Bill Dillon (KG4QFM)
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)
Contact us by email
The map to the left shows our cruising route. Click on it for more information.
We began the year in Luperón in the Dominican Republic and then cruised through Puerto Rico, the Virgins and then the Caribbean islands to Trinidad where we spent the hurricane season. From Trinidad we cruised to Tobago, Barbados, and back to Martinique where we ended the year.
This Log gives the latitude and longitude at the end of each day underway - or week in harbor - and describes navigation, weather, the boat and other issues that arose, and lessons we learned. Links embedded in the log's text lead to photos of our travels. These are assembled together on pages of the Photo Album.
Discussed weather window with Kandu --they're thinking of leaving Friday. Ralph arrives on Monday, if all works out we'll leave Monday night and go straight to Boqueron, stopping at Escondido for a rest. Decided to skip Samana, unless weather turns bad. Small catamaran (Dona Tania) ahead of us broke loose and drifted into the mangroves. Hailed Mike (SeaComber) who came over with Boston Whaler and pulled her back out while we reanchored her. Ground tackle in poor condition. Scrubbed more cockpit teak, it is coming along nicely.
Thursday, January 2, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
Called Signature Finish (Tom Fabiola), he'll ship some more Honey Teak supplies to the Marina at Salinas, to await our arrival. Hopefully it'll arrive by the time we do. The stuff we ordered in July has never arrived here in Luperón. Made final todo list of stuff to get done so we can leave Monday. Got response from Power Boats in Trinidad regarding making reservation for haulout in August.
Friday, January 3, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
Ran engine for usual hour to charge batteries and run the frig. Did the weekly transmission check--we have no reverse. What a downer! Mike (Sea Comber) came over to see if there was any quick adjustment needed, no such luck. Looks like it's in the gearbox. He'll haul it out on Monday and take to Santo Domingo to Mercantile Antilles to get it rebuilt on Tuesday. We rigged the Monitor windvane, refuelled the dinghy gasoline, took laundry in, collected the small propane tank.Kandu is leaving tomorrow night, along with Ragamuffin and Wingin' It. They're going to Rio San Juan, then Escondido, then across the Mona and oging as far as they can get along the south coast of PR on this weather window. Looks like a good one, and looks like we'll have to miss it. What a bummer.
Saturday, January 4, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
Look on the bright side--better find the transmission problem now and rectify it, rather than when we really need engine power. Cleaned the plexiglass of the dodger with Blue Magic, looks great.
Sunday, January 5, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
Elaine Marie's dinghy broke loose as they were getting ready to go to town and clear out. Good wind so that by the time they called us and we got there it was high and dry in the mangrove mud. Too shallow for our dinghy motor, so I got out and waded through the shallows to pull both dinghies into deep enough water for Bill to drop and run our motor. Took it back to them--nice to be able to pay Peter back for all the help he's been to us through our dinghy motor travails. Put extra grommets in the old awning so it can fit under the boom--definitely helps reduce the heat in the main cabin.
Monday, January 6, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
Mike arrived at 9am and with Bill's help hoisted up the engine, after disconnecting from shaft, so he could pull the transmission. He secured the engine back to the exhaust so we can run it each day for an hour to charge batteries and run the 'frig. One of bolts on bracket holding engine to mount was missing, another very loose. Our diligence in checking engine mounts is good, but for future we'll check brackets too. Always new things to learn! Probably related to cause of sheared drive saver a year ago. Underscores the importance of maintaining engine in exact alignment. After transmission rebuilt (will take about a week Mike thinks) and reinstalled, Mike will run for a couple of hours, then we should check alignment and bolts after 10 hours, and then after every long run. Thank goodness for Sea Comber and Mike's training as a diesel mechanic. There are no services in Luperón, and Mercantile Antilles is the only place in the DR that can do this type of work. Mistral had similar problem, were very satisfied with the work.
Ralph arrived, we met him at Codetel. Disappointment over transmission problem and resulting delay. Roger (Hanoah) brought over their sailing dinghy for us to use for a few days.
Thursday, January 9, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
Sailing dinghy is great fun. Also took Ralph to the beach for a swim on Tuesday. Rained all day yesterday. Today we went (by guagua and bus) to Santiago, Ralph go a new pair of glasses. Port water tank ran dry at dinner time, and in switching to starboard tank found bilges full (23"). Automatic bilge pump switch again in the middle "off" position. Pumped out OK using automatic bilge pump and the manual pump in the cabin, then checking for leaks. No leaks. Must be related to the engine. Agreed that at anchor we'll check engine oil every Monday, when we usually do the transmission check. That whoever takes off the padlock to secure the companionway will check the auto bilge pump is in the "on" position, and that we'll check the amount in the bilge after the engine is finished running. We check the bilges routinely every hour on passage, but are not regular when at anchor. Bad habit!
Friday, January 10, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
Found the leak--radiator clamps to hose from the engine to the muffler were broken (both of them). Despite being religious about quarterly checking all radiator clamps, these got missed because there is a wooden box built around the muffler--box had to be disassembled to get at them. When Mike reinstalls the transmission we'll go over the engine with him to make sure we've got all the radiator clamps on the list to be checked. Details, details! Cockpit bilge pump is not drawing, needs to be serviced. Bought new clip for attachment for fuel hose to red outboard external fuel tank. Gasket worn on the old clip was worn, this is probably where we got all that water in the fuel 10 days ago with all that rain.
Monday, January 13, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
Prepared another final todo list for leaving, assuming transmission repair works satisfactorily. Possibly a weather window opening up at the end of the week. Glad we signed up to be a sponsoring vessel with David Jones and the Caribbean Weather Center. Nice to hear some other boats we've met checking in (today - Northstand (met them in Provo) and Significant Other (from the NE600 Rally). Bill installed new solenoid on frig compressor--it has been a bit erratic about starting. Didn't work. Seems like it doesn't have a ground. Reinstalled the old one, which had a screw loose. He tightened it--that may have been the cause of the intermittent problem. So much to learn!
All the issues with Solar Host re the website are resolved, so the website was updated yesterday. Craig sent e-mail to our list to let them know, and also that site now has an Update Log to check for what's new.
Thursday, January 16, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
Per Mike (Sea Comber), Felix at Mercantile Antilles is checking to see where he can get parts for our transmission, then he'll break it down. Mike will call him tomorrow morning and if necessary give him the phone number of Yanmar's Caribbean distributor in Florida who can ship parts express. Looks like we'll be here a couple more weeks. NWS Offshore Report this morning didn't match David Jones forecast at all--nor Herb's which we listened to in the afternoon. Offshore Report had some errors/typos--we collect it every morning around 0515 by e-mail from Winlink. Ralph is going to take the bus (Transporte de Cibao) from Luperón to Santo Domingo today and catch the ferry tonight to Mayaguez. He'll come back once we're mobile. Mike came over to check on engine, since we're running it daily. Pointed out that when replacing radiator clamps on hoses, the second one should go on the opposite way round from the first one. On this morning's Safety and Security Net (8104 at 8:15am) announcement of partially submerged catamaran drifting off St. Lucia. We're enjoying sailing around the harbor in Hanoah's sailing dinghy. Unpleasant odor has been periodically surfacing in the main cabin, so far haven't been able to track it down. Put some Simple Green into the bilges.
Thursday, January 23, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
No further word on progress on the transmission. Practicing patience. Discovered source of odor. The small tank (sump) that was originally intended to catch water from the shower, is now used to store things like extra coffee, olive oil, lemon juice, etc. We had a big bag of mung beans, for sprouting, in it. When the bilges filled up, this tank did too. Bean bag burst, beans started fermenting. Very nasty job to clean up, but odor all gone. Only beans bit the dust, everything else is ok. Using time while waiting on transmission to update website. Writing up our SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures) for the website has meant a useful review of these, and as a result made a few changes. Modified the Deck Log a bit. Rained for a couple of days earlier this week. Mast leak at partners needs attention.
Friday, January 31, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
A frustrating week. Last Friday, Mike called Felix at Mercantile Antilles, who told him our transmission needs new clutch plate, shift fork, shift plates, and one gear. Will now try to find parts. Arranged for Mike to call back Monday--he did and Felix not there. Mike spoke to him Tuesday morning, transmission also needs bearings, Felix said he would FAX list of parts and for Mike to call back at 3pm. No Fax, Felix not there at 3--call back in 1/2 hour. Called back, Felix out of the city. Finally FAX arrived this morning, and Mike told Felix to order parts today. Felix said transmission would be ready about Feb 11--almost a month after his initial estimate. In the meantime a rare weather window is passing us by this weekend.
"Ladies Lunch" at Bahia Luperón restaurant last Thursday, Pat met some new boaters. Saw Belted Kingfisher on pole near the muelle (public dock). Pre-frontal conditions last Friday, gradually deteriorated as big front slid east and became stationary over us. Windy, squally, and downpours Tueday, Tuesday night, Wednesday. A phenomenal amount of stuff in the harbour, palm trees, coconuts, trash, and the water is still all brown and muddy with all kinds of things floating in it--ocean is brown off shore for a good 1/2 mile beyond the entrance. Camanguista left Tuesday but turned round and came back, very nasty off shore. Big northerly swells. Several boats in the main harbour dragged that afternoon in a particularly nasty squall. Glad we're in the more sheltered Cano Escondido--we're a sitting duck with no transmission.
Sylvia and Auggie from Violet came over on Monday for supper, and we picked their brains about anchorages in Puerto Rico, the Virgins, and the island chain (they've lived on St. John for 20 years.) Spent quite a bit of time this week helping Joe (Resolute) resolve his Sailmail issues. NWS offshore forecasts lately are of diminishing quality--typos, missing forecast, missing reference points, vague descriptions, etc. They don't seem to be in much agreement with forecasts given by David Jones (8104.0 at 8:30am) or Herb Hildenberg (12359.0 at 4:00pm). After all that rain, we were motivated to make a rain catcher--we'll test it Tuesday when more rain expected. Redid the caulk on the V-berth and main cabin hatches, cleaned engine intake and frig intake strainers.
Saturday, February 1, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
About 8 boats left for Puerto Rico yesterday on a 3-day weather window. Off Sosua, Gringo got the inner tube of a truck tire wrapped around it's prop and stuck in the shaft, and had to turn back, eventually drifting haplessly as the evening calms set in. Even though they were several miles offshore, the downpour had washed the tube out to sea. We gave assistance to the rescue effort by acting as radio base (SSB and VHF) to Gringo and the rescue team, and providing handheld GPS, spotlight, flashlight batteries, cookies and water to Mike (Sea Comber) with Mike (Wind Shadow) who left at 2224 hours in Do It II's Boston Whaler to tow Gringo in, from about 6 miles out. Current was taking Gringo off to the northwest at about 1 knot. New moon, so no moonlight, had to make do with starlight. The two boats connected at 2350pm and started the tow in to the harbour. At 0200 this morning we went out in the dinghy to the harbour entrance with flashlights to point the way in. Gringo safely anchored at 0300. Lesson Learned: Don't do a coastal passage in the Caribbean in the aftermath of heavy rains--even if there is a weather window.
Sunday, February 9, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
Felix told Mike transmission parts were supposed to be in customs last Wednesday, but as a result of riots in Santo Domingo everywhere was closed so they haven't made it to Mercantile Antilles. No further word. Went to Santiago on Monday for a provisioning day. Both of us had a 24-hr 'flu (Bill on Wednesday, Pat yesterday). This week we spent some time getting to know some more boaters. Nice thing about boating, the "drop in" spirit (by dinghy) is alive an well still. Sam (77) and Donna on their 32' Prout catamaran Gertrude P. Abernathy III circumnavigated the Atlantic, went through the Panama Canal, and spent 63 days enroute to Hawaii, then northeast to Seattle and through the Northwest Passage to Alaska. We also got to know Deb and Barb who are enjoying a 9-month sabatical from their jobs in Madison, WI, on Tao a Southern Cross 31. They started out last November heading east then south from Beaufort, NC, to St. Thomas but suffered a knock-down and re-routed through the Bahamas.
Bought heavy-duty black nylon mosquito netting in Santiago and cut it into 24"x18" squares. Glued velcro strips (used SuperGlue and Goop when SuperGlue ran out) along top and bottom of netting, and glued matching strips of velcro to the bottom of the shelves at the sides of the V-berth and the Quarter-berth, and below these shelves on the hull at the edge of the berth mattresses. The netting panels fit on the velcro strips to make pseudo lockers under the shelves. Now we can store blankets, linens, spare toilet paper, clothing, in these new storage spaces. Works great!
Lot of activity on the Caribbean Safety and Security Net this week. Dinghy motor, and dinghy, thefts are a recurring problem in many places. Some boardings and breakins also on some of the islands. We learn from these and take preventive measures in high-risk locations. Lock dinghy motor to dinghy; lock dinghy to mother boat and dinghy dock in doubtful locations; use wire ties to secure fuel cable to dinghy outboard fuel tank; lock or secure hatches before going to bed at night in doubtful locations; keep air horn, VHF, flares, and bear spray handy below at night and make noise if anyone attempts to board the boat. Most places are very safe, but some have same problems as inner cities in the US. On another sad note, Laurie on Camanguista was lost overboard in the Bahamas en route back to the US. We feel good about our SOPs that we use at all times to ensure our safety. We have discovered that many cruisers are very casual--even uninformed--about important safety practices on a boat.
Sunday, February 16, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
When Mercantile Antilles reported on Tuesday that the parts still hadn't been collected from customs, we put into effect Plan B. Bill and Mike drove to Santo Domingo on Thursday and retrieved the disassembled transmission, and bought tickets for Bill to fly to Florida today and take tranny tomorrow to Mastry Marine in St. Petersburg who think they can do it in a day if they have parts in stock, or a few days if not. Lesson Learned: if a shop is taking more than twice the time they originally said they would need to complete a repair, don't wait any longer--execute Plan B. Prepared transmission and Bill for their trip, including clearing transmission transit with customs. Reserved a rental car for less than half the price available through Rental Car company web sites.
We got up-close-and-personal with a pair of yellow-crowned night herons stalking among the mangrove roots on Monday--didn't have the camera with us, unfortunately. Saw a rare (for here) osprey fishing in the harbor on the same day. Replaced the gasket in the porthole above the nav station. Finished reprogramming the SSB channels and made a new reference sheet. Learning to use this radio has been a challenge, but it is now programmed--finally--to suit all our needs. Made to-do list in readiness for departure on the first weather window after transmission returns next week. Figured out the formula and made a reference sheet for obtaining True Wind (speed and direction) from boat speed and Apparent Wind. Sheet to be used when completing weather section of the Deck Log. Raised the sails and checked them--disturbed a pair of white-collared swifts that were building a nest in the yankee. Attended pot-luck supper at Puerto Blanco marina on Monday. Smidgeon (Kenny and Brycie, Southern Cross 31') came over one evening. Played cribbage on the other evenings. Completed the Weather and Radio sections of the web site. Read a lot.
Sunday, February 23, 2003
anchored in Luperón harbor
Bill flew to Florida last Sunday with the transmission and took it Monday morning to Mastry Marine in St. Petersbpurg. Wrapped the transmission in animal feed bags, and packed it inside one of our (invaluable) LLBean zipper canvas bags for transportation. A few parts were not on hand and had to be ordered from Yanmar, who were closed Monday for President's day. Some of the parts identified by Mercantile Antilles as being needed were incorrect--confirmed that our decision to remove the work from them was a good one. Mastry completed the rebuild and testing of the transmission on Thursday morning. Bill returned with the repaired transmission on Friday. Due to lost e-mail, Pat went to meet him on Thursday, after reprovisioning at El Tropical supermercado in Puerto Plata. So she went back to the airport again on Friday and met him. Mike on SeaComber reinstalled the transmission Saturday morning, and did preliminary testing. While Bill was away, Pat began wrestling with a new dinghy outboard motor problem. Fuel is going into the crankcase, probably a hole in the fuel pump diaphragm. Doug on Silent Running loned us his spare outboard. Learned that many cruisers carry a spare--ie, have two of everything.
A very windy week, strong high pressure in southern North Atlantic has reinforced the winter trade winds. Several boats dragged in the harbor on Wednesday afternoon and it's been blowing like stink ever since. Noticed an inflatable dinghy in the edge of the mangroves on Friday, rescued it, found distraught owner, and returned it to him. Low pressure with trailing cold front moving east off US coast this weekend, creating a potential weather window for a Monday night departure--maybe the front will stall west of here and lengthen the window so we can still catch it on the tail end. We need to get dinghy motor issue resolved, and test the engine and transmission thoroughly (about 10hrs under load) before we leave. Not much hope of getting to St. Thomas to meet Al and Vicki Adams on March 7th. John and Lisa on Islay (Tayana 37, hull #476) stopped by to visit this morning, they're on their way to St. Thomas.
A busy time. Sunday, Steve (Tangara) cleaned boat bottom, prop, shaft and dinghy bottom. Monday we went to Santiago in hope of finding a small outboard to have for backup, but were unsuccessful. Bill changed engine fuel filters, checked raw water strainers, and worked on dinghy motor (replaced spark plug, dismantled and reassembled fuel pump, cleaned carburetor, blew compressed air into valves, changed the oil). Tuesday, upped anchor at 09:20 hrs, drove around Luperón harbor to check transmission then went motor sailing offshore for a couple of hours with the main up, 1 reef. Very lumpy--we went about 6 miles into the offing and back. Anchored at 11:50 hrs in the Pinzon anchorage at the mouth of the harbor. Dinghied into town and cleared customs-a 3 hour process. Ate supper on Gertrude P Abernathy III, Sam and Donna, which had also come out to this anchorage in preparation for carreening GPA III to do some bottom work. Wednesday, we hauled anchor at 07:55 hrs and headed towards Puerto Plata, again motor sailing as the previous day. Stayed about 1-2 miles offshore, returning and dropping hook in Luperón harbor near the muelle (town dock) at 14:25 hrs. Conditions were calmer. Anchor didn't set (in 18' water over 4' mud), so sat on 100' of chain near Smidgeon--but no likelihood of wind overnight. Takes 3-4 days for anchors to set on this type of bottom. Mike came over and checked transmission and engine bolts, all well. Bill changed transmission fluid and checked engine oil. This problem has cost us nearly 2 months delay.
Thursday morning, checked NWS Offshore report by Winlink at 05:20 hours, then checked with David Jones on 8104 KHz at 08:30 hours regarding forecast for crossing the Mona. Looked OK. Since gas station rumored to be open, went into harbor early to refill gasoline (for outboard) jerry can --shortage of gasoline in DR due to Venezuela crisis is causing havoc. Returned Silent Running's outboard motor, hoisted the dinghy, deflated and stowed it, and completed deck and below stowage for departure. Reviewed departure checklist. Upped anchor at 11:00 hours, said a final goodbye to sweet Luperón--home for the last 9 months. Left the harbor mouth (grounding on a low spot on the way out) and motorsailed towards Sosua, following the coast about 1 mile off, tacking in and out a bit as required by the wind. Conditions built as the sea breeze reinforced the trades, and we slogged along into wind (15-20 knots) and seas (3-5') during the afternoon. Slow going. Considered dropping hook at Sosua around 18:00 hrs, and waiting for night lee to set in, but decided to keep on going round Cabo Macoris. Night lee set in around 22:00 hours and things calmed down a bit. Friday morning we headed to shore and at 10:15 hours, dropped hook in 22' over sand off the beach here for a break. 111.5 nautical miles, average boat speed 4.7 knots, speed-made-good 4.5 knots. Escondido is a lovely not-to-be-missed spot, with a palm tree-lined beach surrounded by cliffs, leading to densely forrested mountains. Beautiful, beautiful place, we were the only vessel anchored. A bunch of yolas (small open fishing boats) were on the beach. Watched one boat fishing, great entertainment. Rested, ate dinner, went to bed early, rising again at 23:00 hours ready for midnight departure.
Upped anchor yesterday 12 minutes past midnight, and headed out to round Cabo Cabron. Radar essential to find way out in the dark. Hoped to see some whales in early morning between mouth of Bahia Samana and Navidad Bank but had to settle for one boat astern going whale watching. Pleasant motor sailing until the seas and winds built in late morning, and then as before simply slogging onward into the trades. No wonder this leg is cast as the most challenging of all on the thorny path from Florida to the Caribbean island chain. Conditions rough during the night as we began crossing the Mona Passage at its north end. Stayed north of the Hourglass Shoal. Tried 1,000 ft depth contour, too rough. Tacked northeast again to stay beyond 3,000 ft. depth contour and slowed down to reduce pounding. Port anchor and one jerry can came loose, had to be retied. Made southeast-ward turn and headed for Isla Desecheo at 04:00 hours (today). Conditions improved somewhat once we entered the Mona Passage true, and gained a bit of shelter (lee) from Puerto Rico. Still beating most of the way, but seas down somewhat. Easier ride as we passed Desecheo to port. Trusty autopilot decided it had enough abreast of Desecheo and said "uncle" (meaning we have to sit at helm and steer for the remainder of the trip). Will reset it in Boqueron. But it did an impressive job thus far in sometimes difficult conditions. Headed for buoy marking north edge of Tourmaline reef, and continued southeast towards Boqueron. Wind on the nose, choppy through the shallows towards the Bahia, so dropped main and motored (slowly) for 3 hours, arriving at Green Bouy #1 marking entrance to Bahia Boqueron through the reef. Headed for anchorage and dropped hook at 14:27 hrs in 18' over sand, 120' of chain out, with snubber on--this anchorage is windy as the trades come up each morning. Nice to anchor perfectly in 20 knots of wind with other boat eyes watching! 188.8 miles by the log, average boat speetd 4.9 knots, speed made good 3.9 knots. Washed winches, blocks, windlass, bow pulpit, and forward stanchions in fresh water (with a bit of Joy--pun intended) to remove salt encrustment. One small flying fish dead on deck. Love Callipygia, what a great boat she is. Ate big dinner (Taco salad) and went to sleep at 1900 hours. Slept like babies/logs. Total Trip: 260.5 nautical miles by rhumb line, 300.3 nautical miles by log, average boat speed 4.8 knots, speed made good 4.2 knots. We did watches of, for the most part, 2-3 hours--albeit with 10-minute snoozes (using timer) when dreaded drowsies hit person on watch. Crew held up well, Callipygia "no hay problema", what a peach she is. Autopilot indispensible. Radar also indispensible for range (distance off) of land, identification of coastal landmarks, exits in the dark, and range and bearing of traffic--of which there was not much.
Saturday, March 8, 2003
Latitude 17 degrees, 57.0 minutes North, Longitude 066 degrees, 52.9 minutes West,
anchored just of Punta Jacinto, on the south coast of Puerto Rico
Last Monday morning, Mallard, Down East 38' (Arnie and Skip) gave us a ride to the dinghy dock at Boqueron. After checking in with customs by phone (787-742-3531), and munching on a couple of yummy empanadillas, we went in Raoul's (787-972-8811) van with Mallard, Duchess (Bill and Sharon) and Diva (Cathy and Richard) to Mayaguez to clear in with immigration. Feels a lot like Florida. Stopped at Mayaguez Mall on way back, did a small provisioning and disappointed to find the Mall's only bookstore closed. Tuesday, up at our usual 5:15am to collect e-mail and offshore forecast. Checked in on the radio with Sea Comber, Smidgeon, and Tao re our safe arrival in Boqueron after crossing the Mona from Luperón. Learned that Patrick, owner/chef at Bahia Luperón, fell off his motorbike and has a broken leg and 2 broken ribs. Ouch! Launched dinghy and tested outboard--working fine. Other boats in harbor from Luperón going east were Islay another Tayana 37' (Lisa and John), motor-sailing ketchTop Kat (Will and Charlene), Kalik (Bill, Nini and Mika) and Land's End. The Canadian Everden (Geoff and Bunkey) arrived that afternoon. Wind blowing like stink in this wide open harbor, not much shelter. Wednesday, Diva, lovely yawl, left at midnight for St. Thomas to participate in the classic yacht regatta. Kalik headed out to stage at Cabo Rojo for transit of the south coast Puerto Rico. Decided we would wait until winds and seas come down, per forecast, and leave on Saturday morning early to make short early morning hops towards Salinas. This is the only comfortable way to transit east along the south coast, otherwise you take a beating from the strong trades and big Caribbean swells.
While in Boqueron we spent some time getting to know Mallard and Islay. Listened to BBC news each evening to find out latest in the Bush administration's unrelenting drive to wage war on Iraq. We retied the secondary (35lb CQR) bow anchor on the deck, took it off the bow roller. Need to strengthen the way that bow roller is set up. Refuelled by making two dinghy trips to shore and filling jerry jugs at the gas station. 45 gallons of diesel added to the tank. With assistance of Boqueron Travel Agency (787-851-4571) reserved car and hotel for meeting Al and Vicki Adams in San Juan next Wednesday. Listened to weather forecast each day, checked in with David Jones on Friday to confirm weekend prognosis for lighter conditions. Bill changed engine oil and checked transmission and engine bolts. Made unsuccessful attempt to reset the autopilot.
Hauled up the anchor at 04:45 hours this morning and, in company of Top Kat and Land's End, headed out of Boqueron Bay. Rounded Cabo Rojo fairly close in shore at dawn to head east. 4-6' swells. Motor sailed, with a few tacks to keep some drive in the reefed main as we headed east, south of the Margarita Reef, watching closely for fish pots and fishing boats. At Red "2" buoy at the entrance to the channel to Guanica, altered courst to northeast, making 6.25 knots on the beat to the entrance of the cut in the reef to get Punta Jacinto. Sped through the narrow cut on a beam reach, dropped the sail, and anchored off Punta Jacinto at 1030 hours. 30.8 nautical miles by the log, average boat speed 5.4 knots, speed made good 4.75 knots. Hand steered all the way. Top Kat, Everden>, and Land's End were also anchored here. After a nap and some lunch, Bill went to work on the autopilot and, after in depth review of the manual, successfully reset the dockside settings so it is now working. Reviewed navigation requirements for next step. Decided not to try exiting through the narrow reef cut in the dark, but to take a detour west along the shore towards Punta Mesete and then out through the Guanica ship channel. Adds about 1.5 miles, but decided the shortcut was not worth it. Both Bruce Van Sant and Steve Pavlides in their Cruising Guides recommend avoiding the reef in the dark. No sense in taking unneccesary risk. Lesson Learned: Don't try to go through a reef cut in the dark if you have any other options.
Sunday, March 9, 2003
Latitude 17 degrees, 53.2 minutes North, Longitude 066 degrees, 31.8 minutes West,
anchored off the beach at the south end of Isle Caja de Muertes, Puerto Rico
Upped anchor at 04:30 hrs and headed back to the Guanica ship channel and then outside the reef, having decided it was too risky to try to make that narrow cut through the reef in the dark. Raised the main. We prefer to keep the main up when motoring, since it definitely improves stability in the swells, and so long as we can keep some wind in it we get a bit of additional speed. Headed on an easterly course for the Green "1" buoy marking the entrance to the Ponce channel. Passed this waypoint at 08:15 hours and altered course towards Isle Caja de Muertes. Great to have the autopilot back. Anchored in 12' of sand in the lee of the island at 09:50 hours, where we found Duchess. Later, Mallard and Kalik came in to anchor nearby. 25.3 nautical miles by the log, average boat speed 4.75 knots, speed made good 4.5 knots. Hitched a ride ashore with Duchess and walked around this gorgeous spot. Saw Kalik snorkeling off their dinghy by a nearby rocky islet. Wish we had sufficient space to carry our dinghy inflated--it takes about 40 minutes to inflate/deflate, launch/hoist aboard, and install the motor, not something we do lightly. Ate a big lunch, napped, and reviewed navigation requirements for tomorrow.
Upped anchor (nicely cleaned of its muddy coat by the sand) at 04:40 hours and headed north to round the island, watching on radar for large anchor buoy about half way along it's length. Motored this leg, didn't raise sail for short trip right into any wind. Rounded the northeast corner of the island and headed east-southeast across the shallows to leave treacherous Cayo Berberia well to the north. When due south of Punta Petrona and Cayos Cabezezos and their fringing reefs altered course to east northeast to pass between the Cayo Alfenique and Media Lune reefs into the Bahia Rincon. Continued the same heading and made the south end of the mangrove cay, Cayo Mata, marking the entrance to the Salinas harbor at 07:10 hours, dropping anchor at 07:30 hours. 16.6 nautical miles by the log, boat speed 5.8 knots, speed made good 5.0 knots. Trip from Boqueron to Salinas, after 3-day wait for weather: 3 days in transit, 72.7 miles by the log. Average boat speed 5.2 knots, speed made good 4.7 knots. Hailed Chinook on the VHF, and they came to get us in their dinghy and we went ashore and ate breakfast together. Great to see Brian and Debbie again. Top Kat, Everden, Lands End and Mallard arrived behind us and also anchored in this lovely harbor. Returned after breakfast to find boats turned round as wind rose and clocked--we are too close to one, will reanchor tomorrow after going into the Marina de Salinas to refuel and rewater. Inflated and launched dinghy, stopped in Playa Marine, well stocked chandlery, bought electric pump to extract oil from engine at oil-changing time. Ate lunch (good but more expensive than we like) at restaurant overlooking Bahia Rincon. Impressed by flock (at least 30) Magnificent Frigatebirds wheeling above their rookery in a small mangrove cay. They certainly earned their adjective. Took longish walk into town of Salinas, and bought some produce. Came home, had a small happy hour, played cribbage and beat the sun to bed.
Sunday, March 16, 2003
Latitude 17 degrees, 57.4 minutes North, Longitude 066 degrees, 17.6 minutes West,
Anchored in Salinas harbor, Puerto Rico
Tuesday morning, at 0700 hours went in dinghy to sound way into fuel dock and make sure there's enough depth for us to tie up alongside to refuel. There was, but another boat beat us to the punch and tied up while we were sounding. Very tight space, essential to get in before the wind gets up (so far around 0900 hours), and prevailing wind will pin bow to the dock. Decided to jerry jug water and fuel in the dinghy. Reanchored Callipygia further away from neighboring boat. Pat did 2 loads of laundry while Bill jugged 50 gallons of water from the dock to Callipygia to fill water tanks and jerry cans. Ate supper on Chinook. Wednesday morning, Paul from July Indian, a 42 foot Niagra sloop, came by looking for sailing directions from Cape Canaveral inlet on the Florida coast to Titusville Municipal Marina on the Inter-Coastal Waterway. Paul is 77. After 12 years cruising, he and Corinne are returning to Florida to sell their boat and begin life ashore. Dug through charts and guides to give Paul needed directions. On leaving, Paul missed his dinghy and landed in the drink. We helped him back inboard, realizing that there will come a point, too, when we'll be too old to continue. Hope we can see it coming. Collected rental car from Payless. Began cleaning boat in preparation for guests. Washed salt off deck metal, winches, blocks etc. Cleaned/scrubbed cockpit. Cleaned head, galley, main cabin. Finished putting everything away from the passage from Luperón.
Wednesday morning, drove to San Juan airport. Allowed 2 hours for the 75-mile drive. Took Interstate 52 north through the mountains. Numerous tolls. Signs to airport sporadic, made one wrong turn, but arrived in plenty time. Airport security doesn't permit non-passengers into most of the terminal so had a frustrating time trying to watch all the doors for Al and Vicki to exit the terminal building. When 45 minutes after their flight we still hadn't found them, they found us. They'd caught an earlier flight and had been standing at the drive-by area looking for us. Drove to El Canario by the Sea hotel in the Condado area of San Juan. Very nice small traditional, mid-price hotel, well appointed. Registered, deposited luggage and car. Took bus #B21 to old San Juan and walked around for the rest of the day. Very nice, not-to-be missed--reminiscent of Quebec city. Fuerte San Felipe del Morro quite wonderful. Most enjoyable time. Back to Condado to hotel for luxuriously lengthy (not to say wasteful) hot shower, then out into the neighborhood for supper, with carnival-related parade passing by our outdoor dinner table. Spectacular. Thursday, took early-morning walk on beach--newly "groomed" by tractors--then drove to El Yunque National Forest. Had difficult time getting map to agree with roads. Lots of one-ways, lack of signs, etc. Finally decided to go into El Yunque from the south rather than fight our way back through San Juan traffic and roads. Discovered the road no longer goes through the forest, closed due to rock/land slides. So parked and walked in the beautiful tropical rainforest for a few miles. While we missed seeing the visitor's center, we didn't miss the crowds--we had it to ourselves. Returned to Salinas following the "Ruta Panoramica", a collection of roads that twists and turns over and around Puerto Rico's impressive mountain backbone. Delightful, if tummy-wrenching.
Friday, we went to the hot springs at Coamo, sat in the naturally thermal spring water, and returned home by way of Ponce. Again frustrating to find road numbers on maps don't agree with road signs. Spent quite a while getting lost. Found the Ponce boardwalk--deserted--beside the anchorage, and walked on the beach for a bit. Yesterday, up at dawn and returned Al and Vicki to the airport for their flight home. Afterwards, we went back to Ponce and explored the downtown area and visited the magnificent art musem--it lived up to its reputation as the best art museum in the Caribbean. Returned to boat and began going through mail brought by Al and Vicki, including some more books, and our new Celesticomp navigational calculator. Look forward to using the Celesticomp to reduce hassle of celestial navigation calculations on our way to Trinidad. Today we went to the Mall of the Caribbean at Ponce, typical American shopping mall. Ate lunch there, and very happy to leave after walking around looking at stores without making any purchases.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Latitude 18 degrees, 9.5 minutes North, longitude 065 degrees, 44.2 minutes West,
anchored in the lee of Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico
Monday's weather forecast indicated light pressure gradient (ie light wind and diminished seas) for later in the week so decided to start next leg east on Thursday. Decided to head for St. Thomas, USVI, by way of Culebra, Spanish Virgin Islands and stop there for a week or so to tackle our list of boat projects. Began preparing passage directions, and after reading further and examining the charts reconsidered. Instead we'll go to Marina Del Ray, near Fajardo, on the northeast corner of PR to do the boat projects. Necessary services are available at this huge marina) and its fees for dockage are quite reasonable. Once we've completed the boat projects, we won't feel guilty about simply enjoying our trip through the Virgins.
Tuesday, Joe Lilly (787-532-3431) cleaned Callipygia's bottom in preparation for the trip--nearly 4 weeks since last cleaning. Not too many barnacles or green growth, paint holding up reasonably well. Completed the passage directions to Marina Del Ray and loaded waypoints into both GPS's. Weather forecast holding for unusually light conditions Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, with wind backing to NE on Friday and beginning of northerly swell. Went to Internet cafe in Salinas, had terrible time with slowness of connection. Couldn't access and update our website. Did final provisioning and returned the rental car to Payless. Made reservation for week's dockage at Marina Del Ray. Invited Chinook for dinner and compared notes about passage plans. Ran into Keith on Nomad, last seen in Luperón in September. Dinghy motor seems to be leaking fuel. Tonight, the moon is full.
Wednesday, it poured for about 4 hours in the middle of the generally windless day. Scrubbed the deck with Joy in the downpour. We readied the boat for transit. Hoisted, deflated, and packed the dinghy. Stored the dinghy motor on the transom rail. Rigged jacklines, tied down jerry cans, and stowed everything below. Went to bed early. Up at 01:00 hours this morning to find moon not obscured by clouds, and ok to leave. Hauled anchor at 01:20 hours and, under power, slowly picked our way out through Salinas' harbour using moonlight, depthsounder, and radar. Little wind and gentle swell. Hoisted mainsail at 02:20 hours once past the Media Luna reef and headed east. Having the sail up definitely improves comfort by reducing swell-induced rolling, not to say adding about 1/3 knot to ourspeed--sailing in our own boat-induced wind. Rounded Punta Tuna at 06:56 hours to head up Puerto Rico's east coast. At about 08:25 hours, in 35' of water, while headed towards our intended anchorage in the lee of Cayo Santiago, a high-pitched noise developed near the cockpit. Determined it to be one of the engine alarms--oh shit, overheating. Looking forward to adding dials to our array of three alarm lights in the engine display when we haul out in Trinidad. Alarm lights only tell us we've got a problem, but give no indication when one is developing. Water still coming out the exhaust, however. Reduced engine RPMs to idle, dropped the main, hauled out the roller-furling jib for easy sail control, and prepare to anchor in the open if necessary--thankfully an option due to the very light conditions. After some anxious moments, determined that the alternator belt had broken. Turned off the engine at 09:09 hours, replaced the belt, and restarted the engine at 09:21 hours. Phew. Motored the remaining couple of miles and anchored in 10' of sand and eelgrass just west of the beach at Cayo Santiago at 09:50 hours. 46.5 miles by the log, average boat speed 5.47 knots, speed made good 5.25 knot.
This island is supposedly inhabited only by monkeys, installed there as part of a primate research project. Disappointed not to see any. Only primates in sight were human--a couple of men on the island, presumably working on the project, and a young couple who swam over from mainland PR to snorkel. Hats off to them, more than a mile each way--they trailed a styrofoam board, presumably in case they needed to rest. A lovely spot, no other boats in sight. Discovered 'frig had not charged during the trip as expected--so restarted the engine and jumped the solenoid, and charged it for an hour. Ate early lunch and took nap. Considered going for a swim but too lazy, so passed the afternoon reading, and taking another nap. After delicious and hearty supper of stew, cabbage, and mashed potatoes, turned in early. Southerly swell made for a rolly night. Thought about rigging a swell bridle, but decided it wasn't too bad after all. This wouldn't be a good anchorage in stronger conditions, unless the wind is north of east.
Upped anchor at 04:30 hours, and headed out to round the south end of Cayo Santiago to go east, under power, so as to pass just west of the Escolio de Arena (shoal) off the northwest corner of Isla de Vieques. Calm sea, no wind and little swell. Just off the tip of the shoal, turned northeast to follow buoys near Roosevelt Roads Naval Base. Near dawn, saw cruiseship (trailing cloud of smoke) heading west towards San Juan. Charged the 'frig--started right away. Conditions ideal (calm and windless) to complete resetting "Sinbad", our (Simrad) autopilot. While functioning adequately since Bill redid the dockside settings at Punta Jacinto, Sinbad yaws the boat substantially. Bill rid the "sea trial" part of the reset (reset to zero, compass adjustment, and automatic boat-sensing adjustment.) Good instruction manual. After doing the sea-trial reset, Sinbad performed perfectly. Gorgeous sunrise, see Isla de Culebra off to the east. Water like glass. Slowed down so as not to arrive at Marina too early, ending up having to kill about 20 minutes before the dockmaster arrived to give us our slip assignment. 10 months since we've been in a marina. Docked at 0815 hours. 19 miles by the log, average boat speed 5.1 knots. We made almost 6 knots much of the way, then had to slow down until the dockmaster arrived at the marina. Checked in at the marina office, found breakfast, checked out the general store and marine store nearby, and took a nap. Then showers--oh what a luxury it is to have unending running hot water! On way to his shower, Bill watched a neighboring boater give a fresh-water drink from his hose to a manatee swimming beside his slip! Went for a walk, then settled down to go over list of boat projects, decide who's going to what, in in what priority order. Time to work--but not 'til tomorrow!
Sunday, March 29, 2003
Lat 18 deg, 17 mins N, Long 065 deg, 37 mins W.
Docked in Marina Puerto Del Ray, Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Much has been accomplished towards our list of boat projects with a lot of hard work, the usual frustrations, and some swearing. But, much still to do. Difficult living with boat in an uproar while projects underway and things torn apart. Have to move 3 (or 4 or 5?) things every time we want to get at something. Pay back time for all we have put off to enjoy ourselves. Thus far: dinghy motor--choke cable replaced, fuel switch repaired, 6-month maintenance done. Monitor windvane derusted, cleaned, and polished--handy to be able to use marina's small floating dock to work from. [TIP: used 3M Heavy Duty green Scotch Brite pads to rub rust off, where that insufficient used Colonite 850, and finally added layer of car wax.] Updated and reconciled financial records/statements for last quarter. Prepared tax package and mailed it to the son who files our returns. Recruited Antiguan Bernard Jackson (AKA Robin, 787-636-0740) to help with deck teak. Excellent and painstaking worker. Deck teak and swim ladder stripped, cleaned, sanded, and varnished with 3 coats of Honey Teak and 2 coats of Clear Enamel, except decided to leave swim ladder unvarnished. Ground tackle evaluated, replacement bow roller and new support for secondary anchor (CQR) identified and ordered, installation to be done by Willie of Wilco Welding (787-860-4471). Supplies to remove rust and regalvanize anchors obtained and primary anchor (Delta) prepared ready for regalvanizing after wire brushing off accumulated rust. [TIP: used West Marine's Rust-Lock Metal Prep, ready to spray with CRC Instant Galvanize.] Components for ground tackle for dinghy (small Danforth and chain/line rode) purchased and made up. (Pat's first unassisted thimble eye-splice was a bit less than perfect, though, even on third try.) Chafing gear (2 layer of hoses) to protect side bobstays (do they have a special name?) from the anchors replaced. Drinking water filter replaced, and new plumbing parts installed for it. Checked, and replaced as appropriate, all radiator clamps on this boat's numerous hoses. Salt water hose to galley sink broke at fitting as radiator clamp being checked--oops, quick close the intake before the boat floods. Fitting replaced and piece of hose removed. Much running around, phone calling, and other gofering--plenty of exercise navigating this huge marina complex. Couldn't arrange to get assorted supplies (Honey Teak, canned meat, replacement cockpit cusions) mailed here--cost prohibitive in time available. Defer until Trinidad. Rented car for 2 days (Thrifty has office on Marina grounds) and made multiple shopping trips to West Marine and 2 other chandleries in Fajardo. Also went to Internet cafe, 2 WalMarts, Home Depot and 4 other hardware stores, Walgreens, GNC, supermarket, post office, clinic, Border's Bookstore, and hair cuttery in Fajardo and Carolina, suburb of San Juan. Met a few other boaters, ate dinner at a Mexican Restaurant with two couples who live on trawlers. One pair, just younger than us, had to have rides on golf cart to get to and from their slip because they were unable to walk the distance, suffering constant muscle and joint pain. Good reminder of the importance of our daily exercise regimen--which has slipped a bit since we left Luperón.
To follow the Iraq war, we bought the English version of the San Juan Star each morning, and listened to news reports from various countries on the SSB radio each evening. For some reason we've been unable to collect our e-mail by radio this week. The 40 meter (7MHz) ham frequencies used by the Winlink PMBOs are very noisy here in the early morning, so haven't been able to retrieve e-mail, including the text version of the offshore forecast. On the other hand, some ham frequencies in the 40 meter band are fine for voice at that same time of day. Learned from KR4JV (Dan on La Brisa) also in the marina, that the the forest of masts, stays, fishing rods, etc around us make Winlink connection problematic. So instead, listened on 6501 KHz to the 05:30 hours Ocean Prediction Center's voice forecast for the Caribbean/SouthWest North Atlantic. There seem to be frequent mistakes/omissions in this product, with forecast for the Caribbean often being incomplete and parts of it skipped. Quite disconcerting. Better luck with George (7241.0 KHz, LSB, at 07:15hrs, and 7086.0, also LSB, at 07:30hrs) who gives a great forecast for this area from St. John.
Sunday, April 6, 2003
Lat 18 deg, 17 mins N, Long 065 deg, 37 mins W.
Docked in Marina Puerto Del Ray, Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Sweltered under some really hot sun in a couple of windless days ahead of a cold front that arrived, with a small bang, on Wednesday night--and then stayed stationary for 2 more days before emptying itself on us all day yesterday and through last night. George (7241.0 KHz at 07:15 hours) reported 50 knot gusts in Coral Bay, St. John, Wednesday night. Yesterday's rain kept us below, writing this lengthy entry for the Ship's Log describing the minutae of boat life, and boning up on charts and cruising guides in eager anticipation of spending about a month cruising around the Virgin Islands when we leave here.
The past week was our second week of chores--and we're nearly finished. Received mail, including CD from the SSCA containing the last 7 years of Bulletins, and a great search engine. A fabulous $30 worth, mining the experiences of sailors all over the world. Every cruising sailboat should buy this. Began by reading about cruising Ireland and Scotland. Great stuff. Sent away for info package for the ARC Europe (Atlantic Rally to Europe). Leaves this year on May 8 from Antigua, and goes to Bermuda, the Azores, and Portsmouth. Decided we may do it next year, so as to make the Atlantic crossing in company. Looked at list of about 20 boats that have registered for this rally so far--we're right in the middle size-wise. Riding this wave of enthusiasm, spent spare time reading The Cruising Association's 2002-2003 Almanac, and The Yachtsman's Guide to the Isle of Mull and Adjacent Coasts. Beginning to believe we may actually fulfill Pat's long-held dream of sailing back to Oban, Scotland. Identified sources for charts and cruising guides/publications. Began trying to figure out the costs of preparing and spending a year or two cruising the UK. We're taking applications for crew since we we'll need 1 or 2 additional hands for each of the 3 legs of the ocean crossing. [Does this sound like chores?]
Weeded out 30 inches of books and donated them to marina library (in the laundry) in return for some goodies we found there. Rethought our approach to books--for which we have allocated 20 feet of shelf space. Decided that we'll keep 3 categories permanently, and recycle everything else. (1) Boat-related books: how-to, reference, navigation, and a constantly expanding number of cruising guides. (2) General reference books, including the Bible and our complete Shakespeare. (3) Poetry. Everything else we'll recycle--what better way to influence (and be influenced) than to pick up free used books on topics related to the human predicament. Also reorganized some of our food and boat supply stowage to make it more convenient, tossing some 'nice-to-have' items to make available some badly needed space for essential supplies. Weeded and reorganized clothes--the "netting" lockers under bookshelves are ideal for storing these. In completing this project discovered that Sticky Back Velcro from Walmart works great for holding the nylon netting to the woodwork, much better than using tube glue. Duhh. Dear Callipygia is now FULL, though we've managed to keep the quarter berth cleared for the occasional (?rare) visitor--of whom we'd welcome more. The shower stall serves as "garage" for awkward shaped large items, dinghy accoutrements, storm anchor, buckets, etc.
Derusted and prepped the CQR (secondary) anchor for regalvanizing. Prepared to regalvanize both bow anchors only to discover spray can had no spray head. Rented car and returned to West Marine to exchange the can (of CRC Instant Galvanize) and pick up new URM-1 bow roller, made by Windline. Installation of bow roller to be completed tomorrow by Willie (Wilco Welding, Fabrication & Machine, 787-860-4471). While we had car, provisioned, and visited Office Max to replenish our office supplies. By e-mail, requested quote on purchase and shipment of SARCA Sand and Reef Combination Anchor from Austrialia, in anticipation of cruising the British Isles. Cleaned and polished bow pulpit and stanchions. Checked and tightened all deck fitting nuts and screws--amazing how they loosen up over time. Added more caulk around mast boot where it still leaks--and it still leaks, so preparing to tape over the caulk. Installed new chafing gear over starboard bobstay, to protect it from the Delta anchor. Reconciled financial statements that came in the mail and filed the paperwork. Printed more boat cards. Listened to the Safety and Security Net each morning (8104.0 KHz at 08:15hrs) to keep track of security incidents and useful navigation information for the Caribbean. Listened to offshore forecast at 05:45 hours on 6501.0 KHz. Continued errors and ommissions--heard phone number to call with comments (1-800-742-8519). Called with complaint, learned that it's the Coast Guard, Chesapeake, which does these broadcasts. That agency is really messing up the careful work of the National Weather Service which prepares the forecasts. Did laundry. Began touch up of Honey Teak on the caprail, which we varnished almost a year ago. Sanded down worn spots and scuffed up the rest--waiting to finish the varnish part once the rain quits. The Honey Teak has held up pretty well over the last year, looks like the trick is to add another coat of Clear Enamel every 6 months or so--we let it go a bit too long this time. Played cribbage and read a bit. Enjoyed a few snorts of brandy (Bill) and rum (Pat, in lieu of scotch) in the security of this marina. In many/most anchorages we tend to refrain so as to have wits about us just in case....
Spent some time getting to know Astrid and Robert, on Canigo, from Basel, Switzerland. Their Northwind 47' is berthed across from us while they await repairs after colliding with a freighter in the Mona Passage about a month ago. Mast is cracked, bow pulpit, primary anchor, and roller furling destroyed. They cruised from Malta through the West Coast of Scotland to the Faeroes, then Iceland and Greenland to Newfoundland last summer before coming south, mostly offshore, to Florida and then here by way of Cuba. Delightful and gutsy young (or are mid-40's middle aged?) couple. After reviewing their northern Atlantic crossing, and the Pilot Charts, we plugged in this route as our dream way to return from the UK in 200x. Looks like short hops, and reasonable conditions during the summer months--main problem is ice--amidst fabulous and untouched scenery. Time to re-read about St. Brendan's passage along this route to Greenland in the 9th century.
Thursday, April 10, 2003
Docked in Marina Puerto Del Ray, Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Rain quit so that we were able to begin applying Honey Teak to the caprail on Monday, one more coat of Honey and 3 coats of clear enamel. Sanded down the forward portion of the bowsprit and Honey Teaked that. This varnish project has been a big job, and since we'd let it go too long, our spot sanding approach yielded a less than perfect finish--nonetheless it looks pretty good. We promised each other to do a better job of keeping up with it, by adding a coat of Clear Enamel every 6 months. Callipygia looks gorgeous with her beautiful woodwork, but it's a helluva lot of work. New bow roller installed on Monday, both anchors regalvanized Tuesday, and put back on the bowrollers on Wednesday, with new shackle on the CQR. Wednesday, between rain showers, cleaned everything up and put everything away--a major undertaking. Secured everything on the deck and below, and reviewed the charts, cruising guides, and made list of waypoints for the trip to Culebra, and did some preliminary planning for our cruise through the USVIs and BVIs. Wednesday afternoon, we checked out of the marina intending to leave early Thursday morning. Forecast for 15 knot winds from the south, seas 4-6'. Did some final provisioning/shopping in anticipation of departure--however, on rising this morning we realized how tired we were from all our hard work and decided to take a "crash" day in the marina so that we'd be primed to enjoy the trip to Culebra, and energized when we got there rather than "fair puggled" --as Pat's mother used to say when she was exhausted. Tomorrow's forecast is for seas and wind down a bit.
We spent some time with Anita and Guy on Mallard Col Vert, Corbin 39', from Ottawa, docked 2 slips away from us. They have cruised the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, and gave us much advice in regard to electrical issues (220 volts vs. 110 volts), gas (butane cf. propane), customs and immigration, insurance issues, charts and cruising guides, weather, and security.
Definitely not one of our better days. We left the dock at Marina Puerto Del Rey at 06:30 hours anticipating a quick run to Culebra, arriving around lunch time. Big mistake. We dropped anchor here at 15:45 hours, in 20 feet, with 125 feet of chain out. A nasty, uncomfortable trip -- hey, at least it was warm, and what a great boat we have. Callipygia is such a peach, she took it all in stride despite her (on this trip) crappy crew. We motor sailed all the way (reefed main), tacking all morning into a 15-20 knot e-se wind and a big e-se chop (4-6', then 5-7, some breaking, every 3-4 seconds). Several squalls came our way--which flattened the seas a bit and gave us some much appreciated lift on the wind. Initially, we headed north of our rhumb line hoping to find some lee from Culebra. Worng! All that did was put us too close to the Barilles Reef, which we didn't notice 'til we saw the whites of its eyeballs at 10:50 hrs. Very bad oooops. Turned south away from the reef and then, finally, at 12:30 hours just east of Cayo Luis Pena the wind and seas went down to nothing, and we picked up speed for a bit. Then as we headed for Punta Soldedo, the wind and seas picked up a bit, but from the south and we made a spanking 5.5 knots until we dropped the main at the entrance to Ensenada Honda. Four inches in the bilge from rain and spray. Because it was so bumpy, Sinbad the autopilot was having a hard time so we hand steered pretty much all the way. 31.8 miles by the log, 22.6 miles by the rhumb line. 3.4 knots boat speed, 2.4 knots made good.
So what mistakes did we make? Muchos. We thought this "little" trip was going to be a no-brainer so didn't properly prepare or pay enough attention to weather conditions. (1) Failed to take Bonine as usual after we've been stationery for a while--result, one of us was quite seasick. (2) Failed to do a proper passage plan other than putting the waypoints in the GPS and listing them in the Navigators Notebook. This should have included making danger bearings for the reefs on the north. (3) Failed to pay proper attention to weather forecast, didn't get one the morning we left even though David Jones had indicated on Thursday that these were very unusual conditions--and we didn't properly anticipate the effects of the ocean swell in the shallow Sound of Vieques. (4) Failed to log and plot our position every hour and when changing course, as is our usual practice, because it was so uncomfortable and one of us was sick and the other hand steering. (5) Didn't bother to rig the jack lines--which meant the person raising and dropping main had to inconveniently tether on to various other handholds. (6) Didn't bother to prepare food for the trip because we thought we'd arrive in Culebra by lunchtime--consequently the non-sick helmsperson didn't have enough to eat. (7) We didn't bother to have the bottom cleaned of its 3 weeks of marina growth--the knot wheel finally broke loose after we'd been underway 40 minutes, but the growth must have slowed us down a bit. Lesson Learned: Don't ever assume any trip is going to be a no brainer. Always think through the "what if's" and plan accordingly. Don't be careless! We withdrew quite a few points from the black box on this trip--we'll need to get busy replenishing it.
The upside of this was that we found Chinook holed up in this anchorage waiting for weather to go to St. Thomas, while we fools were fighting our way here. Great to catch up with them--and just lovely to have Brian and Debbie come over in their dinghy to greet us and, later, give us a ride to shore where we all had a big fish and chip supper together. And, we're very happy to be back "on the hook" again--not that we didn't appreciate the marina's unending hot shower and easy access to services.
Monday, April 14, 2003
Anchored off the town of Dewey in Ensenada Honda, I
Isla de Culebra, Spanish Virgin Islands
Saturday was dedicated to giving Callipygia a sponge bath, 2 buckets of fresh water with a little Joy on her metal and blocks, etc. Used a 3-M sponge with scuff pad on one side, which removed the little bits of emerging rust. Washed off the plastic windows in the dodger. Put everything away below. Pumped up and launched the dinghy, attached motor, and went ashore to explore th e little town of Dewey. Ate lunch at Mamacita's, sitting at the side of the canal which goes through to the ferry dock on the west side of the island. Walked through to the west side, around town, and then took a dinghy drive through the canal. Brian and Deb came over for happy hour. Brian brought crab fritters and we made chopped salad.
Sunday morning we waved goodbye to Chinook, then went into town and ate a big breakfast buffet at Mamacita's. After breakfast, we walked 2.5 miles past the little airport to Flamenco Beach on the north coast--what a beautiful spot, but a bit crowded on the weekend with people from the "mainland" (ie Puerto Rico) who come by ferry, then publico (taxi) to camp in the campground near the beach. From there we walked another mile and a half to check out the beaches on each side of Punta Tamarindo Grande, on the west coast. The beach on the north of the point was lovely with few people, and good shelter from the wind. Hung out there for a couple of hours, reading and snorkeling--many amazing fish in and among the coral near the shore. Some with gorgeous colors--one little chap had a fluorescent purple back and a most flamboyant yellow belly. Walked back to Flamenco Beach, washed off with fresh water, and then hiked back to the dinghy. Glad to get our weary legs back on board and eat an early supper.
Today went into Dewey for assorted errands, and then dinghied down the bay for a couple of miles to explore the anchorage inside Dakity reef. Hung on a mooring ball and looked through our glass-bottomed bucket. Not much reef, mostly eel grass and sand -- with numerous big fat (12" long) brown sea slugs. Outboard motor running very rough, not sure what the problem is--used up all its oil on this hour-long trip. Spent some time preparing passage plan to get to St. Thomas. A low key day, feeling odd not knowing any boats in the harbour--until Top Kat showed up mid afternoon and anchored nearby. There was a Tayana 37' here when we arrived, and another came in this morning.
Whiled away a few days in Culebra in some peculiar weather--squally, and rolly. A trough sat over our area, butting into a ridge from the Atlantic High. The dinghy motor has developed a serious fuel leak problem--need calmer waters to take apart and diagnose. We'll be boat bound until it is fixed. The weather forecast of increasing seas and winds led us to decide to head for St. Thomas sooner rather than later, which we did early this morning. We spent yesterday getting ready (deflating and stowing dinghy, stowing dinghy motor, passage planning, etc.) The only Internet cafe in Dewey lost its connection on Tuesday so we resorted to our on-board but sometimes difficult-to-read weather fax to confirm the NWS sea state predictions. Everything looked doable, and if we didn't go today then we'd have to wait 'til Monday.
Upped anchor at 06:30 hrs this morning and headed round Culebra to the east, staying inside the Culebrita reef, and exiting between the Island of Culebrita and Cayo Norte into the Virgin Passage. Winds about 10-15 from the southeast, gave us a nice comfortable motor sail under reefed main for this 7-mile leg. Entered the Passage at 07:45 hours, and encountered a confused swell, mostly southeast, of about 3-4 feet. A bit lumpy but not too uncomfortable, and able to keep the main filled as we headed into the wind towards Sail Rock. Made reasonable progress into the wind and seas, watching a squall develop over St. Thomas. Entered East Gregerie Channel about 10:30 hrs and considered anchoring in Drief Bay, but the boats already there were rolling dreadfully. Headed up the channel and dropped the hook in 25' of water among anchored and moored boats just near Caroline Point. Pretty crowded area. Found Duchess nearby, and learned by VHF that Chinook and Gringo are still here, anchored on the other side of Hassel Island near the cruise ship dock. 25.9 nautical miles by the log, 22.7 by the rhumb line. Average boat speed 5.7 knots, speed made good 5.0 knots. Tremendous downpour began just after we anchored, and it rained for the remainder of the afternoon, with the occasional thunderstorm thrown in just for good measure. Since God gave Callipygia her after-trip bath, we didn't have to. Ate a big lunch of corned beef and cabbage stew, and took long naps. A bit rolly here, and much too crowded. At 18:06 hours we moved a hundred yards or so and reanchored in a spot where we weren't quite so crowded. On starting the engine to do the maneuver, we noticed that there was a lot of uncombusted fuel in the water at the exhaust--oh dear, more mechanical woes.
Sunday, April 20, 2003
Anchored off Water Island, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Friday morning, Bill disassembled the outboard motor and discovered a cracked plate at the fuel pump. Bill from Duchess came over to consult, bringing moral support and a wealth of outboard experience. We started the diesel while he was here and were delighted to note that its exhaust was perfectly clean. Concluded that last night's slick was not from the diesel, but from the outboard (which was mounted on the taffrail directly above the diesel exhaust) as it puked out it's last bit of fuel. What a relief. After making inquiries by radio as to the location of an outboard motor shop, a nearby boater came by and pointed out the Yamaha dealership, conveniently placed directly across on the other side of West Gregerie Channel. It was closed for the Easter weekend, but we'll take the motor in on Monday. In the meantime Duchess offered to lend us their 3hp 2-stroke Mercury outboard motor, which they keep as spare. This reinforced what we have learned as cruisers: there is a tremendous amount of collegiality and support among the boating community--we earnestly endeavor to pass on to others the good deeds that people do for us. We inflated and launched the dinghy, and powered by Duchess' spare motor, went across the Channel to the dinghy dock at Crown Bay Marina and spent a few hours exploring downtown Charlotte Amalie--finding mostly tourist shops geared towards cruiseship patrons.
Friday evening at about 20:00 hours we spent an anxious hour in the cockpit watching the passing of a very nasty squall. Winds to 35 knots from the west with much thunder and lightning, and truly torrential rain, caused a fair bit of havoc and dragging anchors in the area. Ours held nicely, but Cavu, which had anchored near us in the afternoon, dragged and bounced off two other boats downwind of us before regaining control of herself. Cavu came back around and reanchored next to Duchess, then bumped into her late in the night once the winds died down. At 23:00 hours, Duchess moved to get out of Cavu's way. We made our first attempt to catch rain during this lengthy squall but the wind blew the water out of the piece of awning we'd rigged as catcher. Evidently 5-6 inches fell during this rolly night, and we made numerous trips to the cockpit to check on the status of our, and other boats', anchors.
Saturday we went to Crown Bay, a well-equipped dinghy-friendly marina, did 2 loads of laundry, used the Internet cafe, and reconnected briefly with Chinook, which is back in Drief Bay waiting for favorable weather to head to St. Martin. Bill and Sharon (Duchess) came to visit for happy hour. We enjoyed getting to know them, and picking the brains of these experienced cruisers. Last night was much quieter, although the heavy traffic up and down the channel keeps us in constant motion. The container terminal next to Crown Bay is busy 24 hours a day loading and unloading freighters and barges. This morning we went ashore early and walked over to Frenchtown Marina bordering Haulover Cut, the narrow channel separating St. Thomas from Hassel Island. Islay is docked there while John and Lisa work for a while to replenish their cruising kitty. It was good to see them again and catch up, against a splendid background of landing and taking off floatplanes. After a good/inexpensive breakfast at the Frenchtown Deli, we walked through the interesting old Frenchtown residential neighborhood to Crown Bay and treated ourselves to a special Easter shower--$5 apiece. Back on the boat, more heavy showers led to our first successful rain catching experience. We used the method first suggested to us back in Luperón by Doug (Silent Running) and reinforced last night by Sharon and Bill. KISS! After enough rain has fallen to clean off the deck, open the fill to the water tank, put a rolled towel or sandbag downhill from the fill and just let it pour in! Works like a charm--we'll see how it tastes. The afternoon was marred by more anchoring blues--in the calms and shifting current we drifted too close to neighboring boat, had to power up and gently rearrange the anchor rode to give more space. This anchorage is uncomfortably crowded, and often rolly. However, it is very convenient for its access to shore.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Anchored off Water Island, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Yesterday, early, we took the ailing outboard over to Offshore Marine, the Yamaha dealer--conveniently located with a dinghy dock on the edge of the Channel. Determined that it needs a new fuel pump, not in stock, but thankfully it is still under warranty. May be repaired by the end of the week. Headed into Charlotte Amalie (by way of the $1 bus) and purchased a few supplies at Budget Marine, and spent some play money at Dockside Books. In the afternoon, Joe and Michelle of Peregrine, a Wauquiez 38', whom we'd met in Luperón, came by to give us some hands-on training about how to clean our own bottom. They use a Brownie Third Lung (otherwise known as a Hookah), to provide a stream of air through 100' of hose while underwater. Between that and snorkel gear, the chore went quickly--though if truth be told, Joe and Michelle did most of the work. But we learned a lot. Over a few beers afterwards we picked their brains about anchorages and good snorkeling sites in St. John and the BVI. Collected more rain during a late night squall--requiring continued anchor watching. Even tighter than ever with the arrival of a couple more sailboats earlier.
Early today, two cruise ships came in to the overflow dock across from the anchorage--wouldn't want to have to maneuver one of those collossi in this tight space. A lot of traffic in and out of the container ship terminal too. Never a dull moment, could be busy rubber-necking all day. Went ashore early to do some banking chores, then got thoroughly drenched walking to/from the Post Office. What kind of sailors go ashore in the face of a pending rain shower without rain gear? Wet ones. Stopped in at the Dive Shop and found out costs of equipment and training to dive and clean our own bottom. A lot of $$ which we don't have in the budget. For now, we'll have to keep on hiring others to do it. We had intended to purchase a spare 2-stroke, 2-hp little Yamaha from Offshore Marine, but we were so wet we headed back to Callipygia to wait for the rain to end--which it did finally did but not 'til 5pm. Whiled away the afternoon reading The SHIP and the STORM, about the loss of the Fantome with all hands in Hurricane Mitch, not to mention the terrible devastation Mitch caused in the Honduras. Windjammer Cruises, owner of Fantome was clearly more interested in trying to save their vessel than its crew. Excellent information about the hurricane tracking and forecasting process--and reliability thereof.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Lat: 18 deg 18.5 mins North; Long: 064 deg 50.0 mins West;
anchored in Christmas Cove, Great James Island, US Virgin Islands
Over early morning coffee, we fabricated a tow system for the dinghy out of 90' of 3/8" yellow 3-strand polypropylene line thusly. First, we made a small loop at each end. We did this (after much research, then trial and error) by doubling the line and tying an overhand knot, then whipping the two lines together above and below the knot. We attached carabiniers to the loop made by each knot. (For good measure until this very slippery line is properly trained, we also duct-taped the knots themselves.) Then, we tied the two pieces of line together with another overhand knot, about 3 feet from the clips. Again, we whipped the two lines together above and below this knot, and taped the knot. The carabiniers were attached to the two D-rings on the front of the dinghy. The remaining 80' feet loop of line was used double (a 40'line), with the end loop duct-taped again to mark the end of the doubled line. This double line was then run through an aft fairlead and fastened at a cleat. Result--a complete bridle and adjustable tow-line, all of easy-to-see, bouyant line, doubled for increased security. No more propellor wraps, we hope. Since we won't be towing the dinghy for long trips or in big seas, we don't think lack of stretch in polypropylene line to absorb shock will be a problem. Afterwards, we went ashore and bought the little 2hp 2-stroke Yamaha (9lbs weight) from Offshore Marine, so now we have a spare. Then we readied ourselves for departure, and upped anchor at 11:10am, towing the dinghy (having removed loose contents, motor and oars). Motored round the top of Water Island, down West Gregerie Channel and along the south coast of St. Thomas, heading east. No wind, minimal swell, beautiful sunshine--all round lovely day (for motoring). Dropped anchor on the south side of Fish Cay in Christmas Cove near Duchess at 12:40 hrs in 24' feet. 7.9 nautical miles by the log, average boat speed 5.3 knots. A few other boats here, including Top Cat, 36' Nauticat, and Faith catamaran with family of 5, were also here. Swam off the boat to view the anchor--nicely set in sand with a little grass. Then hopped in the dinghy and snorkeled over a reef near the shore. The underwater world is always a new amazement. Had happy hour on Duchess after returning their outboard and installing our new spare 2hp Yamaha in our dinghy. Also met BB, singlehanding Sea Fever, Tartan 37'.
Friday, April 25, 2003
Lat: 18 deg 20.7 mins North; Long: 064 deg 47.6 mins West;
on a mooring ball in Caneel Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands
Spent yesterday swimming, practicing our snorkeling skills, and generally just enjoying the peace and beauty of Christmas Cove. A popular spot, with about a dozen boats anchored overnight. This morning, on the Safety and Security Net (08:15 hrs, 8104.0 kHz) it was reported that among the trees, weed mats, and other debris washed off the south side of Puerto Rico by the recent torrential rains, were 3 floating refrigerators. Emphasizes the need to avoid passing near high islands after lengthy heavy rains. For breakfast, we had coffee and scones on Duchess and used their cell phone to find out if the outboard motor is ready. It's not. Offshore Marine is still waiting for arrival of new fuel pump. Decided to come to St. John for the weekend, for the chance to walk around and find out more about that island, of which more than half is National Park. The National Park Service maintains moorings in many of the bays, and in some anchoring is prohibited. We upped anchor at 10:05 hours and motored through Current Cut into Plymouth Sound, towing the dinghy. The current in the cut was about 3 knots (in our direction) and gave us 100 yards or so of very rough water. Plymouth Sound, was a little choppy--we understand it can be every bit as nasty as the Sound of Vieques, although it is much shorter. A few vacant moorings were available at the east end of Caneel Bay, and we picked one up at 10:40 hours. About 40 boats were moored here. 3.5 nautical miles by the log, average boat speed 6.0 knots. After mooring, we kept the engine running for about 15 minutes to finish charging the refrigerator. While doing so, twice, the transmission kicked into forward--need to find out what this is about, hope nothing serious. Went ashore and hauled the dinghy onto Salomon Beach, and walked along the park trail about a mile into the town of Cruz Bay. Explored a little, ate lunch, provisioned, walked back and returned home to Callipygia to enjoy the late afternoon sun. This Bay is very busy and rolly with frequent ferry traffic and numerous other boat comings and goings.
Sunday, April 27, 2003
Lat: 18 deg 20.7 mins North; Long: 064 deg 47.6 mins West
On a mooring ball in Caneel Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands
Yesterday morning's boat chores included adjustment of the transmission linkage, after which we ran the engine for an hour and all seems to be well. Greased the hinges/wing nuts on all portholes, repaired one of the hooks for storing docklines in the engine room, glued a loose strip on one of the companionway doors, and continued reading/reviewing guides and charts as a precursor to planning the passage south. Then we went ashore to the "dinghy dock" at the Caneel Bay Resort. Dinghies are permitted to tie up to the side of the ferry dock, albeit with a stern anchor (required). To access the dock, we had to climb up its side and clamber through the steel dock rails. On stepping foot on the dock we were given a brochure for "Day Visitors" (ie yachties) and learned the following. Day Visitors may access the beaches but may not use the resort chairs or beach equipment, must wear Resort attire when on the Resort property, may use the Resort's dining facilities ($25 breakfast, $40 dinners, etc.), may not use the bus or ferry from the Resort to Cruz Bay, and cannot deposit their trash or purchase ice at the Resort. Day Visitors are prohibited from visiting the Resort's Self Centre, a secluded spot for meditation and reflection. While the view from the Resort of sailboats moored/sailing adds to the Resort ambience, the people who live on those boats do not--the Resort requests that moored boats not hang laundry on deck. It seemed to us that the Caneel Bay Resort (a non-profit entity) is barely distinguishable from the Plantation that preceded it. So we left this place where the wealthy vacation to de-stress from the rigors of the money-making life, and dinghied over to the edge of Honeymoon Beach. We hauled the dinghy up on the sand, and walked the delightful upper Park trail back to Cruz Bay. The upper trail offers a stunning hilltop view of the Bay. We ate an outstanding and modestly priced lunch at Cap's Place--West Indian food--bar and billiard area bubbling with people who live and work on St. John. Noted a lot more smiles and laughter among the real people than were evident among the make-believe people. We were reminded of Bernard Shaw's quotation "As for living, our servants can do that for us."
After lunch we checked out the ferry dock in Cruz Bay, and after a bit of a wait got on the somewhat ramshackle $1 bus which goes every 2 hours from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay and then Salt Pond Bay. We bought return tickets, which we deem the best value on St. John. A not-to-be-missed white-knucklin', bone-shakin' eye-poppin' trip. Spectacular scenery from the tops and bottoms of St. John's many hills/mountains and bays. After our hike back to the dinghy, and a bit of a fight to launch it through the surf that had come up, we were wearily glad to be shome for supper. We also met and spent some time talking yesterday to Steve, another yachtie moored here, who is singlehanding his Shannon ketch Nonesuch to Venezuela.
This bay offered a good lesson on land effects on wind. Boats moored along the west curving beach, faced northeast; those along the north curve, southeast. The wind that blew down onto the bay from between a couple of tall hills seemed to split into two forks, blowing along the shore. We were moored between the two forks and sometimes seemed to point every which way.
Monday, April 28, 2003
Lat: 18 deg, 19.8 mins North, Long: 064 deg, 56.9 mins West,
anchored off Water Island, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Dropped the pendant on the mooring at 06:57 hours and motor sailed (yankee only) back across Plymouth Sound, through Current Cut, along the south coast of St. Thomas, and through the Gregerie Channel to our previous anchorage. Nice to come into a familiar harbor for once. Picked a spot slightly more northeast than before, where the sand ledge was wider, giving us more room in the event of a dragging anchor. Dropped (laid) the hook at 08:40 hours. 10.7 nautical miles by the log, average boat speed 5.9 knots. Happy to have some favorable wind for a change, though gave us a rolly ride for a bit as the seas, though following, were up. Checked on the status of the outboard motor--not ready, two parts are in but still waiting on a third. This anchorage has some strange characteristics also--current through the channel, combined with wind funnelling (or blocked) by surrounding hills causes frequent boat shifts. Once more, we reanchored at 19:21 hours after we came too close to one of our neighbors. Because of the cramped quarters, couldn't set the anchor under power for the wind direction. Will check it visually and/or reset it in the morning, after another anchor-watch night in this noisy rolly place. A day for existential questioning--what are we doing, and why are we doing it? This life is hard. Of the legions who dream of it, and the fewer who choose it, many quit. Days like today, we can see why.
Sunday, May 4, 2003
Lat: 18 deg, 19.8 mins North, Long: 064 deg, 56.9 mins West,
Anchored off Water Island, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Tuesday, we checked to make sure the anchor was set (it was) by hauling in 50' of chain and backing down on the remaining 75', then letting out the extra 50' again. Later, the one who was having existential issues put its head in a bucket and took the day off to recover, by sleeping, dozing, and a little light reading. This one keeps itself on watch to exhaustion occasionally--a stupid but habitual behaviour. The other one installed a cockpit shower, to replace our sunshower and/or bucket bath--so long as we have plenty of water, from rain we hope. A significant improvement in daily living. Wednesday, we checked again on the outboard motor--the part is still not in. We took the $1 bus into Charlotte Amalie and did some shopping at K-Mart and Budget Marine. Found a Roti Shop near the cruise ship dock, and ate roti for lunch. Bought the Complete Living Language set for learning French (CD's, lessons, and dictionary) in preparation for possible arrival in a French island (St. Martin, Guadeloupe, or Martinique.) Now we can be confused in French as well as Spanish (not to mention English). At an Internet Cafe, we did the usual end-of-the-month money stuff--checking and paying credit card balances, and reviewing how much money we don't have in the bank. Carnival is ending in St. Thomas, with a blast. Loud, loud music and drum beats all night long kept us awake for most of it. Thursday, changed the oil, oil filter, and secondary fuel filters. Used new electric pump to remove the oil--took only 10 minutes, compared to 90 minutes using the old manual vacuum pump. Also did a detailed review of charts, guides, pilots, etc., and figured out necessary weather conditions so we can make Grenada (450 nmiles) under sail--a close reach we'd like. Best with e-ne wind. Hope we don't have to beat/tack with motor much. Reviewed hazards between here and Grenada (traffic, currents, shoals/sea mounts, volcano ash, whales, etc.,) and examined harbour details for preferred and backup clearing-in anchorages on each major island all the way down if we decide to shorten the trip. Estimated the time to get to each one, under sail, at varying speeds. We'll wait in St. Thomas until conditions improve a bit--winds and seas are forecast to be higher than we'd like in the southern 2/3 of our route.
Friday, changed the primary fuel filter in preparation for departure. Went ashore for breakfast at the Frenchtown Deli--has become our favorite spot. Then called Offshore Marine only to discover that the fuel pump for the outboard motor has to be reordered--the 3rd part can't be provided separately. Maybe it'll be in by Tuesday. More waiting. Did some provisioning--found a bag boy to push the shopping cart from the supermarket to the dinghy dock at the marina, and then return the cart. On returning to Callipygia, found Sandcastle, large Irwin ketch (48'?), on the nearby mooring--would be fine if it were a small boat, but this one is way bigger than us and we're too close. Let out another 20' of chain to provide more distance. Still closer than we'd like, but for now acceptable. Periodic anchor watch during the night. During this exercise, noticed that for our primary anchor rode the 175' of line is joined to the 150' of chain with just an eye splice to the connecting shackle--no thimble. Needs to be corrected. Only once so far (West Caicos) have we needed to use so much rode that we ran out all the chain and used some of the line. Made a pre-departure checklist, and a departure day checklist so we'll be ready to leave as soon as outboard is ready and weather cooperates. Port water tank emptied today, switched to starboard. Previously, one 50-gallon tank lasted us between 11-12 days; this time it lasted 21 days--raincatching works! Saturday, made a revision to the Deck Log in readiness for departure. Did quarterly check of all radiator clamps and worked each seacock--aft cockpit drain seacock is partially frozen. 2 radiator clamps replaced.
Plenty of activity in/along the channel. Dredger working near the container ship dock, constantly moving from place to place. 4-masted schooner cruiseship, Legacy, back again tied up at dock across from us. Oops--binocular inspection reveals that its two rear mast are chimneys--what kind of a boat is this? Tugs in and out all the time, sometimes with huge container-laden barges. Many ferries shuttling back and forth during this Carnival time. The usual container ship comings and goings--often in the middle of the night. Float planes landing and taking off just through Haulover Cut. Planes taking off from the busy airport (a mile away). An endless stream of recreational vessels, and continual dinghy crossings. Better than TV to keep us entertained in this crowded, rolly, and noisy anchorage. We stay here because our little 2hp dinghy motor has all it can handle to get back and forth to the marina dinghy dock from this, the closest available spot.
Saturday, May 10, 2003
Lat: 18 deg, 19.8 mins North, Long: 064 deg, 56.9 mins West,
Anchored off Water Island, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
This week we made arrangements for our annual home visits during the upcoming summer/fall, using Frequent Flyer miles where possible. Quite a puzzle to fit in all the pieces to make sure we have good quality time with our kids and grandkids who are spread out from Alaska to Toronto and Maine, and our friends scattered from DC to Nova Scotia. Looks like we'll leave Callipygia for about 3 months--during which time work will get done as necessary to ready her for next year's planned Atlantic crossing. We've made a reservation at Power Boats in Trinidad for that to happen. Also made arrangements for 15-yr old grandson, Nick, to come stay with us for a month after school gets out--words can't express how delighted/excited we are about the prospect of his visit. We are lonely for our family.
On Tuesday we learned that the new fuel pump for the dinghy motor had arrived--but it was broken and would have to be reordered, and these parts are on back order. Probably be another 2 weeks before it would come in. Discussed options with the very helpful staff of Offshore Marine. (1) They would return the motor to us, show us how to install the fuel pump, and forward it to us once it comes in. (2) We could trade in the 4hp 4-stroke on a new 8hp 2-stroke--even though they do not normally handle small 4-strokes, they would make an exception for us. Given all the problems we've had with the 4-stroke, and our preference anyway for bit more horsepower, we decided on option 2. Offshore also took back the 2hp 2-stroke backup we bought from them, for what we paid for it. Since we bought the 2hp a couple of weeks ago as a backup and in anticipation of continued problems with the 4-stroke, the need for it has evaporated (we hope). We traded motors on Wednesday and began breaking in our new 8hp--are definitely going to enjoy the increased power. We continued work on passage planning for the trip south and determined that we'd leave on Friday. However, on Thursday, the outlook worsened--the sustained high pressure over the Atlantic has brought big seas to the area we'd be crossing. Also heard on the Caribbean Maritime Mobile (ham) Net from a boat near Aves Island, where we'd pass, that the weather was very rough. Did some rethinking. Rather than waiting for the next northeast wind to make a straight shot at Grenada from here, decided to make more easting in the meantime by going to the British Virgin Islands, and then wait there for lighter seas--even if there's no north in the wind. Then we'll cross the Anegada Passage and go behind Saba Island, and Montserrat. This leg will be (yet again) motor-sailing (slogging) into the wind, but we have time to wait for gentler seas, we hope. After passing Montserrat, we should have a nice long reach for the sail south to Grenada, where we'll meet Nick. We did the passage planning for this revised route. Seems that anchorage in Road Town, Tortola, BVI not optimal, so made reservation for marina so we can clear in there.
Did final provisioning, and stowed everything on deck and below. Deflated and stowed the dinghy--and motor--on deck, in anticipation of refuelling and re-watering at Crown Bay Marina tomorrow morning prior to departure. This week, also, we spoke a few times to Rik and Ann on Sandcastle, the big ketch on the nearby mooring. This delightful couple cruised the South Pacific for half a dozen years before starting to take people (2 couples at a time) cruising around the VI on their boat as a way to make a living. Contact them on 340-774-5630 to cruise with them.
Sunday, May 11, 2003
Lat: 18 deg, 19.0 mins North. Long: 064 deg, 43.4 mins West.
On a mooring ball in Great Lameshur Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands
Upped anchor at 07:53 hours and crossed West Gregerie Channel to the fuel dock at Crown Bay Marina, where we filled up diesel and water tanks. Headed round Water Island and down East Gregerie Channel then east along the south coast of St. Thomas. Kept fairly close into shore, then out to round Dog Island and cross the mouth of Pillsbury Sound to the south coast of St. John. The knot wheel must have a barnacle on it, instruments not registering log or speed. Readings taken from the GPS instead--how much easier navigation is since the availability of this toy. Another slow and lumpy ride, motor sailing with just the mainsail up, slogging close to the 10-15 knot wind in short seas, building to 4'-6'. Can't wait until we can turn the motor off! Found Great Lameshur Bay with only one other boat there--and 13 unoccupied mooring balls, maintainted by the National Park Service to attempt to maintain the coral bottom. Georgeous, isolated, and protected spot, cliffs and rocks, sandy beach, surrounded by steep green volcanic hills. No indications of human habitation, aside from the other boat, but saw several green turtles, pelicans, boobies and ever-present laughting gulls. 12.8 nautical miles over the ground, average boat speed 3.9 knots, speed made good 3.3 knots
Dropped mooring ball at 06:25am and left beautiful deserted secluded Lameshur Bay. Not much wind but found 6-7' seas once we got clear of the bay's protection and again motor-sailed into the seas. Another slow and lumpy slog. Took 45 minutes to get well round Ram's Head, but once there we were able to fall off the wind into a very close reach and actually sail (albeit under power). Much more comfortable angle on the seas, and we picked up speed as we crossed the mouth of Coral Bay, passing between the east end of St. John and Flanagan Island, and then into Drake Channel towards Road Harbour. A little squall brought a nice quick 5-minute downpour to help wash the salt off in mid-Channel. Found our way into Road Harbour, and after getting instructions on the VHF from the marina, berthed at the dock at 09:25hours. 12.8 nautical miles over the ground. Average boat speed 4.3 knots, speed made good 4.2 knots. Went ashore to clear customs and immigration, then ate an early lunch at the Roti Palace--excellent roti, though not very cheap. Went for a refreshing dip in the pool at the Marina, and crashed. Went exploring Road Town later.
Sunday, May 18, 2003
Lat: 18 deg, 25.4 mins North. Long: 064 deg, 37.1 mins West.
Docked at Village Cay Marina, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
We face two constraints as we island hop from here on. (1) We need to clear customs each time before we can leave, and (2) to do that by dinghy means inflating and deflating it. Wish (not for the first time) that we could store the dinghy on deck. Would have loved to explore Lameshur Bay by dinghy last Sunday afternoon, but were not up to inflating and deflating the dinghy for only a couple of hours of use. Possibly could have towed it from St. Thomas, but it sure would have slowed us down in those short lumpy seas. Also, if you have a problem with a towed dinghy in difficult conditions, it can be hard/dangerous to resolve, and many a dinghy has had to be cut loose and lost. Have to learn to live with it. Dinghy constraint is one reason we came into this marina, which by the way is very nice, and has a most pleasant swimming pool. But it does cost--although mooring balls in the BVI also cost ($25/nite).
As the week progressed, the weather looked good for a Friday departure to cross the Anegada, so we decided to stay here in the marina 'til then because we don't need the dinghy to clear customs, which is a short walk away. Also, decided to exit into the Caribbean through Round Rock Passage rather than going to Virgin Gorda and exiting through Necker Island Passage. Primary reason is that as you exit Necker Island you have to go directly east into the seas from the open Atlantic, whereas at Round Rock, even though you give up some easting, the exit is southeast and much shorter to get into open water. We cleared customs and checked out of the marina on Thursday in readiness. But... on Friday morning, after listening to the Offshore Forecast and then George Cline (7104.0 LSB at 07:15, 7086.0 LSB at 07:30) it seemed that the outlook had changed--we could anticipate 20 knot e-se winds and 7' seas in the Anegada, not very pleasant. The revised forecast indicated this could improve to 10-15 knots e-ne and 3-4' seas by Monday--as near perfect as we could ask for. Decided to stay in the marina and wait. This morning's forecast for tomorrow is not quite so favorable, but still pretty fair. Once we get out there, we'll see whether it will be possible be able to make Grenada in a straight shot, going west of Saba bank and Montserrat. Otherwise we'll cross the Anegada and hop down the islands. Will we finally find favorable winds?
A rather quiet week, but pleasant. We visited the Caribbean Weather Center here in Tortola on Tuesday, and found David Jones in the office where he had come briefly. He is clearly sick, and went back into the hospital Wednesday for more tests. We, and the other Caribbean cruisers, sorely miss his morning weather net. Wandered round to the Moorings (charter boat) marina on the other side of the harbor to locate the fuel dock, and ran into a South African who had just delivered a boat there and was trying to sell his excess fuel. For a very low price we bought three 20 litre jugs from him, which he dinghied over to Callipygia and we put in our tank through the Baja filter. Noticed that the Moorings marina was chock full of boats, means the charter season is over. Also found Serendipity, a great little bookstore, and went over budget on another batch of books. Did the usual boat chores and preparation for departure, including cleaning terminals at masthead light, rewiring the shore power cable plug, checking condition of nuts on shroud chainplates, cleaning bow pulpit of incipient rust, etc. Plugged the tracks in the mast again--frequent showers indicated no more leaks! Became acquainted with Tony and Susan on Escapade, 42' Island Packet, docked next to us. They are from near London, came across with the ARC a year or two ago, and left for Bermuda then Maine on Thursday. On the morning ham net (7104.0 LSB at 07:00 hrs) followed the progress of our friends Sam and Donna on Gertrude P. Abernathy III as they went from Salinas, PR, to Cartagena, Colombia. They're moving fast, but having some very rough weather on this 700-mile trip. Yesterday we played tourist, took the Smith's ferry to Virgin Gorda and visited "The Baths", an area of huge volcanic boulders on the shore, where the water fills in and out. Great snorkeling, and an amazing 20-minute walk through boulder-made tunnels and caves to Devil's beach. Ate lunch overlooking Fischer's Cove. A thoroughly satisfactory trip--rounded off with bottled water (from the Miami municipal water supply, reverse osmosis'd, irradiated, and ozonified no less) and a cool fresh-water dip in the marina pool when we got home. Today, spent getting ready (yet again) for expected departure tomorrow, but found time to walk to and explore the BVI Botanic Gardens, a small sweet oasis at the northern edge of Road Town.
On rising Monday morning, confirmed the weather outlook is still favorable and completed departure checks, including all safety equipment. Left the dock at Village Cay at 10:23 hours and headed out of Road Town harbour. Raised the main with its usual 1 reef for motor sailing into the wind, and attempted to haul out the yankee to assist--dangnabit, furling gear is jammed. The one thing we didn't check, it's been so reliable. Raised the trusty staysail (hank on) instead and crossed Drake Passage to Round Rock, at the south end of Virgin Gorda, and exited into the Caribbean Sea. Gentle wind, around 10 knots, easterly, with gentle (spaced out) 3-5' swells. Headed north of Barracuda Shoal, then southeast towards Saba making good progress (5+ knots) in quite comfortable conditions. Saw three other sailboats going in the same direction, though different tack. Passed north of Saba at 03:00 hours yesterday and altered course to the east (as more southerly crept into what wind there was.) Beautiful night, moonlit after 23:00 hrs with the seas down to 2-4' and light contrary wind 5-10 knots. Ring around the moon (cirrostratus). At dawn, decided not to stop at St. Martin, but to take advantage of these benign conditions and and head for Antigua. We will then have "turned the corner" and be all done with going against the trade winds--we sincerely hope. Altered course again to southeast (wind back north of east) as we passed St. Martin, then St. Barthelemy to port and then steep mountainous Saba rising into the clouds to starboard. At 14:00 hrs, east of Eustatius, altered course to the east--wind gone round to the southeast--and headed towards Barbuda until 19:00 hours, when we altered course to the south (wind back round to east) as St. Kitts and Nevis faded into the distance. Some distant traffic during the day (2 cruise ships, 1 container ship, 2 small freighters.) As darkness crept in with few clouds, we were between two guideposts in the sky, the Southern Cross ahead, and the pole star astern. Altered course to the southeast again at 23:00 hours, just ahead of moonrise to pass northeast of Montserrat. Thought about Libelle which had collided with another sailboat at 09:00 hours on Sunday night just about here. Poor Libelle suffered serious damage, eventually limping into Deshaies (Guadaloupe) on Tuesday. Reminded us how difficult it is to ascertain distance and direction of lights in the dark, one reason we always put the radar on at night. Benign conditions continued through the night as we rounded the southwestern corner of Antigua, seeing lights high up on the north end of Montsarrat, at 03:30 hours today. Must be strange living on an island whose other end is the very active volcano Soufriere which erupted in 1995 and blew away the island's capital. Lowered the sails and motored into English Harbour, dropping the hook at 07:20 hours this morning. 231.1 nmiles by the GPS odometer (knot wheel still jammed by a barnacle), 198.0 miles by the rhumb line. 5.1 knots average boat speed, 4.4 speed made good.
All in all a comfortable motor sail. Many thanks to Callipygia, her iron genny (Yanmar) which purred away steadily for 45 hours, Sinbad the autopilot who drove most of the way, and of course the main and staysail which added speed and gave stability to this pleasant trip. And of course to the GPS, a great navigational assist. After filling out the Deck Log we plotted our course this trip with china markers on the plastic covers of the very convenient CYC chart kits. Thanks also to our little digital timer, which gives the on-watch person a nudge every 8 minutes to check the radar screen, do a 360 degrees lookout and check our course and sail trim during the night, when things can get drowsy. Now we're nicely positioned to head due south sailing for the rest of the season, and look forward to using the engine purely as an auxilliary for a while.
Put on the anchor snubber and sail covers, and cleaned up the cockpit. Ate a hearty breakfast, pumped up the dinghy, launched it, hoisted the outboard motor down onto it, and found our way to the dinghy dock, then customs to clear in. Back on board to finish putting everything away and take some well-deserved naps. Then gave the deck metal and rigging parts a sponge bath with fresh water and Joy, cleaned off the smudge marks round the engine exhaust from Callipygia's heine, and called it a day.
Sunday, May 25, 2003
Lat: 17 deg 00.3 mins N; Long: 061 deg 45.7 mins W.
Anchored in Freeman Bay, English Harbour, Antigua
Thursday morning we took a closer look at the jib furling gear and--after figuring out we didn't know how to make it work--got Paul of Tend Aloft Rigging aboard to diagnose and fix it, and review all the rigging at the same time. Furling (ProFurl) drum has 2 screws that hold the drum to the extrusion (rod with sail track). Screws had come loose and the extrusion had slipped down onto the turnbuckle of the forestay. Turned out to be an easy fix. Added these screws to the list of things to check periodically. Rigging passed inspection, a few minor items to take care of in Trinidad, nothing major except for a few signs of metal fatigue (cracks) on the upper rail of bow pulpit (which we had noticed), and Paul advised that we begin thinking about replacement within next year or two. Did some exploring and walked round to Falmouth harbour. We like the anchorage we're in a lot, though wouldn't like to be here during the busy season when apparently English and adjacent Falmouth harbours are inundated with upscale/big boats with moneyed occupants.
Friday, Cap Greene of Signal Locker installed the new connection for the Datamarine at the masthead. He had to rework the pins since those in the new plug are a different size from the pins in the old one. Cap did a nice careful delicate soldering job, and then recalibrated the electronic readout. Took him 4 hours altogether--a long sit at the masthead in somewhat breezy and rolly weather--but very glad to have the panel readout back in the cockpit showing wind speed and direction at the masthead. Also, Friday, Chuck and Maureen of Kamaloha, another Tayana 37 just arrived from St. Martin, came by in their dinghy to introduce themselves. They too are headed to Grenada. Yesterday, we took the bus to St. John's, the capital of Antigua (pop: 35,000). Bus service is cheap, interesting, and easy. Enjoyed walking round this bustling town, following maps in our Lonely Planet Guide to the East Caribbean. Back home, Freeman Bay is busy--a bunch of new boats arriving, mostly charterers, and others leaving to go out to battle the big seas offshore. We have a great view, and we can watch just how big the seas are by looking for "elephants on the horizon". Interesting to watch charter boats struggle with anchoring--helps us realize we really are acquiring some cruising competence. Thing about charter boats, though, is they go out in all weathers bless 'em, and we get to guage conditions by watching in the binoculars how rough a time they are having. We've also done some boat chores--checked engine mounts, transmission, alignment, hose clamps, and raw water filters for engine and frig compressor. Rerigged the running backstays with new line. And, of course, more passage planning. Today, hiked up the trail to Shirley Heights--spectacular view of harbour and island--forgot the camera, dangit. Then back down and ate Roastbeef and Yorkshire pud at Life Restaurant. Found the Royal Tot Club of Antigua and Barbuda having their daily (rum) tot, and were invited to join them in their celebratory downing and salute to the queen. Enjoyed talking to members Vicki and Pete, on their annual holiday here, from Ely Cambridgeshire (where Nelson was born). Nelson's boatyard at English harbour is mostly restored and used for marine work, and has an excellent museum. It's very nicely done and definitely worth a visit. This stop is being among our favorites.
Forecast for early part of next week has wind and seas up a bit more than ideal for an enjoyable non-stop sail (300 nmiles) to Grenada. First tropical wave, early harbinger of the hurricane season, is heading west across the Atlantic. Tracking weather and learning more about patterns in the Caribbean by observation and study still comprises a large chunk of the daily routine. We'll probably wait here a bit longer until the sea state settles down a bit--Wednesday probably. Tips for passage: (1) Wind dies close to high islands from late afternoon until mid-morning; (2) Tidal current runs east (offsetting the ocean current in the inter-island passages) for about 6 hours beginning at moonrise and again at moonset; (3) In the average cruising boat you have to sail (tacking) 1.5 to 2 miles to get 1 mile to windward--but if you have a 1 knot foul current, it will be 2.5 or more miles; (4) Leeway angle for a 1 knot adverse current may be 10-15 degrees or more; (5) The east trades curl round the ends of the islands, making it northeast at north end, and southeast at south end; (6) Don't pass less than 10-20 nmiles downwind of an active volcano, ash will ruin your rigging.
We're missing social contact with our friends and family, although making plenty of acquaintances along the way--albeit without any depth at the moment. Thus, we're feeling a bit isolated and wishing for more e-mails from friends and family. We try hard to keep in touch with them that way, and also through the website, but often it feels like one-way communication. Whine, whine, whine.
Weather tracking feels like a full time job these days. Monday it appeared like Wednesday would be a good day to depart, although the first Tropical Wave of this hurricane season was moving so as to cross the Island Chain Wednesday night. As it approached, it began to interact with the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) south of 9 degrees north, but thankfully began to dissipate north of 16 deg. Seas and winds forecast to remain up on Wednesday, and to come down Thursday, and even more on Friday and Saturday. Decided to leave Wednesday, and did the usual departure chores--as well as some more exploring round English Harbour--a truly delightful spot. Cleared customs on Tuesday afternoon and loaded up with good hand food (meat pies, chicken legs, meat balls, apple pies, etc.) from the bakery. Upped anchor at 07:30 hours after listening to George's weather roundup on 7241.0 mHz, and headed to the Antigua Slipway fuel dock. Filled up with diesel and water (30 gallons of each) and headed out the harbour under power, with the main up with a reef (winds expected to be 15-20 knots). It got very lumpy pretty quickly--big 7'-9' swells from the east, and 18-24 knots east wind. Hauled out the yankee (jib), and sped along. A very fast, rolly and lumpy, wet close/beam reach. As always, Callipygia came through like a real trooper. Had to hand steer among the seas, very tiring and hard work. Decided to keep engine on (adding 1 - 1.5 knots) for this 40 nmile crossing of the Guadeloupe passage--thereby shaving 1-2 hours off the trip. Around 13:00 hrs, a second wave train, northerly, joined the easterly swell and things got even more bouncy. Came into the lee of Gudeloupe around 14:00 hrs, and decided to stop for the night at Deshaies. Dropped anchor in 25' at 15:30 hours. 43.6 nautical miles, average boat speed 6.0 knots, speed made good 5.8 knots. Not a drop of water in the bilge, despite all that was shipped aboard. Bless our lovely dry boat.
Upped anchor in Deshaies at 07:30 hours after a peaceful night in this pleasant anchorage--looked like an interesting little town to explore. Headed a few miles off shore to find wind. Got out the Monitor windvane instructions and rigged the vane to practice our self-steering skills with it, hoping for light winds and easy conditions. Not much wind at first, so kept on motoring with reefed main and staysail up. Approaching 09:00 southeast wind picked up, 20-22 knots and we started sailing so killed the engine, making about 5 1/2 knots on a close reach, seas about 2'. Used Sinbad the autopilot, since conditions not easy enough for practicing with the Monitor. By 10:00, the wind had dropped to 5-10 knots, we're doing about 2 knots, not making much progress. At 11:48 hours we fired up the iron genny and motored further offshore--even though a ketch 2 miles further out didn't seem to be doing much better. Around 12:45 hours could see lots of large whitecaps ahead, must be the end of Guadeloupe's lee, then the wind hit (southeast, 22 knots) with short choppy and breaking 2-4' seas. Turned the engine off at 13:05 hours as we started sailing again. By 14:00 hours, the seas had lengthened and were no longer breaking, and we were sailing at 7 knots in 20-25 knots of wind from the east. Turned on Sinbad the autopilot, and enjoyed ourselves, very pleasant conditions, bright blue sky. Seas gradually picked up as we came into the inter-island passage between Guadeloupe and Dominica, and speed slowed down accordingly, making reasonable progress at a bit under 5 knots. By 17:00 hours, wind picked up to 24-28 knots, seas 4'- 6', and speed up to 5 to 5.5 knots and making good southeast progress on a course of about 160 magnetic. Thought about heading inshore to make a night landfall near Portsmouth, Dominica, since we were a bit tired, but decided to head south for more comfort, and get some rest. By 22:00 hours, wind had dropped, seas down to 1'-2', occasional gusts, and we made slow and steady progress to the south, with lots of leeway. At 01:30 hours, it's clear we're slowly heading to Panama so dropped the staysail, fired up the motor and headed southeast for Roseau under Sinbad's control. At 03:00 hours, seas came up to 3'-4' for a few hours, a bit bumpy. At 06:00 we slowed down the engine and arrived in Roseau at 07:45 hours. "Boat boy" Pancho came out to meet us and led us to a mooring near the Anchorage Hotel. 92.2 nmiles, average boat speed 3.8 knots. Motor sailing 8.5 hours, sailing 15.5 hours. Made breakfast, blew up the dinghy, launched it, attached outboard motor, and drove to the customs dock to check in. Wandered around Roseau a little, ate lunch, and dinghied back to the Hotel where we paid for 3 nights on their mooring. Back to Callipygia for some rest. Our first long sail since Luperón. Made arrangements with Pancho to go sightseeing in the interior on Sunday, leaving Saturday to explore Roseau. Pancho is a real treat, if you go to Roseau, we highly recommend him. We have fallen in love with Dominica--the most beautiful island and people we have yet encountered. Look forward greatly to coming back in the spring for a longer visit.
Plans do change. Friday night, one of us woke up suddenly hearing a noise, jumped out of bed, and twisted it's ankle--a serious sprain. Noise only drumbeats from shore music. That one then spent Saturday and Sunday RICE'ing its ankle, while the other explored Roseau, did laundry, and waited on the invalid. Can't do overnight passages with only one mobile crewmember, so we'll do short day hops instead.
Dropped our mooring in Roseau at 06:45 hours and raised main (still reefed). Headed towards Scott's Head, and hauled out yankee at 07:20 when we found wind, from the east-southeast, at 07:20 hours. Turned off the engine at 08:15 hours, after batteries and refrigerated fully charged, and sailed on a lovely close reach in 20-22 knots of wind. We point better into the wind with the yankee than the staysail. Sinbad the autopilot doing nicely on a course of about 170, not making as much easting as we need, deal with that later. Lovely. Schools of flying fish whizzing past us from time to time, and several open fishing boats in the interisland passage between Dominica and Martinique. As we got more into the passage, conditions became more boisterous with the winds at 22-26 knots, and bumpy 3'-5' seas, and we're making 6+knots. Grand, though not very relaxing. At 11:30 we came into the lee of Martinique, and the wind dropped and seas became sloppy and confused. Progress down to less than 4 knots. Fired up the iron genny and furled the jib, altered course to 150 where we can barely keep the sail filled, and headed southeast for Fort De France, making about 4.5 knots. A pair of dolphins came by to check us out. Dropped anchor in 12' in Anse L'Ane. 51.4 nmiles, average speed 5.4 knots. Motor sailed 6 hours, sailed 3.5 hours. Very pleasant spot, not too busy, with holiday makers playing on the beach. Lovely little bay with a great view of the large city of Fort De France.
Hauled in anchor at 07:15 hours, and raised main. Exited the Fort De France bay at 08:30 and set course of 165 magnetic, hauled out the yankee, and turned off the engine. As we get into the interisland passage winds and seas pick up. Seas 3'-5', winds 22-26 knots. Bouncy and wet, as we pinch a bit to maintain course, progressing at about 4.5 knots. Shipping a lot of water, as seas come up to 5'-8'. Tiring. At 11:45 hours we turned the engine back on and furled the jib, as we could no longermaintain our speed or heading. Slow and lumpy, but making steady progress towards Rodney Bay. We can see some squalls ahead. At 12:56, rain arrived, and then we had a 10-minute squall, wind up to 38 knots. Let out the mainsheet, and Callipygia kept right on without missing a beat. What a great boat she is. At 14:00 hours, dropped the main in a hurry just before coming into Rodney Bay as we can see another squall coming and we have no sea room. Just caught the edge of the squall. Called the marina on VHF 16 to secure a slip. Found the entrance to the lagoon, and tied up next to beautiful classic yacht Diva (Richard and Cathy), last seen in Boqueron. Will and Charlene, from Top Cat stopped by in their dinghy, they're anchored outside in the Bay. 33.8 nmiles, average boat speed 4.7 knots. Motor sailed 4.5 hours, sailed 3 hours. We're getting the hang of sailing Callipygia, but still dependent on the engine for making our easting. But.... from here, we need no more easting to Grenada. We'll take a rest day tomorrow, for the ankle to get a break, and to explore. It looks like there are great boat services available at the Le Marin Marina, maybe we'll take advantage of them on the way back north next spring. Thursday, we'll leave again, for the Pitons.
Thursday, June 5, 2003
Lat: 13 deg, 50.7 mins North; 061 deg, 03.8 deg West.
On a mooring off the Pitons, St. Lucia
Wednesday it poured on and off all morning, finally died off by late afternoon. Hobbled ashore, showered, and went to the internet cafe, but couldn't update the website--did check the weather charts, however. Aduce that the rain we're experiencing is associated with a Tropical Wave south of here. Another, reaching further north, is at 035 degrees West, moving at 5 degrees per day. It will cross the island chain probably Sunday--as of now, however, it doesn't look like it will pack much punch. According to David Jones' analysis, hurricanes originate when trough-like Tropical Waves originating in the Sahel of Africa accumulate moisture as they move west, and then interact with the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone). Sea surfaces need to be above 79 degrees, and there must be favorable mid and upper level wind and atmospheric conditions. 2003 is forecast to have a higher number of hurricanes than in the recent few years. According to the Pilot Charts, typical early season hurricanes (June) originate in the western Caribbean, those in July/August start out, sometimes with little warning, just east of the island chain, and peak season events originate in the southern North Atlantic, thousands of miles to the east. Tail-end season (Oct/Nov) storms tend to originate back in the eastern, then the western Caribbean. Now that the season has officially opened, we don't intend to ever be more than a day's sail away from a safe harbour. We cleared out of customs, gaining a permit to visit the Pitons Marine Park tomorrow.
After a squally night, daybreak brought nice clear skies. We checked out of Rodney Bay Marina to the fuel dock, filled the tank with diesel, and headed out of the lagoon at 09:25 hours. [Note that because we had cleared customs, we didn't have to pay fees on the fuel, saving us about $1 (EC) per imperial gallon.] Out through Rodney Bay, we rounded Barrel of Beef rock and set a course of 210 magnetic to run south about a mile off St. Lucia under main and yankee. A lovely beam, sometimes broad, reach with winds of 12-20 knots, 2' seas and for the most part easily maintaining about 6 knots for most of the ride, sometimes going over 7 knots. Our first really pleasant and comfortable sail with fair winds and (almost) following seas!!! It's been a long time coming. We discussed the staysail--it would have been a better sail for today, but the yankee is easier with its roller furling (so long as that works). We deliberately wanted a hank-on staysail for its bullet-proof nature, and because it can be switched for a storm jib. On the other hand, it's not as convenient as roller furling--but it is bullet proof, even though requiring some deck work. We'll use it tomorrow for our longer sail south to St. Vincent. The boat will balance better on a beam/broad reach with staysail and reefed main--and we're assuming we'll again be seeing winds over 18 knots in the inter-island passage, the point at which the main needs to be reefed.
As we approached Grand Caille Point to turn into the bay for Soufriere we encountered an area of strong currents (2 knots) and accompanying rapids. Assume its because the water is so deep so close to shore. We turned on the engine, rolled up the yankee and headed inshore towards Soufriere, making 3.5 - 4 knots against the current. "Boat boy" Marcellus came to greet us in his newly painted (yellow, green and red) dory and identified a mooring for us off Malgretout Beach which we picked up at 12:30 hours after dropping the mainsail on the way in. 18.2 nmiles, average boat speed 5.7 knots. We strung together 4 docklines to produce a 150' line which Marcellus took ashore and tied to a tree, to keep the boat inshore of the mooring, in about 20'. The line of 10 moorings along the stony beach are each anchored in about 80', on a steeply dropping bottom. The shore lines keep the boats from dragging the mooring bases seaward off the cliff-like bottom. 2 other boats here, in this somewhat rolly but beautifully secluded anchorage just north of the majestic Pitons--great volcanic peaks rising steeply from the sea. Gozillions of brightly colored fish of great variety swimming beside and under Callipygia resting above the corals. Wished for a healthy ankle so as to be able to climb off the boat and snorkel. A park ranger came by around 18:00 hours to collect the mooring fee.
After a very rolly night, boat boy Garmin released our shore line for us at 07:00 hours and we hauled it in and dropped our mooring, raising reefed main and staysail as we exited Soufriere Bay, St. Lucia. Current was with us as we rounded the southern Piton, short steep breaking waves (2') for half an hour, but making 6-7 knots motoring with little wind. Clearing this area, we set a course of 190 magnetic, a nice beam reach. A squall to the east passed ahead of us and we turned off the engine making a good 5.5 knots in 4'-6' seas as we entered the passage between St. Lucia and St. Vincent. Winds picked up to 15-18 knots, and we hauled out the yankee making good speed, often over 6 knots, with the occasional 7 knot spurt. Some other sailboats in the distance, mostly going in the opposite direction. Sun came out, Sinbad managing nicely, and things were very pleasant. Around noon the seas came down as we came into the lee of St. Vincent, and the winds holding around 15 knots on our beam. At 14:00 we turned into Walilabou Bay and met boat boy Julian, rowing out to meet us. Walilabou Bay was the location for production this spring of Pirates of the Caribbean, a Disney movie due for release in July. We discovered that for the movie, most of the moorings had been removed, and this is an awkward place to anchor, the bottom dropping off very quickly. Thankfully, of the 4 remaining moorings, one was empty, on the north end of the black sand beach, close to a huge catamaran, Tangara II. We drew a bevy of young men in dinghies, foam platforms, anything that would float clamoring for our business--a real zoo. Julian took a line ashore, tied it to a palm tree and we turned to fending off all these island entrepenuers. We bought some fruit and vegetables, and received much advice and local information. Highly entertaining--though we know many cruisers avoid places notorious for agressive boatboys. 38.8 nmiles, average boat speed 5.7 knots. Julian promised to come and get us when the customs personnel arrived, which he did, around 17:00 hours. Cleared in, and settled down for an evening watching scads of little boys diving off a rope, and playing on the beach. A different place, not touristified much at all--very pleasant.
Retrieved our shore line (thanks Julian) at 09:00 hours, and dropped the mooring in Walilabou Bay. Raised reefed main and staysail and set a course of 178 magnetic to clear St Vincent, and cross the Bequia Channel. Fickle winds, so we kept the iron genny going and hauled out the yankee for a pleasant, hand steered, motor sail. Seas up to 4', mostly slow swell, and winds up and down from 8 to 18 knots from the southeast, giving us a sporadic close reach. Ferry heading from St. Vincent to Grenada crossed close behind us at 11:30 hours (we altered course to port 30 degrees for 10 minutes to give ourselves a bit more room). Hailed African Pride on the VHF to secure a mooring, which we picked up at 12:15. 16.4 nmiles, average boat speed 5.2 knots. We'll stay here 2 nights, to give that poor ankle a rest--it hurts, do some exploring (separately) of this yachting mecca, and let the current tropical wave pass by
Dropped the mooring in Bequia at 07:39 hours and moved into the bay to raise the main (one reef). Headed out to the southwest corner of the island and set a course of 205 magnetic for the east end of Union Island. A broad reach all the way, 16-22 knots of apparent winds from the east, seas up to 6'-8' from the east, made for a fast, rolly, and hard ride. Reefed main and yankee was all that Callipygia needed to get a bone in her teeth, making 7 knots or more most of the time, often surfing down the sides of the waves. Hand steering needed, Sinbad couldn't handle it. Several other sailboats out there also. Wind picked up to 25 knots as we rounded Union Island at 12:20 hours and headed for Hillsborough. Rolled up the yankee as we passed Jack O' Dan island in the middle of Hillsborough bay, then the main and dropped the anchor in 13' at 13:35 hours. 37.5 nmiles, average speed over the ground, 6.4 knots. Thank goodness we got the wind instruments fixed in Antigua, it is a great conveniens to have a readout of speed and direction at the helm. One other sailboat, lots of local boats, and one old freighter in the big and somewhat rolly anchorage. Five sailboats anchored out in the lee of Sandy Island, a little reef strip--maybe they know something we don't (indeed they did, it's gorgeous--as we found out later with Nicky.) The one sailboat in our anchorage left soon after we got here leaving us all alone among the local fishing boats, but two more finally came in near dusk. Local people on the beach having a game of voleyball, and otherwise enjoying themselves. Hillsborough looks like a small town, pretty much confined to the beachfront, with a dock for the occassional ferry. A pleasant stopping point.
Weighed anchor in Carriacou at 07:40 hours and headed out into the bay to raise the main. Decided to put a second reef in it, because the forecast is for same windy conditions as yesterday. Tropical Wave identified yesterday at 028 West, has been upgraded to a Tropical Disturbance. Another at 055 West, south of 15 North, has no significant convection associated with it except where it interacts with the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) down below 10 North. Both moving west at 10-15 knots (5 degrees Longitude per day, roughly). Thankful to be as far south as we are, worth all the hurry up. Once we rounded the corner of Carriacou, found another broad reach on a course of 215 magnetic to pass west of the edge of the 1.5 mile exclusion zone around an underwater volcano (bubbling and venting, now with 3 cones) 10 miles off the northwest corner of Grenada. Winds down from yesterday, mostly 12-18 knots, so after batteries and frig charged decided to motor sail--making 7 knots, could only do 5 or so under sail. Seas up to 5'-7' for a while in the interisland passage, again very rolly and having to hand steer.
Passing down the west side of Grenada, the wind dropped then picked up again as we crossed St. George's Bay and headed for Saline Point, the southwest corner of Grenada. Dropped the headsail just before the point (winds now 20-22 knots). Once we rounded the point found we couldn't lay the entrance to Prickly Bay with the main up, were struggling to get to 2-3 knots into wind and seas, so dropped the main and slowly motored the 3-miles to the Bay entrance. A lot of boats anchored there, most of it 30'-40' deep. Found Chinook easily. 41.2 nmiles, average cruising speed 6.4 knots.
Dropped the anchor at 14:30 hours so as to be near Chinook, but had our first dose of anchor woes. Strong wind kept blowing us too close to them, but couldn't pull the chain up again to start over because in this deep bay we had so much chain out that it needed someone below to poke the pile over in the anchor locker (otherwise it sticks in the hause pipe) and that someone needed to stay manning the helm to keep clear of Chinook (who weren't home). Ended up letting out all of the chain (150') and another 100' of rope rode so as to be well behind and clear of Chinook. A lot of scope (6:1) for such a tight anchorage, but we need a third hand to be able to re-anchor in this strong wind. Finally settled at 15:30 and put a dockline with rolling hitch to the anchor rode to lead it to a forward deck cleat and take the strain off the bow roller. Phew! We'll reanchor later or tomorrow with help from Brian of Chinook. Wished we had 200' of chain. One boat in the area took off and moved--aw shucks, we were nowhere near them even with such a long rode. Wind doesn't vary much in this anchorage, we're good for a while. Lesson Learned: Pick your anchor spot carefully, don't rush it even when you're tired and anxious to be done. This was one of the few times we violated that one.
Brian and Debbie dinghied back home from the dock and saw us and came right over, as happy to see us as we them. They went and got some munchies and we drank wine and reconnected--what a welcoming treat. Blew up and launched the dinghy, then we crashed. 1,150 nautical miles since Luperón, 29 days on the move, 9 sailing days with the remainder motor sailing. 9 days waiting for weather, 4 rest days, 3 weeks in Fajardo on boat projects, 3 weeks in St. Thomas for the outboard motor. Avg boat speed 5.1 knots. This trip has been very tiring--definitely a Thorny Path--and we followed the supposed thornless directions. Whoever said the Caribbean was great sailing lied -- we have only had one day with fair winds and following seas. The rest has been nothing but hard work. But here we are--and we've had some good sailing.
Thursday, June 12,2003
Lat 12 deg, 00.2 mins North, 061 deg, 45.1 mins West,
on a mooring in Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada
Yesterday, we got up at our usual 05:00 hours. First one shits, second one shits--oh shit, the head (toilet) has come apart. Fix it while it's still full of shit, everything copascetic, no more shits. Listen to the radio. The current Tropical Wave was forecast to pass through during the day dropping occasional windy squalls on us. Tropical Disturbance #2 was centered at 10.3 degrees North, 045.5 degrees West moving north west at 17 knots. Forecast to be upgraded to Tropical Storm "Bill" and pass over Guadeloupe on Saturday--if it survives, since upper level conditions are likely to shear its top off before that. But, we began tracking it on our hurricane tracking chart. There's a patina of dampness on everything, and we're tired of constantly feeling sticky and sweaty. But... that's the tropics.
After breakfast we attached the outboard motor to the dinghy (thank goodness for that davit we had installed last year), and one of us went ashore to clear customs. The other rested its ankle and listened to the chatter on VHF Channel 16 as the Coast Guard marshalled some resources to assist in searching for 3 men in an open 16' fishing boat that went missing off Pt. Saline yesterday evening. Watched the (very small) Coast Guard launch heading out of Prickly Bay to do a search out to 60 miles. Bless them one and all. Went ashore and drank a beer with Chinook and Mystic Jade, Dave and Leean--we all arrived together outside Luperón a year ago (June 3, 2002) and stayed there for hurricane season. Came home and played cribbage, while opening and closing hatches as rain came on and off. Did a bit of rain catching too after decks all washed clean of salt.
Today's forecast downgraded Tropical Disturbance #2 back to a serious Tropical Wave at 048 degrees west, moving west at 15 knots. No more Waves behind it in the Atlantic for the nonce. This Wave is expected to enter the Island Chain Friday night or Saturday with strong winds and big seas, gusting to gale force in thunderous squalls. Prickly Bay is exposed to the south, and the swells coming into the bay, rounding Prickly Point, are up during the night making it quite rolly. Decided to head over to Mt. Hartman Bay, the next bay east, which has more protection from the swells.
With Brian's help, crouched in the V-berth poking the rode in the anchor locker as it piled up, Bill windlassed it all in, while Pat motored the help to stay clear of Chinook. Left the anchorage at 09:45 hours and motored south towing the dinghy (stripped) out of Prickly Bay. We were confronted at the mouth with short steep, almost breaking, 4'-5' seas rolling into the bay. Very rough and slow. Wouldn't be surprised if the exit will not be passable by tomorrow or Saturday. Turned the corner to head east towards Tara Rock, then northeast to thread between two reefs, then north between more reefs at the entrance to Mt. Hartman Bay. Very trickly. Picked up a mooring at 10:55 hours. This bay is much calmer than Prickly, the reefs do a great job of stopping the swells before they can get in. 3.0 nautical miles, average boat speed 2.8 knots.
Like this bay much better than Prickly, although it is more isolated. A mile walk from most things, but looks like a good place to call home base for the next six weeks. One of us went ashore to see what was there, the other rested its ankle and played rain-tag with the hatches and portholes as the showers continued--separated by in-between periods of lovely high clouds and blue skies.
Sunday, June 15,2003
On a mooring in Mt. Hartman Bay, south coast of Grenada
Tropical Wave came through Friday night with quite a bit of rain, though not nearly as much as advertised. Caught some of it. Saturday, the sun came out and during the night the winds became very gusty and the Bay a bit rolly. Not much fun out in the ocean. This morning's Tropical Weather Discussion, which we get by e-mail from Winlink along with the Offshore Forecast, indicates that this Tropical Wave may regenerate into a Tropical Storm near the Yucatan. Friday, the one with the good ankle took the bus to St. George's while the other cleaned the galley. Amazing how dirty a boat gets. Saturday, cleaned the main cabin and Chinook came for happy hour (dinner). The 'frig seems not to be keeping very cold. This morning, ran the engine to charge batteries and 'frig, and found that while the 'frig condenser is running OK, no cooling is being produced. Bought a bag of ice to try to salvage 'frig contents, and went to work on it. Read the manual, and notes from training session with Sparky in Luperón, but looks like we need some professional help.
This afternoon, we dinghied over to Hog Island for the Sunday barbecue on the beach. Met a bunch of people, including those on "kid boats" Willy Flippet, Revelation, Nosille, and Wanda Jeanne. Learned about the Kids Net, 8155.0 USB at noon. Also met Linda and Rob, on Maverick, who are from Scotland and will be working here for a while to replenish their boat kitty.
Sunday, June 22,2003
On a mooring in Mt. Hartman Bay, south coast of Grenada
Monday, dinghied ashore and walked over to Prickly Bay. The ankle (and its attached body) needed to start exercising. Found ENZA Marine, and arranged for 'frig mechanic to come and consult on Tuesday. Collected more rain in the water tanks, while hunkered down below, mostly reading and playing cribbage. Didn't realize that the rainy season would be quite so rainy. Tuesday morning, checked e-mail as usual at 05:15 hours--many days our e-mail inbox is empty (aside from the weather forecast). But this time, 6 messages! Wow! Long one from Iguazu, now in Trinidad. Immediately our spirits rose. Realize how much we miss social contact with our nearest and dearest. That's probably the hardest part of this cruising life--superficial and brief acquaintanceships with numerous others just doesn't cut it. Good job we like each other. But, looks like friend Ralph will join us in November/December, then 3 other likely (sets of) visitor(s) early in 2004 as we come back up the Windwards. And, of course, 14-yr old grandson Nick arrives Saturday for a month. Yippeeeeee!
Wednesday, well.. It just rained its little heart out. Bailed out the dinghy. Opened the water tanks. Took laundry in to be done--were met at the dinghy dock by laundry lady Clare. It won't be ready 'til Friday since Thursday is a holiday. Can't do your own laundry here, there are no facilities. Walked to Prickly Bay (ankle is doing good), got wet. Ate lunch, did a few errands, got wet. Walked back to Mt Hartman Bay, got wet. Very thankful for our Froggies (light weight rain jackets--don't go on a boat without one). Baled the dinghy again and drove home. In our absence, the water tanks filled themselves. Played cribbage. Spoke to someone who was here this time last year and said the weather was great. Hoping for some sun while Nick is here. Thursday, skies lightened and saw some sun. A no-rain day. Wow!
Stowed the stuff that had accumulated in the quarterberth, and made it up for Nick. Made space for him to keep his "stuff". Reorganized and restowed everything in the shower (our garage). Took a pile of books to the book exchange and threw a few other items out. Every little bit of space we have is used. A place for everything, and everything in its place (mostly). Cleaned the head (bathroom). Took the ankle for a long walk. Beautiful classic yawl Diva (Richard and Cathy) arrived and picked up mooring next to us. Watching other boats arrive it is clear the holding in this Bay is not very good, there's a lot of re-anchoring activity, and some dragging in gusts. Decided to suck it up and hang onto our mooring.
Friday, another nice day, patches of blue sky in the morning, clouds cleared nicely. Morning coffee in the cockpit, sure can't beat the ambience. Weak tropical wave to pass over the Island Chain tonite. Collected laundry, then took the bus (Darius) to Grande Anse to check out Spiceland Mall and do some provisioning. Walked to Grande Anse beach--gorgeous. Saturday--another nice day, getting to be a habit. Tropical Wave came through last night, barely noticeable. Winds are up and a bit gusty. Summer soltice today, 15:15 hours, first day of summer.
Darius (bus/taxi) took us to the airport to collect 14-yr old Nick, and came back to pick us up. Plane was about an hour late. U.S. Airways took excellent care of him, travelling as an unacompanied minor. The Grenada airport is about the most user-friendly we've found, was a great place to wait. Brought Nick back to the boat and began orientation and settling in. Another nice day. Sunday, a major squall erupted around noon, we were able to catch more rain. Watched the display from the cockpit, very gusty with wind from the south, unusual here. Dinghied over to Hog Island and then through the narrows to Clarks Court Bay to check it out. Back to Hog Island for the Sunday afternoon barbecue, and social time with other cruisers. Nick met a bunch of other boat kids. The 'frig is again on the blink, so much for paying someone to not fix things. Back to ice.
Sunday, June 29,2003
On a mooring in Mt. Hartman Bay, south coast of Grenada
Opted to stay here this week in proximity to the other "kid boats" because Nick is so much enjoying socializing with all the "boat kids" here. This is a different experience for us, never occurred to us when we were planning for his visit that he would engage (and want to engage) with other kids. How stupid could we be? Monday, we caught Darius' bus and went to St. George's to explore a little. Went to the Grenada Yacht Club on the Lagoon and got Boater's Directory of Services, where found Basil St. John, refrigeration mechanic par excellence. From the Lagoon we took a bus to Grande Anse, did some provisioning etc. Back on board, Tucker from Wanda Jean came by and picked up Nick to go ashore and play dominos, etc. Nick has developed a full-blown cold, hatched en route from Maine. Tuesday, one detachment went ashore and walked to Prickly, with Nick using the GPS to learn how to create and follow a route, and spent all its money in the Boatyard Internet Lounge on phone calls and an hour on the 'net. Frustrating dealing with 800 numbers that put you on permanent hold (at $2 EC per minute). Unable to make much of a dent in the business items that arrived in our mail with Nick.
The other detachment brought Basil St. John (Lagoon Marine Refrigeration, 473-407-0273) to Callipygia where he systematically went over the refrigeration unit and determined one of the cold plates has gone bad (it bulges). He topped up the gas coolant, with the expectation that some cooling will be produced for a few more days while he searched for a replacement plates. A call back in the afternoon determined that he had found a replacement plate--however, later found it had been bespoken for another boat. Nick again went ashore with Tucker to play with a bunch of kids in the pool at Secret Harbour hotel, adjacent to the marina.
A major squall descended about 6 o'clock, and produced some drama with dragging boats, including one charter boat that came down on us. With assistance of two adjacent boats it was able to attach itself to a mooring. Caught more rain. We have chosen to stay on a mooring because of poor holding in this bay, and so far the mooring has been good--we've had 25-30 knot gusts. We'd prefer to rely on our own ground tackle for bad weather (assuming well dug in), but the spot we're in is very convenient (a short ride to the dinghy dock), the bottom anchor holding is suspect, and we're away from the flies on the mangrove (west) side of the bay. We've had fun in the evenings watching DVD movies (on the laptop) rented from the store in Grande Anse.
Wednesday started cloudy but cleared after a morning shower. Walked over to Prickly Bay to attend to the business items remaining from yesterday, and to locate and order a new cold plate for the 'frig from Ocean Options in Annapolis (Grunert refusing to deal directly with an owner). Big bucks, may have to be made, and likely to take 8-10 days. Dinghy accident happened, as lone operator (we won't say who) was approaching dock when he inadvertently hit accelerator--dinghy drove up onto the dock and somersaulted (backwards pitchpole?) dumping operator, motor, fuel can into the drink under the upside down dinghy. Rescue made by some quick acting observers on the dock. Found a marina worker specializing in outboard motors, flushed the motor, changed the oil, cleaned the carburetor, and filtered the fuel--for a very moderate price. Seems we are destined to dunk our motors when new. All well, however, since motor seems to be running fine--though operator a bit traumatized. Lesson Learned: yank the red coil in an emergency.
Nick continuing to improve his acquanianceships with other boat kids, was picked up by Pegasus, which has 3 teenage girls, and went to the pool for the afternoon. Top Cat found its way here today. Thursday, one contingent took Nick and Tucker from Wanda Jeanne to the beach at Grande Anse to swim and snorkel, then play on a Hobie Cat for a while. The other changed the engine oil and improved the on/off switch for the cockpit shower. A lovely sunny day. Kids played in the pool in the afternoon, and after dark had movie evening at the marina. A new Tropical Wave lurking currently at 039 West, south of 17 North has developed some nasty looking convection activity and the upper level winds are favorable for Tropical Storm development. Wait to see what happens. This Wave should arrive at the Island Chain in about 4 days. In the mean time, we should enjoy some nice weather.
Friday evening went over to Prickly Bay to listen to the (truly terrific) New Dimensions Steel Orchestra. If you get a chance to hear a good steel band, don't miss it. Saturday morning, a Securitae on the VHF -- 100' long T-shaped jetty (floating dock) en route to Clarks Court Bay had been anchored overnight near Prickly Bay, but it has gone AWOL--that would ruin your day if your boat hit it. (Hurricane Ivan later totally destroyed that poor marina.) Went to the market in St. George to stock up on fresh local produce, and enjoyed a potluck supper on shore with a bunch of other yachties (or in Brit-ese, yotties). Tropical Wave coming tomorrow, has lost its punch (supposedly) although another one further east at about 027 West is looking suspicious. This time of year, it's a constant weather watch. Area in Gulf of Mexico looks primed to turn into a Tropical Storm. Today, a low key day, very gusty in the harbor. More dinghy practice for Nick, including driving over to the weekly barbecue on the beach of Hog Island. Traded movies with catamaran Faith (John, Marilyn and kids Alexander, Aileen and Austin) leaving this week for Venezuela.
Sunday, July 6,2003
Lat 12 deg 00 mins North; Long 061 deg 45.8 mins West,
anchored in Prickly Bay on the south coast of Grenada
Time for Nick's first trip since most of the other boat kids have left or are leaving. Monday morning, ran through emergency procedures with him (life jackets, tethers, May Day on VHF, MOB, etc.) Dropped mooring line at 11:25 hours and eased out through the reefs--clearly visible and nicely demonstrating how they absorb the energy from the swells to protect the harbor. Motored around the Lance D'Epines peninsula, rolling around in the following seas, and into Prickly Bay where we dropped anchor at noon with 150' of chain in 32', on the east side of the Bay within easy reach of the dinghy dock and one boat away from Chinook. 3 miles, average boat speed 5.2 knots. Debbie came over for Happy Hour, great to reconnect--we were unable to stay in VHF contact while in Mt. Hartman Bay--we must have been in a "dead spot", we could hear her, but she couldn't hear us.
Happy to be on the move for Nick's short introductory trip, and finding Prickly Bay a little rolly, but tolerable. Lots of VHF chatter regarding a disabled frieghter 29 miles south of Grenada. Saw it being hauled back in the late afternoon with the rescue vessel on its quarter. No weather forecasts today from Eric Matthews (3855.0 LSB at 06:30 and 18:30 hours). Eric is Trinidad's meteorologist, also a Ham. His equipment was down, lots of lonely Ham's on the air bemoaning his absence. He's excellent, as are George Cline (7241.0 LSB, 07:15 and 16:30 hours) and
Wednesday, dug the Storm Trysail out of the sail locker (under our bed) and took it aloft to practice raising it. Discovered that the separate track for the trysail on the mast needed adjustment, and adjusted it to accomodate the trysail's slides. Lubricated the slides and raised the trysail--discovering in the process that the port Ezee Jack halyard gets in the way. [Ezee Jacks are retractable Lazy Jacks that catch the mainsail as it drops.] Disconnected the Ezee Jack halyard from the ring, and attached it to a carabinier clip so it can be disconnected as/when needed to pull out of the way of the trysail track. Started trying to make some Baggy Wrinkle, guessing how it's put together. [Baggy Wrinkle is chafe protection--made of string--that's put on shrouds where the mainsail rubs on a run, ie going downwind.]
Learned from the VHF that part of the AWOL jetty (T-shaped floating dock/pontoon, 100' each way, broke loose en route to Clark's Court Marina) had been sighted at 08:00 hours 9.75 miles SW of Point Saline, at 11 deg 57.74 mins North, 061 deg 53.56 mins West. Planes from the airport are being asked to look for it and report on its movement. Will report this info to the Caribbean Safety and Security Net (8104.0 USB at 08:15 hours) tomorrow morning. Fed Ex delivered the import papers for the new 'frig cold plate, went to customs to clear the package in, then taxi to the Fed Ex office in St. George's to collect the plate. Ladies Night on shore at the Boatyard Restaurant, with the excluded males congregating at the bar.
Thursday, upped anchor at 10:00 hours and moseyed over to the small dock at Spice Island Marina, where we tied up alongside so that Basil St. John had access to 240 volt shore power for the installation of the new cold plate in the 'frig. While all that was going on, did a little fishing (no catch) with Nick, then dinghied over to the beach with Nosille (Valerie, Roger, Emelia, and Pippa) where he got a chance to try out his hand at windsurfing. His skate-boarding skills stood him in good stance. Stayed overnight at the dock, listening to Basil's motor noisily pumping out the contents of the new cold plate to dry it in readiness for gassing it up in the morning.
Friday was a busy day. Basil St. John arrived soon after 07:00 hours to finish installing the cold plate for the 'frig. Everything done and 'frig cold by 10:00 hours. We highly recommend Lagoon Marine Refrigeration (Basil: 440-3381, 407-0273), very efficient, extremely technically competent, and most reasonable rates. Filled up with water and fuel. Cleaned out 'frig and engine raw water strainers, checked transmission oil. Retrieved cold food from marina restaurant's refrigerator, where it had been stored overnight. Morning weather reports indicated the ITCZ very active, possible thunderstorms for our area--but turned out to be another lovely day--we're getting spoiled. We keep a keen eye on the train of Tropical Waves leaving Africa, one every 3-4 days, and watch their development closely as they march across the Atlantic.
Left the dock at 12:20 hours and moved out into Prickly Bay, a bit northwest of our previous spot so as to find less depth and fewer boats. Anchored in 23' with 125' chain out. Dinghied over to the dock around 14:45 and met up with a bunch of other cruisers to catch bus/van to Clark's Court Marina near Woburn for 4th of July barbecue. Good social time, with the boat kids assisting in setting off out-of-date flares once it got dark. The small marina is completely full of boats, left by their owners for the hurricane season--mostly big expensive items. The loss of the intended expansion pontoons has left a bunch of boats with nowhere to go--ouch for that new Marina.
Back to Prickly Bay where Nick stayted to listen to the steel band and dance for a while, getting a ride home with Nosille, and a sound sleep for all on our rolly bed(s). Saturday, strong Tropical Wave expected tonight, though hopefully most weather to the north of us. The gents bussed to St. George's to the market, then Grand Anse to rent more movies, while the lady cleaned house. Movie time in the evening. Nick wants to stay here in Prickly this week, he's more interested in socializing with other kids than sailing! What a surprise! This morning one of us took Nick to church, per his request, while the other spent much of the time listening to radio (you guessed it, weather information). At 06:30 hours, Eric reported that a cyclonic system was centered at 11 degrees north in a Tropical Wave along 049 degrees west, with the potential for further development, expected to pass through the Island Chain tomorrow night or Tuesday. Further updates were issued throughout the day, and we talked through preparations needed if it were to strengthen as expected. Eric noted that there has been much more hurricane season activity than is normal at this time of year, and also much of it is out in the Atlantic as compared to in the Western Caribbean--the norm for June. In the afternoon we taxi'd over to Lower Woburn and watched the Woburn Sailing Club's annual Fishermen's Birthday races--local kids in Lasers, and adults in Grenada workboats. Great fun, with shows by locals, in between races, demonstrating how macho you can be on a PWC. Back home, let another 30' of chain out on the anchor rode just in case.
Sunday, July 13,2003
Anchored in Prickly Bay on the south coast of Grenada
Monday was strange. The fly passengers that joined us in Mt. Hartman Bay seem to be taking over the ship. Nick had liquidated 21 of them by noon, with the rest of us adding a goodly share to that total. There seems to be no reduction in their number--perhaps we have become a fly breeding colony. Put all the screens in and hung up a fly paper--a miserable failure, put sticky everywhere on us (hair, shirts, skin)s while the flies showed no interest in it. The tropical disturbance to the east teetered all day on the edge of designation as a Tropical Depression, with the experts guessing it would cross the Island Chain about 60 miles to our north. Thus, a watching and waiting game, waiting for the other shoe to drop. We let out more of our anchor snubber, and bouyed the chain so as to minimize the surging/pressure on the anchor in the event of the anticipated gusts and potential for seas coming in from the south, where this bay has no protection. Glad we picked this anchor spot, we have plenty of room all round. But.... another boat came in and set down beside us, and 3 others moved to this part of the bay, so we have less room than we'd like. Readied the second bow anchor for deployment, got out fenders and a couple of docklines. Took down the bimini. And waited. And waited. Watched a movie, showered, played cribbage, played chess, read, and had some good conversation while watching the cloud cover unfold--stormy cumulous, threatening cumulonimbus, gorgeous high cirro stratus, layers of alto stratus.
Tracked the barometer, which remained fairly steady until noon, then began a slow drop, bottoming out at 1009.0 at 16:00 hours. Amazing how weather data dominated our day, and the radio. Eric at 06:30, George at 07:15, the local cruiser's net on VHF at 07:30, Eric again at 08:00, then downloaded the late morning Tropical Weather Discussion, VHF weather update at 14:00, George again at 16:30, and finally Eric again at 18:30. Not just us, but it seemed like all the other cruisers in the area were "on hold" until this weather system clarified itself or passed. A limbo-like day. Our VHF has had a transmission weakness for a few weeks now. We can hear well, but cannot be heard over the ridge between us and boats in other bays. Must be either the microphone, the antenna, or the battery cable.
Tuesday we went sightseeing in St. George's. Investigated Fort George, now used by the Grenadan police/army as their headquarters. Terrific views of this scenic city, (later flattened by Hurricane Ivan) and its surrounds, from the walls around the fort--neglected to bring the camera however. Big oooops. Neat to find people working at their jobs in this ancient setting. Found a man repairing the shoes/boots for the police force, and a bunch of others sewing uniforms. Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was held in the fort and then shot there in 1983, prior to the US invasion of this dreamy island. Then visited the Grenada Museum, a work in process but very interesting. Went to an art studio, and then to Art Fabrik where batik clothes and decorations were being made. Left our Lonely Planet Guide to the East Caribbean in the roti shop where we bought lunch. Rats, it was very handy.
Some rain catching showers later when we got home, then took Nick out for his final dinghy captain training--learning to row it in the even the motor quits. So now he's ready to solo. Wednesday morning learned that Monday's tropical wave/disturbance has advanced to 15.7N, 75.5W, and is now Tropical Storm Claudette, may become hurricane Claudette later today, headed for Jamaica and/or the Yucatan. Lucky (for us) she was a late bloomer. Wednesday, up early to go an island tour with Diva, Andrew and Melanie from Gamgee, and Kia Orana all squeezed into a minivan.
We spent the day on a long and tortuous circumnavigation of this lush and mountainous 22 by 12 mile country, with a remarkable road system that seems to go everywhere, up and down, up and down, frequent sharp corners and blind hilltops. Narrow concrete roads for the most part, with big drainage ditches on the sides, apparently funded in part by the Republic of China (Taiwan), Cuba, the US, and whoever. Houses, from one-roomers on stilts to large gated mansions on every conceivable, and many unbelievable, steep spots of land outside the central Grand Etang National Park. We visited: the Laura Spice Garden (learned to identify a large range of herbs and spice trees); La Sargesse Bay (gorgeous, empty); the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association's processing plant at Grenville (learned more than we could ever imagine about nutmeg and mace, fascinating subject); lunch in Grenville; unused airstrip with abandoned Cuban and Russian airplanes; the Grenada Chocolate Facotry (from beans to bars in a little house); the Rivers Rum Factory (from canefield to bottle, in continous operation since 1785 with much of the same equipment-we sampled some and it knocked our socks off); Bathway Beach (gorgeous northeast coast beach with lovely tidal pool protected by close inshore reef); the Carib Leap at Sauteurs on the north coast, where the Carib Indians lept to their deaths rather than submit to the European invaders; Goyave fishing village, straggling along a bay filled with fishing boats; and Concorde waterfalls. Failed woefully to take enough photos. Home just before dark and a humungous downpour, then a quick supper and a gusty and rolly night.
Thursday morning we made and presented his Dinghy Captain's License certificate to Nick after he finally got up (let him sleep late--10:00hours), all tired from yesterday's tour. Still rolly and a bit squally, with continuing heavy showers. Made an unsuccessful attempt to rig a swell bridle to the anchor rode. Our technique needs improvement. Brian and Debbie (Chinook) brought their family company (Bradley and Michelle) over for Happy Hour, found room in the cockpit for 7, a gentle squeeze. What a luxury it is to have rainproof canvas, well found dodger and bimini, over our otdoor living room to keep rain and sun off.
Friday, back to St. George's by bus--with camera--to take pix. Had breakfast at The Nutmeg Restaurant as a treat and learned how delicious nutmeg jam is on toast. Quite amazed at the variety of uses of this fine tree fruit. Nutmeg Oil apparently has all kind of homeopathic uses. Seas going down a bit, but still fairly rolly in the anchorage. Claudette made hurricane status for a couple of hours yesterday, ready to cross the Yucatan into the Gulf of Mexico. Returned our last batch of movies to the store in Grande Anse, and bought Teach Yourself Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 in 24 Hours -- necessary homework to become more proficient in manipulating our photos for this website, intending to complete the Photo Album within the next few months.
Saturday morning brought calm--and rain. And rain. And rain. Nick dinghied over to Passages to meet Peggy and Harold's 14-yr old grandson (arrived yesterday) and to help fill and transport jerry jugs of water to fill their tanks. Meanwhile, Callipygia was overwhelmed by a swarm of flying ants--thank goodness for screens on all openings. Seems the whole harbor was inundated by them, dying by their hundreds (thousands? millions?) in the rain. Things dried up a bit in the afternoon and Nick joined boat kids from Nosille and Revelation at the pool over on Mr. Hartman Bay. This morning we woke to higher clouds, no rain in the night. Hung all our wet things on the lifelines to dry.
Learned on the radio that Soufriere, Montsarrat's volcano, blew last night--rocks and debris up to 40,000 feet. Boats in Nevis, St. Croix, covered in ash. Flights cancelled between San Juan and Grenada. Went ashore to confer with Passages and plan some joint moving of our boats next week, with the intent of forcing both our grandsons to try at least a little sailing experience. Weather forecast is for seas to come down for a few days, no threatening Tropical Waves on the horizon at least for the moment. Cleaned Callipygia's waterline--which has become home to a dense and vigorous growth of seagrass, especially around the thru-hulls. Readied the boat and ourselves for a short passage. Be nice to anchor somewhere less rolly--seas were up again last night.
Monday, July 14,2003
Lat 12 deg 04.4 mins N, Long 061 deg 45.2 mins N.
Anchored in Grand Mal Bay on the west coast of Grenada.
Upped anchor at 0820 hours and moved to the mouth of Prickly Bay where we raised the main, watching Passages, a lovely classic ketch sail out ahead of us. Left the engine running to charge the 'frig and batteries (the new cold plate has done wonders, and our juice/soda/beer are now much colder than before). Headed east, towing the dinghy (sans motor and other contents) along the coast and rounded Pt. Saline in light east winds. The knotmeter now works! Great to get back our speed through the water, to compare with that over the ground. Overtook Passages, tacking downwind under full sail. Took the reef out of the main (a set of grommets for one of the reef points came off, needs to be repaired) and hauled out the jib. Slowly the wind died as we were off Long Point Shoal, so kept on powering, eventually bringing down the sails. Dropped anchor in Grand Mal Bay at 11:05 hours. 11.5nm, average speed 4.2 knots. Passages arrived under power not too long after, having also given up on sailing.
Went ashore together and ate lunch, then the 2 grandmas and grandsons dinghied round Mouloniere Point into Dragon Bay to snorkel--reputed to be one of the best locations in Grenada. Tied dinghy to mooring bottle (too much surge to beach) and snorkeled--after figuring out how to get each person back into the dinghy, some needed help, some didn't. Water fairly deep where dinghy moored, and a bit murky, but could make out some impressive huge coral growths. Shallower towards the east side of the bay with huge fans softly waving in the water. No fish to mention, but certainly the biggest corals we've seen. Back home for supper and bed.
Morning weather nets bespeaks a very large amplitude (size) Tropical Wave to bring lots of rain for the next few days, beginning likely on Wednesday. Upped anchor in Grand Mal Bay at 0711 hours and headed north along the Grenada coast under reefed main and yankee. Beating into east-northeast wind, 15-18 knots and making good speed. Decided to keep on motoring so as to arrive in Carriacou and have the full afternoon to explore. The motion made Nick drowsy, so he mostly napped--his first cruising of any length. At 1305 hours, dropped anchor in 16' off Sandy Island, "a flawless strip of sand, decorated by a few palms and surrounded by perfect snorkeling and diving reefs" (Doyle). 36.3nm, average speed 6.1 knots. One trawler, 3 big catamarans, and a Beneteau already anchored. Took the dinghy ashore and anchored it off the beautiful beach. Lovely warm water, light breeze. Gzillions of fish over mostly dead coral within a few yards of the shore. Passages, having sailed all the way, arrived around 1500 hours, and joined us in the underwater discovery. A small lagoon on the north (ocean) side of the island yeilded even more snorkeling delights. All 3 catamarans and the Beneteau left, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves. What a wonderful spot! Finally went back to the boat to prepare supper and brought it ashore--potluck on the beach. What a treat. If you come to this area, DO NOT MISS Sandy Island--so long as it survives its struggle against the winds and seas. [When we anchored in Hillsborough, see Log for June 9, on way to Grenada we saw boats anchored here and opined that "maybe they know something we don't". They certainly did.]
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Lat: 12 deg 00 mins N, Long: 061 deg 45.8 mins W,
anchored in Prickly Bay on the south coast of Grenada
Tuesday morning's weather forecast was for rain, possible squalls, beginning this afternoon/night. Decided to come back to Prickly today, sailing down the east coast of Grenada (completing Nick's circumnavigation by boat). Upped anchor at 0732 hours, bid farewell to Passages and this beautiful spot, headed into Hillsborogh Bay to raise the main (no reef), then the staysail. Once south of Carriacou, finding east to east-southeast winds of around 10 knots, hauled out the yankee and killed the engine. Sailed south through the rocky islands dotting the passage between Carriacou and Grenada, in gentle winds and seas, puffs of cumulus in an otherwise cloudless sky. Just beautiful sailing conditions. What a treat for Nick--and us. Took turns on watch, Sinbad steering. Turned the engine back on for 1/2 an hour to clear Black Rock as the winds dropped and we were making too much leeway towards that dangerous place. Boat speed 4-5 knots, helped by 1-2 knot southerly flowing current, which continued west as we rounded to the south coast of Grenada. Dropped sails in mouth of Prickly Bxay and laid the anchor in 26' at 1450 hours, almost the same spot we left from. 40.9 nm, average speed 5.5 knots. A great sailing day. Very thankful for our polypropylene towing line since we forgot to bring the dinghy up tight behind while anchoring.
We've had a thoroughly enjoyable 3-day cruising sojourn. It dawned on us that we've spent most of our 2-year cruising time focused on "getting there" and/or being stuck somewhere (for whatever reasos), and we've not figured out how to make more time for short exploratory trips. Took us 2 years to figure it out, no wonder we were getting a bit discouraged. We're pretty tired from the last 3 days (old age is catching up) but happy to wake up to this big lesson. Soon after anchoring, one party dinghied ashore to dump four days accumulation of garbage. Kind of awful to see how much it was. Meanwhile, the on-board party heard plea on VHF from Gypsy outside harbor, lost engine. Keith on Nomad (newly arrived, we knew him and Julia from Luperón) rallied to the rescue in his dinghy and accompanied the little ketch into the bay and to anchor.
Thursday morning, Party A took party B ashore to go provisioning. Party A then stopped by Nomad to reconnect, and then went to say "Hello" to Gypsy, lovely little Mariner ketch, anchored nearby. Met Dave and Susie and offered assistance as needed while they work on their engine. Learned that they lost their dinghy in the Grenadines, and needed a small amount of diesel for bleeding the engine. Went back with diesel and moral support.
Sunday, July 20, 2003
Anchored in Prickly Bay on the south coast of Grenada
Wednesday night, a thunderstorm passed about 5 miles north and we had a good gulleywashing downpour. Caught some of it. Sat up in the cockpit around midnight till everything passed waiting to see if gusty winds would come flailing through the anchorage--none did. Thursday spent on mundane details: laundry, provisioning, haircuts, checking e-mail, weather routine (of course), finish clean and tidy-up from recent trip. Dinghy motor decided to balk a bit--gunk in the fuel apparently. Fixed it. Chinook visited for Happy Hour (Nick's suggestion). Always good to reconnect with them.
Friday, Nick and Pat took the "Introduction to Scuba Diving" course (PADI) with Aquanauts of Grenada. Excellent course, beginning with training video, fitting of equipment, then training (above water) in equipment use, then practice actual use kneeling on sand underwater. Then fast and exhilarating boat ride to Flamingo Bay on the east coast (passing Point Saline almost close enough to touch) and a 45-minute 30' dive among spectacular corals and gzzzzzzillions of fish of fantastic variety. Strange experience to find oneself in the middle of a school of fish and be totally ignored--seems like they figure divers to be some weird kind of coral. Little do they know, no immediate threat but, oh dear, not so in the long term. Only thing that could have improved the experience would have been sun--it was a cloudy day and underwater colors were therefore a bit muted.
Later, walked over to Mt. Hartman Bay for the Friday night barbecue and Karaoke (Nick splendidly engaged in the latter) and home for a quite night. Saturday, morning weather has usual run of 3 Tropical Waves between us and Africa, one at 040 degrees west has some low level circulation with it. Spoke to long-lost Peregrine (Joe and Michelle) on the SSB and learned they're back from the US, doing a few fixes in St. Croix and planning to head straight to Trinidad within the next few days. Nick packed his bags, leisurely, savoring the happy thought of going home sprinkled with sadness at leaving. Played cribbage until time to go ashore and head to the airport. Turned him over to U.S. Airways as a "U.M" (unaccompanied minor) and waved goodbye to his plane as it took off. We'll miss him. Back home to adjust to being just the 3 of us (Bill, Pat, and Callipygia) and begin preparations for passage to Trinidad. We certainly had a lovely month with Nick.
This morning learned that yesterday's Tropical Disturbance has become Tropical Depression #6, at 12.9 deg N, 048.3 deg W, and forecast to become a Tropical Storm at 13.3 deg N, 051.1 deg early tonight, then a hurricane after it passes through the island chain between Dominica and Martinique Monday night headed for Haiti and Cuba. Relayed this information to Peregrine and advised them that this would not be a good time to leave. Followed progress with George (16:30 hours, 7068.0 LSB) and Eric (3955.0 LSB at 18:30 hours). #6 is strengthening, looking nasty, predicted track not much changed from this morning's forecast.
Mourned the loss of both of our Tevas (sandals). One pair, the sole broke a month ago, and another pair left (and lost) on a beach a week ago. No spares, large personal tragedies. Very aware of how important foot comfort is, often barefoot, rarely shod. Learned on the BBC news (5975.0 AM, 17:00 hours) about British furor that evidence of weapons of mass destruction as pretext for Iraqi invasion appear to have been fabricated. Aware of how different (in scale and in type) our concerns now are as compared to the time when we were in the workforce, where the context and framework of the work was primary. Now it's our environment (from Tevas to boat chores to hurricanes) and the Earth (coral, fish, the human predicament, and hope for the planet). Enjoyed a "slog" day, didn't leave the boat, much reading and napping.
Friday, July 25, 2003
Anchored in Prickly Bay on the south coast of Grenada
Monday was another watching and waiting day. In the morning we learned that Tropical Depression #6 is no longer expected to reach hurricane status in the Caribbean. Big Pheww. Nonetheless, spent much of the day near the radio: Eric on 3955.0 LSB at 06:30 and 18:30 hours, and on 7228.0 LSB at 08:00, 11:00 and 14:00; George on 7241.0 LSB at 07:15 and 7086.0 LSB at 16:30; and David Jones at 08:30 on 8104.0 USB. Learning a great deal about how these tropical cyclones develop (or in this case don't) and move/meander. This one is moving very fast, expected to pass between St. Lucia and Martinique later in the day. Initially expected to reach Tropical Storm strength and receive a name (Erika) with us unlikely to see much of it except rain, gusts, and a possible windshift. Let out another 30' of chain. As day wore on, learned that the system was fizzzzzzling, not only didn't it make Tropical Storm, it lost it's Tropical Depression status and by mid afternoon had degenerated into a strong open Tropical wave. So much for that--but, reminded ourselves it could as quickly go the other way. This was the one that wasn't--but there are others that aren't then are.
Big hole in the boat where Nick was. Tuesday morning's emailed Tropical Weather Discussion told us that the remnants of hurricane Danny (which developed near Bermuda then rode clockwise all the way around the Atlantic High) is now 500 miles southeast of the Azores moving west southwest--right back into the hurricane formation grounds! That may be the one that bites, interesting to see how/if it develops. Our tentative plan to head to Trinidad on Thursday evening may have to be abandoned. Re-read portions of The SHIP and the STORM (about hurricane Mitch and the loss of the Fantome) to be re-reminded that mariners tend to take the NWS forecast as gospel, and that they should understand the large margin of error in hurricane/storm forecasts. Important quote on page 279: mariners should "circle the storm's center with a radius of 34-knot winds as given by the NHC wind discussion... Add to that, the stated error of the position fix given in the forecast (20-40 miles). For the 24- to 72- hour predictions add the forecast error radius of roughly 100 miles per day. The result is a 40-degree danger arc to either side of the forecast track." In other words, the center of the storm is not a dot on the chart, as most mariners assume. it is anywhere within a much larger area. Lesson Learned: When plotting storm forecast tracks on the chart, don't just mark a spot, mark the spot plus the area of uncertainty. Went back through this season's weather notes and compiled a list of all 2003 Tropical Waves, and a made a summary of what happened to/from them. There have been 17 so far, with 6 producing Tropical Depressions or worse. Typical season produces 60 Tropical Waves, with about 10% being hurricane producers. This 2003 season has, so far, been much more active than normal. We have learned a huge amount about tropical weather.
Wednesday, winds quickly picked up to 20-25 knots where they held through much of the day. Dinghied to the new Spice Island Boatyard in the northwest corner of the bay and strolled throughout the new yard looking at various boats stored on the hard for tips and ideas. Found another Tayana '37 (Margiz II) with a stainless steel swim ladder ingeniously designed and permanently fastened to her butt (port quarter). Took drawings of the design for future use. We have a teak swim ladder that weighs a ton and is a royal pain to store on deck and to deploy along Callipygia's side--to the point where its inconvenience sometimes inhibits swimming off the boat. The design we saw would be a major enhancement for off-the-boat swimming enjoyment and, possibly, would permit us to dock stern-to (all that's available in the Mediterranean and many other locations). Added this swim ladder project to the list we developed in the morning of boat work to be done in Trinidad and/or before we cross the Atlantic.
The ITCZ is very active at the moment, and in combination with an upper-level trough expected to cross us during the day it looks like tomorrow's evening departure for Trinidad had best be delayed. Completed passage planning for that trip. Red light on propane solenoid (telling when gas to the stove is on) went out--took the gizmo apart, couldn't find replacement bulb in any catalog, may have to buy a whole new control unit. More $$$. Thursday, a day of squalls. Torrential rain, windshifts, and gusts to 35 knots. Caught a lot of rain. The ITCZ is up over us--don't particularly want this kind of weather en route to Trinidad.
Visited Chinook, here on the hard, doing bottom work. We'll miss them. Learned on the VHF that Andrew of Gamgee got hit by their flying windbugger which came loose as they rounded Point Saline on Tuesday. It demolished his elbow. He's in the hospital in St. George's, having it rebuilt. This morning, after listening to weather from Eric and George decided to head to Trinidad tonight and get in ahead of the next Tropical Wave, fairly strong, arrives tomorrow--followed quickly by another one. Winds should be a bit north of east, 15-20, seas 6-8', coming down through the night. We'll leave around 18:00 hours. Learned from George, that on August 27th, Mars will be at its nearest point to Earth in 60,000 years. To see it, look to the south between midnight and dawn that day. Went ashore, did a bit of provisioning, bade farewell to Chinook, and cleared customs. Back home, hoisted the dinghy motor aboard, hoisted and deflated the dinghy and stowed it under the boom, completed review of departure checklist, and took a good nap.
Yesterday, mid afternoon ate a late lunch/early dinner of pasta with clam sauce (a favorite) and upped anchor in Prickly Bay at 17:10 hours. Have loved Grenada, but not sorry to leave this rolly and fly-infested anchorage. Motored slowly to the mouth of the Bay and raised the main, one reef. Headed south on a course of 190 degrees magnetic and found east winds at 14-18 knots. Seas 6-8', confused and bumpy. After batteries charged, and 'frig run, as dusk gathered around us, decided to keep on motor sailing through the night so we can use Sinbad and keep the radar on to see traffic and squalls coming. For the most part as the evening wore on, conditions were very rolly and the winds anywhere from 10 to 20 knots, inconsistent. As we reached well out to the offing, found it slow going, with adverse current. A bit of traffic now and then. One sailboat following us, slowly overtook us on the starboard side a mile off around 02:30 hours. Some squalls showed up on the radar around 23:00 hours, and a few times thereafter, but managed to dodge them. Didn't seem to be much weather with them, no lightning, and only a minor windshift. Took 90-minute watches, the off-watch person napping lightly in the cockpit. At 03:00, big light ahead. Must be a big boat. Per radar, it is 10 miles off--but look, on screen it is approaching us at 4-5 knots. What can this be? Stupid, of course, that means it is stationary. Turns out to be a new uncharted oil rig, lit up like a Christmas tree. Speed slowing to 3-4 knots against the current in mid-journey. At dawn's first light, rolled out the yankee and picked up a bit more speed--from it, and with diminution of current. This trip is taking longer than we thought. Seas down a bit, 5-7', and winds down to 10 knots or less. Lovely morning as sun rose, and can see the mountains of Trinidad in the hazy distance. By 08:00 the wind had died, so rolled in the jib. Saw whitecaps ahead, what is this--a squall or what? No, it's serious current rips, strong, going east along Trinidad coast as tide changes. Crabbed our way towards the mouth of the Boca De Monos, between mainland Trinidad and Monos Island. Turned south and slogged against the outgoing current to enter the Golfo De Paria. Thank goodness (again) for our iron genny (Yanmar diesel engisne.) Dropped the main in the windless Boca. Rounded Delgado point and passed north of Gasparillo island towards the Chagauramus Customs dock. As we passed through the anchorage, noted a vacant YSATT mooring, so hailed a passing dinghy to pass a line through the loop on top of the mooring ball. Cleated it off at 11:20 hours. 83.7 nmiles, average boat speed 4.6 knots. Breathed a sigh of relief at not having to anchor--this anchorage is the one that yachters love to hate. Very deep, poor holding, mixed moorings and boat anchors, strictly bounded to keep freighter channel free, strong current through it and calms at night with boats heading every which way, whip-sawed occasionally by ITCZ thunderstorms, and very, very crowded. YSATT moorings are inspected regularly, and reputed to be very strong. Worth their very reasonable cost. We were lucky to find an empty one. Blew up and deployed the dinghy and its outboard motor in record time (40 minutes) and headed to customs to clear in. Intermittent downpours while waiting for Immigration to return for lunch. Returned home to crash. Talked to Valerie on Nosille on the VHF, and they (Valerie, Roger, Emilia, Pippa) later stopped by in their dinghy to welcome us to Chagauramus. How nice to find people here we know. And we wouldn't have got to know them but for our period as a "kid boat" while Nick visited. Nosille has been here a couple of weeks, and describe Chagauramus as simply "fab." We napped for a bit, ate supper, and watched some huge freighters pick their way in just behind our stern. No flies. Happy to be here, end of the line for a bit. Wonder how Callipygia feels, she's been here in her former life many times for hurricane season lay-up on the hard. Trinidad looks like a beautiful place, kind of like what Alaska might look if it was in the tropics.
Sunday, August 3, 2003
On a mooring in the anchorage at Chagauramus, Trinidad, West Indies.
Took an easy day last Sunday, exploring this capacious harbour and the plentiful supply of services for the boating community on its perimeter. Hot and humid, until a 30-minute downpour dropped a quick 2 inches on us, filling the water tanks (and the dinghy) in no time flat. Ate out mid-afternoon, one floor up in one of the many open air restaurants overlooking the bay. Flies abundant, small house-type. Clearly prefering sweetness--a ring of them gathered around the ketchup bowl, none around the mustard or hot sauce. After we'd eaten, a whole tribe of them collected on the table cloth, sounding it with their probosci for invisible food particles, cleaning their wings and legs, departing with incisive aplomb half a millisecond ahead of any flailing swats, and doing air navigation at lightning speed. What mechanical marvels they are, so much complexity in such a small package. Mother nature surely has it all over the silicon chip. Thankfully, none (flies, that is) have found their way to Callipygia.
Dinghy motor is struggling, stalling a lot. Monday, went ashore to pay for our mooring and check in at Power Boats and explore their facilities. Bustling boatyard, pleasant staff. Met briefly with Rico regarding work needing to be done, and received list of approved contractors. We selected Power Boats as the place to haul because they coordinate and aprove the contract work (which must be done with contractors they approve/recommend) and because of their sterling reputation. Ate bass-up shut at the Roti Hut on the waterfront. Excellent and inexpensive. Remember enjoying bass-up shut at Teddy's Roti Shop on Georgia Ave in Washington, DC, near the Maryland line. Came home and finalized the list of boatwork we want to get quotes on from various contractors. Only a couple of showers and a short heavy downpour all day. Tuesday, hot and humid. Visited Jim and Rosie on Libelle, Contest 35', moored bow and stern at Peake Marina, next to Power Boats. Got to know them on the ham radio nets, nice to meet face to face. Have crossed the Atlantic both ways, told us their stories. Left our final list of boatwork at the Power Boats office for Rico. Serviced the dinghy motor, running better. Did some on-foot research of various contractors/services nearby. Investigated down-wind sailing options further by reading the archives of the Tayana group on Sailnet's Listserves. Varying opinions (what a surprise). Leaning to a smaller-and-stronger than recommended size gennaker. Will consult with sailmaker here, and possibly wait till back in DC and consult with Jack Wong, at Potomac Sailmakers in Alexandria, who made our main and staysail for us. We have great faith in Jack, an aeronautical engineer/racing sailor turned sailmaker. Looking forward to some down-wind sailing. We've spent almost two years going to weather, a lot of slogging. Ate lunch at Curry Bien near Coral Cove boatyard. Excellent, and inexpensive. Late afternoon, boat dragging in anchorage (not near us) caused some consternation on the VHF. No rain all day or last night. A new tropical Wave at 017 West, others at 036 West and 058 degrees. The one at 017 bears watching. Habitual tropical weather-watching now ingrained, even though out of hurricane zone.
Wednesday, much trudging around making contact with each of the contractors recommended by Rico for our various projects. Looks like we may be dealing with over a dozen. Impressed by the variety and volume of services available here. Through careful selection, and by working through Power Boats, we trust the quality of the work we get done will match. Jim and Rosie (Libelle) stopped by in the evening, had a nice visit with them. They are from Madison, WI, and know Barb and Debbie of Tao well. Thursday, Low pressure in a Tropical Wave now near 028W is expected to become a Tropical Depression today. Went ashore to complete our visits with potential contractors. Began writing up detailed scopes of work in anticipation of executing contracts (under the auspices of Power Boats) once we are hauled. Thankful for previous professional experience with the world of contracting. Friday, about 01:00 hours we were woken (as was the whole anchorage) by loud music blaring from a party boat circling around us from Port of Spain. Emancipation Day, a Trinidad Holiday. Tropical Disturnamce to the east hasn't moved up to a Depression yet. Spent the morning anticipating the arrival of a huge barge, for which we'd been asked to vacate the mooring while it docked--we're on the edge of the channel. Time we were given was 07:00 to 08:00 hours. Watched 4 tugs convene outside the bay, with 3 boats affiliated with the Chagauramus pilot. Eventually at 10:00 hours the monster (some kind of floating oil refinery we think) separated from its satellite ship near the oil rig at the mouth of Chagauramus Bay, and the tugs took over, turning it up the channel towards us--whereupon we dropped our mooring, leaving a pendant with a float (Chlorox bottle) with our name on it attached. Picked up a rusty old mooring in the middle of the anchorage from which vantage point we watched the painfully slow movement of the barge (pushed/pulled by 3 tugs, one in reserve) towards the dock. 5 knots of current ran through the anchorage with the tide change, which occured simultaneously with a terrific downpour, in the midst of the barge's docking maneuver. Returned to our mooring at approximately 12:20 hours, and settled down beside our ugly new giant neighbor. Its symbiotic nursemaid ship, Sable Cape, is docked alongside it and spewed ugly black clouds out its chimney all day. Yesterday, took down and bagged the staysail and mainsail (and their sail covers) in readiness for servicing them--clean and repairs. Couldn't get the jib (yankee) down because the halyard had jammed at the masthead. Roller furling is great, except when it breaks, but because you never have to hoist/drop the sail this kind of thing happens. Reminds us why we have a hank-on staysail--it's more or less bullet proof. An overcast day, with a quick thundershower in the morning. The rest of the day the anchorage was incredibly rolly, positively seasick-making, and getting into the dinghy from Callipygia was like riding a bucking broncho. Big umbrella in the sky kept the searing sun off us most of the day. Dinghy motor still not working right, stalling at idle/low speeds constantly. Enjoyed happy hour at the restaurant at Peake Marina with Libelle (Jim and Rosie) and Trinidad weatherman Eric Matthews, 9Z4CP. Nice to be able to put a face to that friendly radio voice. Much discussion about weather. Another oil rig/platform appeared from nowhere at the mouth of the bay, with a mother ship nearby. Learned that they just park here, aren't actually working. Loud blaring music from ashore until 04:30 hours this morning. Yuk!
Sunday, August 10, 2003
On the hard at Power Boats, Chagauramus, Trinidad, West Indies.
Spent Sunday, a week ago, getting ready to go on the hard. Another rolly day in the busy (lousy?) Chagauramus anchorage, broiling hot, no canopy in the searing sky. Hoisted up the dinghy motor and dinghy, stowed the motor on the stern pulpit and deflated and stowed the dinghy on the deck. Very polyglot group of cruisers here, from all over the world. A natural tendency of those from the same country to stick together--and a general impression that Americans are not always well favored. Unlike almost everywhere else we've been, doesn't feel like a cruising "community". There are so many boats--or maybe we just haven't been here long enough, or engaged in enough social activities. Last Monday, dropped the mooring at 08:50 hours and motored into the Power Boats slipway for hauling. Ray, the driver of the travel-lift, and the two employees assisting, were excruciatingly careful during the haul, moving Callipygia to her spot, and blocking her with meticulous attention to detail. Ray has been doing this for 11 years, the yard has hauled almost 10 thousand yachts. Very impressively done. Spent the rest of that day beginning the adjustment to life on the hard, rounding up contractors for boat visits. Were not happy with representative of Yacht Maintenance Services who made immediate proclamation (without physical investigation) that we had a serious attack of gelcoat blisters and the only thing to do is to strip it all off, including some fibreglass, and completely redo the bottom--of course, at a great price and taking many months. Up yours... There are a lot of little red bubbles in bottom paint around the bilges, and some bubbles along the Awlgrip on the topsides at the waterline. With Jim of Libelle, poked a hole in some of the bottom bubbles--look like they could be just paint bubbles. Reread detailed article on blistering and osmosis by Trinidadian Hugo De Flessis that we'd acquired along the way. A lot of cowboys/butchers out there tearing boats apart unneccesarily.
Tuesday, another clear morning, but with expectation of cloudiness later. Up early and feeling overwhelmed with all that needs to get done if we are to be ready for an Atlantic Crossing next spring. Maybe we're just too old (and worn out) for all of this. But, got going and as morning wore on and we made great progress on organizing the work we gradually felt better and our optimism/energy returned. Things began falling into place, Power Boats staff exceptionally helpful and well organized, and we are finding contractors who seem to be both competent and efficient. Power Boats installed an air conditioning unit over the V-berth hatch, so conditions below definitely improved. Our four fire extinguishers were picked up for servicing (FPPC, 868-638-2324). Got and accepted quotes for covering cockpit cushions (The Upholstery Shop, 634-4143) and requested quotes for making weather cloths and 2 smallish awnings to cover main cabin, and v-berth. Completed contract for replacement of VHF with Standard Horizon Spectrum model, GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) compliant, and with cockpit remote (Navtech Electronics, Ltd 868-634-1231). Got and accepted quotes for replacement of battery charger with a Newmar 110/240 volt 60-50Hz model and to install water temperature and oil pressure guages for the engine (Caribbean Marine Electrical Ltd 868-634-4561). Main and stay sails, and their covers, delivered for cleaning and repairing (Barrow Sails, 868-634-4137). Made list of 1,000-hr engine maintenance work for Desi MacIntosh (634-1268). Got quote for varnish work (AKA Honey Teak), cleaning unvarnished cockpit teak, and polishing the deck metal and windvane from Clinton Brewster (633-4393). Did some more scrape investigation on the bottom, and got advice from surveyor (Billy Wray 634-4161). Arranged to get three quotes on the bottom work. Visited boats whose bottoms are being worked on to learn from observation about this type of work (bottom/blister care). Met with Peter (First Mate Ltd 686-4491) to get quotes on installation of Tank Tender (so we'll know how much fuel and water is left/being used) and servicing the steering system (a hiccup has developed occasionally when turning the wheel). Got a quote for a gennaker--an asymmetric cruising spinnaker (Soca Sails, Mark, 868-634-4178). Got and accepted quote for repairing underside of lids to 4 cockpit lockers, creation of a little locker next to the V-berth (in the one space we can't get to), and a new sturdier mount for outboard motor (Fortress Woodworking 634-4510). Looks like we're heading for the poor house. If we were younger, and had the time, we could (learn to) do much of this work ourselves, but we don't and we can't. So we have to cough up--the price of starting late. On the other hand, because we started late we do have a retirement income to cough up. Met Brandy and Sherry on Carribee (Camper Nicholson 32') who have been working here on the hard at refurbishing their boat for one and a half years, and they still have about 6 months more to go. Don't go cruising unless you're prepared to work.
Wednesday, equally busy. Flushed out the head (toilet) system with fresh water and baby oil (to lubricate the pump). Flushed out the 'frig cooling system with fresh water. Repaired the propane control switch light. And continuing work with contractors on receiving and/or accepting quotes. Fire extinguishers returned from being serviced and re-affixed in their places. Met with Rico, of Power Boats staff, on status of and coordination of contract work. Continued comings and goings at the boat, with one of us remaining on board throughout the day. Visit from Niels Lund of Budget Rigging (868-624-1110) to arrange for rigging survey and begin quote. Again a hot day, very happy to have air conditioning. Thursday, more of the same, we're getting into our stride. Spending our money is at least as hard work as it was to earn it. Day begins with a 05:00 rising, climb down ladder and visit facilities, do morning exercises, drink a cup of coffee back on board and plan the day. Write our "morning pages" (or Ship's Log for yesterday), enjoy the calm and quiet (A/C is off as the night air cooled). Work on todo lists, tracking progress and running total of anticipated expenditures, detailed scope of works/instructions, etc., a lot of paperwork associated with all this contracting. Listen to weather at 06:30 hours, and then go for a short walk to move the blood--clamber down the (pipe) ladder again and wander round this large boatyard, doing surveys of other boats for ideas and examine their bottoms. By 08:00 start on todos.
Visit Power Boats office (frequently), and various contractors to work out details. One person stays on boat to be here for frequent contractor visits. Talk to other boaters re boat issues/questions. Squeeze time to go to Ocean Internet Cafe and check e-mail, and do research. Nonstop activity throughout the day, then around 18:00 hours go to Sails, the restaurant, and have a beer and bite. Home for shower, game of cribbage, and bed. We're in the groove! Got 4th quote for bottom work Had happy hour with Roger and Valerie from York, England, of Nosille, kid boat we met in Grenada. Decided not to get fuel tank steam cleaned (if it ain't broke, don't fix it) so began tedious job of jerry jugging (and Baja filtering) 30+ gallons of diesel from the dock to fill the tank up for the layover period. With help from Budget Rigging, got yankee down. Hauled it to Barrow Sails to be cleaned and repair broken stitches. Friday, quote from MDG Metal to rework the bow pulpit and bring anchor rollers from end of bowsprit to stemhead, install permanent swim ladder and mast pulpits. Finalized order with Marine Warehouse for parts and equipment we need to have imported. Much time on bottom examination, scraping, and discussion. We have the following layers on top of the fibreglass: gelcoat (lite blue), barrier coat (black), primer (white), and many layers of bottom paint (first green, then red). Blisters seem to be all on the outside of the barrier coat, greatly relieved. Think we'll get bottom scraped down to the black layer, put on another barrier coat, prime, and paint. We now have 4 quotes. Rigging survey reveals things in pretty good shape, though chainplates need to be pulled--looked at one (from below), some rust indicating need for attention. Look like they may be difficult to get at--but after research and talking to Cliff on nearby Tayana 37' Sara, seems like not a huge job. Finally gave up on cruising spinnaker/genaker--too much money for the few times we're likely to use it. Boo hoo. Decided to get luff pad put on 135% genoa so can reef it instead. We have a mosquito living with us in the cabin, of indefatigble longevity. Convinced that Power Boats is by far the best boatyard we've been in, or seen anywhere in the US or Caribbean, for hauling boat, living on it, and getting quality work done at a very reasonable price.
Yesterday, a bit less busy, took the afternoon off. In the morning, hauled out the genoa from the sail locker ready to hike it over to sailmaker (Barrow Sails) on Monday. Got quote from Niels at Budget Marine Rigging. He has earned his reputation--extremely knowledgeable and organized. Looks like this is the time to replace the chainplates, bit of a big job but will have to be done sometime--better now than later. Use the (boo hoo) gennaker money. Began tidying/cleaning up the boat so we can leave it in some kind of order. Got needed paperwork from Power Boats office for clearing out with customs on Monday--not a simple process if we want to come back in and not incur charges. Reviewed 4 quotes for bottom work and made selection. Decided to award bottom contract to Brian Higgins (768-3371), he gets rave reviews from other boaters and we were very impressed with his approach and obvious love of his work. All contracts now in place (only bottom and rigging to go, do them tomorrow), woodwork projects almost finished, cockpit cushions finished. A very satisfying (if expensive) week. Read article from old (1998) Yachting magazine found in the laundry about "3 Grannies Gone Cruising" -- average age, 80 years old, on a 27' boat. Inspiring! Today, another busy one. Worked up summary of contract information (contractors, summary of scope, contract amount, and notes) for Power Boats, plus additional customer instructions to the yard to ensure work gets done satisfactorily and coordinated properly. Cleaned up the boat inside, and on deck, and hosed everything down. Did laundry. Serviced thru-hulls. Filled and chlorinated water tanks. Packed ready to leave on Tuesday. Made final list of all todos for tomorrow. Quite a week.
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
On the hard at Power Boats, Chagauramus, Trinidad, West Indies.
Spent yesterday finishing cleaning up Callipygia and got everything squared away with Power Boats and contractors for our absence. This morning, up early, showered and did a final load of laundry, said farewell to our dear boat/home and headed for the Port of Spain airport in Jesse James, "Members Only", taxi service to make our annual home visits to friends and family in the USA. See you in November!
Monday, November 17, 2003
at the Power Boats dock, Chagauramus, Trinidad, West Indies.
Back in the water after an uneventful launching this afternoon! To summarize: Bill and friend Ralph arrived in Trinidad late on Thursday, November 6th, got picked up at the airport by Jesse James (Members Only Maxi Taxi) and rented one of the Power Boats apartments to stay in while they checked over all the contract work, fixed several glitches, and did a bundle of boat chores. They worked their butts off for most of the 10 days since they arrived home. Power Boats has been great, and rode herd on one of the contractors (MDG Welding) who was late finishing the work on the bow pulpit--which was holding up the rigging and deck repair work. Reconnected with Roger and Adrianna on Iguazu. All work is now done, and looking forward to doing some daysails to thoroughly check everything before starting to cruise slowly northwards. Glad we decided to have a major refit in Trinidad, and very happy we did it at Power Boats. Quality work for a reasonable price. Pat is remaining in the US for a couple more weeks and will join Callipygia wherever she happens to be at that point.
We had a wonderful time during our home visits, bopping around the country to visit friends, kids, and grandkids. Spent time in the Washington, DC area (home base), Boston, Maine, Toronto, Halifax (Nova Scotia), Minneapolis, and Juneau. Recruited friends to crew with us for each of the 3 Atlantic crossing legs: St Martin-Bermuda (Ralph will come back to do this in May); Bermuda-Azores (friend Mary (home base in DC) will do this with us in May-June); and Azores-Ireland (2 Juneau friends will do this with us in July). We got medical and eye checkups, ordered cruising guides and charts for the Atlantic crossing, watched a few movies, realized how lucky we are to not have a car, phone, TV, 3rd class mail, etc. Walked a lot and did Yoga. Upgraded the website, and volunteered (Pat) for 2 weeks at Covenant House. We sold our rented house in Silver Spring, MD, and bought one that we'll rent out in Juneau, Alaska. It was for the most part a busy time.
Callipygia with Bill and Ralph left Chagauramus on Saturday morning, having finally completed all the remaining loose ends with contractors, and retrieved ordered supplies shipped in from the U.S. by the Marine Warehouse. They cleared customs on Friday and got permission to anchor out along the north coast of Trinidad. They anchored overnight Saturday at La Veche, and then on Sunday night at Grand Riviere. They had an uneventful crossing to Scarborough, where they cleared in with Tobago customs. Tobago is much more isolated, and more evidently a third-world country, than the parts of Trinidad and other Caribbean islands we've visited. Callipygia will wait here for Pat to arrive, and then probably head for Barbados.
Sad news for the cruising community--we just got the following e-mail: 'It is with great sadness that we announce the death of David "The Caribbean Weatherman" Jones. David passed away on Friday, November 7th at Peebles Hospital on Tortola, British Virgin Islands. We request that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to the Home Care Basics Service in David's honor. The mailing address for Home Care Basics is P.O. Box 493 East End, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.' His passing leaves a big hole in the cruising life for those of us who enjoyed/relied on his weather advice.
Spent time exploring this beautiful, 3rd world island by bus. Visited the west coast towns of Charlotteville, Plymouth and Crown Point. So far, never having more than 2 other sailboats with us in this tight little anchorage behind the breakwater, bounded by the Coast Guard dock, the rip-rapped shore with a fishing boat dock, and a concrete tug/freighter pier. Pat arrived by ferry from Port of Spain (baggage limit on planes to Tobago being 44lbs, well under her accumulation) on Monday evening. A great celebration, complete with champagne, very happy to be reunited in our dear floating home. Then to bed, only to awaken around 0100 hours with wind-driven flapping as a serious squall hit the harbor. Found ourselves dragging anchor soon thereafter, and heading for the rocks on shore. [A quick check showed we were positioned at right angles to the other two boats, a dead giveaway of dragging in a high wind.] Captain hit the engine and just barely avoided getting the dinghy impaled between us and the big boativerous concrete dock that forms one of the boundaries of the anchorage. Hauled in the anchor (being careful not to wrap it round the propellor) and found the anchor fouled by a 4' square piece of sodden carpet. The snubber had not been put on, and we hypothesize that the sudden shock from the squall caused the anchor to jump. Carefully threaded our way to safety between the other two boats to the edge of the anchorage fighting gale force winds and driving rain as we reanchored in 35' near the Coast Guard dock. Settled in taking turns on anchor watch, until the wee small hours, by which time all was again calm. Wednesday, reanchored closer into the anchoring area upon request of the Coast Guard (they said we were into the big boat channel).
Up early yesterday to watch cruiseship Princess Danae arrive, turn around, and back into the ferry dock. Quite a behemoth, dwarfing even Panorama a large car ferry docked on the other side. Planned to leave today for Store Bay, round the corner of Tobago to the southwest of Scarborough, but elephants on the horizon and the horrible bucking around of Drivers Wanted (38' Perry designed double-ender, as it left the anchorage ahead of us) made us think better of it. We'll wait til the seas come down a bit. This morning, from Eric (3855.0 LSB) at 6:30am learned about Tropical Storm Odette south of Haiti, heading to the Northeast. Forecast track has been adjusted 300 miles to the east, since yesterday (pushed down by High Pressure off the US east coast). Odette has drawn up the ITCZ, which explains the tremendous downpours and thunder/lightning which occurred intermittently through the night. More expected today, with very lumpy and bumpy seas. Brazilian sailboat Redboy arrived yesterday morning, reanchored during the night as it too got to close the concreate boativerous dock. We'll stay put a bit longer, wait until things calm down before heading round the southwest corner of Tobago to explore its beautiful west coast beaches/anchorages.
Saturday, December 6, 2003
11 degrees 9.4 mins North, 060 degrees, 39.1 minutes West,
anchored in Store Bay, Tobago, West Indies.
Up early this morning to redo the rope-chain splice on the primary anchor (very poor job done by Budget Rigging in Trinidad) and otherwise prepare for leaving Scarborough. Yesterday, upgraded our Pactor IIe (radio modem) with the Pactor III firmware, which we had downloaded back in DC along with the Airmail update and went to the SCS website to apply for Pactor III license ($149 US). Listened to Eric at 0630 hours on 3855.0 LSB, able to hear OK, but our transmission virtually unreadable. Did radio check a couple of other times, our transmissions are clearly not getting out. So e-mail problem is radio-related, not computer related. Went ashore to check e-mail and provision. On returning to the dinghy dock were dumbfounded to see Redboy still at anchor beside us but with sails up/in the water and mast broken clean through at the lower spreaders. Captain up at the stump busily trying to disconnect the tangle. Dinghied over to offer help. Language difficulties prohibited serious communication, but we ascertained they had things under control, gleaned no details of this freak incident (it not being the time to distract the crew), then proceeded back to our boat and took a photo. Upped anchor at 1300 hours, trailing empty dinghy, and motored out of the harbour, raising main and jib. Turned east and sailed to the cut between Drew Bank and Tobago's southwest corner, then turned north and into Store Bay, at Crown Point, where we dropped the anchor at 1515 hours in 26'. 11.2 nmiles by the rhumb line, 10.9 by the log, average speed made good, 5 knots. Very pretty anchorage, 8 other boats here plus 3 more to the north in the lee of Bucco Reef. Maude I Jones pulled in soon thereafter, and anchored near us. Rob and Mary came over for a brief happy hour, to be introduced to Pat--they had arrived in Chagauramus on November 6, and shared the taxi with Bill and Ralph to Power Boats, where their boat also was on the hard.
Did some investigation and discovered that the antenna tuner was hanging loose in the stern lazarette, disconnected from both antenna wire and ground. No wonder we couldn't transmit. Ralph earned his keep (again!) and reconnected everything, and BINGO!, we successfully sent/received e-mail.
Sunday, December 7, 2003
11 degrees 18.5 mins North, 060 degrees, 50.5 minutes West,
anchored in Parlatuvier Bay on the northwest shore of Tobago, West Indies.
Upped anchor in Store Bay at 1035 hours and motored round Bucco Reef, then heading northeast. Motored with the jib up into the lumpy seas and contrary wind, found small scenic Parlatuvier Bay, surrounded by cliffs on two sides, and dropped anchor at 1348 hours in 37' outside the 20 local fishing boats (pierogs--sp?) living there. This put us at the mouth of the Bay, in substantially rolly conditions, listening to the waves crashing on the rocky shore. 18.2 miles by the log, 16.3 by the rhumb line, average speed made good 5 knots. No other sailboats here. Dinghied ashore to the low dock on the north side of the fishing pier protruding from the beach. Very friendly locals assisted us by lending us a stern anchor to keep the dinghy from surging up and down into the pier. Wandered ashore, following Chris Doyle's little map on the chartlet of the Bay. The Doyle guides to the Leewards, Windwards, Trinidad and Tobago, have been our essential tool in deciding where to stop along the Caribbean islands. Found a little store for some provisions near the beach, and from it climbed a long stairway/path to the top of the southern cliff bordering the bay and took another photo. What a spectacularly beautiful place. Plenty of pelicans and frigate birds to keep us company. Planned the passage from here to Charlotteville, then Barbados.
Upped anchor in Tobago's Parlatuvier Bay Monday morning at 0750 hours and headed out of the bay then inside the Sisters rocks towards Charlotteville. Had enjoyable company from some dolphins for about 20 minutes. Dropped anchor in 45' in the harbor at Charlotteville at 0925 hours. 7 nmiles over the ground, average boat speed 4.4 knots. Very pretty harbour, well protected, about 18 other boats. Decided to continue on to Barbados, the weather being propitious. There is an anomolous low pressure system about 900 miles northwest of the Cape Verde islands, heading southwest. Dinghied ashore to clear in, and out, with Trinidad and Tobago Customs and Immigration. Did some more provisioning in the well stocked grocery, and from fruit and vegetable stands along the beach. Filled jerry jugs with water and returned to the boat. Serviced terminals on new upper life lines (Budget Rigging in Trinidad failed to put cotter rings in the terminals, and two had come loose). We missed it in all our checking of the work done in our absence. Deflated and stored the dinghy, prepared for passage, and upped anchor at 1410 hours. Motor-sailed on a course of 053 magnetic to counter leeway from current sweeping northwest between Tobago and Barbados.
Lumpy seas (cross trains from east and northeast) slowly diminished as we ploughed on through the night. Bright full moon illumined our passage, 3-hour watches. A third hand makes things so much easier! Barbados crept up over the horizon at 0900 hours on Tuesday morning, we saw no other boats since Tobago. Requested permission (VHF Channel 16) from Bridgetown Harbour Port Control to enter the harbour, and were directed to tie up just astern of cruiseship Constellation on the huge concrete dock--which we did at 1205 hours. 131.1 nmiles by the log, 121.8 over the ground (the difference presumably up and down on the swells), average SOG 5.5 knots. Proceeded to clear in with customs and immigration, and made giant hot lunch (spagghetti and meat sauce) quickly consumed by hungry crew.
Left dock at 1520 hours and motored out the harbour then south to Carlisle Bay, where we picked up one of the Boatyard Restaurant's free moorings in 27' of water. Inflated and launched the dinghy. Part of the crew went ashore to check regarding the mooring and to get our bearings, and part remained with the boat to clean up the galley and put everything back in order after the passage. Numerous other boats in this roomy and comfortable anchorage, albeit with a lot of noise from the beach. Successfully did e-mail again (what a relief) and checked in with Eric on 3855.0 LSB at 1830 hours. Learned that the anomolous low pressure had gone tropical, and had been designated Tropical Storm Peter at 21.4 North, 36.8 West around 1100 EST. Peter had briefly attained hurricane status, but was now moving north and diminishing. A bizarre hurricane season for 2003--three out-of-season storms, Anna in April, Claudette in May(?), and Peter in December.
Not the best night's sleep, even although the anchorage is very comfortable. Blaring (and in our opinion ugly) music from the Boatyard Restaurant until 0330 hours, at which point a loud announcement was made "last call for alcohol" and the music slowly died down and quit at 0400 hours. The price of a free mooring apparently. Up early, despite interrupted sleeps, to a gorgeous calm sunny morning. We can see the bottom 27' below. We haven't seen water this clear since the Bahamas. Breakfasted on Ralph's special pancakes and looking forward to exploring this reportedly beautiful island over the next several days. Also to finding showers and doing piled up laundry.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
13 degrees 5.5 mins North, 059 degrees, 36.8 minutes West,
On a mooring in Carlisle Bay, Barbados.
A busy and interesting week exploring Barbados. We took Ralph to the airport on Friday, bade him goodbye, and began settling back into life on Callipygia, just the two of us. Our harbor routine consists of getting up at 0500 hours, checking e-mail, drinking coffee in the cockpit while the sun comes up, checking weather with Eric (3855.0 LSB at 0630) and George (7214.0 LSB at 0715), listening to the Safety and Security Net (8104.0 at 0815), doing the Kata--unless it's too rolly, then a couple of hours by each of us for the boat (cleaning, organizing, routine maintenance, and fixing defects). After that, go ashore, walk a while, do errands, eat lunch, walk some more. Then back to the boat, study French (the Living Language Series) in anticipation of time visiting Martinique and Guadeloupe, practice recorder/guitar/singing, do passage planning and/or more work for the boat (afternoon is optional, morning work is mandatory if we're to keep up), read, play Mastermind or Cribbage, work on the website, and have a light happy hour (in benign conditions) and supper snack while watching the sunset from the cockpit or listening to the news (BBC 5975.0 AM (short-wave) hourly after 2100 UTC). Shared in the collective global sigh of relief at the news of the capture of Saddam Hussein on Saturday. Prayed for the people of Iraq.
Among the "boat chores" done this week, we reinventoried and reorganized our charts as we stowed the new batch we acquired for our planned Atlantic crossing. Also changed the fresh water filter, programmed the new VHF radio with our MMSI number, settled into the radio net routine and found the Trans-Atlantic Net (21,400.0 USB at 1300 UTC). Watched the anchorage fill up--now about 35 boats here, compared to 20 when we arrived. Majority are French, with some Norwegians, Danes, a boat from Finland, one from Switzerland, a couple of Canadians, and one other US flagged vessel. Did the passage planning to get to Martinique, probably leave on Friday. Reviewed the anchorage options between here and St. Martin, and made a tentative schedule for visiting Martinique and then the Leeward Islands between now and April. Looking forward to a leisurely time stopping at interesting places. Happy to report that we upgraded our radio modem for our e-mail connection through Winlink so that it now goes 3-4 times as fast.
Last Wednesday evening, Adolf and Isabella on Sibad, a sturdy little Danish sloop (anchored near us in Barbados a few days earlier, 23 days out from the Canaries) came over for Happy Hour. Enjoyed getting to know them, and learning about the excellent cruising grounds around Denmark. Took notes of their experience cruising the Madeira and the Canary islands. Gave them information about Tobago, their next stop. Thursday, cleared out of Barbados Customs and Immigration, and paid the harbour tax. Did final provisioning, and readied boat and ourselves for passage to Martinique. Friday morning, brought the dinghy aboard, cleaned its bottom, deflated and stored it and its motor. Prepared hand food (sandwiches, snacks, hot water) for the trip. Rested for an hour, and dropped the mooring just before noon, headed out into Carlisle Bay and raised the main (1 reef) and staysail. Set a compass course of 314 degrees in a northeast wind of about 15 knots, forecast to be 15-20. As we passed from the lee of Barbados, the swells built to 5-6', easterly, every 7 seconds. Windwaves about 3' from the northeast. Mild confusion of wave trains on our beam made for a somewhat rolly ride. The autopilot handled the steering fairly well, with periodic adjustments when the seas knocked us off course. A fair amount of traffic, mostly fishing boats during the remainder of the day--pleasant sunny conditions. We chose not to increase sail as dusk fell, since we were already doing a good 5.5 - 6.5 knots knots. Going faster looked like we'd reach Martinique in the dark, not what we wanted to happen. Phenominal star coverage as the night progressed, with the occasional large ship overtaking or going in the opposite direction, well clear of our track. 3-hour watches. Loom of lights on St. Lucia by midnight, and the wind reduced to about 10 knots, veering to the southeast, and our speed slowing to 4.5 knots. By 0300, the wind was essentially gone, so we turned on the iron genny and motor-sailed in our own wind. Couldn't hold our desired course, so took a large down-wind tack at 0700 for about an hour and a half to bring us east along Martinique's south shore, then headed north towards Le Marin. Found easily the well marked channel into this long shoally harbor and at about 1100 hours dropped anchor in 18' near the floating dock off the boatyard. 124.1 nmiles by the log, 114 by the rhumb line. Average speed made good was 5.0 knots. Heard Iguazu on the VHF, and talked to Roger. How nice to find good friends here. Mark and Murphy on double-ender Arcturus stopped by in their dinghy to say "Hello", recognizing Callipygia as another Robert Perry designed boat.
Since Le Marin customs leaves at noon, after hoisting the Q flag, we stowed all our passage paraphernalia from the cockpit (life jackets, tethers, charts, deck log, electronic gadgets, flashlight, snack bag, water bottles, etc., etc.) We then put the cabin back for harbor use (stowed the lee cloth back under the cabin berth, removed thermos flasks and various other galley items from the sinks so they don't crash around, removed fiddles from the stove, took the bungies off the cabin settee seatbacks, etc., etc.) Made and downed a large meal of spagghetti and meat sauce, and then crashed. One of us is able to nap during an overnight passage, the other is not so lucky--it takes a longer period of adjustment for this one. Slept for several hours in the afternoon, then settled in for the night--this anchorage is well sheltered and does not roll. Enjoy it while we've go it.
Sunday, inflated and launched the dinghy and went ashore to the dinghy dock in the huge Marina (600 boats). Very easy and friendly clearing in with customs (no need for immigration, apparently, for our short stay of about a month in/around Martinique). We wandered around the town of Le Marin, found the Tourist office, and (finally) a working ATM, from which we withdrew Euros to finance an enjoyable late breakfast of baguettes and beer. Pretty little town, enough people speak enough English for us to get by. Bought two bottles of very inexpensive red wine in a little shop near the beach. Wonder how many cases we can store on board? Monday, went ashore to the Carenantiles (Boatyard) end of the harbor, painfully checked e-mail (with a French keyboard, no qwertyoup here), and found large well-stocked supermarket, feels like we're in France. Very nice. Upped anchor at 1245 hours and headed towards the fuel dock, 2 boats already tied up so circled around for 20 minutes before a spot became available. Filled up with diesel (23 gallons) and water (85 gallons), then headed back out the channel, around some shoals, and into this quieter, less busy, part of anchorage on the south side of the harbor near Iguazu. Anchored in 24'. Had a lovely happy hour (hour??) on Iguazu with Roger and Adrianna, meeting their friends Dennis and Arlene (former Tayana owners) on Canadian-flagged Tiger Lilly II.
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
14 degrees 26.3 mins North, 060 degrees, 53.2 minutes West,
anchored in the bay at St. Anne's, Martinique.
Hauled anchor at 1000 hours and motored, with dinghy alongside, out into the channel and around the corner to the bay at St. Anne's, a little fishing village just to the southeast outside the Le Marin harbor. 2.5 nmiles, average boat speed 3 knots. Anchored in 17' in sand, well off the town beach. About 100 other boats (sporting flags from the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and a few from the USA) in this roomy, shallow, and fairly well protected anchorage, only a little rolly. Obviously a popular spot. Going ashore in the dinghy, we stopped by Herman Melville, 38' Hans Christian, to say hello to Jerome and Judy, friends of Rich Wilder former owner of our dear Callipygia (previously known as Ambrose Light.) We wandered round this lovely little town, and ate lunch in restaurant overlooking the fishing dock and town beach. Watched 3 little guys (aged 3-4) filling and refilling their pants with sand, and having a hilarious time in the doing. Shared in their hilarity. In the afternoon, joined in a "raft up" of about 36 dinghies to sing Christmas carols--in English, French, Spanish, Swedish, Czech. About 100 adults and kids, many wearing Santa hats. Towards dusk, the raft let go of its mooring and we slowly drifted through the anchorage, quietly singing. It was wonderful (of course we forgot the camera!) Wrote letter of commendation regarding the work we had done at Power Boats and emailed it to the Caribbean Compass, a free monthly publication for Caribbean cruisers. A few rain showers in the last 24 hours, just enough to give our boat a little bath.
Sunday, December 28, 2003
Lat 14 deg 27.6 mins North, Long 060 deg 52.1 mins West,
anchored in the harbor at Le Marin, Martinique.
Wednesday, after a long walk and lunch ashore, we sorted through and weeded our large collection of non-boat books because we had become totally overwhelmed and out of shelf space to keep so many. We put together 4 plastic (grocery) bags filled with books we were ready to give away, leaving us with basically our poetry library, a bunch of philosophical texts, and reference books. We decided that we could no longer hang on to books we acquire for reading enjoyment and enlightenment after we've finished with them. Books still waiting to be read and then disposed of, we put in a canvas bag. This greatly relieved the pressure on our book space, even freeing up some shelving for other purposes. Friends Roger and Adrianna on Iguazu came by and relieved us of the pastic bags and contents--what a joy to have cruising friends with whom we have common reading interests. Later, we played Christmas carols on the recorder and had a leisurely supper of baguette sandwiches and wine. Thursday, Christmas morning, brought good steady rain to wash sweet Callipygia. We read poetry (Robert Frost and Emilie Dickinson) to each other with our morning coffee in the cockpit as the sun came up. Did a few boat chores, swam and showered, restrung, tuned, and played guitar--and recorder (with our newly oiled and now-in-time metronome) and just generally enjoyed each other. Pot luck dinner with about 20 other boats in the afternoon near the beach. Friday (Boxing Day) brought more morning rain and a burst of energy to one of us and a day of do-nothing to the other. The lethargic one read, made a quick trip ashore, and played the guitar. The energetic one found a new tip and applied it to the brass clock and barometer in the cabin, which were looking like sh...t. 3-M green scuff pad and vinegar did an awesome job. Polished up the casings for the two instruments, and then rubbed them with oil. We'll see how long they keep their lustre. Sorted, weeded, and inventoried cruising guides and navigation references, and finished reorganizing book storage. Then cleaned out our clothing closet, aired everything, checked zippers for corrosion, discarded a few items, and reorganized clothing for more convenient access. Cleaned out one of the food cupboards, and discarded items beyond expiration dates. Cleaned off more accumulated Sahara dust from the cupboard louvers and fan blades in the cabin.
Yesterday morning we upped anchor and rafted up on the starboard quarter of the Dutch boat Kuan Yin, whom we met in Le Marin, while George, a retired marine architect with a complete shop on board this big sloop, ground off the fishing rod holder welded to the portside stern rail for us. We have acquired an automatically deploying and inflating Man-Overboard-Module for the Atlantic crossing, and this is the only suitable space we have to affix it. So, once we start serious fishing, we'll have to figure out another way to stand the working rod. A nice long walk ashore along the beach in front of the campground, and then happy hour on Iguazu with Cam and Doris of the Canadian Whitby 42' ketch Foxfire II. This morning, woke to quite a bit of boat motion--the barrometer has dropped to 1007, and the wind is around in the south-southwest. Retrieved the weather fax from Winlink, along with the grib file and text forecast which tells us that the end of a long trailing cold front is approaching the island chain. To get ahead of it, we upped anchor at 0850 hours and motored the 2.5 nmiles back to Le Marin and anchored in the shelter of the southside of this mangrove lined harbor. Went ashore, only to learn that laundromats and Internet cafes closed on Sunday. Back on the boat, the leading edge ahead of the front arrived at 1400 with a brief downpour (cleaned the decks), then we sat watching ferocious-looking dark clouds gather to the West. Many boats out and about seemed to leave it to the last minute to turn for shelter, and got plastered as the squall arrived, winds to 30 knots, heavy rain-catching rain, barometer down to 1006.5 and winds clocking round to the northwest. Two nearby boats dragged and had to reanchor. All well on Callipygia. Spent remainder of the afternoon reading, and awaiting completion of the frontal passage.
Compiled annual cruising statistics for the year.
Copyright 2005 The Trouser Rollers. All Rights Reserved.