Ship shape for the Atlantic
It’s been a busy week on board Irene. Firstly we arrived in Port to find that there was a nautical festival taking place in Marigot. The marina was open to the public and the beaches covered in sound systems and BBQs. Many people stopped by to take a closer look at the ‘Pirate Ship’ in the harbour. We also had visits from people who remembered Irene from the fateful day of 22nd May 2003 when she sank in Marigot bay after a fire raged across her decks. One gentlemen who had actually help lift her from the sea bed popped by to express his delight at seeing her here once more.
After a weekend of fun and relaxation it was back to the work list. We have all worked long days this week on the the ship getting her sea worthy for the crossing.
The main jobs have been servicing each and every one of the wooden blocks by taking them apart, remove grease and grit and adding new ‘tingle’ (piece of metal) to keep the pin from falling out.
Once the blocks had been serviced and put back into the correct location on the ship Mike went round mouse the shackles to stop the pin from working loose.
We don’t want any more blocks falling from the rigging on the return voyage. We found one shackle where a neat ellipse shape had been worn away through the pin caused by rubbing from the shackle on the pin. Seeing the pin was a reminder of just how much force is on the rigging as we sail!
A number of the halyards had frayed on the crossing over so we’ve been replacing lines with new ropes and in some cases replacing with stronger rope materials.
Jamie and I set to work sanding the top gallants and the bulwarks ready for a fresh lick of paint.
Antoine and Ville made repairs to the steering gear to improve her handling at sea.
Emma, Jamie and I set about re-provisioning the ship for the next 6 weeks of voyaging. Our cupboards and stores were practically empty upon arrival in St Martin. We had finally exhausted our supplies of dry goods such pasta, rice and cous cous bought all those months ago in Plymouth. Nearly everything on the shelves in the shops here is imported. I’ve been reflecting on the realities of the current global food system. Jamie and I were surprised to see that thai coconut milk is half the price of coconut milk from the caribbean. And dismayed to see that the only eggs available came from the US, were in polystyrene boxes (eeeuw) and were all from caged hens. There certainly isn’t the same choices available here compared to in Europe.
Once we returned with 6-8 weeks of provisions we set about stowing everything on the ship safely. All the citrus fruit and eggs needed layers of vaseline for preservation. We also refilled the water bottles checking we had the required amount for the return voyage.
We haven’t really had time to explore St Martin. From the brief visits to the beaches my first thoughts are how trapped in an ’80s’ time warp the island is. Lots of neon signs and a very stereotypical caribbean style! St Martin is split between a French side (considred EU zone) and the Dutch side where dollars and Netherlands Antilles Guilders are used. This makes paying for things complicated and pricing ambiguous.
This week we said ‘au revoir’ to Ville our awesome Finnish shipwright and Ramon AKA Gaddafi, one of the officers. We are collecting a new officer in the British Virgin islands called Sam who will sail home to Europe with us. Ville set off this morning, flutes in hand, to explore Central and South America.
Can’t wait to hear tales of your adventures Ville!
I have been surprised to learn that the UK has just experienced the wettest April since 1910 and that the weather has been generally quite appalling. We ‘ve been pondering collectively as a crew what the weather in the Atlantic holds for us over the next few weeks. Hopefully the spate of stormy tumultuous seas has passed…
Tomorrow we cast off for the British Virgin Islands which is a half day sail. I’m looking forward to heading out to sea again. I must confess that I feel that 4 months on board is beginning to take its toll. The last week I’ve felt incredibly homesick and exhausted. The mosquitos and the heat of the night leave me weary most days. I’m absolutely covered in bites – the bloody things are eating me alive!
However I still have 6 weeks of sea between me and UK soil! With the possibility that we are about to face our greatest challenges yet.
Fair winds and following seas indeed!