Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Inevitable

In Belgium there is an expression “Na regen komt zonneschijn”, which literally translated means “After rain follows sunshine”. It’s a good thought when things don’t go so well and the realization that nothing lasts forever, not even negative experiences, leads to the sunshine thought. I wonder whether there is an expression for the reverse as well. After sun comes rain? It can’t always be sunny, right? Something good doesn’t last forever either.  Well, that’s kind of what happened to us recently. After one or even two fantastic weekends with friends, good food and fun experiences, the following week was spent doing something entirely different and unplanned…

Our catamaran (just like many other ones –but not all) has saildrives, which are basically an extension of the engines under water. A saildrive is a transmission system for a boat whose inboard engine has a horizontal output shaft. Some monohulls have them as well and there are a bunch of advantages compared to a shaftdrive (like no stuffing box and a horizontally mounted propeller), but after owning Irie for over four years, we have come to realize many of their disadvantages, the biggest of them: having to haul the boat to perform most of the maintenance or fix problems. Which is why, we had to haul our boat yet again (we were REALLY hoping to go for a whole year this time, prepping and painting her bottom so well last December – which did come in handy now), last week.

A couple of bus rides and a walk over to Grenada Marine in St. David’s about ten days ago, confirmed the fact that the island’s Yanmar mechanics had the necessary parts to fix our most recent saildrive problems and when we had those parts in our possession (at a good price as well!), we booked the haul-out for a few days later. This was also a lucky feat, knowing that both boat yards in southern Grenada are “chock-a-block”, bluntly refusing sailboats to get hauled. So, last Monday, we found ourselves on the hard again and ready for blood, sweat, hard labor and spending lots of money for a duration of 5 days (these are the “lay days” included in the haul-out price). While the haul-out itself, for a 35-foot boat, is not that pricey (less than US$ 300 for the five days), the parts were the biggie this time.

You have to be a little crazy (or a local) to be working on your boat from morning until evening, in the heat of summer, when temperatures sear above 100 degrees (38°C) and no breeze is present. I guess we are a bit crazy and want to get things done in a timely and “cheap” do-it-yourself manner. Our friend Sim helped Mark with the saildrive problems, while I was in charge of Irie’s bottom. They lost tens of gallons of sweat, while I only went (and re-used) one wet T-shirt. They spent most of their time inside the engine rooms and in the cockpit, while I “lived” outside, under and around our hulls. They were very successful in their tasks, while I had a few minor set-backs.

Irie’s bottom still looked pretty good after 8 months in the Caribbean water, which made my job a lot easier than previous times. There were only a couple of dozen barnacles to scrape off and sanding some of the rough edges was not too big of a deal. Mark helped on some serious spots with our “sanding machine”. While these tasks normally take two full days, this time, the boat was prepped in a couple of hours. Washing it all down is always fun and refreshing and taping the waterline is something I enjoy. Then, I applied four coats of barrier paint on the parts that needed it, having to wait two hours in between. This was easy! We bought 1 gallon of Islands 44 paint (it is the third time we use this company and we are happy with the results – it is VERY expensive, though, hence the 1 gallon), which was enough to paint the waterline and damaged areas three times.

All in all, we worked pretty hard (Sim stayed over one night) and enjoyed the cool air of the air conditioning at night, keeping the mosquitoes at bay. We survived on the bare essentials of food we still had left in the fridge and in cans (I still have not been able to do a big grocery shopping) and found out about a local woman delivering sandwiches and rotis to the boatyard workers (and us). During our breaks in the shade under our home, we were frequently visited by our new friend “Big Ears”. The saildrives were taken out, taken apart and put back together and in the boat with no problems.  There was a big hick-up, realizing that the silicones we used in the saildrives – and on other parts- must be out of date and was not working properly, when we were ready to get “splashed” again, but we do hope that time will do its job. 

Mark is now an expert in yet another field and I am responsible for Irie’s waterline looking really new and pretty. Luckily nobody can see the (absence of) paint underneath the boat! The best part of our five day visit in the boat yard: removing the tape after a job done! Now, let’s hope we can really go another year without hauling again!

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