|One of the main reasons for being in Guatemala was we
needed a substantial rebuild of the anchor locker, which would
require much cutting and welding of steel plates. Labour rates in
Guatemala for a semi-skilled worker are around US$10 per day and even
when marked up by the yard or company doing the work, it doesn't require
a calculator to know that it's possible to save a great deal of money
when compared to doing the work in the US. OK sometimes the
quality of work might be a little lower, 80% of the quality for 20% of
the price seemed attractive to my Pareto tuned brain.
To lift the boat and do the work we'd selected Abel's
(more correctly Astillero Magdelena). A family business started by
Abel the elder (Don Abel) as an extension to his transportation business
(much of the transport in this part of the world is via the river) and
now run by his son Abel the younger - Aka Abelito, Aka Juan - the last
somewhat strangely as none of his actual names is actually Juan.
Anyway, they were our choice for lots of reasons, not the least that the
transportation part of the business centered around an old steel tug
and barge which seemed to spend a lot of time being welded. It was
a good choice and the one we would make again - if we were ever to
arrive in Guatemala needing a new anchor locker again that is.
But before we even started the work we needed a place
to live, which proved to be surprisingly difficult to find. In the end
we booked one of Captain John's bungalows - affectionately
to as La Choza (The Shack) for 2 months - more than enough time but best
to have the flexibility. In the end we stayed for more than 6 months!!
Meanwhile work progressed at Abel's:
And whilst all this was going
on, summer became Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving became Christmas and any
other excuse we could find to turn La Choza into La Fiesta!
Day we would be cooking a leg of pork with roast potatoes and all the
trimmings in our wooden shack on the side of the river, to share with
our American friends here. We enjoyed ourselves, probably drank too
much but managed to stay sane.
|Of course the work did finally finish or at
least it got as finished as it was ever going to get. We'd
missed the high tide at the end of January, the next possible
opportunity was April 1 (sic), it was kind of skinny, we would
definitely need a tow, but we equally definitely weren't going to
miss it! We began transporting our stuff back aboard by
dinghy in late
February (a seemingly endless task) and finally moved back aboard
ourselves at the beginning of March to begin the equally endless task
of getting all the systems up and running.
Then down the river
to Cayo Quemado to collect our sails and new stackpack and for Tom to install our new rigging. Norseman
terminal stripped out so back up to Tortugal Marina after 8 days to
wait while a new one was shipped in from the US. Filling the boat with beer, wine, 7up, breakfast
etc all the stuff that's really expensive in Belize - ie everything.
Boat now full to bursting.
Back down to Cayo Quemado to finish the rig and
put on the sails. Dinghy
the 8 miles to Livingston as a dry run to prove it's viable, have some lunch and
to do a bit of river exploration. The day before departure
from the Rio we made the dinghy trip again to Clear Out and pay the
man as we would be leaving early the following morning and wanted to
avoid having to anchor in Livingston and possibly miss the tide!
|Best of all Clayton and Fiona on the
trawler Argo are leaving on the same tide and have offered to tow us
over the bar. There's something very comforting about 200hp +
depth sounder + GPS - none of which were available to Hector our
previous tow. Down the river at dawn, tied to the stern of
Argo at Livingston and off we went. We dug into the soft mud
quite hard a few times, but I don't think they even noticed.