Keeping the pace

The team in Trinidad continues to make very good progress.

The new teak is almost done in the cockpit.
On deck (see photos) the work is moving right along.
Navtec vang was repaired.
Internal wood work is progressing.
Partners and boots are getting ready.
The bottom paint is being stripped and all materials are procured to put 4 coats of steel epoxy primer on the keel and 3 coats of epoxy barrier coat on the hull and keep.
(We will follow up with 2 coats of antifouling on the entire bottom and a 3rd one along the waterline and leading edges.)

Video – Lanzarote to Trinidad – now in HD

We updated the YouTube video quality after some initial technical challenges. Updated link below.

A summary of our 18 day transatlantic sail from Lanzarote to Trinidad. Unfortunately, we could not get the drone to work in Spain and therefore did not capture any aerial footage during this trip. It is fixed now, though, and we will try again when back in Trinidad in April.

The teak deck is gone

Quick summary of the first two weeks of boatwork in Trinidad.

As mentioned earlier, we were impressed by the speed of all the work that was performed while we were still in Chaguaramas.
By now, almost two weeks have gone by and Dynamite Marine and team are moving at a good clip.
By now,
– all equipment is stored in air conditioned storeage sections (in Dynamite Marine’s office)
– the boat is covered by a shrink-wrap tent (to make sure they can keep the pace even during the rain)
– all deck-hardware has been removed, such as cleats, windlass or the very long tracks for the jib-sheet leads
– the fridge is still intact as they found a way to remove the port track without drilling holes in the fridge ceiling
– the outboard is going through service
– the seals of the hydraulic Navtec vang are being replaced
– wood for all the internal woodwork is procured and the work estimated
and yes, all the old teak deck has been removed.

One of the biggest concerns was a potentially rotten core. However, so far, none could be found (except in a section of the cockpit floor. The deck feels strong and shows no decolorization when checking it from underneath. We will drill holes and take sample to make sure we are truly ok.

Other work, such as replacing the barrier cote, fixing the leaking vang selector on the hydraulic panel, replacing through-hulls& valves or installing a proper solution of our improvised partners (we had cut new wooden wedges in Norway and will replace them with Spartite and a canvass cover) are in preparation.

So far, so good – looks like we are in track to get this all done by the end of March. Our crew is set for the leg via the Grenadines to Antigua already and we are having a lot of fun researching where to stop on the way.

 

The crew from Lanzarote to Trinidad

A few more photos of our crew that sailed from Arrecife (Lanzarote, Canary Islands) via Charlotteville, Tobago, to Chaguaramas, Trinidad.
We left the marina in Arrecife in a breezy Northerly and some choppy waves. When we took the corner around southern Lanzarote, things  got rough pretty quickly as we sailed into significant swell in addition to sizable wind-waves. The wind coming from slightly forward of abeam made things more interesting and most crew were wondering what they signed up for. Apart from the challenge for the new crew to get used to this new environment quickly, we had a nice trip from there. The usual three days passed by and everybody had their sea-legs and appetite back.
The main decision we made was to sail a relatively northern route. This was keeping us close to the rump line and provided a couple of days of broad reaching. From then on, the challenge was to find a sustainable way to sail down wind for weeks at a time and deal with the heavy rolling motion of the boat.
Apart from breaking the whisker pole (twice), most of the boat stayed intact. When we started to use the spinnaker pole and with that the track on the mast, that track did not last long. It broke, because the screws were not able to hold it in place (we believe that the screws might have been too short and the thread not cut correctly but need to investigate some more); with a serious amount of lines we were able to lash it in place for the remainder of the trip.
We saw very few signs of live during this trip: three freighters, three dolphin pods and two whales (about what we would see every other day on the previous legs). And we finally managed to catch our first fish of the tour (thanks to Jake).
We were glad to have visited Tobago (although clearly not long enough) and had a decent enough time in Trinidad (next time we will try again to find the bat caves).
We were overall very happy with the weather as we had at least 10kn throughout the trip, the temperatures were comfortable and showers fairly light. Had we sailed a month earlier, this trip would have taken us approximately seven days longer!
We sailed a total of about 3000 miles, barely ran the engine and sailed mostly dead downwind.
And most importantly, nobody got hurt.
This was our longest non-stop sail so far – with 18 days.

Ben Zack
Jake Baldwin
Josh Antrim
Max Brueck
Philip Kersten

 

All good things must come to an end

We were down to a crew of only 2 after Jake and Josh left early in the morning to fly back to Boston.
When we came back to the boatyard, the Dynamite Marine team was already waiting for us. We got the remaining mattresses, cushions and sleeping bags off the boat and they got going uninstalling windlass and other hardware on the foredeck.
We agreed to install a shrink-wrap tent to make sure work can continue without interruption (we are at the end of rainy season but never know how much rain to still expect) and that tent will be installed tomorrow.
Of course we had to visit our favorite offices in Chaguaramas, Immigrations and Customs, one more time to get the required permissions to leave Tioga here while we were out of the country. Although our attempt to check out  felt like it was prolonged with deliberate suspense, time went by quickly as we observed hos a poor British sailor suffered through the inquisition (read tearing apart) by one of the chief immigration officers.
Customs, on the other hand, went surprisingly fast and was a very pleasant experience.

We changed the oil, washed all linens and towels and enjoyed a nice Roti lunch at the local hole in the wall.

The most notable thing happened at 12:30 today: it did NOT rain. Over the previous 4 days you could set your clock as the rain started exactly at the same time every day.

There was a can drive to benefit the poor in Venezuela yesterday and we donated a laundry basket full of cans. Today, we cleaned out the fridge and found thankful takers on the fishing vessel next to us. We are not sure, if they will use the ham or cheese themselves or go fishing with it – but in either case it is better then throwing the food away.

We had our final dinner on board today and are enjoying our last gin tonic in the cockpit before heading to the airport early tomorrow morning.

This place has a good vibe. There are lots of friendly people that seem very skilled. No day went by without someone helping us with our chores or offering their services. The yard is protected by security guards 24 hours a day and as we type this post, the golf cart has come by at least twice (might be just a sign of how slowly I am typing…).

We’ll be back in the end of March/early April to continue living life to its fullest.

 

 

In the jungle

We got all planned boatwork done by lunchtime, had a quick meal on the boat and then headed out to the Tamana Bat Caves.

While we were quite excited about the adventure of seeing hundreds of thousands bats, including vampire bats, as well as all the other things to expect in such caves, such as enormous amounts of guano or cockroaches, we also weren’t sure we had the appropriate equipment.
We therefore dug out 4 pairs of our rubber boots, lots of headlamps and flashlights, long pants, made ponchos out of our large heavy duty trash bags etc.
As mentioned before, transportation in Trinidad is not straight forward. Neither is finding your way on these narrow, often unmarked roads through jungles, tiny settlements, dirt roads etc.
During our first attempt we found the mountain, but not the path to hike up to. After talking with numerous locals, we finally got to the trail, put our “equipment on” and went for a hike (sweating like crazy). And what a hike it was. Lots of green vegetation, with bananas, oranges, limes, coconuts and other fruits.
The goal was to get in and out of the cave to see the bats during dusk when they leave the cave.
Unfortunately, we never found the caves. The drive and hike alone made for a very nice adventure, though.

A local burger (chicken, pineapple, cheese with lots of local spices) and a beer in the cockpit rounded of the day.

Limin’

Just like in Tobago (where there are many bus stops but apperently no buses), transportation is not easy in Trinidad either. We managed to book a rental car at the airport (more or less the only option in the entire country) and then talked one of the local workers to drive us there for a fee. After a 45 min drive we arrived at the airport and got our car.

We started with a drive through the capital, Port of Spain, and saw a couple of their older buildings, nicely situated across from the very large park. As we were told that one of the traditional lunches in Trinidad is Bake and Shark, we went north to Maracas Bay, to sample the local lunch fare and body-surf in decent waves while the deep bass of the local music was humming in the background.
A tropical rain shower kept us cool enough to enjoy are our soft liming session at the local bar.
Great atmosphere, good music and cold beers – what more can you ask for.
The shark, by the way, was very nice (and not as chewy as expected at all). However, we felt somewhat guilty eating shark, as they play an important role in the ecosystem (but so do the other fish, we thought and usually eat).
The drive to and from Maracas Bay was quite picturesque; narrow roads winding up and down the Northern Ridge through dense tropical forest.
Not being used to driving on the left, Josh quickly adapted his style and started to miss some of the potholes as he improved.
After driving through quite a selection of barbed and razor wire installations, we got a little nervous that we would not make it to the Blue Basin. We parallel-parked our car next to a burned out vehicle and started following the path into the jungle. A waterfall and freshwater pool were a nice reward at the end. A few rope and vine swings later, we were back in the car.
As it was getting darker, we reached the largest Hanuman statue outside India (there is a significant number of Indians living here in Trinidad, ie of the app 1.3M inhabitants about 460K are Indian, roughly 37%), observed some of the Hindu procedures and then moved on to drop Ben off at the airport.

Our attempt to then lime hard miserably failed as we did not fit into the “system”, it seemed. The main centers of night life, Avenue (in Port of Spain) and St James (on the way to Chaguaramas) had a less to offer and expected quite a different dress code than our worn out shirts and flip-flops.
We stopped at about every marina or establishment on the way home, just to find weddings, private boat parties etc.
A cold beer at Zanzibar in the boatyard next door was all we managed to get. Maybe we will pull our foulies out tonight and try one more time…