She was launched 24th April 2002 after staying on hard at Power Boats 4 years and two months. When she was hauled up in February 1998 we knew that a major refit will be necessary before we can safely continue sailing. As to ensure this, the transmission gave first a hard crash and then a rattling noise when the engine was run after oil change while we were on hard already.
This is how the fouer years were spent:
Our intention was to start the refit in September 1998, but first a delay in Tapio's work project and then serious illness and subsequent death of Tapio's father kept us in Finland until October 1999.
We started the refit in October 1999 and worked seven months, returning to Finland in the end of May 2000. During this time the teak deck was removed and the deck was painted. This was also the right time to renovate the interior, as we had to remove all ceiling panels to get access to the through deck bolts of deck gear. We stayed in a motel for three months during this period, because there was no space for living onboard.
The refit was continued in October 2000. We installed new water and fuel tanks (made of polypropene by Rotoplastics, Trinidad), and then our old Mercedes engine which had been refurbished and fitted with a second hand Hurth transmission. As many of you remember, we had built a house of white plastics around the boat, and the engine was taken in through a hole cut in the roof. Plenty of shouting was needed to guide the crane driver, who could not see what was happening inside the house.
A lot of time was spent in finishing the engine installation, as we had to install new stern tube and prop shaft to accommodate the new transmission. We also renewed all engine wiring and constructed new instrument panels for the engine and wind instruments in the cockpit. Then came the Carnival 2001. The poor two workers enjoyed the Carnival, before they left Irene again in early March. Tapio was called to work on a project he had been involved in for quite a long time already. We flew to Toronto and stayed there for ten days. Then we flew to Amsterdam, took a train and travelled to Paris to meet our eldest son and his wife, who were studying their two years period in the technical university of Paris. We stayed with them for a weekend and learned that we are not young any more, they were going to make us grandparents in October 2001. Great news.
The next stop was Australia for six weeks. We rented a house together with Tapio´s collegue in a small town called Camden, about 60 kms from Sydney. The house was situated at the far nothern corner of the town by fields with grazing animals: cows, bulls, horses and sheep. There was a nice creek nearby with a very livid birdlife. Every morning when Eeva had served the two boys their breakfast and sent them in time for work on the nearby airport she had a marvellous hour birdwatching and learning the local birds. Enjoyable.
We left Australia in the beginning of May and flew to Finland to spend the summer seeing relatives and friends. We also took care of our forest land planting some 4600 pine and spruce plants in the area which was cut down the previous year. Tapio´s work project in Finland was delayed once again by other people, so we just had to spend a few weeks sailing in the Finnish archipelago. Just before returning back to Trinidad we had a good two weeks period in our forest cottage again cuttting some trees and picking wild mushrooms and drying them to be taken with us to Irene.
We had booked the flights on the 23rd October 2001, and the grandchild was due to be born sometime in October. He was a nice boy and willing to see his grandparents before they were leaving. He was born on the 13th Oct, so we had some ten days to enjoy him. He was called from the first moment Mikko Andreas. Mikko is an old name in the family, he is the fifth Mikko in row meaning that Tapio´s grandfather was the first.
Coming back to Trinidad we had a good plan to launch the boat before Christmas. No luck. The new rig was not ready and Tapio spent a few weeks in the rigging shop working and supervising. We had plenty of problems with the engine, too, as it was reassembled in a Trinidadian way, which meant many mistakes and a large number of leaks. Irene was pulled out of the White House early January, and the mast stepped on 13th Jan. Then we started to work with the running rigging, made a new fibreglass sprayhood and a hard bimini with five solarpanels on top of it. Our intention was to launch before the Carnival, but nothing happened during the last week before Carnival, and we did not get the ss frame for the bimini welded in time. We got frustrated and decided to join the Carnival band of Power Boats for J'ouvert again. During the night one member was hit by a car quite badly. Eeva was called to help him and maybe saved his life, because he was breathless and pulseless when starting the first aid.
We knew that Tapio should be back in Finland early March 2002 to work and help his brother with the project mentioned before. We were ready to launch in the middle of February, but had only two weeks time left. Therefore we decided to keep Irene on hard and fly to Finland for six weeks. That was a busy time with Tapio working and Eeva spoiling the young man, who filled six months while we were there. We could also enjoy the winter, as we sneaked to our forest cabin for Easter time and transported the trees cut previous autumn to the nearest road by our Skidoo. It was good exercise and we got a little pocket money too by selling the timber.
Irene was waiting for us when we returned to Trinidad on the 18th April. The boat was launched on the 24th April. It felt so good to be floating again. Ever since we have been taking care of the endless number of jobs which we had left to be done while afloat. It has been good though to be in anchor in Scotland Bay and Chacachacare and enjoy the freedom and the possibility to have a swim everytime you feel hot. We will be ready to go sailing when our liferaft comes (should be coming today, ordered NINE weeks ago with the promise to be on Irene in four weeks). In addition of our work to do list, we have had many breakdowns. Last night our 24 V alternator gave a puff of smoke and stopped charging. Tapio spent the morning trying to find spares, but ended up repairing it with the parts we happened to have onboard. This time the reason was worn out brushes. The alternator was overhauled in Trinidad as a part of the engine overhaul contract, and we had specified new brushes and bearings to be installed. All they had done was apparently cleaning of the alternator. Once again an example of the Trinidadian way of doing shortcuts without telling the customer.
Altogether the refit took 18 working months. We have also had a quite accurate bookkeeping of the costs, but have not had time to make a summary of it yet. We will return to this in a future Newsletter. We have discussed frequently whether we should have bought a newer boat instead of repairing old Irene. We never reached a firm conclusion, but right now we feel happy with the result and enjoy the feeling that we can trust the boat in all conditions.
Now we are planning to sail from Trinidad to north in the middle of the coming week. The time to enjoy sailing has shrunken to three weeks, as Tapio should be back in Finland to fill in his brother's summer vacation in the middle of June. It is going to be just a test sailing, so we know what to change in October 2002 when we´ll be back again onboard Irene for a longer sailing season in the Caribbean area. Right now we feel that it will be time to change the cruising ground after that.
Scotland Bay 17th May
We are still in Trinidad. The life raft did not arrive as promised, but now it is onboard and securely installed. We have also had a long series of minor breakdowns, which have kept us busy, but now we are ready to sail after buying in Chaguaramas new bilge pump switch and fluorescent lamps, which broke down yesterday, also the temperature sensor of the fridge broke down, but we had a spare for it onboard (this was just one day's catch of problems). It is time now to close the computer, hoist the anchor and motor to Chaguaramas to get the supplies, send this e-mail and check out.
We wish you all fair winds and good summer/winter.
Eeva and Tapio