Rust Warriors – by Marike

Shelter Bay Marina

I will now tell you about our rust warriors. =)

One thing that the boat did extremely well in Panamá, was RUST! Apparently, Panamá has just the right combination of salty breeze, humidity, and temperature to make your most well-behaved metal object turn orange. We had SO MANY places break out in rust. My hair pins, the bilge-pump, (which had never given any sign of trouble before!) and any number of new little orange scars and lines on Shang Dus’ exterior.

After we first arrived in Panamá, we were delighted to find an abundance of boat kids in Shelter Bay marina. Boat kids are rare, teenagers the ultimate rare. After the initial excitement, we noticed something about these boat kids – they worked at odd jobs for cash.

For us as South Africans, it is a strange concept. (I think I’ve mentioned this before.) It’s not that there aren’t kids in SA who do a great job of being entrepreneurs, but there isn’t this mind-set, this ‘goes-without-saying’ tradition that kids do actual work to get paid. It’s the whole ‘summer-job’ thing.

As the Shang Du girls, we aren’t always on the lookout for ways to make some cash. It’s not built in at all. But seeing the other kids so hard at work, gave us a spark – if they can do it, why can’t we?

There were problems though. Yeah sure, we could go work on other people’s boats, but our own dearest really needed work done. It would be extremely silly to go get odd-jobs on other sailor’s boats and then have other people work on Shang Du. We kind of talked about it a little, then my dad came up with the perfect solution – he would pay us to work on the boat.

Boy, did that motivate us! Just write up your hours and it turns into cash! Awesome.

It was also super strange, because since we started sailing, we didn’t really need our own cash. Our parents were always around, so if we really need to buy anything, it is discussed with them and either added to the cart or left on the rack. Personally, I didn’t really know what to do with this new-found resource, but it was interesting to see that Karin and Sophia did. Karin had a whole list of stuff she wanted to order over Amazon, such as a new pocket knife, books etc. and Sophia bought ice-cream whenever it suited her. How better to spend your money? 😉

But I’m wandering off the subject, which is the rust.

So the one MAJOR project that I decided to tackle on the boat, was our forward-main runner.

We had the two runners added to the boat before leaving Cape Town, but they started rusting very quickly. When we reached Fort de France, Martinique, Franci and I took it upon ourselves to try and chip’n’paint the forward runner. In retrospect I don’t think we knew what we were doing and I’m pretty sure we just made it worse. By the time we reached Panamá, it was all orange, puffed up and desperately in need of attention. But if you never try, you won’t learn, right?

So my special position in the new ‘everybody-works-on-the-boat’ routine, was manager. It was my responsibility to make sure everybody was productive after signing in. The delightful job of whacking rust off of the runner was one of the jobs I assigned.

As with all chip’n’paint jobs, the easiest part is at the start, when you know exactly where the rotten rust is sitting and it just jumps off the steel every time you hit it with the chipping hammer. It’s hard work though and creates a LOT of dust.

You need a good shower after chipping a big area. Karin and Sophia, being who they are, decided to turn themselves into ‘rust warriors’. 😉

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