Getting ready to leave the Rio Dulce

On Friday having got ourselves unpacked from our trip we moved into work mode.    The first job we had on our list was to wash and remove the sails.    This year, as we are so far inland and outside of the “official” hurricane zone, we are leaving the main on and are only taking both headsails off.  So we made the most of the light winds, unfurled them and washed them in situ….

I got on with some canvas cleaning / waterproofing while Richard got on with other engine-related jobs down below.   Finally the sails were dry and we took them off and had to drag them onto the grass area so that we could bag them up properly.   Job done….phew!

We then hauled dink out of the water using the genoa halyard.  We usually scrub his bottom on the dock as I like to use a bleach-based product – but, unfortunately, the dock here in NanaJuana just isn’t wide enough so we hauled him straight up onto the deck and I used plain old boat wash to clean instead.  After dink was dry we covered him in a tarpaulin and tied him down.   Another job done….

Having got incredibly hot and bothered we then took a little time out before heading off to the cruisers’ happy hour and had another nice evening.

Friday night happy hour

Saturday morning we were up really early and got the anchor chain onto the dock – I cleaned out the locker and washed down the chain and, while it was drying, I also got on with the laundry.    Richard was busy ticking off jobs down below……    During the day Arnie came by with the doors to our heads – he had done a great job on restoring them back to a good condition.    We were very happy with the quality of his work both on this and the repairs to our gelcoat.  

But we were not happy that we still had a blocked scupper on the starboard side caused by varnish / wood scrapings – we had tried in vain to clear this – so pushed it back to Arnie.  His crew caused the problem so they can fix it!   He promised dutifully to come by on Sunday.   I made the mistake of paying him the cash for all the work and should, with hindsight, have withheld some of the final payment…..  

Anyway…..after a hot and productive day….we relaxed for a little while and did some checking off our haul out lists and our final West Marine order.  Later on we sat in the cockpit, pretty exhausted,  we enjoyed the latest thunderstorm and had a very early night.

Sunday morning and we were going through the diary and realised we’d made an error – we had it fixed in our mind that we were hauling Monday morning when, in fact, the date we had scheduled was Tuesday.  Great – that gives us another full day to get ready – so we told NanaJuana that we would be leaving Tuesday morning instead.    And, of course, we carried on working hard through the morning and by three o’clock in the afternoon we had had enough – and Arnie had not shown up.   Damn…..    But we have an extra day now on the dock so we’ll hunt him down on Monday LOL.

Having done well with the lists – including the servicing and storing of the outboard engine – we decided to take ourselves off to the pool later in the afternoon and enjoyed putting the world to rights with some of the other cruisers.  

Cooling off

There are definitely two groups of cruisers here – those that keep themselves exclusively to themselves and exclude the rest of us.   They do not talk to us in the pool or attend the weekly Friday happy hour or the Sunday BBQ event.  They even go into town together all the time….    All very strange – the rest of us just dip in and out as the mood takes us – and that suits us very well as we don’t feel obligated to attend all the time.   This is exactly what we decided on Sunday night when we elected not to attend the BBQ in favour of a quiet night on board.

Monday morning, up bright and early, and we got on with boat jobs.   Richard tracked down Arnie and got an apology for Sunday.   Arnie thought that a powerful vacuum cleaner might suck out the blockage – Richard agreed it was possible and took his machine hostage to ensure his attendance later LOL.  Good thinking my man!!!    Anyway…he did turn up…and it didn’t work so he made arrangements for Wednesday morning and he’ll investigate when we are on the hard as there will be better access to the through hull.  OK, we’ll live with that.

Anyway….by Monday afternoon…we were ready to go.   We disconnected the electricity, paid our marina bill, and went to the pool to cool off before having an early night.

Tuesday morning it all went like clockwork, we slipped away at 8.30 and reversed onto RAM marine fuel dock by 8.45 am.   We filled up with diesel – as we leave the tank full on the hard to avoid condensation building up in the tank – and waited for the travel lift to turn up. 

Waiting to be hauled

We were scheduled to be lifted at 9.00 am.    Of course, it didn’t turn up.  By 10.00 am I went to the office to find out what was going on.    Oh sorry….someone didn’t splash….we need to move some boats to make room for you….there is polishing to be finished…..  Hmmmmmm…..  Anyway I asked for the key to our apartment thinking that, at least, we could shift our bags and left-over food.   This was available so I spent the new few hours moving things ashore.    The apartment is in the middle of the boatyard and is pretty basic with an uninspiring view.  But it has AC and a big-screen TV so we are happy….

Our apartment Not much of a view! Apartment 1 Apartment 2 Apartment 3

Finally at lunchtime we are told it will be later in the afternoon so we locked up Morphie and told the office we’ll be in the apartment waiting to hear.   We watched the Olympics and just generally chilled in the cooled air.   Bliss…..     By 3.30 pm we were getting anxious – we do not want to leave Morphie on the fuel dock overnight – so we returned to the office.  We were advised that we would be lifted tonight – and the guys would work overtime if necessary.   So we returned to Morphie and sat in the cockpit waiting admiring the local boats moving their cargoes along the river – today it was a mattress delivery LOL.

Mattress delivery

Finally at almost 4.30 pm the travel lift turned up and the guys took control.   Here in RAM they do not let you reverse into the strops – you get off the boat at the fuel dock and they pull the boat into the slip by hand.  Morphie is pretty heavy so we were surprised at the ease they moved her.  We were, of course, standing watching anxiously……   Interestingly then a swimmer went in the water and started to position the strops and tie them off under Morphie’s hull.    Never seen that before!

Being moved into place Here comes the swimmer Checking the strops

Finally Morphie was on her journey – she was turned around 180 degrees – and moved through the boatyard to our spot on the hard, just by the huge sheds.     Morphie was chocked up and enjoyed being pressure washed.  

Here she comes Through the boatyard Getting a wash down

We borrowed the pressure washer for a short period to blast the through hull and think that we might have cleared the blockage – but tomorrow will be the test.   We were pleasantly surprised by the condition of Morphie’s bottom…as the antifoul had been applied two years ago.    We headed back to our apartment and had a nice cool evening in front of the TV before sleeping in a bed that doesn’t move!

Wednesday morning and we were up early and climbed on board.   Richard was pleased that the scupper was now clear and we tested it a number of times to make sure that water drained properly.  Woo hoo…..  Very relieved that was sorted.  Charlie picked me up to take me into town as I needed to get our bus tickets; some Guatemalan rum to take home;  and I wanted to get Poppy’s birthday present.  I also managed to pick up some  strong antibiotics which are available over the counter here without prescription which are a great addition to our first-aid kit.

In the meantime Richard was cleaning all the wood and fibreglass down below with a water and vinegar mix area by area.   He had finished our cabin by the time I returned – so we covered the bed with a plastic protector and then started to stow things.   This clears up other areas to be cleaned.    I was scrubbing the heads when Richard went off to meet Arnie – who, surprisingly, actually turned up early only to be told thanks, but we have fixed it!  He was very relieved….

We carried on working until about two when the heat caught up with us.  So we retired to our apartment and then wandered back to NanaJuana pool to cool off – catching up with Charlie, Joe and Ulla.   We had a great time.

Thursday morning we had booked one guy to work for us.   The cost here in RAM is a very reasonable US $50 a day and was actually offset by the generous offer of our first night in the apartment free of charge to compensate for the seven hour delay in being lifted out of the water.  By eight I had him washing down the hull…..   He doesn’t speak a word of English so it was all in Spanish – or my version anyway LOL.    Richard continued to work stowing and cleaning things – while I worked outside cleaning the propeller, the grounding plate and the cooler plates for the fridge / freezer.   By the time I had done this my young man had finished washing down….so I set him off going around again using fibreglass cleaner and buffing the hull.     I started scrubbing the awlgrip which had heavy salt deposits…..     Then it was time for his lunch – so I went back on board and cleaned the fridge, freezer, oven etc while Richard finished the wood.   He had applied a lovely coat of wax polish to condition the wood in our absence.   The lad came back from lunch and he then used a special Awlgrip conditioner on the bootstripe while Richard and I continued on deck.  I cleaned the plexiglass and we removed all the canvas.    By this time Morphie is looking very clean and shiny – and then it was time to apply wax which we’ll leave on to give the hull some protection from the UV in our absence. 

Looking shiny Looking shiny 2 Hard worker

Phew….a long long day….from seven to five thirty in the heat…..   So we collapsed back at our apartment and had a very early night.   During the night we had a horrendous thunderstorm and lost power – so we lost the AC and it got hot, hot, hot – and we had to use the flashlight app on the phone to go to the loo LOL.

This morning – Friday – and it’s our last day here.  Richard is on board doing our final checks while I’m doing the laundry.   We’ll then pack – return items to the boat that we don’t want – and say our final farewells.  We are hoping to attend the cruisers happy hour tonight as it is Poppy’s birthday celebrations and it is our chance to say goodbye.

Tomorrow morning – Saturday – and we are off to Guatemala City on the 8.00 am bus.  This takes about six hours allegedly…..but, just to make sure of making our flight on Monday morning….we have checked into the Hotel Clarion Suites for two nights which is in the ‘safe’ area of Zone 10.  Then we are heading to the US for a week of fun in Wisconsin before returning home to the UK. 

Hotel Clarion & Suites

Bye for now