The major projects have been checked off the list with the most recent being replacing some of the steering gear. The steering wheel is mounted on a pedestal that has a chain running through it connected to cables that run through several pulleys then attach to the rudder post. One of these pulleys was no longer turning when we turned the wheel and needed to be replaced. A call to the manufacturer informed us that our system was well beyond it's expected life and most of it needed to be replaced. Since being able to steer is high on our priorities we agreed. Of course, any project creates several more. While the locker that gives us access to the steering was empty we took the opportunity to replace the packing where the rudder post goes through the deck. Unfortunately I couldn't reach it to do the work so we had to hire it done. The pedestal is made of aluminum and had some corrosion in a couple of areas that I always meant to get at and now was the perfect time while it was out. Again, I looked at it and decided there were two ways to do it, my way and the right way. We opted for the right way and hired one of the workers to strip it, etch the aluminum so it would hold the paint and to paint it. This turned out to be the right decision since it turned out looking like new. Replacing the steering gear was almost an easy task, if you consider crawling in and out of locker and trying to work either upside-down or on your side with only one arm easy. I only lost one nut to the bilge in the process, almost a record. Of course Edson (the manufacturer) was right, we had reached end of life. Several of the other pulleys could have been replaced but a local machine shop was able to replicate the worn center pins and there are as good as new. The new chain and cable assembly went in without too much trouble. The bearings and parts in the pedestal were replaced and it appears that the rudder is properly turning when the wheel is turned. Steering is good!
Not all of our time was spent on projects. We have met a number of other cruisers that are also getting their boats ready and a number of happy hours have happened. We also took a day off to go on what is called "The Taste of Trinidad Tour". This is a tour around the island stopping to sample traditional Trinidad foods. Trinidad food is derived from African and East Indian settlers using their traditional recipes with the local fruits and vegetables. The tour kicks off when the bus picks up at 9:00 am after the driver (Mr. Jesse James) has picked up some traditional breakfast dishes on his way. We were eating before we left the parking lot and that is what we did for the next eleven hours. He would drive for a bit, stop get a dish which we could all sample. There were nine of us on the tour. There were many foods I cannot remember, pronounce or will ever have again. Only a couple of them I would say I did not like. By lunch time we had made over 13 stops and had sampled around 40 different dishes or fruits. Lunch consisted of five Indian dishes eaten at a beach on the east side of the island with the Atlantic Ocean behind us. From there we continued. We lost count of the number of dishes we tried. Some of the memorable one were: bbq pigs tails (delicious), cow heel soup (okay), and what Jesse called the "alien fruit" which he was able to get at one of the fruit stands. It is not a fruit but looks somewhat like a flying saucer, if you use your imagination. After chopping off the top we found brazil nuts inside with the shells easy to crack open. Brazil nuts fresh off the tree, who would have imagined it? We made stops at every imaginable restaurant,(we stayed in the bus), roadside vendor, roadside fruit stands (one selling pickled fruits), and even a stop at a cocoa field to steal a cocoa pod for sampling of fresh cocoa beans. The day ended with a stop at an ice cream vendor in Port of Spain, the capital city. Eleven hours of eating, traveling and learning about this beautiful and fascinating island and it's people. We took one evening to experience several steel band performances. The steel drum originated here after WWII and has become an art form. During Carnival in February there is a steel band competition with bands in different size classes. We saw five bands in the 20 member class perform. Bands can be up to about 120 members. We have often heard one or two drums performing but that is nothing like twenty playing their hearts out. I have posted one of the Christmas songs to our YouTube channel.
We finished a couple of minor projects: touching up the bottom paint and the non-skid paint, scrubbing the boat down, servicing the thru-hulls and just getting prepared for the coming season. We have made a couple of trips for provisioning, they have scheduled buses that will take the cruisers to several stores and on Saturday to the public market. Saturday we made the run to the market and then got dropped off downtown Port of Spain to do some sightseeing.
We think we are ready, so continue coming back to read of our adventures.
Barbecued pig tails
Roadside fruit stand
Jesse with the "alien fruit"