August 2011 - Trinidad to Venezuela

1 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
Most of the weather forecasters are predicting that the low pressure area will be classified as a Tropical Storm today.  It has moved a further 60 miles north and is expected to pass between Martinique and Dominica.  It shouldn’t affect us now.

Glenys made the infill for our bed.  I now need to cut the wood surrounding the mattress, so that the infill will fit in place.  It’s going to be a very messy job and we’ll have to move into the front cabin for a few nights while we varnish the wood again.  I’ll have to install a fan in the front cabin first; otherwise we’ll die in the heat.

I spent the day working on wiring for the Arch.  It never ceases to amaze me how long each job takes on a boat.  I’m installing the solar panel regulator into a cupboard and the installation instructions say that it shouldn’t be installed in an enclosed space.  So my grand plan is to install a cooling fan like the ones in a computer case and extract the hot air into a space at the back of the boat.  I bought some 2” ducting and a couple of fittings and it took me four hours to make two 3 inch holes in the bulkheads to fit the ducting.

Running the wiring for the Arch

The rest of the day was spent tracing some more redundant wiring and working out how much cable I will need to buy.

In the evening, we went to a pot luck barbeque at the Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association (TTSA) which was good fun and we met a few more cruisers.  On the way back, we passed a local sport fishing boat who were unloading their catch and I managed to buy two big 3lb snapper for £5.

2 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
Tropical Storm Emily has already passed Martinique and is on its way to Puerto Rico.  It is well out of our way.

We haven’t run the engine for five days, so I started it.  Unfortunately it died after 30 seconds and wouldn’t start again.  The generator started and ran OK.  Falco came and had a look at it but couldn’t see any fuel leaks.  He simply turned on the auxiliary fuel pump for 30 seconds and the engine started and ran OK.  He thinks that there is a small air leak somewhere allowing fuel to drain back into the tank.  His only suggestion is that I run the auxiliary fuel pump to prime the fuel system if the engine has been standing for a few days.  This is driving me crazy.

I spent most of the morning running around buying cable and other bits while Glenys did a few jobs on the boat.  Mitch is progressing with the Arch and hopefully we’ll have the first fitting tomorrow.

After lunch, the heat was so intense that Glenys cracked up and went shopping in the air conditioned West Mall.  I tried to continue to do work in the lazarette, but it’s a tight space that I have to crawl into and after an hour my t-shirt was wringing wet with sweat.  I gave up, changed my t-shirt and went for a walk to buy a few more bits.

I called in at a woodworking shop and they’ve quoted me £30 to replace a small section of the teak deck where the wind generator pole used to be.  The temperature dropped at four o’clock and I spent two hours chiselling out the existing teak planks ready to be replaced.

We had snapper for dinner which was fantastic.

First Fitting of the Arch

3 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
It was a hot sticky night and, for some reason, we had mosquitos in our cabin - I didn’t sleep very well and was bitten quite a few times.  I zapped three of the little devils this morning, but not before one of them had bitten me twice more on the ankles. The heat and mosquitos are getting me down - we’ve been in Trinidad for two and a half weeks now and I want to go.

Mitch came and did first fitting of the Arch which cheered me up – the end is in sight.  The Arch fitted in the correct place - with a little bit of pushing and twisting.  Mitch said that the boat is out of square.  To which I replied, “Of course it is – nothing on a boat is ever square”.  The Arch looks to be the correct dimensions and looks good.

I fitted the ducting in the lazarette for the cooling fan for the aft cupboard.  It was a mission crawling into the lazarette, applying silicone sealant and tightening bolts, while Glenys was in contorted positions below holding the other end of the bolts.

The damaged deck was my next job.  The deck is made from two layers of fibreglass with a 1 inch thick core.  The core in the corner of the deck is made from plywood and unfortunately it was very wet and rotten because the deck fittings for the wind generator hadn’t been sealed properly.  I dug out the rotten wood, slowly making the hole bigger, looking for dry wood.  I eventually ended up with a one foot wide hole with damp, but solid wood at the edges.  I decided that this was a bigger job than I wanted to take on, so I talked to a guy based in the boatyard called “Cow”, who is going to give me a quote and could start work tomorrow.

Now that we’ve done the first fitting of the Arch, I removed the four stainless steel rods that supported the pushpit.  I’d been dreading the job, but in the end, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  The extended hole drill worked very well and it only took me an hour to drill them all out.

I’ve decided that the mosquitos are coming in through our aft bathroom, so we’re going to stop using the shower in there, keep the window shut and I fumigated the whole room with insect spray.  Hopefully that will give us a good night’s sleep.


4 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
It was a better night - it was still damn hot, but at least we managed to keep the mosquitos out of the bedroom.

Glenys worked on the cockpit cushions today, but only managed to finish one of the four.  I worked on running some new cables for the solar panels and a rear floodlight that will be on the Arch.

Cow arrived and we agree £300 for him to repair the damaged hole in the aft deck.  It seemed to be a bit expensive, but the materials come to £150. He came back in the afternoon and started to chop everything away, but rain stopped play.

Making Cockpit Cushions

I did a bit of running about in the afternoon, trying to figure out what type of cable I need for our satellite phone aerial.  We’ve never bothered to pay for a SIM card for the phone because we can just use normal mobile phones while we’re in the Caribbean. Satellite phones are expensive beasts - it costs £25/month and £1/minute.  I don’t think that we’ll use the satellite phone for two years, so I’m a bit reticent to spend a lot of money on a new cable at the moment.

5 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
It was another mosquito free night in our cabin, so I think that we’ve found the crack in our defences.  Unfortunately, I still have to spray myself with insect repellent as soon as I come out of our cabin, otherwise the little morning ankle-biters get me.

It was a day of doing bits of jobs.  Glenys made another cockpit cushion and I put a new fan in the front cabin ready to move into there when I cut the wood surrounding our bed in the next few days.  I did a bit more work on the wiring for the Arch and cut a three inch hole in the cupboard wall to allow air in for the cooling fan.

Cow came and tried to do the repair to the deck, but it kept raining hard and everything managed to get wet again even though he tried to cover it up.

We’re just waiting for the Arch to be finished.

Port of Spain, Trinidad

6 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
We had a day off today and went into Port of Spain to do a bit of shopping - it’s a really bustling place on a Saturday morning.

After eating a Roti for lunch, we went to the cinema and watched Captain America.  We had dinner and went to bed.

7 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
It’s Sunday today, so nobody is working.  I spent the day doing a few small jobs - treading water waiting for the Arch to be fitted.  Glenys continued with the cockpit cushions, but gave up after lunch because the heat and humidity was so oppressive.

I took the wind generator apart with the intention of rewiring the cable, but it was so difficult to get apart that I panicked and gave up.  The wind generator is nine years old and the bearings and seals look like they need changing.  I have some spares, but I think that I’ll take it back to the manufacturer to get it serviced tomorrow.

Cow came back today and finished off fibre-glassing the deck – I’ll be able to get the carpenter to put the teak decking in place now.  It will be nice to tick off another completed job.  I’m still hoping to be out of here in a week’s time.

We went out for a meal because Glenys couldn't face cooking in this heat – spare ribs and chips with a pitcher of beer.  We’ve been here so long that we’re getting into a routine.