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.