Birdwatching and bull watching.

21st October 2023

RAM Boatyard, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Magpies are attracted to shiny new things. They’ll peck and steal anything they see that pique’s their interest and then take it home with them. If Magpies were native to Guatemala then we would have been fighting off flocks of the beasts, as once again Ruffian has been bestowed with love and lots of new shiny things.

Fiona worked tirelessly turning the once rusty and dirty stainless into something that would attract the magpies and most importantly checking that the rust we were seeing was from the anchor chain and not the chainplates. Slowly the stem-head fitting, the pushpit and anything that could shine, shone.

Hoping to match the new look of the stainless our painting extravaganza continued. With small artist sized brushes we tackled the endless edges that cover the mid deck and then with nearly equally sized small brushes, we worked the new paint into all the crevices of the remaining tread-master. Slowly the deck was transformed and as we painted ourselves into corners we wished we had the wings of the magpies to escape.

Retiring into the shade of the cockpit, it was now time for the winches to be given the re-newing treatment. Opening them up we were in for a shock. Instead of finding just dirty grease we found no grease and instead of finding memories of taking apart these complicated mechanical components none surfaced.

Every gear, bearing, pawl, spring and shaft were removed soaked in petrol and made to look shiny and new. We meticulously catalogued each component and the order they were removed, hoping to ensure that upon reassembly we’d not have any pieces left over. Each winch was taken to bits with love and care and then put back together with grease covering every moving moving surface. All those dry nasty grinding noises were dispelled and replaced with slippery moist* ones. Remarkably, after hours of work and after taking every winch to bits, not only did we have no components left over, but each winch tuned and stopped just as designed.

Whilst we’d been busy giving targets to Magpies on Ruffian; Customs, RAM and Julian had been doing the same to our mast. Parts were starting to arrive from around the globe and as soon as they arrived they were bolted to the mast. SSB insulators were fitted to backstays, new lights and LED’s were bolted to the masthead and new stays attached to Ruffian. Bit by bit we were on the mend and bit by bit, as parts are slowly clearing customs, getting through the roadblocks and arriving, they were are being fitted onto Ruffian.**

Ashore there was also a need for new components, but this time it wasn’t for anything as material as a boat, it was for people; the rodeo was in town.

With all the expected flamboyance of a rodeo, the riders prepared to meet their 2 tonne foes. Clad in nothing more than leather chaps, cowboy hats and a heap of male bravado they mounted their steeds who bucked and kicked inside their little pens. Just as the bulls were reaching a crescendo of annoyance they were let loose in the bull ring where they jumped and bucked trying to dislodge their riders who clung on with all their might.

As expected, no riders stamina outlasted the bulls, and each, in succession, was thrown to the floor. As they landed, the hoofs of the bulls pounded the ground threatening to break bones, crush skulls and tear ligaments. Some escaped with no more than dirty knees ready to celebrate with their comrades, but others were not so lucky as they either hobbled off with broken legs or ankles or were helped off with much more serious injuries. All this to the roar of the admiring crowds, the girls dressed up to the nines and for the attention of aspiring breeders who stood by like Mafioso with big threatening guns strapped to their sides.

The rodeo riders were not the only people in the queue for new bones, Iain also joined this queue. After many months of preparation work he was finally ready to have his dental implant; implanted. Lying back in the dentist’s chair he looked on as tiny screwdrivers, little ratchets and a pearly white tooth sat next to him awaiting installation. Opening his mouth he felt the screw being driven into his jaw and heard click after click as the tiny ratchet drove everything home. After mere minutes in the chair, he had more teeth in his face than the previous 25 years and was pleased he’d jumped the queue in front of all those poor rodeo riders.

There are lots of new and shiny things everywhere we look, from the deck of Ruffian to her mast or from Iain’s jaw to the walking wounded in town. Thankfully we’ve not seen any magpies circling to take away any newness and there is more newness in the offing as components clear customs, avoid the blockades and push Ruffian down the road to recovery.

*Moist. Such a great word.

** Worryingly there are still lots of parts waiting to clear customs, waiting to arrive and waiting for the rigger’s attention.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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