Monday, September 26, 2016

Puntarenas: On Top of Mold, Joker Valves, Rain But No Mosquitos

I made significant progress on mold remediation today.

The forward port cabin has always been inexplicably more damp than any other space inside the boat. We shipped a good amount of water into that cabin through an open hatch once at sea due to miscommunication between captain and crew. Maybe the cabin just never dried out completely and formed its own microclimate, like a terrarium. In any case, more dampness means more mold and there was a big patch around the portlight, the pleated fabric blind was thoroughly speckled, and one of our vinyl bean bag chairs had large patches of the nasty black spots.

I wiped down the interior with a 10% bleach solution and did the same to the bean bag chair and saturated the fabric blind. I got all the spots off the cabin's interior surfaces, most of the spots off the chair and the blind looks almost spot free. Better yet, the boat no longer smells moldy. I still need to clean the aft port cabin which still doesn't smell good when I go in there, but overall the boat smells much, much better. Boats often take on a distinctive "boat smell" as they get older, a phenomenon I really wanted to prevent, or at least delay, happening to Intermezzo. I was worried that the mold might have meant the end of having a fresh smelling boat. I don't think that's going to happen though; I feel I'm on top of the mold situation now.

I also repaired the electric head (toilet) in the starboard hull. The joker valves (there are two on this head) failed and wastewater would slowly flow back into the bowl under gravity from the hose leading up to the holding tank. Fortunately I had cleaned the toilet and hose thoroughly before I left in June and hadn't used the head since arriving. So it wasn't a messy job, but it did take a little while as I had to completely disconnect all the hoses and remove the toilet from its mounting to get to the valves. Last time I did this operation was almost a year ago in Bahia de Tortugas due to an errant olive pit, which was a bit more messy.  Once I got access to them, changing the valves took only a few minutes. I put everything back together again and the head now works great. Considering the condition of the old joker valves, I figure I'm going to have to do this every year from now on.

It's rainy season in Central America. Here in Puntarenas, the day starts off sunny and warms quickly, evaporating the moisture from the previous day's rain. About midday thunderclouds start building above the surrounding hills. By 2:00 p.m., the sky gets increasingly cloudy, a breeze starts to blow and you hear thunder in the distance. Over the next hour or so, the sky gets darker, lightning starts to flash, sometimes with big bolts and cracking thunder, and then down comes the rain. It rains for a few hours and then stops, leaving the air feeling cool and refreshing. There hasn't been any rain at night, which I believe is typical. 

Interestingly, I have hardly seen any mosquitos. I had thought that they would be worse during rainy season, but there were a lot more when I was here in May. I'm not sure why that's the case, but I'm grateful that it's so. I really don't need any screens on the boat, but I use them at night as a precaution against Zika, dengue, and chinungunya, all of which occur in Costa Rica.

Tomorrow I should finish the bulk of the mold remediation and can start preparing the boat for departure.