August 2011 - Trinidad to Venezuela - Page 3

15 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
I woke up at four o’clock in the morning with the subconscious part my brain telling me that the Arch wasn’t square to the boat.  I climbed out of bed and stared at the vertical and horizontal sections of the structure and, sure enough, it looked to be about five degrees out.  In particular, the wind generator pole was definitely not vertical and the solar panels weren’t horizontal.  I spent an hour working out that we need to take just over an inch off the rear main support because the deck slopes up towards the stern.

At nine o’clock, I went to see Mitch and he agreed that he would sort it out. My dilemma was whether it was worth the effort of removing all of the equipment, removing the Arch, re-doing the welding work that we did two days ago and then re-running the cables – all for a small five degree slope.  Back at the boat, I discussed it with Glenys and we stared at the slight “lean” for about ten minutes before I decided that if we didn’t do it, I would spend the next ten years looking at the Leaning Arch of Alba.

Mitch adjusting the Arch

I rang Mitch. He came over straight away and agreed that we should remove 1 1/8” from the rear support. Glenys and I removed the solar panels, pulled the wiring up inside the tubing, leaving some iron wire that won’t melt when Mitch has to weld.  By lunchtime, we’d finished our bit and the arch was ready to lift off the boat.

Mitch arrived at one o’clock and worked all afternoon to cut out the small section of tubing, re-weld, re-polish and install the Arch back on the boat.  We finished at six o’clock and had a celebratory beer.

I have a regular anti-mosquito routine in the evening. Shower, apply insect repellent to exposed skin and then sort out the back cabin - close window in heads, make sure that mosquito screen is in place on hatch, turn on fans, spray room with insect killer spray and shut the door behind me.  It seems to be effective – we are having mosquito free nights now.

16 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
I was up at half past six, sorting out the wiring.  The mouse wire for the wind generator snapped as I was pulling it down, so I had to remove the wires for the navigation light, the aft flood light and the wind generator and then use the fishing weight (again) to feed a mouse line down the tubing for the wind generator.  The rest of the wiring pulled though okay.

I fitted the various pieces of equipment to the arch and re-wired everything – 5 Aerials, wind generator, three lights.  Reluctantly, I crawled into the hot lazarette locker and spent an hour running the wiring through pipes into the cupboard in the back cabin.  I was then able to connect most of the wiring in the cupboard.

We’ve read that the mosquitos and horse flies are murder in the mornings and evenings in the Manamo River, so Glenys is on a mission to make a mosquito net that will hang under the bimini and cover the entire cockpit.  She went into town to buy binding tape and more mosquito netting – we can’t buy mosquito netting by the yard, so she’s had to buy ready-made nets for queen sized beds.

It was absolutely boiling today.  We always wear t-shirts because they soak up the sweat – it’s much better than having the sweat run off the end of your elbows or nipples.  Glenys is constantly running to the launderette because most days we go through two changes of clothes.

I was absolutely exhausted by seven o’clock and fell down the companion way steps while trying to carry two tool boxes down.  I landed in a heap after a six foot fall, bouncing off the steps with my backside and doubling up over the tool boxes.  I was lucky not to have broken something – I got away with a bad bruise on my left rib cage.  I’ve reached a low point.

Cockpit mosquito net

17 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
I had a lie-in this morning and didn’t get started until seven o’clock.  My day was taken up with lots of small finishing jobs today – I fitted the storm drogue chain plates, fitted the solar panels and completed the wiring.

I fitted the vane for our Hydrovane self-steering and, sure enough, it hit the Arch at many points of sail.  I chopped 16 inches off the frame and it clears most of the Arch.  I took the bits to Mitch and he is going to weld it back together to that it is 16 inches shorter and 6 inches wider.  Hopefully that will give us enough vane area for the Hydrovane to vane to work correctly.

Glenys spent the day making the cockpit mosquito net and helping me.  Mike from “El Lobo” spotted her trying the netting out and shouted in a Geordie accent, “Net Curtains? Where d’you think you are, Pet?”

We’re getting close to being shipshape now – another day of jobs and we should be ready to go.

18 August 2011    Chagaramus, Trinidad
I connected the solar panels and they were pumping 10 Amps into the batteries at eight o’clock in the morning.  At midday, they were putting in 23 Amps which should be more than enough to keep us going without running the generator every day.

It’s Thursday today, so we contacted Ian from “Blackthorn Lady” and barring any major problems, we’ll clear out tomorrow, fill up with fuel and leave for the Manamo River on Saturday.  There are two other boats going at the same time – “Blackthorn Lady” &” Pogeyan” (Steve and Rikzene).  The area in the Orinoco Delta that we’re going to is very isolated and there will be nowhere to get assistance if we have problems with engines, etc.  We’ll be in contact with the other boats via VHF radio and be able to help each other out.   Ian and Jackie called around at lunch time and gave us some malaria tablets that they had bought.

I spent the day doing more finishing off jobs – mounted the barbeque, outboard and Danbuoy brackets on the Arch, fitted the guard rails, cleaned up the sealant around the deck fittings, dived down to check the propeller and generally tidied up.  Glenys went into Port of Spain to pick up a few things and then continued making the mosquito net for the cockpit.

We went out for a meal because our cockpit light has stopped working – another job to sort out tomorrow.

19 August 2011    Chagaramus to Five Islands, Trinidad
I woke up excited that we’re finally going to leave the Power Boats marina and go off on a mini adventure.

I spent the morning running about buying last minute things and finishing off a few essential jobs.  In preparation for the River Manamo, I bought a Fortress anchor which is supposed to hold well in soft mud.  I bought and fitted some blocks and rope for the davits.  I picked up the modified vane for the Hydrovane and the aerial bracket from Mitch.  My credit card was red hot by lunchtime.

Glenys went to West Mall to pick up some more malaria tablets, but got stuck in a traffic jam for 1½ hours which was caused by a land slide – she wasn’t happy when she finally arrived back at the boat.

After lunch, we tidied up and went to check out.  It took over two hours because “Blackthorn Lady” & ”Pogeyan” were both clearing out at the same time and the customs guy was a complete idiot.  We arrived back at the boat at quarter past four loaded with the last minute food shopping and enough duty free booze to kill a small elephant.  The next stop was to fill up with fuel and we only just had time to motor around to Five Islands to join up with the others for a couple of beers before the sun went down.  We decided to leave at three o’clock in the morning.

Back on Alba, I managed to get the dinghy up on the davits – it’s not quite right, but hopefully it will be calm on the passage to the Manamo River tomorrow.