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Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Put a new can of refrigerant on the refrigerator.
Checking my records, seems my last haul-out was 5/2006. Thought it was more recent than that.
Fuel level 12 inches at engine hour 4880. But the engine-hour meter is lying; the alternator output drops to zero if I'm motoring along and the solar panels drive the system voltage high, so the meter doesn't run. That fuel level means about 120 gallons in the tank. Which is enough to get me to St Martin at least, probably St Thomas. But if I go to the fuel dock here to get water, I probably should get some fuel too. Will have to find out prices.
Got some Wi-Fi from the boat; a relief.
Cruiser's net on VHF 68 at 8:30; nice to hear.
Went ashore around 10. To boatyard, where there's bad news: they require me to have insurance before being hauled, and I don't have insurance. Talking to them and looking at the paperwork, they've arranged it so most liabilities are pushed off onto other people. Even placement of the lift straps on the boat is my liability. The office manager is going to consult the top manager and decide if they'll haul me. The yard boss later said maybe I can sign some kind of waiver. They have a slot at 1 PM today, and 8 AM tomorrow.
Over to the marine store to see if they have the right kind of bottom-paint in stock; the yard wasn't sure. The store has 3 gallons of Petit Trinidad 75 Black, and another 3 or 4 of the same in blue, and my boat should take 4 gallons for 2 coats. Back to the boat.
If they won't haul me, how can I jury-rig the worn cutless bearing ? Stuff some hard rubber or Teflon into the bottom of it, from outside ? Maybe.
Refrigerator still isn't running properly; another thing to worry about.
Fruit/veg boat visited nearby cruising boats: pic.
Did Wi-Fi, had lunch, while waiting for any radio call from the boatyard office.
At 1:30, the lift guys at the boatyard called on the VHF and said "you were supposed to be here at 1, where are you ?". I told them the office was deciding if they'd let me in. They went away for 15 minutes, came back, said "come on in". I said it will take me a while to hoist the dinghy, start engine, raise anchor, be there at 2:30.
So I run around and do everything, and get the anchor up and start heading. At the entrance to the channel, another boat is ahead of me, and going very slowly, so I circle around and put some distance between us before heading in. Then get in and up to the lagoon, and call the lift guys on the radio. No response for a minute, and then they tell me to stand by, and I do a loop while eyeing the situation nervously. I have to back in, because the forestay would prevent the lift from getting far enough over the center of my boat. And there's a bit of a crosswind, and it's blowing in the same direction as my prop-walk when in reverse. I have a few fenders out in case of a crash landing.
Soon three competent-looking guys come out, and I get the boat in fairly easily, no bumps, no crashes. The wind is blocked by the high sides of the haul-out slip, and with a bit of futzing with getting lines out and reversing in and such, we get the boat in.
I get off the boat at 2:30 and head for the office. Do the paperwork, no mention of insurance, and back to the lift. They have my boat up out of the water, and even though they put the aftmost sling back a little further than I specified, all is well. They start moving my boat over land, then start pressure-washing it. The lift is controlled by a guy standing nearby with a wireless remote control, not a driver sitting on the lift.
The pressure-washing goes on and on, as I wander around the yard and talk to workers and wait. Of course I forgot and left my camera aboard, so I can't take pictures of my boat in the slings, or anything else in the yard. One of the contractors tries to talk me into using him to polish the hull-sides and such, but I'm not doing any of that. I find the bathroom and showers, which turn out to be fairly nice.
The pressure-washing goes on and on. Finally around 4:30 they're done, and start moving the boat. They set it on blocks, put jacks on the sides, and they're done. I'm up the ladder and aboard by 4:45.
Soon back down the ladder with camera and tools. Took a few pictures of my boat (pics) and the yard (pics).
Yard boss and I went in his car, over to the marine store in the marina. He said they usually use paint called "Hempel" or something, but I want to stay with Petit Trinidad modified epoxy. Updated my registration with the store. Bought four gallons of Petit Trinidad 75 bottom paint, on the yard's account. Got one gallon of blue and three of black because they didn't have four of black; the blue will go on as part of the first coat. Back to the yard.
Soon got the prop off (pics). Yard boss stopped by and noticed something wrong with the rudder shoe, and I found a broken weld on it (pics). So took it off the rudder skeg.
Sounds like the bottom sanding and painting will take about 2 days; that's fast.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Down the ladder and to the showers. Not the best shower, but a treat after my usual showering on the stern of the boat.
Down the ladder a couple of times during the night to go pee at the restrooms. Have to be careful to avoid falling off the ladder. If you fall overboard at anchor, you get wet. If you fall overboard in the yard, you break your neck. boatyard at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Very grey morning. Steady hard rain from 8:30 to 9:30 or so. A bit more at 10.
Took the safety collar off the prop shaft. Tried to loosen the stuffing-box nuts on the propellor shaft, but they won't budge, and I don't have good wrenches. Loosened the shaft setscrews up at the forward end.
Some of sanding crew showed up at 10:45. I talked to the yard boss, and he said only light sanding is included in the standard sand-and-paint deal, and I need power-sanding. I agreed to pay extra, maybe US$150, for that.
Told him about the stuffing-box nuts, and he says I want a chain-wrench, which should be cheap to buy. Went to the welding shop, but the guy is busy. More rain at 11.
Went across the street to Johnson's Hardware. But they only have the large model of chain-wrench, EC$192 (about US$71), not the cheaper model. To the marine store in the marina, and they have no wrenches of any kind that would work on stuffing-boxes; surprising. Back to the boatyard.
To the welding/machine shop. Gave the rudder shoe to the guy; he says EC$90 (about US$33) to weld it. He'll come to my boat later to see what needs to be done for the shaft, and quote me a price for that.
More light rain, off and on, and weather staying mostly grey. Depressing. But at least I can throw money at the boat to get problems fixed.
Got a little bit of free Wi-Fi; that made me feel better.
Realized I haven't tried any penetrating oil on the stuffing-box nuts, so applied that.
At 1:30, someone started power-sanding my hull.
Took another shot at the stuffing-box nuts, and got them free ! It took a little judicious pounding with a small sledgehammer. And I'm sure the penetrating oil helped.
About 2 minutes later, there's the guy from the shop at the top of my ladder, asking what we need to do. I tell him we should be able to take the shaft out now to do the cutless bearing, and he says we should be able to do it without pulling out the shaft. By the time I get dressed and down to ground, he has the set-screws out and the old cutless bearing slid out a bit; he put a big pipe-wrench on it. (Last time we put one in, we left half an inch hanging out for exactly this reason: you can put a wrench on it to get it out.) He took off the zinc, got the bearing out the rest of the way, and cleaned up the set-screw holes a bit. I put a bit of grease on the outside of the new bearing, to make it easy to get out next time, and he was able to slowly pound it home (last time, we refrigerated the new bearing overnight to help get it in). Put the set-screws back in, put the zinc back on, he's done.
To his shop to get the rudder shoe he welded, and paid EC$200 (US$74) for the two jobs combined; not too bad. He says the metal on the shoe isn't so good, he had a little trouble doing the weld. I've heard that every time I take something from this boat to a welding shop: the stern ladder, the steering wheel, now this shoe.
The old cutless bearing doesn't look as extremely worn as I expected. I'll keep it as a spare in case of emergency; it could go in upside-down next time. Sure, it well needed replacement. But I don't think there was any metal-to-metal contact as I feared. The guy showed me that the prop shaft was worn where it contacts the bearing, but I think that's just because it's (probably) a 42-year-old shaft with lots of mileage on it. And I think barnacles have built up in there from time to time as the boat sat unused for months and months.
Later, I showed the bearing to the yard boss. He said it was extremely worn, and also showed that the rear end of my engine should come down slightly: on the bottom, where all the wear is, the outer end of the bearing is more worn than the inner end.
Sunshine starting around 2:15 ! Nice.
I put the set-screws back into the forward end of the shaft, at the coupling to transmission. Fortunately I didn't get that end loose, so the screws went right back in without any alignment hassle.
Put the propellor back onto the shaft. It's a bit loose; I noticed that a month ago. As far as I can tell now, the key is fine, it fits tightly into the slot on the shaft. I think the slot in the propellor has become slightly enlarged. The propellor is pretty old and tired; a new one would be nice.
I started working on putting the rudder shoe back on, and had some problem getting the through-bolt aligned and through. Just as I got it right, the yard boss came by and pointed out that his guys had started power-sanding my bottom again, and I was breathing the dust from it. So I stopped and washed up and went aboard.
They've hauled two more boats today; watched one of them go past: pic.
Achey and headachey; took a paracetamol-plus.
Showered, and did a few pieces of laundry in the restroom sink.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cheese-egg-bread and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner. Not sure I'm allowed to cook on board, but I need to use up some food before it spoils; the refrigerator seems to be not working at all. boatyard at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Somewhat grey morning, but no rain.
Did a little more work on the rudder shoe.
Looks like the hull-sanding is about half done. Talked to the yard boss. They've sanded down to the gelcoat in some places, so need to apply primer there before applying bottom-paint. But they should be able to apply first coat of paint this afternoon.
I looked at the hull. I don't see any resin weeping from pinhole-blisters, as I saw in previous haul-outs.
Grey and raining by 9:30. Fairly heavy rain, stopping the hull work, but by 10 or so it was clear and a bit sunny, and work resumed.
At noon, looks like the sanding is done but the priming hasn't been started.
Adjusted the rear engine mounts. Put the stuffing-box nuts back together.
Nothing happening under the boat from noon to 1:30. Went to ask, and I think the boss is over at the marine store buying the primer.
Checked at the fuel dock. Diesel EC$9.96/gallon (about US$3.70), but you have to be cleared out to get that price. Water EC$0.40/gallon (sounds too low, maybe that's US$0.40, but I specifically asked if it was EC$).
Before 2, the boss was back and primer was going on.
Finished adjusting and screwing down the rudder shoe. I added a wooden shim at the forward end to make the shoe mate more solidly with the rudder shaft at the aft end.
Grey clouds moving in around 2:30; hope rain doesn't prevent painting the first coat this afternoon.
Tried to diagnose the wind-generator, and I think the diode block may have been damaged by overheating. Expecting some strongish wind on Friday and Saturday; will see how it behaves then.
Heavy but brief rain around 2:45.
By 4, I'm getting worried that priming has been done, but painting the first coat hasn't started. I find the boss, and it turns out the guys are mixing the paint right now, blending blue with black. And soon the paint is going on, and first coat done by 5:15 or so.
Took some more pictures in the boatyard. A surprising number of boats with bow-thrusters, often very small bow-thrusters. Pics.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Futzed with the wind-generator in the middle of the night, and found the problem was the simplest possible thing: somehow the disconnect switch got flipped. Must have snagged it while I was moving in and out of the engine compartment a few days ago. boatyard at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Guys getting ready to paint second coat, at 9 AM.
Walked over to marina to use Wi-Fi in ice-cream shop. Need to warn my credit-card company that a large charge will be coming today.
Back to boat by 11. A little surprised to find the painting still continuing, and by 11:30 it's still going. I hope that if I can splash by 2:30, they'll charge me for 3 days instead of 4. Fiberglass guy came by to beg me to pay him to polish the hull-sides.
Rain at 11:55.
Down the ladder at 1:30, to go pee, and find out the status. Yard boss says the paint is drying, he has me scheduled for splashing at 4 PM, I can go pay at the office. So I do that.
The bill is a little higher than I expected; turns out there's a big mark-up on the bottom-paint. I think it said US$193 per gallon in the marine store, but on the bill it's about US$276 per gallon. So the big chunks of the bill are paint (US$1105), haul out and splash (US$455), painting (US$455 again). Plus the primer paint, materials, pressure-wash, sanding, 3 days in yard.
Total bill is EC$7290 (US$2700). Goes through on my credit card, no problem. (Came through as $2711.61 on credit card statement.)
I go over to the fuel dock, and ask about getting water. They'll probably be closing about the time I get into the water, and they say their pump is slow, I'm better off buying water in the boatyard. So back to the office, and ask about that. Turns out the price is the same, US$0.40/gallon. And it's US$, not EC$.
Back to the boat, and soon a guy with a hose appears. I spend about 20 minutes filling the tanks, losing a gallon or two as the water is being shut off at the end.
A bit later, to the office to pay for the water, and the lady tells me the price iS EC$0.40; she mistakenly said US$0.40 before. So it's cheap, about US$0.15 per gallon. I loaded 169 gallons (thought it would take more), so pay EC$67.60 (US$25).
So, total charges for this experience: EC$7290 to the yard, EC$200 to the mechanic/welder, EC$68 for water. About US$2800 total.
At 4 PM, the yard boss hails me. I'm expecting him to say "let's splash it", but he says "the paint hasn't dried properly yet, we'll splash you tomorrow morning, no extra charge".
Walked over to the marina to go to the small grocery store, to get a few items.
Saw the yard boss, and gave him EC$200 as a tip for him and his guys. That, plus the new cutless bearing I'd already bought a long time ago, bring the total spent up to about US$3000. [Later, credit-card company added a $81.34 "foreign transaction fee".] boatyard at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
At 8:10, the word is that they will lift another boat, then splash me. So it will be a while yet.
Watched them haul a boat, then a guy came by to say they want paint to dry for 24 hours (which might mean noon for me). At 10:30, they're starting to haul another boat. I'm in no hurry, and I actually have some Wi-Fi.
At 2, the lift was coming toward me. But it went past me, to a big powerboat.
Going down to the restrooms, I noticed someone has sanded/polished my propellor ! Tip of one blade is pretty bad, notched and toothy from some collision, I guess. Pics.
Around 2:50, the yard boss stopped by and yelled up "are you staying until next week ?". I said no, he asked if the lift guys had said when they were going to splash me, and I said no. So he went over there; I think there's been some miscommunication.
A couple of minutes later, he came back and said "they're going to splash that catamaran, then you". A couple of minutes after that, here came the lift, and they said "we're splashing you now".
So I scrambled off the boat, and watched as they lifted it and the painter painted the spots that had been covered by the stands. Soon the lift was heading for the launch slip. Pics.
I got on a stern corner as the boat was hanging over the slip. They lowered the boat into the water, and I checked below for leaks. Stuffing box is leaking quite a bit; tightened it, but still leaking. It's supposed to have a slight drip while the shaft is turning, then be dry when stopped; a tricky balance to achieve. Go ahead, anyway. They took lines, I started the engine, checked below again, everything reasonable. They moved the lift away, then I put the engine in gear and they threw the lines aboard. Moving by 3:35.
I'd like to check the stuffing box again right away, now that the shaft is turning, but I'm in a congested lagoon with lots of small traffic. So I head out the channel without delay. As soon as I get out into fairly open water, I duck below, and the stuffing box is tolerable. Quickly find a decent anchoring spot a couple of hundred yards N of the channel entrance, and anchor down by 3:45 at Rodney Bay, St Lucia. Check the stuffing box, tighten it, stop the leak. Make sure the anchor is holding, try to relax.
Check the stufing box and bilge several more times, but all is well. Start straightening up the boat a bit, taking in lines, putting up the mizzen backstay, putting up the mizzen topping lift and boom.
Still can't figure out what's wrong with the refrigerator. It runs a little, one tube up the back gets warm, but then it quits. If I overfilled it with refrigerant, the leak should let pressure come back to proper range. If all of that refrigerant leaked so quickly, there's no hope of keeping enough of a charge in it to keep it running.
Salad and tuna sandwiches and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Headachey around 3 AM; took a paracetamol. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Wind blowing hard today, from the E.
Nice Wi-Fi from the boat.
Went ashore in midafternoon, into the lagoon against a stiff wind. Did my good deed for the day: a Sunsail guy in a dinghy had his outboard quit ahead of me, so I towed him 100 feet back to the marina, upwind.
To the ATM for cash, then to the supermarket. Back to the dinghy, easy downwind trip back to the boat.
Ashore again, to the big book-exchange in the restaurant at Pigeon Point.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Wind blowing fairly hard. Did a bucket of laundry. At 8:45, someone reported 2-4 whales, 3-4 miles N of St Lucia. Started doing my income taxes.
Hard rain at noon.
Ashore at 1, into stiff wind. To ice-cream place to do Wi-Fi and Skype. But their Wi-Fi isn't working. A totally wasted trip.
Back to the boat. And the Wi-Fi there is pretty good, but no answer from Dora on Skype.
Someone has a new toy: pics. What will they think of next ? Looks like a big hose is running back to the jet-ski behind him, providing the power. Probably pretty simple: just divert half of the jet-ski output to send it up the hose instead of backward to propel the jet-ski.
Salad and spaghetti and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Grey morning. Did a bucket of laundry.
Ashore in midafternoon. To the marine store, and bought new furling and out-haul lines for the mainsail, total of EC$296 (about US$110). Bought tomatoes at the little grocery store. Asked a question at Customs/Immigration about checking out in the afternoon and leaving the following dawn: no problem.
Back to the boat. Put the new lines up. Probably should have gotten the furling line a smidge longer, could have gotten the outhaul a bit shorter and thicker, but they're okay. Much better than the tired old lines that were on there.
Salad and leftover spaghetti and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Put the jib back up. Looks pretty raggedy. First strong squall probably will unwind it again and I'll have to bring it down in a hurry.
E-filed my income taxes. Cost $28 to tell the Feds and state that I owe no tax because I have essentially no income.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
No wind at all until 2 AM or so, when it suddenly turned on again.
Headachey at 3 AM or so; took a paracetamol. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Grey morning. Weather forecast good for going to Martinique tomorrow. Federal tax return accepted by IRS.
Went ashore after 11. Disposed of several bags of garbage. Over to the hardware store to buy some caulk. Back into the dinghy, and over to the supermarket. Someone had tied up a big inflatable, probably 16 feet long, with about a 2-foot painter to the dinghy-dock, taking up most of it.
Bought groceries and headed back to the boat. About 200 yards short, the outboard quit and wouldn't restart. I started paddling, but soon a cruier came by and towed me the rest of the way.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Caulked the base of the mainmast. If I don't do that every few months, rainwater comes in and goes down the compression post.
Opened the fuel line to the carb on the outboard, and the gas looks bad again. Pumped it until it looked more like gasoline, motor runs for a second or two after pulling, then quits again. Took apart carb and fuel pump and cleaned them; there was a bit of goo, but not too much. Checked plug and oil. Everything back together, and eventually got motor running. But it's running badly, and won't run unless the choke is out.
Headed ashore around 3, to check out. Outboard sputtered horribly but made it all the way in. To the Customs/Immigration office, and there's a crowd ahead of me. It thinned out a bit when a bunch of them were sent off to some Health officer's office. Once I got the form and filled it out, the process went quickly. Paid EC$40 to the Port officer. Out of there in 25 minutes.
To the dinghy, motor started, sputtered as usual. Over toward the marina fuel dock, to get some fresh gasoline, but it's 15 minutes to closing time and three big boats are circling anxiously and a skiff is fueling and a guy from a dinghy is walking toward the office. Decided that's a bad bet, and headed to the fisherman's fuel dock halfway down the channel. Got there and found they have no gasoline at all, a truck will be coming sometime. Gave up; will have to buy fresh gasoline in Martinique, at twice the price.
Outboard sputtered and ran horribly on the way out to the boat, but only quit once and restarted immediately. Sputtered and crawled and got me back to the boat.
State tax return accepted by NJ. So that chore is done.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cornbread-cheese and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Up at 5:30. Got boat ready to go. Engine start at 6, anchor up by 6:15. Motored out, rounded up, unfurled the mainsail. Sure enough, the furling line is about 5 feet shorter than ideal, but it works. Motor-sailed out and around Pigeon Island. Had to loosen the stuffing-box nuts to get a drip of water started.
Lovely flat water until I got out of shelter of the island, then starting hitting NE and E swells. Soon it was rougher than I'd expected from the forecast, and the first hour or two north of the island were rough and rolly. But I'm making good time; I think the paint job and propellor-polishing have added about a knot, and today there's enough E in the wind to give me some drive from the mainsail.
Saw a couple of ocean-crossing freighters heading SE, maybe to Barbados, maybe beyond. Kept an eye on the oil leak and stuffing box.
Made good speed across, but it stayed fairly rolly. As I neared Martinique, saw a bunch of sailboats coming out in various directions. Those trying to head E against the prevailing current and swells were having a rough time of it.
Around the peninsula and there's the St Anne anchorage, and there are a LOT of boats here. Wasn't nearly this crowded when I was here 4 or 5 years ago.
Furled the mainsail and threaded my way through the anchorage to get close in to shore. An inflatable with some officials started hovering around me, getting in my way a little. As soon as the anchor was down, they were rafted up to my side. Anchor down by 10:40 at St Anne, Martinique. I backed down on the anchor, shut off the engine, tightening the stuffing nuts, etc, before going out to deal with them.
They checked my papers, then all three of them came aboard, and two of them started searching my boat. Checked that I had distress flares. They asked 4 or 5 times if I had any guns; they said Americans usually have guns. Asked a couple of times if I had a lot of cash, and where it was. Asked if I had a safe. All three of them are armed, but one seems to be the boat-handler, two are searching, and only one of them speaks much English (but his English is reasonable).
Boat's a mess from the trip, and age, and my general messiness. They opened the acces to the stuffing-box area (since the carpet was peeled back and the hatch was obvious). Opened spaces under the aft bunks, the space by the rudder post, looked in the drawers, looked in the closet. Leafed through a box of my financial records and a box of cruising bulletins, I guess to see if cash or drugs were hidden between the pages. Noticed the wobbly board in the hallway sole and had me open that. Heat of the engine compartment kept them from going in there. Glanced in the old AC freezer compartment. Glanced in the forward head and V-berth. Looked in the space holding the drinking water pump. Asked about access to the water tanks (there is none) and the fuel tank (about an hour's work to get at that, and the access is tiny). By that time, they were discouraged by the size of the boat, the clutter, the heat, and the dirt. Up into the cockpit and did paperwork, and they left at 11:25. The bad news is this was independent of clearing-in; still have to go do that. I found that they opened a couple of ports I rarely open; fortunately none of the plastic broke.
Had a quick lunch, then launched the dinghy. The motor started and ran (stumbling) all the way to the dock. Chatted briefly with a cruiser at the dock, asking him where to clear in, etc.
Found the cafe with the PC to do clearance. Got the password, got to the form, filled it in. Always fun to use a French keyboard, where A and M and some other keys are in non-USA positions. And the form makes you shift to do numbers in some fields, and not shift to do numbers in other fields. Got it done, had the guy put paper in the printer, printed it out. He signed and stamped it. Then he changed US$72 to €66 (rate of 1.09, not bad at all) for me, and I paid €2 for the clearance. Done !
Wandered around town. Took a few pictures: pics (first picture shows only about 1/5th of the anchorage). Found the market and bought a couple of tomatoes (cheaper than in the islands further south). Wasn't able to find a gas station.
Back to the dock, got in the dinghy, motor started and ran for about 10 seconds, then quit and wouldn't restart. Started paddling (very sheltered conditions, only about 200 yards to paddle), and soon someone came by and towed me to my boat. Three guys on a cruising boat, and one of them is a guy I chatted with briefly at the clearance PC. Back on my boat by 1.
Around 1:25, I'm below when I hear anchor chain rattling very nearby. I go on deck to find a French boat putting their anchor down right on top of my chain, and now they're sideways across my bow while letting out more chain. I go to the bow and point out my anchor chain and where my anchor is, and watch anxiously while they pull up their chain and anchor. Fortunately they don't snag my chain, and go elsewhere.
As I expected, no free Wi-Fi here.
Poured most of the gasoline out of the outboard's fuel tank and into a transparent 2-liter soda bottle. It looked okay, and after 15 minutes no layers had separated out. Poured it back into the tank.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a warm Coke for dinner. St Anne, Martinique.
On deck at 5:20 AM to watch the International Space Station pass overhead.
Was using the laptop around 10:30 when I realized the battery was very low, the charger had stopped supplying outside power. I've had problems with the connector before. So I fiddled with the connector for quite a while, with no luck. Turned on the inverter and tried the AC adapter, with no luck. Messed with it for more than half an hour, and couldn't get it to work. This is bad; I use my laptop a LOT. Gave up and had some lunch.
An hour later, tried the laptop again, and the adapter started charging the battery ! A big relief. Left it charging while I did chores, then left it charging while I went ashore. My best guess is that using an external disk drew too much power, and something in the charging circuit got hot and decided to turn off for a while.
Took the connector off the end of the outboard fuel line, and pumped some gas out into the soda bottle. A good 1/4" layer of water settled out into the bottom. Poured most of the good gas back into the tank.
Launched the dinghy, took the fuel line off the carb, and pumped some more gas out of there into the soda bottle.
Outboard sputtered horribly and got me ashore at about 1/4 knot; at least today this is directly upwind, so if the motor won't get me back, it will be an easy paddle back to the boat.
Went for a walk along the shore and around the SW corner of the peninsula. Lots of people have come by car to enjoy the beaches, early on a Friday afternoon. Nice walking paths, except where a resort has been built in the way. Puzzled my way around that.
Through lots of woods and along the S coast. Got to a big beach area with lots of cars and tents. And now one of my sandals has worn a hole in the back of my left heel. Kept going anyway, foolishly, trying to loop through and back to town. Down a long dirt road and out to the main road. Where there are two lovely bus stops.
But no busses. I waited 45 minutes, and no bus in either direction. I had planned to walk to town along the road, but traffic is very fast, there are no shoulders, no shade, and I'm not sure how far it is. I decide to retrace my steps.
So, back up the dirt road, past all the parked cars and tents, through the woods, and eventually back to town. A long, thirsty slog, my heel not feeling too horrible. But I've definitely overdone it today. Saw one nice-looking topless woman on the beach, near town.
Into the dinghy, the motor starts, and I start sputtering back to the boat. Then I try putting the choke in, and suddenly the motor is running fine ! So it's flipped from "only runs with the choke out" mode to normal mode. Great !
Back to the boat by 4:15. Big glass of water, some cranberry juice, bathroom. Start to feel better. Relax and eat a big grapefruit. Another glass of water.
Then I go snorkeling under the boat. Swimming in the cool water feels great, after being sweaty and overheated all afternoon. And the bottom of the boat looks terrific, all clean, zinc and prop and cutless bearing and rudder shoe all fine.
Looked at the soda bottle with gasoline in it, and probably have 5 or 6 tablespoons of water at the bottom.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a warm Coke for dinner. St Anne, Martinique.
Looking at charts, this is the eastern-most point of my trip from Grenada to Puerto Rico. All of the big hops from here on are N and NW and then W. Which means there shouldn't be any more serious upwind trips.
Poured the last half-cup of gasoline-plus-water into a tall plastic cup to try to salvage as much gasoline as I could, pouring off the gas from on top of the water. Did something else for 2 or 3 minutes, looked back, and the gasoline had dissolved the plastic cup and spilled in the cockpit. Wiped it up.
A bit headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Ashore around 2:30 (outboard ran fine), and town is pretty dead. Limped around a bit. Found the veggie market was closed, but both grocery stores open until late. Sat in the harbor plaza for a while and read my book. Some nice-looking women. Eventually got some groceries and went back to the boat. Outboard ran fine except for a couple of hiccups.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Headachey in the middle of the night; took a paracetamol. St Anne, Martinique.
Engine start at 6:45, anchor up and mainsail unfurled by 6:55. Motor-sailed W, with seas from SE, and wind and current from dead astern. Fiddly steering, and a couple of accidental jibes of the mainsail, but the wind is light, and the apparent wind even lighter. Making good speed. Breathing a lot of exhaust fumes; the wind is blowing them right up into the cockpit.
Past Diamond Rock around 8:30, turned the SW corner around 8:45. A nice romp NW for a half-hour or so, with wind from starboard stern quarter, following seas and current. Had to dodge some fish-floats. Then a bit of an upwind slog in the big harbor, but seas are small.
Into the anchorage by the fort; a lot of boats here. First anchoring had me too close to land; the winds are fluky and spinning here. Pulled it up and anchor down again by 11:15 at Fort de France, Martinique.
Took a couple of pictures: pics.
Headache; took a sumatriptan.
Got a tiny bit of free Wi-Fi from the Tourist Office, just enough to see a weather forecast and send an email to Dora.
On the beach, a religious group came down and sang some songs and then three of them went into the water and someone got baptized.
A bunch of teenaged boys swam out to an unoccupied anchored boat and used it as a dive platform for ten minutes or so. The boat looks like a cruising boat but no one was aboard overnight, so I guess it's been here a while. Pics. Later, they were swimming around another anchored boat even closer to the beach, but couldn't get aboard it. I'm glad I'm aboard my boat now, to keep them away. And I'm anchored in a slightly less accessible location.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Rolly at times during the night. Fort de France, Martinique.
Went ashore at 10. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Then found out the whole town is closed on a Monday morning. I need some basics such as a loaf of bread; not a chance. One pharmacy has a tiny wall-hatch open with a line of people picking up medicines. One hotel lobby is open. A few workmen on a couple of construction or remodeling sites. Everything else closed tight. Eventually got some free Wi-Fi on the harbor plaza.
Started to walk to W end of town, decided it was stupid. Back to boat. The boat the kids were on yesterday now has a dinghy behind it, so it's not unoccupied.
Laptop not charging properly again. But an hour or two later, it's working again.
Ashore again at 2:15 or so. Was going to stop by the boat the kids were on, but the dinghy is gone again.
Everything still closed. Must be a holiday. Easter Monday or something ? I don't know when Easter is. Only thing open is Twix (McDonald's), and prices there are not cheap. Sat for a while in the harbor plaza, then back to the boat.
Tuna-salad, and later leftover chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Right at dark, about 6:45, former-sailboat "Atraxia", now with no masts, came in and anchored fairly close to my anchor. I'm backwinded to the E now, and they've backed down to the W, but that might not last. It took a couple of tries, and a bit of a wind shift that brought us closer together, but finally I communicated my unhappiness to them, and they moved a bit further away. Fort de France, Martinique.
Around 10, launched the dinghy. Went out around the fort and up past the long commercial docks, straight upwind, and to the fuel dock. Which I'm glad to find is open. Bought 7 liters of gasoline for €10.
Back to the boat, to drop off the gasoline jug (after putting some in the tank). Customs boat is boarding a cruising boat. Went ashore. Everything is open in town today.
To Leader Price supermarket, which is a bit of a zoo right after the days closed. Got groceries. Hauled everything back to the boat. Nice to have bread and fruit and vegs again.
Went ashore at 2 or so. Couldn't find the cybercafe I saw the other day. Walked all over the central area, asking people, eventually got directed to one. But it's not too cheap, €1 for 30 minutes, and has no AC outlets (and I don't have the right adapter anyway). Did 30 minutes. Weather forecast for going to Guadeloupe has gotten a bit less favorable. Was planning to go tomorrow; will have to check the forecast again tomorrow morning.
Went into Carrefour to buy some bananas, but the lines were too long.
To marine store. They still have the check-out computer, but no longer have a book-exchange. Did some Wi-Fi in waterfront plaza.
Back onto boat. Laptop not charging.
Salad and spaghetti and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner. Fort de France, Martinique.
Leaving for Guadeloupe today.
Laptop still not charging.
Winds are fluky in this anchorage; two boats almost touching: pic.
Ashore after 9. Brief Wi-Fi in waterfront plaza; weather forecast has moderated slightly; nice. To an ATM and got Euro's from my debit card, no fee, no problem. To Leader Price, but the lines were too long. To the marine store and checked out (no charge). Back to boat.
Engine start at 11:20. Anchor up by 11:35; the wind fought me every way possible, spinning the boat and driving it way forward over the anchor again and again.
Motor-sailed W down the N side of the harbor. A romp, with wind dead astern and seas from stern quarter. Debated unfurling the jib, but the wind is stronger than I expected, and the jib is not good.
At noon, the jib made the decision for me, about 1/3 of it near the top unwinding and starting to flog horribly. Took me more than half an hour to get it under control, down and lashed on deck.
Around the corner and heading N, and the wind is dying. Lovely flat water here in the lee of the island. But soon rainclouds were moving in, and it got mostly grey and rained repeatedly.
Passing St Pierre at 2 PM. Saw a couple of small black or black-and-white dolphin jumping out of the water a few times.
At 2:50, shut off the engine and checked the oil leak from the oil hose. Wanted to do it here in calm conditions. Not too bad, maybe half a cup in 4 hours.
Around 4, passing off the N end of Martinique. Conditions here not as forecast: the wind is supposed to be E, but it's NE. And the NE seas are bigger than I expected. I'm heading NNW, so there's a lot of rolling (but the mainsail checks much of it).
At 4:15, a strong front/squall came through. Rain blasting through the pilothouse and getting me fairly wet, followed by a 10-degree temperature drop. And I have to drive carefully to keep the mainsail from getting overloaded and damaged somehow.
At 4:25, a glimpse of Dominica well in the distance. Then the grey closed in again.
Several sailboats heading S, over the next hour or two.
Saw that a damaged section of the rubrail facing, which I'd tried to repair yesterday, now is ripped off and dangling by one screw. Probably the jib sheet ripped it off. I'm not going out on the wet deck, on the low side, in these rough conditions, to try to secure it.
Saw a couple of dolphins jumping near the boat, but they were gone quickly.
At 5:15, another strong front/squall.
At 5:45, boat rolled by a couple of very sharp seas, and crashing noises from below. I went down to investigate, and got caught by the next such wave. I only had one hand on something solid, and the motion rotated me backwards. Everything I grabbed for was not solid, but fortunately I came away with just a scrape on my forearm and a torn-off scab on my heel. Could have been bad.
At 9:10, finally reached S end of Dominica, and started getting shelter from the rolly seas. Within a mile, the boat was fairly steady. Took a paracetamol. Had leftover spaghetti and a Coke for dinner.
At 10:10, shut off the engine and laid down and rested a little, enjoying the quiet as the mainsail kept the boat steady, maybe ghosted us along at 1/10th knot. Checked the oil, and it needs a fair amount, more than came out at the hose connection leak. Checked the situation on deck; mostly okay. Rubrail section is gone. 3/4 moon (waning gibbous, I think) is coming up over the island. Got a little common sense and put on warmer clothing.
At 10:45, started engine and got going again. Within half an hour, the calm was gone, wind strong, kicking up a chop. Later, it calmed again, then got strong again. Lights from a couple of fishing boats, I think, but they're farther out than me.
At 2:30 AM, stopped engine and checked oil again, wanting to do this in the lee of Dominica before getting to open water. Oil down about a quart in 4 hours or so; not good.
I'm starting to get very tired. I wish the wind would calm down a bit.
Before 4 AM, passing the N end of Dominica, and out into very rough conditions. Wind consistently very strong, and again I'm heading mostly NNW in NE seas and NE wind. And I'm very tired. At least the boat is sailing itself most of the time, despite the rolling. I only have to make small adjustments to mainsheet and steering every now and then, and it stays on course. I worry that something will go wrong with the mainsail; that would be a total pain in these conditions.
Sun up around 6; conditions still rough, but the end is in sight.
At 7, into Iles Des Saintes. Out of the rough conditions. Soon am able to furl the mainsail. Wind my way around and up to town. As I read, now they've put in a mooring field and prohibited anchoring at the town. I've never liked this place as an anchorage, and now it costs money, too. The anchorages here generally have deep water, not much sand, lots of rocks, often rolly. Town is cute but not that great.
I decide to avoid the mooring field, and anchor in a local-boat type of area, in front of a nasty rocky lee shore. I expect I'll get kicked out of here, but maybe I can get into town before that happens. Anchor down by 8 AM at Iles Des Saintes, Guadeloupe.
Five minutes later, some harbor guy in a skiff comes over to tell me I can't anchor here. But when I ask if I can check in first, then move, he nicely says yes. And tells me the check-in place opens at 9. Great, I can grab some breakfast, shave, wash a little, make sure the anchor is holding.
Ashore just before 9. A little trouble finding it, and the check-in place is a cybercafe; I remember it from when I was here 4 years ago. But it's not open on time this morning. Two big ferries arrive and the town fills with tourists.
I go to a grocery store and buy a few things, then the cybercafe is open. Check in, pay €2. And I find the moorings here would cost me €11 per day (rate depends on length of boat, cheaper for weekly, etc). Internet here costs €3 per half-hour, and they have no USA-type power outlets.
As I'm leaving the dock, a third ferry pulls in with more people. I notice that the mooring field is pretty rolly.
Back to the boat by 9:35. Anchor might be dragging slightly.
Strange: engine oil is completely full; didn't lose any while running from 2:30 to 8 this morning. So where was it going before ? I don't think it's leaking into the bilge, and if being burnt because of bad rings or something, why didn't it keep on getting burnt ?
Engine start at 9:45. Struggled to get anchor up; tight quarters and some wind. Got it up, looped around to a different area about 200 yards farther from town, anchor down by 9:55 at Iles Des Saintes, Guadeloupe. Should have anchored here in the first place. A bit exposed to NE, but the other anchorages I saw looked full, especially in the shallower water. Even so, I'm in about 20 feet of water here, deeper than I like (I don't have an anchor windlass).
Relax a little, straighten up the boat a little, read a book, write this log file. Soon down for a nap.
Got up, did some stuff, started straightening up after the trip, managed to bash my toe into something and make a big bloody gash on the top of it. Wonderful.
At 3:45, a Customs boat comes by and shouts some questions from 50 feet away, about where I've been and where I'm going. They go hover near the boat behind me, then spend the next hour or more just hovering around in the vicinity.
At 5:15, as I'm fixing some salad for dinner, the Customs boat is coming over again and saying they're going to board me. They have fenders, and nudge up to me briefly, just long enough for three officers to step/jump across to my boat.
We sit in the cockpit and I give them my documents and one asks some questions. Finally they say they will search the boat, but 15 seconds into that, they get a radio call saying that I was searched while in Martinique. They say no need to search me again, why didn't I tell them I'd been searched ? I figured it's a different country, but they say no, the same. I show the form from the previous search. The guy says "did they search the whole boat ?", I say "well, it's a big boat, that would take two full days". The guy smiles and jokes "well, we start today". Then they leave, again doing a dangerous jump between boats.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner. Anchorage getting pretty rolly; have to grab the cooking dinner a couple of times to prevent it from sliding off the stove.
A very uncomfortable night, lots of rolling. Iles Des Saintes, Guadeloupe.
Engine start at 6:45, anchor up by 6:55 in some rain, moved out, unfurled the mainsail, motor-sailed NW. Out of the Saintes and going across the channel to the SW corner of Guadeloupe. The usual rolling starts, but it's daytime and the wind is not as strong as the last couple of days, so not too bad.
At 8:15, 95% of the way across, while I'm below taking a quick look at the engine and stuffing-box, I hear a bang from on deck. I assume the main accidentally jibed; the steering has been fiddly with some following seas. But I go up to find that the main halyard has failed at the top, where the wire halyard goes over in a fairly tight bend. It's always been a weak point (and I specifically checked it a week or so ago). Now the mainsail is hanging over the starboard side and the head is underwater.
Fortunately, I guess it's too short to reach the prop. I have a relatively easy time gathering the sail up, lashing it in sections, getting it all aboard and under control. Except I bang my injured toe into a stanchion base, causing a lot of pain.
By 8:40, past the lighthouse on the SW corner of the island, and into fairly calm water.
I had been planning to go all the way up to the NW end of the island today, to Deshaies. But I'm pretty sure there is no marine store or other facilities up there. I think I have everything I need aboard already, to replace or at least jury-rig the halyard. But I'm about to pass a major town with a marina and other marine facilities, and it would be smart to stop here and deal with the halyard. If the anchorage is tolerable; I've never stopped here.
So I head in, and find some other cruising boats moored and anchored. Anchor down at 9:15 in 20-25 feet of water, at Marina Riviere Sens (just S of Basse-Terre), Guadeloupe. Quite calm here.
A bit tricky: this is one of those anchorages downwind from a big hill, with wind making boats point all different directions. And I'm between anchored boats in two directions, a moored boat, and a rocky shore.
Laptop is charging from the adapter !
I take the jib down and curl it up on deck. Probably won't be trying to use it again.
Sure enough, after 10, a big blast of NE wind puts me very close to an anchored catamaran, which seems totally unaffected by the wind, just riding loosely on its anchor.
At 10:15, engine start, raise anchor, move it maybe 50 feet NE. And suddenly I'm in totally different wind, lying 200+ feet from the catamaran, now I have to worry about getting too close to shore. Engine off at 10:30, and we'll see how it goes.
Rolled by a wake from a big ferry that passed half a mile to the south of here.
At 10:45, squall going down the channel and coming over the hill, strongish wind from the S. No free Wi-Fi here. Rain moving in at 11:15.
In early afternoon, opened up the cabinet with all of my spare and used rigging wire (pics). I have three old halyards, and that's without digging down to really old stuff. I think I need 80 feet for the main halyard; if I was buying new I'd buy 90 feet so I can cut it back as it breaks. The current broken halyard was cut back a couple of times over the last couple of years, to the point where it barely reached.
Took down the current halyard (pic) and coiled it.
By measuring the diameter and number of turns of each coil, and multiplying by pi, I'm estimating the length of each piece of wire. Two old ones and the current one estimate at 75 feet; the fourth coil estimates at 80 feet, looks better than the other two old ones, and already has an eye swaged to one end. So I'll try that one. If it comes out short, I can bulldog another piece of wire to it. And I have one new 3/16" swage-sleeve in my spares, so if I have to swage a new eye to some wire, I can do that. Looks like I don't have to find a marine store. But I'd still like to get the new wire up while in this anchorage, and then test it on the easy trip up to Deshaies, rather than first testing it on the big hop to Antigua.
After 2, heard "Jolly Friends" (I think) asking for info, having a "situation" about 8 miles W of Portsmouth Dominica. Very fragmentary, but it sounds like they tried to tack and then something went wrong. Later heard them asking about facilities where the prop could be taken off. Maybe a line got in the prop and broke something ? And now they're definitely saying the call is just to inform the Coast Guard, not a distress call.
By 2:15 or so, wind is very blustery, boat rocking and swinging a fair amount. And I'm not feeling 100% today. So I'm not going up the mast this afternoon.
Around 4, working on the wire-winch for the spare halyard, which is balky. Brake was stuck. Got winch apart, couldn't get it back on with the circlip fully engaged. Looks like corrosion has sprung the base of it a bit; may have to grind off a little metal with the Dremel. Huge blasts of wind coming from SE as I was out on deck, just blasting. And halfway up the mast, the halyard has decided to detour sideways around the steaming light; no way to fix that without climbing. But all of these issues can be dealt with.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Nice, quiet night, very little rolling. But wind still blasting occasionally. And I'm still achey and tired; took a paracetamol after midnight, and a sumatriptan before dawn. Marina Riviere Sens (just S of Basse-Terre), Guadeloupe.
Still feeling a bit shaky this morning.
After lunch, worked on the winch for the spare halyard, the one I'm going to climb on. Got nowhere.
Around 1, guy from small sailboat behind me came by. His name is "Friday", his boat is "Akemi". They accidentally drained their battery, have no way to charge it but the engine, and it won't start the engine. So he brought over the battery and I attached it to my system, with solar and wind-generator. But there's little wind, and soon the skies turned grey. He's from Dominica, his girlfriend is French, he bought the boat 4 or 6 months ago, and is a bit discouraged about how much money it's sucking up, how much there is to repair. He went back to his boat, and soon I started the engine to get some charging going. Ran the engine for 25 minutes.
Launched the dinghy. Took the battery back to Friday, and headed ashore. Into the marina, which has far more boats inside than I expected from the outside; they're really packed-in here. And they even have a boatyard, with Travellift, although I think it's too small to haul my boat. Fuel dock, sailing-school, all kinds of stuff in here. Hard to find a spot to leave the dinghy, but I did.
Disposed of a bag of garbage. Walked 1.5 miles or more up to town, Basse-Terre, making only one brief wrong turn. Very nice waterfront walkway and some statues and pavilions: pics.
Found a fruit/veggie market with most vendors closed and leaving, but bought veggies at one that was open. Down a little further, and found a Leader Price / Ecomax supermarket. Got meat, cheese, bread, etc. Walked back to the marina, sandal rubbing my hurt foot a bit painfully. Into the dinghy just as a dive-boat was tying up to the same cleat; good timing.
Out into the anchorage, and got hailed by a newly-arrived boat, "Windborne". I recognize the boat name; this young couple just bought the boat in Grenada. Chatted with them a bit, but I couldn't answer most of their questions about this marina and Customs and such. The guy has a horrible burn completely around one ankle; in Dominica, they went to see the hot springs, and the ground gave way under his foot, and in 5-10 seconds of exposure he got badly injured. As we chatted, we saw a big bike-race heading by ashore, with vans following the racers, etc. Looked like a big deal.
The couple I charged the battery for are ashore right now, so I don't know if they got their engine started.
Back aboard a little after 4. Pleased that I got off the boat, got some exercise, got some food, didn't open up either of the scabs on my left foot.
A little before dark, saw a cruising sloop being helped into anchorage on the other side of the marina, accompanied by a skiff.
Grapefruit and salad and spaghetti and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner. The wind-blasting thing started again around 6, and blew out my stove flame 4 or 5 times. Marina Riviere Sens (just S of Basse-Terre), Guadeloupe.
Wind still blasting this morning.
Before 8:30, a skiff full of local guys dragging one end of a big net around from shore, right across my bow, and back to shore, trapping whatever fish were in the big enclosed area. Fortunately the net didn't snag my anchor on the bottom (not very likely, anyway).
Started getting ready to climb the mast: hoisted the climbing rope on the spare halyard, then locked the winch and tied it to keep it from sliding off the shaft (since I still can't get the circlip back on). Got the "new" halyard ready, and the climbing gear ready. But the wind still is blasting.
Around 9, saw Friday on deck on his boat, and yelled across to him. He says his battery is okay; I guess the engine started. But then he says his dinghy is gone !
So I launched my dinghy and went over to his boat. He had the dinghy-painter tied with only one knot, a clove hitch; not a good idea. With the strong wind we had all night, that dinghy could be 20 miles away by now.
I go downwind past the marina, a bit nervous because my outboard has stumbled a few times in the last day or two. No sign of the dinghy. Into the marina, which is very quiet and everything closed. No sign of the dinghy there. Back to tell Friday the bad news. I offer to take him and his girlfriend ashore later. Back to my boat, and I make some radio calls to ask other boats to be on the lookout for the dinghy.
After 10, got my nerve up, and climbed the mainmast. Wind still blasting every few minutes, boat rocking a little, not absolutely 100% confident the halyard winch will hold. But everything went okay. Went up halfway, got the halyard I'm climbing on straightened from around the steaming light, went higher. Had to keep passing the new halyard around shrouds and spreaders to keep it aft of the mast. Got to the top. As usual, half of the stuff up here is galled, the other half is broken. Managed to pass the new halyard over and get it on the right sheaves without too much trouble, but there's a broken block that the halyard used to go over, I think. Didn't put it on that. Back down and done by 10:30. And the halyard is plenty long, probably have an extra 5-7 feet. All the usual climbing-bruises on feet and legs and forearms, but didn't tear the scabs on my toe or heel, so that's good.
At 11 or so, saw Friday standing on deck on his boat, so figured they wanted to go ashore. Closed up the boat and into the dinghy and over there. His girlfriend is Beatrice and they have a one-year-old son David. They've decided to go into a slip in the marina.
They all get into my dinghy, and we go into the marina. Tie up behind the fuel dock, walk around to the office, and slips are available, but the office closes at 12. So we have to do this right away.
I take Friday back out to his boat, he starts the engine and raises anchor, and eventually gets into the marina. I circle for a while, wanting to help nudge him into the slip if necessary. But he thinks the assigned slip is too tight or something, and circles while a lot of French is being spoken from boat to shore.
Eventually I give up and tie up my dinghy again, and go walking to see what stores are here. Only a few are open, including a nice fruit/veggie shop, and I don't find anywhere to do Wi-Fi. Back to my dinghy, and over to Friday's boat. I help move him from one mooring buoy to another. Then we sit on his boat and have a nice chat, and they give me a beer, which soon has me sleepy. Try to do Wi-Fi, for which we have a password, but the signal is too weak.
Back to my boat around 1:30.
Got the bitter end of the wire halyard through the channel in the winch; always tricky. By 3:15, got the mainsail hoisted and furled, suffering only one wind-gust while doing it.
Cleaned up after the mast-climbing: took down the climbing gear, put up the spare halyard wrapped around the mainsail, put lines back in cockpit, etc.
Salad and spaghetti and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
A bit shocked to see how sunburnt I got today, between climbing the mast, work on deck, being in the dinghy for so long, walking around outside the marina. Not good.
Very small sloop with mast down came in just before dark and anchored slightly close to me. Guy hauled out an inflatable kayak, inflated it, and went ashore.
Saw a 40-foot or more sloop come in after dark. I thought it was anchoring next to the small sloop, but later it was gone. Two othe rcruising boats here tonight, on moorings.
Plenty of wind-blasts during the night. Marina Riviere Sens (just S of Basse-Terre), Guadeloupe.
Engine start at 7 or so; anchor up by 7:10. Motored out, rounded up, unfurled the mainsail.
Motor-sailed NNW along the coast, enjoying views of Basse-Terre. Soon in very flat conditions, lovely flat water. Enough wind to keep the mainsail full, and wind mostly from astern.
Loafed along, heading up the island. Engine off at 9:05 to check oil level and fix the bag catching the slight oil leak. Start again at 9:10.
Passing Pigeon Island around 10, and shortly after that, conditions changed totally. Wind starting blasting from NE and E, gusts up to 25 knots, plenty of sustained 20+ knots. And soon it had whitecaps on the sea. More of a test of the main halyard than I wanted.
Wind kept blasting for the rest of the trip, up to Deshaies. Worried about how difficult it would be to furl the main, but I got lucky. Looked for a slight lull, got one, quickly loosened the sheet and ran out on deck and quickly got the main furled before the wind started blasting again. Nice.
Up into harbor, and it's crowded, as I expected. And they've put moorings and nets and such in all the shallowest places to anchor. But I found a decent place in the middle, maybe 20 feet deep. People on boat "Safari Njema" behind me watched closely as I anchored. Anchor down by 11:35 at Deshaies, Guadeloupe. Plenty of wind blasting down through here, so I'll watch the situation carefully for a while.
Got some free Wi-Fi ! Able to upload the log, email Dora, get a weather forecast. Nice.
Scumbag credit-card company tagged on a $81.34 "foreign transaction fee" to my boatyard bill.
Wind-blasts finally mostly stopped around 4 PM.
Sailing-ship came in: pic.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
A very quiet night; nice. But at 3 AM, wind very light and sometimes S or NE, and the boat rolled badly at one point due to slight W swell coming in. Deshaies, Guadeloupe.
Boat directly behind me has left. Fair number of boats moving in and out today. I'm trying to judge weather for going to Antigua, but it looks like wind and waves will be straight E for a while, and Antigua is straight N from here. E 5-foot seas will make for a rolly trip.
Calm morning, then wind started howling at 11:30, but not for long. Fairly grey for a while, some rain at 4.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
From about 7 to 8:15, light wind going to directions I didn't expect, in a week of E 15-20 forecasts. Soon N and then NW. Bad for me, since I'm anchored at the edge of the mooring field: now I'm swinging close to a moored sailboat. So I sat out in the cockpit and kept watch. Finally wind got back to E and strengthened a little, moving me away and getting settled. Checked several times during the night; no problem. Deshaies, Guadeloupe.
From 5:30 to 7:30 or later, wind light and spinning again, putting me too close to a moored boat. Sat in cockpit and watched.
At 8:30, in calm conditions, raised anchor and moved about 100 feet W, away from the moorings.
Hmm, weather forecast has changed a fair bit. I'll probably go to Antigua tomorrow. E 4 seas, not great, but I might have to wait a while for better.
Went ashore after 3. No signs telling people where to clear in/out. Went up and down the whole (small) town; no answers. Most places closed, too; looks like they'll re-open at 4. Up the hill to the Douane building, and it says clear at "Le Pelican". Back down into town, and no one knows where that is. Got directed to a "multi-services" internet place, so started waiting for that to open. Wandered some more. Pic.
Into a fruit/veg shop, but all I have is a €50 bill, too big for them. Across to a pharmacy to get them to change it for me, which they are nice enough to do. Back to get fruit/veg.
Guy unlocked door at internet place, but he says "Pelican" is last shop at other end of town. Go there, don't see it, ask some more, eventually find it. It's a small women's-clothing shop with a hard-to-read sign out front; I happened to see the name painted clearly on the side of the building. Someone already using the clearance computer, so I went across and got groceries in the store. Looks like Barca football on television; I'd like to stay and watch.
Back to the clothes shop, but now someone else is ahead of me. I chat a little with the guys as we wait. Finally I get to do the clearance, and am charged €4.
To the dinghy dock, and the guy I was chatting with asks me a question about his engine. Yanmar 75 with a turbo, and the turbo has died, his engine has little power. Does running it with a bad turbo damage anything ? I guess no, but I don't really know. Out to the boat.
Salad and chicken-cabbage-rice and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
I hardly sleep at all. Warm night, slightly rolly at times, I ate too much for dinner, and I'm anxious about tomorrow's trip. Which should be an easy trip: daylight trip, no fancy navigation, to a place I've been before. Deshaies, Guadeloupe.
Engine start at 5:30 AM. Anchor up easily in very calm conditions; fortunately no boats swinging over my anchor. Motored out, unfurled the mainsail, headed N.
Started to get some chop from NE as I approached N end of Guadeloupe, but ocnditions were pleasantly mild even out in open water. Great !
A long slog across. Conditions calm for a while, rolly for half an hour, back to milder, rolly again, etc. Guadeloupe faded out of sight between 9:45 and 10, with a glimpse of Antigua up ahead, and a pretty good view of Montserrat to the W until cloud covered it. Beautiful sunny day with fair amount of cloud but no squalls. Listening to lots of radio programs on my MP3 players.
Stopped engine at 11:05 to check oil. Not much has leaked out of the oil hose connection, but the engine oil is down more than a quart, maybe almost two quarts. Engine must be burning it. Tricky to check the oil in rough water: the dipstick is close to the very hot exhaust manifold and exhaust riser. I could get a serious burn if I get thrown against them.
Conditions got rougher as I got closer to Antigua. Finally got close, and there are a zillion classic sailboats out sailing, right in front of the entrance to Falmouth Harbor. Found out later: it's "Classic Boat" week. Beautiful boats; the two or three biggest are 90 feet or so, with 5 sails up, and there are a couple of smaller classes. This looks like practicing; a large variety of boats, in all different places. But I don't have time to take pictures, and my boat is rolling heavily anyway. I'm anxious to get into harbor and get to the officials before they close. Lots of small sailboats, plus some committee boats and some people out in inflatable dinghies; a lot of traffic to watch out for. Fortunately I'm able to edge around the activity, claiming the area closest to shore, and get in without cutting anyone off.
In and furl the mainsail at 2, right next to anchored "Picton Castle", a tall ship I toured while in Grenada. Past it and found a lovely shoal in the middle, and anchor down on it by 2:10 (in a sharp rainsquall) at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
Relax, straighten up a little, shave. Ashore by 2:45 or so. Walk over to English Harbour, to the officials. Now they're making everyone register for eSeaClear on the computer, so I have to do that. Something which it seems is used only in this country, so probably I'll never use it again (except when clearing out in a few days).
Back and forth among the various officials, and I'm yawning and feeling drained. Three or four other skippers come in to clear, and they all look tired too. Pay EC$62 (US$24) and I'm done. (When I check out, I'll have to pay an additional US$0.07/foot per day spent anchored in English or Falmouth harbors.) Said hi to the guy I chatted with yesterday in Deshaies; we made the same crossing today. But he has another guy as crew. I'd guess they sailed, while I motor-sailed. He's heading for Jolly Harbour to have his turbo fixed/replaced, I think.
Nice to be back in an English-speaking country; I really struggled in the French islands. But I miss the French "officials"; here the officials are numerous and picky and the paperwork is large and expensive. Of course, I did get boarded twice in the French islands.
Wander around the dockyard for a little while, taking pictures of some boats: pics. Surprised to see that there actually is a little space to anchor in here; I assumed it would be jammed. But the center of the action seems to be Falmouth. Asked at a couple of places, and no one has a schedule of exactly when the races are run; I guess it's online somewhere.
Back to Falmouth, wander around to get the lay of the land, but my energy is ebbing. The big book-exchange that was here 4-5 years ago seems to be gone. Run into a couple of people I know: Margie and Gary on "Inspiration". Very pleasant. I think Margie said they went from Grenada to St Lucia in two weeks flat this season; that took me about 6 weeks, with breakdowns and waiting for weather.
Take a few pictures from the dock. Back to the dinghy, and take a few more pictures as I head out to the boat: pics. The day's races have finished (around 4, I guess) and the boats are docking. Which must be an anxious operation with such beautiful boats.
Onto my boat, stow stuff from the dinghy, open the boat, start updating the log file. Hoist the dinghy, lash the mainsail, etc.
One reason I feel so wrung out: forgot to have my usual drink of tea (with caffeine) with lunch. Also I didn't eat much, just a banana for breakfast and a half-PB-sandwich and a grapefruit for lunch.
Salad and leftover chicken-rice and a warm cranberryjuice for dinner.
Lovely calm night; slept fairly well.
Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
Did a bucket of laundry.
Boats heading out at 9; race at 10 or 10:30. VHF net at 9 announced winners of a couple of races yesterday, a singlehander's race and a big-boat race, so I guess what I saw wasn't (just) boats practicing. But later, the committee boat was calling today's 10 AM race the first race of the regatta, so I'm confused.
Nice boat sailing in the harbor: pic.
As I expected, no free Wi-Fi here.
Fuel level 9.3 inches.
Listening to the races on VHF 77; committee boat and other boats. There was a warning to press and spectator boats to stay clear; apparently last year a press boat trying to get really good pictures of a man overboard from a racer almost ran over him/her. They have about 3 races going on the course simultaneously, different classes, started about 10 minutes apart. One boat retired before a race because of gear failure. Wind is a couple of knots stronger today than yesterday.
Scoping out the next big passage I have to make, and it's the longest one. About 100 NM, from W side of Antigua around N end of St Martin and into the lagoon in St Martin. Took me 28+ hours in the other direction, 5 years ago. Makes me tired just thinking about it, right now.
A little headachey; took a paracetamol.
Saw this megayacht come in, and it backed all the way down the channel and into the marina: pics. I'm not sure why; there's a big turning basin in front of the marina. But I assume they know what they're doing.
Ashore at 3. (In passing, noticed that a mooring here for my boat would cost me US$25 per night !) Used huge book-exchange at Jane's yacht services.
Got a tiny bit of Wi-Fi, standing awkwardly in a high-traffic area and holding the laptop. Just enough to upload the pictures and log file.
Chatted with John from "Purrfect", and met Susan from "Spirited Lady". Susan was on a race boat today, and says the seas were pretty big.
Bought groceries, and out to the boat.
Lowered the mainsail and looked at the halyard; looks fine.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cheese-cornbread concoction and a rum-and-Coke for dinner. Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
Diesel spill in the harbor.
Ashore before 9:30, to dock at Pigeon Beach. Joined about 6 other cruisers and we went up the Middle Ground trail to the top of the hill. Nice view down onto the harbor and the race area outside the harbor. Nice chat with a lady from "Windswept Dreams", and Margie from "Inspiration".
General pictures of the scene, and the boats going out and in: pics.
First race started at 10, last one (three big boats) around 10:45. Lots of nice-looking boats, a fun morning. Didn't worry too much about which boat was which or who was winning.
First race: pics.
Second race: pics.
Third race: pic.
Fourth race (three big boats): pics.
They did a long upwind leg away from us, and when there was little else to see close by, we started heading back down the hill. Back to my boat by 11:30 or so.
Wind blowing pretty hard after noon.
Ashore at 3. Tried another book-exchange place, but it was closed. Did a little Wi-Fi. Got several weather forecasts, and sent email to Dora, but while uploading pictures and log file, the connection died and wouldn't come back, leaving the log page broken. Bought a little fruit and veg, and back to the boat.
Salad and onion-cheese-egg-bread and a rum-and-Coke for dinner. Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
Engine start at 7:25. Anchor up with little effort by 7:30; I love anchoring in very shallow water. Unfurled the mainsail and motored out.
Easy romp straight downwind, with seas on port stern quarter, but steering was fiddly because of the seas and the risk of accidental jibe. Down to the SW corner of the island, around, up the W side to Jolly Harbour. Lovely water color here, and 15+ boats anchored.
Anchor down by 9:35 in very shallow water at Jolly Harbour, Antigua. I knew I was pushing into very shallow water, but the anchor hit bottom a foot or two before I expected; I'm probably in 4 to 4.5 feet of water, with my 3.5 foot draft.
Got a free guest Wi-Fi connection that lets me do only Yahoo Mail, GMail, Google. Not too useful.
In midafternoon, dinghied across to a little beach. Walked up a hill and took pictures of the anchorage, and Jolly Harbour, and the long beach at Morris Bay: pics. Back down the hill, over to Morris Bay, and walked halfway down the beach and got my toes wet. Pleasant, but hot sun. Back to the dinghy, had trouble getting the outboard started, and it ran badly back to the boat.
Pumped some gasoline out of the motor, and it looked okay; no layer of water.
Cruising boat (45-foot or so gaff-rigged sailboat) came in and went ahead of me. I think they were aground briefly. Then they anchored off to port and a bit forward; they must be in very shallow water. Maybe they have a centerboard. Pic.
Went snorkeling under the boat. Water under the boat is a little deeper than I expected, maybe 5.5 feet, but probably shallower up at the anchor. Everything on the bottom of the boat is fine except the shaft zinc is gone ! The boatyard guy took it off to do the cutless bearing, and put the zinc back on. I should have tightened it more after he was done.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread concoction and a rum-and-Coke for dinner. Jolly Harbour, Antigua.
Did a bucket of laundry.
Took carb and fuel pump off the outboard, and there was a fair amount of yellowish varnishy gunk in both of them.
Odd-looking motorboat came out of the harbor: pic.
Went ashore to the marina. Disposed of garbage. Found a book-exchange. Did Wi-Fi in a restaurant, free with paying EC$12 for a Sprite. Weather forecast is a bit contradictory, but looks okay. E 10-15 wind and E 4 seas diminishing to E 2 seas further north, and I'll be going NW.
Got email from friends telling me Martinique police seized 2 tons of cocaine on a (falsely) American-flagged sailboat last Wednesday. So maybe they had a tip and were searching more when I went through there.
Back to boat for lunch.
Ashore again after 2. To supermarket, where I can't spend too much because I want to have some EC$ for fees while clearing out. To the officials, where it's the usual: Customs, Port Authority, Customs to do eSeaClear and sign 5 times, Immigration, back to Customs. Fortunately no encounters with grumpy female officials; I had that last time I was here. No demand that I bring the boat to the Customs dock, and either no one noticed or no one cared that I dated my departure for tomorrow instead of today.
Back to the boat, and hoisted a "Q" flag just in case some official boat comes by. I usually don't bother with signal or courtesy flags.
Salad and chicken-cabbage-rice for dinner. Cooked early because the chicken is fresh and I have no refrigeration. Skipped the alcohol because I want to sleep solidly tonight. Jolly Harbour, Antigua.
Engine start at 5:50, anchor up easily in 5 minutes. Motored out, rounded, had a bit of fuss getting the main unfurled and flying properly. Motor-sailed W out of the harbor, then turned NNW and NW.
Lovely day, partly cloudy, no signs of squalls. Seas calm in shelter of Antigua, pick up a little later, and are more like ENE than the forecast E. Sometimes they're on the starboard stern quarter, which is nice, but sometimes they're on the beam and rolling me.
At 9:55, engine stop for an oil check. Dipstick reads very low; added a lot, and ended up with it reading very overfilled. Rolling is making it hard to get a consistent reading. Engine start at 10:15.
By noon, Antigua has disappeared over the horizon.
Seas are nice for a few hours in the middle of the day, pushing me from behind. But they tend to push the boat off course; I have to steer a fair amount.
At 2:20, engine stop for an oil check. Dipstick reads fine. Took a paracetamol. Engine start at 2:35. Can see St Barts on the horizon ahead. Never saw Barbuda.
I'm making better speed than expected. Which is good (shorter trip), and bad (arrive in dark). But I know the area, and the harbor is big, so it's feasible. Still not what I planned.
Seas getting rougher, and more on the beam. Weather forecast said conditions would be milder up here than in Antigua, but I didn't believe that forecast, it was too mild (2-foot seas). Seems to have been a mistaken forecast, maybe for a sheltered part of St Martin.
Around 7, dark, and I'm about 6 miles SE of St Barts. Rough and rolly, I've passed some fish-trap floats way out in deep water. Hope I don't catch a float in the prop, or hit a fisherman, in the dark. Heard some cruising boats heading overnight to Jolly Harbour.
Tricky to go along St Barts, not enough lights, everything heading NW so the compass and GPS directions are not square.
See St Martin ahead, and as usual I think I've arrived, but I won't arrive for another 5 hours. And in this case, I have to circle halfway around the island and go into a big bay on the other side. I briefly consider going clockwise around, but since I'm approaching from SE, distance is about equal, and I'm more familiar with the E side. So I go that way.
Tricky getting up around Tintemarre island; it's not lit, and my brain is tired. I swing wider than necessary, wasting some time.
At midnight, I turn W along the N end of Tintemarre and St Martin, and the rolling stops, I'm going straight downwind and down-seas. Nice, but fiddly to avoid accidental jibe of the mainsail.
Feeling my way into harbor around 1. Nervous to see some large commercial ships anchored. Even more nervous when I see another medium-sized commercial ship moving, fortunately not too close to me.
Slow way down, furl the mainsail, ease ahead, standing on deck to look out for anchored sailboats. I ease around a couple, and find a large empty space near the beach. Go in closer. Water here should be shallow, but the chart shows one big hole that is 35 feet or so; don't want to hit that.
Relieved when anchor hits bottom in about 10 feet of water, and I can see it down there. Anchor down by 1:35 at Marigot Bay, St Martin.
So, that was about 19.5 hours; I had expected 24+ hours. And nothing broke. A good trip.
Straighten up the boat a little, close up hatches to engine compartment, put out "Q" flag and anchor light, drink water and take a Neobrufen. In bed by 1:55. Marigot Bay, St Martin.
Awake at 5:45. Check anchoring situation; fine. Straighten up boat, get engine ready to go if needed. Engine oil level is exactly right.
As I expected, no free Wi-Fi here.
Heard cruiser's net at 7:30 on VHF 10. Bridge first opening time is now 0900, instead of the 0815 it used to be.
Engine start at 8:50. Bow veered around in the wind and current as I raised the anchor. Saw two other boats (a motorboat and a catamaran) lining up to go in when the bridge opens; that's good, I can follow them. I've done this here before, but it's easier if someone else worries about the traffic signal.
Only one sailboat came out, but as the other two boats started in, the one that came out got in my way, staying in the neck of the channel as they started to work on raising sails. Got around them, followed a catamaran in. And they got in my way, too ! They went through the bridge and then started to dock at a boatyard dock immediately past the bridge, hanging well out into the channel as I was coming through the bridge. Got past them.
Went straight across the main channel and into very shallow water of the anchorage. Nudged forward until the bow was sliding aground on grass. Anchor down by 9:25 at The Lagoon, St Martin. I can see right up the bridge channel from here. Nice and calm water here.
Soon launched the dinghy and headed ashore. Into the marina, and the Capitainerie has moved across to the other side. Found it, docked, in, did the computer screen, paid €6, done. Exchanged a book at their tiny book-exchange bookshelf. Chatted briefly with a cruiser I've met somewhere before, Bob. He remembered my name, I didn't remember his. I think I met him in the BVI's several years ago. He just arrived from the BVIs, after hopping back there from here. Said they've been aboard 11 years and are tired of it. I'm in the same situation.
Walked around the near part of town for a while. Too upscale for me: jewelry stores, nice cafes, Sotheby's, nicely-dressed women. Nowhere likely to sit and have a soda and do Wi-Fi. No internet cafe. Back to the boat.
Loafed, tried to nap, loafed more. Seem to be a lot of dinghy-tours and jetski-tours here, or maybe I was seeing the same ones multiple times. I think my anchor is sliding a little on the grass.
Scoped out the next passage I have to make, from here across Anegada Passage to BVI's, and it's far longer than I remembered. 120 NM west and 20 NM north, then another 5 NM north once I arrive.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and leftover chicken-rice and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Slept well. The Lagoon, St Martin.
Listened to the cruiser's net. Weather forecast is strange: for next week, wind will be SE 7-14 and seas will be NE.
Got a bit of free Wi-Fi. Comes and goes, but I was able to upload files, do email, grab weather forecasts.
I think I've been noticing the engine vibrating a bit much. So checked the engine mount adjustment nuts, and found the two on the port-forward mount were quite loose; the lower nut had vibrated loose and down, I think.
Fuel level 8 inches.
Engine start at 11:50. Anchor up while sliding aground on grass; no problem. Out and down the ill-marked channel to the main body of the Lagoon. Threaded my way through the numerous anchored boats and up to the E end of the shiny new bridge. Odd to see it there; that was open water when I was here 5-6 years ago.
Anchor down by 12:15 at The Lagoon, St Martin. Nice, quiet area with some rough-looking boats (pics), but the holding is questionable.
By late afternoon, swinging a bit close to some nearby boats. Not sure if the anchor is holding.
New bridge opened from 5:15 to 5:225 to let a big crane-barge through.
Salad and spaghetti and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Wind has put me with a boat directly behind, about 60-70 feet back; not good. But the good news is that the wind has picked up and blown about 15 knots steadily, and the anchor is holding. So I'll keep an eye on it during the night, but shouldn't have to move.
New bridge's center span is lit with neon, which changes colors in various patterns. Nice. The Lagoon, St Martin.
New/causeway bridge opened at 8:15 to let a smallish cruising sailboat through. Opened again at 10:15 for a couple of catamarans.
Launched dinghy and headed over to Dutch side. To Lagoonies. Office (containing book-exchange) was closed. Chatted with a cruiser I recognized from Grenada. He said yesterday, on the French side, a couple of boats were broken into in broad daylight. Chatted with a local guy. To Budget Marine, and disposed of garbage and used oil. To Daily Extra supermarket for groceries. Back to boat.
At 5 PM, a minor car accident on the bridge, near me.
Fruit and salad and leftover spaghetti and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Almost no wind in the evening, and for most of the night. Wind will be light for next few days, too. The Lagoon, St Martin.
Lowered the mainsail and checked the halyard. A bit of stress where it goes over the masthead, but still okay.
Ashore in midafternoon. Looks like office at Lagoon Marina still is closed, so didn't stop there. Docked at Budget Marine. Checked their price for engine oil, went to NAPA Auto, bought a gallon of oil there. To Daily Extra supermarket for groceries. Back to the boat.
Hot afternoon, and very little wind. Airport running its runway in reverse of the usual direction, at times.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Very still evening and night. The Lagoon, St Martin.
Warm and still morning. By by 10 or so, there was nice wind from S. Still a hot and hazy day.
Got a tiny bit of free Wi-Fi just enough to get weather forecasts and do a little email.
Guy on the radio was calling about his dinghy that was lost or stolen last night.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner. The Lagoon, St Martin.
Got a little free Wi-Fi, enough to get weather forecasts. Probably will leave here Wednesday morning, for BVI's.
Ashore in midafternoon, to Palapa Marina. Hot, quiet, not much happening. Today is a holiday; in fact, on the Dutch side, Monday, Thursday and Friday this week are holidays. Got cash at an ATM.
Walked through to the Simpson Bay beach, and it's a bust. SE wind driving seaweed and waves straight onto the beach, sand is 1/3 the width I've seen it before, few people. Pic. Did see one nice-looking woman in a bikini. 15-20 boats anchored here, all looking very unhappy as they pitch and roll in the waves. A cruiser on the net this morning was complaining that the weather forecast says N swells, but here they're getting SE waves.
Walked down the beach a bit, back onto the road, to the bridge, back up the main road. Found a small supermarket open, prices surprisingly reasonable, bought a load of groceries. Back to the boat. Hot.
Gave myself a little bit of a haircut.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Very still night. Started to get a small breeze around 2 AM. Decent wind started at 4 AM. Headachey and didn't sleep well; took a paracetamol in the early AM. The Lagoon, St Martin.
Headachey. Took a sumatriptan.
Headed ashore before 10. To fuel dock for $5 worth of gasoline. Chatted with David from "Haymede" for a minute; like most other boats, they're heading south soon. To Lagoon Marina. Office says open but is locked, found manager, found out they've discontinued the huge book-exchange they have in there, they got tired of it so just locked it up. To Napa Auto and bought two gallons of engine oil. To supermarket and bought groceries. Back to boat. Hot and not feeling very well.
Engine start at 11:50. Anchor up in 5 minutes or so; it was holding better than I thought. Through the anchorage, around to French side. Of course I met a very wide tour boat right at the narrowest point of the channel, and they don't have any markers on this part any more. Got through there, anchor down by 12:15 at The Lagoon, St Martin.
Got a bit of free Wi-Fi, but it's very flaky.
Not feeling good. A bit headachey, a bit weak, maybe a bit dehydrated. I think this hot and very humid weather is doing it to me. Wondering if I shouldn't leave tomorrow. Finally decided to try going. If I wake up tomorrow morning feeling terrible, I'll stay and check back in.
And the wind in here this afternoon has been S and SSW, not the forecast SE. Not so good for going WNW to the BVI's.
Ashore at 3 to the Capitainerie, and checked out. Cost €6. Back to boat. Took a paracetamol.
Timed the bridge opening perfectly. Engine start at 5:22, anchor up at 5:30, I'm a hundred yards from the bridge, bridge started opening a minute later. Three boats ahead of me, and they went through very slowly, so slowly I was afraid the catamaran in front of me would stop and I'd lose control in the narrow channel. I tried calling them on the VHF, but they weren't listening. And they were waving to people on the banks ! Finally got through, past impatient boats waiting to come in. And a few minutes later, heard the bridge tender telling those boats to speed up, too. The bridge was open for a long time.
Out and quickly around to anchor by 5:45 in about 5 feet of water at Marigot Bay, St Martin.
Wind more SE and SSE out here; nice.
Not much appetite, but I bought food today that has to be cooked, so did so. Spaghetti and a cranberryjuice for dinner. Appetite revived a bit by the time the food was cooked.
Took a Neobrufen. During the night, took a sumtriptan. Slept fitfully. The Lagoon, St Martin.
Up at 5:40. Feeling okay, but maybe it's the pills. Wind is right. Decide to go.
Engine start at 6:10, anchor up by 6:20, unfurled mainsail, motored out.
Around the corner and heading W. Seas very flat, but I'm still in shelter of island.
Soon realize I've miscalculated the distance again (did this on the Antigua-to-StMartin hop, too). I guess my brain hasn't been working very well recently. This trip will be more like 90 NM, not the 120 I had thought. Good and bad news: shorter trip, but I'll arrive in dark. Shouldn't be a problem: easy harbor, I've been there before, there will some moon.
Bilge pump isn't working. Fuse looks bad. Replaced it, pump still doesn't work. Left it powered on, and half an hour later found it had turned on and emptied the bilge. A relief.
Hazy day. By 8:15, St Martin has faded from view. Even the clouds are hazy and indistinct. Makes for hard steering; I like to pick an aiming point ahead or behind, and lie down and make little steering adjustments now and then. Easier than craning my neck to look at the compass. But today there's nothing to aim at. And partly-following seas are slewing the boat around a bit.
Passed a fishing boat, saw several cruising boats going all different directions.
At 10:15, stopped engine and checked the oil leak and the oil level.
At 1:30, another sailboat also heading W passed me, probably doing 3 knots more than me. Our courses crossed, and I realized their course was right, I was heading too north. Started following them, which makes for an easy point to aim at. But the new course brings the seas more onto the beam, and I think the seas have changed from SE to a little more S. More rolling; uncomfortable.
Took a Neobrufen.
By 2:45, sailboat ahead is out of sight, all clouds have disappeared, the world is just uniform sky everywhere, uniform water everywhere, sun mostly overhead. I can use wind-angle to guide steering a bit, but have to do lots of looking at the compass.
At 2:45, stopped engine and checked the oil leak and the oil level. Added about a quart of oil.
Sun coming down in front of me, so I can use that as a bit of a steering point. But looking into the sunlight is not helping.
Getting tired and headachey. Had some leftover spaghetti for dinner.
At 6:50, stopped engine and checked the oil leak and the oil level. Added about a quart of oil.
And suddenly, things are much worse. Sun went down into the haze long before getting to the horizon, soon it was dark, waves seemed rougher, more rolling, wind lighter so sail isn't steadying the boat as much. I have to turn on the cockpit light to see the compass, so now I mostly can't see out of the cockpit to see the horizon and the waves. Start feeling queasy. Adjusting the sail steadies the boat a little more.
At 8 or so, take a paracetamol and soon feel a bit better. But head and stomach still aren't good.
At 8:40, suddenly feel nauseous, and soon vomit until all of dinner is gone.
Chugging on and on. Feel a little better when I see some light-loom of islands on the horizon ahead. But they're still a long way away.
Eventually start closing on the S end of Virgin Gorda, and I can see some lights on land. Checking the GPS frequently; there's some nasty stuff on the south end. But I'm coming in from a safe angle. And soon I can see the flashing light on Ginger Island, marking the entrance I'll use.
Up and into the Round Rock Passage. Everything agrees: GPS, flashing light, eyeing it in the moonlight. And it's a fairly wide passage. Still a bit nervous as I ease up and through by 11:30. Into calmer water.
Head N up the W side of Virgin Gorda. Watching out for fishing boats and other traffic, but there's nothing. Approach town. Furl the mainsail. Ease forward, and find the shallow coral-head area starting further out than I expect. Anchor down by 12:35 at Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
A relief. Straighten the boat a little, close things up after the passage, drink a lot of water, relax. Soon into bed, and sleep decently.
Lessons from this trip: be more careful when calculating distance and time, don't leave when feeling a bit sick, wait for less S in the weather when going W, get an auto-pilot. Of course, I knew all those things already. But I arrived safely, and nothing broke on the boat. Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
Launch the dinghy, finding that a bolt is coming loose out of a davit. Ashore and to the officials by 8:15 or so, but they don't open until 8:30. Then back and forth among 4 windows. And the fees here are outrageous: $1 to Immigration, $13.88 to Customs, $44 to Port Authority. Looks like departure will cost another $5, and maybe there are other fees to come. But going past BVI last night to get to USVI would have taken a couple more hours of travel, and last night I would have paid any price to avoid that. Back to boat by 9:20, and try to nap.
Went ashore in early afternoon. Marine store no longer does Wi-Fi, but I exchanged half a dozen books at their bookshelf. Stopped at marina office, and they kindly gave me the Wi-Fi password even though I'm anchored out. To a restaurant to do Wi-Fi. Nice to do 2 hours of reasonable fast Wi-Fi, and I was amazed that the bill for that and a Sprite was only $2. In such a high-priced place, I was expecting $5.
Had been planning to do a bit of snorkeling here in the BVI. But online, people are saying there's a big bloom of small jellyfish or something, from Guadeloupe up through the BVI and USVI, and people are getting stung a lot.
Salad and leftover spaghetti and a light rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Slept well, although this anchorage is a bit rolly at times. Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
Wi-Fi access from the boat, using password I got yesterday. Nice.
Went to fix missing nut on a bolt on the port davit, and found that cross-piece has broken welds at both ends, and a sheared-off bolt on the starboard end. Fixed bolts/nuts on both ends, but the cross-piece needs to go to a welding shop.
Online, after much back-and-forth, booked a flight from San Juan to Philadelphia on the 28th.
Went ashore in midafternoon. Disposed of garbage. Bought groceries. Hot. Back to boat.
Four-foot-long barracuda hanging around under my boat.
Salad and chili and a light rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Starting at 3:15 AM, pretty rolly and uncomfortable. Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
Looking at flights from Philadelphia to Barcelona in July/September. Airfares are 40% higher than last time ! About $1450 round-trip.
Went ashore in midafternoon. Nice to get off the boat, which still is fairly rolly. To the restaurant to do Wi-Fi.
Realizing I'm going to have a problem when checking in to USVI and Puerto Rico. It used to be that you could just go ashore to the officials. But apparently now, this is forbidden, and you MUST phone-call first, and give your Local Boater Option number. I don't have either a phone or an LBO number. If I get Wi-Fi from the boat when I arrive, I could Skype-call. But I doubt there will be free Wi-Fi where I need it. Online, just ordered a LBO decal (for $27.50), but it's going to be mailed to my address in New Jersey, and I don't know if I can find out the decal number online.
Further messaging on the Culebra Facebook group, and it looks like I can go ashore to officials in USVI, but have to call first in Culebra.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
Lowered the mainsail and checked the halyard; no problems.
In midafternoon, dinghied ashore. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Wi-Fi not working at the restaurant. Bought chicken at the supermarket. Back to the boat. A lot of effort for little result.
Salad and chicken-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Headachey in early AM; took a Neobrufen. And boat is rolly again, too, which doesn't help. Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Today is my 14-year anniversary of owning and living on Magnolia ! It's been good much of the time, but I've had more than enough of it by now.
Engine start at 8:45. Anchor up by 8:55 in windy conditions; also took about 5 minutes to get the mainsail unfurled. Then headed due west.
Nice romp, straight downwind and down-swell, down the Sir Francis Drake Channel, along the S coast of Tortola. Fair amount of traffic out, and had to keep a sharp eye on the steering so I didn't accidentally jibe.
A bit of a choke-point at Soper's Hole, but got through there okay. Nice beam-reach up to Jost, into harbor, found nice shallow area on the E side, anchor down by 1:05 at Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands.
Nice to be in a non-rolly anchorage again.
Pretty good film of Sahara dust on my solar panels.
Salad and leftover chicken-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Calm night; slept well.
Except: at 12:15, suddenly the wind has flipped and started blowing a bit strongly from the N or NW. I jump out of bed and run up onto deck, to find myself swinging two feet from a smallish anchored sailboat, with the guy on board at the stern. I start the engine, and he yells a warning that I'm over his stern anchor. That's the problem: I knew he was on two bow anchors, but didn't see that he also was on a stern anchor, pinning him in place. His boat didn't move an inch when the wind flipped.
I go to the bow and pull in some chain by hand, to move myself away from his stern before using the engine. Fortunately conditions are easy: the wind isn't very strong, there's a full moon out, and my anchor and chain are down in very shallow water. Motor away from him a little, but my anchor is down close to his stern, and I can't get there safely in this wind direction. I pull in some more chain, then the wind changes a bit and I'm able to get near him and raise my anchor. I motor a little more N, probably into shallower water, but don't run aground. Soon have anchor down with less chain out. Engine off.
I sit in the cockpit for a half hour or more, listening to MP3s and watching how the boats swing and the wind changes, making sure I'm okay. Then back to bed. Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands.
Added oil to engine; I think it's burning a lot now. Launched dinghy and went ashore around 9:45. Into the officials, out 5 minutes later and only $1 lighter. Back to boat by 10.
Engine start at 10:10. No problem getting anchor up and motoring out, but a bit of a problem getting the mainsail out. The outhaul decided to wrap around the end of the boom a bit. Got that sorted, and headed SSW.
Nice downwind motor-sail to the NW corner of St John. A little confusing to find the gap I wanted to go through, but got to it. Down past Caneel Bay, furled the main, into Cruz Bay. Relieved to find a spot to anchor in the transient/check-in area; having to anchor outside would have been a pain. Anchor down by 11:45 at Cruz Bay, US Virgin Islands.
Launched dinghy again, went in to officials a little after noon. Fill out a form, run stuff through the computer, done with no charge, easy.
Asked the official about my DTOPS / Customs decal, to see if he could look up the number for me, but he said "that's a Puerto Rico thing, we don't use those, we have no access to that here".
Went out and into the Post Office. Lunchtime, so a long line, but it suddenly melted away when the guy fetching packages came out of the back room. So not too bad. Mailed my letter. Back to boat.
Quick lunch, add oil to engine, engine start at 1. Motored out. Incredibly rough and rolly going SW across Pillsbury Sound. It's always lumpy here, with a zillion ferries going across. But today there are huge long-period rollers coming up from the SE, probably some kind of SE swell hitting a south-setting tidal current in here or something. Nasty.
Finally got into the shelter of James Island, and through Current Cut. Christmas Cove pretty darn full, but I'm not going there. West down to Benner Bay, and it's a fairly rough trip. Anxious about finding space inside; it's always jammed, full of extremely shallow spots, and there's no good alternative anywhere close. 1.5 miles back upwind and up-swell to Christmas Cove, or another 5+ miles down to Charlotte Amelie.
As I head in, here comes an enormous dinghy-tour group, or two of them. About a dozen dinghies coming out. Fortunately they all stay to one side or the other. As I go in, watching out for them, I'm also looking for anywhere I could wedge the boat into a spot, if there's nothing inside. I see a couple of maybe tolerable spots.
Get inside, and it's even more crowded than last time I was here. Have to practically put my bow on a marina dock to make an upwind U-turn. Make a quick decision, loop down west of last marker on the main channel, nestle up behind two anchored boats. Water looks about 1 foot deep here, but I don't run aground, and anchor down by 2:20 at Benner Bay, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands. The guy next to me on "Paramour" says he draws 4.5 feet, and I draw 3.5, so I should have no problem. Was a little worried that my stern would swing out and block the channel branch heading west from the main intersection, but the (light) wind is holding me parallel to it. Nice and calm here; I'm relieved to have found a spot.
Got some free Wi-Fi from the boat. Too bad I'm planning to stay here only one night.
Email from DTOPS says my Customs decal will take 2-4 weeks to process, and they won't even know the number until that's complete. So we'll see what happens when I enter Puerto Rico at Culebra.
Went ashore in late afternoon, stopping to chat with the guy next door for a minute. He says every now and then the water-cops chase him out of this anchoring spot, claiming he's in a channel (nonsense). He says it's a case of "boating while white".
Ashore, it looks like everything is unchanged from 6 years ago, except that the half-demolished marina where I used to hang out is now a new leased-slip marina. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Exchanged a couple of books. Bought a shaft zinc in Budget Marine. Walked out to the supermarket and bought a load of groceries. Back to the boat.
Salad and spaghetti and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Lovely calm night. This is the most sheltered harbor you'll find just about anywhere. Benner Bay, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
Headachey; took a paracetamol-plus.
Found some broken wooden mounts on the solar panels.
Engine start at 10, anchor up in 5 minutes with lots of seaweed on the chain, motored out through the channel. Out and straight upwind into large seas; the first half-mile is the wrong way, until I can turn the point. And I'll have to unfurl the mainsail at the turn, which may be exciting.
But miraculously, up at the point, I managed to unfurl the mainsail in one shot without the bow blowing off to either side. Turned and started heading west. Big seas from the ESE, wind almost dead astern, tricky steering. Other boats out here having a rough time of it too. Glad I'm going west, not east.
Easy romp along the S side of St Thomas, watching the main harbor go past. Past SW corner of Water Island, turned NW, and got out of the worst of the seas. I can see Culebra, 16 miles or so to the west. [Wrong; I was seeing some much smaller and closer island.]
Down around the W end of the airport, with a smallish plane landing a couple hundred yards ahead of me, then another a couple hundred yards behind me as I was past the end of the runway.
Relieved to see lots of other boats anchored here; I'd heard some vague report of not being allowed to anchor here any more. Pretty windy in here. Had some trouble furling the mainsail, but got it done.
Tried anchoring on the N side, but water that looked 10-15 deep turned out to be 25+. So headed up to the SE corner, and anchored in about 5-7 feet of water; nice. Anchor down by 12:15 at Brewers Bay, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
Free Wi-Fi from the nearby UVI college ! Briefly saw a Wi-Fi network from a plane as it landed.
Used JB Weld on the wooden solar panel mounts.
Online, got my DTOPS decal number. Just in time for Culebra tomorrow.
Salad and leftover spaghetti and cranberryjuice for dinner. Brewers Bay, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
Engine start at 7:30. Anchor up easily, motored out, rounded up and unfurled the mainsail. Motor-sailed west.
As soon as I'm out of shelter, the big swells start coming in from the SE, shoving the stern around, making it hard to steer. And wind is almost dead astern; have to watch out for accidental gybe. Windier and rougher than I expected. But it's all pushing me the right direction.
Very hazy today, with Sahara dust, I think; St Thomas fading out before Culebra starts fading in. But no problems, good points to steer by. Halfway across, I'm practically surfing down big SE and ESE swells.
As I get very close to Culebrita at 10 AM, the swells pile up and get bigger, and the last 1/4 mile is a bit tricky. But soon I'm rounding the north end of Culebrita, and into flat water by 10:15. Now I have a chance to use the head and drink some water; on the passage, I didn't dare leave the steering for more than 5 seconds.
For a while I'm heading almost straight into the wind, slowing progress and making the mainsail flog a bit. But then the wind is more and more on the beam as I round the SE corner of Culebra, then back on the stern as I head in to the main entrance.
Up the length of the harbor, a bit of trouble furling the mainsail, then anchor down by 11:25 at Ensenada Honda, Culebra. Nice spot close to town.
Signed up for a week of Wi-Fi ($15), fired up Skype, and tried to call the officials to clear in. One phone number didn't connect. The other did, but they had a lot of trouble hearing me. At first, they said "you'll have to go to the airport to clear in", but then the connection got a little better and they started taking my info. It was painful, with the connection fading in and out. Got most of the way through and the call dropped. Called back, connection was better, eventually got it done. They gave me some registration number that will smooth things next time, then an 18-digit "release number" representing this clearance. Took 25 minutes to get it all done.
Around 3, launched the dinghy, pumped up the tubes, loaded it up with lots of stuff. Started the outboard and it ran okay. Put it in gear, got about 20 feet from the boat, and it quit. Tied onto the side of the boat and just could not get the outboard to start again. Moved to the stern, unloaded the dinghy a bit, took the carb off the outboard. Took it up into the cockpit, opened it up, cleaned some crud out of the bowl. Put it back on the motor, and it started. Loaded up the dinghy and headed ashore.
To the town dock (I'm anchored pretty close to it). Asked for directions to a doctor's office I'd heard about. On the way, saw I guy I knew 6 years ago in Benner Bay, and he seemed to recognize me, but he was going somewhere on a bicycle and didn't stop.
Found doctor's office, asked about tests to get a visa letter to Spain. The doctor is very cooperative, no charge for a letter, but he wrote a prescription for about a dozen blood tests, cost maybe $200, and the clinic here does them on only Tuesdays and Thursdays, and it's not clear who would carry the results to the doctor's office. I'm planning to be here only a week.
Gift shop that had a big book-exchange is closed, looks like it's out of business. Found the (new) library, and exchanged 9 of my books for 3 of theirs on a book-exchange outside the library proper. To grocery store for a couple of items.
Saw this sign on a small unremarkable side-street, maybe 20 feet up from sea-level: pic. I wonder how much has been spent to put these up ? I can't think of anything unusual about this location, except it is along an ocean-facing channel or creek, perhaps slightly funnel-shaped ?
Directed to one health clinic, turned out to be wrong one. I need to go to the other clinic, which is the hospital, and it's up a steep hill. Not today.
Back to dinghy, up shallow channel, to gas station. Bought 5.8 liters of gasoline for $5 (didn't want to get quite so much, but I didn't realize the price per gallon was so low). Outboard ran poorly on the way back; just would not throttle up much without trying to quit. But got back to the boat. Wind has died down a bit now; it was blowing hard when I first went ashore.
Salad and chili and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Did a bucket of laundry.
This afternoon, my Wi-Fi service, which I paid money for, isn't working. Connects and never gives me the login page. But I found a free network to use for a while.
Looked at the outboard, intending to clean out the fuel pump. But after pumping out a little maybe-bad gas, it ran fine, and I put it in gear and throttled up and used it to push the boat a bit, and it ran fine. Strange. Let it sit for 10 minutes, did it again, no problem. So why wouldn't it throttle up yesterday afternoon on the way back to the boat ?
In late afternoon, went snorkeling under the boat and put the new zinc on the prop shaft. Fairly strong wind, some currents, boat moving around a bit, made it a little challenging. Took a couple of tries; got it done.
John from "Buddy" passed by and said hi; haven't seen him in 6 years or so. But he was picking someone up and I was swimming, so we didn't have a chance to chat.
Salad and leftover chili and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. I think I found a reason for one or two of my recent headaches: latest bottle of rum is 85% alcohol by volume (not 85 proof; 85 percent). So if I pour a little heavy, I get a pretty big dose. Usually I have 70% rum (not much lighter, I guess). But I think most of my headaches are due more to some stress, the weather, dehydration, migraines.
Online in the early AM hours, made my flight reservations for going to Barcelona. Will be there all of July, August, September. Ticket prices are high: $1440 round-trip. But that's for nonstops on the dates I want (other dates weren't any cheaper) from the most convenient airport for me (Philadelphia), so not too horrible. I guess part of it is the summer vacation season, but also I heard a podcast saying airline consolidation has reduced competition. They're probably going to stick me in center seats; they want another $99 to give me an aisle seat. Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Paid Wi-Fi still not working.
Lots of thick grey clouds going over, but no rain. It's been a while since any rain; would be nice to get some to wash off the boat a bit. Tiny bit of rain at 9:30.
Ashore at 3 or so. Disposed of several bags of garbage. One grocery store closed. Got cash at ATM. Groceries at Milka's. Back to the boat. Outboard ran fine there and back.
Paid Wi-Fi is working again. Was down for about 24 hours. My service ticket got a response apologizing for the outage, and blaming it on island-wide power outage (not true) or phone outage (doubtfull). Other Wi-Fi networks were up.
Salad and chili and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Headache before dawn; took a paracetamol. Later, took a sumatriptan.
Wind really blowing hard today.
Around 6 PM, paid Wi-Fi failing again. But the free Wi-Fi is failing, too.
Salad and leftover chili and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Around 10:30, went ashore through very windy conditions. Disposed of a couple of bags of garbage.
To the hospital to find out about blood tests for my Spain visa application. Have to go at 7:30 AM tomorrow, no fasting required, total cost will be about $160 (I was expecting worse), results in a week or so, they'll send results to both the doctor and to me if I wish. All good !
Cute chicken-family on sidewalk: pic.
To the police station to ask about fingerprinting for my Spain visa application. The news is bad: they don't do it here any more, since they've changed from ink to electronic. Have to go to Fajardo or somewhere else. And even there, I don't think I'd get a printed card I could mail to a "channeler".
To the marine store, and bought an equivalent of JB Weld epoxy. To the library, to find out the charge for printing. To the grocery store, for food. Back to the boat. Outboard ran fine both ways.
Online, found out some more about the fingerprinting business. I may have to do it myself.
Ashore again in midafternoon. Outboard quit 50 feet from the boat. Paddled back, pumped out some maybe-bad gas, ran fine after that. To the library, wasn't able to get my laptop working with their printers, but used their computer and printed fingerprint and background-check forms. Exchanged three books for one.
To two grocery stores and the marine store, but no ink-pads available. I'm told there's a school-supply store on the other side of the harbor. To the police station, showed them the fingerprint form, all I want them to do is ink my fingerprints onto it, but no go. Nice street art: pic. Back to the boat, outboard running fine.
Salad and chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Up at 6:30, to the hospital by 7:25. Waited, got to the receptionist by 7:45. She's very helpful, but it turns out I was given some wrong info yesterday. The person yesterday said $160, but didn't tell me that she wasn't able to look up a couple of the tests; the real total is $208. No problem, paid it. The usual awkwardness when giving information: I have no local address, no local emergency contact, etc.
By 8, waiting outside the laboratory. Had to sign up there, and found out the real bad news: I was supposed to fast before these tests. Dammit, I specifically asked that yesterday, and was told the wrong thing (but I should have guessed that, and fasted anyway). Maybe it was an English/Spanish problem. Can't do the tests today; have to come back again Thursday morning. Back to the boat by 8:30.
Around 10, back into the dinghy. Long, rough, wet, windy ride across the harbor. Found a little dock to land at, but it was missing a lot of cross-boards. To the street, walked SE, asked someone for direction to the school-supply store that's supposed to be over here. He didn't speak English, and seemed to say it is closed. He directed me to the hardware store near the airport.
So I made the longish, hot walk down to there. No ink-pads there, but the guy there said the school-supply store does exist, it's open 3 PM to 9 PM. Walked back up past the dinghy, and found the store about 200 feet past where I talked to the first guy; I would have been better off not talking to him. It's open 4 PM to 8 PM. Looks small; doubt they'll have what I want.
Back to dinghy, back to boat. Outboard ran fine both ways.
I'm thinking of taking the ferry to Fajardo tomorrow to get fingerprints done at a police station. But online I can't find the address or a decent map. There's little info about the police, and it's in Spanish.
Around 4:30, into the dinghy and headed across the harbor to the school-supply store. Very windy and rough. Outboard ran fine. Picked a nicer dock this time. Got near and realized I'd forgotten to bring my sandals. Walked barefoot up the sidewalk. Lots of construction over here, lots of pebbles on the sidewalk.
Got to the store at 4:37 and the lady was just arriving to open it up. Gave her a few minutes, went in, and she has no ink-pads. As I suspected, only about two shelves of school supplies, the rest is T-shirts and jewelry and perfume and trinkets.
Back across the harbor to the boat; wind has eased a bit. But outboard is not running well. Grabbed my sandals, headed to the town dock, outboard really limping now. Walked to the police station, this time the guy at the front desk doesn't speak good English. I tell him I need the address to go to in Fajardo, but instead he gives me the name of the place and a bunch of phone numbers. No address, no street name, no map, can't tell me the price for fingerprinting. And of course they're open from 8-4, so it's too late to call them today and will be too early tomorrow before the ferry goes.
To a grocery store to get a few things. At the dock, pumped out a little maybe-bad gas, and outboard ran fine back to the boat.
Online, tried Skyping one of the phone numbers the policeman gave me, and got someone who spoke no English. Searching on those phone numbers doesn't give any addresses. Eventually got a useful answer from a cruiser on Facebook's Culebra Cruiser's group.
Salad and leftover chicken-rice and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Up at 5:30. A little headachey; take a paracetamol-plus. Ashore a little after 6, to the ferry dock. Turns out the schedules on the two web sites I checked are wrong; passenger ferry left at 6, not 6:30. But there's a cargo/passenger ferry at 6:30, so I took that. Round-trip $4.50. Sat outside, upstairs.
Nice trip, cloudy enough to keep the sun off, downwind and down-swell, except that we're smelling the boat's exhaust a fair bit. Nice long conversation with a guy named Jay. Ex-Navy, ex-Customs, former software developer, now retired and has a house here, has visited a lot of interesting places. I eat a PBJ sandwich for breakfast.
And when we arrived in Fajardo, Jay offered to give me a ride to the police station, which I accepted. He and his friend Mike dropped me off and pointed to the right building. Got there about 8:35, waited 15 minutes as the office sorted itself out, finally got in to the "technical services" office, which is just one room with half a dozen officers in it. And a LiveScan fingerprinting computer.
The usual awkwardness when giving information: I have no local address. Then a little strange: instead of just putting all of my fingers down simultaneously on the scanner, it's exactly like the old ink-and-paper method, except without the ink and paper. The officer grasped each of my fingers one at a time and rolled it on the scanner plate. Finally printed out two copies on FBI fingerprint forms. No charge ! Done by 9:05.
A ferry just left at 9; next one is at 3, so I have some time to kill. Walked up to the highway and found a KMart. Nice shiny store, picked up a hat and a propane camp-stove, but paying at the cashier took forever, at least 20 minutes as the supervisor had to go back and forth among the registers fixing issues.
Over to the snack bar inside the KMart, had a soda, and filled out the background-check forms, then read my book for a little while. Back down the street to the post office, got an envelope, mailed forms and fingerprints to an "FBI channeler" company to do the background check.
Wandered around central Fajardo for a while. Nice main plaza, some guys playing dominoes, nice fountain: pic. Wanted a burrito or something for lunch, but had to settle for a big calzone, lots of bread and cheese and tomato sauce but not much filling.
Sat a little while in another plaza, then into the bus terminal around 1:30. And it's a fiasco in there; no one can tell me where to get the publico back to the ferry dock, which is supposed to cost $2. And taxi guys are trying to get me to pay $10 for a ride. One guy directs me to wait in a certain place, I wait for a while, talk to some other people, go back to the guy, he admits he doesn't know anything about the publico to the ferry. I give up, head to Tourist Info at the main plaza. They want to send me back to the bus terminal, then want to call a taxi for me. Eventually they come up with a decent map, and I decide to walk it.
A hot 2-mile walk, straightforward but long and a bit anxious as I'm not sure what time it is; my watch is buried somewhere in my bag. Halfway there, a publico passes me. Get to the ferry terminal, can't see any clock in there as I hustle through, make it onto the boat with 9 minutes to spare. Overheated, grab a seat right under a blasting air-conditioner.
Boat undocks. This is the passenger ferry, several knots faster than the cargo ferry, and now we're going against the seas, so it's a rougher ride. But I just take a Neobrufen, eat some cookies, snooze, put on a jacket when I get cold, snooze some more.
We dock at Culebra. Through the crowds, over to the town dock, into the dinghy, back to the boat by 4:50.
Salad and a grapefruit for dinner. And then start my fast before tomorrow's blood tests. Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Wind has eased a bit. Maybe I'll leave here tomorrow.
Ashore at 7, to hospital. A little delay as I was waiting unnecessairly in the wrong place. Then in to the laboratory, and things went quickly. Drew a big vial of blood, gave a urine sample, punctured for a TB test. Then told I have to come back on Saturday, to Emergency, to have someone read the result of my TB test. So I guess I'm not leaving tomorrow. Back to the boat.
Went ashore in late afternoon. Got cash from ATM, got a few groceries.
Salad and spaghetti and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Wind swinging more E now, instead of SE. Then a very still night. Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Did a small bucket of laundry.
Skype-called Dora in Spain.
At the last minute, managed to construct an email address at the Spanish consulate in New York City and get someone to respond ! I've been trying this for about a year now; they never respond.
Salad and leftover spaghetti and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Grey and wind coming from various directions, sometimes no wind. Sun later.
Online, looked at forecast, decided to stay here another day or two. No hurry, and in this weather, it's going to be sweltering-hot in Salinas harbor.
Ashore in mid-morning. To hospital Emergency, to have my TB test result read (took two seconds; no bump on my arm). To library to exchange 3 books for 1 at the shelf outside. To grocery store for a few items. Back to boat. Light wind slowly clocking around; hot.
Rain at noon-thirty. Cooler and very grey all afternoon. Often no wind, boats pointing all directions.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Grey, humid, little wind.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Clear and sunny weather.
Headachey; took a Neobrufen.
Engine start at 10:40. Anchor chain stuck to something hard on the bottom; took a bit of to-and-fro to get it loose. Anchor up by 10:50 and started motoring out.
Halfway up the harbor, unfurled the mainsail. Out through the narrow entrance, and turned SW toward Vieques. Very mild conditions, light and variable wind, 1-foot seas coming from both SE and N.
At 11:35, suddenly the mainsail has come down and is trailing overboard. Dammit ! I took it down and checked the halyard not 5 days ago, and checked briefly again when putting it back up about 2 days ago.
Put engine in neutral, pull the sail out of the water, start lashing it up on deck. Get it up off the solar panels, and suddenly see what happened. Because of the very light wind, the sail came almost straight down, and the heavy furling-swivel at the head of it landed right on the forward solar panel, destroying it. Pic. Wonderful. One of the few things on the boat that's been working perfectly.
And what failed was not the halyard. The swivel was attached to the halyard with a clevis pin, with a cotter pin through the end of it. Somehow the cotter pin must have come out or been pulled out, the clevis pin came half out, then one of the flanges on the swivel bent until the halyard came off the clevis pin. Pic. I can't remember specifically checking that cotter pin a few days ago; I was checking the halyard. But I would have noticed if the pin was missing.
Sharp shards of glass on the side deck and top of the pilothouse; soon I'm punctured on my heel and on one hand. Get the sail tied up, glass out of my skin, put engine in gear, keep going.
Easy trip along N side of Vieques, just having to watch out for a couple of reefs. Smelling a lot of engine exhaust, with this light following wind.
Engine stop at 2:40. Recovered leaked engine oil, added about 2 quarts to the engine. Must be burning it. Engine start at 2:55.
Eventually get to NW corner of Vieques. Ease across the shallow diagonal reef here, probably through 6 feet or less of water. A relief to turn toward the anchorage. In and anchor down by 4:50 at Green Beach, Vieques.
Three other sailboats here, further S. And one powerboat left as I was coming in.
I strap a bunch of clear packing tape over the broken solar panel, trying to keep it from coming apart more, and maybe it will still produce power. But I do only about 1/4 of the panel before stopping; the glass is cracked and shattered along 1/2 or more of the length of the panel. Sweep up shards of glass from the roof and the deck and wash them overboard.
Salad and tuna sandwiches for dinner.
Quiet night, a bit rolly at times when the light breeze went E. Green Beach, Vieques.
A little headachey; took a paracetamol.
Climbed the mainmast at 9:15. Had to go to top, down, then halfway up again because I forgot to take a line with me. Got the end of the main halyard down. So now if the engine quits, I'll be able to put a sail up.
Added more than a quart of oil to the engine; this is getting really bad. Engine start at 10:25, anchor up 5 minutes later, motored west.
Slow, uneventful motor-trip, going across SE corner of Puerto Rico and then down the S side of it. Only saw one motorboat fishing off the SE, another motorboat going E on the S side, all day.
Engine stop at 1:15; added a quart of oil, started again at 1:30.
Wind picking up, maybe 10-12 from the E.
Slightly tricky entrance, around a reef with visibility not so easy. Then dodged an unmarked, hard-to-see shoal in the middle of the anchorage. Anchor down by 4:15 at Puerto Patillas, Puerto Rico. Three other sailboats here; only one looks occupied.
As I circled to anchor, I saw that I have oil coming out the exhaust and floating on the water. The engine isn't burning it so much as putting it out the exhaust. So not piston rings so much as ... what ? Head gasket ? I don't see oil in the coolant, so I don't think it's the fresh water pump. (Although I am losing coolant; I assumed a leak in the heat-exchanger.) I don't think the exhaust manifold has any contact with the oil system. Maybe a bad sleeve on an exhaust-valve ?
Took a sumatriptan. Got a little free Wi-Fi.
Salad and a very light rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Very quiet night, after some music ashore stopped. Warm and little wind. Puerto Patillas, Puerto Rico.
Did a bucket of laundry.
By mid-morning, wind blowing pretty hard, maybe 15+, from the SE. Not according to the forecast, which was more like E 8.
Nice couple from cataraman "Polaris" stopped by to say hi on their way ashore. They're hoping to go E to Vieques and then SSW down to the ABC's for hurricane season.
Laptop charger has stopped working again.
Online for a little while. One reader suggested the oil cooler is the problem. Good idea. That thing is 10+ years old, and it has engine oil, raw water, and transmission fluid going through it. Easy to replace.
Stowed the jib down in the main cabin. Pulled out and looked at the secondary anchor chain, but it has a thin section just as the main chain does. Not sure if I'm going to leave the boat on one anchor or two in Salinas.
Salad and a PBJ sandwich and a very light rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Puerto Patillas, Puerto Rico.
"Polaris" left around 9:30. They seemed to be going S instead of E to Vieques; I guess they're trying to sail there; not easy in the W-setting current, seas and wind along this coast.
Engine start at 9:45, anchor up about 5 minutes later. Motored out to SW. Pretty rolly with seas coming from SE.
Monotonous trip, few other boats out, hazy day. Fairly rolly at times. Wind slowly strengthening to maybe E 15 knots.
Got rolled viciously a few last times, before getting in through Boca del Infierno cut at 12:55. Engine stop, checked and added 1-2 quarts of oil, start again at 1:05.
Up into harbor, watching out for shoals, water pretty cloudy and hard to read. Lots of boats anchored or moored here, probably half unoccupied. Circled several times before anchor down in very shallow water by 2:20 at Playa Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Ashore in late afternoon. Not much has changed here in the 6-7 years since I was here last. The marine store has closed; that's not good. Disposed of some garbage. Used the book-exchange at the marina. Got a few groceries at the tiny grocery store, which seems to be mostly a slot-machine and lottery-ticket place. Back to the boat.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Playa Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Went ashore to marina at 1, to do Wi-Fi etc. Prices are cheap here; $1.61 for a Seven-Up.
Chatted with some cruisers, Mike and Karen, and Tony. Pumped them for all the info I could get. Mike and Karen at least have been cruising for 18 years, mostly living here, recently returned from several months in Grenada. They own a house and car here.
Dominoes here Wed at 1 and Sunday at 1 !
As expected, still no good way to get from here to San Juan airport. They said a liveaboard named "Corky" might drive me up for money. They said about a dozen cruisers flew out last week; I missed the crowd.
We talked a bit about selling a boat, and it was very discouraging. Apparently Mike and Karen have a 45-foot sailboat, loaded with equipment, everything works fine, they have about $300K invested in it over the years, they'd sort of like to sell, and Mike doubts they could get more than $30K for it. If they got serious about selling, they might take it up to Florida and get more for it there. By that standard, my boat is worth about zero.
They said the marine store has moved; it's still open, somewhere near the high school (I don't know where that is), but prices are high. And yesterday, the Puerto Rico legislature raised the sales tax to 11 percent. Best to order things and have them sent in.
Laptop refuses to see AC adapter; ran out of battery in 30 minutes or less. Back to boat.
Glued solar panel supports with steel-epoxy.
Laptop refuses to charge battery from DC-DC adapter; I tried fiddling with it many times. Could be a serious pain if my laptop has become unusable.
The cruisers I chatted with had said there's little Customs or Coast Guard presence here, and the police are interested only in the jet-skiers. Sure enough, around 3, a police boat has stopped a jet-ski upwind of me. I watch as they drift past me rafted together, no more than about 10 feet off my starboard side. I'm thinking, "typical police boat, overpowered with three 200-HP outboards". Then I realize they are 300-HP outboards.
At 5:15, started engine and put out second anchor.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner. Playa Salinas, Puerto Rico.
At 7 AM, tried to hoist and furl mainsail, but the halyard is sticking at the top of the mast. Gave up. Really need to pull the mast and have everything at the top re-done.
Struggled to get the laptop to accept power from the DC-DC power adapter. Gave up, changed to the AC adapter, eventually got that to start charging the battery.
Around 10, went ashore. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Walked through Playa Salinas, looking for any kind of fruit/veg stand, but this place is pretty empty. Just houses and a few bars and restaurants. Some new road construction in progress. A new tourist-info office, but it's closed on a Saturday morning.
Eventually out to the main road and walked to the edge of Salinas, about 1.5 miles from the harbor. Supermarket I used to go to, across from the post office, is out of business and abandoned; I forget if it was open or closed last time I was here. Walked toward the center of Salinas. Stopped at the bus terminal and it's as I expected; no busses to San Juan. This island really could use a nice bus system. Guy hanging around the terminal says there is a "bus", but he means a taxi-van I could call, that would cost about $120.
Into the center, and there's a small weekly fruit/veg market right in the plaza. Three stands all selling mostly the same stuff, and they look a bit artificial, as if they're govt-sponsored or just derived from some wholesaler. But I buy bananas, tomatoes and a cucumber, and am happy to get them. I guess the big supermarkets out on the highway have put everything else out of business, and you really need a car to get to them.
Walk back to the harbor, taking a different route through Playa Salinas, finding nothing much useful to me. Didn't see the marine store. There is a pharmacy and hardware/lumber store.
Chatted with a few cruisers in the marina. They said Corky might not be a safe driver. They pointed me to Louis, who's maybe a security guard here. He said he'd drive me to the airport for $80, and seems pretty reliable. I'll probably do that. He's available only mornings, and only certain days of the week, but his schedule works for me.
Back out to the boat, straight into stiff wind and chop. Can hear a bit of racing from the Salinas speedway.
Huge billowing smoke-cloud from a big fire somewhere just north of the harbor in midafternoon. Went away, happened again, and then again. Strange.
Ashore again at 5, to check out a bar that supposedly is the cruiser's hangout. Okay place, but only one cruising couple there. Nice bartender (Johnno) and his wife, and he's looking to buy a boat to live aboard here, so we started talking about my boat, and his wife looked at my web site to see about my boat. The timing is bad: my boat is a mess, I'm flying out in 5 days, going to be gone for a long time.
Sat with the cruising couple, nice people from Germany who sailed across the Atlantic in 2012, have spent some time in Trinidad, soon heading down to Curacao for hurricane season. They got a local map at Tourist Info, and there's a road I didn't know about, and a (not too short) way to a big supermarket.
Exchanged a couple of books at the bar bookshelf. Johnno says maybe Sidney can take me to airport for $50; will have to find him. Back to boat, got almost there, remembered I wanted to get some meat and cheese at the tiny grocery store. So back ashore for that.
Salad and spaghetti and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner. Playa Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Started cleaning up the boat a bit. At 9:30 or so, took ashore four bags of garbage and four gallons of used engine oil for disposal. Into the marina office to pay for the oil disposal, fearing a charge of $5/gallon or more. But the charge is 45 cents/gallon. Back to boat, and some more cleaning.
Ashore again before noon, to do some Wi-Fi and then play dominoes.
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