Back on Board and Boat Yard Work

We flew back to Trinidad, the day after Labor Day, to see how the Labor on Kalunamoo was doing. Well, it was as expected. Work tends to slow down when the owners are not around. Stephen, our contractor for the deck painting was just about finished. A few more days, touching up, buffing and cleaning up and the deck will look great. Of, course, any paint does not last indefinitely but we think this will be the last paint job that we will oversee. The new glass for the 4 large ports were replaced by Tony and Amos and the installation of the exterior frames were installed. That will also take care of the small leaks around the glass.

New Ports
Amos of Perfect Finish working on the large ports

Stephen and crew have begun on the hull where a few spots have to be refinished. The rub rail will be stripped and then either we will apply Cetol or be repainted. A new copper or stainless steel strip will be looked at next year. Eventually he will also do the antifoul bottom coat. That should bring us to the middle of October (the announced “work completion date”) when we plan to splash and go over to Crews Inn for a two week “vacation” before commencing voyage #13.

Stephen working on the hull

We carried about 75 pounds of boat parts down with us from New York (including a small amplifier for the keyboard) and checked all that through Trinidad Customs with no problem. One of the good things about Trinidad is that “boat parts” for foreign boats “in transit” are not subject to any duty or taxes. No broker is needed to clear Customs but the typical Trinidad paperwork must be filled out. The parts must also be inspected both at the airport and the port where the boat is. “Boat part” is a broad definition of anything that goes onto the boat and is not used ashore in Trinidad. Previously we brought down a keyboard which was fine. A cruiser friend brought down a bicycle to be used on the boat (when ashore). The Customs officer innocently asked if he intended to use it around the boat yard. Our friend said he might. He was charged import duty! Lesson learned – be very careful of what you say to Customs.

The new Tides main mast track and new Ullman main and jib sails have yet to arrive. The track is “stuck” in Customs due to some paper-work and broker issues (that is why we carried stuff down). Hopefully all this will be delivered before the end of September.

Besides the deck work, the work list is long. We did get things started before we left for New York: an eye was welded to the boom for the vang, the dinghy was taken to have “chaps” made, I did some rewiring of the mast and mizzen (both have been un-stepped), the compression post for the main mast was stripped and painted, and new Main and Jib sails were ordered.

We brought down a refurbished Furuno chart plotter (bought on E-Bay) for the cockpit which was really an exact drop in plug and play replacement for the old one. Plugging it in was simple but took two days to “configure” it to talk to the network with the other navigation instruments. The reconditioned Raymarine auto helm head unit worked great and we can actually read the LCD screen again!

The “new” Furuno
The holding tank removed

Simple jobs usually take a few days. Case in point was the chocker valve on the forward head. This simple “rubber duck” item prevents backflow to the toilet bowl. Two bolts are removed and the valve is easily replaced. Of course, what happen was that one bolt’s head broke off and so time was spent digging that one out. Then looking at the hoses that connect it all together, I realized it was time for their replacement. The thing with saltwater, which is used for flushing the toilet, is that it reacts with urine to form calcium deposits in the hoses. Much like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, it builds up to form rock hard deposits which eventually (a few years) totally block any fluid flows. Sixteen feet of inch and a half of sanitation hose, various fittings and new hose clamps later, all hoses were replaced. But that was not until the cabinet holding the holding tank was partially taken apart, the holding tank removed (to gain access to one hose) and the removal of about an inch think calcium slab that was inside the tank. Oh, and the bronze elbow on the through hull had to be replaced which, as anyone who knows, is located in a compartment that only a midget can reach and an Atlas can unscrew. Thanks to Gordon on Coho (who is not a midget or Atlas), it was replaced.

Calcium buildup in the head hoses

The big engine job that Raymond (Raymond Engineering) was tasked with was to replace the four injector sleeves on the engine. He also had to replace the broken transmission cable that failed just as we were bringing Kalunamoo into the well to be hauled. I brought the new engine parts down from New York so he had to wait for us to fly in. A few days after we arrived back, he and his helpers removed the engine head and had it cleaned up. A few days later they came back on board and reassembled the engine. They only dropped one rachet into the bilge (the pit of doom) under the engine which was recovered with a long grabber claw. I’m always terrified working on the engine as anything dropped into the pit of doom stays there for eternity.

But that was not the end of the engine work. Upon reassembly there was a coolant leak. That didn’t surprise me as there is one rubber seal between the thermostat housing, block and heat exchanger that is very, very difficult to install. The first time I did it, it took days to get it right. The next time a mechanic worked on it (In Antigua, replacing the circulating pump) it took hours to get it right. This time it also took some time, but the mechanic eventually got it right. Unfortunately there was another leak found at the exhaust manifold which meant disassembling that. We are now waiting for that to be removed and worked on to fix the leak.

The exhaust manifold being removed

The next phase here is the removal of the boat cover, and re-stepping the masts, (next week) installing the new main sail track, the new mainsail, and jib. Also, a new larger winch on the mast will be installed – hauling up the main sail should be must easier – and reconnecting all the wiring and cables in the mast to the boat. After that, measurements can be taken for a new mainsail stack pack, a new sun cover for the aft deck, refinish some exterior teak and some other minor things to work on.

Most of the work, other than the painting and engine, are routine M&R stuff. Since it has been three years since we have been here, the work piles up. We have about a month and a half to finish up and then we should be good to go. In the meantime, other cruisers from around the world are here, and it is good to get together, swap sea stories or just comment on how much work must be done just to look like we lead a carefree life in Paradise. The video is the Rhythm of Work in Trinidad:

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