The hurricane season in this region runs from 1st June to 30th November with August and September the most active months. As you can see from the image to the right, Trinidad has avoided the majority of major storms over the past 150 years. So far there hasn’t been anything of concern blowing in from the east but now that it’s August we’re keeping an eye on the weather forecasts a little more frequently. There have been close-calls for Trinidad and Tobago over the years – Hurricane Ivan probably the closest call back in 2004 – but not a direct hit for some time.
Trinidad has many public holidays – around 19 each year apparently – and there have been four during our stay at Power Boats. Besides religious observances for Christians, Muslims, Hindus, the latest holiday was Emancipation Day (1st August) which marks the end of slavery in the British Empire in 1834. Of course this is a holiday throughout many Caribbean countries, but not necessarily on the same day.
Like every day, we spent the holiday weekend working on the boat. Once Wayne had sanded our antifoul in preparation of applying fresh coats, it was obvious that the sub-surface wasn’t good enough to throw another couple of thousand dollars worth of primer and antifoul on. The epoxy layer under the primer was flaky and scraped off easily on some sections, exposing gelcoat underneath. There were also small blisters that needed to be sanded out. Perhaps the humidity or poor preparation in Thailand three years ago was the cause, but we’ve since learnt that unthickened epoxy doesn’t adhere well to gelcoat – who knows?
Our two options were to ignore it and hope it goes away; or do it properly by removing all traces of epoxy and sand back to gelcoat. After Wayne spent many, many hours sanding the hull back to the primer and removing all antifoul, he decided it was time to get some help if we were to get it back to gelcoat before Christmas! With me on our sander, Wayne on a rental 6″ orbital sander, plus two days help from a labourer on a 7″ sander, in a few days we managed to strip the hull back to gelcoat white and remove the small blisters that had appeared. Once the sanding was done and the bad layers removed, the hull was in good condition and we could prep it for painting.
In between sanding the hull, we also did plenty of other jobs. The paint on our poor Air-X wind generator was almost all off so that was repainted along with our weathered binnacle; the toilet seat we bought in Thailand obviously had a poor coat of paint that had badly deteriorated so the dunny seat also got a thick coat of Interprotect and Brightside – can’t imagine that will need painting in the near future! The second hand Tohatsu we bought in St Maarten needed the old paint scraped off; buffed then a fresh coat of black paint. Both our outboards received a service and with new Sunbrella covers they look good as new. In the back of Wayne’s mind over the past couple of years was a deteriorating exhaust manifold. This was rectified by local fabrication shop Chag Fab with some aluminium welding. We had our mainsail and our spare mainsail repaired at Superb Sails here at Power boats plus we had a useful teak drink holder made by local woodwork shop also at Power Boats. Always plenty of work to do on a boat!
But it hasn’t been too stressful. Each day we put in the hours making sure to finish in daylight so we can clean up and enjoy a cool evening inside the air conditioned saloon and watch old episodes of The Sopranos. For variety once a week we might go to the social BBQ held at the Roti Hut, or I’ll take a bus ride to the shops for groceries, while three mornings a week I cycle across to Coral Cove Marina for an stimulating morning yoga session with Nana, a fellow cruiser. Weekends are busy with locals filling up the yard with cars as they boat across to nearby islands. We bumped into a South African fella that we first met in Madagascar and last saw in South Africa, and another Aussie guy we also first met in South Africa, but generally most people leave their boats here while they travel back to other places around the globe to return in October/November.
Optimistically I think the boat will be ready to paint this week. The only hold up will be that August/September are the two wettest months in Trinidad! Each day around 10am a thunderstorm will pass over; followed by another one after lunch. Each time we quickly pack up our gear and sit upstairs to wait until it blows over. Usually in the afternoons it clears and we can continue.
The hull requires four coats of epoxy primer followed by two coats of antifoul – six coats overall as a minimum. We have the paint, the tools, and the time…