A season without head repair

Never happens.

Yesterday the macerator froze on our aft head/toilet. We had discussed a few days ago that a macerator (a poop processor) would be a good spare to bring back from the States. We have a Raritan super toilet. You press a button and all the troubles you left behind vanish. It was a beautiful thing until last night.

Last night I was in a fog because beer we only had four hours sleep the night before watching turtles lay eggs in sand. So I was in no mood to enter the waste treatment business. I tried to free up the motor but it didn’t work so I left it for morning.

So, here it is…morning. I have not finished my first tea yet but I’m thinking how shitty my day will be. Good thing we have a forward head. We keep this one un-magical and it uses a hand pump. It’s like having a Tesla and a horse in your garage. OK, maybe a Tesla and a bicycle. When the high tech fails you fall back to the old manual way. It will do what you want it to do. It just takes more effort and you might get wet. Always close the lid before you pump.

Tea number two, a double bagger has arrived. I’m looking at the bag of Grenada coffee I have and thinking that’s going into the percolator next. I’m gonna need all the stimulants I have today. Maybe throw some cokes into the fridge. We have friends arriving from Carriacou later this afternoon. I need to get this shitty job off the list before then. Will there be any handshakes after they read this? Stop by for a salad?

I will shower and hand sanitize. Promise.

Everyone have a great day. And when things don’t go the way you wanted them to just picture me with my hands in a toilet scooping pee out of it so I can disconnect a motor and not have it flood all over the floor. Then I have to free the macerator blades….

Yea, I’ll stop right here. Go have breakfast. Skip the apple juice. Those fudge brownies…ah never mind.

Cheers!

P

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Stuck

Stuck? Yes, not in the mud or sand but in a harbour at anchor. Prickly Bay Grenada is our home for the next two months because we can only move slowly under power. The vibration we had is worse than when we arrived and nobody can figure it out…yet.

“Why can’t you just sail somewhere?”

We could. We could power up and slowly move forward to raise anchor and then slowly move into the wind to raise the sails then peel off to a change of scenery. How lovely that sounds. Sure, Shakey Breaky will give us stuttering speech the whole time this happens and we’ll sound like goats communicating, but it can be done.

“Puuuull iiiinto the wiiiind and Iiiiii wiiiill raaaaaaise the saaaaaiiiiiiil”

It would be marvelous to get away but unfortunately we’d have to come back. Coming back involves rounding a point and plowing straight into tradewinds and waves. Sure we could tack towards Venezuela for 10 miles and then tack back towards Barbados for another 10 and then maybe get an off wind angle to make it back to Prickly before nightfall. Maybe. It is entirely possible to do this.

Meh.

Color me lazy but I don’t find that scenario pleasing. Yell all the “You call yourself a sailor” bullshit at me that you want but taking two months to decommission a boat in a safe harbour with two restaurant/bars and a brewery a 2 minute dinghy ride away with the occasional dip in the water with a beer sounds pretty good to me. The way this season is going I’m afraid something else would break while trying to be good sailors beating into the waves.

I talk about the south end like it’s a death trip and this day it was flat as can be

So here we are. We have a list of things to do. It’s a checklist which means Deb is definately back. She has a ‘in-water’ checklist and a ‘on land’ checklist. She shares the list with me online but I bet hers is a wee bit different. Deb probably has another column listing who completed the task. Oh yea. No doubt. Just in case I mention how much work I did she can whip out a few stats on completions. “Actually…..”

Now there are a few of you thinking that we had reservations to haul out in Trinidad. Nope. This season we decided to haul in Grenada. Nothing against Trini mind you. We think that’s a great place to haul and get work done. This was a choice we made after the last crossing to Grenada. We splashed and noticed a problem but had a window to cross, so we went anyway. Yes there was some vibration but it smoothed out before cruising RPM so we felt it was a safe situation. That trip, with engine issues on our minds, was hellish. We ended up taking a rogue wave over the bow that swamped the cockpit, knocked me over and poured ocean into our salon. We never took water that far back, ever. Our dodger was open because this never happened before.

We venture quite a bit east into the wind and waves to avoid any confrontation with pirates. That doesn’t seem to be a remedy anymore as a sailboat was attacked approximately where we were diverting to and they were shot at. Several bullet holes were made in that boat. We monitored the situation in Venezuela closely and when we added up all the concerns we felt it was in our best interest to stop making that trip.

Of course this decision could be a bad one if a hurricane plows into Grenada making KN just another pile of fiberglass to dump into the deep or burn in a pire of sailing dreams.

I’m glad now we made the decision to stay because we really can’t go anywhere else. I do miss the workforce in Trinidad. I’m pretty sure shakey breaky would be solved by now if we were there. It’s just a different mindset. We’ve had those guys onboard KN working overtime at the start of Carnival. That’s dedication.

Today we start on the list. We’re off to a bad start. I’m blogging and Deb is playing games on the iPad. After lunch we find out if we’re on a turtle watch tonight. That would be cool but we need more people interested to make the trip. I have a few easy tasks on the list and I’m going to knock them off just to get a head start on Deb. I’m going to remove the satellite antenna. Whoa! Two screws. Might need a nap after that. 😀

Cheers!

PB

I still do not have a reliable speel cheker so bare with me. Also grammar. I did skip 3rd grade so….

Reunion

Lonely days and lonely nights are gone. Debra has returned and boat life has returned to normal. I even went back to closing the bathroom door and eating off plates.

Debra has wished she purchased ear plugs before flying back because I’m talking way too much and way too early in the day. I have to let it all out. A month and a half of me not talking was torture. Apparently the torture is continuing only I’m not the recipient. Deb just has to endure a couple more days until I’ve exhausted it all. I’ve run out of things to tell her anyway and I’m starting to repeat.

The First Mate was hoping to return to a boat ready to sail away but that is not the case unfortunately. She was here for the last idea to be implemented in the ‘Bad Vibes’ saga. Our shaft extended past the cutlass bearing by a good four inches. By design it should be no more than the diameter of the shaft which is 1-1/4 inches. With the new money for nothing coupling added the shaft was too far out and needed shortening. It’s now where it should be and she still shakes. So at this point we are not leaving Grenada and are resting at anchor until our scheduled haul out in June. That’s a long time to be sitting in one place. For two restless people who like to be moving weekly that’s going to be tough. I was already losing my mind here by myself for a month and a half but now I have to sit for two more! At least I will have company this time. It’s great to have Debra back. I really missed her.

The good news is our paint is holding up real well except for where it just fell off the rudder. I have a spot on the rudder where nothing sticks. Odd. So the boat is relatively clean underneath except for this patch on the rudder. It’s always something with a boat isn’t it?

We’ve decided to start on our decommissioning list and just do a little something every day. This way we will not be scrambling in June to get her ready for storage. Once we haul out, the people who are stumped in fixing Shaky Breaky are pulling the shaft and prop to check them out. Also checking the P bracket and bearing. We NEED this boat ready to sail in November.

There are plenty of things to do in Grenada and we have a few activities on our schedule. I think we’ll be OK. I’m positive the boat will be ready come November and we’ll be back to our old sailing life again but right now I am ready to leave the old girl in the islands while we go home to the kids for some land life.

At this point I am usually craving something from the States I can’t find here. I still crave a proper Greek salad and it will be one of the first things I order when I return. Another thing I miss is bike riding. I don’t know, I just want to ride a bike. I’m going to buy a good used bike and a rack for the car so I can ride on some good trails. I miss that. A hike in the woods sounds good to. We’re heading to the Great Smokey Mountains for a week and it will be cool to walk in the forest for a bit as long as the bears don’t rip me apart. I will be the dude with four cans of bear spray strapped to my belt and one in my hand. I’ve been reading about bear attack stories. Geez. Hell of a way to go. Also, ticks. Lyme disease sucks. I’m used to mosquitoes so that’s not an issue for me. There’s a famous waterfall in the Smokies that people hike to. One story I read told of two bears that attacked the people at the falls and ripped their limbs off. WTF! That would really curtail my progress in blues guitar.

Maybe I don’t want to walk in the woods. Maybe I’ll just ride the bike to get a Greek salad.

Cheers!

PJJB

Good Morning Grenada

Another day to myself but It’s getting closer to the Queens arrival. We’re anchored near the airport so it’s a short drive from there and the plan was for me to meet Deb in the beer garden at the restaurant at the dinghy dock but she arrives on Easter Sunday and they’re closed. Bummer. I might just bring a couple cold one’s and sit in the garden anyway.

My lazy last few days alone are anything but that. The boost pump on the watermaker decided it doesn’t want to boost much anymore. As you may recall this pump is not that old. I ran to the chandlery to find another pump and there were at least twenty of this model on the shelf. Huh. Wonder why? So today is booked with watermaker repair because I know it will not just be swapping out the motor and running. It’s always more involved. Now I know I said I wasn’t going to do anything involving squeezing into small spaces and using too many tools here in the home stretch of lonely living but if the watermaker isn’t running Deb will be right back at the airport.

If we ever bought another boat, and that’s a big if, the first thing Deb would ask is, “Is there a watermaker? What type? How old? How many spares?”

So after cleaning the boat yesterday I’m going to mess it up again with a project. Oye. It never ends. I look back on this boat life and you know, it was never without projects. In a way it’s a handy guys dream. Not that I’m THAT handy but I like projects. It’s fun to fix something, always has been but now I’m older and retired and floating in the Caribbean and I don’t want repair projects. I want to read, play guitar, cook a nice dinner, laugh with friends, sit on a beach, etc. Crawling around in an engine room is getting old, like me.

The other day I opened up a filter to check the strainer and jammed the tail of the hose clamp into my knuckle. It bled all over the floor until I found the neosporin and band aids. While I was stopping my blood from messing up the cabin floor the fridge came up with an error code. It needs a new module. Son of a..

This is why we invented beer. It keeps some of us sane. Now I have to replace the fridge module but I have to dismantle part of the interior to get at it. It’s running at low power just fine so I’m going to wait for Debra to get here for this project. She can provide the band aids so I spill my blood in one place.

Cheers!

PJ

The Solo Life Afloat

Well it’s been over a month since Debra flew home and I’m not dead yet. Somehow I survived on my own without any major incidents. I say this but I still have five days until she returns. I’m in the home stretch so I’m being cautious because everyone knows that just when you get relaxed thinking you made it then something hideous happens. Kind of like winter driving up north when you make it to your Neighborhood after a long drive home from work in a blizzard only to go too fast in a turn onto your street and plow into the Neighbors mailbox.

So now it’s time to play it cool. No back flips off the deck into the water to cool off. You use the ladder. No balancing a pot of boiling hot soup up the companionway to the cockpit because eating out of the pan saves dishes. No deep frying anything. No walking to the brewery at the end of the day. Drink earlier. No high speed dinghy runs for fun. NO snorkeling or hiking. No use of power tools with blades. No thinking, “I bet I can squeeze into that space to finally get at that plumbing”. In fact, no plumbing. No visiting a bar you’ve never been to. No eating a burger after being a vegetarian for over ten years. No thinking, “A toke or two can’t hurt”. No eating barracuda. No spilling hot sauce all over your plate and eating it anyway. No walking in the mid day sun to fill your backpack with potatoes, squash and a bag of apples and then humping it back. No helping to pull boats off rocks. No agreeing to go up a mast because you’re smallish. No taking people to “their” boat. No bar chatting with drunks.

So basically I’m going to just clean the boat and play guitar.

Playing the guitar hasn’t been that safe actually. My strumming arm had some shooting pain running through it and I had it go numb a few times. I started asking around if anyone experienced this and I guess it’s kind of rare but possible. I’ve been practicing a few songs involving some heavy strumming by Green Day and Nirvana. It was suggested (Thanks Cousin) that I should stand and play for a bit which may help with the motion of the arm. Change my posture. So, when Deb gets back she’ll have to put up me jamming upright. Wish I had some tight jeans.

I’m actually walking around a bit more than usual and entertaining the goats. Sometimes they follow me. Beer consumption is down and for some reason the island seems to have an abundance of lettuce so eating like a rabbit has been keeping the weight down as well. With the belly, sunken chest and the gray goatee I was looking a bit too typical a cruiser. You know, after a while we all start looking the same. Some of us have the same damn shirts. I don’t know, it bothers me. I’ll see on the news some angry old guy yelling at life and clouds and I’m thinking shit, he looks familiar. I was doing a few workout routines a day until I hurt my arm. Hoping it heals soon as I’m getting that sluggish feeling again.

Taco Salad. That’s not real meat in case you’re wondering

It’s a good thing I have the blog else I’d be talking to myself by now. In a way that’s what this is but I don’t feel as crazy doing it. I really don’t know how some guys do this living alone thing. Judging by some of the radio conversation I’d say they’re not really pulling it off. Some dudes are pretty outgoing and I think you have to be that way to survive floating alone. I’m kind of a social misfit so I tend to need courage to be a bit social. Beer helps. But you know, I go to a bar to hang out and chat and I inevitably meet some weirdo or even a group of them. There are some stories I can tell but I refrain because I’ve exchanged boat cards with some of these people and they’re most likely reading this. Well, maybe. I remember a gal saying, “Oh, I’ve read your blog.” Yikes! Might be time to get the boat name off the facebook blog title. One thing I have only done a few times is google for a boat name but I bet some people do it a lot. Have a boat anchor too close? Google them. See if they had any blog posts like “Our anchor dragged and we slammed into another sailboat so we fled. Some day we’ll figure this whole anchoring thing out but until then, party on!” Might want to relocate after reading that.

All in all it’s been kind of boring living alone. You will see or hear something funny but you have no one to share it with. This Sucks. Like the other day when on the radio I heard Momma Cow calling Fat Susan. Hahaha. The funniest was a boat called Douche Canoe from last season. After their radio call I damn near fell over laughing. I saw the boat later. It’s actually Douche Canoe. This stuff is hilarious but it’s even more fun together. Walking to the store last week there was a traffic jam. Lot’s of impatient drivers honking their horns. When I got closer to the accident I saw a car with it’s left wheels over a small barrier and hanging over a drainage channel. I stopped to look not thinking about the car next to me with the windows down. “Holy shit! How the fuck did he do that?” I heard laughter from the driver of the car I was next to. I guess I was thinking out loud again. If Deb was with me I would have said it to her and not the car in traffic. On one of my walks I found a little secluded beach. It was nice to get my feet cooled off in the hot sun and a perfect spot to sit and watch the ocean for a while but it’s not the same without Deb. Aww. I know what you’re thinking. Pauly is sucking up a bit now that wifey is on her way. Ha! Maybe she’ll go easy on me when she sees everything out of place. Women don’t like their stuff messed with. I had to though. It was in the way of a project. 😀

A quiet little spot. Just perfect after a nice walk in the sun

So safe travels my dear and hopefully I can hold out until Sunday without going bonkers. I’ll make sure the boat is as clean as it can be…maybe. I found some relatively tight jeans and some hair gel and I’ve been practicing “God Save the Queen” by the Sex Pistols. I think you’ll like it.

Cheers!

P

A nice break

Ahoy! Nothing new to report. The engine awaits work. I want to attempt some things myself but hate to throw more variables into the mix right now while the guys screw around with it.

I took a ride into St. George’s to meet my friends Karen and Henry who were on a cruise ship in port. We met for drinks and a snack and some fun chat. Good times! I have not seen Karen since our GM/Delphi days together. Seems like forever ago but damn it some people just are not aging. I’m not so sure this cruising life keeps you young. Maybe I should go back to hell work?

I wandered around St Georges for a bit and checked out the public market. I think all the prices were up because of the cruise ship in port. I’m not much of a wheeler dealer when it comes to food. I try to listen to what the locals are paying but they don’t even mention prices. Money just changes hands. Sly 🙂

I was only yelled at once by some guy who was yelling at everyone I think. One dude stepped in front of me to divert me into a stall but I did my best rolling away from a tackle move and kept walking. You want to wear faded clothes and hats when out and about so they don’t think you’re cruise ship material. My Buffalo Bills hat was busted and my only other hat was a new NASA hat with the flag on it. Oye. I stapled the Bills hat together. It held!

Getting a bus back to the dinghy dock was a little rough. Several drove right past me but one finally stopped. It was the maniac driver we had before. Yikes! No wonder the bus was half empty. My fingers still hurt from the grip on the seatback.

It was ime for a cold one after all that and a slow ride back to the boat as the sun was setting.

Cheers!

PJB

A rough week. My brain hurts.

I have this sinking feeling (not good on a boat) that we may never solve this vibration issue and we’ll sell her super cheap just to get rid of the problem. Some old Scotsman who was once a mechanic will jump with glee at the deal of the century and promptly fix the problem in five minutes.

“Took me fife minutes tae fin’ th’ problem. Feckin Yanks ur a bit dumb”

I’m not going to go into any of the details because it’s just insanity relived for nothing more than torture to my brain. I will just tell you that the latest “fix” actually made the problem worse.

Last weekend was a rough one. Actually is was the end of a rough week. Deb is still in the States and I’m not liking this alone time. Of course it’s fun at first. You get stupid a little bit, play the music loud, spread out, sleep diagonal, leave dishes in the sink, etc. It was nice for a few days but then you realize you don’t like living in a junk yard and you smell. Now comes the boring part, picking up after yourself and showering regularly.

Besides strumming the guitar and annoying nobody but people anchored too close I thought I would get some writing done as well. I had started on a blog post about a friend of mine who had died while I was away. Nobody told me he had died. I found out about it by searching for his work email one day after finding a pocket knife I had lost. The pocket knife was worn and scratched but it was on the table when the sun hit it and I saw his old company logo. I wonder how he’s doing? A search showed his obituary. Damn.

I’m the moustache next to the goalie. My old pal is the tall dude behind me under the beer sign. Champs!

So as I was wrapping up the post on my old pal I got a message from my sister and then my cousin that my Uncle had died suddenly. Ugh. He was more like a big brother to me. Only 8 yrs apart in age and this news hurt. You start thinking how much you hate this lifestyle when shit like this happens. The disconnect from family and friends starts to bother you.

Me and Uncle Rog. He was a sweetheart. So many laughs.

So with all that bad stuff out of the way I can report that some things have been just fine. I changed the membranes in our watermaker with success and very little swearing except a few tirades as I tried to lower the thirty pound assembly from the top of a cabinet. My face was right in a port while my right forearm and hand was underneath the cabinet holding the whole thing up while I slowly removed a nut off of a screw. I had to use a screwdriver to hold the bolt when the boat rolled and my screw driver slipped and rolled away from me. I cursed at life straight out the port and at my neighbors enjoying lunch in their cockpit. My face must have been all contorted from the strain of the weight on my arm as I scrambled to reach the screwdriver. I laughed thinking my face looked like the old King Crimson album cover. It was some very loud and unique cursing. They don’t wave anymore.

I eventually got smarter with some line and a few extra holes in the cabinet top and this kept everything in place nice nice. It all went together slowly and with much thought and patience. No runs, no drips, no errors. She runs fine. Beer me.

With all that’s been going on I’m taking a break today. No projects. I’m going for a walk. At the end of the walk I’m having a beer. I have a good movie to watch tonight so I might pick up some horribly unhealthy snacks to munch on while I’m entertained. On one of my previous walks I found a beach. How many people can say they found a beach on their morning walk? Life is still good, frustrating and sad at times but still good.

Cheers!

P

Note: I reference Scotsmen in the 1st paragraph because I worked with many who were the best machinists and mechanics I ever saw. They also had the dry, biting wit that I find amusing. Many times they looked at me like I was dumb as a rock and told me just that. At least I think that’s what they said.