Our earlier communication with FKG led us to believe we’d have a week or two of waiting before dock space would be available. After clearing Customs on the Dutch Sint Maarten side at a total cost of $32.00, I ran the dinghy over to the FKG dock where I met the yard foreman, Lee. After confirming my approval for the job he asked if I could bring the boat to the dock that afternoon! Well, could it wait till the morning, I asked? Sure, no problem. That brief conversation set the tone for our entire experience with FKG Rigging. We soon realized that every vendor on the island had the same easy going, but on–time approach to their work. A great experience for us.
Once the boat was secured at the FKG dock, Lee had us make all the preparations to haul the mast out of boat the next morning. If you’ve never pulled your mast, it’s quite the process. Disconnect all the wiring and instrument cabling, lower the headliner sections, remove all the sails , the boom, the rigid vang, release and tie off all the halyards, release the tension from and remove the mast compression fittings, and so on. Then zip – out comes the mast and rigging, lifted by a huge hydraulic crane. The guys at the yard were the model of efficiency, integrity, and professionalism. Everything went off without a hitch.
As the crew worked on the rigging, the rigging foreman informed me, “Your roller furling drum has seized bearings, a missing top bushing, and a bent foil section. Your mast has several seized top halyard sheaves. Oh, and by the way, Harken no longer supplies any parts for your furling system as it is “too old”. But, as luck would have it, they had a salvaged furler just like mine and were able to scavenge all the parts I needed. Fortunate for me, and good for them, as they wanted to get that old equipment off their shelves. They practically gave me the stuff, $100 for all the parts instead of $2500 for a new system. Oh yeah baby!
While the mast was out I repaired some electrical wiring, soldered on new VHF connectors, and tied up a number of items
With the mast out and a few details ironed out, we prepared to head back to the anchorage, but the next morning as we readied the boat – whoa there!
A boater’s worst nightmare, an uncontrollable fire. As the day wore on, the smoke and heat from this massive fire ebbed and flowed, towards us, then away as the wind oscillated. Thankfully, it never affected us, but 4 boats at the marina next door were total losses.
The small power boat on the lift exploded, and the catamaran and 3 other boats on the far side of the dock melted to the waterlines.