Kids, Don't Try This At Home!

Hi, and welcome to the adventures of "Triton", a 45' Robertson & Caine Leopard catamaran we purchased in July of 2007, in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. We sailed her back to Emeryville, California, located in the lovely San Francisco East Bay area, worked a few more years, then set off cruising in the fall of 2014. This journal is the story of our ongoing adventure, the folks we've met along the way, and the hardships and joys of that journey. Please read along and let us know what you think!

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here to start from the very beginning of the entire adventure. You can navigate from post to post simply by clicking the NEXT or PREVIOUS phrases at the top or bottom of each page. To find out what we've been fixing, changing, upgrading, click on the Triton Boat Work link under Related Websites. If you want to subscribe to this blog (and get emails letting you know whenever we update it) just click on the icon that says "subscribe to: posts (atom)" at the bottom of each page.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

En route to Playa De Coco


Well, we've left the harbor and are heading out to sea. If you look carefully, you can see the storm clouds building up ahead of us. As we turned out into the open ocean, the skies darkened and the rain began. We were running on only the starboard engine, so our speed wasn't great, but it seemed like we were dragging along. No doubt the months of growth on the bottom was really slowing us up.

We decided we'd stay the course, get out to sea and deal with it in the morning, hopefully by then the storm will have passed and we'll have better weather. We should have stayed and cleaned the bottom before we left, but spending even another day in the muggy Golfito weather didn't appeal to anyone.

The last few days have been kind of rough, what with mechanical issues, snafus with customs & immigration, anchor line problems and the tension around our departed crew mate. On the bright side, Ian and Robinson have become fast friends, and are practically inseparable. They have pet names for each other and are continually teasing back and forth, like two school boys. It is really wonderful to see them at it, and everyone else kids them about being an old married couple. Reminds me of the fun Mota, Jeff & I had in the San Blas Islands. Spirits seem better all around, and everyone is just glad to be moving forward, although we are now entering into bigger seas and the first signs of sea sickness are starting to appear on a few faces.

The next morning was a bit nicer, with a beautiful sunrise but the winds is not in our favor. The seas have been relatively flat, but the current seems to be against us. We stopped to go for a swim and scrape the barnacles off the boat. There were far more on the bottom then we realized, and the brand new bottom paint seems to have done absolutely nothing for us. We struggled with masks and fins, getting stung by the occasional jellyfish, and not making much headway cleaning the bottom when I asked Roxanne if she could find something soft and plastic with a wide edge on it. She disappeared into the galley and came out holding a plastic dust pan. "Will this work?" she asked. "I don't know, lets try" I said, not sure if it would really do the trick but willing to give it a go. It worked liked magic, scraping off a ten inch wide swath with each go. I was able to cover more ground in ten minutes than a previous hour with the plastic paint scrappers. We kept at it and made a considerable dent in the barnacles; there were still some here and there, but we probably knocked off ninety five percent of them.

We started up the engine and headed on. With almost no change in the wind, current or waves, we picked up at least two knots! It was a surprising lesson in just how much a difference a clean bottom can make towards speed. It was also a lesson in how worthless the bottom paint was. I've since spoken with a number of folks who have told me of very bad performance from bottom paints bought in Central America. Especially from paint purchased in Trinidad. One catamaran owner I met told me that he bought four gallons of paint from a yard, used two on one hull, and two on the other. He thought it odd that the paints didn't go on the same, dry the same, or even have the same feel. Later on, it was as if one hull had been painted with porch paint, the other with bottom paint. I've heard this same comment from many other folks. Quality control varies greatly the further away from the states you get. Live and learn.

We've also noticed that the "white smoke" problem from the port engine has gone away. It seemed our engine raw water exhaust was a bit less on the port side, and running that engine for any length of time seemed to produce a white steam or smoke. Our speculation was a clogged intake strainer, but that was clear, so we think it might have been barnacles around in intake port. Whatever it was, it hasn't come back, and we can now use both engines and make better speed, although we've limited ourselves to only one to save gas.

As we motored on towards Playa Del Coco, we were approached by a pod of dolphins. Now, I like to be cynical about this, because, quite honestly dolphins skipping along off the port bow become as common place as topless girls on Friday afternoon at Burning Man, but this had to be the largest pod we've seen yet. There must have been a hundred. We watched as groups of them seemed to merge together, then break apart, with ten or twenty swimming away, only to rejoin the pack later on. I'd love to be able to put a numbered sticker on the back of each one and follow the entire tribe. I've never found out what it is that dolphins find so amusing about swimming with boats, but they do, and it makes sailing, even motoring along, so much more enjoyable.

We sailed along for the rest of the day, the weather was blustery and didn't hold up to our expectations. As we approached evening we got to watch a beautiful sunset. That night, the winds picked up again and we we banged our way along. So far, this hasn't been a great ride, and we were expecting better, at least according to the weather reports. Sadly, that evening it didn't improve, although we did get a bit of wind on our beam for a few hours, and we were able to shut down the engines and just sail along. Eventually it shifted back into our nose and we started up the motors again, but it was great while it lasted. Playa Del Coco is still too far away, we are all a bit tired and just want to get there now. Everyone is taking shifts, and Jacob is cooking, although he hadn't been feeling very well.

We continue to bash along, I've been having a harder time getting emails out, and weather reports back in. It seems that there is very little commercial traffic on this part of the coast. We gone many, many miles and seen only a handful of ships. Sort of the moral equivalent of I-80 just after you leave Pennsylvania heading west. It isn't so bad. At least we don't have to look at wheat fields, and we don't have to stop when we want to pee.

So, on that cheery note, I will leave you all. Wishing you the best of times.



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