Today started off well enough – awaking with the anticipation that the day my Baby Cakes would be back on the boat was enough to brighten the day considerably. I got up early and headed over by dinghy to the nearby “Bichik Services”, where I would have a cup of coffee and inquire about filling the water tanks. As there was no boat currently on their one berth at the combination fuel and haulout dock, they warmly said to come by any time…
About 30 minutes later I was tied up at Bichik, took on 15 liters of gas for the dinghy and 900 liters of water: 28 Euros total. Water is very cheap at only 1 Euro cent per liter. Gas on the other hand… Is expensive. But any time we fill the boat with water we’re happy so things were going pretty well. Now it was all about putting Walk On back on the hook out in the bay and start the final cleaning and organizing surge before the Admiral arrived.
Just after returning to the anchorage, I talked to Larissa on the phone. She was packing in her hotel room and getting ready for the trip home. We said goodbye and “have a nice trip, see you at the airport tonight” and then only a minute later I got a text message from Mom. She said that we needed to contact the airline and re-book Lara’s flight… It’s snowing heavily in NY apparently (hard to believe from this point of view…. 80’s to 90’s and hot dry weather) and in the end, her flight from NYC to San Juan was actually cancelled. First bad news of the day.
A while later my father-in-law called. Larissa had been unable to get a hold of me and had called them to confirm that indeed the flight had been cancelled and the re-booking was for Sunday (day after tomorrow). Second bad news of the day. I haven’t spoken to her yet and I don’t know what her situation is – but she was on the way to the airport where, hopefully, the airlines will be doing something about accomodation. Otherwise, she might be headed to Queens to visit a friend of the family, originally from Rio. We’ll see what happens – I’m anxious to see.
The stove and bbq mount had been promised for 14:00 and so I showed up at the boatyard shop at just about half past two. Nothing had been done yet. They asked me to come back in 90 minutes, asking in a crummy sort of way if I had anything to do for an hour or so… I said that I lived on the boat and so my life, thankfully, is always full of things to do, and I left, with serious doubts about whether I would see my stove today or not.
Aside from re-installing the stove, if and when it’s ready, I also need to take care of a rather serious issue: the lack of cooking gas. As it turns out, the 13kg bottle that I’ve been carrying around since Brazil is a dead item – noone is willing to fill it as the fittings are uncommon to the Caribbean. This had already been a problem back in St. Vincent. To make things a bit more complicated, I discovered that the valve from the bottle that I did buy in St. Vincent has a slow leak. I’m not sure how long it’s been that way, but I figured it out on Sunday when I was taking the stove apart in the first place. Lucky to discover it without blowing myself up. Anyway, now that I know that it’s there, I simply won’t put that bottle back into the loop – too dangerous. So even if I did have a stove, I wouldn’t have any gas to cook with.
With the new 90 minutes of free time that I just received from the machine shop, I decided to hoof it around and resolve the gas question. The bottles of course are different here and so the only option is to buy one (no re-fills or trade-ins with the bottles I’ve got). Sounds easy, I know. However, the larger bottle (around 13kg as well) is about 1 cm too tall to fit in my gas locker. Oops. There is a smaller bottle, a 3kg “Campingaz” bottle very common in Europe and apparently easy enough to trade or refill in other locations around the world. That’s cool. Too bad noone has a valve for the darn things. I went to 6 different stores and always found the bottles, but no valves. So even if I had the little bugger, I couldn’t use it. As chic and quasi-European as Martinique feels sometimes, it’s still thoroughly caribbean in other areas (like the sharp drop-off in the work or productivity of professional servcies after noon on Friday). Then again, I’m a cruiser and this is part of the lifestyle. Don’t be in a hurry if you want to be a cruiser. You’ll just get frustrated for nothing.
After the nice walk around town hunting for gas valves, I went back to the machine shope to pick up my stove and bbq mount. Right. The bastards (now I was getting pretty ticked) still hadn’t touched anything and had the gaul (actually, they’re Bretons) to tell me that they hadn’t had the time. As they are closed on the weekend, I don’t have a chance of seeing my stove or using my barbeque until Monday afternoon, at the earliest. The French word merde comes to mind, repeatedly.
So – that was today. Turns out that since my last post quite a few things have actually gone quite well.
Yesterday morning I resolved the bilge pump issue. I took a piece of plastic grating, a kind of flooring material, and wired the bases of the two pumps – the electrical bilge pump and the bronze spoon/scoop attached to the manual bilge pump – and secured the automatic floating switch the same way. The plastic grating was just the right size and so now the pumps are secured and right where they are supposed to be – on the bottom of the bilge! It was a load of my mind to finally get that one taken care of – so much so that I forgot to take a picture for Rimoli. Oh well. At least it works.
Later in the morning I picked up the Racor fuel filter / water separator to replace the MWM unit that I have. It was expensive but I feel good about it in the end because now I’m sure that I’m filtering the fuel efficiently with a clean filter. The other good thing is that the Racor filter elements are relatively easy to find in well-known cruising spots. They aren’t cheap enough here to stock up on them, but I did get one extra for the next change. I’ll pick up more in Colombia or Panama. Oh, and I installed a fuel shutoff valve just before the Racor too – something that had been overlooked at the boatyard.
I closed out the day with some cleaning, listening to a series of Live Trax albums from the great Dave Matthews Band. Excellent cleaning music! Adriana and Eduardo hosted me yet again on board the good ship Anima Mare for dinner and we feasted on a special Neopolitan recipe for meatballs. Che buoni!!!! It’s already lucky for me that they’re here – and even better that Adriana loves to cook so much. I’m the first cruiser to gain weight over a week, WITHOUT a stove to cook on. Thanks again Adri & Edu!!!
Now I’m sitting in the cockpit, waiting for sunset and the cooler breezes of the evening. My Baby is somewhere in NYC, hopefully well, with a place to stay tonight, and not too cold! Just thinking of all that snow reminds me of South Bend. If the motivation kicks in, I’ll dinghy over to Mango Bay (restaurant) and get on the internet to post these meager ramblings from a crowded bay in the French Antilles…
More soon gang, more soon.