Sunday, January 30, 2011

This season in Belize, I have a much looser schedule, and have had plenty of time to work on the Manatee. This is in marked contrast to last year, when I had a total of two weeks in the entire season to get my work done.
The great challenge of making something new from scratch, is that there is a constant stream of problems to overcome. Most of the big problems have been solved, but new ones keep cropping up. For example the edge of the cockpit opening has a coaming to deflect water, that stands about six inches high. This would deflect a lot of water, but it will also break, or at least crack and weaken, if I put too much pressure on it.

So I decided to to strengthen it with gunwales, of mahogany. I bought a ten-foot by two-by-eight-inch board, and got it ripped into quarter-inch by two-inch strips. These strips were then bent around the coaming and clamped in place. After cutting them to the right length, I removed the strips, then laminated them together with FG resin. Once I applied the resin, I wrapped them in waxed paper to catch the drips, and re-clamped them onto the coaming again. This had to be done to each inwale and outwale separately, so it took a bit of time.

Once the gunwales were complete, I had them planed and sanded them smooth. Then I drilled and bolted them to the coaming with stainless steel hardware.

This week I also installed the mast step and laid the base for the deck hatch. All that is left to do is drill the holes in the coaming for the aluminum poles that connect the hull to the amas, and the holes for the threaded rods that will be used to clamp them down. Then the boat will be ready to spray with gel-coat.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lorena and I just got back from three weeks at Half Moon Caye. We arrived a few days before the first batch of guests arrived, just to put the final touches on camp. That is to say that the tents were up and the beds assembled, but most of the camp still needed to be unpacked and organised. Also there are always repairs to be made, and new things to be built.

The kitchen is stocked with plenty of fresh fruit and veggies. kept in cages to allow airflow and protect our larder from the coconut squirrels.

Lorena is making signs for the showers with permanent marker on coconut flower bracts. We try to use local materials whenever possible, for the aesthetic appeal.

Sylvino and Javier make luggage tables for the tents, out of scrap lumber. Sylvino could make just about anything from scrap materials which makes him a handy camp guy.

Once the camp was put together we could spent some time reaquainting ourselves with the island. Our first reaction on exploring the island was one of shock: I knew that Hurricane Richard had hit the island, and was prepared for the loss of some trees, but the west end of the island, the one covered with littoral forest, looked as if it had been stomped all over by a giant. The trees were smashed down, and lying all over the ground in a thick tangle. Already they had formed new leaves, and new shoots were emerging and filling in the spaces left empty by the hurricane, but the impression was still one of severe destruction.

This is the view from the dining hall. Despite the destruction, the island is a beautiful place.

The observation tower revealed a broader view, and all the more spectacular, as there were more birds and nests visible than ever before. So it appears that the boobies and frigates were not reduced in numbers, though their egg-laying was delayed by several weeks. Normally in December the birds are sitting on fluffy white chicks. This year they were just getting around to laying. Since food is available year-round, the delay isn't expected to hurt this year's recruitment.

This mature red-footed booby is of the grey colour phase. Most of the boobies at this site are white when mature. Note the exaggerated pose, like an Audubon print. This is not booby yoga, but the way one attracts a mate to the nest.

Finally everything was ready, the first batch of guests arrived, and we were off on another adventure. In this series, we are sailing to Long Cay, an island about four miles downwind.
This is a local fishing boat. About eight men and boys are on this boat, and live aboard for a week to ten days. The small boats stacked on deck are called "dories" although they are more like canoes. The fishermen paddle the dories out to a suitable area, then swim, pulling the small craft behind them. In the water they pick up conch, hook lobsters from under reefs, and spear fish. Once they have a good load, they return to the sailboat and stow their catch in an ice chest.
Bye for now
Jack and Lorena