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“Kolumbien” 68, Cartagena, Colombia

We arrived in Cartagena, Columbia, in March of 2019 with the Control Stick™ system in one large carton and several cases of tools and hardware. We had a big job to do, and there would be no Home Depot stores nearby. We had been contracted by two investors who purchased a 68-foot vessel they intended to use as a chartered party boat. The boat was structurally in good condition, but was old and required renovation. (They even planned to add a bar on the main deck with room for dancing.) It was very difficult to maneuver due to the size, the twin jets and multiple levers, and it would require joystick stations on the main and upper decks.

After a harrowing interrogation by customs officials, we were met by Toni, one of the investors, who took us directly to the Cartagena Nautical Club, a crowded marina surrounded by a chain link fence and an armed entrance guard. The boat was in far worse shape than we’d imagined, especially the hydraulics which we had to tie into our control system. The Control Stick™ CPU had to be located in the main control room, which was below deck in the cabin area, far from the helm station and the valves. Tom, our chief engineer, was constantly running back and forth from one end of the boat to the other, and to make matters worse, the sun was shining and the temperature was over 90 degrees! All the hydraulic hoses were rotted, and the inside liners were breaking off and getting caught in the spool valve, which caused the valve to stick open. Tom had to disassemble the entire hydraulic valve, pick out each piece of debris, clean and reassemble the valves. Before we could even test the port and starboard hydraulics, we had to have all new hoses made. In a place like Cartagena, this was not an easy task. We had to delay our flight schedule due to the additional work, and we were staying at the famous Hotel Caribe but never even had time to use the pool!

We finally got the system running efficiently and the boat handled well, despite the strong wind and waves outside of the harbor. The investors were happy, and after one final interrogation by customs, where we had to identify every piece of equipment in our bags, we were allowed to board the flight and get safely back to Maine.

High Praise FROM THE