Sailing is not all about exotic islands, beautiful sunsets and enjoying G&T’s. On top of doing at least one maintenance job daily, there comes a time when a boat owner really has to do the hard yards.
It was time for Moondust’s maintenance haul-out and, since we could not sail much further north in the Caribbean until the end of the hurricane season in November, being impressed with Power Boat’s prompt e-mail responses and general interest shown, we decided to follow the good references that we got from fellow cruisers and have the work done in Trinidad. We could not have made a better choice!
Unfortunately the expected wind did not last on leaving Tobago and we had to motor about half the way for the short hop to Trinidad. We did, however, catch two beautiful Bonito whilst trawling and a pod of some 30 dolphins played at Moondust’s bow for about half an hour as we neared the Trinidad coast. There we found the sea very choppy, caused by conflicting offshoots of the west flowing Equatorial Current, especially as we made our passage through the narrows between Trinidad and Monos Island.
We cleared in at Chaguaramas, well known for its boat yards and excellent workmanship, but we were still amazed by the thousands of boats, of which most were stored on land, safe from the Caribbean hurricanes.
Our first task was to take our damaged genneker in to Ullman Sails to see if it could be repaired. We were extremely relieved to learn that the tear affected only the ‘relief panels’, which are designed to fail first, thus protecting the bulk of the sail. At a third of the price of a new sail, we opted for the repair, vowing not fly it in more than 10 knots of breeze in future!
After doing some boat hardware shopping and ordering new seals for our watermaker, we headed out to nearby Scotland Bay for the weekend. It was beautiful and we encountered the most spectacular phosphorescence thus far. At night we could see shoals of little fish swirling around in bright green whirlpools and bigger fish leaving long star-like streaks as they shot through the water. In response to the sweep of our powerful torch beam across the water, fish would leap out. When I had my normal open-air shower on the sugar scoop later one evening, I had fun watching the amazing starry effect my foot had as I dragged it through the water…
Taking Moondust out and back into the water was a very interesting, pleasant and stress-free experience, especially since we’d popped into the Power Boats office when we arrived in Chaguaramas to meet General Manager Salisha Sooparlie and her team and learn more about the haul-out procedure.
It was a joy to see how easily Moondust was handled by the experienced and competent Power Boats team with their unique, purpose designed equipment. They expertly maneuvered her considerable bulk through a full boat yard into her tiny space, clearly enjoying the challenge.
Being a unique opportunity to ensure that Moondust remained in good shape, we had prepared a list of about 40 jobs to be done. Of these, Pete immediately set to work, getting quotes for scraping, sanding and re-painting the hull as well as doing some fibreglass refurbishment. The remainder of the jobs we planned to do ourselves.
Ironically we had our first serious boat injury on our initial morning on the hard. I slipped on the wet deck and drove a stainless steel pin into the ball of my foot. Salisha was kind enough to offer her car and a driver to take us to a day hospital where I got excellent free medical care. It was very unfortunate timing for an injury as we really wanted to finish the work as quickly as possible and get back into the water to mitigate the climate of the rainy season – very hot and humid with plenty of unwelcome mosquitoes and daily rain showers.
In spite of me being immobile for a day or two and very slow for another week, we pressed on and worked for about ten hours each day for two and a half weeks.
Our discomfort was eased considerably by being treated as part of the Power Boats family whilst we were on the hard. Cheerful, competent folk who immediately attended to every request.
The nature of Pete’s work coupled with the climate demanded that he wore his very oldest, and dare I say it, favourite set of work clothes. After the first day or two these reeked so much that he realised they need a daily wash and so he came up with quite a novel solution to the hygiene problem; he would simply step into the shower fully clothed, rinse them out and, if they weren’t dry by the next morning, put them on anyway as they would soon be soaked with sweat again.
It was nice to meet up with a fellow yachtie from Hout Bay, Hürgen Rubow, who left South Africa shortly before us. He stayed with us for a few nights while his steel boat, Morwenna, was being sandblasted at the neighbouring boat yard.
We had access to their convenient and super clean ablutions, free water, free wi-fi on the boat, an air-conditioned computer room, laundromat, Roti hut that sells ready meals, a convenience store and boat hardware shop, amongst others. On top of this we had the company and help of many other cruisers, joining the daily Cruiser’s Net on the VHF radio as well as some of the many social evenings.
Power Boats has a long list of competent, approved contractors, so you can literally have any work done on your boat and on top of that there are a number of marine retail outlets within walking distance. A bus stop right at the Power Boats entrance makes for an easy trip to the nearest ATM and shopping centre and a local driver picks up gas bottles each week for refill and return to the Power Boats security hut.
After our experience we can see why many other more knowledgeable cruisers say that Power Boats is the best place in the Caribbean to have work done on your boat.
After two and a half weeks of solid effort by all, especially Clinton ‘AK’ Brewster and his team working on the hull, we were longing to be back on the water and looking forward to sailing north to Carriacou and Petit Martinique, Grenada’s smaller sister islands where we planned to bide our time until friends Frank and Marijke arrive at the end of October. Whilst on the southern edge of the hurricane belt, out daily checks on the Hurricane Net would ensure enough time to sail south to safety should such an event threaten.