New River, New Country, Same Old Chores

One of the inescapable parts of the liveaboard cruising/travel life is chores. I guess it's not much different than living in a house … except we float (usually in salt water), things vibrate and shake a lot (and we're not talking earthquakes) and we're solely responsible for fixing/maintaining it all ourselves. No local handyman to call; no quick trip to the local Home Depot. Yes, we could wait till we were in a marina and hire all the jobs out … sometimes we do, but rarely. Our budget doesn't support it, plus it's always better to do things yourself. The to-do list in Suriname includes varnishing. David had started it in French Guiana, but he was far from finished. Varnishing, in and of itself, isn't all that bad. It's the prep work involved that takes up the time. First, we must remove everything obstructing the work area. In this case, David is working on the eyebrow, the port cap rail and the teak boxes on the aft deck. (He tells everyone that's where we hide our doubloons.) All the fuel cans and the fender boards on the port side need to be removed and stowed somewhere else on deck. Hardware needs to be removed and hopefully put in a place where we'll find again. (No worries, we have a system … that usually works.) Sheets and lines need to be coiled up out of the way. Then comes the sanding … a mindless, hand-wrenching, skin-abrading task that takes forever and, if not done properly, screws up the whole varnishing job.

david sanding

There's the careful masking of all areas to be varnished, then a wipe-down of the teak with acetone and finally … the first coat of varnish or in this case, Uroxsys, can be applied. Depending on the product and directions, a second coat may be applied without more sanding … or not. By the third or fourth coat, light sanding is always required once again … and then at least one more sanding before the final coat. Then, of course, when the varnishing is done, the masking tape and any sticky residue must be carefully removed and all the hardware, fender boards, fuel cans, etc., must be re-stowed and lashed. This whole process takes days, not hours and it's particularly tedious. (Note to selves … next boat should have less teak...and stainless)

david varnishing

Okay, so you've listened to me whinge about varnishing for a few paragraphs. What else? The decks are filthy and I've been scrubbing them in sections, careful to avoid the newly varnished areas. There's still laundry to be done everyday. The marina has one washer ashore, but the cost is high (US$6/wash-no dryer), so I've been doing it by hand which means lugging fresh water to the boat. There's a fresh water tap on the dinghy dock though which is a bit easier than toting those full water jugs for two blocks in Saint-Laurent.

filling water jugs

There's the usual sweeping, cleaning, dusting, washing, meal prep, cooking and clean-up required midst the rest of the chores we need to tackle. There's free wifi here at Marina Suriname, but alas, the signal is not strong enough to reach the boat even with our super duper antenna, which means we have to tote the laptop to shore each day. All in all, we're keeping busy. Please note that though all the photos show the Captain working, the First Mate, does, on rare occasion, pitch in and do her share.

Forgive me if I sound like a broken record when it comes to doing chores. The only reason I provide the chore routine regularly and in detail is because that's the way it really is. We'd hate you to think that we sail along, get into a port, plan our inland touring, have fun, and then move on. It's never that way … never. Living on a boat is about compromise and hard work. It's about keeping up with repairs and maintenance. It's about working in the hot sun or with your head in the engine room or the bilge when you don't really feel like it, so that the boat is always shipshape… so you can find time to go exploring another day. That's the reward.

We've worked hard since we arrived and you guessed it … time for a road trip to see some of Suriname. Maybe this weekend?