October 22nd, 2023
After spending the most pleasant time of year in Ontario, it is time to get back to seeing the world while Canada experiences it’s annual slumber. We did have a great time with friends and family as well as enjoying our natural environment on Amherst Island. It is a small piece of paradise in an increasingly busy world.
Arriving back in Grenada, you quickly get a sense of how lucky we are in Canada, and perhaps the first world in general. I did arrange to stay at the seemingly beautiful La Helliconia spa resort for a couple of days, and the experience is vastly different than anything similar in North America.
Arriving after dark, there are no signs to inform you of the place itself, but that is okay after 10 or 15 minutes I found the driveway. That is a 25% grade up to one of the levels of the place. The kind bar keep reopened the kitchen for me (it had just closed 20 minutes earlier) and made me a bite to eat while I waited for the owner/manager to check in. She arrived an hour after my arrival when I was just looking to sleep. I checked in properly in the morning. All that to say, things are a bit slower here.
The first night I was pretty tired, so I didn’t notice that I was sharing the room with a lot of bugs. They stayed on the floor, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but they were huge bugs (cockroaches here are about the size of Toonies). The fridge didn’t work, the plumbing worked sporadically and there were other issues which are probably best not described. The person who recommended the place to me was surprised by the issues. Perhaps I was just unlucky.
Throughout the summer I have had updates about the weather here, and it is hot. The overnight ‘feels like’ temperatures (essentially what we call ‘humidex’ in Canada) is 37C That’s overnight. Good news though, the daytime highs are about 37C as well. It’s just always hot.
I have rented a car for a few days to allow me to get groceries, boat parts and repair shops and that rental is not much different in price than anywhere else in the world. The car I have though would never be rented in Canada. It’s just too beaten up. The roads are also very busy here and not in great shape. As a comparison, we have a road by the house on the Island, called the Marshall 40′ road. It is closed and unmaintained because it is in bad shape. The road to get to Clarke’s Court Marina (where the boat is stored) is dramatically worse and travelled by hundreds of cars every day. To be fair that is an extreme example. Most of the roads here are just poor. The road to Clarke’s Court is nearly impassable.
There are many more comparisons to make to our comfortable life in Canada, but you get a jolt to your senses when you arrive and know that you are not in our gentrified world any longer. The other side of that is the people here are wonderful and except the customs officers who are reliably stern and commanding, everyone here is pleasant. That is a welcome change.
On day two I made it to the boat and went to change my launch date which I thought was the 28th. I was aiming for the 23rd. The yard informed me that I was scheduled for November 28th!! What!? They can’t launch me for another nine days at the earliest by the looks of it (31st or 1st they say). So much for my schedule.
My planning had me coming down two weeks before the end of hurricane season and get ahead of the crowd. Unfortunately, this yard goes from crazy busy in October, to insanely busy in November. Crazy busy is the point at which asking for anything is met with an evil laugh and a vigorous shaking of the head that suggest locking your doors at night would be a good plan. I’m joking. They said no to my request to be launched this week in about a dozen polite ways that all ended with words similar to ‘can’t be done’.
Part of the issue is that Home Free is ridiculously heavy and was sandwiched between two catamarans with no room for the travel lift (which is used for ridiculously heavy boats) to get around it. That means they have to move both boats on either side to get at mine. It’s a progression of errors almost certainly caused by an erroneous recording of a launch date of November 28. If Home Free were lighter, they could just use the trailer lift and I think things would be easier.
The immediate projects got underway quickly and are partially complete. The key projects are:
- Paint the bottom,
- Install new speed/depth/temperature sensor
- Clean surface of coolers
- Replace the zincs
- Replace the shaft packing
- Replace impellers
Isaac did get the bottom done, and although I think there is room for improvement (this is where I miss James Knight’s team), it will do I think. The remaining issue is that the Gori prop doesn’t open/close smoothly, but with the delays I will work on that issue.
The new sensor was supposed to be easy. It ended up taking a full day to get the work done by my key guy and I working together. The issue is a general failure to follow instructions. First on my part, then on Wes’ part, then we wasted hours reversing the process, and finally got it done to my satisfaction. The key problem is that the last (old) sensor was put on without the plastic block that prevents it spinning under stress. I attempted to repeat that installation approach, but then we put silicone sealant on the threads that are used to tighten the sensor against the boat and we couldn’t pull it in tightly. Oops, when the silicone hardens, turning the nut is impossible and everything is stuck. We couldn’t put it on or take it off.
Looking to the future, it was clear that this will be a maintenance nightmare and so I finally stopped the process and said we would do it right. Given that the silicone had hardened, taking it apart was impossible as well. I have contracted a welder (Royan) for another job and Wes kindly went and talked to the him to get a custom made tool to help us extract the nut/sensor. after a few minutes, it worked. In the end, we installed the sensor, hopefully properly, hopefully completely sealed and it hopefully works.
Next up was getting the growth off of the keel coolers. They are pretty clean but with all the extra time I have I may work on it more (perhaps even some chemicals) to get them spiffy clean before launch. You can’t stop growth from attaching, but a clean surface is harder than one that already has a layer of shells and growth.
Despite having spent years on this boat now, I am remarkably slow at understanding some things. Zinc anodes have to be replaced regularly on the bottom of boats and I continue to mistakenly assume that I will be able to find my necessary zincs everywhere. Of course this isn’t at all true. In fact, the propeller on Home Free is so unique, it has it’s very own zinc. This makes it hard to find and quite expensive. After arriving at the boat and noting that my propeller zinc is completely gone I ordered new zincs for the prop and a few other spots. They may arrive before the boat goes in the water, if not I will be getting me and my tools wet to swap out some protective zincs. For other N47 owners, I am working on another technical post which discusses the zincs on the N47 because I have a short memory for the little details.
My shaft packing is now about four years old and is still working fine I am debating whether I should change it out or just leave it. A brief conversation with James Knight while writing this post, has led to the conclusion that just leaving it is probably the best approach here.
Finally, I will change the impellers on both engines as a preventative maintenance item today or tomorrow.
The fact that we won’t launch for many days means that I am now staying on the boat at the yard, on the hard. We bought a portable air conditioner to keep the humidity down during the summer and I have now moved that to the forward cabin and am glamping in there. Nordhavn’s design means that we can keep all fluids on board in holding tanks, so except for the substantial heat, I can cook, clean and sleep while on board and work through some of my todo list while on the hard.
I was mistaken to think that it wouldn’t get busy here until November 1st, but it isn’t just the yard. Yesterday afternoon the restaurant at the yard was absolutely packed with people, and at first I thought it was a lot of people waiting for launch. Then I walked down and noted all of the dinghies. The bay here is packed with boats, all waiting out hurricane season.
We have had a lot of work done this summer to maintain the boat and get it ready to do more cruising. One of the big changes coming is that we have a new permanent flybridge cover going on. It won’t be installed until after we get in the water, but here is what it looks like in the shop.
Like much of the stainless rails on the boat, this is built with oversized pipe which will ensure it is stable and rigid. I am excited to see this go up and get the benefits of the weather protection, some lighting and also put some additional solar panels on (to reduce battery charging with the genset). It will be a big change.
That’s enough for now. Work is calling and writing can be done later. Thanks for reading and I promise (to all those who remind me I take terrible pictures) I will try to improve the photography as the cruise marches on this year.