New fangled plastic.

Shinier than new.

5th August 2023

Nanajuana Boat Yard, Rio Dulce, Guatemala.

Lists are brilliant. You simply write down all your tasks and as one is completed it gets ticked off. Importantly, if a task is finished that is not on the list then it’s quickly added and then in a flurry of activity, ticked off. Our boat yard list is 209 lines long and the ticks have been coming thick and fast.

Outside, the crack in the hull caused by the French catamaran was slowly disappearing and the final coats of paint were not far away. Matching new paint of one brand with 10 year old paint of another is no mean feat and so we had the fun had to restore Ruffian to her previous whiteness ready for the painters from Nanajuana boatyard to work their magic.

Out came the Oxalic acid and bit by bit the stains, marks, and ‘smile’ that had been gained through 1000’s of miles slowly disappeared. The whiteness of the hull however wasn’t the only white that the acid was attracted to. As Fiona worked hard the noxious mixture splashed into the white of her eyes. Suddenly the tingling in her hands was replaced by burning in her eyes and this burning was replaced by the ignominy of having to take an outside boatyard shower from a scabby boatyard hosepipe to wash her eyes and face.

The boat jobs continued and our list was being decimated. Varnishing, tick; painting, tick; veneer, tick; bolt checks, tick; lubrication, tick. We’d even gone to the extent of tracking all these tasks in spreadsheets and we could see cell after cell turn green, progress bars increase and %done metrics neared fruition. We nearly got to the point of looking for jobs to add, and then our packages arrived…

From all over the world boxes containing ‘bits’ for Ruffian arrived. All those jobs that had the status ‘awaiting components’ and were a delightful yellow, changed to ‘To Do’ with a scarlet red colour. Now water pumps could be installed, battery chargers changed, seacocks replaced and we were to once again focussed on getting those ticks on the list.

We started by focusing on the easy jobs and slowly the jobs became increasingly scary and the scariest was going to involve an angle grinder, Ruffian’s hull and potential disaster if were got it wrong. We were changing our old school bronze seacocks with modern ‘new fangled’* plastic ones.

In the true spirit of Guatemala health and safety, we spun up the angle grinder with flip flops protecting our feet and sunglasses in-front of our eyes. Sparks flew as the bronze was sliced open and the outside of the through hull was ‘nibbled’ away. The only thing holding the seacock in place now was sika-flex, the stuff that notoriously holds ‘stuff in place’.

Getting brutal we pushed and levered the seacock from inside Ruffian, thankfully not being able to see the flexing of her hull or hear the creaky noises that were emanating outside. The sika-flex** was very much doing its job, but was no match for Iain’s ignorance as it parted from Ruffian leaving a big hole all ready for our new tech.

With the old sika-flex having done such a good job, threads, holes and backing plates of the new seacock were all given a new liberal covering of the stuff. As expected the sika-flex wasn’t happy to remain in the places where we wanted it to, so Iain covered his hands, his arms, then his elbows in the stuff and proceeded to cover everything else around him. It remains a mystery how such a small amount of sika-flex can cover quite so many surfaces

The jobs list continues to be ticked off and the cells in the spreadsheet slowly turn from scary red, though happy yellow, to completed green. Although the 209*** line spreadsheet continues to grow, the greens are slowly conquering the red and we’re slowly winning..

* The sailing community is so old school. Navigation should be done on paper, rigging should be steel and seacocks should only be made of bronze. We navigate electronically, we might change to dyneema rigging and our seacocks are going plastic.

** Sika-flex is a marine sealant and adhesive, it comes in numerous strengths of adhesion and permanency. For thru hulls and seacocks you want something strong enough to keep the seacock in place, and stop the boat sinking, but you do need to be able to replace the seacock from time to time, so we use a semi-permanent flexible version called 291i.

*** At the time of writing the spreadsheet has grown to 316 lines, has macros, pivot tables, linked contact information, metrics and lookup tables to name a few. Who would know that Iain and Fiona used to live in Excel.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

1 thought on “New fangled plastic.

  1. You guys are amazing. Obviously not the adventure you wanted to be going through but an adventure none the less. Brian is an excel boy and would be very proud ūüėĀ
    I hope you are out on the oceans again soon. Best wishes for Christmas and an amazing 2024. Rah xxxx

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