I am happy to report that we splashed on Friday. Since then we have been anchored in Scotland Bay trying to get the boat ready to sail north. The days have not been without their disasters. We put a scratch on the stern while winching our heavy 40hp outboard on to the dinghy – the new paintwork had not been in the water 24 hours! Then, on returning from a trip back around to Chaguaramas, the very same motor flew off the back of the dinghy and sank in 30 metres of muddy water. It was a nearly new purchase in February so very sad it’s gone but I am incredibly grateful that it didnt’ do any damage to us or the dinghy as it parted company still running. Visions of what could have happened are still going through my mnd. So we’re hoping our luck improves and we manage to start heading north tomorrow.
As we were sitting in the saloon, we heard a massive crash and Nic saw a big flash. We looked out to see the mizzen mast, from a neighbouring Brazilian boat, Faleeiro, had fallen over and crashed onto the high voltage power lines behind us. We rushed out to hear a woman screaming. I headed off on our bike to the security gate to summon help while Nic went to the boat, quickly joined by others who had heard the commotion. From what we know, the woman was up on deck as the mast fell and her husband was below the boat. He had rushed to the ladder and, as he grabbed it, he was suffered a massive electrical shock (6900 volts) and was thrown backward onto the ground. Everyone reacted quickly and he was bundled into the back of a car and driven to the coastguard hospital, a few minutes away from the boatyard. Nic said he sat up briefly but his face had turned blue by the time he was in the car. Meanwhile his wife was in shock and hysterical on deck. A Portuguese-speaking cruiser tried to calm her down and keep her in place. The boat was still live with an enormous amount of voltage; a large plank gave a cruiser a bad shock when he touched the hull with it. In the end a tarpaulin had to be held below for her to jump into and she was driven off to hospital by some helpful sailors. It took time for the electricity company to arrive and turn off the power and there were fears that a fire would start onboard the boat. The mast was finally winched off the power lines and secured. In a tragic end to a terrible story we have very sadly heard that the man has died. His wife is in hospital being treated for electrical and mental shock. They were a young couple in their early thirties and had put all their savings into the boat. It is hard to believe how fast our lives can be changed and our dreams shattered.
There are, of course, many issues and questions arising from this tragedy. Why had they unbolted the mast without securing it? Why didn’t the high voltage lines trip and shut of the power rather than remain live for at least 45 minutes? Peakes Boatyard is likely to get bad publicity out of this incident through no apparent fault on their part. The battles over liability will be complicated and it will be held up as another reason to prevent cruisers working on their boats.
Working in 37°C and high humidity is no fun, it’s a hard life on the hard. There is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel; hopefully not the train coming the other way! The barnacles are all off and in between torrential rain showers and storms we have got a tie coat of paint on and 2 coats of antifouling. There’s still one more full coat of antifouling to do and a fourth strip at the waterline. The shrink-wrap should be coming off tomorrow and on Monday we’ll have our supports moved so we can get those patches painted.
The faulty Victron inverter/charger has proved more of a challenge. The power board was faulty which necessitated a new unit and unfortunately, as our 2 matching units are run in tandem, both had to be replaced because the software of a new one would not be compatible with our old one (which is still working perfectly). The last 2 weeks have been spent in a nightmare communications vacuum between Victron Holland, Victron US and their representative here but the shipment finally arrived in Trinidad today and we’re waiting for it to clear customs. Frustrating that an eye-watering amount has gone out on the new chargers + shipping and we’ll see no benefit when the new ones are installed.
All the other ongoing jobs are unexciting and too numerous to mention here. Our splash date keeps getting postponed but we are now scheduled for next Friday. Fingers crossed that all goes to plan and we get in the water soon, leave life on the hard behind and these posts get more interesting!
Another week has gone by and we have made some progress…the liferaft is off being serviced, our fire extinguishers have been checked and approved, a crack in the stern winch has been welded and Irony has new names on the hull. I’ve been working on sewing jobs (new winch covers etc) and Nic is scraping barnacles off the bottom. Unfortunately, after sanding, we are still left with calcium deposits which have eaten through several layers of paint; the only solution is to tackle them one by one. Very tedious and time-consuming. We also have a problem with our Victron inverter/chargers. One has been going into overload and is off being looked at. It’s looking like it’s going to be an expensive fix, if not full replacement, not good news.
Our time over the drainage ditch ended on Friday morning when the travel lift arrived to move us to a new spot. Torrential rain on Thursday put us behind schedule in getting all the work we needed to do on the keel which necessitated coats of paint going on overnight, the last at midnight! Somehow it all got finished including a modification on the keel which involved welding and a new wire installed for the lifting mechanism. We’re booked to splash on 1st November and are working away the long list of jobs that need to be accomplished to make that possible. Fingers crossed!