Sunday, March 18, 2018

Boat Yard Daze - Slow and Low

Boat Yard Days 8-11 A Low Point

It seems like we've been here forever.  I knew it would be hot and dirty living here, but knowing it and living it are two different things.  It's like a prison.  I know, we could close the boat up and go hang out in the cool of the restaurant, or take off in the dinghy for some swimming.  But we feel like we need to be here for the workers, and for the cat.  How fair would it be for us to go off and be comfortable knowing that poor Jezabelle is sweltering on the boat with scary noises to terrorize her?  Not fair at all.  The things we do for our fur-baby!!!

We got up on Thursday morning after the extra holiday proclaimed by the winning elected party on Wednesday - a day that was like a ghost town here in the yard.  But today is a new beginning.  The crew will attack our project list with renewed vigour.  We hope.
Photos don't show it too well, but they've got filler over the fiberglass work and they're faring it to the correct level.

Lots of sanding involved in this project
Different spots are in different stages of the process

This part is looking better - but still pretty rough

Goats going to work too!
All day on Thursday we hid inside.  We opened ports when we could, but there was a lot of sanding and grinding going on outside and the wind would blow the fine white powder in, so we sat and we sweltered.  It was too hot to do anything so we read and cruised the internet.

By the time the crew quit for the day, they had made a good bit of progress.  When the sounds stopped, Bruce and I cautiously crept out into the fresh air and took a look around.  I have no base for expectations, but I have dreams of this being over, so when I saw the ugly patches on our hull, I had to give myself a mental pep talk... It's early days yet.  We have lots of time and these guys know what they're doing.  I just have to be patient.

Cool showers felt so good as the endless gush of fresh water washed away the sweat and grime.  We relaxed with a beverage after washing down the decks.  I know.  Why wash the dust off if they're just going to come back in the morning and make more?  I could see that question on Bruce's face, although he didn't dare say it out loud.

Call it my little bit of sanity.  All of this is out of my control but if I can keep a little bit of my world clean and dust-free, even if only temporarily, I feel better.  Tidy.  Even if it's only a delusion.

The next morning it all started over again. The sounds of grinding, scraping and beating on our hull are magnified - like living inside a drum - an increasingly warm, airless drum.  Another whole day we languished.  The crew worked until almost dark and I never even got to see what progress was made. Our plans to go to happy hour didn't pan out.  We didn't have a ladder to escape until the crew put it back up just before they left.  Bruce went to the restaurant and picked up a pizza.  I was too down-in-the-dumps to muster the energy to go out.  Just kill me now!

Some scraping was done Friday, but not much...
Thankfully, the crew showed up on Saturday.  Perhaps they see the creeping crazy in my eye, even though I'm trying to hide it and put up a positive and encouraging front.  I made my way through the thick layer of white powder and climbed down the ladder before they removed it to work - and I took a look around.

Painting on the stripper
The guys were suited up and just getting started.  Today would be dedicated to scraping off the multiple layers of bottom paint.

They're using a stripping chemical that is painted on with a brush.  They let it sit for a few minutes, then go to work with the scrapers. The layers of paint (are supposed to) peel right off!

The work is very slow because they have to use small tools.  The curvature of the boat make it impossible to use a very wide tool to scrape a larger area... so they pick at it.  The stripper works for the outer layers, but there are some really tough layers beneath it that are going to have to be sanded off.  Great!  More dust!

This is why they have such a huge lift!
Bruce and I had a pow-wow with Anderson about our timeline.  We've got other contractors lined up to come and do other jobs - Waterfall Marine Ltd.  is managing our rudder post drip - parts had to be obtained from Trinidad - And Sim at Palm Tree Marine is scheduled to come early next week to check out our engine gremlins.  (sometimes it starts, sometimes it doesn't)

Anderson is thinking they'll be ready to do the gel-coat on our hull by Wednesday.  That will require some tarps to shield the boats around us from overspray.  We talked about moving the boat to a less crowded spot - to the tune of an extra $250 US- But since the boat to our starboard is leaving on Tuesday, we should be fine where we are as long as they don't put another boat in that spot before Thursday.

Bruce and I walked up to talk to Neils - the owner? manager? of the yard about it and he was very nice.  No problem.  There won't be a boat in that spot until the first week of April!  Well that's one thing we don't have to worry about...  big breath...

Part of the faring process.  They keep sanding until no orange spots are left.  That's the sign of a smooth patch!
Perhaps our boat was blue at some point???
They've chipped away the cracked parts and we're still hoping that this can be resolved without removing the stainless.
Bulges - more grinding!
I had to keep myself from asking if I could do this for a while!

It looked so mesmerising - peeling off like butter!

Reminding myself that they are NOT done yet!  It will be will be fine...
The yard requires tarps to catch the paint.  The place would be a HUGE paint pile without that rule!
Painting on the stripper

Kind of pretty
After our short walk about the yard, we reluctantly climbed that ladder and resumed our positions inside.  Let the sweltering commence!  We had to keep the boat closed up pretty much all day long.  The guys worked hard.  Horrible sounds plagued us and Jezabelle snuggled nervously next to me.  We got a brief respite at lunchtime.  When the noises stopped, Bruce looked outside and saw the the guys were gone.  We opened up a couple of hatches and had a sandwich.

We aren't able to use the sinks while the work is going on because our sink drains out beneath the boat - in the work area!  This means that we have to live out of buckets for dishes and hand washing. Cooking is a huge PITA and all wash water has to be taken off the boat and dumped elsewhere.  This adds to the feeling of being trapped.  All too soon, the sounds began again and we shut ourselves in and returned to languishing positions.  It's amazing that we were NOW looking forward to Sunday when work would cease once again and we could have the windows open all day!!

You missed some spots!  Sorry, have to laugh to keep from crying!

Looking better!

We will have to replace our boat letters!  Luckily I planned ahead for this and have a new set onboard!
Evening came, the sounds stopped.  We crept outside to survey the progress once again.  The days are blending together by this time and I can only remember what-happened-when by looking at the date stamp on the photos!  Progress was made, but not as much as I had hoped.  It was too late to wash down the deck by the time work stopped, so I can hardly fault the guys.  Their Saturday was a long, hot, dirty one and they all looked pretty tired.  We were going to buy them a beer but they disappeared before we got organised...

Even though we had done nothing but sweat all day, we were exhausted by nightfall.  We cooked and had showers and fell into bed leaving dust eradication for the morning.  Even Jezabelle - now feeling better after her UTI bout - was too tired to try escaping onto the deck!  She can't be allowed to walk through the dust because she licks her paws and we think that might have contributed to the night of vomiting she experienced a few days ago.  We've got to watch her closely to keep her safe.

We had high ambitions come Sunday morning.  It was cool and the fresh air coming in from all the open ports and hatches improved our spirits immensely.  We felt compelled to do SOMETHING today, so we let the anchor fall out of the locker and commenced to clean off the mud from our last anchorage. It was a good time to inspect the chain.  Even though it isn't very old - maybe a year? - we didn't want to squander this opportunity to clean it and re-do the length markers.  Some are missing and we aren't sure we have them in the proper distances.

By the end of the day it was so hot we decided to skip remarking the distances... Get real.  We put out chain using the markers we've got and forget this ridiculous micro-managing!  By mid afternoon - I told Bruce that if we had any hopes of getting out to Hog Island - we needed to rest and cool off.  So we put the chain back into the locker and disappeared below decks to rest.

It was during this time that the demons took over my mind.

Sitting there in the (still) hot cabin, a thought struck me.  When we are done in this boatyard, our boat will be in better condition than she was when we bought her!  We've got a new dinghy and motor, we've got a new generator and the water maker is great... And our hull and bottom will look like new!

Furthermore, it dawned on me that if we continue with our plan to go to the Western Caribbean and then sell the boat - maybe 3 years from now - she will need a new face lift by then and will STILL be in the WC where, it is rumoured, boats go to die.  How much more convenient for a prospective buyer - lots of buyers in the market after this recent summer - to buy a boat in Grenada and just start cruising from here!!!

I asked Bruce if he would be interested in considering selling the boat now and just continuing our plan to live ashore in Central/South America right now!  I think I really expected him to shoot the idea down immediately.  But when he said that maybe we should consider it... He is worried about how much longer his health will hold out... my mind exploded with questions!

I began to search the internet for how others have sold boats in the Caribbean.  Our boat is US documented and we have arrived here intending to leave here with her as well.  The cruising permit is in our names.  What happens when ownership changes before we leave - and leave by air?  Do we have to import the boat in order to sell her and then pay duty?  My search was futile so I turned to Facebook - posting the question on the Seven Seas Cruising Association page.

That brought lots of different ideas about where to sell but no information about the actual process.  My mind was spinning and I was getting depressed.  I couldn't even allow myself to think about the fact that if we did this, we would not be enjoying the life of beautiful anchorages and adventure that we had planned.  I was focused on the responsible aspect of it.  What if THIS was the perfect opportunity and we squandered it.  Oh if only I had a crystal ball!

Glimpse of freedom!
My mind was spinning and we almost decided not to go to Hog Island... I could feel myself sinking into the abyss and at the last minute, suddenly pulled myself out of it.  We HAVE to get off of this boat!  We NEED to feel the movement of water beneath us and the sand between our toes.  We hastily prepared to go and made our escape.  At this point, I think we were actually set on selling the boat before we left Grenada!!

Goodbye Boatyard!
We boarded the dinghy and smiled at one another when the outboard started on the first pull!  That's encouraging!  We motored out of the boatyard marina and headed for the bridge between the mainland and Hog Island.  We could see the dinghies lined up along the shore... it's a big night at Hog tonight!

Doggies first!
Stuff for sale!
Really GOOD local music!  Jazz!

Better late than never, we found our friends Niki and Jaime (Fellow Yard Mates on Grateful) and were welcomed into the arms of fellow cruisers.

I sat there listening to cruiser talk for a while - still reeling from recent thoughts - until finally I mentioned casually that we were thinking of selling the boat.

Jaime looked stunned.  His eyes even teared up a little bit as he considered the gravity of my announcement on the heels of so much cruiser-convo-blather!  We told him our thoughts and while he agreed, he dismissed our plan completely.

He reminded us that we have so much adventuring to do and he gave me another idea that I really hadn't thought of...  He even volunteered assistance if we decided to keep on cruising, and then, in a few years revisited the thought of selling her for settling in Panama (or wherever) - we could simply move the boat to one of the Caribbean islands for sale.  Maybe St. Martin, or Antigua - both easy to get to from the US and Europe so that prospective boat buyers don't have to lay out so much in airfare.  AND the tax implications are far less in those other countries... Brilliant!  I guess my yard dust-muddled brain wasn't functioning at full capacity.  Why didn't I think of this?

Conversation moved on, but my mind was running through the other options.  It might be difficult to get the boat from the Western Caribbean back to the Easter Caribbean... but it's not impossible.  If Bruce and I aren't up to the task, we can always find someone do do it.  And it isn't impossible to sell a boat from the WC either...  We have options!  What a relief.

Fuzzy ride home but you get the idea!
Hunger finally drove us back to the boatyard.  Reluctant as we were to return to our prison - that prison is our home.

We love living out here and even though some times are difficult, it's all worth it, for the rewards are incomparable.

The thing is, we DON'T have a crystal ball.  There is no way to know how much time we have before physical infirmity takes us down and narrows our choices.  But nobody does.  Many years ago we decided to embark upon this path less traveled.  We took the chance and sometimes our fears cause us to weaken in our resolve.  The fact that we're miserable in this boatyard is a huge contributor to the funk we're experiencing and we have to remind ourselves of this new rule.  Make no major life decisions while living in a boatyard!


  1. One small thing that might help you - we have a collapsible tub that fits in our sink that we wash dishes in. When we were on the hard earlier this year we rigged our five gallon bucket on our four-to-one preventer at the end of the boom pushed out. We emptied the dishpan into the bucket on deck and then once a day lowered it to the ground and poured it out in the bushes. Made it much easier to deal with.

    I totally get your last statement. We've been living in a boatyard for most of the last two years and even though only a couple months were on the hard, it's still demoralizing. We're almost ready to leave and spent a few days on the hook recently and it was life-affirming. Take a deep breath and know that we're all sending positive energy your way.

    SV Kintala

    1. Thank you for the encouragement Deb! I can't imagine being in the yard for months! When I look at this rationally, I feel silly for the drama... but I can't seem to help myself! It's hard to be in boatyard limbo! I hope we get to meet some day!

  2. Remarkable post and thanks for sharing. We wish you the best whatever you decide to do. How about putting the boat up in storage for 6-12 months? Live ashore for a while and then decide.

    1. Thanks Karl! We were having a weak moment and when we thought about it, we really aren't ready to stop. The lure of beautiful anchorages and nobody around for miles is still too strong. Your idea is a good one though. That's sort of what we were thinking of when we reach Panama. Park the boat and live in a little place in the cool mountains, maybe do some land traveling. I just hope we continue to have options for a while longer. We miss you guys! Please come visit us!