Sunday, March 18, 2007
Another Status Update for the Crew.
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Editor's Note: This is a second message sent by Robb to the crew. It contains some more detailed description of the work being done, and some pictures of the progress, and more of his bitching about the way things work (or don't) in Trinidad.
Hi Mary Ann, Mike, Jeff, Mota, Jen,
(I've cc'ed everyone else to avoid having to type several separate letters, as this one contains a lot of detailed status updates for everyone) Sorry to be so long getting back to you all.
It turned out that the bottom paint was wearing a bit thin, which has require repainting both hulls. This wasn't something I'd expected (as the boat had been painted about a year earlier but the Trinidad sun/heat really took its toll, so I've spent the last two days (and probably the next two) scraping and painting. I also get to replace the rusted out zincs today. Oh the joys of boat ownership.
Mary Ann, as to keeping in contact with us, it is my hope that long before the time we reach Panama we will have the HAM & SSB radios working and be able to send & receive emails when we wish. We will also have a satellite phone for emergencies, which can almost always get through regardless of the conditions. I have also purchased a quad band cell phone, so while we are in Panama we should be able to have digital phone service through the canal and on both sides of it.
I doubt AnnMarie will have that much time to spend with us, perhaps a week at most, which means that the only time she won't be manning the phones will be when we are most likely to have cell service directly. Beyond that, we also have the ability to make Ship To Shore phone calls over the SSB radio as well.
As to your family "reaching you" I'm not sure what you mean. There will be phone service here in Trinidad, as well as when we reach Panama, and then anywhere we stop along the coast (if you decide to come that far), and I expect that you'll be able to send/receive emails once we are at sea. If your folks want to contact you beyond that, they can do so through either channel. In an "emergency" they can ask AnnMarie to reach us in whatever manner is necessary, but once out to sea there is very little we can do should something arise state side.
If you needed to leave the boat that instant I'm not sure what anyone could do. Do you anticipate needing to be helicoptered off the vessel in order to attend to some stateside emergency? If so, then you should arrange to rent or buy a satellite phone and several batteries (so you can be guaranteed to be in constant contact) and talk to a helicopter service about a "pre-charter" reservation. I would mention, though, that these options are very, very expensive, and include an element of risk. If you've ever seen anyone being "rescued" at sea, you'll realize that this isn't always the most pleasant way to fly. I hope I'm answering your concern/questions. I think I may not grok what you're asking. Please let me know if I've misunderstood.
Mike, how goes the oxygen bottle idea? If you could swing that it would be awesome! I realize there might be some costs involved, I'd be happy to reimburse you for whatever it costs. Please talk to AnnMarie about it.
Mota, when you arrive it may be necessary to put you up in a room, as the boat is trashed and you may not feel like cleaning out a room in order to sleep. Lets see how you feel. I had hope to get all this done by now, but instead I've been doing other mechanical work. The new diesel fuel filters and circulating pumps will be installed this week, I don't think there will be time for me to get everything done before you arrive and still clean the other state rooms.
Jeff, are you still planning on bringing your saxophone? The guitar is here as well, so if you do, bring a lot of sheet music. Oh, that reminds me. If anyone has an Ipod or some such equivelant, please bring as much music as possible. The stereo has an external line in jack, so playing music directly from your device should be no problem.
Jen, expect to hit the ground running. You are the last arrival, so hopefully we will be ready to go when you get here. Try to get as much sleep as possible.
AnnMaire, In your copious spare time, I realize that it would be fantastic to have satellite radio. I will find out exactly the make/model of the stereo, but can you ask Ron at West Marine about obtaining the special antenna/receiver for this. Also, can you please pick up any Jack Jones albums you come across (or if anyone else has anything by him) as there are a few of his songs I think would be fun to learn.
Everyone: As each of you arrive we will work out various "assignments", crews quarters (although first to arrive get first pick) and what tasks need to be completed in order to leave. I would like each of you to become a specialist at some component of the system, for instance, Mary Ann had mentioned she was interested in the ground tackle system, Jen said she liked navigation, Mike mentioned his cooking abilities, etc. Each of you will be responsible for some area, which will include teaching everyone else as well. Don't worry if you don't know this stuff yet. I'll teach you - you teach the crew. No faster way to learn, and everyone gets cross trained quickly. If you think of any ship component in particular that interests you let me know.
Don't forget to bring lots of sun tan lotion, long sleeved light clothes, a few sarongs, lots of sun glasses (and cheap reading glasses if you need them - I've broken several pairs already) and anything you consider comfort food that isn't available internationally - which is most things you can buy in SF. Talk to AnnMarie if you have any questions. Make sure you have your passports, driver's license, the return trip ticket, and the letters I sent Ann to give to you (the baggage manifest, the immigration letter, the two letters from Aikane's stating that they are keeping the boat and handling it), the bags themselves and cameras if you have them.
Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention this. Each of you should bring at least two large packets of Kleenex Wash'N'Go's with you. These are fantastic when water conservation is an issue. Ann, could you please pack a few for me?
Also, make sure you have Scopolamine patches. You can also purchase "Sturgeron" (not available in the US) which I recommend in lieu of the patches, but make sure you have a few patches as a backup. Expect to start using them twelve hours before we sail. Once we set sail you should still expect to feel "slightly drunk" for the first two to three days. This is the time when you want to be getting as much rest as possible. If you don't have a chore and it isn't your shift, then go sleep somewhere. The more you do this up front, the happier you will be overall.
Other than that, things proceed apace. We are recaulking the salon windows (the caulking only lasts about 5 years, then then need refurbishing, the big concern now is that we can get all that done in time for the Monday (26th) launch. Tomorrow we test the engines, bilge pumps and windlass, and the sails are reinstalled. I've been working on the HAM radio as well, I've managed to finally capture a mediocre weather map using it - I expect the SSB to be radically better. AnnMarie is shipping down the SSB antenna tuner (which I forgot to pack), and one of the bags you folks are carrying down includes the antenna wire, so we should be getting much better results once that is installed.
In the meantime I've been checking the weather charts via the Internet. The prevailing winds and waves are generally Easterly, which means we'll be running with them (so expect to go fast for most of the trip) and we should have pleasant conditions - it only gets ugly when you are going to weather. The seas have been anywhere from five to eight feet (nothing unusual) and the winds have ranged between ten and twenty five knots (also normal). Overall it should be an easy run to Panama.
Right now the weather is spectacular. Very hot, blue skies, clouds in the middle distance, humid but windy, and the pan music band has thankfully stopped playing their up-tempo Muzak rendition of Paul Simon's "The Sounds Of Silence". I'm sitting at the marina cafe (the only place where I can get Internet service) and sometime before I die the wait staff will decide to bring my check. Perhaps not. If you don't hear from me again, please let my survivors know that I owe $3.50 on a mocha.
So far we are just on schedule to put the boat in on the 26th. If everything continues apace we should be sailing by the end of the month. From what I've been told by other sailors we should be in for a great time. Nothing about the weather seems ominous, and so far the boat seems quite sea ready. Of course, this is how the Guilligan's Island show started out. Hope all is well there, look forward to seeing you all soon.
p.s. I've included a list of various weather data websites. You may want to start looking at them so that you get familiar with each format and what it means. I find that knowing what is about to hit you makes enduring it that much easier. I also strongly recommend looking around the internet for anything you can find about understanding/analyzing/deciphering weather charts.
p.s. Ask me about keel hauling.
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