"Marlin" gets a new underwater painting
Trinidad, Chaguaramas. The hurricane season is approaching, the ships at anchor and the numerous marinas in the bay are bustling with activity. Cast off sails, mothball upholstery, wash out cupboards, distribute perishable food, organize the crane appointment and book the flight home. Everyday life for the many Americans and Canadians who arrive here every day with the yellow Q flag after a season in the Windward or Leeward Islands. They prefer to spend the summer at home with their families, the ship safely jacked up in Trinidad, outside the hurricane belt.
For us, on the other hand, Trinidad is not a safe haven for the next few months, but a perfect place for repairs, just like twelve years ago with the Iron Lady. There seems to be a solution for almost every problem, spare parts can be delivered directly to customs without any problems, there are carpenters, diesel mechanics, hydraulic specialists, painters, lathe shops, … In short: everything we need at the present time. Ship chandlers who repackage penny items, label them "Marine" and sell them for ten times as much, can be found one after the other on the roadside. However, they also sell essentials, make life and the hunt for what is missing easier.
Priorities have to be set, the wish list is long, the budget after buying the ship is narrow. Yes, we knew beforehand that the underwater hull of a 60-foot boat would need more paint than a 38-foot boat. Nevertheless, we keep miscalculating ourselves. Buy cables that are too short, not enough canvas, undersized lines, not enough paint. You have to grow into such a ship first. How good that we at least know the rule that you spend twice as much as you initially think.
Photo gallery: Pictures from Trinidad
Priority list: At the top, although not necessary for seaworthiness, is the lady's new look made of aluminum. None of us want a "stepalah" in grayish white with a yellow stripe. A bit of vanity can be quiet, and 60 feet of professional Dutch-troweled aluminum will be sprayed red in ten days by Allan and his people. Fire engine red. We spend the time with important appointments and a few jobs in Germany, but no sooner are we back than we rush to work. The children get their scooters out of the locker to explore the area, we the scooters to paint the antifouling. Satisfied, Michin climbs his new overalls, which he bought in Germany, pulls the zipper twice and breaks it. Nprima, no better quality than in Chile, where it wore out four pieces in two months. At least it's warmer, much warmer, if not to say hot. What could be more obvious than swapping the boiler suit for shorts and undershirts and attaching the sanding discs to the machine. We check the torso centimeter by centimeter and are satisfied. We find a few quirks on the bow, the result of a grounding somewhere in the North Sea, but no electrolysis, no problem areas, no pitting. Even the anodes are still perfectly fine after a close inspection. Primer, a bit of spatula, and four gallons of antifouling later, the "Marlin" is ready to go back into the water.
Ship swims, ship is red and chic, but ready to sail? Far from it.
The next point, if not the most important, is the autopilot. I disappear into the engine compartment with a handkerchief and screwdriver and reappear a few hours later with the gears of the transmission. The mechanical stress caused by the knocking of the rudder over the years there in the river has made the spring pins for locking the gears a lot harder. Meanwhile, I am a true professional in finding workshops, no part that cannot be replaced by someone, specially made or dug out of the garbage. In this case, unfortunately, no garbage, but a custom-made product. The new grating for the cockpit floor and the pilothouse is also custom-made. Again belongs in the vanity category. The children complain because the small Playmobil parts are lost in the holes, we are happy because the normal on-board dirt of a family of four disappears there too. We already had on the Lady, has proven itself.
What are we still missing, oh yes, electricity? Of course we had it on land, plugged in, included in the price, but that doesn't help much at anchor. We spend another day with the customs officials at the airport and here in Chaguaramas to get our Euro pallet with spare parts and equipment. It's like Christmas and a birthday together, as long as you don't think about paying the costs from your own account. Lots of work for Micha. Four solar panels, a wind generator and the replacement motor for the Fischer-Pand are first stowed in the large locker garage and then gradually mounted on the equipment rack. Only the replacement engine is still at the stern, as it was delivered in a great wooden box that is currently used by the entire crew as a perfect place to take a break.
Renewable energies: wind, sun and yoga
We also have shade, thanks to a bimini. The children's cabin, which has suffered from water ingress for years, shines in fresh white, we have two mast steps, an anchor light, a working anemometer, a reliable echo sounder, a fresh GPS without a blind display and now even the minimum equipment of a galley with a potato peeler and coffee mugs and baking dish. We even have a rubbish bin that cost a lot of money because the skipper confused Trinidadian dollars with US dollars. Our new AIS helps prevent collisions, and with the two handheld radios we could have a civilized conversation from bow to stern at room volume if we did. Which of course we don't, because that would be somehow embarrassing. Instead we prefer to shout and are often not understood, so the system still needs to be improved. We also have a shortwave antenna, "Shakespeare", it swings in a very chic way at the rear of the pushpit and shows everyone, "Hey, amateur radio operators are at home here!" But it's currently a dummy, because the radio is still missing. For this, the WiFi antenna is on the mast, the life raft will be delivered freshly serviced today, and maybe even the last custom-made product - a larger window for the engine to make better use of the alternator - is now ready.
We are now back on the ship for four weeks, busy with repairs, improvements and maintenance. We haven't listed everything here by a long way - but when I look back at our list, we have achieved quite a bit. The Sleeping Beauty from the tropical river has actually blossomed into a real cruise ship, and every day it is more fun to live on it. Inside, too, if we manage to clear up the chaos for a day, we feel really good. The fair exhibition chatter is a thing of the past, people live here. High time to go sailing and reap the rewards of the past few weeks. Grenad and the Grenadines are on the agenda. Spice islands, white beaches and coral reefs. Cast off!