Getting Ready for Haulout

25 June 2018   Chaguaramus, Trinidad
I was up early and started to tackle the jobs on my list, which mostly involved organising local tradesmen.  I managed to catch Jonas from Trinidad Rigging on his way into work and he came to look at our boat as his first job.   North Sails have always pointed at the bend in the mast and the main halyard tension as the reason for the bagginess in our main sail, so I wanted Jonas to check the rig before I bring in the North Sails Representative.

Jonas looked at the shape of the sail and then went up the mast to check the main furling at the top.  He then did an inspection of the rig and checked the tension of the standing rigging.  The verdict was that the rig is fairly well set up and the mast is a good shape without too much bend.  He thinks that the main sail has too much draft and needs to be adjusted.  

Docked at Coral Cove Marina

There are a few old toggles that he wants to replace and a disk which helps support the main sail extrusion has come loose inside the mast.  I’ve got a few jobs for him to do, so he’s going to do the work while we’re in the UK - Jonas is one of the few people that I trust to do work while I’m away.

I went to see Mitch at West Coast Fabrications.  Six years ago, he made our stern arch and did a cracking job.  I only have a few small jobs for him this time, but he was pleased to see me.  He’s going to make me a couple of small brackets in Stainless steel, for which he has quoted £35 instead of the £120 that a guy quoted in Grenada.

The rest of the day was a blur of running about trying to organise other vendors to come to look at jobs.  I walked around to Peakes and confirmed the booking for the haul out on Monday 2 July.

26 June 2018   Chaguaramus, Trinidad
Kenwyn from Ullman Sails came to look at our sails.  I had him look at the main sail and he came out with a bizarre statement saying that the main sail is designed to be fully out or completely rolled away.  He claims that an in-mast main sail cannot be reefed.  I’ve decided that I’m not going to allow him to touch my mainsail.  However, I am happy for him to do the drudge work of some maintenance on the genoa and stay sail.

We took the sails across to his loft where he measured them up and inspected them.  He says that the genoa still has some life in it, so he’s going to replace the sacrificial UV strip; repair a small tear and repair some damage to the luff tape.  The stay-sail is in good condition apart from the sacrificial UV strip.  It’s a long, tedious job to remove the old UV strip, so it’s going to cost us $9,800TT (£1,100) for both sails. (BOAT = Bring Out Another Thousand.)

Hindu Cremation

While we were coming across the South Atlantic, I attached a block to the end of the pole through which I ran the genoa sheet to prevent chafe.  Unfortunately, the block was rubbing against the pole fitting and after many days, it wore away part of the cast aluminium and the latch mechanism fell apart.  A new end fitting is a staggering £380, but fortunately, I managed to retain all the latch parts, so I took the spinnaker pole around to Mitch who is going to repair it with weld, which will only cost £25.  

The North Sails representative in Trinidad is Dynamite Marine and Mark came to have a look at mainsail.  He pulled out the sail, reefed it, adjusted the tension of the foot and the leech, messed about with the topping lift and the rod kicker, but eventually agreed that the sail is too baggy when reefed.   He thinks that the leech is too tight and the draft in the sail is too far back.  We’ll wait and see what North Sails in the USA have to say.

Glenys pottered about the boat all day.  She’s cleaned dinghy which was looking very grubby and has started to wash the various ropes on the boat.  A carpenter came by and is going to give us a quote for a new teak grating in the front heads; cutting some marine plywood for new cupboard doors; replacing a mahogany trim in the front heads and a couple of varnishing jobs.

27 June 2018   Chaguaramus, Trinidad
Together with some other cruisers, we went on a day trip organised by Jesse James who runs a local taxi firm.  The trip was entitled “Taste of Trini”, the idea being to see some of the island and to sample the local food.  

We’d only gone a mile before Jesse made his first stop at a small roadside eatery and bought a local breakfast of saltfish, aubergine and some Bake, which is local fried bread.  This was dished out in small portions amongst the nine people and we ate sat in the mini-bus.  This set the trend for the whole day with Jesse screeching to a halt to buy curries, rice, bread, roti, fried chicken; pulled pork; cow heel soup;  savoury pies; jack fruit; mangoes; chennet; and sweet pastries. 

Typical plate of food on Taste of Trini

Altogether we made 30 stops, sampling over 50 dishes.  By the end of the day, we were stuffed and barely able to eat the home-made ice cream bought from a vendor on the streets of Port of Spain

Jesse also took us to some interesting places, travelling down the west coast of Trinidad all the way down to the south coast.  He’s a mine of information and gave us a non-stop commentary of Trinidad life as we passed through the small towns.  There’s a large Indian population in Trinidad and we saw a couple of Hindu temples.  At the Temple by the Sea, we witnessed two traditional Hindu cremations which were taking place at the edge of the sea.  

We saw evidence of Trinidad’s volcanic environment with a stop at some mud pools bubbling with volcanic gas - a group of locals were plunging into the thick mud and then creating a mud slide by pouring bucket s of thick slimy mud down the hill - we didn’t join in.  Jesse also took us past the Pitch Lake, which is one of the largest natural deposits of asphalt in the world.  The road that goes through the area sinks and lifts up as the ash felt moves about and the local houses are built on floating foundations.

It was a long day, but very interesting and we just made it home by 20:00.

28 June 2018   Chaguaramus, Trinidad
Kool Keate, the fridge man came to have a look at our fridge, which has had a tiny leak for months.  I’d already found the location of the leak because I could see oil covering one of the joints in the copper pipework.   Keate pressurised the system; confirmed that the leak was on the joint and then repaired it with silver solder.  The repair took about 2 minutes, but it took 2 hours to do the whole job; vacuum out the system and re-charge it.  Total cost $120USD. 

It threw it down for most of the afternoon, so I pottered about, while Glenys commandeered the saloon while she sewed patches onto the dinghy cover.  There’s a small resident cruising community here, who organise events such as Yoga and Mexican Train Dominoes.  We joined some of them for a pot luck dinner at the Roti Hut in Power Boats.  

A variety of boats in Chaguaramus

29 June 2018   Chaguaramus, Trinidad
Our friend Mike from “El Lobo” came for a cup of tea and we caught up on the last six years.  He’s now living ashore with a Trinidadian lady, but still keeps in touch with the yachting community by hosting the cruiser’s net one day a week.   He does a bit of carpentry and has a side line in looking after people’s boats while they are away.

Mike goes to the boat once a week; checks the stands; greases the stands to stop insects climbing aboard; opens the hatches to air the boat and generally checks that everything is OK, especially keeping a look out for the dreaded mildew.  He only charges $75USD per month, so we’ve agreed that he’ll look after our boat for the 3 months that we’re away, which is a great load off my mind.

We had another day of running around.  A second carpenter came to give us a quote.  We nipped across to Ullman Sails to pay $5,000TT (£560) deposit for the work on our sail.  They’re in the middle of changing banks, so their credit card machine doesn’t work which meant that we had to pay cash and the nearest ATM is 8 miles away, which was a hassle.

Just before lunch, we motored over to the fuel dock and filled up with diesel - it’s a good idea to have the fuel tanks full when on the hard to prevent water getting into the diesel from condensation.   I’ve also added a big dose of diesel enzyme treatment which will absorb any water and prevent microbe growth in the fuel.  

I received good news from North Sails. They have agreed that the mainsail needs adjusting and that they will do it free of charge.  Of course, they don’t admit that the design of the sail was wrong, but instead say that they are “starting to believe the sail has stretched and become too full for good furling.”  However, they are going to ship the sail to a North Sails loft and adjust it without any cost to me, which is a very good service considering that I’ve exceeded the normal warranty period of one year.  We dropped the sail and put it in a bag.  A guy from Dynamite Marine came around and picked up it 20 minutes later.  Hopefully, it will be sorted out and back here for the first week of October.

Thunderstorm goes through

We managed to tick quite a few things from our long list.  Our cooking gas bottle was delivered to the boat having been filled; I picked up the spinnaker pole from Mitch and Glenys finished off the work on dinghy cover and started other little sewing jobs.  We had a quiet night in and were in bed by nine o’clock.

30 June 2018   Chaguaramus, Trinidad
Glenys finished off all of her sewing projects, while I did some running around and a small repair one of the windlass foot switches.  I then tackled the messy job of changing the oil on the engine and the generator - I don’t want to leave the corrosive dirty oil standing for 3 months.

In afternoon, I used a mixture of bleach, tri-sodium phosphate and a dash of washing up liquid to treat the teak deck to prevent mildew.  I lightly sponged the mixture all over the deck, leaving it for 10 minutes and then hosing it off, but it took me a couple of hours of hard graft on my hands and knees.

We haul out on the 2nd July and we’ve now done most of the jobs on our list.  Once we’re on the hard, we’re going to be staying in a hotel room for three nights, so we’re going to concentrate on some messy varnishing projects, which are hard to do while living on the boat.

1 July 2018   Chaguaramus, Trinidad
I screwed up today.   The only thing that I needed to do was to get the dinghy onto the fore-deck and stow the outboard.   It was a lovely morning, but very hot, so I decided to do some admin and catch up on my blog and photos, hoping that the cloud would build like it did yesterday and it would be cooler.

The cloud did build up, but it brought torrential rain and lightning.  The rain kept going all afternoon, so at 15:00, I was forced to don my swimming shorts and work in the pouring rain.  At least it cooled me down.  We’re all ready for the haul-out tomorrow.