PreLaunch, Ft Pierce, FL, March 30, 2017
30 March 2017 | Ft Pierce, Florida
Beth / Hot! Almost 30 most days
It's been 10 days of constant work, and we're not done yet.
On the upside, the weather is lovely and sunny and hot - up to 30 degrees C most days. On the downside, we have been so busy we've just been to the beach once! On the upside, our friends report snow and ice at home in Nova Scotia - and we're missing it!
On the upside, we are fortunate to be able to stay with our friend Nancy Aadland - whom we met in the Bahamas on our first year of cruising. She and her mother are so welcoming to us and willing to let us stay in the cabana, and understanding that sometimes we love to sit and talk and share a glass of wine, and sometimes we just have to get clean and fall into bed. On the downside, we are mostly too tired to enjoy the lovely Vero Beach ambiance.
So - about Madcap - we found her nice and dry but dusty and with some sun damage. I can hardly believe she has been in the yard at Riverside Marina for a whole year. We thought when we hauled out last March that we would be down in the fall to take her farther north but we got busy with other people and places, and didn't do it. The netting we so carefully tied on held really well - all those hundreds of nylon ties kept the boat covered, and it helped protect it, but the cockpit teak still suffered a lot of sun damage. The whole boat was dusty - inside and out, but the dehumidifier did its job and there was no mould or mildew odor. I found some bugs in the little roach hotels I left scattered around, but I haven't found a live one yet!
Since we have been here, we've been knocking items off the To Do list. The wiring on the windlass was badly corroded so Jim rewired the plug and now it works - essential with an anchor rode that is all chain. The wind generator didn't work either - and hadn't since it malfunctioned the night we dropped anchor off Cozumel. Hotwire sent a new charge controller; Jim installed it and when the wind came up today, the wind generator turned into it and whirled away. He put the chartplotter back together and it found a satellite signal and then it found us!
Meanwhile, I was trying to deal with all that shabby looking teak in the cockpit. We just couldn't bear to have our beautiful boat looking so bad. Lots of cruising boats let their teak go grey and natural as they travel in tropical climates, but we didn't ever do that because in Rio Dulce we had wonderful and inexpensive care of our boat. I still remember the email we got from Casey Brooks the first year we left Madcap in his care. "Hey Beth and Jim. I hate Cetol (the finish we had been using) so we stripped it all off and varnished your boat!" Our hearts sank as we thought about how much that would cost and how hard it would be to keep it up. Little did we know how low the hourly labour rate is in Guatemala and what good care they would take of Madcap each season when we left her. And we loved the look of the varnish.
But now? Ooooh - no one had touched it through the long hot year, and the yard's rate of $50 US per hour just wasn't in our budget, so ... it was up to us to do something about it. I used to keep up the Cetol before, and now it was my turn to learn how to strip the old crackled finish and apply fresh coats. We had a can of Petit Flagship varnish, purchased last year, and I had asked enough people (including Sandi, the Varnish Queen) and read enough articles to have some idea of what to do but it was still a daunting task.
Off we went to West Marine, where we ran into the most helpful man, Deane, a long time cruiser who knows a thing or two about varnish. With a new heat gun in hand, and sandpaper and tack cloths and brushes we headed home and I set to work. That heat gun has become my new best friend! It makes the work of stripping off that old finish much easier, and I like it better than the chemical stripper I used with the Cetol. A good scrub with Barkeeper's Friend (a friend indeed since our friend, Richard, said, "You have to have this on board") cleaned up most of the grey weathered bits, and a sandpaper rub brought the teak pretty well back to bare wood. Then a thorough cleaning with the tack cloth, a light acetone wipe and we were set to go. But oh, I was so afraid to apply that first coat!
Thank goodness, that looked pretty good, but I have learned that varnishing is SO much harder than painting. And according to all the articles I looked up - I was applying it at all the wrong times - in direct sunlight - in a dusty yard - when the temperature was at the top end of acceptable. I have 3 coats on the cockpit coming now and it's looking not bad. Nothing that a true Varnisher would consider good, but good enough.
Now for the handrails and the butterfly hatch and the eyebrows ... and eventually the rub -rails along the sides. Madcap has a lot of exterior teak, and we still love it! I hope we will continue to say that.
In the meantime, Jim has been going through his to do list - washing,waxing and polishing the hull, tightening screws and checking all the systems. Water pressure - yes. Lights - mostly. Someone has to go up the mast tomorrow to install a new deck/steaming light. AIS - not yet. The fellow who was supposed to install the new transponder has not answered calls so we will give it a shot our selves. SSB - Sort of. We can hear but not transmit. Our friend, John, spent a lot of time trying to figure out the problem last year in Placencia. Finally, he figured the only thing it cold be was the tuner. So we bit the bullet and ordered a new one that should be here Friday. Filters - yes. Engine - yes. Dinghy - grrrr. Last season, it had a bit of a softening problem and sticky valves that would let air out as fast as we put it in, and now it won't hold its air well at all. We have a call in to a fixit man - hope he calls back. Jim went to see the Customs folks today to ask for a new cruising permit. We didn't get that (and we figured we probably wouldn't because we weren't "coming in from foreign") but he did get a permit to proceed, that the officer said was good till Bar Harbor, Maine. That will do!
So we continue to arrive at the boat yard about 7:30 each morning and work till 5:30 pm - and we are learning to take a little break mid-day to help us handle this heat.
We are scheduled to launch on Monday, April 3. Then it will be time to bend on the sails and give ourselves a good run up the ICW to make sure everything works. We will head up the coastline after that - as far as we can get before we join Mary Beth, Graham and Duncan in New Orleans for a week of grand parenting.
The upside is that we are making progress and the weather is warm. The downside is that we just want to get in the water and act like cruising sailors again. Oh - I forgot - this is what cruising sailors spend quite a bit of time doing!