Sunday, June 23, 2013

Life at an angle. Angle, not heel.

We've been pretty wishywashy these last few months.  When you aren't a trustfunder, and the money you use for cruising (after retiring at a fairly early age of 50) is not unlimited, counting pennies is important.  We have prioritized our lives, and one main priority was not working for someone else any longer (more on that later). Beer and wine is a priority, mmmm, not much more than that, but maybe a 6-pack of beer, and a case of wine, too.  Having the boat function well is a priority, but sometimes her looks have suffered.  It's hard on people, and on boats, to be full time cruisers, and instead of our boat looking really good at a dock in a marina due to unlimited fresh water, it is setup to have most systems operational, at the cost of some of the good looks and spiffiness taking a back seat.  We relate to our boat - I remember when I had clothes without holes in them, and when the shirts that were white, WERE actually white.  We cared about being clean, and having our hair washed.  If I'm lucky, my hair now gets combed once every three weeks, whether it needs it or not.  High heels have no place on a boat, but I do have an impressive collection of sandals, all acquired for an average of $3/pair.  Ron gets to have one pair and a spare, but my sandals take up a bit of his shoe room.  This is about all we have patience for.  Makeup - okay, once a month I try to remember how to apply some eyeliner, but it's always futile.  The boat rocking, and poor lighting inside, make my attempts juvenile at best, and embarrassing  at worst.  We'd given up on ourselves, but our mighty ship.......NEVER.

After 3 years, our bottom paint was about 50% black, and 50% blue, blue being the colour the hull was when we bought her, and black the colour we put on in the summer of 2010.  It was time to do the job, but the "where will it get done" seemed to be stumping us.  Upon leaving El Salvador in the fall of 2012, we intended to haul out at the Flamenco Marina in Panama City.  After a few months of being in Panama, and meeting people that had either used their travel lift or had heard stories, we were giving it another think-through.  It was going to cost thousands of dollars, as the haul-out/haul-in charge was $700, there was a per day charge on the stands, you couldn't do the work yourselves, you couldn't stay on the boat....and adding to that, the people reportedly were a bit snotty.  We had also heard of one boat (Eyes of the World) that due to mishandling of the haul-in process, had their prop shaft bent and motor mounts compromised.  We opted out of that option.

A few months ago we met Mark and Sylvia from Rachel 3, and for the first time ever I had a serious case of boat envy.  They had purchased a broken down shell of a boat down in Salinas, Ecuador, a 68' Formosa, that had seen better days.  The refit and subsequent love and care they received from the Stewart Yacht Works there, convinced us to wait until we made land in Ecuador and do the bottom job there.  However....that would mean that we would have to be scheduling ourselves to head further south, as we were hoping to put in, and stay put, for a few months in Bahia Caraquez, while we wandered hither and yon around south America.  Oh, the decisions!!!

We THEN heard about the rails at the Balboa Yacht Club in Panama City.  This is the staging area for all small boats heading north through the canal to the Caribbean.  We had seen the rails on one of our walks along the causeway, but hadn't really seriously considered it, due to the fact that we've got a beast of a boat, some 50,000 pounds when wet (no, that's not a sexual reference, just means that that is how much we weigh when we've got full fuel and water tankage).  But we'd been told by people with larger boats than ours, how good the system was, and how happy they had been with the service and with the price.  $30 out, $30 in, and $107 per day while up.  We could do the work ourselves, or we could hire a few workers at a cost of $60/day/person, our choice.  PLUS, we could stay on the boat, albeit at a slight angle.  But we're sailors, and what's a degree or two (or 20) between friends.  We were sold, and our wallets were heaving sighs of relief.

So that's what we did.  After a wait of 10 days for a spot to open up, we were told to arrive at 11am, high tide.  We were up and out of the water by 11:30, we had the whole boat scrubbed clean and sanded by 2pm, the boot stripe was taped and painted by 3:30, we were cleaned up by 4:30 and in the bar by 5pm.  A slight buzz commenced by 6pm.  A great first day!

Tied and Ready
UP she goes

Yes, it needs attention
Think we need new zincs?
Boot stripe sanded and taped
Starting to look respectable
Bottom scraped, sanded, and ready for bottom paint.  Boot striped painted.

The next day's work didn't start until 10am, due to significant rainfall early on, which enabled me to avail myself of the Yacht Club's washing machines and dryers.  Taping off the boot stripe finished by 10:30 and the first coat of bottom paint was on by 11:30am.  An hour of "curing" and the second coat was on by 1:30pm.  Last coat along the waterline 1/2 hour later, and the 5 gallons of paint we had purchased was out of the can and on our hull.
Now that's more like it
Too bad it never lasts....
Is that a smile?  Nah, that's definitely a grimace

Ready to splash, but.....
We figured we wait for the tide to turn, first
Evening after our last day of work
While we were out, 4 new zincs were installed, and Ron serviced the propeller.

A brief scrub along the waterline to remove staining from the growth over the last few months, (with an amazing product called Easy On, Easy Off) and an hour later at 4pm we were headed to the showers, and then afterwards to the restaurant/bar at the Yacht Club with our friend Jane from More Joy Everywhere.  (Jane and her other half Ean are selling their catamaran.  If all my "interesting" posts over the last months have inspired you to take on this lifestyle, take a peek at their website

We're back in the water now.  If you are needing to redo your antifouling, don't hesitate to consider using the railway system.  It sure worked for us, and the cost savings were tremendous!!!

The last two days have been a whirlwind of provisioning, getting ready for our trip to Ecuador.  And now I need a glass of wine.


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