One Day Before Beaching \”Beach House\”…..

Dear F&F,
March 1, 2009
Bahia del Sol, El Salvador

I washed a 2nd load of laundry & both loads got hung & were dry before 11:00 am. Alex picked us up in his dinghy to go look at an alternate site to beach \”Beach House\”. There is a trimaran across the river from us & we saw him careened yesterday. We asked him about the sandbar where he did this. Blaze gave us the lay of the land & then we went around it in Alex\’s dinghy at low tide to check it out. The waterline is muddy up a 40 degree angled slope, then it flattens into hard packed sand. No rocks or obstructions. We are thinking this will give us the best opportunity to have the bulk of our hulls from the bows to just in front of the propellers supported on sand as the water recedes. The props & rudders will hopefully just be shy of touching the mud. We do not need the entire propellers out of the water, just the center bolt. Given the amount of high, then low tide for tomorrow we think we have a good chance of this.

We motored over to Murray\’s usual careening site which we looked at yesterday & all agreed that the angle is not steep enough & the high tide is not high enough for us to get beached enough for the transmission to be out of the mud. Carlos took us in the high speed panga back out to the river sandbar which is now set to be \”Ground Zero\”. We took 2 long bamboo poles & the guys dug holes to bury the ends so the bamboo poles stick straight up. This will give us a reference of where to put our bows & our stern. We are going to go back out in our dinghy at high tide today, about 5:30 pm to see how much of the bamboo is showing. This will give us a good idea of how deep it is at high tide over the sandbar and what the conditions \”on site\” should be like in the morning.

Unfortunately due to the orientation of the sandbar to the river we will have to lie 90 degrees to the flow of the river. Generally we always try to have our bows facing the wind & current, but in this case we have no choice but to be sideways to it. Carlos will lash his fiberglass panga with its powerful motor to our starboard stern. We will put several of our fenders in a row to protect the side of our hull from his hard-sided boat. We hope not to have to use our engine to maneuver to the site since there is a risk of sucking up mud or sand. Carlos will effectively be towing/pushing us from the rear. Since we have a 6:20 am high tide we are hoping there won\’t be much wind to fight. The current is the main factor. Once we make the left turn around the side of the sand bar where we plan to beach ourselves, the current will be pushing us & Carlos will have to use strong reverse to stop \”Beach House\” from flying down the river too far.

Alex will drive our rubber dinghy so he can act as a bow or stern thruster & help control our position. Because our dinghy is rubber & will not hurt our fiberglass, he can push directly against us at any point he needs to control our position. The next job is to set anchors down on the starboard bow & stern at a 45 degree angle to the boat. It is never ideal to anchor the boat sideways, but again we have to be in this position because of the way the sandbar slopes & that is the only way we can beach ourselves. Carlos will set one anchor from his panga, then tie the line to us. Alex will set the other anchor & we will be tied to the bow. Then we must set 2 more anchors on the opposite side because the minute the tide stops rising & starts to recede the river will be pushing us the opposite way. This does not happen instantly. There is \”slack\” tide as it switches direction. But we must be prepared because the current does build to be very strong. Then we must wait for the water to recede & pray that she touches down lightly. If we must dig out the area where the rudders hit we will have shovels ready & two additional local guys will be with Carlos to help out. Once she is supported on the sand and we see that there is no undue strain on any part, we will breathe a momentary sigh of relief. Then we wait for that center bolt of the propeller to be exposed and the work begins. We anticipate having a window of about 4 hours to take off the propellers, unscrew the protective sail drive skirt & use a putty knife to cut away the 4200 adhesive. We will have a wooden ladder at the ready in case the jump from onboard the boat to the sand/mud is too far to just use our dive ladder. Unbolting the old transmission takes just a few minutes, it will be put in the cockpit on a piece of plastic & dealt with later. The new transmission can then be set in place, the propeller & skirt put back on & we are fine to get wet. We will again use both our dinghy & Carlos\’s panga to control our position in the river as the tide rises & we gradually float. Carlos will tow us back to our dock where Alex can hook up the engine to the transmission if he did not have time to do it before. Or he can even come & do it Tuesday. We will then of course do much testing to make sure everything works properly.

Other things we have to do to \”get ready\” are to close all the thru-hulls so we won\’t suck up any mud in any part. We put the toilet holding tank back online so that we will be able to use the toilet during the day. I will shut down my fridge which cannot be on when our keel coolers our dry. It is almost empty anyway, so no problem. I will feed the hungry crew of 5 men (plus me) canned beans I guess! I should probably go buy some ice for my cooler so I can offer them cool drinks.

I am hoping to write you tomorrow night that all went as planned & that the big job is behind us. One of the marketing points of our boat in the builder\’s brochure says \”Beachable Catamaran!\” We have seen magazine covers of cats beached on a white sandy beach with palm trees in the background. We will probably become semi famous amongst cruisers for pulling off this stunt. The locals can\’t get enough of our boat, since Sunday is family day there is a continuous parade of boats & jet skis driving by to admire us. Some of the high speed daredevils like to see how much their wake can make us rock at the dock. We are glad that we are doing the big deed on a Monday where hopefully we\’ll have fewer looky-loos.

Thank you all once again for your prayers, good vibes & best wishes for our safe touch down, a successful installation and an easy return to the dock. Stay tuned….

Scott & Cindy