Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Christmas exploits.

Well it's over. The boat is eerily tidy and still!

We had a great Christmas. Lucy and Alex finally arrived.

We spent a couple of days at Monkey Bay Marina so they could recover from their long trip and after curing the engine problems set off downstream towards the sea.

We cleared out of Livingstone with ease and enjoyed a three hour sail across the bay to a sheltered anchorage for the night. All looked promising for our passage the following day. It wasn't! The wind blew on the nose all the way, the seas did their wonderful impersonation of a washing machine on hot was! But we got there.

After 32 hours Fantasy Island loomed in the pouring rain, grey and dismal. We wondered what we had done!

But all was well, the sun came out, the waters went blue.

We had turkey, wine, cruiser's potluck. Alex and Lucy dived and snorkelled. TBH and I read our new books.

Fantasy Island lived up to it's name for our guests( we got ripped off a bit but that's another story).

The trip back provided NO wind but flat seas, dolphins aplenty even a fish!

They went yesterday.It rained as they left. We miss them a lot...

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Smoke and heat!

It's been a few days of extraordinary ups and downs, not a lot new there then...
The engine continued to smoke and the strange rattley noise defied all attempts to quieten it. But despite these problems we decided that we had to cast off the lines and start to make tracks for the open sea.

We have had a great stay at Monkey bay marina, everything that we wanted after all. Quiet, chilled, unpressured. Lovely places to sit and a big freezer for the cruiser's use. Bliss! We loaded our ice blocks aboard, moved all the frozen meat into our chill box. Topped off the water, paid the bill and with as much grace as I could muster eased gently backwards out of our slip. Big cloud of white smoke but the prop did it's thing and propelled us out into the main body of the river.

Having been reading Nigel Calder again, it's a sort of boater's hyponcondria bible, I was convinced that either we had trouble with the injectors in the engine of the head gasket was/had gone. If it was a terminal condition we might as well find out sooner rather than later and with heart in mouth I eased the throttle forward and off we went. Lots of smoke but that could be from the injector cleaner that we added to the diesel, or it could be from the diesel bug cleaner that we also added. I kept an eagle eye on the temperature gauge as we floated slowly down river toward the Golfete.

Up sprung a nice breeze, oh come on lets sail, its not far and it'll be fun. Out came the main, the yankee, off with the engine and we tacked up the lake. The boat went beautifully and after a few false starts we got the tacking going...oh it was nice to feel the boat doing her thing in the water...

As we approached the anchorage on went the motor for the final approach. Oh dear also on went the temperature alarm as rapid overheating started. Off went the engine and we coasted in to drop the anchor which held firmly first time round.

My heart sank.This is it. The engine is knackered. Lucy and Alex's holiday scuppered...

We ate, went to bed and lay awake worrying all night.

Yesterday TBH set to. First checking all through the raw water system. No blockage on the intake, oil levels ok then EUREKA! a mangled impeller. Oh joy unbounded a simple straight forward mechanical failure.

After a horrific viewing of a totally disintigrated rubber impeller, a rodding out of the heat exchanger tubes and refixing a leaking pipe we were away. The engine fired first time, water expelled in quantity from the exhaust pipe. Alex and I looked at each other both realising that the rattle had gone, the temperature nice an cool.

We looked over the stern, NO SMOKE! Unbelievable. we must have been running for weeks with a damaged impeller without sussing it.

We are slow learners but we get there in the end!

So a quiet day, finishing off jobs, charging computers, planning our route, watching the weather. Fingers crossed we'll be over the bar tomorrow then an overnight anchorage whilst the next cold front blows through and we will be away!

Monday, 14 December 2009

They are here!

Finally they are here! Late saturday night a crackly transmission over the VHF and John, the manager at Monkey Bay, set off in the lancha to collect Lucy and Alex. They were tired after a long trip but it was lovely to finally have them onboard.

Mind you I very nearly sent them back again when they admitted that they had forgotten to pack the coffee grinder...ah well I guess that you can't have everything. Something to look forward to on the next visit.

So we've stayed in the marina another couple of days for them to recuperate from the long trip, plus there's a big swell running out at sea. We hope to cast off the lines tomorrow and head towards the ocean ready for a bar crossing on thurs /friday.We are all stowed, laundry done, provisioning complete, water tanks full. just a final wash down of the top of the boat and we're off.....

Saturday, 12 December 2009

It's nearly here...


Lucy and Alex went to Antigua yesterday instead of getting the Litigua bus to Rio Dulce! Still gave us an extra 24 hours which we badly needed!

So provisions in, stockings shopped for, engine hoses fixed and batteries charged. Fingers crossed we are nearly ready!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

More trials and tribulations.

You would not believe the mess this boat is in.
I don't believe the mess this boat is in!
Alex and Lucy arrive in around 24 hours....

Their cabin is uninhabitable. Today TBH removed the watermaker, isolation transformer and floor boards. He threaded the wire for the fishfinder up past the exhaust pipe, around and over the fuel tank. Then we had to empty the lazarette to get said wire through to the wheel pedestal. When doing that he inspected the exhaust hose and could find no problems there so the hole is probably under the fuel tank, sigh.

We started up the motor whilst everything was exposed so I could try and locate the sound that is bothering me, it's definitely not in the engine. But just as I had the engine compartment open the fitting from the raw water intake split and gallons of river water spewed everywhere.

"Stop the engine" I screamed. TBH, fortunately mostly obedient(!) did just that and we surveyed the latest problem, or should I say challenge. Hysterical laughter from me and a wry comment from TBH that we now had a chance to use the spare that we had flown out to Trinidad from the Uk at great expense some 3 years ago...

So the saloon is piled with boxes from the aft cabin, I am cooking in the middle of a toolbox and the battery compartment lid is off so we can monitor the state of those little darlings...

I could be bald by tomorrow as I am sure to be tearing my hair out shortly!

Oh and I forgot to add that TBH drew some fuel of the tank whilst it was exposed and found a quantity of water in there along with the beginnings of one of those horrid diesel bugs. So another little job to deal with. But at least it could explain the white smoke from the engine...

I am off to bed now it looks like tomorrow will be a looong day..

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Monkey Bay Sliders.

With the boat still in uproar and the offspring due in less than a week I had the perfect excuse yesterday for a little cooking therapy! Just the thing to quiet my nerves was an invite to our next-door-boat birthday celebration last night. With the request to bring along something to eat I set to and decided on 'sliders' the mini-burger latest fashion accessory for hungry boaters...

I found a good recipe from Jaimie Oliver and adapted it a little. They sound fiddly but with a bit of organization on my work surfaces the whole lot was prepared from start to finish in under 40 minutes, not bad!

  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 6 Jacob's crackers or 4 slices of bread, crusts removed
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) good-quality lean minced beef
  • 1tsp sea salt
  • 1 heaped tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, preferably free-range or organic, beaten
  • A handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. You can make these burgers or sliders in an oven at full whack, on the barbecue or in a hot pan. If you're using the oven or barbecue, preheat it now. Put a splash of olive oil into a large frying pan on a low heat and add your chopped onions. Fry for 10 minutes or until the onions have softened, then put to one side to cool completely.
  2. Blitz your crackers or bread in a food processor until you get a fine consistency. Oil a clean baking tray and put aside. Put the cooled onions into a large bowl with the rest of the burger ingredients. Use clean hands to scrunch the mixture together really well, then divide into 6 equal balls for burgers and 18 equal balls for sliders. Wet your hands and roll the balls into burger-shaped patties about 2cm thick.
  3. Place your burgers or sliders on the oiled baking tray and pat with a little olive oil. Cover them with clingfilm and put the tray into the fridge for at least an hour, or until the patties firm up..

I finished them off with a piece of lettuce, slice of tomato, dollop of ketchup, piece of cheese(melted on the burger) and a piece of crispy bacon.

I had to use the picture from Jaimie's article as all mine were eaten before I got the camera out! And yes they did look just the same...well apart from no pickles and no sesame seeds but what's that between friends!

I really like miniature 'real food' canapes, sort of wicked but not too filling. You can always eat a lot of them, well we can!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Sinkings,groundings and rescues.

Well our problems fade into insignificance after the bout of sailing news from the region this week!

British yacht Kersti sunk on it's way to Cartagena from the San Blas Islands. Owners Jeff and Ruth Morris took to their liferaft and were quickly rescued by other cruisers.

Yacht Columbine was hard aground off the West coast of Cuba awaiting the arrival of the US Coastguard, last news was that they had been there for 24 hours and had 6 to go before the 'cavalry' were due to arrive. So far they hadn't been holed.

Motor vessel Great Escape is aground in the Sapodilla's, Belize. Hard on a reef with significant damage and taking on water.

Makes our battery issues seem a whole lot more manageable.

Since we have been in this part of the Caribbean every season seems to contain enough dramatic incidents to make you ask yourself a lot of questions! Personally reef sailing scares the shit out of me, shallow water, sharp coral and inadequate charts. Yuck, just not my idea of fun. After our experiences in Belize last season I am in no hurry to return to that cruising ground. Give me the open ocean and a bottom that is so deep the fishfinder can't read it!

I am constantly amazed by the casual attitude of many sailors to navigation in these waters, their reliance on waypoints and the calm way in which they recount 'hitting the reef'. Personally the slightest scrape on my bottom leaves me appalled at my stupidity and carelessness.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Proud Mum.

My three gorgeous children at my sister and brother-in-laws 50th birthday party last weekend. Goodness I do miss them!

Muffins,engines and wifi

Goodness me! 1st December already and I am being chastised for not starting my Christmas blogging...I think it's because I am waiting for Lucy and Alex to arrive before I get in the mood.

Lucy and Alex open their new restaurant, Koh(in Bournemouth) sometime this week so they are really busy. I just hope she has time to get the last minute shopping list that I have sent. It has such vital things as Christmas Pudding and muffin cases on it! Could seriously compromise my Yule celebrations if they don't arrive.

Quick up date on the repairs; looks like we have reclaimed one of the batteries(we only charge 2 at a time) two of the others are coming on nicely but number 4 may well be f.....ed.

Really hope we are successful as the cost here is horrendous, Q1700 each that's 170 euros and they are not even the one's we want... Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Engine fuel leak is fixed although we are still getting some smoke from the exhaust. My theory is that we have another hole in the exhaust pipe further back. When TBH gets to the stage of running the final cable for the fishfinder we will unearth that part of the boat. Yet more mess. Sigh!

So cooking therapy is high on my daily 'to do' list. Yesterday I made another batch of pate and  baked some delicious cherry and walnut muffins. Sadly they just seem to evaporate as soon as they come out of the oven. TBH says its nothing to do with him and the crumbs on his shirt are just 'dirt'! Hum...

Monkey Bay Marina continues to charm. One thing I must mention is how John, the manager, came to our boat and set the wifi connection up for us. In other marinas you are often left to struggle alone to connect and given no guidance to using the system. Not here. John, who appears very computer literate, comes to the boat, actually sets the connection up on your computer and carefully explains just how much surfing the system here will take. What a refreshing and intelligent way to ensure a happy experience.