we will haul out on Monday.