Cruising is repairing boat systems in exotic place

Sunday, November 17, 2002

015-40.200 N
089-0.000 W
Marine forecast for this location

Ahoy from the BlueJacket!

One of my favorite definitions of "cruising" is "repairing complex systems in exotic locations." The definition of "exotic" typically means "some place where you can't find anything you need or get anything done." Also FedEx has never heard of the location...Welcome to my life! But I'm getting ahead of myself, so lets back up a bit.

About 10 days ago Sue & I arrived in Guatemala sporting 3 huge duffel bags filled with boat parts and a large box containing a new hatch. We spent a day provisioning in Guatemala City where they actually have stores with products that you want to buy. Now that we were loaded with with about 10 boxes of the prerequisit food and vino, we made the 4.5 hour drive back down to the Rio Dulce where BlueJacket was waiting. The boat looked great. While we were gone I had "The Shop" haul the boat and repaint the bottom as well as doing some interior varnish work. They did a great job to the point that BlueJacket could go into a boat show right now.

Anyhow, I was banished to work above while Sue made all of the stuff that we had brought down disappear into the bowels of the boat. Somehow or another it did, although the guest cabin is becoming more of a storage room than a cabin. I had a list of about 40 items that I needed to get done before we could depart, but I didn't include becoming the local computer software expert. Word seems to quickly get around that there's someone who actually knows something about computers and that chewed up lots of time.

Everything was going well until I was inspecting the rigging and noted a crack in the welding of the gooseneck which holds the boom onto the mast. Now this is an important fixture which is under lots of stress while sailing, so this was not a good thing. Art, my next door dock neighbor on Margaritaville, had built his steel boat (and done LOTS of welding as a result) looked at the welds and pronounced that they were well done, but he suspected that welding material that they had used was too brittle and thus caused the cracking. I had this part rewelded in Norfolk 2 years ago when we did an accidental jibe in a gale on the way to the BVIs. The bad news is that there's no one around here that I trust to do the welding. The good news is that there's an excellent welder in Belize City and I believe that the weld will hold until then. The bad news is that getting the boom off of the boat to have it welded is going to be an awful job.

Having made that decision I kept plugging away at my list. One of my items was to figure out why I wasn't getting any wind or depth instrumentation. I assumed that it was a cabling problem, but as I worked at debugging the problem it became apparent to me that wasn't the case. All of the instruments talk on a common electrical bus called SeaTalk, and I could see the compass and the GPS, but nothing else. Margarittaville also uses SeaTalk. Art and Lynne were in Antigua but their boat was open while The Shop was doing some varnishing work, so I disassembled their electronics panel and plugged their instruments into my system and low and behold I could see their instruments! So, what does all of this mean? Well, I think that there was lightening strike nearby which has taken out all of my instruments. Several other boats have similar problems. Without a depth gauge we're not going anywhere, so at minimum I need to have the electronics module from that FedExed in. And believe me, there's no such thing as "over night" down here. It's more like 5 to 7 days...Sigh...But at least we're in a nice spot with good people around.

Oh, on a positive note, I just upgraded my wireless modem and e-mail is now massively faster. Of course your ancient 300 baud modem is still faster than this, but this is a major improvement!

The weather down here is pleasant with highs in the mid to upper 80s. Those major cold fronts that swept across the southern US make it down here with some pretty impressive winds and seas. It's been a long time since the boat has been this far north to feel these fronts! Last night a second cold front came through and has dropped the temp to 71 this morning! Amazing. I've never seen it so cold down here. BlueJacket,Tortugal Marina
Log ID: 301

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