Still Working in Trinidad

15 October 2018   Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Jonas, the rigger turned up just after 08:00 as promised.  When he inspected the rig back in June, he’d spotted three toggles that were the incorrect size and needed to be changed.   They were in critical places at the top of the Back Stay; the top of the Fore Stay; and the bottom of the Inner Fore Stay.   

Once he’d replaced the toggles, Jonas checked the tension on the rigging and re-tuned it.  There wasn’t much wrong - the intermediate shrouds were too tight and the cap shrouds were a little too loose; he also backed off the lower shrouds.  I think that the lowers may be too loose when beating to windward, but I won’t be able to check until we go sailing again.  Jonas has told me to tighten all four of the lower shrouds equally, if I need to adjust.

Rigging finished and sails fitted

With the rigging all done, I dinghied across to the sail loft and picked up the genoa and stay sail, which have had new sacrificial strips fitted and some other bits of maintenance.  By the time that I’d got them on board, it was lunch time.  

After a quick sandwich, I tackled the gas leak.  The gas regulator was looking very corroded after travelling around the world, so I replaced it and also the flexible hose in the gas locker.   I turned the gas on; pressurised the system; and then turned the gas off at the tank.  To my great relief, the pressure held for ten minutes.  The leak must have been in the regulator, escaping out through the safety vent, which is so large that it’s difficult to test with soap and water.  I’m a happy bunny now and we had a hot meal in the evening.

Work stopped for a heady rain squall, after which we put up the main sail.  It’s been a long saga to sort out the creases that appear when we furl the main.  Over the last few months, North Sails have shipped the sail up to Martinique, done some minor modifications and shipped it back to us.   They claim that the sail material is in good condition and the sail still has the correct shape as designed.  However, they have removed an inch or so from the luff in an attempt to flatten the sail.

The was no wind when we put the sail up so it was hard to set the halyard tension, but the sail looked okay and furled away with less creases than before.  I’m not sure if the small changes in the rigging and the sail have made any difference - we’ll have to wait until we furl it in anger when we go sailing.

16 October 2018   Chaguaramas, Trinidad
I could hardly move this morning because my back had seized up - too much lifting, twisting and straining over the past three days has taken its toll on my pulled muscles.  I popped a few Ibuprofen, did some stretching exercises and managed to get mobile again.  

Teak Grating Finished

Our first job was to put up the genoa and stay-sail after having some maintenance done.  The main work done by the sail loft was removing and replacing the UV sacrificial strips, which make the sail look much better.  I spent the rest of the day pottering around on deck doing various little jobs to get the boat ready to sail.  I replaced the two winch handle holders on the mast, which have looked awful for the last two years.

Later in the afternoon, I finally finished off the teak grating for the front heads, cutting a few grooves in the bottom to let water drain and giving it a final sanding.   Glenys spent the afternoon sewing, including making a cover for our new life raft.

Over the past ten days, we’ve managed to tick a lot of jobs off our long list and it’s starting to feel like the boat is getting back together.  We’re looking forward to getting back to cruising next week - our aim is to head off on Monday 22nd.

17 October 2018   Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Glenys continued sewing jobs, finishing off the life raft cover and making some new shower curtains for the front heads.  She then re-stitched the leather cover on the steering wheel.  Meanwhile, I had an engine room day.

We’ve developed a very small leak on the radiator cap spout on the heat exchanger.   I spoke to the local Volvo guy and he says that the spout is press fitted into the heat exchanger.  Replacement is an easy job to do in the workshop, but first the heat exchanger has to be removed from the engine, which is long complex job.  At his suggestion, I’ve put a seam of Marine-Tex around the joint, which will sort out the minor weeping and defer the job until the heat exchanger has to come off for any reason.

Corrosion on Engine

We’ve had a saga with a leaking sea water pump for over a year now - I replaced the seals in Madagascar in November; had the shaft reground and the pump rebuilt in South Africa by the Volvo agent, which didn’t work; so I had to replace the seals again in May.  While in England, I bought a new sea water pump, which I fitted today - hopefully that’s the end of sea water leaks.

One of the consequences of a leaking sea water pump is that the rear of the engine is constantly soaked with seawater, which on a hot engine is rather corrosive.  I’ve been trying to keep on top of rusting spots, but there are parts of the engine that I’ve not been able to access, particularly behind the alternators and the starter motor. 

In the afternoon, I removed the starter motor and the alternator on the port side of the engine.  This gave me access to surface rust patches, which I attacked with wire brushes.  I then painted on some rust treatment and washed it down with water.  The whole engine has become greasy and dirty, so while I had the electrics disconnected, I used spray-on degreaser and various brushes to get into all the nooks and crannies, washing down with fresh water.

The starter motor was also looking a bit sad with surface rust patches, so I wire brushed it down; painted on some rust treatment and then applied a coat of 2 part epoxy primer.  I’ll finish it off tomorrow.

18 October 2018   Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Yesterday, I spent half a day wire-brushing and treating rust, but this morning, I spotted more surface corrosion.  I removed the sea water pump again, so that I could get better access to the areas beneath it.  I spent another two hours wire-brushing, applying rust treatment and applying the primer.  

Water-maker Panel

The primer has to be left for about 6 hours to cure, so in the afternoon, I tackled the water maker.   About a year ago, I bought a new high pressure valve because the old one is slowly failing, but I’ve been putting off fitting it because we are so dependent on the water maker while cruising - if I damaged something, it would be a disaster.  (OK, I’m a coward, but sometimes the old adage makes sense - if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it...)

I pulled the water maker panel to pieces and then discovered that the pressure valve is different from the old one.  I don’t have any high pressure fittings, so I bundled everything into my rucksack and walked the mile to Echotec.  One of the technicians said that all I needed was a different T-piece - hmmm, might be complicated.   I asked if he could sort it out for me and fit it all back onto the panel.   Sure thing, pick it up tomorrow…  What great customer service. 

It’s been raining most of the day, so Glenys decided that it would be good to give the teak deck a good cleaning - despite treating it for mildew in June, there lots of dark grey spots appearing.  I think that the problem is caused by too much rainfall with humid conditions and no sea water going over the decks.  

We’ve run out of Tri-sodium Chlorate (TSP) and they don’t seem to sell it here, so Glenys just lightly scrubbed with some washing up liquid and a cup of bleach in a bucket.  I’m sure that we’ll have lots of sea water over the decks in the next few months which will stop any more mildew forming.

Copper-rumped Hummingbird

In the late afternoon, I painted a coat of green enamel paint on the engine, but the results were a little disappointing because the undercoat is a very vivid white and making the whole thing look patchy.  I’ll have to put on another coat of green paint.  In any case the engine looks a lot, lot better than it did before I started.

19 October 2018   Chaguaramas, Trinidad
We went on one of Jesse James’ legendary trips to visit Yeretté, which is the home of a Hummingbird enthusiast called Theo.  He lives high up in the Maracas Hills and has set up over 50 nectar feeders which attract hundreds of Hummingbirds.  There are 18 different species of Hummingbirds in Trinidad and Tobago and 14 of them regularly visit Yeretté.

Theo sat us down on his patio for an introductory talk about his Hummingbirds.  Unfortunately, he digressed onto on a lengthy and rather boring talk on the Amerindians - the indigenous people of the Caribbean, who were wiped out by the Europeans when they arrived in the 1500s. All very interesting for a couple of minutes, but after 20 minutes of his slow monologue, I was itching to take photos of the hundreds of hummingbirds whizzing about and excused myself to wander around the garden.

Unfortunately, it rained for most of the time that we were there - this didn’t deter the Hummingbirds, but the poor light meant that taking photographs of the fast, tiny birds was very difficult.  I couldn’t take fast shutter speed photos and there was no sun to glint off their iridescent feathers. 

After a pleasant lunch, the rain became torrential; stopping us going into the garden, but Theo showed us a presentation of the hundreds of fabulous photographs that he has taken of the various species of Hummingbirds that visit his home.   His photographs showed a lot of the fascinating behaviour of the birds including their tiny nest, which are held together by spider’s webs.

Engine back together

The torrential rain continued all afternoon, so Jesse postponed our trip to the Caroni Swamp, where we were planning to see Scarlet Ibis coming home to roost.  The drive back to Chaguaramas was slow due to the huge amount of rain on the roads, but we were back on Alba by 16:30, which gave me enough time to apply the second coat of green paint to the engine.

20 October 2018   Chaguaramas, Trinidad
The second coat of green paint had covered up the patchiness on the engine, so I was able to put the engine back together.  It took a couple of hours to replace the seawater pump, the alternator and starter motor.  Thankfully the engine started and ran OK.

I pottered around for the rest of the day finishing off many little jobs, so by mid-afternoon, the boat was looking shipshape. All I need to do now is put the water maker back together and we’ll be ready to go sailing.  There’s another patch of heavy rain due tomorrow and the following day, so our aim is to leave on Tuesday 23rd.

Glenys spent the afternoon cooking a fabulous Indian meal.  “Jackster” and “Relax” came for dinner and we had a good time catching up on each other’s adventures since we all left South Africa.

21 October 2018   Chaguaramas, Trinidad
Being a Sunday, we had a quiet day pottering about and catching up on some administration.

The heavy rain on Friday was so extreme that huge sections of central Trinidad are flooded.  Jesse James and a few cruisers went out yesterday and today to help rescue people who are trapped in their homes.  The ITCZ has moved north of the equator and is bringing this heavy rain to the region.  We'll probably wait until Wednesday or even Thursday before we sail to Grenada.

There are more photos in our Photo Album section.