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Friday, January 25, 2019

The New and Improved (hah!) Northern Star

Waiting at airport
My goal for this post is to be concise, informative, documentary, and if I’m lucky….at least a tiny bit interesting for friends and family who do not sail and wonder what we do all day. The following describes our last two weeks in Trinidad.

Notice faded trim on logo.
So, we returned to our boat on the hard (on land) at Power Boats in Chaguaramas, Trinidad. We splashed the boat last Friday to a very mild fanfare. The fanfare consisted of Carl and I riding as the lone parade royalty high atop the deck of Northern Star as she inched her way toward the water.  
Being carried to the water up

Once assured that Northern Star floated, there was much self-satisfied grinning between the two of us.  Moving a 14 ton sailboat from its’ stands on land to the launch slip was uneventful, and we were happy for it.
Temporary address: C dock, Power Boats
In our absence, the skilled craftsmen (alas no craftswomen) of Power Boats have performed a long list of major jobs that made Northern Star almost like new. To increase human interest for readers, I’ve borrowed a practice from Yelp; I will use dollar signs to indicate relative expense of each job. For land lubbers, think in terms of installing new roofing and siding on your house….

$$$$ Replaced standing rigging—These are all the stainless steel cables from the deck to the mast. They keep the mast steady and able to take strong pressure under sail. Our marine insurance company (IMIS) states that it will not cover failure of the rigging if it’s more than 15 years old.  Our boat is now 15 years old. 
$$$  Replaced battery bank—Carl chose Firefly batteries.  They are more expensive than other options but will last much longer in our demanding environment.  We were hard on the last batteries which were now four years old.
Nick and Richard did excellent
work installing this new floor.

$$$ Cabin sole replaced and table refinished—The sole is the flooring in the cabin and the new one is beautiful! It is made of locally grown teak and juniper and the shop here makes it on site. It’s about 5/8” thick.  

$$$  Stripped bottom, new barrier coat paint—Bottom, as in the hull of the boat that rests below the waterline. The bottom is prone to all kinds of growth that slows the boat’s speed and is just yucky. We had all previous layers of paint removed, and started fresh with a barrier coat that lies between the fiberglass of the hull and the toxic paint that we replace every year on the outside of the hull.

$$$  Mast, boom and helm stripped and painted—The mast and helm (where the wheel is) had some corrosion since we’ve owned the boat.  Some sort of manufacturing glitch. The mast and boom were removed, corrosion removed and they are now gleaming white. 

$$  Solar panels enhanced—The largest draw on our energy is refrigeration.  We have a freezer and refrigerator. Some cruisers get along without refrigeration but I wouldn’t want to live like that. As I write, Carl comments that he likes cold beer. We discovered that by replacing the two smallest solar panels with two larger, more efficient panels we could increase our solar power charging capability significantly.
$$  Sails repaired—After over 10,000 miles of sailing including an 1,800 mile offshore ocean passage from Norfolk, VA to Antigua in November of 2017 our sails showed some significant use. There were small tears, areas that were worn, stitching in need of replacing. The guy that repaired the sails also stored them for us for the last several months, so they’re not mildewy.
Kenwyn did a great job with the sails. I am
especially excited about the new shade
panels, which zip onto the sail pack.  Slick!

$  Zippered shade panels constructed—Made by the same guy who repaired the sails.  I may write about these later.  I saw another boat up island (nautical talk for “an island that is part of this island chain farther north”) with these panels and it turns out, they were made by this same man in Trinidad!  No picture as we haven't put them up yet.

$  Watermaker leak fixed—We haven’t unpickled the water maker yet because the water in the Trinidad harbor is dirty so we can’t verify yet that the leak has been fixed but we trust these workmen.  

$  Fuel polished—Yes, it is possible to polish one’s fuel.  Actually, it means to clean out the fuel tanks by removing the fuel and cleaning it before running it back into the tanks.  It’s to prevent problems with dirty fuel clogging up the engine, a very common problem on cruising sailboats with diesel engines. 

$  Stainless fittings added for flag and our Wirie—Had a new place made for the US flag to be attached.  It was hard to get at, above the solar panels. The Wirie is an extender for wifi signals.  It was remounted to be more secure.
Photo shows wear to chaps. The dinghy
bow below looks pretty tough as well.

$ Refurbished dingy. Our dingy is our car. While cruising we use it every day when we are anchored or moored in a harbor. After years of use it shows some wear and tear and needed several patches and reinforcements.

Carl and Ardys' tasks

We stayed in an apt at the marina the first
five nights. Gave me time to work on chaps
in relative comfort of and A/C space.

Repair dinghy chaps—It took me two full days to add an additional layer of SailRite’s Shelter-Rite on the hardest wear spots around the perimeter. Shelter-Rite wears like iron and the chaps help to protect the dinghy from sun damage and from the hard obstacles that we bump into. Hard things like rocks. pilings with sharp barnacles on them....

Tackle Funky Smell Onboard—This meant washing every single item onboard that is made of cloth.  Sheets, towels, decorative pillows, clothes left on the boat, MANY loads of laundry.

Carl's tasks often involve various
bodily contortions.
Clean up remains of bug infestation—bugs got into an unopened bag of pasta and apparently were well on their way toward populating the earth with their species.  The boat was fumigated before we arrived. Lots of bug carcasses remained in drawers, etc. 

Eradicate brown puffy mold in galley—The only part of the boat where I had not washed the inside of every cupboard and drawer with vinegar water before leaving the boat. While the boat was still on the hard, I lowered multiple giant bags full of all our dish ware, pots ’n pans, utensils and schlepped them to the bathrooms to wash every thing in the galley. (No running water on a boat sitting up on stands.)

Organize stuff onboard—This is an ongoing project, but one that I am apparently, well suited for.  And for which Carl is not. I figure out what goes with what and where it should live on the boat. 

Zip ties every 25' are yellow,
orange, red, blue green, etc.

Empty 250’ chain from lockers; reverse ends—In addition to 250’ of chain, there was 150’ of rope rode. He marked the chain with colored zip ties at 10’, 50’ and every 25’ until 250’ so we can know how much chain we’ve let out when anchoring.  We usually use a scope of 5:1, so that anchoring in 25’ water means letting out 125’ anchor rode.
Carl squeezing himself into lazarette
Shock water tanks—He dumps 2 quarts of chlorine into the water tanks and allows them to sit for several hours.  Drains the tanks and refills with fresh water.  Changed out water filters for drinking water. We drink from our tap and it tastes good.

Replace zincs—These are sacrificial steel doohickies put on engine shaft and propeller.  Salt water corrodes everything so rather than allow the boat’s propeller and engine parts to erode, we offer up this zinc for the ocean to eat up instead, and replace it periodically. 
Electrical panel
Chase down electrical gremlins—When we return to the boat, there are always electronic things that have decided to take a break in our absence due to the marine environment that rapidly corrodes electrical components. With some tweaking, readjusting, testing and whatnot, Carl gets all the gremlins out.
Dozens of small mechanical repairs and upgrades— Carl makes frequent trips to the Marine store nearby.  He tells me he needs this thingamabob or that doohickey gizmo to better fit the whoozit and make it all work better. I can only trust that he knows what he’s doing. It’s not fair really.  When I work hard all day, it’s usually possible to see what I’ve been working on because the appearance of the boat changes.  For Carl, the results of his efforts are less obvious visually. 
Put up sail pack and sails This task is yet to be completed.  A sail pack is a canvas "trough" lying atop the length of the boom. The mains'l is attached inside of the "trough" so that when we drop the sail, it falls into the sail pack which can be zipped up. 
Our Current status—We are hoping to be ready to leave Trinidad early next week.  We’ll be heading to Grenada for a short stay before heading on to Bonaire. Until next time…..signing off from the shiny "new" Northern Star.
We were surprised to find this tan shading on
 our boat logo had become lavender on the side
facing the sun for 8 1/2 months.

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