As we set eyes on our home after sixteen months away our hearts were racing; excited at the prospect of being home apprehensive at what we’d find, relieved she was still in the boat yard, not so thrilled about the prospect of having to reverse the laying up. The first thing we spied after her bow peeping out from behind another Jeaneau was that her bottom had been painted a fresh brilliant blue, communication with Spice Island Marine from literally the other side of the planet and a 12 hour time difference had been sporadic and requests for a quote for various tasks had not been clearly answered. A quick visit to the office enlightened the skipper, Temptress had a new stern gland and was antifouled the previous week in expectation of our arrival! At least we could cross those off our to do before launching list.
On board was a tip, deliberately so as we’d left her with cushions raised, sails stowed on cabin floors and lockers open so air would flow around and the buckets of dehumidifier crystals strategically left in every cabin could do their job. These buckets had been replenished from time to time by Island Dreams, the guardinage company we’d employed to check on her twice a month. After all that time there was scarcely any problem with mould and mildew, or at least nothing we’ve yet found. However the downside was the dust; underfoot the cabin soles felt gritty, every surface left fingers grubby and you could surely grow potatoes on top of items in the cockpit lockers or in the scuppers!
In a state of Deja Vous we were both reminded of Temptress when we first took ownership of her back in March 2000; a similar period on the hard in the Hamble waiting for a new owner meant that back then we spent several months cleaning and scrubbing every inch inside and out. At least this time there could be no lockers full of bits of polystyrene to contend with (we suspect the previous owners hated rattles) and the sprayhood had been stowed below so wasn’t sprouting rosebay willowherb from its folds! Plus the years have taught us the fastest ways to clean her.
The task list was daunting (it reached its zenith at forty items) but with no deadlines we dismissed any pressure and set too prioritising those tasks that were required before launching (new batteries, engine service, stowing stuff away ready for sea) and those it was easier to do with the boatyard facilities (washing the mud off the decks with a hose, filling the water tanks, charging various electronics). As we fast as we ticked things off new projects came to light – the galley drain hose had split, the fuel can for the generator and the large trugs used for laundry had succumbed to the tropical heat. Sheets and pillow cases and some clothing had turned a nasty yellow, smelling as if they had’t been laundered in years. Internet research showed this is due to using non-bio powder and mainly cold fill machines, we now own a large supply of OxiClean to try and rectify matters. Then, whilst servicing the seacocks we discovered the aft head outlet one, replaced in Lanzarote, was moving so needed rebedding, a task for the yard as we’ve not a big enough wrench.
The new USA made batteries proved taller than the European space beneath the guest bunk, requiring some woodwork to raise it a couple of inches. A trip to Ramdhanny’s was typical of Grenadian courtesy; the wood yard is out the back, a couple of hundred metres from the front door, the guys were busy but happy to greet us and advise from on top of the stacks of timber. Once you have the codes for your purchases, you walk back to the entrance to pay, then back again with the receipt to collect your goods. Darren, the Northern Brit manager of the Tikki Bar and Timbers restaurant was doing the same to-ing and fro-ing, good humouredly teasing the cashier and joking about not needing to go to the gym if you shop here. As if we required more exercise, with our purchase too long for the bus we set off on the twenty minute afternoon walk back to the boatyard with Kevin carrying two 16 foot lengths of 2×1 over his shoulder and me a packet of woodscrews. As we negotiated the verge of Maurice Bishop Highway (the only dual carriageway on the island and it has no pavement) Darren drove past with a door tied in the back of his pickup. He stopped and offered us a lift. I climbed in the cab, Kevin stood in the back holding our lengths of wood which projected over either end of the pickup. With a cheery “I’ll drive steady” Darren pulled on to the highway, five minutes later a rather wind blown Kevin was unloading his lumber purchase beside Temptress. Just another Caribbean experience!
In the bilges some tins and jars were bulging ominously but only one tin of baked beans had in fact leaked. The amazingly small mess was quickly cleared up, any longer and it could have been (excuse the pun) a lot worse. The contents of a few jars and bottles looked suspiciously odd, silvery brown Heinz tomato ketchup anyone? However the majority of our long term provisions are ok. The problem mainly seemed to be with supplies stowed on the port side of the boat so we can only think it was at some point more exposed to the sun and resultant heat than the starboard side.
By Friday morning despite a few episodes of two steps forward, one back during the preceding few days Temptress was ready to have her keel wetted one more. The fridge, water pumps and instruments worked. We’d stowed away our clothes, had laundered the bed linen thanks to the facilities at our studio apartment, Cool Running and could almost see the saloon seating. Kevin paid the final yard bills, a big but planned chunk of our cruising kitty. The boat mover lifted Temptress from her hurricane safe berth in a corner of the yard and transferred her to the hoist. Once in the water but still with the slings around us, the cheery local engineer did his stuff with the new stern gland and double checked the problem seacock then we were free to motor away into Prickly Bay and drop the hook.
We’d pumped the dinghy up earlier on the foredeck and Kevin had fitted the replacement parts to the rowlocks so once it too was launched the most urgent task was to obtain some fuel for the outboard. Kevin rowed over to Prickly Bay Marina where Shawn welcomed us back. The outboard started first time, carrying us back to boat without a hitch. And later we motored over again to reward ourselves with Happy Hour sundowners at the Tikki Bar and catch up with various familiar faces, it was good to be back!
Sorting out Temptress after such a long time away has been a daunting task and we’ve not yet finished but the time we took to lay her up before our departure in August 2014 was well worth the effort. Most items are in good shape just lacking a year’s worth of maintenance or cleaning. The only thing I might have done differently is seal up the dorado vents, cockpit lockers and main hatch to prevent so much dust getting in. I might also make a list of what was stored where as we keep holding up items and asking each other where did this go?