We are waiting for news. The only rigger in Aruba reports in the late morning. He can't help us while the mast is up. So the mast has to go down. Jens takes off the mast ladder, brings the anemometer with him and takes a photo of the blocked pulleys.
We have to take the sails down, both of you. The mainsail is quickly taken down, after half an hour we put it neatly in the foredeck bunk. The Genoa defends itself initially. We can't roll it out because our great reefing winch is blocked again. I'm taking them apart. All parts are somehow firmly baked together. It is a mystery to me how I can ever make this winch free again. Fortunately, there is another winch right next to it, which we will use instead.
We take the reefing line from the rope drum and can roll out the genoa in a moment of calm. Then she refuses to come downstairs. Then the wind sets in again. Then the sail almost falls into the water. We fight for a few minutes, then finally we have the sheet on the foredeck. We're soaked in sweat.
We'll remove the tree later, we still need it to hold our awning. I also have to disconnect the power cables that supply the individual lamps.
When the mast is later attached to the crane, all shrouds, forestay and backstay are removed. Now finally the crane can put the mast on the ground. After the repair, everything works in reverse order and we are ready to sail again. So much for the plan. But we're not that far yet.
We reward ourselves for our hard work with a visit to the Hard Grooves Jazz Bar. Not that we're into the jazz that comes from inside. It's dinner that drives us here. I hope the picture doesn't generate too much envy in Germany. The cats, who actually belong to the neighboring restaurant, are very pettable and want to attract the attention of the guests with silent, piercing looks, also believe that the food is good.
Now we are waiting for news from the Marina Varadero. They have to organize a truck crane. When that is resolved, we will move Sissi there. That's how long we have to pass the time.
We achieved our first success in combating our oil spill. In the meantime we have learned to use our carpet cleaning miracle cure. At first, we used too much baking soda and too little alcohol. In the meantime we have learned how to get the best cleaning result.
First I spread the baking soda on the dry carpet. Then I massage it into the carpet with my feet. I distribute it almost exactly as I distributed the dirt in the boat before, just with a little more care. Then I spray them all so far with alcohol that the carpet is soaked and I can no longer see the white baking powder.
Then the work is done once. I sit in the fresh air, the alcohol vapor is difficult to bear. The boat must be well ventilated. I could imagine that otherwise an explosive mixture would form in the air. Ventilation also helps relieve headaches. After two to three hours, the alcohol has evaporated (at approx. 30 ° C room temperature). Then the first dirt stains should show up in the baking powder.
Now I spray the alcohol over and over again, it loosens the dirt from the carpet. After three to four applications of alcohol, I let the carpet dry completely overnight. The next morning it is vacuumed, the dry baking powder is easy to soak up.
Then I can assess the result and whether the carpet needs further treatment. If no further treatment is necessary, I use a sturdy brush to brush the last bits off the carpet and let them disappear in the vacuum cleaner. The result is impressive. There was a wide, black line on the floor of the forward berth, our high seas garbage can is always there, and we often walk along it. Now the floor is nice and clean again.
Oh yes, there would be Tuesday morning. The rigger is with us on the boat and calmly looks at the top of the mast with the binoculars. Then he tells me that we probably have to put the mast down. He will try to come up with a solution overnight to solve the problem with the mast standing up. Otherwise the crane alone would cost around 1000 US$. Uh I don't like news like that.
I grab the spray bottle and give the floor another treatment. Aruba is stickier than our floor.
In times of Covid it is certainly not bad that we have disinfected our carpeting over and over and over and over in the last few days. There is no way our feet will get Covid. I cannot imagine that there is a place with a better disinfected floor.
It's Wednesday. The painting work is in the final spurt. Jens has repainted the entire cockpit. So Sissi looks like new again. We are pleased with the result and that there are hardly any items on the to-do list. Nothing stands in the way of our planned departure on Sunday.
It's Thursday. I have an appointment with Anneke. She offered to drive me to go shopping. One time Price Smart and Superfood. Now comes the commercial. We drink our own water on board. But sometimes it also has to be a drink with taste. We got to know Jumex juices in Aruba.
Partly there is fruit juice in the cans, partly nectar. But the stuff isn't too sweet and we've tasted all of the flavors so far. Besides banana and strawberry, I have the cans to myself. At Price Smart, juices are available on pallets for little money, you always have to buy 24 cans and don't know what's inside. There are three different varieties that are always put together differently. I buy eight pallets.
At Superfood I buy groceries for a week. Who knows how quickly we can find a smart supermarket in Curacao and how far it is from our boat. We prefer to be well stocked on the way, that has never hurt.
It's a Friday afternoon. The last item on our todo list comes next. It is the obligatory rig check, which is carried out a little more thoroughly than usual after our ride from Cuba to Aruba.
I have no idea why we kept this point until the end. Probably there is no particular reason. The hatches and cleaning work were particularly urgent. In addition, we have never found a problem at this point that would prevent us from leaving. We dig out the mast ladder in the sail load and Jens is allowed to climb into the top of the mast.
The shrouds look great. On the way up, Jens checks the lower shrouds, upper shrouds, spreaders and, finally, the front and backstays for damage. Everything looks very good. Only the pulley, which is supposed to deflect the main halyard at the top of the mast, is crooked in its position. As a result, it cannot turn. It is completely blocked. As a result, we can no longer easily set or reef the mainsail. The main halyard can hardly be moved, if there is some pressure in the sail, nothing is guaranteed to work. If we had worked through this point earlier. Would have, would ....
If we had given the major case its own item on the list. We remember that the recovery of the Great on the eve of our arrival in Aruba was more exhausting than usual. But that was overshadowed by the motorless, exhausted arrival and the joy of having made it.
It's a Sunday afternoon. I'm sitting next to Anneke with the donkeys again. I am pleased to note that our tile has now been delivered and glued to a pillar. On Monday I expect news from a rigger whom Charly from the Chapo recommended to me. We hope he can solve the problem without having to put the mast. Otherwise…
... we have to go back to Varadero. Then a truck crane is rented. All of this needs to be organized and takes a few days. Aruba is sticky.
We have been struggling with a problem for weeks. A bottle of cooking oil struck us on the trip from Cuba to Aruba. How can this happen? Unfortunately, this can happen all too easily. We store our edible oil supplies in the lounge table on the lower level. Where customs officers commonly suspect the drug stash and smuggled alcohol. In Martinique we bought and stowed a lot of bottles of cooking oil last year. Little by little, these supplies were decimated, a good part of which we gave away in Cuba. The remaining bottles had too much freedom of movement. One of them fell into an exposed screw while we were dancing in the waves. Most of the bottle has leaked.
We didn't notice. We initially mistook the stains on the floor for water because it was precisely in this damp spot that the water was constantly dripping from the skylight. Gradually, the carpet turned into a black surface, our feet were constantly dirty and despite repeated washing with fresh water, the stains did not want to dry. In addition, the salon was getting dirtier and dirtier. It is only when I take a new bottle of oil from storage to cook that I see the cause of the whole problem.
First attempts with all-purpose cleaner are ineffective. We are relatively haphazard about how to approach this construction site. We also have enough work to do with the hatches and deck. We put the subject of carpet on the back burner, if necessary we have to throw it out and make do with the very worn wooden floor. He actually needs a lot of attention first. I also like the carpeting. Jens throws himself into the stuff and watches several YouTube videos on the subject of carpet cleaning.
We need baking soda and alcohol. So that the good Cuban rum doesn't go missing, I get several bottles of alcohol and a large bag of baking powder.
First of all, the baking powder must be rubbed dry into the carpet. Then the carpet is sprayed with alcohol. The alcohol dissolves the oil from the carpet and the baking soda absorbs it as it dries. When everything is dry again, the vacuum cleaner will remove the baking soda with the oil from the carpet.
While spraying you have the feeling of getting drunk from the fumes. Jens holds out bravely, the baking powder takes on a slimy consistency. We'd rather not use the gas stove now, not that another explosion takes place. It then takes hours for the baking powder gruel to turn into oily baking powder. Then you can vacuum.
Now we finally have the perspective that we can get the carpet clean again in a few days. We certainly won't be in Aruba long enough to complete this work. But that also works very well in Curacao.
Again I haven't written anything for a few days. This is mainly due to the fact that we are in the final sprint here. We are not only working on the absolutely necessary points on our list, but have now arrived at the points that are not absolutely necessary but would be practical.
Especially when sailing against the wind, it is extremely annoying that the phones on the navigation table go long distances or jump through the air. As a remedy, we thought of a small frame or a box in which we can also integrate the charging option for the phones.
While cleaning up the souvenirs from Cuba, I noticed that the Cohibas cigar box was the perfect size. It can exactly accommodate our two phones and the wireless charge plates.
We still have the battens for the frame on board. Originally we wanted to use it to make a fly screen, but the wood was too delicate. Now it is used to protect the phones from slipping. They are each fixed in the optimal position for wireless charging.
Of course, the two USB charging cables that come out of the back of the box are a certain break in style. But I think it would be an exaggeration to install a connector and a distributor. There are also enough sockets nearby. Four screws hold the box securely in place.
While editing the photo, I noticed that I absolutely have to wipe it again with a damp cloth. That is what happened when this blog was published.
Only the cigars suffer, they had to move out of their beautiful wooden box. Hopefully that won't harm them.
On Sunday I went to visit the donkeys again. As long as I'm on the island, I'll have to go there once a week. But we want to be on the next island next Sunday. So it was probably my very last visit. I'm a little sad again.
For Sweety, the time at the Donkey Sanctuary will soon be over. In a few days he will fly to Holland, where he will get a new home. He has terrorized his roommate cats a few times too often and is supposed to move out because of it. I think that's a shame because I would have liked to have taken him to Germany after my return home.
After a few days of relaxation, we started the strenuous activities. We are repairing the damage caused by the crossing from Cuba to Aruba. We eliminate the causes of this damage. And we remove new damage that occurred after the crossing. And ancient damage that was there before we started in the Netherlands in summer 2019. In doing so, we make discoveries that we would rather not have made. If you as a landlubber have no idea, you should get the idea somewhere or pay with dollar bills and sweat afterwards.
A few years ago we were in Scotland with Sissi. We noticed that after hard sailing against the wind there were a few drops of water in the forward cabin. We never found the cause, nor did it repeat itself. Near Roscoff, on the day our mainsail broke, we had a little water in the saloon. The fans were immediately under suspicion because a lot of water had flowed over the deck. Why did we have to sail donkeys against wind speeds of nine? The fans can now get rid of their hat, I release them from any responsibility for the water damage.
On the long crossing across the Atlantic I complained about occasional dampness in the forward berth. Slowly a suspicion arose that the anchor locker was leaking. The humidity went, we checked the anchor locker in Varadero when Sissi was on dry land. He looks great. The humidity was forgotten again, we had other problems to solve. We have only located the problem in the forward berth.
After removing the first hatch, I knew where all the moisture was coming from. There wasn't much left of the sealing tape; the screw holes were encrusted with salt towers. My landlubber's life experience sees windows as somewhat maintenance-free openings in the wall through which one can ventilate one's apartment. Evil.
How do you properly seal these hatches? Certainly not by re-gluing the frame with Sikaflex. In addition, the local hardware stores do not even have the saltwater-compatible Sika on offer. A trip to Budget Marine later, Jens comes back with a couple of rolls of sealing tape. Very good, this stuff can be bought in Aruba.
Now the hatches are removed one after the other. Everywhere we see that there are incrustations of salt around the screw holes. The old sealing tapes were very old. Very very old. After all, I've had Sissi since 2017. And the tapes must have been old by then.
The window frames are mechanically and chemically cleaned and the salt removed. The boat is also cleaned. There must be no more dirt or dust where the new rubbers should hold tight later. Then the frame is glued.
Then the hatches come back in place. Unfortunately, one of the next abysses opens up at this point. Due to the amount of moisture that has entered and the movement of the ship, some of the screws are spinning. Some more, some less. In particular, the screws that fasten the hatch hinges have suffered a lot.
We get advice from a carpenter in Frankfurt. How can you make these holes in the wood smaller again so that the screws hold again? First he advises us on a solution that we have already figured out. Take bigger screws. Of course, that means a trip to the hardware store again.
The biggest screws spin in the biggest holes? Then the holes have to be glued. Do we have glue? No of course not. That also means a trip to the hardware store again.
A trip to the hardware store takes at least an hour and a half, sometimes longer. It depends on how long you have to wait for the bus. Now we have everything on board, the windows are screwed on and we still have replacements for the future. We are currently considering whether we should not open the construction site with the side windows. The side windows can also be tricky. So far only the one next to Jens' bunk was leaking. We'll definitely work on that.
Addendum: When you do a job for the first time in your life, the result is not always perfect. We had to learn that it is better not to puzzle too small with vinyl tape.
In the top left corner you can see how we first glued the corners. Water was able to get through between the individual pieces, as the water hose leak test showed - much too nice to see from the inside in the water droplets that found their way back into the salon. In the top right of the cutout, the new solution that no longer lets water inside.
By the way, beer is a good indicator of the health of the on-board electrical system. If it's warm, you shouldn't put the refrigerator under general suspicion. Last Friday I had the feeling that the refrigerator wasn't running properly in the evenings, but I was too tired to get to the bottom of the problem. If the refrigerator is broken, I can't fix it anyway.
On Saturday the refrigerator ran perfectly normally. In the evenings he stopped working. The beer is warm. My gaze falls habitually on the battery monitor and I am horrified to find that the batteries are discharged to 80%. Now he also sounds the alarm. Why not earlier? Because it was turned off ...
The shore power charger seems to have completely gone. I measure all lines and come to this conclusion. So the engine has to run all night to recharge the batteries to a usable level. Sure - during the day the refrigerator runs even with empty batteries, our solar cells do a good job.
I am buying a new shore power charger for a four-digit amount. Why is the store actually called Budget-Marine? You need a decent budget at the store. Unfortunately it is the only available model. This is also built in on Monday afternoon around 3 p.m. It just doesn't charge the batteries. I measure the lines again, the positive line seems to be defective. Yesterday she still had access. Funny. So I open the cable duct and find an annealed plus cable which, thanks to a loose contact, is sure to have a passage.
Still, I don't want the old battery charger anymore. Two frayed cables, a short circuit and the charger fuse has not melted. In addition, a fuse is still missing in the positive cable, namely the one against the on-board network. If I fuse this line with 100 A, nothing can burn here. In the literal sense. So I still have to buy a fuse.
Hopefully the batteries weren't damaged. We will have to test it in the next few days. After all, we can buy spare parts in Aruba. That would not have been possible in Cuba.
I think it is a horror for many sailors. You start the engine, engage the clutch and accelerate. Then you realize that nothing is happening. Although the lever is already at full throttle, the engine only rotates at 2000 revolutions. The boat moves backwards. The drive is ineffective.
The cooperation with the local authorities via radio is constructive. Since we still have to clear in, we can only consider the port of Barcadera. In the wind, we could have sailed into the marina in Oranjestad without any problems. That is not possible with the same wind in Barcadera. So we need a tug.
There are many tugs in this port. However, they are tugs for container ships. We cruise back and forth in front of Aruba, repeatedly seeing the many parked cruise ships. At some point the Chapo calls us on the radio and wants to know what we're up to. In addition, we still radio with Aruport and finally Hans comes from the marina with the dinghy to Barcadera and drags us into the harbor.
Jens dives to the propeller and it quickly becomes clear why we didn't get any more propulsion. The screw, which was polished to a sparkling shine in Varadero, has overgrown. It has become so overgrown that it has lost its complete shape and can no longer deliver. Why didn't I come to the conclusion myself that the screw also needs antifouling? No matter. It is like it is. Charly von der Chapo dives to the screw for us and removes the coarsest vegetation.
After Charly has scraped off the coarsest vegetation, we can drive the propeller again and set course for the marina in Oranjestad. We pass the crusaders again. We could even have sailed into the marina with the wind, but we are happy about the working propeller.
First the propeller is given a thorough mechanical and chemical cleaning. All remains of the vegetation really have to be removed. Otherwise we cannot paint the new antifouling properly. Then the propeller is sanded with a very fine grain.
Then the acidic, quick-drying stuff is applied in several layers, which should prevent future growth on our propeller. One coat of primer and two coats of an actual color. And whoosh, $ 120 has been spent. Fortunately, we don't have to pay the diver. I'll help Charly later with his computer.
The next day, Charly comes by again and reassembles the freshly painted screw. One point on our repair list is done, twenty or twenty-five points need to be worked on. Thank you, Charly!
It could be described as the third week in the shipyard, but it's just about processing the to-do list. Some points are done quickly or just need to be initiated. For others we need a few days.
Jens paints the deck. This time we have more luck than last year in Lanzarote, where shortly after the painting work was finished, a heavy rain shower fell over Sissi and washed a large part of the fresh paint straight into the Atlantic. This time the weather cooperated and the rain only started when the paint was already dry.
Meanwhile I'm dismantling the port sheet winch. I have to find out why I got hold of the winch handle while sailing with Juliette and family. That wasn't a good feeling. A tiny spring was broken and the pawls no longer engaged with the gears. Of course, there is no replacement on board. The small accessory shop in the marina doesn't have them either.
So I take the bus to Budget Marine, where I get double the number. On the way back I think that I haven't brought enough. When I'm there again I'll buy a few more.
The mast ladder is pulled up, Jens climbs into the top of the mast and checks the rig. It all looks fine. We're done. Sissi is clear to sea.
The weather forecast is good. Already at the weekend it rained very little. When we come to Sissi's in the morning, it's easy to work with overcast skies and dry weather. The antifouling is a nasty, smelly mush that needs to be stirred for hours before it can be painted. One can costs 250 florin, we need two cans for one coat and want to coat twice. That brings us to around 1000 florin or 500 euros for the black color.
After stirring, we start painting. One does the port side, the other starboard. We are making good progress. For Monday and Tuesday we have made a paint job. That works wonderfully.
The Rolling Stones are playing in my head. I see a red boat and I want to paint it black. We actually wanted to listen to music while painting, but left the loudspeaker box with the donkeys.
Gradually the black color spreads on the trunk. We like the new paint job very much. In the back of my mind I already have exactly what Sissi should look like in the future.
Jo and Stewart lament that the work on their boat is slow and that they have been on dry land for almost four weeks. Stewart always gives us useful tips. He also praises the quality of the tap. That gives us a tailwind. We can do two coats in two days.
The new color concept provides three colors: black, white and red. Very simple. All of Eintracht Frankfurt. Everything that has been painted blue so far will sooner or later be painted red. We start with the strip just above the waterline. We'll do the higher stripes later, we don't have enough color. And the red color is unfortunately sold out.
Punctually we will finish the last red coat on Thursday afternoon. Now we give the paint one more day to dry before it goes back into the water on Friday. Jo and Stewart will also be surprised on Thursday. They suddenly find out that they will be back in the water the same day.
It's our turn on Friday. When Sissi is in the water, Jens drives the car to Oranjestad, I drive Sissi. We would have done it better the other way around, because on the way back a fat rain cloud caught me. I'm getting wet, I'm cold. It is on the way there as on the way back. But this time I was able to ask the marina staff about the route. I drive differently and never have less than seven meters under the keel. Apart from the cold, I feel very comfortable with it.
Jamaica has reopened the maritime border. We only have a small to-do list that we want to work through. There aren't that many points on it. So far, however, there are more and more points at the moment. It will probably go on like this for a few more days. Jens is also busy sticking strips on the wall.