The electrician from Caribbean Marine who wired up the solar panels was one of the most diligent and polite young men we have met. His story is one of perseverance over poverty, as he came from such a poor background that until his 20s he was sleeping on a mattress on the landing at home, sharing it with his mother.
He was fortunate to receive a good education, valuing it as a route out of his poor roots and went to college. He lived in the interior of Trinidad and when he started his current job, he got up at 3.30 am every day to get to work in Chaguaramas and even more amazingly, hasn’t been late in the 2 years he has worked there.
He is 1 of only 4 people on the island to be certified by Raymarine to fit their equipment and works so carefully, intelligently and industriously. Great story!
Our panels are working brilliantly already and we switched the battery charger off yesterday morning and still have loads of power, despite the cloudy sky today – hooray!
We are now almost ready to launch, with over 130 tasks completed.
Together we managed to get the solar panels up onto our frame and initially we used our passerelle tied to the new dinghy davits, with bits of rope tied onto Rob, holding him 16 feet up in the air, to screw the fixing brackets onto the back of the frame. I was then left winching the 2 ends of the plank up, running from port to starboard winches, whilst tightening the safety line in case Rob fell. It was definitely precarious, so we hired a forklift from the yard instead. Much safer! One male passer-by mentioned that training a new husband would take a very long time. True ☺
We then led the cables through the frame, into the starboard stern locker and into the starboard stern cabin to the controller unit. The electrician then took over. The panels don’t look so huge now they are on the frame and being white underneath they ‘blend’ in OK. It will be interesting to see how much power we get from them but we hope the generator won’t be as busy in the future as we were running it a couple of hours every day, at least.
Rob checked the top of the mast and sprayed lubricant down the entire mast track, another task when his life is in my hands. He is a trusting soul and also not very well insured ☺
We painted the stern with 4 coats of hard antifouling, from the bottom of it up about 4 inches as it sits in the water. Some 473s we have seen have put stainless steel plates along the bottom but most are just painted. Perhaps with the new frame on the stern we should have painted higher up the transom but we will find out on Friday when she hits the water again.
It has been hard work getting the boat ready but we wanted to keep to schedule and not let things drift. Many boats remain here for weeks after their original launch date but we are keen to get back in the water and up to a bay where we can swim in clear water again to cool off. Working in the intense heat has been tough but if you have the budget and don’t mind other people painting your boat, then there are plenty of contractors around who can do everything for you instead.
If anyone remembers the BBC1 sit-com series ‘The Good Life’ from the 1970’s, then lately I have definitely been ‘a Barbara’ rather than a woman, just a worker bee, dressed in old clothes and covered in oil and paint! Some days the temperature was over 100 degrees but the blue skies enabled us to finish the painting and polishing without any concerns about humidity or thunderstorms ruining our day’s achievements.
One of the local yard cats decided to climb our ladder and laze around in the cockpit for a while. She was very friendly and in great health. Rob asked her what she was called, as you do, but no response.
We took a morning off to get the local bus to the mall, costing 50 British pence each way. It is lovely and cool in there and they have lots of shops, mostly clothes, shoes, coffee shops and mobile phones, like almost every other mall or high street in fact! They celebrate Christmas enthusiastically here but also have public holidays for each faith represented in the country. The mall is certainly looking very festive already and the buses play Christmas music.
The deli at the western entrance sells a host of foods, many of which are unobtainable on other Caribbean islands. It is expensive but for special occasions it is worth a visit. Another kitchen ware shop near the northern entrance has Crabtree and Evelyn products, loads of scented candles and gift foods such as Cider Apple Jelly and amazing salad dressings, another place to stock up on luxury items. They have a great pharmacy in the mall, full of well-known brands and a range of first aid supplies for replenishing the boat’s medical bag. Our sons would certainly approve of the new Apple store too.
We have been monitoring the weather and of course the wind is moving around to the north in time to make the passage to Grenada more difficult. A long tack or two might be necessary but we would like to spend a couple of weeks there to stock up the freezer and visit Rob’s favourite bakery for Chelsea buns again. This season we will visit many anchorages we have been into before, so we will have a good idea of what to expect and where to anchor.
So the next post will be from Grenada, all being well.