Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Wrapping up the Cruising Season

18th –24th June 2014

                                                                                                                  In our previous posting I mentioned that a little land touring in Guatemala was on the cards, but time slipped away and before we knew it we only had one week left before we were due to leave for the USA, so the travel idea was put on the backburner.

Rio Dulce fisherman casting nets 002

This year we decided to leave GWTW in the water rather than on the hardstand as we have done in previous years. Putting her into hibernation mode for the hurricane season quickly chewed up a big chunk of hours in every day. After all, it’s not like leaving a house where you pretty much just turn off a few appliances and lock the front door on your way out. If only it was that simple. For us it’s a little more involved.

Rio Dulce fisherman casting nets 003

The list is long and the systems are many. Some tasks are done below decks whilst others are outdoor jobs. The latter are definitely weather dependent. With the heat in Guatemala fierce and debilitating many of the outdoor tasks can only be tackled first thing in the morning or in the cool of the evening. Apart from packing our suitcases, that’s an easy job, here is what else we do before locking the cockpit door and walking away:

*Both Yanmar engines and our Mase genset are serviced, filters and coolant replaced and the oil in all three changed. *The Spectra watermaker gets filled with pickling solution and shut down. *Air conditioner units, (we have two) have the water strainers checked and cleaned as they will be periodically running in our absence. *The outboard engine on the dinghy is winterised, fuel tank emptied and removed and the dinghy itself covered in heavy-duty plastic to avoid sun damage. *Every surface inside the boat is washed down with white vinegar and water to retard mildew growth. *Ports and windows are covered with corrugated cardboard to keep the heat out. *Dust covers are draped over the furniture *.Fridges x 3 and freezers x 2  are emptied, cleaned and turned off.* Bedding and towels are washed, dried and put away. *The battery charger is fitted and connected. *Dock lines and chaffing gear are checked and adjusted. *Decks and cockpit cleaned, washed and dried. That may be a waste of time as for sure it will be grubby when we return.

Rio Dulce 075

*And last but not least we come to the big guns, the sails. On GWTW we have three sails which are permanently in place during the cruising season. The mainsail and our two forward sails, the jib and screecher. At this time of year in Guatemala it rains nearly every day, so finding a dry morning with the sun shinning and no wind is pretty darn rare. I mention the wind factor as it is nearly impossible to unfurl our jib and screecher and lower them onto the deck with anything but a zephyr of breeze. Unless of course you don’t mind getting beaten up in the process when the wind turns the the sails into an uncontrollable flogging beast.

So lady luck was smiling on us when the day came to dry, take down, fold, bag and stow those big white things that propel us along. This task alone took us more than half a day and an incredible amount of energy. Coupled with this all the sheets (ropes), battens from the mainsail, most of the deck hardware except the winches and anything else that I’ve forgotten to mention gets washed, dried and stowed out of harms way.

In the middle of all this, our lives go on and we live onboard amid controlled chaos for a short time. During the last few days it seemed that most of our fellow cruisers were doing the same. The marina was a hive of activity as nearly everyone, save those who were going to stay aboard their boats, were seen cleaning, sorting and packing away their cruising lifestyles for yet another season.

Nana Juana lunch with the French 013

As our few remaining days vapourised and the countdown to our departure date crept ever closer we managed to fit in a few big get-together lunches and dinners on the dock with our marina neighbours whom we wouldn’t see for the next couple of months.

On July 24th we bid farewell to GWTW and  boarded a Litegua bus for a six hour ride to Guatemala City. From here we were flying to the USA to begin a very different type of adventure. A two month road trip from the east coast to the west coast, but more on that soon.

    Rio Dulce 057    Rio Dulce 060


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