January 3, 2007

Getting Ready to Leave

We're finally getting ready to leave Cartagena, after a great stay of four months. The first big project to tackle was the aquaculture project growing on the bottom of our boat. Our last bottom job dated from August 2005, and Cartagena waters are famed for their fertility (at least for barnacles and muscles). 

We had hired divers to scrape the bottom a few times, to avoid the unpleasant task of swimming in toxic waste, though I had to go over the side a few times myself to open up plugged through hulls and clear the propellor.

We finally decided on going to the synchrolift at Club de Pesca. This is a platform that one floats onto, which is then raised vertically out of the water by a system of winches and cables. Steel arms are raised on either side of the boat at bow and stern to provide support, but the weight of the boat rests on the keel. To ensure proper alignment two divers entered the water to guide the keel onto a central steel beam. A maze of docklines helped keep us vertical. 

Once we finally got into the lift (Colombian time!) the whole process went smoothly. We hired two local hands, Manuel and Escuardo, to help with the scraping and painting, and they worked very hard and well. In fact, the whole operation was very professional, helping to make an unpleasant process as painless as possible. The final price was very reasonable--probably the cheapest haul and launch ever for this cruiser. That was step one in the long process of readying Minke for a rough offshore passage.