02 November 2019

Boat Projects in Grenada

Argon summered in Grenada. Well, "summered" sounds much too leisurely considering the harsh conditions and the generous number of projects that took place. Soon I will fly south and check out the work first hand as we prepare to resume sailing for the winter.


Captain Linda Perry Riera


It was with mixed feelings that we left Argon at Spice Island Marine Services (SIMS) six months ago. Although she was secure at a reputable boatyard and strapped down in a hurricane cradle, summer at latitude 12 can be brutal. The heat and UV can damage even the highest quality port hole stripping; torrential rains can work their way through the tightest seals and dorade covers; high winds that come with tropical storms will peel away anything not well secured. A positive aspect of these lower latitudes of the Caribbean is that hurricanes roar past to the north. Usually.


We normally tackle boat projects ourselves. However, there were quite a few projects we had on our list and returning to Grenada over the summer for any length of time to tackle these jobs would not fit in with our work schedules. In addition, Grenada and SIMS have a strong reputation for yacht services and some particular expertise that matched our needs.

The photos below have been sent to us courtesy SIMS over the past few months.

Special Projects


Sexy Gooseneck

While sailing off shore, I often stress about the gooseneck. I have heard several stories of this important joint between the boom and the mast breaking while under sail which is dangerous on so many levels. To our surprise and dismay, we discovered a bit of play in our gooseneck last spring while anchored in Grenada, shortly before being hauled out for the summer.

Before:  Screws loosening from the carbon creating a bit of concerning play. Could have tried threaded inserts (may or may not have worked) or insert a backing plate up the mast (potentially not possible due to 12 feet up from base).

After consulting with the fine folks at Turbulence, Ltd we opted for a permanent high end solution... a custom fabricated carbon gooseneck leveraging the carbon expertise at Driftwood Yacht Services.


Carbon fabrication is a special skill and not available many places. Grenada has some great expertise so we decided to go with what many sexy racing sailboats have... carbon gooseneck. This creates an incredibly strong attachment point between the boom and the mast.


After:  New carbon fiber gooseneck now painted.

Sleek Sail Track

Okay, another splurge. We did not really need a new sail track. But the mast was coming out and down for the gooseneck. The old Tide Marine sail track had tremendous use during her 5 short years and had a few areas showing a bit of play.

New Harken sail track.



In addition to raising the main sail more smoothly, the new track may also allow the sail to completely drop and fold on itself when the haylard is released. The prior track was a bit sticky requiring one to go out on deck to completely pull it down and flake on the boom.

Crisp, Shapely Main Sail

Our main sail has a tremendous number of nautical miles to its name and was starting to loose shape negatively affecting performance. We considered trying to get through this coming winter with it but felt a tear during heavy weather might potentially be not only inconvenient but dangerous if well off shore. Thus a new main sail made the project list.

512 sq feet of crisp, shapely Dacron made by Doyle with five full battens, four friction-less Antal donuts, two reef points and a partridge in a pear tree.


Nice new cars for to glide up the new, smooth Harken track.

Routine Maintenance Projects


Varnishing

Back in February while docked in St. Lucia, we took advantage of the local expertise to have Argon's teak completely stripped and new varnish applied converting from the prior Awlwood (Awlgrip product) to the more common Epiphanes. A bit of this varnishing work is in the video below.



A few more maintenance coats were needed to keep the finish strong.





Varnishing with Epiphanes.
Varnishing work in St. Lucia:

 

Bottom Painting

Anti-fouling bottom paint is a must to prevent a sea garden from sprouting greatly reducing the speed. We regularly snorkel along and under Argon to brush and scrub off grown that the paint does not prevent. Argon was last painted in Portsmouth Rhode Island at New England Boatworks in April 2018 at that time using Petit Hydrocoat.


Scrubbing the bottom of the keel.


New bottom paint: Islands 44TF deemed compatible with Argon's prior Petit Hydrocoat but better for warm Caribbean waters.


We will still need to regularly snorkel and scrub to keep the bottom clean, but fresh paint will greatly facilitate the job.


Waxing of Topsides and Deck

Ok, this project was me being totally lazy. I normally do the waxing but decided to splurge and have Argon nice and shiny for when I arrive.

New shiny wax.


Bimini - in progress, critical for our solar panels

The bimini is an important piece of canvas needed not only to protect from sun and rain, but also as a platform for 250 watts via the flexible solar panels. Argon's bimini has had a few patches and repeat waterproofing treatments but, alas, it no longer protects us from getting wet and soon would likely start tearing.

Solar panels zip in to both the bimini and dodger.
No photos of the new bimini since it is not yet done and our canvas guy is off island for a bit. I am a bit nervous about the timing as Argon will soon be launched and we will be back out at anchor and in need of power. Stay tuned.


Dinghy Tending

The dinghy is critical as we spend so much time at anchor and need a way to get to shore.

Argon's shuttle craft:  AB 9"foot aluminum V bottom hypalon dinghy with 6hp Tohatsu outboard.

The UV is brutal on dinghies so we decided to outfit Argon with some protection.

Sunscreen for the dinghy.
SIMS will also spruce up the outboard motor: clean the carburetor, check the impellor, change the zincs.


Communication

A major frustration all summer has been trying to get information on the plans and status of projects. The laid back island pace combined with a culture heavily reliant on in person communication has been a hassle and even led to a few projects coming off the list because we could not get anyone to confirm any details (re-fabrication of bow chocks, minor repair to stern rail, and head cabinet modification). A response to an e mail would normally come only after 2 or 3 attempts and 1-2 weeks. Several times I received 4 figure invoices via e mail with no explanation of specifics or photos of the work performed.

Bob has recently arrived in Grenada and has started to assess the work. Preliminary reports are mostly good but with some issues. I look forward to soon seeing the above projects first hand in just a couple of days.






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