After the mast was installed, there was actually an end in sight!
Well… there were still a couple of steps left. The rest of the deck hard ware had to be installed, the water tanks put back in, all interior reinstalled, the missing parts of the galley built, the electrical system reinvented, the installation of the motor finished, the plumbing, the stanchions and lifelines, a cockpit dodger….
I don´t know if you have ever made the experience to be ALMOST at the end of a project. The biggest steps are done and now it´s just “a couple of little things left”. What I experienced was, that by underestimating those “little things” and thinking they will be done quickly, I actually was surprised how much work and time was still needed. It seemed like every deck cleat I installed, every electrical installation I put in, every plumbing hose I connected took 5 times as long as I thought it should.
And then – on August, 3rd I made my first test run up to town under motor! It was a beautiful morning on the lake and it seemed so unreal to me that I was driving my boat around. This day was not only special because of Alani´s first motor voyage. It was also the day that my only long term permanent crew member joined the team. I picked up the cutest little 5 week old orphaned puppy from a village outside of Rio Dulce. Since I was six years old, I had wanted a dog and ever since I had Alani, I had waited for the “right” moment. When the opportunity had presented itself now, the doubts and worries had come in, of course. “Can I really care for a dog?”, “Will a dog be happy on my boat?”, “Am I ready for this responsibility?”. Well, sometimes you just gotta go and do it. I had a huge smile on my face that day when I was driving my beautiful boat back across the golden sunset Golfete with a sleeping furry baby cuddled next to me 🙂
Thinking about installing the stanchions for the lifelines, I had been very hesitant about the idea to drill more than a dozen holes into my newly repaired and glassed decks. Superman Tom had another great idea though, and built some wooden blocks, which could attach the stanchions to the toe rails and avoid the drilling of holes. Unfortunately, this installation turned out not to be quite strong enough, and I had my local welder build some reinforcement pieces. So yes, some drilling through the decks had to be done, but definitely less than the former installation.
My friend Tyrone came down to help with the installation of the amazing brand new Windpilot I had brought back from Germany the previous year. Windpilot is a German company and of course, the German designer Peter Förthmann, had sent me the full perfectly organised package with the instruction manual – in German. Now, German being my native language, I have learned all my sailing, boating, mechanic, carpentry and tool vocabulary in English. I stared at the instructions, becoming super frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t understand a thing written in my mother language! Of course, this issue was easily solved, but I was very surprised that even after three years working, I could still get so frustrated about a little detail. The learning never ends!
We had repaired Alani´s rowing dinghy Barkito the first summer after I bought the boat, so I supposed that it was alright. Well…taking a closer look I found some very soft spots in the fibreglassed plywood that definitely needed attention. Don Chuz, a super cute very old local who builds canaletes – the local paddles for the cayucos – the dugout canoes, build me two new oars.
Whenever others had asked me what I am putting on Alani for a dodger, I had replied that a dodger is for the wishy washy sailors, the real salts don´t need one. Now, my sea time approaching, I started imagining long wet days at sea with waves splashing into the cockpit…and revisited my arrogant viewpoint. I ended up even deciding for a bigger dodger that would not only cover the companionway but the complete forward side of the cockpit. And sitting here, writing right now, am I ever happy I made that decision!!!
I had already taken her out motoring with friends a couple of times, but by mid October I was ready for a test sail up to Belize. I went with Maya for four days into the beautiful familiar waters of the Belize Barrier Reef. I was very nervous, especially since I didn´t plan to go alone, but my crew had to cancel in the last moment. All went well. I was not able to sail quite as much as I would have liked to, but that´s part of it as well.
Read the next chapter The “End”?