3rd July 2023
Shell bay, Rio Dulce, Guatemala – Shell Bay, Rio Dulce, Guatemala via San Filipe, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
The Rio Dulce literally translates as ‘sweet water’ and this sweet water rejuvenates, revitalises and removes the ravages of the open ocean. The Rio Dulce has been true to its name as Ruffian has started the long road to recovery, our bodies have started the process of rejuvenation and our list of jobs has been slowly reducing.
The most pressing issue of getting Ruffian rejuvenated was attacking our non operational fridge. Without cold water, or worse still, without cold beer, other work simply couldn’t happen. We had a new fridge control unit ordered in America but knew this would take an age to turn up and then after making a request on the cruisers net Adam on Free Spirit magically ‘found’ one in a locker. With the control box in hand Juan attended, plugged it in, re-gassed the tubes and the the fridge sparked into life. Now with cold water and cold beer on hand other work could happen.
Next on the list for renewal has nothing to do with Ruffian but everything to do with our bodies. Since the Balearic Islands Iain’s teeth had been failing and ever since he turned 40 he’d been fighting the change in his eyes, so opticians and dentists were now top of our billing and much to her consternation Fiona couldn’t escape.
Entering the dentist Fiona braced herself for pain and a telling off but as she opened her mouth wide the dentist was as gentle as a new born fawn and as caring as a mother with a newborn. She escaped with clean teeth a big smile and ushered Iain into the fold. Iain was clearly not quite so lucky or hardy. The dentist gave sighs and huffs as wimpy Iain winced at the pain of cleaning and then started grimacing as bad news was delivered. A crown, a bridge and an implant were all required to turn his classic 1980’s NHS teeth into a working set of gnashers.
With multiple visits ticked off in the diary Iain suffered each one in silence*. The gaping holes in his mouth were slowly filled and brutal NHS dentistry was replaced with the greatest of Guatemalan expertise. The implant however was beyond even the dentist and a dental surgeon was called in.
Iain knew things were getting serious when a black cloth covered his face and he saw light glinting off the scalpel that was about to slice his jaw open allowing for the implant to be drilled into his jaw. Full of local anaesthetic there was no pain but there was no disguising the damage being done as the drill dug deep into his jaw while the dentist was doing everything he could to tap a hole into bone.
The gentle surgical tools were then put aside and out came a phillips screwdriver that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Ruffian’s toolbox. As the implant made its way deep into Iain’s jaw he could hear the squeaks and groans as the screwdriver drove a coarse thread home and this was confirmed by the happy snapshots that the surgeon took before Iain was allowed to escape.
Brock was also not escaping the theme of refitting and he was off to get a whole new set of clothes. Jessica’s Canvas took him in and started tailoring a cover that would fit to his curvaceous lines, protect him from the ravages of offshore chafe and the incessant rubbing on the davits when Ruffian rocks. He returned time and again for fittings and measuring and with a final flurry was dressed in his new clothes, complete with an outboard cover and Ruffian’s logo shining on his bow. He was smart again and ready to once again take us on countless dinghy safaris.
The final piece of the puzzle that required love was poor Ruffian. Over time her varnish had been growing thin and knowing what a pain varnishing is, it was a job we’d been putting off. All our excuses vanished as the varnishing duo of Carlos and his brother Dani came to asses the job. Running their hands along the wood they filled us with confidence, gave us a price, but only if they could start the very next day.
Ruffian was quickly turned from a home into a workshop with every varnished surface exposed and every comfortable surface removed. The rubbing down began in earnest and Ruffian was engulfed in a cloud of dust. No part of Ruffian was spared, heads were inoperable, the galley out of bounds, the saloon was reduced to a collection of wood and the chart table was just a encumbrance.
For days surfaces were cleaned of their finishes and chemicals made us high as we worked around the chaos, but this bedlam was nothing compared to what was to come. Now with every surface readied for varnishing the real solvent abuse could begin.
The smell of thinners pervaded the air downstairs and Cetol filled our nostrils upstairs. As coat after coat was applied the smell of thinners left and was replaced by 100% varnish and with each coat Ruffian’s lustre increased, her glossy shine returned and she started looking loved once again.
While Ruffian was in chaos we were also working tirelessly in organising our next painful project; rectifying the damage from the allision in Cuba. Emails were flying between project managers, contractors and insurance companies all in an effort to gain consensus in the works and costs involved. Bit by bit documents were agreed upon, specifications drafted and schedules of work created. Just as Carlos and Dani applied the final coat of vanish our next project was about to begin.
For one single night Ruffian looked resplendent with everything back in its place and her wood shining, off the back of Ruffian, Brock sat with his new clothes looking smart and shipshape while Fiona and Iain were able to read the labels of their hors-d’oeuvres and enjoy a well deserved sundowner.
This one night was a small respite before the really big projects begin. In 24 hours we haul and Ruffian will then be opened up to fix the crack in her hull, the bent gantry and davits replaced with straight ones and all the internal broken cabinetry repaired. We’ve spent the last weeks rejuvenating, revitalising and removing ravages on Ruffian, but time was just a precursor to the main painful event.
* If silence can be seen as crying out and doing anything he could to get sympathy from the dental assistants.
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