Our propane valves have failed, and it’s Sunday. So now we’re eating raw foods and salads until the stores open. Then, we can buy the spare parts we need. Henry says he doesn’t like tomatoes. Karen doesn’t like green beans. And, I’m thinking, well, that’s too bad.
Now, the diesel fuel pump has failed. It’s supposed to be a time-saving device. Yeah, when it works. My husband, Rick, is so frustrated he looks like he could spit. “It can’t be fixed. That’s $100 down the drain”, he says.
Up next, the heat exchanger on our generator has a leak.
Good gosh, there are good days when we are swimming outside our boat, and we are laughing. Then, there are days when it doesn’t feel so good at all.
As if we needed a steady reminder that there is work to do, the constant sound of friction provides the daytime soundtrack to the boatyard in Trinidad. People are constantly sanding, grinding and scraping. And, if you were close enough to our boat last night you might be privy to a friction of a different sort when Rick and I had a brief and very un-Christmassy conversation.
“Can’t we find something else to talk about?” Rick snapped. I gritted my teeth and narrowed my gaze. I continued. “And, so chicken twins almost never happen, despite the fact that there are double yolks. One chick competes with the other, and then both chickens do not survive” I trail off, and set my phone down.
We eat our dinner in silence, cold sandwiches and leftover salad. Rick is deep in thought. And while I am still slightly peeved about what I will call the “chicken-egg shutdown”, Rick begins the all-important task of sucking air out of a bread bag. He claims to be testing a pump to see if it might help fix our issue with the heat exchanger. Our son, Paul, is delighted, and shrieks with laughter. It is ridiculous and their levity is infectious. The pump sucks the air out, and the bread itself begins to compress.
The bread gets smaller, and smaller. We are now well beyond talking about whether chickens can have twins. The pump provides a possible solution to our generator problem. But, despite our excitement, we are keenly aware that many challenges remain.
We’d like to be in Grenada for Christmas. And, we constantly assess what is the shortest path to leave the boatyard ?
We arrived in Trinidad in early October. We had planned to be here for two or three weeks. Instead, we have been here for two months. We have spent hours pouring over spreadsheets, assessing what we want to accomplish. We narrowed our list to about two hundred items. Our short list included important safety activities like a rigging inspection and seemingly (at least to me) trivial stuff like replacing the caulking around the galley sink.
In the words of another Dutch cruiser, Melinda Wolthuis, who, herself, spent six months in Trinidad: “Good luck with that.” Melinda is now sipping wine and eating cheese in Martinique. For us, the devil is in the details, and random failures like our propane valve have not helped.
Early in our stay in Trinidad, the damage from the oil spill threw us a curve. We spent about 50 hours cleaning our boat to remove the oil. That was time we had not accounted for in our original plans.
Then, I fell and sprained my foot. This was a huge setback. I was laid up for days. On the first day I was crawling around the boat. A couple of days later, I was on crutches.
It’s been a month now since my fall, and I feel much better. Here is some footage of the fall, which includes CCTV video taken from the security cameras at Power Boats boatyard.
While we have been doing a lot of work ourselves, we have hired contractors for rigging and engine inspection, canvas work, bottom painting, gel coat work, welding, woodwork and fibreglass. I hope to make a video montage of all the changes we’ve made.
Rick has a fantastic eye for detail and creature comforts. The transformation on our boat is amazing. Subtle changes like installing chin-up bars, and rebuilding a lock for the cold box in our cockpit have made our boat look more polished and presentable. Rawle Walker constructed and carved the supporting structure for the lock by hand.
Having our boat on the hard (as opposed to our on the water) makes it easier to have contractors visit our boat. Another benefit is that we can make a mess without worry. We can sand to our heart’s delight. And, we can clean ourselves and our boat with an ample supply of city water. Usually we make our own water using a reverse osmosis machine. It is decadent to use a garden hose and scrub our decks without much thought to water conservation.
Meanwhile, our kids are thriving. Karen and Henry have learned to ride a two-wheeler bike. All of our kids are building an elaborate raft.
We have library cards for the Trinidad Library. And, medical appointments have occupied some of our time. Everyone in our family has visited a doctor and dentist in Trinidad. We’ve all had a yellow fever vaccination.
Dr. Gillian Wheeler is an allergist who lives in Tobago but commutes every few weeks to Trinidad. We met with her several times during our stay in Trinidad. Here is a picture of Henry with Dr. Wheeler.
We were aiming to leave Trinidad on Wednesday, just a few days before Christmas. We have some relatives to meet in the Bahamas in March. And, with the sailing distance we need to cover – what a march it will be!
Rick is already proposing that we sail straight to Antigua.
Soon enough we will be sailing again. And, we hope that our friend, and professional skipper, Mark Burton, might join us for a visit sometime in February.
So, whether we will be here in Trinidad for Christmas is anyone’s guess. I will buy a big ham and will keep you posted. Happy holidays everyone!
In case you missed this on Facebook – this month, I had two articles published in All at Sea magazine, which was exciting for me. Here is a link to the magazine.