Each day gets me a little closer. While I await my ship registration papers, I have been fixing the glitches. First, that she isn't sea-worthy: this is a biggie. I added some planking to her sides, adding six inches of freeboard. I also installed deflectors fore and aft, to keep the cockpit drier.
I also installed the rudder. I have to work out how to control it, but I will do that in the water. It is a strange characteristic of this type of sail, that the bulk of the steering is done by manipulating the sails, and the rudder is for a quick push to get her turned. We'll see how that works.
I am still waiting for the ship registration papers to come in. I got severely held up by the Canadian Consulate. I am very unhappy with the runaround they gave me. You see, it is important to me to register the boat as a Canadian vessel. This grants me the protection of the Crown, whatever that may mean, and allows me to identify the vessel as Canadian by flying the Maple Leaf off the stern.
To register a vessel, you need to provide all kinds of documents, including a declaration of ownership. If the vessel is being built outside of Canada this form needs to be notarised by a Consular Officer. Well the nearest Canadian Consulate is in Guatemala City, but Belize has an Honorary Consul, (certainly more of an honour for her than for Canada). I called and asked for an appintment to see the honorary consul, explaining my need. I was asked to give my name, a time period convenient to me for the meeting and a phone number where I could be reached, and when the Consul would come in, she would check her appointments schedule, and make one for me. "When will she be in next?", I innocently asked, and was told she only comes in when she has an appointment scheduled. I wondered how she was ever going to get an appointment if she only made them when she came in, and she only came in when she had one. Seems a convenient lifestyle to me. I hope she isn't paid for this "Honorary" position.
After two months of this nonsense, I called once again, and was told "We have been trying to reach you. I'll get the Consular Officer and ask her to call you right away." I was aghast: finally some break in the inertia. So a few minutes later, a Consular Officer called me, and told me that my situation had been discussed in Guatemala, and that they were not going to cooperate with my request. I should go to a local notary or lawyer and get them to notarise it for me. Shit, I could have done that months ago. so the next day I did. Now I am waiting for my papers to arrive.
In the meantime, there is still work to be done. The Manatee looks too much like a Stealth bomber, and, although the epoxy paint is hard and strong, I want more layers between the boat and the water. Plus I thought that a black boat might be a touch hot under a tropical sun.
So how about a white boat, with blue trim and decking? Tomorrow another coat goes on, and then I'll turn her on her side and paint the topsides.
Riding my bike around Dangriga the other night, I was mentally saying goodbye. It is a different impression you get of a town at night: reggae music spills out an open doorway, light leaks out a thousand cracks in a clapboard house, riddled with termites and dry rot. After a while you realise all sorts of people are watching you ride by, sitting silently in porches or on concrete steps, shadows in the cooling night air. You ride half standing, to cushion the shock of unseen potholes, watching for dogs out for mischief. Everyone you pass says 'goodnight'.
I like the people here. Everyone calls you brother no matter what colour or race you appear to be. They are well mannered, especially the kids. The women scare me though. They can be pretty big and they yell and swear a lot. hehe.
I'll be finishing up pretty soon and I hope to have some pictures of her under sail. But first we'll see if she keeps the waves out. Until then