1st October 2023
RAM Boatyard, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Waterfalls, huge vistas, sunsets, culture; these are all hugely photogenic. Inner emotions, traumatic thoughts, emails, contracts, damage reports; these cannot be captured through the lens of a camera. After the chaos of our mast crashing down, RAM’s clear negligence and our lives being derailed there have been limited photographic opportunities.
After the disaster of the previous days our bodies were filled with conflicting emotions. One minute we were full of rage, then bereft with grief, then full of resignation and this cycle repeated itself time and time again. While going though this we considered giving up sailing, going RVing, or simply going back to the nasty corporate life that, while we were in this pain, looked simple, safe and inviting. In the back of our minds however we knew that we had no choice but to work our way through this.
With Julian the rigger we picked over the mast in fine detail and there was both good and bad news. The spar had survived, the spreaders were not bent, but there was lots of collaterol damage. All the electronics at the top of the mast were in pieces, mast steps had been bent and broken, tang receptors were dented and bruised, but the worst news was reserved for our headsail foils*
Laying the foils on the ground, section after section was twisted and bent. The joints had been stressed and needed replacing as well as sleeves, bushes, and rivets. To make matters worse the only source for all of these components is North America, they’re fagile and awkward to ship and the logistics of getting them into Guatemala are complicated. Once again our emotions went through their painful cycle and photos were not forthcoming.
On board Ruffian there was also good and bad news. Ruffian’s strong deck and ocean ready windows had survived the impact but everywhere we looked we saw irritating damage. Paint was scratched, lifelines were bent, and stanchion bases were crazed. Varnish that was only weeks old had been scraped off and the new windows in our sprayhood was damaged. With all the assessments the news was bad, but it could have been so much worse.**
With the boat and mast surveyed we could now start working our way towads a resolution and our emotions started taking a turn for the worse. We’d now lost any semblance of control, as surveyors slowly generated their reports, our emails were either ignored or just partially answered and the slow progress that we saw was inacurate, incomplete and amateur. If our confidence had been dented when the mast was dropped it was now broken.
Knowling that the owner of RAM had a reputation for simply removing boats from his yard if he didn’t get on with the owners irrrespective of completion of works, we knew we had to tread carefully. We had to do something to take our minds away from our predicament and what better way than getting intimate with Ruffian. We set about the task of prepping her hull for antifoul paint; armed with nothing more than scotchbright pads, water, sandpaper and scrapers.
What was left of the antifoul on the hull was slowly transferred onto our hands, faces, legs and clothes as we first washed, then scraped and then wet sanded the hull. After 2 days of hard work Ruffian’s bottom was smooth, all ready for fresh paint and we’d transformed ourselves into Smurfs.
As hours had turned into days, and days turned into a week, there still seemed no urgency in getting Ruffian fixed. The offer of phone calls to gee things along were refused, the concept of video calls to pull everything together rebutted and face to face meetings were impossible as people were scattered all over Guatemala. Then it transpired the MD and CEO were returning from the USA and Guatemala city. Our hopes of some progress soared.
Sitting down with those in charge at RAM we ran through iteration after iteration of documents. Pages flew out of the printer and hot off the press they were marked up, changed and reviewed***. More photos of Ruffian were taken and yet more printing happened and finally we were in agreement in what needed fixing. With documents signed now RAM just had to make good and undo all the damage they’d done.
The first stage in Ruffian’s reconstruction involves ordering components from all over the globe. Once again this is a non photogenic activity, but in time we will spash, in time we will be in blue water, in time we will visit waterfalls and huge vistas and once again photos will flow.
* Headsail foils slip over the forestay and make a grove for the sails to sit in.
** It was incredibly lucky that no-one was killed, and that the mast survived. Conversly it could have been so much better if RAM hadn’t been negligent in their procedures in fixing the cranes cable to the hook.
*** We thought that the incompetance, ignorance and lack of emotional intelligence was just because of language and email. Sadly there was also incompetance, ignorance and lack of emotional intelligence when we met one to one.
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