Saturday, 25 March 2017

Of Projects and Acquisitions

The cockpit in it's original state: great for a day-sail 

Not just a cockpit, it's a multi-tool! 
We needed more space that was actually going to be comfortable for extended sailing.  Dave has been toying with designs over the last couple of years.  Here is our process: To make sure the wooden structure would be strong, these are some of the pieces Dave cut up that we counted:

29 triangle bits
10 long strips
122 bracing blocks
Marking out. Some pre-cut bits in all directions 

Posts made from one large, very, very hard piece of timber, approximately 8x2" that made the saw smoke, it was working so hard!
The portable power box, currently
hanging, often found lying around
somewhere on the workshop floor!

Curved rafters that Dave worked up such a sweat and lost much blood to the mozzies, trying to plane them down evenly.
Using the Bimini frame to draw what will
be the curved rafters.

We bought 4 sheets of plywood for the cockpit and Salem's bed. The 8x2 we salvaged from a rubbish heap in curacao two years ago (no more diving board/walk the plank sorry boys!). Alot of the wood actually came from a slat bed Lelle was throwing out!  All held together with a lot of resin!
While it might appear I was helping hold spacers
between the rafters, I failed miserably, not focused enough, it all kept slipping and Dave came up with some more reliable way to do it!

The project has taken the most part of over a month, with some major side-tracking to help Eli sort out his online technical schooling issues, the rigging calculations, and last, but not least in Salem's eyes, his new berth (bed).
Salem's original bed a.k.a the saloon settee
The fun, easy part: ripping it down

Sawdust with your salad? Dave the Trojan working
right up till dinner is served. 
Structure coming to place
The only time the electric knife
we were given has ever been
used: for cutting mattresses!  

So Salem no longer has to share his bed with the messy eaters of this family!

Salem making like an ostrich with his head in the sand over his school work! Nice bed though!
Dave saw just how deep the rabbit hole was while starting out on the cockpit extension project.  After much deliberation about making holes into the boat, he snapped his hardened steel tap and die into the aft deck. No amount of drilling out would make it budge from atop. Down below, into our aft-cabin he ventured, pulling off the ceiling, held in place by a jigsaw puzzle of pieces, with no real logic of sequence, but held in by a stack of expensive stainless screws! There's a saying amongst sailors that goes "if you don't know knots, tie lots."
I suspect the previous owner took this approach to carpentry, "if you're lacking in skills, grab a ton of screws and drill!" ( I know, definitely not as catchy as the sailors' rhyme). After spending quite some time dismantling the rabbit hole and the offending tap removed from beneath successfully and without qualms, I was in the saloon (lounge) when an exasperated "Vicki!" came from our aft cabin. Rushing in concerned at the alarm in Dave's voice, I was met with an unforgettable view which I hope can be explained well enough with words, because when I begged to grab the camera, there was a much deeper, more desperate, response.. "no!..can you just help!"
Well, fair enough.  So I was met with the view of Dave on his back on our bed. Because the ceiling is only a metre from our bed, his arm and legs were sprawled out pinning the plywood to the ceiling panel, sweat poring, his free hand frantically messing about with screws and his trusty hand drill, which were not complying to the necessary procedure.  Oh what a funny sight to behold, poor Dave, he doesn't get much help from me!
When your wife says.."Honey, can you bring the crowbar to bed?!"
Don't worry, this is a family show and there is a decent explanation for this. Due to the dismantling as mentioned above and the myriad of jobs getting done, a ceiling panel still remains sitting next to the bed, well, more so, taking over my side of the bed. But, with the trusty crowbar, it can be wedged up out of the way!
Eden on our bed doing his online school work 
Dave of course prefers the version of needing to take the crowbar to bed to pry his wife off him!!
Ahem, think we better get back onto the cockpit extension. .

Lots of small pieces adding up to a nice extension. . A
lot like a multi-tool! 
Plywood roof in place with raised edges for hand holds
also for rain catching. We now have two catchment
holes at front for that purpose. 

We had ordered a gypsy from the UK. In what was supposed to be a quick five day max. wait, we just received it a month later to the day! The shipping company decided to cross out the Netherland Antilles on the address and put Saint Barthelemy under Bonaire instead. So our gypsy enjoyed a month's vacation on the other side of the Caribbean while we frantically emailed and phoned various people trying to re-route it.
Ooh, lovely shiny new gypsy 

We are very pleased with it though, there appears to be no slipping of the links whatsoever.

 Eli is probably the most relieved to be replaced by a shiny bronze thing so he (hopefully) no longer needs to hold the chain straight and steady. This is a rather unpleasant job while Dave is winching the chain up off the ocean floor as it often arrives in an awesome combination of muddy, slimy, barnacled, and smelling like funky fish. - Never easy to clean off hands.
We also mentioned to Lelle our need for more water storage and another sail suitable for light winds - the Panama to Marquess being notorious for little to no wind .. the doldrums, basically speaking.
So look what Lelle managed to scrounge from around the yard. .

Three water bladders, in need of a little repair but totally doable, creating an extra 410 litres approximately!

This sail is called a bluper apparently popular for a time on race boats in the eighties.  Turns out it's exactly the right size, give or take a mm or two and should be great for light winds.
So even though we are still waiting on our rigging it does feel like we're getting a lot of jobs ticked off the list and Lelle (pictured above with his precious motor bike he's just fixed up in the foreground ) has been a great help.
They might not look it but they're celebrating on the inside!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Dealing with blood sucking locals

Lora, orange troupial, bananaquits
noisy but pretty, not blood-sucking!

Like some bad taste horror film, those minibeast draculas hover in hordes at our mesh covered ports, their shrill incessant whining reminding us it's only a matter of time.. our bodies will be theirs for the taking.  They will have no mercy.
They greedily devour more than their body weight, slowing them down so they're like fat, flying donkeys, leaving pin-cushioned zombie people in their wake.
This only fuels more of a blood killing rampage by the slow reacting humans, the taste of revenge driving them to destroy all.
..Bit dramatic I know. The joys of being woken over and over by these blood suckers get my tired, over-imaginative mind reeling!  (I'm talking about mosquitos, just in case my nonsensical musings still don't make any sense!!)

I've even resorted to naming our galley "Mozzies Hollow. " Due to the fact that every freakin' time I'm there preparing meals or refresments, those sneaky little buggers take the liberty of turning me into their personalised smorgasbord. No amount of repellant or spray seems to deter them. Grrr!
One of these days I will clean all the blood smudges off our walls and ceilings, but at the moment, they still remind me of many a small victory!!
Looking down to the ocean floor from the jetty,
looks a bit like a moose head to me!

On a lighter note, there is something quite wonderful about being able to turn on a tap and water flows!
We filled up our tanks with some extended hoses from the workshop. No more multiple trips carrying a backpack of 1 litre bottles up our companionway steps, crawling across the cockpit out from under the bimmini and mosquito net, and down the ladder to fill up, then return, in reverse order, obviously... More often than not, disappointingly, the precious water cargo is used within an hour or so - who's up for the next trip? Hmm, the silence is overwhelming!
Eli's turn

Hoisted Dave up the mast in our slightly dodgy bosuns' chair so he could inspect the state of our standing rigging.
On the return trip, muscles straining to lower him slowly and carefully down by rope, so he doesn't swing and smash against a stay, spreader or mast; as Murphy's law would have it, he was 3/4 of the way back down before he noticed a cracked strand had revealed itself. At least it made the decision easy: replace the lot.
The two elder boys (much to the disgust of Mr number 3 who really doesn't like to miss out) took turns being hoisted also, equipped with a measuring tape so we could measure each individual wire, to help us get an idea of quantity for ordering.

Salem chilling at the spreaders

We found stashed among some papers and files, a newspaper advertisement from 1998 with a picture of our boat for sale. It was on a trailer on the hard, but had the rigging in place. We know she was launched in 2000, so the ad would suggest the rigging is some 19 years old! Admittedly she's only had about 7 years in the water, but clearly has weathered a fair amount!
We are currently awaiting our rigging and hardware order to arrive from Sweden. Lelle has found a good deal from a very good quality company called Selden and has very kindly offered to do the labour for free, with Dave's help!
Any chance to make fire, even if it's already hot!

The boys had the opportunity to go watch their mate Luca take part in the local sailing regatta- a kid's race out to Klein Bonaire Island (Little Bonaire) and back. They were out for a full half day with Luca and Lelle and even got to be part of a rescue team, driving a pirogue!

Salem above, Eli below water

The day before, the four boys were out for most of the day doing cliff jumps off a rock ledge.                                

Eli and Luca have been working away fixing an old vespa, with some success,
Salem on push start duty

enough to get riding it, around the yard at least.

Eden always up for a race!

Oh the look of glee!

Tues 21st February, arose with suprise to find dew on deck. Apparently cooler mornings remind us summer is near! Peculiar contrast to NZ.
Speaking of peculiarities, I'm sure Kiwi's and Aussies can appreciate this observation: in spite of the heat, flies are rarely seen. We cook inside (sometimes meat), we have open large rubbish bags inside the boat, often containing lots of food scraps, yet we have had maybe 4 visiting flies in the last 5 weeks! The most annoying thing about summer back home is when you just want to relax in the sun, maybe with a cold beer, and you are confronted with the very necessary task of bashing a business of flies. (I had to look this one up, it's actually true, not a swarm, but a business!!- Not sure how business owners would appreciate this strange, oddity!)

The scenery along part of my
bike ride grocery run

Biking home from grocery run one day, there was a surprisingly pleasant road block...

kids' parade

One of many events during Carnival week is the kids' carnival.  All the businesses closed up (shops this time, not flies!) the shop owners and attendants milled around outside waiting for the kids to swagger through. The blasting music from massive speakers on the back of trucks driving between the kids groups, announcing the brightly apparelled kids are near.
Large, homemade grandstands are built on the properties of peoples' homes - specifically as viewing platforms - along the circuit that the carnival procession passes through; which is several city blocks, taking I would guess over an hour for the parade to walk around.
There are also judges' stands at various locations on that circuit and people make all sorts of food and drink to refresh the masses watching!
Not having cheap, public transportation here and time being of the essence, we decided to opt out this year for watching the events take place.

Dave has been doing a stellar job pouring himself into a rather large, time consuming project, that will make a significant difference to our cruising life. But I will leave that for next time when there will hopefully be a finished product to show, and the process that went into it..
Thanks for reading,
"Pasa bon dia!"
Papiamento for: have a good day!