Sunday, September 9, 2018

Sea Buggy Hits the Water

We have been without a boat for about a year.  That means we have had to hire someone to take us in their boat to shop in Placencia and Independence, the nearest villages (14 miles away, a 30-45 minute trip each way) with grocery stores and fresh produce.  We also have to pay someone to bring the work crew over and back from Monkey River Village (1 mile away) five days a week, or take us to catch a bus or plane if we travel any farther.  All-in-all, that adds up to an amount that I don't even want to consider. 

We have 2 excellent engines; 100HP Yamahas.  We have a non-functional boat that since August 2017 is supposed to be being rebuilt.  We will get it finished, one way or another - but that is an incomplete story for another time.

In the meantime, we needed a work boat.  We found a used boat without an engine for sale for a good price in Independence.  It is a classic "high bow" work boat, also called a panga in other parts of the Caribbean.
The bow flares up in profile to cut through the waves.
The boat, built in 2005, was used as a fishing boat by a local fisherman until his health got too bad for him to continue to work.  It is a basic 25ft fiberglass boat with no floor, painted the ubiquitous mint green.
You can see the open bottom.  Local fishermen often just lay plywood cut to size across the bottom to make a  rough floor.  This boat didn't even have that.
We bought the boat from someone who had bought it from the fisherman when he had to pay his medical bills a few months earlier.  The person we bought it from hadn't actually done all the paperwork involved in buying and selling a boat, so technically, we bought it from the original owner and repaid the middle man, so to speak.  We got papers signed and notarized, money changed hands and  everyone was happy - the original owner, the middle man, us, and the Port Authority of Belize.

Our friend Jason helped us inspect the boat before we bought it and then used his boat to tow the new boat from Independence to Stafford's Boatyard in Placencia.  That was a short trip of not quite 4 miles across the Placencia Lagoon.

Unloading the boat off the trailer. 
Maybe you can see that the trailer is not a boat trailer but has 4 fixed sides.  That made it a little difficult to load and unload the boat. The guys had to lift the bow up and slide the boat across the rear side of the trailer.  It went well, all things considered.
Now it was time to tow the boat across the lagoon.
The lack of a good bow hook meant we had to tow the boat stern first.  Glad we didn't have far to go.
Keeping it steady as we go across the lagoon.
Stafford inspected the boat for us and in his opinion it needed to be stripped down to have new ribs installed to strengthen boat for our 100HP engine.  We looked at other boats in his boatyard for ideas for the layout of the benches and hatches and the placement of the steering console.
Stripping the boat down.
We settled on a design with a bench on either side, one cross bench near the bow, and, most importantly for us, a builtin floor that will make it much easier for us old folks to move around in the boat without twisting an ankle or knee.
Floor is in place and benches are taking shape.
Center console to the rear of the side benches.
Another change from the original boat design was to put in a center steering console since our engine is not a tiller engine like the one the first owner used.  We decided to include a gas tank in the console and a small seat to the front of the console.


Looking from stern to bow at the side benches with their cutouts for stowing gear and purchases.  You can see the seat in front of the console.
The nice thing about fiberglass is that you can make any shape you want.  We wanted the benches to have angled ends on this work boat.  That makes more room to haul long pieces of lumber across the diagonal of the floor space.
12ft lengths of wood can easily fit along the diagonal.
Just because it is a work boat doesn't mean it can't look sharp. We opted for a blue and dark red color scheme on the hull.
Stafford has a great eye for color and patterns.  Below the horizontal masking tape, the hull will be painted with dark grey with an anti-fouling paint
The interior, with the exception of the console and console seat, will be painted light grey with dark grey flicks.
Almost done.
And here she is, coming home to our landing on Black Creek!  No more mint green.
Captain Tiger brings Sea Buggy around to the landing on Black Creek at the west side of our place.
 The bimini was installed and now she is good to go.
The first trip with the bimini in place.  We need all the sun protection we can get - even the engine wears a T shirt!
 So much easier now with a boat again.
Off to do some shopping.
We are very pleased with the work Stafford did; a very professional job completed in a timely manner.

19 comments:

  1. One of my favorite things in Cozumel is watching the panga drivers as they come and go across the water. They are obviously at least partly mer-men. I'm a bit jealous of your beautiful panga.

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    1. These guys really know the water. Sea Buggy is very functional for our conditions.

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  2. I am envious of that beautiful blue sea, that lovely boat and most of all the weather!

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    1. It is often incredibly beautiful here, but not always. Right now we are trying to cope with a huge influx of Sargassum seaweed onto our shore. We can't even get to our beach. We should be back to normal in a few weeks, though.

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  3. I think that you have a good boat there and especially like the flared prow which will deflect any spray that might otherwise come aboard. Happy sailing to you.

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    1. It is a good boat design for the local sea conditions. Despite the flare, we still get drenched with sea spray on occasion, but usually find that to feel refreshing. Glad to see you visiting.

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  4. What a great looking boat. Exceptional job!

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    1. We are quite pleased with it. Hard to believe it is the same boat.

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  5. It seems moving to Paradise is more than just selling up and moving house.
    Looks a great, useful boat and nice you were able to get it modified to suit your needs.
    What is the black object just in front of the guy at the back? Looks like the tail of a large fish or dolphin.

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    1. Yes, living here is a constant work in progress and keeps us on our toes. We expect to get many years of service from Sea Buggy. If I am looking at the right thing, the fishtail-shaped profile is the steering column and wheel. The wheel is somewhat smaller than what is standard in a car.

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  6. Nice. Slap the other 100 on it and come up to Vermillion Bay for a visit!!
    Kidding aside, that's a wonderful job on transforming that boat. Be safe.

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    1. Hmm. I'm "unknown" again - Bill Repaske

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    2. Hi Bill. Even with both 100s that would be quite a trip! Thanks - Stafford and his crew did a great job on the boat. Do you get out to Vermillion Bay much?

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    3. Don't get out boating much any more. When I have free time, I take to two wheels. Hmmm. Motorcycle trip to Belize ??

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    4. Come down. Just make sure you two don't do any riding after dark, especially in Mexico.

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  7. Wow - yes! I can hardly believe it's the same boat. She's a beauty! Stafford did a remarkable job.

    Stay safe and well, Wilma.

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    1. Thanks, Robyn. Such a relief to have a boat again.

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  8. I can only echo the comments of those above me, it has been a very impressive re-build and hopefully not too expensive.

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    1. The entire cost of the boat and refurbishment plus the engine was much less than a 3-5 year old used car in Belize. Not cheap, but reasonable. It will last a lot longer than a car, too.

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