Martinique, work and play
01 February 2017
Uproar just left Martinique, French West Indies a few days ago. The FWI islands of Martinique, Guadaloupe, St. Marten and St. Barts are quite different from the rest of the Caribbean. For one thing, they speak French, something I enjoy trying to learn. The French government must spend a lot of money here, the infrastructure is very good and French products are imported at low cost. The way that French food is prepared and served is superb! I love eating everything from poulet boucane (sugar cane smoked chicken) to pain au chocolat and one of my personal favorites, duck. The restaurants are leisurely in their service but this is not much of a problem. They make you want to hang out and not rush away.
Le Marin is a large yacht/marina complex that has every kind of marine service and product imaginable. There is even a loft at one shop full of used sailboat gear. Oh, we are talking about sailboats, not power. Le Marin is 99% sail. Lisa and I set the anchor hard in Le Marin and decided we wouldn't move until our project list was whittled down....a lot. We ended up working hard daily for over two weeks. Here is what we accomplished:
Rebuild manual bilge pump
Make new anchor bridle
Clean carb and replace plugs on the outboard
Replace water system pressure reservoir
Fix leaks in hoses caused by replacement of pressure reservoir
Dyneema core spliced into reef line
Installed reef downhaul line (we now don't have to leave the cockpit to reef)
Fixed door latch broken spring (surprisingly, we had a spare of this rare part)
Fix drawer latch
Software update on VHF/AIS radio
Removed mainsail, installed spreader patches and had batten car straps re-sewn by North Sails
Re-installed mainsail (takes over an hour)
Calibrated fuel gauge
Rewired stereo speakers
Applied chafe guard on main halyard
Made spice rack
cleaned new bilge area to store more French wine
And now for the big ones. We intended to replace our rod rigging. These are the wires that hold the mast up. Our boat has solid, stainless steel rod instead of stranded cable, part of Uproar's racing roots. There are very few places that have the equipment to work rod rigging and Le Marin has one of these rigging shops. They made our new lifelines for $950. I removed the old ones and installed the new ones. Not sure if this is the right price or not but OK. I had arranged with the shop in December to replace the rod rigging in mid January. The manager said they were ready for me.
To save thousands of dollars, I was to remove the rigging, bring it into the shop and re-install. The first step was to remove the forestay. Lisa and I have done this before. I get a trip to the top of the mast as part of the procedure. We had to go to a dock to drop it carefully. We pulled into the dock space and immediately dropped the forestay and furler assembly. It went right into the rigging shop. A week later we were told they didn't have the right rod in stock. We had to come in and retrieve the forestay. Then I had to re-install it and completely tune the rig. We spent many hours getting Uproar ready for this and were left with nothing accomplished. I'm disappointed in this rigger and am glad I will be getting the work done somewhere else.
But the big, ugly project was fixing a leak in the fuel tank. We had just filled the 40 gallon tank with diesel fuel. We had smelled a little diesel smell but this is something you try to ignore. It just got worse. Inspection found that a braided stainless hose for the watermaker ran along the bottom corner of the aluminum tank. It sawed a groove from vibration that went clear through. Fortunately we found it when it was just a tiny leak.
A call for help on the morning cruiser's net and Petronella loaned us a neat, electric pump for draining the tank into jerry cans. We had to give 5 gallons away because we didn't have enough jerry cans for all of the fuel. Removing the tank wasn't fun at all! We did find a weld shop that promised a quick repair. Well, it took two more days than planned. We were fortunately anchored in a safe place. If the boat dragged, we had no engine or forestay to raise sail! The tank went back in a bit easier but still this is a big job in cramped quarters. The leak is fixed and that braided hose is secured, away from the tank.
This is how the sausage is made on a cruising boat. Since, we have written another “to do” list. I enjoy most of the boat projects and sure have a sense of satisfaction when done. Uproar is really fit and shipshape. Our last anchorage in Martinique was at St. Pierre, pictured. We love this unusual town. It was dubbed the Paris of the Caribbean over 100 years ago. Mt. Pele erupted and put the whole town to flames in 1902. It took only 3 seconds to kill 30,000 people and leave the town in ruin. The hot gases from the volcano even burned and sunk the ships in the harbor. They used the foundations of the ruined buildings to build new. Everywhere are reminders of the tragedy.
I really enjoy Martinique. I'm writing this with the aid of a glass of Chateau Bel Air, St Emilion 2011. On to Dominica, the nature island.