Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Finishing up repairs in Trinidad

This summer has been an opportunity to accomplish many upgrades and repairs to our boat. Trinidad is known for it's wide variety of vendors and reasonable rates. We were particularity concerned about our rigging as it was over sixteen years old (the date the insurance ceases), as we hope to be crossing the Atlantic in May 2008. As soon as we arrived we had a rigging survey done by Nils at Budget Marine Rigging. Surprisingly he found cracks in our bow sprit and dinghy davits, but thought our rigging would be all right for a few years. We're heading for Panama next summer and the timing will be tight after that to be positioned for our trip west, so we decided to go ahead and replace the rigging as well. We hired Mitchel from West Coast Fabricators (photo to the right in red) to build the new bow sprit, swim ladder and dinghy davits and Nils to replace and tune the rigging. Despite having four months to accomplish this, we almost didn't complete the job in time to leave Trinidad in time to pick up our son James in Grenada next Monday. Murphy's law was in full force throughout. One hurdle after another appeared and suddenly Nils was leaving for vacation on Friday night and it was Friday. Happily swarms of workers surrounded the boat and at 6:30PM Nils shook our hand and raced to the airport - job competed.

Another great addition is new canvas work around our cockpit. We had a new bimini made, a transition piece designed that attached between the bimini and the dodger, and see through side curtains that zip to the bimini and tie down to the stays, enclosing the cockpit. This provides sun and some rain protection. The last large project was varnishing and cleaning the boat. We hired Ronnie (shown here to the left) to do most of the work but also teach Heather. We stripped, sanded and varnished the handrails, companionway, coming, cockpit table, and various sections of the interior. Then we cleaned, compounded and polished the exterior fiberglass - deck and sides. In addition, we had the sails repaired and checked, bought an inverter charger and spinnaker pole, and had new curtains made for the salon. Our retirement savings are dwindling fast but the boat looks great!

Provisioning is a constant and easy here in Trinidad. These last few weeks Heather has been shopping at various markets, including a Pricesmart (very similar to Cosco). Most cardboard boxes are then removed and the contents put in zip lock bags, labeled and then stowed away somewhere. An inventory list of contents is taped to the back of the doors or lids of the storage areas, which have all been repacked and inventoried this month. After visiting Customs and Immigration we'll be able to shop at the duty free store and purchase beer, wine and liquor at pretty reasonable prices.
At the last minute we'll make a trip to the fruit and vegetable market and buy fresh produce. Although we can restock in Grenada, it's a lot harder to do when you're at anchor - ferrying everything in and our by dinghy. After Grenada, the Grenadines are a collection of very small islands and food shopping will be minimal and expensive. We do not have a freezer so keeping fresh food for any length of time is challenging. I have meats frozen and packaged in air tight pouches, then I pack them near our cooling unit. Vegetables are trimmed and put in zip lock bags. Most root vegetables will last a month or more - green veggies are more perishable. I've become familiar with the local produce and try to use that.

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