Wednesday, December 2, 2020

LIFE ABOARD GRENDEL – FARJARDO, PUERTO RICO, part II

Golf cart used to ride boaters around.

Golf cart used to ride boaters around.

By Frances Diebler
hfdiebler@gmail.com

We had been gone for two and a half months and we were out of many staples. Fortunately, we had friends, Wally and Linda, who were living aboard their boat, TIRE SWING, long term and had their van shipped to Puerto Rico from Texas. It would have been cheaper for them to have bought an old car here. But they chose to ship theirs. They graciously would come by and take us shopping to the supermarket, Wal-Mart’s, or anywhere we needed to go. We needed to reprovision the boat and had to haul all of the groceries and everything else we bought up the ladder to our boat resting quietly on the hard. I hated this #&#$ ladder with one hand for the ladder and one hand for the bags of stuff. We’d make five or more trips up and down each time we went shopping. It does not stop here.

On top of this inconvenience, one of our two Adler Barber refrigeration systems was acting up. This unit was as old as the boat, and my husband did not want to take a chance of having it go when we were down island. He ordered one from Defender’s which we got in two days. Nothing is easy though. We had to use a block and tackle to hoist the compressor up to our “tree house” on the hard. While Herm and I were busy working topside, we had a crew hired to paint GRENDEL’S bottom and raise the water line again.

For those of you who may be interested in a boat’s condition after being closed up in a tropical atmosphere for so long, everything was fine. No mold. No mildew. No damage. The only casualties were the loss of about 35 lbs. of individually wrapped pasta, noodles, rice, cereal, instant potatoes and a box of flesh colored candles. Before we left for home, we let off insect bombs to kill any insects which may still be lingering aboard. We looked around the boat’s interior. Everything looked ship shape. When we returned after a stay of a few months, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Ants, and other nameless insects, had eaten through the double bagged and cellophane wrapped pasta, boxes of rice, and dried potatoes. Now, I’m not talking about hoards of little black critters just a group of them here and there.

The candles had melted into rather suggestive shapes. Herm thought that if they were heated again, he could straighten them up. I, too, thought it was a good idea and might work. I left him to figure things out while I went grocery shopping.

When I returned, once again I could not believe my eyes! He had all of these obscenely shaped flesh colored candles draped from a clothes line tied across the cockpit. I could only imagine what the native yard workers thought when they saw these things dangling from the line. There goes the neighborhood!

This was not one of Herm’s better ideas. The candles never got hot enough in the daytime sun to reshape them. I simply suggested that we put them in a heated oven for a short time. Voila! Soon as they softened, we reshaped them into candles. I just shook my head in disbelief. Too much education can damage the brain!

After seven days of tree top living, we were once again able to be launched. The Brunel truck, which would carry the boat to be launched, was not working. By the time it was fixed, it was 3:30 and the workers just quit and left. Herm had to paint the areas on the boat which were covered by the sling. We paid to have the whole bottom painted, but we had to finish the job ourselves as the workers left. This was not the problem. The launch driver drove the truck to the crane and lowered GRENDEL into the slot and we got aboard. The “Squall Gods” decided this would be a good time to blast through with rain and sudden gusts of wind 20+ knots. There was only one driver on shore who tied a port bowline while we were trapped helplessly aboard in the launch pit. The wind was pushing the boat against the railway. I yelled to him that he needed to get another workman. “You need another helper to take a line!” No response. I yelled again, “Two people! Dos Personas”! Now he

smiled and slowly walked to the other side to grab a starboard stern line to keep us off the travel lift ramp. By now we were almost sideways to the wind and the bow pulpit was ready to be smashed.

Herm somehow managed to jump the distance to the ramp to prevent damage. The reason for this sloppy launch was the fact that the launch truck broke down again and by the time it was fixed, it was quitting time and everyone went home. It did not matter that there was a 30,000 lb. boat in the sling! While this was going on, other workmen walked by, but this was not their job, so they kept on walking. Finally, the yard manager, a woman named Yvette, came and took the lines and we were okay again.

Frances is a Commodore of the Seven Seas Cruising Association and a member of Sailing Association of Marco Island and AP United States Power Squadron.

 

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