TRINIDAD APRIL TO JUNE 2008
 

Refit
   
The destruction phase, the teak decks coming off. Mike took off every deck and toerail fitting so we could remove the teak underneath. The deck cleats are bolted through the deck so we had to take the ceiling panels down inside the boat to be able to access the nuts. The green paint is the original epoxy that seals the steel. You can also see the small stainless steel bar welded to the deck that was the edging for the teack deck. That had to be removed and was cut and ground down to deck level. It was the worst, dirtiest, noisiest and smelliest (cutting/grinding discs smell horrible) job done.
 

Refit
   
Under cover and prepared for painting - teak decks gone, teak capping on the toe rails gone. The deck was sandblasted and you must paint sandblasted steel very quickly after blasting (corrosion sets in fast). The first coat on was zinc epoxy, followed by two epoxy primer coats. These epoxy primers are put on in fairly thick coats. To ensure each coat is thick enough three different colurs were used - if you could see the colour below the coat was too thin.
 

refit
   
Our small apartment at Power Boats had trees in front and tropical rainforest a quarter of a mile to the southeast and a few hundred yards to the north. Thus we had many birds around. Regular visitors were Carib Grackles, Kiskadees, Caribbean Mockingbirds and Palm Tanagers. One of the prettiest arrivals was a Bue-grey Tanager. A real sweetie.
 

Ant bites
   
I mentioned I got bitten by Fire ants. This is what the two main bites looked like FIVE days after being bitten. All the swelling has gone as has the inflamation along the side of my foot. There are also two small bites on the top of my foot. I have no idea what sort of poison they injected but if you think this is bad you wouldn't want to see a picture of the bites the day afterwards. The biggest problem was wearing shoes (or not). It took five and a half weeks for the blisters/scabs to heal.
 

Immortal tree
   
This is tropicl rain forest just a few yards from the boatyard we were in. Most rain forest film and pictures give the impression that all the trees don't flower/don't lose their leaves. Not so, these are Immortal trees in flower.
 

Poui tree
   
This the the view of the rain forest from the apartment we stayed in. The yellow flowers are are on Poui trees that shed their leaves before flowering. They can grow to a height of eighty feet and they flower in April. The flowers last about a week and the foliage doesn't return for three to four months. In areas where there were both Poui trees and Immortal trees it really looked like autumn. Quite weird when the temparature is 30C.
 

Power Boats apartment
   
This is the apartment in Power Boats that we rented for four months. Unfortunately the boat was in another yard (Peakes), a ten minute walk away - they were the only yard with a sand blasting area. While Peakes does have accomodation there are no cooking facilities. The good thing about the walk to Peakes was that we passed a mango tree that was fruiting. Mike used to pick up about six mangos a day that we had for breakfast - yum!
 

Peakes
   
When we were moved around the yard Peakes used a low loader, which we had never seen before. It was an incredible machine because it could put boats in to spaces a matter of inches wider than their beam. Here we are on the low loader about to be picked up by a huge travel lift to be relaunched. Again we've never seen anything this big and it can carry very large fishing boats.
 

Peakes
   
The other amazing thing about the yard was the staff. When we were hauled the low loader driver introduced himself, the electrician introduced himself, as did the guy in charge of putting the stands up (to stop the boat falling over). We've never had anything like that happen before and this is Michael the low loader driver, looking surprised. It's also worth saying that the office staff were some of the friendliest and efficient people we have ever done business with.
 

Peakes
   
This gives an idea of the size of the travel lift. You can see the height of it and about half of its length. The boat looked like a toy hanging there, rather than fourteen tons of steel. If you look carefully you can get the scale by the head and shoulders of the driver sitting in the small cabin with glass windows.
 

Broken turning block
   
Regular readers will know that at some point every piece of kit on a boat will break. Therefore we regularly check everything because some failures can put you in danger. This is one of them. It's the top fitting of the turning block for the mizzen sail sheet (the sheet controls the angle of the sail). You can see that crevice corrosion has eaten into the fitting and the stainless steel has split. There is another split by the pin held by the split ring. Had it broken while we were sailing the mizzen boom would have been out of control. The greatest number of deaths and serious injuries in sailing are caused by being hit by a boom.
 

Pelican
   
When we moved back into the water we had a regular visitor on the pontoon hammerhead, one berth away. It's an adult Brown Pelican and it looks to be quite old in Pelican years. Out of interest most pelicans die because they go blind and thus can't feed. The blindness is caused by diving into the water with their eyes open. An unusual evolutionary mistake.

We often see pelicans flying in V formations, usually in groups up to twelve. Early one morning Mike saw a formation of twentynine - one leading and fourteen trailing off each wing!