Monday, 25 January 2010


As the river empties of cruisers, most of the sane ones are off sailing, those of us left behind seem to be an industrious lot.

Here at Monkey bay marina we are blessed with a very useful workshop that is available to all the 'inmates'!
It has some serious tools like a bench saw, compressor etc.

So the variety of boat jobs that are being undertaken here is pretty ambitious. There is Woody, a Canadian carpenter, who is busy building new cockpit covers from fiberglass and now gel coating them to a professional standard. He vies for space with Jim who seems to be making something from extremely long lengths of what looks like drainpipe... Joe is regaining mastery of his Sparkman and Stevens boat, every day a new project. From refrigeration, to varnishing, to seeking out a rebuild for a hydraulic pump on his auto pilot. He works from sunrise to sunset. I watch!

Paul was installing a new roller furling drum yesterday to the accompaniment of much hammering and cursing.

And TBH has epoxied two more pieces of teak to the deck to replace a couple that had worn through. With Woody's help we now have many pieces all prepared for the furture. It's nice to see the deck looking almost pristine again.

One of the delights of cruising is the hints and tips that you glean from fellow cruisers. Whilst we all have our own 'opinions' on how to do things(!) every so often you come across an absolute gem of a craftsman who not only knows all there is to know about his own field but is delighted to pass his knowlege on to those of us who are less gifted in the practical department.

To all of you out there who share their expertise so readily and freely - a big THANK YOU.

Thursday, 21 January 2010


I am a terrific fan of sailing forums. Over the years I have used a number of them to gather information, get technical and practical advice and just to chat to fellow sailors.

My favourite is YBW particularly the Practical Boat Owner forum. Over the years I have learnt how to grease my propeller, rig a boat, mend a sail and just recently received some sterling advice on how to plane teak. Absolutely priceless.

The Seven seas sailing organisation discussion board is also excellent, you need to be a paid up member to post or ask a question but a lot can be gleaned by trawling through the site.

There are many more but those are my favourites.

You also find fascinating people taking part too. In particular I have become a great fan of Dylan Winter, a gifted journalist whose passion, well one of his passions, is sailing. He has a wonderful YouTube channel that is full of remarkable footage of his exploits. If you have decent broadband you can soon waste an hour or two watching his exploits on a small boat and in other interesting situations.His other site keepturningleft really needs a fast connection but it's pure sailing joy!

On the job front we have come to a bit of a halt on the SSB radio. We still can't get the computer to speak to the pactor to speak to the radio so that we can send and receive emails at sea. TBH is just about tearing his hair out. But I have confidence that he will win in the end...

The Yankee is down and we have begun the long job of replacing some of the stitching that has given up the ghost. We are having to do it by hand as it's too thick to run through the machine we have on board but never mind. It's quite therapeutic as we sit on opposite sides of the cabin with our needles and threads, really need another sailmakers palm though!

The sun is shining, the wind blowing and all is well with our world...for now!

Sunday, 17 January 2010


We are currently being so productive and organised that we are both scared half to death!

We set ourselves a time table of one month to work through our 'to do' list. The boat has been in serious need of some TLC for a while now and we want to get on top of the jobs before we set sail again, this time for a much longer period.

So since last Wednesday we have;

Installed the new navigation lights, fore and aft.
Repaired the leaking aft heads. This involved stripping down the Jabsco manual loo and replacing a total of three parts.
Repaired the bronze rubbing strip that was damaged in Cuba. Sawn off the damaged end and swopped the damaged outboard strip for the perfect inboard one. Replaced the sheared copper(!) screws with suitable bronze ones.
Finally restored all FOUR house batteries to fully functioning, Amazing!
Reupholstered the step/seat in the forward cabin.
Regassed the refrigerator and cleaned thoroughly.
Emptied, cleaned and replaced kit in the wet locker. It was very mouldy, cleaned all the wet gear, lifejackets etc.
Cleaned the stove, including the oven.
Spring cleaned the clothing lockers, threw out heap of kit we never wear and now have nice orderly shelves(if you knew me you would know how really scary this is!).
Repaired damaged portlight.
Repaired the sprayhood.


We are feeling rather pleased with ourselves this evening! Tomorrow we have to hunt down some parts, take down the Yankee for some restitching and repair the shower pump in the forward heads. That'll keep us out of mischief I hope.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Massive earthquake in Haiti

Just heard about this, happened about 4pm our time, interesting after the small quake we felt yesterday.

More about it here


Hard to believe that it is still so chilly here, and the wind is still blowing pretty hard. Not as much as at sea mind you where the effects of the latest Norther are all too apparent in the height of the waves, yuck!

I have been putting the time to good use here, creating a terrifying order in the boat and shopping on ebay for all sorts of bits and pieces that TBH never knew I needed. Latest success is a brass tap unit for the galley sink, to match the brass spigots for the foot pumps that also grace that fixture. I am dead chuffed as I have been looking for ages for the right design and there it was, got it at a good price too...

Finally, after 9 years, I am managing to chuck away a lot of the stuff that we never use, make lists of equipment that we need to buy and even contemplate updating the interior of the boat. TBH has a sort of scared look in his eyes as I ask him what he thinks of this fabric or that colour...don't blame him either! last time this feeling came upon me we ended up completely refurbishing our cottage. Still it keeps me off the streets I say.

So apart from the large quantities of teak boards that still adorn both our and the aft cabin the boat is looking remarkably shipshape. It is gratifying that we are able to sail off within 30 minutes of making the decision now rather than the 3 days it used to take to stow everything away.

Just found a stash of kitchen towels that I had forgotten about and a rather natty Musto red shirt that TBH has grabbed to keep him warm this morning.

heyho back to looking for more buried treasures...

Monday, 11 January 2010


ooh weird the boat just bounced up and down for a few seconds as we were shaken by a smallish earth tremor. It's a really strange sensation....

Thursday, 7 January 2010


Brrr! It's still chilly here and the blankets are sitting ready on the bed for night time...

One excellent piece of news for the New Year is that our attempts to revive our ailing batteries have been very successful. We did a lot of research on the internet and found quite a lot of reference to the fact that batteries like to play 'possum' when you try and recharge them from a low voltage. So we persevered and continued to belt them through our three step smart charger. This was a bit scary at times as we had to disconnect the heat sensor of the thing kept cutting out in the tropical temperatures. What was interesting was that when we called the charger manufacturer (Victron) for advice they said that the charger wasn't powerful enough for use in the Tropics! Nobody said a word about that when we were outfitting for bluewater sailing...

Still we used other info and kept at it. The final clincher was when we isolated two out of the four house batteries and concentrated on those. Finally we got the specific gravity measurements up to 1.27 and hoped all was well. So a month later the batteries are performing at the correct level again and between the wind generator and the engine we have been able to keep them happily charged.

It would have been so easy to just replace them, except we couldn't get the one's we wanted here! Makes you think about how often we just replace stuff that could probably be re-generated without too much hassle.

TBH has installed the new navigation lights, fore and aft. After the expensive LED ones blowing in the lightning strike we have gone back to the good old fashioned basic model, one that you can at least change the light bulb on!

So we have another list as long as our arm of maintenance to do, some urgent, other not so vital and intend to spend the next month kicking it into touch...I do so love good intentions don't you.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Rain and Rip offs.

Blimey it's cold...and wet!
Solid rain for the past 48 hours, fresh breezes and we have resorted to pyjamas at night.It feels like November in the UK.

Still the water tanks are full again, a big relief. I have been baking to warm the boat up and we have enjoyed hunkering down in our boat sheltered from the wind and rain.

I mentioned that we had been 'ripped off' in Roatan. The story is that we decided to head for Fantasy Island |Resort where cruisers are welcome and there is an efficient dive operation. Lucy and Alex were keen to get some good diving done over Christmas. Not our usual choice of destination but seemed great for our guests.

When TBH went ashore to get the low down on where to check in he was met by Wally. Wally is the dockmaster and very friendly, American and eager to help. He pointed TBH towards a taxi who would take him to Coxen Hole to checkin with the port captain etc. Off he(and lucy and Alex) went, happy that Wally assured them this guy was good and wouldn't rip them off. $40 later and no check in achieved, the offices were closed, we were all feeling a little miffed...

Next day we tried again. Aha said Wally there is an agent, I vouch for him let me call. "OK" said TBH" How Much". $40 came the answer. Hmm well it cost us that yesterday and we got nothing, ok lets do it.

Along comes Mr Ebank. Smooth talking black guy with a fancy car...Only 1and a half hours later than arranged. Suddenly he says its $60, 40 for the cost, 10 for transport and 10 for him.... By now we were just pissed off at wasting so much time...

The papers were due back the following day by 12 noon. Wally delivered them to the boat, great...except they weren't ours..sigh.And Ebank had taken another $20 from Wally cos we checked out at the same time...

Next day we finally got the right paperwork from Ebank at the cruisers christmas Potluck. TBH was cross! He wouldn't pay the extra £20 and insisted ebank return it to Wally. What a rip off. The charge should be $5 each for checking in and no charge for checking out.

On reflection we should have done it ourselves, as we usually do. But Wally was new, we were keen to patronize Fantasy Island.... what can I say? Shrug....

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year!

A quiet one for us...

Amazing to think that a decade ago we were at a flash party in the UK, wondering if the planes were going to fall out of the sky or the world end as the millenium ended.

And now here we are half way across the world, living on a boat, simply and satisfyingly. I could not have begun to predict then where I would be now.

And what of the future? Who knows, certainly not I! Just need to keep learning, changing, adapting and growing....