11th June 2023
Cayo Quamodo, Rio Dulce, Guatemala – Shell bay, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
In the corporate world we* used to spout such peals of wisdom as “Driving continual improvement processes enabling enhanced responsiveness, elevated efficiencies and heightened accountability’, we also had meeting after meeting and our diaries were crammed with appointments. Entering the Rio Dulce we not only feel like we we have left the sailing world behind but have re-entered the corporate one, thankfully without the verbal diarrhoea.
Our diary was crammed with appointments and first up was the was with the aptly named ‘Chloe the Rigger’. Chloe oozed French effervescence and as soon as she stepped on board her rigger credentials showed themselves. Needing to get all the rigging measured she scooted to the top of the mast with feet clod in flip flops, a micrometer in hand and a tape attached to her harness. Now needing someone to hold her tape her partner, without flip-flops, a harness or any safety gear seemed to be transported to the spreaders star trek style and in time found himself hanging on the backstay, standing on the boom and swinging on the gantry.
With critical measurements taken it was time for details. We talked of Gam SSB aerials. toggles and swages, straps vs buckles and all sorts of metal type rigging things that went over our heads but were well within Chloe’s. We felt that in her capable hands, together we’d be able to manage the painful logistics of ordering in Florida, swaging in Miami and delivering to the Rio and come the autumn we’d be ready to head offshore.
With the damage from Cuba still at the forefront of our minds we headed upriver to start the long painful road to recovery at Nanajuana Marina. Over a beer we met Tristan, the yard manager and arranged for him and his team to assess to damage. Carpenters crawled over the woodwork while welders measured and assessed the gantry. Downstairs Ruffian was pulled to bits to expose the damage and sharp intakes of breath highlighted the painful crack. On the bright-side we were complimented on our emergency epoxy and glass work (thank you Mattias from Mahala), Ruffian’s hull hadn’t been compromised and all that time in Cuba hadn’t been a waste.
Before any work can happen paperwork and agreements need to be put in place and this is where the pain began and Tristan from Nanajuana would be tested. All those who’d crawled over Ruffian had to be managed, the insurance companies contacted and schedules put in place. The progress is slow and control is out of our hands, but without the paperwork no physical progress can be made. We’re now in a waiting game.
Ruffian’s sidekick was also needing attention and so we took Brock off the ‘Hugo the Dinghy Doctor’. Hugo promised that Brock’s wear patches would be unworn, his broken handles fixed and on his return he’d be as good as new, but this meant that Brock would be away from home for a while and we’d have to make do with a Brock replacement.
Brock’s replacement was a workhorse. Every corner had scars and scuffs with glass-fibre poking out at jaunty angles, but he had a pedigree. All over the Rio he zipped, topping Brock’s top speed by 2 knots and taking up huge amounts of dock space, but most importantly he gave Brock the time for some R and R all ready for his appointment with Jessica where he’ll be given a new set of clothes.
Working our way through our spreadsheet the fridge was appearing at the top and once again experts were found and appointments made. We’d reached the limit of our troubleshooting, having replaced the fan, been inundated with internet suggestions and tried every single one of them. Some of those internet suggestions pointed to a very expensive faulty control box and after folding himself into our locker Juan Carlos had the same opinion. The problem was there were no control boxes in Guatemala, delivery from the USA would be slow and painful and the price tag for a tiny black box gave our hearts palpitations, but if we wanted cold beer, milk that wasn’t alive or vegetables that didn’t rot then we had no choice but to click the ‘buy it now’ button.
All these appointments, endless phone calls and bursting email inboxes make us feel like we have once again entered the corporate world. Spreadsheets that would once have contained forecasts, targets and meaningless tasks are being filled out to get Ruffian back on an even keel. After our first week in the Rio we feel like progress has been slow and the re-entering the corporate world have been less painful with the benefit that Iain could regurgitate such rubbish as ‘Driving continual improvement processes enabling enhanced responsiveness, elevated efficiencies and heightened accountability’.
* It was only Iain that spouted such rubbish. Fiona would never bring herself to do such a disservice to either the ears of those who she was talking to or the English language itself.
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