April 30, 2008

The fun stuff

Glory left her life in Boulder to sail the high seas only to find us in St. Thomas with day jobs, shore power and dock lines made fast. For Derek and I after six months on the water the list of chores, the list of options, and the lack of money weakened our defense to a payed stint of land life with free cars, hot showers and great people.

So for the past month Glory, Travelin D and I have acted as Eco-tour guides by day in a beautiful Mangrove preserve, and dock security/ bug killers by night. On our off days from Kayak tours we rebuilt and repainted the marina, restructured the rain cistern and sold a dighy for a profit. All the while wondering how we ever landed in St. Thomas.

Glory has brought life and pride back into the boat. She sewed new cushion covers with our miniature sewing machine, layed carpet in the rough looking corners, sanded the unfinished teak bungs and oiled the insides. Its amazing how new energy can call one to action. Four months ago we broke the step that leads one in and out of the galley. For four months escaping the galley was a full body leap up to the counter and a 42 inch drop to get back in. While Glory was buzzing away on her projects I took a look at that list that had paralyzed me for so long. It took me all of six minutes to rebuild the step that for so long I was un able to fix.
Next a new solar panel mount was fabricated with a piece of stainless rod that Jon and I pirated off a sunken boat one year ago in Great Inagua. Our mast head chain plate that had sheared on both sides was re-welded, the decks re-painted, the rails cetoled, and some of the long awaited cabinetry finished off.
Another example of boat burnout overcome was our ever present fuel problem. Back in the Bahamas and again in the Turks and Caicos we thought we were out of fuel. The comradery of other cruisers kept us moving with fresh fuel and council as we sputtered and stalled in every precarious spot. All the way to St. Thomas one of us would steer and the other would hand prime fuel to the engine. With earmuffs and a sweat rag one would hang over the engine acting as a four dollar fuel pump restoring the engine to a roar as it choked through dirty fuel. At the time it was all we could do to keep things going, but as it turns out diesel grows and tanks must be completely flushed out. So weeks of hand priming and a life time supply of costly filters was then made redundant by a twenty minute flush and scrub of the fuel tank.

So now the with coolant flushed, transmission oil changed, new motor mounts, engine oil changed, tank polished, racor scrubbed, new fresh water pumps installed, sea strainer and bilge cleaned I am on top of the list. Hows this one for ya, the heat exchanger zincs are new and ready to cross the Atlantic.
Burn out is one thing, but boat projects are complicated by the fact that everything takes longer than you think, you never have all the right parts, you want to do it right. Needing to live, cook, be a nice person and sleep in that project area which is constant motion is a challenge. Paints take days to dry, glues kick off fumes, rain always comes when you need it the least and that part you need is ALWAYS right underneath the foot or seat of the other person on the boat, but most of all you have to sail when its time and that usually means breaking away before your done. So why start?, it only makes it hard to sail on, or does it make it easier to sail, I don't know.

Today the crew of Ultima Noche are in their respective states. Glory back in Colorado, Derek in an airplane somewhere and me on my way to Alaska to "work just for a couple of weeks". By the end of May we hope to be crossing the North Atlantic for the Med.

April 02, 2008

Rolex Regatta

hehe, we made our way into the Rolex Regatta.... It all started out with skipping a day of work, then hitch hiking down to the yacht club and laying on our charm.

Right off the bat, we found one spot on a beach cat. A beach cat is a small and fast two person catamaran. The seas were choppy and the wind blowing twenty knots. I geared up without a clue of what was in store.

This is what its supposed to look like:

This is more like what I was doing:

My job was to run the jib, the spinnaker, and the down haul, while using my body mass to balance the boat and counter its heal. This means I clip my harness into one of the side stays and hang off the side with sheets in hand. In big swells and heavy winds in a race it means getting bashed into waves, tossed around and yelled at like a gumby for the duration. I was literally getting pummeled and knocked off my feet by the waves, and correspondingly yelled at. I was secretly relieved when we broke our jib roller and had to turn back after an hour. Due to the conditions all the other beach cats capsized and some completely turltled, meaning they were upside down in the water and required tow assistance in.

Day Two of the Regatta, we sold our selves as spinnaker men and we landed on a 52ft sloop. In the interview the captain asked us if we knew spinnakers, and technically we did since we had flow ours that one time in the Bahamas. haha This is a picture of us under spinnaker. It totaly looks like we are winning. I'm up on the bow and Derek is in the cockpit
running the lines.

The skipper was laid back and the crew fun and casual. We filled in the gaps and worked our young backs into knots grinding the winches as we tacked up wind race after race. We finished dead last in four races, but enjoyed every minute of it. The other boats in the regatta were well funded with racing sails and matching t-shirts, while we were sporting old cruising sails and hauling eight peoples vacation luggage from point to point. We danced the night away at the race party and blended in with the other racers.

Day three the crew came together as a team. Bow team and cockpit team. Our execution seemed flawless compared to the day before, but we were still in above our heads. After completing half the course, the entire fleet had finished and the committee requested that we accept our place and quit so they could collect the race marker buoys. :) We had a great time and saw our improvement, and from this who would know that we finished last.

I still think this is the most beautifull boat out there.

Derek and I got some more experience and hope that we can pick up the pace as we set off for longer distances across the Atlantic in our own boat. haha