Last Modified:
June 17, 2008

 

Ship's Log - 2004
Return to the Trouser Rollers' Home Page

Bill Dillon (KG4QFM)
and
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)

          This log is the journal of Callipygia's travels during our last year of blue-water cruising. After this, we switched to land cruising in our 24' RV. Click here to read about those adventures.

          The map to the left shows our final cruising route. Click on it for more information.

          We began the year planning to cross the Atlantic Off the coast of Antigua to Ireland. However, once we arrived in Bermuda - and after much soul-searching - we decided the time had come to return to the US and switch to land cruising in an RV.

          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.

          The log entries are reconstructed and summarized from Callipygia's Deck Log and Boat Notes which is where we documented our daily travels and travails.

[Click here to find journals for other years of our travels]


Monday, January 5, 2004
Lat 14 deg 27.6 mins North, Long 060 deg 52.1 mins West,
anchored in the harbor at Le Marin, Martinique.

          A lot of boat incidents last week. Listening to Herb a week ago (12359.0Hz at 2000 hours UTC) heard that boat Tropical Sea was aground on reef at west end of Caicos bank (position 21 deg 33 mins N, 072 deg, 16 mins W), there since previous day and unable to get off. Crew still on board, bad weather forecast to continue. Relayed the information to the Safety and Security Net (8104.0Hz at 0815 hrs) who put out call for assistance. Learned on other radio nets this week that: (1) 2 boats including Mad River went ashore on Tuesday in Carlisle Bay, Barbados, as a result of 6' ground swells in the anchorage from the Atlantic weather system; (2) on Wednesday, a chartered catamaran went aground on the reef between the Tobago Cays and Mayreau in the Grenadines: (3) a Prout catamaran, Tropic Kat, 2 on board no SSB, left Gran Canaria for Bequia on November 22 is overdue; (4) 36' wooden Alaskan schooner Galivan, 2 on board, left St. Helena for Tobago on November 29, EPIRB went off December 31; (5) brand new 10' Zodiac dinghy owned by German sailboat Concubine stolen from carenage in Le Marin, Martinique, December 31; (6) 21' pirogue Sonson, blue hull red bottom, with twin 85hp and 250hp Yamaha outboards stolen from Chagauramus December 31; (7) Lady Helen lost rudder enroute from Bermuda to Culebra, has safely arrived; and (8) a man in an inflatable dinghy from sailboat Lancelot with a 2hp engine is missing near Fort de France since New Year's Eve. We remind ourselves that incidents are unusual, and most cruisers live and travel safely, and we're more secure doing this than living in DC and driving on the Beltway. Ralph has bought tickets to join us in St. Martin and sail with us to Bermuda in May--yipee!

          Last Monday brought a day of flat calms and continued low pressure (1007 mb) as this huge cold front slowly moved through the island chain. The low pressure system to which is attached is generating very big northerly swells, to 11', scheduled to reach as far south as Trinidad by the end of the week. Installed the new MOM-8A man-overboard module on the stern rail. Then spent most of the day emptying out the quarterberth area, which was filled with stuff brought back from the U.S. Weeded and reorganized the contents of all the storage areas beside/under the berth, updated the inventory, and produced a pile of items to dispose of--we'll leave beside the dumpster to be recycled by local and cruising trash-pickers. Weeded and reorganized the contents of 2 of the storage hammocks in the main cabin. Cleaned out the refrigerator, and reorganized its storage for improved access. Big nasty pre-frontal squall in mid-afternoon, winds west to northwest 25-30 knots along with downpour for about 20 minutes before calming down. Winds picked up again in the night, still out of the north, round to the northeast by morning with a rising barometer. Forecast is for high winds all week, northeast winds 20-25 knots, and big seas--to 11'.

          Tuesday, dinghied ashore to shower, pay monthly bills via the Internet, and deliver laundry (3-weeks worth!) to the local launderer. Did some provisioning, and got soaked by the wind waves (white horses everywhere) returning home. For remainder of day did hourly checks of ground tackle. Wednesday, continued weeding and tossing, this time cleaning out the engine room. New Year's Day, cleaned out and reorganized all our drugs and first-aid supplies, then cleaned the boat and enjoyed happy hour on board with Mark and Murphy on Arcturus, and Jerome and Judy on Herman Melville, two other US-flagged double-enders anchored nearby. Friday, we rented a car for the day (Europcar) and zig-zagged our way around Martinique. Good roads, well marked, lots of horse-shoe bends. Went to look at villages and anchorages across the bay from Fort de France, then through the fabulous rainforest and along the north coast to Grand Riviere, a spectacular little fishing village. Then back through Morne Rouge, skirting volcanic Mt. Pelee, to St. Pierre (former island capital, obliterated by erruption of Mt. Pelee in 1902), and south along the coast to Fort de France and home. A lot of sitting in the car, but an excellent overview of the island--hope to explore in more details as we move the boat along. Saturday we took "off", and Sunday morning cleaned out, weeded, and aired shoes, linens, and stuff stored in the shower (AKA garage). All that periodic spring cleaning one forgot to do in a house, gets made up for on a boat! Alternator stopped charging batteries/running 'frig during the morning engine run--belt needed tightening, a simple fix. Today, morning coffee on Iguazu, picked up our mail at the marina, made phone calls, disposed of much weeded stuff, various other errands and then found the supermarkets "closed for inventory". Internet cafe's had waiting lines or unable to do ftp to update website.

          It's been a very windy week, with poor sleeping conditions, frequent anchor checks, some night squalls, and wet dinghy butt on every trip. Very happy to be tucked in in a harbor that's protected all around from ground swells. (Are they called "ground" swells because they're coming in from the ocean towards the ground. ??). Looks like this is par for the course for periods during the winter, with 20-25 knot winds and big seas for days/weeks on end, as the Atlantic High settles in south of Bermuda and ridges out east and west until it is pushed away or overcome by a winter low pressure system moving off the US east coast. Not much sailboat comings and goings, most are staying put, like us. Current forecast is for winds to continue up through Wednesday, then moderate a bit. None of this weather detracts from our morning and evening rituals in the cockpit, observing the sun rise and set. We feel so privileged at these times, and overcome by the unfathomable gift of life. To see, to hear, to feel, to smell--and to notice and think, and be aware of this miraculous bounty. Today, a thin line of clouds raised itself about 5 degrees above the horizon to the west and let us watch the golden globe of the sun sink quickly below the Earth's edge--and with binoculars we could see a well-defined green flash on each side of the orb as it left us for the night. Mr. Moon had already risen in the east before the sun left, to smile on us through the early night hours.

 

Friday, January 9, 2004
Lat 14 deg 33.2 mins North, Long 061 deg 03.3 mins West,
anchored at Anse Mitan, Martinique.

          Tuesday, finished going through the mail and organizing the resulting "todos" (paperwork, items to mail and e-mail, phone calls to make). Listened to new weather net in David Jones former time slot--Chris Parker, Bel Ami, 8104.0Hz at 0830 hours, and 12359.0Hz at 0900 hrs. Generally listen to Eric, George, and now Chris each morning--each gives a somewhat different weather perspective, and every day learn a bit more about this highly complicated subject. Learned that on Monday Tropic Kat finally arrived in Bequia from Gran Canaria (44 days in transit). Appears that Lancelot's dinghy and crew member are well on their way to Panama or Puerto Rico. Hope evaporating for finding him. Lancelot didn't put word out for search until he was missing for 2 days--long enough to be deadly in a dinghy--especially when the occupant has no safety or communications equipment. Wednesday, rented a car and drove to Fort de France. Had a thoroughly enjoyable day wandering round the Center City, visiting the Dillon distillery, and provisioning at the huge Hyper U Supermarket in the Galleria shopping mall. The French certainly know how to eat well! Viewed the anchorage on the north side of the bay near the cruiseship dock, and also at the east end in Cohe de Lamentin, near the airport. Found several traffic jams to detract from the good and well-marked roads. Thursday, worried and worked through paperwork stuff from recent mail (at least we only get it every 4-6 weeks) using Internet and phone card. Yuk. Tax time. Stood in line for 30 minutes at La Poste to send mail to the U.S. Prepared for moving on to Anse Mitan--checked with customs, no need to clear from LeMarin, we should clear out from Fort de France. Wrestled with and solved an annoying laptop problem (Windows ME operating system is bug-ridden) with assistance of Charlie durimg Happy Hour on Kameloha where we met Greg and Sylvia on Kish, another Tayana 37. This morning, upped anchor (a lot of growth on the first 25' of chain had to be scrubbed off as it was being hauled in) at 0835 hours, and headed over to the fuel dock. Had to circle around for about 30 minutes before space opened up on the dock. French boat jumped the queue ahead of us. Refueled and rewatered. Left the fuel dock at 0950 hours and headed out through the channel. Wind dead astern, so hauled out the yankee and motor-sailed. Passed between Diamond Rock and the mainland, and turned to the northwest, continuing to motor sail. At noon headed round to enter Baie de Fort de France and battled our way against the wind to find the bay at Anse Mitan, avoiding a freighter and numerous ferries. Dropped anchor in 20' at 1405 hours. 28.3 miles by the log, avg boat speed 6.6 knots. Speed over the ground, 5.75 knots. Rather crowded anchorage, and frequent rolls from ferry wakes. Lovely view of Fort de France. Gave sweet Callipygia a bath with fresh water and Joy and--lo--along comes a nicely timed quick downpour to wash her off. Large Finish luxury catamaran Wenda Coral came in and anchored right in front of us, probably blocking us from leaving and poised to fall back on us in a blow. Charter sailors are often blithely unaware of cruising etiquette and safety procedures. No weather anticipated, deal with that in the morning. These huge catamarans look like Darth Vader. Current plan is to stay here for a few days, taking ferry to Fort De France and enjoying the village of Anse Mitan, then head north to St. Pierre to briefly visit the devastation from the 1995 eruption of Mt. Pelee, and from there go to Portsmouth, Dominica, and sight-see there for a bit before heading for Guadeloupe.

 

Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Position: 14 deg 44.4 mins North, 061 deg, 10.7 mins West,
anchored off St. Pierre, Martinique.

          Saturday morning we dinghied ashore, stopping by on the way to say hello to Canadians Gwyn and Sandy, on the Westsail 32' cutter Aloha T, last seen in St. Anne. We wandered round the lovely little villages of Pointe du Boute and Anse Mitan, both pleasantly touristy resort areas. Pointe du Boute felt straight out of France. Took the ferry (6 euros return, 15 minutes each way) to Fort De France and wandered around the older parts of downtown and adjacent areas. A very neat city. Back to Callipygia for a nap, then a swim from our wonderful new swimladder, installed in Trinidad. What a difference it makes. Happy that we're doing a better job at incorporating photos into the website, and more often remembering to take photographs. Sunday morning learned on the radio that Gallivant arrived in Tobago yesterday, it's EPIRB had malfunctioned, all is well. Did a few boat chores and spent time reading cruising resources for Ireland--resources are quite different to what we have become accustomed to. Foxfire II showed up in the anchorage, visited with them for a little in their large roomy center cockpit. Ate excellent lunch at Chez Fanny's, across from the beach in Anse Mitan. Monday, took laundry ashore (27 euros for 3 loads wash, dry, and fold, ouch) and ferried over to Fort de France to clear out with customs. One of us has developed a couple of painful joints on right hand, strapped it up. It is bit disabling. This morning, upped anchor at 0925 hours and headed out into the bay. Sail slide came off while hoisting the main, and also lost the first reefing line inside the boom--don't know what happened to the stopper knot on the end of it, it has evidently come undone. Since only a short distance to St. Pierre, brought main back down and motor sailed with jib up. Dropped anchor at 1130 hours. 16 nmiles by the log, average boat speed 5.5 knots. Found Aloha T here already, and were later joined by Kish. Visited a little with both of them as they stopped by on way ashore. Strange anchorage, along the edge of this former capital of Martinique--oblitered by eruption of Mt. Pelee in 1902, only 1 survivor out of 30,000 inhabitants. Pretty little fishing town, a working place not a tourist place. Shelf off the beach is quite narrow and drops off quickly, so boats all anchored in a line fronting the beach, swinging every which way as flukey winds play down from the mountain. Sorted out sailslide problem, investigated boom--no easy way to get a messenger along and rethread the reef line. Changed the second reef line to go to the first reef cringle in the interim.

Thursday, January 15, 2004
Position: 15 deg 34.9 mins North, 061 deg 27.3 mins West, anchored in
Prince Rupert's Bay, Dominica

          Wednesday, dinghied ashore to wander round St. Pierre. Went into the Musee Volcanologique to find artefacts recovered from Mt. Pelee's deadly 1902 eruption, and saw before and after photographs. Walked through the remains of the old theatre, and looked into the dungeon where the town's sole survivor (of 30,000 souls) was found. Then back and forth along the two main streets, parallel to the shore, of this interesting town--a shadow of its former self. Population now about 5,000. Some buildings have been restored, many have not. A poignant tour, ending with delicious lunch at Antoine's Beach, on the gray volcanic sand beach at the south end of the town. Happy Hour with Bob and Megan on Woof their US flagged Beneteau anchored next to us--invitation issued by Bob swimming over to deliver it. Deflated, hoisted and stowed the dinghy and motor and otherwise prepared for an early departure on Thursday. Mother of all storms is leaving the US heading northeast, with hurricane force winds building behind it. Center expected to drop below 950mb. Pray for shipping in the area. It will send northerly swells our way Sunday and Monday. Thursday, upped anchor at 0620 hours, and headed out into the bay. Raised main, then staysail and motored north. Hauled out yankee and turned off engine at 0800 hours as we entered the inter-island passage between Martinique and Dominica. Winds 12-15 knots, east-northeast, gentle 3-5' swells. Gorgeous beam reach, doing 6.5 to 7.5 knots under full sail until just abeam of Rousseau, Dominica, where we came into the lee of the island and lost the wind. Started engine and rolled in yankee, then dropped the staysail, and motorsailed in our own wind along the length of the island. Friendly exchange with Portsmouth boat-boy Albert who was waiting offshore looking for business at 1455 hours, a mile or so south of Prince Rupert Bay. Dropped anchor in the northern part of the Bay in 20' at 1555 hours. Love our little iPaq pocket navigation system--thanks Ralph! 60.8 nmiles by the log, 55.65 over the ground. Average boat speed 6.3 knots. Arranged with Albert for ride to customs for clearance in the morning. Planning to stay here a week or longer, and explore this beautiful lightly-populated volcanic island.

 

Sunday, January 18, 2004
Position: 15 deg 34.9 mins North, 061 deg 27.3 mins West, anchored in
Prince Rupert's Bay, Dominica

          Friday morning, Albert came to take us to customs for clearance. Customs is near the Portsmouth town dock, which has seen better days. Shore along Portsmouth waterfront impressively littered with 5 rusting freighter wrecks, washed ashore in various hurricanes. Then to immigration (in the Police Station), to learn that "the stamps" were out at the cruise-ship dock, where a 4-masted schooner had arrived earlier in the morning. Leaving dinghy stowed at least for a few days, helping the local economy by using services of boat boys. Tough living for the locals in this very third-world country. Around noon, back ashore for immigration, then an enjoyable wander round town. Several little grocery stores, a couple of bakeries, a good internet cafe. Walked south along the shore (the view blocked in several places by the rusty wrecks), then back north of town to the Purple Turtle where we ate lunch overlooking the anchorage. Bought bananas from 2 young kids who came by in a dinghy. Saturday morning, there are now about 20 other boats here and Albert is having to juggle jobs--apparently it's feast or famine in his line of work. Went to the weekly market, by far the best we've seen. Had great fun buying all kinds of good-looking fresh locally-grown produce, bread, and fish for dinner: big curly lettuce, 2 small cabbage, 1lb tomatoes, 3 cucumbers, 1lb onions, 2lb potatoes, 1lb green beans, bunch radishes, bunch carrots, chunk of pumpkin, 2 fresh ginger roots, 6 passion fruit, 5 ripe plantains, loaf brown bread, small fruit cake, and 1lb fish, all for less than $15US. Swells from that Atlantic storm off the east coast of the US should begin to arrive tomorrow, shouldn't affect us too much tucked into the northern corner of this big protected bay, we hope. Record low temperatures in the northeast US, glad we're nice and warm. Later, Pat went with Albert to snorkel in Douglas Bay, around --variety of schools of colorful fish among the volcanic rocks in the clear blue water. Sunday, up early to get picked up by Albert, who rowed us up the Indian River, within the Dominica National Park area. Amazing experience, gliding along muddy river through the jungle, hearing lots of birds but seeing few--egrets, green heron, bananaquit, thrasher, and kingfishers. Amazing lush growth and swamp bloodwood trees everywhere. Many coconuts sprouting little trees where they fell. White crabs along the banks, hiding from the herons. Found a family on its way to work at a little rest stop on the river. Later, inflated and launched the dinghy and went ashore to walk around Cabrits National Park. Walked up to Fort Shirley, found a tree loaded with papaya growing out of the rocky ruins. Back on Callipygia, entertained for a couple of hours by a convention of 12 (yes twelve) Moorings charter boats that came in and packed closely together in the anchorage. Boats were filled with people who obviously knew each other and were enjoying themselves immensely (in French). Great spectating!

 

Thursday, January 22, 2004
Position: 15 deg 51.5 mins North, 061 deg 35.2 mins West. Anchored at
Bourg des Saintes, Isle Terre den Haut, Guadeloupe, French West Indies.

          Two boating mysteries this week has everyone abuzz on Eric's ham net (0630 hrs, 3855LSB). (1) Dutch-flagged 50' sailboat, Nelson found drifting empty and dismasted off St. Vincent a week ago--whereabouts of crew unknown. (2) Brand new 57' Beneteau sloop, nameless blue hull with white stripe, center cockpit, blue bimini, stolen from Charleston City Marina in South Carolina on the night of January 7. Hams reported boat matching this description seen in St. Lucia a few days ago and is currently anchored in Bequia--turned out to be a demo boat crewed by Benetau staff. Stolen boat still at large. Monday we took the bus to Roseau, Dominica's capital, reminiscent of Dominican Republic experience--excellent transportation system, privately owned vans running an inexpensive bus service, schedule according to when they get passengers. 50-minute trip along scenic west-coast, $8EC one way. In Rouseau, we wandered round the downtown area, and past the market Among other street scenes we saw the headquarters of the Dominica Progressive Party gearing up for the next election. Dominica's prime minister died suddenly last week. Enjoyed Happy Hour with Mike and Jean on lean little Calpurnia, British racers from London. Swells from Atlantic storm arrived and made for a rather rolly night. Tuesday morning, the Moorings contingent left anchor and practiced their sailing skills for a while, before they left headed north leaving our depleted anchorage to return to its peace and quiet. What a great time those charter boat crews seemed to be having--a fortunate few, as indeed are we. So much disparity in the world, such grinding poverty and/or misery in many places.

          Tuesday, Albert took us ashore to meet guide Andy who drove us, in a small van belonging to his uncle Max, the taxi driver, across this rural island to the village of Calabishie on the east coast, past fields of coconut trees and toiling field workers to a coconut factory. [We did get permission from these people to photograph them, and provided an appropriate tip.] Dominica's primary agricultural products for export to Europe are coconuts, bananas, and citrus fruits. Some sugarcane is produced for the production of rum. Thereafter we drove up into the rainforest and hiked around, learning about the many different kinds of trees from Andy. Then we hiked to Milton Falls and took a most refreshing dip. We heard lots of parrots, and saw them flying in the distance. On the way back to the van, Andy fed us a snack of freshly picked oranges and pointed out a mahogany tree covered with seed pods. Dominica does a good job of protecting its natural environment, and we saw very little litter anywhere. We're enjoying being tourists in this beautiful island--definitely a not-to-be missed place, significantly enhanced by getting to know one or more of the boat boys, in our case Albert--whom we highly recommend. Remember though, it's important to agree on a price ahead of time for whatever, and then to stick by the agreement. One boat (Seraglio) anchored near us got in an ugly altercation with boat boy Ravioli Lover over money. Swells came down for a peaceful night's sleep. Wednesday, boat count down to 7 this morning. Albert drove us across the bay to customs, then immigration, to clear out--weather forecast pick up northeasterly winds and swells over the weekend or early next week, so decided to go to Guadeloupe before those set in. Wedensday, cleared out of customs amd immigration, and readied for departure.

          This morning, upped anchor at 0750 hrs and motored out into the bay, where we raised the main and staysail. Motorsailed up the north end of Dominica in light wind, unfurling the yankee. turned off the engine after batteries/'frig charged. Found 14-16 knots across the inter-island passage, pleasant close reach, doing 6.5 - 7 knots, towing the dinghy. Passed two cruiseship schooners under full sail, one 5 masts and one with 4. Too lumpy for a good photo. Another sailboat going ahead of us. As we approached the 8-island group of Les Saintes, hard to make out which is which. Sailboat ahead took rhumb-line opening, and it took some thought to figure out what it was doing--a nice straight line through a very tight cut between two reefy islands--not the recommended route. Thank goodness for the GPS, makes navigation much easier. Decided to stay south of the first three barrier islands, and not try to go between them. Rolled in the yankee, and dropped the staysail, turned on the motor. Headed west to find wide Passe du Sud Ouest and headed northeast to pass between Terre den Bas and first Les Augustines, then Terre Den Haut. Eyeballed the various anchorages, picked a spot off the fishing harbor at the main village, and dropped the hook at 1200 hours in 30 feet. 21.1 nmiles, average boat speed 5.5 knots. Put the motor and other equipment back into the dinghy, and motored to the ferry dock and tied up. Walked around the waterfront and got orientation to this very French very touristy place. Ate excellent (not cheap) lunch at La Genoise, and found out that one can now clear in here, at the Police station. Found it, did paperwork, and spent an hour or so checking out the town, inundated with two ferryloads of tourists from Guadeloupe. A lovely anchorage, but we've seen enough of this pretty but plastic little town.

 

Saturday, January 24, 2004
Position: 16 deg 13.6 mins North, 061 deg 32.1 mins West.
Anchored in the Riviere Salee, Guadeloupe, French West Indies.

          Yesterday morning, upped anchor at 0830 and headed out of the harbour. Raised main (1 reef) and staysail. Out into the inter-island passage, moderate wind from the northeast--just where we want to go. Motor sailed through a couple of tacks, then at 1020 hours dropped the staysail as the wind became light, and continued motor sailing on our rhumb line course for Guadeloupe. Found the first marker for the channel entrance at 1250 hours, and dropped the main. Motored into this "river" between Guadeloupe's two islands, and dropped the hook at 1300 hours in 25' among the handful of boats settled in midway between the huge Marina Bas du Fort and the city of Pointe A Pitre. 28.7 nmiles by the log, average boat speed 5 knots. Soon after, a nice heavy shower did our boatwash for us. This morning, awakened early by roll from ferry. Watched sunrise shine on Pointe A Pitre and on the large freighter dock across the river. Planned a leisurely day as we settle into our new neighborhood--Guadeloupe, a department of France, the land of canned brussels sprouts and cheap wine, but no cheddar cheese. Dinghied ashore to the marina, examined the fuel dock--definitely not very accessible, doubtful if we can manage to get alongside. Most boats come in stern-to to refuel. Plan B: jerry jug it. Water, a larger problem--there is none at the fuel dock and we need more water than can comfortably be jugged. Plan B: tie up at the marina for a while, water available at each dock space. Found supermarket and provisioned, and strolled around all the boutiques and restaurants fringing the large marina/apartment/hotel complex. Happy hour with Mike and Sylvia on Kish anchored nearby, a Tayana 37' registered in Dublin, where we met Foss and Eric on Australian boat Alta.

 

Saturday, January 31, 2004
Position: 16 deg 13.2 mins North, 061 deg 32.8 mins West. Docked in
Marina Bas Du Fort, Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, French West Indies.

          Last Sunday, we dinghied into the city and investigated tying up at the Yacht Club dinghy dock. Everything looking a bit run down, and closed up, so back through the anchorage and the dry dock area to the marina. Arranged to bring Callipygia into the marina for a month. The anchorage is very pleasant and scenic, but not conducive to boat projects--and we have many to do. We've had our down time, now it's time to get going--and work on our French. Monday morning, up as usual at 0500 hours to do e-mail--propagation very difficult and slow for the third day in a row. Then sat in the cockpit before and through the dawn to be vastly entertained by lots of traffic coming into the harbor area: 3 huge freighters/container ships, pilot boats rushing back and forth (white over red ahead, white over red over white astern), tugs pushing two barges filled with grey sand, the usual run of morning ferries to Les Saintes and Marie Galante, fishermen rowing or motoring to their pastures, and a few sailboats coming or going. Upped anchor at 0800 hours and motored into the marina entrance where we were met by Le Capitaine de Marina and his assistant (the latter with perfect English thank goodness) in their little boats, leading us to our dock spot and assisting with securing the bow and stern lines. We are next to Dorian, Robert and Dorian, from Norfolk--not too many other US vessels here. Very sheltered and quiet location--no boat worries here. Marina is carved out of a lagoon, with nutrient-rich water though, we'll need the bottom cleaned before we leave.

          Spent the week settling in, getting to know the marina environs, and working on boat chores. Enjoyed the showers, even if it's cold water only and you have to hold the spigot button on to get water. Free water and electricity on the dock. Generally hot and sunny in the afternoon, so mostly work that didn't get done in the morning, didn't get done. Plentiful boat services, a dozen eating joints, several boutiques, a supermarket, 3 car-rental places, a fantastic patisserie, two cybercafes and a laundry all within the huge marina/apartment complex. Started out with (of course) the list. Assigned chores between us, and got (fairly) busy.

          So far this week, much work and mostly successes. Resolved the issue with our new 12-volt laptop charger (Targus)--faulty connection. Then made shore power connection for our new 110/230 volt battery charger, installed in Trinidad. Plugged into 220 volts on the dock--hey presto, it works! Charges the batteries and 'frig beautifully. This marina requires liability insurance, so spent much time shopping for that--we no longer carry hull insurance since Lloyds quit covering yachts in the Caribbean year round. We knew we'd have to get liability coverage at some point for our time in the UK. Cleaned the rust spots off the windvane. Cleaned the topsides. Set up the fresh water hose to the dock, filled the water tanks and jerry jugs. Jugged 11 gallons of diesel into the tank. Emptied out the sail locker and another locker under the V-berth. Took the genoa and the storm jib ashore onto the grass behind fuel dock. Laid them out, inspected and flaked/folded them. Much reduced storage requirements! Put the storm trysail on the mast track, checked everything, adjusted its sheets and figured out where they would lead--to the aft block on the jib traveller, then to the jibsheet winch. Took the trysail ashore, and flaked it ready for easy hoisting. Reduced its stowage requirements too. Inventoried everything in the sail and forward v-berth lockers. Developed stowage plan for crossing the pond. Got laundry done. Emptied out and inventoried the emergency locker, checked dates on all flares and ditch bag supplies and made sure everything is working. Got to know Robert and Dorian next door, shared know how on assorted boat matters. Shopped the car-rental places and made reservations at Cap Caraibes. Finished essay on the Cruising Life. Repaired a chip in the topside paint/gelcoat near the bow. Took bus to Pointe a Pitre and got our bearings, fantastic chandlery (Electro Nautic), great markets, location of ferry dock. Small boater directly across the dock (and downwind) from us almost asphyxiated us by running his poorly tuned outboard at high revs interminably. On explaining our difficulty, he simply laughed. We have found a noticeable number of the French people here rude and inconsiderate. We're loving this marina, the most sheltered we've been in and with the most convenient and numerous services, shops, restaurants, etc. It's hard to think of anything we'd need we couldn't find here. The index finger of both hands of one of us continues to have painful joints, swollen on the right hand (too much pointing?) and the other one of us has a cold.

 

Saturday, February 7, 2004
Position: 16 deg 13.2 mins North, 061 deg 32.8 mins West. Docked in
Marina Bas Du Fort, Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, French West Indies.

          Week flew by. Emptied out and inventoried the contents of the shower (our "garage"), changed the engine oil, completed our order for boat supplies for the Atlantic crossing to be sent via Marine Warehouse to Antigua, got several quotes for liability insurance, and redid our netting lockers. Rented a car and toured Guadeloupe's gorgeous beaches, beautiful rainforest, and magnificent east coast. Did semi-annual housekeeping on laptops (defragmented the disks, backed up the files). Talked about what frustrates and/or gets us down about this lifestyle and figured out some ways to better help each other out of these slumps. Cleaned out and reorganized cleaning supplies and stuff--we're getting the handle on putting the items we use more often in more accessible spots. Rained all day Friday--good day for interior boat projects. Received email from an editor at Cruising World magazine who'd been browsing our website--expressed interest in us submitting some material for publication. Amazed by the volume and variety of reef life in the (sometimes smelly) water at the edge of the marina docks. Saddened by the circumstances of 3 homeless men, and numerous homeless dogs, who frequent the marina/apartment complex--feel helpless to alleviate their obvious suffering. Met with surveyor Martiel Barriel regarding insurance survey. Visited the very excellent Aquarium de la Guadeloupe, a short 10-minute walk from the marina.

 

Sunday, February 15, 2004
Position: 16 deg 13.2 mins North, 061 deg 32.8 mins West. Docked in
Marina Bas Du Fort, Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, French West Indies.

          This past week: Knock on the bow from Jim, of Vantage II, last seen in Luperon. Nice visit with him, and friend Nancy crewing for a month from Vancouver. Met Kim and Sandy, on 40' US-flagged Island Packet Kewaydin, which berthed next to us for a night before moving to another dock. Spent two Happy Hours with them. Enjoying "cool" nights here--need a top sheet. Windy week, up to 24 knots even in this sheltered spot. Showery--plenty of exercise going up and down, closing/opening hatches and portholes.Took a week off from digital pix--the danged camera had become a friggin' tyrant, what with all that dumping pix onto computer, resizing them, saving for website, figuring out where in the website to put them, and then uploading them. One of us caught the do-nothing blues for a couple of days.

          Began practicing celestial navigation in preparation for the ocean crossing. Practiced using sextant, and reducing sights using Almanac and HO249. Got familiar, with and checked results on, Celesticomp V celestial calculator--a fabulous tool. Figured out where to sit to shoot sights on bouncing boat--astraddle the cockpit coaming at jib sheet winches, or at the top of the companionway. Calculated height of eye (on flat boat), 6.5'. On mornings of four days, planned star sights for evening twilight--between Celesticomp and HO249, it took virtually no time. Wow! In anticipation of cruising Ireland and the UK, worked a dozen tide and current problems (from Elbert Maloney's "Problems and Answers in Navigation and Piloting")--again, using the Celesticomp. Are we having fun yet, or what? All that laborious study-- rewarded by our sweet little Freiberger Yachtsman's sextant, the Celesticomp, and HO249-- has finally paid off. This stuff is not arcane, with the Celesticomp it's a fast breeze! Organized receipts, and made list, of boat equipment replacements and upgrades done since purchase--need it to meet insurance requirements. Tedious. Continued updating the inventory--all big jobs done, down to drawers and cupboards. Did overdue mending. Made loops in the ends of the batch of (12) spare sail ties. Learned to sew without using painful index finger. Wrote and submitted article to Cruising World. Hauled the dinghy onto the dock, and cleaned the bottom. Hoisted it up by the bow on a halyard at the side of Callipygia, deflated and pulled out the floor, scrubbed it, and hosed away accumulated grit/sand. Worked a mixture of Joy/water into all seams on the side with a slow leak--couldn't find it. Time to call in the pros, so arranged for Espace Ocean to take it away and fix it--small pinhole in the fabric, which they patched. Found our first cockroach--imported among some provisions. I guess we're real cruisers now. Made roach cookies and put them around wherever food is. Now we know why we've been carrying that bottle of boric acid powder around all this time. Scrubbed the cockpit cushions and teak--incredible the amount of grime they accumulate, even though we always take shoes off before climbing in. Cleaned inside of our lovely boat in readiness for honored guest (son Rorie)--amazing how much dust and dirt builds up. Used to think that once we were away from city air, things would stay crystal clean. Not so. Collected Rorie at the airport yesterday afternoon, came home and had much laughter, talking and enjoyment as we caught up with each other. Next week we have off (maybe).

 

Sunday, February 22, 2004
Position: 16 deg 13.2 mins North, 061 deg 32.8 mins West. Docked in
Marina Bas Du Fort, Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, French West Indies.

          Week flew by. Much sightseeing, with assist of rental car. Rorie gets seasick easily and is not (?yet) into sailing, so for his first visit and to ease him in, we made no trips on Callipygia. Took sight-seeing boat from Malendure beach to Pigeon Island to snorkel--great spot. Found way to Cascade Acomat and followed trail to bottom of this lovely waterfall--no-one else anywhere near this sweet dipping spot. Got stuck in traffic jam on road into Pointe Noire--carnival festivities. Spent time on Plage de la Perle, north of Deshaies. Hiked to summit of Soufriere, Guadeloupe's active volcano. Swirling mists added to the eerie and scary experience of being enveloped by voluminous clouds of steam escaping from the vents. Almost got blown over by high winds at the summit. Hiked to the cascades at Le Carbet--330' waterfall, droppng down a cliff face into a river pool. Some hot ponds nearby fed by volcanic hot springs--great for the tired feet. A quick visit to isolated Grand Etang lake--spectacularly beautiful and secluded, only sounds were those made by birds, frogs, and insects. Ferry to Isle Marie Galante, and visited gorgeous beaches, especially Capesterre, swells pounding on its protective reefs. Got approval to use Guadeloupe surveyor Martial Barriel (phone: 0 590 281 441). On Tuesday, he did an in-depth in-water survey of the boat, and furnished his report (three very minor items to attend to) which we forwarded to the insurance agent. Glad to get independent opinion of Callipygia's seaworthiness, condition, and value--darned right, after all the work and $$ we have put into her. Spent a day doing chores (mail, taxes, and assorted boat items). Watched tall ship Salomon, homeport Gibralter, come in to refuel at the marina. Ship provides 9-month sailing program for 15 "maladjusted" German youth who have been involved in gang activity. Impressive to watch them muster, then go to their posts --climbing the ratlines on the all-rope rigging and clambering out to loosen the square sails. Ate lobster and baked delights from the patisserie to celebrate a 65th birthday. Killed a couple of cockroaches, researched their boat habits, laid out more boric acid cookies. They won't like Ireland's cold winter (if there are any left by then), and if they survive that we'll have to get a cat. A typewriter too, maybe. Took a leisurely day of exploration along Grand Terre's south and southeast coasts, enjoying the view from Fort Fleur d'Epee, and the water/beaches at Sainte Anne and Saint Francois--where we ate a delicious and cheap Indian lunch. Gawked again at crashing breakers on Point des Chateaux, and found some terrific snorkeling inside the reef at Grande Saline just north of the point. Stopped at lovely secluded Pointe de l'Enfer on the way to Le Moule, where we got hand-cranked coconut ice cream from a street vendor. Yesterday morning, took the bus into Pointe a Pitre to the busy Saturday markets, and to shop at Electro Nautic, the huge chandlery. Delivered Rorie back to the airport, and said goodbye. A terrific visit--vacation for us too (and from the camera!).

 

Saturday, February 28, 2004
Position: 16 deg 13.2 mins North, 061 deg 32.8 mins West. Docked in
Marina Bas Du Fort, Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, French West Indies.

          Thought we'd be gone from here by now, but here we are. After provisioning and readying for departure, we checked out of the marina and cleared customs and immigration on Thursday for early Friday departure. Went to Sunsail to confirm bridge opening times--duuuhhh. Bridges closed all week, won't reopen until Monday, March 1. Dangnabbit. Weather window closes Sunday night. Big front coming through Monday (reaching even south of Guadeloupe) 20-25 knot northerly winds behind the front, we'd be beating our brains out trying to get to Antigua. And 10' - 12' northerly swells from nasty storm system off Cape Hatteras will arrive in the anchorage at Port Louis--untenable for our overnight. Anchorage outside Jolly Harbour that we're headed to might be untenable too, we'd have to go into the marina area there. We don't want to sail the long way round Guadeloupe, adds 60 miles and gives a tough wind angle for the inter-island passage to Antigua. Ergo, we'll wait. Stay here to see what happens weatherwise, we're in no rush. Looks like it may be another week before all of this stuff passes through. In the meantime, decided to stay on in the marina--after all, it's only 12 euros a night. (Are we getting addicted to shore pleasures?) Cleared back in with customs, and with the marina.

          Otherwise, this week: Faxed survey report and other material to International Marine Insurance Services , and got inurance binder. IMIS (Al Golden) has been great to deal with. Decided to get hull insurance as well as liability, to cover us in Caribbean, crossing the Atlantic, and in Ireland. Reasonable price. Significantly better than our previous experience with Jack Martin. Hope we never have to use it, except to show at marinas. Went back into weather watching routine, tracking forecasts during the week. Some rainy, gusty, frontal weather kept us in hiding for a few days, system hanging stationary over the Leeward Islands--glad it didn't show up last week when Rorie was here. So much for the "dry" season. Measured height of bowsprit above dock every 4 hours for a few days, and compared tidal effects with predictions for Pointe a Pitre from Reed's Caribbean. No relation, either timewise or rangewise. Range here is about a foot. Planning to go north through the river, and don't want to get stuck in the mud at shallow spots. Moon and Jupiter in deep dialogue on Monday, cozying up together in the evening sky. Quite a sight. Got laundry done--took 3 days because of Carnival closing. Got shaft and prop cleaned by Fred, through marina -- exorbitant price. Oh to be young and able to learn new (or at least diving) tricks. [Although, for all we've paid to date for other people to keep the boat's bottom clean, it doesn't nearly add up to the cost of a hookah or other diving equipment.] Planned passage north to Antigua, stopping overnight at Port Louis on the way. Decided to skip English/Falmouth harbours (crowded time of year and we've been there) and go to Jolly Harbour and the Five Islands area on the west coast instead. Confirmed our shipment to Antigua with Marine Warehouse. Had usual dose of pre-trip anxiety. Dick and Liz on 36' PDF catamaran Kia Orana, last seen in Grenada, stopped by to say hello. They are in the marina for a few days to go sight-seeing with their guests. Traded info about the river passage (which they came through to get here) and touring the island (which we've done). Made list of pre-crossing todos.

          Wrote an essay on Aging and commentary about the US Media Sellout. Made preliminary contact with Herb Hilgenberg by email. Herb, a widely admired and respected amateur, does weather routing from his home in Canada for vessels crossing the Atlantic. Spent a delay day brushing up on radar skills, working out collision avoidance problems on the Starpath Radar Trainer and using the laminated Maneuvering Board--and re-reading the manual for our Raytheon Pathfinder L-70 system. Made checklists for radar work and collision avoidance and added them to the Boat Cards. Dare we say it--haven't had any archy (roach) sightings since Rorie left. Did he take them with him? Did we kill them all? Are the cookies that effective? Retreived camera from doghouse. Took bus to the market in Pointe a Pitre, stocked up on veggies, drooled at the langouste (lobsters), but bought some fish instead.

 

Saturday March 6, 2004
Position: 16 deg 13.2 mins North, 061 deg 32.8 mins West. Docked in
Marina Bas Du Fort, Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, French West Indies.

          Still here and waiting.... Our delay week passed thusly: Began grappling with provision planning for Atlantic crossing. Decided to leave St. Martin with provisions sufficient for at least 5-6 weeks, using the following provision planning scheme: (1) developed menu options for each meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack) based on food groups; (2) from that, made master food list; (3) made storage plan; (4) went through food we have on board, inventoried it, and tossed out-of-date items (not toooo much); and (5) adjusted master list based on storage space; (6) on master list, marked off food already on board thereby producing the shopping list. All of this gustatory activity sparked our collective cooking interests--which had been decidedly in the tank recently. Indeed we must confess to serving more than a few lousy meals of late. To help the one of us who is not a natural cook, the other wrote up a bunch of easy-to-make yet tasty recipes on file cards, and posted them in the galley.

          Wrote an essay about experience with prostate cancer. Filled the holding tank with water to flush it, added vinegar, and let it sit. Figured out how to pump it out (at sea) using manual bilge pump. Got e-mail from Scottish friends, will be on cruiseship visiting St. John, Antigua, for the day on Saturday, March 13--we should be there by then (we hope). Be great to see them. Gary on Samen, 32' Vancouver cutter from London, pulled in beside us. Enjoyed two Happy Hours with him, trading information about cruising the Caribbean, the crossing, and cruising Ireland and the UK. Did some more cruise planning for after we arrive in Ireland. We're thinking about cruising from Cork to Killrush this year, winter in Killrush (near Shannon airport), then in the spring of 2005 cruise for a month on Ireland's west coast en route to Scotland, spend the summer cruising in Scotland, ending with an offshore passage down the east coast to winter at a marina in the center of London. Friends, family and anyone interested in crewing take note. Began review of What Ifs?. Took several 2-hour walks. We've developed an agreement that whoever's day it is to cook, is also responsible for reminding/encouraging the other to do the Kata and initiating some kind of exercise activity. So far this is working rather well. Checked with Sunsail to ascertain bridge status -- they've called, and have been told "we can't say if it's opening or not". Went to do first round of provisioning for the crossing (items available here, perhaps not afterwards) at Cora, the hypermarket about 1 mile away. Walking along edge of highway to get there, one huge traffic jam. Cora mobbed. Filled shopping cart, got in checkout line. After an hour, abandoned it. Returned to marina complex and got almost everything on our list at Champion, the local supermarket--though at somewhat higher prices. Learned that a strike is going on, Guadeloupe v. France. General strike expected tomorrow, everything to shut down. Not clear if bridge problems are related to strike or are mechanical. We may have to go round the long way after all. But, weather no good right now anyway -- 25 knot winds, 9-12' seas all week, according to the National Weather Service. Wrote a commentary about land mines.

 

Thursday March 11, 2004
Position: 17 deg 04.0 mins North, 61 deg 53.1 mins West, on a mooring
in Jolly Harbour, Antigua, West Indies

          On Sunday, the weather forecast was holding for conditions to calm down beginning Monday. A bit of south-east in the wind Tues/Weds maybe. Walked up to the Fort de Fleur Epee and surveyed conditions for boats heading east along the south coast of Guadeloupe. One sailboat out there, making slow progress bucking up and down battling into the stiff wind and seas. No fun. Notice on marina door from Bridge Authority, won't open before Tuesday. Learned if it doesn't open then, it'll be several days wait while a part is flown in from France. Therefore, decided to clear out of customs, etc., Tuesday morning, and find out if the bridge did in fact open. If it's working, we'll leave and head upstream to await its 0500 opening on Wednesday morning, go through the Riviere Salee in the middle of Guadeloupe and head for Antigua (plan A). If bridge didn't open, then we'll do an overnighter around Guadeloupe to get to Antigua. In this case, if the wind's northeast, we'll go south out of the river and head east along the south coast of Grande Terre to round Pointe Chapeaux, and then look for a great wind angle up the east coast to cross to Antigua (plan B). If the wind is east or south of east, then we'll go southwest around the end of Basse Terre, and up the west coast (plan C). Distance for B and C about the same either way, A about 40 nmiles shorter

          Cleaned "house", and planned all three routes. Selected waypoints, and marked them on the charts. Had a visit from Paul and his 8-yr old son, Joe on Jasp 40' Island Packet, from London. Compared notes on developing and maintaining cruising websites. Made a mooring lasoo from 36' of 10mm line, weighted in the middle with 1 metre of 8mm chain threaded and tied onto the line, and then covering the chain with a piece of bicycle inner tube whipped onto the line at each end of the chain. Happy Hour again with Gary on Samen whose lassoo design we copied. [Moorings in many places outside the US don't have a pick-up line, so in order to moor one has to grab one with a lassoo, pull it alongside, then lean down and thread a mooring line through the (often small) ring on the top.] Found very helpful internet articles by Jack on Whoosh on VAT and Navtex. Both issues of concern as we plan our Atlantic crossing. Made the usual departure checklist. Got laundry done at Cool Racoon, nice luxury to give it to someone else to wash, dry, and fold. Launched the dinghy, which had been staying dry hanging off the staysail halyard forward of the mast. Repaired another small gouge we noticed in the hull near the bow. Got everything ready for the passage to Antigua. Monday afternoon, a new notice on marina door: "Due to technical difficulties, the bridge will not open before Wednesday...." Weather forecast has wind dead east. We'll go around the west side.

          Tuesday morning, cleared out of customs and the marina. Hauled the dinghy aboard, deflated and stowed it. Prepared hand food, filled thermos flasks with hot water, stowed and checked everything. At 1400 hours, fired up the engine and with assistance of Ben, assistant Capitaniere at the marina, backed out of the slip, retrieved the stern mooring line and headed out of the marina. Once out of the river and channel, raised the main with one reef in it, and headed southwest, motorsailing, towards Pointe de la Capisterre. Followed the coast towards Pointe de Vieux Fort, the southern corner, with it's tall lighthouse. Hauled out the yankee at 1500 hours, making good speed, still under power going into the wind--quite a bit of south in it. Wind picked up rounding the corner near sunset, very brisk there for a little while, lightened up as we started up the west coast, passing the lights of BasseTerre, the capital. Continued motor sailing up the west coast in the dark. A fair amount of traffic. Warship crossed our bow at around 1700 hours, some kind of cruiseship (a windjammer?) following us for several hours, its lights gradually sliding off to the west. Picked up Pigeon Island on the radar at 2100 hours, a pleasant motor sail, winds funnelling on an off down the mountain sides. Hand steered for a while, the wind changes were too difficult for good old Sinbad, the autopilot. At 2200, several lights ahead, stationary. Came up on them through a light squall, they looked like--little bouys marking a fish farm? Passed them on our starboard side. A few boats around, coming and going, quite a busy coast. Turned off the engine at about 2230 hours, sailing comfortably at 5 knots. We're in no rush, don't want to arrive in Antigua before daylight. By midnight we'd cleared the north tip of Basse Terre and the wind picks up, 20-25 knots a closish beam reach, making 7½ knots under reefed main and yankee. Seas on the beam, bigger as we move out into the inter-island passage. Very rolly and bouncy. Books fell off a bookshelf (despite their bungie) and a few other things came loose below. Considering the motion, though, not too much of a mess. Went to school on it for planning stowage on ocean crossing. Accumulated 3" in the bilges as we shipped water over the bow and quarter--but not a drop through the hatches, portholes, or into any of our interior storage spaces. What a peach Callipygia is--she can handle this, even if crew is huddled up miserably in the cockpit thinking of the question: "Why are you beating your head against a brick wall?" Answer: "because it's so nice when you stop." At 1300 hours, let the sheets out a bit, reducing speed to 6½ knots, motion slightly more comfortable--relatively speaking. We'll still arrive at dawn. Soon after 0230 hours, picked up the light on Shirley Heights, and altered course a few degrees to the east. Sinbad doing a masterful job of steering, crew still waiting for it to be over, hunkered down taking turns looking out for (non-existent) traffic and marking progress on the chart. Seas and wind came down as we picked up lee of Antigua at 0530 hours. Hauled in yankee, turned on engine at dawn. Dropped main, and headed into the channel to Jolly Harbour as the sun came up above the horizon. Slowly picked our way in past moored boats and took a look at customs dock and fuel dock. Tied up at the customs dock at 0700 hours. 101.5 nmiles by the log, 96.7 over the ground. Average boat speed 6 knots, speed made good 5.6 knots .

          Drank coffee and ate breakfast at the customs dock until it opened soon after 0800 hours. Cleared in, checked in with the marina for a mooring. Left the customs dock, found another boat tied up to the fuel dock so went to look at the mooring area, came back and circled until it left. Very breezy. Pulled up to the fuel dock, and refueled (23.1 gallons). Left the fuel dock and motored off to pick up a mooring--there are no pickup lines. Decided to try our new lassoo. Collected three Stoopids, almost lost one crew overboard, and hurt both of them. [A Stoopid is what you get when you forget to think through the What If...?s in a given situation before you act.] Lessons Learned: (1) If/when you get in difficulties with a piece of line, CUT IT! (2) Never tie a line (except a safety line) onto yourself. (3) In windy conditions, before trying to lassoo a mooring, bring the boat to windward of it so it floats down onto it. Got help from Songster, pretty old Oyster 39' ketch, Brian and Jackie from the UK, moored near by. Applied first aid as appropriate--some minor maiming here. RICE'd everything, and washed the blood off. Full recovery anticipated within a few days. Need we say more. Not our best morning, though if we say it ourselves, we did dock and undock (at customs and the fuel dock, both without assistance) nice and professionally despite a good bit of wind. Took the rest of the day off.

 

Sunday March 14, 2004
Position: 17 deg 04.0 mins North, 61 deg 53.1 mins West, on a mooring in
Jolly Harbour, Antigua, West Indies

          Recovered quickly from mooring snafu. Cuts and bruises healing fast. Thursday, got up early and enjoyed new view from the cockpit with morning coffee. Put sails away under their covers, inflated and launched the dinghy and put outboard motor on. Went ashore to explore Jolly Harbour. Pretty upscale place, gated and resort-like. Marina is at head of lagoon with several hundred residential units ranging from town-house type to palatial, each with it's own dock. Not exactly "us". Many shops and several restaurants. Nice (hot!) showers. Restaurants tended to the pricy except for Phil's, a little local eating place next to the customs office. Went to the Internet cafe, $24EC for a half hour ($8.88US). Ouch. Think longingly of Guadeloupe, and Marina Bas Du Fort. Walked out to the main road by the gate into the Jolly Harbour complex. Took bus ($1US) to St. John, nice to be back somewhere we've been before and can (still) remember. Found ATM. Found supermarket--yippee, it had Bisquick and Pancake Mix. And Lime Squash. Found BioHealth Medical Lab at corner of Market and Nevis Streets, and gave blood for PSA test. $85EC=$32US. Good place. Went to cruise ship docks and ascertained from harbourmaster at which one Brilliance Of The Sea will arrive on Saturday. Read local newspaper, the (opposition leaning) Daily Observer, full of election news--voting day is March 23rd. Hotly contested race between two major parties, the ALP and the UPP. The ALP has been in power since independence (1981) despite major charges and findings of corruption. Nice to be back in a place where our native language is spoken/written. Relaxed in cockpit while watching beautiful sunset over hills, egrets flying home from work, and pelicans catching supper. Friday, finished cleaning up the boat and went ashore to walk around the Jolly Harbour complex. Ate big, excellent and cheap (local food) lunch at Phil's: rice 'n peas, macaroni pie, potato salad, curried lamb (bones), and steamed mixed veggies. Arranged for clearance and delivery of our shipment from Marine Warehouse. Did some more provisioning at the marina supermarket--very well stocked and not overly pricy.

          Saturday, up early and took bus into St. John. Watched enormous Brilliance of the Sea arrive and dock. 2,500 passengers, 800 crew. Connected with friends Margaret and Bill from Perth, Scotland. Great reunion. Wandered through the busy Saturday market, then took the bus to English Harbour. Explored Nelson's Boatyard, and walked out to the point overlooking Freeman Bay, where we anchored for a week or two last year on our way south. Saw Samen safely at anchor there. Back to Jolly Harbour, and dinghied out to Callipygia for lunch and talking time. Then walked over to the beach, past a mangrove lagoon filled with water-birds, including a Little Blue Heron. Lovely pulverised shell beach edged with milky turquoise surf. Went for a quick dip before taking the bus back to St. John. Made our way through the throng in Market Street to the cruiseship dock to say goodbyes. Weather forecast has swells up around 10' for the week, winds out of the northeast at 20-25 knots. Looks like we'll be here a bit longer. We'll work on ocean crossing preparations.

 

Saturday March 20, 2004
Position: 17 deg 04.0 mins North, 61 deg 53.1 mins West, on a mooring in Jolly Harbour, Antigua, West Indies

          Last Sunday it rained, and Monday it blew--a steady 24-28 knots. Tuesday, it blew again, so we took the bus to St. John, then down to Falmouth Harbour to look over the megayachts. Big money hanging out in that harbour--clearly, Antigua is where the rich people play. Collected our Marine Warehouse order, unpacked it, and now we have to figure out where to put these items. Wednesday, it blew again (25-30 knots). Our breezes were a good 5-10 knots higher than the forecast, which had the seas up at 8-10' all week. Happy to be snuggly tucked into this protected spot and not going anywhere. We've had frequent short rain squalls every day--so much for the "dry" season. Took several bird-watching walks alongside the salt ponds near the astoundingly beautiful beach. Saw snowy egrets, brown pelicans, great egrets, a little blue heron, white-cheecked pintails, whistling ducks, and black-necked stilts. Did usual round of boat chores, and also some serious work on our pre-crossing to do list. We're investigating a tow generator as alternative and backup to engine for battery charging. Surveyed cruising friends by email on the subject. Picked brains of Paul, 40' Island Packet Jasp on an adjacent mooring--we previously met them in Guadeloupe--regarding experience with their Duogen, a combination wind/tow generator. Did detailed reading of Atlantic crossing and island/Ireland landfall pilots, guides, and almanacs. In only six weeks we could be on our way. Decided that from here, we'd like next to go to Barbuda (some 30 miles to the north of Antigua) and anchor along the 11-mile beach on the west coast north of Palmetto Point. Want to visit the frigate bird colony there. But it's no place to be in weather like this, so we'll wait.... Read somewhere that the most important virtue in a cruiser is patience, closely followed by humility and respect for the power of mother nature. Almost finished eating up the remaining items of old canned and dry food (stuff that is 1-2 years old). Boat food has improved no end, lately, thank goodness. Dennis and Arlene on Tiger Lilly II, last seen in Martinique, stopped by in their dinghy Thursday--they had anchored outside (quite rolly they said) and came in to check out the lagoon and shore facilities. Inventoried all our flashlights, watches, calculators and other gizmos that use dry-cell batteries--a horrifyingly large number. We need 80 (yes eighty) AA batteries (not to mention a bunch of others of different types) to have them all running. Inventoried remaining spare batteries and made restocking list. We're in the market for a solar-powered charger for dry-cells. Dusted far dark corners of all storage areas with boric acid, and laid out more cookies--we're still seeing the occasional small roach. Figured out which Winlink stations we should be able to use for email on the crossing and programmed them into the SSB. Took an old sail bag and made it into individual smaller bags. Each of the 5 inflatable PFDs is now bagged separately with its tether, light, whistle, etc. Dug out all our cold-weather clothes and heavy duty foul weather gear. Tried stuff on--sadly, our waistlines have inched out a bit. Thank goodness everything still (just barely) fits. Restowed sufficient layers for an Atlantic crossing cold snap in easily accessible spot. Got out the new splash cloths to put on the lifelines beside the cockpit--need to adjust one of them to fit round the Danbouy, and also install some additional deck attachments to tie the bottoms to. Seems like nothing is simple! Advice from Gary on Samen when in Guadeloupe: tie the bottoms down with shock cord, so the line doesn't break in a big sea. Forecast holding for wind and seas to come down somewhat beginning Sunday, but going back up again later next week. Looks like we may have to skip Barbuda. We'll probably leave here Monday or Tuesday afternoon and head directly overnight for Simpson Bay. Scary moment last night--woke up to rain shower, then heard what sounded like water rushing into the bilges. Ran around in a mild panic, half awake, lifting floor boards and shining flashlights. Thankfully all dry. Finally tracked it down; noise from battery operated radio that lives in the drop pocket in the cabin table--it had inexplicably turned itself on.

 

Wednesday March 24, 2004
Position: Lat, 18 deg 01.9 mins North. Long, 063 degrees 05.8 mins West. anchored behind
the reef in Simpson Bay, Sint Maartin, Netherland Antilles

          Sunday, big downpour in the morning, caught rain. Talked to Smidgeon on 8104kHz on the SSB--Kenny and Brycie are leaving Luperon tomorrow for points east, then south. Then talked to Chinook (in Le Marin) and Sea Dreamer (in St. Thomas) about crossing plans. What a treat it will be to have friends going across about the same time. Tested the Webasto heater, working fine--imagine we'll really appreciate its hot air when we reach cooler climates. Finished writing a Letter to President Lincoln. Opened and inspected the PUR Survivor 35 manual watermaker we purchased for emergency use while crossing. Figured out where to stow it with its spare parts. How much stuff we have that we hope we'll never need to use! Planned permanent preventers, and rigged one on port side for ride to St. Martin. Continued thinking through (mental practice) the What If's, and the orientation period for our friends who are joining us as crew for each leg of our Atlantic crossing. Had a short spat, kissed and made up. Spent the afternoon keeping an eye on a little white-cheecked pintail (duck) bouncing on wavelets near a vacant mooring behind us. Decided he must be lost or injured, as we watched him gradully adopt the mooring as his mother. He belongs in the salt pond not out here. Nicknamed him "Freddie". Decided there was not much we could do to help. Threw slices of bread in his general direction (none made it). Thought sadly about the billions of other hurt or lost critters (and humans) that we can't see. Monday morning, Freddie gone--or a goner. Replaced reef point in main that has been AWOL since Martinique. Cleared out with customs, immigration and Port Authority, and the marina. Put a patch on the dinghy where the bow painter has been chafing the surface. Provisioned. Walk aborted by heavy rain. Stowed the outboard and dinghy contents. Hoisted, cleaned the bottom of, and stowed the dinghy. Skies cleared by end of day--hopefully that upper-level trough has moved on for now.

          Yesterday morning woke after (wonder of wonders) a dry night. Are we done with all this wetness? No such luck. The showers moved in as the day wore on--heavy at times--and we caught more rain. This evening all four planets and moon visible at sunset, so (using Celesticomp) made note of their Hc (altitude) and Zn (bearing) for identifying them. Prepared for departure and dropped the mooring at 1455 hours. Headed out through the channel, followed by Jasp and turned into the wind to raise the main. Slide jammed at the gate, so raised it with one reef in it. Raised the staysail, then hauled out the yankee and headed on a course of 330 Magnetic for St. Martin. Took photo of Jasp taking one of Callipygia. At 1630 with refrigerator and batteries fully charged, reduced engine speed to idle (wind is only 5-6 knots, NE) and only making 3+ knots under sail. Kept on motor sailing. Overcast, no planet sightings. By dark the swells had built to 6' or so, and finally the wind picked up as the skies cleared and turned the engine off at 2300 hours. Heavenly star umbrella above as we leisurely reached under reefed main, staysail, and yankee, making 5.5 knots. 2-hr watches. Sailboat under power overtook us on port side at 0200. Short squall, followed by several others at 0330, then the wind died. Turned the iron genny back on, hauled in the yankee and continued motor sailing. Tug towing barge on the port bow at 0700, then two cruiseships headed to Phillipsburg. Crossed ahead of the tug and one cruiseship, radar surely is handy to figure out Speed and Direction of Relative Motion, then Closest Point of Approach, and who has right of way. (In all cases it was us, but wouldn't want to make a federal case of it). Entered Simpson Bay at 0800 hours, dropped the sails, picked an anchor spot on the east side behind the reef, and dropped the hook in sand and 10' of water at 0850 hours. 95 nmiles, average boat speed 5.1 knots, speed made good, 5.3 knots. Megasailboat Venture arrived soon after with its bow stove in, forestay gone. Learned over the VHF, as it requested priority into the Lagoon (and marinas), that it had "been hit by a freighter without lights" in the Anegada passage. So when you collide with something, it's not your fault? Ate breakfast, cleaned up the boat, stowed everything from the passage. Took a nap, then inflated and launched the dinghy and went ashore to clear customs. Stopped by newly-anchored nearby Leena to say hello to Maury from Finland, last seen in Luperon. Motored into the Simpson Bay Lagoon and did some preliminary reconoitoring. Checked in with Island Water World Marina, and advanced our checkin day to tomorrow. Time for some serious work on the todo list. Back home for a light happy hour and then to bed with the sun.

Sunday March 28, 2004
Position: Lat, 18 deg 02.1 mins North. Long, 063 degrees 05.2 mins West. docked at
Island Water World Marina, Sint Maartin, Netherland Antilles

          Thursday, getting ready to go into the lagoon, found a pelican-like bird on the forward deck. Seemed to be a bit disoriented--did it fly into something and fall down? It gradually gathered its wits, hopped onto and wobbled groggily on the lifelines, hanging on for dear life with big yellow webbed feet, and then took off across the water. Witless crew didn't think to take a photo, what a missed opportunity. [Ed Note: after I became a birdwatcher, I realized this was an Anhinga, not a pelican.] Upped anchor at 1045 hours and headed into the bay to await the opening of the bridge to enter the lagoon. Called the bridge tender on VHF Ch12--bridge only opens for boats exiting the lagoon at 1100, then closes, and opens again at 1130 for boats entering. Sat in the bay, drifting slowly sideways (sweet pea--aka Callipygia--hove to, almost, with nothing up) for half an hour. A huge moth, dark wings of 8" span, alighted on the dodger ceiling. Eventually it took off and fluttered along the wave tops battling into the 20 knot wind--hope it made it to land. At 1120 hours we got slowly into the line of boats waiting to come through the narrow entrance into the huge (12 sq. miles) Simpson Bay lagoon. Once through the entrance, we felt our way through the channel past a phenomenal number of huge megayachts (power and sail) at the more upscale Marinas: Isle De Sol, Princess Yacht Club, La Palapa, and Simpson Bay, to good-old downscale (ie for "real" cruisers) Island Water World Marina and docked uneventfully despite the gusty and shifty winds, first on the T dock to await slip assignment, then into slip #26. Bow to, stern tied to pilings. Easier to climb on and off the bow than at Marina Bas Du Fort in Guadeloupe--the dock is a better height for us. Tide is about 18". Checked into the marina, got combination to (cold water but very nice and roomy, all-in-one with toilet and sink) shower. Checked in with the big Island Water World chandlery, and the huge Budget Marine store a short walk away. Went for walk along the lagoon exploring bustling Simpson Bay. We are ideally located for doing boat work, easy/quick access to chandleries and all the services we might need. Found laundromat at Lagoonies, a block away, bought tokens for badly needed megawash ($3/token each for washer or dryer). On return from walk, ate excellent cheap early supper at Lagoonies, then sat in the cockpit admiring the sunset in our new surroundings, quite a pretty view.

          Friday, spent the morning to-ing and fro-ing the laundromat, 4 loads washed and dried, 3 hours of effort. Learning to carry bundle on head. Hooked up power to 110 volts. Our new bi-voltage charger is working great. The boat's hot water tank likes 100 volts, so we'll have that little luxury here. Put up the awning over the main cabin to reduce the heat. In the afternoon, rode the dinghy over to La Palapa Marina, and explored Simpson Bay on the other side of the bridge. Ended up at the Sint Maartin Yacht Club, in its new building by the bridge. Spectacular spot. Enjoyed happy hour and some cheap eats. Maybe we'll join (it has very reasonable fees), then we'll have the requisite "Yacht Club" affiliation for hobnobbing in the UK. From the Yacht Club, had fun watching the long Friday afternoon parade of megayachts (plus some regular boats) entering the lagoon at the 1730 hours bridge opening. A fairly breathtaking experience. Talk about some lavishly conspicuous opulence. As we prepare for our ocean crossing, added the Four Rules of Preparation to the website. Learned that in Tuesday's elections, Antiguans turned out the corrupt old-order ALP and swept in the UPP's new broom. Saturday, took long (4-mile) dinghy ride to the other end of the lagoon, to explore Marigot, the capital of the French side of this divided island. Pretty little touristy town. Walked around the breakwater, giving scant protection to Marigot Bay and the sailboats anchored there. Quite exposed in northeast winds and northerly swells. Rode home past all the megayachts at Isle De Sol marina. Scary evening moment after turning on hot water heater before doing dishes. After a bit, smelled some smoke--open door under galley sink, small flame near the plumbing. Turned off hot water heater, and flame went out. No immediate explanation, but left everything electrical off 'til tomorrow for further investigation. This one wasn't on the todo list, but better show up now than later--or worse, when we're off the boat or asleep.

 

Saturday April 3, 2004
Position: Lat, 18 deg 02.1 mins North. Long, 063 degrees 05.2 mins West. docked at
Island Water World Marina, Sint Maartin, Netherland Antilles

          Pretty good week. Continued to explore St. Martin and find our way around. Excellent Ram's Food World supermarket only 10-15 minute walk away. Lubricated the genoa pole and raised it up off the deck to its "off duty" position just forward of the mast. Settled into morning fitness routine--or should we say getting fit for the crossing. Pretty much finished reviewing and revising What Ifs in preparation for mental practice and orientation with our crewing friends. Learning a lot during the review/revision--studying the relevant sections in the relevant Boat Books--and hopefully stashing quite a few points into the Black Box.   Began collecting the following items every morning from Winlink the: (a) Bermuda harbour 5-day outlook; (b) the NOAA Ocean Prediction Center's 48-hr Atlantic Surface Analysis; (c) 48-hr 500mb Analysis; (d) 48-hr Wind-Wave Forecast; and (e) 48-hr Peak Wave Period/Swell Direction Forecast. Thank goodness we upgraded our Pactor IIe TNC to Pactor III--otherwise we wouldn't be able to receive data fast enough over the radio to collect these transmissions. Started comparing these weather charts on a daily basis to improve weather routing ability for the crossing. Made reservations for wintering in Ireland (Kilrush) this coming winter, and in St. Katherine's Docks, London for 2005.

          Arranged with FKG Rigging to: (a) re-run the AWOL jiffy reefing line back through the boom; (b) redo the gate in the mast track so the slides can't jam; (c) confirm that a scratch on the Monitor windvane main vertical support is just that and not a hairline crack; (d) replace the lower lifelines; and (e) drill new holes to bolt the boom gallows into its deck supports (screws long gone). Dropped the yankee, inspected it, and took it to sailmaker Robert Gilders at St. Maarten Sails and Canvas, to restich the Sunbrella edging. Hauled the genoa (with new luff pad) out of the sail locker and hoisted it on the forestay. We've never used this sail since we had a new Sunbrella edge put on at the time we bought the boat. Gosh dangit... When we roll the sail up, the Sunbrella is on the inside. And no, the sail is not on upside down. Also found some spots of broken stitching on the boltrope. Took it to Robert to get restitched. After discussion with rigger, re-led the furling line to go the opposite way round the drum (clockwise) when putting the Genoa up. Lucky that this will work. Arranged with Andrew Rapley at Necol to do our electrical work: (a) install Furuno NX-300 Navtex receiver; (b) put connection in cockpit for Aqua4gen tow generator, and install voltage regulator for it; (c) check out the hot water tank wiring; and (d) set up remote for the Simrad autopilot, so helmsman can adjust it without having to leap around the wheel to the front of the cockpit, and then rush back to the helm. Checked every fastener on/around the deck and replaced/adjusted as necessary. Checked out toilet/holding tank connection. Everything working fine. Inspected plumbing in head and under galley sink. Had some questions about whether some of the hose needed to be replaced. Consulted with Gernot Einogg of Maintec, who deemed the hoses all quite acceptable. Much of our plumbing is radiator hose, virtually indestructible. Continued re-stowing things, and planning stowage for the crossing. This stuff if hard work, and we're feeling our age sometimes. Made several visits to the two big chandleries: Island Water World; and Budget Marine. Overspent our budget (yes, really). Bought heavy duty foulies for Bill. Got our mail forwarded from St. Brendan's Isle, then went through everything. Always a delight (magazines, personal mail) and a chore (money stuff). Paid monthly bills over the Internet. Took the $1 bus (minivan) to Philipsburg and explored Sint Maartin's capital, jostling among the many cruise ship passengers. Found our way to huge Grande Marche supermarket, and a Cosco-like warehouse called Cost-U-Less. It certainly does. Our dock location is well-situated for easy access to everything we need.

 

Saturday April 10, 2004
Position: Lat, 18 deg 02.1 mins North. Long, 063 degrees 05.2 mins West. docked at
Island Water World Marina, Sint Maartin, Netherland Antilles

          Another busy week. Reviewed and updated the list of radio nets and began serious listening on frequencies we'll use during the crossing. Downloaded material by Jack on Whoosh with Atlantic Crossing information. Also downloaded several very informative and applicable articles from the Cruising Club of America website. Began re-organizing and re-doing the information in the radio folder, and wrote up a checklist for using the SSB in an emergency-- planning to share radio duties among crew during the crossing. An incredibly tedious job, sorting through all our references, deciding which frequencies we'll use for what purposes, building spreadsheets for the frequency lists and the radio schedule, printing and proofing them, reprogramming the SSB, and making an index for the front of the radio folder so others can find what's in there. Changed drinking water filter and automatic bilge pump filter. Checked a bunch of hose clamps. Got to practice our Leak "What If" when one of us (the light sleeper) woke up Monday night at the noise of the automatic bilge pump running. 6" in the bilge, 12 hours since it was lasted checked (dry). Fresh water pump is cycling every 15 minutes or so. Tasted the water--yuk. Not salty, ergo something's leaking somewhere from the fresh water system. Turned off the water pump to get a bit more sleep. Come daylight, found the culprit--the accumulator has cracked. Replaced it with a sturdier model. Hypothesize that it had been dripping slightly for a while (incidentally causing the adjacent hot water heater wiring to short) and when checking the radiator clamps to the accumulator on Monday it broke. Did laundry. Jasp came into the slip next to us. Nice to have neighbors we know. They have engine and electrical problems to work on. Commiserated about the never-endingness of boat work. Likened ourselves to Scotland's Forth Bridge painters--when they get to one end of the bridge, they go back to the other side and start over. Some beastly hot days here, relentlessly blazing sun. Almost looking forward to Ireland's cold and damp. Almost. Filed 2003 tax returns and paid first quarter of 2004 taxes due. Would prefer none of it go to the DOD (ie war-making) budget. Made donations to Eric, George, Lou, and Winlink to support their efforts on cruisers' behalves. Their weather/radio email work is invaluable to us. Ordered winter clothing layers for Bill to go to Ralph to bring with him. Ditto some more Aquis Britanne micro-fiber towels--they are phenominal, soak up the wet and dry in a minute. Incredible what Internet access permits.

          Wednesday, thought about how to fit the tow generator and Navtex on the stern rail. The rail is not big and it already holds the block for the dinghy motor, the flagpole, the GPS antenna, and the MOM. Decided the Navtex antenna will fit between the GPS antenna and the MOM. We'll have to rebuild and move the outboard motor block to give us room for the tow generator. Arranged with Gernot of Maintec to do that. Arranged for St. Maarten Sails and Canvas to adjust splash cloth for starboard side so it fits around the Danbuoy, and also to make fittings to tie down the bottoms. Spending our tax rebate fast. Decided to get a new stove--existing one is almost 20 years old, and doesn't have automatic lighting or shutoff for the propane valves, or a reliable oven. Bought a replacement Force 10 stove with those important safety features from Budget Marine--at a very satisfying discount. 'Twill be nice to have a good oven on the crossing and in cold climates. Were delighted to see Swiss boat Canigo, last seen in Fajardo PR, come into the lagoon and dock near us at FKG's for rigging work. Then ran into Gary on Samen, last glimpsed in Antigua, loaned him our dinghy while he gets his motor repaired. One of the real pleasures of this life is being surprised by running into people we've met and enjoyed in other places. Enjoyable Happy Hour later on Canigo catching up with Robert and Astrid on our respective doings during the past year. At end of week enjoyed Happy Hour with Gary from Samen and Paul and Amanda from Jasp. Took a 3-4 mile (hot) walk every day, and got some pix of Simpson Bay and the lagoon.

 

Saturday April 17, 2004
Position: Lat, 18 deg 02.1 mins North. Long, 063 degrees 05.2 mins West. docked at
Island Water World Marina, Sint Maartin, Netherland Antilles

          Still here, plugging along. Last Sunday, took dinghy ride to Stop 'n Shop at the airport, a "dry" run for picking up Ralph. Dinghy dock one minute from terminal. But... there's a fee to dock the dinghy, and its an extremely long and very wet ride. We'll go by bus to pick him up and take taxi home. Checked with immigration as to clearing him in, we have to bring boat papers to the airport. Had visit from Sam (10) and Joe (8) from neighbor Jasp. Had non-alcoholic Happy Hour, talked, played Mastermind, and then Monopoly with them. Monday, one of us had stomach 'flu (or something). Spent day laying in cabin reading McMillan Reid Alamanc for the UK (a true killer pub) and various guides/pilots. Planned cruise from Cork to Kilrush, and then in 2005 from Kilrush through the Aran Islands and around the West coast of Scotland. A thoroughly enjoyable way to be sick. The other one continued checking radiator clamps, screws, etc, and dealing with boat minutiae. Gusty day and night (gusts to 30+ knots). Glad to be in marina, not anchored in the lagoon. Welcomed cooler breezes and some cloud cover--for as long as it lasted before it was back to the broiler. Outboard motor block moved on stern rail. Stove installed by Hank of Maintec and working nicely, only one morning without coffee. Mark of Necol installed wiring and electrical connections for the tow generator and Simrad remote. Also installed the Furuno NX300 Navtex, and interfaced it with GPS so it automatically selects the nearest stations. Should be getting messages from San Juan, PR, but none received so far. Checking with other Navtex-equipped boats to find out if they are receiving messages. Mark determined that water heater element and thermostat had burned out (thus caused our little fire a couple of weeks ago.) Also showed us how to fix 12-volt cigarette lighter plug-in connection whose spring had sprung. He was terrific--very competent, friendly and efficient. We hung the generator on the stern pulpit and planned holders for towrope, shaft, and turbine. Ordered replacement parts for water heater. Taped over heater "on" switch so it can't be accidentally turned on. Checked charts and prepared plotting sheets for the crossing, and made preliminary departure/passage/landfall directions all the way to Cork. Made laminated card with charts showing weather forecast area names for Radio France Internationale on one side and for the UK Met Office on the other. Weeded, reorganized, and reinventoried spare parts locker. Ran new lines (Spectra) through the Monitor windvane. Prepared provisioning and shopping lists, and reserved rental car for this coming Monday to do our buying. Reviewed heavy weather strategy for unlikely event of encountering off-season hurricane or major storm en route across the Atlantic. Replaced exit hose for cockpit bilge pump. Finished checking all hoses, clamps, seacocks, and thru-hulls. Checked several times with St. Martin Sails and Canvas about our sails and splash cloths--no progress. Very disorganized place. Started squeaky wheel approach.

          Arthriticky hand flare up caused run on Ibuprofin. Heard from Chinook who's now in Antigua, and expecting to come here this weekend! 'Twill be great to discuss crossing plans together. Think we've got rid of the roaches--none sighted for 2 weeks, and prior to that we had only seen juveniles for several weeks. Phew! But.. we have some very small flying black bugs, instead. Don't know what they are, more annoying than anything. Not weevils, teeny and beetle like. Got confirmation of reservations for winters of 2004 at Kilrush, and for 2005 at St. Katherine's Docks in London. Ate out at Lagoonies (while we were between stoves) and lunch a couple of times at El Rinconcito, a great little Latino eatery down from Budget Marine, terrific cheap meals--definitely up to Luperon standard. Friday evening happy hour and excellent ribs at the Yacht Club with Gary from Samen while watching parade of boats coming into and out of the lagoon at the bridge opening. We are getting to know Lloyd, the bridge tender, originally from Curacao, who seems to spend his spare time at the Yacht Club.

 

Sunday April 25, 2004
Position: Lat, 18 deg 02.1 mins North. Long, 063 degrees 05.2 mins West. docked at
Island Water World Marina, Sint Maartin, Netherland Antilles

          Count down time. Busy week. Dissassembled, cleaned, serviced and greased all 9 winches. Oh dear, one spring for the port staysail winch is bent. None of our spares fit. Checked around, none available anywhere. Sent email for parts to the Australian Yacht Winch Company which is the only place still with any parts for Barient and Barlow winches. In the meantime, fiddled with bent spring, and was able to get it back in to the pawl, winch working fine. Not in our budget to make any winch replacements. Made laminated chart of Atlantic showing changes in magnetic variation--quite substantial as we cross--on one side, and major shipping lanes on the other. Put various details and our course to Bermuda on the plotting sheets for first leg. Printed out from the Internet an excellent 24-page article entitled "Yachts (Private) Sailing to Bermuda" from the Bermuda Department of Tourism. Notified friends and family of general itinerary from here to Cork and who we'll be filing Float Plans with. Got sails back from St. Martin Sails and Canvas. Refolded and stowed yankee, put genoa on the Profurl, the forestay roller furling system. Read the instructions, and adjusted the position of the halyard at the top of the extrusion accordingly. Checked all the Profurl fasteners, and bought spare parts for the Profurl at Budget Marine--they are well stocked. Had small folding table for the cockpit, with fiddles, made by Maintec. Tried it out at Happy Hour--what a great amenity to have somewhere to put a plate of munchies that all can reach. Bought new 35lb Delta anchor to replace our trusty but rusty primary anchor (per the insurance survey recommendations). Decided to do it now because of great discount at Budget Marine. If we can find space, we'll clean up and keep the old one. Can never have too many anchors. Rented car on Monday and circumnavigated St. Martin. Drove past airport and clockwise round the lagoon to Marigot. Got majorly lost on Dutch side (washed out roads, no signs) but -- hay presto -- crossed to French side and immediately things improved. Took detour on the east side to Oyster Pond and look at the lovely Atlantic beaches, then to Philipsburg (4 cruiseships crammed into the dock, and one anchored). This dry and scrubby little island is very developed everywhere, with remnants of hurricane damage obvious in some places, and a lot of litter. Must make those who lived here 20-30 years ago want to cry. Filled up our little rental car to the brim with provisions, etc, and came back home to trolley them down the dock and hand them onto the deck. Then down the V-berth hatch and dump them on the bed which they completely overwhelmed. Slept in the salon that night. Tuesday and Wednesday, sorted out the stores, removed all packaging, ziplock-bagged the dry stuff, and dated each item. Then organized them into categories, added them to the food inventory, and somehow got half of everything stowed away in lockers. Found the source of our little bugs--in the game hammock. We had some juggling balls which were filled with some kind of grain. They were completely infested. Threw 'em out, cleaned everything up, hopefully routed the critters. Be nice to be bug free for a while.

          Chinook arrived Tuesday evening, anchored in the Bay. Wednesday morning we went out in the dinghy to meet them at the 0930 hours bridge opening, and accompanied them into the lagoon. Very nice time reconnecting with Brian and Deb, 9 months since we saw them last. Had much fun discussing crossing plans together over Happy Hour later that day. Thursday, took stuff that we might need in an emergency (storm sails, sea anchor, etc) out of the sail locker--and made a lot of space for the extra grub. Put heavy items under the salon table, rest temporarily bagged on deck--need to keep our living area clear so we don't go crazy. They'll go on the V-berth once we're underway to Bermuda. Put the reserve half of provisions (double-bagged in big see-through plastic bags) into the sail locker. Room left for crew baggage and other items we won't need until we become coastal cruisers again. Looking forward to finding out what our eating habits turn out to be. Think we've covered all possibilities, don't think we're going to be hungry. Stowage is a very big deal--all this provisioning, checking/buying spares, deciding what needs to be readily accessible, and associated inventorying and stowage work has turned out to be an even bigger job than we thought. Not too busy, though, to miss the local birdlife: laughing gulls numerous, noisily chasing least terns fishing in (dive-bombing) the murky waters; a huge great blue heron, you could set your watch by it in the morning as it heads to its fishing grounds; and, the neighborhood's green heron, making its evening rounds walking on our, and our neighboring boat's, docklines. Or to enjoy another Happy Hour with Canigo.

          Towards the end of the week, pre-crossing anxiety arrived in earnest. That combined with the chaos in the cabin (things everywhere), the overwhelming number of details to attend to, and the inability to do morning email because radio propagation in the marina sucks, has made for some edgy times. Reread the ship's logs for 2001 and 2002, our beginner years. Helped us reassure ourselves that we actually can do this ocean crossing. Spent some more time with Gary, our singlehanding friend on Samen, and Chinook both of whom will be crossing about the same time as us. Learned from Chinook how to make yoghurt and bought thermos jar to make it in--hangs perfectly in the main cabin. Their gift yoghurt sample, made with full cream milk powder, was as good as any we've ever tasted.

 

Saturday May 2, 2004
Position: Lat, 18 deg 02.1 mins North. Long, 063 degrees 05.2 mins West. docked at
Island Water World Marina, Sint Maartin, Netherland Antilles

          More stowage work. Moved some food reserves into the shoe locker, easier to get to than the sail locker, put non-boat shoes in sail locker. Cleared out the quarter berth, made the bed. Replaced the line for the traveller, bought a spare furling line. Bought remaining spares on the shopping list, and day shapes (motor-sailing cone and anchoring ball) so we don't get fined for not using them in the UK. Went to Simpson Bay Medical Clinic to check one of the crew's blood pressure (all's fine) and the other's sore hand (get blood test done to see if it's gout). Took bus to Marigot for blood test. Back to Doctor, uric acid levels normal, not gout. Either arthritis or damaged cartilege. Take Diclofenac (Voltaren) for 7-days, should take care of it. Carry another week's supply in case it flares up again, and if so get it x-rayed at some point. Began Voltaren, pain and swelling abating. Can now shake hands with someone.

          Went over whole boat, topsides and below, and thought through detailed storm stowage. Installed fasteners, organized what would be needed (extra sail ties, line, duct tape, bungies, clips, bags, towels etc), and assembled everything in a large basin. Made checklist for using this stuff. Hope we never have to use it. Made yoghurt. Finally figured out a way to store all our bungies, so they're not constantly getting tangled up with each other, and we can quickly get the size we want. Good use for a towel bar in our shower garage. Decided we just don't have room to stow the old Delta anchor, advertised it on the local net (VHF14 at 0730 hours daily) and sold it. Attached new anchor to the chain. Finished making new snubber, retired the old one. Removed the secondary anchor (35lb CQR) from the bow roller, and stowed in the shower. Sealed hawsepipe for its anchor rode. Put more tape round mast boot. Cleaned and lubricated the track on the caprail for the jibsheet leads. Completed installation of the splash cloths--need to check to make sure they don't interfere with the lead for the trysail sheet. Got haircuts (one good and one really bad) from Rosa, local lady hairdresser. Restowed the shower, so the boat is ready for three people. We'll have to restow again once we start using seaberths. All this moving stuff around is wrecking havoc with the inventory, haven't been able to keep up with all the changes. Carnival activities winding up with everything closed for 3 days. Very windy week, gusts to 30 knots blasting down the hills every few minutes at some points. Nice Wednesday supper on board with Chinook and Samen, our new cockpit table is just great. Gary played taxi with our dinghy (he's still waiting for parts for his motor), picked up Chinook whose Walker Bay dinghy just too little to make it into the winds with 3 on board. Friday, picked Ralph up at the airport, then attended gathering at the Yacht Club of boats readying themselves to cross the Atlantic. The group organized a daily radio net for boats making the crossing, on 8297.0kHz (ITU Channel 8-3) at 1100 and 2300 UTC. Chris on Altariel agreed to be net control for the first few weeks. Nice time reconnecting with Ralph. Did mega-wash at the Lagoonies laundramat, and spent 3 hours together in a crew meeting going over safety gear, "What if's?" and trip planning.

 

Wednesday May 5, 2004
Position: Position: Lat, 18 deg 02.1 mins North. Long, 063 degrees 05.2 mins West. docked at
Island Water World Marina, Sint Maartin, Netherland Antilles

          Sunday, one of us did some sightseeing with Ralph (bus to Philipsburg, then Marigot) while the other reviewed navigation/passage directions for daysail and to Bermuda. Read Chris Parker's Coastal and Offshore Weather Handbook and accordingly modified the set of weather products had decided to receive by email via Winlink. Different and instructive book. went to Internet cafe and looked at Weather Buoy but couldn't figure out how to get a daily email forecast en route to Bermuda. Do it later when we have more time. Had a "dry run" with the parachute sea anchor. Figured out how we'd set it up, deploy it, and (hopefully) retrieve it--in the unlikely event we ever need to use it (storm or hurricane conditions). Decided to leave marina on Wednesday, daysail to check everything out, anchor overnight in St. Barts, and depart for Bermuda Thursday--weather permitting. Spent Monday and Tuesday preparing everything, provisioning, cleaning and stowing dinghy, restowing and making up sea berths, and clearing out of customs and the marina. Wednesday morning, left the dock at 0910 hours for the 0930 bridge opening--get a hundred yards from the marina, when the engine overheating alarm goes off. Water coming out the exhaust ok, oil pressure ok. Turn round to come back, then notice smoke coming out from under sink. Kill engine, drop hook, get out fire extinguisher--determine it's not smoke, seems to be steam, something leaking/sizzling. Call Island Water World, and get tow/warp back into the marina. Tricky with gusts to 30 knots. Have tea and muffin and regroup. Satisfied with our emergency response. Investigate the problem, find hole in engine coolant hose. No coolant. Replaced hose. Lesson Learned: (1) Check coolant level before every engine use. (2) When doing maintenance work, check hoses in area where working and feel all along length of each available hose. Tough day. Decided to skip daysail and head out tomorrow.

 

Sunday May 16, 2004
Position: 32 degrees, 22.7 mins N, 064 degrees, 40.3 mins W. Anchored in the harbour at St George, Bermuda

          Arrived here yesterday--we made it! 1,159 nmiles by the log, 1,002 nmiles over the ground, 876 nmiles made good. 214 hours underway, 79 engine hours. Average boat speed, 5.4 knots, speed made good 4.1 knots. Winds NE or NNE most of the way. A close reach or a beat going well west of the rhumb line for the first week until we reached the Bermuda high at about 28 deg 30 mins N, when we turned on the engine to motor back to the northeast for the last three days through lite NE winds to get to Bermuda. Not a very easy or comfortable trip, but nothing untowards, a steady slog to windward with Sinbad (Simrad autopilot) at the helm, never missing a beat. Tow generator worked just great. As usual, Callipygia did beautifully, only the crew had its miseries. Learned en route that the two of us are not ready to cross the ocean--without Ralph this trip would have been very difficult. Realized that while Pat has experience and knowledge to deal with pretty much anything, in a seaway she doesn't have the strength or stamina. Also, that Bill doesn't have experience or knowledge to do other than routine deck work in other than benign conditions. Concluded we'd be overwhelmed with seriously bad weather or major equipment failure. Somewhere along the way we decided that we'd rather be land cruising, enjoying most of the things we like about cruising, and abandoning all the many things we don't like. Sailboat cruising has slowly become more and more of a struggle. The discomfort, cost, and inconvenience have become more and more onerous. Look forward greatly to hiking, canoing, and seeing more of our dear ones. Here is the day-to-day log progression.

          Day 1  Made lifetime supply of sandwiches and prepared the boat. Left the dock at 1100 hours to motor through the lagoon and await the bridge opening. Once into Simpson Bay, stowed the anchor, secured everything, and raised the main with one reef in it. Second reef line needs adjusted or 'twill foul the main when we shake the first one out. Raised the staysail, and unfurled the genoa. Pumped the bilge dry--pink liquid from a little spilt diesel and plenty coolant from yesterday's fiasco. Headed north towards Dog Island passage, just east of Anguilla, nice broad reach sailing wing on wing with genoa poled out. Launched the tow generator. Through Dog Island passage at 1530 hours, a few fish pots. At 1815, Pat tying something down below lost balance and landed on the back of her head against the wooden strip behind the cabin cushions. Copious bleeding. Got out first aid reference and read through head injury. No concussion or other ill effects. Staunched the bleeding, and lay down. Gave herself a goood headache--the price of forgetting "one hand for the boat..." Sombrero light on port beam at 1900 hours. Tow generator working great, providing all the juice needed by Sinbad, the autopilot, the electronics, lights, fans, etc. Light E to ESE winds, 8-10 knots. 69 nmiles by the log, average boat speed 5.3 knots.

          Day 2  Collected email and weather (grib file), and sent position report at 0430 hours. Continued sailing north, freighter passed astern at 1000 hours. At noon, winds very light from SSE, rolled in the jib and turned the motor on for an hour to run the 'frig. Took reef out of the main and adjusted the second reef line. At 1800 hours a very small (3") yellow and brown bird came aboard for refuge, warbler or lark type. It hopped around before finally settling in a nook on the aft end of the cockpit. Put out some water and breadcrumbs. Put reef back in main at 1900 hours, turned engine on and motored through near calms. Bird looks exhausted, slept quietly through the night. Light E to ESE winds, 0-10 knots. 102 nmiles by the log, average boat speed 4.3 knots.

          Day 3  Winds round to north near midnight, altered course to NW. Winds picked up, 15-20 knots. Turn off engine. Furling line jammed. Wrapped around sail--when genoa was hauled out earlier, tension wasn't kept on furling line. Adjusted the line--made it too short, can't roll it in all the way. At 0300 hours, slowed down to avoid traffic on port beam. By 0500 hours, seas up 6-8', lumpy, northerly winds at 20 knots. Sailing at hull speed with reefed main, staysail, and partially reefed genoa. Bird left, hopefully well rested. At 1700 hours, rerigged the furling line--but put it on the wrong way. Nauseating work sitting on the bow pulpit in these lumpy seas. Ralph seasick, Pat nauseous still with aching head. ?Mild concussion? Bill trooper, standing extra watches. No-one feels like cooking--or eating much. Nibble on snacks and sandwiches. N to NNE winds, 15-20 knots, gusting to 25. 151 nmiles by the log, average boat speed 6.3 knots. Going well west of rhumb line.

          Day 4  Collected email and weather (grib file), and sent position report at 0430 hours. Seas and wind down a bit, somewhat more comfortable ride. At 0300 hours the winds clocked round to the NE, we can pick up a bit more northing on our course. Good sailing, reefed main, staysail, reefed genoa. Pat still nauseated. Bill cooked paella (can/package). First hot meal. Picking up some water in the bilge, we hadn't secured the anchor hausepipe properly. Tried duct-taping it. NE winds, 15-20 knots, gusting to 25. 147 nmiles by the log, average boat speed 6.1 knots. Westing increasing.

          Day 5  Collected email and weather (grib file), and sent position report at 0430 hours. Seas down some more, around 4'. At 0600 hours, Reran the furling line, all working properly now, put out a bit more genoa. At 0800, VHF contact from Siamie, Serge, also heading north--made it feel a bit less lonely out here. Around 1100, winds and seas started picking up again, still NE. By noon, winds steady 20-25 knots, seas 6-8', going at hull speed. Rolled up the genoa completely. At 1415, hove to for a few hours break. Taking on more water as seas break over the bow. One jerry can came loose, go forward to retie and check the others. Rough going. Bilge pumps all working fine. Pat still nauseated, only Bill seems to have acquired some sea legs. NE winds, 18-25 knots. 128 nmiles by the log, average boat speed 5.3 knots. Westing still increasing

          Day 6  Collected email and weather (grib file), and sent position report at 0430 hours. Blankets out, getting cooler. Winds and seas down a bit by morning, good sailing (close reach) under reefed main, staysail, and reefed genoa. Amount of westing decreasing. Hot breakfast of hash, eggs, and baked beans. Winds up again in late morning, furled the jib. At 1500 hours saw large sea bird--brown fulmar or petrel. Pat and Ralph feeling better. Winds down a bit by late afternoon, put some jib out. Stew and dumplings for supper. Ralph sat on his glasses and Pat broke hers too. Dug out spares. Traffic crossed ahead at 2100 hours. NE winds, 15-20 knots. 137 nmiles by the log, average boat speed 5.7 knots. Westing still increasing.

          Day 7  More of the same. Collected email and weather (grib file), and sent position report at 0430 hours. Good sailing, close reach. Scrambled eggs for breakfast. Take on some water when winds and seas pickup as usual from late morning to mid afternoon, giving lumpy and uncomfortable ride. Making a better course as winds shift a bit more easterly. At 1700 hours, large freighter crossed astern. Radar plotting showed it altered course briefly to increase it's CPA (closest point of approach) from 1 to 2 miles. ENE winds, 15-20 knots. 137 nmiles by the log, average boat speed 5.7 knots. Finally beginning to pick up some easting.

          Day 8  More of the same. Collected email and weather (grib file), and sent position report at 0430 hours. Pasta and meatballs for breakfast. Saw brown fulmar/petrel sitting on the water. White-tailed Tropicbird checked us out a few times--gorgeous beast. At 1000 hours turned on the iron genny to beat closer to the wind and stop the westward slide as wind backs a bit to NNE. Figure we have enough fuel to motor from here onwards. Rough and bumpy for a while in middle part of day, cockpit swamped once as splash cloths funneled water towards it. Pat still nauseous. VHF contact with Moody 35' Debatable, John, on parallel course. Wind and seas finally begin to come down around 2200 hours as we get nearer to the Bermuda high. Drop staysail at 1800 hours as we motor sail along. A lot of chafe on staysail halyard, need to shorten and redo shackle connection before next use. NE winds, 15-20 knots. 133 nmiles by the log, average boat speed 5.6 knots. Making steady but slow easting

          Day 9  Collected email and weather (grib file), and sent position report at 0430 hours. Dolphins a mile away at 0700 hours. Winds and seas down, finally a more comfortable ride. Getting our easting with help of the engine. Paella for lunch. Put primary anchor back on at 1700 hours. Loom of Bermuda on the horizon at 2000 hours. Slowing down so as not to arrive Bermuda in the dark. Light NE winds, 12-15 knots. 120 nmiles by the log, average boat speed 5.0 knots. Gaining the needed easting.

          Day 10  Made contact with Bermuda Harbour radio at 0230 hours, when pick up Gibbs Hill light. Collected email and weather (grib file), and sent position report at 0430 hours. Traffic astern at 0600, heading same way we are. Drop main. Check in with Bermuda Harbour radio when we get to the Sea Buoy, wait for the traffic to go ahead of us into the Northwest Channel. Proceed into the Channel, then through the Town Cut, and to the customs dock where we tie up at 0750 hours. Clear customs, check out the harbour, and then anchor at 0915 hours. Light NE winds, 10-15knots. 36 nmiles by the log, average boat speed 3.8 knots.

Sunday May 23, 2004
Position: 32 degrees, 22.7 mins N, 064 degrees, 40.3 mins W. Docked at Captain Smokes Marina, St George, Bermuda

          Moved into Captain Smokes marina on the end of MacCallan wharf last Sunday so as to have "easy" (walk-a-plank) access to water, power, showers, etc. Convenience over ambience for our aging bones. Although the ambience from the dock is not half bad--great view across the harbour, fun watching the cruiseships squeeze through the Town Cut and then dock on Ordnance Island or alongside the wharf not far from this little (6 boat) marina. Hosed a ton of salt off sweet Callipygia with fresh water. Scrubbed rust spots off the deck metal. Cleaned and scrubbed ourselves in hot water showers. Recovered slowly from the passage, gradually making our living area habitable again. Took torn lee cloth to Ocean Sails, need to make a new one. Had a great reunion with Hanoah, friends Roger and Judy last seen in Luperon, who arrived from St. Thomas on Sunday. Explored Bermuda by bus and ferry with Ralph, checking out Hamilton and the Naval Dockyard. Took some long walks. Refueled (65 gallons) from Esso truck which came down to the apron in front of the 6 marina boats and filled us all up. Assisted boats docking, including Kukuru, Farr 35', that came in next to us with 5 crew--engine not working. Said goodbye to Ralph on Wednesday, and a big hello to Mary who arrived to stay with us on Thursday. Mega-laundry in between. Friend Susan and her father arrived Thursday night for a brief vacation in St. George, met them Friday morning at the Ducking Stool, and had good times visiting with them. Made arrangements to fly back to the US on June 1 and leave Callipygia on Danny Little's mooring until time for her to go back to Annapolis. Discussed, confirmed, and validated our "both-of-one-mind" decision that we've had a good four years and it's time to swallow the hook. As captain, our webmaster has lost her stomach (?nerve?) for the role.

 

Sunday July 18, 2004
On the hard, in Bert Jabin's Yacht Yard, Annapolis, VA

          This will be the last entry in the Ship's Log. We have returned from Bermuda, had Callipygia delivered back to Annapolis arriving on July 4, and we have now put her up for sale. We went to Red Creek for a week and contemplated our future along with the gorgeous view. We have done our research, and ordered a 24V (24') Minnie Winnebago to be our new home. We bought and broke in two bikes (Trek hybrids). We have moved our belongings off our dear sweet Callipygia, bade her goodbye and godspeed, and are now looking eagerly forward to cruising in national/state/provincial parks and forests. Our new RV comes off the assembly line tomorrow, and we hope to move into it within the week. We'll be creating a new section (On The Road) to cover our travels on land.

 

Click here to read about our travels in the rest of 2004

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