Friday 25th February 2011 .... The last lap begins??
(Very sad to hear of Christchurch earthquake deaths and injuries and also of 'Quest' deaths.... a dangerous part of the world to be sailing in or near...)
After a journey from Punta Arenas which was meant to have begun on Monday, but actually started on Tuesday because of Customs and agents' paperwork and border crossing complications, the two packages containing new boom and several other replacement items arrived in Ushuaia port on Wednesday, only to be held up again with 'Customs computer is down' .....! So instead of clearing soon after arrival early in the afternoon, which would have meant the same truck could have brought the goods on to the marina the same day, the goods had to be off-loaded and put into the bonded store (at a cost, of course!) - with abusive stevedores wanting two guys to be paid a ridiculous amount for what took one woman two minutes' work (with the use of an unnecessary forklift truck wrongly insisted on by the port official present) to carry two relatively light packages no distance at all. The truck driver was stupefied at what happened, saying nothing like that happened in Rio Grande (300 km away) where he was from, where clearing Customs was straightforward and easy.
The next day, it took all day, waiting around for an agent to appear to do the paperwork I was not allowed to do, to release the goods from the Customs store - and then a truck had to be hired, with the necessary permit to work inside the port area, to bring the goods the short distance to the marina...... phew!!! I was exhausted, having had little sleep over two nights - partly due to high winds buffeting the boats and partly from worrying about the situation and the stress of it all.... I've heard from several sources that Ushuaia has the reputation of being a bad port to bring things into. I have to say that Roxanna, the local OCC Port Officer, was excellent in dealing with the situation on my behalf - given that the situation was the result of her advice, which had turned bad, she worked long and hard to set things right, and I'm very grateful for that - but it turned into an expensive, time-consuming mistake....
But I slept well last night, knowing the parcels were safely here finally... and having begun to unpack them to check what was there.
Today was, naturally, spent in double-checking what had come .... mostly as asked for, but some not. The important items look to be OK - the boom has been pre-fitted with reef lines and outhaul, as requested, so once some (lazyjack etc) attachments have been transferred from the old to the new boom, it looks as though that can be placed in position fairly easily. The stays'l Furlex system has yet to be looked at in detail - but I'm hoping that will also be relatively straightforward to fit.
The relay I asked for was not sent - or, rather, inappropriate ones came - but fortunately I came across one in my spares which looks to be OK. Ray, on 'Hortense', checked it over for me and assures me it's working fine - so I'll be able to switch instruments and AP on/off from the chart table area again, once I've installed it under the aft cabin bunk where the old one was.
The new sprayhood frame and canvas is there, as are the windows for the windscreen which local metalworker Gaspar has mended - hopefully the windows can be put in place without too much of a problem and then the sprayhood will fit over the top. I started checking out the new Lexan washboard - it fits fine over the companionway but needs the handle attaching and a new sealing strip around. And a few other replacement items, some electrical, will be dealt with either here, if straightforward, or in Cape Town otherwise.
It feels good to be on the 'final lap' at last, even though it means a lot of work over the next week or two - the knockdown occurred over seven weeks ago....
Today, I saw several people putting up antennae at the water's edge by the marina - the Ushuaia Radio Club were preparing for a weekend trying to contact all the lighthouse keepers in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil - a busy weekend .... they're hoping propagation will be favourable for them! In chatting to them, I was offered the use of a VHF set to make contact with ham friends in Canada and the USA (and maybe NZ/Australia?) using 'Echolink' - which I'm told will work worldwide if a suitable repeater station is nearby. I shot off emails in all possible directions ... we'll see what transpires!! (Photo shows Miguel and associates sorting out the grounds for the newly-erected antennae close to the nearby seawater - which they made good use of.)