Hard Graft in Trinidad

8 October 2018   Chaguaramas, Trinidad
We went for a walk over to Power Boats to do some errands and try to get a berth on Dock C, but there’s no room.  The other docks in Power Boats are all exposed to the South, from where occasionally large, dangerous swells roll in.  Last month they had a cracker and the dock in front of Power Boats’ shop and restaurant was trashed.  We’re better off in Coral Cove.

Yesterday, we went to watch our life raft being opened to have it serviced by Marine Safety Equipment.  When the guy carefully unfolded the raft, he found that the glue had started to fail in many places, including the seams holding the two buoyancy rings together and also where the rubber floor joins to the rings.  He condemned it as unrepairable.  The life raft was manufactured in 2006, so it’s 12 years old - apparently time and heat degrade the glue and poor thing has seen a lot of tropical sun.  

Failing Seam between buoyancy rings

It’s a bit worrying that the life raft would have fallen to pieces if we’d have had to use it in anger. You can just imagine having to abandon ship in a storm; inflating the life raft; throwing in our carefully prepared survival grab bags; stepping into the life raft as Alba sinks below the waves, only to find the floor peeling loose and the buoyancy rings separating. We’d end up hanging onto one of the buoyancy rings having lost everything and, after a few hours in the water, hypothermia would set in and we’d slide down into the abyssal depths. 

A new Sea-Sava life raft is going to cost us 17,000TT (£1,920), which is a bit of a shock to the system, but even worse is that it will take two weeks to be shipped into the country, so it looks like we’re stuck in Trinidad a bit longer than we’d like.  I’m kicking myself for not having the life raft inspected before we left for the UK, which would have given us more time to buy a life raft at a better price, but hey, there are worse places to have to spend a few weeks.

I spent a couple of hours trying the chandlers and ringing a life raft company in Port of Spain, but the best deal seems to be the Sea-Sava life raft that we’ve been quoted - it’s also the fastest delivery. 

In the afternoon, I popped over to Cruise Inn and I went to the B-Mobile shop.  I was loaded for bear, ready to demand my money back because we’ve not had any internet for three days.  The nice lady in the store took my phone and told me that my settings were all wrong.  Two minutes of clicking and we were on-line - I’m so embarrassed.

Grating Stage 2

I popped into Ullman Sails and was told that the work on our Genoa and Staysail has been completed.  I owe them 5,000TT (£500), but unfortunately, they still don’t have a credit card machine, so we have to go and get cash.  This is a pain in the neck because there are no ATMs in Chaguaramas and we’ll have to catch a bus out to one of the malls.  

I was incredibly hot in the afternoon, so we packed up early.  In the evening, we invited Ian & Manuella from “Mr X” for a few beers.

9 October 2018   Chaguaramas, Trinidad
My first job was to work on the teak grating.  The instructions say something like, “Glue and insert the flat infills into the castellation cross pieces” - yeah right…  Either the tolerances on the wooden parts were too tight or probably, the teak has swollen in the heat and humidity.  It took me an hour to individually sand and fit each infill.  It then took another hour to glue it all together.  It’s a mission working in this heat because the epoxy is going off in about five minutes, so I’ve gone through four mixings and brushes.  However, mustn’t complain - all I have to do now is sand it and cut it to size.

Glenys went into Port of Spain to get cash and a few things.  Around midday, we had huge thunderstorm and she got caught out in it - she came back like a drowned rat.  Meanwhile, I’d forgotten to pull the drain plug out of the dinghy, so it was filling up rapidly.  I donned my swimming shorts and, in the torrential rain, I strained to pull the dinghy upright to drain it.  I later found out that I’ve pulled a muscle in my back.

Marine Safety Equipment has told us that they have a Sea-Sava life raft on their shelves, which they have already sold to Tim on “Windward Lady”.   They have talked to Tim and he has kindly agreed that we can have his life raft and he’ll wait for a new one to arrive in the next couple of weeks.   I wandered over to Power Boats to thank him and I’ve agreed that we’ll buy that one. 

Wiring in Control Panel

In the afternoon, I replaced the plastic engine control panel, which has been slowly falling to bits over the past few years.   It was a fiddly job removing the 4 gauges and the various switches and lights.  There are hundreds of wires and I was extremely careful to make sure that I didn’t accidentally disconnect any wires and disable the engine…

10 October 2018   Chaguaramas, Trinidad
I could hardly move this morning because my back had seized up, but a few, big Ibuprofen tablets soon eased that.   Marine Safety Equipment came to pick me up and I paid for the new life raft, which is now sitting on our deck.

I’ve discovered that our old RFD life raft has a 12 year warranty.  It was manufactured in Aug 2006 and we dropped it off at Marine Safety Equipment in June 2018 (11 years and 10 months).  Marine Safety Equipment recommended that we wait until we were just about to leave Trinidad to get it serviced because we would then have an extra three months until the next service.  In My Humble Opinion, I have a justifiable warranty claim on the basis that I delivered it for a service at one of their recommended service centres within the warranty period.  I blasted off an email to Survitec, the manufacturer of the old life raft, invoking a warranty claim.

After lunch, I picked up some paint for the engine that I’ve had mixed and then had a go at sanding the teak grating.  Unfortunately, the only sander that I have is a small, ¼ sheet palm sander, which isn’t good enough, so after an hour I gave up.  I need a more powerful unit.  At 14:00, the heavens opened with another mighty thunderstorm, so we gave up and read a book.