10-26 Update

It’s been a busy week, but progress has been made. I suspected a few small leaks we had below were due to old sealant at the stanchion bases so decided to fix that issue. Of course, there was little uniformity about the sizes of the fasteners which held the stanchions to the rail. The biggest job was removing all the stanchions, drilling out the few odd sized machine screw holes, then filling same holes with West epoxy, and finally drilling and tapping these holes for the 3/8-16 SS helicoils (threaded inserts) for the new 3/8 SS machine screws I brought back with me from the States. The machine screws were available here in Trinidad, but very expensive; forget about the price of the helicoils. Anyone who has ever drilled and tapped a hole knows how exact the alignment has to be, in this case through the SS base plate of each stanchion. Working on deck in the 90-95 F degree heat didn’t help matters but everything worked out fine. Other projects: I removed the dodger to have the sun exposed vinyl replaced with Strataglass (Sean of Superb Canvas). After much deliberation, I made arrangements for the yard here (Peake Yacht Services) to do the bottom job. Their price was fair, I supply the paint and primer, and this will avoid the fiasco experienced last year at Power Boats where I ended up doing the job myself. After 30+ years of doing bottom work on our different boats, I figured I deserved a break. I took the MaxProp to Chris Maclaran’s shop here on campus to have it cleaned up; another beautiful job by his crew at a very good price. I wanted to double check the settings recommended for the MaxProp install, but have received confusing phone and email responses from PYI, Inc. I’ve heard similar stories from other cruisers and their MaxProps, so head’s up about that outfit. Hopefully, the settings advised will work out; if not, it’s an expensive haul-out to remedy. I had arranged with Mitchell, the welder at West Coast Fabricators, to fix our aft SS pulpit base which had developed a crack around its round base to the vertical tubing. To weld this, Mitchell needed the pulpit freed up to lift it up from the caprail. Here we go: empty the lazarette, figure out which nuts go to which machine screws on each stanchion base (3 per base), and working alone, get those damn nuts off which appeared not to have been touched since their installation when the boat was built. I must say, access was a bit easier than getting to those nuts at the base of the foot blocks, but I was on my back stretched out in the lazarette, reaching overhead with a headlamp on, but was able to put a vise grips on each nut so I could use a screwdriver up above. Fun and games; the pulpit’s ready for welding. On to the next project...

10-18 Update

It was like entering one of those storage lockers you see on Storage Wars. Stuff was everywhere; I struggled to find a place to sit. Fortunately, having had six months to think about things and prioritize, I had a plan. The first thing was to get those foot blocks remounted; a two person job. The amount of room between the hull and the inner bulwark is really, really tight, and in the Westsail, the footblocks are through bolted in a very difficult area to access. Drilling the holes into the new teak pad and down into that space has to be exact; if the hole is off 1/8”, it hits fiberglass; that’s no good as a washer and nut have to go on each of the three bolts. I hired John Francois, the local woodworker here as Peake’s to help me. His shop is fully equipped and the man knows his way around tools. As I expected, with his guidance, the holes were spot on, and then it was up to me to clear out both areas that I needed to squeeze into, reach up over my head with a socket extension (actually, two), and get those washers and nuts on. Mission accomplished, each block was bedded down and it was on to the next project. One of those things I had meant to do four years ago in Hawaii when I designed and installed the expanded PVC bimini was to put in an integral rain catcher. I decided on an eyebrow design, and the pieces, which I had cut and routed beforehand, needed to be held in place above while screw holes were drilled from the bottom, through the bimini, and into each piece. Again, a two person job; between John and I, it was short work. I had already taped off the top as the pieces are glued, then screwed from the bottom onto the bimini, a barbed through hull was placed into each corner, then the seams were sealed with bedding compound. It came out just as I had envisioned and looks great. The really good news is that after John left, I was able to start putting together the port quarter berth and move stuff from the salon back into that area. Now you see why those foot blocks had to be installed first off; everything else got stuffed onto that berth! Things were looking up. I had to manhandle the large mainsail out of the salon and up the companionway myself; another two person job that got done by one person, me! The staysail is much smaller, fenders and oars followed up to the deck, more "stuff" was moved onto that quarter berth and, voila, there was a lot more space in the salon. Even the V-berth has now been organized. The air-cooled refridge has been working well, and that cold beer was well deserved; not a bad pace for the first couple of days back.

10-13 Return to Trinidad

Unfortunately, from Tampa to Port of Spain, Trinidad on American Airlines there are only two flights daily, one in the early morning, which means you have to get up about 0300 to get ready and get to the airport, and the other in the early afternoon, which lands late enough to get to the boatyard near midnight. The connecting flight goes through Miami either way, and the only reason I mention this is that the layover between the early morning flights is about one hour. Yes, if the plane is delayed, or you sit towards the back of the plane and have to wait for everybody to get off, chances are good that you’re going to miss that flight to Trinidad. So…I found myself walking at a really fast clip, checking the flight board to make sure the gate hadn’t been changed (that’s happened before), and making it to the departure gate with less than 10 minutes to spare to boarding. Not too bad, especially dragging along one carry-on bag, a very full backpack, and a large laptop computer case. The $11 extra charge for that seat on the aisle toward the front of the plane was money well spent. The line through Immigration at Port of Spain is always long, but the very nice Official stamped 3 months in my passport, and I was off to luggage claim and Customs. Boat parts for Yachts in Transit aren’t taxed here, which is one reason to haul out in Trinidad. However, again there are long lines and wait times, and it’s necessary to go immediately from Customs at the airport to Customs at Crews Inn, Chagauramas (as an aside, this is where you check in when arriving by yacht into Chagauramas) to declare the boat parts you’ve brought in (you need a copy of original invoicing) and where your baggage is inspected; then you’re officially cleared in. It was late afternoon and we encountered the daily rush hour traffic back to Chagauramas but again, the Customs Official was very accommodating and in about 15 minutes I was all set to go to the boatyard. Infini was sitting where I left her in June and looked pretty good, but I forgot to ask the office to have a ladder waiting, so didn’t go aboard. I’m staying in the hotel at Peake’s for a few nights while I organize the boat to be habitable again, so I put all my bags in the room, went upstairs to the Zanzibar Restaurant to get a beer to go sit downstairs by the water, and called Sue to check in. It’s been a long day but it’s good to be back. Work starts tomorrow.