August 2011 - Trinidad to Venezuela - Page 2

8 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
We haven’t run the engine or generator for six days, so I started both of them.  The engine ran fine after I primed the fuel with the auxiliary fuel pump.  The generator started okay, ran for 5 minutes, but then cut out because of air in the fuel line again. This is very annoying.  Falco the mechanic said that it may be dirty fuel causing the problem, so I turned on the auxiliary fuel pump to re-circulate the diesel through the primary fuel filter to clean it.

I spent most of the day of running about organising things.  I dropped the wind generator into Kiss Energy to get the bearings replaced and went to see Mitch - we’re still on target to fit the Arch on Thursday.

A bit of woodwork in the aft cabin

The local dealer for Iridium satellite phones quoted me £150 for a 12 foot extension cable with two TNC connectors – the connectors are £35 each plus £45 labour to fit them.  I’m not going to bother and will sort it out when (and if) we get a SIM card.

9 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
Glenys decided to go to a shopping mall in the morning – there’s a taxi company that organise a weekly trip.

While she was off the boat, I cut the wood surrounding our bed to fit the in-fill.  It was a hot messy job – I didn’t want the fans on because they would have blown the saw dust around, so it was like a sauna in the back cabin.  It took me five hours to cut, shape, sand and varnish the wood.

In an attempt to get the boat cooler, Glenys bought a big piece of white Sunbrella and rigged it up over the top of main boom above the bimini.  The idea is that the white fabric will reflect the heat away from the bimini, which is getting very hot during the day and is radiating heat down into the cockpit.

Ian and Jackie from “Blackthorn Lady” came for a beer in the evening to discuss going up the Manamo River which is part of the Orinoco Delta.  This Venezuelan river is very isolated with Indians in dug-out canoes and piranha fish, so it will be a mini-adventure.  It’s only about 60 miles from here and will only take a day to get there. We agreed that we’ll go with them towards the end of next week.

With some trepidation we slept in the front cabin.

10 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
It was a hot night - even with the fan blowing we sweated all night.  I had a go at trying to get the generator started, but gave up after ten minutes – I rang Falco and told him to come out.

I picked up the wind generator from Kiss Energy – it only cost £45 to service the bearings.  I did small jobs during the day including removing our old solar panel from the guard rails - Ian from “Blackthorn Lady” is buying it from us.  The carpenter fitted the teak decking over the repair on the aft deck.

Falco came and started the generator – he just had to bleed more air out of the system.  I hadn’t been aggressive enough. We ran the generator for 15 minutes and it seems fine.  Falco checked the primary fuel filter through which I’ve been re-circulating the fuel and it was very dirty.  He reckons that we have dirty fuel tanks, so he’s going to arrange for a specialist company to come in and test the diesel.  I’m not convinced that dirty fuel is causing the air in the fuel lines.

The white Sunbrella shade above the bimini seems to be keeping the cockpit cooler, so Glenys bought another big piece of white Sunbrella. The intention is to have a big white shade the full length of the boom and another piece over the front deck.

We moved back into the aft cabin, which was a relief.

11 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
I walked around to see Mitch about the timetable for fitting the Arch.  He wasn’t there but his assistant was still polishing the stainless steel and I could see that it wasn’t finished.  I rang him and confirmed that it will be installed tomorrow – bummer.

I went back to the boat and read up the cruising notes for the Manamo River, while Glenys went into Port of Spain to buy mosquito netting and small items to trade with the native Warao Indians.  There are an estimated 15,000 of these indigenous people living in the Orinoco delta. They have few possessions and everything has to be transported in their dugout canoes, so they love to trade with any passing boats.  Glenys is looking forward to a bit of bartering.

Mitch picked me up in the afternoon and we went through the final touches for the Arch, working out exactly where to put the lights and fishing rod holders, etc.  He’s certain that it will be fitted tomorrow.

Mitch fitting the Arch

Mitch is also making a pair of “storm drogue” chain plates for me.  These will fit under the aft mooring cleats and provide a strong attachment point for a “Series drogue”.  This is a long rope with lots of small cones sewn on to it, which, if we are caught in a bad storm, we can deploy off of the back of the boat.  The theory is that the boat should then point downwind and be slowed down to 1 knot. We can then go and hide down below without having to worry about being capsized.   I bought some 160mm long stainless steel bolts to fit the chain plates - I’m in shock because it cost me £55 for six bolts with washers and nuts.

Glenys came back with her trading goodies – small packets of crisps, party blowers, balloons, colouring books and pencils for the kids and pieces of brightly coloured material for the ladies.

12 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
Mitch came at nine o’clock and delivered the storm drogue chain plates.  He still had a little bit of welding to do on the Arch and was having a problem getting bolts that were 7 inches long.  I spent the morning removing deck fittings from the aft deck and drilling the holes for the chain plates.  By lunch time, Mitch still hadn’t been able to find any bolts, but could get some by Monday.  I told him that he could use the ones that I bought yesterday to fit the Arch and I’ll do the chain plates on Monday.

Glenys went to another shopping mall on a taxi with other cruisers and came back with heavy stuff, like milk, coke, orange juice, etc.  She’s building up her stocks for going to the Manamo River where we will have to be self-sufficient for two weeks.

Mitch arrived up after lunch and we fitted the Arch in position.  It was a laborious process but was all done by five o’clock.  It looks good and I spent the evening, checking that everything was in the correct place.

13 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
I was up at six o’clock this morning worrying about not being able to get the wiring through the inside of the Arch tubing - the last thing that I want to have to do is take the Arch off again.  It took me two hours to pull four “mouse” lines through so that I can pull the wires through later.

Fitting the wind generator

Mitch turned up at eight o’clock and spent all morning attaching the back part of the pushpit to complete the job.  I pottered about buying bolts and drill bits to fit the various pieces of equipment.

After lunch, I made some brackets for the solar panels and started to fit the wind generator.  I had a panic attack when I dropped the mouse line for the wind generator cable.  The path through the tubing is quite convoluted and I was in despair at how to get it back through.  Jimmy from “3/4 Time” suggested using a small fishing weight on a bit of fishing line.  Five minutes later, I had the mouse line through again – I owe Jimmy a six pack of beer for that tip. I didn’t quite manage to get the wind generator installed before I gave up at six o’clock.

I hardly ever wear a watch now, but I know when it is six o’clock because pairs of green parrots fly directly over us going to roost in some trees over by Crews Inn marina.  They are very noisy, squawking continually as they fly on an arrow-straight line to go to bed.

14 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
I was up at half past six and spent all day fitting the various pieces of equipment to the Arch and running the wiring.  There are five aerials, two flood lights, a navigation light, two 185 Watt solar panels and a wind generator.  By six o’clock, I’d got everything fitted and wired up at the Arch.  All I have to do now is to run the wiring through the lazarette to the cupboard in the back cabin and connect it together.

Glenys spent most of the day helping me and doing a bit of alterations to the bimini.

We had our regular Sunday night out - spare ribs and chips with a pitcher of beer.  We’ve definitely been here too long.