Tired and bothersome, we finally arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa at 14H00 on Monday. Whilst the flights from Trinidad to Tobago, Tobago to Barbedos, Barbedos to Sao Paulo was fine - the flight from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg was not. We have flown on hundreds of airplanes and every now and then, we would encounter what we called a "sick" airplane. As they shut the doors for take off, we knew immediately that this was yet another one of these sick airplanes. With little air flow and ventilation, air conditioner set at a warm temperature, the air becomes stale and stuffy. Whenever we find ourselves in such an airplanes, we always get sick within days after flying in such an airplane. So here we are once again, both Sue and I have a throat infection and a nasal drip. Then in addition, we were surrounded by no less than 3 mothers with their babies seated around us - these babies screamed non stop! At times, I felt like I was on the edge of insanity!
It's lonely out here! So please comment as we love to hear from you.
Communication received from the people (their attorney) to whom we sold our business, implies that we cooked the books (so to speak), misrepresented financials to them and as such overstated the value of the business. Well, none of this is true! We exercised due diligence and indeed were conservative declaring the profits actually made. Things like all the cash money taken out of the business were higher than actually taken into account, the donations and things we gave freely to churches and some welfare organizations were never mentioned nor taken into account - we also scaled down our personal expenses. If all of this are taken into account, the profits would even be higher and the company would be evaluated at an even higher value. Despite having been conservative, the company was evaluated more than double what it sold for. I wonder what the company would have been valued at had we declared every last cent on the above mentioned things.
So why would they make claims that the business was over evaluated? Frankly, I don't know the answer for this, but there are a number of possibilities;
- A disingenuous attempt to delay our legal action against themselves for not paying their overdue monthly financial obligation?
- Is it greediness, ignorance, lack of business experience or perhaps plain stupidity?
- Maybe they are not looking at the valuation process in the same way as practiced by business brokers traditionally evaluate companies.
- Perhaps they do not have an understanding of the norms and standards used by professionals who sell businesses.
- Maybe they want to re-invent the wheel how businesses are evaluated.
Instead of talking to the professionals in the highly specialized field of selling businesses, it seems they are listen to attorneys or accountants will probably only look at submitted financial balance sheets. As all business owners in South Africa know and commonly practice, financials reflect the least amount of profits to prevent draconian taxes being paid. Attorneys specialize in law and ligation - it is not their business selling companies which is a completely different specialist expertise.
Their attorney proposed to have the business re-evaluated and the new valuation (higher or lower) will then become the selling price of the company. Under such agreement, the new evaluation will replace the value the business was sold for. If the evaluation is lower than what they paid for the business, we will then settle for a lower sale price. On the one hand, if the business is evaluated higher than the sale agreement, they will be legally obligated to pay the new evaluation amount. We are most receptive to settle the matter in this way as we stand to make several millions more. But I wonder what these people will say and do when the new evaluation shows the company to be more than double the amount stipulated in the company sale agreement? How will this affect them? Where would they get the extra millions from? How will they deal with this huge financial burden?
Despite being wronged by their actions and seeming intentions, we need to remain human and have compassion - we certainly do not wish undue harm or damage to anybody, including them. Since this path will most likely involve a long drawn out process, destroy them financially and most likely also do damage in many other ways, in addition, we proposed an alternative solution which if accepted, will allow everybody to move on with the least amount of damage. However, with this counter offer, we once again bent backwards to accommodate these people.
Our conscience is clear, we sleep peacefully every single night without any ghost/s eating away at our souls for we have never cheated them in any which way or manner. To the contrary, in all our dealings with them, we bent over backwards and did more than our required obligations. Unfortunately and sadly I cannot say the same of them - but so be it. We extended the olive branch with our alternative proposal, a offer which ensures that there are no losers and which also prevents extensive harm coming their way. We are at peace with whichever course they take.
We will be flying back to Johannesburg, South Africa this coming weekend. We have a bunch of issues we have to go and sort out and we will be there for for awhile seeing friends, family and sorting out a mountain of outstanding issues. Booking the flights was almost a disaster and it took the best part of 4 days to sort it out. We originally booked flights from Trinidad to the JFK, in the United States and then on-wards to Johannesburg. After paying all the flights (there and back), we learned that we had to apply for a transit visa to enter the USA - which takes more than 3 weeks to arrange! This whilst the flights were for this week! Sue had to cancel everything and book new flights, this time a much longer route - Trinidad --> Tobago --> Barbados --> Sao Paulo --> Johannesburg. It will now take us almost 3 days of flying and stopovers to get back home.
There is a power boat race every year from Trinidad to Tobago and this year's race was held last Saturday. The race starts in the city of Port of Spain, Trinidad and after doing a small circuit shortly after the start, the boats then head for the first Boca (a narrow stretch of water between the island of Trinidad and a smaller island where the current runs very strong at around 6 knots on the incoming and outgoing tide.
The first Boca is around 4 nautical miles from the boatyard where we are and the Boca is only accessible by boat. With both the Revelations and our dinghy on the hard, we were desperately looking for a way or lift to the first Boca. The night before, we started asking around if anybody knew of a boat going there - but to no avail. We woke up at about 05H00 on Saturday morning an headed made our way to the waterfront - mere 50 meters from were Revelations is parked. The place was already busy with lots of people and boat activity, all heading to the same destination - the first Boca. But all the boats were privately owned and mostly full and after some 2 hours asking and looking for a way to get there, it appeared hopeless.
Then, at the last minute, a seemingly doped up guy of about 40 years of age arrived with his worn skiff which outboard motor constantly threatened to depart to the after life. A fee of 100 rand was negotiated and we piled in the rough an ready skiff heading to the Boca. When we finally arrived some 40 minutes later, we found the place packed with hundreds of pleasure craft in all shapes and sizes - all ready and waiting for the powerboats to race pass. It turns out that our doped up guy was not particularly under the influence of anything specific, it was indeed his permanent appearance and behavior - damage form years of substance abuse. Anyway, he was friendly and coherent enough to get us there safely.
Soon after arriving, the first powerboat raced passed and Sue managed to get some nice action photographs whilst I was taking videos. But with both eyes on the boats as they raced passed, I did not get one single boat in any of the video's I took (embarrassingly). This video footage is not mine - it was video recorded by another guy on a skiff close to us and on occasion, you will see us in the video footage.
On Thursday we decided to take the day off and go to town for lunch, few supplies, local sim card, a sander what what machine and to just take a break from unpacking Revelations for repairs to be done.
Very excited for the well deserved outing, we left at 10am for the bus stop just outside the gate at Powerboats where we are on the hard. The bus runs every hour on the hour to town, kinda a straight road. We've used the service the weekend before and were pleasantly pleased with the new, clean, ac bus. Only, on Thursday we waited for an hour and thirty minutes, no bus, in the heat of 35-40°C, feeling more like 45°C, humidity of 80+%, feeling more like +%. It's raining on and off, we are hot and bothered.
Eventually we decided to take a local minibus taxi, .... omw! A 2nd taxi had to be taken to where we needed to go, this time, a local car taxi, omw! We arrived safe to the hardware store, only, we got dropped off on the wrong side of the road, as in highway!
By now we are ready for anything, walking through a field of mud, we jumped the highway safely. Only to find no sander thingymajic. Back to jumping the highway, through the open field. Walked to the Market, it was closed. Sim card, .... long story, by no means off the shelve buy. Anyway, lunch was good ... roti.
Back to the bus stop. We found a bench, next to an older gentleman. Uncle Mikey. We started chatting, his got upper teeth and one lower tooth (from what I could see), this tooth flapped like our South African flag on Revelations in the wind. His 70, saw 3 buses .... just now, 3, ... so we wait. Uncle Mikey gave us a "steeldrum" mimic performance,.... see, he leads the band. He then gave his own performance as leader of the band, to cute, all the steps and rhythm with his arms going much better. He has a flag, no drum.
After an hour, no bus, ... we go back to taxi.
We arrived back at Revelations just after 5pm, drained and exhausted, .......with only a simcard
The sail people from Ullmann came around earlier yesterday morning and removed the mainsail, stack pack and jib. So Revelations is now bare pole without any sails. I will be going around to their loft later today and discuss the various bits of work which needs done. The also took the torn spinnaker which is beyond repair, they will use this to work out the dimensions for a new spinnaker. A mast rigger came around and spend about 2 hours trying to remove the broken topping lift which fell back into the mast - only partly successful. The remainder of the topping lift is stuck higher up in the mast, so we will have to see whether it can be done. I also learned that the electrical wires within the mast are not in tubes or channels - this means that the up and down movement of ropes will eventually chafe through the wires. To fix this, the mast must be taken down - why the job was not done right first time by Sparcraft in Cape Town beats me.
In the interim, Sue has been packing everything within Revelations into boxes for soon the boat will be swarming with workers doing all sort of repairs. She should be more or less done by Friday. Shit, we have a lot of stuff on board!
We are not posting much as we are trying to sort out all the things which need to be done on Revelations. It is a low process as there are a number of suppliers and tradesmen involved. Thus far, we met and have spoken to a couple of these suppliers and we now await their quotes for getting repairs done - a large list of over 70 items (and growing). The progress is slow and we have to wait to meet everybody and then wait some more for their quote. In the interim, we are emptying the entire boat and packing everything into boxes to be stored.
We have been smacking our lips ever since we heard of the various Indian curry roti's here in Trinidad. We went to get our share yesterday afternoon but was bitterly disappointing when we were told that they have old out. Damn! So we went back today, but much earlier and as it turned out, we almost lot out again - we received the last two plates of food. Pleased to be served, we at down and had a delicious lunch - me; roti with duck curry, Sue; roti with chicken curry. Man, it was great and tasted delicious!!! Right there and then, we pre-paid for another two dishes of roti tomorrow as there was no way in hell we were going to be disappointed yet again.
The next minute, this Green Iguana makes it's appearance and comes trapping past. The photograph is quite deceiving - but each floor tile is 300 x 300 mm - making this stunning creature at almost 1200 mm in length! And there was even a bigger one in a tree nearby. Sue almost be-kakked (shat) herself with fright. You can read more about these Green Iguanas on wikipedia.org - a native specie throughout the Caribbean and South America and sold as pets for thousands elsewhere in the world.
It is a sad day when people turn out to be nothing but thieves, liars and con artists. When they cannot be honest and open enough to tell you that they are having financial difficulties paying the large sum of money they owe you. Instead of openly and honestly discussing this and seeking a way forward, they resort to supposedly clever but cheating tricks and manipulation thought up by themselves and their lawyer to avoid paying the amounts due for the strong and wealthy kitchen and bedroom cupboard manufacturing company they have bought. Instead of admitting that they are having difficulties controlling, managing the company and making sufficient profits in order to pay the monthly installments, they resort to the clever tricks of a lawyer – perhaps even on the assurances that they have a strong case. In the end, there will be somebody who lose and will have to foot the bill and it is never the lawyers - for every lawyer tend to tell you that there is a strong case, for even if they lose your court case, they never lose anything.
For them to think that embarking on such a path would bring them success and that there will not be severe consequences costing them many times more than what they rightfully owe. Instead they embark on a legal war path of which consequence they as yet have no understanding. The repercussions will be huge, will affect not only themselves, but also the lives of the many innocent people employed there and dependent on the company for their well being. To then be known a liars and thieves in a market where every supplier know of each other and word spreads like wild fire is simply stupid, reckless and suicidal.
Then the embarrassment and humiliation of the continuous derogative whispers behind your back amongst your own employees and business associates who have lost all respect for who and what you are (whilst complaining about this very lack of respect) – nothing they say can ever be trusted again. In the end, when justice prevails, having brought about all sorts of negative effects and devastating financial consequences upon themselves and many others, when they finally have to own up to what they have done and be branded as thieves, liars and con artists – would they look back and say that it has all been worthwhile?
Your fortunes and conditions of life depends on the very decisions you make on an every day basis. Make good decisions and generally life will be good to you – make bad decisions and you will certainly pay the price, but many times over. Clearly they have no understanding of this fundamental life principle and as yet have to learn this. For such people, there cannot be any respect, understanding nor any empathy for they deserve every hardship coming their way. Unfortunately, a lot of innocent employees and suppliers will be affected by all this needless destructive results and callous greed of these thieves, liars and con artists. Being a business owner is all about honesty and integrity, for if you lose this precious value, you are no longer in business - for then you are nothing but a thief, a liar and a cheat. Then neither do you have a viable business and for the chosen path forward is devastating destruction. But these people clearly have no concept of that, besides the disgusting taste of these people, one can only wonder about their soul relationship with GOD Almighty.
Early this morning, Revelation was pulled out of the water on a custom built flat bed trailer. We untied the yacht at the fueling dock, slowly moved away from the jetty and motored to the slipway where a bunch of crew from PowerBoats were waiting. It was a bit tricky to maneuver this big yacht around the tightly confined spaces - but it all worked out in the end.
The flatbed trailer was partially submerged and it was a simple matter of lining Revelation up in a straight line and slowly motor onto the waiting trailer. The workers then made quite a bit of adjustments to the various bits and pieces of the flat bed trailer before tying her down. A big tractor was initially employed to pull Revelations clear of the water and up the 10 degree or so embankment. But the tractor was not up to the task and they then brought in a small bulldozer to do the job. Soon after this, Revelations was steered into her allocated spot and lowered to the ground with supports under the keel and struts at the front and back of the hull.
Water and electricity was connected and we can now go through the entire boat making list of all the things damaged, needs replacing or to be repaired. A short while later, a small tractor with a compressor built onto a trailer arrived to high pressure clean the hull in preparation of new anti fouling paint. PowerBoat must have well over 1000 yacht of various shapes and sizes in the yard and the place is a beehive of activity. There is nothing quite like this anywhere in South Africa - not even all the yachts in the entire South Africa will be able to match the scale of this boat yard alone - let alone all the other boatyards. It is simply astounding to see so may yachts in one place and the shear scale of work going on here. We are meeting with the yard manager tomorrow morning to discuss and arrange all the work which needs to be done on Revelations.
At 15H00 yesterday, we were at the island of Trinidad but with night fall approaching, we decided to slow the yacht down to a crawl and make landfall in the morning. At 07H00 this morning, we motored through the narrow passage "Boca del Mono" and after fighting the strong current for awhile, we found ourselves in the Chaguaramas bay of Trinidad - with hundreds (if not a few thousand) yachts at anchor or on the hard in the marinas. Many yachts move to Chaguaramas bay to escape the hurricane season further up north in the Caribbean.
We moored at the Custom dock and attended to the check-in procedures. With only one engine working, it was tricky to move Revelations around in the tightly packed space. After doing the red tape, we motored over to PowerBoats marina where we are tied up right now against the fuel jetty. In the morning, Revelations will be pull out of the water and go on the hard. This is where she will be for the next couple of months getting new anti foul paint and repairs to her recent damage. We are quite tired from all the sailing and lack of sleep - hopefully we will be well rested by tomorrow and start dealing with the repair list. For now, we are happy and content to be here - by the way, Trinidad is yet another hot, humid but stunningly beautiful place.
I just finished working on the port engine, having just climbed out of the engine room - soaked with sweat and gulping fresh air, that Sue said;
"Something is wrong! Look how close we are to the other yacht!"
I spun around and was shocked to see the yacht moored behing us no more than 3 meters away and we were closing this gap. It was clear that Revelations somehow broke free from the mooring bouy and was adrift. We almost fell over each other in the rush to switch on the internal engine switches, grab the engine keys and get a motor to start. By the time the starboard engine fired up with a loud bellow and a cloud of diesel smoke from over revving, we were about 1.5 meters away from smashing into the smaller yacht. Now in gear, the folding props bit into the water, managed to get traction and we slowly motored away from the imminent danger.
Upon invesitigation, we found that the pin of our large stanless steel shackle attached to the mooring bouy, turned itself loose. With the pine completely loose the mooring bouy slipped out of the shackle and we were adrift after this. We were lucky to be onboard at the time, standing outside and for Sue to notice that we were drifting. This could have happened whilst we were on land or at night whilst we were sleeping - drifting into other yachts, creating havoc and serious damage.
We motored around the marina whilst we organised ourselves, then returned to our mooring bouy and tied up again - this time, I used stainless steel binding wire to prevent the shackle pin working itself loose. It was another lesson learnt - always tie the shackle pin with binding wire. Also rig up a second line to the mooring bouy.
In the heat of the day (read tropics) and almost 90% humidity, enough to pass out into a sweaty slumber, it was time to see what was going on with the port engine. I climbed into the cramped engine room and immediately broke out in a heavy sweat. There was no breeze, the air was stifling and I had to contort my fat as a pig body in weird shapes to fit into the available working space. With sweat drops dripping on the inside of my glasses, I at least had a distorted view of the various engine parts as the rest of the lenses fogged up almost completely.
Sue started the engine and I took the GoPro video camera and stuck in a opening facing the water leak. Then it was back to the computer to view the footage and I could clearly see where the engine coolant water was gushing out in a strong flow. It was a water pipe which leaked at the hose clamp. Back to the engine room I went, went through the whole rigmarole of contortion Houdini would be seriously impressed by. Man, did i battle to get the water pipe sorted out. The heat was sapping my strength and each attempt to force the water hose over the moth of the relevant metal pipe, was weaker than the previous and the one before that. After perhaps 40 attempts, knuckles badly bruised, bolts and screw viciously attacking and near penetrating various bodily parts, small droplets of blood forming where I scraped myself against sharp protrusions - I finally managed to get the water hose to slide over the metal pipe.
But that was just half the battle won for I still had to tighten the hose clamp. I could barely get my hand into position, let alone still use a screwdriver. Now completely soaked as if I just had a shower, with hands cramping up, I finally managed to get a small ring spanner into position and was able to start tightening the hose clamp - a quarter turn at a time, then turn the spanner around and do another quarter turn. It felt like ages, but slowly I managed to tighten the hose clamp with each hand cramping quarter turn.
I topped up the inter cooler with freshwater and adding some anti-freeze which will prevent further the inner engine rusting any further. I then ran the engine for a couple of minutes and now need to again check the coolant level again tomorrow. But for now, everything seems to be back to normal and we once again have the use of our port engine. Holding thumbs that it remains the situation.
We did leave at 10H00 on Saturday (25 July 2015) morning and motored out of the Maroni river, heading for the open sea. The trip down river was simple, easy and uneventful whilst we did last preparations to Revelations in the calm river water and before entering the ocean. Where the Maroni river enters the sea, the depth is shallow for a long way offshore and we followed the beacons indicating the channel for about 8 nautical miles off shore before we turned west and started sailing towards Trinidad & Tobago.
We unfurled the jib and in about 10 knots of wind, Revelations settled into a 5 nautical mile rhythm which would be our daily routine for 4 to 6 days. After unfurling the jib and now on the correct compass course, I switched off the starboard engine, lit a cigarette and settled in for the first shift until 18H00 when Sue would relieve me when she came on duty. We sailed for about 30 nautical miles and I then switched on the starboard engine ... but nothing happened, only deathly silence from the engine.
Already the port engine was not working due to a major water leak, the generator also not working as it needs a new sea water pump, we cannot raise the main sail due to tangled ropes within the mast, we cannot raise the screetcher because of damage on the top of the mast ... and now the starboard engine also fails! We only have the jib to sail to Trinidad & Tobago and this makes for a slow journey. Running the navigation equipment 24 hours a day and also fridge, freezers and other electrical equipment - there is no way in hell the solar panels, which are our only means to generate power, would keep up with the battery power drain. This means that we would be without battery power within two or three days and then we would no longer have any means to keep the essential navigation equipment on.
We decided it would be best to return to Saint Laurent du Maroni and have the engines repaired. with this came a new set of challenges which would soon be upon us. With sunset within the next 4 hours, some 30 nautical miles away from the river mouth and channel, which does not have lighted beacons, a strong up river current (fortunately in the direction we wanted to go) and with dying wind the further we sail up river. Fortunately, our chart plotter shows a snail trail and we could follow our own tracks back. We reached the channel at sunset and slowly sailed in the channel towards land in the fast failing light. The tide turned 2 hours ago and was now rising, the flow reversed up river and we soon we where in the clutches of the strong current sweeping us along at about two knots per hour. The wind dropped and now there was only a slight breeze, barely enough to keep the jib deployed. But this was enough to give water flow over the rudder, so we had traction and could steer Revelations - back tracking our previous exit trail.
We sailed like this until about 23H00, slowly making headway up river but the wind kept dropping. For several minutes at a time, the jib would collapse upon itself and with that, we had no steerage. Unable to steer Revelations, we were at the mercy of the current only and then there would be a slight breeze for a minute or two - just enough to make a course correction before the wind would die again. But then the wind died completely and for the next forty minutes there was not even a slight breeze - only the current sweeping us up river. Fortunately, high tide at Saint Laurent du Maroni is some two and a half hours later than at the river mouth - so in other words, we had a prolonged rising tide.
Slowly the current took us off course and we were no longer following in our exit footsteps. This was a problem especially in view that the charts are off by at least half a nautical mile - at certain sections of the river, it was off by almost one nautical mile. This means that we could not be sure of our exact position in relation to the actual surroundings, with no visible lights, numerous shallow areas and other obstacles and only the light of the half moon, we could barely make out the river banks. It was time to drop the anchor and continue the journey the next day. We had everything ready, was about to go forward to drop the anchor when I decided to one more time try and start the starboard engine - it did!
With the engine now propelling us, it was a simple task to continue our journey up river to the SLM Marina. We arrived at 02H00 at the marina and with the aid of the town lights reflecting on the water, it was easy to spot our buoy. By now it was also slack tide and with no current running it was an easy task to tie up to the mooring in the middle of the night. So we are once again tied up, safe and sound - but back in Saint Laurent du Maroni until we can get things repaired.