The Captain is up to his eyeballs in boat projects (surprising, huh?) and so the first mate is taking over for this week until he’s able to take a breath and get back to Blue View-ing. Here’s an overview of what’s been going on ...Read More
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.
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)
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.
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?
Yes, we're in exotic Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni in French Guiana, moored in the middle of a river and yes, most definitely, as David pointed out, we're doing boat chores. It's a fact of life for a liveaboard sailor that the boat always needs attention, especially after a long ocean passage. And so, midst our excitement about arriving in a new port, we're also allocating time to getting Cups back in shape. She looks great from a distance, but when you get close up … she needs work.
I removed all the dorades, polished them and sanded the insides to prepare them for painting. In the meantime, after removing the dorades, I found even more Luderitz sand clogging the dorade bases, so I cleaned out the sand before replacing the dorades. Once the dorades were painted. I got started on the stainless.
David has been working on scraping and sanding the port cap rails, eyebrow and deck boxes which are in desperate need of re-varnishing. It's hot and steamy during the days, so we've been trying to get up extra early and work when it's cooler. Varnishing and painting, unfortunately, have to wait till later as it's quite dewy first thing in the mornings.
There's a long list of little chores to do. David's been flitting from one tiny chore to another when he can't work on the sanding. A couple of snaps have pulled out of the dodger windscreen cover and he replaced them with twist-locks. Of course, nothing's ever as easy as it seems. Before replacing the snaps with twist-locks, I needed to sew in little reinforcement pads.
And then, the DC connector on his laptop was flaky and needed replacing. He added a fan to my side of the bunk in the aft cabin (thank you, thank you, thank you!). The watermaker got pickled (too silty in the river to make water) and he changed the water filter on the fresh water pressure system. He climbed the mast for a quick check and fixed the HF radio antenna at the same time. In the heat of the day, we've been trying to get some writing done.
In addition to boat maintenance and repairs, there was two month's worth of laundry that had accumulated since since we left Luderitz. Lots of heavy sweatpants and shirts and fleeces from the “cold days” had piled up, not easily washed by hand. Plus sheets, towels...oh, my...it was nearly overwhelming. Additionally, with the heat, we go through t-shirts and shorts at an alarming rate. There's one washer at the marina office, a super-duper industrial size that holds 15 kg, and I've filled it to capacity twice... and there's still more to do. With 10 boats on moorings here, you have to wait your turn to use the washer. The dryer doesn't work well and takes forever, so I bring the wet laundry back and hang it on the line to dry. With the heat and a light breeze, it dries in a snap. It's just a major time waster getting it ashore, waiting for it to cycle through, then bringing it back to hang on the line. It is, however, what it is.
David has been hauling water since we can't make water in the silty, brown river. We filled our tanks while still at sea, but we're consuming lots with cleaning, bathing and just drinking. He fills water jugs across the street from the marina, while I'm doing the laundry or disposing of the trash.
There's the usual clean-up after a long passage. I continue to sweep up Luderitz sand and the decks need scouring, but not until the sanding is done. Additionally, the locals burn wood fires and we regularly find ash and soot on the boat. There are lockers to be cleaned out and gear still to be stowed. Luckily, we haven't felt much like eating in all the heat, and we're content to subsist on salads and sandwiches and fruit, juices and water...and cold beer. Easy on the cook.
Of course, the incentives to completing the long list of tasks are that 1) Cups will look lovely again, and 2) we get to do some fun stuff which is all the more appreciated after the hard work is done... a visit to Cayenne in the near future seems likely. Then, we'll be ready to leave and start all over in some other exotic place...Suriname, maybe?