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Cruisers Workday for Bonaire Sailors

If there is one thing a sailing cruiser learns, it is how to make repairs; often with creative solutions.

Frank decided to put cruiser know-how to work and organize a volunteer repair day for the BSSA (Bonaire Sailing School Association) sunfish sail boats.  He posted a plea for help on the Bonaire Cruisers FB page and went from boat to boat in the anchorage asking cruisers if they would help with some simple repairs needed on the local sailing school boats.

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Patrick, Lawrence, Dave, John, Sue, Malcolm, Ernest, Derek, Mary Grace, Dave and Frank

The result was that on January 23rd, 11 cruisers volunteered and spent about 3.5 hours working on the sunfish owned by BSSA.  Twenty two hands were busy with all kinds of maintenance that the working BSSA parents don’t have time to do.

Boats were cleaned and polished.

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Initial wash…

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Sue polished until the sunfish shone!

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Malcolm and Dave passing off the new bungee.

Main sheet tie downs were replaced with spliced dyneema and bungee cords for centerboards were replaced.

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Derek and John fixed a dozen tires.

Attachments for loose tires on hand trailers were replaced and there was even a little gel coat work done.

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Ernest removes a hiking strap.

Frayed and fragmented hiking straps were removed.

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And replaced with new straps.

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Derek and Frank making sure all the water is out.

There were a few sails that needed some repair and Frank brought those back to LIB. Since we don’t have a sewing machine, Frank asked our friend, Barb, to help us out.  Barb pulled out her sewing machine and made the needed repairs and now BSSA has two more sails in working order and another repaired hiking strap!

In just a few short hours, cruisers were able to make a decent impact on the boats used by BSSA.  We worked on 11 sunfish.  Seven were in use but needed a little maintenance. Three were not being used because they needed attention and the cruising volunteers were able to address the issues.  (Those three boats are now in use.)  One boat we worked on still needs a little more TLC before it is useable.

Frank did a great job of organizing the volunteers and the sailors were fabulous to spend their time contributing to the sailing youngsters of Bonaire.

It is pretty cool to see the kids out sailing and know their boats are working a little better because of our efforts. Plus BSSA had an open house a few weekends ago and added 10 or so kids to their ranks.  I think they will need those extra working boats!

A very special thank you to Anneka, a BSSA mom and board member, who met us to unlock and lock the storage area and give us access to water and power. Anneka has been a warm and welcoming liaison for BSSA!

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BSSA ~ Sailing with the Expert Kids

Bonaire has an active youth sailing group and we invited them to join us on Let It Be for an afternoon of sailing.

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Fifteen kids and two adults from the Bonaire Sailing School Association boarded LIB around 2 pm.  After covering a few guidelines, we released the mooring lines and took off.

BSSA-9 LIB was in the hands of some very good sailors! It only took a few minutes to cover basic differences between the small boats the kids sail and the particulars of this catamaran, then the kids were completely ready to take the sheets, lines and throttles!

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I was truly impressed with how well these sailors worked together and shared responsibilities. As is always true with a group, some children were very interested in sailing and others preferred to romp around the boat.

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BSSA-2Once away from the mooring ball, we raised the main, unfurled the jib and sailed south toward Pink Beach. The auto winch and chart plotter were big hits. But once our sailors learned how to engage and work the autopilot, it was much more interesting to helm manually.

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BSSA-10Any child who wanted the helm had a chance and the more experienced kids stayed right there to guide those who needed a little help.

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BSSA-8After about an hour of sailing, we dropped the sails and grabbed a mooring ball at Pink Beach on the southern side of Bonaire.  We broke out the snacks, lowered the ladder and unleashed the energy. We had already thought these kids were exuberant, but adding the snacks and allowing them to jump from nearly every surface of LIB caused the energy level to increase another watt or ten!

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BSSA-11After a refreshing swim and plenty of sustenance, it was time to pop the chute.  LIB’s spinnaker is slightly larger than the sails the kids are accustomed to and they loved letting her fly.

BSSA-6Our cat cruised down wind quickly and the kids monkeyed around on this smooth point of sail. Very soon it was time to drop the spin and raise the main and jib once again. Second time around for the main/jib and the kids were all over the job with little help.

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I loved watching the kids access the sails, turn to Frank or me and say, “I think that main needs to come in a bit.” Then proceed to make the necessary adjustment. It is easy to see that some of these kids really have caught the sailing bug and they like their sails to be well adjusted.

Several of our sailors have folks who are expert fishermen and that knowledge has been passed along.  We brought out the fishing poles and the kids worked the lines hard, but alas, we were not in prime fishing spots.  Catching a fish would have been icing on a sweet day, but I’m not sure we needed the additional activity anyway!

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Our awesome helmsmen and sheet handlers managed to sail around Klein Bonaire and, with only one tack, they sailed LIB on a perfect line to catch our mooring ball.

BSSAWe absolutely loved having a chance to share LIB with the BSSA and having the opportunity to get to know these young people. I was incredibly impressed with so much about these kids; they were polite, they were appreciative, they were avid about learning and passionate about sailing, they cared for and watch out for one another, the older ones gently reined in the younger ones if things became unsafe or too wild, they worked well as a team, they were engaging and just plain fun! I could go on and on!

LIB has never housed as much energy as she did for those few hours with the BSSA kids on board and we loved every minute of it.  (I would love to hear how other boaters have reached out to get to know the communities they visit. Please tell us in the comments.)

Thank you to the kids who participated and to Anneke and Thijs who took their afternoon to chaperone.

To the parents of this very fun group of sailors, we appreciate your trusting us with your precious children and allowing us to get to know them!

A special thank you to Anneke who took so many great pictures and videos while Frank and I were busy. We are so glad to have these photos!  Also, thank you to Charles of Tusen Takk II for the group photo.

~HH55~

The construction of our new catamaran is moving along nicely and we continue to spend a lot of time working with the staff at HH to refine and define our future boat. It has been super fun to receive updates and a few photos from the builder showing us the progress of our boat.

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She was just the bare hull when we visited in China.

Since our first visit in August, Frank has returned once to China and was able to be on board for the sea trial of an HH55 with the aft steering.  That sea trial further solidified our choice for an aft helm arrangement.

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Vacuum infusion of the bulkheads. (Exciting, I know)

While touring the factory, we were able to see vacuum infusion in process for another boat.  Per the HH brochure, “the hull, deck and structure are all 100% carbon fiber composite foam sandwich and use post cured epoxy resin for super light, super strong structures.”  It is fun to see this processing happening for our own cat.

5503 Most bulkheats installation complete

Those partitions may be confusing to you, but to us they look like our future home.

She doesn’t look like a boat yet, but there is definitely progress being made. We worked with HH and Morrelli and Melvin to arrange the salon and galley to meet our needs and it is fun to see the one dimensional lines and boxes on paper become a reality.

Since this boat is being built in China we obviously can’t just drop by to see how things are going, so we really appreciate the progress reports generated by HH.

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