Log of the sailboat 'Magnolia'

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Sun for a new day  1/8/2007 (Monday)
Boat at anchor at Charlotte Amelie, St Thomas, USVI; I'm in Trenton, New Jersey.

Drove to Philly airport through lots of rain.

No free Wi-Fi signal in the airport.

Uneventful flight, and landed at St Thomas around 3:15. Some back-and-forth with the taxi drivers about charging $4 for each suitcase; $11 for the taxi. Could see "Magnolia" still afloat as the taxi neared the harbor. Got to main dock area at 4, and by 4:15 I'd caught a lift out to "Magnolia", from John on "Peregrine". He's been here about 7 years.

Boat is fine. One dead cockroach on the galley sole. Opened everything up, stowed everything from my luggage. Added water to the batteries; they needed a lot. Cleaned a lot of bird crap off one of the solar panels. No free Wi-Fi signal here.

A little headachey from the trip and not sleeping much last night. Peanut-butter crackers for dinner, took headache pills, and went to bed. Slept solidly most of the night.

In the middle of the night, used the new LED bulb in the reading lamp in my berth. A little weaker than I expected, but usable. Maybe should have bought a 24-LED bulb instead of the 15-LED bulb.
Sun for a new day  1/9/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Charlotte Amelie, St Thomas, USVI.

Loaded up the refrigerator as much as I could and turned it on; will take a couple of hours to get cold.

Still no free Wi-Fi signal here.

Launched dinghy, and a spritz of starting fluid was enough to get the outboard started. Loaded the bike into the dinghy and went ashore. Biked to supermarket, got groceries, and back to dinghy dock. It's a very unsteady floating dock, and getting bike in and out of dinghy and dock was tricky. Back out to boat, and hoisted everything aboard and stowed it. Tried scrubbing rust-streaks on sides of hull with Zud from the dinghy; didn't have too much effect.

Raised second anchor, scrubbing a lot of growth off about 20 feet of it. Started engine and ran it for 10 minutes; no problem. Thought about raising primary anchor and moving elsewhere, but decided to stay.

Started taking some pictures with my new camera ! Some cruise ships: cruise ships at dock, cruise ship at anchor. Then a couple of "Magnolia", from the dinghy: starboard side, port side. And a boat in the harbor: charter-schooner.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for 20 minutes to charge batteries and exercise engine.
Sun for a new day  1/10/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Charlotte Amelie, St Thomas, USVI.

Made a New Year's resolution: straighten up the inside of the boat; it's a mess, with stuff all over the place.

Big cruise-ship anchored in the middle of the harbor entrance; never seen one there before.

Scrubbed anchor chain and raised anchor at 10:05 and motored through the harbor. Lots of traffic: small ferry, big ferry, couple of lifeboats from the anchored cruise ship. Made it across and through Haulover Cut and over to anchor outside Honeymoon Bay. Along the way, saw another cruise ship anchored outside the harbor, and two at the Crown Bay docks (cruise ship at dock), so a total of 7 are here. Finished anchoring about 10:45, at outside Honeymoon Bay.

Two minutes later, John from "Buddy" came by in his dinghy; last saw him in Culebra. He and I both are planning to head to Christmas Cove in the next day or two. He said "Fidelis" left their boat in Culebra and flew out to USA for a while. No news of any of our other friends.

Got a Wi-Fi signal and did some internet. Heard from Doug on "Exuma Grouper". They had hoped to be in Georgetown Exumas by Christmas, but they're still in La Parguera PR (despite visa limitation, I guess). They hauled out there to have hull painted and engine work done (removed engine entirely, had all wiring replaced). They're trying to get going again, but the engine won't start yet. They've hooked up with a local guy, so have access to a house and car.

Exercised all of the through-hull valves. The valve on the outlet for the forward head was so hard to move that, once I got it open, I left it open in case it freezes solid.

In midafternoon, launched the dinghy and went snorkeling under the boat. Lots of grass on the prop, and lots of small barnacles on the hull. And a barracuda that had to be almost 5 feet long hanging around right under the hull. I started scraping the hull, and he kept hanging around. I took pictures of him, then realized that flashy silver is supposed to excite them, and I had a silver camera and a big bright silver putty knife in my hands. At one point about halfway through, he came pretty close to me and hung there and eyed me boldly, and that made me nervous. And I had cut my knuckles on a barnacle, so I was bleeding a little. But I kept going, and after that he seemed to stay mostly by the bow and I stayed mostly by the stern. Got the prop and most of the hull done in an hour and 15 minutes, and back into the boat.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.

Saw four cruise-ships in motion at the same time in the evening: two out in the ocean, one going through the pass, and another coming out through the channel.
Sun for a new day  1/11/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor outside Honeymoon Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Tried to start engine at 8:50, but not enough battery power. Got it started at 9:20, and raised mainsail and got anchor up by 9:30. Motor-sailed out. As usual, wind is right on the nose, so I headed SE instead of E in 15 knots of wind, and headed toward Buck Island, to swing south of it and then head ENE, keeping a reasonable angle on the wind all the way. As I neared the island, I thought of stopping there. The anchorage was full, but as I approached, a boat left. So I ducked in, avoided flocks of snorkelers from half a dozen big charter boats, and grabbed the free mooring at 10:55, at Buck Island. The mooring line I spliced back together seems to hold okay.

Ten minutes later, a boat left, so there was another free mooring. By the time I ate lunch, launched the dinghy, and got into the water, half of the boats had left. I guess they have a morning trip and an afternoon trip, so lunchtime is a good time to get a mooring here.

Snorkeled the NW corner of the anchorage, and saw some nice fish. Lots of big boulders in the water here. Took lots of pictures, to try out my camera. Very odd that the startup tune it plays when you switch it on is very clearly audible underwater. Snorkeled for about 45 minutes and got back aboard just in time to get hit with a few big drops of cold rain. Some fish pictures (correct me if I've misidentified them): Blue Tang, Puffer Fish (or triggerfish or filefish?), another Puffer Fish, Sea Urchins, Sergeant Major, Parrotfish, Yellowtail Snapper (or just Yellowtail). Some of the smaller fish moved so quickly that I couldn't get any shots of them.

At 1:30, as I was getting ready to leave, all of a sudden a wave of boats appeared. Slipped my mooring and got out without hitting any of them. Around the south side of the island, and a rough slog straight into wind and waves. Got a little bit of an angle on the waves later, but still a rough trip. Saw a big powerboat raising anchor, so I hovered around and waited until he left. Another sailboat tried to zip in and grab the space, but I beat him to it. Anchor down and engine off by 3:20 at Christmas Cove. Water (22 feet) a bit deeper than I'd like, but it's pretty full here and the good spots seem to be taken. "Neshuma" is anchored in front of me; haven't seen them since Luperon. (But I don't recognize the people, and my notes say "Neshuma" was sold later, so these must be the new owners.)

The major drawback of this place: every 30 to 60 minutes or so, there's a huge wake from a ferry plowing through the sound. And with the wind a little NE as it will be for the next couple of days, the wakes are on the beam and really roll the boat wildly.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  1/12/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Christmas Cove, Great St James Island, USVI.

Spent much of the night and all of the morning reading a vampire-hunter novel I just couldn't put down.

Loafed all day; too rough to do much. Often grey and windy and rainy in the afternoon.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Ran engine for 20 minutes to charge batteries and make sure engine will start if I need it. Someone's anchored a little close in front of me, and VHF weather has reports of strong wind (but it may have come through already), so I want to have options if something goes wrong.
Sun for a new day  1/13/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Christmas Cove, Great St James Island, USVI.

Engine started and anchor up at 9:10. Motored around the S end of the island and found a big swell from the ESE; didn't expect that, since the wind has been from ENE and NE for a while. Put the mainsail up, eased through pass between Great Saint James Island and Little Saint James Island, and motor-sailed across S end of Pillsbury Sound towards St John. Big swells and lots of wind almost on the nose; made about 3.5 knots most of the way. Was heading for Fish Bay, but decided to see if there was room in Great Cruz Bay. Ducked in there, but as usual it was full of permanent-looking boats. Back out and around the SW corner of St John, into teeth of rough conditions. Several other sailboats sailing and motor-sailing the same direction; had to watch for crossing boats. A couple went into Rendezvous Bay, one turned around and headed back downwind, and one looked like it was going to follow me into Fish Bay but then tacked back out and kept going east.

Into Fish Bay and anchored by 11:10, at Fish Bay. A little close to one boat behind me, but this place is so sheltered and shallow that we should be fine. Nice and calm; only the slightest roll every now and then. Far better than Christmas Cove.

My 3Com Wi-Fi card found a couple of very weak signals but couldn't connect to them. The Orinoco-and-Cantenna combination couldn't see them at all.

Loafed all day, reading and listening to radio and using the computer. Light rain-squalls coming over every hour or so. Trawler "Cranberry Gull" came in and anchored. Guy from sailboat behind me stopped by to say hi, and ask if I knew how to disassemble a carburetor and clean it out (I should have offered to help him, but I told him it's pretty easy). Listened to "Car Talk" and "Prairie Home Companion" and other stuff on radio.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Connected to a Wi-Fi signal for a few seconds, again and again, but it kept dropping out before I could upload a single file.

Rain-squalls every hour or two all night. Most were light and without much wind, but one at 1:15 had a lot of wind and rain. Glad I'm in a well-protected anchorage.
Sun for a new day  1/14/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Fish Bay, St John, USVI.

Breezy day with lots of clouds coming over. Out in open water, horizon is getting a bit lumpy with swells.

Weather forecast says wind will be 19-23 or so for next couple of days, with big NE swells (5-7, generally). Still having small-craft advisories.

Rain-squalls every hour or so in the afternoon.

Interesting book: I'm reading James Michener's memoir. Doubly interesting because at the end of the my Christmas vacation, we went to the Michener art museum in Doylestown PA (his home town). The art was great, and they also had a room dedicated to his books and his working office. He had a fascinating life, traveling all over the world and getting involved in all kinds of military and political and world events and places.

Did a good hour of restowing and cleaning in aft cabin and forward head. Much of the mess is due to three things: old shredded jib (I want to salvage some sailcloth and the wire frame of it, and discard the rest), wood for a boarding-ladder project that I've gotten stalled on several times, and lots of extra clothes and bedding.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Several more big rain-squalls during the night.
Sun for a new day  1/15/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Fish Bay, St John, USVI.

Another breezy day. Weather forecast says big NE swells and 20+ ENE wind will ease tomorrow afternoon, so I guess I'll be here another two days. I want to head around to the N side of the island and then N to the BVI's, but I'm guessing it's too rough for that right now.

Kept trying to get a Wi-Fi connection, but the signal is just too weak.

Guy from sailboat behind me ("Obsession") came out to take a couple of friends out sailing; rough day for it. He says he took apart his carburetor twice before finding out his ignition is firing on only one plug. I offered to move if I'm over top of one of his anchors, but he said he leaves a buoy (and his anchors and rodes) behind when he goes sailing. Not a good practice; what if something goes wrong out there and he needs to anchor ?

They went out, and 15 minutes later "Cranberry Gull" left.

Loafed most of the day, except for an hour or so to haul out the shredded jib and cut it up. Saved the luff wire and attached fabric, in case it can be used as the basis of a jury-rigged sail someday, and some big chunks of intact sailcloth, to be used for repairs. Much easier to stow the pieces. Did some cleaning. Found a couple of forgotten cases of soda stowed in the forward head; they're from Miami, so are 2 years old.

Some gusts of 30+ knot wind in the afternoon.

"Obsession" came back in around 5. They came by in the dinghy, and the guy said I was smart to have stayed in harbor today; it was really rough out there. One of the women said the waves were like tsunami-waves; they had a VERY rough trip upwind. They went all the way to Norman's in the BVI's and had lunch there. The downwind return trip was easy and fast.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  1/16/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Fish Bay, St John, USVI.

Much less wind in the early morning, but then by 8:30 or so it had picked up again. Still lots of swells out in the open water. Thought of going to Benner Bay to do Wi-Fi and grocery shopping. It would be an easy downwind trip, but there's only one sheltered spot inside the harbor, and if it's taken, options would be bad. Will wait until tomorrow. Feels a bit stupid to be cowering in here, but it's pleasant enough (would be nicer to have Wi-Fi and decent snorkeling). A slight roll getting in today; the wind and swells have shifted a little to the ESE, and the entrance faces S.

In midafternoon, launched dinghy and went snorkeling under the boat to scrape the hull. Gusty wind is slewing the boat sideways so much that it often seems determined to run over me in the water; I have to push away from it and swim away from it. No fish (except a 4.5-foot barracuda that hung around for a minute or two), the bottom is barren sand and some grass, and the water is cloudy because of the wind and chop. Cleaned the hull for an hour.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Suddenly realized refrigerator has been running too much this afternoon, and my batteries are low even at the end of a pretty sunny afternoon. So I have to turn the thermostat way down and keep an eye on the fridge during the evening to make sure it's running enough but not too much.
Sun for a new day  1/17/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Fish Bay, St John, USVI.

Waiting for solar to charge batteries so I can start engine and get out of here.

Tried to start engine at 10, and barely got starter to turn the engine at all. Tried every 45 minutes or so all morning. Cut and drilled wood for boarding-ladder project while I waited. Started to wonder if engine would ever start.

At 12:30, it started ! Anchor up by 12:45, and unfurled the jib. Went out the bay entrance, and it's rough out here when heading upwind ! Maybe 4-foot swells, but they're very close together and the wind is strong. Better when I turned downwind, but it's a struggle to keep the jib full with the swells slewing the stern around and the wind shifting.

Motor-sailed downwind, to Benner Bay. Too windy to get the jib furled more than halfway (even though I pulled so hard on the furling line that a plastic pulley guiding the line broke), so I released the halyard and took the whole sail down and lashed it up on the foredeck. Going in the entrance channel, a charter boat stopped and picked up a skipper and then dawdled all the way down the channel, blocking me and not answering the radio. Hard to keep the boat under control while going so slow. Finally got inside, and found my favorite spot empty. It's sort of in the middle of things, not in the extremely shallow and crowded area where everyone else anchors, but I should be okay for at least one night. I've stayed here before. Anchor down and engine off by 2:45, at Benner Bay.

Bummer: no free Wi-Fi signal from the boat.

Dinghied ashore. Disposed of about 6 bags of garbage. Exchanged a heap of books at the book-exchange in the bar. Tried to get a Wi-Fi signal, but no luck. Walked to supermarket and tried Wi-Fi again there. Got groceries (prices are high here, but not as bad as on St John). Back to dinghy.

At the dinghy dock, a guy asked me to tow his Morgan 30 sailboat from the dock out to a mooring. I was unwilling to do it by myself, fearing my outboard might quit or the strong wind might overpower a single dinghy. But after going out to my boat and stowing all the groceries and stuff, I went back ashore to help him.

His name is Marques, and he just bought his boat "Kitishee" (I'm sure I've misspelled it) a few weeks ago. And he has no dinghy, so he's had a struggle even getting to and from the boat. And the engine (old Atomic 4 gasoline) doesn't work.

I hung around ashore for 45 minutes as we asked various people for help. Eventually a Swedish couple (just up from Venezuela) agreed to help. So I pushed with my dinghy and the other dinghy helped when needed, and the tow went very smoothly. Except for the very start of it, when the wind pinned my dinghy against the dock, and the other dinghy threatened to turn the big boat and hit some boats in slips.

Afterward, I gave Marques a brief tour of my boat, and we chatted for 10 minutes before I took him back ashore. He's from New Hampshire, mostly, and he's only 19 years old. He has an apprentice-welder job on St John, and needs the boat as a cheap place to live. He's rented a mooring in Chocolate Hole on St John, which he says is the only place with any available moorings. He's sailed before, but it wasn't until later that I realized he doesn't know anything about basic things such as anchoring, from the questions he was asking.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Still no Wi-Fi from the boat.
Sun for a new day  1/18/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Grey and breezy morning.

Headachey this morning.

Dinghied ashore around noon. Took a picture of a ruined prop. Stopped in at the marine store and bought electrical tape. To an outboard place to check prices of new motors. To supermarket and got groceries. Back out to boat and stowed everything.

Started engine at 12:30, and raised anchor by 12:40. Had to be careful, because if it came free and bow was pointed inland, I'd have a difficult downwind turn to make to clear a dock. But I got the bow pointed out when the anchor came up, and got out with no problem.

Wind really howling outside the bay. Lost almost 2 knots to wind and seas. Decided to check out Nazareth Bay instead of going straight to Christmas Cove.

Got into Nazareth Bay and put anchor down by 1:15, at Nazareth Bay. A bit of a roll getting in, but not bad.

But: as I was letting the engine idle and cool down, all of a sudden there was a bad "ticking" or "flapping" or rhythmic "spurting" noise coming from the engine compartment. Quickly shut off the engine and went to investigate. Looks like some fluid spurted out of the port side of the engine, near the fuel injection pump and heat-exchanger. Can't quite tell, but I think it's fuel. Maybe a fitting came loose, or a gasket on the fuel injection pump blew out. Will have to let the engine cool down and investigate later. Not good, but could be worse, and could have happened at a far worse time or place. I'm in a semi-sheltered anchorage, and within dinghy-range (within about a mile) of the boatyard and other stores at Benner Bay. And for fun, there's a beach resort and some snorkeling territory here. And I just loaded up with groceries, so I could stay here indefinitely.

At 2, launched the dinghy and put out a second anchor. Holding isn't so great here and it's about 20 feet deep, and if I drag out into very rough open water with no engine and jib down, I'll be in big trouble. Although I'd probably drift W into the mouth of the Benner Bay area.

Thinking about the engine, I can't think of any reason a coolant leak would make a rhythmic noise, so it must be the fuel pump or a fuel line.

Several Wi-Fi signals here, but couldn't get connected to any usable signal.

Went for a 45-minute snorkel. Primary anchor is sunk into sand; bottom here is better than I though; chart said it was coral. Saw some nice fish, but nothing special, and many of them seemed to get spooked when I fired up the camera. Took lots of pictures, but only decent one was of a stingray about 18 inches across. Water is nice and clear.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner. Yuck: the two-year-old soda tastes terrible ! Drank it anyway.

Headachey during the night. Boat rolling constantly. Rolling itself wouldn't be so bad, but also some joint in the interior wood came loose a year or two ago, so there's a grinding/creaking near my berth every time the boat rolls much. Haven't been able to figure out how to fix it. Doesn't look like any wood has come loose from the hull; maybe a glued joint in interior wood has come loose.
Sun for a new day  1/19/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Grey and fairly calm morning. Up onto deck at 7 to hoist the jib and unfurl it and furl it. No problem getting it straight. Scrubbed the deck and washed out the cockpit.

Started looking at the engine. Fluids are okay. Some saltwater at bottom of raw water pump. Pumped out some water/diesel on the sole next to the batteries that had accumulated well before the engine problem yesterday.

Totally grey day; getting very little solar power.

Cleaned port side of engine, expecting to have to look hard for a leak, but it was easy to find. I hand-pumped the fuel lift pump, and soon diesel started pouring out of the throttle pivot (probably not the right name for it) on the side of the fuel injector pump. Couldn't tighten the bolt there, so I guess I'll have to take it out and hope I can replace a washer or something. Hope I don't have to take the entire pump out; that's a big job, involving taking off all of the steel fuel lines to fuel filter and injectors. I guess this leak must be on the low-pressure side of the pump, which is good.

Managed to take the "throttle arm" off without dropping anything into the bilge, but couldn't find a problem. Put it back on, and the leak seems to be inboard of the part I was able to take off. So it looks like the whole pump will have to come out.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.

Rolly night again, but I'm getting more used to it.
Sun for a new day  1/20/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Killed a cockroach in the aft head.

Batteries extremely low from a grey day yesterday and then refrigerator load during the night. Lots of big grey clouds again today, but sun peeking out every now and then.

Removed the six high-pressure fuel lines from the injection pump to the injectors.

Loosened fuel lines between filter and pump, but looks like I have to remove part of the cooling system to get more access to the pump. So I drained two gallons of coolant out. Enough for today. Working in the engine compartment while the boat is rolling is no fun.

Bummer: no "Car Talk" on the radio today.

Launched the dinghy, moved the secondary anchor out another 60-70 feet, and used it to pull the boat closer to shore to maybe get a little more protection from the swells. Seems to have worked.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Still can't connect to any Wi-Fi signals. I'm sure my family and faithful readers are getting a bit anxious for word of me, since I've been incommunicado for more than a week. And this area doesn't have much by the way of internet cafes; there's one in Red Hook (dinghy ride plus taxi ride away), and maybe something in a marina in Benner Bay (dinghy ride away). Right here in Nazareth Bay there's only a resort hotel; I don't think I can even go ashore right here.

Killed a cockroach in the cockpit.
Sun for a new day  1/21/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Grey clouds early in the morning, but then got sunnier.

Took off a big coolant pipe, removed fuel lines between filter and pump, and started working on nuts holding base of fuel injection pump onto engine block. There are six nuts, with three holding the pump onto an "adapter plate", and three holding the adapter plate onto the block. If I can get either group of nuts off, I'll have the pump off. Each group has one nut out in the open; got those loose pretty easily. Forward nut on upper group came loose, but is blocked from total removal by a wheel protruding from the pump, until I can get the third nut off and raise the whole pump (who designed this thing ?). Forward nut on lower group is hard to get a wrench on because the coolant pump blocks it a bit.

Two more nuts, one from each group, are hard up against the engine block, buried pretty far in. But I manage to get a wrench on the nut from the lower group, and manage to get it off ! So now I just need to get either the forward nut in the lower group, or the buried nut in the upper group. No chance at the buried nut; even if I had a foot-long socket extension from above, it's blocked in just about every direction. I try wrench, adjustable wrench, socket set on forward nut in lower group. Eventually I get open end of a wrench onto it, lodge a screwdriver into box end of the wrench, tap with a hammer, and get a little motion ! Switch wrench around, get box end on the nut, and get a little more motion. Keep switching ends, getting 1/16 or 1/32 of a turn each time, and eventually get the nut off !

The pump won't move, and I start pounding at the joint between adapter plate and engine block, using a hammer to try to drive the tip of a screwdriver into the joint and pry the pump loose. I hope there's nothing else holding it down, such as a pressure-fit bushing or something; the pump has a shaft going down into the block so it can be gear-driven from the crankshaft or cam-shaft.

I start to get a little wiggle from the pump when I pull at it, and keep working away with screwdriver and hammer. Finally it's coming out, and with a few last sucking and squelching noises, the joint and a gasket inside it let go, and the pump comes out !

What a relief ! Got it out without any damage. I had been mortally afraid of shearing off a bolt or stud in the engine block, which would have been a huge problem.

So, some pictures: injector pump with adapter plate, injector pump without adapter plate, tools in hallway, hole left by injector pump removal.

Salad and cheese sandwich and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  1/22/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Cleaned up the injection pump and dumped and pumped diesel out of it, to get it ready to ship out to somewhere.

The more I fiddle with the pump, the more I think it's long overdue for a rebuild. The gear-shaft that drives it from the engine has a lot of "wiggle" in it; probably needs a new bearing. I thought these pumps were ultra-high-precision; that can't be a good sign of the condition of the rest of the pump.

Solid grey clouds in late morning and all afternoon. What a pain ! Just when I need to depend on solar power the most, we've had 4 or 5 days of some kind of atmospheric boundary hovering over us, giving thick clouds. And not even much rain, from which I could collect some water.

Dinghied in to Benner Bay and went to Pirate's Cove marina. Helped a guy bring his boat in to the dock to get water. Found that the office will receive packages but not send packages out. Wi-Fi free if you buy drinks in the cafe. Guy at the bar recommended buying a new pump and then having the old one rebuilt and kept as a spare. Good advice, but will have to find out the prices.

Got on the internet, uploaded my log file and pictures, and waded through 10+ days of email and spam and stuff. Sent email to seven injection-pump-servicing places in the USA, asking for prices for new and rebuilt and a rebuild of my pump. Repair of auto-pilot motor is quoted at $120, but there's a confused question about the commutator that's worrisome.

About 90 minutes of internet cost me only the price of a soda ($2) and a tip ($1). To the marine store, and a new sheave for the jib furling line cost $11 (will disassemble a block just to get the sheave out of it). To the supermarket and bought groceries, then back to the dinghy. Out to the boat, getting rained on a bit at the end (but I was ready for it).

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

A rolly night.
Sun for a new day  1/23/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

A little more sun through the clouds today, but the fridge got stuck on and really dragged down the batteries again.

Cleaned up the engine-block area exposed by removal of the injection pump; pumped spilled coolant and diesel from compartment sole.

Strange-looking charter-snorkeling boat came in next to me for an hour.

Installed new sheave on jib furling line.

Dinghied in to Benner Bay and did internet. Only a couple of email responses about the fuel pump; sent out another four emails to additional companies. Looks like rebuilding my pump would start at $400 or so, but go higher depending on the condition of the pump. Called Foley Engines from a payphone (those people are such a pain to deal with; they refused to tell me anything over email) and got this info:
- no one stocks brand-new pumps because theyy cost around $3000.
- they'll exchange my pump for a rebuilt onee for $850.
- buying the rebuilt one from them without eexchange would be $1450.
- rebuilding mine would start at $600, and ggo higher depending on condition.

A couple of my faithful readers have asked if I made note of "timing marks" when I took the old pump out. I don't think the concept applies to this engine. Hope not; I didn't see any such marks anywhere, and didn't do anything to control pump or camshaft position.

Back out to boat, and it's rolly. Ketch "Auk" has come in again, and guy from it came by to say hello. His name is Bill also. He thinks this anchorage is great; it's too rolly for my taste. His boat is gorgeous, spotless. But it has a 7-foot draft, which probably makes it sails great, but means he can't get into Benner Bay, for example.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Ketch "Godspeed" came in and did the most atrocious job of anchoring. Must be a charter boat, judging from the people aboard, although the boat itself doesn't fit the charter mold; it's a 40-foot double-ender. First they dropped anchor right next to a mooring and moored boat, with their boat facing downwind instead of upwind. Can't imagine what they were thinking. Then they moved, and dragged the anchor to a new place instead of raising it and moving. They did several more circles, with me praying they wouldn't snag my anchors or end up next to me. Eventually they got into a decent spot, far away from me.

Very rolly and uncomfortable all night; didn't get much sleep, and had a headache. Batteries running very low; worried that batteries will get damaged, or the food in the refrigerator will spoil. Miserable night.
Sun for a new day  1/24/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Feel like crap this morning: tired and headachey.

On my way ashore, chatted with Bill from "Auk". He said there was a 6-foot barracuda under his boat as he scraped the hull.

Got on the internet, and started homing in on a place to do the fuel-pump thing. Eventually settled on Jobbers Warehouse in Philadelphia. Had to go to phone booth and call them to do the order. The usual back-and-forth about how to ship it; all of these stores want to use UPS, until they see the cost to USVI and realize why I'm pressing them for alternatives. So here's the result:
- $595 for a rebuilt pump (being shipped todday)
- $300 core charge, which will be refunded wwhen I send in my old pump
- $85 shipping and insurance for new pump too St Thomas airport
- probably cost me $25 to get to airport and pick it up
- probably cost me $15 to get to post officee
- probably cost me $25 to ship old pump out of post office
So the total should be about $750. Not bad.

Had email from a reader who's in St Thomas now, and trying to meet me. But it's just not going to work: I'm anchored far from anywhere, dashing in and out, have no phone, don't have email on the boat. A very inconvenient situation.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice for dinner.
Sun for a new day  1/25/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Still have nasty headache this morning.

Dinghied ashore and caught "safari" taxi. First time I've taken one, a bit of a wild ride (especially with a headache), and I wasn't sure where it was going, but it went to TuTu Mall ($2). To post office there, and sent the old fuel pump off to Philadelphia for $24 (including insurance). Bought some crackers in KMart, caught another safari ($2) that took a bit of tour and then got me back home. Into the dinghy and a wet, rough, windy ride out to the boat.

Headache feeling worse and worse. Nibbled a little bit of lunch and spent all afternoon in bed with head pounding. A rolling, noisy, hot, sun-glaring boat is not a good place to work off a headache. Put out an anchor bridle line to try to dampen some of the rolling, but it had little effect. Peanut-butter crackers for dinner. Felt awful all evening, but the headache started to ease around 10 or so.
Sun for a new day  1/26/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Headache mostly gone.

Fridge got warm enough that the chicken in the freezer thawed, and chicken juice ran down into the fridge part. Guess I should throw away that chicken.

Dinghied ashore and did internet. Heard from "Exuma Grouper"; they're still in La Parguera PR. Sounds like they're back in the water and their engine runs, but there's a bad leak in their outdrive seal.

Chatted with Bill from "Auk". I'd been admiring his spotless boat, wondering why I couldn't keep mine in such nice shape. Then I found out it's not his boat; he's captaining it for a rich owner. That made me feel a lot better. He's a bit stressed out, feeling lonely, and I don't think he's been running the boat for more than 6 months or so. He was trying to catch up on a couple of weeks backlog of accounting work, putting all the expenses into the computer, marveling at how much money was going out.

Back to the boat, and went for a brief snorkel, maybe 15 minutes or so. A lot of fish activity since it's later in the afternoon than I usually swim. Took a lot of pictures, but only two were worth keeping: Goby (or puffer or mudfish ?), DamselFish. Saw a nice school of needlefish, I think, but they were too fast and skittish to photograph.

Salad and spaghetti for dinner. Headache not quite gone.

Sailboat "Plan B" raised all three anchors and left right at sunset; I thought they were a permanently-resident boat. Strange time to leave, but they headed only a short distance down to False Bay, I think.

Dumped a couple of pounds of chicken overboard; hope the fishes like it. Decided that the risk of salmonella or whatever wasn't worth saving a few dollars worth of food. The rest of the meat is sausage-type stuff; probably so full of sulfites that it should survive lower-than-usual freezer temperature okay.

Slept very solidly.
Sun for a new day  1/27/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Headache not quite gone; still feel a little ache.

Sailboat "Plan B" came back and anchored again. They did it in a very risky way: sailing in, dropping sails, and then starting the engine. If the engine hadn't started, they would have been blown onto a reef in less than a minute.

Looked over the side of the boat around noon and saw bubbles approaching. A couple of SCUBA divers were nosing around, and went right underneath me.

Listened to Car Talk on NPR.

Cleaned and then spray-painted engine block area revealed by removing fuel pump. Took a lot of effort to clean it, since it was caked with years of grease and oil and diesel. Scrubbed it with paper towels, then some soapy water, then some acid to remove rust. Sprayed with white high-temperature engine paint, being careful not to get any into exposed fuel line fittings. I'm trying to paint everything in the engine room bright white, to improve the light and visibility in there.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Headache gone by evening.

Listened to Prairie Home Companion and other shows on NPR.
Sun for a new day  1/28/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Breezy and rough morning.

Batteries still extremely low, and solar not charging them very aggressively. I wonder if I should buy new batteries; these are 4+ years old, and I've heard batteries last about 3 years. But the engine alternator charges them strongly (big current) when it runs, so why doesn't the solar do so too ? I'm tempted to see if I can buy battery acid at an auto-parts store; I think these batteries have lost a lot of acid, since I'm having to add water so often.

Tried to get another coolant pipe out, so I can paint a couple of them, but couldn't get it out.

I think the picture-viewing problems have been fixed; if anyone's still having problems viewing the pictures from the log file, please contact me.

Dinghied ashore through rough water. Stopped at the boatyard to dispose of garbage, use the book-exchange, and plug into AC to charge batteries for a little while. Wandered through the yard to see if there were any interesting boats. Found a few: Bavaria With Outdrive, Full-Keel Boat, Another Full-Keel Boat, Keshtee (Morgan 30, owned by Marques, boat I helped tow out to mooring), Wooden Boat.

To the cafe, and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). My new fuel pump arrived in Miami on Saturday evening, but no update after that. So I'll probably get word of it on Monday, and go pick it up on Tuesday. Picking it up means a long multi-stage trip to the other end of the island, so I don't want to go until I'm sure it's there.

Had a long chat with an interesting guy in the cafe. We talked about current events, war, economy, etc. Also, he wants to build a line of small blimps to use like cruising boats, where you could fly around for a day and then drop down to land on the water (or hover just above it) and anchor for the night. Some interesting ideas and a couple of screwy ones.

Back to the boat through rough, wet conditions.

Chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Still very rough in the afternoon and evening. Swells are on the starboard quarter, so the boat is corkscrewing, which is better than a straight sideways roll. But it's still very uncomfortable.
Sun for a new day  1/29/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Calmer today but still a bit of a swell coming in.

Did a bucket of laundry. Sponged out the refrigerator, which still smells a little after the chicken thawed. Sanded and spray-painted a couple of engine coolant pipes.

Dinghied ashore, stopping to chat briefly with Bill on "Auk".

As I went through the inner harbor, I took a few pictures of permanently-moored boats, just to show you what it looks like: boat 1 (don't think anyone lives on this one), boat 2, boat 3, boat 4. This is one of the bad sides of boating: people permanently living on really junky boats, as cheap housing. Never going anywhere, and often fueling resentment among land-dwellers. And fully occupying good anchorages that would be very convenient for real cruisers to use for a few days as they pass through. Or leaving boats abandoned at anchor, again taking up valuable anchorage space and then causing a hazard and environmental damage when they sink. The same thing exists in Marathon, Miami Beach, St Augustine, and many other places.

Did internet in the cafe ($3 for soda and tip). My fuel pump seems to be stuck in Miami. Went to phone booth and called the local shipping agent, and they weren't much help. And it appears there's no way to avoid going to the airport when it arrives; I'll have to get it through Customs. If it originates in USA, is for personal use, and has value less than $1000, should be no duty on it. And no update on my auto-pilot motor rewinding back in the USA.

Got a few groceries and went back out to the boat.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Nice calm night. Killed a cockroach in my berth.
Sun for a new day  1/30/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Did another bucket of laundry. Spray-painted some more engine pipes and tubes.

Saw SeaTow and police towing a smashed sunken wreck into Benner Bay. Heard a little about this the other day: apparently, two nights ago, over near Cruz Bay, a boat with no lights got run over by a ferry, and one person was killed, a couple more injured.

Dinghied ashore, stopping to chat with Bill on "Auk". He has a girlfriend on board now, and his owners should be arriving tomorrow.

Outboard starting has changed for some reason: now the compression often kicks back and pulls the handle out of my hands. Have to be careful I don't let it wrench my shoulder or something.

Went to cafe and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Fuel pump still stuck in Miami. To phone booth. Called my Mom because it's her birthday, and she was thrilled to hear from me. Called motor repair place in NJ about auto-pilot motor, and it turns out the commutator and windings have broken free from the shaft, and need to be tack-welded back on. But to set the position correctly, they need the rest of the motor from me, so I'll have to ship it to them.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  1/31/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Dinghied ashore. Took safari to TuTu Mall ($2) and to Post Office to send out remainder of auto-pilot motor ($12). Looked for place to sit and power-outlet to try for Wi-Fi in the mall, but couldn't find anywhere. Another safari ($2) to Redhook, to use the book-exhcnage there. Another safari ($2) back to Benner Bay. To cafe to do internet ($3 for soda and tip).

Starting to sound like I need a "Perkins 6.354 Workshop Manual". Bid $30 on one on EBay, but the auction doesn't end for another 4 days. Could buy one outright for double that, or from a dealer for $175.

Back to boat. Rolly as usual.

Salad and yogurt and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Just before sunset, "Auk" raised anchor and tried to move to a less-rolly place in the anchorage. Bad time to do it, but I guess the newly-aboard owner didn't like the rolling. They tried two or three times to anchor in front of me, very close in to the point, but there's not much room there (I got as close in as I thought safe, when I arrived here). After a while, they gave up and then grabbed a private mooring (that they have no permission to use, I'm sure) next to me. We'll be a little close if the wind stalls out and we point different directions. (I got up several times during the night to check.)
Sun for a new day  2/1/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

"Auk" left at 8:30 or so.

Ha ! Turns out I have a Perkins 6.354 Workshop manual aboard; totally forgot I bought one a long time ago (hope I don't win that EBay auction). Reading the fuel injection pump section, it appears I removed the pump correctly (no special procedure needed). It is unclear whether I can just stick the new one on, or I have to go through a cumbersome procedure of verifying and adjusting timing. Will have to investigate further. But at least I have the right manual.

"Auk" came back in at 11:15. They tried to anchor in front of me again, but finally gave up and anchored close in to the hotel beach. Still fairly rolly in there. They took about an hour to get settled.

Reading the engine manual some more, it seems there's only one variable to be dealt with, since the old pump's timing was fine. There's a circlip on the rotor inside the fuel pump, and I need to know if the new pump has that circlip set in the same position as the old pump.

And I wonder: what's the worst that can happen if the timing is totally wrong ? Suppose the fuel pump is sending high-pressure fuel to an injector just as the piston is putting full compression in that cylinder. Will the injector fail safely, with all of the fuel and pressure being sent down the fuel return line, and no damage to anything ? Or will the injector blow up, or send back-pressure to the fuel pump and blow it up ?

Spray-painted some fuel lines some more.

Dinghied ashore to the cafe and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Ben L sent me copied pages from Perkins 4.108 manual, and even though it's not for my engine, I take comfort from the line that says "if scribe lines match up and gear fixing has not been altered, then the fuel pump timing should be correct". Also, guys who sold me the new/rebuilt pump seem to be saying the same thing.

Okay: now my new fuel pump is "in transit from" Miami. That's progress.

Bought gasoline ($10 worth at $3.11/gallon for regular).

Rough, wet ride out to the boat through large swells.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Rolly all night; didn't sleep much. Batteries low; refrigerator doesn't seem to be running properly.
Sun for a new day  2/2/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Rolly and totally grey morning. "Auk" left early.

Thought of not going ashore through this rough weather, but I'm sick and tired of sitting on a rolly boat, and I need to charge the laptop battery.

Dinghied ashore to the cafe and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Now my new pump has "departed Miami". So it's inching closer to me.

3-4 foot iguanas in the cafe: iguana, same iguana again, two iguanas. A dog arrived, and one of the iguanas went fleeing through the cafe to the mangroves, and that thing flew ! Must have been running at 15 MPH or so !

Rough, wet ride out to the boat through large swells. Decently sunny afternoon.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner. Grey clouds and rain.

Rolly and noisy all night. Squashed several smallish bugs in the galley.
Sun for a new day  2/3/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Still rolly. I'm tired and headachey. Loafed in bed much of the morning, and loafed all day. Guy water-skiing behind a large dinghy near me for a while; he had a tough time in the rough swell. Listened to Car Talk and Prairie Home Companion.

Salad and chili for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/4/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Totally grey, rainy, rolly morning. Sunshine later, but still windy and rolly.

Dinghied ashore after lunch, through large swells and some whitecaps. Definitely not staying ashore for the Super Bowl tonight; coming back out into the teeth of this in the dark would not be good.

Crap ! My fuel pump arrived in San Juan two days ago at 1 PM, and hasn't moved since. I was hoping it had arrived here, and I could pick it up tomorrow. Must be on a slow boat, and taking the grand tour.

Got a few groceries and back to the boat. Very rough and wet dinghy-trip. Got prop caught in a submerged old mooring line inside the harbor. Glad I wasn't doing this trip at night.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Listened to the Super Bowl on radio, and it was quite a game. Opening kickoff run back 92 yards for a touchdown.
Sun for a new day  2/5/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Very cloudy, somewhat breezy morning. Milder than yesterday.

Dinghied ashore after lunch, through large swells and some whitecaps. Did internet at cafe ($3 for soda and tip). Last status of new fuel pump is still "arrived in San Juan". Old fuel pump has arrived in Philly. Good: someone outbid me at the last minute for that Perkins manual on EBay.

At dinghy dock, took out spark plugs and cleaned them. Lower plug was pretty gunky.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/6/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Totally grey, occasionally sprinkling rain.

"Auk" came in at noon.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.

Killed several cockroaches in the galley in the middle of the night, and sprayed a couple more that got away. Time to spread out some more boric acid powder.
Sun for a new day  2/7/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Sunny morning.

Dinghied in to Benner Bay. Looked in marine store. Took picture of sunken boats. To cafe to do internet ($3 for soda and tip). Looks like new fuel pump departed from San Juan at 12:30 today; hope it enjoyed its 5 days in San Juan, in addition to its 5 days in Miami.

Got news of some friends. Bonnie in Culebra is selling her charter fishing boat (too many breakdowns) and hoping to buy a brand-new boat. She's going to take a financial bath on the old boat; she put a ton of money into it after buying it, and won't get that money back. "Mattkare" in Salinas is having a new diesel installed, after his Atomic 4 died. [Or was old engine a Volvo ? No details except it "died"; things happening such as exhaust manifold mounting corroded away.]

Not someone I know, but on the Morgan mailing list there was news of someone who set out on a "start of cruising life" trip from Fort Myers and up the Florida Keys in a Morgan 461 (I think), and had the boat go hard aground with significant hull damage somewhere in the middle Keys (24.48.220 81.28.620). Since all their possessions are aboard and they've been working for years to get going, this is a catastrophe (but no one was hurt). With hull damage and a 7-foot draft, they're scrambling to figure out their repair options. And dealing with salvage fees and a mortgage. Not a pretty scene. [Next day, heard they had the boat floating, pumps were keeping up with the leaks, and they were towing it to a boatyard.
Later: Not holed, but hull damaged outer laminations, and needs rudder rebuild; bulkheads have sheared from hull and sole stringers, built-in refrig box needs complete rebuild, may have to lift engine so bed-stringers can be rebuilt, running rigging ruined, genoa shredded, wind-generator gone, lots of gelcoat damage.
Still later: apparently it happened because they:
- started the trip already tired, probably bbecause they had a schedule to stick to.
- one of them got very seasick but kept steering and navigating.
- they hit unpredicted bad weather and kept going.
- RADAR failed and seasick watch-stander diddn't understand chartplotter.
- so they made a navigational mistake and ennded up hard aground in bad weather.

Back to boat. Went for a brief, refreshing snorkel.

The trip in to Benner Bay includes a very shallow stretch, with lots of coral blocks, old moorings, and other junk on the bottom. I've hit things hard a few times with the prop or skeg of the outboard, and you can see the evidence: notched outboard prop.

Killed a cockroach on the sole of the aft cabin in broad daylight; I think it had just flown in through the hatch.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Killed a couple of cockroaches in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  2/8/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Totally grey morning. Fairly grey afternoon too.

Dinghied in to shore. Used book-exchange, then did internet in cafe ($3 for soda and tip). Fuel pump left San Juan exactly 24 hours ago, but still is not shown as arriving in St Thomas. It's only about 70 miles; where can it be ?

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Killed two bugs in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  2/9/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Dinghied ashore a little after 9. To a phone booth and called the package-delivery people. My pump has arrived ! Then they told me that not only do I have to go to the airport to get it (I knew that), but I have to first pick up paperwork from them, then take it to Customs back in town, then back to the airport to get the package. It's going to be a long day.

Caught a safari to TuTu Mall ($2). Caught another ($2) to downtown. But chatting with a couple of guys on the bus, I found that the safari was going right through town and to the airport entrance; I thought I'd have to take a third safari. As we went through town, I think I saw "Fidelis" at anchor in the harbor; didn't see "Quest". Harbor looked very with no cruise ships present; looking at a schedule later, it seems every other Friday is a no-cruise-ships day, for some reason.

I got off at the airport entrance, and walked to the terminal, along with a guy who has a boat on St John and works on charter-catamarans. He's planning to go through the Canal and across the Pacific soon.

Long walk into the airport: from entrance to passenger terminal is more than a mile, and apparently taxi's have a monopoly and safari's are not allowed to go in there. And of course the cargo area I'm going to is past the passenger terminal, as far as possible from the entrance. Almost 2 miles of walking.

I get to the cargo place, pick up the paperwork, and walk the 2 miles back out to the main road. Another safari ($2) to Customs, which I find after only one wrong turn. A few trips back and forth between the Excise and Customs offices, which are right next door to each other, and some waiting, but no problem. Finally I'm done, all paperwork stamped, no tax paid.

I check out a nearby hardware store, then a NAPA auto store, then catch another safari ($2) back out to the airport entrance. I trudge the 2 miles in again, eating a power-bar as I go. And my feet are getting blistered and chewed up by my sandals. I duck into the passenger terminal to get a drink of water, but all eight water-fountains are out of order ! I wash my face in the men's room and drink a couple of handfulls of water from the sinnk faucet. It's a hot day and I've been spending a lot of time out in the sun.

I get to the cargo office, and the woman there says "oh, you got my message !". Turns out my package arrived here two days ago, very soon after it departed San Juan, and the internet tracking page never got updated to reflect that. And I never got her message, because the people at the marina have no idea who I am.

Got the package, and was very happy to be able to bum a ride out to the airport entrance, saving me yet another 2-mile trudge. Caught another safari ($2) to TuTu Mall. As we went through the busy intersection at Havensight Mall, I saw Dave and Annie from "Fidelis" on the street. In fact, I saw Dave almost get run over as the (confusing) streetlight changed while he was halfway across the street. After he got back to the sidewalk, I called his name and waved to him, and he recognized me. The bus got stuck in traffic, and he almost caught up to me, but then the bus pulled away and we waved and laughed at each other.

At TuTu Mall, I went into Western Auto and bought a spark-plug wrench ($3) and a switch ($1). One of those stores where things ring up cheaper at the register than they're labeled on the shelf; wish I'd bought more.

Took one last safari ($1) through Redhook to get home. Strange in Redhook: the safari tried to stop for a while near the ferry dock to load up with lots of passengers, blocking the street. And the locals already aboard with me got all angry at the driver, wanting him to keep going. Finally they all jumped off, yelled at him, and went to another safari without paying our driver, so his waiting backfired on him. I was a bit confused and stayed aboard, and finally he gave up and took off in a fury. We picked up some more gringo's a little down the road, and then a mile or two later it was my turn to get off.

Saw Marques and his sister in the boatyard; they're taking his boat over to St John this afternoon.

Dinghied out to the boat; got there about 2:45. Hoisted and stowed everything, gulped some water and food, and then opened my package. The new pump looks right, but there's one problem. It's missing a couple of small parts of the throttle linkage. I thought those parts were part of the pump, and sent them in on my old pump. I guess the pump people consider them part of the engine, and the new pump is missing those parts. So now I'll have to try to get them back from the old pump in Philly. Two steps forward, one step back.

Chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

The backs of my legs are very tired; not used to all that walking, especially in sandals.

Killed two bugs in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  2/10/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Double-checked: new pump is exactly the right thing; all the numbers on the nameplate match the old pump numbers, except for serial number. But the base has slots for the mounting bolts, instead of holes as the old pump had. So I'll have to be careful to mount it properly, to avoid changing the timing.

Mated new pump to adapter plate, then installed combination onto engine block. Hmmm: this has to be an oil-tight joint, but I'm positive there was no gasket here; it's just a metal-to-metal joint. Thought of putting down some form-a-gasket, but decided not to. But if it leaks, I'll have to take everything off again to get at this joint. (Later, thought I should have looked in parts manual to see if there was supposed to be a gasket here. But I didn't think of it at the time.)

Installed fuel pipes from pump to filter and to injectors. Tried to keep everything as clean as possible; the pump and injectors are very sensitive to any speck of dirt in the fuel.

Listened to Car Talk.

Dinghied in to Benner Bay to do internet ($3 for soda and tip). The package-tracking web page still is showing my package as "departed San Juan"; they just have never updated it since then.

Heard from Amanda and Carolyn on "Sanctuary". They're still in Luperon. They did a bus-trip around the country and out on a whale-watching boat, and have been doing lots of boat-work. And Amanda has SCUBA gear and is cleaning boat-bottoms in the harbor. Not sure when they will leave Luperon; they're hoping to do a test day-sail soon.

Into the dinghy, and tried to use my new spark-plug wrench, but the handle is so short that there's not enough leverage; will have to modify it. Heading out of the harbor, saw a sister-ship to "Magnolia" in a slip: "Western Star". Very similar, except my mainmast has a single spreader and this one has two spreaders. And this boat has a bowsprit; I don't.

Out to the boat. Looked in engine manuals, and one of them seems to show a gasket between the fuel pump adaptor plate and the engine block. I'm positive no such gasket was there when I took the old pump out. But I guess I'd better make a gasket and put it in. That means taking all of the fuel lines off again and taking pump out, then re-doing all the work I did today. Oh, well, should go faster the second time.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Listened to Prairie Home Companion; that show has been going downhill recently.

No bugs in the galley during the night.
Sun for a new day  2/11/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Loafed all morning, then went to work on engine. Took fuel pipes off, got pump out, made a gasket, put pump back on, put fuel pipes back on. Cylinder 5 pipe fought me: I was afraid it was going to strip its fitting on top of the pump. Got everything on and my back was aching from bending over the engine so much. Right back to where I was yesterday, but now I have a gasket in place under the pump.

Dinghied ashore and did a long session of internet. Cafe is closed Sunday afternoons, so the Wi-Fi is free. Chatted with guy who runs the marina. He was arranging to have a wrecked car out front towed away; apparently a tourist in a rental-car started driving down the wrong side of the street (they drive on the left side here), went around the curve and hit someone head-on.

Got some groceries and back to the boat.

Sausage-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner. Sprayed a cockroach in the cockpit; I'm sure these things are flying in.

On the radio at night, heard terrific Blues music by Mavis Staples. Really great stuff.

Killed 4 or 5 small bugs in the galley at various times in the middle of the night. Looked in the cockpit once and didn't see any bugs.
Sun for a new day  2/12/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Opened bleed-valves on fuel injection pump and hand-pumped the fuel lift pump to start bleeding the fuel system. Then put on a small bracket, then put the coolant pipes back on. Had to strain some oil contamination out of the old coolant in jugs, then put the old coolant back into the engine. After I get the engine running, I'll do a coolant change.

With the pipes to the injectors only loosely connected, tried to crank the engine at 9:45 to bleed air out of the lines to the injectors. Not enough battery power to get more than a weak pulse out of the starter motor. Will have to wait for solar to charge the batteries, and try again later. After the lines are bled, will tighten the fittings and try the serious engine-starting attempts. This could take days.

Put new battery in clock in main cabin.

Tried to crank engine again at 11, 12:25, 2:30 and 3:30, without much result. Several times, the cranking dragging down the battery voltage seemed to "wake up" the solar controller and it started putting more amps into the batteries. But the last time, it didn't do that. Strange.

Thought of dinghying ashore to do internet, but it's too windy and rough today.

Picked my Cantenna Wi-Fi antenna and the wire came right off it; guess that's why it didn't work last couple of times I tried it. Looks impossible to repair; $50 down the drain.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.

Very rolly in the evening and all night; very uncomfortable night.

Killed a couple of small bugs in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  2/13/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Very rolly and uncomfortable.

Up early and into the engine compartment, and installed a switch to bypass the solar controller and put full solar panel output into the batteries. A tough job with the boat rolling strongly, and the terminals on the solar controller are badly designed (small and fiddly, when you want thick wires going into them). Put the switch on "bypass" and we'll see how the batteries charge today.

Tried to crank the engine a couple of times around noon, and got very little.

I don't see any difference between the charging behavior with and without the charge-controller. Even the "wake up" behavior is there with the controller bypassed.

So, the charging problem must be in:
- the solar panels (very unlikely),
- the wiring, or
- worn-out batteries (very likely; three outt of four are 4.5+ years old).

Found that the bridle on my secondary anchor rode has come loose; that probably contributed to the bad rolling last night.

Dinghied ashore through big seas. Did internet at cafe ($3 for soda and tip). Saw a sleeping cat in the cafe. Throttle parts are shipping out of Philly today. Cleaned spark plugs at dinghy dock. Dinghied over to boatyard. Bought gasoline ($10 at $3.01/gallon for regular).

Into marine store to ask about batteries, and they're all out of 6-volt batteries (expect a new shipment of 36 batteries in 2 weeks). But they offered me a deal: they have 8 batteries damaged in shipping, which they'd sell for $10 apiece instead of the usual $100 or so. But the terminals are sheared off; I'd have to drill and tap a hole into the lead bases of the terminals, hoping the metal was solid and deep enough to let a bolt or screw grip in there. Told them I'd think about it, and have to wait for calm weather in any case. I have enough trouble unloading and hoisting the dinghy in this rough, rolly weather. Hoisting 65-pound batteries up from the dinghy would be dangerous.

Guy in the store suggested my injection pump might have been damaged by the new low-sulphur diesel fuel. That hadn't occurred to me, but I've read of that, he says they've seen a lot of damaged injection pumps recently, and one of the rebuilding places I looked at has a month-long backlog of pump-rebuilding work. So maybe the fuel I got in Ponce several months ago damaged my pump.

Wet, rough, wild dinghy-ride back out to the boat. Thought about the battery offer on the way out, and I'm inclined to give it a try, starting with one battery to see how it goes.

Fixed the bridle on the secondary anchor rode.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner. A few times, had to grab the pan on the stove and hang on while the boat rolled ferociously.

Killed a big bug and a little bug in the galley in the middle of the night. Rolling seems lessened this night.
Sun for a new day  2/14/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Pretty windy and rolly again today.

Pulled wires off the solar controller and bypassed it again, not trusting the terminals on the controller. Messed with the battery wiring in general and didn't find any problems. I think I need new batteries.

I think I want to try this with those damaged batteries: drill a hole into the lead remainder of the terminal, drive a big sheet-metal screw in to hold a metal strap on, and bolt the wire onto the other end of the metal strap. I'm afraid if I tried to bolt the wire straight onto the terminal, the terminal might crumble if I ever have to take the bolt out briefly. Looked through my drawers full of bolts and screws and such, but I don't have any appropriate screws or straps aboard; will have to see where I can buy some.

Cranked the engine a little at 11, to try to bleed the fuel system; the injector pipe fittings are still loose to let air out. Cranked it a couple more times in the afternoon. Getting a bit more solar charging today, about 5-6 amps at 13.00-13.20 volts.

Tightened the fuel fittings and set the throttle to a mid-level; will try cranking tomorrow to see if I can get the engine started. Not much chance with batteries this low. Even with good batteries, takes a lot of vigorous cranking to get started after the fuel system has been open for a while.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Killed two small bugs in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  2/15/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Still fairly breezy and rolly.

Thought more about buying and fixing a damaged battery. Maybe putting a bolt down into the lead would be better than a sheet-metal screw. Also, if the results are good, maybe I should buy more of the damaged batteries and double the size of my battery bank, to a total of eight golf-cart batteries. I'd have to tear out the air-conditioner compressors (something I've been thinking of doing) to make room for the additional batteries. The air-conditioners (and the genset to run them) have been mostly-broken for a long time, repairs would be expensive, and I don't need air-conditioning anyway. If I ever want air-conditioning in the future, I'll buy a gas-powered generator and a cheap home window air-conditioner.

Dinghied ashore through big seas. Did internet at cafe ($3 for soda and tip). Fuel-pump guys don't know if new diesel ate my pump seals. Their shop hasn't looke at my old pump; they have a 2-week backlog too. Sent email to battery manufacturer asking how much metal is under those battery terminals, to see how far I could drill down.

To boatyard, and went to the marine store to look for copper strap to use to repair damaged batteries. To my surprise, they had new Trojan T105 6-volt batteries on the shelf. I asked, and the guy said they arrived yesterday (instea dof 2 weeks from now); turns out they'd been on the island all along, and the shipper had lost track of them. So I can buy as many as I want ($92 each). But I want to wait until the seas are a little calmer; hoisting 65-pound batteries up from dinghy to boat is not easy.

Back to the boat, and it's very rolly. Tried cranking engine at 4 PM, after several hours of solar-charging and no load, and the engine barely turned. Absolutely no way these batteries are going to get this engine started.

Saw a cockroach land in the cockpit and sprayed it right away.

Salad and sausage-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/16/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Still rolly. The heck with it: if I can buy some battery-parts today, I'm going to buy a damaged battery and wrestle it out into the boat. If I drop it into the sea, that's only $10 lost. And I'm afraid if I wait too much longer, the store might get rid of the damaged batteries to free up storage space.

Launched dinghy. Pumped up the tubes; a tough job: it's really rolly today. Dinghied ashore and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Someone gave me a pointer to a 1000W gas generator Heartland America for $130. Interesting. Honda EU1000 is $750+, but probably has better motor, inverter, quieter, etc.

I'm getting all kinds of interesting ideas from my faithful readers:
- solder new terminals on top of damaged terrminals (not sure I can do that kind of soldering).
- bolts into damaged terminals might causingg heating/damage during high starting current.
- drill the holes in damaged batteries, hackk off posts from old batteries and bolt them on new batteries.
- somebody makes a terminal post converter tthat moved the post from the side (of old side-terminal batteries) to the top.
- make a form on top of the damaged terminall and pour molten lead to rebuild it (no thanks!).
- have a separate start battery and use a "bbattery combiner" to charge it (I've thought about this a lot).
- check solar wiring more carefully (but I tthink I'd see long periods of low-current charging if that was the problem; instead I see current tailing off fairly quickly after batteries are dragged down).

Dinghied over to the boatyard, then caught a safari bus ($2) to TuTu Mall. Into the auto parts store, and they have lots of battery-related stuff, but nothing that would help with my task: no copper strap, no side-to-top terminals, etc. The only gas generator they sell is a big 6000W model. Went across to KMart, and their hardware selection is kind of thin, but got some bolts, and a gate-hook for my aft head door, and some latex gloves, and starting fluid, and a can of mixed nuts. Long wait at the check-out, but the bill came to less than I expected (figured out the next day: they forgot to charge me for the $6 can of nuts).

Caught a safari home ($2), but hopped off when I saw an electrical supply store. Went in there, and they had nothing to help with my battery repair. Caught another safari ($2), and got off at the supermarket. Bought a few groceries, dumped everything into the dinghy, and went to the marine store. Unfortunately, the guy who told me about the damaged batteries wasn't there, and I had to wait 10 minutes while the woman at the desk finished a phone call, wondering if she knew anything about the damaged-battery deal. But she called the guy, got the details, and I bought a damaged Trojan T105 6-volt battery for $10. Had a pleasant surprise: it looks like many/most of them had only one terminal sheared off, so I have to repair only one terminal. Lugged the battery 50 yards to the dinghy, but that was enough to slightly strain a muscle in my neck/shoulder; these things are heavy.

Dinghied out to the boat, through the wettest and windiest conditions yet; looks like a dry squall-line is coming through. Boat is pitching and crow-hopping, and getting groceries and miscellaneous stuff up into the boat was difficult. Usually, I'd like to lash the dinghy tight to the boat before lifting something heavy like a battery, but if I did that today, the dinghy and davits might get damaged by the wild motion. So I have to lift the battery while standing in a moving dinghy, held to the boat only by davit lines that have a lot of slack in them. If the dinghy and boat move badly at the wrong time, could end up with me in the water and the battery on the seafloor. Made more difficult because I don't have a handle for the battery (made one later, out of some webbing). But I managed to hit a relatively quiet moment and hoist the battery up without incident. I swear, two minutes later it was much calmer. But later it was rolly again.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/17/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Managed to get a picture of a sea-turtle that swims near the boat every day. It's been hard to catch: it comes up for about 3 breaths about every 5 minutes, and doesn't stay near the boat very long.

Measured some voltages at 10 AM, with solar putting about 3A into batteries at about 13 volts. Seeing about 6.5V across each of the four 6-volt batteries. Zero voltage difference across various spots in the negative wiring (solar neg to each battery bank neg, battery bank negs to engine block), so there don't seem to be any bad connections there. Same in the positive wiring. Then I disconnected the solar panels positive wire, and I see 19.8V open-circuit from the solar panels (rated to be 17V, I think). All looks good so far.

Dug out the electric drill and tap-and-die set, turned on the inverter, and started drilling and tapping a hole into the remains of the lead terminal on the battery. Wanted to go deep enough for the bolt to grip well, but not so deep that I pierce the interior of the battery and either weaken the connection to the plate, or drop lead shavings into the cell. Hard to get shavings out of the bottom of the hole; not a good idea to turn the battery upside down and shake it. Took my time, got lead shavings all over the cockpit, and the result seemed good.

Into the engine compartment, while listening to Car Talk. Saw some corrosion on the old battery connections, so I cleaned it off and reconnected it; no change in charging current. Disconnected it again, lifted out the old battery, wiped off acid on the bottom of it, and put new battery in place. The moment of truth: tightened down the bolt into the tapped hole, and it tightened enough without stripping out the hole. Looked at the battery monitor, and that bank is charging up reasonably well. It's bank 2, with the 10-month-old T105 and the just-repaired T105 in it.

Played around with the battery switch and battery monitor, and found something funny: there's no difference between the "bank 1" setting and the "both" setting of the battery switch. Something must be miswired or feeding from one side to the other.

Cleaned some corrosion off connections on a battery in bank 1; no change. Decided to use just bank 2 overnight, and see how the batteries look tomorrow.

I think I'll buy two more damaged batteries tomorrow, and replace the old batteries in bank 1.

Installed gate-hook on aft head door.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Killed a cockroach in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  2/18/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Into engine compartment early and reconnected solar controller; it had been in "bypass" mode for the last couple of days.

Still mulling various ideas for tearing out air-conditioners and putting batteries there, putting two batteries where old dead genset starting battery is, adding a battery combiner so there's a separate bank for starting the engine, etc. A big step to start ripping out lots of fancy water-cooled multi-zone air-conditioning stuff. But it's all 20+ years old, unused and half-broken.

Bank 2 seems to be charging pretty well this morning. Still a little strangeness about the solar controller: found it putting 0.4A into bank 2, switched to bank 1 and back to bank 2, and suddenly solar is putting 4.5A into bank 2. I still wonder if this controller is flaky or something.

Took out the old genset starting battery; it's been dead for years. It's a Group 27 battery, and I was surprised to find it's lighter than one of the golf-cart batteries (49 lbs vs. 62 lbs). Much lower capacity than I expected.

Launched the dinghy and got the old golf-cart battery and genset battery down into it. Dinghied ashore and did internet. Heard from some friends: "Fidelis", "Katana", "Maker's Match" and "Molasses" all are in St Martin.

Found a new West Marine 150A battery-combiner being auctioned on EBay; current bid $39. Thought about it for 20 minutes, did some searching, came back to the item, and the auction had finished with winning bid of $51 ! (Half an hour later, another auction for the same item had started up, again at $39. I guess it's a store with an inventory, and they automatically auction one at a time ?)

Dinghied across to the boatyard and used the book-exchange. Got to the marine store at 4 to do battery stuff, and found they'd closed at 2. Saw their cache of used batteries out back, and added mine to the pile. Glad I don't have to lug the batteries back out to the boat and in again. But no new batteries today.

Out to the boat. Battery bank 2 charging voltage is up to 13.5 volts, which is decent. Fired up the inverter, got out the hairclippers, and gave myself a haircut. Then into the water for a lovely snorkel; very refreshing, and the best way to get all of the little bits of hair off. Saw a dinner-sized parrotfish: side and front.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Killed 3 cockroaches in the galley in the middle of the night. Guess there's still a problem; will have to work harder on solving it.
Sun for a new day  2/19/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Took a deep breath and decided to rip out all of the air-conditioner system, partly to make room for additional batteries. Into engine compartment, to take out the air-conditioner compressors and pumps. Disconnected the seawater hoses, cut wire-ties and wires, and got the two AC-powered seawater pumps out. One of them has "7-79" stamped on it, so I'm guessing these air-conditioners date from 1980-81 or so.

Opened valves and started venting refrigerant. Hate to be so unfriendly to the environment, but I'm not going to pay several hundred dollars to a refrigeration guy to come out and vacuum it out. And I'd have to go into a slip to get AC power for him to run his pump. Mainly worried about asphyxiating myself; careful not to breathe much in the engine compartment, and I'll run a blower to empty it out. Refrigerant vented for over three hours, and I left it venting all afternoon; had no idea there was so much, although I don't have the valves open very far.

Sailboat "Afiya" came in and looked like they were going to anchor right over my anchors. They said they had a mooring permit. I pointed out where my anchors were, and a guy looked over the side from the dinghy and located them. Then they put down several anchors, and ended up in a reasonable place. I went over later and told them my engine was down. The guy says a mooring permit costs $5/foot/year, plus you have to have an anchoring permit and proper registration. And spots for moorings are getting scarce.

Dinghied ashore and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Saw one of those big iguanas up in a tree.

To the boatyard, bought two more damaged batteries ($20) and psid for disposing of the two old batteries I returned yesterday ($10). Most of the remaining damaged batteries have both terminals sheared off, not just one. But the two I bought today have just one terminal damaged.

Asked the guy in the store about using brass or bronze bolts into the terminals, but he pointed out that the batteries come with stainless steel studs in the terminals. So the bolts I used should be fine.

Out to the boat, and had to wait for a while before I got a calm period and could hoist the batteries aboard. Some refrigerant still venting from the air-conditioners; turned the valves off and opened all hatches and ports to ventilate the boat.

Salad and sausage-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Put out some cockroach bait: a piece of bread sprinkled with sugar and boric acid and water.
Sun for a new day  2/20/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Totally grey and rainy; not much solar power today.

Drilled and tapped terminals in the new/damaged batteries. Tried to remove the stud from one of the broken-off terminal pieces, but it was impossible.

Took out the old batteries; coughed a lot because the battery-boxes each had an inch or so of battery acid-water in them.

I think I overdid the tapping a little; one of the bolts didn't snug down too well when I installed the batteries. May have to tap it bigger and install a bigger bolt. Or maybe the starter-motor current will generate some heat and melt them in place a bit ? Probably wishful thinking.

Dinghied ashore after lunch, during a break in the rain. Started raining just as I got the old batteries onto the dinghy-dock. Disposed of them at the store ($10), then dinghied across to the cafe in the rain. Did internet ($3 for soda and tip). No snail-mail containing my throttle linkage parts. To phone booth, and called electrical place in NJ; still no news on the auto-pilot motor. Got groceries, and back to the boat. Saw that I left battery-acid footprints on the deck (and my stainless on deck needs polishing, too).

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.

Put out some cockroach bait again. Saw a small cockroach on it in the middle of the night, but let him be.
Sun for a new day  2/21/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Mostly grey and rainy again today; not much solar power. Frustrating; I want to start cranking the engine. And I can't work on disassembling the air-conditioners, because I need to vent more refrigerant, and to do that I need it to stop raining so I can open all the hatches and get a nice breeze through the boat.

Wind slowly cycling around the compass, and suddenly I'm at risk of sliding back into "Afiya", which anchored mostly over top of my anchors. At 8, I launch the dinghy so I can move an anchor. Secondary won't budge; the chain must be hooked on a piece of coral. But I get the primary up and move it SW to pull me away from "Afiya" and "Auk". And now I'm slightly more exposed to swells.

Charter snorkeling-boat "Leylon Sneed" came in next to me; people going snorkeling on this grey, wet day.

Worked in engine compartment to remove air-conditioner pallets. The fittings on the copper lines just will not come off, even when worked with a couple of crescent wrenches and a hammer; ended up cutting most of the tubes. Eventually figured out how to unfasten the top pallet, and lifted it out. It's heavy, probably 70 pounds or so, and has lots of rusty sharp edges. Got it out and up the companionway and into the cockpit (pallet), then took stock of the damage to my body. Scraped my thigh and stomach badly enough to draw a little blood, and scraped the inside of my right arm enough to raise welts. Nice empty space in the engine compartment.

Turning into a nice, sunny day around noon.

After lunch, decided to tear apart the pallet a bit to chop it into lighter pieces. Used a bolt-cutter and wrenches and eventually got the compressor off.

Charter snorkeling-boat "Leylon Sneed" came in again, so I decided to go snorkeling and join the crowd. Not a good idea; they have some dinghies ferrying people ashore, so I had to watch out for those. And I almost got run over by some snorkelers because I was looking down at some fish, turned to follow them, and almost collided with several snorkelers who were swimming past me very quickly.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner. Used some Indian red chili powder I got in the grocery store the other day, and it was too hot ! My mouth was glowing for a while after dinner.

Put out some cockroach bait again. Didn't see any bugs in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  2/22/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Nice, sunny morning.

Worked on getting second air-conditioner pallet out. Two bolts to remove; one came easily, and the second refuses to budge past a certain point. And of course it's in a barely-accessible corner. Worked and worked at it, then gave up for today. (On the way ashore, realized the Dremel is the perfect tool for reaching down there and cutting the head off the bolt.)

Cranked the engine at 11:30 and 1:15, and it cranked well but didn't start. Fuel leak around fuel filter. Both battery banks charging equally after cranking, so maybe those not-too-solid terminal bolts are okay. Guess I really need to look to see if both banks are supplying equal current while cranking; a two-person job.

Sailboat came in and anchored; pretty woman in bikini ( a, b, c, d, e, f ) aboard.

Dinghied ashore. Disposed of first air-conditioner pieces; they made loud crashes down into the garbage dumpster. Did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Envelope containing throttle-linkage parts arrived ! Several loud, drunk people and their irritating dog in the cafe today.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/23/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Reinstalled throttle linkage and stop-engine solenoid. The latter is a real pain to mess with: you have to clip the end of a spring through a hole in a post, while holding a washer in place on the post, and a couple of other things going on.

Took the Dremel into the engine compartment and cut the head off that stuck bolt, getting the second air-conditioner pallet loose.

Loosened and tightened fuel lines on fuel filter, to see if I can stop the leaking there.

At 12:35, cranked the engine and eventually got a few coughs from a couple of the cylinders. Fuel still leaking around fuel filter; messed with those joints some more.

Got compressor unbolted and cut free on second air-conditioner pallet.

At 1:05, cranked engine some more and got it started ! Yee-haw ! Running fine, sounds okay, no smoke from exhaust, oil pressure good, no coolant leak, charging batteries, still some fuel dripping from fuel filter area. Temperature rising normally, heat-exchanger cool at aft end, battery cables not hot. Idle is too low, but I can adjust that. Ran it for 30 minutes to exercise it. Good to have the engine back after a solid 5 weeks without it.

Oops: before shutting down the engine, I put the transmission in gear briefly, and heard a grinding noise from the drive-shaft area. Maybe a wire or something in the engine compartment has gotten snagged on the spinning, exposed shaft. So I put it back in neutral and shut down the engine. Looked at the transmission and shaft a little later, and I don't see any problem. Moved the shaft a little by hand, and the stuffing box seems a little tight and rough. Maybe some barnacles have grown in there.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/24/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Into the engine compartment early and brought out the pieces of the second air-conditioner pallet. This compressor is bigger and heavier than the first one was; it's pretty massive.

Checked engine and battery and transmission fluids, and all is well. Messed with fuel filter fittings some more. Adjusted idle-speed screw on fuel injection pump.

Started engine at 8:55. Looked at fuel-filter area, and now I have a leak from one of the high-pressure lines on top of the fuel injection pump, in addition to the leak at the fuel-filter fittings. But engine seems to be running okay. Put it in gear, and no horrible grinding noise. Adjusted the idle. Ready to go.

Raised both anchors, and it was a tiring, sweaty effort with the boat rolling a bit. Finally got them up at about 9:20.

Then, I pushed the throttle forward, and the engine didn't speed up ! Damn it, the throttle worked fine after startup and while I was raising anchor. Boat is moving forward at idle speed, so I have control and am in no immediate danger. I go down and look at the engine, and don't see the disconnected throttle cable I expected. Maybe the cable end has broken up inside the helm binnacle ? I try propping a 2x6 piece of wood against the throttle lever on the fuel pump, but it won't stay, and then I realize sometimes I can push the lever forward without the engine speeding up. I find that the bolt holding the throttle linkage has worked loose.

Swearing and sweating and grabbing tools and jumping up to make sure the boat isn't running toward anything dangerous, I manage to tighten the throttle linkage bolt and get the throttle working again, although the lever may not be quite in the right position. I speed the engine up to a bit above fast-idle, making 4 knots, and decide to keep my hands off the throttle until I'm ready to anchor.

So I head into the channel into Benner Bay, making "Securite" calls on the VHF radio to warn nany outgoing traffic that I have a problem. No problem getting in, and I start thinking about what I'll do if I round up into the wind to anchor and then the engine won't throttle down or go into neutral.

Fortunately, the throttle works fine, and I get anchored after coming only a little too close to the marina full of boats on the upwind end. Really went only 10 or 20 feet further than I wanted to. Got the anchor down by 9:40 at Benner Bay.

Nice and calm here, and close to the boatyard and cafe. Good place to stay while working on the engine, as long as the cops don't chase me out; not sure you're really allowed to anchor here. But pleading engine problems is a pretty valid excuse. I've anchored here a couple of times before, never for more than a couple of days.

Dinghied ashore to boatyard (so nice to have a 30-second ride instead of a 10-minute rough ride). Disposed of air-conditioner compressor, pallet and seawater pumps, and garbage. Over to the cafe, and did internet ($3 for soda and tip).

Back to the boat, and listened to Car Talk. Can't get a Wi-Fi signal from the boat, even though the cafe is less than 200 feet away.

Ashore to the boatyard. Exchanged some books, then checked out battery stuff in the marine store. Everything around the additional batteries will cost more than the $10/battery for the damaged batteries: 1/0 cable at $7/foot, terminals at $2.50/each, boxes at $11/each.

Salad and cornedbeef-onion-noodle for dinner.

A little too still and warm to be comfortable during the night. Sprayed a small bug in the galley.
Sun for a new day  2/25/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Found a dead cockroach next to the bait in the galley.

Into the engine compartment early and took out the metal framework of the shelves for the air-conditioner pallets. Would have been nice to leave them in place as battery shelves, but they're not quite tall enough to leave access to the lower batteries, and I want to move the shelf several inches further from the engine. Started taking out some of the leftover wiring.

A few nice-looking women in bikinis ( a, b, c ) on a nearby tour-boat that was loading up.

Worked on the engine fuel system for 90 minutes or so. Took a while to get the throttle linkage in place; once I started the engine, and it wouldn't run lower than 2000 RPM because the linkage was wrong. Fixed leaks on three of the high-pressure lines on the top of the fuel pump, and a leak on the return line to the fuel filter. By the time I quit, still had a leak from #2 injector at the injector, and on the primary line from the fuel filter. Fixed low-oil-pressure warning; the wire had come loose.

After lunch, listened to a bit of Car Talk, the went ashore to the boatyard. Disposed of garbage and air-conditioner frame, then to marine store. Bought a battery-box ($11) and two more damaged batteries ($20). The good news about the batteries is that the terminals are just bent, not broken off, so I don't have to repair them. The bad news is that one of them has a leak in the case, up where the top meets the side. I'll try to repair it with epoxy, I guess. Should leak only if the boat heels a lot.

Dinghied in to the cafe, and did internet. Placed a bid on a helicoil set on EBay. Got this from "Exuma Grouper" in La Parguera:
"... finished our repairs yesterday putting the new oil seal in and re-aligning the engine. What a tough job as most bolts were really hard to get at. The 'mechanic' who worked on it over Christmas time didn't tighten very well and most of the mount nuts just fell off. It has resolved me to check every damn thing the so-called experts have done. Also put in all new gauges and a new thermostat yesterday only to find the guy in the DR put in a water temp switch which wouldn't allow the thermostat to go in. A real Westerbeke switch would have cost me another $100 so I just 'modified' the existing switch by cutting off the offending protrusion ... works great now."

Cheese sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/26/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Epoxied the battery cases of the new damaged batteries in the cockpit.

My back is tired from all the battery-lifting and engine work. Bent over to pick something up and all my back muscles protested.

Worked on the engine fuel system some more. Stopped leak from fuel filter fittings, and from cylinder 2 injector fitting, and on one high-pressure joint on top of the fuel injection pump. For a minute, thought I had all the leaks nailed, but then a drip appeared at the bottom of the pump. Took a lot of watching and investigation while the engine ran before I figured out it's another of the high-pressure fittings on top of the pump. By then, I was tired of working and the engine was hot.

Checked the epoxy, and it doesn't seem to be hardening properly. I think I need to throw away the hardener and buy some new.

Dinghied ashore. Tried to catch a safari bus eastward to Red Hook, but none of them would stop for me. I'd heard before that they only run westward here, but thought I'd give it a try. Then a guy I'd met in the boatyard, I think, pulled up in his truck and gave me a lift. Very nice.

In Red Hook, went to hardware store, marine store, and fishing store, and completely struck out on everything. I was looking for rubber mat to put under the batteries, heli-coils, copper bar/strap, battery combiner. Did manage to use the book-exchange. Caught a safari ($2) back to Benner Bay.

Called place in NJ repairing my auto-pilot motor, and it might be done by end of this week; they'll send it here when done. So it looks like I'll be sticking around this general area for a couple more weeks.

To supermarket and bought groceries. To marine store and bought can of epoxy hardener ($15 for tiny can). But learned something valuable: the guy in the store said he's fixed some battery cases, and epoxy doesn't work but JB Weld does. But, but: he thinks they have only one damaged battery left for sale; I thought they had three left. I was planning to buy two more.

Back to the boat, had lunch. Wiped off the bad epoxy, cleaned the battery case with acetone, and applied JB WEld.

Dinghied in to cafe and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Asked my brother in NJ to mail my accumulated mail and parts (including new eyeglasses) to here.

Latest from "Exuma Grouper":
"[Motored a short distance] and turned around due to bad vibrations in the engine. I have to redo the whole alignment thing. The bastards who made this boat [Gemini 30-something catamaran] did a completely different setup with the flexible coupling than any other boat known to man ... almost impossible to work on with some aspects. Looks like I'll need some more specialized tools to correct this. ..."

Planning to move back out to Nazareth Bay / Secret Harbor this afternoon. Don't really want to, and it's rough in open water, but I really shouldn't be anchored where I am.

Dinghied over to the boatyard and went to the marine store. Bought two more damaged batteries ($20) and a battery-box ($11). Wanted another box, but they're out of stock. Got the last of the batteries; I thought they should have one more, since they said they started with 8 and I have bought 7 now. One of the batteries I bought has no damage at all, but since it was part of the same batch they wrote it off. The other I bought has both terminals sheared off.

Out to the boat and hoisted everything aboard. Tired and sweaty and suddenly have a nasty headache (probably from eyestrain from the computer ?). I had thought of leaving here, but decide to go tomorrow. Applied some more JB Weld to the damaged battery. Ate a salad, then to bed. Later, got up and ate peanut-butter crackers, then back to bed. Started feeling better around 10 PM.

Heard a loud car-crash at 1:30, and saw a tow-truck taking the vehicle away at 2:05.
Sun for a new day  2/27/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Carried four batteries from cockpit down to main cabin sole. Got the boat ready for rough, rolly conditions: it looked rough out there yesterday, and I think it's still rough today.

Exercised throttle a bit and the linkage seems to be staying firm. Engine started and runs okay; still have some fuel leaking. Anchor up by 7:10 and motored out. Sure enough, it's rough out. Over to Nazareth Bay / Secret Harbor. Tried anchoring close in to the beach, but the bottom is all coral. It's junky, flat, stony, greenish/grayish coral, but still it's probably not legal to anchor on it. So I move out near where I was before, where it's far less sheltered. Anchor down by 7:40 at Nazareth Bay.

Yeesh, it's rolly here today ! And worse because I've spoiled by 3 days in the totally sheltered Benner Bay. I guess I'll get used to this again, and tomorrow probably will be calmer.

Battery I JB-Welded still is leaking in that area, so I tilted it up to try to stop the leak as the boat rolls, and applied another coat of JB Weld.

Brief heavy rain at 9:50.

Removed hoses and intake strainers associated with the air-conditioners.

Solar charging is working better: getting 13.75 volts at 11:45. I think it needs to see some engine-charging to jolt it out of some low-charging mode.

Worked on engine fuel system, but seemed to make leak worse instead of better. And except for a leak near cylinder 3 injector, I can't see where the leak on the fuel pump is coming from.

While I had the engine running, took the opportunity to put down a second anchor.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Sprayed a cockroach in the cockpit; I think they're coming up out of the cockpit drains, which lead to through-hulls at the waterline.

In the middle of the night, killed a cockroach in the galley.
Sun for a new day  2/28/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Still pretty rolly here today, but I think the wind is lighter.

Battery I JB-Welded looks good, but I added another coat to make sure.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Removed a screwed-down battery box from the engine compartment, and cleaned up box and compartment. Then JB-Welded the holes in the battery box.

Dinghied ashore through big seas. Did internet at cafe ($3 for soda and tip). Bought gasoline ($10.50 for about 3 gallons) and water ($1.50 for 10 gallons). Won an EBay auction for a Heli-coil set ($14 including shipping) to use on the battery terminals. Still haven't bought a battery-combiner, although I've submitted some bids.

Looked on internet to see if my Onan MDJE 7.5KW diesel generator is worth trying to sell to a used-equipment place. Found one for sale for $500 firm. And an MDKD on EBay with a $405 bid on it. Sent email to a couple of places asking what they'd pay for mine (it runs but has a slow oil leak).

Chatted for a while with Rob, an experienced sailor who's boat-sitting on a trimaran right now. He's looking to buy a catamaran and go through the Canal and across the Pacific.

Rough and wet ride back out to the boat.

Loosened and tightened fuel line fittings, then ran engine. Fixed leak at cylinder 3 injector, but leaks on top of fuel pump got worse.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Killed a cockroach and another bug in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  3/1/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Still pretty rolly here. Not much fun to be working in the engine compartment while the boat is rolling. I keep scraping and scratching myself, sometimes drawing a little blood.

Put another coat of JB Weld on the holes in the battery box. Battery I patched still has a leak, so put more JB Weld on that.

Cleaned places in the engine compartment where I'm going to put the new batteries. Cut wood for a battery shelf, getting cockpit full of sawdust. But it's nice to have a decent stockpile of lumber aboard; don't have to go ashore to find a lumberyard.

Painted in engine compartment, and on pieces of wood I cut.

Worked on leaking fuel fittings some more, and got frustrated. I just can't seem to improve the situation, and it's very hard to see where the fuel is running from. It's from either the threads of the nuts on top of the fuel pump, or the joints on the side of the fuel pump where the high-pressure pipes go through the side of the pump. But the whole area is very congested with pipes and brackets and the engine block, and I keep peering at it with a flashlight while the engine is running, poking a paper towel in to try to intercept rivulets of fuel. The fuel is pooling down near the bottom of the pump and dripping off there, so I can see that there's a serious leak somewhere above.

Looked in engine workshop manual and parts diagrams, and I'm not missing any washers in these fuel lines; they're not supposed to have any. I keep loosening and retightening the fittings, sometimes adding teflon packing or removing packing I put in earlier, changing the joints between with-packing and without-packing. Hard to get a wrench on a couple of the fittings. Then my back starts aching from bending over the engine for so long, and I give up until the next day. The good news is that the engine keeps running fine, but I just can't stop these fuel leaks. I'm running out of ideas.

And it's still rolly; such a pain. Sometimes it's like living in a fun-house, one of those places with tilting and moving floors.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/2/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Around 9, it's grey, rainy and very rolly. Yuck !

Painted wood pieces some more.

All this rolling is making me lose my temper. Time to get off the boat for a little while. Dinghied ashore through very big seas. Did internet at cafe ($3 for soda and tip). Had Rob take a quick picture of me in my natural environment. I complained to him about how rolly it is out where I am, and again he encourages me to move in and anchor next to him in the inner harbor. I start considering it more seriously. Actually, I stuck a paddle down into the water there as I dinghied in today, and found at least 4 feet of water; never found bottom. But getting there is tricky: lots of moored and anchored boats, a twisty route, could run aground.

To supermarket to get groceries, then a long, slow, very rough and very wet ride out to the boat. Probably blowing 20 with gusts to 25, and I'm heading almost straight into it. And (surprise!) it's rolly on the boat. This is getting old.

Good news: the battery case I repaired doesn't seem to be leaking any more. I think I'll apply another layer of JB Weld to make sure.

I wrap paper towels around two of the fuel pipe fittings on top of the pump, and run the engine. No leaks from them. Another fitting looks suspicious; I'll mess with that one tomorrow.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Didn't sleep well during the night; very rolly much of the time. Decided the hell with it, I'm moving into the inner harbor tomorrow morning. I may well run aground in there, but that's not so bad as long as I don't bonk anyone else's boat. I think of the worst-case scenarios: I snag a mooring in the prop, I run aground, I bump a submerged obstacle, I bump someone's boat. I'm doing it.

Still can't sleep much, so at 3 AM I dry-fit the painted wood in the engine compartment, something I should have done before painting it. I need to trim a couple of pieces a little.

At 5 AM, I loosen and retighten one of the fuel pipes on top of the pump.
Sun for a new day  3/3/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Nazareth Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Engine start at 7:10. Idle speed is a little low; need to increase it. Both anchors up in rolly conditions by 7:30. Motored out a little and checked throttle linkage; looks good. Motored through very rolly conditions into entrance channel and into Benner Bay inner harbor. Snaked around to east side, and the depth is down to 5 feet even just off the marina docks. I keep going, and the water depth stays in the 4.5 to 5.5 range. Reach the empty space and put an anchor down about 30 feet off the dock and sort of next to Marques's former mooring buoy; there are two other buoys here, and I have to look sharp to avoid getting them in the prop. Engine in neutral and letting out anchor chain, but then the breeze isn't spinning the boat around in the direction I want (I did sort of a crosswind anchoring job; was more focused on getting anchor and bow where I wanted them). So I launch the dinghy and spin the boat around 180 degrees counterclockwise, into position by 8 AM. Back aboard, and the depth still is a smidge less than 5 feet (I have a 3.5-foot draft, tidal range here is about 8 inches, and right now the tidal state is about 6 inches above low).

I'm close to the trimaran Rob is on.

Into the dinghy again and put out a stern anchor, and all is well. Done by 8:20, at Benner Bay. Very nice here; totally calm and sheltered. Think I'll go back to bed.

It's really blowing today; I think we had a few gusts over 25, and we're very sheltered here.

By 10:30, there's a bit much strain on the stern anchor. It appears I anchored pointing a little too much E when the prevailing wind is SE, and for some reason my neighbor isn't swinging like I am. I can see his stern anchor line has no strain on it; strange. Maybe he's in a "pocket" that gets different wind than I do. He doesn't seem to be aground. Anyway, I took out my secondary bow anchor and put it to the S, swinging my bow more into the wind and away from my neighbor, and easing the strain on the stern anchor.

Fitted and trimmed wood for battery shelf while listening to Car Talk. Cut 1/8" off a couple of ends a few times; should have cut 3/8" in one jump. Then painted the wood again. And of course somehow one of the pieces ended up a bit too short; always happens.

Battery case I repaired looks good; added another layer of JB Weld.

Salad and sausage-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Slept solidly most of the night, catching up on lost sleep.
Sun for a new day  3/4/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Still blowing hard, especially outside the harbor. I can see a boat anchored out there, and it's pitching heavily.

Did a bucket of laundry. Scoured out a couple of cabinets in the galley. In one of them, a spray-can of some kind of cooking spray (which I never use anyway) had rusted open and left a slick of gooey stuff. Tested battery case I repaired, and it looks fine.

Dinghied ashore and did a long internet session at the cafe, which was closed for the afternoon. Can't find a battery combiner for a reasonable price; same model that sold on EBay for $51 last week is bid up to $79 this week. Chatted with Rob, and then with Bill. He's feeling a bit lonely, and thinking of looking for a bigger boat to captain. He said a few disparaging things about my boat; I took exception but didn't mind too much because he seems to be a hard-core performance-sailing type of guy, and my boat is not in that ballpark, to put it mildly. We talked a bit about current events, mainly the war, because he's ex-Navy Intelligence and when I jokingly said if he didn't like captaining boats he could re-enlist, he said he'd be eager to go to Iraq. He believes the party line about the media never reporting good news, believes WMDs did and still exist in Iraq, doesn't respect any of the news outlets I listen to (NPR, BBC, Christian Science Monitor, several major US newspapers, warincontext.com, several British newspapers, etc). It was a fun discussion; not enough people are interested in current events.

Back to boat, and had salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Headache in the evening, and all night. I wonder if it's caused partly by eyestrain from using the computer and reading books.
Sun for a new day  3/5/2007 (Monday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Killed a bug in the aft head.

Still have a headache. Loafed in bed much of the day. Did a small bucket of laundry.

Boat keel was tripping and grinding aground on something in the morning (even though my tide program says it was high tide, not low), so I adjusted the bow anchor rodes to move it about 10 feet to starboard, and that fixed the problem.

Drilled holes in wood for battery shelf, and then installed it in engine compartment. Looks good.

Wedged paper towels around parts of fuel pump and ran engine for 5 minutes to see if I can trace the leaks. Lower pipe to filter seems to be leaking, among other places.

Salad and peanut-butter crackers for dinner. Too headachey to cook anything.

Marques and Camille on "Keshtee" came in and moored next to me. Actually, their old stern mooring is under my bow, so they put out a stern anchor instead. I adjusted my bow anchor rodes again to move another 5 or 10 feet to starboard. I thought he had gone to St John permanently. But now he says he wants to sell the boat. He bought it less than two months ago, and took it into the yard to be worked on, before taking it to St John. He also said something about his sink siphoning water into the boat as they were coming across just now; he didn't notice it until they arrived, and he said there was a lot of water inside the boat.

Killed a cockroach in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  3/6/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Still headachey. Found a dead bug in the galley.

Did a tiny bit of work on the battery installation. Headache mostly cleared up by noon. Solar charging batteries at 14+ volts around 1 PM; that's what it should be.

Dinghied ashore. Used book-exchange at boatyard. Saw a guy with an Onan generator just like mine in the bed of his pickup; asked if he wanted to buy mine out of my boat, but he didn't seem very interested. The one he has is missing a couple of parts.

Chatted with Marques; his job on St John didn't work out very well, and he was anchored out in a very rolly area (his mooring permit hasn't come through yet). If he can't sell the boat, he may stay here for a while. He's asking $11,500 for his Morgan 30. He may take a financial hit on it, but he's only 19 years old, and pretty flexible.

Did internet at cafe ($3 for soda and tip). A bum (even bummier-looking than me) came in and tried to strike up a conversation with me, and then with some other people; I thnk he was looking for a place to sleep or something. The bartender soon told him to leave.

Bid on yet another battery combiner on EBay. Got groceries at supermarket.

Salad and chili for dinner.

Still a little headachey in the evening; took a couple more pills. But slept well.
Sun for a new day  3/7/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Headache gone !

Worked on new battery installation. In engine compartment, placed battery boxes in space aft of genset and realized I had a problem: the starboard box is tall enough to interfere with the engine exhaust muffler. Managed to raise the muffler half an inch, then carved the battery box lid quite a bit (using hacksaw and bolt-cutters and diagonal cutters) to make it fit. Still protects the terminals from anything that might fall on them. Cut one handle off the box so the genset sound-shield will still go on, if needed.

Screwed down eye-screws for hold-down lines, cut and put down some rubber pads for vibration-limiting, then put down the boxes. Then carted two batteries in and laid them into the boxes, being sure to put the terminals in the best orientation. Lids on, hold-down lines over, and this pair is done (except for the cabling).

Turned to the new shelf in the forward part of the compartment, for the other pair of batteries. Laid a box down, marked spots for hold-down screws, and realized the shelf was 3 or 4 inches wider than needed. Thought of letting it go, but decided it would be nice to have the extra clearance near the engine, especially since my feet always go through there when I'm clambering around the engine to get to the far side of the compartment. So I took half the shelf out, cut it, drilled a new hole, and painted it.

Had some lunch, hauled battery with two sheared-off terminals up into cockpit, and loafed for a while.

Drilled and tapped terminals on battery in cockpit. I think I'm not drilling deep enough: the tap is bottoming out before the bolt has enough travel on the threads. Will try some more tomorrow.

Tried to mess with fuel pump, but I can barely get a wrench onto the bottom line from the fuel filter. And once on it, I have very little room to swing the wrench. Tried to tighten the fitting a smidge, but it's already very tight. Ran the engine, and if anything the leaking is worse. So the whole damn pump will have to come all the way out again, which means draining the coolant and taking coolant pipes off, disconnecting throttle linkage, taking off all the fuel pipes. Discouraging.

Salad and PBJ sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/8/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Greyish and blowing pretty hard this morning. Saw a sport-fisher outside the harbor going upwind, and it was plunging and exploding through swells. Sunnier later in the morning.

Installed newly-painted half of forward battery shelf, and put in tie-downs and rubber pads and one battery box.

Then opened up electrical panel and removed two big AC wires that had been going to the air-conditioners. They had been left draped across the batteries, but now I need to run a bunch of new battery cables, which is going to be complicated and expensive.

I drew a second draft of a diagram showing battery cable routing, including emergency disconnect switches and a battery combiner. Lots of factors to consider: minimizing the amount of cable used, dividing the batteries into banks so the battery monitor and battery switch will do useful things, trying to keep the option of starting the generator, etc. Have to account for details such as where the positive and negative terminals of each battery lie, because each additional foot of cable is another $7. I have 1/0 cable in most places, but I'm not sure if going smaller would save any money.

Would be nice to avoid disturbing the connections on the battery switch, which are a congested mess, but I'll be taking the big starter motor cable off there and putting a smaller alternator wire on in its place. I'm going to have positive and negative cables from the aft/starter pair of batteries directly to the starter motor, with only an emergency-disconnect switch in that circuit. Since those batteries will have a direct negative connection (not through the battery-monitor shunt), the battery monitor won't be able to monitor their charging current.

After lunch, dinghied over to chat with Marques. He's fighting with a plumbing problem: a T-fitting in his sink drain snapped on his trip here from St John, and threatened to sink the boat. And now he can't get it loose to replace it. I went back to my boat and got a couple of big pump-pliers and lent them to him. He has alternator problems, too.

Dinghied in to the marine store and bought battery cable stuff: four feet of 1/0 cable for $25, four terminals for $6, four bolts for $1.

Over to the cafe and chatted with Rob while I did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Got package in mail from my brother; should include bifocals, thermostat, mail.

Out to the boat, and started wearing my new bifocals; I feel old. As usual with new eyeglasses, it will take a while to get used to them.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/9/2007 (Friday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Following a suggestion from one of my faithful readers, used the Dremel to cut the end off a tap so that threads went all the way to the bottom, and finished tapping holes in the damaged battery. Then hauled the battery into the engine compartment and put it in place. Just one more battery to go, but I need a box for it.

Crimped lugs onto cables to make a couple of battery cables, and installed one of them.

Dinghied ashore. Got a few groceries, then to the marine store. They didn't have the battery box I need. A shock when I went to buy more cable: the red 1/0 is a full $2/foot more expensive than the black 1/0, because the red is a newer shipment and prices have gone up (by 30 percent!). Decided the color-coding was worth the cost. Then another shock: got the last two 1/0 5/16" lugs off the shelf, and they're completely out of 1/0 3/8" lugs, and it may be a couple of weeks before they get more. Bought 5.5 feet of cable ($46!) and two lugs ($3): $49 worth of battery cable parts. Back to the boat.

Used jumper cables to connect the aft/starting pair of new batteries to the house batteries, to start charging them up. So now I have six golf-cart batteries in use.

Marques came over to return the pliers I lent to him. He's pretty discouraged: he couldn't get the pipe fitting out with the pliers, then spent 90 minutes cutting it and still didn't get it out. He's tired and hungry and hoping the boat sells quickly so he can be rid of it. He does have a couple of job offers (he knows welding), but doesn't like St Thomas. He knew more people on St John, and it was easier to hitch rides and such over there. I told him every boat owner has had discouraging days like his day today, and he'd feel better after some food and some time away from the boat. He headed ashore to the supermarket.

Salad and peanut-butter crackers for dinner.

A bit headachey, maybe from the new eyeglasses.
Sun for a new day  3/10/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Ashore by 9:30 or so. Hiked up a steep road to take a few pictures of the harbor; you can see Magnolia. Back down and caught a safari bus ($2) to Tutu Mall. Used an ATM, looked for Midas but couldn't find anything but a big Midas sign, then went into Western Auto Parts. They didn't have any of the battery stuff I need, but I bought a spray can of battery-acid cleaner ($3). To KMart, and bought a small screwdriver set and some snacks.

Took another safari bus ($2) to Red Hook. Looked at the harbor (looks rough today), then used the book-exchange. To the marine store, and fortunately they have plenty of the battery cable lugs I need. Bought another $47 worth of battery parts. Their price for red 1/0 cable is 65 cents/foot cheaper than in Benner Bay, but I'm not ready to buy more today. Caught another safari bus ($2) and got back to the boat at about 11:30.

After lunch, put battery box in position and then hauled final battery into the engine compartment (but I'll probably have to haul a couple of them back out when I get the Heli-coil set). Installed a cable and took a rest. Listened to Car Talk. Found I'd put the wrong size lug on the red cable that will be going to the starter motor.

Salad and Pad Thai (from Backpacker's Pantry free-dried pouch) and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/11/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Sprayed a cockroach in the galley; first I've seen in several days/nights.

Buckled down and did the serious battery-cable work. Opened electrical panel and moved red cable to starter from "Common" to "2", and made a 1-foot length of black cable to go on "Common" so I can attach several wires to it (really should have a terminal strip, but this is easier). Removed big red cable from starter motor and (after carefully testing to make sure it was off) snaked it around and under the engine and got the end of it sticking out of the compartment. Cut a foot off, and crimped lugs on all ends. Put it back into the compartment and ran it to the forward-starboard battery pair, with a switch on it. Put the right size lug on the red cable to the starter motor and installed it. Removed negative that was running aft and cut it to make negative to forward-starboard battery pair. Rearranged connections on battery monitor negative shunt. Ran cable from positive to positive on port battery bank. Dropped a tape measure into the bilge and it took forever to retrieve it: almost nothing to grab onto. Finished for today after two hours of work; now have 6 batteries in use.

Marques came by to say he was going to stay on St John for a few days, starting a new job. He said he has zero cash in his pocket, just a ferry ticket to get there. He showed his boat to some potential buyers this morning, but they didn't go for it. He's already talking $9.5K instead of the $11.5K he mentioned the other day.

Lunch, and listened to Car Talk. Then ashore. Bought seven feet of 4-gauge red wire for $25. To cafe to do internet. It's closed on Sunday afternoons, so I don't have to pay anything. But the email worked only briefly today. Did a long internet session. Having some problem with PayPal paying for the Heli-coil set.

Salad and peanut-butter crackers for dinner.

Very calm and still night.
Sun for a new day  3/12/2007 (Monday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Fairly calm morning; sunny and not much breeze.

Did a small bucket of laundry.

Made and installed cable from alternator to battery switch Common terminal.

Took starter motor off the engine. It's heavy: must be almost solid iron and copper. Took it off so I could try to put a battery negative cable onto one of the mounting bolts. Also want to oil the gear and axle inside it, because it seems to need that every couple of years.

But once I had the motor off, I realized that the studs had come out of the engine block (really the flywheel casing) with the nuts frozen on them. And I can't get the nut I want loose off the stud it's attached to. There's nothing to grip on the stud, to turn the nut against it. Applied penetrating oil a few times, and no go. Left it for tomorrow.

Rained off and on from 2 to 4 or so. Wind slowly swinging around, and some boats are swinging differently and bumping against each other. And wind swung to north, letting rain drive into the cockpit from the port side, and putting a lot of pressure on my stern anchor. Unfortunately, my boat isn't arranged well to attach a stern anchor. Soon the anchor rode was putting pressure across the stern platform, which isn't good. Went to ease out more of the rode, and found a knot wedged in the hinge of the stern platform. So I had to lower the dinghy and haul at the rode to get it free, and let out more of it. Then hoist the dinghy back up.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/13/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Tried again to get nut off stud on starter motor, but it won't budge. Can't even get a nut-splitter around it: there's not enough clearance between nut and body of starter motor. I guess I could cut the nut off with the Dremel, but I'm reluctant. And once nut and stud are separate, how do I tighten both back into the block securely ? Seems like I'd have no way to properly tighten the stud into the block, but I guess it must work somehow. Anyway, installed the motor back onto the engine (not easy), and put some penetrating oil on a nut on the flywheel casing to see if I can put the starter battery negative cable there.

Dinghied ashore and got some groceries. After lunch, ashore again to cafe. Got 10 gallons of water ($1.50) and did internet ($3 for soda and tip).

Bummer: battery combiner I was bidding on went for $73; I had bid up to $52. Will have to try again. Wish the auctions didn't last a week apiece.

Ordered a Blue Seas ACR 7610 battery combiner ($70 including shipping).

Someone sent me a link and I looked at battery cable prices at a couple of internet stores. Didn't realize the prices here were so much higher: found 1/0 cable for $3.74/foot somewhere as opposed to $8.39/foot here. Would have been worth ordering and waiting if I'd thought of that before starting the work. Not really worth it for the last 6 feet or so of cable, I guess. Maybe.

Chatted with Bill. He told me about a billing dispute that he and the owners are having with a boatyard. They had the rig of their 60-foot ketch completely replaced (except for spars and sails), for $70K or so. Soon afterward, a major bolt fell out of the mast; they were lucky not to lose the whole rig. Now they're arguing with the yard about compensation. They spent another $30K or so on painting (top and bottom), and had been planning to go back again this year for more overhaul work.

Back to boat. Got nut on the flywheel casing loose. Started sketching out my income tax return (it's always an odd feeling to write "zero" in the "salary, wages, tips" box).

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/14/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Blowing pretty hard out of NE today.

Cut and drilled and painted small blocks of wood to mount battery-disconnect switches in engine compartment. Crimped lug onto negative cable for aft battery pair.

Worked on income taxes some more, and straightened up (file, or threw out) a lot of accumulated paperwork.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/15/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Grey and occasionally raining.

Mounted one battery-disconnect switch in the engine compartment. Moved something out of the way of another switch, but had to recut and repaint the wood blocks for it.

After lunch, dinghied ashore. To marine store and bought bolt and nut ($1) and 1 foot of battery cable ($8). To cafe to do internet ($3 for soda and tip).

Salad and PBJ sandwich and peanut-butter crackers for dinner.

Headache in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  3/16/2007 (Friday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Grey in the morning, but sunny later. Wind veering from NE to SE; back to normal tradewind.

Awful headache all morning; felt a bit better in the afternoon.

Installed another battery-disconnect switch in the engine compartment.

Aft water tank (the bigger of the two) ran empty.

Cornedbeef-onion-noodle for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/17/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Grey and rainy in the morning, but sunny later.

Installed last battery-disconnect switch in the engine compartment. Listened to Car Talk. Emptied 10 gallons of water from jugs to aft tank.

Dinghied ashore. Used book-exchange. To cafe and got 10 gallons of water ($1.50) and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Ordered 7 feet of red 1/0 cable from genuinedealz.com for $40; would have cost $59 in the marine store here.

Got groceries, then back to the boat. Feeling headachey again.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner. Took headache pills and went to bed early.
Sun for a new day  3/18/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Nice sunny morning. Headache gone.

Jumpered last set of batteries to the others, so I have all eight golf-cart batteries in use.

Replaced thermostat in refrigerator.

Lots of traffic pouring out of the harbor around 10 AM; everyone going out to enjoy a sunny day. A bit breezy, and I can see an anchored boat outside pitching pretty heavily.

Cut and painted a piece of wood to cover a hole left by removal of an air-conditioner control.

Emptied 10 gallons of water from jugs to aft tank. Dinghied ashore to cafe. Got 10 gallons of water ($1.50) and did internet.

Spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner. Hmmm, cherry diet Coke with coconut rum: not the best combination.
Sun for a new day  3/19/2007 (Monday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Another coat of paint on piece of wood.

Finally got my butt in gear and started working on the fuel pump again. Drained the coolant and removed two big coolant pipes. Removed engine-stop solenoid and then all the fiddly springs and clips and slide that attach it to the lever on the pump. Removed the throttle linkage, without dropping any pieces into the bilge. Removed the six injector lines. Removed the two lines between pump and fuel filter. Enough for today.

Installed painted piece of wood over hole left by removal of air-conditioner control.

Marques showed up, coming back to his boat for a one-night sleepover. He likes his new job on St John, doing light construction work. But he's sleeping on the streets over there; he has nowhere to stay. So he's glad to come back here for a night's sleep in his boat. He got his fixed alternator back; the repairs cost $210.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/20/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

New refrigerator thermostat still isn't working properly; refrigerator runs all the time, which is what the old one was doing. Problem has to be in the thermostat, since refrigerator turns off if I turn thermostat to OFF position. Maybe fridge just needs to get really cold. I'm running it as much as I can without dragging the batteries down too much.

Unbolted the base of the fuel injection pump and got it out. Don't see any stripped threads on it, and all of the side-bolts seem tight. Threads on lines to fuel filter look okay too, but one of the sockets for them on the fuel pump needed some cleaning. Cleaned up all the threads.

Decided to attach the fuel lines from the filter to the pump, and put pump and lines back on as one unit, since the fittings on those lines are the hardest to get seated properly once the pump is on the engine. But then I found I had to remove a couple more pieces from the engine to get pump-plus-lines back on in one unit.

Used penetrating oil and got bracket off engine. Installed pump; hard to get base-nuts on with the two fuel lines already on. Enough for today. Showered and emptied 9 gallons of water from jugs to aft tank and ate lunch.

Blowing hard from ESE today. Dinghied in to cafe, bought 10 gallons of water ($1.50), and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Chatted with Rob about his coming trips (first a shakedown to Anegada and back, then the big trip west to Mexico and up to Texas). I asked him about charts and guides and what route they'd take, and he said the owner had said he'd accidentally "left the charts in the airport", which doesn't sound good.

Got groceries, and back out to the boat.

Saw a sunken boat being towed in by SeaTow in the late afternoon. Couldn't tell if it had been run over or just sunk; looked like a 25-foot motorboat, but not much of it was above the water.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice-mushroomsoup and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Killed a cockroach and another bug in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  3/21/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Cleaned up and straightened up the boat, since Rob should be coming over for a visit today. That's the best incentive for a singlehander to clean up the boat: invite someone to come over to see the boat.

Dinghied over to Rob's boat and loaned him a stack of charts and guides for Puerto Rico, DR, Jamaica, Mexico. We sat on his boat for a while, going through everything, and I checked out the boat a bit. It's a custom-built trimaran with a walk-over layout. Lots of deck space, all the rigging exposed so it's easy to repair, and few cosmetic touches inside so everything is exposed for easy maintenance. But not a lot of space inside, and not a very convenient layout in cabins and cockpit.

Back to my boat, and eventually got going on the fuel pump again. Attached lines to filter, installed the six injector lines, then the bracket for the stop-solenoid, then the throttle linkage, then the stop-solenoid plunger and linkage, then the solenoid itself. Only one washer left over (goes in stop-solenoid linkage, but I'm too lazy to take that apart again). Installed coolant pipes, dumped coolant back in, and done (for today). Want to get the final battery cable in place before I try starting the engine. Need to bleed the fuel system before doing that.

Got into the dinghy and scrubbed the hull all around at the waterline, and some drain/rust stains on the sides of the hull, using Zud cleaner.

In the late afternoon, Rob came over to chat and see my boat. He told me there'd been an armed robbery on a boat in a slip not more than 150 feet from my boat the other evening, and a gunshot fired; I must have slept through the whole thing. A couple of guys came down the dock, jumped on the occupied boat, fired a gun, stole some electronics. The cops came, one of the guys jumped into the water and dumped the electronics and swam into the mangroves and got away.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/22/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Blowing hard today. Loafed all morning.

Dinghied in to boatyard. Used the book-exchange, then looked in marine store. They're still out of 3/8 1/0 battery cable lugs; I probably could mash a 3/8 2/0 lug down enough to work. To cafe, bought 10 gallons of water ($1.50), and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Helicoil kit and battery-combiner came in the mail ! Battery cable shipped yesterday.

Read on the internet: the cafe/bar at the boatyard (not the one where I do internet) is going to close May 1 and be bulldozed to make more parking for the boatyard ! In fact, the whole boatyard has changed ownership.

Tried to do a financial transaction, and it's one of those things made impossible by the cruising life. I have an IRA CD maturing tomorrow in a bank in California. I want to take the money at maturity and transfer it to my main bank, where I have an IRA account. But bank A gives only a 10-day window in which I can do the transfer out, I have to start the transfer via bank B, and bank B takes 3 to 6 weeks to accomplish the transfer after I request it, and bank B requires mailing in a paper form (you can't do it online), and bank B's form won't let you mail it in ahead of time and say exactly when the transfer should be done. If I mail in a different paper form to bank A to take the money out of bank A by check and hold it myself for too long (or at all) before putting it into bank B, the IRS may assess a penalty and taxes. A total Catch-22, and I'm just going to give up and let it roll over for another year in bank A.

Chatted briefly with Bill on "Auk". He was coming back from the supermarket with food and ice cream and some flowers, because the owner's wife and a couple of her friends will be coming to stay on the boat for a little while.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice for dinner. The chicken is not staying frozen in the refrigerator's freezer compartment; will have to eat the rest of it before it spoils. A little later, I put a thermometer in the refrigerator to see what the temperatures are.
Sun for a new day  3/23/2007 (Friday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Refrigerator compartment seems to be getting down to about 43 degrees, without running it as much as it could run. That seems okay to me; probably 40 would be proper. Moved thermometer into freezer compartment.

Couple of guys diving from dinghies appeared next to my boat and started installing a mooring, pretty close by. Had to point out that I had an anchor over there; they found it and said they would stay clear of it. I swing right over there when wind is from the north; later I went out in the dinghy and moved my stern anchor to try to prevent that.

Got my guides and charts back from Rob; he forgot one, so I went over to the trimaran to get it, and chatted briefly with Rob and Flint. They and Flint's wife are leaving at noon, to drop off the wife at the airport tomorrow, then sail to Anegada over the weekend. They'll be back to provision, then take off for Mexico and Texas.

Emptied 10 gallons of water from jugs to aft tank. chicken from the freezer so it doesn't spoil. Freezer compartment seems to be getting down to 28 to 30 degrees, which isn't bad.

Dinghied ashore. To the marine store, and got permission to borrow a disposed battery out of their pile: I want to practice Heli-Coil installation on it. To the marina, and bought 10 gallons of water ($1.50).

In the cockpit, drilled the disposed-of battery and installed a Heli-Coil in it. Looks pretty good: I can crank down pretty hard on the bolt into it without any "give" occurring. Once the coil is in, there's no easy way to get it out, so I'd better make sure I install each one correctly the first time. The main way I could screw up is to install it too shallowly, so I shouldn't have too much of a problem. If I tapped a hole wrong and stripped it out, I'd have to go to a bigger Heli-Coil kit.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

In the early AM, the refrigerator thermostat seems to be working properly ! Maybe I just hadn't been let the refrigerator run long enough to get cold enough. Freezer compartment is down to 20+ degrees. That's a relief; I was worried that I might have to replace the refrigerator or something.
Sun for a new day  3/24/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Into the engine compartment, and installed a Heli-Coil into each damaged battery terminal (five in all). A tedious process: uncover the battery, unbolt the cable, move the battery out to get drilling room, spray oil into the hole, drill the hole bigger, clean up metal shavings, tap the hole with the tap that came with the Heli-Coil kit, clean out the bottom of the hole a bit, clean up more metal shavings, screw the coil down into the hole, move the battery back into place, bolt the cable back on, cover the battery. Only two batteries had to be moved a bit. The usual breaks to wipe away sweat, move tools in and out, measure, etc.

Diver from dinghy is working on the new mooring next door again.

Listened to Car Talk on NPR.

In the afternoon, installed the battery-combiner in the engine compartment. Had to open up the electrical panel to install a thin ground wire, which I managed to cut too short and had to extend. Installed another thin wire from starter solenoid to battery-combiner, so it isolates the battery banks when the starter is engaged. The combiner seems to be working fine; at 13.0 volts and above, a green LED comes on to show that it's combining the battery banks together, and it separates them at lower voltage.

Guy came by in a dinghy and started probing around with an anchor, and started putting it down right about where my primary anchor is. I went up on the bow and pointed that out to him, and he was irritated. He said he used to have a boat anchored there (so what?), and why didn't I have a buoy marking my anchor (most people here don't, and a buoy is just another obstacle for people in dinghies or boats), and if I cruised to places like Luperon I'd know that was standard practice (well, I spent a hurricane season in Luperon). Then he suggested he'd anchor the boat there anyway since it was only a 19-foot sailboat, and give me his phone number in case there was a problem, and I said that would leave me stuck when I tried to leave and found we were snagged together. He suggested I could deal with it then, and I said how was I supposed to handle two snagged boats by myself (in a very crowded anchorage too), and where would I move his boat to ? He said he'd move his anchor 15 feet to the left to avoid snagging, and he went away. Half an hour later, he brought his boat in, and anchored in a different area, not anywhere near me. Saw him later on a houseboat across the harbor, so he must have two boats here.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Refrigerator compartment temperature 36 degrees at 3:15, and 37-38 degrees at 5:30. Looking good.
Sun for a new day  3/25/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Dinghied ashore to boatyard. Used the book-exchange. Hauled the disposed-of battery back to the battery disposal area. Did some dumpster-diving to get a few nice pieces of wood. To the supermarket to get some groceries.

After lunch, back ashore, to the cafe to do internet all afternoon. Still trying to get internet contact with the shop rewinding my auto-pilot motor; they have a web site and email address on it, but no response so far. Will call them soon. Bid on a battery case for my handheld VHF; it got wet years ago and the battery pack turned out not to be waterproof.

Salad and PBJ sandwich for dinner.

Pulled nails out of the wood I reclaimed. A couple of the pieces probably weren't worth taking, but I can always throw them away again later.
Sun for a new day  3/26/2007 (Monday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Installed some cable-ties on the battery cables. Found that the lines to tie down the new batteries are just barely long enough, which means they're really not long enough. Second time I've screwed up that "measure once, cut twice" thing in the last couple of days.

Removed air-conditioner control in aft cabin and pulled the wire for it out of the engine compartment. A tricky job since whoeve installed it put the wire in first, screwed clamps into the bulkheads, then ran the copper tubing over top of the screwheads so you can't get to them.

Cut and stained piece of wood to cover the hole left by the air-conditioner control.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/27/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Totally grey and humid with low still clouds. Rain starting at 10, and looks like it will keep going all day.

Batteries being dragged pretty low by the refrigerator (down to 12.4V under load), and not getting much solar today. Wanted to wait until I installed the final battery cable before starting the engine, but I need to go ahead now anyway. I have a jumper-cable in place of the missing cable, and I hope it won't work loose with the engine vibrations.

So I bleed the fuel system through bolts on the fuel pump, then go into the cockpit. The starter cranks strongly (the battery-combiner has done its job!) and after 20 seconds or so of cranking, the engine starts ! I run around hastily checking everything: charging current through battery monitor, look for coolant leaks, look for fuel leaks, look for cables or switches or alternator smoking or glowing. Everything looks good, except I still have fuel leaks. Looks like the lines between pump and filter are tight, but some injector lines on top of the pump are leaking again, and a couple of injector fittings are leaking (easy to fix). Forgot to check oil and coolant before starting the engine, but temp and pressure and engine noise seem normal. Usually I check engine fluids religiously.

Interesting to watch the battery monitor. It's showing me 3/4 of the batteries; the starting pair isn't connected through the monitor. Right after engine start, total of 68A at 13.8V or so going into the "house" 3 pairs of batteries. A minute later, the battery-combiner kicked in and added the "starting" pair of batteries, and suddenly the monitor is showing 20A total. So maybe the starting pair is drawing 50A ? Another minute or two, and the monitor is up to 34A, which means all four pairs total may be drawing 50A or so ? After 15 minutes, 41A on monitor, so total must be around 55A. I turn on the refrigerator and ease the throttle down slightly to keep just-barely-high-idle, and monitor shows 38A at 14V. By 30 minutes, 34A at 14.05V. By 60 minutes, 29A at 14.15V. Shut off the engine, although I could have done another 30 or more minutes of charging. Will mess with fittings and run engine again tomorrow.

So I think my alternator (which nominally is a 100A alternator), may have been putting out 70A at the beginning and then 55A at 15 minutes, then 40A at the 60-minute mark. I've never seen it put out more than 45A or so before; it was limited by how much current the batteries could accept. I'll have to check that driving 80A or so down a 4 AWG cable is okay; I think it is. I must have done that calculation when I installed the alternator.

Stained other side of piece of wood to cover the hole left by the air-conditioner control.

Dinghied in to cafe and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Final battery cable arrived in the mail ! Won the EBay auction for the handheld VHF used battery case for $5; probably I was the only bidder.

Over to the marine store and bought a 2/0 3/8" battery lug ($2).

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.

Sun for a new day  3/28/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Fairly grey at dawn, but getting sunny later.

Crimped lugs onto 7-foot battery cable and installed it in the engine compartment. Tie-wrapped it in place. Checked other cables, and nothing has worked loose. Alternator and belt look okay. Oil is slightly high for some reason; will have to watch it. Coolant a quart low; added water. Retightened fittings on injectors 1 and 2, and a couple of the fittings on top of the fuel pump. Fixed low-oil-pressure wire; it keeps falling off.

Started engine at 9:30. Still have fuel dripping from bottom of pump; maybe a bit less than yesterday. Battery monitor read 54A after starting, then spiked down to 18 as the starting battery pair got combined in (so I guess that pair was drawing 35A or so). Soon monitored current was back up to 38 and then 45, so total alternator output probably was 55A or 60A.

At the 45-minute mark, alternator probably putting out 35A, at 14.1V. Injectors 2 and 3 leaking a little; still lots of fuel dripping from bottom of fuel pump, but I really can't see where it's coming from. Frustrating.

Stopped engine after 60 minutes.

Drilled and installed piece of wood over hole left by air-conditioner control in aft cabin.

Cleaned outboard spark plugs; they were completely clogged with oily carbon.

Dinghied in to cafe and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Bought water ($1.50 for 10 gallons). Boat in a nearby slip leaking fuel into the water; strong smell everywhere. Finished purchase of VHF battery pack: $8 with shipping. Called motor-rewinding place and heard my motor has shipped or is about to ship to me. Got groceries.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Rained most of the night, and the wind generally was from the W, so blowing the rain right up the stern and into the cockpit. So I had to close up all the hatches and ports, and the air was warm and stuffy inside. Developed a headache in the early AM.
Sun for a new day  3/29/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Sunny day. Dumped a couple of gallons of rainwater into aft water tank. Lots of gunfire in the distance off to the SW; must be hunting season.

So, my battery project is just about finished (have to adjust battery-box tops and tie-downs). The total cost looks like: $15 for switches, $35 for boxes, $30 for disposing of old batteries, $70 for new batteries, $15 for Heli-Coil kit, $58 for lugs, $144 for cable, $70 for combiner, $5 or so for transportation to buy stuff. Total of about $440. Saved $560 by buying damaged batteries (would have been 7 times $92 equals $644 for undamaged batteries; was 7 times $10 plus $15 equals $85 for damaged batteries).

Gary, the guy who has put in a new mooring next to me, came by and said he's worried that I might be too close when he brings his boat in. Then he said it's a 27-foot boat. We have plenty of room. But if he puts down stern anchors, he might snag one of my anchors. He suggested I move; I declined. I think he'd be fine if he just swung on the mooring, with no stern anchors; that's what his closest neighbor (not me) is doing. He's bringing the boat in next Wednesday, leaving it and going away cruising on another boat.

Checked engine fluids (added a little coolant) and loosened and tightened a couple of injector fittings and fuel pump fittings. Rearranged a couple of battery-box lids and hacked at another to make it fit. Those things are tough to sculpt: have to use bolt-cutters and diagonal cutters on them.

Tore air-conditioner evaporator out of closet in aft cabin. A tough job, involving lots of contortion, since it was installed up top in a box and blocked by a shelf. Just kept taking out every screw or bolt I could get a screwdriver on, and prying with a crowbar. Eventually one last screw I couldn't find gave way. Still had to unbolt it into two halves before I could wiggle it out; they must have installed the shelf after installing the evaporator, although I couldn't see a graceful way to get the shelf out.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Started raining around 8, and rained hard for a couple of hours. Had to close the boat up tight again since it was blowing up the stern. Rained most of the night.
Sun for a new day  3/30/2007 (Friday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Grey, rainy day.

Poured about 9 gallons of rainwater into the aft water tank.

Chopped copper air-conditioning tubing out of engine compartment, finishing removal of aft cabin evaporator. Nice to have more space in the compartment in the wire-runs, with everything simpler and easier to see and trace. Installed cover on battery-combiner.

Started engine at 9:40. Still have fuel leak on injection pump; guess I'm going to have to try some kind of sealant, but I'm worried about how you get the sealant off later. Injector 2 fitting still leaking slightly. Charging current began at about 65A estimated total, then settled around 50A. To about 40A at 15-minute mark, maybe 28A at 45-minute mark, maybe 25A at the end of the hour.

Rain at 10, coming sideways through the cockpit. I really hate having a stern anchor out. Kept raining all day.

After lunch, dinghied ashore to boatyard. Squelched through the mud to dispose of pieces of evaporator, then to marina store. Bought a tube of Permatex 14A thread-sealant ($3). They had another tube that looked slightly better (higher-temperature, and mentioned diesel explicitly on the package), but it was $25, so I think I'll try this one first.

To cafe and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Internet access conked out after an hour, but I had plenty of saved web pages on my laptop to read. Got a few groceries and back to the boat.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner. Gusty wind from north blowing sideways through the cockpit and making it hard to cook in there.

Killed a cockroach in the galley in the middle of the night.

Lots of gusty wind from the north pushing the boat sideways and putting a lot of strain on the stern anchor. Mainly I'm worried about the stern cleats, which are not very sturdy. Up at 1 AM in bright moonlight to move the stern anchor to the other side, add another segment of line, and let out some more line on it.
Sun for a new day  3/31/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Partly sunny, with occasional strong gusty wind from the north. My bow has drifted over very close to the new mooring next to me; I'll have to adjust something or get out of here before there's a boat on it and we get north wind again.

Scrubbed mildew off the undersides of the forward and aft hatches; I've been meaning to do that for a while.

Loosened the six fuel-line fittings on top of the fuel injection pump, applied thread sealant, and tightened them all down again. The sealant looks like a liquid version of the teflon tape I've used on there a few times.

Listened to Car Talk on NPR, and a lot of other radio all day.

After lunch, hacked the air-conditioner evaporator out of the V-berth. A tough job: the pipes were embedded behind a cabinet of deep drawers. They must have installed this before installing the cabinetry; there was so little slack in the pipes, and very little access. Now that it's out, I'll be able to get access to the underside of a stanchion so I can rebed it.

Cut and stained a piece of wood to cover the hole left by removing the air-conditioner control.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Killed a cockroach in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  4/1/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Stained other side of piece of wood.

At noon, dinghied ashore. To boatyard, disposed of evaporator and lots of garbage, and used the book-exchange. To cafe, which is closed today, and did internet all afternoon. Tried to e-file my income taxes, but lacked one number needed to "electronically sign" the return. My total federal tax is $350; nice to be retired and thus in a low tax bracket.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner. Had to pick a couple of weevils (I think) out of the spaghetti before cooking. Had several bad boxes of spaghetti in the Bahamas about four years ago, but this is the first since then. And this is the last box of this particular brand that I have aboard; the others look fine. Wonder why spaghetti noodles seem to be susceptible ?
Sun for a new day  4/2/2007 (Monday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Wind has veered from NE to E, so I adjusted the anchor rodes to pull myself away from the new mooring next to me. It's going to be a tight squeeze between the boat that will be put there, on my starboard side, and "Keshtee" on my port side. If the wind blows hard from S or N (unusual directions), my stern anchor probably won't hold well enough to keep me from sliding very close to one boat or the other; I'll have to put out some fenders and maybe move the stern anchor. But this is such a protected spot that I'm going to stay right here until I get my fuel pump straightened out and the remaining parts (VHF battery pack, and auto-pilot motor) arrive in the mail.

Loafed all morning.

Cut and sculpted and drilled and stained two piece of wood to cover a hole in V-berth to cover hole left by removing the air-conditioner evaporator. The hole is on a horizontal shelf, and leads down into a dead space behind a cabinet; I'd better cover it before something valuable falls down into there.

Wind is back to the NE and gusty again.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.

Ran engine for half an hour. No fuel leaks for first 10 minutes or so ! Then an ooze of fuel at the base of the pump, and I think it's coming from the leftmost fuel pipe fitting on top of the pump, the easiest one to work on. Still, this is far better than the steady drips of fuel I was getting before. Charging current started at 50A or so, and was down to 25A or so at the end of the half-hour. No leaks around injectors. Idle speed seems good. Lots of grinding from the cutless bearing when I put the transmission in gear briefly, but I think it just needed to get some exercise; it got better after a few more tries.
Sun for a new day  4/3/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Loosened fuel pipe fitting on top of pump, applied sealant, and tightened it. Have to wait a day or so before testing it. Installed pieces of wood in V-berth to cover hole left by air-conditioner evaporator. Sewed one stitch to fix screen for main hatch. Dumped 9 gallons of water from jugs into aft water tank.

Dinghied ashore to cafe. Bought gasoline ($9.50 for about 3 gallons) and water ($1.50 for 10 gallons). Sat in cafe to do internet ($3 for soda and tip), but it turned out their internet is down, and has been for more than a day. Apparently Macintosh users are able to connect, but not PC users. Annoying; I need to try filing my income tax again. Got groceries, and back to the boat.

Got experimental for dinner (after the usual salad). I'm trying to dig out and use up some foods I've had unused on the boat for years, and so I took a shot at a 2-pound bag of flour that's been here for a couple of years. Whipped up a biscuit dough, plopped it in one big disc on top of some smoked sausage, and fried up the whole mess. Came out as I expected: uneven and looking weird, too oily in some places and too dry in others, nothing I'd serve to anyone else, but mostly delicious. Stuffed myself and washed it down with a rum-and-coke.

Mostly still with some rain sprinkles, and then threatened rain all night; closed up the boat and didn't sleep very well. Killed a small cockroach in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  4/4/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Totally grey and calm and damp. Rain before dawn. Stayed grey until midafternoon.

Took out last air-conditioner evaporator, out of the main cabin. Still a few tubes and wires to get out, but almost done.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers and an apple for dinner.

Gary brought in his small catamaran (plowing a big furrow in the bottom, since he cut across a shallow area; I thought he was going to be stuck there for an hour or two) and put it on the mooring next to me. Very close, but we should stay clear in most conditions.

Started engine and ran it for 30 minutes. Fuel fitting I caulked seems good, but now another one is spritzing a bit. Bummer: at the 15-minute mark, the one I "fixed" is leaking too. So I guess this sealant doesn't work in this application, either because of pressure or the fuel, or both. At least I think I've proved that the leaks are on the six fittings on top of the pump, not from the pump itself or the two fittings on the side. But I'll have to find a better sealant.
Sun for a new day  4/5/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Dinghied ashore to boatyard. Discarded evaporator, and used the book-exchange. Saw a discarded rudder next to the dumpster.

Over to the cafe, and the internet still is down. But I power-cycled their hub, and it started working ! [But then someone said it was working yesterday.] Finished filing my federal income taxes online. Went pretty smoothly so far; confirmation from IRS should come later. Ordered a tube of Rectorseal #5 sealant ($9.50, mostly for shipping).

Back out to the boat. Wind has shifted to E, but it turns out Gary put a stern anchor out on his catamaran, so his boat hasn't moved at all. Without the anchor, our boats would be fairly close together, but still swinging safely.

Loosened two fuel pipe fittings on top of pump, applied sealant, and tightened them. Loosened an injector-pipe clip that was applying a strain to one of the pipes.

Dinghied in to cafe and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Aha ! A charge of $156 from the auto-pilot motor repair place has appeared on my credit card; that's progress. It appeared a week ago, so I hope the motor will be arriving any day now. Still unable to establish email contact with that place; last I heard they were receiving my email but responses were bouncing.

Chatted briefly with a guy in the cafe; we'd seen each other there a lot, but never talked. He's been living here about 17 months. When I told him I was just cruising through (but had been stuck here for a couple of months), he said he can't stand to be out on the water unless he's fishing; he just loves fishing. We talked fishing and lures for a while.

Got a few groceries, and back to the boat.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

In the middle of the night, killed a cockroach in the galley.
Sun for a new day  4/6/2007 (Friday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

A little headachey this morning. Nice sunny day. Did a bucket of laundry. Chopped a couple of lengths of air-conditioning tubing and wire out of the back of the galley cabinets.

In the afternoon, saw people aboard "Western Star", a Gulfstar motor-sailer in a slip nearby. So I launched the dinghy and went over to say hello. They were very busy, trying to get out of there, so I just said hi and gave them my boat-card and had a very brief exchange. Turns out it's a Gulfstar 53, not a 44 like mine. The guy said it was built in 1974 and launched in 1975. He said he might want to stop by and take a look at my pilothouse; I invited him. Back to my boat, and half an hour later they were out of the slip and leaving the harbor.

Took the starter-rope-recoil mechanism off the top of the outboard, and immediately saw why it's been kicking back on me lately. A length of rope has escaped off the wheel, and the rope is completely sawed through at one point; only a thread still holding it together. So I find the spare rope, take the broken one out, and struggle to get the new one in properly. Takes several tries before I get it on in the right direction and with the spring in the proper state.

Finally, wind has shifted back to normal ESE or SE direction.

Salad and peanut-butter crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/7/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Ran engine to test it and charge batteries. No fuel leak at first, but after 5 or 10 minutes there was fuel oozing out. Still oozing at 25-minute mark, and at the 50-minute mark. Shut off engine after an hour.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Dinghied in to cafe and did internet. Bought water ($1.50 for 10 gallons). The IRS has "accepted" my tax return; that's big of them.

In the afternoon, idly watched a guy at the dock hoisting an engine out of a sailboat, using a chain-hoist tied over the boom. He dropped it down into a small hard dinghy, then towed that dinghy by rowing another hard dinghy. Over to a trawler, and cranked the engine up the side of the trawler and onto the stern. I wonder what the heck he's doing; is he going to repair the engine in some kind of workshop aboard the trawler ? Or is he taking an engine out of a nice-looking sailboat and installing it in a not-so-nice-looking trawler ? Pictures: came out of this boat, engine in dinghy, engine hoisted into trawler.

Gave myself a haircut, then a shave and shower; feel like a new man.

Another experimental dinner. After salad, made a pile of biscuit dough, onion and smoked sausage, and fried up the whole mess. Came out okay, but I made too much. Stuffed myself and washed it down with a rum-and-coke.
Sun for a new day  4/8/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Dinghied in to cafe and did internet. Handheld VHF battery pack arrived in the mail.

Back to the boat for lunch. Killed a cockroach in the cockpit. Dumped 10 gallons of water from jugs into aft water tank; it's full. Opened handheld VHF battery pack, and it looks good. The batteries are NiCd's (rechargeable); they could have been alkalines.

Back ashore for more internet. Put battery pack on the charger and it doesn't seem to be charging; maybe it came fully charged ? But 15 minutes later the red LED was on, which means it's charging. Bought 10 gallons of water ($1.50).

Got a few groceries and back to the boat.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Slept like a log, making up for last couple of restless nights.
Sun for a new day  4/9/2007 (Monday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries. No fuel oozing at 15-minute mark, but then it appeared at the 20-minute mark. Still charging 20A+ after an hour; maybe I've been keeping my batteries at a lower state of charge than I thought ? I judge by voltage, which I know is not a good way to go. But when my batteries are at 12.7+ under load, as they are around sunset, I assume they're just about fully charged.

"Western Star" came back in around 11:45.

Worked on the handheld VHF. Works with new battery pack, but the cracked case on the VHF needs more repair. And one of the rusted screws on a power terminal has a completely stripped head.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice-mushroomsoup and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/10/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Dinghied ashore early and did internet in the cafe. No sign of the two packages I'm expecting in the mail. Saw an ad for a sister-ship to mine, with mostly new engine, for $30K less than I paid for mine six years ago !

After lunch, took out last tubing and wiring from air-conditioners. A tough job: had to empty locker behind main table, cut tubing, then pull out through engine compartment, in least-accessible far low corner of the compartment. Now the only air-conditioning vestiges are the ones I'm going to leave in place: through-hulls and valves and hoses, and the circuit-breakers and switches in the electrical panel.

Refrigerator stuck running continually again, even though the thermostat is on the warmest setting. [Forgot to check temperature.]

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/11/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries. Idle speed is bit too high.

Pumped out bilge a bit.

Dinghied in to cafe and did internet ($3 for soda and tip). Used the book-exchange.

I've been using PayPal a lot lately, for the first time; glad this didn't happen to me.

Got a few groceries and back to the boat.

Salad, biscuit-onion-sausage and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/12/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Pumped out the bilge some more.

Looked out at 1 PM and realized Flint and Rob's trimaran is back, anchored on the edge of the entrance channel. Thought they had planned to be back and gone a week ago.

Took apart the windlass and greased it, then drained the oil reservoir and refilled it. The oil was very low; where did it go to ?

Flint and Rob's dinghy came out and the trimaran left at 4:45; I didn't get a chance to talk to them. Guess they're off to Texas.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/13/2007 (Friday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Dinghied ashore early and did internet in the cafe.

In the afternoon, loafed. Cleaned the bilge a bit.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/14/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Watched a speedboat roaring around, full speed even in the very narrow and high-traffic entrance channel, and right into and out of the inner harbor. Guess he's testing his motor, but it's a dangerous thing to do.

Took apart a bit of the headliner in the V-berth, to get to underside of a stanchion I want to rebed.

Solar not charging at all around 4 PM, even though there's plenty of sunlight. But then I bypassed the controller, and still got nothing. Maybe the panels are getting shaded; forgot to look.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Headachey all evening and all night.
Sun for a new day  4/15/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Headachey. Emptied 9 gallons of water from jugs to aft tank.

Dinghied to cafe and got 10 gallons of water ($1.50) and did internet.

Boat came in with some nice fish.

Still headachey in the evening; getting worse. Peanut-butter crackers for dinner.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries.
Sun for a new day  4/16/2007 (Monday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Still a little headachey.

Dinghied to cafe early to do internet. I've been looking into the backup-autopilot issue again. I want a wheelpilot where the drive unit is on the cockpit sole, not on the helm pedestal/binnacle. Raymarine tells me I have to go back to the old ST3000 to get that [but that model is rated for even lower displacement boats than the ST4000, which itself is rated lower than the displacement of my boat]. Waiting to hear from Simrad.

Back to the boat and spent most of the afternoon in bed, trying to nap off my headache. Got up later and cleaned the spark plugs on the outboard. Killed a cockroach in the cockpit.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/17/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Headache mostly gone.

Wind from SW today; unusual.

Dinghied in to boatyard and used the book-exchange, then to the cafe to do internet. Found out they're going to close the place next month and build a new restaurant on the site. Lots of changes going on around here !

Heard from "Exuma Grouper", and the news is not good. They went from La Parguera PR to Mona Island, and their (recently-repaired) engine crapped out. Took 8 days to sail back to PR (not sure if they were underway the whole time), and Doug had medical problems after exhaustion from raising anchor in swells. He said "We have been to hell and back". They're in Boqueron PR, ordering an outboard (probably as propulsion for the boat, a Gemini 30ish catamaran), asking about injection pump repair, and needing to repair sails. Bummer.

Still a bit headachey in the afternoon and evening. Adjusted idle speed screw on engine. Glued rubber bumber on underside of laptop.

Salad and PBJ sandwich for dinner. Getting grey and rainy.
Sun for a new day  4/18/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Headache still nagging at me.

Totally grey and damp with low clouds. Wind light and has clocked around to NW. Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries. Rain at 8 AM; blowing sideways through the cockpit so I have to close everything up.

Dinghied in to the cafe to do internet. But the internet connection went down after half an hour or so.

Back ashore after lunch, and this time the internet worked. And the sun came out. Got some groceries. Wanted to buy AA batteries, but they wanted $3 for two; seemed high.

Salad and chili-with-biscuits and rum-and-coke for dinner. Headache just about gone.

Sprayed a bug in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  4/19/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Before dawn, grey and damp with still low clouds again. But then sunny at dawn.

Did a small bucket of laundry. Dinghied in to the cafe to do internet. Tube of fuel-line sealant arrived in the mail ! So now the last item remaining is the auto-pilot motor.

For some reason, there have been a lot of seagulls hanging around here lately.

Loosened all the fuel fittings on top of the fuel injection pump. Several readers have asked what the fittings look like, so here's a picture. The ends are some kind of bell-shaped solid casting, not just a flaring of the tubing. Applied the new sealant (Rectorseal 5) and now have to wait a couple of days for it to dry.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Around 7, someone whizzing by in a dinghy hit my stern anchor rode. My boat didn't move much, but I heard the rode tightening under the pressure. Fortunately, no damage done: they weren't going flat out, like some people around here do, and they seem to have hit the line cleanly with the front of the lower unit, and didn't get the line into the prop (probably because the line was under a lot of tension). They backed off and went around. I'm amazed that some people come through this anchorage at high speed in the dark: it's a minefield of boats, anchor rodes, and floats/buoys.
Sun for a new day  4/20/2007 (Friday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Grey and damp morning with still low clouds.

Dinghied in to the cafe to do internet. Found out my auto-pilot motor was shipped parcel post from NJ on 3/27; I should have specified Priority Mail. Might take another week or two to get here.

Sun came out around noon.

Back to the boat, and late in the afternoon I unbolted that stanchion on the starboard-forward deck; here's what a gunky stanchion base looks like. After a lot of cleanup, it looked a bit better. Ran out of energy, so I taped over the holes and left them until tomorrow.

Salad and chicken-onion-biscuit-mushroomsoup and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Happened again: at 7:15, a guy came whizzing by in a skiff, doing at least 20 MPH, and slammed right into my stern anchor rode. I went running up to ask if he was okay, and he was. His outboard's skeg had hit the line, and the whole outboard flipped up. He's lucky he wasn't flung headlong in or out of his skiff. This guy comes whizzing close by my boat a couple of times each day; now that the wind is out of the SW, my stern anchor rode is out hard in a direction it doesn't usually point.

In the middle of the night, lost my bet with the stanchion-holes on deck: started pouring rain at 2:30 or so. A heavy, pounding rain such as we haven't had in weeks. The tape I put over the holes is stopping most of the water, but it's not waterproof tape. Eventually I wised up and went out and put a bucket over the area to help things a little.
Sun for a new day  4/21/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Grey and damp morning with still low clouds. Rain at 5:30.

Dumped 4 gallons of rainwater into forward water tank.

There's a boat next to me that falls into the category not of "boat" but of "floating cheap place to sleep". A couple of guys showed up at it a couple of days ago, hauled some (apparently wet) cushions/mattresses out into the cockpit to dry off, and one of the guys spent two nights aboard. I don't think he's there today, but the cushions are still out "drying" (not!) in the cockpit in the rain.

Launched the dinghy and moved my stern anchor in 20 or 25 feet; it really was out a bit too far. Still no reason for people to be racing through the anchorage in the dark in their dinghies.

Dinghied in to the cafe to do internet. Rained again at 10.

Back to the boat for lunch and to listen to Car Talk. Then ashore again for more internet. More rain from 2 to 2:30.

As I was shutting down the laptop, my auto-pilot motor arrived in the mail ! Out to the boat through the rain.

Half an hour later, as I was working on the auto-pilot motor, the sun came out ! Good omen, what ? Tested the motor by connecting it to the batteries, and it works. Took some finagling to get it back into the pump-unit housing, then more work to get the pulley back onto the shaft. No pieces left over when I was done.

At 4, started the engine and ran it for an hour to charge batteries and test everything. After 10 minutes, no leaks at the fuel pump. A slight leak at the #2 injector, but that's easy to fix. Idle speed is just a smidgen low, I think.

At the 20-minute mark, there's some fuel oozing down at the bottom of the fuel pump. Not very much, and it seems to be coming from the leftmost fitting, the easiest one to get at.

Turned on the auto-pilot, took the wired remote down to the engine compartment door, and watched the pulleys spin when I pressed the buttons on the remote. Looks good. Can't test it much more than that at anchor.

Salad and cheese sandwich and peanut-butter crackers for dinner.

At 7:45, a sudden, howling squall came out of the west, with very strong wind and lots of rain. Had to scramble to close the main hatch and a few ports that were open. Lots of strain on the stern anchor, with the wind coming up the stern.
Sun for a new day  4/22/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Damp and still morning again, but the clouds are much thinner; might be a nice day. I see a dinghy (really a kayak) at that tiny boat with the soaked cushions/mattresses in the cockpit, so a guy must have slept there last night. Can't imagine how damp and nasty it must be inside that boat.

Loosened fuel pipe fitting and applied sealant again. Forgot to do the injector 2 fitting. Dumped 4 gallons of rainwater into forward water tank.

Dinghied in to use the book-exchange and do internet. Got groceries. Back to boat for lunch, then back in for gasoline ($8) and more internet.

Spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Heavy, pounding, drenching rain from 1 AM to 4 AM, then again from 5:30 AM to 7 AM. Bit of a trickle coming through the port over my berth, which is unusual. I think I need to buy new rubber gaskets for the ports.
Sun for a new day  4/23/2007 (Monday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Another totally grey and wet morning. [Stayed that way most of the day; a little sunshine around noon.]

I'm planning to leave here tomorrow morning. Will see if the weather cooperates: have to raise three anchors in very tight quarters and then dodge a lot of mooring balls as I motor out.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries. Still a slight fuel ooze from leftmost fitting on top of pump. To hell with it.

Dumped 7 gallons of rainwater into forward water tank.

Dinghied in to dispose of garbage and do internet. Water in harbor is completely brown from churned-up mud. Left all the chunks of copper air-conditioning tubing in a box near the dumpster; maybe someone will grab them and cash them in at a recycling place.

Back to boat. Cleaned outboard spark plugs.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Rained off and on all night; only really hard once or twice.
Sun for a new day  4/24/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor in Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Started pouring rain at 5:30. Totally grey and wet dawn. By 6:30, still pouring, and blowing pretty hard from E. (Noticed that one of my neighbors has laundry out on her clothesline.) So I'm not going anywhere this morning, I guess. Need a nice calm, dry stretch to raise three anchors and get out of here. Weather isn't supposed to break until Thursday or so.

Dumped 6 gallons of rainwater into forward water tank and jug.

Found a nasty water-leak into the V-berth; I think it's coming from the anchor rode hawseholes, even though they're (mostly) plugged up.

Ran engine for two hours to charge batteries. Still putting about 25A into the batteries at the end.

Still pouring rain at 8:30; guess I'll stay today. If it lets up for a little while, maybe I'll go ashore.

Around 9:15, the sun came out, conditions were perfect, and I decided to raise anchors. Launched the dinghy, moved the secondary anchor out to a better place, then raised the stern anchor and brought it very near the stern. Hoisted and stowed the dinghy. Raised the stern anchor and laid it on deck. Started engine at 9:30 or so and started bringing in the secondary anchor, keeping a close eye on three mooring balls that I don't want to run over with the prop. Also keeping an eye on the very light breeze, to make sure I don't drift into Marques's boat on one side or the catamaran on the other side. But the breeze is so light and the chain so heavy that the boat doesn't move much at all.

Secondary anchor comes up easily, but twisted around the primary's chain. Finally get it untwisted and raised onto deck. Bring in the primary until the bow is almost over it, but now a mooring ball is very near the prop, and another mooring very near the anchor; don't want to snag either mooring. Finally bring up the primary, and it's snagged on the mooring, but that's easy to unwind with a boathook. Boat's free ! Quick check on the mooring near the prop, put engine in gear, and ease away. Breeze pushes me a little close to a powerboat in a slip, but I get by and head past the marina. Tight quarters but no other traffic, and soon I'm heading out the entrance channel.

At the far end of the channel, a fishing boat wakes me, and I hear a loud thump down below. Hope that wasn't something nasty, such as something falling onto the engine, or my stuffing box coming apart. Who knows what can happen after 2 months without moving ?

So instead of going much further, I turn off and anchor just outside the entrance. Should be okay in these light conditions; will get rough when the tradewinds come back. Go to the bow to anchor, and find that in the excitement I left the primary anchor dangling off the bow. That probably explains the thump I heard; hope it didn't take a chunk out of the fiberglass when it swung. Anchor down by 10:15 at outside Benner Bay.

Time for a quick cleanup and boat-check. Stow secondary anchor the rest of the way, get stern anchor into a safer spot where it won't go overboard if someone wakes me badly, add lashing to dinghy. Down below, and engine compartment and stuffing box look good. Time to wash down the decks; I tracked lots of mud around.

Had some lunch, and sun started going away. I really should snorkel and scrape the hull, but I don't feel like it. So I launch the dinghy, pump up the tubes, and head ashore to do internet. On the way, saw this boat which definitely is aground.

Sun came out in the early afternoon, and the weather turned mostly-gorgeous. Got some groceries and back out to the boat. Opened everything up; nice to get a dry breeze through the boat. Put various towels and such out on the lifelines to start drying.

Went snorkeling under the boat at 3:30, for about 45 minutes. Lots of slime and gunk growing, but no barnacles. Scraped prop and rudder and about 2/3 of the hull in 45 minutes or so. Water here is about 6 feet deep. Top two feet are warm and very murky; below that it's clear and cold.

Started clouding over at about 5, but it never did rain.

Salad and chili-with-biscuits and rum-and-coke for dinner. Feel good; feels like everything worked out perfectly today.

Heard an alarming noise after dark, and found it was a nearby anchored sailboat with its furled jib flogging a bit in the wind. [Next morning, saw that the boat looks unoccupied, has a big pouch of jib bulging out, and the sail probably will be badly damaged if it stays that way for another week or so.]
Sun for a new day  4/25/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor outside Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Pretty clear morning; might be a sunny day.

Loafed all morning. Raised anchor at 11:50 and motored straight into the wind and swells. Then unfurled the jib, turned the corner, and started motor-sailing W to Charlotte Amelie.

Trying to figure out if the auto-pilot is working. It's hard to do, because I'm heading almost straight downwind and down-swell, so the boat is slewing around a lot. I seem to be able to steer using the power-remote feature of the auto-pilot, but even that's a bit hard to tell.

Engine running 4 or 5 degrees hot. Aft end of heat-exchanger is not cool to touch; it should be. Will have to investigate the impeller and heat-exchanger. And it's time to change the coolant.

Checked the fuel pump a couple of times and didn't see any fuel oozing. Forgot to look near the injectors.

Saw a tourist-submarine ( pic1, pic2 ) being towed out of the harbor. I'm told they go down to 90 feet or so. Gary at the cafe used to work with one, and he said one day they dove down and suddenly they saw the body of a diver who had just died.

Into the harbor, and after a couple of loops got the anchor down, at Charlotte Amelie harbor. Idled the engine for a while to cool it down, and shut it off at 1:45. Don't see any boats I recognize, except for the permanently-resident boats I've seen here before.

Got a free Wi-Fi signal right from the boat ! Unusual here; lots of signals but usually none are free.

Guy going by in a dinghy told me they're going to have fireworks on Saturday night, and I'll have to clear out of this area before then. I can see some kind of amusementpark/carnival set up ashore; guess fireworks will be part of the festivities.

Oiled the bicycle and pumped up the tires.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

Loud music from the carnival until about 3 AM, but it didn't bother me much.
Sun for a new day  4/26/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor in Charlotte Amelie harbor, St Thomas, USVI.

Very grey morning. Rain off and on from 5 AM to 9.

Opened engine intake strainer and found it completely gooped up with black mud and some weeds. Cleaned it out and lazily decided not to check the impeller and heat-exchanger yet; maybe this will fix the overheating.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries. Yes, something on top of fuel pump, and number 2 injector fitting, still are leaking slightly.

After 9, sun started peeking out a little. Looked ashore, and it looks like a parade is forming up: I see people lining the road, and no car-traffic.

Launch the dinghy, put the bike into it, and dinghy ashore. Bike seems to work okay; the big thing to watch out for is if the seat-tube has rusted so much that it's weakened. I bike a mile or so into town, and suddenly there's the start of the parade. It's mostly "jump-up" trucks, big semi's loaded with amplifiers and speakers, blasting out jump-up songs with bass that makes all your internal organs jump. A tight crowd of local black people dancing around the main truck. I just leaned my bike and myself up against a building and enjoyed the scene; I couldn't have moved a step in any direction. Some pretty women, too.

After the main truck has passed, I walked the bike further into town, didn't see anything amazing, and got on the bike and went a few miles to KMart. Couldn't find much off my shopping list there. To the supermarket, and came out loaded. Although snacks and cereal and crackers still are unacceptably expensive here; got a little cereal but no snacks or crackers. Fifteen seconds after I got back on my bike, the skies opened up and it poured rain. I stood under a taxi-gazebo for 5 minutes to let the rain pass. Then onto the bike, to the dinghy-dock, and out to the boat without getting too wet. Fifteen minutes later, it was pouring again, and rained for a half-hour or so. Still grey at 1 PM.

In midafternoon, went ashore again and got on the bike again. Checked out the new luxury marina (it's mostly a shopping center) and chatted with a couple of officers at the Customs office. Then to Radio Shack; as I expected, they didn't have any connector remotely like the one on my Wi-Fi Cantenna. To the supermarket for more groceries. Back to the dinghy dock, groceries and bike into the dinghy, and out to the boat. Stowed everything, then took a quick trip to photograph what looks like a sistership of mine: "Osiris" from Cape Canaveral FL ( pic1, pic2 ). Dumped 4 gallons of rainwater into forward water tank.

Salad and chicken-onion-biscuit and rum-and-coke for dinner.

The loud music ashore started at 10 tonight. Kind of nice music. Don't remember when it stopped.
Sun for a new day  4/27/2007 (Friday)
At anchor in Charlotte Amelie harbor, St Thomas, USVI.

Loosened and tightened the injector 2 fuel fitting. Opened the end of the heat-exchanger and rodded it out a bit, but the top half is fairly clogged; I think I'll have to take the whole thing apart and soak the tubes in a bit of muriatic acid.

Got a Wi-Fi connection and did some internet.

Started the engine a little before 10, and immediately had a small geyser of water from the heat-exchanger: the end-cap isn't seated properly. Shut off the engine and fixed it. Engine started, raised anchor by 10, and motored around closer to the center of town and (I hope) out of the fireworks barge stand-off area. Anchor down at Charlotte Amelie harbor.

Let engine run for almost an hour to charge batteries. Did some more internet.

Around noon, finally made contact with faithful readers Bill and Patsy, who are here and have been trying to arrange a way to meet with me. I straightened up the boat a little, launched the dinghy, and headed ashore. Met them at dinghy dock, and we went to a bar and had a beer. Then Patsy went shopping while Bill and I went out to the boat to give him a tour. Then back ashore, and they treated me to a nice lunch. We had lots of fun chatting about boats and cruising. They're from Oklahoma (fun fact: Bill says Oklahoma has more coastline/shoreline, due to rivers and lakes, than the Gulf and East coasts combined !). They recently sold two sailboats, and are thinking of buying a catamaran. Nice folks.

They caught a taxi back to their car, and I wandered through town a little. There's another parade going on this afternoon, this one more of a kids parade. But it's a bit hot to be wandering around; it's mostly clear and very sunny.

Back to the boat, and finished a small bucket of laundry I started this morning. Looked like we'd have a few hours of non-rain, so I finally rebedded that stanchion. The tube of caulk was so hardened at the end that I had to cut into it from the side. Fortunately it was down to the last 20% or less, so I didn't waste much by destroying the tube.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Around 3 AM, suddenly a swell came into the harbor, and it was rolly for the rest of the night. Now I remember how uncomfortable this harbor can get.
Sun for a new day  4/28/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor in Charlotte Amelie harbor, St Thomas, USVI.

Sunny until 9, then mostly rainy all day.

Drained the engine coolant and took apart the heat-exchanger ( pic1, pic2, pic3 ). Got it out and took both end caps off and looked through the tubes. They didn't look too bad, but I rodded them out a bit and did a couple of very quick acid-spray-and-rinse cycles. Not enough crud to warrant soaking it in muriatic acid, which can weaken it if overdone. Put it back together, back on the engine, and filled the cooling system with straight water for now. A bit of a sweaty job with the boat closed up and rolling a bit.

Had lunch and listened to Car Talk.

Started the engine, and a geyser from the end-cap of the heat-exchanger. Shut it down and mess with the cap. Started again, problem even worse. Third time, still lots of water leaking, but in a harmless direction, into the bilge. Let the engine run to charge batteries. No leak from other parts of the cooling system that I messed with. Big question is: is the other end-cap, the one between antifreeze and raw water, leaking also ? Won't know until I run engine a few more times and track the coolant level.

Leak from end-cap diminished a bit as the engine ran on. But by the half-hour mark, that leak was worse again and now there was an antifreeze leak also. So I shut down the engine.

Salad and chili-with-biscuits and rum-and-coke for dinner.

At 9, the fireworks started. Fortunately the wind is mostly E, so the smoke and ashes and embers are threatening boats anchored closer to the cruis ship docks; if the wind was SE, the junk would be landing on me. Saw a few burning embers make it all the way down to water. Sat out on the foredeck and watched the fireworks and took lots of pictures with my didgital camera in "fireworks" mode. Results are made more interesting by the motion of the boat; you can see how the lights ashore are all streaked: pic1, pic2, pic3, pic4, pic5, pic6, pic7, pic8, pic9.
Sun for a new day  4/29/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor in Charlotte Amelie harbor, St Thomas, USVI.

Mostly sunny morning, but harbor still fairly rolly.

Into the engine compartment early. Took heat-exchanger apart just enough to dry the mating surfaces where the two halves join, then slathered a lot of form-a-gasket liquid in there and put it back together. Instructions on the bottle don't say how long it takes to dry. Used more of it on the end cap gasket.

Into the V-berth, and reinstalled the headliner and molding I had removed to rebed the stanchion.

Very flaky Wi-Fi signal today; got it only briefly once in the morning.

Salad and peanut-butter crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/30/2007 (Monday)
At anchor in Charlotte Amelie harbor, St Thomas, USVI.

Put last touches on engine cooling system; form-a-gasket stuff doesn't seem to have set very well. Filled system with water and started engine. No leaks at first look. Five minutes later, water leaking from fresh-water side. Bummer. A little fuel oozing down the fuel pump, too.

Leak was slow, so I decided to go ahead and move. Anchor up at 7:10 and motored through Haulover Cut and into Crown Bay, keeping a close eye on the engine temperature, and dashing down into the engine compartment to monitor the leak. Some moisture on the end-cap too. Temperature came up quickly but never read over 180. Heart-stopping thwack-thwack-thwack noise from the engine compartment when I was halfway through Crown Bay, and I put it into neutral and dashed down there, but the noise had stopped and I couldn't find anything wrong. Kept easing along at fast-idle, and the noise never came back, and the temperature stayed okay (although the gauge can lie if the coolant is low; but I had just put in 3+ gallons of water, and the leak was slow).

Made it through Crown Bay and around the corner to anchor at 7:50 near Honeymoon Bay. Let engine idle, temperature went down a tick below 180, shut it off at 7:55. Whew !

I moved because it's not so rolly over here, there should be a Wi-Fi signal, there's a book-exchange, there's snorkeling, and there's access to the marine store and supermarket at Crown Bay marina. And I had to run the engine to test it and charge batteries anyway. A calculated risk to do the short passage from the harbor to here.

Crap ! No free Wi-Fi signal.

Before going ashore to buy some other kind of gasket-maker to use on the heat-exchanger, looked in the drawers aboard and found I already had another kind. The one I used is a liquid "aviation" form-a-gasket; this one is a tube of gel-like stuff. So I don't need to buy anything yet.

Dinghied in to the book-exchange on Water Island, then back to the boat. Then long ride across Crown Bay to the marina. Saw sailboat "Auk" in a slip with 3 or 4 guys working aboard (maybe on the heat-exchanger ?); Bill wasn't there at the moment. Explored a small shopping center, then got groceries at the supermarket. Back to boat. Outboard is running quite well these days, for some reason.

Went snorkeling in SE corner of Honeymoon Bay, finding remains of at least olne wrecked sailboat: two sections of mast, a big engine and battery, and a smaller engine (maybe a genset). But not much by way of fish or coral. Still, a pleasant swim. Then snorkeled under the boat and scraped the hull.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Sudden rain at 3 AM caught me with all the ports and hatches open; had to hustle to close them.
Sun for a new day  5/1/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor near Honeymoon Bay, Water Island, St Thomas, USVI.

Rain from 8 to 9.

Trying to decide what to do about the heat-exchanger. Should I take it apart now, clean off the old goop and put new form-a-gasket on ? If I do, can't run the engine today to charge batteries; will have to wait until tomorrow for it to dry. Maybe the old material "set" somehow overnight and will work now ? Wishful thinking.

I decide to gather some data. Into the engine compartment. Old gasket goop still is a bit tacky to the touch; it hasn't set completely even now, after an hour of engine running yesterday. On the positive side, the coolant level is down hardly at all; I didn't lose much to that leak. I add some more water anyway. Slightly tighten a couple of bolts in the leaking area, but really they were tight enough anyway. Can't see anything that might have caused that thwack-thwack noise yesterday.

Decide to run the engine to charge batteries and test it. After 10 minutes of running, no coolant leaks at all. Fuel leak from leftmost fitting on top of fuel pump.

No coolant leak after 20 minutes. Ditto after 35 minutes. At 45 minutes, a slow drip, maybe every 10 seconds. At 50 minutes and 75 minutes, couldn't see any drip.

More rain after 10 AM. And until noon, and still grey afterward. Damp, boring day. Glad I did my errands yesterday.

Cleaned up engine compartment a bit. Loosened and re-sealed that leaky fitting on top of the fuel pump. Tried to fix the broken cable on my Wi-Fi Cantenna (found that the remainder of my Liquid Electrical Tape had kicked off in the can).

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/2/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor near Honeymoon Bay, Water Island, St Thomas, USVI.

Loafed all morning. After lunch, checked engine, started it at 1:10, and raised anchor. Motored east through Crown Bay, pushing RPMS a bit high to test the engine. No coolant leak, temperature went to exactly 180 and stayed there, engine a bit noisy at lower RPMs. Blowing pretty hard this afternoon. Through Haulover Cut and into Charlotte Amelie harbor. Anchor down at 1:55, at Charlotte Amelie harbor.

Got a brief Wi-Fi signal for first time in days. Very brief: uploaded my log file and then it was gone.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Rolly all night.
Sun for a new day  5/3/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor in Charlotte Amelie harbor, St Thomas, USVI.

I've developed a sore throat and a bit of a cough over the last couple of days. Tired today, too.

Was going to leave harbor at 11 and go to Buck Island, and then Benner Bay. But it's blowing pretty hard this morning. I think instead I'll stay here another night, and go straight to Benner Bay early tomorrow morning.

Emptied three gallons of rainwater into the forward water tank.

Spent a couple of hours napping; feel lousy.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/4/2007 (Friday)
At anchor in Charlotte Amelie harbor, St Thomas, USVI.

This is my 6-year anniversary of owning and living on Magnolia ! Took possession of Magnolia on 5/4/2001 in Key Largo. Have been living aboard and cruising ever since, except for a couple of 2-week "vacations from the boat" each year.

Unfurled the mainsail; furling drum is very stiff. Engine start at 5:50, anchor up at 5:55. Motored out of the harbor, and headed east. Straight into stiff swell and wind; losing 1 to 2 knots to it. Engine temperature about 182. Up and around the corner into Benner Bay, getting rolled heavily a couple of times as I turned sideways to the swells around the corner. Furled the mainsail; need to replace the furling line too. Anchor down at 7:55 outside Benner Bay. Engine off at 8:05.

Around 9, loaded up the dinghy with: fuel tank, tool bag, two empty 5-gallon water jugs, empty 5-gallon fuel jug, two bags of garbage, box that is garbage, bag of books to exchange, foul-weather jacket, computer bag, water bottle, and me. Went ashore to boatyard and disposed of garbage and used the book-exchange. Pretty quiet now that the bar/restaurant is closed. Over to the Pirate's Cove cafe, and Pamela and Gary are still there, but not much else. Bought gasoline ($8.50 at $3.54/gallon) and water ($1.50 for 10 gallons). Tried to get their Wi-Fi working but one hub has been stolen, the other doesn't seem to work, and so much wiring has been disturbed that it's impossible to figure out. But the remaining hub has power and thus should be presenting a Wi-Fi signal, and it isn't. Tried lots of cables, went and looked at their rack of equipment in the office, but no glory. Picked up a letter from my bank in the mail; that's one of the main reasons I came back here.

Back out to the boat. Killed a cockroach in the galley in broad daylight. Laid down, feeling lousy: headachey, coughing, sneezing, achey, sore throat. Took pills and drank lots of water and rested, but still felt bad all afternoon and all night.

Salad and chicken-onion-noodle-mushroomsoup for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/5/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor outside Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Still feel lousy: headachey, coughing, sneezing, achey, sore throat.

Felt lousy all day and all night.

Salad and PBJ sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/6/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor outside Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Feel horrible: bad headache, coughing, sneezing, achey, sore throat. Taking lots of pills, but can't seem to find anything that works.

Guy in a dinghy stopped by around 2, and it turned out to be John from "Serene" who I knew in Marathon in 2001 or so; I've been wondering ever since where I'd see him again. Got a sketch of his travels: after Marathon, he went to Nassau and got hit by hurricane Michelle there (a lousy harbor even in normal conditions; terrible place to be for a hurricane). He spent some time in Luperon and Salinas and St Thomas, then cut the corner (missing the BVIs and St Martin) down to Nevis, then eventually to Venezuela (he was in VZ when Ivan hit Grenada). The pump-shaft on his engine disintegrated (turned out to be covered by a recall), so he sailed up to Puerto Rico, I think, before getting it fixed. He's been here in Benner Bay for more than a year, it sounds like. I can't imagine why; it's pretty dead here. And I wouldn't want to be here for a hurricane.

Saw a motorboat being towed into the harbor; it had a portable pump on the stern that was pumping out a lot of water; must have a severe leak.

Around 4, started thinking about medical options: go to a doctor ashore, take antibiotics I have aboard, etc. Realized I'd probably been taking the wrong medicine: I've been taking "sinus" medicine (and painkillers); now I'm going to switch to "allergy" medicine.

Salad and PBJ sandwich for dinner.

Starting to feel better by 6 or 7; the allergy pills seem to be working. Throat and head feel better. Congestion starting to ease a bit.

Got solid sleep through the night, although I'm sweating like crazy and the sheets and pillowcase are getting very wet. But my headache is almost completely gone, which is terrific.
Sun for a new day  5/7/2007 (Monday)
At anchor outside Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Feel a lot better today: still a bit congested, still have a bad cough at times, feel a bit weak. And for a while I couldn't seem to stop sweating. But sneezing is gone, headache gone.

Cloudy day, but seems unlikely to rain, so I did a bucket of laundry to clean all the bedclothes. Shaved and showered and felt a little more human. Did the dishes.

In the afternoon, dinghied ashore to the cafe. It's half torn-down, no internet, lucky to have AC power available. Charged my laptop while chatting with some guys. These guys have lived here, on boats, for years. So their talk was of having their cars towed, encounters with the police, buying fake registration and inspection stickers for their cars, and other such machinations.

Bought 5 gallons of water. To supermarket for groceries. Back to boat.

Took another allergy pill.

Salad and spaghetti for dinner.

Slept pretty well; a little sweaty from the allergy pill.
Sun for a new day  5/8/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor outside Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Feel still better today: a little congested, still have a bad cough at times, slightly tired.

Very grey morning. Ran engine for 90 minutes to charge batteries.

Very grey and breezy and humid all day; blew pretty hard, and developed a pretty good chop. But it's straight on the nose, so the boat is comfortable.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Slept poorly all night. Very warm and humid; threat of rain kept most of the hatches and ports closed. And my breathing still isn't good: sinus congestion, and I think I have some bronchitis (I wheeze and can feel fluid in my right lung in certain positions).
Sun for a new day  5/9/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor outside Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Still breezy and very humid; fairly grey, but more sun than yesterday. My breathing is getting better, but I'm still tired and a bit weak. Still a bit of a cough.

Sub-tropical storm "Andrea" has formed somewhere off the FL/GA border. Just 45 MPH winds. But the first named storm, and before the official start of hurricane season.

Windy and rough all day.

Cut the bad section off the end of the mainsail furling line.

Salad and sausage-onion-dough-cheese concotion and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/10/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor outside Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Still breezy and very humid; still lots of clouds. I'm just about completely over my sickness; still blowing my nose and coughing a little, but not much.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries.

Totally grey and socked-in by 10:30.

Dinghied ashore in the early afternoon. To the boatyard, and disposed of garbage and used the book-exchange. Back into the dinghy to go to Pirate's Cove, and 20 feet away from the dock the motor stopped dead. Not good; something easy to fix usually wouldn't act like that. Paddled back to the dock and took the spark plugs out and cleaned them. Still wouldn't start; not even a cough. Paddled over to Pirate's Cove and took a break for a while. Used the book-exchange there. Still no Wi-Fi there.

Tried everything to get the motor started, over the next couple of hours. Cleaned the plugs, loosened the fuel-pump side of the carb to make sure fuel is getting through, tried carb-cleaner and then starting fluid into the air intake, checked kill-switch and stop-switch a bunch of times, cranked with choke out to clear flooding. Got it running for 30 seconds once, but then it quit hard again, and I never got a peep out of it again. Very tiring, and I'm feeling a bit weak; guess I'm not completely well yet.

The conversation here is about the cops chasing everyone out of the False Bay anchorage, which is where 2/3 of the long-timers are. Not a lot of options for them to go elsewhere, and many of them are tied here by jobs and cars and such. And some don't have much money, so getting proper anchoring and mooring permits (for some less desirable spot) is not attractive either.

Got a few groceries, and tried to call Mom for an early Mother's Day, but the payphone ate my money. Some guy in a car saw me hammering on the payphone and lent me his Blackberry to make the call; got some kind of busy signal, then the next couple of tries didn't go through for some reason. Gave up.

Danny at Pirate's Cove offered to tow me out to my boat. So we got more groceries, then went out. Very nice of him. I could have paddled out there, but it would have been a long trip, and tough in the windy conditions. I might have gotten stranded downwind of the boat. As we got outside, near my boat, he pointed out about 5 different boats all owned by the same guy, which have been sitting there for a couple of years.

So, I've failed to accomplish anything here: no internet, no call to Mom, and I wasn't able to mail that bank form (needed an account number from the internet).

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/11/2007 (Friday)
At anchor outside Benner Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Grey and humid morning, and I'm a bit headachey. Rain at 7:30.

Started engine at 8 and raised anchor by 8:05. Motored E towards Christmas Cove; a pretty good swell coming at me from the SE. Got to the cove and found plenty of room to anchor; finished anchoring by 8:45 in a nice spot at Christmas Cove. Ran engine for another half hour to charge batteries.

Napped most of the morning; didn't feel well.

In early afternoon, launched the dinghy and took the carb off the outboard. Disassembled it and found small deposits of gunk in several places. Put it back together and back on the motor, and the motor still wouldn't start.

Watched a sailboat race, with half a dozen small sloops rounding a mark at the edge of the anchorage.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/12/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Christmas Cove, St Thomas, USVI.

In early afternoon, launched the dinghy and took the exhaust baffle off the outboard, in the theory that maybe it's clogged and preventing vacuum in the cylinders. Scooped out lots of oily wet carbon, but nothing that would have affected operations. Put it back together and back on the motor with lots of form-a-gasket stuff.

Went for a lovely snorkel around Fish Cay. More fish than I expected (despite the name).

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/13/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Christmas Cove, St Thomas, USVI.

Trying to decide whether to:
- stay here and run the engine to charge batteries,
- motor across to St John, charging batteriees and maybe finding a Wi-Fi signal over there, or
- motor to St John for Wi-Fi, then Trunk Bay for snorkeling, then to BVI's.
Decide I'm not up for the long day of Trunk Bay and then BVI's. Pretty windy, so it's probably rough out in the open water, but I think I'll go for St John anyway.

Started engine at 8 and raised anchor by 8:05. Motored up through Current Cut and started across Pillsbury Sound toward St John. Geez, it's rough out here ! Strong wind and steep close-set swell from SSE or SE, and I'm heading E. Tried a couple of angles on it, and still had to put up with lots of rolling. Finally got across.

I had thought of anchoring in Frank Bay (just south of Cruz Bay) and trying for some Wi-Fi, but there's a big "no anchoring - underwater high-voltage cable" sign. So I just hover, and get out the laptop. Got a couple of tenuous Wi-Fi signals, but didn't even manage to upload my log file. Gave up and headed back across the Sound. Easier going W. Through Current Cut against a knot or so of current, and back into Christmas Cove. Anchor down by 9:45 about 75 feet from where I was before, at Christmas Cove.

NPR had a segment about "philosophical jokes", and they told one I told someone just the other day, but they added a second part:
A Buddhist goes up to a hotdog stand and says "Make me one with everything".
(Then he asks for his change, but the vendor says "Change comes from within".)

Another joke they told, appropriate on this Mother's Day:
Two Jewish women are sitting on a park bench. One sighs, "Oy". Then the other sighs, "Oy". Then the first says "But enough about the children".
Sun for a new day  5/14/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Christmas Cove, St Thomas, USVI.

Loafed all day.

Salad and chicken-onion-biscuit and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/15/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Christmas Cove, St Thomas, USVI.

Anchor up at 12:35 and motored W toward Benner Bay. Tested the auto-pilot, and it seemed to work briefly, but then definitely did not work. Into Benner Bay, and anchored in very close, by 1:20 at Benner Bay.

Launched the dinghy, and the motor wouldn't start (no surprise). Paddled in to the boatyard; harder work than I expected, on a hot afternoon. Disposed of garbage, and found that they've removed their book-exchange. Paddled over to Pirate's Cove, and still no Wi-Fi there. Chatted with Pamela for a while, and she loaned me her cell-phone so I could call Mom (got her answering machine; she must be out partying or something). Got groceries at the supermarket, and paddled back to the boat.

Got a fleeting Wi-Fi signal at the boat, just long enough to upload my log file.

Raised anchor at 3:30 and motored out. Straight into stiff wind and swell, back to Christmas Cove by 4:15. Extremely hazy and overcast afternoon; very grey and humid.

Salad and chicken-onion-beans and rum-and-coke for dinner.

In the early AM, spotted a big flying bug (probably a Palmetto bug) in the galley and sprayed it half a dozen times. It fell down into some junk and I decided to let it die there and retrieve it later.
Sun for a new day  5/16/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Christmas Cove, St Thomas, USVI.

Had to exercise a lot of willpower to get moving this morning. It's so easy to do nothing, to just stay here in this nice place a few more days. Lots of reasons: wind is pretty strong (15-20), probably will be rough crossing Pillsbury Sound, engine might break down, sails might break, next anchorage might be rough, etc. But finally I get over the fear and inertia barrier, and decide to go.

Checked engine (added antifreeze), unfurled mainsail (top isn't untwisting properly), started engine, raised anchor just before 8. Motor-sailed out and up through Current Cut (against 2+ knots of current), then across Pillsbury Sound. Not too bad today; having mainsail up helps steady the boat against the swell, and I'm going a little more north than I did the other day.

Up past Cruz Bay and Caneel Bay and through Durloe Cut to the north side of St John. Extremely hazy day (the VHF weather said it would be, but didn't say why). Picked up a mooring (perfectly) at 9:15 at Trunk Bay.

After lunch, went for a nice snorkel over by Trunk Cay. There's a marked "underwater trail", but it's pretty lame. Some nice clouds of fish ( pic1, pic2, pic3 ); not as big as the ones I saw here last year. Some other nice fish ( snapper, yellowtails ) here. Too rough and windy today; visibility isn't very good.

Slipped the mooring at 1:05 and motor-sailed north to the BVI's. Pretty windy out here, and it seems to be a little more NE than E. Still extremely hazy; usually it's very clear around here. Approached the island and into harbor. Anchor down by 2:30 at Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke.

Launched the dinghy and paddled ashore around 3. Had to sit around waiting (fortunately, I had a book with me) for a half hour or so before an officer showed up to open the office. Paid $25 to check in (up from $20 last year), and will have to pay $5 (up from $1) when I check out. So rates have gone up 50% in one year. Can stay one month before a $200 "boat temporary import fee" kicks in.

Paddled back out to the boat, and it was a big effort, 100 yards mostly crosswind but partly upwind and upswell. Took a lot out of me.

I can see goats foraging way up the hillsides, and hear them baaing.

Around 5, a charter catamaran came in and anchored very close next to me. That's the problem with this harbor: lots of charter boats anchor here, and many of them don't know what they're doing. This couple didn't know what they were doing; they re-anchored about 5 times over the next hour or two, and were using far too little scope (although they weren't dragging, just staying too close to me, so when the wind shifted, we were too close). Eventually they got far enough from me, but maybe too close to a boat on the other side, and then they went ashore for dinner. Later, in the middle of the night, I saw them in yet another spot, farther back on the other side of the channel.

Saw a mosquito-spray truck working ashore.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

I'd forgotten how much those charter boats run their engines or generators; seems like any time someone's aboard, there's water pumping out of the boat as they run refrigeration or air-conditioning.

Dammit: tried to put my anchor light up, and it's not working. Well, now that I removed it from the top of the mast, it will be easy to try to fix.
Sun for a new day  5/17/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, BVI.

Blowing hard by 9:30 or so.

Anchor up at 10:40 and motored out of the harbor, straight into the wind. Blowing like stink today.

Motored E along the S coast of Jost Van Dyke, then turned N and went up the E end of it. Went into the anchorage at SW corner of Little Jost Van Dyke, but it's horrible: moorings, too deep to anchor, and directly on a nasty lee shore with no protection. Back out and E to Green Cay, where there's a bit of protection but still a lot of surge coming in from a couple of directions. Not going to stay here tonight. Anchor down by 11:55 at Green Cay.

Suddenly a horde of charter boats arrived, and they took quite a while to get anchored and settled down. Several of them seemed to be racing in a pack; they rounded an anchored boat displaying a zillion flags, before splitting up to anchor. Boats at Green Cay (large image).

After lunch, lowered the dinghy and then swam in to Green Cay. No good snorkeling here, just lots of shallow water with flat grey coral. Wandered the beach for a while; nice views. Boats at Green Cay (large image). Magnolia at Green Cay: pic1, pic2. Then back into the water and back to the boat.

Read a book for half an hour while I waited for a boat to leave; they had anchored so that their boat was over top of my anchor. Looked at my broken anchor light but couldn't find the problem.

Anchor up at 2:35, and motored toward Tortola. Windy and very rolly, but got some shelter from the island as I approached it's W side. Into Cane Garden Bay and found a nice anchoring spot close in to the beach/town. Anchor down by 3:40 at Cane Garden Bay, Tortola.

Part of the waterfront at Cane Garden Bay (large image).

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Watched a nearby charter catamaran; they hauled a couple of guests up the mast, one at a time, to let them see the view from the top of the mast.

Wind swirling around oddly much of the night; for a while I had to keep checking to make sure I wasn't swinging too close to any of the moored motorboats around me.

A few bursts of loud karaoke music from shore around midnight, but thankfully it didn't last long.
Sun for a new day  5/18/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVI.

Lots of rain from 6:30 to 7, then a grey morning after that.

My sinuses and breathing seem to be back to normal, finally. No more coughing or blowing my nose a lot. It's taken a while to finish getting over that illness I had.

Took apart the anchor light and fixed it: loose wire in the connector.

Occasional very strong gusts of wind, from various directions. Grey most of the day.

Lowered the dinghy and worked on the outboard. Wouldn't start. Took the kill-switch and stop-switch wires off, under the theory that one of the switches was stuck on: wouldn't start. Took the plugs out and cleaned them; they were oily but not gunky: wouldn't start. Took carburetor off and disassembled it: outboard without carburetor, carburetor, carburetor with front plastic off, carburetor with fuel pump apart, carburetor with float bowl apart, carburetor with primer apart. Didn't find anything wrong. Put it back together and back on the outboard. Primed the fuel, pulled the cord, and the outboard ran ! outboard running!

Got a fleeting Wi-Fi signal. Scheduled a payment of my credit card, the critical item I needed to take care of. Started uploading photographs and log file and dealing with email, but didn't get much of that done.

Salad and PB-crackers for dinner.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries. Raised anchor and moved 50 feet or so to get away from a couple of boats. Got a few more minutes of Wi-Fi connection, but it was a struggle.

Loud not-very-good beach bar music from 10 to midnight, but it didn't bother me.
Sun for a new day  5/19/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVI.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Listened to Car Talk. Got a Wi-Fi signal enough to do some email.

Launched the dinghy, went to the SW corner of the harbor, and had a nice swim/snorkel. Coral not very good; some decent fish ( parrotfish1, parrotfish2 ). To the dinghy dock, went ashore, and had a nice long walk on the beach ( Magnolia, beach ).

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Loud beach bar music from 10 to 2:45, but it didn't bother me.
Sun for a new day  5/20/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVI.

Engine started, mainsail unfurled, and anchor up by 7:25. Motor-sailed out and up and around the NW corner of Tortola. Wanted to go early to beat the strong wind and chop from the E, and mostly did beat it. Strong wind on the nose in the latter part of the trip. Picked up a mooring at 9:10 at Monkey Point, Guana Island.

Climbed on top of the pilothouse and wiped dust off the solar panels; a fair amount had built up.

Got here just in time: 15 minutes later, all of the moorings were full.

Around 10, lowered the dinghy and went for a snorkel. Finally got smart and tried wearing some dive-socks I'd forgotten I had; the fins have been chewing up my feet a bit. The socks worked fine.

Wow, the snorkeling here is great ! Clouds of little silver fish ( pic ), varying from 1/2 inch to 3 inches long, same as in Trunk Bay. Nice schools of blue tangs (my favorite; pic1, pic2, pic3 ) and a school of white fish ( pic ), and then a couple of large fish cruising through. Saw something (maybe some kind of Jack; pic1, pic2, pic3 ) about 2-1/2 to 3 feet long and pretty fat, probably weighing 20-25 pounds. And a thick five-foot thing that probably was a barracuda ( pic ). And a very cute blond snorkeler ( pic ).

Back to the boat, washed up, hoisted the dinghy, and slipped the mooring at 11:20. Motored half a mile north to White Bay and anchored by 11:30 at White Bay, Guana Island.

Ate lunch, listened to Car Talk, and caught a fleeting Wi-Fi signal a few times.

Anchor up at 1, and motored S and then E to Trellis Bay. Went in, through the mooring field, and nosed far into the shallows in the SW corner. Ended up straight off the dinghy dock of "De Loose Mongoose". Finished anchoring at 1:50 at Trellis Bay.

NPR signal fading out a bit. Lots of Wi-Fi signals but none that are free.

After a while, put the second anchor down, to keep me off the dinghy dock if the wind turns NE. Just lowered it down and left a heap of chain on the bottom next to it.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/21/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Trellis Bay, BVI.

Went ashore around 11. They have an art studio or two here ( pic1, pic2, pic3, pic4, ) and they have a "full moon" party each month and they light up some fireballs in the water during the party.

To the grocery store. Prices are very high here: $3 for a 1-pound pack of chicken hotdogs, $6.75 for a 15-ounce box of Raisin Bran, $4 for a 1-pound or less loaf of bread. Rum prices are pretty normal; I bought a bottle of Jamaican dark rum. Bought bananas and bread too. In next place over, internet access is $20/hour.

Back to the boat, hoisted dinghy and started raising anchor. My secondary anchor has tangled itself in its chain somehow, so the whole mess came up in one blob, and I had to prod at it with a boathook for a while to straighten it out. Finally got anchors up by 12:35.

Motored out of the harbor and across to Marina Cay. It's all moorings; nowhere to anchor. So I kept going, E across Francis Drake Channel toward Virgin Gorda. Straight into the wind, so no point in unfurling any sail. Ate lunch as I went.

Engine running a few degrees too hot. The salt-water end of the heat-exchanger doesn't feel cool enough to me; will have to check the war-water pump impeller.

Saw megayacht "Cheetah Moon" and another anchored outside Little Dix Bay; that boat name sounds familiar to me for some reason.

Eased into Savannah Bay, and the anxiety level was high: lots of hidden reefs and coral heads, and no markers. Crept through Savannah Bay and Pond Bay and up to anchor by 2:45 in Tetor Bay. I have the place totally to myself. [Spoke too soon: an hour later, three boats had crept in and anchored in Pond Bay, 1/4 miles south of me.]

Lots of resort hotel units here, but hardly anyone on the beach.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Killed a cockroach in the galley.

Bit of a nervous night: this spot really is a bit too tight to be safe if a strong squall comes through and the anchor drags. Occasionally rolly, too; the reef is mostly underwater, so doesn't provide great protection from swells.
Sun for a new day  5/22/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Tetor Bay, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

At noon, went for a long, leisurely snorkel. Pleasant, but I'd been told the snorkeling here is fantastic, and it isn't. Some decent fish and coral ( angelfish, brain coral, maybe pipefish, probably a sponge, staghorn coral, stingray (body about 1 foot square) ), and a bad day snorkeling beats a good day doing anything else, but I've seen better. As I was on the outside of the reef, I saw a 6-foot shark coming out of the anchorage; he was about 30 feet away and slowly heading out. He got away before I could get my camera turned on and aimed.

Back to the boat. After washing up and stowing everything and relaxing a bit, started the engine, raised anchor and moved 1/3 mile or so down to Pond Bay, to get near some other reefs and maybe get a calmer anchorage.

Several other boats anchored down here, and a lot of turnover as boats left and others arrived. Interesting to see the different behaviors; a couple of charter boats came and went incautiously, at fairly high speed, without following the J-shaped route recommended by the sketch in the guidebook. A couple of other boats followed the kind of route I did, more or less, and went a lot more slowly, as I had done. None of them had any problem, but for an unmarked place with underwater reefs and lots of coral heads, caution is good.

Threw an apple core overboard, and it was attacked immediately by half a dozen 8-inch fish, who swam away disappointed when they got a taste of it.

Pumped out the bilge a bit, trying to get it dry and clean.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Nice, quiet night. Slept solidly.
Sun for a new day  5/23/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Pond Bay, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Took cover plate off engine raw-water pump and looked at the impeller without taking it out. Looks fine: all the vanes are there, and probing with a screwdriver I couldn't find any tears or loose pieces.

After lunch, launched the dinghy and went for a long, pleasant snorkel. First to the ocean-side reef, then to a reef near the beach. Pleasant, and some nice fish, but nothing very noteworthy.

Sailboat next to me with largish topless woman aboard left the anchorage.

Salad and chicken-onion-beans and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Sprayed three cockroaches in the galley in the middle of the night.

Sudden squall with lots of rain at 4 AM.
Sun for a new day  5/24/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Pond Bay, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Loafed all morning.

Engine start at 11:50, and no leaking from raw water pump. Anchor up, and motored out of the bay and then north. Up and around NW corner of Virgin Gorda (Mountain Point). Engine still running a couple of degrees hot; wonder what to try next ?

Had planned to stop at Anguilla Point and do some snorkeling, but I nosed in there and it didn't look too inviting. So I eased through the passage between Virgin Gorda and Mosquito Island, and then crept through a big area of very shallow water (down to 6 feet) east of there. To Leverick Bay, and they've filled the best area with a huge mooring field. Found reasonable water (15 feet deep) fairly far out into the bay, and anchored by 1:10 at Leverick Bay / Blunder Bay.

Around 3, launched the dinghy and went ashore. Walked through the resort hotel complex, and up the hill outside it. Not much here other than the hotel and cottages. Half-expected someone to challenge me and kick me out. To the beach bar, and for the price of a soda ($3), used Wi-Fi for an hour and half. The lady tending bar didn't seem to know about the internet (or even the grocery store), and I worried that when I left, someone might pop up and say "you owe us $30 for the Wi-Fi usage".

Disposed of three bags of garbage into their dumpster, again expecting someone to stop me or demand money.

Back into the dinghy, and the damn outboard wouldn't start. So I had to paddle half a mile out to the boat, providing cheap amusement for people aboard half a dozen boats on the moorings. Wish I'd anchored in much closer. But conditions were calm and it was a downwind paddle (but the wind was very light). Got 1/4 of the way out and realized I'd forgotten to buy food (just some fruit) at the grocery store; kept going. Very sweaty by the time I got to the boat.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Put out a boric acid bait for the cockroaches. Sprayed a cockroach in the galley in the middle of the night.

Can see glow from Anegada, about 13 miles away, in the night. I thought the place was so sparsely populated that it wouldn't have a glow.

Rain from 3 AM to 4 AM; caught 5 gallons of rainwater.
Sun for a new day  5/25/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Leverick Bay / Blunder Bay, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Added antifreeze to engine. Started engine and raised anchor at 9:30. Motored half a mile north to anchor by 9:45 at Colquhoun Reef.

Into the water, and it's very warm today. But this area is a major disappointment: just sand and grass, no coral or fish. Saw a stingray and some starfish and some very small fish, but it's a bust. Got a lot of exercise; I probably swam half a mile, some of it against current.

Raised anchor at 1:20 and motored east. Planned to anchor near Saba Rock, but the area is completely filled with moorings (one of them was about 6 inches underwater; I almost ran over it). Lots of Wi-Fi signals, though; I'll have to try it on the way back. Past it and east down Eustatia Sound. "Bear Necessities", last seen in Salinas, is here. A bit rolly here, and lots of coral. Circled a couple of times before anchoring by 2:20 at Eustatia Sound.

Feeling tired and hot and a little queasy, and it's rolly here. Took a slight nap and ate a salad, and then decided I didn't want to spend the night here: too rolly. So at 4 I raised anchor for the third time today, and motored west. Passed a boat coming east, thought "that looks like a Gulfstar", and then realized it's the Gulfstar 50 "Western Star" that I saw in a slip in Benner Bay.

Past Saba Rock and into Gorda Sound. Put the anchor down by 4:30, in 30 feet of water with the boat swinging close to shore in 20 feet of water, at west of Saba Rock. Nice and calm here, but I'm so close to shore that it's going to be buggy.

Chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Sure enough, the bugs drove me out of the cockpit early, and it was a hot, still and buggy night.
Sun for a new day  5/26/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor west of Saba Rock, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Warm, muggy, still grey morning.

Got a fleeting Wi-Fi signal, just enough to upload my log file.

Brief rain at 11.

Added water to engine coolant.
Cleaned lots of seaweed from engine water intake strainer.
Fuel level 14 inches at engine hour 4143.
Bled fuel water-separators, and got almost pure water out of each of them; maybe you can see water (top 1/16" in each jar is fuel, rest is water). Will have to bleed them every day for the next week or so to work all the water out of them. The engine's been running a bit rough; I think this explains it.

Half a dozen boats came in and anchored nearby just after noon, as I was listening to Car Talk. One took a spot I'd had my eye on; it's closer to the Wi-Fi source.

Started the engine at 1, and it wavered a little as it worked out the air from the fuel filters I bled, but then it ran fine. Anchor up by 1:05. Motored up past Saba Rock, stopping once for some kayakers who decided to dart out in front of me before looking my direction. Eased around the unmarked reef north of Saba Rock, then through to anchor by 1:30 on the west side of Eustatia Island. A slight roll here, but not bad.

Went for a pleasant snorkel. Some decent coral here, and some nice fish. Saw a sea-turtle, but it didn't want to stay near me, and it swam away before I could get a picture of it. Light wasn't too good; sky was very cloudy. But got a picture of a pufferfish and a foot-long pufferfish.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich and yogurt for dinner.

Some rain during the night.
Sun for a new day  5/27/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor on west side of Eustatia Island, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Bled the fuel filters again, and got more water.

Anchor up at 11 and motored across to anchor by 11:20 at west side of Necker Island.

Wow: strong Wi-Fi signal here and a fast internet connection behind it. I guess it figures: this is a very luxurious private island; I read in a tourist magazine that you can rent the entire island (for up to 26 guests) for $20K to $40K per day.

Did internet much of the afternoon. Hardly any activity ashore. Only one couple on the beach for a while, and a skiff towed some people through on those inflatable-tube things (don't know what they're called). But there's another side to the island with more docks and such on it; maybe there's more activity over there.

Refrigerator thermostat seems to be sticking a bit again: even on warmest setting, with box getting pretty cold, sometimes it keeps running and running.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for half an hour to charge batteries.

During the night, the wind veered all over the place. At one point, my rudder seemed to be bumping some coral, so I went on deck and pulled in 5 or 6 feet of anchor chain. Rained off and on.

Had to get up every hour or so to turn the refrigerator on for a while; thermostat seems to be sticking on. Sprayed several cockroaches in the galley; wonder if my boric-acid bait is doing any good.
Sun for a new day  5/28/2007 (Monday)
At anchor on west side of Necker Island, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Grey, humid, breezy morning. Rain at 8.

Bled the fuel filters again, and got more water.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries.

Went for a snorkel. Lots of coral, but surprisingly few fish, maybe because there's a strong current through the coral field. Did see a fairly large stingray, its body about 2.5 feet square, and about 6 feet long. Sky too grey and visibility too low to get any good pictures.

Saw a catamaran trying to come into the anchorage, but they were coming from the wrong direction; they must not have a chart or guidebook, or weren't paying attention to it. They tried to eyeball their way in, but the reef in that direction is pretty solid. After a while, they gave up and went away.

A dinghy full of snorkelers came past, I guess from the resort hotel here, but they turned right around and went back out without getting in the water.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers and yogurt for dinner.

Frequent rain during most of the night.
Sun for a new day  5/29/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor on west side of Necker Island, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Grey, humid, still morning.

Bled the fuel filters again, and got more water.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries.

Removed cockpit power connector, which has melted under the pressure of long laptop use; in fact, both connectors have melted a bit, but the male one on the laptop still is usable. Spliced wire into the laptop power adapter so I can plug it in downstairs and still use the laptop in the cockpit. I need to find some stronger connectors for the laptop wiring; under the pressure of laptop battery-charging, the plastic cigarette-type connectors melt.

Low grey clouds and rain-squall at 4.

Chicken-onion-saffronrice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for half an hour to charge batteries.
Sun for a new day  5/30/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor on west side of Necker Island, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Anchor up at 8:15 and motored out, west and the south into Blunder Bay. A whole train of boats sailing/motoring north toward Anegada today; I'll be following them in a while. Down to Leverick Bay hotel, and anchored very close in, about 150 feet from the dinghy dock, by 9 AM at Leverick Bay hotel.

Launched the dinghy and paddled in to the dock. Disposed of four bags of garbage, then to the grocery store. Surprisingly nice store: they had just about everything I wanted, except milk. Bread for $3.50/loaf, bananas $1.60/pound, USVI rum for less than it costs in the USVI.

Back to the boat. Raised anchor by 9:45. As I motored past the fuel dock, I was distracted by a pretty woman, and a boat coming out of the marina and curling in to the dock surprised me. We didn't come very close, but I veered off to make sure. Lots of charter boats heading out right now, but turning west once they're out of the harbor.

Out of the harbor by 10:05, engine off, and started sailing north with main and jib. Didn't pick a very good day for this: it's grey and threatening rain and there's not much wind. Broad reaching toward Anegada. Doing around 2 knots at 10:30.

Doing 2.2 to 2.4 knots at 11. Sun starting to come out a little. 2.1 knots at 11:30. Up to now, boat had been sailing itself pretty stably, but now a beam-swell is starting to knock it off course and require frequent hand-steering.

Changed sails to go wing-on-wing, with a jibe-preventer on the main. Wind slacking: making 1.3 knots at 1:15.

At 2 PM, doing 1.4 knots, rolling, and have covered about 7 NM since 10 AM; a little more than halfway to Anegada. Started the engine, furled the sails, and started motoring. Making 4+ knots at low throttle setting, and the air is totally still, so the wind must also be 4 knots. Breathing a lot of the engine exhaust fumes.

Suddenly realized I should have been doing some fishing, so I put out a line for a half-hour or so. No action.

Up the channel and into harbor to anchor by 3:35 at Anegada. Surprised to see so many boats here; 25 to 30 anchored in the main anchorage/mooring area. Didn't feel like threading my way through them, and no good reason to do so. Anchored in a large open space to the east. Seems to be no solid reef here, so protection is minimal, and there's an occasional roll. But the weather is calm, so it's not bad. But I had hoped to snorkel on the nearby reefs, and I don't see any good snorkeling territory.

Brief rain at 6.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Rain-squall at 4:15 AM.
Sun for a new day  5/31/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Anegada, BVI.

Totally grey and rainy morning. Rain-squall at 9, with one lightning strike about half a mile away. Rain at 10:45. Rain started again at 11:15 and kept going to 11:45 and beyond. Emptied 4 gallons of rainwater into a water jug.

For some reason, the middle toe on my left foot is very sore. Maybe just from standing at the helm yesterday ? I don't remember bashing it into anything.

Bled the fuel filters again, and not sure if what I got is water or fuel. I think I'll stop bleeding now, and see how the engine runs for a while.

Rain again at 3, then sunshine at 4. Took a shower and felt human again.

Water so still and clear I could see (from deck) a large (3.5 to 4-foot) barracuda under the boat.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries.

Tonight there's a lovely "blue moon". I thought that meant the second full moon in one month, but the radio says that's wrong: it's the fourth full moon in a single season. So is "spring" defined as March-April-May ? Tried to take pictures of the moon, but my camera just doesn't do night photos from a swaying boat: everything smears.
Sun for a new day  6/1/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Anegada, BVI.

Totally grey and some really nasty black stuff off to the west, but the light wind is from the SE, so should push it away from me.

Anchor up at 6:55 and motored out. Not bad heading S, small swells from many directions making some lumpy seas. Ran the RADAR a little to exercise it.

By 8:30 or so, raining and the black stuff is heading over me, and the wind is from the SW. And then a big swell from the W starts hitting me right on the beam: very uncomfortable. I unfurl the mainsail, and it helps steady the boat a little.

Raining harder and harder, and visibility soon is down to 2 miles or so. A couple of sailboats heading N to Anegada go by, and one of them startles me a bit: I wasn't keeping a very good lookout.

Around 10 AM, about 2 miles from my destination, it's getting greyer and greyer, and then WHAM ! Starts blowing 40-45 knots or so, I think, from the ESE, and keeps blowing and raining hard for quite a while. I try to ride it out, hoping it will pass, but after 5 minutes the outhaul line on the mainsail breaks. I rush onto deck and loose the halyard, and the mainsail zings down and flops overboard a bit. I gather it and lash it as the boat rolls and the rain and wind have at me.

Back to the helm, and all I can do is nose the boat into the wind and swells and rain and slowly edge toward my destination. I don't want to close with land under these conditions; I can't see more than 1/4 mile, and the pilothouse windows and my glasses are fogged. Rain is blasting sideways through the pilothouse at times; can't remember ever being out in conditions so bad. I keep checking the GPS to make sure I'm not approaching any reefs, and keep looking out for another boat to suddenly appear out of the murk on a collision course. I did see one other boat just as it started blowing, but he's long out of the way.

Eventually the wind and chop start easing a bit, although visibility is slow to improve, and the rain still is strong. Finally I can see islands, and start heading in. Takes a while to pick up the channel markers, but finally I get into the channel.

Anchored by 10:55 at Colquhoun Reef.

What a fiasco of a trip ! My first thought is that I should have listened to a weather forecast this morning. But then I turn on the VHF WX and listen to the forecast, and the most it says is "scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms". Nothing about the huge front I went through.

Bummer: something's wrong with the power connection to my laptop: the battery isn't getting charged. This could make a serious dent in my life.

Replaced water filter in galley.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.

Another squall with lots of heavy rain at 7:30.
Sun for a new day  6/2/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Colquhoun Reef, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Today's my 49th birthday !


Cleaned engine intake strainer.

Blowing hard today.

Anchor up at 11 AM. Motored east and put anchor down 11:25 at Vixen Point.

Tried to fix laptop - no go.

Blew hard all day.

Spaghetti for dinner.

Sprayed a cockroach.
Sun for a new day  6/3/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Vixen Point, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Blowing hard today.

Cleaned bilge.

Goats baaing on Prickley Pear Island.

Outboard started on first spritz of starting fluid.

Snorkeled for 5 minutes - nothing to see here.

Salad and soup-and-noodle and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/4/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Vixen Point, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Weather forecast says a couple of tropical waves down around 8N latitude.

Anchor up at 9:20.

Motored around NW corner of Prickley Pear Island. Blowing hard from the E. Anchor down 10 AM at W side of Eustatia Island.

Had a nice snorkel off the NW corner of Eustatia Island.

Outboard's inline fuel filter housing is coming apart; need to replace it.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/5/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at W side of Eustatia Island, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Anchor up at 9:45. Motored over and put anchor down 10:20 at Leverick Bay.

Cleaned outboard spark plugs.

Dinghied ashore to do a quick shot of internet, dispose of garbage and get groceries (got bread, onions, apples; didn't have any milk, but it would be $2.65/quart).

Replaced mainsail's outhaul, hoisted the mainsail, and found that a seam on the mainsail got ripped in that strong front the other day.

Anchor up at 12:05 and headed west. As I went through the mooring field, saw that moorings here cost $25/night.

Waked by two fast ferries, one in each direction, just as I was easing through the tight, shallow, narrow passage south of Mosquito Island. Not appreciated.

Motored south and down to anchor by 1:20 in Savannah Bay.

Went for a nice snorkel. Saw a 20-inch-long grouper weaving in and out of a maze of passages through the coral, and a school of eighteen 6-inch squid hovering ( pic1, pic2, pic3 ).

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/6/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor in Savannah Bay, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Rain at 8:45.

Anchor up at 9:05. Unfurled the jib. Motored out, turned engine off, and sailed SW. Doing 3.5 knots at 9:15, 1.8 knots at 9:45. Saw a cruise ship between the Camanoes and the Dogs.

At 10:05, gave up sailing and started the engine. 1/2 knot opposing current, and rolly and lumpy sea.

Rain at 11:15.

At SE corner of Beef Island,a knot of opposing current, and seas getting very lumpy.

Anchor down 12:10 at Buck Island - Maya Cove. Three moorings here. A bit rolly, and wind blowing hard.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/7/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Buck Island - Maya Cove, Tortola, BVI.

Got rolly starting at 4 AM.

Rain at 0545.

Anchor up at 7:40. Motored west. Saw some kind of Navy ship anchored down SE, along islands between Peter Island and the Baths. Looked a bit like an aircraft carrier from that angle, but later I got a better look at it.

Into Road Harbour and anchored by 8:10 at Road Harbour. Right at the edge of a mooring field; as usual they've taken all the best anchoring spots for moorings.

Outboard a bit balky, but got it started. Headed ashore, and it took a bit of searching to find somewhere to land the dinghy; no obvious dinghy-dock. Tied to the end of a dock and no one yelled at me, so must be okay.

Walked almost 2 miles to library, which is on the 2nd floor of a building, on top of a supermarket. Did an hour of internet ($3). Went downstairs, got groceries, and walked fast to get back to the dinghy so the food didn't get too hot. Milk costs $4.65/halfgallon here.

Don't want to stay here tonight; I'm on a lee shore, encroaching slightly into the mooring field, long walk to town, and it's a commercial harbor.

Anchor up at 11:45, and motored out and SSE, straight into wind and chop. Big fire ashore on Tortola, west of Nanny Cay.

Across to the NE corner of Peter Island, and anchor down at 1:10 in Deadman Bay.

Saw motorboat "Deliverance" running a delivery service, delivering ice and drinks and ice cream and other goodies to anchored boats (for a price). Big catamaran nearby had four or five big bags of ice delivered; why ? No refrigeration on such a fancy boat ? [A reader told me later: to fill coolers so they can have cold soda/beer available on deck. Refrigerator might have been completely full of food, or they didn't want it opened often.]

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Seven boats staying for the night.
Sun for a new day  6/8/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Deadman Bay, Peter Island, BVI.

Launched dinghy and scrubbed rust stains off sides of hull. My anchor chains and secondary anchor have lost their galvanizing and are spreading rust all over deck and out through the scuppers.

By 9:45, only one other boat here.

Watched intense squall travel east-to-west down the south coast of Tortola. Nice to be over here in the sunshine and watch the rain.

On VHF, heard a marina in Road Harbour tell a boat that diesel costs $4.50/gallon.

Took a nice long snorkel, but not much of interest here. But saw a sea-turtle (hard to photograph: pic1, pic2 ), and five squid.

Saw another big rainstorm sweeping down the south coast of Tortola, several miles north of me.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Rain at 5:45.

Two boats staying here overnight.
Sun for a new day  6/9/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Deadman Bay, Peter Island, BVI.

Saw a cruise ship entering Road Harbour.

Anchor up at 9:20. Short hop west down Peter Island, and anchor down at 10 in Great Harbour. Tricky anchoring here: most of the harbor is very deep, so I had to find a spot along an edge that wasn't too deep but also not too close to shore.

Sailboat came in later, spent at least 30 minutes roaming, trying to anchor. Finally gave up and left.

Brief rain at 2, then clouds hovering. Saw a school of fish.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

No-see-ums in the boat; had to spray repellent on myself.

Sprayed cockroach in the galley.

At 1:45 AM, lots of dark clouds and some lightning. So I started the engine and ran it until 2, waiting to see if there'd be a lot of wind. But there wasn't much rain or wind in the squall. Tried to turn on the running lights, but they flickered and went out; will have to fix them.
Sun for a new day  6/10/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Great Harbour, Peter Island, BVI.

Snorkeling at 10 AM. Nicer than expected; some clouds of little fish, some big fish, a white banded fish motionless on the bottom and then dashing forward to try to catch something. Pictures: fish, fish.

Back aboard, and then the wind was from the west and starting to drive me ashore. Anchor up at 10:45, and it was tricky to use the engine to back away from shore, backing into the wind, while raising the anchor.

Motored W an then S to The Indians, hovered for 15 minutes hoping for a mooring to free up, but no luck. Moved on to Soldier Bay on Norman Island, but all edges taken up by moorings, and I'm looking to anchor overnight. Probably should have moored and snorkeled, but I moved on.

Into Benures Bay, and anchor down by 12:50 at Benures Bay. Wind swirling around in here; boats pointing in different directions. Smallish megayacht is here; bow says something like "Strategic Defense Exploration Vessel of the Environment Group BVI" and stern says "Kindness to the World". Noticed later that it has a small helicopter on the top-stern. Definitely a private yacht of some kind. Strange.

Went for a snorkel. Scraped the hukll and prop a bit; lots of slime/grass. Snorkeled along S side of the bay. Lotas of fish, a few squid. A couple of aggressive fish, including a 3-foot barracuda. Maybe they're smelling some goop on my shirt from scraping the hull ? Camera shutter button stuck halfway in for a while; fixed it, stuck again, fixed it again when I got back aboard.

Fixed the anchor light.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/11/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Benures Bay, Norman Island, BVI.

Checked all battery cells. JB Weld didn't work on that battery with the leaky case; will have to replace the battery, I guess. Starting battery cells are kind of low; why ?

Anchor up at 10:55. Short hop over to Soldier Bay. Two tries to pick up the mooring. Done by 11:10 at Soldier Bay.

Had a pleasant snorkel: decent fish, but a bit windy and some current. Took some pictures: coral, coral, fish, fish.

Slipped the mooring at 1:25 and went back to anchor at 1:40 in Benures Bay again.

Got a bit close to shore at 4:30, so started engine and dragged chain further out to stay away.

At different times, two different all-male catamarans came in; what's with that ?

Salad and chicken-onion-noodle-mushroom and corn and rum-and-coke for dinner.

At 7 PM, strong squall with lots of rain. Big leak into v-berth, probably from anchor chain hawse-holes.

At 2 AM, brief hard rain.
Sun for a new day  6/12/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Benures Bay, Norman Island, BVI.

Catamaran left. Had to be a $500K boat: probably 50 feet long, tall mast, electric winches, satellite dome.

At 11:30, pushing too close to shore. Re-anchored in 35 feet of water at Benures Bay.

Watched fishermen use a boat and net to trap a school of fish against the shore. Took them over four hours to finish the whole operation. Lots of diving in the water to press the net against the bottom and work it over obstacles as they tightened it. Never did see how many fish they got. They were yelling at each other at one point; maybe they screwed up a bit.

Emptied 3+ gallons of water into jug.

Fiddled with chain locker to see about stopping hawse-hole leaking, but need to empty the whole locker out to work on it.

Saw a turtle.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

At 4:15 AM, huge dark clouds and lightning, but little wind and no rain.
Sun for a new day  6/13/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Benures Bay, Norman Island, BVI.

At 6 AM, rain and some wind. Very grey.

At 8:20, strong squall, lots of rain and wind.

Anchor up at 9:15. Headed W and NW.

Passed by The Indians, and there are a couple of free moorings, but it's dark and damp and threatening rain. Kept going.

By 10:45, sun poking through a little.

At 11:20, picked up a mooring in Leinster Bay. This place is quite a bit different than it looks from the chart: it's a very popular swimming place, very sheltered.

Had a pleasant snorkel, but the inside part is kind of boring and the outside part is a bit rough and has a lot of current.

Slipped the mooring at 2:15 and head for Jost Van Dyke. Made a good choice: went E around Great Thatch Island, and had favorable winds and currents the whole way. If I'd gone W around it, would have had more of a back-tracking angle once I got N of the island.

Into White Bay on Jost Van Dyke and got the anchor down by 3:30 at White Bay.

Salad and chicken-mushroom-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Running lights are working: just had to jiggle the switch a bit.

Sharp squall at 10:30; big lightning strike about 200 yards away.

Rain at 12:45.
Sun for a new day  6/14/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at White Bay.

Tropical wave passing through this morning, but supposed to be little effect. Had no effect that I could see; maybe that squall last night was it ?

Loafed all day. Saw a powerful dinghy towing a couple of women through the anchorage at high speed.

Salad and PBJ sandwich for dinner.

Chartered boat anchored very close and with 1:1 scope; had to tell them to let out more chain. Still fairly close behind me.
Sun for a new day  6/15/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, BVI.

Anchor up at 6:25; wanted to get away in early-morning calm because I'm close to a moored boat. Hopped around the corner to Great Harbour and anchored by 6:45 at Great Harbour.

Dinghied ashore at 8:30 and checked out at the Customs office ($1).

Back to the boat, and anchor up at 8:55. Motored south. Very hazy day.

Anchor down at 10:50 at Cruz Bay, USVI.

Checked in at Customs building. Disposed of 5 bags of garbage. Off to the library and did an hour of internet ($2). Made plane reservations for flying from San Juan to NJ.

Anchor up at 12:10. ROugh, rolly, windy trip across Pillsbury Sound. Anchor down at 2 PM at Christmas Cove.

Yikes ! Looked in engine compartment as the engine was idling to let it cool down, and there's hot saltwater jetting out of the side of the exhaust manifold, a pool of water on the compartment sole, and 10 inches of water in the bilge. Hadn't noticed the helm indicator that said one or both bilge pumps were running. Shut the engine down and have to wait for it to cool before investigating.

Have a bit of a headache. Wind blowing hard. Took a nap. Bit rolly here today.

Salad and cornedbeef-noodle for dinner.

Somewhat strange sunset over St Thomas.

Felt better by 9 or so.

Sprayed a cockroach in the galley.
Sun for a new day  6/16/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Christmas Cove.

Ick: weevils or something hatching in the raisin bran. Had to dump out two bags of it overboard.

Investigated engine exhaust manifold leak. The fault is in a removable access plate on the side of the manifold, which is good (a complete new manifold costs $2500 or so, I think). Gouged out some weak metal and screwed a bolt into the hole to plug it. Started engine at 8:25, and the fix leaked a little at first, but then sealed up. Quickly raised anchor and motored out, frequently checking the fix to make sure nothing catastrophic was happening. Motored W toward Benner Bay.

Into harbor and anchor down by 9:15 in Benner Bay. No leak from exhaust manifold.

Dinghied ashore to the marina. They're still halfway through demolition of the bar, and found they don't have one more permit they need for rebuilding; typical screwup. Nice long chat with Pamela; I've been starved for conversation. Got 5 gallons of water (80 cents). Used the book-exchange. Diesel selling here for $3.90/gallon, so I guess the $4.50/gallon in the BVI wasn't so outrageous. Got groceries.

Anchor up at noon, motored out, and anchor down at 12:20 at outside Benner Bay. Exhaust manifold fix still holding well.

Windy and rough in the afternoon.

Sprayed fresh water on genset and wiring to wash off saltwater from exhaust manifold leak.

Salad and chicken-onion-mushroom-biscuit and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/17/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor outside Benner Bay.

Blowing hard before dawn. Rain at 0600.

Anchor up at 6:45. Rough, windy, rolly; decided not to unfurl the jib. Got around the point and headed W.

At 7:10, rain driving up the stern and into the pilothouse as a small squall passes through.

Smallish containership came out of Charlotte Amelie harbor just ahead of me. Saw nice houses on top of Water Island, and a single-masted boat at anchor.

At 8:40, anchor down outside Honeymoon Bay.

Lots of low dark clouds going past, mostly over the main island and missing me.

At 10:10, rain and wind. At 10:30, rain. At 1:10, rain.

Dinghied around the corner of Water Island and used the book exchange.

Pumped water off engine compartment sole.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/18/2007 (Monday)
At anchor outside Honeymoon Bay, St Thomas, USVI.

Anchor up at 6:40 and headed west. Exhaust manifold leaking again. Engine off at 6:50. Sailing with jib only, making 2.5 knots. At 0700, sailing with torn main and jib and making 3.3 knots. Gusts took me up to 5.5 knots a couple of times.

At 0800, doing 4.6 knots at west end of St Thomas. Sailed through the gap between St Thomas and an island. Confused currents and swells.

By 0900, in open water north of the island chain, swells from 2 or 3 directions, wind astern, steering tricky, making 3.8 knots in mostly the right direction. Tried sailing wing-on-wing, but made 2.6 knots and rolled quite a bit. Started trolling a fishing line. Tightened bolt in hole in engine exhaust manifold.

At 1000, doing 3.5 knots. At 1100, 4.2 knots.

Took in fishing line and sailed very close in to entrance to Culebrita. Started engine; manifold still leaking. Quickly motor-sailed in, furled sails. Picked up mooring by 11:30 at Culebrita. Mooring line a bit dubious-looking; tied an extra line to it. Bit of a roll here.

Tropical wave coming on Wednesday; windy through Friday.

Put bolt in exhaust manifold again, with sealant and washers.

Salad and chicken-onion-saffronrice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Breezy and rolly after dark. Got nervous about the mooring line, so lowered anchor and chain off bow.

Around midnight, big sailboat came in, so I put up the anchor light. Never dreamed that someone could get in here at night.

Fairly rolly all night; didn't sleep well.
Sun for a new day  6/19/2007 (Tuesday)
On mooring at Culebrita.

Mooring line held okay through the night.

Big sailboat that came in at night is "Auk".

Found piece of metal cable on deck underneath the bike; don't know where it came from.

Anchor up at 8:25. Exhaust manifold leaking as I motored out.

Unfurled mainsail and jib, and engine off at 8:35. Sailed at about 2.5 knots down E side of Culebra. Tricky getting around the shoal at the SE corner: wind kept shifting and dying; made it around with 10 feet to spare.

Squall hit just as I wanted to jibe to head up the Culebra entrance channel.

Saw trimaran "Buddy" is in the Dakity anchorage as I went past, but no radio response.

Sailed up to north end of harbor, rounded up and anchored by 11 AM at Culebra. Took mainsail down to deck; need to stitch it.

Sprayed cockroach in the galley.

Took plate off side of engine exhaust manifold, cleaned the hole a bit, installed a through-bolt and sealant and washers in the hole, and put it back on.

Dinghied ashore to dock at north end. Walked to airport and checked in at Customs. Walked into town and used the book-exchange in the gift shop. Relieved when outboard worked well enough to get me back to the boat; it was straight upwind and up-swell into stiff conditions; no way I could have paddled it if the outboard had refused to work. I'd been worried about that the whole time I'd been ashore.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/20/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Culebra.

Rain at 0725. Wind and rain and 0825. Grey day.

Stitched a small section of the torn seam in the mainsail.

Rain at 11:45.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Small moths inside the boat bothering me at night. Eventually realized that they came from those bad bags of raisin bran that I had to dump overboard.
Sun for a new day  6/21/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Culebra.

Windy and humid.

Started engine at 7:40; no leaking. Anchor up at 7:50 in strong conditions. Motored down the harbor and put anchor down at 8:25 in the Dakity anchorage. Several free moorings, but I don't trust mooring here (on a very exposed lee shore) since my mooring line chafed through last time I was here.

More boats here than I've ever seen here on a weekday: 16 plus me. John on "Buddy", Paul on "Adios", Steve on "Nonesuch" are here.

Engine off at 8:40; no leak. Sun starting to come out.

Weather radio says tropical wave is over the DR (west of here and moving west); we'll get trailing showers and seas 4-6 today and tomorrow.

Steve from "Nonsuch" stopped by for a nice chat. Turns out he walks to town from a dock in a nearby bay; I'd never considered doing that. He stayed in Salinas through March, then came here and still is here. He's been everywhere else in the islands before, so isn't interesting in moving around much any more.

John from "Buddy" stopped by for a chat. He's been to the BVI's and St Martin a few times this cruising season, but mostly here and Salinas. He's planning to head back to the Florida Keys for a while because it's too hard to find women down here.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Dinghied over to Paul on "Adios" and chatted with him for 90 minutes or so. He's been here most of the season too; another been-everywhere cruiser who doesn't feel the need to retrace his steps. Heard a big explosion from Vieques; they're still blowing up unexploded ordinance down there.

Salad and cornedbeef-noodle and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Two motorboats came in at 9:30 and passed very close to me while mooring and rafting up. That's a problem with this place: a lot of traffic at night.
Sun for a new day  6/22/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Dakity anchorage, Culebra.

Had to dump out two more bags of raisin bran overboard, because of worms/moths growing in it. Third bag mostly okay.

Taped and stitched the torn seam in the mainsail.

John from "Buddy" came over to get a quick tour of my boat.

At 3 PM, big explosions and plumes of smoke over Vieques.

John picked me up and we went snorkeling around the SW corner of Culebra. Joined by Paul and Aaron and Jennifer in Paul's dinghy. ROugh water and grey skies and mediocre visibility, but still fun. John had a pole spear, but we found nothing to shoot. We did sort of a drift-snorkel, towing the dinghy around with us. Saw a stingray.

Chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/23/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Dakity anchorage, Culebra.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries. Too little charging current; something is wrong.

At 10, rain and wind. Lots of boats arriving.

Have run out of bread and crackers.

Finished stitching the torn seam in the mainsail; raised the sail and furled it.

Brief chats with Steve and then John.

More boats pouring in. Saw a guy trying to raft two powerboats together: he leaned from one boat and pushed away the rail on the other boat, ended up hanging from the rail, and fell into the water. Much laughter.

Lots of rafted boats at various places. Saw a dog on a kayak.

Rain at 5.

Salad and tuna-salad for dinner.

Had to dump out two more buggy bags of raisin bran. I think this stuff is the house-brand from the Pueblo supermarket in Charlotte Amelie.

Some loud music and lots of boats moving in and out in the dark, but not too bad.

Sun for a new day  6/24/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Dakity anchorage, Culebra.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries. Still too little charging current; maybe belt is slipping ?

At 0700, a squall brought lots of rain and wind.

Dinghied ashore with Steve to dock in nearby bay. Joined by Mano and dog Daisy, and walked to town. Nice conversation about current events. Got some exercise, got groceries, walked about 1/4 of the way back and got a ride from Lisa. Saw another Gulfstar: Gulfstar 36 "Sunshine II".

From about 1 to 4, went for a sail with John on his trimaran "Buddy". What a machine ! 44 feet LOA, 31 foot beam. He designed and built it himself; he's built about 20 boats. John is 60 years old, but looks younger. He keeps the boat in really nice shape, and it's gorgeous and clean and fast. Makes me ashamed of my boat and the way I keep it. With a reefed mainsail, and staying inside the harbor, we did 9-10 knots most of the time. The fastest he's sailed it is 24 knots; I think he routinely sails 16 knots or so on passages. The design is called something like a "dirnya", which means the ama's are raised so only one is in the water at any given time. This is the first sail in 3 weeks; he's spent a lot of time moored here.

He knows this harbor very well, and sailed right up close to the edges before tacking or jibing away. Sailed pretty close to some anchored boats, too, much closer than I would sail or motor. But with speed and control and confidence and knowledge, it was safe. Then out the entrance and in through a small entrance in the reef, and sailed through the Dakity anchorage and mooring field, which pushed the envelope more than I was comfortable with. One quirk: he was anxious to keep his sails from getting rained on: they're two-layer Spectra and apparently susceptible to mildew, and he hasn't found a way to get rid of that.

Joined halfway through by Aaron and Jennifer from "Adios". Chatted with them a bit. Almost managed to sail up onto the mooring, but had to start the engine at the last moment. Has a 27 HP engine, which looks little-used.

Back to my boat, and had a bit of a headache. Didn't last too long.

Lobster for sale.

Salad and chicken-and-beans for dinner.

Tightened alternator belt.

Wind started blowing at 0200. Rain at 0245.
Sun for a new day  6/25/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Dakity anchorage, Culebra.

Blowing too hard to leave today; saw big swells out there at 0630.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries. Charging current looks good.

Weather forecast says conditions will be strong all week. I decide to go. Tropical wave will pass through this afternoon or tonight, but today I'll be doing only a morning passage, so I'll be at anchor for that.

Anchor up at 0730. Unfurled mainsail and motor-sailed out of the harbor.

Very rolly, heading west across south end of Culebra.

Turned engine off at 0800, but very rolly and doing only 2.3 knots heading S, and I want to go WSW. Restarted engine, and did 5 knots motorsailing SW with engine at low RPMs.

At 0930, started getting less rolly, as the beam swell started getting cut down by some protection from Vieques. Still a big swell from the stern.

Around the W end of Vieques and anchor down at 12:30 at Green Beach, Vieques. Slight roll from the S, and no NPR reception, but really quite nice. I had been worried that it might be very rolly, and there's no alternative anchorage.

Took a brief swim, doing a few laps around the boat.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

At 10:30, brief heavy rain and wind. Maybe that's the tropical wave ?
Sun for a new day  6/26/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Green Beach, Vieques.

Grey, damp and still. Weather radio says E 15-20, swells ESE 5-6.

Anchor up at 7:55; sailed off with mainsail up. Doing 1 knot, wing-on-wing, straight downwind. Started engine at 8:20 and furled the jib. Wind about 6-8 knots.

Very rolly as I headed around the SE corner of Puerto Rico.

At 11:45, saw something floating and realized it was my solar shower that had just fallen overboard; amazing that I happened to see it. Took several tries to snag it with the boat-hook in rough conditions, mainly because the target to grab was so small.

Blowing 15-20 by 1:30, or so; getting an extra knot or more from the mainsail. Swells mostly from the stern. Doing 5.4 knots.

Anchor down at 2:25 at Puerto Patillas PR. Wind gusting to 20+ occasionally.

Catamaran came in at 4:30, I think from the west. No name, but picture of a whale painted on the side.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Small birds roosting in the rigging and crapping on deck.

Rain every hour or so the first half of the night.
Sun for a new day  6/27/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Puerto Patillas PR.

Rain at 0530. Sprinkle at 0755. Rain at 0810.

Sailed off anchor at 0845. Little wind.

By 0905, no wind and very rolly; started engine and furled the jib.

By 1030, blowing hard from dead astern. Hard to keep the main from jibing.

At 11:50, eased in through the Boca Del Infierno pass.

Into harbor, and anchor down by 1:05 at Playa Salinas PR.

Lots of familiar boats here: "Bear Necessities", "Sunshine", "Psyche", "Maatkare" were here last time I was here, too. I'm anchored just ahead of "Presque Isle", who I last saw in Luperon 1.5 years ago. Near local boat "Tiburon".

Started to lash mainsail to the mast and was stung by a bee. Vinegar fixed it.

Booted up the laptop and battery capacity went 40% to 6% to 0% in a few minutes.

Dinghied ashore at 2. Disposed of garbage. Said hi to Don from "Sunshine". Surprised to find the Cruiser's Galley cafe closed; can't do internet. Chatted with Marianne the sailmaker. Used the book-exchange at the marina. Chatted with Rob from "Maatkare"; apparently Lou is in Luperon, which is a surprise. Rob put in his new engine and then ended up staying here through the remainder of the cruising season, and now is staying for hurricane season. Chatted with Frank and wife from "Fourwinds". They were in Luperon a month ago; a one-week stay cost them $100 of official fees. Chatted with Paul from "Bear Necessities"; Wi-Fi in the harbor is $35/month, but it's down today (and was down much of the time for the next week or so).

Back out to the boat. Wind blew hard all afternoon, as usual.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Doug and Nancy from "Presque Isle" stopped by. They spent 3 years in Luperon, and would go back. They stayed 6 weeks in Samana and liked it. They're doing major boat work here: replace fuel tank (bottom rotted out of their tank and all the fuel ended up in the bilge) and entire 12-volt electrical wiring. They need to go to St Thomas at the end of hurr season to get some work and replenish the cruising kitty. They don't like it here much.

They told me Norma from "Hellenbach" had more disasters (her husband died suddenly in Luperon in 2005, when I was there). She fell down the companionway and broke her back, then almost died after medical treatment in the DR, and got an expensive med-evac to the USA. Eight months of treatment and recovery there. Soon after she got back, a neighboring boat burnt and damaged her boat.

Dinghied ashore for happy hour at the snack bar, to see who else is here, and start nosing around for a ride to the airport next week. Had a rum-and-coke ($3). Chatted some more with Doug and Nancy. "Exuma Grouper" and "Indigo" are in Luperon. They said there was so much wind here Sunday or Monday that boats were dragging, which is unusual here. They think the harbor water here is dirtier than that in Luperon (they're out of their minds).
Sun for a new day  6/28/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

At 0630, heavy rain for a long time. Grey; low dark clouds.

More rain at 0815 and 0845.

Dumped 5 gallons of rainwater into water jugs.

Going to be boring here: no English-language radio, no laptop.

Oiled the bike and pumped up the tires.

Rain at 0930.

Pumped up the dinghy forward tube.

Dinghied ashore with the bike at 10:15. Found Cruiser's Galley open, and did an hour of internet (found out "Santana" is on the hard in Trinidad). Dell wants $39 to diagnose the laptop, then would send boxes to me, then I'd ship laptop to them; not good. Biked to edge of town. FOund that the Post Office here doesn't do passports. Got groceries. A few sprinkles of rain on the way back. Got aboard just before some rain.

Grey and damp.

Around 1, started blowing hard, sun came out, clouds blown away.

At 3, wind and rain sprinkle.

Listened to shortwave until someone started using SSB email or something and generated a lot of interference.

Salad and chicken-onion-biscuit and rum-and-coke for dinner.

At 6:30, more rain sprinkles.
Sun for a new day  6/29/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Several boats, all different types, came into harbor. Monohull "Callisto" circled for 15 minutes or so before anchoring; guess they were looking for a perfect spot.

Dinghied ashore. To cafe and did an hour of internet (paid $8, for yesterday's and today's). Found place in CA that can repair my laptop. Used the book-exchange.

Biked to supermarket; big sale on crackers. Chatted with lady from "Meow" (many catamarans have cutesy names).

Cleaned outboard spark plugs.

Loosened and tightened bolts on exhaust manifold, so I can remove them in a couple of days.

Blew hard all day, but sky is clear.

Salad and PB sandwiches for dinner.

Went to happy hour at the snack bar; had two rum-and-cokes. Hard to start the outboard.
Sun for a new day  6/30/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Rain sprinkles at 0600. Grey morning.

Ran engine for 45 minutes to charge batteries.

More rain sprinkles at 0730.

At 0900, very hard to start the outboard. Went ashore to see Jack on "BoraBound" and try to fix the Sprint modem on his laptop. We worked on it all morning and got nowhere. Had fun petting his nice cat. His boat is a Whitby 42. He bought me lunch (cheeseburger and fries).

Used the book-exchange, and back to the boat by 1:45.

Breezy, half-cloudy afternoon.

Chicken-onion-noodle for dinner.

Sprayed a cockroach in the galley.
Sun for a new day  7/1/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Grey and humid.

From 2 to 5, played dominoes in the snack bar with Nancy, Pam, Doug, Doug, and Jack. Bunch of cut-throat players; I came in last. Lots of fun.

Spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  7/2/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Rain sprinkles at 0700 and 0820. Ran engine for 20 minutes to charge batteries and then Doug came over to complain about the exhaust fumes. Rain at 0920.

Went ashore. Did quick email at the cafe; no news about the latop price quote. Biked to post office and shipped the laptop to CA anyway ($23; barely fit in box). Got groceries. Chatted with Jack, Rob and Paul about someone's throttle cable, engine rebuilding, etc. To cafe and confirmed that Doug and Nancy have reserved a rental car for my trip to the airport.


Ran engine for 10 minutes to charge batteries; fan belt is disintegrating.

Rain sprinkles at 1200.

Replaced engine fan belt. Ran engine. Tightened belt, ran engine again for 10 minutes, still not quite right. Alternator is wobbling sideways on its mount somehow; have to wedge it in two directions while tightening the adjustment bolt.

Salad and chicken-onion-noodle for dinner.
Sun for a new day  7/3/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Adjusted engine fan belt.

Anchor up at 0900, across harbor (passing the wreck which has been here for ages; I think that's a dock piling it dragged with it) to shallow water next to mangroves, two anchors down by 0940 at Playa Salinas PR.

Pulled rope anchor lines up onto foredeck and coiled them, so someone can tie the boat to the mangroves if a hurricane approaches while I'm gone.

Dinghied ashore, but cafe is closed and no cruisers around. Sat and read a book for a while.

Manatee swimming near the boat.

Salad and chicken-onion-noodle and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  7/4/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Having some kidney-stone pain on the left side; feels like a stone has moved down out of the kidney.

Turned refrigerator off and defrosted and cleaned it.

Lots of little motorboats and such pouring out of the harbor for July 4th fun.

Dinghied ashore, stopping by "Presque Isle" to coordinate time for picking up the rental car. Cafe closed; no internet. Chatted in snack bar with Norman from Cheoy Lee 41 "Fantasy II" for a couple of hours; nice conversation.

Back to boat, and I can hear the BBC on an AM radio station that Norman told me about ! That improves my life here quite a bit; I was feeling starved for news.

Removed access plates from exhaust manifold, and it looks like both of them need to be replaced.

"Tiburon" sailed by.

At 3, went ashore and off to the rental car place with Doug and Nancy. Local streets are jammed with parked cars and traffic, for the holiday.

After getting the rental car (paid $55 to Doug and Nancy to cover car and gas and tolls), off to Walmart (spent $90 on snacks and food and other stuff). Back to the boat by 5:15.

PB crackers for dinner.

Took down the sails and stowed them in the cabin, in case a hurricane comes while I'm gone.
Sun for a new day  7/5/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Picked up by Jack at 0745, so I can leave my dinghy locked on davits on the boat while I'm gone. Stopped by 2 boats on the way ashore, so Jack could check briefly with a couple of people about stuff.

Into the rental car with Doug and Nancy, and up to San Juan by 0915. Stopped at a dive shop so they could have a SCUBA tank filled.

To San Juan airport by 10. Slow line at check-in. Looked for internet cafe, couldn't find one, went through security screening, then told there is a cafe, back on other side of security; decided not to bother. A new step in the security-check: a booth you stand in for 10 seconds while blasts of air travel up and down your body; maybe to check for explosive fumes ? Wonder what would happen if you emitted some fumes of your own while you were in there ? 2.5 hours or so to wait until flight time.

Got seated, then they came down aisle asking for anyone who spoke Engligh and was travelling by themselves. I didn't volunteer, but they spotted me anyway and asked if I'd move to the emergency-exit row. Apparently everyone sitting there must speak English, although on this flight it might be more useful to have Spanish-speakers there.

To Philadelphia, and picked up by my brother. To Mom's place in Trenton, had dinner and a shower and started enjoying being back in civilization.
Sun for a new day  7/6/2007 - 7/23/2007
Boat's at anchor at Playa Salinas PR.
I'm in New Jersey, for some vacation.

Dropped exhaust manifold plates off at machine-shop; will cost $50 for two new ones. Bought 12V socket for helm binnacle ($7).

Found out I can do passport renewal by mail from Puerto Rico, so that's what I'll do. For some reason, I had thought one end of the renewal had to be done in person at a Post Office, but that was wrong: both ends can be done by mail. Got passport photos ($8).

Laptop arrived in CA 7/5. Will cost $185 to repair, I've spent $23 to ship it there, maybe will cost another $20 to ship it back. On the edge of not-worth-repairing, but I need it, so told them to go ahead and do the repair. Voltage regulator and inductor in power circuit need to be replaced, because power adapter (a non-standard adapter, from house batteries to laptop) drove them too hard and burned them out.

Had a nice family get-together, with Mom and most of my brothers and sisters and my 13-month-old nephew.

Doing chores for Mom: painted (water-sealed) the back porch, stripped wallpaper and painted the downstairs bathroom, trimmed tree in back yard.

Working on my to-do list: got voter-registration stuff, ordered a couple of Harry Potter books, bought another 12v socket ($5), two US flags ($10), two fan-belts ($36), etc.

Kidney stone pain seems to be gone 7/11 (Nope; it came back. Gone by 7/20 or so, I think.).

Finished typing in all the log entries I'd been keeping on paper since my laptop died (the things I do for you guys !). Can't add the photographs until I get my laptop back.

Satisfied my craving for a pastrami sandwich at Mastori's diner. But the meat was too lean; wanted one with plenty of fat and grease.

Laptop not repaired until 7/13; so much for their promises of quick turnaround. Still has to be shipped back to NJ.

Went to Philly with my brother and sister and went to the art museum, nice restaurant, nice walk around town.

Picnic at my Mom's townhouse association. Telling people you live on a sailboat is a sure-fire conversation-starter.

Went to Newark to see my brother's family and help him with a few jobs around the house.

Picked up exhaust manifold plates from machine-shop ($50).

Have been researching a few things to buy:
- Used wheelpilot auto-pilot (Autohelm 3000;; looks like $350 or so on EBay).
- New KISS wind generator ($1000, plus aboutt $250 for mizzen-mast mounting bracket).
- New outboard (not settled on brand or exacct size, but Tohatsu 6 HP 4-stroke at 55 lbs for about $1250 looks good).

On 7/20, had a family get-together and watched my 14-month-old nephew improve from walking 2-3 steps to walking 9-10 steps. Magical !

Got my laptop back 7/20 late ! Total repair cost was $231, including shipping on both ends. Now to sort through about 600 pictures, and format and upload the good ones. [Figured out later: the PC speaker isn't working; they must have left a wire unconnected.]

Saw the movie "Sicko" about the USA health-care system. Made us think about becoming Canadian citizens.

Sun for a new day  7/24/2007 (Tuesday)
Boat's at anchor at Playa Salinas PR.
I'm in New Jersey, for some vacation.

Up at 6, and off to Philly airport. No Wi-Fi there; Philadelphia is doing an initiative to have Wi-Fi throughout the city, and there's still none at the airport ?

Plane taxiied out to the runway, then had some mechanical problem and taxiied back to the gate. There, they decided there was no problem, just a bad indication from one of the computers. So back out to the runway and took off, an hour late.

Picked up by Doug and Joe. Stopped at a supermarket in Salinas, but it turned out I was the only one who wanted groceries. Went in, realized I wouldn't have a cold refrigerator on the boat until tomorrow midday, saw the check-out lines were slow, and gave up. To the marina, and Joe dinghied me out to my boat. Arrived 5:20. Boat looks fine; a sprinkling of dead small cockroaches inside, but nothing else noteworthy.

Opened up the boat and unpacked. Humid and a bit sweaty. Peanut-butter crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  7/25/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Installed new access plates onto engine exhaust manifold. Took all morning, because I had to chip off remnants of an old gasket. Hot, sweaty work, then messy as I got gasket goo and anti-seize all over my fingers.

Small boats pouring out of the harbor to go have some fun on this Puerto Rican Independence Day.

Added water to the batteries.

Stowed secondary anchor rope rode, winding it onto the reel under the V-berth.

Wind blew hard all afternoon, as usual.

Gave myself an extensive haircut; feel cooler already.

Lots of boats and jet-skis pouring back into the harbor at the end of the day, just in time for Happy Hour.

Cornedbeef-noodle and (warm) rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  7/26/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Started refrigerator at 6:15; it will take until noon or so to get cold. And I want the solar panels to recharge the batteries before dark.

Onto foredeck around 7 and brought up secondary anchor. Chipped lots of barnacles off the chain, then mud. Stowed chain and anchor, then rope rode for primary anchor.

Started engine at 8:20. No leak from exhaust manifold plates. Got primary anchor up by 8:30. Boat ran aground into the mud as I did it, but eventually I got the anchor up and the boat backing out. Nosed up into nearby mangrove channel just to check the depth, then across the harbor. Took two tries to get anchored where I wanted, at Playa Salinas PR. Not sure if fan belt is tight enough (not much charging current), but engine is running well. Engine off at 9:20.

Used the laptop for an hour or two, and then suddenly the battery wasn't getting charged any more. Worried that the power circuit might have blown out again, but it appears the power adapter overheated and shut itself down until it cooled off. Will know for sure tomorrow.

After lunch, installed new fuel-line filter on outboard's fuel tank, then dinghied ashore. Disposed of garbage, used the book-exchange, then to the marine store (found out they don't accept packages any more; will have to find a different way to have big stuff shipped in). Biked to the supermarket and got groceries. Wind blowing hard against me as I biked back, and as I dinghied out to the boat.

Salad and PB-banana sandwich for dinner.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries. Refrigerator still running continuously; I shut it off every now and then to give it a break.

Blew like stink all day, from 9:30 AM or so, then the wind suddenly died around 7 PM, and the night was warm and still and muggy. Typical weather here.
Sun for a new day  7/27/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Laptop seems to be okay.

Dinghied ashore. Mailed passport-renewal, but I'm not sure if the Post Office is collecting today: it's yet another Puerto Rican holiday, something about Barbarossa. Chatted with Marianne at the sailmaker shop about having an outboard and wind generator shipped in, and the news is not good: the govt is charging 7% sales tax on incoming stuff now, and no local businesses will accept packages for cruisers any more because later the business will get a bill for the sales tax.

To Cruiser's Galley and used the book exchange. Into the snack bar and chatted with Steve and a couple of other guys about ordering stuff and getting it shipped in, or buying it in PR. Not much joy. Only Tohatsu dealer they know of is in Carolina (east of San Juan airport), although there may be some local connection to that dealer. Only semi-local chain dealer sells crappy Chinese chain.

Starting to look like my best options are:
1- maybe Post Office General Delivery (if the local PO does that, and the weight limit is high enough, and the USA business is willing to ship via PO, and they're willing to ship to General Delivery). Or UPS to my brother in NJ and then PO to General Delivery here.
2- sail to St Thomas and do everything there. Not a great idea in hurricane season, with a slow boat, and with uncertain arrival dates for packages.
3- drive to San Juan and buy outboard and anchor chain there; unlikely to find wind generator there.
4- put off everything until after hurricane season (December or later).

Chatted briefly with Norman from "Fantasy II" on the dinghy dock, then back out to the boat.

Got online with Wi-Fi from the boat and paid $40 for a month. Used it for 15 minutes and then the Wi-Fi signal went away. But it worked again later. I'm trying to do my computing about 45 minutes per session, letting the laptop and power adapter cool down for a while afterwards.

Salad and spaghetti for dinner.

Dinghied ashore around 7. Went to snack bar and had a rum-and-coke ($1.50) and chatted for a couple of hours with various people, including Burt and Linda from a powerboat and Paul from "Adios" and Don from "Sunshine". Got 5 gallons of water. Back to the boat by 9.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries. Charging current fairly low; starting to wonder if something is wrong with the alternator. I've been running laptop and refrigerator so much that I can't imagine the solar panels have been keeping up well enough to account for this.
Sun for a new day  7/28/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Heard a radio story about the flooding in Britain that connected it to a stationary high in the Atlantic, that probably is giving us our nice weather here. But I think sea-surface temperatures are climbing, so we may get a couple of big hurricanes when they do come.

Hoisted jib and mizzen up into usual positions. (I'd taken all the sails down before leaving the boat for my vacation.)

Laptop's 12V power adapter stopped working. Fixed loose wires near the cigarette plug, but still doesn't work.

Dinghied ashore. Sat near laundry room and read and let laptop charge from AC power. No Wi-Fi signal here; the antenna is on the other side of the restaurant.

Wandered down to Cruiser's Galley for the flea market. Glad I decided to look first before hauling the 2/3 of an Isotherm refrigeration system I want to get rid of. Two tables of stuff, one from Doug on "D and D" and the other from Doug and Nancy on "Presque Isle", and not much happening. Chatted for a while, petted a couple of cats, looked over the stuff, and back to the marina. Sat near the dinghy dock and did a little internet.

To boat for lunch. Laptop power adapter working intermittently. Back ashore to charge laptop and do a little more internet.

Salad and peanut-butter sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  7/29/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Hoisted mainsail up into usual position.

Did more work on my 2005 income tax return. What a pain ! That was the year I sold a bunch of the stock I'd bought through the employee stock-purchase plan. So I have to figure out the basis for it, and where it came from, through three different sets of brokerage accounts. And I think I already paid tax on the difference between exercise price and fair market value, so I have to figure that out too. And the IRS notice said I had until June 13 to respond, so I've already blown that deadline.

Finally finished adding pictures to the last month or two of the log file.

Dinghied ashore and did internet in the afternoon, sitting on a bench in the marina where I get Wi-Fi and AC power. A bit exposed to sun and wind, but otherwise nice.

Found out that you can have a UPS package sent to the marina. They won't sign for it, but if you get the delivery slip and wait for the UPS guy to come again, you can sign for it and get it.

Nice-looking woman kayaker ( pic1, pic2, pic3 ) went by.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Something banged hard into the hull at 0415; a manatee or a big fish.
Sun for a new day  7/30/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

D'oh ! Forgot to go play dominoes in the snack bar yesterday afternoon at 2. Had been looking forward to that.

Dinghied ashore and biked into town. Found a working pay-phone, spent 20+ minutes on the waiting queue for the IRS, and got a 45-day extension for fixing the mess with my 2005 return (of course, they'll keep charging interest on overdue amount). Forgot to write down the phone number for the Tohatsu dealer near San Juan, so I went to the library. Their internet computers were down and they didn't have a San Juan phone book. To the tourist office, where eventually they found the number for me on the internet. To the payphone, called the number, and it told me to dial without a "1", and ate my 50 cents. Tried it without the "1", and it told me to dial with a "1", and ate another 50 cents. Gave up. Sat in the central park and chatted with a nice old guy for a while. To the supermarket, got groceries, and biked home into the teeth of 20 knots of wind.

After lunch, dinghied ashore and did internet in the afternoon, sitting on a bench in the marina.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  7/31/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Tightened alternator belt. Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries. Charging current started out fairly good, but soon dropped off. I think I need to add a wedge or something to help keep the alternator in proper place; it's twisting somehow, and the bolt is almost all the way out to the end of the adjustment slide.

Low, dark clouds all morning, and a little rain at 8:45.

Someone knocking on the hull at 9:45 or so, and it's Paul from "Adios". He says he has a rental car for the day; do I want to go to the supermarket or something ? Sure, so I quickly close up the boat and get out and into his dinghy. By the time we're ashore, he's talking about going to Walmart, then anywhere I want to go. I think of buying anchor chain, and wish I'd brought my windlass gypsy with me. Soon he's talking of driving to Ponce and sightseeing, and I'm wishing I'd brought my camera along.

So we drive to Ponce, and pretty easily I guide him to the harbor and we find the marine store nearby. No Acco 3/8 BBB chain (and like everyone else, the guy there says we won't find it anywhere outside of San Juan). To the harbor, and the observation tower is closed. Up into downtown Ponce, and up to the Castillos Seralles in the hills; terrific views from up there. Down from the hills, a slow spin through the central square, then we manage to get a bit lost east of downtown. But we make it to a big shopping mall I've been to before. We walk through, admiring all the pretty women and vaguely looking for a few things to buy. We have lunch at Burger King, and the whole food-court area is a bit of a madhouse right at noon. Paul's feeling a bit of culture-shock; it's been quite a while since he's been in such a mall. He says it gives him a new appreciation for the boating life.

To a supermarket to look for coffee for Paul, then back to Salinas. We get coffee and a few other things in the Amigo supermarket there. Then backtrack to Isabella, to Walmart. A big shopping spree there, to the rental car place by 3:15 or so, and they drive us home. Back to the boat before 4, and stow away a ton of groceries I bought.

Salad and PB-banana sandwiches for dinner.

Wasn't blowing as hard as usual this afternoon, and very still during the night.
Sun for a new day  8/1/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Tightened alternator mounting and checked belt tension; looks okay. But again, after I started the engine, charging current was nowhere near as high as I expected, and soon it was putting out 10-15 amps instead of the 30+ I would expect with the batteries the way they are. Guess I'll have to open up the alternator and see if anything looks wrong with it. Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Dinghied ashore, used book-exchange, did internet. Yesterday, a couple of people told me the place to get anchor chain is "Astro" in/near San Juan, and for $25 they'll deliver right to the marina. But I can't find them on the internet, and the marina doesn't have a San Juan phone book. Typical for this place: everything is a bit difficult. Will keep looking.

Went to the sailmaker's shop and Marianne had a phone book; found Astro's number. And she had veggies from her garden; bought a couple of big avocados ($2).

Blowing very hard this afternoon; mostly around 25 knots or so.

Sprayed a bunch of electronics-cleaner stuff into the alternator, in the faint hope that it might wash a bunch of carbon out. No such luck; the access hole are tiny and I doubt I could hit the brushes or rings through them.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for 15 minutes to charge batteries. Still not working properly.
Sun for a new day  8/2/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Ashore at 7:30 and met Jack, who had a rental car. Off to a propane place, where there's supposed to be a good deal. But it wasn't open yet when we got there. Used his cell-phone to call the anchor chain place in San Juan, and their price is good: $4.25/foot for Acco 3/8" BBB. And supposedly no delivery fee, to Salinas. Truck will show up Friday or Monday; I'm going to have to hover around the marina watching for it.

To an ATM, and withdrew $500 (my personal high score for an ATM) to pay for the anchor chain. Do you know that joke ?
- What are the three sweetest words in the EEnglish language ?
- "Please take cash"

Gassed up the car, got 20 pounds of propane for $10 (a great price), and to the supermarket for a few groceries. Back to the boat.

I told Jack I'd babysit his cat on my boat while he's gone for two weeks; should be fun. He says I'll probably want a cat of my own after that.

Took the alternator off the engine, and it looks like it has a lot of carbon inside it. But the four bolts holding it together are frozen; applied a lot of penetrating oil and let it sit for a couple of hours.

Emptied 5 gallons of water from jug into water tank. Dinghied ashore. Bought gasoline ($10), got 5 gallons of water, and did internet. Grey and breezy and very overcast. Tried to ask the marina office to call me on VHF if the anchor-chain truck shows up, but their VHF has been busted for a month or so, and they don't seem to be interested in replacing it. Saw an iguana.

Jack says there's a storm south of us, giving these 25-30 knot winds.

Back to boat. Got bolts out of alternator, and started prying case halves apart, but I couldn't quite get it open. Started worrying that I was doing it wrong and going to damage something. So I put it back together and back on the engine. But as I started to make the last connection, of the big red battery-positive wire onto the alternator, that connection sparked. That struck me as wrong: why should the alternator be drawing current from the batteries ? Maybe that means a diode is blown, which would explain the reduced charging current too ? And I think I've been seeing more charging from the solar panels today while the alternator was removed; maybe the alternator has been dragging down the charging current from the panels.

So I left that wire off; I can connect it in a minute if I decide to run the engine for charging. I'll have to take the alternator off again and take it to a shop, but I don't feel like doing it today, bicycling in 25-30 knots of wind.

Went ashore, and asked John at the dinghy dock about the alternator. He thinks the sparking is normal; that's field current. I don't think so; doesn't field current kick in only when the key is turned on ? [But there is no wire from the ignition; maybe this is a self-exciting alternator ?] And I don't remember any sparking any other time I've reconnected the alternator. And there seemed to be too strong a spark for just a field current, I think.

Used the book-exchange and did some internet.

Salad and cheese-salami-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/3/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Ashore at 8 to pick up Jack's cell-phone, so the anchor-chain guys can call me when they arrive at the marina. But at 9 I called them and found out they'll come Monday morning. So I don't have to wait around all day today and Monday for them.

Took out the engine alternator and put the spare in. But the wiring is different, so I'll have to look up the details and wire it later. Does it hurt an alternator to run the engine with no wires connected to it ? I know you shouldn't disconnect a battery from a running alternator. But can you run an engine with an unwired alternator on it ? I think the answer is yes.

Ashore again and biked to town, carrying the alternator to an auto-parts store. Their alternator guy is in the hospital, but they'll take it to another guy. I'll call them on Tuesday to find out what's going on with it.

Sat in the town square for a little while, then biked back to the marina. Chatted with Jack and Bob and Bobbi in the snack bar, then a brief chat with Jack on his boat.

Back to the boat. Blowing like stink again today. Solar is charging a lot better today, even though the weather is pretty grey. Now I'm sure the alternator was dragging current from the solar panels. But the battery monitor should have shown the drain from the batteries at night.

Ashore in the afternoon. Still trying to get through to the Tohatsu dealer here in PR; two different email addresses got no response, and calling them from two different phones failed. Even the internet store I contacted hasn't responded; sent mail to another one. I'm trying to figure out costs for all the different options of getting the outboard: get it here or from internet, ship/deliver various ways, sales tax, etc. Hard to do if no one is responding at all. But I'm not out of options yet.

Emptied 7 gallons of water from jugs into tank.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ashore to the snack bar around 7. Returned the cell-phone to Jack. Had a rum-and-7Up ($2) and a lot of conversation, especially with Clarence and Tito. Clarence is pretty old, and loves to talk about old times. They both lived in the USVI's for 20 years or so, and know all the history of those islands. Interesting conversation. Got 10 gallons of water, and back to the boat by 10.
Sun for a new day  8/4/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Did a bucket of laundry. Worked on my 2005 income taxes some more.

Dinghied ashore and did internet. Power connectors I ordered ($8) have arrived. They're slightly smaller than I hoped, and require soldering to attach the wires, but I'll give them a try.

Wired spare alternator and started engine. Whoops: had a wire wrong. Stopped the engine and fixed it. Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries.

Salad and cheese-salami-crackers for dinner.

Still having problem with refrigerator thermostat. Or maybe it's just that I'm never letting the refrigerator get properly cold ? But it feels pretty cold even with thermostat near warmest setting, and it runs so often that tonight I'm getting up every hour or so to turn it on or off, acting as a human thermostat.

Very still and warm night. I still can't understand how the wind switches from 20-25 knots during the day to 0-3 knots at night. I know about heating of land and land- and sea-breezes and such. But does that explain such a large difference ? And the night-breeze from land exactly counteracts the tradewind, in speed and direction ?
Sun for a new day  8/5/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Still fighting a minor infestation of little moths, the ones that grew in that bad Raisin Bran.

Dinghied ashore and did internet.

Dinghied ashore, seeing smoke from a big fire ashore somewhere north of the harbor. Played dominoes in the snack bar from 2 to 4, with Joe and Doug and Joe's wife and Jack and Nancy. For each hand, I scored either a 0 (great) or around 50 (bad); hardly anything inbetween. So I came in at the middle of the pack.

Storm clouds brewing up late in the game, and I kept an anxious eye out as the wind started shifting to the N and NW: not sure how close my boat will swing to other boats with the wind from this unusual direction. As soon as the game ended, I went back out to the boat. No problems as long as the wind stayed light. But it brought the smoke from that fire into the harbor, filling it with haze. Rain at 4:45.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Tightened alternator belt and ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.
Sun for a new day  8/6/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Sudden hard rain at 5:15; had to scramble to close all the hatches and ports.

Tightened alternator belt and ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Saw a dinghy go by with the guy's dog swimming next to it.

Went ashore at 9 and started waiting for the anchor chain guy to show up. Used my laptop while I waited. Jack lent his cell-phone to me again. Helped Bob and Bobbi lift bikes off their boat; later they gave me some Cantenna parts they had. Chatted with Paul. No sign of the anchor-chain guy, so I called them at 11:45, and they said the delivery guy hasn't come in yet today. So I have to call again later. Back to the boat for lunch. Blowing hard today.

Dinghied ashore and did internet. More smoke from a fire ashore; maybe they're burning out sugar cane fields ? But I thought they didn't grow cane on this island any more. Salad and cheese-salami-crackers for dinner.

Another totally still and warm night.
Sun for a new day  8/7/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Refrigerator still running too often; I'm starting to think it needs recharging.

Ran engine for 95 minutes to charge batteries. Seems to be a lot of "slop" in the throttle cable.

Called the anchor chain people, and they say "tomorrow".

Threw away my bedsheet and pillowcase and put new ones on. The old ones just got beyond laundering.

Happened to look up on the pilothouse roof, and saw that the mounting for the GPS antenna has come unglued from the roof. Another thing to repair. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment. Of course, that doesn't stop me from spending several hours a day on the internet.

Cut wires and gathered power connector parts to take ashore and solder them. But then I looked outside and saw a huge dark squall approaching. So sat for a while as the squall hit around 10, with winds of 35+ knots and near-horizontal rain.

Had an early lunch while the rain cleared, then went ashore. Biked to hardware store, then marine store. Bought jar of Liquid Electrical Tape ($10, a rip-off, I think). Then biked into town. To the library, to print out a tax form, but their internet still is down and they doubt it will be fixed any time soon. To the auto-parts store, and (surprise) my alternator work is delayed; should be done by Thursday. To the supermarket for groceries, then home. Had to wait for 5 minutes in the marina, chatting with Bob and Bobbi, as some fairly hard rain passed through. Then out to the boat.

Ashore again. Thought of taking the soldering kit with me, but it's looking very rainy, and I think I'd rather risk one set of electrical stuff (the laptop), than two (laptop and soldering). Chatted with Steve from "Nonesuch" (he just arrived from Culebra) and another guy. Back out to the boat when it started sprinkling rain.

Tightened engine throttle linkage. Cleaned outboard spark plugs.

Ashore again, and soldered connectors while sitting on the ground near the AC outlet near the seawall. I always do a terrible job at soldering: either I don't get the joint hot enough, and get a cold-solder, or get it too hot and melt surrounding plastic and insulation. And I always wish I had two more hands to do it. And these connectors are about one size too small to make them easy to work with. And outdoor soldering in breezy conditions adds more challenge.

Back to the boat. Around 5:30, conditions get evil and we have sustained winds of 40+ knots and near-horizontal rain for a while.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Sudden rain at 1:45 AM, and then it rains off and on the rest of the night.
Sun for a new day  8/8/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Totally grey and mostly raining.

Ran engine for 90 minutes to charge batteries.

Worked on new power connectors a bit, applying tape and liquid tape and eventually closing them up. Got one pair done, but the other pair has a loose solder joint in it.

Tried to clean out the water jugs a bit; they have green stuff growing on the bottom inside.

Just before noon, Jack's cell-phone rang. I tried to answer it and failed. Then it beeped with a voice-mail message; don't know how to retrieve that. Rang again a minute later; couldn't get connected on that call either. Guess I fail cell-phone 101. Anyway, I was already getting into the dinghy and heading ashore. Halfway in, met Paul and he tossed me a bag with a couple of books in it; he'd said he would give me some books.

Got ashore and found the anchor-chain delivery guy. Nothing on the order or the chain says "Acco", but it looks exactly like my old Acco chain and fits the gypsy perfectly, so I think it's right. Got the truck through the gate and to the dinghy dock, and paid him $470 cash ($425 for 100 feet of Acco 3/8 BBB, $30 sales tax, $15 tip). We wrestled the bucket of 160 pounds of chain out of the bed of the truck. He left. I moved the dinghy as close as I could get it, rolled the bucket about 10 feet before it spilled, then dragged chain the remaining 20 feet and lowered it down into the dinghy.

Out to the boat, up along the bow, and lifted the chain onto deck (you can see how yellowish my deck is with rust from the old chain and the secondary anchor). Now I need an hour or so of calm weather to raise anchor and replace the old chain with the new chain.

Back ashore later to do more internet. Still no progress on the outboard motor. Chatted with Paul a bit.

Salad and PB-crackers for dinner.

Forward water tank ran dry; switched to aft tank.
Sun for a new day  8/9/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Ran engine for 75 minutes to charge batteries. Throttle linkage still not quite right.

Jack stopped by to say hello and retrieve his cell-phone.

Headachey all morning and into the early afternoon. Napped and took pills.

Wired up two of the power connectors; will test them tomorrow by using the laptop and seeing if they melt.

Put 2nd avocado out in the sun to see if it will ripen; it didn't ripen just sitting on the galley counter.

Blowing hard today.

Dinghied ashore and did internet. Chatted with Jack, and he's been to that Tohatsu dealer, a couple of months ago, so the place does exist. Got 10 gallons of water and emptied it into forward water tank.

Salad and chili and headache pills for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/10/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Still feeling a bit headachey.

Ran engine for 75 minutes to charge batteries. Had to tighten throttle linkage again. Use laptop with new power connectors; worked fine.

Rain at 9.

Tried to scrub algae out of bottom of water jugs; mixed results.

Dinghied ashore. To Jack's boat, and used his cell-phone. Finally got through to the Tohatsu dealer near San Juan, and his price is the same as everywhere else (thought he would be higher), plus 7.5% sales tax and either I go fetch it or he charges $75 for delivery. But he'd have to special-order it, and he's nervous about a credit-card order without something in physical writing.

Jack and I walked up to the Cruiser's Galley. After several tries, got through to the auto-parts place about the alternator, and they said there's nothing wrong with it. But it sounds like all the guy did was spin it up and see output, and say it must be okay. I tried to ask them to ask him to check the diodes, but we weren't communicating very well. So I said I'd come pick it up again.

David heard me talking about it to Jack, and he started giving me all kinds of advice. He says the sparking might mean my ignition is bad (but there's no ignition wire to my primary alternator, and the spare does have an ignition wire but doesn't spark). He says I should connect wires and then see if the pulley is magnetized; that would mean the alternator is bad. He also said there might be a hidden voltage adjustment on the regulator on my spare alternator; that would be nice, because it doesn't put out more than 13.5 volts.

Paul gave me the URL of an internet place he bought a Tohatsu 6 from; he said shipping was only $68. So that would be cheaper than the place in San Juan, and be delivered right to me. Two other internet places I emailed didn't respond, and a third said they don't ship to Puerto Rico. So I'll try the place he told me about.

After lots of tries and going to Sarah in the office a couple of houses away, we managed to get the tax form printed; now I can finish that stuff and send it to the IRS.

Washed out the water jugs, got 10 gallons of water, and back to the boat. Had lunch.

Got ready to go ashore, planning to bike into town and retrieve the alternator. But my head is pounding, despite more pills. A strenuous 4-mile ride in heat and high wind might wipe me out. So I change plans, and go ashore to do a little internet. Alternator can wait a day or two.

Chatted briefly with woman from "Magus" about my alternator stuff, and she said there's a good alternator place in Ponce, and then said her alternator problems turned out to be a bad battery. Hmmm.

Got 10 gallons of water, and back to the boat (when I started the outboard, the pull-cord didn't retract; another thing to fix). To bed; headache is bad.

Peanut-butter crackers for dinner.

A bad night: headache very strong despite pills.

Loud lightning/thunder south of us around midnight.

From 1:30 until 2:30 or so, a couple of strong squalls with strong wind, then tons of rain.
Sun for a new day  8/11/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Still have a pretty bad headache.

Tried disconnecting various battery banks to see if one of them is dragging down the others. No enlightenment. Added water to the batteries. Ran engine for 75 minutes to charge batteries.

Took nap; head still aching. Then launched the dinghy and replaced the pull-cord on it. As usual, the old one had hopped off the reel and gotten tangled, and had chafed almost through in one spot.

Head starting to feel better around noon. Had lunch, then cleaned out a water jug, and replaced the hinge-bolt on the forward hawsehole flap.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Got 10 gallons of water. Outboard pull-cord not fully retracting, but good enough.

Doug from "D and D" stopped by and gave me a couple of milk-crates he'd offered to me. He's getting ready to sell his boat.

Salad and spaghetti and coke and headache pills for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/12/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Headache almost completely gone.

Tightened alternator belt. Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries. Filled out the tax form.

Pumped up the dinghy's forward tube. Had a lot of trouble starting the outboard: the cord isn't retracting fully, and I think the new one is 6 inches shorter than the old one.

Eventually found a copier at the Cruiser's Galley and copied my tax forms. Chatted with Mark from "Mystic" and Tom in the marina, just arrived from Luperon. We chatted about Florida and the DR and various things; sounds like lots of police hassles in Marathon these days, and some officials asking for bribes in Luperon.

Did some internet, got 10 gallons of water, then back to the boat.

Ashore at 2 and into the snack bar to play dominoes. Had a serious game, and I came in 2nd out of 5. Chatted a bit, and introduced Mark to the rest of the gang. Moved to another table and chatted with Jack and Bob and Bobbi. To the dinghy dock, and chatted with Tom while he got water. He suddenly realized it was my web site and blog he'd been reading while he started getting ready to cruise a year or so ago, and he was glad to meet me. It seems I'm known in some circles as "that guy who eats spaghetti a lot".

Tom told me that he and Mark had sailed up the coast, since Mark's engine was down. I knew that, but then he told me it took him 2.5 days to sail from Ponce to Salinas ! That's only about 25 miles as the bird flies. There's a pretty good current heading west, and very strong winds too from 9 to 8 or so. He spent long periods of time making no progress at all. I don't have the patience for that.

Got 10 gallons of water and back to the boat. Headache is coming back a little.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/13/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Still have a slight headache.

Ashore around 10 and biked into town. To Post Office and mailed the 2005 tax form; good to get that over with, but they'll come back in a month or two and tell me I owe a lot of money.

To the auto-parts place, and the alternator guy was in. He doesn't speak any English, but another guy translated for us, and he agreed to open up the alternator and test the diodes and check the brushes.

Sat in the town square for a while, reading a book. Used the ATM, got groceries, then back to the boat. Blowing hard again today.

After lunch, relaxed for a while, straightened up a bit, and went ashore for some internet. Tropical Depression 4 is approaching; will be near here Saturday morning. Forecast says it will be centered at 16.0N 63.5W (about 120 miles south of me) with max sustained wind of 90 knots and gusts to 110 knots; that's a category 2 hurricane. If it stays that far south of us, we'll probably see 40-knot wind. But there's a lot of uncertainty in the forecast; will have to keep a close eye on it. So now this is topic number one in all the conversations here. And Jack is supposed to fly out tomorrow morning; wonder if he'll leave his boat in the marina ?

Placed a $250 bid on a used Autohelm 3000 auto-pilot on EBay. Auction ends Sunday.

Got 10 gallons of water, and back to the boat.

Salad and chicken-onion-biscuit for dinner.

Listened to Chris Parker's weather at 7. Most of the discussion was about whether TD4 will hit Trinidad; usually that's a safe place. After that, there's no telling what it will do; it may make a hard turn to the north and miss most of the Caribbean, go NW and hit me, or go W and stay S of me.

Still have a bit of a headache; took some more pills.
Sun for a new day  8/14/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Jack was supposed to bring his cat "Pip" over at 6; no sign of him, so maybe he decided to cancel his trip back to the USA. I would cancel if I was him: no telling what TD4 is going to do.

Listened to Chris Parker's weather at 7. Hard to hear, but sounds like the "go W, stay S of me" route is less likely. But still lots of uncertainty.

Jack arrived around 7:30 with cat "Pip" in a carrier and all the other cat-baggage. So he's decided to go on his trip, and if TD4 comes here as a hurricane, we'll move his boat out of the marina and over against the mangroves. I could see it hurt him to hand "Pip" over. With her came the all-important jar of snacks, and the litter box.

Pip explored the boat ( pic1, pic2, pic3, pic4, pic5 ).

Saw a bunch of people raising anchor on "Magus" and motoring it out of the harbor and to the mangrove creeks at Jobos. They're helping an older couple who just switched onto a trawler in the marina, so they have two boats to worry about.

Couldn't hear Chris Parker's weather at 8:30.

Tried to install a new 12V socket in the binnacle, but it doesn't fit. It has a molded-in right-angle bracket that can't be removed. Irritating, since I examined that exact feature when buying it at NAPA Auto, and the sales guy and I looked at the picture on the back of the package, which clearly shows the bracket as a separate piece. But the product inside doesn't match the picture on the back.

Dinghied ashore. Met Sterling from "We Don't Know" at the dinghy dock; someone emailed me recently asking about him: he's here ! He may head to St Croix because someone's offering him some work.

Bought $10 of gasoline. To my favorite bench in the marina, and plugged in laptop, soldering iron and camera battery-charger. Got out 12V socket and sledgehammer and hammered on the bracket (I needed a nice sturdy anvil-like surface to hammer against, and the posts in the marina parking lot are perfect; straightened that bracket out in no time). What a one-man circus I am !

Bummer: someone is bidding against me for the auto-pilot on EBay; up to $305 now.

Okay, by 11 AM, TD4 has become Tropical Storm Dean. Forecast from wunderground.com has it hitting me dead-center Sunday morning, max sustained wind 95 knots, gusts to 115 knots. But the forecast says "Extended outlook. Note ... errors for track have averaged near 225 nm on day 4 and 300 nm on day 5 ... and for intensity near 20 kt each day." So it's still guesswork.

Just can't get solder to flow onto this one wire; guess I need to sand the surface of the strands.

Back out to boat to have lunch and pet the cat.

Back ashore. Plugged in a drill and drilled a hole in the 12V socket bracket. Jan said most computer models have TS Dean staying south of us and only one model has it hitting us. And none of them show the sharp right turn Chris Parker is talking about.

Jan was talking about his wife's bad luck: she flew to England just in time to get caught in the bad flooding there, and now she's flying back to PR on the day the hurricane might hit.

Got 10 gallons of water and back to the boat. Pip was very vocal: she likes her wet-food dinner at 3:45, and I didn't get home until 4:30.

Salad and cheese-salami-crackers and rum-and-coke for dinner.

At dusk, Pip went up onto deck and explored everywhere. Made me nervous that she might fall in; when I had my girlfriend's cats aboard 5 years ago, they never went on deck. But Pip didn't have any problems. Later, saw her contemplating a jump up onto the top of the pilothouse, but it's a little too high for her.

Couldn't hear Chris Parker's weather at 7.

Left the main hatch screen open so the cat could get up onto deck during night. Lying in my berth, saw her looking down at me through the aft hatch at one point, reminding me of Snoopy perching in a tree before plunging down onto Linus.
Sun for a new day  8/15/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Listened to Chris Parker's weather at 7. Started out ugly: Dean could build to category 3, 4 or even 5. But then he said it should go south of us, turn NW and brush the W end of Jamaica, and up the Yucatan channel or over the W end of Cuba: the classic route. Still a lot of uncertainty in the forecast, but sounding better for us.

Tightened alternator belt. Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries. Pip ran for the V-berth when she heard the starter-buzzer, but soon came back out into the main cabin; she doesn't seem to mind the engine as much as Jack said she would. But, 5 minutes later, she went back into the V-berth and hid in a tight spot, and didn't come out for an hour or two.

Couldn't hear Chris Parker at 8:30.

Oops: at 9:35, Paul knocked on my hull; I'd forgotten that he'd invited me to meet him and two others ashore at 9:30 for a free car ride to the supermarket. I apologized and told him to go without me.

Installed 12V socket in helm binnacle.

At 10:45, Paul was back again, and invited me ashore at 11 for a free ride to Walmart ! So I took him up on it. Ashore at 11, off to Walmart with Paul and John. We shopped, had terrific steak-fajitas lunch ($10) at a Mexican place, then a quick shop at Walmart again. Surprising: no decent prices on rum. To the car-rental place, back to the marina, and out to the boat by 2 or so.

John mentioned that solar panel connections can come loose, even inside their well-sealed plastic boxes on the backs of the panels. So I'd better go up and lift up the panels and open up the boxes. Something definitely is wrong with my solar output.

Fed Pip and petted her and stowed all of the groceries and such, then back ashore to do some internet.

Now (as of 11 AM this morning) most forecasts for Dean have it passing about 140 nm south of us Saturday morning; one computer model has it passing closer, maybe 60 nm south of us. The direct-hit forecast has gone away. Looking good, but too soon to be sure.

Salad and PB-banana sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/16/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Up on top of the pilothouse by 6:45 or so, and started unpinning the solar panels so I can check the connections underneath. The hinges I used are totally rusted and disintegrating; will have to look for some SS hinges. And several of the epoxied-down wooden blocks are loose. Got one panel up and then a short, sharp rain hit and drenched everything. Just what I didn't need; that will make the epoxy-work tougher.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries.

Opened up the plastic junction-boxes on the backs of the panels, and everything is fine: all connections tight, dry, clean. Mixed epoxy and reinstalled everything, and epoxied the GPS antenna back on too. Wind started coming up early today; got finished just in time. A messy, wet, awkward job.

Listened to Chris Parker's weather at 8:30. Dean's central pressure has plunged overnight (to 987). The consensus forecast is that it will go south of us. But he still mentions it's possible it will turn more north and hit us.

Started to head ashore at 9:30 or so, and had to wait 20 minutes while a huge dark squall came through with heavy rain. Finally got going, and stopped to chat with Bob on "Callisto" on the way in. Got 10 gallons of water. Pumped up the bike tire and biked into town. At the auto-parts place, they said my alternator will be done this afternoon, and it needed "everything new": rotor, diodes, brushes. Will cost $150 but they give a warranty. More than I expected, but if they do it right and I don't have any problems for several years ...

Got groceries and biked back to the marina, and out to the boat.

I think I'll move over to the east side of the harbor this evening instead of tomorrow morning, and put down three anchors in very shallow water with good holding. If the forecast changes and we get hit directly, I'll add lines into the mangroves.

Ashore after lunch to do internet. Blowing hard.

The 11 AM forecast for Dean seems to have it going slightly further south of us than before, as a category 3 hurricane. And none of the 5 or so computer models at wunderground have it hitting us any more; they're all starting to agree very closely. Should be due south of us early Saturday morning, center about 170 nm south of us. At that distance, we probably won't get more than 40 or 45 knots of wind.

Bidding on that used Autohelm 3000 autopilot on EBay is up to $380. I think I'm going to give up on it.

Salad and ham-noodle and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Started engine about 6:30 and raised anchor. Motored over to the east side of the harbor, switching to new anchor chain as I went. Put down two anchors at east side and finished by 7:15 or so. Not quite close enough to shore to run lines into the mangroves, but I don't think I'm going to have to do that. In 6 feet of water with very good holding, sheltered from the NE and E and SE. I'm happy. Trawler "Sundance" is up the nearby "creek", with lines spider-webbed across to both sides.

You can see why I had to replace the old anchor chain. Here are two parts of the same chain, the old one: chain. You can see how some links, the ones at the waterline, have wasted away. And here is a link of the new chain (same size) next to a wasted link of the old one: chain.
Sun for a new day  8/17/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Mark and Tom brought Mark's boat "Mystic" over to anchor next to me. Later saw them put out an anchor with about 200 feet of rode from Tom's boat on the other side of the harbor.

Attached third anchor to old anchor chain and left it all on the foredeck, ready if I need it. I have two more anchors; I'm sure I won't need them.

Lowered the mainsail to the deck; it vibrates around quite a bit in high winds. Will lower the rest of the sails later if it looks like the hurricane will hit us.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Listened to Chris Parker's weather at 7. Dean's central pressure has gone down again (to 976); it's going to be a category 5 by the time it gets to the Yucatan. Almost definitely will go south of us; should be no problem for us.

Cleaned outboard spark plugs.

Here are some more pictures of the cat "Pip": exploring ( pic1, pic2, pic3 ), napping ( pic1, pic2 ), perching ( pic1, pic2 ).

Went ashore to do internet and soldering.

Starting to blow hard from NE around 11, with an odd whistling noise that I think comes from high-speed gusts. 8 AM forecast has Dean going well south of us, as previous forecasts did. I got a little anxious when it started blowing: is a squall going to come and soak the laundry on my lifelines, or blow it off the lifelines ? And what if my outboard refuses to start ? So I quickly looked at the 11 AM forecast (no change), shut everything down, got 10 gallons of water, and headed back out to the boat.

A little more sheltered on my side of the harbor; probably blowing 10 knots less over here. Getting gusts of 30 knots or so, from E or NE.

Had lunch, and realized I'd forgotten to eat any breakfast this morning !

Checked out some solar wiring, and the inline fuse is running very hot. Will take it out and check it tonight, when there's no current through it.

Saw several manatees around the boat (this is one of their favorite spots over here), but couldn't get any decent pictures of them. This picture (big) shows a manatee nose, and the shadows of at least two more manatees to the left of it.

Needn't have panicked when it started blowing hard at 11: it stayed about the same most of the afternoon. But definitely blowing 10 knots harder over by the marina; I can see whitecaps over there.

At 4, gusts up to the 40 to 45 knot range, then rain. But it didn't last more than 5 or 10 minutes or so. Nicely cooler breeze afterwards, and conditions mellowed out for an hour or two before picking up again.

At 4:15, one of my biggest fears: two yahoos bringing out a small sailboat to dump at anchor near me at the last minute just before the hurricane arrives. Fortunately, they stayed north of me and a reasonable distance away, and at least put down two anchors (although not much rode, little chain, and they didn't back down to set the anchors). Much closer or east of me, or if the hurricane really was coming here, and I'd go out tonight and move that boat and tie it to the mangroves.

At 5, Mark and Tom stopped by and I invited them aboard for a chat and a tour. The boat's a bit of a mess; in addition to the normal mess, I've started excavating so I can start investigating the auto-pilot. And maybe I can blame some of the mess on the cat; yes, that's it, the cat ! We had a nice chat. Tom said that anchor I saw them put out this morning has 250 feet of rode on it, and he has a couple more out with 200+ feet of rode on them; that's kind of excessive, especially since it's only 10-12 feet deep where he is, I'd guess. He was in New Orleans when Katrina hit (although I don't think he had this boat yet), so maybe that's influenced his thinking. Mark came from the other direction: he just put out a second anchor half an hour ago, and he makes it sound like he wasn't sure he was going to bother with a second anchor.

Salad and cheese-salami-crackers and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Lots of manatees around the boat. One breathed loudly right next to the boat and Pip jumped right up and went on deck and watched for a while.

Checked the fuse in the solar wiring, and the innards of it looked a bit funny, a little curved. But it has continuity and seems intact, and I don't seem to have a replacement aboard (it's slightly bigger than the normal fuses; it's 1.5" long, 30-amp). Sanded the ends a bit and put it back in; maybe it was loose. I've looked to buy a replacement before and not found them; I'll have to look more seriously.

Listened to Chris Parker's weather at 7, nothing new except Dean is almost a category 4. All the talk was about Jamaica, Yucatan, Mexico, Texas, which is good for us, I guess. It's going to whack someone as a category 5.

Uneventful night; wind gusting from 15 to 25 at times. Rain at 4:45.
Sun for a new day  8/18/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Cloudy, with dark clouds down to sea-level south of us. Wind about E 10-15 where I am, maybe E 15-20 away from shelter of the mangroves.

Ran engine for 45 minutes to charge batteries.

Rain at 6:45.

Rained pretty steadily from 10 to 1, with totally grey low clouds. A loud clap of thunder every now and then. Had a leak down the mainmast compression post, and eventually another from the V-berth headliner (probably comes from the chain locker).

At 1:15, looked out and saw huge swells and big brown breakers out in the ocean; you definitely can tell that a monster has passed by. There even are breakers right at the harbor mouth, well inside the barrier reef and islands. A slight swell is getting into the harbor and rolling us a little.

Fairly calm from 1 to 3, the got rolly. Occasional light rain started again at 3:15, and came back again and again all afternoon. A couple of local motorboats cruising around idly.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Saw trimaran "We Don't Know" coming back into the harbor.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries. Ran the vacuum-cleaner for a minute, and Pip didn't know whether to hide in the V-berth or run up on deck. Then I turned off the cleaner and she came out into the main cabin, tolerating the engine noise. Fired up the laptop and did some Wi-Fi from the boat; nice.

Got bitten by a lot of bugs in the early AM; had to get up and spray some bug-spray in the berth and the aft cabin. All the rain stirs up the bugs out of the mangroves, and I can't close the screen on the main hatch because the cat likes to roam at night.

Rain from 3:30 to 4:30.
Sun for a new day  8/19/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Raised secondary anchor. Engine start at 7:30. Raised primary anchor, motored 1/4 mile across the harbor to my previous spot, and anchor down at Playa Salinas PR. Let engine run a total of an hour to charge batteries.

Pretty good squall came throough around 9:30.

Dinghied ashore at 10 to do some internet. Chatted with Bob and Bobbi from "Callisto"; I hadn't realized they don't have refrigeration on their boat, and they claim not to miss it. Got 10 gallons of water and back out to the boat.

Ashore to use book-exchange and then play dominoes in the snack bar at 2. Played a couple of fun games; lost horribly in the first one and came in 2nd in the second one.

Salad and PB-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/20/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries. Totally calm: boats slowly spinning around the compass.

Dinghied ashore and biked into town. Chatted with Mark near the supermarket, then again with him near the marina on the way back. Picked up my alternator ($160); they painted it very nicely, but we'll have to see how well it works. Came with a 6-month warranty. Wanted to call 800 numbers of a bunch of internet-outboard places, but the only working payphone in the center of town is the one that ate my money last time, and it's pretty noisy near it. So I punted on that and got groceries at the supermarket and headed back. A couple of people have offered to loan me their cell-phones; I'll take one of them up on that.

After lunch, dinghied ashore again to do internet. Wow, that used auto-pilot on EBay finally went for $490, a lot more than I expected. But another one has come up for auction (maybe someone has a garage full of them), so I started bidding on that one.

Oops: had forgotten to send email to reassure my Mom that I'd survived the hurricane. Fortunately my brother read my log file and was able to calm her.

A couple of pictures: cat "Pip" lounging; local fishermen made crab traps from plastic milk crates (and some angle-iron for the corners).

Got 10 gallons of water and back to the boat.

By 5:30, something strange: wind stalls and boats swing randomly, then we get wind from the west; very unusual. And soon I'm getting much to close to "Thakira" to the E of me. I start the engine and motor away, dragging the anchor chain away and hoping the weight of it will keep me far enough off. No luck, and soon I'm motiring away again and pulling in 10-15 feet of chain. Still not enough, so I raise anchor and put it down further west. Did all this while cooking dinner. And had a bit of headache too.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/21/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Slight breeze from north, and I'm swinging a little close to "Psyche", but not bad. Want to wait for the usual hard SE breeze to make sure anchor is holding and I'm swinging in a good place.

Want to keep the engine in runnable state in case something goes wrong with the anchoring, but I need to put the primary alternator back in. Hope the switch goes quickly.

Into engine compartment and took out the spare alternator and put in the primary alternator. A sweaty job, fiddling with live wires while crouching. The two alternnators are wired differently, so had to get that straight. And the alternator-repair guy put the back of the primary on differently, so the terminals are in different places; not a problem. Finally got everything in, started the engine, and the alternator didn't work ! It's supposed to be self-exciting, and it won't excite. No output to the tach, no charging to the batteries.

So shut the engine down and did the whole operation in reverse: primary alternator out and spare back in. Started the engine and ran it for an hour to charge batteries. And I'll have to take the primary back to the shop. What a pain ! Wind starting to come from SE as usual; motored a bit to drag the chain into line and test the anchor.

I'm guessing what happened: the guy who worked on the alternator tested it with one set of terminals, and I use a different set. There had been a rubber plug covering up a couple of spade lugs on the back of the alternator, and he returned it with that rubber plug missing and the spade lugs exposed. I use two bolts on the back, one for battery and the other for tachometer; it's a self-exciting alternator. The spade lugs probably provide a way to apply field current from outside.

Went ashore, biked to town, went to the auto-parts place. Explained the situation to the head guy. He took the alternator into the back for 10 minutes, came back and said "it doesn't charge". So he'll send it back to their buddy who does alternators, and I'll stop by again in a couple of days.

Met Steve and another guy on the way back, so I walked the bike and chatted with them for a while. Then chatted with Mark for a bit. Back to the boat for lunch. Brief rain.

Back ashore to do internet. Borrowed cell-phone from Bob and called the internet-outboard places. I had a list of 5 places; one had already responded to email, saying they don't ship to PR. Three of the others all turned out to be the same place, with different web sites and phone numbers and names. They don't ship to PR (but Paul had them ship one to him here last Christmas, and Steve got one from them sometime after that; maybe the tax situation has changed since then ?). And they ignored all of my emails asking if they shipped to PR because supposedly somewhere on their web sites it says they don't ship to PR (I never saw that anywhere). The fifth place was busy each time I called them, and they haven't responded to email either. So I think I'll give up on a new outboard until I get to the USVI's in January.

We have a winner ! Opened a can of dark-tuna-flavor food for the cat, and she went wild over it.

Salad and cheese-salami-crackers and rum-and-coke for dinner. Had to throw away an entire loaf of bread I bought yesterday at the supermarket: looked fine from the outside, but every single slice was very moldy on the inside. And this isn't bakery bread: it's standard national-brand industrially-produced stuff. Dumped it overboard for the fishies.

Pretty comical: the cat was looking down at me through the aft hatch, and she was very anxious to get down to me through the security grate. Then I put up the screen on the hatch, and that excited her even more; she was pawing at it eagerly.

Rained 6 or 8 times during the night; I think a tropical wave was passing through.
Sun for a new day  8/22/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Out onto deck with a hammer and chipped flaking zinc and rust and barnacles off the old anchor chain. Decided it's good enough to keep, although I'll probably just haul it around for several years and then throw it away. Lowered it down through the forward hatch and right into a space under the sole of the V-berth; a surprisingly easy operation. Swept and washed the deck where the chain had been lying; lots of rust on the deck, but no point in cleaning it until I deal with the rust on the secondary anchor.

Cat lounging, cat exploring.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. That auto-pilot on EBay has been bid up to $360; too much for me.

Salad and PB-banana sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/23/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Had an early lunch and then went ashore and biked into town to see about the alternator. As soon as I got in the door of the place, they said "Monday, it'll be done Monday". So to the supermarket for groceries and then a hot ride back to the marina in high wind. Back out to the boat. It's blowing like stink today.

Ashore later to do internet. Got chased into shelter by rain a couple of times.

Back to the boat. Pretty dramatic sky this afternoon. Cat has found another place to lounge.

Salad and PB-sandwiches for dinner. A little more rain.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.
Sun for a new day  8/24/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Very cloudy day. Went ashore to do internet. Auto-pilot on EBay is up to $406.

Started looking into putting the family tree on the computer and on my web site. How confusing: there must be a million web sites about genealogy ! But eventually I started figuring out what I want: a free application to put my family tree into a GEDCOM file, and a free application to generate HTML from a GEDCOM file so I can put it on MY web site. Downloaded some candidates and started trying them out.

Felt a few raindrops. Back to the boat for some lunch, waited out a little rain, then back ashore for a while. Saw marina restaurant get an interesting food delivery.

Was running the engine (for 20 minutes) and cooking dinner and taking a shower when I heard a whistle from the dock: Jack is back from his trip to the USA. Soon he was coming out in the dinghy to pick up the cat. I shut off the engine, and Pip recognized the sound of Jack's dinghy and got excited. He came aboard and we chatted while I gathered up all of the cat stuff. Then they were off and I was catless again.

It was fun to have a cat aboard for 10 days, but I'm sure I don't want one full-time. And Pip was the nicest, best-behaved cat you could ask for. But the litterbox, the food bowls, cat hair, the cat underfoot every now and then, and the responsibility are not for me. Would interfere with my lifestyle, too: how can I be partying with women all night in bars if I have to get back to the boat to feed the cat ?

Tom stopped by on his way ashore. He complained about weird electrical wiring in his boat (extra loops of up to 25 feet of wire in various places), and needing to buy a new auto-pilot servo that costs $1500 (apparently fails repeatedly because it's a badly designed part). I guess he just needed to vent to someone.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Dinghied ashore and went to the snack bar for the Friday night Happy Hour and barbecue. Chatted with Jack and Nancy and Doug and Wendy and Joe. They complained that the ribs weren't good tonight: not enough meat on them. Jack bought me a rum-and-coke and gave me a box of taffy from Atlantic City to thank me for cat-sitting. Not much of a crowd in the snack bar.

Got 10 gallons of water and back to the boat.
Sun for a new day  8/25/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dinghied ashore and did internet.

Cleaned up the boat a bit. Ran engine for 45 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/26/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dinghied ashore and did internet. The Wi-Fi dropped me at 11 or so; my one-month subscription has expired. I think they shorted me by one day.

Chipped rust and barnacles and loose flakes of zinc off the secondary anchor. Once I get it clean enough, I'll try acid-washing it and then painting it. Would be nice to get it re-galvanized, but they don't seem to do that here.

Ashore again in the afternoon. Used the book-exchange, then to the snack bar to play dominoes with Doug, Jack, Wendy, Nancy and Joe. I came in last again; this is a tough crew, and I got some bad hands. Lots of fun.

Salad and cornedbeef-noodle and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries. Messed with the nest of battery ground cables that meet at the battery-monitor shunt, and I think something changed; will have to investigate.
Sun for a new day  8/27/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dinghied ashore around noon and biked into town to pick up the alternator. Got to the shop, and the guy said "it'll be done tomorrow afternoon". Arghh ! So I told him this was a pain, I have to bike in from the marina each time, and that I'd be back Wednesday morning. How much you want to bet on Wednesday they'll say "sorry, we can't fix it, here's your alternator back". Or "sorry, it needs a new regulator". Damn it, I wanted to get it today, test it tonight, and head out of the harbor tomorrow morning to stay out all week and do some snorkeling.

Read a book in the central square for a while. Got a few groceries I really don't need, and back to the boat.

Investigated the battery shunt cabling, but couldn't find anything loose.

Ashore later to use the laptop on the marina's AC power; no Wi-Fi any more.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/28/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Mark stopped before 8 to pick me up, and he and Tom and I got in a van they have and took off for Fajardo. I managed to get us onto the highway going the wrong direction; that cost us 15 minutes. Then a long highway drive NE then ESE then N then NNW to Fajardo.

Managed to find the West Marine store pretty easily. A long session there; Tom is buying a lot of stuff, and ordering an expensive auto-pilot part. He has a 40-foot ketch with tiller steering, and a big electrical actuator that drives the tiller for the auto-pilot keeps tearing itself apart. Into the auto-parts store too, but they don't have the fuse I need or an LED flashlight that I'd like to buy.

Why do certain marine things cost so much ? A propane stove-and-oven costs $1300; why ? Just a lot of stainless steel and some piping and valves, really not very complicated. Why does a biggish fender, say 10-inch-diameter, cost $80 ? It's just a blob of molded rubber or something. I can understand why most marine things cost extra, but some seem out of line.

Tom buys new windshield-wiper blades for the van, then he and Mark struggle to install them. Takes about 15 minutes, and of course it's started raining pretty hard, so we're not going anywhere unless they can get it done. Finally we're okay. To Wendy's for lunch.

We stop at Puerto Del Rey marina to check it out. At one point Mark had thought of trying to get work here. Now he just wants to see the place, because it's so enormous. It lives up to expectations: it's huge. Not any megayachts that we could see, but maybe a thousand mid-sized boats, 30 to 70 feet, about 4/5 of them powerboats. A couple of security guards in booths, but we just stroll past them as if we belong here, and none of them stop us.

A long, scenic drive home along the coast of the SE corner of PR. Nice scenery, but the afternoon traffic is bad, with schools letting out.

We get to Salinas, and stop at my auto-parts place to see if my alternator is done. Amazingly, it is, and I grab it and run.

Back to the boat by 4:30, and I'm wiped out and headachey.

Salad and PB-sandwiches for dinner, and into bed.
Sun for a new day  8/29/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Removed spare alternator from engine and installed repaired primary alternator. Damn it, the positive wire still sparks a bit when I attach it ! Is that normal or not ? I say not.

But I started the engine at 9:15, and the alternator started charging the batteries nicely, putting out 50A or so at 13.6V to start with. Then the amps started decreasing and the volts increasing, as they should. After wathing things for 15 minutes or so, decided to raise anchor and leave the harbor; if I'm going to run the engine for a while, might as well get some motion out of it too. Timing is a little bad, since the wind has started blowing; it's best to move right after dawn.

So I raised anchor by 9:35 and motored out. Feels like prop is pretty gunky; boat probably is losing 1.5 knots or so to it. But alternator is charging nicely, engine temp is good, everything looks good. First time I've really moved the boat in a couple of months, so I'm a little anxious.

Out of the harbor, and there's a stiff wind from the E. Making around 2.5 knots into it, so I decide not to go 4 miles or so upwind to Boca de Infierno. Instead I nose around Cayos de Ratones. Not as nice a spot as I hoped, since the shoals go pretty far out from the islands, and wind is blowing E rather than SE. I bump aground once, but blow off easily. Finally put the anchor down by 10:20 at Cayos de Ratones. Kind of a stupid place to anchor: the wind is blowing right down onto me and bringing a bit of chop, and there's a shoal behind me. But the chop is okay, and I'm completely protected from the ocean.

In the afternoon, snorkeled under the boat and scraped hull and prop. Lots of growth; 2 to 3 inches thick on most of the hull, and lots of 3/4"-diameter barnacles on both sides of the prop. Clouds of little shrimp getting all over me as I scraped away, and saw a big shrimp scuttling away from my scraper and into the remaining muck. Did the prop and the upper half of the hull; took about an hour. Water a bit rough from the wind, and visibility about 10 feet with lots of particles.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Strong front came through at 3 AM; lots of wind and horizontal rain.
Sun for a new day  8/30/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Cayos de Ratones.

Cleaned engine intake strainer; it was full of seaweed.

Engine start at 6:55, anchor up at 7, motored east. Ah, most of my speed is back ! Doing 4.5 knots at a reasonable engine RPM. And maybe the speed will tear off some more of the muck and shrimp down there. Lots of dark clouds, and rain soon after I got going.

A slight periodic squeal in the engine developed after a while; don't know what that is coming from. And the alternator isn't charging as hard as I hoped; only getting 20A or so. But I'm never really sure what the battery state is, since I'm going by voltage only; really should be checking specific gravities.

Up to east end of the bay and anchor down by 8 AM at Cayos Caribes / Boca del Infierno. A slight roll here; maybe I'll stay only one day.

Sprinkled rain at 8:20.

Nearby powerboat was assembling something; I guessed what it was; he's very good at it.

In the afternoon, launched the dinghy and went out to the reef for a snorkel. Disappointing: outside is too rough and dangerous; inside is all grass and has a knot of current washing over it. Had a pleasant swim and then back to the boat. Didn't feel like more hull-scraping, so I didn't do any.

At 4, tightened fan belt, started engine, raised anchor and moved half a mile north to get away from the swell coming in through the pass. Anchor down at 4:15 at Cayos Caribes.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Pretty good rain at 10:45, and then rained every hour or so all night long.
Sun for a new day  8/31/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Cayos Caribes.

Huge squall/front/storm at 6:30; lots of wind, rain, lightning and thunder. Several lightning strikes within a half mile, and one only a few hundred yards away. At times like this, I wish I'd bought a submarine, instead of a sailboat with a nice metal lightning-attractor sticking up in the air. Lasted 20 minutes or so.

Totally grey and wet morning.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries.

Rain at 9:40, 12:05 and 6:05. Sun came out at 4:30 for a while.

Boat sailed in through Boca del Infierno at 1:15 and headed for Salinas; I think it's John on "Buddy". (Next day, in Salinas, saw that's it not; it's some smaller trimaran.)

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner. Almost out of rum; better go back to town tomorrow.
Sun for a new day  9/1/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Cayos Caribes.

Heard some gunfire ashore; must be hunting season.

Mainsail up and sailed off anchor at 7:20. Too much work; next time I'll start the engine to get off anchor. Put jib up and sailed west. Wind is from stern, which is awkward. Had to jibe a couple of times, almost running aground once, then one long downwind leg. Made 2.5 knots at first, about 4 knots most of the time, but saw 5.2 once and then 5.7 briefly right at the end.

Weather radio talking about TS Felix; first I've heard of it. But it's heading for the ABC islands, far south of us.

Started engine at 8:45, furled jib and mainsail, and motored up into harbor. Anchor down by 9:10 at my old spot at Playa Salinas PR.

Dinghied ashore around 10:30. Got 10 gallons of water. Biked into town. Read a book in the central square and used the ATM. To the supermarket for groceries and rum. Back to the boat.

Mark stopped by and offered to sell me two biggish fenders for $30, remembering that I was looking at some at West Marine. I don't really need any; I have three big fenders that permanently reside inboard of the dinghy to hold it off. But it couldn't hurt to have a couple more, and he's desperate for money. So I said yes.

After lunch, dinghied ashore to plug in the laptop and compute for a while. Started putting my family tree into the computer.

At 4, went to visit with Paul on "Adios" and show him my Puerto Rico charts and guidebooks; he's thinking of going west to La Parguera soon, as I am, and he doesn't have a chart for it. Had a rum-and-coke and a nice chat, and scritched his little dog Maggie. Lent my Pavlidis guidebook to him.

Back to the boat, and found the fenders that Mark had dropped off. Slightly smaller than I expected, but still nice, and I guess I'll go through with the deal.

Salad and PB-sandwich for dinner.

Tons of rain from 1:15 to 1:45 AM.
Sun for a new day  9/2/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Rain at 6:30.

Heard gunfire ashore again this morning.

Paid Mark $30 for the fenders.

Dinghied ashore and used my laptop for a while. Finished typing in family-tree info back to the 1820's. Kind of funny when the software asks me for the email address of someone who lived back then. Saw Paul and he returned the guidebook I'd lent to him.

Listened to VHF weather to decided if I can leave harbor tomorrow, heading west toward La Parguera. I had suspected the sea might be rough from TS Felix, even though it's 300 miles or more south of us. Sure enough, the VHF weather says small-craft advisory until 7 AM tomorrow morning. So I think I'll leave Tuesday morning.

Lots of boats out on this Labor Day weekend, including a funny little boat I've seen here before.

Ashore to the snack bar for dominoes at 2. Had a nice game. The weather TV says Felix is now a category-3 hurricane; it's strengthened quickly. But it's way down over the ABC islands, no threat to us.

Had hoped to ask Jack if I could use his internet link for a minute, but he wasn't at the game; someone said he'd been sick. Just as well that my Wi-Fi subscription ran out: everyone's complaining that the harbor Wi-Fi has been down much of the last few days.

Cornedbeef-noodle-onion for dinner.

Went ashore and to Lewis's/Drake's bar. Everyone had told me they had Wi-Fi there. Had a rum-and-coke ($2.50) and couldn't get my laptop to connect to the Wi-Fi. Then the owner hassled me about not ordering a meal, so I left. Apparently this is where all the cruisers hang out most nights. I won't be going back.
Sun for a new day  9/3/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Wow: heard on BBC at 4 AM that hurricane Felix is up to category 5 ! Later heard on Chris Parker's weather that it's a very narrow hurricane: the hurricane-force winds are only 40 miles across, and only the eyewall is cat-5.

Heard gunfire ashore again this morning.

Ran engine for half an hour to charge batteries.

Dinghied ashore and used my laptop for a while. Saw Jack, and went to his boat to get on the internet for a minute, and to pet his cat "Pip". Jack's had a lousy cold since his plane flight back.

Back to the boat for lunch, bringing the bike back aboard with me.

Ashore again in the afternoon, for more computing, and some soldering.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/4/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Had to dump another box of Raisin Bran overboard: it was full of worms and moths. This is the last of them; I'd thought this one might be okay because it was a slightly different type than the others, but no.

Started engine at 7:20, anchor up by 7:30. Motored out of the harbor, unfurling the jib as I went. Shut off the engine at 7:45 or so, and there's almost no wind, but that's okay. Sat and read my book and drifted/sailed at less than a knot. Once or twice a little breath of wind pushed me up to 1.1 knots. But then the wind died completely and the boat drifted aimlessly.

Gave it until almost 9, then I got exposed to the ocean swell and the boat started rolling. So I started the engine, furled the jib, and motored.

Anchor down by 10:10 at Cayo Cabezazos (off Punta Petrona).

Paul on "Adios" swung by at 10:40, said hello, and then kept going to Cayo Berberia several miles further west.

Saw a couple of stingrays mating or fighting or something. Splashing a lot, anyway. Maybe it was just one, not two ?

I didn't sleep well last night, so now I conked out for a nap for an hour or so.

In midafternoon, saw that a sailboat has anchored about a mile east of me, behind Cayos de Caracoles. Not as good a place as mine.

Had planned to try some snorkeling here, but I'm too tired.

Never did get much wind all day.

Salad and New England clam chowder (from a can, plus onion and noodles) for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/5/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Cayo Cabezazos.

Anchor up at 8:40. Motored through shallow spot to west and unfurled the jib. Engine off at 8:55. Very little wind. Making 1.5 knots or so. Occasionally 2 knots. A bit rolly.

Started engine at 10 and motored until 10:25. Sailed a bit, then started engine at 10:55 and motored in to Coffin Island. "Adios" not here. A couple of freighters anchored nearby; never seen that here before.

Anchor down by 11:55 at Coffin Island.

A little rolly here, and a bunch of flies.

Launched dinghy after lunch and went snorkeling under the boat to scrape the hull. Did a long session and got the whole hull as clean as it gets. Generated clouds of thousands of tiny shrimp, and as soon as I got them off the hull, a lot of them tried to grab onto me, swimming up inside my shirt and shorts and any orifice they could find. Good to get back aboard and wash off. Lots of itchy shrimp grabbing onto me inside the waistline of my shorts.

In the late afternoon, light breeze from the SSW, holding me sideways to the late afternoon sun, so there's nowhere cool abovedecks. Had to hide in the cabin and sweat. Feeling tired and headachey. Took some pills.

Salad and PBJ sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/6/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Coffin Island.

Engine start at 8, anchor up at 8:05. Unfurled main and jib, shut off engine at 8:10. Sailed at 2.2 knots for a while, past the anchored freighter. Making 2.8 knots arond 9 AM. Rain at 10.

Got tired of sailing less than two knots, and started motoring around 10:30. Made 4.8 knots at low engine RPMs. Alternator charging voltage finally starting to get up over 14 volts.

Outside of Guayanilla, looked at the Cayo Caribe anchorage, but it looked too small. Kept going one more mile, and put anchor down at 12:30 at Cayo Maria Langa. A bit rolly, and lots of oil-refinery stuff nearby, but okay.

Killed a cockroach in the galley.

At 4:30, lots of commercial activity. Four tugs doing various things with two tankers/freighters. A tug headed off to the east, a freighter/tanker left and headed SW to Colombia or Panama, the other freighter/tanker came in and was guided by two tugs. pic1, pic2.

Hot on the boat again this afternoon. Wind light from SSE, and it's hot.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Had a visit from some type of police at 9 or so. Fortunately, my limited Spanish and their limited English discouraged them from asking too many questions. They told me to put on an anchor light, and left. I tried to put on my anchor light, and found it didn't work; the stupid thing is incredibly unreliable. Will have to fix it tomorrow.

Rolly all night; not very comfortable.
Sun for a new day  9/7/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Cayo Maria Langa.

Added water to the batteries.

Anchor up at 10, and threaded my way out of the anchorage. Unfurled the jib. Lots of wind today, from the stern, and lots of swells from port-stern quarter. Making 5.6 knots with engine at low RPMs.

Tried sailing a little, putting the engine in neutral, but the boat gets very rolly and keeps getting knocked off course by following swells. Might behave a little better if I unfurled the main. But I think I'd rather keep the engine on to keep control of the boat and do 5.7 knots, instead of sailing and doing 4 to 4.5 knots. Hard enough to keep on a steady course even with the engine going; the swells are slewing the boat all over the place.

Had planned to do a short hop today, just 7 miles or so to Gilligan's Island, where "Adios" might be. But I'm making such good time that I decide to keep going. And I look into Gilligan's as I go past, and it doesn't look like "Adios" is there.

Right at the tight inner entrance at La Parguera, a kite-boarder was sailing back and forth across the channel. I kept an eye on him, wondering who had the right-of-way. Then he crashed off my starboard side, directly upwind, and his kite landed within 75 feet or so of me. Fortunately, he kept it under control; if the wind had dragged it into me, the situation could have gotten ugly.

Had trouble furling the jib in the high wind; the furler doesn't work so well. Anchor down at La Parguera PR at 1:40. As I expected, Paul on "Adios" is here. No other cruisers here, except the permanent trawler with a live-aboard couple on it. Place looks empty compared to last summer.

Soon after I anchored, Paul came over and I invited him aboard. Bad idea: the boat's a mess. But we chatted for a little while. Turns out he got here at noon, after spending two nights at Gilligan's. His outboard conked out while he was there, and he blew halfway down the huge bay before managing to get it running again.

Paul left, I cleaned myself up a bit, and then he came back and picked me up and we went ashore. I gave him a tour of the town, which didn't take too long. I got a free Wi-Fi connection and managed to upload my log file for the first time in two weeks. Checked my email, and my new passport (renewal) has arrived in NJ ! Took only one month.

Have 300+ spams in my email. Also have a bunch of "are you alive ?" emails from my faithful readers. Guys, there are going to be weeks here and there when I'm actually out cruising, and thus off the internet ! Hard to believe, I know.

We got a few groceries and went back to the boats.

Fixed the anchor light. Just a broken connection, as usual. I'm so glad I took the light off the top of the mast and now just hang it from the main boom; I used to have to climb the mast a couple of times every 6 months just to fix the stupid thing. And it's more visible down lower.

Salad and cheese-salami-crackers and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Bummer: the midnight-to-5-AM broadcast of BBC on AM radio from St Croix is pretty faint here. I'd made a habit of listening to that in Salinas; it was the only English-language radio I could get. Ruined my sleep patterns a bit, but worth it.
Sun for a new day  9/8/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at La Parguera PR.

Unfurled and refurled the jib, in the early-morning calm, because it never furls neatly in high wind such as when I furled it yesterday afternoon. Cleaned the outboard spark plugs and rewound the pull-cord; that didn't fix the pull-cord. Tightened the engine throttle linkage bolt, but it was okay.

Went ashore and to the laundromat to do internet. Bummer: my favorite power-outlet is dead, so I had to hunt up an outlet behind a washer. But that meant I couldn't plug in my fan, so it's hot. And the Wi-Fi connection is flaky.

Paul's already talking about heading back east; he's not too impressed with this place. If the Wi-Fi doesn't work out, I might leave in a week or so, after doing some snorkeling.

Exchanged a lot of books at the book-exchange, and back to the boat. Wind blowing like stink at 11:30. Blew very hard for a couple of hours; later Paul said it probably was that tropical wave passing through.

Cool, cloudy afternoon, so around 2:30 I went over and asked if Paul wanted to go for a walk. So we went ashore. The waterfront arcade/square here has some nice metal sculptures ( pic1, pic2, pic3 ) and some low-end stalls ( pic1, pic2 ). To the library (closed), wandered a bit through some residential areas, then to book-exchange and supermarket.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/9/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at La Parguera PR.

"Adios" left at 6:45.

Launched dinghy at 7:30 and headed out to the reefs to try some snorkeling. Hoped the outboard would keep running and not strand me out there, 1.5 miles or so from the boat. Got a decent picture of the government aerostat from out there; it does RADAR surveillance to find low-flying drug planes.

The outboard worked fine, but the snorkeling sucked. Soon after I got in the water, I plowed into a big cloud of small translucent jellyfish. Didn't really get stung, but it took a while to get out of them, and took away my enthusiasm. And the water was very cloudy with particles, and the sunlight wasn't very strong. Swam around for 10 minutes and gave up. Into the dinghy, outboard started, and chugged back home.

Went ashore. Exchanged another load of books at the book-exchange; that's about 30 I've done in the last couple of days, and I'm finished. To the cafe, and did a couple of hours of internet ($2 for a soda). Placed a bid on another Autohelm 300 auto-pilot on EBay.

Back to the boat, and it's blowing fairly hard as usual. Tempted to raise anchor and head out anyway, over to the east end of the bay to get a jump on going around the peninsula into open water tomorrow.

Cleaned the engine intake strainer, and it was full of seaweed.

Started engine at 3, and the tachometer is dead; probably the wire fell off. Decided not to bother investigating; the tach hasn't read properly for years anyway, ever since I got a new custom alternator.

Anchor up by 3:10, and motored out. Lots of wind and swell and current as I went out the gap in the reefs, as I expected. Not too bad later, as I got some shelter from the outer reefs. Then bad again as I went through another gap and was exposed to open ocean. Finally in through a tight gap, to calm water. Anchor down at Cayo Don Luis at 4:35. Nice here.

Salad and cheese-salami-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/10/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Cayo Don Luis.

Tightened alternator belt. Saw that crimp-terminal on tachometer wire had snapped off, but decided not to bother fixing it now.

Engine start at 6 AM, and anchor up at 6:05. Unfurled the mainsail and motored out. Motored up around the point and headed east. Straight into the wind and current as usual, and a bit rolly as usual for this segment, but conditions about as nice as I could hope for. Making 4.5 knots.

Passed by the anchorage at Gilligan's Island arond 7:20, and I can see "Adios" at anchor there. He'll probably stay there today if he isn't moving by now.

Heard an alarming warning about intense thunderstorms with high winds and seas, from the Coast Guard on the VHF. But they gave the location relative to some point (Punta Viente ?) I can't find on any chart; I wish they'd use major cities instead. They're 24 miles south of the point and moving WSW, so they're likely to stay south of me. And the skies all around look very tame. [Finally found Punta Viento on a chart the next day; it's at Puerto Patillas.]

Motoring and motoring, and then up to Guayanilla. Wind starting to pick up a little, but still light for this late in the morning. Into the anchorage, and anchor down at 9:25 at Cayo Maria Langa. Went in a far amount farther than I did here last week, and it's not so rolly this time.

Well, that went well ! Going east up this coast can be a pain, fighting wind and swells and current all the way. The only way to do it is to get going as early as possible, and be back at anchor before the daily wind really gets cranking.

Took a nap. Wind started blowing hard around 11.

Watched a couple of freighter/tankers come in during the afternoon. First one, second one ( pic1, pic2 ).

Wind moved around to the north in the midafternoon, threatening to bring the thunderstorms from land onto me. Finally did get rain at 5.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/11/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Cayo Maria Langa.

Engine start at 6:10, anchor up at 6:15. Unfurled mainsail and motored out, almost running aground a couple of times. Then out and headed ESE. Swells and chop bigger than yesterday; making 3.5 to 4 knots.

Wind started blowing around 9:15, and speed dropped to about 3.5 knots. Pretty rough for the last hour or so, and the wind kept increasing. Finally made it to anchorage and got anchor down at 10:15 at Coffin Island. Nice to be in shelter.

Nice here. Not as rolly as last time I was here, and only one fly in first 90 minutes (maybe because wind is more out of north today, or maybe because I anchored a little farther out this time).

Kept an eye out to see if I could see Paul on "Adios" sailing up here from Gilligan's but didn't see him.

Wind blew very hard all afternoon, howling at times.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

Wind kept blowing most of the night. So it'll be rough, and probably windy, tomorrow morning; no morning calm. Bummer.
Sun for a new day  9/12/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Coffin Island.

Anchor up at 6:30, and unfurled the mainsail. Motored up the west side of the island, and once I got out of the lee of the island, it was rough and windy. Make that very rough and pretty windy. This is a fairly shallow choke-point between Coffin Island and the main island, so the swells are usually big here. Weather VHF says it will blow E 18-23 today and tomorrow.

Half an hour out into the open, and there's a loud bang from somewhere on the boat. I look around, and find the mainsail is a little loose. Look closer, and the attachment of the clew onto the boom has failed: a bolt sheared off and the track bent up. I furl the mainsail, which makes the rolling worse. Now I have to hand-steer constantly, adjusting to big swells from SE and S, with the boat doing lots of up-and-down, and making 3.2 knots or so. A long, slow slog. And I go too close to the shoals at the east end of Cayo Berberia, and have an anxious half-hour or so as I slowly crawl by them with little margin for recovery if the engine should happen to fail just then.

Eventually make it up to Cayo Cabezazos and get a little shelter as I approach the islands. Damn it, there's "Adios" at anchor; he slipped past me somehow ! And he probably sailed much of the way, and avoided the bad weather this morning.

I ease through the shallow area west of the anchorage, without being able to read water color since it's so windy, and get into reasonable shelter. Anchor down at 9:05 at Cayo Cabezazos. I'm exposed to strong E wind and some chop from it, but otherwise it's pretty calm here. "Adios" is in the better shelter further in.

Paul comes over, and it turns out he sailed from Gilligan's to Ponce on Monday (while I was in Guayanilla); took him 4.5 hours (15 miles as the crow flies, but he sailed 22 miles). Then yesterday he motor-sailed from Ponce to here. He has a Hunter (Cherubini) 37, and it's the third one of this model he's owned. He says he's owned 35 boats in his lifetime, sometimes 2 or 3 simultaneously. And he's done a whole lot of racing. He's going to sail to Salinas today. I'm staying here.

So, a rough, ugly passage this morning. Could have stayed at Coffin Island waiting for better weather, but probably would have had to sit there a couple of days with nothing to do. And that particular segment is never calm.

"Adios" left at 10:15.

Napped and then loafed and read books all day. Wind blew harder and harder, but fortunately moved a little to the ESE, giving me a little more shelter from the reef and mangrove island.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Blew hard all evening, then started easing during the night.
Sun for a new day  9/13/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Cayo Cabezazos.

Anchor up at 6:15, and motored to Salinas. Much calmer this morning than yesterday; probably should have waited a day at Coffin Island. But I'm sure it's rougher outside than it is in here; I'm in Bahia Rincon, with some reefs sheltering me from much of the swell and all of the current, and the big island cutting the wind quite a bit.

Into Salinas and anchor down by 7:45 at my old spot at Playa Salinas PR. The unused mooring ball I usually swung close to is gone; either someone removed it, or it leaked and sank. Extremely calm in here this morning; almost no wind.

Dinghied ashore around 9:15 to dispose of garbage, use the book-exchange, and plug the laptop into AC and use it for a while. And to get off the boat for the first time in 4 days.

Chatted a little with Larry and Debby from "Debonair" and Steve from "Nonesuch". It appears the harbor Wi-Fi has been intermittent lately, and may go away entirely in the next few weeks. Will have to check further before I sign up for a month of service.

Steve says the owner of that mooring ball was here last week, and must have removed it.

At 10:06, a sudden big gust of wind, then it settled back down to a light breeze again. By 11, the normal daytime wind starting, and by noon it was blowing hard.

Talked to David at the Cruiser's Galley, and he gave me a coupon for Wi-Fi and promised to make up any lost days if the service is down. So tomorrow I'll try it.

Put several applications of penetrating oil on the bolts at the end of the main boom.

Lots of rain at 2 PM, some rain at 3:15, then tons of rain and wind at 4:30.

Salad and cheese-salami-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/14/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dinghied ashore. Wi-Fi coupon didn't work. To cafe, and David not there, so I returned the coupon. Finally got online, paid $40 for a month of Wi-Fi, and it worked intermittently. Raised my bid on an auto-pilot on EBay.

Chatted with Mark from "Mystic". His engine still isn't running, after a new fuel-pump and a fixed heat-exchanger. He finally found a compression-tester, and found very low compression on the aft cylinder (Kubota 2-cylinder). Took the head off and found the piston had lots of pitting and the exhaust valve and seat were bad. He thinks the heat-exchanger put water into the cylinder through the exhaust, but I don't see how that could happen. Sounds like an exhaust manifold problem to me. Anyway, he's having the head fixed and new pistons and rings for all pistons, etc. He's not happy, not having an engine during hurricane season, and needing a job so he can make some money. Also, he woke up one morning to find that a manatee had made love to his dinghy, left marks all over it, and turned it over; fortunately the outboard doesn't seem to have been damaged.

Chatted with Jack; he still has a cough from the cold he caught flying back on the 24th ! He's going to fly out for a few days in early October, so I'll get to babysit the cat again.

To the boat for lunch, then back ashore for more Wi-Fi. I've been working on the family tree, among other things.

Up on top of the pilothouse and worked on the bolts holding together the end of the boom, and holding the clew-track onto the boom. Now I know why blacksmiths are so strong: I did about 100-150 blows of a small sledgehammer onto an impact driver, and my arm couldn't do any more. Got the bolts on the track moving, slowly, but they seem to spin without coming up. So they must be through-bolts, and the nuts are spinning inside the boom. Started working on the bolts holding the end-cap on. Here's the broken track.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Dinghied ashore and went to snack bar for Happy Hour. Place is almost empty; it used to be jammed on Friday nights, for the barbeque. But they had a batch of disappointing ribs from a different supplier a few weeks ago, then raised all of their prices, and almost all of the cruisers have deserted them to go to Drake's instead. Don't know where the locals have disappeared to. I sat with Don and Paul and Jack and had a rum-and-coke ($2.25) while they drank and had the ribs.
Sun for a new day  9/15/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Pumped up the dinghy bow tube, lubricated the bike, put the bike in the dinghy, and went ashore. Biked to the supermarket and got groceries. Back to the boat.

Back ashore to do internet. That Autohelm 3000 on EBay went for $456; too much for me. Borrowed a cell-phone from Jack and called Mom, but got her answering machine.

Rewound outboard's pull-cord; it keeps tangling and failing to retract.

Ashore again in the afternoon for more internet. Not working very well. Chatted with Paul for a while.

Salad and PBJ sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/16/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Grey dawn with low dark clouds, and some rain at 6:20. Sunrise (big). Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries.

Went ashore to do internet. Worked for an hour or two and then it suddenly died. Worked at writing a Java program to convert family tree into HTML; I don't like any of the programs I've found for doing that.

Fine example of bow-riding; very common here, very dangerous, illegal in the USA, pretty sure it is illegal here.

Ashore to play dominoes at 2. Joe went "out" the first 5 hands in a row, so he won the match. Everyone's going to the Cruiser's Galley for a pot-roast dinner at 5, but I'm not interested.

Salad and chicken-onion-saffronrice and rum-and-coke for dinner. Sunset (big).
Sun for a new day  9/17/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Sounds like TD Ingrid is going to stall right over top of us, but it's dying. It's only a 1010-millibar low (atmospheric normal is 1013 millibars), and will just give us light and variable winds for several days. Hard to believe this is the 9th named storm of the season; doesn't seem like we've had that many.

Went ashore to do internet. Chatted with Doug on "Continuous" about kite-boarding; he says it's easy to learn, new equipment costs about $2K, probably don't want to buy old equipment.

Fixed tachometer wire on alternator. Such a simple thing, just crimp a new connector on, but it was a sweaty job and the terminal was very close to a big battery terminal that I had to be very careful not to short out.

Nasty low black clouds and tons of rain over the island around 2 PM. At 2:30, wind shifted to North and started blowing them over us. At 3, the storm hit, with wind and tons of rain and some strong lightning. Kept going until 4 or so. The wind cycled around to W, not a good direction for my anchoring spot. But it didn't blow hard, so I didn't swing close to the nearby boats.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/18/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Headache before dawn; took pills.

Very still morning. Radio says TD Ingrid has disintegrated.

Went ashore to do internet. Wi-Fi still erratic, and the people trying to do Skype through it are very unhappy.

Back ashore after lunch for more internet. Not much wind today, and everyone's complaining about the heat.

Chili and rum-and-coke for dinner. Lots of rain from 5 to 6.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries.
Sun for a new day  9/19/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Another very still and hot morning. Did a bucket of laundry. Went ashore to do internet. Chatted briefly with Doug from "Presque Isle"; they got their new fuel tank in, and it's okay. Now they're installing flooring and cabinetry and wiring. Got 10 gallons of water.

Must be WW III: a mushroom-cloud over Salinas.

After lunch, biked to the supermarket and got groceries. Put bike in dinghy and took it back to the boat; there's been some noise that the marina people might be cracking down on "unregistered" bikes.

The heat really has me wrung out this afternoon. Drank a lot of water and napped, and then food revived me.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Lots of rain starting at 12:30, and rained occasionally all night after that.
Sun for a new day  9/20/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Rainy until 10 or so.

Did a bucket of laundry and dumped 5 gallons of water into the tanks.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Got 10 gallons of water. Chased back to the boat by the threat of rain.

Worked some more on the bolts holding together the end of the boom, using small sledgehammer onto an impact driver. Bolts rotating but progress is slow and tiring.

Got very cloudy with low grey clouds in the early afternoon, but never did quite rain.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner. Got experimental with the chicken: tried a sort of Thai chicken with peanut butter, balsamic vinegar, hot chili, garlic, soy sauce. Came out pretty well.
Sun for a new day  9/21/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Chipped and scraped and sanded rust and remainder of galvanizing off secondary anchor. Might be able to paint it tomorrow.

Rewound the outboard pull-cord, started the outboard, and the cord didn't retract hardly at all.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Bought a couple of gallons of gasoline ($10). Yikes: someone paid $650 for a used Autohelm 3000 on EBay; I'm hoping to get one in the range of $350-$400.

Back to boat. Had been using a silicone/teflon lubricant/penetrant on the boom bolts, but I'm not sure it's working. So I applied some WD-40.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.

Forgot to go to the snack bar for Friday happy-hour; thought it was Thursday.
Sun for a new day  9/22/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Rewound the outboard pull-cord yet again, and maybe got it a little better this time. Dinghied ashore to do internet. Placed a bid on yet another Autohelm 3000 on EBay.

Back to boat for lunch. Worked on rusty second anchor with a wire brush.

Back ashore later for more internet. Local guy named "Pepete" introduced himself and said he'd been reading my log file and site for a while !

Started shopping for new DC-DC power adapter for my laptop; the old one is shot. As usual, some places won't ship to PR; some want $16 to ship a 1-pound item to here.

Poured rain 5 minutes after I got back to the boat and got everything hoisted and stowed.

Salad and ham-onion-noodle and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries.
Sun for a new day  9/23/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Still and very hot morning.

Acid-washed the second anchor, rinsed it with fresh water, let it dry, put a drop-cloth up onj the foredeck, and painted the anchor with Rustoleum primer for very rusty metal: pic.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Had to rewind pull-cord first.

Back to the boat for lunch, dumped 7 gallons of water into tanks, then ashore again at 2 for dominoes. Got 10 gallons of water. Five minutes after getting ashore, the skies opened up and we had a ton of rain and wind. Had to bail an inch of water out of the dinghy later. Heavy lightning, and a bolt hit within a hundred yards or so of the snack bar, scaring the crap out of everyone.

Salad and PB-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/24/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Another still and very hot morning.

Put a coat of white Rustoleum on the secondary anchor. Will need another coat.

Tried to start the outboard and the cord pulled through the handle. Replaced the whole cord. May have figured out the easy way to set the tension correctly. New cord seems a little stiffer than the old, which might be better.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Ordered a DC-DC power adapter ($31).

Very still afternoon and evening, with boats slowly spinning, often facing in different directions. Light rain at few times.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate it on the foredeck to get the benefit of the very slight breeze.
Sun for a new day  9/25/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Still and grey morning. Dark clouds with thunder off to the southwest. Light rain at 9.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Chatted with Mark, and he showed me the "heat-exchanger" from his Kubota 2-cylinder. It's a little chunk of metal that's a combined heat-exchanger, coolant tank, exhaust manifold and exhaust elbow all in one, I think. Very strange.

Ordered a couple of books. Auto-pilot auction ends tomorrow afternoon; will have to look sharp if I want to win.

A couple of locals moved a powerboat that has been chained to the dock for at least a year. I'm told it was chained for non-payment of fees. It sank every now and then, resting on the bottom a foot down, and the marina guys would pump it out again.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Lots of rain from 4 AM to 5 AM; it's an "area of disturbed weather" that's passing through, and could develop into a tropical storm west of here if it spends some time over water. Lots of thunder. I think we got just the edge of it; much of it is over the main part of Puerto Rico.
Sun for a new day  9/26/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Totally grey and rainy morning. Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries.

At 9:15, bike into dinghy, dinghy ashore, biked to supermarket for groceries. Nice cool, grey morning for a ride. Left the bike ashore, and back to the boat.

Back ashore to do internet. Raised my bid on a double Autohelm 3000 on EBay to $570, but I probably won't get it.

Grey most of the day.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Light rain several times during the night.

Listened to BBC after midnight as usual, but it's turned into the "all-Burma, all the time" network.
Sun for a new day  9/27/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Grey and rainy at dawn. Tightened alternator belt, then ran engine for 90 minutes to charge batteries.

Dinghied ashore, biked to supermarket, got groceries, back to dock, bike into dinghy and out to boat. Did it for the exercise more than the groceries, and to get the bike back onto the boat.

Heading ashore again to do internet, slipped slightly on the boarding ladder and bashed my shin into a fiberglass edge; jeez, did that hurt !

Well, that sucks: that double auto-pilot on EBay sold for $10 more than my maximum bid. I thought for sure someone would bid $100 or $200 more. Of course, if I had bid $20 more, they probably would havbe bid another $10 more, and so on.

Started bidding on yet another used Autohelm 3000 on EBay.

Chatted briefly with Paul from "Adios". His Yamaha outboard refuses to start, and he's taken the carb apart a zillion times and put it back together with no joy. I think he's ordered a complete new carb, plus a choke part that jumped overboard. He told me a couple of months ago how reliable his Yamaha was and that I should buy one instead of the Tohatsu I want. Telling me that was the kiss of death for his motor.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/28/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Wind and torrential rain starting just before dawn. Feeling headachey. More rain at 7:30. Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries; it's been too grey the last few days to get enough solar power.

Rained more or less all day, with significant rain at 9:10, 11:05, 11:50, 12:50, 4:35, 5:45, 6:30. This wasn't predicted on Chris Parker's weather forecast. I don't expect him to predict local showers, but a day of strong squall activity is well within his scope.

Everyone just stayed hunkered down on their boats all day. I napped and read and tried to get rid of my slight headache.

Salad and ham-onion-noodle and rum-and-coke for dinner.

More rain at 2 AM.
Sun for a new day  9/29/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Rain at 6:40, but then the weather seemed to get back to normal. Starting to be a clear and breezy morning; opened up the boat to try to get the dampness blown out.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. I had a request for some pictures of the marina, so here they are: pic1, pic2, pic3, pic4, pic5, pic6; taken on a damp Saturday morning, so the place is empty.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/30/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Rain at 8:35. Looked like a clearing morning after that, so did a bucket of laundry. Dinghied ashore to do internet.

Paul says he managed to fix his outboard carb (opened up some parts he hadn't opened before, and found a disintegrating gasket and lots of gunk), but not before he had ordered a new carb for $300.

Back to boat for lunch, and then had to replace outboard pull-cord (it was wrapped, and chafed almost through in two places. Glad I bought about 100 feet of cord last time I was at Walmart.

Back ashore for more internet, and dominoes.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for an hour to charge batteries; sunshine only from 10 to 1 today.

Rained half a dozen times between midnight and 7 AM.
Sun for a new day  10/1/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dumped 6 gallons of water into tanks. Dinghied ashore, got 10 gallons of water, did internet.

Chatted with Mark and a local fisherman, and the fisherman told us a story that fits with vague stories I heard last year at La Parguera: A couple of years ago at La Parguera, a boat full of drugs and money crashed onto the reef and half-sunk. A waiting boat from shore went out and picked up the crew and some of the cargo. Then several local guys went out and started retrieving big wads of cash. Over the next couple of weeks, the owners of the drugs and money went after the local guys, some of them started spending money crazily, buying expensive cars for cash, the police started going after them, and it was a real mess. Several murders, etc.

Back to boat for lunch, getting rained on a little as I went out. Dumped 8 gallons of water into tanks.

Then ashore again, got 10 gallons of water, did more internet. I had seen squalls coming before I went ashore, but hoped they would be brief. Instead, I had to hide in the new deck under the restaurant as it poured buckets of rain for 45 minutes or so. But I found an AC outlet and plugged my laptop in and kept working, without internet.

Rain stopped, did half an hour of internet, then more rain, so back under the restaurant. Got a bit of an internet signal there, this time. Rain kept on going for a while. Had to rewind pull-cord before I could start the outboard.

Fuel level 8 inches at engine hour 4264.4. Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and PB-crackers for dinner.

Heavy, heavy rain from 8:30 to 10:30 or so. Then rained off and on all night.
Sun for a new day  10/2/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Rain at 6:30. Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Ashore to do internet. Chatted with Jack for a while. Then the Wi-Fi died.

Back to boat for lunch. Banged on bolts on end of boom with the impact driver. One small bolt started moving and I took it out. A bigger bolt came out a bit and then the head sheared off. The rest still are moving very reluctantly.

Back ashore for more internet. Rain threatening. Lost out on an auto-pilot on EBay, so bid on another one through AuctionStealer.

Out to the boat by 4, and by 4:30, the wind had cycled around and brought a huge dark low cloud-mass onto us. Then a grey wall swept up from the SW and it started pouring rain. Kept going for an hour, then the grey lifted and the rain slowed, and the rain stopped by 6:15 or so.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.
Sun for a new day  10/3/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Nice, mostly-clear morning. Maybe we'll have some normal weather for a change.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Put a third coat of paint on the second anchor. I've been waiting for a sunny day to do this.

Bike into dinghy, went ashore, and to the supermarket for groceries. Left bike ashore.

Back ashore to do internet. Dinghy-dock is jammed; I think everyone's taking advantage of the normal weather after all that rain. Wi-Fi was slow but mostly okay, until a guy shut off the dock power (taking the Wi-Fi with it) for 15 minutes. Saw a heron (I think) in the marina.

Chatted with Steve and Mark a little, then they went off to take injectors to Ponce. Wi-Fi really crappy, so packed up and back to the boat for lunch.

Back ashore. Wi-Fi still pretty crappy.

Evil dark clouds hovering overhead and all around in the late afternoon again, and at 5:40 is started pouring. Not as much wind as yesterday's storm. Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries. Rain eased a bit at 6, picked up again at 6:30, stopped around 7. Everything damp and humid.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  10/4/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Hot, still morning; very slight breeze out of the west.

Jack brought his cat "Pippi" ( pictures ) over to my boat around 8:30; I'll be cat-sitting while he's out of town for 5 days.

Dinghied ashore, biked to the supermarket for groceries, then brought the bike back out to the boat. Sweaty. Used bleach to start killing the slime growing in the water jugs.

Had an early lunch, then ashore to do internet. Wi-Fi connection pretty bad. Used the book-exchange. Paul from "Adios" stopped by to say he was leaving for Culebra; he's sick of the still, hot nights and bugs here, and hopes hurricane season is fizzling out.

Back to boat, with very dark low clouds threatening around 3. At 3:30, the rain and lightning started, but not nearly as bad as it's been the last couple of afternoons. And all done by 4:30 or so.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice-mushroomsoup and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  10/5/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Very grey and damp and fairly still morning. Checked battery water and added a little; in good shape. Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Acid-washed the foredeck to get the rust off ( pictures ). Will have to do a second pass tomorrow.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Wi-Fi connection pretty bad again. Hot, still, muggy morning. Helped a big catamaran come in to the fuel dock, taking a line for them. Mark on "Mystic" has his engine running, after a rebuild and lots of other work. He's hoping to head for St Croix soon, to look for work.

Salad and PB-crackers for dinner. Rain from about 5 to 7, with some thunder and lightning.
Sun for a new day  10/6/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Another grey and damp and still morning. I'm a bit headachey.

Felt lousy; spent much of the morning in bed. Eventually got up, acid-washed the foredeck again, had an early lunch, and went ashore. Rain coming up from the south. Wi-Fi connection pretty bad again today.

Back to the boat, and felt headachey and tired all afternoon.

Mark dinghied by, and I chatted with him briefly. His rebuilt engine works fine, but on the 3/4 mile trip out of the harbor, his transmission was working so hard that it overheated and started squealing. Turns out he has so much growth on the hull and prop that he couldn't make more than 2 knots, and was straining the transmission. He thinks it's okay. He's going to scrape everything tomorrow and try again.

Ran engine for 25 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and spaghetti for dinner.

Miserable night: headache all night, got little sleep, took lots of pills.

Heavy rain from 1:30 to 2, and rain off and on after that.
Sun for a new day  10/7/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Still have a headache. Did a bucket of laundry. Ran engine for 35 minutes to charge batteries. Accidentally stepped on Pippi's paw; she has a bad habit of getting underfoot all the time. Didn't step too hard, and I was in bare feet, but she hissed and growled a bit until I made up to her and gave her some more food.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Turns out AuctionStealer is down, because of some kind of power surge / database problem. So it's back to EBay directly. But the auto-pilot price quickly got beyond what I'm willing to pay. Wi-Fi not too bad today.

Back to boat, took laundry in, and it started raining not 2 minutes later, at 12:45.

Too headachey to go ashore for dominoes at 2. Loafed and napped and took pills.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Saw a cockroach in the galley, but failed to kill it.
Sun for a new day  10/8/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Still have a slight headache. Weather sunny at first, but then clouding up by 9. Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Head feeling better by mid-morning. Dinghied ashore to do internet.

Back to boat for lunch. Mark stopped by to say he was leaving for St Croix. He asked for a good book, so I gave him a Paul Theroux book to read. Back ashore again for more internet.

Some rain around 4:30.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice for dinner. Doplhins feeding around the boat.

Put out some roach-bait: Frosted Flakes and boric acid, yum, yum ! Rain in the early evening.

Headache came back during the night; didn't get much sleep. And this time, it felt "dental"; felt like my top-left wisdom tooth was causing pain in my upper jaw.
Sun for a new day  10/9/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Looks like weather starting to get back to normal pattern: sunny and wind from SE in the morning.

Did a bucket of laundry. Emptied 6 gallons of water and some chlorine into the water tanks.

Dinghied ashore. Got 10 gallons of water. Did internet. (Looks like Cabo San Lucas Mexico is a good place to have dental surgery done cheaply.) Saw a couple of Tarpon in the marina, right in the 2-foot-deep water next to the seawall; one of them was 4 feet long.

Hot, still afternoon. Had to hide in the main cabin to get away from the sun.

Salad and tuna-salad-crackers for dinner.

Slightly headachey during the night, but not bad.
Sun for a new day  10/10/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Jack came by at 8 to pick up Pippi.

Dumped some BioBor and 5 gallons of diesel into the fuel tank. Ran engine for 45 minutes to charge batteries.

Dinghied ashore. Bought about 10 gallons of diesel (42+ liters for $35). Did some internet. Got an answer that indicates that I shouldn't use CraigsList to search for auto-pilots: they don't have a way to search "all locations" or "all USA".

By the way, my Wi-Fi subscription will end in a couple of days, and I'm planning to be off the internet (gasp!) and out of the harbor for a week or so. So don't get alarmed if the log isn't updated for a while.

Still a slight headache in the afternoon. Hot and still again.

Put the second anchor back on the foredeck. Nice and painted now, so it shouldn't shed rust all over the place.

Ham-onion-noodle for dinner.

Lots of lightning around 2 AM, but the sky above looked clear and I couldn't tell what direction a storm might be coming from. Started closing hatches anyway. At 2:30, sudden heavy rain without much wind, and it poured for a while. Rained again at 3:15. I think there's a weak tropical wave coming through.
Sun for a new day  10/11/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Heavy rain and wind from 6 AM to 7 AM, then lots of clouds in all directions.

Head feels good this morning; maybe that headache is gone.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Chatted with Jack and Don.

Had an interesting chat with a local fisherman, Aldo (I've been chatting with him occasionally, since he docks right in front of the bench where I do internet). We talked about the Spanish language, and he says there are so many versions (dialects ?) of Spanish that often he can't understand the Spanish on the "alternate language" channel on TV, or the Spanish interface on his GPS (he thinks that SPanish came from South America somewhere; he uses the English interface). He thinks English is easier to learn than Spanish. Surprising to me, since English has pieces of several languages mashed into it. I thought Spanish was more consistent than English.

Squashed a cockroach in the cockpit; I think they fly in.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Rain after midnight.
Sun for a new day  10/12/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Rain and wind at 6:30. More at 7:30.

Ran engine for 45 minutes to charge batteries.

Pumped up bike tires, bike into dinghy, dinghy ashore, biked to supermarket for groceries. Brought bike back out to the boat.

Back ashore to do internet.

Back ashore again after lunch to do internet. Tomorrow should be last day of Wi-Fi.

Ashore at 5 to go to the snack bar. Had a rum-and-coke ($3.75 because it wasn't quite Happy Hour yet!). Chatted with Doug and Nancy and Joe and Wendy and Bob and Bobbi. Played a couple of games of Rummy-Qube; new to me. Jack treated me to the BBQ rib dinner and a couple of drinks, as thanks for cat-sitting his cat. Had a nice time, and the ribs were very good. Several experienced cruisers are saying they think hurricane season is "over". Back to the boat in the dark.

Breezy late in the evening, at 9 PM or later; pretty unusual. Nice for sleeping; usually the night is still and hot here.

Sprayed a couple of cockroaches in the galley.
Sun for a new day  10/13/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Breezy at dawn; going to be windy today. The tradewind is back with a vengeance.

Ashore to do internet.

Back ashore again after lunch to do internet.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Some noise from the speedway in the evening. I should have mentioned this before: we're about 5 miles from the Salinas racetrack, where they do both drag-racing and oval racing, I think. Some nights we can hear the drag-racing quite clearly; it must be incredibly loud for those seated in the stands. We can hear each gear-change as the cars fly down the track. Sometimes I think I even hear the pop of the drag-chute opening to stop the car.

Sprayed a couple of cockroaches in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  10/14/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Ran engine for 45 minutes to charge batteries.

Wind really cranking by mid-morning. Did a bucket of laundry.

Ashore after lunch to use the laptop while plugged in to AC power. Wi-Fi subscription has ended.

Had planned to raise anchor tomorrow morning, but Tom is willing to give me a ride to Walmart tomorrow afternoon, so I'll stay for that.

Played dominoes at 2. Had 7 or 8 people in the game, which is confusing but fun.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Sprayed a couple of cockroaches and several other bugs in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  10/15/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Ashore to use the laptop while plugged in to AC power.

While chatting with Jack and Debbi, saw a motorboat come in to the fuel dock and have no reverse, or get throttle stuck. They tried to grab onto the dock as it slowly slid by, but kept going and crunched lightly into the bow of another motorboat. Someone in a dinghy was there to help, and I got into my dinghy, but it was a bit of a fiasco, and they ended up in the dinghy-dock area. Not too bad.

Ashore again at 1, and into the van with Tom and Steve. Off towards Guyama. First a half-hour stop at the machine shop while Tom had them work on a commutator for his motor; we wasn't too happy with the results. Then another half-hour in a tool-shop while Tom and Steve bought drill bits and punches and such. Then to Walmart, which turned out to be a little disappointing; they didn't have about 1/4 of the things I wanted (no green tea with caffeine, no house-brand crunchy peanut butter, almost no cheap shampoo, no distilled water, etc). Still bought quite a lot of stuff. Then stopped at the supermarket in Salinas on the way back. Had to lug all the stuff a block or two, since Tom parked outside the marina. Back to the boat by 5:15 or so.

Chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Sprayed one small bug in the galley.
Sun for a new day  10/16/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Tightened alternator belt, cleaned engine intake strainer, and engine start at 7:30. Anchor up by 7:45 and motored out of the harbor. Anchor down at 8 just outside the harbor entrance, at outside Playa Salinas PR.

Grey morning. Went back to bed and read and napped.

After lunch, went snorkeling under the boat and scraped hull and prop. Lots of grass on the hull, but only half a dozen barnacles on the prop. Clouds of itchy little shrimp climbing all over my body and into every orifice they could find.

A little sun peeking through the clouds at 2:30, and a little more at 4.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

Stayed a little rolly all afternoon, so I decided to move. Needed to run the engine anyway; the refrigerator's been running a lot today. So engine start at 5:25, anchor up by 5:30, and motored a couple hundred yards over to anchor by 5:40 at Cayos de Ratones. Engine stop at 6:15 PM.

Nice, quiet night.
Sun for a new day  10/17/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Cayos de Ratones.

Started engine at 8 to charge batteries and use laptop for a while. Anchor up at 9, unfurled jib, and soon shut off the engine. Sailed downwind for an hour or so, making about 3 knots, but boat kept slewing around in the swells and I had to keep jibing because the wind was from the stern. Started the engine around 10. Neared the anchorage, rounded up, and had fits trying to furl the jib. Finally figured out that the top few feet had wrapped around the forestay. Wind blowing hard, and my hands were chewed up by the time I got the sail furled, and even then a flap of sail was bulging out and flogging. So, after getting the anchor down by 10:50 at Cayo Cabezazos, had to ease the halyard and lower most of the jib down to the foredeck and lash it there. What a pain !

Wind blew hard all day. I loafed and read. Nice and isolated here.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  10/18/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Cayo Cabezazos.

Out onto the foredeck at 6:15 to hoist, unfurl, and properly furl the jib. Some wind stirring even at that hour. Wind blowing hard by 9 or so.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries and use laptop for a while. Refrigerator has been running a bit much lately, and the solar panels just are not keeping up. Hate to run the engine so often.

Took several tries to get the engine to turn over: starter solenoid or starter motor needs lubrication ?

In the afternoon, hammered on the bolts on the end of the boom. One small one came out, one big one sheared off. I think I'm going to end up drilling out all of the big ones. Even working them in with some lubricant and then out again, they are not coming out.

Lowered the dinghy and went for a snorkel. Nothing interesting to see, and a stiff current through the little cove. But it was fun and good exercise.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  10/19/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Cayo Cabezazos.

Engine start at 6:05, anchor up at 6:10. (Wanted to get going before the wind starts up.) Motored east to Salinas. A bit rolly when exposed to the open ocean. Saw a couple of clouds with rain under them to the south of me: pic1 (big), pic2 (big).

Into harbor, and "Off Call" has taken "my" anchoring spot. So had to find another, between "Maatkare" and "Presque Isle". Took two tries to get in the right place. Done by 8:05 at Playa Salinas PR.

Dinghied ashore, stopping by "Presque Isle" to loan a book to Nancy. Fired up the laptop, got on Wi-Fi, and paid $40 for a month of Wi-Fi. Asked my brother in NJ to send all my mail and packages to me; it's been a while since I got any mail.

I'm told the Wi-Fi was down for a day or two while I was gone; they forgot to pay their electric bill.

Had an email from "Fidelis" saying they seem to have become CLODs ('cruisers living on dirt'); they had left the boat in Antigua on the hard for hurricane season and flown back to Michigan, and they seem to have settled in there for a while. Not sure what they're going to do with the boat; probably sell it.

Ashore again after lunch to do more internet.

Ate a salad, then ashore again at 5 to go to the snack bar for Happy Hour. Chatted with several people, played a couple of hands of Rummy-Qube, ducked out and used the book-exchange. Ordered dinner and then had to wait a while for it. But it was worth it: the ribs were very good. Had ribs and fries and two rum-and-cokes for $12. Back to the boat around 8:15.

Jack told me that the mechanics got the engine part of his generator out of the boat today; they had to remove the head to get to the two mounting bolts that were hidden by the flywheel. And when they took the head off, they found the cylinders caked full of salt, even backing up into the intakes. Jack says saltwater coming back in from the exhaust can do that quickly, but I don't agree. I think he must have had saltwater siphoning in somehow for a long time to build up that much salt.

He also told me someone half-heartedly tried to break into the small catamaran "D and D": there were gouge marks around the lock on the companionway. First hint of any crime there's been here in quite a while; this place is very safe.
Sun for a new day  10/20/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

I was swinging a little close to "Presque Isle" yesterday, and was directly upwind of them, so:

Anchor up at 7:00, moved over into the middle of the harbor, and anchor down by 7:05 or so, at Playa Salinas PR. Let engine run for 30 minutes to charge batteries and run laptop.

Lowered the dinghy and cleaned the spark plugs; the outboard has been running a bit rough. Guess I let it go too long: the lower plug was the oiliest plug I've ever seen.

Dinghied ashore and did internet. Tony stopped by to say he thinks there's a wreck under the buoy floating just behind my stern, in my new anchoring spot. But then I think Steve said no, there isn't.

Ashore again after lunch to do more internet. Chatted with Harvey for a little while.

Salad and chicken-onion-saffronrice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

During the night, killed a cockroach and several small bugs in the galley, and a cockroach in the aft head.
Sun for a new day  10/21/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dinghied ashore to do internet, of course.

Ashore again after lunch, for dominoes at 2 in the snack bar. Picture: Nancy, Joe, Doug, Wendy, and my (empty) space.

Shortly after we started, Paul and Avril joined us. Turned out they left the harbor a couple of days ago, made it almost to Vieques (probably a 20-hour sail, beating into wind and current and swells), and then they had a massive failure of their bowsprit, shifting upwards because the attachment to the bow failed somehow. This loosened their forestay and forced them to take down the jib, and meant they couldn't sail upwind any more. And they had a known fuel problem with their engine: the filter clogs up solid after several hours of motoring. So they had to turn around and sail back downwind to here. They played dominoes even though they were still sleep-deprived from the trip. Their boat is in the process of being sold, but the engine broke down and had to be rebuilt, and now this bowsprit problem. They don't want to put more money into it, but they have to fix it.

Tom came by, and said that Mark on "Mystic" made it to St Croix okay, and immediately got a job laying pipe for the oil refinery.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

During the night, killed two cockroaches and several small bugs in the galley.
Sun for a new day  10/22/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dinghied ashore to do internet.

It's often occurred to me that I should put some of my email responses into the log, so here goes. Someone asked about the transition onto a boat, and the biggest pleasure of living aboard; here is most of my response:

Yes, such a big life-transition is scary, exciting, strange ! I went through a lot of mental stress in the process of buying my boat and starting to live aboard.

But I made the right decision, for me. I've been living aboard 6.5 years or so, and still like it very much. It's a mixed bag, dealing with heat and humidity and bugs and rain and maintenance and cleaning and such. And it's getting harder and more expensive to live aboard in the USA, with waterfront getting bought up for condo's and such. I'm glad I got down here into the Caribbean.

You should read my "lifestyle of living on a boat" web pages ( Lifestyle and MyLifestyle ), if you haven't already.

I guess my biggest pleasure is the simple freedom: waking up each day and having complete flexibility in what to do and where to go. Quite different from living in an apartment and cubical with a steady job. Freedom is a bit of a double-edged sword; it can turn into apathy or boredom or alcoholism.

Lots of different ways to have fun with boats; you don't have to buy a big boat and live aboard. Simplify your life radically, save your money, and then see if you still want to live on a boat.

I think it's harder for women to make the transition; they tend to like big houses and lots of conveniences and comforts. I'm single, so it wasn't an issue for me.
Back to the boat for lunch; wind blowing hard today. Dumped 4 gallons of water into aft tank, and 10 gallons of diesel into fuel tank.

Ashore again. Bought $8 of gasoline and $17 of diesel, and got 10 gallons of water. Did internet.

Rain threatened, so back to the boat, but then it never did rain. Just stayed grey, cutting off the afternoon solar power.

Banged on the last two bolts on the boom-end with the impact driver. Each of them turned about one full rotation, at expense of much effort, before their heads snapped off. So now I have to drill all of them out anyway.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

During the night, killed a cockroach in the galley.
Sun for a new day  10/23/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Put the bike into the dinghy and went ashore. Biked to Post Office and mailed a letter, then to supermarket for groceries. Back to the boat.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. After an hour or so, Tom came in. He was going to make a run to Walmart, so I jumped at the opportunity. Steve, Tom, Keith and I went to Isabella in the van, and had lunch in Walmart ($4), and then I bought a flash-drive ($29) and another $110 worth of stuff (food, drill bits, food, etc). Did pretty well, considering that I'd left my list on the boat: only thing I forgot was peanut butter. Back to the boat around 2:15. Tom was going to drive to Guayama to the other Walmart, and other stores, looking for an LCD TV monitor. I'm all consumed-out.

Back ashore for more internet, and to try out my new flash-drive. Copied files to the drive okay, but then when I tried to update its software, something went wrong and the installer rain for 90 minutes or so. Finally gave it up. The files I copied are still there.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and PB sandwich for dinner.

During the night, killed several cockroaches in the galley and one in my berth.
Sun for a new day  10/24/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Slept late. Dinghied ashore for internet. My brother is having trouble sending my mail to me: the post office in NJ rejected the address here in PR. I think the trouble might be that the local area here has several city/town names. And mail arriving in the marina has several variations on the marina address. But the they all have the same ZIP code, marina name and street name, and it works. [Follow-up: apparently the NJ PO said the ZIP code doesn't exist, but the PO web site says it does. My brother might try a different NJ PO.]

Signed up for the cruiser's Halloween party ($2, and I have to bring the plastic forks). Finally got my flash-drive software updated; everything working now.

Back to boat for lunch; wind howling. Back ashore for more internet. Bit of a headache developing.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  10/25/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Strange weather this morning: a low is hanging over us, with low grey clouds and slight breeze from W and N and other odd directions. Dinghied ashore to do internet. Got chased into shelter by some rain at noon.

Rain stopped, out to boat for lunch. Killed a cockroach in the galley. Damp, warm, still out. Back ashore for more internet.

Blew from west all day. Back to boat, ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries, and started using the power-drill on the sheared-off bolts on the end of the boom. As I expected, didn't make much progress. Might try Dremel on them tomorrow. I just need to grind the shafts down a little to be able to pry the boom-end off; I don't need to drill out all of each of the bolts here on the boat.

Some rain at 5:30 or so, heavy at times, with a lightning strike within a couple of hundred yards.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.

During the night, killed a couple of cockroaches in the galley.
Sun for a new day  10/26/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Rain from 5:30 to 7:45, with heavy rain and high wind from 6:15 to 7 or so. Wet and grey morning after that; no hint of sun until 9:30 or so. Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries and run laptop.

Dinghied ashore after lunch, to use book-exchange and do internet. Lots of wind and threatening to rain again at any moment. Wi-Fi unusable: it connects for about 5 seconds, then goes down for a couple of minutes. So I read web pages I've saved onto my laptop over the last few months.

Started raining around 2; took refuge in the open first floor under the restaurant. Around 3, took advantage of a gap in the rain to get back out to the boat. Rained off and on the rest of the afternoon.

Ran engine for 45 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Starting at 6 or so, rained lightly but steadily until midnight. Then rained most of the time until dawn.

During the night, killed several cockroaches in the galley.
Sun for a new day  10/27/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Grey, rainy, everything drenched, no sign of rain ending. Lovely weather for living on a boat !

Tightened alternator belt and ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

A little sunshine around 11:30, then back to grey and rain.

Dinghied ashore after lunch. Started raining 5 minutes after I got ashore. Kept going for a couple of hours, so I had to hide in unbuilt first floor of restaurant, where there's AC power but no Wi-Fi signal. So again I read web pages I've saved onto my laptop over the last few months. There's some kind of special group event in the snack bar today, with lots of loud MC'ing and cheering.

The rainclouds just stalled out overhead, sometimes with a slight breeze in one direction, then later in a different or opposite direction. So this rain is going to continue for a while.

Joe and Wendy went by, and said the Wi-Fi hasn't been working anyway for 2 days now. So I guess everyone has been having trouble connecting, not just me.

As I thought of going back to the boat, the rain picked up, so I ended up waiting half an hour for it to ease again. It never did ease much, so I resigned myself to getting a bit wet (although I had my foul-weather jacket for me, and plastic bags for the laptop and other gear). Bailed out the dinghy, started the outboard, loaded the gear in, and headed out. Not too awful, and got everything aboard and stowed before the rain stiffened again.

Ran engine for 45 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Rained all night; wonder when it's going to let up ? Of course, it occurs to me that here rain like this is an inconvenience, but in Haiti, people die from the flooding.
Sun for a new day  10/28/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Grey, raining constantly, everything drenched as usual. Heard enough of a flood warning to find out that this weather has a name: Tropical Depression 16. I knew it was a big low or tropical low hovering over us, but didn't know it had a name.

I'd been thinking: this is just like a hurricane, but without the wind (and moving far slower). So the wind arrived at 7:15: we had 5 or 10 minutes of SE wind up to 45 knots or so, then lots of lower wind after that. Had to close up the boat and become a submarine for a few minutes. "Bear Necessities" dragged into a permanently-anchored boat; they dragged in a different direction (almost into the marina) a few days ago, so I'm not surprised. I kept an eye on my anchor and boats near me, but no problems. Started the engine and ran it for an hour to charge batteries and be ready if my anchor slips.

Rained all day, with brief pauses at 3 PM and 7 PM. Can hear surf crashing on barrier islands.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and chicken-onion-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner. Gets dark early in the afternoon with all this thick, low cloud.

During the night, killed a cockroach in the galley.

Didn't rain much after midnight.
Sun for a new day  10/29/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Still totally grey and damp and threattening to rain, although not actually raining. At least there's some SE wind, which gives promise that maybe this stuff is starting to move away from us. Heard on the radio that it's now called Tropical Storm Noel.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Dinghied ashore after 10. Good to get off the boat. Wi-Fi still not working.

Got a little sunshine around 11:30, and a little Wi-Fi too (I'm sure the two are not related). Had to sit out on the dock in the sun with no AC power to get any Wi-Fi connectivity at all, and everyone who walked by said the Wi-Fi wasn't working for them. Then got some sporadic Wi-Fi back on my usual bench.

Wind blowing hard from SE after noon, which is good.

Received a snail-mail letter from my aunt, giving me more family-tree info to add to my database.

Back to the boat for lunch. Let wind blow through the boat, although it's still pretty humid outside. Cleaned outboard spark plugs; lots of oil despite that fact that I'm putting almost no oil in the gasoline these days. Back ashore. Wi-Fi sporadic, then rain started.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

A dry evening and night, until 1:45 or so. Then several strong squalls with lots of rain and wind.

Developed a nasty headache before dawn. Started popping pills.
Sun for a new day  10/30/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Weather looking better: still lots of clouds, but they're white instead of grey, and there's sunshine coming down between them.

Pumped up dinghy's bow tube, put bike in dinghy, went ashore, biked to supermarket. Lots of rainwater everywhere, including bubbling up out of the storm-sewer manholes.

Back to the boat for lunch, and it's nice to open the hatches and let some dry air and sunshine in.

Dinghied ashore after lunch to do internet. Head feeling a bit better. Wi-Fi generally not working.

Package from my brother in NJ arrived safely; sent on Saturday, arrived on Tuesday. Should have my new passport and a bunch of other goodies in it.

Back to boat, and then some rain. Opened the package. New passport looks spiffy, and the got the books I ordered, including Harry Potter 6 ! Best of all, no letter from the IRS demanding money.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner. Can hear surf crashing on barrier islands again.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

A couple of strong rainsqualls in the late evening.
Sun for a new day  10/31/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Tightened alternator belt and ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Dinghied ashore. Took my contribution (plastic utensils) to the place where they're setting up the Halloween party. David says a guy is coming to fix the Wi-Fi today, and we'll all get a week's credit because it hasn't been working. But then it worked a little for me. Bid $361 on an Autohelm 3000 on EBay and immediately got outbid.

I enjoy watching the little lizards near the bench I sit on while I do internet. They move faster than the eye can follow when they spring from one branch to another, or branch-to-ground to gobble something up.

Back to the boat for lunch. Blowing hard, and nice and sunny. Put lots of towels and stuff out on deck and on lifelines to dry out.

Back ashore for more computing.

Back ashore at 5 to go to the Halloween party, at Chaka's outdoor bar. Paid $3.20 for a rum-and-coke, which seemed a bit high. About 40 cruisers there, about half in costume (I wore a simple Devil's-tail, poking out of my shorts in back). Nice food from the cruisers: teriyaki chicken, deviled eggs, curry chicken over rice, chicken wings, avocado dip, chili, smoked salmon, and several other dishes. Nobody touched a dish of crackers with chunks of cheese and cranberry sauce on top; it didn't look very appetizing. Some nice conversations. Pictures (second one is a "buccaneer").
Sun for a new day  11/1/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Had just thought "we've had 24 hours with no rain" when it rained for about 10 seconds.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Hmmm: looks like installing the flash-drive software has interfered with the software to download photos from my camera [worked later, after charging camera battery].

Wind howling by 10.

To boat for lunch, the back ashore. Borrowed cellphone from Jack and called my credit-card company to assure them I still exist; they had sent me an email questioning that. Actually, they said they had denied my card a couple of times because of possible fraud (lots of international charges, from Puerto Rico). I haven't noticed any of the denials; I think the supermarkets just ran my card again each time, and it worked the second time.

Glen of "Serendipity" joined us on Jack's boat, and Glen and I ended up going out to my boat so I could lend him a remote-starter switch for the engine; he's having starter problems. I gave him a quick tour of my boat, too.

Couldn't get the Wi-Fi to work at all this afternoon. Back to the boat early.

Finished reading Harry Potter 6, and I didn't like it so much. Maybe it'll improve after a few re-readings.

Salad and chicken-corn-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/2/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Mopped rainwater off the engine compartment sole; somehow it gets down the forward bulkhead and on top of the fuel tank and pools on the sole.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Wi-Fi very balky. Got my starter-switch back from Glen. Chatted with Jack, and he said some cruiser guy is trying to start a fight with Keith for some reason, and ended up pushing him into the water off the dinghy-dock this morning. Police probably will get involved. Strange.

Back to boat. Saw something strange: trawler "Serendipity" (Glen's boat) came into the harbor, swung by the marina, and Jack came out in his dinghy and handed something to them. Looked a bit like a drug transaction. Found out later from Jack: "Serendipity" had been at the fuel dock earlier (I saw them there), left to go to the Dominican Republic, and soon realized they had left a load of laundry behind in the washer in the marina ! So they called Jack on the radio and swung by to pick up their wet laundry.

After lunch and some loafing, got back into dinghy, and outboard pull-cord jammed solid. Opened it up, and had a tough time freeing up the cord. Put it all back together, gave a pull, and the cord snapped. So took it apart again, put in a new cord, and put it back together. Worked this time. Went ashore to try some more internet.

Back to boat in late afternoon, and found refrigerator running continuously. Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries, and ran the Dremel to try to get the end-cap off the main boom. Made some progress, but maybe need a better bit for the Dremel.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Some rain during the night.
Sun for a new day  11/3/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dinghied ashore. Walked to hardware store and marine store, looking for a better bit for the Dremel, but no luck. Tried to do internet, and not much luck there, either.

Ashore again after lunch to do more internet. Chatted with various people a bit.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/4/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dinghied ashore. Wi-Fi not really working. Chatted with Aldo and Keith. Bought $10 of gasoline.

Back to boat for some lunch and loafing. Dumped 6 gallons of water into the tanks. Ashore again at 2 for dominoes in the snack bar with Doug and Nancy and Joe and Wendy. Chatted with Jack a bit, got 10 gallons of water.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/5/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Cloudy and still in the morning.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Wi-Fi slightly better than yesterday. Helped Doug and Nancy make CD's with their family-tree info on them; they're flying out tomorrow, and want to give CD's to several of their relatives back in the States.

To the boat for lunch and a snooze, then back ashore again. Weather grey all afternoon.

At 3:30, Jack and I went for a ride in his rental car. To a gas station, which turned out to be completely out of gas, then to another station. To the propane place, where Jack got his 10-pound tank filled. A long detour down a dead-end back road, looking for a way to cut through to route 3 but not really minding where we were going.

Then to Amigo supermarket, where I bought a ton of food, stocking up on nonperishables. Got cash from the ATM; it added zeroes and wanted to give me $14000, but I cancelled that. Bought a fresh pizza from a pizza-van out in front of the supermarket (Jack wouldn't accept any money from me, either for the gas or for the pizza). Back to the dock, hurriedly took everything out to my boat and stowed it, then came back ashore and to Jack's boat in the marina for pizza and rum-and-cokes. Had nice food and drink and conversation, and played with his cat Pippi.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries. Killed a cockroach and several small bugs in the galley.
Sun for a new day  11/6/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Tightened alternator belt and ran engine for 45 minutes to charge batteries.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Wi-Fi still very bad; everyone's pretty disgusted with the lack of service. The provider is offering money back or extension of the time period, but people just want the Wi-Fi to work.

To boat for lunch, giving Keith a ride out to his boat on the way. After lunch, back ashore. Wi-Fi not working at all, so went down the road to the Cruiser's Galley. Plugged laptop into Ethernet and did some decent internet for an hour or two (bought my plane ticket for going back to NJ for Christmas). I've been avoiding this place because the owner went ballistic on me several weeks ago when I filed a bug report saying the Wi-Fi subscription web page says you get a month, but the software gives only 30 days. She took the bug report as a personal attack, and exploded with such rage that I've been keeping my head down ever since.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/7/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dumped 10 gallons of water into the tanks.

Dinghied ashore in late morning. Went to Jack's boat and chatted with Jack, Keith and Paul for a little while. Made the mistake of telling them I was thinking of having a wisdom tooth out when I went home for Christmas, and they said a dentist here in town does it for $50 (per tooth, I think), and several of them have had him take their wisdom teeth out. So now I have to get up the courage to go there and have it done. [One of my faithful readers said: "Good Lord! $50 a tooth ... you probably have to bring your own rum-and-coke ...". Maybe I have to bring my own Dremel too.]

Bummer: my brother says I just got a letter from the IRS, and they want another $1500 for my 2005 taxes. Kind of expected that.

Somebody said Jan had a wisdom tooth extracted by the dentist here, so when I saw him on the dinghy dock I asked him about it. Turned out he did not have it done here, and then he related a litany of dental problems (only some related to wisdom teeth extraction) that did nothing to improve my frame of mind.

I was chatting with the local fisherman, Aldo, about all kinds of things, including boat construction and boat accidents. And he said they found that part of the problem with the sinking of the Titanic was with the steel they used for the hull. They got various batches of steel from all over the world, because they were in such a hurry to finish construction, and some of the steel was bad. I'd never heard that before. [But faithful reader Gordon says it was just flat-out bad steel all made in Sheffield, and there was no construction rush.]

Back to boat for lunch, then back ashore for more internet. Wi-Fi didn't work much.

Wind has been light and from south for last day or so; hot weather.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Killed a cockroach in the galley.
Sun for a new day  11/8/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Helped a guy diagnose his Wi-Fi problems with his laptop, but found it was just the same Wi-Fi problem that everyone's having, nothing to do with his laptop. Wi-Fi still pretty crappy today.

Back to boat for lunch. Gave myself a haircut, shave and shower. Then bike into dinghy, went ashore, and biked into town to the dentist. Had to wait only 30 minutes or so, then in.

Dentist was a friendly guy, and spoke English well. I told him I'd been having headaches and thought maybe I needed to have my upper wisdom teeth out. He examined my teeth and said "you don't have any wisdom teeth!". Then he clarified: I don't have any upper wisdom teeth (I guess that makes me a half-wit). My lower-right wisdom tooth is in perfectly straight. My lower-left wisdom tooth is buried and impacted but probably not causing any problems; if I really want it out, he'll have to refer me to a dental surgeon in Ponce. No, thank you.

He tapped all of my teeth, looking for a painful one, and then I asked him to take a couple of x-rays to confirm what he thought about my wisdom teeth. We discussed the headaches, and he thinks I'm clenching my jaw muscles while I'm sleeping. There's no damage to the surface of my teeth, so I'm probably not grinding my teeth at night. Apparently, a bad wisdom tooth probably would cause pain up into my eye; I haven't had that. Various other reasons it's probably not a tooth problem.

He thought of prescribing a muscle-relaxant I could take the next time I had a bad headache, but he was reluctant because it might make me so groggy that I'd hurt myself, since I lived on a boat. I declined the prescription (later I had second thoughts; maybe I should try it).

Paid $25 for the exam and x-rays, and I was out of there, happy to have no nasty work done.

So relieved that I biked to the hospital/clinic and got a tetanus booster shot ($10). Very little English spoken there, and I had to write out "tetanus" before they understood it (ah, "teh-TAH-no" !).

Back to the marina, and out to the boat. Hot, fairly still afternoon. Worked on the end of the boom for a while, but prying and Dremeling aren't working very well on it.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Ran engine for 35 minutes to charge batteries. Lots of bugs out tonight.
Sun for a new day  11/9/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Keith and Steve wanted to know the results of my dentist adventure. Jan was snorkeling near the water-faucet on the dinghy dock; he must have dropped something valuable in the water.

Later, Jack came by, and said he had a rental car to burn, did I want to go anywhere interesting. After consulting Patricia, we decided to drive up toward Caguas and find a roast-pig place for lunch.

So we got going about 12:30, drove up to Cayuey, then SE into the hills. But we had trouble finding anywhere at all to eat, and finally found a place just outside Guayama. Turned out to be a nice place, but no roast pig. Fried chicken and fried pork and plantains. great view, nice people, clean place. But then they turned on a loud jukebox, which was not so good.

Back home by 3. A bit headachey from all the driving and the late lunch. Did a little more internet and then back to the boat.

Salad for dinner.

Ran engine for 15 minutes to charge batteries.

Very headachey all evening, but felt better by midnight.

Was reading in my berth, and saw a creepy-crawly thing about 2 inches long creeping on the ceiling above me. Whacked at it with the book, and it fell down the side of the hull and disappeared; don't know if I killed it. Not conducive to good sleeping.
Sun for a new day  11/10/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Lots of gunfire just before dawn; must be hunting season. Later, Aldo told me they're hunting pigeons.

Did a bucket of laundry. Dinghied ashore to do internet. Got 10 gallons of water.

Got a batch of Halloween party pictures from Paul (taken by Paul, Bobbi, Claudia and others): Bob, Bob, Bob ??? Keith, Chris Don Keith Tony Bill (includes a rare sighting of me, on right end), Claudia, Don Keith Tony, Doug Nancy Claudia, Doug Wendy, food, food, Keith, masks, masks, masks, misc, Paul, Paul, Pirate, Pirate, Reggie, signboards, Wendy, Wendy, Wendy Doug, ??? Jack, ??? Jack Tom ???, ??? ??? Bobbi Nancy.

Ashore again after lunch, and Steve showed me where there was a pharmacy here in the local town. But they didn't have any OTC muscle-relaxant stuff. Lots of stuff that said "muscle-relaxant" or "back pain" or whatever, but turned out to be standard acetaminophen or ibuprofen. To the Cruiser's Galley to plug into Ethernet and do some internet.

Salad and chicken-rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for 45 minutes to charge batteries.

Some more gunfire ashore after sunset; how can they be hunting pigeons in the near-dark ?

Sprayed two cockroaches in the galley in the middle of the night.

Heard horns and cheering at 1 AM ashore; must be the end of the big prize-fight on TV that Aldo told me about.
Sun for a new day  11/11/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Still and hot morning. Did a bucket of laundry. Put new power adapter together and plugged it into the laptop; works. Tested voltages on pins about a dozen times first, to make sure I didn't have a $200 puff of smoke.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Got 10 gallons of water. Wi-Fi not working at all (worked a little around noon).

Score ! Went to check for snail-mail in the office, and found a copy of Harry Potter 7 in the book-exchange !

Back to boat for lunch, and saw Tom in his dinghy dragging all around Keith's boat, trying to find something one of them had dropped in the water. Found out later Keith had lost a metal scraper off the end of a pole, used for scraping the hull, and Tom was using a magnet to try to find it. Eventually, they lost the magnet too, and gave up.

Back ashore at 2, and played dominoes in the snack bar from 2:15 to 5:15, a marathon session. Lots of fun. Gave Claudia a ride back to her boat.

Found refrigerator running constantly, dragging batteries down. Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries. Had to fiddle with refrigerator thermostat for hours, all evening, to eventually get it running properly.

Salad and salami-cheese-crackers for dinner.

Sprayed a cockroach and half a dozen small bugs in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  11/12/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dumped 10 gallons of water into tanks. Dinghied ashore to do internet. Chatted with Keith. Got 10 gallons of water. Aldo's super-duper new GPS/plotter seems to have died; he'll have to take it to a dealer or something.

Back to boat for lunch. Added water to the batteries. Investigated the solar wiring in the engine compartment: fuse is hot, but only about 0.3V drop from controller to batteries. Then up onto deck and did what I should have done months ago: put towels and cushions over each solar panel in turn to see what happens. Sure enough, the forward panel is producing zero current; the aft panel is doing all the work. Will have to go up there and take everything apart in the early-morning calm tomorrow.

Back ashore. Walked to Cruiser's Galley to plug into Ethernet, but they're closed today, maybe because it's Veteran's Day. Back to marina, and Wi-Fi not working at all.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Sprayed several small bugs in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  11/13/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Up on deck by 7:30, and onto the top of the pilothouse. Unbolted both solar panels, removed and checked all the diodes and the wires between the panels, nothing wrong. Each panel shows about 18V open-circuit when I point it at the sun; that's right. Each shows 6V to 8V when upside down. No signs of impact damage or cracks or water intrusion or corrosion anywhere. Didn't investigate the wiring down into the boat, and the controller must be working too, because one panel works fine; problem must be in 2nd panel or somewhere between the two. Put everything all back together. Pictures (first two show panels upside down with boxes open).

Several sailboats came in while I was on top of the pilothouse. When I went ashore, I stopped by the nearest and said hi to Matthew. He just came from Boqueron in one shot, and went overnight with no sleep. He came from Cuba, Bahamas, Turks, Luperon, then Puerto Rico. He's headed for St Martin and needs to find some work there. I gave him some info about what's here, then he was going to sleep for a while.

Wi-Fi not working at all today. Back to boat for lunch. Tested my solar panels again by putting towels over forward panel: it's still dead. Watched Tom and Steve dragging for a long time near Keith's boat. Eventually went over and gave them the benefit of a couple of witticisms: "gee, you must have lost a couple of gold bars off your boat, they've been dragging so much", and "hope you don't snag the harbor's drain plug and let all the water drain out!". The audience was appreciative. They're trying to find the powerful magnet Tom lost while dragging for the scraper-blade Keith lost; apparently the powerful magnet is expensive and hard to replace (can't be air-shipped).

Ashore and picked up my IRS-tax-due letter at the marina office. To the Cruiser's Galley for internet. Learned that my Mom was in a car accident: just a hurt ankle for her, but totalled the car.

Crap! Just saw a news article that ETrade might go bankrupt; I own a chunk of their stock, and it just plunged 80 to 90%. Looks like I just lost $16K or more of my savings. Who knew they had a lot of exposure to the sub-prime mortgage mess ?

A few people have asked for more pictures of me, for some reason, so here's one: me in the Cruiser's Galley cafe.

And most of my savings are in ETrade accounts, which should be insured to $100K each. Took a quick look at them online, and I think I'm okay. Back to boat.

Salad and salami-cheese-crackers for dinner. Decided to medicate myself with a rum-and-coke after all the bad news today: solar, IRS letter, Mom's car, ETrade.

Ran engine for 35 minutes to charge batteries.

Sprayed some small bugs in the galley in the middle of the night, and killed a small cockroach in my berth.

Didn't sleep a wink, worrying about everything. Read books, and read Harry Potter 7 (very good book).
Sun for a new day  11/14/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dinghied ashore and did internet at Cruiser's Galley.

Turns out my Mom broke two small bones in her ankle, and will need a walker for 4-6 weeks, and will be staying at my sister's place. More bad news.

Well, as I thought, it looks like most or all of my assets in ETrade accounts are federally insured. And analysts are saying a bankruptcy is very unlikely, and the stock is up a bit today. Still sent a couple of questions to ETrade to clarify a few points.

Bought a half-gallon of milk at the local panaderia and went back to boat for lunch.

Then up onto the pilothouse roof to work on the solar panels again. Measured the open-circuit voltage across the output terminals of each panel, then put a light-bulb on as a load and measured the voltage across the load. The aft (working) panel showed 19.2V open-circuit and 18.7V loaded. The forward panel showed about 19V open-circuit and about 9V loaded. So the forward panel definitely is bad. Should be under warranty, but shipping it out will be an issue.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/15/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Grey morning. Rain at 7:45, 8:15, 9:30.

Bike into dinghy and ashore at 10 or so. Biked to Post Office and mailed payment to IRS. To supermarket and got groceries, then home, just getting out from under rainclouds.

Heavy rain at 12:15. Saw a couple of dinghies going by with cruiser's getting soaked in them.

Dinghied ashore and to Cruiser's Galley for internet. As I expected, Kyocera dealer in PR will not take the panel back for me since I didn't buy it from him, it has to go back to USA. And it is too big to go USPS.

Cruiser's Galley unepxectedly closed at 2, so I went to the marina and tried the Wi-Fi (it worked for someone this morning). Still not working. Back to boat.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

Poured rain from 10:15 to 3:30 AM. Lots of wind and lightning at first, but less as the night went on.
Sun for a new day  11/16/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Grey morning. Rain at 6:30, 7:30. Feeling a little headachey.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Up onto top of pilothouse, and disconnected the forward solar panel, on the theory that it might be consuming some of the current put out by the aft panel. No change seen on the battery monitor afterward, but it's hard to tell, what with load and sunshine and battery state varying.

Dinghied ashore and did internet at the Cruiser's Galley. Looks like the solar panel can be shipped UPS from PR for $70; not as bad as I feared. Getting packaging for it will be awkward. Still trying to get a quote for shipping from St Thomas.

The word from ETrade is that they have purchased extra insurance on all accounts, so even in a complete bankruptcy it looks like I would lose nothing (except the value of the ETrade stock I own, which already has lost 80% of its value).

Back to boat. Very grey afternoon.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and chicken-onion-biscuit for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/17/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dumped 5 gallons of diesel from jug to tank.

Dinghied ashore. Wi-Fi still not working. Some political speech being given in the floor underneath the marina restaurant. Aldo brought his boat in, heard about one sentence of the speech, and immediately laughed "that f***ing liar !".

Bought 41 liters of diesel for $35, then back to boat for lunch.

Ashore again, and to Cruiser's Galley for internet. Woman from "Debonair" was asking for outboard repair advice, and I ended up walking back to the dinghy dock with her and loaning her my can of starter fluid. I think she needs to clean out the carburetor, and she's going to do that. It's a 2000 Mercury 3.3 HP 2-stroke. Back to the internet. No UPS store in Salinas; I'm trying to find some kind of packing store that could box up the solar panel for me.

Back to the boat, and I barely made it: sounds like the outboard is running on about half a cylinder. Took the plugs out and cleaned them; they were dirty, but I've seen them worse.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and salami-cheese-crackers and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Killed several small bugs in the galley during the night.
Sun for a new day  11/18/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Dumped 10 gallons of diesel from jugs to tank.

Dinghied ashore and went to cafe to do internet. Signed up for another month for $40, even though I really only want another week or two. But they don't offer a by-week option. And although one of them promised to add some time to my account because of the Wi-Fi troubles, he didn't do it, and I don't want to deal with the other person. I had planned to leave for Culebra in a week or so, but I guess now I'll be sticking here until early December. I need to be in St Thomas by 12/17 to fly out of there for Christmas.

The Kyocera dealer in San Juan says "The module whose voltage drops to 9 volts when you place a small light across it is definitely defective. I have only seen a few defective modules in 17 years and that happens to be the failure mode. They show voltage but not current."

Bought a box of cooked ribs for $5 at the cafe; they were trying to get rid of them. Back to boat for lunch.

Rushed back ashore to cafe, since I realized that they're closed tomorrow, the Wi-Fi isn't working, and if I don't email out the solar panel replacement request today, I'll lose two days. Fortunately, the cafe was open and I sent out the request.

To the snack bar at 2 to play dominoes. Doug and Nancy are back from their trip to the USA, and Claudia played too. It was fun.

Salad and ribs and noodles for dinner. The ribs were pretty good, and the $5 bought enough for two meals.
Sun for a new day  11/19/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Took the fuse out of the solar wiring and cleaned and sanded the ends of it. No apparent corrosion, but yesterday Doug said even a slight film of moisture or oil could add a lot of resistance and make it run hot.

Scraped the caulk off the mainmast base; the caulk was pretty old and powdery. Water has been getting in, where the metal meets the deck. Had to cut open a tube of caulk to get to the liquid part of it. Caulked the mast base. Pictures: scraped clean, tube of caulk, done.

Ran engine for 45 minutes to charge batteries.

Today's a holiday here, so can't go to Cruiser's Galley. Will bike into town tomorrow and see if I can scrounge a box for shipping the solar panel.

Dinghied ashore and plugged laptop into AC at the marina. No Wi-Fi as usual.

Back to boat for lunch, as thick rainclouds came over. Heavy rain and lots of wind from 12:45 to 1:15, then occasional rain for a while, then rain at 3, then very heavy rain and wind at 3:15. Totally grey all afternoon.

Investigated light fixture in aft head that's been acting a bit strangely. But after getting it off the wall, I found that it's a sealed unit: no way to take it apart. So I put it back onto the wall.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and PBJ sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/20/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Grey and dark and still morning, with low-hanging rainclouds.

Dinghied ashore in late morning and went to cafe to do internet. No response from Arizona about my solar panel.

Pouring rain at 12:45. Did internet all afternoon; don't want to bike into town and look for boxes while rain is threatening. Dark all afternoon. Bought a half-gallon of milk at the local panaderia.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Salad and ribs and rice and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/21/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Low-hanging rainclouds just south of us, but it's sunny overhead.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Put bike into dinghy, went ashore, and biked around looking for a box for the solar panel. Looked behind nearby hardware store, then Grande supermarket in town, PITUSA department store, stores in Amigo supermarket center. No luck anywhere; most places crush/bale their empty boxes right away, and don't have boxes as big as I need anyway. Got groceries at Amigo and back to the boat.

After lunch, to the cafe for internet. Place is crammed with people doing internet. No response from the solar place. Heavy rain at 1:15.

Salad and salami-cheese-crackers for dinner.

Ran engine for 20 minutes to charge batteries.

Sprayed a small cockroach and several small bugs in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  11/22/2007 (Thursday; Thanksgiving Day)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Sunny, still morning. Police sirens and a loudspeaker ashore at 7 AM; I think it's a sound truck advertising some political candidate. Can't imagine why they'd think doing that at 7 AM would make anyone inclined to vote for them.

Did a bucket of laundry. Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Lowered dinghy and took the carburetor off the outboard. Took it apart. Found some gunk in it, then a bigger chunk of gunk and then a very big area of gunk in a hidden area I've never investigated before, behind a metal flap that I had to pry up very carefully to avoid bending or breaking it. I've labeled those areas as 1, 2 and 3 in this picture. Cleaned it and put everything back together.

In early afternoon, dinghied ashore. Got 10 gallons of water. Went to Cruiser's Cafe for internet and Thanksgiving dinner. Had lots of hors d'oeuvres (did I spell that correctly ?) while we watched the Green Bay - Detroit football game.

Eventually, about 25 people showed up, and we had dinner around 5:30. Turkey and all the trimmings, and pecan pie for dessert; very nice. Had a couple of nice conversations here and there. There was no price for the dinner, just donations encouraged, so I paid $15.

Back to the boat by 7:15. Refrigerator seems to be stuck on again; ran engine for 20 minutes to charge batteries.
Sun for a new day  11/23/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Sunny, still morning. Tightened alternator belt and ran engine for 45 minutes to charge batteries. Did a small bucket of laundry, dumped 4 gallons of water into tanks, and washed out the jugs with chlorine.

Dinghied ashore and to cafe to do internet. Asked at marine store about a big box to ship the solar panel; not much luck. Still no email response from either of the solar places, the manufacturer and the retailer I bought the panels from 5 years ago. Finally got an answer from UPS: looks like shipping the panel to USA from St Thomas would cost about three times what it costs to ship from here. Got 10 gallons of water.

Salad and salami-cheese-crackers and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/24/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Sunny, but lots of low clouds to the SE of us, edging closer. Totally grey by 10 or so; a little sun later.

Took down the mainsail clew block (bigger than it looks in the photo; the whole thing is about a foot long), and jury-rigged it with a simpler block and a lashing around the boom. Dumped 9 gallons of water from jugs into tanks; sounds like the tanks are completely full.

Dinghied ashore and to cafe to do internet.
Got 10 gallons of water.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Ran engine for 20 minutes to charge batteries.
Sun for a new day  11/25/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Grey, overcast morning; sun trying to peek through a little.
Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Dinghied ashore and to cafe to do internet. Did some research into a better way to keep my alternator belt tensioned; the normal sliding-bolt-bracket thing just is not working well. Someone suggested leaving that in place, and adding something (a turnbuckle, or woodworking bar-clamp, or tiny scissors-jack thing) to push the body of the alternator away from the engine block.

Someone on the internet said: these days, the only thing on a boat that appreciates in value is the fuel in the tank.

At 2 PM, to snack bar for dominoes with Nancy and Claudia and Doug. A long, intense, fun session. Gave Claudia a ride back to her boat.

Pumped up dinghy's tubes.

Salad and PB crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/26/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Happened to look up at the night sky before dawn, and saw something very bright. I've always wanted to see a satellite or the space station going past, so I went out on deck with binoculars. The object seemed to be moving with the Earth's rotation (that is, not moving much at all), so it must be a planet. Given that it appeared in the sky at about 120 degrees magnetic and about 25 degrees above the horizon from Salinas PR (about 18N 66W) at about 0530 AST, what planet was it ? There must be a web site that can tell me that.

Sunny, breezy morning; weather forecast says NE wind will be gusting to 35 knots for next couple of days.

Pumped up bike tire, put bike into dinghy, went ashore, and biked around looking for a box for the solar panel. Asked in a nice hardware store that I'd never been in before, and two women's clothing stores. Then hit pay dirt in an applicane/furniture place: got a clotheswasher box that is the wrong shape and not quite big enough in the obvious direction, but probably can be made to work. Should have asked the guy if he had two of them. Lots of fun biking home with it: the thing was acting like a sail in the high wind, and awkward to hold even with a couple of bungee cords around it. Got bike and box back to the boat okay; the dinghy chugged pretty slowly against a 20-knot or more headwind.

Dinghied ashore after lunch. Cafe is closed today, and no Wi-Fi. Used the book-exchange. Looked in various garbage cans for styrofoam blocks to pack the corners of the solar panel inside the box. Just as I thought of buying one of those foam swim-noodle things somewhere, found two of them in a garbage can, and grabbed them. Perfect !

Some kind of border patrol cop stopped by and talked to me as I sat on the bench using my computer. I feared he was going to ask for boat-registration or something, but mainly he wanted to give me literature about a local-boater check-in program I already know about. I've heard some rumors that they might start requiring everyone to register their boats in Puerto Rico, which would be a pain: I'm told registration for a boat my size would cost $300/year, which is pretty steep. It was only $85/year in Florida, and then an antique-boat provision kicked in and the fee dropped to $5/year. I was paying $10/year for the dinghy registration in FL. Haven't been registered anywhere for the last couple of years, which is great. I do have a USA federal title (called "documentation"), but there's no annual fee for that.

Sat on the bench in the marina and read lots of web pages I've saved onto hard disk in the last week or so.

The marina has its own Wi-Fi now, but someone told me that's not working either ! It's very pricey, too, $10/day.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries. Probably should eat all the meat out of the refrigerator quickly so I can shut off the refrigerator and avoid running the engine.

Salad and chicken-onion-mushroom-biscuit and rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/27/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Went up on top of the pilothouse and unbolted the bad solar panel, and brought it down into the pilothouse. Applied penetrating oil to the rusty mounting bolts and let them sit for a while. Tried to get them off, and gave up; will have to cut them off with the Dremel next time I run the engine.

Dinghied ashore, scavenged a couple more swim-noodles out of the garbage, and went to cafe to do internet. Finally got an email response from Kyocera (I guess they were on vacation all of Thanksgiving week), and they want me to ship both panels back for replacement. I'm happy with that; I've been wondering if I should ask for that. I suspect the second panel may be putting out only 80-90% of rated power, but it's hard to tell. Now I definitely want to empty my fridge and turn it off.

Even better: "You are not required to return the modules to us until after you receive your replacements. This way you have appropriate packaging for the return shipment. And yes, Kyocera does pay for shipping (both directions)." Excellent service from Kyocera !

The only wrinkle is that the timing may not work out well; the new panels aren't in stock, and they may not be able to get them to me until just about when I'm flying out from St Thomas to NJ for Christmas. And I'm not sure how long I'll be staying in NJ; my Mom needs me there, so I may stay a couple of months.

Looked up some astronomy web sites, and boy, is it confusing ! Finally found a site (Your Sky) where I typed in location and time and the sky map seems to say I was seeing the planet Venus.

Bought about 10 gallons of diesel and 1.5 of gas; total $39.

Salad and ham-noodle for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/28/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Developed a bad headache before dawn, and laid in bed all morning.

I've decided to change the solar panel mounting, given that I'll be re-doing it anyway. I want to mount them on the starboard side, since the sun usually comes from that direction. [Someone asked why: Here in the Carib, tradewind usually comes from the ESE and latitude is 12N to 18N so sun usually is to south of us (except in dead of winter), so starboard side is better. And the side matters because the pilothouse roof slopes slightly down to each side, and the mast shades panels a bit on the opposite side from the sun.] It will cost another $40 or so in wiring and connectors.

And I had mounted them with hinges so I could tilt them up, but then never had a need to tilt them. And I used cheap galvanized hinges instead of $100 or more of stainless hinges, and all the hinges rusted (pics) and started snapping. This time, I think I'll mount them using plain wooden blocks, with the aluminum frame of the panel slotting into a groove in the block. Have to figure out a few jigsaw-type details, but it should work.

Dinghied ashore after lunch and went to cafe. Only got 30 minutes of internet before they closed. Sent email to Kyocera saying I think my schedule will prevent solar panel replacement until after I come back from NJ. Border Patrol cops on the docks again. Chatted with Patricia for a while.

Salad and salami-cheese-crackers for dinner.

Sprayed several small bugs in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  11/29/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Still have a bit of a headache.

Listened to Chris Parker's weather forecast. I think I'll be leaving the harbor Sunday noon, scrape hull and prop in the afternoon, and then start heading east. To Boca del Infierno late Sunday afternoon, to Puerto Patillas early Monday morning, to Vieques early Tuesday morning, to Culebra early Wednesday morning. And 4-5 days later, to St Thomas.

Fuel level 9 inches at engine hour 4301.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Re-attached topping lift on mainsail. Rolled out the sail to see if the outhaul block works okay, and it does. But the top of the sail is not unrolling properly (pic); it's been doing that for a while. The fancy swivel up there always seems to be okay when I check it; I suspect the luff-wire is starting to come loose from the sail, or unraveling.

Dumped 10 gallons of diesel from jugs to tank.

Thought the water tanks were full, but dumped 10 gallons into forward tank and it didn't overflow.

Dinghied ashore after lunch. Got 10 gallons of water. Went to cafe for internet. Solar panel replacement is on hold; good.

Salad and spaghetti and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Some kind of religious revival at the ballfield, I think. Through the still evening air, can hear the guy ranting through loudspeakers over a mile away, catching some words such as "Christo" and "esperitu sanctu". Kept going until 8:30 or so.

Sprayed several small bugs in the galley in the middle of the night.

Rained a couple of times during the night.
Sun for a new day  11/30/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Grey morning, threatening rain. Headache gone; alternating Advil and Tylenol seemed to work well.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Put bike into dinghy, went ashore, and biked to supermarket. Back to boat, and dumped another 10 gallons of water from jugs into tanks.

After lunch, ashore to cafe for internet. Chatted with Jan for a while.

Saw Joe and Wendy, back from their trip home to supervise the birth of a grandchild.

Got 10 gallons of water, and bought 5 gallons of diesel and 1 gallon of gasoline ($21).

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Sprayed a cockroach in the galley.

Installed the bad solar panel back up on top of the pilothouse; best place for it. It had been in the cockpit, but it's too large to keep there or in the cabin.
Sun for a new day  12/1/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Still morning, wind circling around a bit.
Did a bucket of laundry, even though there's some rain over the island.
Ran engine for 20 minutes to charge batteries.

Rainclouds approaching by noon, so took in the mostly-dry laundry and went ashore to do internet. Cafe is full of people doing Skype. Interesting to hear Matthew speaking in Dutch, with an English phrase such as "internet cafe" popping through every now and then. Place got pretty noisy at times with everyone yakking away. Then the internet went down, mostly.

A blast from the past: Joe gave me a bunch of photos of boats and people from hurricane season 2005 when I was in Luperon. I've added notes about where they are now, to my knowledge:
CruisersWeenieRoast (big pic; I'm kneeling behind the white bucket)
Fidelis-AnnieDrDave (now boat is in Antigua and they're living in Michigan)
Ernie overboard
Magnolia-LeavingHarbor (weather doesn't look too promising; 1st or 2nd time I left ?)
Molasses+Koshari-Bruce (sold left boat and right boat was a project; engine blew in St Thomas)
OffCall-WendyJoe (in Salinas PR right now)
PresqueIsle-DougNancy (in Salinas PR right now)
Quest-JudySolanaJulioIglesias (in Grenada now)
Quest-LeavingLuperon (big pic)
Raven-RoxanneBill (blown ashore in Samana in late 2005 and had major damage)
Smidgeon-KennyMinkyBrycie (still in Luperon)
SpiritOfMassachusetts (big pic)
TidakApa-RosaBruceVanSant (still in Luperon; Bruce wrote famous cruising guide)
WoundedSpirit-LeavingLuperon (big pic; last heard of in Trinidad)

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Warm, still, buggy night. Sprayed half a dozen smallish bugs in the galley.
Sun for a new day  12/2/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Playa Salinas PR.

Still, warm morning.
Dumped 10 gallons of water into tanks.
Added water to batteries and tied them all down.

Dinghied ashore. Threw away the big washer-box I scrounged to ship out the solar panel. Got 10 gallons of water. Went to cafe for internet.

Bummer: overnight, the forecast has changed quite a bit, sliding the low swells out by 2 days. Swells were supposed to subside to 2-5 feet on Monday, but now it says they'll do that on Wednesday. And Matthew says they've been sliding it out like that for a week now; I haven't been watching the forecast that long. I'm going to leave today anyway; my first couple of hops are short, and if I have to wait a day or two in shelter at Puerto Patillas, that's fine. Swells are supposed to be 4-7 on Monday and Tuesday, but might be a bit less south of the island.

Rain at 10. One cruiser dashed out of the cafe, saying he'd left his hatches open. I close the hatches if there's a single cloud in the sky when I leave the boat.

Back to the boat, managing not to get rained on.

Engine start at 11:15; anchor up by 11:25, scrubbing the chain as I brought it in. Motored out of the harbor, and pulled over just outside the entrance. Anchor down at 11:45 at outside Playa Salinas PR.

About 5 minutes after shutting off the engine, saw the solar panel putting out 7.3A briefly, slightly above it's rated maximum. Stupid solar controller seems to work best right after the alternator has charged the batteries well. And I guess there's nothing wrong with that second panel

Had lunch, then lowered the dinghy and snorkeled under the boat to scrape hull and prop. Lots of dark rainclouds, and I got rained on several times while snorkeling, which is kind of an odd feeling. Big, cold raindrops.

Lots of growth to scrape off the hull; prop not too bad. Clouds and clouds of little brine-shrimp flocking all over my body as I scraped, burrowing into my ears and around my mouth. A school of excited 3-inch fish darting around and feeding. Spent a good 90 minutes scraping, and got the job about 90% done. Back aboard, washed everything off and hoisted dinghy and stowed everything, and showered myself as it rained slightly. Then relaxed with a good bag of cheese-curls (one of my weaknesses) and a book.

Tested primary bilge pump: it works, but seems partially obstructed. Will have to pull it up and investigate.

Engine start at 2:40, anchor up by 2:45, and motored east up the narrow bay inside the barrier reef islands. As soon as I turned the corner to go east, a squall swept in and the wind picked up and a pretty good chop starting coming down the bay at me. Some rain. Not a promising start, but not too bad.

Buzzed by a helicopter. Saw a big sailboat out in the open water, heading west with jib and mizzen up.

Kept a close eye on enegine gauges and speed, to see if everything's okay. By the end of the run, the engine was running a couple of degrees hot, but otherwise everything was good.

As I neared the anchorage, lots of powerboats roaring in from the ocean and from behind me, heading back in time for Happy Hour.

Anchor down at 4 PM at Boca del Infierno.

Conditions totally still around 5:15; boat slowly circling around.

Salad and PB-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  12/3/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Boca del Infierno.

Wind was light and N all night, so conditions should be good today.

Cleaned engine intake strainer (full of seaweed). Checked oil, transmission fluid, alternator belt.

Engine start at 6:25, anchor up at 6:30. Motored out through the pass, and it's nice outside. Some swell, but conditions about as nice as I could ask for. Motored with the mainsail up, straight into wind and swell.

Soon after I got out, a police boat came out of the same pass, and roared past me, eyeballing me and waving to me and waking me. An hour later, they came roaring back the other direction, further away.

2-day weather forecast is about what I expected: still a big N-NE swell coming in from the Atlantic. Mainly an issue in the inter-island passages (the Mona Passage at west end of Puerto Rico, and the Anegada Passage between the BVIs and Anguilla/StMartin). But I'll be turning NE around the SE end of the island on the next segment. So I might spend tomorrow waiting; will decide tomorrow morning.

Took a bunch of pictures of the coastline for faithful reader Steve W.; he used to live here.

Around 8 AM, checked stuffing box: it's running cool. Saw two sails, one far astern, the other a couple miles off the aft starboard quarter.

Started blowing a bit around 9. First sailboat about even with me, but several miles further out, motor-sailing with just mainsail up, as I am. Second sailboat has disappeared.

Anchor down at 10 AM at Puerto Patillas.

Napped until about 11:30. When I got up, carefully scanned the horizon to look for other boats, and saw none. Then looked the other direction, and found two cruising sailboats anchored behind me. Red one is "Moondancer", a very unusual-looking boat: small (maybe 28-foot), catboat-schooner-rigged, and with a deck looking like it's intended to burrow right through breaking waves. (A reader said later it might be a Phil Bolger design, 34 feet, junk-rigged.) They're from Salinas; I sort of recognize the people. A little later, they all piled into "Moondancer's" dinghy and went ashore.

As I headed ashore a little later, I saw a sailboat motoring west and looking like it was coming here. Later I saw it was catamaran "Duduza"; they anchored off to the south a little bit.

I've anchored here several times, but never gone ashore. Now, I see that I didn't miss much. A convenient dock for the dinghy. A very big and nice beach-park with observation tower and lots of snack-bar/cafes, but deserted on this winter weekday; probably is jammed on a summer weekend. Now just a few bummy-looking people (I fit right in), some very pathetic stray dogs, and all the snack bars are closed. Payphone out on the road is dead.

Went up the observation tower for a view, then walked around a bit. Just a lot of weekend houses, most empty right now. Eventually found an open grocery/liquor store out on the "main road" that seems to be the center of activity; nothing else nearby. ATM on the outside of the store is dead. Sat and tried to chat with an oldish guy outside the store, but we just could not communicate. Back to the beach-park to read my book for a while, then back to the boat.

Sprayed a cockroach in the galley.

Hunter sloop "Barbaro" sailed in around 3:30.

Salad and sausage-onion-noodle and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Sprayed a cockroach in the galley during the night.

Looked out at 11:30 and found two boats gone, "Moondancer" and it's buddy-boat. I'm tempted to go too, but VHF WX says small-craft advisory for 6 AM to 8 AM tomorrow. Irritating that they give no forecast for Wednesday. Decide to sleep and be rested for the next hop, which is the longest one.
Sun for a new day  12/4/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Puerto Patillas PR.

Nasty dark clouds off to the SE at dawn; maybe that's why there was a small-craft advisory for this morning ? But Chris Parker's weather at 7 said the squalls and thunderstorms were 30-60 miles south of Puerto Rico, so no threat to me.

Chris Parker says strong wind will build again Thursday/Friday, just after I should be arriving at Culebra, so the timing looks good. VHF WX talks of big swells hitting the north coasts of Puerto Rico and USVI, which could affect me as I approach west end of Vieques. So there's a small-craft advisory from 8 AM this morning to 8 AM tomorrow morning. But I think it's mainly for the Atlantic coasts of the islands.

Rain at 0800. Catamaran "Duduza" left at 0815, motoring west. Only "Barbaro" left here with me.

Sunny and mostly clear by 9:30. Would have been okay to travel last night / this morning, at least judging by conditions in the anchorage here. But it was good to rest for a night anyway.

No Wi-Fi signal here.

Couple from "Barbaro" stopped by to ask for local info on their way ashore. They're heading west.

Cleaned engine intake strainer and primary bilge pump (switch is on left, pump in middle, hose coming out on right, whole thing attached to a pole so I can lower it down into the bilge). Neither was clogged.

No boats seen passing by today. No sustained wind until about 1:30, from SE.

Couple from "Barbaro" stayed ashore for a long time; they must have found something interesting, or a taxi to some town.

Listened to the VHF WX. The automated voice is pretty funny sometimes: today it was pronouncing the "www" of a web address as "west-west-west". And it usually says "wind" as "wined".

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Planned to leave at midnight, but got impatient and left at 10. Immediately found that many of the light-switches on the helm are stuck; had to work at them with pliers to get them moving. Got the nav lights on, but the green on the starboard bow is dead; every time I fix that bulb, it works for a short time and then is dead again the next time I try to use it. Couldn't get the masthead (steaming) light to work.

Motored out of the anchorage, navigating purely by GPS and watching the depth-sounder closely, but the reef is entirely on one side and there's really no problem. Headed east with the mainsail up, but basically motoring.

Nice conditions: beautiful clear night, fair number of stars, no moon. Making better speed than I expected: usually there's quite an adverse current here. Wind maybe 8-10 knots, almost on the nose as usual.

Turned on the RADAR to exercise it for a while.

Motor-sailed on and on, around the gently curving SE corner of Puerto Rico.

Night-cruising is a bit of a "zen" experience. Can't really see anything on the water, but can see the dark bulk of the islands and lots of lights ashore, and the stars. Mostly cruising on instruments, watching GPS and depth-sounder and the engine gauges. Almost no radio traffic in this area. The alternator RFI prevents listening to shortwave or AM radio (so no BBC tonight), and the FM NPR station on St Thomas still is a bit out of range. Should have played some CDs, but I didn't think of it.

There really are only two dangers on this passage: engine problems, or running over a fish-trap buoy and getting it in the prop. The second is not much of a problem: the engine is so powerful that usually it would chop the buoy and line to pieces pretty quickly, and if it didn't, a few shots of reverse and forward might untangle it. So I dwell on possible engine failures, and how I would raise sail and head back to Puerto Patillas if needed. Not comfortable thoughts.

I cruise east at night here because usually the tradewind blows hard from 8 or 9 AM to 5 or 6 PM each day. So the accepted practice, when going east, is to do short hops early in the morning, and long passages overnight. But the tradewind seems to have been stalled the last few days.

The only excitement came a little after 1 AM, when I heard engines nearby. Couldn't see lights of a boat, couldn't see a plane. Soon saw a wake cutting across my bow, and sure enough, a Police (I assume) boat turned a spotlight on me. I waved at them and kept going, and after 20 seconds or so they turned off the light and faded away.

Making such good speed that I'm going to arrive in the dark, but that's okay: the anchorage at the west end of Vieques is very easy to approach via GPS and depth-sounder, and I've done that here before. The only complication is a field of mooring-balls. May be impossible to see them on a moonless night.

Got to the anchorage, furled the mainsail, and eased in until water depth was good. Anchor down at 4:15 at Vieques. I'm pretty far out from shore, and less protected from N swells than I want to be, but the wind is from the N and the boat isn't rolling. Trying to get in closer in the dark isn't worth the risk of tangling the prop in a mooring. Moon is trying to come out from behind some clouds, but not making it.

Engine off by 4:20 and into bed.
Sun for a new day  12/5/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Vieques.

Woke at 7 to find the wind from the E and the boat rolling a fair amount in NW swells. Raised anchor, moved as close to shore in the NE corner as I dared get, and anchor down at 7:10 at Vieques. Back to bed, but sleep was fitful. Got up around 10.

Getting some NPR here. Couldn't get Chris Parker's weather at 7 because there's a lot of RFI from a nearby power substation.

No other cruisers here today. There were 4 or 5 fishing-skiffs earlier, and then a small red sailboat "Blown Away" sailed in from the direction of Fajardo at 11:30. A couple of people appeared ashore at 11 and looked toward my boat, the only interesting thing here.

Heavy rain at 12:30.

No sustained wind again today.

At 1:30, saw a sailboat motoring from SE to NW, probably coming from S coast of Vieques and going to Fajardo. More rain.

Red sailboat left, going back to Fajardo.

Water here totally clear when the slight wind dies completely. Saw half a dozen 8-inch squid hovering near the bottom, 7 or 8 feet down.

Plagued by no-see-ums at one point after a rain.

At 4, saw four sails approaching from the SW, heading here. Watched them approach and pick up moorings. One is "High Stakes", another "Bellagio", another something like "Edie Marie". I don't recognize any of them. If they came in one shot from Boca de Infierno today, they probably did 10 hours at an average of 5 knots. Pic1, pic2.

Salad and chili and rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate the last of it quickly as no-see-ums drove me inside.
Sun for a new day  12/6/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at Vieques.

One of the four other sailboats must have left during the night.

Cleaned intake strainer, tightened alternator belt, checked engine oil. Engine start at 6:20, anchor up by 6:25. Two of the other sailboats came out close behind me, and the last one a few minutes later.

Cut NE across the big shoal, never seeing less than 10 feet of water, and the other boats swung far to the NW around it. Thought they'd all be following me east, and heard one telling another "see you in Culebra", but then they all seemed to go north along the coast of Puerto Rico. Maybe they're all going to the Fajardo area for a while ?

Motor-sailed east along the north coast of Vieques. Slow going against adverse current and slight wind and small swells from ENE.

Saw an AWACS plane flying in to Vieques.

A little after 10, around 21W longitude, started to turn NE and head more toward Culebra, slowly leaving the coast of Vieques behind. Soon got rougher and rolly, but speed kept up at about 4 knots over ground; still lots of current against me. Now getting a little boost from the mainsail; previously it had often been luffing uselessly.

Got to Culebra, with wind getting stronger. Two of the sailboats that left Green Beach with me this morning arrived at virtually the same time I did, and they're probably faster than me, so I think my route was superior. They headed right up to town, while I turned off into the Dakity anchorage.

Took three tries to pick up the mooring line, since it's fairly windy and I'm a bit tired. Laid out the anchor and 70-80 feet of chain too, in case something goes wrong with the mooring. Done at 12:40 at Dakity anchorage at Culebra.

Ten or fifteen minutes later, saw Paul from "Adios" coming over in his dinghy. He got about halfway, then the motor quit and I heard him say a bad word. Then he paddled back to his boat.

So I launched my dinghy and went over to his boat. Turns out he's still having carburetor problems; here's a good picture of a cruiser in his normal state: pic. He had a leaky gasket, and tried fixing it with normal silicone caulk, which is an obviously bad choice. The gasoline turned it to little chunks of jelly that clogged some major parts of the carburetor.

So I went back to my boat and fetched a couple of types of form-a-gasket sealant that I had on board. Back to "Adios", and he used one of them on the carb. Then we chatted for a while and I petted his dog, Maggie.

Turns out John on "Buddy" has hauled out at Isletta near Fajardo; I had expected to see him here. And Paul is flying out of St Thomas about the same time that I will be. He says the weather is going to be bad all next week; I thought it was supposed to ease around Wednesday. He has further to go than I do: I'm going to leave my boat in the main harbor, Charlotte Amalie, halfway down St Thomas, but he's leaving his boat at the far end, at Red Hook.

Back to the boat. Several fleeting Wi-Fi signals here, but couldn't connect to any of them.

Salad and sausage-noodle and a beer for dinner. Starting to blow ENE 15-20.

Sprayed several small bugs in the galley in the middle of the night.

By midnight, blowing ENE 20-25 sustained. Out onto deck to make sure the mooring line isn't chafing through.

At 3 AM, saw a cruise ship wandering around SE and S of here.
Sun for a new day  12/7/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at Dakity anchorage at Culebra.

At dawn, mooring line looks good, but I adjusted it slightly anyway.

Still blowing E 20-25, and the weather forecast is bad. Chris Parker says it's going to blow like this or worse at least through Wednesday, and maybe indefinitely. That means a very rough motor straight east for 16-18 miles to St Thomas, probably making barely 3 knots if I'm lucky, into big swells. I have to be there by the 16th at the latest to catch my flight out on the 17th. Will just have to wait here and see how the weather develops.

At 9:45, heard a slight thump, and saw the mast of a sailing dinghy up against my hull. It was John, the guy from the boat next to me. A bit of a character; he lives here permanently. He told me he just moved my anchor, which I had merely lowered off the bow (with lots of chain), so that it was on the side opposite his boat. He thought my boat was unoccupied, and was worried that if the wind turned to N and then my mooring broke, my boat would hit his. I thanked him for doing it, although I was thinking that he had quite a nerve to move someone else's anchor.

I'm thinking of moving anyway, either anchoring around the corner to try to get a free Wi-Fi signal, or moving across the harbor to get into shelter. John says 40-knot wind is coming; that's not quite what I heard from Chris Parker, but he might be right.

Out onto the foredeck at 11:20, and brought in as much anchor chain as I could. Started the engine at 11:25, and then John was waving at me and telling me to meet him on VHF 17; he could have called me on VHF 16. He offered to come over and bring the anchor in for me, and I said okay. I could slip the mooring and then bring in the anchor myself, but any help in this strong wind is a good thing. So he swam over, lifted the anchor, and I brought it in. Then the splice on the mooring line caught on the loop, and I motored forward slightly as he wrestled with it. Again, I could have motored forward and done it myself, but it would have taken some effort.

So, boat free at 11:30, and I motored downwind, deeper into the anchorage. Have to be careful to keep enough speed and make a tight turn when I get down there, so I don't get blown down and against the mangroves at the downwind end. Soon saw that there isn't much of a "hook" to the anchorage here, so I won't get as much shelter as I hoped for. But made my turn and anchored, by 11:35 at Dakity anchorage at Culebra. Slight shelter from the ENE wind/chop, but none from the E. Probably will be buggy here if the wind eases, which shouldn't be a problem this week.

Good to be off the mooring and away from John (not a bad guy, but if he's nervous, I'll move). I'm much happier at anchor than on a mooring, which can chafe through at any time. And now I see that he's put one of his dinghies on the mooring I left, so no one else can get on that mooring. He's being a little paranoid, I think.

Bummer: no Wi-Fi signals at all here. Paul told me I'd probably get a signal here.

Paul came by around 1. He cleaned his carb a couple more times this morning, and now his outboard seems okay. He said maybe I'd have to make a phone call to someone at a nearby marina to get them to turn the Wi-Fi on.

Saw a couple of sailboats sailing west (downwind) during the afternoon, one powerboat coming east to here, and at 3:20 a cruising sailboat motoring east to come in here. Another one motored in from the east just before dark.

Brief rain at 3:30.

At 4:30, dinghied upwind to Paul's boat; outboard choked and died about 10 feet short of his boat. Chatted and drank with him for a couple of hours. John stopped by briefly. Back to my boat just before total dark, and the outboard quit about 10 feet short of my boat !

PB crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  12/8/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor at Dakity anchorage at Culebra.

Wind blowing harder this morning: sustained 25+ knots at 7:30. Saw a catamaran going out and heading upwind.

Heard Chris Parker's weather at 8:30. Sounds like there will be a few really nasty strong sets of squalls coming through here on Sunday night and Tuesday night. After that, winds will stay 20+ knots all week. There's some really interesting "weather event" going on NE of the Caribbean; he mentioned about four different features, troughs and so on, that are affecting the same area. Huge swells through Wednesday at least.

Decided to move across the harbor, to get shelter, and to try Wi-Fi over there. Getting anchor up will be tricky in these winds. Need to get the bow to swing to starboard at the right time, because there's a lot less room to port. If I get blown to port, I'll have to turn downwind to get out, and if anything goes wrong with the turn, I'll be on a lee shore.

Engine start at 10:10, anchor up at 10:15 with the bow swinging the right way, and motored out of the anchorage. Across the harbor entrance and anchor down at 10:30 at near Punta Padilla in Culebra. Water slightly deepish, but much more shelter here, and if I drag, I drag half a mile before hitting anything.

Several Wi-Fi signals here, but they all require pay: $2.50 for 15 minutes, or $10/hour, or $25/week.

At noon, sailboat "Chapter Two" came in from the west.

Listened to the weather radio, and later chatted with Paul as he swung by in his dinghy. He says the wind will ease to 15 knots on Monday, but I heard about 40-knot squalls on Sunday night and Tuesday night, and 11-foot swells at various times during the week. So I think we're both going to wait until Friday or Saturday to go to St Thomas.

Lowered the dinghy and cleaned the outboard spark plugs. They're weren't dirty enough to make the motor quit; maybe I need to clean the carb again.

Listened to Car Talk at 1 PM; haven't heard that in about 5 months.

Another sailboat came in from the west around 1:30. Later saw one sailing west/downwind. And another still later.

Sitting on this side of the harbor, it's so much calmer that I wonder why I didn't leave for St Thomas today. But I'd quickly find out if I went out that entrance.

Finally got a free Wi-Fi signal for 20 minutes or so !

Gusty all afternoon, with rainclouds suddenly appearing over the hill, occasionally raining on me as they quickly swept overhead and away.

Salad and chili for dinner.

Sprayed a couple of bugs in the galley in the middle of the night.
Sun for a new day  12/9/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at near Punta Padilla in Culebra.

Got a very brief shot of Wi-Fi. Weather forecast shows seas subsiding to 4-8 feet on Thursday.

Saw a blue sailboat sail out of the harbor entrance at noon, under full sail. The wind almost knocked them down just outside the entrance, and they quickly took down all sail and slowly motored back in, and into the Dakity anchorage.

At 1, a sailboat sailed in from the east. Another at 2.

Weather very variable all afternoon: alternating sunshine and rain, strong wind and moderate wind.

Tried some more Wi-Fi, but it's very flaky. Sat there for 20-30 minutes, with laptop slowly draining the batteries, and got almost nothing done.

Salad and sausage-onion-noodle and rum-and-coke for dinner. I'm trying to eat the last of the meat out of the refrigerator so I can turn it off.

Plenty of bursts of wind in the afternoon, evening, and night, but I don't think we ever got the predicted 40-knot squalls.
Sun for a new day  12/10/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at near Punta Padilla in Culebra.

Lots of wind starting at 6:45.

Heard Chris Parker's weather at 7, and a tropical low has formed east of us, and will be passing just north of us or right over us tonight. Fortunately, it's not very strong.

Huge low dark clouds passing over at 7:45, followed shortly by some wind and rain. Again at 8:30.

Engine start at 9:20, anchor up by 9:30, motored to town. Anchor down by 9:30, just in time to get blown sideways by a huge gust (putting maximum pressure sideways on the bow roller assembly; not a good thing), at near Dewey on Culebra.

I recognize several boats here from Salinas or other points west: "Moondancer", "Debonair", Matthew's boat.

Horizontal rain at 11.

Dinghied ashore around noon. To a gift-shop that has a book-exchange, and exchanged about 20 books. Checked out the recently-opened public library, which is in a trailer. To both of the grocery stores, but neither has bananas. Bought a loaf of bread. Back to the dinghy, and was relieved when the outboard successfully got me back to the boat against stiff wind and chop.

Paul stopped by briefly.

VHF WX says a tropical low is coming over (probably 50 miles north of us) this evening. Something about swells of 14 feet with waves up to 17 feet, and breaking waves on the north beaches of 14-18 feet. Later, I heard that it's Tropical Storm "Olga".

No free Wi-Fi here.

Salad and chili and a beer for dinner.

Wind shifted to the SE around 2:30 AM. Blowing hard.

Suddenly realized that, now that I let the fridge warm up quite a bit, and lots of ice melted out of the icebox portion, the fridge is running much better (not sticking on any more). I guess it just needed to be defrosted; why did the ice buildup make it run continuously ?
Sun for a new day  12/11/2007 (Tuesday)
At anchor at near Dewey on Culebra.

Wind and heavy rain from SE at 0700. Rain again at 0750, 0805. Wind very strong from SE, blowing right up the harbor and setting up a big chop; boats pitching heavily. More heavy rain at 0820, 0850.

By 10, sunny but still blowing SE 25+.

Heavy rain and wind at noon.

Dinghied ashore through strong chop, going to the main town dock since it's mostly upwind of me: if the outboard quits, I'll have a good chance of being able to paddle over to directly upwind of the boat, as I blow down to it. Bad timing: everything in town is closing for lunch. Got bananas at the grocery store, and took some pictures in town: canal, church, post office, sidewalk painting, street1, street2. Made it back to the boat okay.

Still no free Wi-Fi.

Carey and his wife, from "Bellagio", swung by briefly to say hi and say that they've been reading my log file. Sounds like they're going to stay here a couple of months.

Cool, grey, damp and windy all afternoon.

Salad and PB-banana sandwich for dinner.

Sprayed several small cockroaches in the galley during the night.

Around 10:15, lots of high wind, and several power failures ashore.
Sun for a new day  12/12/2007 (Wednesday)
At anchor at near Dewey on Culebra.

Wind easing slightly, but still blowing 20 most of the time. From Chris Parker's weather, sounds like wind will ease to 15 on Sunday, but that's too late for me; I need to be in St Thomas on Sunday. Didn't hear a sea-state forecast.

VHF WX at 10:30 for VI's:
small-craft advisory next 24 hours;
today wind E 19-22 swells 8-10 from E;
tonight wind E 18-23 swells 8-9 from E;
thursday wind E 19-24 swells 8-9 from E.

Blowing hard again by 10:45, and it kept on blowing all day.

Used my phrasebook to decipher something that I've been wondering about: here and in PR, ATM's are called (have signs that say) "ATH". Saw it spelled out as "A Todo Hora" on the one in Culebra yesterday. From the phrasebook, that seems to mean "on all the time". If true, that's an interesting spin on the name/acronym. (In English, "ATM" comes from "Automatic Teller Machine".)

Feeling headachey today.

Added water to batteries.

I want to move out of here and up to the harbor entrance, because my anchor seems to be dragging slowly, onto a nasty lee shore. And I want to start scoping out the conditions outside, in preparation for leaving. And there might be some Wi-Fi over there. But it's too windy most of today to make raising anchor desirable.

Wind finally eased a little, so started engine at 5:15, anchor up by 5:20, and motored down toward the harbor entrance. Anchor down by 5:45 at near Punta Cabras in Culebra. A bit rolly here. Might be better in my old spot a hundred yards SE of here, but a big powerboat is anchored there today.

Salad and PB crackers for dinner.

Really no wind all night, except for a squall or two.
Sun for a new day  12/13/2007 (Thursday)
At anchor at near Punta Cabras in Culebra.

Big powerboat left just before dawn, at 6 AM. I was watching, because I'm thinking of leaving at 4 AM or 5 AM in a day or two, to avoid the daytime tradewind, which has been blowing 20-25. I think I can get out safely in the dark: I've been in and out of here half a dozen times, the channel is straightforward, and the most important two out of about six markers are lighted. But if I get out and find the waves totally intolerable, I'd have to turn around and come back in in the dark, mostly downwind, and not a fun thing. But I could do it.

Chris Parker's weather says swells well east of here are still in 10-foot range. Weather will ease slightly Tues-Wed of next week, too late for me, but not much better even then. Will listen to VHF WX after 10:30.

Daily wind started around 9:30.

Couldn't get free Wi-Fi signal.

Paul stopped by around 11. He's probably going Saturday morning; I'm going to try tomorrow morning (he's flying out of St Thomas a day later than I am). I looked over into the Dakity anchorage and saw that his riding sail wasn't up any more; he says the wind destroyed it. I'm going to call him at 5 and get the latest internet-weather info from him.

At 11:45, VHF WX says: SCA thru Fri morning;
today wind E 20-24 swells 9-11 E;
tonight wind ENE 19-24 swells 10-11 E;
tomorrow wind ENE 19-24 swells 8-11 E.

Around 1:30, a blue sailboat came in from the east and spent a long time going back and forth, trying to get their mainsail down. They finally succeeded, and disappeared toward town. But around 3:30, they came over and anchored near me.

Around 2:45, a catamaran and monohull came in from the west and southwest; looked like the swells weren't too horrible, at least as they got close to the harbor.

Salad and mushroomsoup-noodle for dinner.

Strong squall at 10:15.
Sun for a new day  12/14/2007 (Friday)
At anchor at near Punta Cabras in Culebra.

Took a deep breath, gathered my courage, and got going. Engine start at 2 AM. Turned on the lights, and now the red bow light is out, too; only the stern running-light is working. Anchor up 10 minutes later, and carefully turned and eased out, between unlighted red buoy and anchored blue sailboat. Unfurled mainsail about 1/3 of the way; I want it to steady the boat against rolling, but not get shredded in high wind.

Motored toward the harbor entrance, focusing on the flashing green buoy. The matching red buoy is not lit, and there's another unlit red somewhere in-harbor from it. Passed the green with about 15 feet to spare, and headed for next lit red. Eased past that, started getting wind and swell, and headed for next lit green, much farther out.

Started to realize a danger I had thought much about: I could hit one of the unlit buoys; there's about 4 of them out here. The shallows they guard aren't much of a danger to my 3.5-foot draft. But if I T-bone a big metal buoy, it won't be pleasant.

Wind and swells building as I get farther out. The last red buoy, far out, is unlit, but I have the GPS coords for it. Made the turn around it okay, never seeing it or any of the other unlit buoys I passed. Very dark night: no moon, plenty of clouds.

As I expected, it's rough out here. And the wind is stronger than I hoped for; guess it hasn't eased much tonight. I couldn't really tell that from in the harbor. Well, I'm committed now.

Rough and very rolly; instead of NNE swells, they're from the E and SE, and I'm trying to head ENE. I'm making less than 2 knots against stiff current, swells, chop, wind. Some rain right away.

Very soon, something pops and the mainsail is making ugly noises as the wind rises, and I crawl out onto deck in front of the pilothouse and furl it. Can't tell what happened and if it's damaged, but it wasn't doing any good anyway. Have to go out again later and lash the mainsail outhaul: it's slapping against the pilothouse and a block on it might damage fiberglass or glass.

From 3 to 4 or so, feeling very queasy. The rolling is pretty intense and constant, and it's so dark that it's hard to keep my eyes on the horizon.

Saw a cruise ship off to the north, and he slowly crossed ahead of me.

Tightened the lashings on the dinghy at one point; it's been swinging around too much, and that puts a lot of strain on the davits (that's one reason I want a new, lighter outboard). Found that the fuel can had been turned up on its side somehow; probably spilled a cup or two of gasoline.

Huge squalls at about 5 AM, 7 AM, and 8:30. First one swallowed the lights of St Thomas and the cruise ship totally. Lots of rain in the first two.

But the third squall was a monster ! Went on for 20 minutes or more, tons of rain, and very strong wind, maybe 45 knots. Just about killed my forward progress: I had been making almost 3 knots, as St Thomas cut off a bit of the current opposing me. In the squall, my speed dropped below 1 knot for a while, then went up to a little above 1 knot for quite a while. What a pain !

It finally passed, but the increase in swells and chop and wind persisted for quite a while.

Finally made it up the length of the bay at the SW end of St Thomas. All the way up, I was thinking "if the engine quits now, I'm going to have to sail all the way back to Culebra; there's no anchorage or shelter between here and there". Then I passed a bay next to the airport, and that became my possible alternative.

But the engine kept working just fine. Made it Honeymoon Bay on Water Island around 10:20. In the sheltered water, the throttle setting I've been using all passage gave me 4.5 knots over ground. I've been seeing about 2.5 knots on average during the passage, so you can see that I was losing about 2 knots to current, wind, seas.

Did a circle through Honeymoon Bay itself, but as usual it's deep and crowded. Fortunately, the water outside it is not too rolly; I had feared I might have to go another 45 minutes to the main harbor if anchoring was untenable here.

Went to lower the anchor, and found that the pitching had bounced the anchor from one bow roller to the other. Unusual.

Anchor down at 10:35 at outside Honeymoon Bay, St Thomas. Engine stop at 10:45.

Surveyed the damage. Mainsail has a chunk blown out of the clew, and maybe more damage (pic). One crack in the base of a davit (pic); probably happened today, but I'm not certain. Things are good down below: engine compartment looks fine, and a few small avalanches of books and stuff in the cabins.

So, I made it ! Covered about 20 NM in about 8 hours; 2.5 knots average.

Probably should have gone in daytime instead of night. I still would have hit 2 of those 3 squalls, and maybe more later today, but going at night was pretty scary and I didn't think enough about the risk of hitting those channel buoys. And at night I was tired and maybe more susceptible to seasickness.

Got a good, free Wi-Fi signal. That's one reason I anchor in this particular spot (I've been here several times before); sometimes the signal is on. Another reason is that there's a book-exchange right around the corner. And it's the west-most decent anchorage here.

Updated log file and did email. Geez, someone paid $650 for a used Autohelm 3000 autopilot on EBay ! Usually they go for less than $400; I bid $290 on that one.

Curious: In Culebra, my favorite NPR FM station had been interfered with much of the time. It sounded like someone on a boat nearby was doing email through HF radio. But it's happening here too, and only on that one station's frequency. So it must be a problem at that radio station.

Launched the dinghy. In the process, noticed more damage to the davits: the cross-bar I added a few years ago to strengthen it has come loose, and the cracked davit I noticed earlier is cracked on the other side too (pic1, pic2). And a corner of the cowling of the outboard has been chafed through.

Took some starting fluid to get the outboard going, and it's still not running as well as it could. Dinghied around the corner to the book-exchange on Water Island. Exchanged a dozen or more books. Saw an interesting outboard cowling.

Back to the boat, and added some lines to strengthen the broken davit temporarily. Hope it will hold while I leave the boat (maybe for a couple of months) in the main harbor, which is pretty rolly. Probably should take the crossbars apart and pop the one I added back into place, but I don't have the energy today.

A couple of squalls have come through today, but nothing like I experienced last night and early this morning. Should have travelled in daylight today.

Salad and PB-crackers and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Small container-ship went out the channel next to me.

Wind started blowing pretty well just before sunset.

Took down the mainsail and tied it up on deck. Looks like it's in pretty bad shape.

At 7:15, two Christmas-parade boats came by, all lit up ( pic1, pic2 ; my camera doesn't do well at night from a moving boat) and with people partying aboard. One of them weaved right through the tight cluster of boats anchored inside the bay, which is pretty bold in the dark.

Several squalls and a fair amount of wind during the night. A bit rolly much of the time.

Sprayed several small cockroaches in the galley during the night.
Sun for a new day  12/15/2007 (Saturday)
At anchor outside Honeymoon Bay, St Thomas.

Loafed and did Wi-Fi.

Wind started blowing pretty hard around noon, and kept blowing.

Listened to Car Talk. Then engine start at 2, anchor up by 2:10, and motored through Crown Bay, through Haulover Cut, and into the main harbor. Took a bunch of pictures (readers always ask for more pictures): a last look at Honeymoon Bay from outside it (pic), Crown Bay shore side (pics), in Crown Bay anchorage (anchorage pic, boat pics), in Charlotte Amalie main harbor (pics). A float-plane landed next to me as I started down Crown Bay, and another came in about 100 feet above and to starboard of me and landed ahead of me as I entered Haulover Cut.

Primary anchor down at 2:55. Then found that the rope anchor reel in the chain locker had jumped off its stands and the rope was a bit tangled. Got that sorted out, let out 90 feet of rope, put down the secondary anchor, and took in the rope as I motored forward. So done by 3:10 with two anchors down at Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas.

Couldn't find a free Wi-Fi signal here.

Chili and a warm rum-and-coke for dinner.

Cruise ship left.

Pretty rolly all night; not very comfortable. At this point, I really need to get off this boat for a while; I'm tired of discomfort and broken things.

Sprayed a couple of small cockroaches in the galley during the night.
Sun for a new day  12/16/2007 (Sunday)
At anchor at Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas.

Unbolted the mainsail and looked at the damage. Looks fairly ugly (worse than it looks in the picture), I've hand-repaired this sail a half-dozen times already, and also something was going wrong with the luff up near the head of the sail. I think it's time to look to buy a new/used replacement. Might be tricky: needs to have a wire luff for old-style Schaefer roller-furling. Will have to look at used-sail places on the internet. Measured existing sail as about luff 35'9" (measured along sail lying on deck), foot 14'6" (measured along boom). Probably should go slightly smaller to make sure I don't get one that is too big. No special features (reef points, battens, cars) except for wire luff for furling.

Opened a cockpit locker to get some bungee cords, and found the boat-motion on my night trip had snapped the top off a can of MEK. It's still about half-full; don't know a good way to cap it again, or to dispose of it. Ended up decanting it into a glass jar and throwing away the can.

Cleaned the refrigerator (which is turned off). Pumped the bilge a bit; wanted to get it dry, but the hand-pump isn't working well enough to do it in a reasonable amount of time.

Was sorting through some stuff to throw away or take on the trip, and found my first (really crappy) digital camera; interesting to see what's inside these things (pics).

Launched the dinghy and went looking for someone to give me a dnighy-ride ashore tomorrow, so I can go to the airport. Nice couple on "Kathleen Love" anchored in front of me invited me aboard, but they're busy tomorrow. Chatted with them for a while; they have an anchor windlass just like mine, have it halfway apart and need to get it all the way apart, but I've never taken mine apart that far. Went back to my boat and fetched a couple of wood blocks for them, to make pry-wedges.

Went to boat anchored about 100 yards behind me, "Sea" something, with Jim and wife aboard. Jim will pick me up tomorrow; great ! They just came up from Bonaire, and their engine quit early in the passage (water getting into the fuel tank). I guess that's why they're anchored in an odd position: out in the middle of the harbor, at a little risk from ferries and float-planes.

Back to the boat. Took apart a piece of the davits, finding yet another broken weld, and popped the wooden cross-piece back into place. Tied some line to try to keep it in place. I'm worried that a big wake or two while I'm gone might cause a failure and dump the dinghy into the water. Noticed that a fire-hose fender pad on the davits got torn off in the passage; I have more fire-hose in a locker, so I can replace that.

Watched a huge megayacht leaving the harbor; the thing has at least 4 satellite-antenna-balls on top. Several big boats still in the marina, including a sailboat with about 6 levels of spreaders.

Macaroni-and-cheese and a warm rum-and-coke for dinner.

Dumped the rest of the bag of noodles overboard; they were starting to grow worms and moths.
Sun for a new day  12/17/2007 (Monday)
At anchor at Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas.

Leaving to fly out to NJ today. Will stay at least to 1/7 (date of my return air ticket), but may stay several months if my Mom needs me.

Dinghied ashore and got rid of 6 small bags of garbage. Walked to a cafe and exchanged a couple of books at the book-shelf there.

Saw another megayacht leaving the marina and harbor.

Checked battery water. Packed suitcase. Patched chafed-through outboard cowling with JB weld and a piece of sail material; I'm hoping to keep water off the carburetor. Very rolly after noon; a real struggle to hoist the dinghy and lash it.

The usual anxieties when closing up the boat to leave it: am I forgetting anything ? I put locks on the cockpit lockers, cable-locked the dinghy and outboard and propane tank to the boat, and have padlocked steel gratings for all of the hatches. Jib and mizzen still up; mainsail is in the cabin. Am I leaving enough food for the cockroaches ?

Jim showed up right on time at 2. A wet ride, even though we're going downwind, and the seat of my jeans got pretty wet.

Looked for a taxi in sort-of the wrong place, and ended up paying $10 for a taxi all to myself instead of the usual $7 for one on the main street. No problem.

Lots of slow lines at the airport, but no problems. Took a while to find a working outlet to plug in the laptop. But no Wi-Fi in the terminal.

Strange: plane a couple of minutes ahead of us took off to the west; usually everything here takes off to the east. Then we took off to the east. Wind-sock seemed to show very light wind from the east, at the airport. Got a quick glimpse of the harbor, just long enough to see "Magnolia", and then we quickly banked away. Missed seeing Culebra (I was reading my book), saw the NE coast of Puerto Rico, then clouds took over and I saw nothing else.

Not too bad at Philly: 35 and light wind. My ears froze out in the pick-up area. Nice to get to my brother's place, have a terrific Italian hoagie for dinner, and get into a real bed (no rolling, no bugs).

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