When we began our project in Colombia, we were told by some of the other cruisers in the yard that we had to stay on top of the workers or they would slack off and then never meet their deadline. So when we announced that we would be gone for more than a week and our project would be left unsupervised they all just laughed at our confidence in our workers. We of course choose to give people the benefit of the doubt. However, when we returned late at night to the yard with only a few days left to go, both Ashley and I were feeling more than a little unsure about our choice to leave so late into the project. When we made our way out the docks and to the boat we were excited to see that major progress had been made while we were gone. There, sitting on the boat, was our new and nearly completed hardtop dodger and stainless bimini top. It did take a few more days and more than a few updates, corrections and do-overs but the project got done only one day past the deadline. And as far as boatyards go that is a win. And as far as Latin America that is a win and for it to be in a boatyard in Latin America we will call that a MAJOR win. OK, great it was on time, but “What’s a hardtop dodger? And isn’t bimini an island in the Pacific?” you may ask. For the many (I think 3 maybe 4) readers that are not familiar with sailboats, a bimini is the canvas cover over the cockpit. On Samadhi it is the dark blue canvas directly above the steering wheel. It is there to create shade and keep the rain out of the cockpit. It does a great job on the shade not so good with the rain. The dodger is the other dark blue canvas and the eisenglass windows. The dodger keeps rain from getting downstairs into the boat and spray and wind out of the cockpit. The previous owner of Samadhi spared no expense in having this dodger made and it has preformed wonderfully. The only problem is that both structures are made of canvas and canvas does not last in the tropics. These structures were already 12 years old and the canvas was due to be replaced very soon. Before we left the U.S. we were quoted about $12000.00 to replace canvas. That is when I got the idea to have the same structures made out of fiberglass. I figured that if we only had to do it one more time the larger upfront cost would make sense as opposed to doing canvas work every 10 or so years at $12k each time. So, again back in the U.S., I asked for a quote to build a hard dodger and bimini. I had three companies all tell me a range of $65000-$80000. And that is why Samadhi has had the same, tired, old dark blue canvas for the last 3.5 years. Fast forward back to our first few days in Colombia and us receiving our quotes for our potential project. When Janer (the fiberglass fabricator in Colombia) told us he could build and install a fiberglass dodger and bimini for 35,000,000.00 (yes that is 35 million) I figured we would be leaving Colombia with our blue canvas. However, when I plugged 35 million Colombia pesos into my currency converter I had to stifle a smile as it read less than $10000.00 U.S. dollars. And that is why we changed plans at the lasts second and stayed in Colombia.
Now here we are with a, maybe not beautiful, but solid, functional and long lasting dodger. We also have a beautiful and more functional bimini. Both of these structures are strong enough for us to walk on top of and are both slightly larger than the structures they replaced. My personal opinion is that the dodger is uglier than the canvas but I am out voted by the rest of the crew. Our first passage with the new set up went very well and they were both thoroughly tested. On the final day in Colombia we had all of the guys that worked on the boat over for lunch to show our appreciation for their excellent work. Each and every one of them are great guys. They all kindly interacted with our kids and were so respectful of our space and our home. They were always patient with us as we came and went despite us interrupting their work. We not one time felt anything but kindness from these men. Now I am sure it helped that we bought them all lunch at least 2 or 3 times a week. We would also bring them cold water or sodas and offer them snacks whenever we were around the yard. I noticed that we were the only cruisers buying lunches and showing our appreciation and at the same time we were the only ones not complaining about quality of work or things getting done. Probably just a coincidence.