Monthly Archives: October 2014
I was distractedly but mechanically rowing our rental Daihatsu BEGO up the mountain side towards Puntarenas, knee pads in hand for our monthly begging session with customs when the BEGO begged for still another lower gear. As I searched for something more appropriate for mountain climbing in the little white wonder, I noticed two large birds flying very closely together, barely eight meters above us on a parallel course. Let’s see, two birds flapping like crazy in close formation, long tails dragging in the slip-stream, blunt noses looking for all the world like a WWII B-24 bomber…must be macaws. I slowed the BEGO down to fifteen KPH (not a hardship) and punched the hazard button. Yep, they are scarlet macaws and they’re keeping pace, pumping away right above us. We followed them for five minutes until they bore off to the left. Pure magic, pura vida.
So much had happened in so short a time that I shouldn’t have been surprised. The advance party from Mack Sails arrived Wednesday from Stuart, Florida. Jeff and Rick instantly tucked in with what we soon recognized as their focused, intense but calm, careful, and methodical approach to an amazing amount of details that we hadn’t even considered. Unforeseen issues were par for the course and simple but elegant solutions were custom engineered on the fly. Let’s just agree that it’s not just a big aluminum extrusion but boxes and boxes of bits and pieces that have to work in concert, otherwise it just might end up at the bottom of the ocean. I tell no lies.
Colin Mack, in the meantime, was finishing up the Annapolis sailboat show and was due in Friday but a Spirit Airlines hiccup caused a late night switch which meant no Colin until Saturday which meant all hands on deck. Marce and I decided to help out by doing what I call dumb work like unbolting and prying off the massive chain plates, and pretzeled stanchions, finding out that only a few bolt holes were reasonably close to the original.
With the Pacific surge in the marina it was obvious that Escape Velocity would have to be pulled out and blocked to step the mast. We set the lift for first thing Monday morning. Sunday was a lay day for everyone but Marce and me, which allowed us to tie up loose ends and ready the new through-hull sensors.
First thing Monday we threw off the docklines and motored to the lift and the whole crew worked at high intensity. By the time the daily late afternoon deluge hit the mast was stepped, standing rigging set, and even Max Soto, Costa Rica’s very own part time rigger and architect showed up and worked around everyone to swage the loose ends of the new lifelines.
Marce and I spent the night aboard in the yard, a reminder of our hot and dusty month in Trinidad last year. At dawn I pulled off the old depth and speed transducers and prepped the holes for the new ones, and as soon as the crew showed up Colin helped install them.
With that done and dusted and the boom installed Colin announced we were ready to splash and finish up in the water. EV was swimming before by 9am!
While they bent on the sails, Gustavo, the fiberglass/gel coat guy, showed up after being AWOL for six weeks. Total chaos. By lunch we took EV across the marina a bonafide sailboat once again, with Gustavo still working on board.
Dear Escapees, I simply can’t describe what I was feeling. The new rig is robust almost to the point of being industrial, but beautifully efficient and better in every way.
Iriam, our personal and by now very familiar Customs agent, stamped us once again to keep us legal until we can finish up and head out.
It just goes to show when the planets align like this, even scarlet macaws guide you up the mountainside.
Pura vida, Baby.
Rick and Jeff started again at the crack of dawn and have made serious headway. Our job was to remove the old chain plates and make some progress on removing the old stem fitting. We’ve been extremely lucky with the weather, a fact I even hesitate to write in case I jinx it.
And of course as soon as I wrote the R-word it started.
You know it’s a sorry state of affairs when you can count the day you’re having as a great day just because a guy you’ve called at least fifteen times actually answers his phone. You heard me right. The mysterious Max Soto, architect and part time sailboat rigger, is alive, apparently well and sure he has a lifeline swager as long as our lifeline wire is 3/16″ which ours just so happens to be. I resisted the urge to tell him that apparently his is the only one in Costa Rica and he’d be delighted to drop by the barco Monday or maybe Tuesday. Yes I know dear Escapees you’re saying here we go again with the mañana business but what progress, what optimism.
I was so elated that I thought why not go for the daily double and hunt down our elusive yard manager? I’ll return his West epoxy now that I got tired of waiting for the fiberglass guy and filled all the old stanchion holes myself. Why am I doing all this work for free when my insurance company is willing to pay somebody else to do it?
So at this point I figure there’s no stopping this kind of mojo…why, there he is now sitting in his well chilled office. Oh, by the way, he says, as I sink down into his cool plush upholstered chair, the fiberglass gel-coat guy will be on EV Thursday…I tell you dear Escapees I was gobsmacked. I mean that’s realworld communication. Sweet Jesus what a day! It’s a poverty of dreams that I couldn’t think of anything else to ask for. A day like this should not go wanting but, well there it is.
Mack Sails should be here this Wednesday and the man himself this Friday so what could go wrong?
All in all I’d have to say it was a pretty good weekend. We went to the magnificent town market twice, Friday evening to load up on fresh produce, and again on Saturday morning to buy a couple of cleverly designed whistles made by this man, Walter, who can get music out of these tiny instruments you wouldn’t believe if you weren’t standing right in front of him. We have no illusions about our own abilities to play as well as he does, but we couldn’t resist his infectious charm.
Saturday afternoon Sharon and Kim from Georgia J arrived on their way back to Golfito after a week’s vacation in Nicaragua. Having them aboard brightens our spirits so much. Conversation picked up where it left off the last time they were here and we chattered nonstop all day and into the night.
We took the advice of Ed, the Sinatra-singing, Naval historian Boat Doc from down the dock and drove up the mountain to Manuel Antonio for a wood-fired pizza.
We all agreed it was the best pizza any of us had eaten since the States.
Back on Escape Velocity it was an early night, as we’re running on empty with the various stresses of our lives being in a constant fluid state. It’s a Formula 1 weekend so a little after 5am I became aware that Jack was awake and watching the Russian Grand Prix on the iPad, listening through earbuds. The race was over by 7 and by that time the coffee was made, Sharon and Kim were up and we spent a last hour together in the cockpit eating fresh pineapple and watching the marina detailers swab the boat in the next slip.
We said goodbye to friends we’re sure we’ll keep despite that it may be a long time before we’re together again. Shortly after they drove away the rain came and chased us indoors for a while. I was wrapped up in online archive newspaper research following some family history leads when I heard Jack call me from on deck. I ran outside to see this lovely good omen for the coming week.
With a short break in the weather we finished installing the new starboard side lifelines.
We finished the day on the foredeck with another stunning sunset, planning our week ahead.