Sunday, September 25, 2016

Puntarenas: Celebrity Boat Mold Remediation

My red-eye flight to Costa Rica went smoothly and I, somewhat amazingly, got through immigration and customs, caught a cab to the bus terminal and was on a bus to Puntarenas in less than an hour after I got off the plane.  I was a bit thirsty, hungry and tired by the time I got to Puerto Azul, but no complaints.

Three marina guys were busy finishing washing Intermezzo when I arrived. The exterior looked great. The real question though was, what was it like inside? I had “pickled” the interior before I left in June by wiping it down with vinegar and leaving open containers of vinegar to acidify the atmosphere in an attempt to prevent mold from growing. I had left the boat pretty much sealed up to try and keep mold spores out. I was pretty apprehensive about this approach and had nightmares of the inside of the boat being coated with mold, like a cheese that’s been in the fridge for too long.

Well, the pickling seemed to have worked pretty well. When I opened the sliding door to the salon, I was greeted by a moist, stuffy odor that didn’t seem too bad after four months. The salon looks pretty much mold-free. Down below, I saw a few spots of mold on the inside of the hull and the pleated fabric blinds are badly mottled with mold spots. Thankfully, almost all of our clothes are free of mold. The worst of the mold is on some shoes, our vinyl bean bag chairs, some life jackets and a couple of pillows, in addition to the aforementioned blinds. It is all quite manageable, far from the nightmare situation I was worried about.

I decided to stay in a hotel room for the first night rather than sleep in a slightly moldy boat. I’m glad I did because as I’ve spent more time on board today, the mold odor is worse than I originally noticed. I’m not having any allergic or toxic reactions, so it must not be the nasty, unhealthy type of mold. It’s just normal boat mold, the type that strengthens one’s constitution and immune system.

I was feeling a bit down and lonely last night and this morning. I think I was having flashbacks to when I was here in May, spending long days by myself in sweltering heat getting the boat ready so I could leave. Now I’m spending long days by myself in (slightly less) sweltering heat getting the boat ready so that we can sail again. There have been a couple of times when it has felt like I never left! After wallowing in self pity for a while, I realized that I was paying too much attention to my negative thoughts rather than just being in the present and doing what needs to be done. So, I adjusted my attitude accordingly, made a list, got off my ass, started getting things done and consequently felt a lot better.

I took the bus into town to pick up some groceries and cleaning supplies. I don’t really like the town of Puntarenas. It’s unattractive and sort of gritty. The town runs along a narrow peninsula. The north shore is a muddy estuary. The south shore is a brown sand beach with the Golfo Nicoya’s water breaking on the shore, most often cloudy. It is definitely a working town with a lot of small stores and restaurants, a busy commercial fishing wharf and a central market. Along the south shore there is a well-worn malecon and some nicer tourist restaurants. A cruise ship was in port today so there were quite a few gringo tourists wandering about and a bunch of temporary souvenir stands set up near the pier. Normally, the tourists are all Ticos (Costa Ricans).  While I don’t like the town, I give it credit for being real and authentic rather than gussied up and too touristy like many seafront towns.

When I returned to the boat, I set to wiping down interior of the starboard hull to get rid of mold and try to improve the odor so that I can sleep there tonight. I removed the fabric blinds and wiped them down with a mild bleach solution which killed the mold and did a fairly good job in getting rid of the mold spots.  I cleaned the moldy shoes with vinegar, which worked really well. The starboard hull is now fit for human habitation, but there is still a pretty earthy smell coming from the port hull. I’ll attack that tomorrow.

I spoke with a couple of the marina guys this afternoon. My Spanish seems to actually be a bit better than when I left. I think I’m more relaxed speaking it for some reason; maybe my summer meditation/yoga “therapy” has something to do with that. I was told that Intermezzo is the favorite boat in the marina and that many visitors from the adjacent hotel come onto the dock to have their picture taken in front of the boat. Apparently Intermezzo has been featured in dozens of peoples’ vacation pictures, in addition to being filmed for a Costa Rican television travel show.

I’m living on a celebrity boat. Good thing Intermezzo’s fans don’t know about the smelly mold in the port hull. I’ll make sure it’s all gone by tomorrow to avoid a tabloid scandal.

Moldy shoes

Church in Puntarenas, one of the few attractive buildings

Cruise ship visiting Puntarenas