Sunday, December 11, 2011

"DOIN' HARD TIME"



A wise person has said,
“Cruising is just an opportunity to fix your boat in exotic locations.”
Or was it a wiseass?

On the last Saturday in October, the gang from the Tyrrel Bay
Yacht Haulout took Geoff to the ferry to get the new rudder
from the stacks of goods coming into Carriacou.
Apparently it was here - somewhere.
 And it was.

The 250 pound rudder was lowered onto the work boat
for the final passage to its new home.

The boys carried the plywood crate up the dock to the boatyard
 and Geoff opened the package to reveal the new rudder
protected by layers and layers of bubble wrap.
No wonder it was so heavy.
The arrival of the rudder meant it was time for Beach House
to go on the hard again - the third haul out since July.
But it is what it is - necessary, and the only way to move forward.
We were ready.

Once hauled, work progressed slowly.
Boat parts and bits get ordered piecemeal and take 2-4 days
to come in from Grenada. And there are only so many workers
in the yard. As you’ll see in some of the pictures to come,
one chore can take all available hands,
and, much more time than expected.
It’s too hot to worry about it.

There were many projects to keep the captain busy.
Geoff hung the new rudder off the Beach House stern,
and put nine coats of epoxy paint on it,
putting us steps closer to installation. Sort of.

Back on the day Beach House was hauled, the yard unstepped
our mast. When the boat was surveyed last July,
one of the surveyor’s requirements was that
we check the base of the mast for suspected corrosion.
 
Any major corrosion issue would involve mucho dollar signs.

We are very happy to report that the corrosion was minor.
Geoff did some sanding and used some ‘aluminum-bonding-goop’
to seal the corroded spots.

Last step was spray painting and voila. Good as new.

At the top end of the mast, the halyard restrainer was worn
almost completely through to the end. The picture of the new one
on the right confirms the extent of the wear.
Geoff suspects that the restrainer is too low. Sounds logical
but our replacement source in Toronto says this amount of wear
is to be expected and means the restrainer is doing its job.
Needless to say, the captain will be keeping an eye on this.

And while the mast was so accessible, it was time to inspect,
clean, and polish the stainless bits. As with most work on
Beach House, the captain did the yeoman’s share and then some
– I help when I can and could do some of the stainless work.
More often I keep the home fires burning
or act as the scrub nurse, handing tools to the expert.

These before and after pictures say it all.

Beach House was beginning to sparkle.
Plus the busyness kept us from thinking about our bigger issues.

You may remember that we were replacing the rudder
because of electrolysis damage to the rudder shaft,
first noticed in July at Grenada Marine. Thanks, Ray.
No sarcasm - we really mean it. Thank you.

This damage extended to the through-hulls.
More arty looking photos show the extent
of the corrosion caused by the stray electricity.
Nolan worked with Geoff to remove the offending through-hulls,
working inside the boat removing the fittings,
and outside the boat, grinding away the corrosion.
The replacement fittings arrived from Grenada.
No prize will be awarded for spotting the new ones.
 
We’re planning to replace all the fittings next summer
with the new Marelon through-hulls.
These plastic options were unavailable to us this year.

When the rudder was removed, we noticed that
a repair, done prior to our ownership of Beach House,
had cracked and water was seeping. Ugh.
The skeg-to-hull joint had to be dried out
before the new rudder could be installed.
‘Slow’ (yup - that’s his name) went to work
grinding the base of the skeg back to fiberglass.

Dampness for sure – mildew.
We’ll revisit this dampness problem when we haul next
summer, possibly taking the entire hull back to fiberglass.
In the meantime, we left the skeg to dry out as much
as possible before ‘Slow’ built the fiberglass back up.
And check out that shiny prop. The captain is a whiz kid
when it comes to exterior boat cleaning.

Here’s the before picture.

And a new bit of voodoo that several boats in the yard were trying
this year. Cover the cleaned prop with permanent marker
to keep the marine growth to a minimum.
So much for the beautiful, shiny bronze -
but it never hurts to give something new a try.
Besides, it's underwater and I can't see
the ugly Darth Vader prop.

So. It was finally time for the main event – installing the rudder.
Edwin did the honours, driving the travel lift into position
to raise Beach House enough to get the rudder into place.

Damn thing wouldn’t go the final six inches.
 We held our breath for a day,
wondering if we were back to square one.

But with a little percussive assistance from Jorge,
we were good to go! Thank you to the rudder gods!
And Jorge, of course.

We were beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel
and this time it wasn’t a train.
 
‘Slow’ rolled on two coats of bottom paint and then it was time.
Splash day!!!

First the mast. It took 12 men to carry that sucker from its
resting place to the barrels where the crane would lift it.
Every worker in the yard, plus the owner, the manager,
and another cruiser or two, came to help.
All other work came to a halt. This kind of teamwork
happened all the time - everyone is patient
about making the 'job-of-the-moment' get done.
We learned to appreciate the 'small-town' feel of it all.

The crane was swung into position and Paul attached
the crane belt that would lift the mast.
Beach House waits patiently in the background.

The mast was lifted to upright then lowered again
– it had twisted and needed some adjustment.
But the second time was the charm.
Edwin mounted up again on the travel lift
and drove Beach House forward as the crane
lifted the mast into position.
Another half hour or so of fine-tuning and
the mast was stepped. The boys attached the rigging
and the travel lift rumbled to life one more time for us.
Looks like we had an escort as Beach House
headed to the water.

Floating again. Finally.
Remember Jackie Gleason's tag line? Oh yeah.
"How sweet it is!"
 
We had expected to be on the hard for 6-8 weeks.
Being back in the water after five and a half weeks
was definitely an early Christmas present.

We hope Santa is as good to you this year!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"COTTAGE BY THE SEA"


During the first week of November, we hauled Beach House here in Carriacou at the Tyrrel Bay Yacht Haulout. There are - wait for it - a boatload of repairs to be done. We're optimists but realistic. We expect to be on the hard for 6-8 weeks. Ho, ho, ho anyone?

In many boatyards, people continue to live on their boats, using the yard facilities for washroom needs, showers, and washing dishes. Not so here – even hardened, old single-handers, who have seen it all, seldom live aboard in this yard. So off we went to check out the possibilities for land accommodation – something cheap, cheerful and clean. Our timing was wrong for some of the leads we had from local friends. After some phone calls, some bargaining, and a good decision, we decided to take the cottage behind the Tyrrel Bay Yacht Club.

It was a quick and easy move from Beach House to the cottage – food and drink into the fridge, our linens and pillows on to the bed, clothes in to the closet, electricity sorted for conversion from 240v to our required 110v, computers and phones plugged in to charge. Good to go.

There are pros and cons to any accommodation, but we certainly have everything we need and some definite advantages.

ADVANTAGE # ONE - PROXIMITY TO BEACH HOUSE

Our temporary land digs are right next door to the boat yard, an obvious convenience. Looking at her from the front grounds of the yacht club, Beach House looks quite content with palm fronds and a cactus framing her stern.


ADVANTAGE # TWO – ATTRACTIVE SURROUNDINGS

The yacht club grounds are quite lush and beautiful.
From the boat yard, this is our approach to the yacht club.



To the right of the club building is the path to the cottage.

And here’s our view from the cottage, looking onto the back of the yacht club.

ADVANTAGE # THREE – A KITCHEN

The yacht club rents rooms to land-bound cruisers in the main building, but since we expect this haulout to last many weeks, a kitchen was an important consideration. There’s simply no room in our clobbered budget for eating out three times a day. The galley style kitchen that spans one entire wall of the open-style living space, is modest but has all the necessities, including two dishwashers.

We brought our own boat baskets of cutlery, spices, oils and vinegars.

ADVANTAGE # FOUR & FIVE – AIR CONDITIONING &
HOT WATER-ON- DEMAND FOR SHOWERS

When we’re at anchor we almost always have decent sea air moving to cool us, but on land? Not so much. It’s a real treat to return to the cottage after a hot, dusty day in the yard working on Beach House, have a hot shower and luxuriate in the air conditioned air with an ice cube or two.

ADVANTAGE # SIX – A COMFORTABLE MATTRESS

The queen size bed in the main floor bedroom is very comfortable. We are very happy sleepers here. The yacht club provides linens but we brought our own from the boat – just a touch of home to have our own pillows and sheets. The stairs that lead up to a small loft bedroom serve as shelves for our bags and clothes.
ADVANTAGE # SEVEN – MAID SERVICE

We haven’t taken advantage of this service yet – I have the time to clean up and prefer to do it myself – maybe so it feels more like home rather than a hotel? It’s not a huge space to keep clean and tidy. But Chantal from the yacht club will come up to clean any time and she keeps us supplied with extra towels as required.

In HGTV parlance, the d├ęcor manages to bring the outdoors inside. Notice the satisfactory furniture that probably lived another life on a patio somewhere. Here’s our office/dining room and the living room/den, both situated conveniently along the wall across from the kitchen.

So just what are the disadvantages?
Let’s see what makes the short list.

Lush moist gardens are mosquito havens. Yes, it’s buggy. But we’re used to ‘spraying up’ most days around four in the afternoon even at anchor. Our scent of necessity is Eau de Cruiser with overtones of Deet and a hint of ‘other ingredients’.

Hmm. That’s about it for disadvantages – it actually is a very short list. There’s really not much to complain about. Not everything is up to North American standards, but why should we expect that? We’re not there, we're here - in the Caribbean.

Would we rather be on Beach House at anchor? Yes. Would we like to be on the move, sailing to another island and meeting up with friends? Yes. But while Beach House continues to get some much needed TLC at the boat yard, we’ll manage quite nicely
in our little cottage by the sea.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A HARD DAY'S NIGHT


We’ve been struggling with this blog entry. We like to offer a travelogue of sorts – pictures and information about the places we visit. Well – we’ve been a bit stalled in that regard – time in Canada away from the boat, hauling Beach House for evaluation, finding more problems than we’d budgeted for, waiting for parts to be delivered and then waiting some more for the work to be done. Everything takes longer in the islands. It just does.

Here’s the month-by-month, blow-by-blow description of how Beach House spent her summer vacation.

JUNE
Beach House had a little ‘dock-time’ at Jolly Harbour Marina in Antigua while her crew went to Toronto. After this picture was taken, we took down the enclosure, strapped the dinghy to the foredeck, and tripled up the dock lines. She was ready for a big blow, should it happen.
The big blow didn’t happen. Thankfully.

We spent three weeks visiting family and friends, renewing passports, shopping, and getting the camera repaired – so alas, not many pictures. But there was one notable day when we did have the camera. After some sightseeing in Bruce County, Kim and Terry took us to one of the marinas in Owen Sound for a peek at our first keelboat – Quinkin.
She looked pretty happy there, not missing us at all. Hope she continues to win races.

JULY
Geoff returned to Antigua, leaving the Admiral in Toronto to work for a few more months to stoke the cruising kitty. Neither of us realized at that point just how many dinero that Beach House would swallow up over the summer. Hungry, hungry boat.

The captain’s single-handed trek back to Grenada began with an overnight stop in Deshaies, Guadeloupe and then a sunrise departure.

Look at this - life jacket on, shirt and hat to be protected from the sun, and, learning to take pictures of himself. Almost sounds like multi-tasking.
By the way. The blog photographer’s secret? Hold the camera upside down while taking your own picture – avoids fingers in front of the lens. Who knew?

Geoff spent the next night in The Saintes at the southern end of Guadeloupe. The anchorage just off Bourg des Saintes is now awash with mooring balls, added so recently that there wasn’t a plan in place to collect a fee for them. Suspect that’s been sorted out.

Next stop was the anchorage off Portsmouth, Dominica and another beautiful sunrise departure.

This next picture was taken for my benefit I suspect, so I would have proof that the captain used the safety harness even in the cockpit, not just if he had to go on deck. The insurance company needs a body, doncha know.

When Geoff arrived in Bequia, he was tired - the early morning starts, being on the move all day, doing it solo – he was ready for a bit of a break. On the third morning of his R and R in Bequia, the captain had an adventure and tells the story:

“Lots of fun at 5 am, when Bruce came unstuck and Beach House started sliding backwards and sideways towards other anchored boats. Good old Carl burst to life at first push of the starter switch and we made it safely away to the other side of the anchorage. Nothing like starting the day off with an adrenaline rush! Who need’s coffee?”

This was the first dragging incident for Beach House since leaving Toronto in 2008, but surely won’t be the last. It happens.

Geoff took Beach House over 350 miles from Antigua to Grenada in a leisurely 12 days, alone and in one piece. Well done.

AUGUST
The original plan was to haul Beach House at Grenada Marine, have a survey done, strip the bottom and repaint, check out some hairline cracks in the fiberglass, and change out the cutlass bearing (we had a spare). We had been calling 2011 “The Year of the Boat”, expecting to spend several fat boat units on general maintenance. Surprises awaited.

The haul out was uneventful.

Our friend Ray, from s/v Nighthawk, came to inspect the fiberglass cracks and discovered a further issue - unmistakable signs of electrolysis – damage caused by ungrounded electricity. This can happen to boats that spend their lives at the dock and it’s possible the electrolysis started early on in BH’s life. There’s no real answer to the when or the why. More about the electrolysis shortly.

Ray started in on the fiberglass cracks - they were caused by air bubbles in the original construction. The air pockets in the fiberglass were weak spots that ultimately showed as cracks. Ray ground them down, laid up some fiberglass, then matched the white of the hull and the blue of the boot stripe.
Nice work, Ray. That’s what friends are for. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – everybody loves Raymond.
By the way, the white spots below the waterline will be covered with bottom paint when we get to that stage.

The prop removal to get at the cutlass bearing didn’t go as smoothly as expected. Geoff and the yard crew made several attempts to remove it.
Success came with a problem. While removing the prop shaft, the coupling to the gearbox broke. The new cutlass bearing went in smoothly but it took a week for the replacement coupling to show up. Paying for an unexpected part is one thing – paying for additional time in the yard while waiting for it? Ouch.

The surveyor, Bob Goodchild, poked and prodded Beach House and pronounced her pretty fit for a 26 year old boat, but he was in agreement with our buddy Ray, the guys in the yard, and the captain himself - the electrolysis damage to the rudder shaft had to be dealt with – a new rudder was the only fix.

Geoff’s research into a new rudder brought some good news. The company that made the rudders for the Endeavour 42s was still in business and still had the mold. It wasn’t going to be cheap to have one made in Florida and shipped to Grenada, but it was much better than having one fabricated in the islands. The cost and time to do it down here was exponentially greater - $$$$$$$$$ rather than $$$. I’m not sure that’s mathematically sound, but you get the drift.

The through hulls have suffered corrosion from the electrolysis as well and still have to be inspected and dealt with. Another boat unit bites the dust?

SEPTEMBER
Due to cost factors at Grenada Marine, Geoff decided to move Beach House up to Carriacou and use the services of Tyrrel Bay Yacht Haulout. He hauled the boat to remove the rudder and take a few additional measurements requested by the rudder manufacturer in Florida.

Beach House was then towed, rudderless, to a mooring ball in Tyrrel Bay.

 
So far, so good. The captain ordered the rudder from Florida and hunkered down to wait.

A week later, Geoff was having his own quiet happy hour in the cockpit, watching the wind pick up and switch to the west, an unexpected about face from the usual eastern trade winds. Beach House dances quite a bit at anchor or on a mooring – the captain watched her swing all the way to port, waiting for the swing back to starboard. Didn’t happen. Beach House kept going. The mooring had given way. Geoff let the anchorage know on the VHF that Beach House was adrift without a rudder, then went forward to drop the anchor. It caught on another boat’s mooring, but not before both boats had incurred some damage. Our boat name on the port bow took quite a beating and the spare anchor hangers were bent – minor ‘injuries’ to the boat, given the possibilities.
The other boat suffered a bent stanchion and broken lifeline. The owners are still away and the yard is handling the ‘flow of information’. We’ve heard nothing yet.

 
A week later, I returned from the big city. The last leg of my journey home to Beach House was on this eight-seater, certainly the smallest plane I’ve ever flown on, and the flight was the shortest in my experience – all of 20 minutes in the air from Grenada to Carriacou.
I was the only passenger with a crew of two.
Lah-di-dah – a private flight.

Hurricane season isn’t officially over yet, so there isn’t a full complement of cruisers here in Tyrrel Bay. That will change over the next month. In the meantime, we’ve enjoyed some lovely visits with some lovely friends.

Rene and Cheryl from s/v Gypsy Blues came over to Beach House for happy hour, joined by John and Shirley from s/v More Gin.

And another day we walked to Paradise Beach with John and Shirley for lunch at the Hardwood Bar and Snacket. Check out the sign for a clue to the name.

OCTOBER
So here we are with summer gone and October slipping away, getting to know Carriacou better than we ever expected. The quiet village of Harvey Vale circles the anchorage here in Tyrrel Bay. There are several modest grocery stores and most days, Denise is at her roadside kiosk, with bananas and eggs, grapefruit and tomatoes. On Saturday mornings, Lucy offers her veggies under the tree by the commercial dock, and Rufus specializes in wonderful herbs just down the road – fresh basil, thyme, and chadon beni. Once a week, we take the bus into the capital, Hillsborough, for the bits of shopping we can’t find here. It’s all good.

And Hallelujah, stop the presses! This just in. The new rudder has cleared customs in Grenada and will arrive here in Carriacou on Saturday, just in time for Geoff’s birthday. Could he ask for a better present?