Sunday, July 22, 2007

Containers to avoid on boats

July 20, 2007  Friday

Hair ---it seems to grow on the floors and in the crevices of the cushions inside the boat.  No matter how thoroughly I clean, little bits of broken hair show up in the strangest places.  How can so much hair accumulate inside a boat?   I do not brush my hair inside the boat.  I make it a point to go topsides to the stern to brush my hair so that any loose hairs will fly away from the boat.  And, as everyone who has seen the photos on our website or has personally met us knows, Bill has little hair left on his head to fall out.  So where does all this hair come from?  You would think that we both should be totally bald by the amount of stray hairs that continually need to be cleaned up.  Ah, ‘tis a mystery.

And those are my only thoughts for the day.  Going back to reading about dead Indians (anthropological novels about Native Americans dating 1500 BC to 1000 AD; interesting stuff).

July 21, 2007  Saturday

It has happened again.  Another container of liquid has leaked.  This time it was only a bottle of distilled water, and it was double contained so there wasn’t too much of a mess to clean up.  The constant movement of a boat makes everything, and I do mean everything, slide just a minute amount all the time.   This constant movement causes things to chafe and leak in a matter of weeks or months. (You also need to stuff your medicine pill-bottles with lots of cotton or any pills turn to powder in a short time.)   We take several precautions to prevent the movement from chafing holes in containers, but obviously we have not found any precaution that works 100% of the time. 

We have multiple heavy duty solid plastic containers down inside the cockpit lazzarette.  These fit tightly together so they don’t move with the motion of the boat, although I’m certain that when we are heeled over and sailing hard in rough seas there must be some ever-so-slight movement of these containers from the pressure exerted to their sides.   Everything that goes inside the lazzarette is placed inside one of these containers.  We have one container of snorkel gear, two of cleaning products, one of sponges and brushes, one of bottles of oil, etc.  We try to wedge the cleaning products tightly inside the storage containers so that the individual bottles can’t slide around.   Some products are additionally placed inside heavy plastic bags to further reduce the chance of chafing just in case some movement occurs.  Plastic bag on plastic storage container means less friction and should reduce chance of chafe.  The gallon jug of distilled water that leaked today was inside a heavy plastic bag placed inside one of the storage containers.  The bag held almost all of the water that leaked so there wasn’t too much of a mess to clean up.  This mess was nothing like the 2 gallon jug of Tide liquid detergent in the floor storage locker last year; or the gallon of mineral spirits in the cockpit lazzarette when we first bought the boat.  FYI, this same chafing will also quickly wear through soft drink cans or beer cans stored anywhere on the boat.  It will even happen to canned food but it does take longer to wear a hole through those heavier cans.

Which brings me to another warning to other cruisers:  beware pop-top cans of food.  These are becoming more and more commonplace.  At first thought these seem quite convenient, but try to avoid them if possible.  Reason:  they sometimes explode!  While we were in either Carriacou or Grenada I felt industrious one day and inventoried all our food lockers.  This was a major accomplishment because we have a LOT of food lockers on this boat, and they are pretty full.   I am pretty good at remembering what food is on the boat, but it had reached a point that I could not remember if we had 16 cans of peas or 11 cans of peas, etc.   So how else would we know what to buy if we did not first know what we had on hand.  To inventory everything I had to unload each locker and then write the items on my lists as I repacked the lockers. 

This process disclosed 2 previously unknown food problems onboard.  A pop-top can of peaches had exploded inside one of the upper cabinet food lockers.  The syrupy mess had already started to mold.  Strangely, there was no smell from this nasty food spill; if there had been a noticeable smell then maybe we would have discovered it sooner.  Wasn’t too bad cleaning up the locker and washing each can.   This can of peaches had an expiration date of April 2009, so it did not explode because it was old.  Maybe the heat?

The second food problem was discovered in a bag of flour.   We have fifteen bags of flour vacuum sealed and placed in a floor locker; all-purpose flour, cake flour, bakers flour and bread flour.  I pull one out as needed and usually keep one bag of all-purpose flour open in an upper food cabinet because that is what I cook with most often.  We haven’t made our own bread in many months.  In an upper cabinet food locker there was an opened bag of bread flour that I had forgotten to re-seal after I last used it in the BVI in December.  I did not take the time to pull out the vacuum seal machine and inverter and seal it correctly; also did not know at the time that we would not be using bread flour again for such a long time or I would have sealed it correctly.  Anyway, I took the lazy way out and just stuck the bag of flour inside a large Ziploc bag, the heavy freezer kind.  A Ziplock bag does not remove the air inside like the vacuum sealer does.  This provided a perfect environment for weevils to hatch, which they did.  If it had been vacuum sealed then the absence of air would have prevented the weevils from hatching.  Thank goodness I decided to inventory when I did.  There were only a few hatched weevils and luckily they were still confined inside the Ziploc bag.  Another few days and there would have been weevils throughout the cabinets on that side of the boat.  Lesson learned.  I will definitely be more vigilant in how flour is stored in the future.

Last night we went to see Pirates of the Caribbean 3.  Funny; the last movie we saw was last July in Trinidad; and that was a Superman movie.   One movie per year.  What a change for me.  I used to enjoy going to the movies at least twice per month, usually by myself since Bill worked long hours and really wasn’t interested in movie-going anyway.  We had enjoyed the original Pirates movie, but #2 and #3 were each about one hour too long for our tastes.  There were too much computer graphics instead of actual live acting in those movies.  At any rate, it was something to do for the evening and got us off the boat for a few hours.  We stopped for drinks with a few people after the movie and enjoyed talking with them.

Today Bill is diving again with Tony (WORLD CITIZEN).  They decided to start their dive right off the stern of our boat.   Tony is an advanced, very experienced diver.  Bill is a novice.  Bill needs and wants to gain more experience, but he needs a diving partner.  You should never dive alone for safety reasons and I don’t like it and am not interested in the slightest.  Bill doesn’t want to tag along with all the more experienced divers because he feels like he would slow them down.  Tony is being a very good sport by diving with Bill and helping Bill gain experience.  And Bonaire is such a diving paradise that it would be a shame for Bill to be here all these weeks and miss out on this experience.

Last Wednesday evening we attended a screening of a half-hour video of diving around Bonaire that another cruiser has produced.  Grant on REALITY is an avid diver and has been in Bonaire for months.  He took video of many of his dives and edited them all together into a nice 30-minute movie with music.  Grant did a very good job and we enjoyed watching this short movie.  It started off with him following a good-sized octopus for several minutes.  There were numerous rock-fish and those are interesting.  One could be on a rock or coral and I would never see it.  They camouflage themselves to the color of the rock they are hiding on, but it takes 2 weeks for one to fully acclimate its coloring when it moves from one rock to another.  There are so many diving tours around Bonaire that these rock-fish feel they must move often, attempting to get away from the divers (poor, tormented fish).  Grant had captured videos of rock-fish that were green on one side and yellow on the other side.  One was mostly sort of pink colored to match his new rock home but still had some green remaining from his previous habitat.  These darn fish blend in with the rocks so well that you would likely never know you were looking at a fish.  There were many unusual live creatures and fish in this little movie.  There are some really weird things down there!

Bill did not take our underwater camera with him on the dive today.  Probably should have so he could capture some of the beautiful things there are to see down there, but he also probably should concentrate on safe diving while he gains more experience.  He can take underwater photos later when he is more comfortable with the entire experience.  He is supposed to knock on the boat hull when they return from this dive so I can hand down the camera to him.  They plan to stay under/near the boat while they use up the last bits of air in their tanks.  And I would like Bill to take a close-up photo of our prop.  At our haul-out last month he coated the prop in lithium grease in hopes that it might help keep barnacles from growing on the prop so quickly.  (We already know that painting the prop is useless---that does absolutely nothing toward preventing barnacle growth on a prop, despite what some self-appointed “experts” think.)  We had read of someone in the Med who claims that he coated his prop with lithium grease and it remained barnacle-free for an entire year.  We figured, what the heck; why not try it.  The boat has been back in the water for about 6 weeks, so I would like to see how the prop looks now.

July 22, 2007  Sunday

The lithium grease on the prop has worked as well or better than any other anti-fouling you can put on a prop.  No marine growth yet.  Our friend Tony did a haul-out a month or so before we did.  He was switching brands of paint this time, so took his boat down to the barrier coat; and then applied the latest type Seahawk paint which is supposed to be so effective in the Caribbean.  There are barnacles already growing on his freshly painted boat bottom!   Tony borrowed our underwater camera to take a few photos to send to the Seahawk rep.  This same rep was in Antigua at the time of Tony’s haul-out and had seen Tony’s boat being prepared for the Seahawk paint, so he already knows that the boat was prepped properly.  The rep said that Seahawk will pay to have the bottom re-painted.  That is great customer service, but the extremely premature failure of the Seahawk paint is very troublesome.  We painted our boat with Micron 66 again.  Last year the paint was thinned too much and we had what I considered to be heavy marine growth by the end of the year.  This year the paint was applied correctly so we are hoping that it will last well.  Knock on wood, so far (it’s only been 6 weeks) there is no marine growth whatsoever on our boat bottom.  Really hoping that this paint lasts well.

We heard from our eldest son, Trey, on Friday and learned that our 6-yr-old grandson’s passport finally arrived.  This is exciting news for us.  Zachary has a ticket to fly to Bonaire with his Uncle Aaron & family on 30 July.  His parents had applied for his passport the first week of April; they even paid for expedited processing service.  The US State Department is so swamped with passport applications that it took 3 ½ months to process a passport for a 6-year-old US born kid.  Can’t imagine the delays others might be facing.  At any rate, it is a relief to know that Zachary will be able to visit along with BeBe.  Elisabeth, a/k/a BeBe, will celebrate her 6th birthday while visiting us on the boat.  We are very much looking forward to their visit.  Everyone will probably be bored stiff since our lifestyle is so very different from what they are accustomed to, but it will be good for them all to kick back and totally relax for a couple of weeks.  Recharge their batteries, so to speak.

The marina here in Bonaire has been sold to someone in the UK.  The marina also controls the moorings and the free WiFi that we have been using.  This weekend the WiFi disappeared.  Wonder what other changes are in store for the cruisers here in Bonaire.  The marina had been under the same ownership for at least 11 years.  The new owners won’t be here in Bonaire until December.  Some of the long-term employees fear for their jobs.  Hope the new owners don’t change too many things.  We are hopeful that another WiFi will become available in a few days.  If not, then we will have to investigate a fee service WiFi.  We plan to be in Bonaire for at least another month and we certainly do not want to go without internet access on the boat for that length of time.

Bill and I went to see another movie this afternoon.  Now we have seen both of the movies being screened in Bonaire for the balance of month of July.  Bill had me drive the dinghy when we went to town and our return to the boat.  That is a first.  I don’t drive the dinghy.  I handle the 53-foot boat very well but have no experience handling the 10-foot dinghy.  In the past my frozen shoulders hurt too much to maneuver the outboard.  Now my shoulders are pain-free (thanks in large part to movements required while living on a boat for a year), so Bill decided that it was time for me to finally learn to drive the dinghy.  I don’t have a problem steering the outboard (although I prefer to go slow and Bill prefers to go fast), but I do have a problem starting the outboard.  Guess eventually I will learn all the quirks of the choke and throttle and so forth.  I definitely will not be going off in the dinghy by myself until I feel more comfortable dealing with that outboard.

Speaking of which, Bill had the outboard serviced Saturday afternoon.  Don’t remember what all was done to it, but this is the first time that this outboard has been properly serviced.  They had to order a carburetor rebuild kit that should arrive in a week.  This is a 2003 outboard so it is about time that it was serviced properly, don’t you think.

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