Work continues on the boat and evening socialising is de rigueur!

Paul, Charlotta, Dorita and Stamen.

Paul, Charlotta, Dorita and Stamen.

A night out on 'Gaya'

A night out on ‘Gaya’

We had our first Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey and stuffing, with some of the Americans we have met.

Thanks giving with friends from Perigrine, Perigrina, Wapiti and Explorer.

Thanks giving with friends from Perigrine, Perigrina, Wapiti and Explorer.

It seems like an interminable length of time that we’ve been hard at it, but we are making progress and it’s going to be well worth it, despite all the frustrations.
Mitchel has finally finished the arch and will return to fix the final solar panel when it arrives.

Fine tuning the arch fittings.

Fine tuning the arch fittings.

When we were getting ready in England, we didn’t realise just what a major factor the sun is here in the tropics. It’s a boon as far as energy from solar panels goes, but a blight as far as needing to shade the boat from it!
The sun/rain covers that we made in Brasil will be perfect to cover and protect the boat if we leave her for any length of time, but for day to day use they are proving too heavy to handle and too difficult to assemble, so we have been thinking about getting a proper job done. We had a boat moored next to us with a very clever canopy design, with rain catchers incorporated……when we asked where they had had it made, it turned out to be here!….. so last week, in between showers we had the same canvas work men on board to measure up for a similar sun canopy with rain catchers, so that we can sit in the cool and dry and we can fill our tanks with water we can trust from the sky, rather than some random hose on the dock and also do away with the need to be in clean anchorages to be able to use the water maker.

Hitech measuring....... Low tech solution to the rain.

Hitech measuring……. Low tech solution to the rain.

We have been living in such a pickle for the past fortnight. As I’ve said before, any job inside the boat means emptying everything out to get to the bit you’re working on,

Chaos in the cabin. Marcus and Paul routing the battery end of the solar panel controller.

Chaos in the cabin. Marcus and Paul routing the battery end of the solar panel controller.

so my finely honed mental map of where everything is has been totally destroyed. Usually there is a quick response to questions like, ‘Where’s the masking tape?’ or ‘Where are my shorts?’, but service has been severely interrupted and a lot of time is spent in hunting.

Wardrobe and drawers out again!

Wardrobe and drawers out again!

The record was twelve hours hunting the shorts!!

The arch is now bedecked with two of the solar panels, two aerials, the aft nav. light and a little garden solar light, acting as an automatic anchor light.
After much hassling and veiled threats to the importer, we finally managed to get our charge controller delivered for the panels.
The next task was trying to get an electrician to come and fix them for us. Therein lies a tale……..The company said, ‘The electrician will be with you on Monday’………no show…….’He’ll be there first thing on Tuesday’………no show………Marcus rang him at 1500hrs to ask what time ‘this morning’ he was coming! He turned up at 1600hrs, looked at what we needed, saw the mess we were living in and went away with the promise of coming on Wednesday or Thursday………no show…….no show…….Back to the company….’He’ll definitely be with you between 0900hrs and 0930hrs Friday morning. At 1000hrs we reckoned he was5 days and 30 minutes late, so we phoned the company again and cancelled the job. That left us with the heart sinking realisation that we would have to tackle it ourselves. A daunting thought as, when it comes to electricity, we normally both switch off!
Luckily, as is always the case when you’re stuck, there was help at hand. There is a young couple, Paul and Charlotta, who have been borrowing our small outboard motor until they could find a second hand one. Paul is a fantastic musician and came along to restring my guitar for me. Having cleared a space for him to sit, he could see we had a major project in hand and, when he heard the story, he offered to help us connect everything. He had worked alongside the electrician who had rewired his boat! As luck would have it, moored a couple of boats away was an electrical engineer. He had worked on nuclear power stations, so we asked him to check over what we were doing. There couldn’t be too much difference between nuclear and solar power could there?

After much probing with the wiring mouse and pushing and pulling through possible routes for the new wire we hit a brick wall. There didn’t seem to be any way of getting the wires from the aft locker to the batteries, which are just aft of the mast.
Then Phil, the nuclear man offered the hitech advice…. ‘Just drill a hole!’……Images of Marcus drilling holes in the boat kicked my problem solving synapses into overdrive and I remembered seeing a couple of wires, bundled high up in the aft locker, on top of what must be the top of our wardrobe …..BINGO! ……. There was a hole, just big enough to poke the wires through. On further investigation we found other holes at the bottom of the wardrobe and more that were drilled through under the drawers, into the tool cupboard and up along behind the radio to the very cupboard where we were planning to install the controller!!! While we were ferreting around running the cables, Paul connected the panels.
The following day we got more advice and managed to link the controller to the batteries with all the necessary breakers and grounding wires in place and we are now generating our own electricity. HURRAH!

Fixing the aerial leads in the aft locker.

Fixing the aerial leads in the aft locker.

With the wiring completed, we have now managed to restow all the stuff that was under the tarpaulin on the foredeck into the aft lockers, so we are looking more like a sailing boat and less like a garage sale. Inside is still a work in progress, but we’re getting there!
On Wednesday we decided to take a day off and hired a car with Dorita and Stamen to go to the Coroni swamp to see the scarlet ibis flock in at twilight. Unfortunately we chose the deluge day of the week and had to cancel the tour, but had a good time going around Port of Spain

Old and new architecture side by side.

Old and new architecture side by side.

Flower on a 'cannon ball' tree by the side of the road in Port of Spain.

Flower on a ‘cannon ball’ tree by the side of the road in Port of Spain.

Global brand next door to local store.

Global brand next door to local store.

£4 Lunch at a gem of a restaurant.

£4 Lunch at a gem of a restaurant.

Dorita and Stamen leaving after lunch.

Dorita and Stamen leaving after lunch.

and up through the rain forest to Maracas bay.

View from the top of the hill climb.

View from the top of the hill climb.

Maracas Bay......'put your hands on your hips.... Simon says......'

Maracas Bay……’put your hands on your hips…. Simon says……’

The coconut fell on to the green bin behind. Marcus checking for more,

The coconut fell on to the green bin behind. Marcus checking for more,

Coco.  Nut.

Coco. Nut.

On the way home, the supermarket beckoned…..you can’t hire a car and not fill it up with all those bulky necessities!
During all of the electrical mayhem, I spent almost two days, with intermittent wifi, filling in the online application forms for our US visas. The whole process is long-windedly intricate with questions such as, ‘do you belong to a terrorist group?’, ‘have you ever been involved in child trafficking?’ and ‘do you belong to a tribe or a clan?’……Yes to all of the above, but we’re still hopeful!!
Once the forms were submitted, we then had to go through the appointment booking form to get to the payment receipt that we had to print out and take to a particular bank. We then had to wait two days for the money to clear, before going back into the site to book an appointment. By the time all this was done, the next appointment available was Jan 5th! So we have decided to go to Tobago for Christmas and return here in the new year to hopefully be granted a visa.
Other sailing friends are also heading for Tobago and Keith and James are coming over on the 19th for the Christmas Monarch flight, so it will be lovely to see them. The Haywards and Byron’s together again for Christmas! …… Just like old times.
Must look out the decorations that are buried under the sails in the forepeak locker. The outdoor lanterns should go well on the new arch!

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