Almost Ready to Leave

Saturday, February 12, 2005
Guatemala

015-39.960 N
089-0.000 W
Marine forecast for this location

February 12, 2005

It been over a month since we arrived, and it's been non-stop work every day, and I mean non-stop. We've been putting in 9-10 hour days, every day and I can't wait to put to sea and start enjoying the boat! And I think that day is today. YEAH!

In the mode of the true cruiser, we don't have a well defined plan as of yet, but it's starting to shape up. I think that we'll head to Belize for 2-3 months, then move the boat to Key West where we'll pick up new sails, then head to the Bahamas where we've never spent any real time before, and then put the boat up in Luperon, Dominican Republic for hurricane season. Of course all of these plans are etched in sand, so who knows what reality will be. But I'll keep you posted!

I'm happy to report that Sue has completely recovered from Dengue fever with no adverse effects. Oh, and we're both sporting new hair cuts that we got at Jessica's restaurant yesterday as the lunch crowd was eating. They turned out well, and I think that Jessica probably picked up some new clients as I think that before we got out hair cut, that we were the only ones who knew that she cut hair.

We had BlueJacket moved to Catamaran marina and love the place. The grounds are beautiful and it has a much better sense of community than Tortugal had, which is surprising as most of the people here had been at Tortugal. If you're into birds, this is the place for you. I've been told that there are 30+ species of birds here. I can't verify that, but I can tell you that there are lots and lots of birds here. Catamaran also has a well kept pool and tennis courts. The biggest problem that we have is that we're on the sheltered side, and we don't get the breeze.

BlueJacket is in great shape. Virtually everything is working, but it's been a long haul. I had lots of major project to undertake when we got down here. The radar needed to be replaced as it had virtually stopped working. I got a great deal on Ebay on a RayMarine C80 display. Installing the display required the fabrication of a stainless mounting bracket as well as pulling cables. On Ebay I found a Questus self-leveling radar mount, but it was designed for a backstay, which Freedom's don't have. As a result I had to design and fabricate an adapter which would allow me to mount it to the existing radar pole. I was able to use The Shop's lathe and milling machine, and after 2 days of machining my adapter was done and worked great. Then I had to get stainless tubing bent for a support arm, which was more difficult that it sounds. Finally I got everything assembled and cabled together and when I turned the system on it said that the radar scanner (the part that spins and sends out the microwaves) wasn't compatible with the radar display. I had found the scanner at a marine shop in WA, and bought it at a great price after being assured that it was compatible. When I called up and told them that it wasn't, they were very apologetic, but couldn't help me with a new one. Great! I was able to scramble and coerced a fellow boater who was back in the States to bring one back with them. The new one worked just fine. Yeah!

Another major project was re-installing the water maker. I installed this water maker last year and never was happy with the production rate. I had to bring the membrane and motor back to the States so that they could test them, and yes, they did need to replace them. While I was at home I fabricated a valve control assembly out of stainless sheet metal which greatly improved functionality, but required re-plumbing almost everything. This is similar to installing a new pipe in your house. It requires pulling up floor boards and pulling tubing through small areas already crammed with tubing and wires. It turned out great, and once we hit salty water I'll give it the real test.

BlueJacket's sails are beat from 25,000 miles of sailing, and it became apparent that the needed to be replaced. Lobo, who's a sail maker for UK Sails convinced me let them build the sails for us in the US. The main will be made out of heavier Dacron than we have now and the jib will be made out of Mylar/taffeta with Carbon tapes. The sails on a Freedom are quite unique and it took Lobo and myself 2 solid days of measuring and photographing the sails to come up with exact measurements. I did learn a lot about sails during that period.

One project that I didn't expect to undertake was replacing the batteries. When we got down here I found that the batteries weren't holding much of a charge. The Shop, who had been looking after the boat while we were gone, had note that several times they found the batteries dead, but hadn't found the problem. To compound the issue, they had placed the batteries on the charger, which basically allowed them to be charged and completely discharged several times, which kills batteries. You can't find AGM or Gel Cell batteries in Guatemala, and after an extensive search I was able to come up with some Catipillar 8D batteries and got them installed. That took an amazing amount of time.

We've also done quite a few repairs to the canvas. Sue was taught the finer points of installing 6' long zippers by Lobo's wife and we also had to patch the sail covers and bimini where they were chafing. I replaced the steering cables and rebuild the wheel pedestal and continued to upgrade the autopilot electronics by adding a gyro compass and a RayMarine ST6001 controller which will allow the course computer to learn the sailing characteristics of the boat. There's also been a ton of small jobs, none of which take a small amount of time. But the list is virtually empty, so it's time to get out there and have some fun.

That's about it for now. The next report should be from salt water.

-- Geoff & Sue
Log ID: 628

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