And they sailed into the sunset

First of all,
yes, they finished all the work in time and we launched in the afternoon. And yes, we made it past Venezuela without a pirate encounter!

While Dynamite marine took the depth sounder out of the hull, cleaned the hole and rebedded the sounder with a new custom-built foundation, Cow’s crew worked until 03:00 in the morning to grind out the old material under the stuffing box, fill it with expoxy. From then on the new structure had to hard quickly and then barrier coat and antifouling were added.
In the meantime, we had another breakfast at one of the road vendors that sold “Doubles”. A typical Trini breakfast (very flavorful and messy to eat). From there we went to the bamboo cathedral, a beautiful coastal walk through a troplical forrest with lots of bamboo, followed by another swim at our local beach. We tested our new snorkeling masks and also managed to finally get the correct courstesy flag for St Vincent and the Grenadines.
When all was ready, the crane put us in the water, checked for leacks (there weren’t any), started the engine and prepped the boat for departure.
Unfortunately, the gas station was out of diesel and we left with what we had.

This time we did sail into the sunset…

It’s how you catch it

We said good-bye to our favorite Roti-Chef after all the remaining items before our launch were completed (incl the 90 minutes of filling out piles of redundant forms at Immigrations to check out of the country). Cathy, Corinna and Lauren came back with a car full of perishable food items while we packed away the tools we used.
The travel lift picked us up, put Tioga in the water and we sailed away into the sunset…

that is not exactly how it happened. After the crane put Tioga in the water, Peter (Philip was on a conference call) went below to check all the through-hulls (which had been serviced here before) to make sure we were not taking on any water. That was a good move as it turned out that we were taking on a little water in the bow (the depth sounder had to be rebedded) and a lot more in the aft cabin. We initially thought that is was the stuffing box leaking, but it turned out to be a bigger issue as the water came from underneath the shaft. Long story short, we were forced to turn around, get Tioga back on the hard, inspect the suspicious area in more detail and come up with a plan.
As always, Mark’s and Cow’s teams were quick to get going, pulled the depth sounder and the shaft, removed the outside layers of fiberglass etc.
It turns out that also there a previous repair job was done with the wrong materials and had by now taken on water.
We were lucky that we came across this while still in the travel lift as it looked like an accident waiting to happen.

Anyways, we decided to get the returned rental car back from Adrian (who was luckily stuck in traffic not too far away) and hit the beach. Macqueripe Bay was only 15 minutes away and turned out to be the perfect distraction. A nice beach surrounded by cliffs and truly amazing vegetation made us forget the trouble we were in (a few cocktails also helped). In fact, it felt that we were lucky to have found this little gem. We had turned a bad situation into a good one…

By now, the boat has been prepped and is drying out, floodlights are in place and Cow’s crew will get going with another night shift soon.
If things go well, we will get back in the water tomorrow afternoon.

As Cathy’s mother used to say: “It is not what life throws at you. It is how you catch it.”

They got it all done

A lot of action items got taken care of today.

The Awlgrip cured enough to buff out the last imperfections, put the name back on and install the Aries windvane.
The fiberglass job outside and inside the boat were completed. Barrier coat and bottom paint were applied.
The shrink wrap cover was removed
All remaining items were taken out of storage, lifted on the boat and installed.
After long discussions, we were finally able to convince the local hydraulics store to put 500 PSI on the serviced vang. And yes, the boom is now able to carry the main without a topping lift again.
The hydraulic tank was refilled and cockpit lazarettes loaded.
Kitchen and bathroom were cleaned, water tanks filled.
Late at night, when the wind had calmed down, we even put the genoa on.
On top of all this, Cathy managed to drive to the airport and pick up Linda and Lilly. We are now complete and celebrated that with another dinner and drinks at our local hang out at the water.

So far so good.
Unfortunately, Powerboats determined that the outside epoxy was not hardened enough to allow the crane to pick us up. We therefore moved that appointment to tomorrow morning.
While we still have quite a few action items left, they are all manageable and should Tioga float and the engine start we will be able to leave in the afternoon tomorrow.

We can’t wait to finally get going again.

Race against the clock

Now that the Awlgrip is sprayed on and curing, Kemba’s team changed gears and ground away all the filler around the cracks on the bow and around the strut. With the launch set to 3pm on Tuesday, the clock is ticking and the team set up floodlights to work late into the evening to get at least all the outside fiberglass and filler work completed. And they just did after 4 layers of epoxy and then filler on top.
We were quite lucky that they found these cracks as the about 1 cm thick filler (way to thick of a layer of filler) was not only of poor quality (autobody filler that does not do well with salt water) but also not connected to the epoxy underneath. With the vibration caused by running the engine, this could have ended very badly…

The inside (in the aft cabin) is prepared, ie all the old material has been cut away, and the final fiberglass work will start tomorrow morning. The plan is to put 6 layers of epoxy mats in. Makes you nervous with the light shining through the currently thin floor.

Of course, the wind picked up when they removed all the screens and covers in the aft cabin so that a lot of the dust that these screens were supposed to prevent from making it into the boat – made it into the boat.
We’ll have to throw all the sleeping bag, towels, pillows of the aft cabin in the washing machine tomorrow, but should be good to go then.

In the meantime, we enjoyed a nice Roti lunch at our favorite lunch hang-out before Cathy, Lauren and Corinna took care of the non-perishable groceries, while Peter and Philip stowed away all the sails, covers etc.
We even managed to put the main back on, while still under the shrink-wrap cover. After some struggle, Peter and some helpers managed to put the steering wheel back on.
Lots of other smaller items got taken care of and we believe we can complete all the remaining items by tomorrow in time for the 3pm launch.
Again, dinner (food and drinks at the waterfront) did not disappoint.

We are moving back in again

Roughly 3 months went by since we completely cleaned out Tioga and handed her over to Dynamite marine. The idea was to replace the worn out teak deck and to get a few other maintenance items taken care of.
In parallel, Kemba, aka Cow, stripped the underbody, replaced the barrier coat and also repainted the blue awlgrip above the waterline.

Philip arrived in Chaguaramas late last night. Although it was dark, there was enough light to appreciate the new awlgrip paint job as well as the amazing new teak deck.

Of course, nothing is ever as easy as it seems. These projects are no exception. Cow and team where putting on the last coat of awlgrip when the wind picked up and some dust (although they had wetted the yard with water before) found its way to the paint before it was fully dried out (the entire hull needs to be lightly sanded now and new awlgrip coats need to be sprayed on after that!).
What had fully dried out was the bottom’s barrier coat and unfortunately a couple of cracks started to show, indicating that more fiberglass work was needed.
We decided to move Tioga to a more protected location and the team got going.
While these items still need to be taken care of, we are on track to get the boat in the water early next week and leave on Wednesday afternoon.
Until then, truckload after truckload of stored equipment is being delivered. In between conference calls more and more items are finding their space in the boat and soon we will be able to see the floor again.
With 32C/90F and lots of humidity, this is quite an exercise. It would have been much worse, had our friends at Dynamite Marine not reinstalled the air conditioner.


The teak is complete

We are getting there. Last week, the teak deck work was completed (as was the other woodwork) and most of the hardware is back in place (genoa track and windlass are still work in progress).
The boat is painted with a base coat that looks like stars and stripes blue. This allows to better see the blemishes etc. “Cow” will paint the last two coats today.

On Thursday, Philip, will get to see the results first. Saturday most of the crew will get there and help prepare for the trip to the Grenadines and Antigua.
A few days later, our team will be complete, Tioga will be in the water and we should be ready to start up our journey again.

Life is good…

Fixing Irene’s legacy

If you remember, the summer of 2011 was an eventful one. Hurricane Irene made it all the way to New England in August and Tioga barely survived the by then tropical storm.
While we were extremely impressed seeing her back in the water in Manchester-by-the-sea (she looked like a brand new boat), we relatively quickly started to think that the new Awlgrip job had some flaws.
A lot of small micro-cracks developed within a year and continued to do so ever since. The paint was also a lot more sensitive to scratches than the one we had before.
We think it was caused by not letting the 7 layers of paint dry/harden properly and by not using the correct filler underneath that.
While Tioga continued to look beautiful from a distance, the increase in cracks was unsettling.

We therefore made the call to redo the Awlgrip while in Trinidad (and hopefully in more capable hands).

Kamba, aka Cow, got started last week and is making good progress. They closed the gap between hull and shrink-wrap to protect the inside from all the dust the work is creating. As a result, working on the deck has become a little more uncomfortable due to lack of airflow and increased temperature, but it is continuing as planned.
So far, so good…

Let the caulking begin

The teak is in place. Caulking is the next step, ie filling the space between the planks with a black sealant.
If all goes well, that will be completed this week and re-installation of the initially removed hardware can start on  Monday. Hopefully that can be completed by the end of next week.
After that the ceilings need to be reinstalled and we should be good to go.

Work on the underbody paint job continues as planned.
Redoing the awlgrip (which developed a lot of cracks shortly of the completion a few years ago) is starting up.


More and more teak

A few more shots of the progressing teak deck replacement and bottom work.
The work is progressing well and both teams are on track to complete their work by April 1.

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.