Saturday, 28 March 2009

The boat is alive...

...with the sound of music.

One of the reasons we are still here is our involvement with a project associated with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra.

TBH is advising on a website connected to the initiative and we regularly have to stop work to listen to some sublime videos that are coming our way. From all around the world musicians have been chosen, from videos submitted to YouTube, to join an Orchestra that will come together to play at Carnegie Hall, New York on 15th April this year.

The talent that's out there is quite extraordinary.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Two steps forward and one back...

Okay, it's been a difficult start to the week. For reasons, good I hasten to add, of business, we are committed to staying another two weeks here on the Rio. Disappointing, as we were literally within hours of leaving, but hey, c'est la vie! The boat is WAY down on her waterline, what waterline I can hear TBH shouting from the saloon. The good side is that we are ready in almost every way to spend a long time off the dock. So we have some time to use in dealing with some of those maintenance jobs that keep getting pushed to the end of the list.

Yesterday we decided to tackle the intermittent leak we have developed in the aft cabin. You know one of those irritating ones that seem to have a mind of their own. We were fairly certain that the damage caused when we were T boned a few years ago has, over the years, allowed a small crack to develop under the stanchion. So as TBH wrestled to remove the panelling in the cabin we were delighted to see that we had been correct. The stanchion had twisted a tiny bit and this had allowed water to ingress down one of the bolts, it only seemed to let in water when the boat heeled to port or the rain came from that direction.

So it's sorted, rebedded in sikaflex and , hopefully, we are waterproofed again!

Now we just have to reassemble the cabin, restow the mountain of provisions and get back to square one again! Ah well it's a boat!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Something for the RDL&L Society!

The Rio Dulce Literary and Lamb society (see blog) proudly presents:

Extreme Shepherding!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Everything for a reason!

And how right 'they' are!

Yes we are still here, and because we are we have had the good fortune to meet Doug and Ann. They arrived here in the marina a few days ago on their boat Galivant. Not only have we had the pleasure of their company but we have acquired something we have been looking for.

Every since we bought our boat we have been waiting for the 'right' oil lamp to come along to take pride of place in the saloon. We have wall mounted ones which have proved invaluable at times and wanted to augment them with a nautical but not twee free hanging model. What with one thing and another the right one just never came our way, until this week.

In the van, on the way shopping we were saying that we needed to buy some paraffin, one thing led to another and lo and behold Galivant said they had a lamp they no longer wanted but they were looking for some teak....

The deed was done, we managed to offload two large pieces of teak(hurrah), a few movies and some computer sorting and in exchange we have a magnificent lamp, spare glass and wick.

Thank you Doug and Ann, we are delighted with the exchange.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Who's a clever chap then?

TBH that's who!

Look at this, fashioned out of fibreglass and epoxy to replace the horrid corroded thing on the left of the picture. It's installed and doing the job just fine.

My job of the day is to clear up the chaos created by a split container of vegetable oil, ah joy!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Cruiser's cabbage.

As the political and economic worlds continue to collapse about our ears the biggest challenge I faced last night was what to cook for supper!

I had been cleaning out the veggie storage and needed to use up some rather sad looking leftovers. Well I devised this cabbage dish that was soooo good that I have to share it. What was particularly good was that the veg I had to use is all stuff that I manage to make last a long time when we are out cruising ( and yes I can still remember what that's like, well just!).

Cruiser's cabbage.

tbsp olive oil
tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
3 rashers bacon, chopped
1 pepper, deseeded and finely sliced(red one for added colour)
1 jalepeno chili, deseeded and finely sliced
1 head of cabbage sliced

Melt butter with oil in a large pan.
Add the chopped onion and bacon, cook till lightly browned.
Add pepper and chili, cook further minute.
Add cabbage and a tiny amount of water. Cover and simmer gently for approx 10 mins until cooked. Stir and serve with liberal salt and fresh gound black pepper.


Monday, 16 March 2009

The trials continue..

...and so it goes on.

Yesterday TBH attacked the blower, that's the fan that extracts the nasty, toxic diesel fumes from the boat and vomits them out through the swallows nest in the cockpit. First he took off the engine control panel, that involves un-sikaflexing the thing. Tests the connection, yup its ok. Then replacing the wire from the engine panel to the blower. OK but still not working. Now he replaces the blower(we had a spare luckily). In doing so he discovers a nasty connector that narrows the exhaust tube for the fumes from 3" to 2". it has completely corroded away. So blower in place and working means that today he started by fashioning a new 'connector' from some epoxy and fibreglass, oh joy!

Then to top it all off the engine overheated during its morning fridge charging session! I am trying to convince myself that it's better these things happen at the dock but I am failing! Right now I am seriously pissed off.

I am taking refuge in watching Rick Stein's French Odyssey, a cooking series that follow one of my favourite chefs as he journeys through France from Bordeaux, on the Atlantic coast, to Marseille in the Mediteranean.Now I'm hungry too!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Trouble and strife.

We have a teak deck. I love it. TBH is not so keen.

For me it speaks of the romance of wooden boats, the elegance of days past and stuff like that. To him it represents heat and work!

As our boat ages so we have to make repairs to the deck, the odd plank is wearing through and from time to time needs to be replaced. Teak, at least good quality teak, is harder and harder to find.

So when TBH heard a rumour that there was a small stash of good stuff here on the river, his nose quivered and he set off on the hunt. "We need some planks, some for now and a stock for later. Also the kingplank needs replacing" Hmm. OK I thought he's right. I should point out that our deck is purely cosmetic. Under the wood (which is glued not screwed) are layers of epoxy which ensure that below decks stays nice and dry even if a plank cracks.

So a couple of days ago he headed inland to the owner of said teak stash's yard. A day of sawing and planing and rejecting pieces with bullet (!) holes in and he returned covered in dust. Yesterday the wood arrived. As what seemed like half the Guatemalan rain forest was unloaded onto the dock I raised an eyebrow, as it continued to come aboard I muttered a number of curses and when it was all finally unloaded I swore he would NEVER be allowed to go shopping alone again!

Yes its good quality, and well machined to the size we want but we really don't need all this! I say no more...

Meanwhile I had the sewing machine out. This is a horrific thing for me. Just the sight of it makes me hyperventilate. Somehow I seem to have been born without the sewing gene. I had set myself a simple enough task. We needed a new rain catcher. Just a simple, hemmed rectangle of canvas with a thru hull fitting in the centre and grommets round the edges. Of course nothing is ever simple on the boat.

First unearth said machine, stowed in aftcabin wardrobe under a ton of shoes.
Next unearth fabric, behind saloon settee, under assorted computer paper, canned hams, ink cartridges, sail bags and other vital things.
Find transformer for power supply.
Unearth thread etc from under forward berth.

Interruption to take delivery of wood and stow!

Attempt to cut fabric to size with hot knife, give up in disgust and resort to scissors.

Thread machine. Struggle with magnifying glass to thread needle. Find stitch tension incorrect so alter and rethread....

Finally success! Not a thing of beauty but 'fit for purpose'.Restow all kit and open well earned bottle of wine. Retreat to cockpit!

And in amongst all this our great friends left the dock to go cruising. Mike, Cindy and 'young Cynth" headed out for the summer leaving me watching them head down river. Me next...please...

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Blowy conditions in St Maarten's...

...for the Heineken Regatta. Yes we were supposed to be there! But like true cruisers our plans are made in jelly and they didn't set in time. Looks like pretty wild conditions though.

Success and failure.

I guess that it would be boring if everything went right the first time around. That's what I try and console myself with anyway.

The last week has involved us in total upheaval within the boat as we try and mend stuff! Success with the GPS. It had stopped acquiring the satellites and therefore was totally useless to us. TBH had a good look at the whole instillation and found that the wire from the aerial on the pushpit had been damaged so... Yes it sounds an easy job but the route went through three lockers on deck, round the back of the aft heads and finally into the control board at the navigation station.

You can see from these photographs just how disruptive this relatively simple repair was, nothing unusual on a boat I have to admit! TBH spent the whole of yesterday ensconced in the large lazarette, what a hero.

Sadly the operation to replace the mast top wind instruments has not, to date, been succesful. After two exercise sessions as I hauled TBH to the top and thinking we had cracked the problem we still have no readings down on the deck. Despite emailing B&G we have, to date, had no response to our questions so it'll be back up there again next week to see if we can figure out the problem. I am confident that we will be succesful next time...

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Best laid plans...

...just always seem to fail!

Yes we are still here. This time it's TBH's teeth. Well tooth actually. It turns out he had an abscess under the tooth and in his jaw bone. Nasty. So after his visit to the dentist last weekend he has been on heavy duty antibiotics, painkillers and lots of chamomile tea. Yes, that's right, chamomile tea. It was recommended by the dentist as a mouthwash. I 'googled' it and there it was dating back to Roman times, a natural aid to healing for mouth problems and dental abscesses. It worked too!
After every session with the tea the swelling on his jaw subsided until he no longer looks like a rather poorly hamster. Result.

So we reschedule our departure to the middle of next week. I am chary of leaving before the full course of antibiotics is finished and he has the all clear.

In the meantime TBH has been helping our son develop a website for the YouTube Symphony orchestra which has kept his mind occupied. I have been following the news of the deepening world economic crisis with increasing apprehension for the future. What a complete shambles.

Thank goodness we have already exited from the reality that is the modern working world. I just worry for our children and what comes next.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Panama Canal Yacht Club closing 1st April.

The end of an era and from all accounts not a happy one.

This report on the SSCA site and this one paint an unpleasant tale of bullying and illegal tactics. What a shame. It has been rumoured for many years that PCYC's life was limited and it appears that the day of reckoning has finally come.

Goodness only knows what will happen to the boats that queue up on The Flats to go through the canal. There will be nowhere to land and leave your dinghy safely.The alternative of Shelter Bay Marina is extremely expensive and an inconvenient distance from the town of Colon where all paperwork and provisioning has to take place. No doubt somebody, somewhere is making a pretty penny out of this.

We have happy memories of the service and camaraderie at PCYC. It is one of those 'holy grail' places on the cruisers list. Full of real ocean going sailors, characters and genuinely interesting people. When we first arrived there 3 years ago I was stunned that we had made it that far.It was really emotional. To be in a place that so many great sailors had written about over the years. What will happen now.

Where will the guys who help you find anything in town hang out? Rogelio who helped us buy a car? Ellington who accompanied us to the less salubrious parts of town as we completed the paperwork required by the authorities? The lady at customs and immigration who helped us extend our visa when TBH had his last round of dental treatment?

Somehow I don't see Shelter Bay filling that gap. Not unless you are prepared to pay through the nose.