Living up a ladder without a loo

Well, having left beautiful Prickly Bay we have been out of the water for just over two weeks now and still managing to keep sane despite the lack of sea breeze. We have started on a number of jobs but before I launch into detail of those I want to tell you about a couple of things which I forgot to include in the previous post.

Firstly, another tale of our experiences of customs and immigration – this time our clearance into Grenada waters at Hillsborough on Carriacou. Having cleared out from there in January we knew that our first stop was at a small office, one in a row which includes the Police and other officials. I hadn’t remembered it, but just as Mike was reaching for the door handle I saw the sign “Please knock and enter” and so rapped quickly on the door before we opened it. There was one Customs guy there and a couple of other people filling in papers for clearance out or in. As he was clearly busy Mike and I stood waiting and got all our papers etc ready for our turn. After a couple of minutes he looked across at us and I asked for a form. “And good afternoon to you as well” he said. Oops I had forgotten that there is an expectation of polite introduction prior to commencing business. On going into a shop I have got used to saying “Good morning” or whatever is appropriate to the time of day and asking whether the person is well/having a good day etc or making a comment on the weather/scenery but, because we had been standing there for a few minutes I had forgotten to start the interaction in the correct manner. Fortunately, I muttered “Oh yes sorry, good afternoon” – or something like that – and he just handed me the form. I say “fortunately” because a few minutes later as Mike and I were bent over the form puzzling with what to put in some of the boxes, due to the fact that whilst we are in Grenada until November we are actually out of the water and therefore not in need of a cruising permit for that time, the door opened and a guy walked in. Well, Mr Customs barked “Can you read”. Probably taken aback the guy just nodded and was then told “Go outside and try again”.  So, out he went and the next thing we heard was a loud “Tat, tat, ti tat tat, tat, tat” and the guy walked back in. I didn’t know where to put myself. I was dying to laugh but knew that to do so would have probably meant that our clearance would have been refused or something. So I just kept my head down as that seemed to be the safest thing. I guess that there are so few jobs available that to have one with some authority just goes to some people’s heads. Certainly Mr Customs of Carriacou takes his job very seriously and makes sure that all comers to his office take him very seriously too. It is great that respect and old school manners are taught to children on the islands and are generally followed but maybe this guy took it all a little too far. The pilot actually suggests that skippers wear trousers or skirts rather than shorts when going to customs. We have never gone that far, and neither have most skippers we have seen though neither Mike nor I – nor I suspect the other guy – will ever forget to knock and do the polite introduction thing in the future.

Secondly, you will be aware that Australians are often concerned that a poisonous spider will appear in their “dunny” and you may know that some sailors have reported sea snakes getting into their “heads” and that most canny sailors therefore have strainers on the intake through hulls for the water supply when flushing the loo. Well, guess what happened to me. There I was flushing the loo when I saw something wriggling in the water…and it was … a Shrimp! We have sometimes had phosphorescence in the loo water but this is our first “critter” and hopefully it should be about the largest thing that can appear because, to put the minds of those who stay with us at rest, we are two of those canny sailors.

Talking of “through hulls” brings me to one of the first jobs we have done out of the water, that being checking all the seacocks. We have to admit that this is a job that we have previously neglected because it has never been an issue. But, as we have learnt, by neglecting it, it could well become an issue and one that we would really rather not have. The thought that if a hose or pipe failed and we weren’t able to turn the seacock in order to stop the ingress of water is quite scary. Having read the Nigel bible and various forum threads on this matter and realised that the rate of inflow would be approximately 70 gallons per minute it becomes very scary and the recognition that the bilge pump can in no way cope with that rate of flow and it becomes very, very scary. So, we are now the proud owners of a diagram showing all the through hull fittings and a chart listing their corresponding ball valves, with columns for regular checking/note of when they are replaced etc. Each has been tested and three of the ten were found to be stuck. One of these just needed a little application but two had to be removed and we are in the process of replacing these. I won’t go into detail because Mike is going to write a separate post which, based on what has happened so far, will probably need to be titled “Seacock Saga”!

A job which has been running alongside this one is the engine service. You might recall that whilst in St. Martin we had to change a hose connection and that this was the second of these which needed replacing. Well, as you might expect, when Yachties get together over a beer the conversation often turns to fixing stuff and Mike was lucky when chatting in this manner with John [who we spent New Year’s Eve with in Barbados and bumped into again in Prickly Bay a couple of weeks ago] because he was able to give Mike a possible solution to this hose failure. If you take a look at the picture below you might be able to see the problem….

Talk about bunged up! The gunk is a mixture of rust and carbon which has hardened with seawater and almost completely blocked the pipe thus causing pressure in other parts of the system which resulted in the hoses splitting.

Mike has cleaned the offending parts which now look much better and are ready to go back on….

We think we have been lucky in that little else seems to have been affected [she says beating her hands on the wooden table as she types!] though we will also replace the first piece of the exhaust pipe because that seems to have warped a little inside.

Those couple of paragraphs make it sound almost easy but, of course, nothing ever is. To get at the parts which needed removing Mike had to take off the silencer. This was attached to the engine seat with three screws, one of which finally turned after Mike had spent a lot of time grunting and wriggling in a confined space. The other two wouldn’t budge whatever he tried and so it was out with the drill to remove the screw heads. About thirty minutes of contortionism later the silencer was freed – it really is like trying to work on an elephant through a mousehole! And, of course, new holes will now need drilling to put the silencer back – but we have bought screws with large heads so that next time [and we are fairly sure there will be a next time for some reason or another – if nothing else to check on this build up in a few years time] it should be possible to get them undone more easily.

So, the engine service this year has become much more of a task than the usual impeller, oil filter change but it is surely going to be worth it.

A couple of things which have gone well are Mike’s fitting of a new speaker in the cockpit and a cockpit light. We are also really pleased with the new frame which has been built to replace our old and very inadequate bimini.

In the last post I explained how we were looking to create a new tent and I am delighted to report that stage 1 is complete. Whilst in Prickly Bay we went to see a guy called Nick who runs “Technick” and we were impressed by his willingness to work with us to get as near as possible to the structure we had envisaged given the constraints of the centre cockpit and the mainsheet. At first it appeared that we might, once again, be thwarted because Nick advised us that once we were in Grenada Marine he wouldn’t be able to do the job because of the “yard politics” whereby a yard doesn’t allow work done by outsiders – especially when they have their own technicians who can do the same kind of work. We fully appreciated this but it was frustrating to think that we had found someone who we felt would make a really good job of what we wanted at a price we thought reasonable. It was actually the final design of the structure which saved us because having realised that we couldn’t raise the mainsheet horse and incorporate it into the tent roof frame [the reasons for which I am happy to explain should anyone care to ask], the overall weight of the frame reduced and this meant that Nick had sufficient length of appropriate sized pipe to make it immediately rather than having to wait two weeks for some heavier duty piping to be ordered and delivered. Thus it could be completed before we were due to haul out.

OK, there was some “island time slippage” and we were two days late in getting to Grenada Marine but no-one was upset by that and we had the pleasure of Kendrick [on the right] who built the frame for us and who fitted it with a little assistance from his mate Dexter.

Since being in Grenada Marine we have spoken to the sailmakers and are about to commission the canvas work and maybe work will have started, or even been completed on stage 2 when I next report. After that Mike will know exactly where his new cockpit light needs to go and will put the wires through the frame to complete the job.

You may be wondering what I have been doing all this time as this post seems to be full of the work Mike has done. Well, there is no good work done without “management”, without someone to fetch tools and hold the torch and to make cups of coffee, so I have had some very important roles to play!

You may also be wondering what has happened to any discussion of drinking and bars. Well, so are we! We had thought that there would be lots of other folk like us who would haul out and stay with their boats – but that is not the case. There are a lot of yachties here in Grenada for the hurricane season but they are all living on their boats in the water in Prickly Bay, Hog Island, Clarkes Court and Whisper Cove – all of which are approximately fifteen miles away from us and not on a direct bus route. Even were they on a bus route the buses to St. David’s [where Grenada Marine is] stop at about 8pm. So, we aren’t able to join in the many activities which are taking place most evenings in one or more of those places.

We have, however, joined the Grenada branch of the Hash House Harriers. We have been duly inaugurated as Hashers – with the certificate to prove we are no longer Virgins [bit late in the day but good to know!]. For some, hashing involves running, for us it’s the walkers trail or, as Mike insisted last Saturday, the runners trail but done as a fast walk. For those who don’t know, everyone follows a paper trail and at places where trails intersect there may be a circle of paper. If there is, then the route could go down any of the tracks leading from that circle. Each track will have some paper along it and at the tenth pile of paper [they are about 10 yards apart] there will either be a cross – denoting it as the wrong trail – or just the paper pile meaning that there should be another pile 10 yards further because you are on the right trail. Got it so far?? On reaching a circle if you shout R U then if there are people ahead who have found the right trail they will shout ON ON and you know which way to go. If someone has gone along a wrong trail and has turned back at a cross and hears you coming they will shout ON BACK advising you to go and try one of the other routes. Still with me?? Occasionally the runners and walkers trails converge at which time no-one at all seems sure which way is ON ON because there may be different routes for the two groups but no-one seems to care and just carries on regardless. The trails are sometimes fit for two or more abreast so some conversation can take place but often they are narrow tracks through undergrowth and trees and, anyway, have steep up and down bits or traverses along a small cliff or across a river or something so any communication tends to be of the “Oh shit is it really that way” or of the grunting and gasping variety. After approximately one and a half to two hours you arrive back at the base and you are a sweaty, muddy mess but that’s OK because so is everyone else and, anyway, there is beer and a BBQ. As you can tell, we are still quite mad and enjoy the strangest things but in Big Steve’s words “It’s stupid and it’s pointless so it must be a good thing”.

Unfortunately, since the demise of the small camera [as reported last time] we haven’t got any photos of these Hashes. We will remedy that soon we hope though maybe, having read the above, you are thankful for small mercies.

To keep in touch with what is going on with Hash events and also with Grenada cruisers we have had to join Facebook because we are too far away from the anchorages to pick up the Channel 68 cruisers net. We haven’t got a clue how it’s supposed to be used but somehow we have managed to pick up several friends and will no doubt learn how to use it as we go along.

We have found a rum shack at the end of the road where we get off the bus and have stopped there twice. We have also been joined on the hard by Shawna and Jon on “Beausoleil” a beautiful 51ft Formosa ketch. They lifted out of the water about a week after us and intended to be here for a few days to antifoul. They then found that their rudder was in a fairly serious state of near disintegration so they are going to be with us a while longer whilst it is repaired. We have shared a few late nights with them which have been great fun.

Whilst drinking coffee in the cockpit about five days ago we saw two people climbing a ladder on the boat next to ours. Oh goody we thought, some more neighbours. However, it transpired that they were just passing through on their way to Trinidad and stopped to check their friend’s boat. Still, we managed to spend a couple of days with them and visited their boat on one of the moorings here for an excellent evening meal. So, pay attention Malc and Nikki- it’s “Hello” from Rob……

and Rhian on “Beyzano”.

Rob and Rhian actually timed their trip to Trinidad quite well because we have had our closest experience yet of a Tropical storm which came through this weekend. We had been warned originally that it might track more to the south and were told that the yard was on standby – but that wasn’t necessary in the end because “Ernesto” tracked across Barbados and then St. Lucia i.e. approx 90 miles north of us. Apparently they had 60 knot winds but we only saw 28 knots here in Grenada though it did rain rather heavily for most of Saturday. It was actually quite interesting following the weather sites. We like this one:

So, yes, here we are living up a ladder without a loo. It is humid and pretty hot [35 degrees C in the shade of the sprayhood today] but we are coping fine, having fun and getting on with the necessary jobs. If we fancy a swim we can quite easily take a dip in the lovely bay and there is always the small bar/restaurant which serves lunches to the yard staff which we can visit if we want. And, of course there are loos, just a short walk from the boat with showers which you can stand up and turn around in. So all is well here in Grenada.

And finally…. whilst I have been typing this post, Mike has been servicing the heads and Dave and Maggie will be delighted to know that all glass shards have been safely removed!!!!! [if you need an explanation – ask Mag]


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    • Malc & Nikki on August 8, 2012 at 8:23 am
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    Hi Both 🙂
    Well it’s a small world isn’t it 🙂 Just read about your meeting on Beyzano’s blog too. I’ve not really been able to keep up with blogs since the wedding as we seemed to cruise everywhere that phone reception and Internet wasn’t this year – which is nice 🙂 But now back at work (sorry to swear!), but really looking forward to your visit. That looks like a swanky ‘pod’ on your wheel – that wouldn’t be a new ‘toy’ would it Mike?? 😉

    Wishing you both well 🙂


    • Malc & Nikki on August 8, 2012 at 8:24 am
    • Reply

    feel thick now…. just realised the pictures were taken aboard Beyzano….. the DuoGen was the giveaway!

    • JT on August 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm
    • Reply

    …smart move, getting out of the water during Hurricane season (Isaac whistling thru NO ‘as we speak’ ) ~ you do in fact know what you’re about in that boat 😉 or is it a ship?

    Anyway, always glad to hear your tidings. And still await our invitation – noting you’ve had everyone else and their dog down to stay with you. Talking of Dave & Mag, will be seeing them in Town here this weekend – and will surely slug a tot o’rum fer ya. Take oodles of care ~ JT & Yvonne

  1. Hey guys! Hope things are going well with the keel bolts on Siga Siga. Sorry I didn’t have a socket big enough to fit!

    If you have time, would you be able to check up on Beausoleil? I did a temporary cabling job on the solar panels before we left, and just want to make sure everything is still working. I’ll send you the combination code for the companionway lock. If you could just check the battery charge state on the Blue Sky solar charge controller – it’s on the companionway steps. I know – not the most seaman-like installation, but I’ll do a permanent mounting job when we get back on Sept. 16.

    Hopefully I can find your e-mail address somewhere on this site! 🙂

    Jon & Shawna

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