After closer investigation, the boat seems to be in surprisingly good shape.Â We went over our list with the boat sitter and the marina manager item by item, and what they have not already completed, they have detailed suggestions for.Â Today and tomorrow will be packed with repairs, maintenance, cleaning, sanding, and oiling.
Emigdio, the electronics guy, is checking out the single side band (SSB) and VHF (very high frequency) antennas.Â Although Iâ€™m no SSB expert, I have never been able to pick up anything resembling communication on any channel, and the VHF has been spotty at best.Â Antenna problems are fairly common, so hopefully Emigdio can save the day.Â Although we have two backup, handheld, battery-operated radios, the boat unit is quite convenient (and powerful) to use underway.
In matters less important but highly irritating, the light on the cockpit chartplotter (manufactured by our good friends at Raymarine) has burned out.Â We have called the Raymarine reseller in Panama City, who happened to have the guy from Raymarine standing next to him at the time of his call.Â Andy said that we needed a new lightbulb for a Raymarine RC520.Â The reseller relayed the message to the Raymarine guy, whose laughter was audible in the background.Â Apparently, this is viewed as a nearly prehistoric unit.Â This â€œancientâ€ equipment was new on this boat in 2001 and spare parts now basically canâ€™t be had.Â Have we mentioned how much we love Raymarine?
We arenâ€™t buying a whole new chartplotter just for a light bulb, so it looks like nighttime navigation checks will involve either a flashlight or a trip down to the navigation station belowdecks.
The ongoing saga of the boatâ€™s teak trim continues as well.Â The former owner of this boat prided himself on the flawless varnish job on the toe rail.Â Maintaining a perfect varnish job, however, has proven to be far more effort than we are willing to put into an essentially cosmetic project.Â As such, we decided to let the wood go natural.Â I sanded all the varnish off of the wood and treated it with teak oil.Â As it turns out, maintaining even the natural wood has also proved to be a lot of effort, especially in equatorial heat.Â But we think it looks even better than the varnish and itâ€™s not quite as much work.
When we arrive at places where people need work and labor is cheap, weâ€™ve been hiring people to sand and treat the rail, which is what we did last summer here in Cartagena.Â Another boat in the marina recommended a kid named Carlos.Â They said he did great work for them, and heâ€™s learning English at night while manually laboring during the day to support his wife and young son.Â After striking a deal with the eager young Carlos, we were informed by the marina manager that we had committed an infraction of sorts regarding the workmenâ€™s pecking order.Â There are guys who work here at the marina on a regular basis taking on any project available â€¦ no matter how difficult or unglamorous.Â In their view, Carlos is inconsistent â€¦ highly visible and very charming when a lot of cushy jobs are available and disappearing when the hard work starts.
Evidently, Carlos pulled another disappearing act right after we prepaid him and left the country last August.Â Now, on our return, Carlos is back but continues to be in especially poor favor with the regular workmen for a variety of reasons:Â 1) for skipping out on our project, and 2) taking off to Panama for a month and returning with T-shirts and souvenirs and stories of fun and adventure.Â And of course, Carlos is in pretty poor favor with us since itâ€™s clear he failed to complete the work for which he was commissioned.Â But our boat sitter, Alberto, is holding Carlosâ€™ feet to the fire, and a couple of days ago, Carlos returned to our doorstep with hat in hand.Â After some negotiation, we struck a compromise and agreed that Carlos owes two days of work.Â Because of his extended â€œvacation,â€ he pleaded for more work, but at that point, we didnâ€™t really have any more work for him or any real desire to fork over any more cash to him.Â In any event, we felt a bit bad that we had contributed drama to internal marina politics.
Back in Cartagena, we have been excited to revisit some of our favorite hotspots, especially the fantastic El Santisimo.Â Additionally, a new French bistro â€“ â€œOh-La-Laâ€ — has recently been opened by a French husband/Colombian wife team, and its pretty impressive value for money — delicious French specialties made with a nod to local Colombian ingredients and flare. Â Three courses plus wine ended up under $50 for the two of us the other night, and everything but the wine was pretty darn good.
Although we are quite sad to leave beautiful Cartagena, I am really excited to get this show on the road.Â We should pull out of here on March 5 and be in Colon, Panama, about two days later.