“I wish I had a set of tools like Heidi and Neill!”
How often have we heard this from tradesman that we have had on board? They work on boats all day but arrive with a motley assortment of tools and when they need “something special” they need to go back to the workshop to find it. Or – they borrow ours 🙂
Before we left we bought a set of Bosch power tools and they have definitely been one of our best investments.
We charge the two 12 Volt batteries up using the excess power that we generate with wind and sun and most of the time they are plugged in to the torch and vacuum cleaner both of which get used all the time. Vacuuming up dirt is so much better than redistributing it with a brush and a good torch is vital for looking in to the dark corners or searching for Artemis in the night with the dinghy.
We also have two drills, one of which can also be used as a power screw driver, and a reciprocating tool which we can use to saw woods, plastics or metal and use as a sander. Very useful when maintaining a boat with so much wood work.
After sixteen months of use, the power tools are still paying for themselves every day and hopefully will continue to impress tradesman all over the world.
Friday morning and our second package had arrived from Ocean Chandlery the previous day. A quick breakfast and then we attached the new anchor winch motor to the anchor winch gearbox – or rather we tried to. It didn’t fit, the mounting holes are the wrong size in the wrong place.
-1: running total -1
A waitress came round from the local bar and showed us that one of her colleagues had “added” a $20 tip to the bill hoping it wouldn’t be noticed. The manager apologised but (as of Monday) we still don’t have our $20
-1: running total -2
We finally received a replacement wrist strap for our outboard motor. The young guy from the yard tried to start the motor and broke the mounting bracket on the boat.
-1: running total -3
We hoisted the new jib and it fits and it looks shiny and white.
+1: running total -2
On Saturday we discovered rust on our brand new stainless steel solar panel and sunshade frame.
-1: running total -3
We installed the pre-pump and the pre-filter for the watermaker and switched the system on. There was a small leak but we stopped that. The system is now finished and waiting for us to go to sea to test
+1: running total -2
On Sunday Heidi began the sewing of our sun shade. The sewing machine works and she looks like a real professional.
+1: running total – 1
Hans and Katrin came and convinced us to leave working and cycle up to the island for a drink. Afterwards Heidi made Pina Colada and we all had fun.
Many people visualize us sat round the camping gas stove eating warmed up food out of a tin can. Even some other sailors think that is how to live on a boat. Luckily we actually live in a very nice restaurant and enjoy a huge variety of home cooked food.
Last night we had a Swedish neighbor round for dinner so after the Rum Punch we sat down to home made pizza with a salad. I (Neill) love making pizza. Until we set off sailing I thought pizza came frozen from Aldi. Now I know that you make the base with flour, water, salt, sugar, oil, yeast and sunshine. The sauce is made of finely chopped tomatoes and garlic with a bit of Heidi magic and the topping is whatever you can buy locally. Pizza that we make ourselves tastes amazing. Yes I’m biased but ask the neighbors – they agree.
In Martinique we ordered a Beefburger but as Martinique is part of France we received a Burger de boeuf with the meat and sauce in a baguette. Since then our burgers are always french. This is not the only recipe we have collected on the way. Scotland added chocolate brownies, England scones and from an “ancient mariner” we learned about corned beef hash. In Italy we discovered amazing white pizza and since the Caribbean we make our own Baileys – tastes better than the original and costs a fraction.
Cooking is fun and eating home made food is always a joy.
We are not in the USA but close enough that the locals here in Aruba have definitely been infected. Finally we have reached the part of the world that doesn’t do metric and prefers to fight with the mathematical chaos that they call U.S. customary units.
Yesterday we broke our two millimeter drill so tried to buy a new one at the hardware store. They didn’t have any but, after finding their conversion table, they told us what we really needed was a 5/64 inch bit. The mathematics behind that conversion is 5 / 64 inch x 25.4 mm / inch = 1.984 mm – which is close enough.
And if you were thinking a 4mm drill would be 10/64 inch then you would be wrong as it is 5/32 inch and of course a 3mm is an 1/8 inch – although it isn’t really as an 1/8 inch is 3.175 mm. My head hurts.
And now we have a pump with a 3/8 FPT thread on the input – which we need to convert to a 1/2 inch tube – and a 3/8 OD output which we can connect some tube to. We thought Google could help with all this and received the answer
Tube is measured by outside diameter, pipe is measured by inside diameter. There is often confusion as to which size die the customer actually needs – Pipe Size or Tubing Size. Keep in mind that pipe size refers to a nominal – not actual – insidepipe diameter.
Luckily they sell rum relatively cheaply on the island
Our Rustler had a fridge in the galley (sailor speak for kitchen area). It was a quarter of a century old, badly insulated and didn’t regulate properly. It was slowly rotting the surrounding woodwork and sometimes stopped cooling but still took 60 Watts from the batteries. We decided it had to go.
We ordered a Vitrifrigo TL20 top loading fridge. The manufacturer ignored our emails and the USA dealer quoted three months delivery so we ordered it via Ocean Chandlery. It has a capacity of 20 liters which is plenty for us. The technical data claims it is category A+++ and uses only 28 Watts of power.
Unfortunately Rustlers are hand built boats so nothing is easy. The work top was glued to the cupboards below and ran under the cupboards above. It had to be cut in to little squares before being hacked off. The fridge was also jammed in and held in with liters of insulating foam. Both fridge basin and foam had to be cut out in tiny blocks. New saw blades were needed which involved an 18 km bike ride to the tool shop.
We needed a new work top and Heidi had the brilliant idea of making one from wood stained white and then sealed with epoxy. Not only did she have the idea, she also made it happen – despite the ambient temperature being 15°C above the recommended temperature for working epoxy. The new top looks better than the old one and is more functional and has a fridge fitted and working.
The fridge has now been working for a week and works as hoped. The only “problem” is that it appears to take 36 Watts rather than the advertised 28 Watts. That is a major difference when you are running an autark system as we do.
Most people consider our life to be a permanent holiday. Yes we enjoy tropical beaches and yes we meet interesting locals and cycle to exotic places but most days we do a bit of work on the boat as well. We decided we needed a holiday.
When you visit a new country every month, what you need for the perfect holiday is family and friends so we flew back to Allgäu. Two weeks of daughters, friends, daughters, family and daughters. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner appointments to catch up on all the news. And sleep became optional with a total of fifteen hours the first three days.
Our best friends ensured it was a real holiday. We didn’tcook once, hardly washed up and cleaned nothing. We repaired a washing machine for a friend but no winches, sails, pumps or woodwork. We weren’t totally lazy and managed some great bike rides with adventurous trails. It was 30°C one day so we enjoyed the breeze while our friends melted.
It was a revelation. The “real world” is so complicated and so full of problems. We had not realised how chilled and content we have become until we plunged back in to reality and experienced peoples stories of work, family, colleagues and “objects”.
We are writing at Bogota Airport on our way to Aruba. Holidays are fun but we are looking forward to getting “home”.
Early one morning we were attached to the dock in Aruba. We were getting ready to move across to the marina and Heidi was checking the lines. She had just re-coiled the blue genoa sheet and tidied up the green tiller line. Next she reached for the brown rope with black spots and realised at the last moment that we don’t actually have any ropes that colour.
We had a snake on board!
We went and asked the dockyard manager if there were any poisonous snakes on the island. Only rattlesnakes so he sent a worker to take a look. The expert laughed and declared it to be “only a baby boa” and took it with him.
Only a day later and we found the second one under another rope. Either they fall in love with the long sinuous lines or enjoy the shade. At least now we knew it was a boa so sent it swimming.
We have had our bikes on board for a year now and every time Heidi needs to adjust her handlebars she asks Neill for his 5mm allan key. We just passed through airport security in Bogota and Heidis bag was strip searched to find the hidden weapon that was detected by the x-ray scanner. Security only spoke Spanish so we were not sure what they were looking for. Turns out she has been smuggling a 5mm allan key on and off planes in a hidden pocket for the last year. The supervisor let her keep it so now she can adjust her handlebars.
Yesterday we read a blog entry by a German sailor we met a few months ago, just to keep up to date on where he is and what he is up to. After fifteen minutes we knew that he felt his boat was falling apart and that he was totally depressed. He sailed to the Caribbean in his fourteen year old yacht and is very unhappy that the high temperature, hot sun, high moisture and salt water was eating everything.
And what did we think when we read of all his woes? “Been there, done that!”
Just because a boat has worked perfectly in Northern Europe for fourteen years – or in our case over a quarter of a century – that does not mean it will continue to do so twelve degrees north of the Equator. The climate here eats boats.
We have written a complete list of repairs and improvements and it really does look like we have rebuilt half the boat. Our advantage is however that – most of the time – we don’t get too depressed about it and just treat working on the boat as an intrinsic part of sailing; although the anchor winch motor did get to both of us eventually, luckily on different days.
We have decided we need a new fridge and a device to make fresh water from sea water. Both are ordered and “somewhere in the DHL world” waiting for “something” so we have time for a few other jobs while we float just off Aruba.
When we bought Artemis, we changed to a Rocna anchor and it has been doing a fantastic job of holding the boat each night – the statistics are here.
But there is more to anchoring than just the anchor. There is:
the anchor winch with it’s gearbox and motor
the switch that you press to work the motor
The all important switch rusted and fell apart in Grenada but we managed to clean it up and put it together so that it worked (mostly) until friends brought a new one to the Grenadines. The new one fitted perfectly after we modified it a bit.
Round the cacti, over the rocks, through the sand and avoid the thorns. If you can do all that while still enjoying the view and keeping an eye on the GPS, then you are ready to go trailing in Aruba.
A six o’clock start meant we were well on our way by sunrise and had the first trail – Tribu Trail – finished before we met any one else. On the far side of the island there was sand, wind and a loan fisherman casting into the breaking swell.
On the second trail we actually met a few other mountain bikers and Neill got a huge thorn straight through tire and inner tube but that is just part of the fun if you leave the tarmac here.
We finished the tour with a fresh coconut and two beers and were home before it got REALLY hot.