Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Getting Ready to Pull Out of the Rio Dulce

We are now definitely focused on leaving here and heading further south. Our target date is to cross the bar out of the Rio on Jan 18th.

Dave has compiled a short list of projects we NEED to get done before we leave.

In the last week he has (almost) finished the propane system rework. We only lack a few connection fittings that our friends on Infini are bringing back from the States. We hauled our Force 10 stove out onto the dock, and while I thoroughly cleaned the stove, Dave replaced all the 30 year old propane hose on the boat.

He also 'plumbed in' connections for our new propane instant hot water heater and a connection to the grill. The entire system can now be fed from either of 2 tanks by just changing valve settings, and we can shut on/off supply to the 2 new connections when they are not in regular use. It's a pretty slick setup.

We've also been doing some maintenance on the rigging. I spent 3 hours up there a couple of days ago--remounting hardware at the top of the mast that we had taken down (or lost overboard) due to tall mast/short bridges. We now have a new Windex and a new 'lightning spike'. I also installed new lime-green 'spreader covers'... the foam tubies from Walmart make great chafe gear, but need to be replaced about every 18 months.

View from Soggy Paws' Mast

Dave spent another 3 hours at the top of the mast yesterday, trying to get a new tricolor light mounted. Unfortunately the old holes and wire leads don't match up with the new light, so he's got to make an adaptor.

We spent some time yesterday playing with Dave's Mast Ascender. Since our friend Jim Yates raves about how easy it is to go up using his Top Climber (similar, but different brand), Dave thought he'd try it out. It has the advantage of being able to get you higher than the mast top, which is difficult in a conventional bosun's chair.

The instructions with our 'Sea Connections Mast Ascender' are 3 pages of printed instructions and no diagrams, and refer to 'the ascender directions' which are not enclosed! Apparently this company is no longer in business. But we did find some helpful diagrams on the Petzl website (the maker of the ascender devices).

It is not that hard to ascend, but for me at least, descending was very difficult. The ascenders (common mountain climbing devices) are made for ASCENDING, not descending. I saw a post on a mountain climbing website, where a rigger was asking about descending techniques and the mountain climbers' response was: you dummy, those are ASCENDERS, not DESCENDERS. Maybe the Top Climber has a better system--it's definitely using different devices (but their video doesn't show a descent!)

That's why we couldn't get over to photograph the tarantula yesterday, I had been playing with the ascender and was stuck about 15' in the air and was having trouble going down! (I did eventually get myself down without having to be rescued)

When Dave finally climbed all the way to the top of the mast, it did work as advertised going up, and for standing up at the mast. Coming down, Dave managed to get himself halfway down the mast, but we eventually just lowered him in the chair on the second safety line, just because it was faster/easier.

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