Monday, April 7, 2008

Boat Maintenance in Exotic Locations

I decided to call this update “Boat Maintenance in Exotic Locations” because sometimes that’s what cruising feels like. As I sit here writing, Jim is out back swearing at the dinghy outboard that suddenly decided it doesn’t want to run. It never seems to end!

We just spent the last 8 days “On the Hard” in a boatyard doing maintenance on Merengue. She was in need of bottom paint and St. Martin seemed like a good location to do this. We hired two guys from the yard to do the sanding. It took them 16 hours. All the old paint, designed for use in fresh water, had to be sanded off before we could apply a new, ablative paint. If we had done the sanding, we would still be there.

Wendy started stripping varnish and Jim tackled some dinghy repairs.
Bailey took her place for the entire time we were in the boatyard.
Once the bottom was sanded, we washed her down and Jim started applying the paint.
He applied 2 coats of epoxy barrier paint, 1 coat of primer and 3 coats of bottom paint. This will hopefully last 3 years. In the meantime, Wendy was still stripping. That’s varnish, get your mind out of the gutter!

Wendy also got the pleasure of sanding the coral reef off the prop.
It is times like this that make us glad we have a small boat. Jim could apply several coats of paint a day. The 44 ft. boat next to us took all day to apply one coat. We spent 8 days in the boatyard and they spent 15. Add to this the extra supplies and boatyard costs for the bigger boat and we felt pretty content with our little beauty!

Merengue is finally in the travel lift and ready for launching.

Here we go!
The week before we went to the boatyard was an interesting one weather-wise. We had beautiful, sunny weather. But a system up north created huge swells in the north Atlantic that rolled down through the Caribbean. The weather forecasters were predicting ocean swells of 18-20 ft! They were even tracking the swell to predict when it would make landfall at the various islands. Communities on the north shore of all the islands were warned about the high seas that were coming. The marina on the north shore of St. Martin was evacuating boats saying it was not a safe place for them to be. We were anchored in Simpson Bay Lagoon, a completely enclosed body of water accessible by two channels, one from the French side and one from the Dutch side. This was the perfect place to be because we were unaffected by the conditions outside
These pictures show a paved road that was completely covered with rocks and sand thrown up by the huge waves.

The next day we went to Baie Rouge where the surf was still very high. Plants along the upper edge of the beach had been covered in sand. A beach bar had about 4 ft of sand piled inside it.

And a home on the cliff continued to get buffeted by breaking waves. It was amazing to see. This week the weather is a little strange again. We’re getting 25-30 knots of wind here in the lagoon. Good thing we plan on staying put for awhile. Wendy is flying to Milwaukee on April 3rd to visit family and friends. Jim and Bailey will stay to take care of Merengue. So there probably won’t be an update for a couple of weeks. Talk to you again in mid-April!

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