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Fixing Boats in Exotic Locations

Current Location: Rodney Bay, St Lucia
Current Position: 14 5.42 N 060 57.67 W Click to view map.
Distance sailed since last post: 1 nautical miles. View the map of our voyage track here

People say that cruising is actually better described as ‘fixing boats in exotic locations’. We can attest to that. Since we got back three weeks ago we have been steadily working through a huge to do list. I don’t know my the list is so long this year, but it is. In fact, here is the list as it stands:

  1. Windlass not working – fixed. There were two broken wires, plus a dodgy connection between them, plus the main 200 amp breaker switch on the battery seems to have started to trigger at around 50 amps. don’t know why that is, but I suspect that it was this that has caused many of the other electrical issues below. That means that whenever the windlass has to work a bit, it was tripping the master breaker switch. I have just bypassed it. We still have a 300 amp ordinary slow-blow fuse in place, so it is still protected.
  2. Anchor light not working – fixed. This entailed a climb to the top of the mast. It looks like the LED just burned out from being on continuously for the past 4 years or so. A new fitting cost about USD 300.
  3. Navigation light not working – bulb burned out. I replaced it with the tricolor that I took from the top of the mast (the anchor light). Although the anchor light part of it has died, the red and green still work fine, so I have moved them to the bow where, hopefully, they will last forever, as we don’t use them very much.
  4. Main halyard chafed through. We did get a short sail in – we went down to Marigot Bay and back again. On the return trip the main came tumbling down as the halyard had chafed through. Really annoying as I failed to inspect it when I was up the mast just the day before removing the non-functioning anchor light. Had I done so, it would have been a simple matter to shorten it by a foot. Instead we then had to reeve a new halyard down the mast which actually went surprisingly well. I used the boom lift as a hoist instead of the halyard as I normally would. Incidentally, the chafe was NOT on the part of the rope on which I depend when I am being hoisted up the mast.
  5. The zipper on the front of the cradle cover had degraded in the sun and needed replacing. There were two options – take off the whole cradle cover (a huge job), or find a way to sew on a new zip with it still in place. We did the latter – just balanced the sewing machine on top of two rubbermaind containers and with one person holding the machine and the other sewing, we were good to go. While we had the machine out, we also replaced another zip on the bimini side panels, and Ceu sewed us some new curtains for the starboard cabin.
  6. Dinghy inflated tubes are leaking air. Not fixed yet. We need to take the engine off, paddle it ashore, and try to find the leak. In the meantime we have to pump it up every two days or so.
  7. Both inverters not working. Don’t know why. We are now using our small backup 140w inverter which at least allows us to run our laptops. /li>
  8. Autopilot control panel had a short in it. Managed to find someone ashore to fix it, but it took him all week to get it back to me. It just needed a varister to be replaced. No charge for that, so that was nice.
  9. Zinc anodes on the props need to be replaced. This is just normal maintenance every couple of years. Yet to be done. Involves getting out the hookah diving gear, at which time we will also clean the bottom of the boat, which is in a very sorry state.
  10. Kill switch on the dinghy was broken, had to get a replacement and fit it, which took about three hours to achieve, in the end.
  11. Dinghy painter had to be replaced. That, at least, is a quick job.
  12. We have some padding around the spreaders that protects the spinnaker halyard from chafing. That padding needed to be replaced, so that was another quick jaunt halfway up the mast.
  13. Engines need an oil change. Maybe will do that tomorrow.
  14. The accent lighting in our salon consists of two strips of LED lights, which all seam to have died. I think we can get replacements in Martinique, if we ever get there.
  15. The starboard engine alternator is not charging. Don’t know why yet. Needs to be looked at, which will probably be a full day job.
  16. The port engine starter battery had died. Now, here is the rub. When we returned to the boat, the house batteries were also low, and the master breaker was tripped. That means the batteries are disconnected. But the solar and wind are still providing energy for the circuit, so in the daytime it is not obvious that the breaker has tripped. Also, this leaves the wind generator with no real load on it, which can quickly result in high voltages. My suspicion is that it was these high voltages that maybe burnt out some of the electrics. In any case, it is not a good situation to have the master breaker remaining off with the wind still on. Which is why I decided to bypass the breaker for now.So, we couldn’t start the port engine because of the low battery and, while we could start the starboard engine, it wasn’t charging anything, so that didn’t help much. And we needed to go and fill up with water! With a new starter battery for port, we were back in action again.
  17. While hoisting me up to fix the anchor light, the bracket on the front of the mast got pulled of. So then we had to find someone to straighten that and rivet it back onto the mast.
  18. The car FM radio that we use for playing music off our ipod also had died. We bought a cheap replacement. But that too didn’t work and had a short in it. so now I have another replacement that, hopefully, will work. But each time it means a few hours to buy it and install it.
  19. Our chartplotter/vhf radio is on its way out – the high power radio no longer works. While in Canada I bought a Raspberry Pi which is a barebones mini computer, and also a new VHF radio. Together these will replace the chartplotter. I have installed the Raspberry Pi and our fancy new movie projector that Josh bought us, but have not yet done the VHF radio. I will do a separate post on our new home theater!
  20. Our course computer, which works in conjunction with the autopilot needs some fixing too. This is not new, and it mostly works, so we aim to do that in Martinique.
  21. One of the toilet has a crack in the plumbing, so I have a new fitting (for USD80) that I need to install.
  22. I did, however, replace the hinge on the bathroom cabinet door that had corroded to bits.

So know, instead of wondering what we do all day, just take a look at the list and you will know. Actually there were various other jobs not on the list. Bear in mind that even a simple job usually takes at least an hour, and more if one has to go ashore to buy a part. Today, for example, I spent the entire day fixing the windlass connections and moving the old tricolor to replace the burned out navigation light on the bow. Everything always takes twice as long as you would expect. Plus I caught a bus to replace the car radio that wasn’t working. Oh, and we had to pick up the cockpit table from Elvis who was refinishing and painting it. That involved our fifth dinghy ride to the boat yard.

Well, that is the ‘fixing boats’ part. The exotic locations part is St. Lucia, where the water is warm, the locals are friendly, and the rum is cheap. And I did get in a couple of days of windsurfing.

Ceu’s ankle, which she sprained while skiing, is still not great, so she went to the physio today. We also went to the Digicell store to try to get our internet working better. Still seems to be very unreliable. Most of the time we have trouble just sending emails, never mind trying to skype.

Anyway, that is where we are at. We hope to go to Martinique in the next day or two, so that we can continue fixing our boat in a different exotic location 😉

4 Responses to “Fixing Boats in Exotic Locations”

  • Lindsay:

    They call that living the dream. I guess real life gets you where ever you are!

    Have fun!!!

  • Phil:

    That was close, was thinking of coming down sooner but with all that work we’ll have to wait, keep us posted. lol Not going to tell you about the continuous snow we are getting, powder every day. Don’t work to hard have fun.

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