Boat Life Santa Lucia

Boat work in St. Lucia: Time to take extra care of Ipanema

Written by Renato Matiolli

This post is about a list of stuff we routinely do when we arrive in a country (so you don’t think we are professional bums), and all the work we did here when we hauled out our boat for some maintenance (so you can see this is not only fun and games).

The first three days in St. Lucia were all about work, work, work. We did all the basic living onboard activities and we also hauled out the boat to do a lot of maintenance. We spend a lot of money but we also managed to get A LOT done, so we were very HAPPY! Now Ipanema is better than it has ever been!

We had strong winds on the crossing from Barbados and ended up arriving a lot faster than we thought in St Lucia, we headed to Rodney Bay (on the Northwest coast) to watch the sun rinse. At around 8am we entered the Rodney Bay Marina to do all the formalities a country usually requires:

  • When arriving in a new country you should hoist the yellow (Q) flag, meaning that you are on Quarantine and has not clear Costumes yet.
  • Then only the Capitan should leave the boat taking the passports of all the crew members. First stop is Immigrations to check-in the country. He needs to fill out papers (similar to those you have to fill when you arrive by plane in a country) and create a crew list, everyone is cleared as soon all passports are stamped.
  • Next stop is the Customs Office, filling out more papers and another crew list.
  • Last stop is Port Authority, you need to fill out a paper about your boat’s specifications and another crew list for them, all of this  so they also know your boat is in their waters.
  • P1200768_FotorOnce all of that is complete, it is polite to buy a local flag and hoist it on the right hand side of your mast as a sign of respect and courtesy to the country that is hosting you. So we went out and bought our St Lucia flag. In a nutshell this is how the flag thing works on a boat:
    • On the left side of your mast you should have the flags of the captain and crew (it might be the national flag or any flag that is meaningful to them);
    • On the right hand side you should hoist the courtesy flag of the country who is hosting you or the Q flag if you haven’t clear Customs and Immigration yet;
    • On the back of the boat you have the boat’s port of registration flag:
  • And for us, because of Feijão, we have an extra step, and usually the most difficult one, we have to deal with the Veterinary Services Office everywhere we got. Actually this starts before you arrive,  you need contact them in advance to ask for an Import Permit, we usually write an email and than follow up with a few phone calls. For St Lucia it was no different, we had been exchanging emails with the Vet Services a few days before we arrived and had already received the permit over email. Than once you get to the country, you need to arrange for them to see you dog and give him the final permit. After a few hours we were in the marina we managed to get an officical government vet visiting the boat and giving us the final authorization for the little beast, after checking his microchip, looking at him and rechecking all his documents and vaccines booklet.

While we were at the marina waiting for the veterinarian we did some of the basic chores of boat life:

  • First we went out to refill our cooking gas bottles
  • Then we got a bus to the closest mall to get a local SIM card to our mobile
  • We also took our clothes, towels and linens to the laundry
  • And we started to clean and organize the boat for the new guests arriving in a few days

We managed to move out of the marina that same day, as soon as the vet gave Feijão’s authorisation to disembark in St Lucia, and anchored at Rodney Bay.

The following day we woke up early and took the boat to the Rodney Bay Boatyard to be hauled out. It is a scary moment as the berth was very narrow and hard to get inside. Also, you have to sign a paper saying that they are not liable for any problems that might occur during the lifting up of the boat (!!!). Luckily everything went well.

We decided to haul out the boat because during one of the routine engine maintenance checks that we do, we found out that the oil of one of our sail-drives was really white, meaning there is salt water coming in. For those who don’t know what a sail-drive is, in a nutshell this is the part between the engine (which is inside the hull) and the propeller (which is bellow the hull, in the water). Having salt water in the sail drive is not good and can damage it quickly; unfortunately the only way to change the sealing is by hauling out the boat, and as you can imagine… this operation is not cheap. Since we were taking the boat out of the water, we decided to not only fix that but fix a bunch of other stuff that was on our TO DO list:

  • First we worked on the engine, we had the Volvo guys on the boat:
    • They dismantled and cleaned the sail drive, changed the sealing rings and put them together;
    • We also changed the oil for the s-drive;
    • Once we dismantled the s-drive we noticed that one of the propellers was about the fly away, so we changed that;
    • They checked the anodes that protects the sail drives and their sealing (right between inside and outside of the hull);
  • P1200640_FotorThen we had a blacksmith from Guiana helping us to fix a bunch of things:
    • He started with our steering system that was way too stiff, putting a lot of strain on our autopilot. He dismantled the whole thing, cleaned it, got the rust out and made it A LOT smoother. Great!
    • He also helped us take a really annoying pin from the back of our boom that holds the wheels of our reefing cables. One of the wheels needed to be replaced and we could not take the damn thing out. After hitting the thing with a few tools he quickly managed to fix it. Hurray!
    • Finally, the seacock water inlet from our generator was quite rusty, actually making it quite dangerous, it looked like it was about to come off, which would flood the boat! So he took it out, cleaned, replace what was bad and put it all back in with a new seal.
  • We also had a super funny guy named Kelly working on our boat’s fiberglass:
    • Our boat had been hit slightly at the back and had not been fixed property, it looked ugly and uneven, he took it all out and did a great job with new fibreglass;
    • When arriving at the Barbados port, we had some crazy wind which pushed against the wall when we were trying to dock and we ended up hitting it quite hard, he took a look at the crack, inspected thoroughly and fixed it up;
    • He also sealed a leak on the aft starboard cabin which was bothering us for ages;
    • Finally, he also fixed a lot of little spots around the deck where the gel coal was chipped;
  • 12636852_10153233708435800_1053123733_o_FotorBut our main guy was a local named Murphy, he helped us with a million things:
    • He started with the hull, power washing and than sanding it completely. He than taped it around the water line to prepare for the anti-fouling paint;
    • He painted both hulls really nicely with a dark blue bottom paint ;
    • He also sandpapered and prepared the sail-drive and propeller to be painted;
    • He painted the sail-drive and propeller with another special type of paint;
    • Then he cleaned all the stainless steel of the boat which was getting rusty in some places;
    • He sandpapered all the rubbers in the boat that were getting darker;
    • He brushed and cleaned the entire deck;
    • And to finish off, he polished the hull and sides of the boat
  • We also took the time to fix some stuff our selves:
    • new remote control for the anchor winch;
    • replaced the current circuit breaker for the anchor winch;
    • cleaned the water maker strainer and changed the pre-filter;
    • bought some more extra water maker pre filters for the “road”;
    • changed the clamp for the main halyard;
    • cleaned the filter for the bilge pumps, removed and cleaned the valves to make it working faster again;
    • We did all the basic checks for the engines (e.g. oil lever, water, filters, drive belt, etc)
    • We also changed the close system coolant that refrigerates engine temperature – on both engines
      • By the way, while I was doing this I dropped way too much old coolant on the alternator and I almost burned it. So we turned off the batteries, dried it with the compressed air from our diving bottles and sprayed a lot of WD-40 to keep the moist away. Luckily I did not damage the part. Ufff!

The cool stuff is that now, after all this work, Ipanema looks and feels brand new!! We are so happy about it!


About the author

Renato Matiolli


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