Today is the last day I am alone on board the boat, hopefully for a long time. I’ll get back to why later. First I want to look at how my time on Curacao has gone since the last charter was over.

When the family of 5 walked ashore, they gave me a few touching farewell presents. First of all they gave me a few different DVD’s with fitting reasons why they were given to me. Then they gave me $100 to invest in fishing equipment, so that I can finally become a proficient fisherman. This should be a good match for me: I love eating fish, so now I can become good at catching them as well. It could also do wonders for my food budget. Lastly they gave me a nearly full 1.5 kg tin of  peanuts, that they wished me good luck on finishing … They had tried to polish it off, but hardly made a dent in it. I needed to provide pictures of not only finishing the peanuts, but also of the first time I fish with my own equipment, my first catch, the first time I gut a fish (something I need to learn) and naturally my first self caught meal.

With the boat to myself I immediately went to work … Actually I didn’t. I enjoyed a day of rest and relaxation, catching up on emails and doing as little as possible.

Then I went to work. My first task was the laundry bag. I had 16 kg of laundry: sheets and towels from the charter and my dirty clothes. I jammed it into my backpack and headed into the laundromat in town. While it is expensive for a laundromat, it’s quick and my stuff always smells awesome when I leave there, because the ladies working there don’t allow me to pour my own detergent, so they really pour it in and insist on fabric softener.

After laundry I met up with Ian and Westa and enjoyed a terrific cactus soup and fried fish lunch while catching up. They will hopefully come up to Spaanse Water (where I am anchored) before I sail to Bonaire. No matter what I look forward to sail with them to Venezuela.

Back on the boat, I started looking at the things I needed to address:

1. making a new bridle after my old one disintegrated on Klein Curacao
2. Repairing my autopilot
3. Fixing my delaminating dinghy
4. Fixing my fridge
5. Changing out my old trampoline with a brand new one
6. Fixing my broken pulpit seat
7. Sorting out my wind generator
8. Sourcing all the spare parts I need

So how have I done so far? Not too great to be honest. Mostly because all of them needed a bit of research before I could get cracking and you’d be amazed how much time research takes.

Do I have a bridle now? Yes a temporary one, because they didn’t have the stainless steel thimbles I needed to make the new bridle chafe proof. They do have them on Bonaire, so the thimbles are waiting for me there, so that I can make the bridle then.

Repairing my autopilot. Wow … I never thought it would be this difficult. A repairman had looked at it while I was off the boat on St. Thomas and his conclusion was that I needed a new motherboard and a new pump. I paid the Furuno repairman from Radio Holland on Curacao $250 to tell me exactly the same. Then I ordered $2000 in parts, only to find out that the repairman didn’t have any idea about the autopilot, because I seriously knew more than him. He was on board for a few inconclusive hours today, spending more time on the phone with other repairmen, so that they could tell him what to do. It was frustrating, made more so by him being so big, that I had to do much of the work in confined places, because he just couldn’t fit. In the end he had to throw in the towel and go home to try to figure out off Internet why he couldn’t get the autopilot to work … Needless to say it’s frustrating when you get repairmen like that. So as of writing this I have all the parts on board, the new CPU is hooked up, but because he lacked connections he couldn’t connect the new hydraulic pump and most importantly I don’t have a functioning autopilot.

The one thing I have made proper progress on is my dinghy. I have given it to a specialist. The boatbuilder Andy Carter is stripping it down and taking care of the delamination. He’s also strengthening it and if he does half as good a job as he says he will, my dinghy will rock … it will also cost me dearly, but hey … all in the spirit of boating, right? … Having said that, I need a dinghy and the one I have will be restored back to its former awesomeness once Andy is done with it.

I am halfway there on my fridge. I found out that the thermostat wasn’t properly connected, so I did that and plugged up the drainage hole in the bottom, hoping that it would be enough to sate the amp hunger, but it still didn’t do the trick, because the fridge still drains around  7-8 amps per hour. Tomorrow I’m going to try to get a hold of a fridge mechanic, to see if he can refill it with gas, to see if that will do the trick.

I have all the parts needed to change my trampoline with the new one, except for a thin polyester line, so instead of finding another line, I’ve procrastinated and not done it, but once I get the polyester line I will do it… really … I will … seriously.

Together with Keld, who I’ll talk more about soon, I attempted to reattach the pulpit seat. The problem is that two of the bolts can only be reached through a tiny inspection hatch. I can get my arm in, but then I can see in, because my arm fills the whole hatch. The bolt furthest away sits 92 cm away from the hatch. For me to reach it with my hand, I would have to be about 2.5 meters tall, in which case my arm probably wouldn’t fit in through the hatch anyway, so I had to do all sorts of gaffataping and hoseclamping on tools to extend them. It didn’t eliminate the problem of getting enough torque at that angle and hitting the bolt, screwing it through the deck and into the chair without dropping the bolt into the forward area, where it is impossible to retrieve it. Needless to say that’s exactly what I did, so now I’ve delayed putting the pulpit chair back on again, until I can get a hatch installed that I can actually poke more than just my arm through. The plan is now to install an Armstrong hatch (ironic name all things considering) on Grenada that allows me to get my upper body into the forward area, so that I can attach the damned bolts to the pulpit chair and re-attach it once and for all.

The wind generator saga is long, painful and unproductive. The short of it is that my Airbreeze wind generator is a piece of shit that gives me less amps than possible to imagine, so I’ve been a “bit” unhappy with it. I am now trying to swap it for a new one and after a new row of emails with Southwest Windpower it looks like I might be allowed to do that. It means that I send the piece of shit back to them and they hopefully send me a piece of working sh.. windgenerator back. We’ll see. I’m waiting on that final confirmation from them … I have to admit that once I figured out how to email the CEO of their company, it really speeded up their response time 😉

The last thing I’ve been working on is getting a lot of spare parts and thanks to Suzan at African Cats I’m doing really good in this regards. She has been a wizard in finding what I need, so when I get to Grenada I’m going to have a LOT of spare parts waiting for me. Spare parts that will be vital once I head into the Pacific.

So all in all I’m not doing too great on my list, but I’m getting there.

I have made a great new friend: Keld from the boat aptly named “Freedom”. He’s from Copenhagen and is a retired UN pilot (used to fly Hercules airplanes into every horrible place they were involved: Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, etc. Pretty much if there has been a war, he has been there. He’s been a great help to me and a lot of fun to be around. I’d like to think that the help has been mutual, because I’ve helped him with some technical software related stuff, but truth be told, between the great meals I’ve had on his boat and all the help he’s given me on mine, I really owe him. Hopefully I’ll catch back up with him when I head to Panama.

I’ve also been working on renewing the Fastcat website together with Kely. When I say I have … I mean she has, with input from me. It’s not ready to be launched yet, but when the new site goes live, you’ll know … and it will be awesome.

Gideon has also been awesome with any questions I’ve had and we’ve had daily chats on Skype. I’m very excited about the launch of African eMotion. I’ve already told him that when I’m ready to upgrade from African Innovation, eMotion is the one I have my eyes on.

All right, this became a long one … and one without pictures I’m sorry to say … I need to remind myself to take more pictures. Now it’s however time to hit the sack, because tomorrow is a brand new day. I have a new crew member joining me, so that will be fun and exciting. Claudia will be joining me for an undecided length of time, so now I no longer have to worry about falling asleep at the wheel … well … I still do, but now I can share the burden with someone else. But now it is bedtime! Good night!