Oh man, salt water is a beast. I remember when Wild horses got its first taste of salt water, way back on the lower Hudson River. We noted the occasion with a high five, stating proudly that “Wild Horses is now a salt water boat.” It seemed like such an accomplishment at the time. How cute, and wildly naïve, that seems now.
These days, “cute” is not how I would describe our dealings with salt water. It is a bear, a beast, an annoyance. It is expensive and incredibly time-consuming. Nothing turns our smiles upside down faster than a salty dinghy ride, especially when we are headed out to dinner. Not only are you wet from the ocean water, but you get a lovely salt stain across your clothing as time progresses. Notice I didn’t say “as it dries.” That is because fabric doused in salt water doesn’t dry. It feels wet and looks stained until the next wash. Ugh.
But salty rides to dinner are closer to the “annoying” side of things. The time-consuming and expensive bit is what it does to our stuff. Whether as salty ocean water or as salty ocean air, it literally gets into everything and, as a result, those things start to break down.
Our decks (and everything on them) are affected the worst. On good sailing days, salt water crashes over our bow regularly, soaking everything. Every exposed surface gets the salt water treatment.
Yeah, salt water gets two thumbs down. We tried to stay on top of the damage by giving our boat gear a fresh water rinse every so often. Rainy days would help but, to be honest, there just wasn’t enough of those rainy days. Our stainless steel would get treated with metal polish and, a few weeks later, more rust. Locks, zippers, electronics – these got some attention with rubbing alcohol or WD-40 when they stopped working.
After over a year of being splashed by salt water and exposed to salty air, Wild Horses was losing the salt water battle. The icing on the salt cake was when our metal “water” and “waste” tank covers seized. That’s right. We couldn’t pump out waste and we couldn’t add water through our top decks. Thankfully, we were able to use a penetrating oil and elbow grease to open our water tank covers. The waste tank covers, however, were toast. Both had to be replaced. Clearly, our approach to managing the salt water wasn’t good enough.
With our recent stay at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia, we were given some great “salt water cleaning” lessons by Anthony and Gaza, the two guys we hired to get Wild Horses ship shape. They have cared for and cleaned hundreds of boats and emphasized that prevention is key when you are dealing with salt water. Most important, they stressed, is that the whole boat needs to be rinsed down with fresh water after every single sail. Yikes! That takes a lot of fresh water. It is a good thing we have a water maker!
The good news is that we departed from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia with a beautifully clean, polished and salt-free boat. From now on, it will stay that way with a little (or a lot) of prevention. In fact, as soon as we arrived at our anchorage in Le Marin, Martinique, the whole boat got a fresh water rinse. Yes!
We have been in Martinique for four days, having arrived here on Thursday November 23. It was an easy clearing in process, being a French island. No pet permits here! In fact, we don’t even have to declare the dog. Easy! French islands are also our favourite for the food and wine. Baguettes, pain au chocolat, cheeses, fresh fish and wonderful sauces. Yum! Plus, the adjacent towns are so quaint, with a lovely European vibe. And, this particular anchorage has lots of marine stores in easy walking distance. We have finally picked up several boat spares and replacement parts that have been on our list since last spring.
Tomorrow, we leave Le Marin and head a few hours north to another anchorage in Martinique. More quaint towns, beautiful vistas, and great food and wine. We are one happy crew!
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Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.