Log of the sailboat 'Magnolia'

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Sun for a new day  12/16/2009 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Still have a fairly bad headache; taking pills while getting ready to leave the boat.

Dinghied across to Portfino marina to dispose of garbage.

Just before 1, got into the dinghy and looked for a someone to give me a dinghy-ride to shore. First boat I went to, Owen and Donna on "Magic", agreed to take me. Thanked him and asked him to come over in 10 minutes, giving me time to hoist the dinghy and finish packing and close up the boat. Two minutes after I got back to my boat, there he was. I'd barely gotten the dinghy hoisted and locked. Hurriedly finished the packing, closed up the boat, and we're off. In a skiff doing 15+ knots across the harbor, quite a bit faster than my usual pokey pace. Over to Portofino marina, got out, thanks and have a good day.

Out to the main road, walked 100 feet to a likely place, and almost immediately flagged down a van-bus heading for Maho Bay. Quick ride to the airport, and it cost $1 for me and $1 for my bag. Into the airport restroom, and changed into my cold-weather clothes. Glad to find that my hurt toe didn't make it impossible to put on sneakers. Through to the gate by 1:45 or so, for a 3:15 flight. Found an AC outlet to plug in my laptop. No free Wi-Fi in the airport; they have a for-pay network.

Flight to Charlotte went smoothly. As we sat at the gate in St Martin, I could see Magnolia in the harbor (pic). As we taxiied (spelling ?) before takeoff, they warned us twice that this would be a much steeper takeoff than normal, with a sharp turn to avoid a hill, so no one should freak out (not their words). And the very start of the takeoff acceleration was much stronger than usual, which is why Maho Beach is so exciting. But I don't think we used more than 2/3 of the runway, and the turn wasn't so incredibly sharp. After St Martin, the only land we saw was the island of Anegada (pic) in the BVI's, before getting to the US coast.

Popped antihistamines all the way, and my headache slowly eased. Cold in Newark NJ, but very nice to be met by my brother and whisked to his house.
Sun for a new day  12/17/2009 - 1/6/2010
Boat's at anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin; I'm in USA, in NJ.

Blizzard arriving Sat 12/19. And I still haven't done any of my Christmas shopping. [We got about 10 inches of snow in west NJ; Philadelphia got about 23 inches.]

Received things I'd ordered while in St Martin: carburetor rebuild kit and service manual for outboard, and two pairs of sandals.

Stayed a few days with my brother, staying an extra day to wait for the refrigerator repair guy to show up and replace a tiny relay unit ($70 for the part and $210 for labor). Fixed the kitchen light; did lots of high-speed internet.

Then stayed a while with my Mom (in the land of diet- and low-fat and no-caffeine everything). Fixed a table and a shelf for her, and we rented a car for a week.

Christmas with most of the family, in Newark. I received a complete set (20 books) of the Patrick O'Brien historical fiction series. Plus a Homer Simpson T-shirt, a cap with "Magnolia" stitched on it, a hefty box of chocolate, and more.

Rented a car (on Mom's dime), declined the collision insurance (an extra $18 per day), and then someone scraped me in the library parking lot. Fortunately they came inside and found me and were very apologetic, but we all had to trundle off to the rental place and do paperwork. Very small scrapes and maybe a slight denting; will see what the bill comes to. They or their insurance will pay it.

Rented a carpet-cleaner and used it on my brother's townhouse (hey, it's important to record these things for posterity). The fun never stops !

Started looking for flu shots. One supermarket pharmacy has seasonal flu shots for $30; don't have swine flu shots yet. Checked a couple more places; no luck. Looked for county flu-shot clinics, but no good there either.

Caught a lovely cold in the cold weather and low (inside) humidity here. Head/sinus was congested for a while, then that cleared up and I got a throat/cough cold instead. I'm ready to get back to warm weather !

After the New Year, tried several more times to contact KISS, via phone and email. Finally got an email from them saying they'll be able to ship again by the end of the week, please resubmit the order. So that's a good sign. I wonder if they dealt with their order backlog by just deleting everything ? Resubmitted the bracket order, and quickly got an email acknowledgement that it will ship by the weekend. Very good.

I'm curious to see if this works: link to me on Facebook. Might act differently for you, depending on whether you are a Friend of mine on Facebook, have a Facebook account but aren't a Friend of mine, or don't have a Facebook account at all. [Wow, guess it worked ! Had 11 Friend requests overnight, and 5 more the next day, and more the next day.]

About to head back to the warm weather. Had email from my friends on "Angel Louise" the other day; they just flew from Iowa to the boat in Puerto Rico, gaining 100 degrees F (from -14 in Iowa to 86 in PR). My temperature change should be more like 50 degrees.
Sun for a new day  1/7/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Up at 4:30 in Newark, into the truck, and off to the airport. Got charged a fee for my (only) checked bag; thought the screen said $35, but the receipt says $25 [later, credit-card bill said $25]. Through security by 5:15; seemed to be more TSA people, and more people getting their hand-luggage searched, but I wasn't hand-patted or wanded or anything. Of course, I'm leaving the USA, not entering. [Since we had the Detroit "underwear bomber" two weeks ago, I wondered if there might be more security.] The more-visible security here might be due to a fiasco they had at this airport a couple of days ago: some guy walked in through the exit lane and disappeared into the terminal, and they had to evacuate the whole terminal and some loaded airplanes and re-screen everyone.

Free Wi-Fi in the Charlotte airport ! Chatted briefly with a 30ish guy heading towards Brazil to become second master on a 373-foot survey vessel. He was carrying a hard-hat with him; I guess you're allowed to carry those onto the plane ?

Uneventful flights, but we had to circle St Martin for 25 minutes because of a work-crew doing something on the runway. Father and young son next to me waved to their relatives on the beach as we landed. No Customs inspection, but the Immigration lady was slightly confused by me coming in to Dutch side but staying on a boat on French side. I showed my boat-papers and clearance into the French side. After a moment, she waved me through.

Very grey and fairly humid afternoon. Took 10 minutes or so to find a good place to wait outside the airport, and then catch a van-taxi. My suitcase took up a seat by the door and made it awkward for everyone to get in and out. Finally got past the bridge and my stop; paid $3. Half-mile walk down the side-streets, rolling my suitcase behind me, past Budget Marine and to Lagoonies. Plenty of dinghies at the dock, but no customers in the bar. Had a Diet Coke ($2) and started waiting. Occasional rain-sprinkles.

Took over 2 hours to catch a ride out to my boat, the longest I've ever had to wait. Several dinghies left, but they were going elsewhere, or already full. One guy said he'd give me a ride in a few minutes, but that turned into more than an hour, and it turned out he was waiting for Teresa and had no idea where she was. Plenty of people arriving for happy-hour in the bar.

Finally got a ride from the guy on "Crossfire"; he works in the refrigeration place here, and is going to retire next year and go back to England. He's been here 20-some years, had three boats sink, and made it through the big hurricane, category 5 Louis in 1998, I think. His boat smashed three other boats to pieces in that hurricane; I think maybe he has a steel boat. He said at category 3 and above, hardware pulls out of the decks of fiberglass boats, and even 3/8 anchor chain breaks.

Got to "Magnolia" at 5:45, and found everything to be fine. Anchors held, no extra water in the bilge, no sign of deck-leaks into the interior. Opened hatches, unpacked a bit, checked forward head, checked water system, looked around on deck. Granola for dinner and then went to bed. A still and fairly humid night, and the travel and my cold have me a bit screwed up, but I got some decent sleep. Nice to be back in warm weather.
Sun for a new day  1/8/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Put stuff in the refrigerator and turned it on. Loafed the rest of the morning. Weather a little better than yesterday, but still fairly grey and calm.

After lunch and a much-needed shave-and-shower, launched the dinghy and headed ashore. Outboard started after half a dozen pulls and some fiddling with the choke and squeeze-bulb, and ran fine.

Went to the abandoned dock I use to get to the supermarket, but today there was a problem. Usually the water is so shallow that I have to tilt the outboard and paddle in the last 30 feet or so. Today it must have been a very low tide, because I ran hard aground with 30 feet to go. Couldn't pole the dinghy in any further, so I got out and waded. Immediately found that under the 4 inches of water was lots of gooey muck, and I sank in to my upper thighs, and could have gone down further. Found that kneeling on the mud was the best way to avoid sinking. Finally got ashore, fairly wet. Found that something had sliced a big gouge out of the underside of my left big toe. Probably a broken bottle. Stinging and bleeding slightly, but not bad.

Walked up to the road, used an ATM, went to the supermarket, got groceries, and back to the dock. Tried wearing my sandals on the mud, but all that did was trap my foot and make me nearly lose a sandal. But I was able to pull the dinghy close to shore; maybe the tide is up an inch or so. Got groceries into the dinghy, got my foot up without losing the sandal, and got myself into the dinghy. Washed off a lot of mud, poled out into deeper water without too much trouble, and back to the boat.

Bought some nice cheeses at the store; I want to eat a little more adventurously (expensively). Got Brie for about $9.50/pound and Camembert for about $14/pound.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner (not feeling adventurous tonight). Had to throw away a whole box of noodles; the bug population had exploded.

Ran engine for 25 minutes to charge batteries. Engine started easily and ran fine.

Battery voltage had been low (12.35 under load) but batteries seemed to take only 25A or so for 15 minutes, then down to 5A or so. But they kept the refrigerator running okay all night without getting too low.

Lots of no-see-ums or something biting me while I'm lying in my berth. Had to spray the berth with bug-spray, let it clear a bit, then spray myself with bug-repellent before lying down again.
Sun for a new day  1/9/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Weather back to normal this morning; very nice. Clear and sunny and nice breeze. Forecast says next week or more will have approximately E 10-13 wind and N 5-8 swells. There's an "ash warning" from the volcano on Montserrat, for 30 miles each side of a line from Montserrat to St Croix. I think St Martin is a bit outside that zone. Culebra probably is in the zone.

Long cruiser's net on VHF this morning, with the weather info and various items to buy/sell and various info about supermarkets and laundromats and such.

Loafed most of the day. Added water to the batteries, and a couple of cells needed a lot of water. Killed several wasps trying to find a place to nest in the cockpit.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner. The cheeses are nice but maybe not worth the prices.

A little rain at 1:15.
Sun for a new day  1/10/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

A little rain at 7:30.

Loafed some more. Listened to various saved podcasts on my laptop. Dealt with some paper mail I brought back from the USA. And reading books, of course; today I'm reading Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat", a good book about globalization and such.

Found and wiped out some wasp nests in the cockpit; they were under a coil of line.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  1/11/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Dinghied ashore to Lagoonies. Noticed that all of the water in the cove down here is completely brown. Wonder why ? Doesn't smell like sewage, and we haven't had any heavy rain. [A couple of days later, Charley from "Cameloha" told me it's probably very fine creek-silt churned up from the very shallow bottom here. But I'm not buying that explanation.]

Did Wi-Fi ($3 for Diet Coke plus tip). No word from KISS about the bracket. No word from the car rental place about the repair cost. Lots of Friend requests on Facebook ! Downloaded various NPR podcasts to listen to later, and saved lots of web pages to read later.

Disposed of a couple of bags of garbage. To the office, where I exchanged 4 books in the book-exchange. Overheard someone upset that the Wi-Fi was so busy today; maybe they're in a slip and feel they should get preferred access. It's prime season now, so lots of people in slips and a fair number in the bar.

Stopped by IWW to get some gasoline, but there was a boat waiting for fuel, no attendant in evidence, and a dismasted trimaran being hoisted into the yard. So I gave up and headed home.

Saw an odd-looking grey powerboat in one of the marinas; never seen a bow/deck like that one (pic). [A reader says: "... designed by Norman Foster, a much-heralded English architect specializing in skyscrapers ..."] Saw two more grey/black/silver powerboats, but with normal bows. Interesting color, but seems that it would be hot in the sun and invisible at night. Marinas look to be full of expensive boats now; only Plaisance seems to have a few empty slips.

Back to the boat for lunch. Wasps still buzzing around, and I killed three of them and sprayed a nest inside the boat's old air-horn; wasps have nested in there before.

Ashore again in midafternoon, over to the airport side. To the Shell station dock; got 4.95 liters of gasoline for $5, which is about $3.85/gallon. Pump had a dollar sign next to the number, but really was showing NAF's, not dollars. Moved the dinghy to Portofino marina. Walked to the post office, which is a small branch office but has an armed guard and tellers behind bulletproof glass, I guess to protect money used for money orders. Mailed two letters to USA for $1.65 each.

Then to the Gourmet Marche small supermarket, which seemed to have same prices as the related Grande Marche I went to a few days ago. Bought a few things, including a bottle of wine: a 2007 Dienhard Riesling for about $9. Haven't been able to find a 9V battery in the supermarkets here; they have plenty of batteries, just not 9V. I need one to test the auto-pilot problem.

Headed back to the boat. Noticed a couple of sailboats anchored right off the end of the runway; doesn't seem very smart to me. And how do they stand the noise ? I'm further away, and sometimes the takeoff noise wipes me out.

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a glass of wine for dinner. Very civilized.
Sun for a new day  1/12/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Some interesting things for sale on the morning cruiser's net: a kayak, and a rowing dinghy (but only 7 feet long). Maybe tomorrow I'll ask if anyone has a sailing dinghy for sale.

The cruiser's net is on VHF 14 at 0730, and has several sections: weather, security, arrivals/departures, buy/sell/swap, general. A good way to start the day.

Took a look at the batteries. They're all Trojan 6-volt batteries. Four of them are fine, and I'm using them every day. The other three each have one badly damaged/eroded terminal, and I suspect that some of them have bad cells too. I was hoping to find two decent batteries out of three, but the voltages I see (after leaving them disconnected and self-discharging for a month or more) are 5.3, 4.7 and 3.9 volts. I had been trying to use the first two, but getting decent contact on the damaged terminals was becoming near-impossible. So I think I might as well get rid of all three of them. I'll make do with the four good ones; new batteries are $160 apiece.

Made a small start on the "get rid of the genset" project, taking out pieces of the sound shield. It's a 35-year-old Onan MDJE that I haven't used in more than 5 years. I'll probably end up throwing it all in the trash. But if anyone has the same model and wants some vital parts, speak up now ! I think it's based on a Yanmar block; it's a two-cylinder diesel. Whole thing weighs 400 pounds or so, so I'm going to take it out in pieces. Getting the generator core and the engine block out will be challenging, because of the weight. If I get some valuable-looking pieces out intact, I'll offer them free on the cruiser's net.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner. The pasta was almost too bug-intensive to use, but I combed out most of the bugs and ignored the rest.
Sun for a new day  1/13/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

I spoke up on the cruiser's net this morning and said I was looking to buy a sailing dinghy. Other boats said they wanted to buy a Mercury 15 prop and whisker poles, both of which I have and want to get rid of. So lots of radio traffic after the net, and then two people stopped by the boat. A sailing dinghy for sale turned out to be an inflatable with a 9.9 outboard on it; not what I want. I'd forgotten that my prop was for a Mercury 20, which I thought was the same as a 15, but turns out not to be. Both guys who stopped by had Mercury 15's, but neither wanted my service manual or leftover spare parts. And "Snowaway" will call me tomorrow about the whisker poles.

Guy from "Meander" stopped by with his dog, looked at the prop, and I gave him an outboard zinc to try later. He just did a 27-day crossing of the Atlantic with his wife and 14-year-old son on a catamaran. Nice guy, from Australia, I think. Then Charley from "Cameloha" stopped by, and looked at the prop and the whisker poles. He said the shorter, thicker pole probably is a "reaching pole", for use with a spinnaker when it's so far out that the sheet has to be held clear of the shrouds with a second pole. The longer, thinner pole looks too thin for a jib on a boat the size of mine, and the fitting on the end looks strange, so who knows what it is ? He's been to St Martin a few times before, and just sailed down from Maine a couple of months ago. Interesting guys, both of them. I'm finding a much more interesting and well-travelled bunch of sailors here than there were in the USVI's.

Was reading Friedman's book about globalization, when it occurred to me that:
internet searching is like hunting, and
blogging is like agriculture.
[Just thought I'd record that amazing insight.]

After lunch, launched the dinghy and headed ashore. To Lagoonies, and saw a nice-looking woman in a bikini working on a boat as I approached. Disposed of a bag of garbage and four pieces of genset sound-shield. Water down here has brown patches; I think it's growth of some kind. To Budget Marine, and bought a 9V battery ($3). Went walking around the neighborhood to explore a bit and get a little exercise. I always seem to go walking in the hottest part of the day. Found a nice NAPA Auto store, various other businesses, and then a fairly cheap supermarket. Got groceries, back to the dinghy, and back to the boat.

Later, took off another piece of the genset sound shield, put it in the dinghy, and headed ashore to Portofino marina. Put the piece in a dumpster. To the mail store, and the wind-generator bracket hasn't arrived (probably hasn't shipped yet). To Palapa marina, to exchange 3 books in their book-exchange. Walking back, passed a very beautiful woman going the other way. I smiled and said hello, and she ignored me completely. Beautiful and intelligent ! Back to the boat.

Richard from "Snowaway" stopped by to look at the whisker poles. He (and family, I think) started cruising from North Carolina about 9 months ago, and has been down to Trinidad and back up already.

While Richard was aboard, I noticed a lot of yellowish dust on my solar panels. Must be volcanic ash from Montserrat; the wind's been from the south a lot in the last day or so. Up onto the pilothouse roof and wiped the panels clean.

Saw a motorboat with a guy and decent-looking woman in a bikini tie up to a nearby small sailboat and go aboard for a little while. Heard them tell someone else that the boat had been broken into while someone was in Dominica.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches and an apple for dinner.

Very still and warm night; uncomfortable.
Sun for a new day  1/14/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Loafed most of the morning. Tried running the auto-pilot board off the 9V battery, and that seemed to fix the problem. Will have to test it further. But it looks like the noise is getting into the board through the power connection, not the relays on the board.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. Paid $3 for soda and tip, did a couple of hours of Wi-Fi. Still no email from wind-gen-bracket people or rental-car-repair people.

Back to the boat. Couple from "Loveshack" stopped by, to offer hull-diving services. They realized they'd talked to me before, when I was anchored in the other spot, before Christmas. I said one reason I'd moved from there was to get away from all of the high-speed traffic, and they said they'd been hit by a high-speed motorboat a little while ago. He just wasn't paying close attention, while going full-throttle close by anchored boats, and he clipped the port-aft corner of their skiff while they were in it, I think. They complained to the Coast Guard and the motorboat got a ticket.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Looked out a port after midnight, and there was the Big Dipper and the North Star. Pretty sure it was them; never seen them before.
Sun for a new day  1/15/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Totally grey morning. Rain at 9:30. Cool, damp, still. Rain at noon. Again at 12:30. Stayed grey all day.

Tested auto-pilot board running from 9V battery, this time with electric motor connected, and it still worked fine. Problem definitely is in power connection.

Took off last two pieces of generator sound-shield, and a piece of exhaust pipe.

Rain at 2:30 and 7:30.

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a glass of wine for dinner.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Grey and rainy all night.
Sun for a new day  1/16/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Totally grey again, and frequent rain.

Dumped 7 gallons of rainwater from buckets to water tank, and 5 gallons to jugs.

Starting to get some sunshine around 11.

Dumped 4 gallons of rainwater from buckets to water tank, and 2 gallons to jugs.

Dinghied ashore to Portofino marina. Disposed of a bag of garbage and two pieces of sound-shield. Got a few groceries in the store.

On the way back to the boat, saw a yellow sailing-dinghy with a guy in it, outboard tilted up and no sail. Looked like he might be in trouble, so I swung by to check. Turns out he had a small trolling motor running, and was making about a tenth of a knot. He also had solar panels, and oars. We chatted for a minute, he thanked me for checking that he was okay, and I headed home.

Weather totally grey again by 2:30.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner. So many bugs in the pasta that I threw almost a whole box of it away.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Rainy all night.
Sun for a new day  1/17/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Grey, breezey and gusty, cool, very rainy.

Around noon, getting some sunshine between the rainsqualls. Plenty of rainwater in the buckets, but I think the tanks are full, so no point in emptying the buckets.

Some real sunshine by 1. Gone by 2 or so.

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a glass of wine for dinner.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

Rain stopped in the evening.
Sun for a new day  1/18/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sunny at 8, grey and rainy at 9, sunny after that.

Dinghied ashore. First to Plaisance marina, to look for a book-exchange. Lots of security guards. Found a tiny bookshelf in a cabinet, but it was locked and everyone was busy.

To Lagoonies, to do Wi-Fi ($3 for soda and tip). Still no email from KISS. But they have charged $187.14 to my credit card, a few days ago ! That's a good sign. Still no email from the car-repair people, and my brother says no paper mail about it in NJ. Downloaded a lot of podcasts: Car Talk, News From Lake Wobegon, etc.

To the Budget Marine dock, and walked to Daily Extra supermarket. Got groceries and back to the boat.

Grey and rainy at 2:30. Sunny by 3:30 or so, and for the rest of the day.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-mushroom-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Nice, non-rainy night.
Sun for a new day  1/19/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Someone seized control of the cruiser's net to give a long, impassioned plea for help to take supplies via boat to the earthquake victims in Haiti. It went on and on; I turned off the radio for a while. And they have a DVD of past relief missions they want to show at one of the cruiser's Happy Hours; sounds like fun.

Back on the cruiser's net, I offered my old navigation-light spares and pieces for free to anyone who could use them. Rob on "Linda" came by later and picked them up.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Pumped up the dinghy tubes. Dinghied ashore to Portofino marina. Disposed of genset parts. To mailbox store, and my package has arrived ($3) ! To the grocery store for an item, then back to the boat.

The wind-generator mizzen-bracket looks pretty good (pic) ! Price was $140 (not the $145 or $245 on the web site) plus $47 shipping. Metal is pretty thick, 5/16" aluminum. But the holes are pretty close to the edge, and the instructions show it being mounted with only the very last set of holes being used. Wonder if I should drill a second set of mounting holes in bracket and mast. And the sides are just far enough apart to handle the width of my mizzen-mast; not much extra room for vibration-damping stuff.

Up onto the pilothouse roof with the bracket, and tried placing it on the mizzen-mast. Quickly became apparent that I can't do this job from the roof; the bracket sticks out too far and upwards, and it has to be placed high on the mast to clear the mainsail's topping lift. And once the generator is on the mast, I won't be able to reach the blades from the roof, to tie them off or remove them in case of a storm. Everything will have to be done by climbing the mizzen-mast.

So got out the mast-climbing gear (pic). Up the mast, and tied the bracket in place at a reasonable-looking height. Back down to deck, to look at it from various angles (pic) and try to measure how far the blades will stick out and whether they'll come too close to the topping lift. Looks like it will work as placed, but may be better to move the bracket up another 6 inches, as close as possible under the spreaders and shroud attachment points. [During the night, thought more about it and decided to put the bracket above the spreaders; what's another 3 feet of climbing ?]

Climbed the mast again, and brought the bracket down. Enough for today. Want to think about this a bit.

Opened up the access plate at the base of the mizzen-mast. Looks like the wires inside the mast (backup VHF antenna, and RADAR) are inside a PVC pipe inside the mast. Good news and bad news: less likely that I'll damage the wires when drilling holes, but if the first hole lines up with the pipe and I can't move the pipe, I'll end up with an extra hole in the mast. More bad news: looks like the path of the wires through the base of the mast and the ceiling of the cabin is not straightforward; I may have to consider drilling a new hole through the deck to pass the generator-cable through. More to think about.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  1/20/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Patched a cracked water-bucket with JB-Weld.

Sunny at first, then grey by 9. Supposed to be rainy all day tomorrow, I think. Rain at 1.

Just couldn't get started this morning; loafed all morning. But after lunch, put in a good 3 hours of work on the wind-generator project. Drilled two more mounting holes in the bracket. A pleasure to work with farly thick aluminum, something I've really never done before. Easy to drill. Spent a lot of time sanding and filing the inside of the PVC collar to make it slide over the vertical pipe. Spent a lot of time filing and cleaning the threads on the outside of the collar and the threads on the inside of the generator housing, so they mate smoothly. Drilled and tapped holes in the pipe. Kit came with a wrong-size screw, but I found the right size in my stock aboard. Drilled holes in the grey PVC pipe-cap, then installed the screws to hold the cap in place, with some TefGel to prevent galling (pic; screws are holding grey cap in place; white collar will screw into bottom of generator; grey cap will keep white collar and generator from lifting off).

Put the generator on top and screwed the collar into it, to see how everything goes together (pic). Collar sticks a little and generator doesn't rotate very easily, but most of that's because I need to grease a couple of surfaces before final assembly. Looks good, except that I'm still unsure about those mounting holes being too close to the edge of the bracket. I think I'll ask a machinist about them tomorrow.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for 20 minutes to charge batteries.

Light rain off and on all night.
Sun for a new day  1/21/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Fairly sunny morning. I guess the forecast rain arrived last evening instead of today ?

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Showed bracket to machinist, and he said it probably was okay, he wouldn't have drilled the holes so close to the edges, but it probably was okay. Walked to IWW and bought three bolts with washers and nuts for total of $15. Back to Lagoonies to do Wi-Fi ($3 for soda and tip).

Finally got an email response from the car-repair people, just to say "your claim is being processed". Over 3 weeks to process a very simple claim; the body-shop probably was done with it the day after I gave them the car.

After Wi-Fi, walked down to Daily Extra supermarket and got a few groceries. (Always liked this street sign: pic.) Back to the dinghy, back to the boat.

Plenty of rain starting at 1:30. Watched the weather all afternoon, thinking of climbing the mast, but it never cleared.

Dry-fitted the generator onto the bracket again, using lithium grease to lubricate it. But I managed to mangle the spring in there, which in turn damaged the grey PVC cap a little. Then after I took the generator off, I managed to drop a big pair of pliers on it and damage the hub threads a little. Yoicks !

Worked on some rubber pieces for vibration-damping. Cut and drilled them a bit.

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a glass of wine for dinner.

Very windy all evening and much of the night. Wind is supposed to die out by the weekend, just in time to ruin the "Classic Regatta" race.
Sun for a new day  1/22/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Loafed in the morning.

A little drilling to finish off the rubber pieces. Gathered lots of stuff into the pockets of the bosun's chair. Then climbed the mizzen-mast, carrying a drill trailing an AC power-cord connected to the inverter. Just then a tour of jet-skis came by, rocking the boat slightly. Climbed up to the spreaders and tied off a line to catch the drill if I drop it, and another line running down to the bracket, sitting on top of the pilothouse roof.

Measured carefully, making pencil-marks on the mast, then held my breath and started drilling. Aluminum chips blowing off into my face; adjusted chair height to get a more convenient angle on the operation. First hole through, 1/8" diameter, and bit didn't hit anything inside the mast. Over to the other side, drilled another hole, and again nothing hit. Put my eye up to one hole, and I can see through to the other hole on the other side ! Success ! No obstacles, and the holes seem to line up pretty well.

Lots more drilling, shuffling progressively bigger bits into the drill. Uncomfortable moments while I have to use both hands to fiddle with the bits, meaning I don't have a hand free to hold onto the mast. If something fails in the climbing system, I'd fall 20 feet and probably get badly injured.

Finally get the holes up to 3/8" diameter. Put the drill away, get out a bolt, and run it through the mast. Looks fine. Take bolt back out and pocket it. Then use the line to hoist up the bracket, and work to run bolt through the bracket, with various washers and rubber pieces in the right places. Then lift the bracket to the mast, struggle to line everything up and run bolt through mast. More fiddling to get it lined up to come out the other side. Should have brought up a hammer and wrench to help with this stage; bolt doesn't want to slide very easily with weight of bracket on it. Finally get it through, but looks like my rubber pieces are too thick; not enough thread sticking out of far side of bracket. Skip a rubber piece, get nut onto bolt, and take a rest.

Use a line to tie bracket up to level, pivoting on the single bolt in place, and it looks good. Decide I've done enough for today; it's been a long session up the mast. Climb down, get out of the rig, turn off inverter, start putting stuff away. Bracket looks pretty good from down here (pic). Seems to be pretty straight.

More work on rubber pieces and rubber washers, to get ready for more climbing tomorrow.

Dumped 2-3 gallons of rainwater from bucket to water tank.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-saffronrice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

During the night, wondering about how the blades fit onto the wind-generator. The blades assemble onto an aluminum hub, which spins onto the threaded shaft of the generator. But nothing locks the hub onto the shaft; normal rotation of the blades keeps the hub spun tight against the body of the generator. Not a problem for a generator on a pole, which can spin 360 degrees if the wind clocks around. But a mast-mounted generator can't spin 360 degrees; there isn't clearance for the blades. Still not a problem if the boat spins with the wind, at anchor. But if the boat can't spin, and the generator gets back-winded, the hub-and-blade assembly could spin right off and come crashing down. Some situations where this might happen: boat anchored but pinned in place with a stern anchor; boat in marina slip; boat on the hard in a boatyard; boat sailing downwind.

So, how to add a locking mechanism to keep the hub from spinning off the shaft ? There is an unthreaded square section on the end of the shaft; maybe I could make something to hold onto there. No hole drilled through it, for a cotter pin, and I think it's stainless steel (hard to drill). Thought for a while, but no brilliant ideas. Maybe just a bunch of electrical tape wrapped tightly around the shaft, held on with seizing wire ?
Sun for a new day  1/23/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sunny day with light wind, mainly from S and SW.

After an early lunch, up the mizzen-mast again. Took out the double-wide rubber piece and put in the smaller pieces I made, and they look good. Used a square piece of wood to adjust the bracket until it was square to the mast, giving it a slight upward tilt because I assume it will "settle" a bit when I put 20+ pounds of wind-generator on the far end of the bracket. Marked the holes to be drilled, tilted the bracket up out of the way, and started drilling. Had to wait for some jet-skis to finish waking the boat.

Finished the lower holes, and they look good (that is, nothing in the way inside the mast). Swung the bracket down and tried to push a bolt through the new holes, and one of the holes is off by maybe 1/16". Swung the bracket up and started drilling the middle holes, and also widening that lower hole in the direction it needs to go.

A guy came over by dinghy, and I took a break to talk to him. Turns out he has a computer problem, and heard somewhere that I work on computers. Not really, but I offered to help if I could. But he has an Acer that suddenly won't start up Windows, and neither he nor I have an Acer startup CD, so I said he'll have to take it to a computer shop.

Finished drilling, swung the bracket down, pushed bolts through, and that lower hole still isn't right, and one of the middle ones needs a slight adjustment. More drilling, and finally I was able to force all of the bolts through, mainly by screwing them through with a wrench. They're very tight against the sides of the holes, but that's what I want. A bit of a hunt for one last rubber washer that was hiding from me, then I had all of the washers on, applied some TefGel to the threads, and put the nuts on. Tightened everything quite a bit, and it looks good ! Nice and solid. Took the extra line off the bracket, untied various pieces of gear from the spreaders, and climbed down. Looks good from deck level, too. Pics. Stowed everything and took a shower to wash aluminum particles off me.

Rested a bit, then launched the dinghy and headed ashore, mainly to get off the boat for a little while. To Portofino marina to dispose of some garbage and about 10 pounds of old boat-equipment catalogs. Then across to the abandoned dock at Plaisance to walk to the big Grand Marche supermarket. Water very shallow, but poled the dinghy in close to the rocks and was able to step ashore. Walked up to the main road. Got cash at the ATM. Into the supermarket; found it was $14 to get a "membership card", so I didn't do that. Bought meat, boullion cubes, Munster cheese and some cheap cheddar, and a bottle of 2004 french Bordeaux for $6.

Back to the dinghy, stepped down between two rocks, and of course a broken bottle reached around the side of my sandal and poked a hole in the side of my next-to-little toe, and it started bleeding nicely. Second time I've been cut while landing at this dock. Back to the boat.

Got a lot of sun today, while up the mast and in the dinghy. Burnt on forearms and tops of thighs.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Very still evening and night.
Sun for a new day  1/24/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sunny and still morning. Must be a biker rally today; been hearing lots of motorcycles on the nearby road since 7 AM. Kept going until 9 or so.

Weather getting grey by 10 or so. Did a little work in the cockpit, looking for a way to run the generator wire without having to drill a nasty hole through the fiberglass deck. Found a path: down the outside of the mast, across the deck and into the cockpit, through an inspection port, into a locker, then there's an open path down into the engine compartment. Can use this locker-to-compartment path for the GPS-to-autopilot wire, too, if I ever get that working.

Dinghied down to the south end of the Lagoon. Water is brown again, and this time it smells like sewage. IWW closed; never have gotten a handle on their open hours. On to Lagoonies, where they're closed as usual on Sundays, and the Wi-Fi password from Thursday no longer works (they've been changing it frequently). Plugged in to AC power and used my laptop for a while anyway. To Budget Marine, where they were closed and the gate to the street was locked, so I couldn't walk out to the supermarket. Back to the boat.

Weather stayed very grey most of the afternoon.

In the afternoon, found a place to mount the wind-generator control box, and mounted it on the wall inside the engine compartment. Then measured and figured out a list of all of the wires and connectors I'll need to finish the electrical part of the installation.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Such a luxury to have pasta with absolutely no bugs in it.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.

At 8, plenty of rain and wind, followed by lots of wind for an hour or more.

From 11 to after midnight, rain, very heavy a few times, and lots of wind. Then very windy most of the rest of the night.
Sun for a new day  1/25/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Looks like the primary anchor may have dragged 10 feet or so in last night's wind. No problem. Supposed to be windy all day today.

Dinghied ashore. To IWW, and bought $66 of electrical parts (mostly wire) for the wind-generator installation. To Lagoonies, to do Wi-Fi ($3 for soda and tip). Disposed of a bag of garbage.

Finally got an amount for the repair of the small scrape on the rental car: $548 ! Now I have to figure out a way to print it, so I can pay it; I don't have a printer aboard. Then mail a copy to the people who hit my car, so they can reimburse me. Could ask my brother in NJ to do a lot of the mechanics for me, but I'll see if I can get it done here so I don't have to bother him.

Ordered flowers to be delivered to Mom for her 80th birthday. What a scam these online places have: at the very end of the ordering process, by the way: extra $10 for Saturday delivery, $10 standard delivery charge, $3 "care and handling" charge, $3 tax. Got rid of the Saturday delivery; bit the bullet on the others.

Bank deposit I mailed from here on 1/11, fourteen days ago, still hasn't shown up in my account.

Now Lagoonies has started charging $1 to plug into the AC power, while doing Wi-Fi. Partly because they just had to buy some new equipment for their Wi-Fi network.

To Electec to look for a switch for the remote-starter; no luck. To Budget Marine. Disposed of some alkaline batteries. They didn't have the switch either. Asked about disposing of golf-cart batteries. Then walked to the supermarket, got some groceries, back to the dock, and back to the boat. Very windy conditions. Rough dinghy ride.

After lunch, dinghied down to the Red Cross building. Spent 3 hours helping to sort donated clothing into boxes, to be put on a container-ship soon going to Haiti. Sorting the clothing was difficult, because the women doing it didn't have a very clear system for what went where. Then I got on to sorting the shoes, and that was a lot clearer: search for matching shoes, tie the two together, and dump the pair into a big box. Two or three of us did maybe 500 pairs of shoes. Lots of unmatching shoes left over at the end.

Rough dinghy ride upwind back to the boat.

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a glass of wine for dinner.

Very windy night, with sudden huge strong gusts. The next morning, heard on the net that a boat (out in Simpson Bay, maybe) had their rope anchor line cut through on a wreck, and they ended up on the rocks. Coast Guard and rescue service pulled them off.
Sun for a new day  1/26/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Totally grey and rainy in the early morning, then sunshine by 9. Wind easing, but still getting some big gusts.

Dumped 2-3 gallons of rainwater from bucket to water tank.

Drilled a second hole in the tail of the wind-generator. This is for the line that will keep the generator from turning far enough for the blades to hit something. That would be a very bad thing, so I decided a little redundancy would be good.

Took the spring (pic) out of the base of the generator; I've decided I don't need it, and it will be hard to get the spring properly inserted into the hole on the grey cap when setting the generator on top of the mount.

Climbed the mizzen-mast. Lubricated the grey cap on the generator mount and the pipe the white collar will turn on. Put a little TefGel on the PVC threads. Then used a line to hoist the generator up to the mount. Fortunately no strong gusts while I was doing that; it would have bashed the generator into things. With the generator secured, pulled up the thick wire and fed the end of it down through the center of the pipe.

Climbed up a little higher, got a leg over one spreader so I was facing sideways to the boat, and lifted the generator up and set it on top of the pipe, and a little wiggling got the last of the wire to slide down, so I could get the generator on all the way. Glad I took out the spring; getting that in properly would have been very hard. Screwed the white PVC collar up into the bottom of the generator, and it looks good ! Doesn't pivot quite as freely as I expected, but probably installing the blades will fix that. Climbed back down. Looks good from deck level. Pics.

A little later, did the electrical wiring. Oops: almost came up short on the big length of 3-conductor AC wire. Ended up with a spare 6 inches instead of the spare 2 feet or so I wanted. Partly the fault of the big ugly splice I made out in front of the mast (pics). Slathered it with caulk to protect the wires and connectors from water. Looks hideous, but I can't think of a better way to do it with strain-relief. Maybe later I can find some kind of junction-box to put there ? Or some kind of clamp to hold the cables solidly next to each other ? Good enough for now.

Ran the wire in through an inspection port ( pic; a bit cheesey, but it avoids drilling a hole in the nice fiberglass of the deck). Opened up the electrical panel in the engine compartment (pic), and installed that end of the DC cables. (Here's how I install lugs on cables: pics). Need to exchange a couple of lugs for slightly different sizes in order to finish the job, making the connections into the control box (pic).

Chicken-onion-cabbage-mushroomsoup-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  1/27/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sunny morning. On the VHF net, the controller started out saying we're going to have winds of 30-35 for the next few days, then realized he had the WindGuru web page displaying speed in kilometers/hour instead of knots !

Started to put together the blade-hub assembly, while waiting for rainclouds to pass, and ran into problems with a couple of the bolts. Wouldn't go all the way in, for some reason. But they went in fine from the back. Maybe some gunk in the threads.

Dinghied ashore. To Lagoonies, to dispose of garbage and use the book-exchange. To IWW, to return a couple of cable lugs and buy different ones, plus some shackles ($9). Looked at a waterproof junction box to replace that hideous splice, but the box costs $20, so I decided to think about it.

Then to Business Point in Simpson Bay marina, to print the car-repair bill and do internet and use the book-exchange. $5/hour for an internet connection that wasn't very good, but I needed to get the printing done, and that wasn't too expensive (25 cents/page for B+W). Had a lot of trouble uploading pictures and log file. Finally got it done. Paid $4.25 for the printing and effectively a half-hour of internet. Back to the boat.

After lunch, unbolted and bolted the blades and hub, and finally got all of the bolts all of the way in (pic). A bit shocked to read that a replacement set of blades costs $300 ! (Later found price of $195 on KISS order form; forget where I saw it as $300.) They look like some kind of cast epoxy to me. They have to be carefully balanced, both when made and then before installation.

Dinghied across to Portofino marina. To the Post Office, to mail two letters to the USA about the rental-car repair. Last time I mailed two letters to the USA, it cost $3.30. This time it was $5.15. I didn't try to ask why. To a pharmacy, to buy some multi-vitamins, then back to the boat. Rough, wet trip back in gusty winds.

Did most of the wiring to the wind-generator control box. One of the screws on the switch wouldn't grip, but I swapped it with another screw and that worked. I'm a little nervous about the close tolerances for the terminals inside this aluminum box; don't want anything to short out, especially the two 6-gauge cables coming from the batteries. Put some electrical tape on the inside back wall of the box, and some liquid tape on edges of the big cable lugs. Put everything together except the final positive cable from the battery; I want to let the liquid tape dry, and think about how to keep from having a short.

Rain at 4:45.

Added oil to the outboard.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Spent a fair amount of time during the night lying awake worrying about a short-circuit in the wind-generator control box. Decided on a strategy.
Sun for a new day  1/28/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Up early, to work on the final connections in the wind-generator control box. Turned the battery switch to "off"; now a short as I do the wiring will short only current coming from the solar panels, and there isn't much of that right now. Better to have a 1 A spark instead of a 200 A spark. Used cable-ties to hold the wires and cables in position, made the final connection and tightened the nuts, slid the front of the box down onto the rest of the box, did a couple more cable-ties, and it's done ! Turned the battery switch back on, and everything's fine.

Listened to the VHF cruiser's net, then launched the dinghy and headed ashore, taking tools and the blade-assembly. To Lagoonies before they opened, and used two of their tables to do the blade-balancing (pic). Each blade has a strip of sticky-backed soft lead or solder tape on it, to be trimmed away as necessary to make the blades balance. You position a blade horizontally, let go, and see if it rises or falls. That tells you whether to trim some tape from that blade. When done, each blade should stay horizontal when you let go of it. Took an hour or so to do it; one blade was consistently too heavy, and I kept trimming away 1/8" slices, when I should have been going in 1/2" jumps. Ended up trimming 3 to 4 inches off that one blade before I had the balance as good as I could get it.

Stowed everything back in the dinghy, then walked up to the ACE MegaCenter store. Bought a plastic junction box ($1.50) to try on that hideous splice in front of the mizzen-mast. Also bought more crimp-connectors and some caulk. Back to the dinghy, where later arriving dinghies had wedged me in solid. Had to find someone in the bar to unlock their dinghy and move it out so I could get out. Windy, wet ride back to the boat.

Took apart the ugly splice in the wind-generator cabling, and installed the junction box I just bought. The box could be a little bigger, and a little easier to make watertight, but it seems to work and looks a lot better. Pic.

After lunch, prepared all the parts I need to take up the mast, and started climbing. Hoisted the blade assembly up right away, so it doesn't get blown off the pilothouse roof and damaged. Installed the shackles in the holes and retied the rotation-limiting lines. Slathered Tef-Gel on the generator shaft. Then straddled the spreaders, reached forward with the blade assembly, and started screwing it onto the shaft. A bit tricky, since it's almost at the limit of my reach, the hub doesn't really "bite" on the tapered shaft until you get it screwed around 4 or 5 times, and I don't want to drop my $200 blades onto my $900 solar panels. I should have left the rortation-limiting lines untied; this would be easier if I could turn the generator body further sideways. But I get it onto the shaft.

I end up untying the lines anyway; can't get enough reach forward to tighten the hub onto the shaft and install lock-nuts. Get the generator sideways, use pliers to hold the shaft (which has a squared-off end) while I hand-tighten the hub firmly. More Tef-Gel and then a nut, and then a problem.

I want to put on two nuts and then seizing wire tight on the shaft, to keep the hub on the shaft in case the generator gets back-winded. KISS says just leave the hub alone on the shaft; normal rotation will keep it threaded on. But they don't account for the case of a mast-bracket mounting, where it is possible for the generator to get back-winded. Theoretically the hub could spin right off the shaft and come crashing down. So I planned to add two nuts and a seizing. And I tested this before putting the generator up. But that was before I bolted the blades onto the hub. The width of blades and bolt-heads means I can get only one nut onto the shaft, with barely enough room for a seizing afterward. Not good.

So I put on only one nut, and struggle for a while before getting the seizing on. Not sure it will hold. I'll have to consult KISS and other owners. Might have to bring the whole generator down again and have a machine-shop drill a cotter-pin hole sideways through the end of the shaft.

Anyway, I climb down. Looks good from deck (pic). Time to throw the switch (the electrical brake has been on, so far), and let it make electricity ! So I throw the switch, run out on deck to watch it spin, and ... nothing. No spin. Maybe the wind isn't strong enough ? But I hear a few nearby generators spinning on other boats. Finally we have a gust strong enough to spin my generator, and it looks good. But by the time I get below to see what the battery monitor says, the wind has eased and the generator is still again.

Soon we do get enough wind to see some results, with charging voltage spiking up to 14.3 or so from the 13.9 the solar panels were producing. I can barely hear a low-pitched hum as the generator spins, and even on deck the "swish" of the blades is not very loud. Will have to see how it sounds in 25 knots of wind; we're probably getting 10 knots with gusts to 15+ today.

Still, a good feeling: project pretty much done, and generator working ! And I didn't fall from the mast, or donate any blood, or drop anything, in the process.

Carried one of the damaged batteries up into the cockpit; I'm going to get rid of them in a few days.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Listening for the wind-generator a bit during the evening, and a couple of times in strong wind-gusts I jumped out of bed to look at the battery-monitor. Most of the time I was too slow. But a few times I saw the generator putting out more than 10 amps, in stronger gusts. In tonight's light, gusty wind, the generator is just taking the edge off the nightly drawing-down of the batteries (by the refrigerator).
Sun for a new day  1/29/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Grey dawn. Overnight, batteries usually go down to 12.40 V or 12.35 V under load, but last night they went down to 12.45 V, even with fairly little wind.

I'm slowly getting a read on the wind-generator. No bits have flown off it during the night, which is good. It's very quiet, even in reasonably strong wind. But it takes a good bit of wind to get it started turning. Once it starts turning, it will keep turning in lower wind, as the wind gust tapers off. Given its bursty nature, I'm glad I followed instructions and just wired it straight to the batteries with no charge-controller in the way; don't want to waste any of each burst of energy.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. Paid $4 for soda and tip and Wi-Fi. Skype-called Mom (tomorrow is her 80th birthday), and actually got her on the line ! We chatted for quite a while; very nice. Flowers I ordered for her should be delivered today.

My bank deposit went through on 1/25; mailed it from here on 1/11.

Dinghied to Budget Marine, walked to supermarket, got a few groceries. Back to dinghy and back to boat, through windy conditions. Battery-charging voltage up to 14.5 and higher; solar panels never get it that high by themselves.

Disconnected and hauled the other two damaged batteries up into the cockpit, in preparation for getting rid of them (pic; notice that each has one bad terminal). [The history: I bought the batteries damaged, about 3 years ago, for $10 apiece. The terminals had been snapped off in shipping. I drilled holes into the remaining lead and put in heli-coils. Worked fine for a year or more, then the acid started coming up and corrosion started working down, and it was a fight to keep contact going after that.]

Checked water in the four good batteries, and only a couple of cells needed any topping off.

Mostly grey afternoon, with little solar power but some wind power.

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a glass of wine for dinner.

Fairly quiet evening, but then a fair amount of wind from midnight to 3 AM, then plenty of wind from 3 AM to 6 AM. Wind very gusty, as usual here. Saw bursts where the wind-generator was putting out over 20 A. The control box got a bit warm: the diode block in there is converting from 3-phase AC to DC, and probably converting about 1/4 of the AC power into heat in the process.
Sun for a new day  1/30/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sunny morning. Batteries never got below 12.55 V last night; not bad after a grey afternoon.

A little headachey this morning, from that one glass of red wine I had with dinner yesterday.

VHF cruiser's net had a report of people who came back their boat at 2 AM to find two thieves aboard, perhaps armed. So they left, and will report it to police today. Apparently this has happened a fair amount here in the past.

A question on the net from someone who's gotten all screwed up about how you check in and out of the two countries on this island. Sounds like they're checked in to both countries simultaneously, which is wrong. And I don't understand why anyone is checked in to the Dutch side any more, but I see plenty of boats anchored on that side. Here are the basics: the Dutch charge something like $30 to check in, and another $35 to $50 per week to stay (depending on boat size). The French charge $8 to check in; stay as long as you like for free (except if you anchor in Marigot Bay). So why does anyone check in to the Dutch side any more ? Going in and out of the Dutch side does give more direct access to the islands to the south and east (St Bart's, Saba, etc). I think most people just don't know the rules.

Grey weather by 9.

Launched the dinghy. Hauled the three batteries out of the cockpit, across the deck, and down into the dinghy. Over to Budget Marine, where I lifted the batteries onto the dock, and used my little grocery-carrier to cart them around the building to leave them near the warehouse entrance. Couldn't get the rail of the carrier up, so I had to bend over while trundling the barriers around the building. My back was pretty tired by the time I got done with them.

Over to Palapa marina. Used their book-exchange. Then walked down the street with my gas-can to the big Shell station, only to find that they're out of gas ! [Later found out that the station is changing ownership.] Back to the dinghy and a wet, windy ride back to the boat.

A little rain at noon. Heavy rain at 1:40. More rain at 2:45. Rain at 3:50. Rain at 5:45.

Grey all afternoon. Saw wind-generator charging voltage up to 15.7 VDC in one strong gust. But then at 4:45 I was surprised to see the battery voltage at 12.45 V under load. I guess the solar power has been zilch and the wind power comes in such brief bursts that not much current is going into the batteries. And yet the surface (no-load) voltage is high.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Battery voltage pretty low overnight; had to turn off the refrigerator a couple of times. Probably should have run the engine to charge batteries, but I hate to do that.
Sun for a new day  1/31/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sunny, windy morning.

Aha ! At 12:30, noticed battery system voltage down to 12.8 under load and current draining out of batteries, even though plenty of sunshine should have the solar panels keeping it up into the mid-13's. A short investigation found the solar controller flashing some error code, which turned out to be "high voltage disconnect". I guess it didn't like high voltages produced by the wind-generator, and so decided something was wrong and stopped charging from the solar panels ! Flipped a switch to bypass the solar controller and connect the solar panels straight to the batteries, and things started looking better.

Within an hour, battery system voltage is routinely at 15 VDC, and during wind bursts the wind-generator is putting out 10+ A at 15.5 VDC or so. I think I'm going to have to watch battery water carefully, as I'm overcharging the batteries. And I may have to turn off the wind-generator during sunny days.

And this brings up another point: on a fairly windy, very sunny day, I think I get more energy out of my 240 W of solar panels than I do out of the wind-generator. System voltage sags without the solar panels.

While digging out the solar controller manual, I found another copy of the outboard service manual I bought over Christmas. Forgot I already had a copy, bought in St Thomas. $40 wasted.

Wind suddenly stopped around 2:15. Then started again at 2:45.

Saw wind-generator charging voltage spike up to 15.95 VDC at one point.

Worked on the auto-pilot a little. Plugged board into main power, confirmed that it runs fine with auto-pilot back-end turned off, and fails when back-end turned on (noise through power line). Then took a stab and added a capacitor across the power leads on the back-end, a "HDK .022" capacitor I salvaged from the old control electronics. Didn't fix the problem. Tech support for the board suggested "a series inductor, then a 100uF capacitor in parallel with a 100nF capacitor", so I'll have to look for something like that.

Worked on removing the genset. Pumped out coolant, got the coolant tank off, and eventually got the exhaust manifold off (pic). A messy job, and then had to dump 5-year-old rusty exhaust seawater out of the manifold.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers and half a glass of wine for dinner.

After all of that aggressive charging today, refrigerator was dragging voltage down to 12.5 VDC in early evening. Maybe I'm getting fooled; I know voltage really doesn't indicate charge state very well, but it's worked for me in the past. Batteries ran the refrigerator okay all night and were down to 12.4 VDC in the morning. No wind during the night.
Sun for a new day  2/1/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Totally grey and still morning. Light rain at 7:30, 8:30, 9:05. Finally a little sunshine at 9:15.

On the VHF cruiser's net, heard from a guy who just crossed the Anegada Passage from St Thomas to here, and lost his dinghy in the process. Probably happens fairly often; towing a dinghy is not a good idea. John Alden said the smallest practical size for a cruising boat is "a boat large enough to carry a dinghy on deck".

Dinghied ashore. Saw a guy working up at the top of one of those 120-foot-tall masts in Plaisance marina (pic). Of course, he had someone at deck level using a power winch or something to raise and lower him, the wimp. I climb using my own leg-power.

To fuel dock at Simpson Bay Marina, to get a gallon of gasoline ($1.09/liter). Then to Lagoonies for Wi-Fi ($4 for soda and tip and AC power). Downloaded more than a dozen podcasts, to listen to later.

Turns out a new set of blades from KISS is $195, on their order form. Don't know where I got $300 from (probably elsewhere on their web site).

A downside of having never had a loan of any kind to pay off: recently I applied for a cash-rewards credit card, and they denied me. I persisted and asked them to review the decision, and they just keep saying "due to information in your credit history; go complain to the credit-reporting companies". But there's no bad info in my credit reports; just not much information at all, except for one credit card and some previous addresses. Guess I'm out of luck.

After Wi-Fi, went next door to Electec, an electrical/electronics place. A real candy-store of a place, if you're interested in that stuff (I am). But no cheap DC line filters, no small capacitors and chokes (everyone said go to Radio Shack in Phillipsburg). Looked through a couple catalogs they had, but no joy there either. Back to the boat.

Grey and rainy and a bit of wind just before 2.

Took some more pieces off the genset: fuel pipes, heat-exchanger (pic).

Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Light rain at 5.
Sun for a new day  2/2/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Mostly cloudy morning. Rain at 7:15.

Added water to the batteries. Each cell was down a bit, not badly down but enough to be noticeable.

I can't quite figure out what's going on with the electrical system.
- voltage was low (12.35) at dawn, but when sun suddenly came out later, didn't see big flow of current I'd expect from solar panels into batteries.
- charging voltage is high most of the day, but I don't see big charging currents in the morning. Except that I did when I first found that the solar had disconnected itself, and I flipped the bypass switch.
- even when system voltage is high during the afternoon, close to 15 volts, a big surge of strong wind will make the wind-generator drive 10-20A current into the batteries. If the batteries are well-charged, they shouldn't be able to accept that much current, should they ? Unless maybe they're turning it to heat.

But I am using my laptop a bit more, especially during the day.

Loafed all morning.

Rain at 12:15.

Took some nasty-looking fuel injectors and other parts off the genset. Rust city. Pic.

Apple and salad and PB-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/3/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Heard "Paramour 3" on the net this morning offering a windsurfer for sale, so at about 8:45 I headed over there to see what he had. Offered $300 for a board, mast, boom and two sails. He's asking $350 and another guy might be interested, so he's going to wait. Nice boat, a Morgan 46 with lots of toys aboard, but his wife has given up sailing and left, and I guess they're separating or divorcing, and he's trying to empty out the boat and sell it.

Over to "Ventoso", to say hi to Janet, and ended up staying almost 5 hours. Nice long chat with Janet about lots of things. Then John came back from errands, we chatted some more, ate some nice stew for lunch. They have lots of projects to do: have some hatches repaired, fix a gas generator or buy a new one, some hydraulic problem. They've been in Antigua for the last month or so, and say the megayachts there are indecently expensive.

Then I headed ashore to Portofino marina and caught a taxi-van ($2) to Radio Shack in Phillipsburg. Bought a couple of switches I needed, but individual capacitors and inductors were pretty expensive ($2 apiece) and I don't know exactly which ones I need. Ended up buying a grab-bag of each for $5 apiece; total of $17 spent. They had some packaged 12V noise-filtering units for $10 to $20, but they're intended for keeping audio-frequency noise out of your car stereo, so I'm not sure they'd work for me. Also looked for a capacitor for "Ventoso" to fix their gas generator, but didn't find anything for them.

Walked a mile or so back up the road to Cost-U-Less. Found the stuff I wanted, but the vans here have cramped seats, so I couldn't buy as much as I'd like to. Bought $40 worth of cereal and crackers and snacks; probably would cost $60 or more in the supermarkets. Van ($2) back to the marina, and back to the boat by 3:45. Tired.

Heard a dinghy approaching and banging into my hull. By the time I got onto deck, it was going away. Saw that some guys had thrown an advertisement for the coming flea market / barbecue onto my boat. In fact, they threw two copies.

At 5, dinghied down to Turtle Pier (turned out to be further down than I expected, almost all the way to the airport terminal). This place has a happy-hour for cruisers every Wednesday. Chatted with a couple of interesting guys, had a beer and a hamburger for $4, wandered around a bit.

One of the guys used to do mainframe programming for Boeing in Seattle; has been here for 16 years, living on a catamaran. He's cruised a lot up and down the eastern islands here, but never to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. When I suggested he go there, he said "oh, no, the fees are high and the police hassle you and they charge 7% of your boat value if you go there". Well, I've been cruising there the last 3 years and most of that is nonsense. Yes, police hassles at St Thomas are increasing. If a USA citizen tried to register a boat in Puerto Rico and had never paid sales tax on purchasing it, there might be a 7% sales tax imposed; that's what happens in the USA if you buy a boat and don't pay sales tax in the state where you bought it. But I cruised PR for a couple of years and never had to register my boat.

The other guy was visiting from Tortola, and had sailed a charter boat up and down the island chain for a couple of years. The bar had parrots and monkeys in cages. Nice enough, but most of the cruisers had clumped up into table-fulls, and the food was no bargain (yes, $3 for a hamburger, but fries cost another $3). Stayed until 6:15 or so and then decided to get back to the boat before it got totally dark. Long, fairly wet dinghy-ride back.

Ate a PB-sandwich to tamp down the hamburger and beer.

Batteries still are acting strangely. Used to be that after sunset, voltage (under load) would zip down to 12.70 or 12.65 (no more solar charging), and then slowly ease down during the night, eventually getting to 12.35 by dawn. Now at sunset, voltage (under load) zips down to 12.45 or so, then slowly eases down to 12.35 by dawn. Strange.
Sun for a new day  2/4/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Listened to the VHF cruiser's net, as usual. This guy Harry on "Fairwinds" is still trying to gather boats to sail to Haiti, loaded with clothing and water-containers and something else. He gets on the net every couple of days and gives a long spiel about the whole project. I've started turning off the radio for a few minutes until he's done.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. Disposed of a lot of garbage. Paid $4 for soda and tip and Wi-Fi. Skype-called Mom and chatted with her. As expected, the solar-controller support people say: there's no way to disable the high-voltage disconnect feature, and the wind-generator shouldn't be driving the voltage so high.

Tried to find another book-exchange Janet told me about it, but couldn't find it. Saw a big prop sitting outside FKG; looks like it's left out as sculpture; has about a 4-inch diameter shaft. To Budget Marine dock, walked to supermarket, and got some groceries (including a nice chunk of Gouda). Back to dinghy and back to the boat.

Just found out the fee to cruise in St Barts is 4€/day; ouch ! That's close to $200/month. Looks like Antigua/Barbuda costs about $20/month. Hard to figure out these fees; the guidebooks don't quite agree with each other, prices vary by season and boat length and what harbor you stay in, and prices are given in a mixture of $US, $EC, and €.

Took some more parts off the genset (pic).

Salad and a big sausage-onion-cheese omelet and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Not a lick of wind all night.
Sun for a new day  2/5/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sunny, still morning.

Launched the dinghy and untied the rope anchor rode and untwisted it from around the chain rodes.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Turned off the wind-generator around noon. Solar panels (unregulated) are putting 6-8 A at almost 15 V into the batteries.

Opened up the genset control box to see if there was anything good to salvage, but there wasn't. Mostly 40-year-old relays in there.

Went ashore to Portofino marina. Disposed of garbage. Got a wad of cash at the ATM (in case the guy selling the windsurfer comes back to me). Into the grocery store, and came out with only one item. Back to the boat.

More work on taking apart the genset, and got the starter motor off (pic). I remember taking this motor off, taking it ashore to be fixed, putting it back on, 3 or 4 times, years ago. A lot of effort put into something I'm discarding now.

Straightening up and cleaning the boat a little; might have visitors tomorrow.

Apple and salad and Gouda cheese sandwich and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Around 5, the system voltage under load was still up at 12.7 or so, and I thought maybe turning off the wind-generator today improved something. But by 5:30 or 5:45 it was right down to 12.4 under load, so no change. Stayed at that voltage under load all night.

No wind all night.
Sun for a new day  2/6/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

The guy on "Paramour 3" was on the net, advertising his wind-surfer again, saying that someone had offered $300 but he hadn't been able to contact them. That was me. So after the net, I called him, but he wasn't happy when I said I'd cooled on the idea a little, and was now offering $250. He's going to see if someone else will give him more.

Dinghied ashore at 9:30, to meet visitors from a cruise-ship at 10. They showed up at 10:30; since they forgot to bring the directions with them, the taxi had let them off at the wrong marina. Took David and Steve and Steve's daughter out to my boat, where we chatted for an hour or so; very pleasant. Then back ashore, so they could catch another taxi to a bay to go snorkeling.

Turned off wind-generator at 1:40; charging voltage was over 15 volts.

Hmmm: wiring near the solar-controller is pretty warm, even the 8-gauge cables. Should have only 2-4 A going through it (according to the battery monitor). Need to revise the wiring there anyway to add a new switch, so I sketched out a total reworking of it. But the stores will be closed tomorrow, so I can't get the parts until Monday.

More work on taking apart the genset (pic).

Wanted to do something new for dinner, but found the bag of flour was full of bugs, so threw it out. Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/7/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Grey, damp and still at dawn. Sunny by 8.

Loafed all morning.

More work on taking apart the genset (pic).

Looked at the parts I bought to deal with the auto-pilot noise, and some of the leads on them are pretty short; I'm going to have to do some soldering.

Sketched out another, better way of re-doing the solar controller wiring.

Salad and Gouda cheese sandwich and half a glass of wine for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/8/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sunny, still morning. On the net, one boat said they just sailed from BVI's to here on one tack; another said he left St Thomas on Wednesday and arrived here on Sunday, tacking and tacking and working hard to get here.

Dinghied ashore. To IWW, and had a long talk with the salesman, who has the same model of KISS wind-generator I have. He repeated that he never sees more than 14.6 VDC or so in the system, even with solar panels and high wind. He made a couple of suggestions I could try, but nothing that sounds like a solution. Everything he suggested (bad cell in a battery, defect in the wind-generator) sounded like a reason voltage would end up too low, not too high. I diagrammed out my electrical system for him, and we chewed that over for a while. Like every boat system of any complexity, it has some quirks for various reasons.

What the heck, I'll give you a few of the quirks: Since I took out the damaged batteries, I have 4 six-volt batteries, but they're all in bank 1. One pair of them has negative going through the battery monitor's shunt, but the other doesn't (because it's sort of my starting battery pair, and I wanted to keep cable runs to the started short). So the battery monitor shows only current going through one pair of batteries; I have to double it to get total charging current. There's a combiner between positives of the two pairs, but for a while now I've had a jumper nullifying the combiner, because I want to use all four batteries as house batteries. All of the loads (light, fridge, etc) and both solar and wind charging come into the battery switch common post; only batteries come into the battery switch A and B posts. I really should diagram this up, but I haven't found a good way of displaying a diagram on a web page (other than drawing it as an image file).

Then I looked for connectors for rewiring the solar controller, and immediately ran into a paradox. The switch I bought is rated for 25 A, but has only 1/4" spade lugs. 25 A should demand 6-gauge or 8-gauge cables, but you can't get 1/4" spade connectors for such thick cable; the biggest available seem to be for 10-gauge wire. Why do they make high-rated switches with small lugs ?

To Lagoonies, to do Wi-Fi ($4 for soda and AC power and tip). Disposed of some genset parts and a bag of garbage. Sent a lot of feedback to KISS about the wind-generator.

Went next door to Electec to look for connectors for the solar controller, but same story there. I may have to pry open some 12-10-gauge connectors and force them around 8-gauge cable. It was late and I was hungry; gave up for today. Back to the boat by 1:30 for lunch.

Hmmm: today is sunny and still, so this morning I turned off the wind-generator and got the solar working in non-bypass mode (intelligent 3-stage charging). Now I see it putting 6-8 A into the batteries at 14 VDC, at 1:30. Seems a bit much current. What the heck is going on with my electrical system ?

Checked the battery water. Not bad; only had to add a little to a few cells. And couldn't find any of the batteries running hot, although it's hard to get a hand down inside the battery boxes.

Did a little work on removing the genset. Got the valve-cover off, and worked at getting the flywheel off. Put the cast-iron pulley back on, with extra washer and nut in position to try to force the flywheel off the shaft as I tightened the bolts; no movement. Pounded it with a sledgehammer; no movement. Pried at it with a crowbar; no movement. It's been on there for 35+ years.

I notice that the solar wiring still is running hot. A section of the wiring is 8-gauge instead of the 6-gauge in the rest of it. That section is smaller because it has a fuse-holder built into it, with a 30 A fuse inline. Running 6-8 A at 14 VDC through 8-gauge wire shouldn't give this heat, I think. Maybe the fuse itself is running hot ?

Chicken-onion-carrot-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/9/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Called "Ventoso" after the net, to say hi, and they ended up inviting me over for dinner tonight !

Loafed most of the morning. Then climbed up the mizzen-mast. Checked for any loose nuts or bolts, any cracks in anything, anything loose. All looks good. Then took the seizing wire and nut off the generator shaft. Added Tef-Gel and ran the hub out and back in on the shaft; it was stuck pretty firmly onto the shaft at the start. Snugged the hub back on, then added seizing wire on the shaft to try to prevent the hub from spinning off if the generator gets back-winded. Hard to do a good job twisting the seizing wire on, 20 feet up in the air and reaching forward 3 feet or so, trying not to drop anything. Done.

After lunch, dinghied ashore. Went to Lagoonies and found the book-exchange next door that Janet had told me about; in fact John and Janet were there when I arrived. Always a good day when you find a new book-exchange ! Exchanged about 8 books, and gave a couple more to Janet.

Walked to IWW to look at their switches and crimp-connectors again. Then walked up to the ACE MegaCenter, looked at their switches and crimp-connectors, and still no joy. 25 A switches with small 1/4" spade-lugs on them. No one makes connectors to connect from 1/4" spade lug to 6- or 8-gauge cable. Bought some 12-10-to-spade connectors; I'll see if I can open them wider or add solder to "improve" them. Also bought some 8-gauge lugs. Back to IWW to buy a 6-gauge lug and 1 foot of 8-gauge cable. Spent about $10 total. Time to get this project over with. Back to the boat.

Took a few more things off the genset.

Had a salad as an early part of dinner.

Dinghied over to "Ventoso" at 5:45. Soon we were joined by Canaday McCloud (I think) from "Far Star". He brought a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, which we all enjoyed very much. Janet gave us a very nice dinner (pork-chop, potatoes au gratin, salad, red cabbage). Later I had a gin-and-tonic. Lots of nice conversation; these people have sailed to many more places than I have. John told of two solid weeks of pea-soup fog around Cape Breton (is that near Nova Scotia ?), having to navigate everywhere by RADAR. Canaday just came down from Newport to Bermuda to here.

The evening was enlivened at the start (before sunset), by Teresa on her nearby boat wandering around on deck fully nude. As usual, she was singing along with her iPod or whatever, at the top of her (not so great) voice. John offered me the binoculars a few times, but I resisted. When she stood up for a while, I had a fine view anyway. Passing boats appreciated the show too. Lots of fun.

Janet gave me a couple of books, and lent me two more that she wants back. Headed back to my boat by 9:30, holding up a lit flashlight as I worked my through the anchorage.
Sun for a new day  2/10/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Got busy on rewiring the switches around the solar controller. Pulled apart the old wiring, and wired panels straight to batteries (getting a few sparks as I put together a live connection with maybe 4-6 A running through it). Found that the old bypass switch is worse than I thought: a switch rated at 20 A but with spade lugs even smaller than 1/4": they're probably 3/16". What are these switch manufacturers thinking ?

Spent a while chiseling insulation off some connectors, so I can solder extra wire to the outside of them. Cut and stripped wire, crimped connectors, soldered extra strands of wires to connectors, and added some electrical tape. Into the engine compartment and installed everything. Looks a bit sloppy, but it works. Compared to the previous wiring, this uses thicker wires, the bypass switch no longer shorts two terminals on the controller (manufacturer said that was okay, but I always wondered), and now there's an on/off switch so I can reset the controller after the "high voltage disconnect" is triggered by the wind-generator.

Took down and put away the mast-climbing gear.

An hour later, solar wiring looks good, but that section with the inline fuse is running hot again. All of the new wire, the same size, is fine, but the wire built into that fuse holder is hot.

After lunch, launched the dinghy. On the way over to Marigot, stopped by "Ventoso" to loan them a couple of guidebooks and chat briefly. Long ride over to Marigot. Cleverly I had arrived during "siesta" time (what's the French word for that ?), so the marina office (the "Capitanerie") was closed. Tried to find the library ("biblioteque") in town, couldn't quite find it, got directions from a couple of different people and they both turned out to be wrong. Gave up on that.

Walked to the ferry dock Customs/Immigration office and asked them a couple of questions about regulations; a lot of rumors float around the harbor and I wanted to nail down a couple of them. One was that you can't stay on your boat in the Lagoon during a hurricane; not true according to the officers. Another was that only part of Marigot Bay incurs an anchoring fee; the officer says all of it is controlled, although he seemed a little less positive of that, as if there's been some dispute about it.

Decided to get some exercise, so I climbed up to the top of Fort Louis. Nice views (big pics; Lagoon is to upper-left, Marigot Bay is to lower-right), and I had the place almost entirely to myself. [A reader sent me a stitched-together copy of those two pictures: pic.] Club Med boat anchored NE of town (with Anguilla in background). Also an odd-looking boat; seems to have a wing/ama on one side, but none on the other side ? Maybe it just never quite swung around to where I could see the other wing.

Back down the hill, headed back toward the marina, and stumbled into the library (it was around the side of one of the buildings I had been looking at). Nice place, but just about every scrap of material in it is in French. Read a few issues of the International Miami Herald, and enjoyed sitting down in cool conditions.

To the marina, asked the same two questions at the Capitanerie, looked at their tiny book-exchange, then back into the dinghy. Long ride back to the boat, getting back around 4:15.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/11/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Mostly sunny in early morning, but a few grey clouds hovering in just the right position to block the sun from my solar panels.

Dinghied ashore. Swung by the Dutch bridge, went into the Harbor office, and asked the question about staying on your boat during a hurricane; same answer: there's no law about it. To Lagoonies. Did Wi-Fi ($4 for soda and tip and AC power). No response from KISS about my comments/suggestions on the wind-generator. Skype-called Mom and chatted with her; they're having their second major blizzard in a week (she's in the Philadelphia area).

Power started failing on my laptop; had to stop early. Used the book-exchange. To Budget Marine, took a quick look at switches, then to the supermarket. Power failed for a minute or so while I was in there. Got groceries and back to the boat.

Wind is light and from SW and W today; had to wipe some Montserrat dust off my solar panels.

Charged laptop battery in 5-minute shots, so I think the power problem I had was in the AC adapter.

Soldered capacitors and an inductor (putting it in wrong place) and tried auto-pilot; didn't fix the noise problem. Pic. At least nothing blew up. The inductor needs to go on the positive cable between batteries and auto-pilot back-end, not on the capacitors between the positive and negative power lines. And probably need two inductors. I'm trying to suppress the noise at the back-end before it gets into the DC system; if I can't do that, I may install a DC-DC converter right at the circuit board to protect just that.

Took the injection pump and a couple of other pieces off the genset (pic).

Salad and Gouda cheese sandwich for dinner. Then I got creative and fried up a dessert: flour and brown sugar and eggs and salt and baking powder and cinnamon and water and a cut-up apple to make a sort of apple cobbler (pic). Tasty. Should have rolled the apple pieces in the dry ingredients to coat them before adding the egg and water.
Sun for a new day  2/12/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Very still, slightly damp morning.

On the net, I announced free engine parts, from my genset removal project. Afterward, Bruce from "Our First" came over and took both water-pumps and the heat-exchanger. A little later, another guy came and took the starter motor and coolant header tank. I'm glad to get rid of them, especially if someone can get some use out of them. Bruce has an old 3-cylinder Onan genset that he ditched the generator-head from; now he uses it to run a dive-tank compressor and a 220 A commercial alternator to run a welder.

Laptop working fine this morning, on adapter into 12 VDC boat power. So the AC adapter either has died or was having a bad day yesterday.

By 10 or so, low grey clouds hovering, cutting off the solar power and not even giving any useful rain.

Worked on the genset some more. Flywheel still won't budge; I'm going to try a slightly different approach, using a piece of wood instead of the pulley, so I can see what's pressing on what. Finally got the head off (pic); one head-bolt was sheared off (a long time ago), had to take off the rockers to get at two more bolts, then found two more bolts hiding back in dark recesses on the far side of the genset. Getting down to the big pieces of the genset; here's what's left: pic (about 3.5 feet long). Probably 300-350 pounds, and it should come out in 3 or 4 big pieces.

At 4, the real Bruce from "Our First" came over to look at the engine parts. I don't know who that first guy this morning was, but it wasn't Bruce !

Tightened engine fan belt.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-mushroom-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for 20 minutes to charge batteries and exercise engine.
Sun for a new day  2/13/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Grey morning, with some wind. On the morning cruiser's net, lots of boat-arrivals, taking advantage of the light wind and SW wind of the last couple of days to come east from the BVIs. Also heard there was a "dome collapse" on Montserrat on Thursday, sending ash up to 50,000 feet. But the wind here is from the SE now, so we shouldn't get too much ash from it; the ash is going to Puerto Rico and the USVI's.

Right after the net, dinghied ashore to Simpson Bay Marina. Did a little Wi-Fi at Jimbo's, for free (since they weren't open yet; two other guys there doing the same). AC adapter seems to be working fine; wonder if it (or the battery) overheated in the sun the other day at Lagoonies ?

To Business Point, and paid $10 for an excursion tomorrow. Into the dinghy, and to the fuel dock. But there was no attendant, and when I called on their internal phone, the operator said she'd "try" to get someone to go there. No one showed up after several minutes, so I left.

To Budget Marine, where I disposed of a bag of garbage and left the genset exhaust manifold-and-elbow and the genset head next to the dumpster. That head is really heavy, maybe heavier than usual because it has "pre-ignition" chambers that glow plugs stick into ? To the supermarket for a few groceries.

Back to the dinghy, and up to the Shell station for $10 of gasoline. Back to the boat by 10:30. Mostly cloudy this morning, but getting some wind as well as solar power.

After lunch, started drilling holes in a piece of wood to use to force the genset flywheel off. But halfway through, the drill stuck and the fuse on the inverter blew. Guess I was drilling too soon after running the inverter to charge the camera battery. Tried to get the fuse out of the inverter, but the idiot who installed the inverter (not me, some other idiot) gave no thought to providing some access to the fuse; it's wedged way up under a corner of the cabinetry with wires and terminals close around it (pic). Can't get it out. I've run into this problem before, and always managed to get it out, but my notes say "may have to remove inverter from wall to get at fuse". This time, I think I'm going to reposition the whole unit, which means emptying a couple of cabinets and moving another switch, too. Not today.

Worked on the genset some more, and eventually got the end-cap off. Weighs a lot, maybe 25 or 30 pounds. Picture of cap and picture of remainder.

Starting to bash my toes into things as I walk around on the boat, usually a sign that I'm tired and should stop working. Done for today.

Sunny and breezy; lots of battery-charging going on.

Salad and Gouda cheese sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/14/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Wiped some of a pretty good layer of Montserrat dust off my solar panels.

Dinghied ashore to catch a 10:30 excursion van to "Art in the Park", in a park north of Phillipsburg. Nice conversation with a cruising couple, on the way over. The park turned out to be close to the main road to Phillipsburg; could have caught a $2 bus and walked the last mile, if I'd known exactly where it was. And the event is smaller than I hoped: just 20 or so booths (pics), selling prints and sculptures and jewelry. Nice people, a few pretty women, and a pleasant day, but not very exciting. Checked out the wares and then sat around in the shade. Saw a colorful van (pic).

Had a very nice conversation with a just-retired guy, who was born in the Netherlands but then raised livestock in Saskatchewan. He's having a vacation in Marigot for a couple of weeks, and his wife and daughter are here, and his daughter's fiance works on a megayacht which is about to leave to go back to the Mediterranean. Sounds like it came from there just a couple of months ago.

Looked at the food for sale, but it seemed pricey. $8 for a chicken dish that looked like what I cook aboard for about $1; $10-$12 for more interesting dishes that still didn't look like a lot of food. I'd had an apple on the bus ride over, so now I bought a Diet Coke and ate a power-bar I'd brought with me. Call me cheap, but $10 for a small lunch seems a bit high.

Another nice conversation with a cruising couple, recently arrived from the BVI's; they got a nice south wind and sailed 2/3 of the way across the Anegada Passage, then motor-sailed the rest of the way.

They were in the Dominican Republic last February, and said they liked how cheap it was. That wasn't my experience, and they admitted they had to pay $120 in fees for their 8-day stay. They really meant that restaurant meals there were cheap.

Van was 20 minutes late picking us up; not such a big deal, but it was a hot afternoon and we'd been ready to go early, and we had 4 or 5 kids with us.

In the bus on the way back, chatted with another cruising couple. I had been talking with a couple about the Dominican Republic, about how the DR wants you to go straight from port to port (no coastal cruising). This second couple gave me an earful about how the USA does the same to foreign boats cruising in the USA; I didn't know that. I also mentioned reports of crime from Trinidad, and they gave me an earful about that too; they've been spending hurricane season in Trinidad for the last few years, and consider the reports greatly exaggerated.

Back to the boat by 2:20, a bit tired and hot. Sunny and fairly windy afternoon. Batteries are up to 14.20 VDC on solar power alone; I turned off the wind-generator before I left this morning.

Wiped more of a pretty good layer of Montserrat dust off my solar panels. Wind is from the south, so we'll probably get more.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

More boats arriving; big empty space next to me is getting filled in.
Sun for a new day  2/15/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Up early, took the inverter off the cabinet wall, and replaced the blown fuse.

Right after the net, dinghied ashore to Simpson Bay Marina. Did a little Wi-Fi at Jimbo's. But after 10 minutes, a groundskeeper came by and said he was going to spray for mosquitoes. I thought he meant the bushes outside, but then he came inside the restaurant and started spraying just about everywhere except the tabletops and food-preparation surfaces ! I left and headed over to Lagoonies, to do Wi-Fi there ($4 for soda and tip and AC power). A lineup of people doing their laundry in the laundry room, and doing Wi-Fi in the bar while they waited. I disposed of a couple of pieces of the genset into the dumpster.

One woman was talking about a year they spent in the Mediterranean recently: she didn't like it. Any time the wind got up to 15 knots, the seas got up to 8 feet and close together. And the economic recession killed their investments, so they couldn't afford rental-cars and expensive excursions to go see things.

Chatted a little with John and Janet in the bar.

After Wi-Fi, over to Portofino marina. Walked across the street to the doctor's offices to ask about flu shots. They said first you have to buy them at the pharmacy, then the doctor will do injections for $20 (each ?). To the pharmacy, and they said first you need a prescription, then they have only the seasonal flu vaccine, for $16.

Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

After lunch, reinstalled the inverter in a slightly more-accessible location (pic). A little difficult, reaching into a cabinet and up, left-handed, to start and then drive in screws.

Drilled holes in a piece of wood to use to pull off the genset flywheel. Finally got the drilling done, but the wood is a little too thick, and is compressing under the pressure. Gave it couple of tries and then stopped for today.

Gave myself a haircut.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/16/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Despite a fair amount of wind during the night, batteries still down to 12.45 VDC or so under load by dawn. So the wind-generator production is far less than the solar panel production, so far. Sometimes the wind-gen produces 150 W (10 A at 15 VDC) but in very short bursts; the "240 W" of solar panels will produce say a steady 70 W (5 A at 14 VDC) for hours and hours. And if batteries are low and sun comes out suddenly, I'll see the solar panels produce full rated current (14 A) for a while.

Made a stab at diagramming my solar wiring. Doesn't work in Internet Explorer (which doesn't support SVG), but works in Firefox and should work in many other browsers.

Tried to remove things from both ends of the genset, and failed. Tightened down bolts until I was afraid the 2x4 would shatter, pounded on the flywheel with a sledghammer, but the flywheel didn't budge.

Started messing with remaking the noise-filter on the auto-pilot back-end. The usual problems: want thick wires but need the connectors to fit into a terminal strip that has small spacing.

There's supposed to be a Carnival parade in Marigot this afternoon, but nailing down the time is difficult. Best I was able to get was "maybe 2 or 3". So around 1:30, I launched the dinghy. Headed over to "Ventoso", where I returned a couple of books they'd lent to me, and ended up picking up Janet to go to the parade with me. Over to Marigot, where it looks like a holiday: a lot of the stores are closed. Asked someone on the street, and they told us the parade route and that it starts at 3. So we walked a couple of miles through town and out to the parade gathering point, well out on the road towards Grand Case. Just five or six big sound-trucks, with a couple of hundred dancers in costume, but maybe more will show up later (pics). Some of the music was so loud that it made the internal organs in my body jump around. We didn't stay for the actual start of the parade; we'd seen enough. Nice to get some exercise. Janet and I sat for a while in the shade near the courthouse, and chatted a bit, and we had a brief chat with some cruisers she knew.

Saw a store that made me laugh; a little hard to see, but it says "The Happy Shop" and then "Self Service" (pic).

Back to "Ventoso", where they invited me aboard for a Happy-Hour drink. We talked for a while, about such heavy topics as Marxism, culture versus biology effects on behavior, and politics. That's why we enjoy talking to each other; most people aren't very interested in serious topics. And I think John and Janet are trying to educate me a little; this time when I left, they lent me a book about Iran, and a very serious-looking book by Noam Chomsky.

Chicken-onion-carrot-mushroom-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/17/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Right after the net, dinghied ashore to Simpson Bay Marina. Did a little Wi-Fi at Jimbo's, but they were doing some kind of video-shoot inside the restaurant, so I couldn't plug in to AC power and thus couldn't stay long. Over to Budget Marine, where I disposed of a bag of garbage and bought some crimp-connectors. Walked to the supermarket and got a few groceries. Back to the boat.

Charged the laptop battery in 5-minute shots (to avoid overheating connectors).

Soldered up a noise-filter for the auto-pilot back-end. A thing of beauty: pic.

Added oil to the outboard.

Wiped some dust off the solar panels.

Ran out of energy and loafed all afternoon.

Salad and Gouda cheese sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/18/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Right after the net, dinghied ashore to Simpson Bay Marina. Went to Jimbo's, but the Wi-Fi seemed to be turned off. So over to Lagoonie's to do Wi-Fi ($4 for soda and tip and AC power). Used the book-exchange. Back to the boat.

Added water to the batteries, but they really didn't need much. Since it's been sunny with a bit of wind for the last few days, I've been turning off the wind-generator in the afternoons. The system voltage gets up to 14+ VDC and stays there, under solar charging only. I turn the wind-generator back on at 5, when the solar is fading.

Loafed all afternoon. Almost no wind, very light from the SW and W.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Totally still evening and night; warm and uncomfortable and a bit buggy.
Sun for a new day  2/19/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Climbed on top of the pilothouse roof to wipe dust off the solar panels.

On the net, Business Point announced a van to and from Grand Case on Tuesday evening, to go to the monthly "block party" there. The price is $30 per person ! Insane. Should be able to get a taxi-van for $4 each way, but I'm not sure they run at night; I'll have to find out.

Finally getting a little breeze at 10.

Solid low grey clouds starting at 11 or so and lasting all day.

Installed the noise-filter on the auto-pilot back-end, and it made no difference at all.

Got the end of the generator (the stator) loose (pic). Weighs a ton. May have to leave it in place until I build a slide across the top of the engine.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/20/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Right after the net, dinghied ashore to Simpson Bay Marina. Tried to do a little Wi-Fi at Jimbo's, but this time the Wi-Fi signal was up but there was no internet connection behind it. Gave up and headed over to Portofino marina. Disposed of a bag of garbage and bought some groceries. Back to the boat.

Grey and humid and still from 10 or so, through the rest of the day. A little rain at 11:45.

Just read a really cool little book: "Quirky QWERTY" by Torbjörn Lundmark. It's about the alphabet and numbers and symbols and punctuation and keyboards, and how all of those evolved from older to modern forms. Fascinating. For example, since various languages wrote in different directions, not only right-to-left but also up and down, the letters got rotated and mirrored as they were copied from one language or society to another. Different forms of letters were used for carving into stone and for writing on a page: straight lines were good for stone, and fewer strokes were good for writing. Until about a thousand years ago, writing used no spaces between words: all of the letters were written out in a continuous stream, and the reader had to figure out where the word boundaries were. And the printing press (1400's) marked a change from written language being mainly for a speaker to read and speak to an audience, to written language being mainly for a person to read silently to themselves, which imposed different requirements on a language (including standardized punctuation).

Rain at 2:15, from 2:45 to 3, and at 3:20. Dumped 9 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank and jug.

Sausage-onion-batter-cheese concoction and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for 15 minutes to charge batteries.

Damp and still night.
Sun for a new day  2/21/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Totally grey and damp and still morning, with low dark clouds hanging overhead. Light rain from 5:45 to 6:15. Heavier rain starting at 6:55, going through 7:50 or so. Batteries down to 12.30 VDC.

Ran engine for 45 minutes to charge batteries.

Dumped 6 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank and jug.

A little rain and a little wind around 11:45. A little sunshine after 1.

Apple and salad and Gouda cheese sandwich for dinner.

Couldn't get comfortable during the night, then developed a headache. Started taking pills.
Sun for a new day  2/22/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.


Frequent rain from 5 AM to about 7:30. Grey and damp and still after that.

Dumped 5 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Took pills and laid in bed all day, mainly.

PB-sandwiches for dinner.

Bad headache all night; alternating acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antihstamines.
Sun for a new day  2/23/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Headache still bad.

Windy, sunny morning. Since battery system voltage was well up into mid-13's, shut off the wind-generator as I left the boat. Solar is enough today.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. Disposed of two bags of garbage (mainly genset parts). Did Wi-Fi ($4). Afterwards, to Budget Marine dock and walked to supermarket for a few groceries. Back to the boat. Quick lunch and then to bed; head still aching.

Head feeling a bit better by midafternoon.

Dumped 2-3 gallons of rainwater from buckets to water tank.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice for dinner.

Windy evening; getting lots of power from the wind-generator. Turned it off a couple of times to avoid overcharging.
Sun for a new day  2/24/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Headachey again, not as bad as before. Listened to the cruiser's net, took some pills, went back to bed. Felt better by 10:30 or so.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Mostly grey and humid and windy by noon, but hasn't quite rained on my drying laundry.

Worked on the genset. Got a few more bits off (pic). But the flywheel still isn't budging, despite lots of pounding on it with a sledgehammer. And used a puller on the bearing on the generator end, but couldn't get it off.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Rain at 5:15.

Headache gone in the evening.
Sun for a new day  2/25/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Feel pretty good; headache just about completely gone.

Sunny, calm morning. Chatted with "Ventoso"; they're still struggling with their hatch-replacement project, and getting pretty frustrated, it sounds.

Dumped 6-7 gallons of rainwater from buckets to jugs.

Pumped some oil out of the genset and took more parts off it: oil filler tube and bracket, oil filter, oil filter base, chunk of metal behind the flywheel, various bolts. Unbolted the housing between flywheel and block, hoping the flywheel was mounted to that, but it came loose and the flywheel still is fixed on the end of the crackshaft. Pried and hammered at bearing on other end of the shaft, too, and no progress there either.

Sausage-onion-mushroom-batter-cheese concoction and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/26/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Supposed to be very light winds for the next week or so, which will make it a bit hot and muggy. And bad sailing weather for "Ventoso", who has a guest arriving today, I think.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. Disposed of garbage, mainly genset parts. Paid $4 for soda and tip and Wi-Fi. Used the book-exchange. Skype-called Mom (they're having their 4th or 5th big snowstorm of the winter up there in NJ/PA). Had half-expected to see John and Janet from "Ventoso", but they didn't show up.

Several dinghies tied up to a part of the marina outside the dinghy-dock area, and the marina had a charter boat coming in to there. So after asking all of us in the bar several times if those were our dinghies, they ended up having to cut their locking cables free with an angle-grinder. Going to be some unhappy dinghy-owners later in the day.

To Budget Marine. Left a bottle of old antifreeze by their disposal. Walked to the supermarket and got groceries. Back to the boat. Warm afternoon, with light wind from SW.

Salad and cheese sandwich and PBJ-sandwich for dinner.

Rain at 3:15 AM and 6 AM.
Sun for a new day  2/27/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Weather forecast this morning is a bit different from yesterday morning's, in terms of wind strength over the next week or so. Guess the forecasts here aren't too stable.

Morning started out a little grey, but looked like it would turn sunny any minute. Instead, it got greyer, and low grey clouds socked us in. Occasionally enough breeze to make the wind-generator spin a little.

Tried running the auto-pilot circuit board off a cheapo DC-DC converter, on the hope the converter would condition the power coming into the board and filter out the noise. No difference. But such a cheapo converter probably just is using resistors to drop the voltage. Maybe a fancier converter would have circuitry that does some filtering.

Rain at 11:30 and 12:20.

Read an interesting solar-power site a reader sent to me: HandyBob. Among other things, he says those inline fuses are no good, run hot (as mine does), and eventually melt. Maybe I should just get rid of the fuse entirely. I have it at the wrong end of the cable anyway; should be as close to the batteries as possible.

Started reading the manual for my Link battery monitor; I've never used the fancier functions that track AH and such. Might as well give them a try. The manual has some useful battery info, such as suggesting the batteries shouldn't be in a hot engine compartment (mine are). Maybe I could move them under a settee in the main cabin ?

Dumped 3-4 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Sunshine starting at 4 PM.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  2/28/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Loafed all morning.

Before 1, headed ashore in the dinghy. Noticed the cooling water wasn't coming out of the outboard; something must be clogged. So when I got to the dinghy-dock, I prodded at the water outlet with a screwdriver and a Swiss Army knife. Will have to get out the service manual later.

Dumped a heavy chunk of genset in the garbage. Walked across the street and over to the beach at Simpson Bay. Fair number of boats anchored here today, including a bog sailboat pretty close in to the surf (pics). Walked north, to the far end of the beach. Nice to splash my feet through the surf. Hot walk through streets to come out at Maho Beach (pic). Watched some planes land (pics); didn't see any big planes take off and blow anyone off their feet (pic). Sun is strong today, and some people are really getting fried. I'm wearing a T-shirt and floppy hat and sunscreen, and I'm still getting more sun than I like. There's almost no shade on the beaches here.

Eventually left and walked through resort area and past a golf-course, to Mullet Beach. Walked a bit and admired the women. Had planned to take a $2 bus back, but decided to walk it instead. Need the exercise, and want to see Maho Beach again.

Watched several more planes come through. Back through streets, long walk down Simpson Bay beach. Then across to the dinghy-dock. Hey, the cooling-water on the outboard is working ! I must have cleared the clog. Back to the boat by 4, sweaty and tired. Nice to drink some water and have a nice shower and rest. Probably walked 6 to 7 miles today, much of it on sand.

Salad and PB-sandwiches and an apple for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/1/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

On the morning net, someone offered a Pelican waterproof case for sale. Thrown in for free: "a dead Dell laptop that unfortunately wasn't in the case when it went into the water".

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. Disposed of garbage. Paid $4 for soda and tip and AC power and Wi-Fi. Used the book-exchange at Maintec. Backed up files from laptop to external disk.

Dinghied to Budget Marine, walked to supermarket, got a few groceries. Back to dinghy and back to boat, almost getting run over by some jerk driving a huge inflatable at high speed.

Roofed over with low dark clouds and no breeze from noon to 3.

Dinghied over to nearby mangroves to check out a couple of abandoned dinghies, to see if one of them could be salvaged. First one looked blown out at bow and maybe cracked through on one side. Other one turned out to be an edge of a bigger wreck. No way.

Polished up the camping stove I cook on in the cockpit, and boy did it come out good (before, after) ! Maybe I should polish the whole boat.

Sausage-onion-mushroom-batter-cheese concoction and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/2/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Loafed most of the day.

Took fuel lines off the genset. Later occurred to me: this boat has always had a too-small vent line on the fuel tank, and no good way to fix that (the vent line fitting is buried under a bulkhead). Maybe I can use the genset return line fitting on the fuel tank to add a second vent line.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/3/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Windy, starting at 4 AM or so. Less windy in the afternoon.

Couple of guys brought over a new neighbor around 10:30: a new-looking houseboat (pics). Hardly any windows on the thing, and it looks unpainted (maybe it's painted with water-seal). Haven't seen any houseboats in the Lagoon, I think. Maybe one or two.

Loafed all day again, reading and using the laptop. Did a tiny bit of work: got the genset fuel return line off the fuel tank without damaging the built-in tank fitting, which would have been bad.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/4/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Dinghied ashore. A couple dozen sailboats maneuvering to go out through the 9 AM Dutch bridge opening; the general-class race of the Heineken Regatta starts this morning. I probably should go watch it, but I haven't been impressed with races in general. This is "Heineken weekend"; maybe I'll go to one of the starts on Sat or Sun. [Looked online for the race schedule, and these race web sites don't give details such as start and approximate finish times. Very irritating. Looks like today is not a race day, it's a registration day. Sent some email to the race organizers, complaining about lack of times on their site.]

To IWW, to look at fuel-line fittings; not too much luck, and they were too busy to ask. To Lagoonies. Disposed of a lot of garbage. Paid $4 for soda and tip and AC power and Wi-Fi. Used the book-exchange.

Turns out my friends on "Angel Louise" arrived here Monday; I'll have to hook up with them.

To Budget Marine. Left a bottle of old oil by their disposal. Checked out fuel vent line parts, here's what it looks like: $4 for pipe-to-hose fitting, $12 for vent through-hull fitting, and $3.60/foot for 1/2 fuel line hose. I need about 11 feet of hose, so that's a total of $56 for the project ! Not sure it's worth it. Could skimp and use some cheaper non-fuel hose, but if there was a serious fire in the engine compartment and the hose melted, that would open a path into the fuel tank.

Walked to the supermarket and got groceries. Back to the boat.

Did a little caulking on the edges of the pilothouse roof. Worked a little to remove the genset intake strainer.

Put the fitting back on the fuel tank; I think I'll just remove it each time I need to fuel up, using it as a vent that way. Just have to be careful not to overfill the tank and spill fuel into the engine compartment.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers and rum-and-coke for dinner.

Very still evening and night.

I've been thinking about the auto-pilot. Maybe the way to go is to power it from a separate, rechargeable battery. Will have to look into that. Would be nice to get a small 12 V lead-acid battery (same technology as my house batteries), so I can just plug it into my house batteries to recharge it. If I have to get a NiCd or something, I'd have to have a special charger for it, using AC from the inverter.
Sun for a new day  3/5/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sunny and slightly breezy morning. Should be good sailing for the Heineken Regatta. But the information about the race is maddeningly vague: today's starts range from 9 AM to 11 AM, from Simpson Bay to waters E of there towards Phillipsburg. I think I won't bother to take the long dinghy-ride out there and take pictures of sailboats in the distance.

Chatted with Ed on "Angel Louise" on the VHF for a while.

Into the engine compartment, and started Dremel-ing to cut the small bearing off the generator-end of the crankshaft. Nice display of sparks in the dimly-lit compartment. Cut through the bearing shell, chiseled it off, and got the balls out. Then looked at the other end of the crankshaft, and noticed that the flywheel was loose ! Maybe the daily temperature-change let it work loose, or chiseling on the bearing vibrated the shaft ? Took the flywheel off, and the sucker is heavy, maybe 25-30 pounds. Took off the housing behind it, and started working on gears behind that. Took off part of the oil pump, and then got the whole camshaft out (not in the approved way, I'm sure; pounded on the end with a sledgehammer while prying with a crowbar). Pics. Started Dremel-ing to cut off the base of the small bearing on the generator-end of the crankshaft. Got it off, and still unable to get the big generator-rotor loose from the shaft.

Added water to the batteries.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/6/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Dinghied ashore. First to IWW, to look for a rechargeable battery to run the auto-pilot circuit-board. As expected, everything they had was either too small or too big or not rechargeable. And all of the chargers run off AC, not 12 VDC.

Chatted with the salesman about it for a while. I also mentioned that the KISS wind-generator alone probably would satisfy only 25 percent of my daily power needs, where the solar panels satisfied 80-90 percent of my needs. But he said we're having a very light-wind season this year; in fact, people are worried about what it means for hurricane season. So I guess in a normal-wind season, the wind-generator would be doing much better.

To Plaisance marina, and walked to the fancy supermarket. Bought a lot of cheese: some Feta, cheap Cheddar, Camembert, Gorgonzola, and a sale grab-bag of cheeses (Brie and something unidentifiable). Also cranberry juice, and a package of bratwursts. And wine: a Glen Ellen 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, and a 2008 Luberon (maybe a Pinot Grigio ?). Total of $41, which I thought was pretty reasonable. Back to the boat.

Worked on the genset a little. Used the Dremel to cut off a couple of aluminum rod-bolts that were in the way. Still can't get the generator-rotor off the shaft. I notice that both pistons came to the top together as I rotated the crankshaft; I thought they were supposed to be offset to minimize vibration.

After lunch, dinghied ashore to Portofino marina. Just about exhausted myself carrying that stupid flywheel and a bag of parts to the dumpster. Across the street and over to Simpson Bay beach. A couple of nice-looking topless women. Walked the length of the beach, westward. Can see sailboats racing past, fairly far out (pics). Wind blowing hard from the S or SSW this afternoon; great for the race.

Saw an anchored catamaran with lots of dinghies trailing behind it (pic); must be that a dozen boats in the race are affiliated with this boat, and left their dinghies here while racing. Hope it's okay; this anchorage is rough today, and that catamaran was really pitching heavily later in the afternoon.

Up through streets and out onto Maho Beach. In time to see most of the raceboats going past, but I hoped they would be close to shore here; instead they're still fairly far out, most too far out to take a picture (pic).

Enjoyed the airplanes flying over the beach (pics). Nice sailboat came past, going south (pics).

Walked back, and the wind is strengthening, and dark clouds are coming over, with a few rainsprinkles. A few more topless women on Simpson Bay beach. Back to the dinghy, and found Ed and Sue from "Angel Louise" have dropped their boat-card in my dinghy. I'll catch up to them sooner or later. Back to the boat. Tired and sweaty and sandy.

Dark clouds and strong wind. The wind-generator has driven the charging voltage high enough to trip the high-voltage disconnect on the solar controller. Sunny and windy an hour later.

Salad and a Feta cheese sandwich and a Gorgonzola cheese sandwich and a glass of Bordeaux for dinner. Very civilized.

A bit windy in the evening, then wind flipped from SW to NE and mostly died out. A little rain at 2:30 AM.
Sun for a new day  3/7/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Totally grey and cool and damp and trying to rain, and just enough wind to turn the wind-generator occasionally. A little rain at 8 AM.

Steady light rain from 11 to 12:45. Lots of sailboats coming in through the Dutch bridge at noon. Pretty good wind in the afternoon.

Dumped about 6 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank and jug.

Some sunshine starting around 2.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-mushroom-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Cool, grey evening. Windy after midnight.
Sun for a new day  3/8/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Totally grey and cool and damp and trying to rain.

Dinghied ashore. Lots of sailboats heading out to leave via the Dutch bridge; this NE wind makes for a great opportunity to head SE to St Barts, Antigua or Guadeloupe.

To Lagoonies. Disposed of garbage. Paid $4 for soda and tip and AC power and Wi-Fi. Used the book-exchange.

To Electec to look at rechargeable batteries, but no luck there. Maybe something from powerstream is what I should get to run the auto-pilot board. The tech support guy at the circuit-board vendor said the board should run for about half an hour off a 9V alkaline battery, and it looks like those hold about 600 mAH. So if I wanted to run for 24 hours, that might require a 7 AH battery ? I think maybe he was being conservative; board should run longer on a 9V battery.

Skype-called home to PA and chatted with Mom and my sister. Helped Ned from "Passion 3" get his computer connected to the Wi-Fi.

Wet, rough ride back to the boat, upwind in stiff wind.

Wind suddenly stopped around 1:30. Glow of sun through grey clouds is getting a little brighter. Windy again by 3 or so.

Salad and a Camembert cheese sandwich and a Gorgonzola cheese sandwich and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon for dinner.

Ran engine for 10 minutes to exercise it and charge batteries a little.
Sun for a new day  3/9/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Mostly grey and cool and trying to rain, but some sun by 9:30. But soon grey and still for the rest of the day. Rain at 2:30.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/10/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sunny and windy by 9 AM.

Loafed most of the day. Took some parts off the genset, but still can't figure out how to get the big rotor off the generator end.

Salad and a Brie sandwich and a Gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/11/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Heard a couple of boats (one on the net, one in email) that have computer problems and are hiring help. Hey, I was a computer programmer for 20+ years; maybe I should make some money on the side fixing computers for cruisers. Readers have suggested that to me, and I've thought about it. The people with a Windows problem here are having someone come over, charging $35/hour. The people with a Mac problem here are paying $90/hour for someone. But both situations are obscure problems, on operating systems I don't have any experience with: Windows 7 trying to get a USB-to-serial adapter to talk to a GPS, and some Mac update making another GPS or cell-data interface stop working, I think. Someone else the other day had a dead display on a Dell laptop. I'd probably be able to figure out the Windows 7 problem after some digging, but not the others. I don't really want to work, anyway. I help people for free every now and then.

Dinghied ashore. To Business Point in Simpson Bay marina, to use the book-exchange and get some shipping info.

To Lagoonies. Disposed of garbage. Paid $4 for soda and tip and AC power and Wi-Fi.

After Wi-Fi, stashed the laptop in the dinghy and walked inland. Stopped at an "electric" store to look for rechargeable batteries, and they had some cordless-tool batteries but no 12V charger for them. And many of the tool batteries are 18V, too high for my auto-pilot circuit board. Kept walking, up to the Ace MegaCenter, where the story was the same. And they had no distilled water, another item I've been looking for.

Walked along the main road, past the Harley-Davidson store, into an area I haven't explored. Stopped in a homeware store, and they directed me to a rechargeable-battery store in the same strip mall ! Again no 12V chargers, but plenty of moderate-sized rechargeable batteries, just what I need. Prices a little strange: 3.5 AH battery was $29, 7.2 AH battery was $50, and I bought a 4.5 AH battery for $23. I'm going to connect it straight to my house 12V system and charge it directly. Will have to keep an eye on it to avoid overcharging. I should look it up online to see what the charging voltages should be. [Later found it is a "VRLA AGM" battery.] Pic.

Started heading for home, and stumbled upon a warehouse food store I didn't know about ! Went in, but I don't have much cash, don't want to incur credit-card foreign-transaction fees, and it's well into lunch hour so I'm tired and hungry. Bought a couple of items and out.

Was walking past NAPA Auto, so I went in and asked about distilled water for batteries. They have it, but in boutique-looking quart bottles instead of the cheap gallon jugs I like to buy; no price marked, but I bet it's high.

Back to Lagoonies, into the dinghy, and back to the boat by 1:30. Weather getting fairly grey and breezey.

Loafed a bit, then started laying out the parts and wires to connect the new battery to the auto-pilot circuit board.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Rain at 9:30. Fair amount of wind all night long.
Sun for a new day  3/12/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Got started early, and cut and stripped and soldered and crimped and taped wires and parts to connect the new battery to the auto-pilot circuit board. The result looks okay (pic). The rectangular connectors in the middle are there so I can plug the battery into my house system to recharge it; I use those connectors instead of cigarette-plugs in a few key places because they can handle higher current.

Connected the new battery to the house system and charged it for a while; nothing blew up. Connected it to the circuit board, and the board ran fine. Turned on the auto-pilot back-end, and the board ran that fine, so the noise problem is gone (after great effort). Need to take the boat out into open water to test the real auto-pilot program and tweak it.

Windy morning. Dinghied ashore. First to Portofino marina. Dumped a genset pulley into the dumpster. To the Shell station and got $5 of gasoline. To the ATM for cash. To Palapa marina to use the book-exchange.

Coming out of the marina, swung around to ask a guy in a drifting dinghy if he needed help. Just before I got to him, he pulled out oars and started rowing in to the marina. He said he was okay. I got drenched by spray from turning sideways in such windy conditions.

Diagonally across and down the harbor to Budget Marine. Walked inland to the warehouse store. Not as good a selection as I thought yesterday. Got about $60 worth of stuff.

Walking back, ran into Ed and Sue from "Angel Louise" on their way to NAPA Auto. Chatted with them for a few minutes. Then into a small grocery store for a couple of items. Back to the dinghy dock, and then back to the boat by 12:45.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/13/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Loafed all morning.

Banged and pried on the generator rotor and got it to slide loose on the shaft. But the genset is installed too close to the water-heater; not enough clearance to slide the rotor off the end of the shaft. And I can't budge the nuts holding the base of the shaft on. Will have to cut through the 1/2" steel shaft with the Dremel. But this is good progress.

Lowered the dinghy and went snorkeling under the boat. Intended to scrape the prop and replace the shaft-zinc, but was surprised to find a thick layer of 1/2" barnacles all over everything. Later, I realized it's been 4 months since I scraped the hull; that's what you get. Scraped about half of the hull and then cleaned the prop. Poked at the zinc with a screwdriver, and a layer of soft metal came off, but underneath is better metal. Was running out of energy, so called it quits for today. Will do it again in a week or so and replace the zinc then. Got pretty badly bitten by sea-lice; lots of itchy welts on my neck and upper chest.

Spaghetti and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon for dinner.

Itchy and headachey all night; didn't sleep well. No more red wine for me.
Sun for a new day  3/14/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Feel punky today: tired and listless and a little headachey. Loafed. "Ventoso" swung by and invited me over for dinner. And we have books we've lent to each other, that we need to return.

Into the engine compartment and started cutting through that genset shaft with the Dremel. Slow work; decided I need a new cutting disc on it.

I need to get going again; I've been here too long, in a rut now. Maybe in a week or so I can get out of the Lagoon and explore a couple of the anchorages elsewhere on St Martin.

At 5:30, went over to "Ventoso". Nice evening, chatting and drinking and eating a little. Nice conversation; they're very intelligent people. Some big boats coming close by making huge wakes after dark; glad I'm not anchored over here any more. Back to the boat around 10.

Slept very solidly. Rain at 1:15.
Sun for a new day  3/15/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Pumped up the dinghy tubes. Dinghied ashore to Lagoonies. Disposed of garbage. Their Wi-Fi not working. To Budget Marine. Into the store to look for distilled water (no luck), said hi to John and Janet, looked at various items. Ended up looking at a stern light for the boat; the one I have is old and cloudy and has an incandescent bulb; I've thought of changing to a new LED light. Budget Marine has them, little dabs of plastic and three LEDs that probably cost $1 to make, selling for the magnificent sum of $126.40 ! Ridiculous.

Headed for the supermarket, but got diverted into a little exploration in search of distilled water for the batteries. Found a hardware/lumber store I didn't know about, then checked a car-parts store. No distilled water, and the consensus seems to be to just use purified drinking water. Used to be able to get distilled water by the gallon in the supermarket for $1 or so; now it's $2 per quart in automotive stores.

To the supermarket, got groceries, back to dinghy, and back to the boat.

Still feeling slightly tired and headachey.

Worked on removing the genset. Finished cutting through the 1/2" steel shaft, got it out, and then got the generator rotor out and into the cockpit (pic). That sucker probably weighs 30-40 pounds.

Cut out two aluminum rods, and then went for the generator stator, which I got loose a while ago but had to roll into a corner until I could get enough access to be able to roll it out and then lift it. Got the stator up onto a board across the top of the engine, out into the hallway, and up the companionway stairs and into the cockpit (pic). That sucker probably weighs 60 pounds; it was a strain to get it out without hurting myself or dropping it onto something I didn't want to break.

Started working to take out the next set of bolts, holding a flange onto the crankshaft. Making good progress today. Got the bolts out, but the flange isn't budging.

Chicken-onion-carrot-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/16/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Cloudless and warm and very still this morning; going to be a hot day. Same for next day or two.

Dinghied ashore to Lagoonies. Disposed of garbage, including the generator rotor. Was a strain to get it into the dinghy and up onto the dock and into the dumpster, heaving it across a 3-foot gap between wall-opening and dumpster. I think I'm just going to dump the stator, and the genset engine block, over the side into open ocean water later. Too much work to get them into the dinghy and into a dumpster.

To Budget Marine dock, and walked up the street in the hot noontime sun to the warehouse store. Planned to get 1 gallon of purified water and some groceries, but the water was sold 3 gallons in a box for $3.75, so I got a box and lugged it the mile or so back to the dock, getting a lot of good exercise. Back to the boat. Hot and muggy afternoon with very little breeze.

"Ventoso" left for Antigua (to the SE) this morning. Not much wind, but what little there is certainly is from a good direction for them. First from the SW, then W, then NW.

Salad and a Brie cheese sandwich and a mystery-cheese (probably an older batch of Brie) sandwich and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Very warm and still night, but at least it wasn't buggy.
Sun for a new day  3/17/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Warm and very light winds today; going to be another hot day.

On the net, someone asked about a dismasted sailboat they saw being towed in yesterday. Someone else came back and said it was a charter Beneteau 51 that came off its mooring and hit the rocks, and what you saw being towed in was the upper 2/3 of the hull: the bottom was smashed out of it and it's a total loss.

Heard "Sagativa" on the net again advertising anchor chain for sale, and this time he mentioned a really cheap price. So I arranged to meet him at IWW to see it. When I was snorkeling under the boat the other day, I noticed some alarmingly thin links on my secondary anchor's chain, so I've been thinking of new chain.

Launched the dinghy and headed ashore. But oops, the outboard is choking when I try to throttle up. Maybe the spark plug is clogged a bit ? Hope it doesn't quit. After a minute or two, I was able to slowly throttle up to my normal (slow) cruising speed.

To IWW, met Ken (I think) from "Sagativa", and the chain looks good. Used, but really in fine shape. Nice swivel on the end. Gave him the $50 he was asking, and he went away happy. I wrestled the heavy, awkward, tangled chain down into my dinghy and headed back to the boat.

On the way back, saw a converted lifeboat I've noticed before. But this time I saw that it has an air-conditioner installed on it. Guess you'd need that in a sealed boat like that. Pic. Must have a generator too.

Got back to the boat. So there's a project I hadn't planned on: pic. But I couldn't pass up this bargain: new 3/8" chain is something like $2/foot in Miami and $4/foot here, and I just got (used) 250 feet plus swivel for $50. Right now I have 100 feet of chain and 100+ feet of line on each anchor; now I can have 125 chain and 100+ line on each. I don't think I want to put the whole 250 feet on one anchor, because my anchor windlass mostly doesn't work, so raising that much chain would be difficult. I really can't anchor in more than 30 feet or so of water without a working windlass. The chain weighs 1.6 pounds/foot, and the anchor is 45 pounds.

After a rest, out into the dinghy. Handed the chain up out of the dinghy and onto deck, untangling it and laying it out semi-neatly. That took a while, and was a fairly dirty and sweaty job. Took a rest.

Now I want to get the secondary anchor up, so I can replace its chain. But the three anchor rodes are twisted around half a dozen times. Ended up using the dinghy to spin the boat around four times, counter-clockwise, to get rid of much of the twisting. Lunchtime.

After a while, out into the dinghy again, and spun the boat twice more, counter-clockwise. Needs another spin, but the wind has kicked up slightly, and my 6 HP outboard won't be able to spin the boat against it. So onto deck, and laid out about half of the new chain into 11 rows of 11 feet each (using a couple of convenient stanchions to do the measuring; pic). Wind died down, so back into the dinghy and spun the boat one more time.

Back onto the bow. Now the rope rode is untwisted from the two chain rodes, but the chain rodes are twisted another 4 or 5 times around each other. I had put the rope rode out after the other two had been out by themselves for a week or so, I guess. Unfastened the bow-end of the secondary chain and untwisted it from around the primary chain, which took a while. My hands are getting nicked from barnacles and other crud on the chains, and my feet are getting nicked from standing on pieces of barnacle and stuff on deck. And a barnacle drew blood on top of one of my toes. Not a fun operation (pic showing bow, half of new chain, but both old chains are mostly in the water). Hot, lots of heavy ugly stuff to haul around, lots of twisting and things for chain to catch on.

Left the bow-end of the secondary chain unfastened, and into the dinghy to go raise the secondary anchor. Gathered the chain into the dinghy, got out to the anchor, and it's very heavy. Must have caught something on the bottom. Struggled with it for a while, got it partway up, and now I can confirm that it's free of the bottom, not snagged on something. But it weighs a ton.

Finally I haul the anchor up high enough to see that the chain has knotted itself 4 or 5 times around the anchor, turning a 40-pound anchor into a 60-pound anchor. And I don't have enough energy and muscle to get it up into the dinghy. Every time I try to hold it by the chain with one hand, lean over and down and try to grab the anchor with the other hand, it starts slipping away. And every time I give an extra effort and try to pull it up, it catches under the lip of the dinghy-tube and stops me long enough to prevent me from raising it. Finally I give up, tow it over to the side of the boat, lower the anchor to the bottom, and pile the rest of the chain onto deck. I'm exhausted and hot and soaking with sweat. Enough for today.

Back onto the boat, hoist the dinghy, and wash it off with buckets of seawater. Rest a bit, shave and shower, and then rest some more. Hot afternoon; still very little breeze. Got a bit sunburnt today.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Very warm and still night; a little buggy.
Sun for a new day  3/18/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Started out warm and still, but then a little breeze starting around 9.

Raised the second anchor up onto deck and unknotted the chain from around it. Scraped barnacles and grass off the anchor. Washed muck and barnacles off anchor and chain and deck with buckets of seawater. Unfastened the shackle and put the anchor on the stern deck; I think I'll take it to a machine-shop and see if they can straighten the shank. It's been bent like that for about 9 months; I think it happened in St Thomas while I was off the boat. Anchor must have snagged on a hard part of the bottom and gotten pulled sideways, very strongly. Pic.

Can see new chain (top) compared to wasted links of the old chain (bottom): pic. Both are 3/8" BBB. Not all of the old chain is that bad, but several sections are.

Used the Dremel to cut the 250 feet of "new" chain into two lengths of about 120 and 130. Took quite a while, and 3 or 4 disposal cutting disks, to cut through a link and pry it open (pic). At least I had a bright idea: instead of running an AC cord onto deck and sitting up in the sun on the foredeck while cutting the chain, I ran a bight of the chain down into the V-berth and sat in the shade while cutting.

Attached the long part of the "new" chain onto the rope part of the secondary rode, and stowed it into the lower part of the chain locker. Cleaned up and swept off the foredeck, returning it to some semblance of order.

Started cutting out the bad part of the old secondary chain; I want to salvage the good lengths. Unfortunately, I can't cut through the easy parts, the wasted links; I have to find where the links are okay and cut through there, which takes a while.

Just for giggles, looked at 3/8 BBB chain prices in the Budget Marine and Island Water World catalogs. Old log files show that (including tax and shipping) I paid $2.50/foot in Marathon in 2001, and about $4.50/foot in Puerto Rico in 2007. Here, the IWW list price is $5.55/foot (since I have an "account", no tax and might even be a discount from that price). The Budget Marine price is confusing; they show $10/foot (!) for 3/8 BBB, but $4.20/foot for 10 MM (which is almost the same size; might not fit my windlass quite right).

I see that I bought only 100 feet of chain in 2007, so I think that wasted chain on the secondary anchor is from the 2001 batch.

Finished cutting one link out of the old secondary chain; it took a while. So now I have a 10-foot length of the old chain to use.

Apple and salad and Camembert-and-crackers for dinner.

One end of the chain-swivel is frozen closed on the chain, but I got the other end open and tried to put the 10-foot length of the old chain onto it. But it doesn't quite fit; had to add a shackle.

Nice breeze starting after 8 or so, then plenty of wind after midnight. Still a bit warm.
Sun for a new day  3/19/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sunny and breezey morning.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies, into a stiff wind. Disposed of garbage. Started doing Wi-Fi, but after about 5 minutes, electric power went off, probably on the entire Dutch side of the island. And it stayed off.

Did a few errands. Took the bent anchor to the machine shop, to see if they can straighten the shank. They're not sure; they have to figure out how to hold it in the press. As usual, it was like pulling teeth to get the guy to give me a price; they like to operate on a "however long it takes, at $70/hour" basis. Finally pinned him down to $25, and left the anchor there. They can't do anything until electric power comes back on.

Wandered over to IWW to see if they have an anchor swivel like the used one I just acquired; I want to know the working strength. But they don't have the same one.

Sat around for a while, reading magazines. But the power showed no sign of coming back on. Finally headed back to the boat.

More Dremel-cutting on chain links. Very windy day. And plenty of sun on the solar panels, so I have the wind-generator shut off anyway. Got through the link.

After lunch, dinghied ashore to Lagoonies again. Dumped bad chain in the dumpster. Paid $4 for soda and tip and AC power and Wi-Fi. Gathering income-tax information; fun, fun, fun. Skype-called the people who dented/scraped my rental-car at Christmas; I still haven't received payment from them. Turns out they did receive my letter, turned it over to their insurance company, and thought it had all been taken care of. They'll check on it, and I asked them to establish email contact with me, since it's the only reliable form of communication I have.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Warm, fairly still night.
Sun for a new day  3/20/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Loafed all morning. Did a bucket of laundry.

Dinghied ashore to Lagoonies. To the machine shop, and they have straightened my anchor shank very nicely; can't tell it was bent (pic). Paid them $25.

To Budget Marine's dock, and walked to the supermarket. Got groceries, and back to the boat.

Checked outboard's spark plug; it's fine. Added oil to the outboard.

Messed with shackles on the anchor chains. Big one I put on was too big to fit down the primary anchor's hawsehole; switched to a smaller shackle from the secondary anchor. But the big shackle is too big to fit through the hole on the shank of the anchor. So I'll have to find another smaller shackle.

Salad and a Brie sandwich and a Gorgonzola sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/21/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sunny and windy day. Loafed most of the day.

Yesterday evening, I washed most of the salt off the remainder of the old secondary anchor chain. Today I lowered it down through the forward hatch and stowed it under the cabin sole in the V-berth. That area is full; not sure where I'm going to stow the old primary anchor chain once I put the new one on.

Found a smaller shackle and attached the un-bent secondary anchor onto the new secondary anchor chain.

Did a little more work on my income taxes. One of the few numbers I'm missing is from Google Ads. And oddly enough, there doesn't seem to be a way to get it online, from the Google Ads account web site (I tried on Friday).

Worked on the genset a little. Three of the engine-mount nuts loosened okay, but I had to cut and chisel the fourth one off. Have to figure out how to support the engine block and tilt it over, after I take off the last piece of generator shell that has two of the mounts on it. Not sure how much oil is left in the pan and block; I pumped out as much as I could. Need to put the block on its side or upside-down to see if I can take the pistons and crankshaft out.

Wind getting gusty and erratic, and then once it slowly backed all the way around, spinning the boat 360 counter-clockwise.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/22/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Grey morning.

On the morning VHF net, "Usutu" announced they were giving away a hard dinghy for free ! At first, their location sounded like it was far away, but then with more details it became clear that they were close to me, and I could see the boat. So I dropped everything and launched my dinghy. As I was trying to start the outboard (forgot to re-attach the spark plug wire when I checked the plug on Saturday), saw a couple of fast skiffs getting there ahead of me, making a pass by, and leaving. Dinghy must be claimed already.

But when I got there, the dinghy was still there, and I didn't even bother to really check it out, just hailed the guy up from belowdecks. As I said hi, another skiff arrived with two guys aboard. The guy on "Usutu" didn't know how to decide between us, said something about not knowing who was more "deserving", so I offered $20. He still wasn't sure, so I said it was his choice, do it by money or not. The other guys had their hearts set on "free", and maybe hadn't brought any money, and soon the guy on "Usutu" said "well, $20 is $20". So I was the winner !

Towed the dinghy back to my boat and took my first good look at it (pic). The guy had said it really doesn't row, but I found it came with oars and has oarlocks. And before I bid, I had noticed it has a mast-mount in it. Has a centerboard trunk that seems to have the lower end glassed over. Has a couple of small lifting-eyes in the hull. Has a wet area of the fiberglass where it's been repaired. The "tubes" are solid foam, not inflatable, and feel solid and dry, not rotted or anything. What a find ! There's a homemade spear-fishing spear rolling around in the bilge, as a bonus. Trolling brackets on the transom, and cup-holders near the aft ends of the tubes.

Rain at 8:20.

Locked the hard dinghy to the boat and dinghied ashore to Lagoonies. Another view of the hard dinghy; you can see that it has another set of "tubes" glassed-in at the waterline: pic. Took a picture of a nice-looking boat in Plaisance marina as I went by: pic.

Paid $4 for soda and tip and AC power and Wi-Fi. Had a nice conversation with a naval-architect guy from Australia, mostly about politics.

Back to the boat for lunch. Looks like the hard dinghy doesn't leak; no new water in the bottom.

Feeling a bit headachey in the afternoon; felt that way yesterday afternoon too. Didn't have the energy to deal with the new dinghy; just enough energy to hoist the inflatable dinghy.

Felt worse by dinnertime. Salad and PB-sandwiches and pills for dinner. Went to bed early, but as I was closing hatches and such, a muscle in the back-left part of my ribcage went "ping", and now I have a nice strain/ache to deal with there.

Lots of rain and wind from 7 to 8:30.

Very windy and gusty all night, with wind-generator producing 15.5 VDC and more in a few gusts. Felt headachey and took pills.
Sun for a new day  3/23/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sunny and windy morning. Feeling headachey and a muscle in my back/ribcage is hurting.

Did a little work in the afternoon. Dumped 6-7 gallons of rainwater from buckets to jugs. Added water to the batteries.

Worked on the genset, cutting off another frozen engine-mount nut. Then I was able to pound the last part of the generator "shell" free from the engine block, taking two of the engine mounts with it (pic; those parts are heavier than they look).

So now the remainder (pic) is the engine block, pistons, crankshaft, oil pan, and oil pump (inside the block and pan). Next step is to get it off the remaining mounts and onto its side, and take the oil pan off.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

One more round of pills in the evening got rid of my headache.
Sun for a new day  3/24/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Just read a couple of web-articles about the health-care reform bill that Congress just passed. I haven't had medical insurance since I started living on the boat. Looked into getting it, a couple of times, and each time I failed to sign up for various reasons. Sometimes because each time I went in to see an agent the price quoted was different, for no apparent reason. Sometimes because I was spending most of my time in quasi-USA places such as Puerto Rico and USVI, so the non-USA insurers didn't want me. Sometimes because of my laziness. I've saved a lot of money in premiums not paid in the last 10 years, but one illness or accident could wipe that out.

Anyway, it looks like the new legislation won't affect me until 2014; that's when "insurance exchanges" are supposed to start, and also fines for not having insurance. Everything else in the law involves changes to Medicare and other things that don't apply to me.

Dinghied ashore to Portofino Marina. Dumped 2 bags of garbage and 2 genset parts into the dumpster. Got $5 of gasoline. Across the street to get cash at the ATM (don't like to use my credit card here, since it incurs a 3% "foreign transaction" fee). Caught a bus ($2) over the hill towards Phillipsburg.

Briefly into the Grand Marche supermarket over there; looks like a nice store, but not really any better than the one in Cole Bay. To Cost-U-Less, to buy only stuff that is very expensive in the normal supermarkets. Got 20 pounds of granola, 4 pounds of Parmesan cheese (I eat a lot on my spaghetti, but this should last me quite a while), and a bag of snack/trail mix; total $92. Caught a bus ($2) back, and back to the boat. On the bus, saw a sewage truck go by, with a slogan on the side: "we pump what our competitors talk".

After lunch, messed with the hard dinghy a little. Unlocked it, bailed it out, and put the oars in it. The guy I got it from said "it doesn't row", but I gave it a try. First thing I realized was that the oarlocks were screwed to a funny position on the oars, way up at the handle-ends. Each oar is 6 feet long, and the oarlock is 5 feet from the paddle-end. Put the oars into the sockets, made sure I had the paddle from the inflatable dinghy as an emergency backup, and cast off. This may be the first time I've ever rowed a rowboat; maybe I did it once as a kid. I was able to row the dinghy, but it was hard work. Since the handle is so close to the oarlock, you have to support most of the weight of the oar with your wrist, all of the time you're rowing. And they're solid wood oars, so they're not light. The remainder of the oar, outboard of the oarlock, is about the right length; could be a little longer. So 8-foot oars might be about right.

But the biggest problem is that the mast-socket-pylon juts up right where you want to sit for a good rowing position. No way around that one; there's hardly any seat left forward of the pylon, so you can't sit with your legs straddling the pylon, to row.

I have several lengths of leftover PVC pipe that might serve as a mast, and plenty that will serve as a boom. But the thickest I have is 1-1/4" ID; if I got some 1-3/4" ID pipe, I could use it to extend the oar-handles, and it would fit better into the mast-socket.

Into the engine compartment. Tilted the genset engine-block a bit, and was relieved to find that it was heavy but not immensely, fall-through-the-crust-of-the-earth heavy. Tilted it back and forth a couple of times, wedging pieces of 2x4 under it, and then tilted it off the two remaining mounts and laid it down on its side. Plenty of oil came pouring out, but the tray underneath caught most of it. Pumped up a bit of it and wiped up the rest with 1/3 of a roll of paper towels.

Took a few pipes off the block, and got the oil pan off (pic). Expected to find 35 years worth of sludge in the pan, but it's clean (just very oily). The pan is very heavy; thick metal, because it forms half of the engine mounts.

Used the dinghy to spin the boat twice clockwise, to untwist the anchor rodes.

Feeling headachey in the late afternoon and evening again.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/25/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

On the morning net, Canady on "Far Star" (I met him on "Ventoso") said good-bye, he's leaving this morning. Five minutes later, he came back onto the net and said he's not leaving, because someone stole his dinghy (cut the painter) during the night.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. Disposed of two bags of garbage, a cracked bucket, and the genset oil pan. Did Wi-Fi ($4 for soda and tip and AC power). Still working on doing my income taxes, online.

Dinghied to Budget Marine, noticing a docked catamaran that has its RADAR dome almost torn off (pic), maybe snagged by a flogging jib sheet ?

Walked to supermarket, got a few groceries, back to dinghy, back to boat.

Had planned to mess with the hard dinghy this afternoon, but a reader pointed out that it lacks a rudder. So I put that off for a bit.

Into the engine compartment, and tried to get the genset connecting rods off the crankshaft. But the bolts are awkward to get to, have shallow heads, and have metal lips nearby that prevent a wrench from getting on totally firmly. Some kind of strange bolt, with head slightly less than 13 MM size, and cross-hatching on the head, marked "RP8" (pic). Maybe I'm supposed to get some special socket for them. No nuts on the other ends; they mate into the ends of the connecting rods. Switched from wrench to socket set, exerted some of my awesome musclature, and cracked the 13 MM socket (pic). I'm sure these are top-quality bolts, tighted very hard with a torque wrench. Might need an impact wrench to get them off. I could try hauling out the engine block with pistons and crankshaft still inside, but I'd really like to get that last 30+ pounds of weight out separately. Cutting off the bolt-heads with the Dremel may be the only option.

Around 4, started the engine and worked on the primary anchor rode. Raised the primary anchor, and let the third anchor hold the boat as I switched anchor chains. The old chain looks pretty good; links are a bit thinned out, but not nearly as bad as the secondary chain was, and the wear is even, not concentrated in a few spots. Probably could have used this chain for another year or two. But might as well switch to newer, better, longer chain with a swivel. So I put the new (used) chain on. Odd to put out 130 feet or so of chain in 5 feet of water; with 6 feet of freeboard at the bow, that's about 12-1 scope. Now I have to clean up the foredeck and old chain, and find a place to stow the old chain (pic).

Engine ran fine for the half-hour or so it took to do the anchor rode, but the oil pressure gauge ticked up sharply to 80 PSI (from normal 60) a few times. Maybe a loose connection on the sender wire ?

Cornedbeef-onion-noodle and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/26/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Got out the box of filters, to find the genset filters so I can sell them or give them away. Also realize I need to restock a few engine filters. Started taking out the genset exhaust hoses and muffler. As usual, very hard to get the big hose off the through-hull pipe.

Chipped the barnacles off the old primary anchor chain, and hosed it off with some fresh water. Moved the lumber pile out of the space under the V-berth cabin sole to make room for the chain.

After lunch, when the chain was dry, lowered it down into the V-berth and stowed it. Sprayed WD-40 on the various lengths of old chain. Cleaned up in the V-berth, then sprayed acid on deck to get rid of the worst of the rust spots from the chain that was lying around. Washed the acid away with buckets of seawater.

Interesting: in 8/2000, before I had a boat, my girlfriend and I chatted with John Anderton, a live-aboard in Alameda CA, on his Cabo Rico 38. Just read an online copy of the 8/2009 Latitude 38, and it says that recently his boat was rammed by an unlit steel motor vessel in the Bahamas. I'm amazed he's over here; when we chatted with him in CA, I thought he and his boat were going to be permanent residents in the marina there. He must have come through the Panama Canal.

Found and killed a wasp nest in the fluorescent fixture in the aft cabin.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/27/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Very grey day. A little rain at 7:30.

Advertised the genset spare filters and a few other items on the morning cruiser's net. Only made one sale: John from "Aldeberan" came over and gave me a couple of bucks for the Mercury service manual I've been trying to get rid of since I ditched my old Mercury 20 outboard.

Used Dremel to start carving away the head of one of the genset bolts, but it's slow going.

Chicken-onion-carrot-mushroom-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/28/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. Disposed of three bags of garbage, did Wi-Fi. Rain at 10 and again at 11. Did some work on my income taxes, hit a small snag, got frustrated, and gave up on them for today. Messed around on the internet for quite a while. Back to the boat in early afternoon.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/29/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Did some more Dremel-ing on the genset bolts. Slow going; looks like I'll have to nibble the bolt-heads to bits, and they're high-grade steel. And since I have to stoop over a bit while doing it, my back hurts and I have to rest between sessions. Have to let the inverter cool down, too, or else it will start blowing fuses.

Joke from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: "A new study shows that 1-in-7 people does not own a cell phone. The technical term for these people: grandparents." Au contraire ! I am proud to say I do not own a phone of any type. Happiest day of my life was when I got rid of the cell-phone that my girlfriend at the time made me get. After a while, I realized that all of my friends who liked their cell-phones, had company-paid cell-phones. Every bill was twice what I expected, service was flaky, and the thing stopped working halfway through the contract. Lousy.

Finished cutting the first bolt-head off with the Dremel (pic). I made cuts to deepen the slots in the bolt head, then chipped off the pieces by pounding with sledgehammer and crowbar; a lot of work. Will have to cut off the other bolt of the pair before I can see if the connecting-rod will come loose. This morning, I've been trying a flexible-hose adapter on the Dremel, to let me get into tighter spaces. But it adds so much friction that I think I'll go back to just the normal Dremel-ing. John on "Ventoso" likes the flexible-hose because it keeps dust from getting into the body of the Dremel; he found his was choked with dust, before he switched to using the flexible-hose attachment.

Cut and pounded the second bolt-head off, hit the connector with a sledgehammer, and the connecting rod came loose from the crankshaft. Beautiful ! So this is going to work. Two more bolts to go.

Started cutting on the third bolt-head, and found a better way of doing this. Cut a significant channel across the top of the bolt-head, then inserted a big screwdriver or the crowbar and pounded on the end so that the head was rotated CCW. Soon got the bolt to spin, and unscrewed it. Did the same to the fourth bolt; a lot less Dremel-work than would be required to cut the whole bolt-head off.

Put the block on its side and forced the pistons and connecting rods out (pic). Also got the last of the oil pump out. Unfortunately, the pistons are much lighter than I expected; they're aluminum. Hoped to get a lot of weight out, but I guess most of the weight is in the crankshaft (which has big counterweights on it), and the block itself.

Took a few whacks at getting the crankshaft out of the block, but it didn't budge. There's a gear pressed onto the shaft, and the shaft is very thick.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  3/30/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. On the way, noticed a big sailboat at a dock: 5 spreaders, and 4 satellite domes on them (pic).

Disposed of two bags of garbage. Did Wi-Fi ($4 for soda and AC power and tip). Finally finished and submitted my income tax returns (owed $49 to feds, $168 to state, paid $18 for online prep). Used the book-exchange.

Gave away three refrigeration/air-conditioning parts to the refrigeration shop at Lagoonies; the parts are old but brand-new, no use to me, and I would hate to just dump them in the garbage. Probably could have sold them on EBay for total of $100 if I was willing to go though the hassle.

Over to the Budget Marine dock. Left a bottle of used engine oil at their disposal. Walked inland to NAPA Auto, and ordered three fuel filters for the main engine ($45). To the supermarket and got groceries (I'm completely out of Diet Coke, and down to a single bottle of rum !). Got a couple of bottles of rum for about $4 each; soda is about $5 for a 12-pack. Back to the dock and back to the boat.

After lunch, put the genset block up on its side, sprayed WD-40 on the gear-to-shaft joint, and pounded on the end of the shaft as hard as I could with the (small) sledgehammer. No motion at all. Not sure the Dremel is capable of cutting through the gear. Will try more pounding later.

I think the boat may have a slight list to port, from removing much of the genset. Will get worse when I remove the remaining parts. But it occurs to me that the ballast under the (starboard-side) hallway sole is there to counterbalance the weight of the genset, so I can remove that. It's up at the waterline, so I don't think it's part of the "official" ballast, which should be down in the keel. And all of the genset was above the waterline, so removing that could only improve stability.

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Brief hard rain at 4 AM.
Sun for a new day  3/31/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Lots of wind at 6. Light rain at 8:50, then grey. More light rain at 1:20.

Loafed all morning. Then worked on the genset a little. Pounded on the end of the crankshaft some more, but it's not budging at all. The gear is pressed onto a 2-inch-diameter shaft. Could try applying some heat, but I don't think running my MAPP gas torch in an enclosed space is a very good idea. Probably would be okay. Tried cutting the gear with the Dremel, and actually made a little progress: the gear-metal isn't as tough as I feared. But the metal is fairly thick, the angled teeth get in the way, and it's so grey today that I don't have much electric power to expend. Will do more tomorrow.

Took the mainsail up out of the main cabin and onto deck, and hoisted it.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Weather fairly windy in the early evening, and I was fairly windy all night.
Sun for a new day  4/1/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Pretty good rain from 6 to 6:45. Feeling a bit headachey this morning.

Dumped 2 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank. Did a bucket of laundry.

Took the jib up out of the main cabin and onto deck, and hoisted it.

As I put the laundry on the lifelines to dry, started raining at 9:45. No problem; it will rinse the laundry better, and all I need is a dry, windy hour sometime today to dry the laundry.

Started raining again at 11:20, then started pouring at 11:45, and kept pouring until 12:15, when it slowed but kept raining. Done by 12:25. Grey.

Sunny and breezy by 1.

Dumped 10 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank and jug.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/2/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Still, warm, humid morning. Supposed to be like this for the next 3 days or so.

Dinghied to Lagoonies, to do Wi-Fi ($4 for soda and AC power and tip). 8 or 10 boats waiting to go out through the Dutch bridge. Disposed of 2 bags of garbage. Had a nice conversation about politics and world affairs with a naval-architect guy I've talked to before.

Didn't do the supermarket; they're closed today for Good Friday. Back to the boat.

Caulked the hard-dinghy painter connector.

In the afternoon, dinghied over to Portofino Marina and walked across to the beach. Walked up Simpson Bay beach. Odd-looking powerboat at anchor (pic); looks like a dismasted sailboat [I knew it wasn't that; just said it looked like one. A reader says: "It was built to resemble a 1920's yacht like Corsair, the famous yacht owned by J.P. Morgan. It was built by Burger Yacht Co. in Wisconsin and has amazing woodwork below decks. The yacht is owned by a big-time car dealer named Ray Catena who has built and owned quite a few major motor yachts. There were several articles about it (named Sycara?) in marine magazines last year."].

Clear afternoon; I think that's Saba in the distance (pic). A crab eyed me beadily (pic). Through a few streets and out to Maho Beach. Not many pretty women today. Didn't stay too long; it's a bit late in the afternoon and I mainly wanted to get some exercise, not spend a lot of time here. Long walk back, seeing a couple of nice topless women (couldn't get any pics, sorry) on Simpson Bay beach. Back to the boat.

Around 4:30, started noticing a huge band of very dark black low clouds passing west of the island, heading south. Glad they're not hitting us.

Around 5, halfway through cooking dinner (in the cockpit), as I was setting up for a shower on the stern deck, I looked NW and saw a wall of grey rain and wind heading for me. Quickly abandoned the shower, turned off the gas on the stove, closed all of the hatches and ports. Wind from the NW or W is a bad direction for me; I have such long anchor rodes out that I could be pushed aground or ashore by a strong wind from those directions. So before the storm hit, I started the engine.

Pretty good rain and some wind, but not really strong wind. But it kept going, blowing from SW and W and NW, and pushing me aground. I used the engine to keep the boat pointed into the wind and off the shore. An alarming behavior: the tachometer suddenly drops to zero every now and then, sometimes staying there for a minute before suddenly popping up to the normal level. Maybe a loose wire on the alternator ?

Some radio traffic about a boat dragging through the anchorage, people going to another boat to help someone, and a couple of big boats elsewhere that have their anchor chains crossed.

Had to be careful with the engine; don't want to let anything get into the prop. I have the hard dinghy in the water behind the boat, but I'm not too worried about it: it's on a pretty short painter which is unlikely to get anywhere near the prop. More dangerous is the 3rd-anchor rode, which is a rope rode. But most of it is lying on the bottom, and it has a couple of twists around the primary anchor chain, which helps control it. Still, I don't want to motor too far forward and maybe run over it and get it into the prop.

Rain mostly passed, but the wind kept blowing a little, maybe 15+ knots from the W. I can't stay here all night, motoring into this. Would be very hard to raise both anchors and move them forward, especially with the two rodes twisted around each other a couple of times. Could put out the secondary anchor, but it might take a while to grip in this slippery grass-and-ooze bottom.

(It occurs to me that maybe the strange tachometer behavior is because of some interaction with the wind-generator; maybe the "smart regulator" built into the alternator is confused by bursts of high voltage from the wind-generator. But by the time I've thought of that, the tachometer weirdness has stopped happening, so I can't experiment with turning the wind-generator on and off.)

The aft part of the keel has been going aground occasionally anyway, as the boat blows backward and then I motor forward. And I'm not too worried about being aground here; the bottom is soft and my boat has a very tough keel with a flat bottom. And it does look like the water is shallow enough to keep me from actually reaching shore and hitting something hard.

So after a while, I let the boat blow back and go aground. It's very soft and stable. I let the engine run a bit more as I make sure everything is okay. Wind is more NW now. Finally shut off the engine around 6 and finish cooking and eating dinner. Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

The boat is very softly aground; it's even pivoting as the wind clocks. By dusk, the wind is mostly N, and everything is fine. I dump a couple of gallons of water from buckets to tank, and then take a quick shower on the stern deck, and to bed.

Wind stays N all night, boat is fine, getting some power out of the wind-generator. Storm brought cooler temperature, which is great for sleeping.
Sun for a new day  4/3/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Light N wind; boat floating fine. Weather supposed to be like this for a couple of days, wind slowly clocking NNE and then NE and then E.

Dumped 2 gallons of rainwater from bucket to jug.

Can't find anything wrong with the alternator wiring or the fan belt; that weird tachometer behavior must be due to the wind-generator.

Did some more Dremel-ing to cut off the gear on the genset crankshaft. It's working, but the gear is too thick to let the cutting wheel reach all the way through. Switched to an electric drill for a while, as suggested by a reader.

After lunch, alternated the Dremel and the drill; broke one drill bit. Got through the gear, pried it open with a big screwdriver, and pounded on the end of the crankshaft with the sledgehammer until it finally dropped down half an inch, with a thunk. Success !

Took the gear off, rotated the crankshaft down a little further, put the block on its side, and eventually slid the crankshaft out of the block. Lifted it onto the top of the main engine, got it and myself out of the engine compartment, and put it in the cockpit. Weighs 20-25 pounds, I guess.

Curious that the shaft on this 2-cylinder diesel is about 1-1/4" to 1-1/2" diameter on the output end and 2" diameter on the flywheel end. The boat's propellor shaft (from the main engine) is only 1-1/4" diameter. Maybe the prop shaft doesn't have to handle the torque or shock loading that an engine crankshaft might have to handle ? Don't know the crankshaft diameter on my main (6-cylinder diesel) engine.

Went back in for the genset block. Pretty heavy, maybe 40-50 pounds. Carefully set it on top of 2x4's across the top of the main engine; don't want to damage anything. Got it out and down the hallway and up into the cockpit. Pics.

Glad to have the final big pieces out, and got them out without damaging myself or anything else. I had worried about hurting my back (lots of awkward lifting and twisting while carrying heavy objects). My back is a bit tired, but I didn't hurt it.

Notice from my files that the genset weighed 560 pounds, and was purchased 3/2/1974. Definitely can feel the boat listing slightly to port now, although the inclinometer says only by 1 degree or so.

Back into the engine compartment, and lifted up the sheet-metal oil-catching pan that the whole genset had been sitting upon. As I thought, there's plenty of oil underneath it, in a sheet and soaked into the wood underneath. Started cleaning it up; plenty of congealed chunks of oily rust or paint or whatever.

Salad and cheese sandwich, and later PB-crackers, for dinner.

Slept like a log. The last two days, the weather has been 5-10 degrees cooler than usual, which makes for really nice sleeping weather. Actually can use a blanket for 2 or 3 of the coolest hours of the night !

Sun for a new day  4/4/2010 (Easter Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Lovely quiet sunny morning. Wind clocking a little more from N to NE, getting back closer to normal.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. Disposed of a bag of garbage and the genset crankshaft. Did Wi-Fi (no charge today, they're closed). Skype-called Mom and chatted for a while. Applied for another cash-back credit card.

Helped a guy named Joel with a Wi-Fi problem. I correctly guessed what the problem was, but since he was using Vista (which I haven't used), a cute blond woman named Tanya took over and we watched as she fixed it. Later, Joel and I were chatting and he seemed a little taken aback when he found out that I, a computer programmer for 21 years, use only paper charts and GPS for navigation; he does all of his navigation electronically. I think he uses a chartplotter as the primary display and the laptop as backup. Good thing, since the laptop has some virus problem, and four different browsers installed, among other things.

Loafed most of the afternoon, but did a little work cleaning up the oily genset platform in the engine compartment. It will never become "clean", but I can make it "less dirty".

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/5/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Into the dinghy early. Want to untwist the two rodes and raise the 3rd anchor, which is on a rope rode. Used the dinghy to spin the boat once counterclockwise. Checked the rodes, and found that what had looked like two twists was actually about 15 twists. So gave up on spinning the boat. Followed the rode out to the third anchor, raised it, and carried it back toward the boat. Went back aboard for tools.

After the cruiser's net, back into the dinghy. Unfastened the shackle between rope and chain, and raised anchor and chain into the dinghy. Back to the boat, and put them on deck.

Then onto the foredeck, and hauled on the rope rode to bring it in. It's so twisted around the chain that I had to haul the whole boat up pretty far, but the wind is fairly light (which is why I'm doing this now). Finally the rope started slithering over the chain, and I hauled the rope in and piled it up on the foredeck. Tons of grass growing on it; I'll let the sun kill that for a while, then clean it off. Nice to be on one anchor again.

Dinghied in to Simpson Bay marina, seeing quite a nicely-built woman working on one of the big sailboats. Used the book-exchange at the Business Point but got only one book. Over to Lagoonies. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Did Wi-Fi (no charge again, they're closed). Back to the boat for lunch.

Ouch, got some slashes on my fingers this morning from handling the anchor rode, and of course they're right on the parts of my fingers I use to grip anything. Hate that. Pretty bad, too, across all four fingers and a little on my thumb (pic). Surprising, since I wasn't handling chain with barnacles on it, but rather rope with mostly grass on it. But there was a barnacle on the rope, and I did handle a short length of chain and an anchor. Have used gloves in the past, but they tend to get torn to shreds very quickly. I wonder if they make Kevlar gloves for any reasonable amount of money ?

Surprisingly windy today; thought the wind was supposed to be very light. The forecast around here doesn't seem to be very accurate beyond the first day or two.

Nice-looking kayaker near the boat (pic).

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/6/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Sometimes the radio traffic after the cruiser's net is pretty funny. Here, the net is on VHF 14 at 0730, and 14 is used as a cruiser's hailing channel all day long. So on 14, you say something like "Serenity, Serenity, Magnolia", they come back with "Magnolia, this is Serenity, switch to 66 ?". You both switch to 66 and talk there.

Well, some of the boats don't know which boat they want, and skip their own name, so they do a hail like "boat selling the dinghy ?". Some of them have a hard time picking a channel, so you get some dithering and "you pick a channel" and "I don't know, you pick a channel".

The other day, one pair settled on channel 10 and went there. Ten seconds later, another pair got together and also picked channel 10. Wait, didn't you hear that someone else just went there ? Fifteen seconds later, a third pair picked channel 10 and went there ! Idiots !

This morning, a pair on channel 14 picked channel 16 and went there ! 16 is the international hailing and distress channel; usually people hail on there and go somewhere else; you never have a conversation on 16. A minute later, that pair was back on 14, saying "well, that was a bad idea", and finally they picked a reasonable channel to go to. Wonder what some people are thinking.

On Saturday's net, about four people in a row asked the net controller "where is this morning's flea market ?". Obviously, each of them wasn't listening to the question and answer of the callers before them; they just had their question that they were waiting to ask. After the third or fourth identical question, one of the controller's friends called in and asked the same question, and they laughed back and forth as they said "I don't know, that's a really tough question, never been asked that one before, not sure there's an answer to that one".

Did a bucket of laundry.

Dinghied in to the Budget Marine dock. To a big hardware store, where they had none of the items on my list (propane stove, 5-gallon bucket, 2.5-inch eyebolts, some kind of big hinges, bug repellent). To the supermarket, got groceries, back to the boat.

In the early afternoon, dinghied over to Portofino Marina. Disposed of a bag of garbage, and caught a bus ($2) over the hill to Cost-U-Less. Bought a propane stove, bug repellent, garlic (hard to find elsewhere in a big bottle for cheap), and several other items. Another bus ($2) back to the dinghy dock, and a wet ride through stiff wind back to the boat.

Cleaned barnacles off the third anchor and lashed it on deck behind the mizzenmast. Stowed the length of chain for it in a cabinet belowdecks. Onto the foredeck, and tore lots of dried grass and a few barnacles off the rope rode.

Chicken-carrot-mushroom-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/7/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

On the cruiser's net, I've been trying to give away some spare filters and fan belts from the genset, but no takers so far.

Put a new shackle on the end of the rope rode for the primary anchor; the old one was getting pretty rusty.

Loafed all morning, but got busy in the afternoon. Cleaned up the oily genset platform some more. Had thought of keeping the sheet-metal pan that had been under the genset, but today I see it has plenty of holes rusted through it, so it has to go. Added water to the batteries and tied them down. Cleaned up the rope anchor rode some more and wound it onto the reel in the chain locker. Attached the rope rode to the end of the primary chain with the new shackle. Checked the engine fluids. Surprised to find the engine intake strainer full of very smelly, very black mud. Don't think that's from my recent grounding; the intake is a couple feet above the bottom of the keel.

I'm hoping to leave the Lagoon and head to the Grand Case anchorage in a day or two, and stay out a few days or a week. I've been sitting in one place too long. Probably will come back into the Lagoon afterward, and then think of heading to Antigua.

Apple and salad and PB-banana sandwiches for dinner.

Very windy, with huge gusts, all night.
Sun for a new day  4/8/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Still very windy, with huge gusts. And the weather forecast on the morning net has gotten worse: wind NE 15-20 and seas NE 7-8 through Sunday, and not much better after that. So I don't think I'll be moving anywhere soon; that N in the swell, and the size, will make the north anchorages bad. Actually, the wind is a good direction for going SE to Antigua, but I'm not ready for that yet. It's 80-some miles, which means overnight for me, and it's through territory unknown to me, and the boat hasn't moved for a while, the hull is only half-cleaned, and 8-foot beam seas would not be fun. So I have to be patient.

Dinghied over to Portofino Marina. Disposed of a bag of garbage and the genset oil pan. Hmmm, someone's dumped a liferaft in canister next to the dumpster; I've never played with one of those. Considered hauling it back to the boat, but it's heavy and I have enough crap on the boat, and how much can you do with a dead liferaft ? To the gas station to get $10 of gasoline. Then to the ATM for cash.

Then over to Lagoonies to do Wi-Fi ($4 for soda and tip and AC power). "Angel Louise" is at the FKG dock. Later saw an email from them saying they're having auto-pilot hydraulics work done; why come to the dock for that ? [Later they told me that the work disabled their steering, everything was so much more convenient at the dock, and they were having an additional ram installed so it wasn't just a matter of taking parts out and taking them to a workshop.]

Got declined for another credit card, because "too few credit references, and your accounts have a low credit limit". Starting to worry about what would happen if my one existing credit card cancelled me for some reason; how would I get another one ?

Used the book-exchange. Walked over to IWW and bought a new anchor chain shackle ($4). Saw Ed and Sue on their boat as I was leaving, and chatted with them for a few minutes. We talked a little about hurricane season; they're heading back to USA. When we talked about Venezuela and crime, Ed showed me a small fire-extinguisher that he'd had someone load up with red-pepper powder, so that it's a weapon.

Then dinghied over to the Budget Marine dock. Walked up to NAPA Auto, picked up the fuel filters I ordered, and bought two 5-gallon buckets ($10). Then to the supermarket, and got a lot of groceries. Back to the dinghy, and back to the boat.

Still very windy and gusty. High voltage from the wind-generator triggered the solar controller's "high voltage disconnect" once.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Big, shifty wind-gusts blasting sideways through the pilothouse blew out the stove flame a couple of times.

Very windy, with huge gusts, all night.
Sun for a new day  4/9/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Still very windy, with some huge gusts, shifting from E to NE and back. Feeling headachey.

From 11 to 12, wind slowly clocked around from NE to E to S to SSW, and then started gusting some more. Strange. Half an hour later, it went W to N to E in a rush. Soon back to NE.

Did a little more cleaning in the engine compartment.

Around 1, went snorkeling under the boat. I think it is riding higher in the water, at least on the port side, even though I still have a few big chunks of genset to get rid of. Wind-bursts are making the boat slew from side to side; sometimes it runs away from me or tries to swing over top of me. And since the keel is only a foot or two clear of the bottom, the wake from the motion seems to be tearing up loose clumps of grass from the bottom. The bottom here is very loose and grassy and ooze-y.

Finished scraping the hull; it's as clean as it's going to get. Prop really could use some polishing; it has a lot of barnacle-foot-marks all over it. Scraped the bottom of the hard dinghy, too, and it really needed it. Just what I need, more hull to scrape. Done before 3. Lots of bitey little shrimp all over me.

Apple and salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Wind has gone SE, of all directions; that wasn't in the forecast. And it's still doing those huge gusts. I think my anchor is sliding a little, and SE is making me slide toward a nearby unoccupied boat.

After dark, I keep getting up to look at that nearby boat and the houseboat nearby. Some wind-blasts are from the E, but most are from the SE.

Finally, after a few very big blasts, I come up into the pilothouse and find that I'm very close to the that boat behind me. So I start the engine at 8:30, motor forward, and raise the anchor. Not too hard in shallow water, but the dark makes everything trickier. There's only one obstacle to watch out for, an unused mooring-float off my starboard bow. It's very dark and hard to see, but I managed to keep track of it. I motor forward, lay down the anchor and chain again, and done by 8:45 or so.

The wind keeps blasting, and by 9:15 or so it's clear that I'm sliding right back to where I was. So I start the engine again, and raise anchor again. This time I motor as far forward as I can. In fact, after putting the engine in neutral and going to the bow, the last momentum of the boat puts me aground. I lower the anchor, and it takes a few tries to reverse free, being careful not to back over the hard dinghy and get its painters into the prop. I put out the rest of the chain and start watching the situation again.

I think I've proven that the strange tachometer behavior was indeed due to the wind-generator; it seems to happen when a wind-burst makes the wind-generator spin up hard.

I had been thinking of moving to Grand Case tomorrow, but now I think I'll wait another day or two. Don't want to be dealing with wind-bursts and anchor-dragging in an unfamiliar deeper anchorage at night.

One bad thing: I'm now anchored slightly on the Dutch side of the Lagoon, which is illegal (I checked in on the French side).

And of course now that I went through all of that, the wind-bursts stopped around 10 PM.
Sun for a new day  4/10/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

The wind-bursts seem to have stopped. Light rain at 6:30.

Engine start at 7:20. Didn't get the anchor up until 7:35, working off being aground and trying to listen to the cruiser's net while raising anchor. And of course on the weather section, he omitted a section I wanted to hear, wave height and direction.

Threaded my way through the anchorage and over to anchor near the French bridge, at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin. I'm 15 minutes early, and I want to check some stuff on the boat. Everything looks good, except I had to fix a broken wire between the GPS and the auto-pilot board. Pretty windy over here, but I'm going to go outside anyway.

Raised anchor and motored up to the bridge. Through on the 0815 opening; thought the catamaran ahead of me was going to swipe the bridge-support with his starboard ama. Even windier outside; probably should have waited until tomorrow.

Motored through the anchorage in Marigot Bay and out into open water. Turned on the auto-pilot board, chose a waypoint on the GPS, and couldn't get any steering action out of the board. Maybe I have something commented-out in the program. Too rough out here to fire up the laptop and try programming on the go. Darker clouds coming over, and got rained on a bit.

Saw that sailing cruise-ship that operates here (pics).

Motored up to Friars Bay. Engine seems good, hard dinghy is riding okay, boat is okay. Too rough to anchor in this small bay; only one sailboat anchored, and it doesn't look like a cruiser. Kept going. Wind and waves slowed me to barely 2 knots, but I got up around the corner and into Grand Case bay. 12 to 15 boats anchored here. Windy and a bit rough, but I'll see if I can stick it out. The swell is mostly on the nose, so that's not too bad. Anchor down by 9:40 at Grand Case, St Martin.

Very grey with light horizontal rain at 11. Sunny after noon, grey again by 1:30.

Got a little free Wi-Fi, just enough to upload files, but not enough to fetch any web page.

Bad headache developed in the early afternoon. Spent a lot of time napping.

PBJ sandwich for dinner. Took an acetaminophen pill, later an ibuprofen, later an anti-histamine. Headache started easing after dark. Anchorage stayed rolly all night, but I slept fairly well.
Sun for a new day  4/11/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Grand Case, St Martin.

Found the auto-pilot problem: a crimped wire connection to a serial connector pin is screwed up. Need to solder to fix it; not going to do that right now.

Engine start at 6:30, anchor up by 6:40 as a little rain sprinkled. Motored out.

Put the genset block and stator over into 40 feet of water well away from shore; hate to do that, but they're too heavy to get to a dumpster. At least they're clean; no oil to leak or anything like that. Habitat for fishies.

Motored downwind under very grey skies. To town and anchored by 7:30 at Marigot Bay, St Martin, near the French bridge. Very windy and rough down here, because it's very exposed; can't imagine why a couple of dozen boats stay anchored here.

Started raising anchor around 8:05 for the 8:15 bridge opening, and had a little trouble in the rough conditions. At one point, the bow blew off so fast that I lost control of the chain, it hopped off the roller, and started getting pulled out fast. Had to be careful not to lose a finger or something as I tried to get a turn of it around the cleat. Lost about 20 feet of progress, and started to worry I'd miss the bridge opening. Got the anchor up and motored over to wait next to a catamaran.

Shouldn't have worried: about 8 boats came out, taking quite a while, then the catamaran ahead of me went so slowly that I was afraid I'd lose control behind him in the narrow channel. Finally through by 8:32, and fortunately he turned left while I turned right. Around the Witches Tit, threaded my way through the anchored boats, and anchor down in more or less my old spot by 8:55 at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin. Nice and calm here.

So, that was a good little trip. A shame I didn't get ashore or do any snorkeling at Grand Case, but I felt bad and conditions were bad. Accomplished most of the things I wanted to do: got the boat moving, gave the engine a good run, got myself out of the Lagoon (briefly), got rid of the genset stuff, checked that the hard dinghy tows okay. Didn't get the auto-pilot working.

Crap ! Looked at the hallway sole, to see if I can get rid of some ballast there. But the access hole is far smaller than I remembered it being; can see some ballast but can't get any out (pic). The hole is about 6" by 18". And the rest of the hallway sole looks like one big piece of plywood, with the outboard edge fiberglassed to the hull. I'll need to get a circular saw to make a bigger access hole; all I have is handsaws and a jigsaw.

Totally grey. Rain starting at 12:45, then steady rain from 1:10 to 1:45.

Feeling headachey in the afternoon; took an acetaminophen.

Dumped 7 gallons of rainwater from buckets to jugs. A little more rain at 2:30.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Head felt much better after dinner.

Light rain several time during the night. Sky totally clouded over.
Sun for a new day  4/12/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Very grey early in the morning, then sunnier by 9.

Soldered the connector pins for the GPS-to-autopilot cable and tested the link.

Sudden hard rain at 12:40.

Cleaned up the genset platform some more. Removed a leftover bracket.

Fuel level 11.0 inches at engine hour 4611.

Looked over data for a trip to Antigua. Although I'm checked-in on the French side, I think I'll go out the Dutch bridge; that will save about 10 NM. About 95 NM from Simpson Bay to Jolly Harbour, so probably leave on the 1100 bridge opening and arrive next morning.

Dumped 2 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Rain starting at 3:45, and getting heavy at 4.

Dumped 4 gallons of rainwater from buckets to jugs.

Apple and salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Rain starting at midnight, more starting at 3:30 AM, heavy rain starting at 4:15, more at 6.
Sun for a new day  4/13/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Totally grey. Rain and grey supposed to continue all week.

Dumped 15-16 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Rain at 7:30; more at 8 and again starting at 8:20.

Weather forecast on the cruiser's net (from WindGuru) is flaky: every day different, and today's forecast for the week is different from yesterday's forecast for the week. I'm trying to pick an overnight to go SE to Antigua. Today's wind forecast for the week is: today E 10-15, Wed SW 10, Thurs W 10, Fri NE 15, Sat NE 15-23, Sun E 10-15, Mon SE 10 and below, Tues, SE 10 and below. Seas are lowest in the Wed to Fri timeframe.

Could leave Thurs and arrive Fri; don't want to arrive on Saturday, when Customs might be closed or charge me overtime. But with all of this cloud and rain and the wind changing from Thurs W 10 to Fri NE 15, I'd probably get out there and find no wind or occasional gusts from all directions, and tons of cloud and rain. A steady NE 15 would be nice.

Dumped 7 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Picked a dry-ish time and dinghied in to Lagoonies. Nice bailer I had in the inflatable dinghy (carved out of a Chlorox bottle) is missing; must have blown out on my trip to Grand Case.

Disposed of two bags of garbage. Did Wi-Fi ($4 for soda and tip and AC power). The internet connection was very flaky today, and the only weather forecasts I got were WindGuru for here and Antigua. But when I got back to the boat, I found that WindGuru web pages saved to disk are useless.

On the way back to the boat, did my good deed for the day. Saw a wallet floating in the water, so I grabbed it and turned it in at the police station next to the Dutch bridge.

Carved a new bailer for the inflatable dinghy out of a cranberry juice bottle. With another bailer, bailed about 5 gallons of rainwater out of the hard dinghy.

Rain at 3:30, 4:15, 5:20. Windy in late afternoon; kept blowing out the flame as I cooked dinner.

Carnival is happening here over the next week or two. But the web site for it just showed names and dates of events, no times or locations, and their "contact us" form didn't work. So I called Hyancith at the Business Point on the VHF and asked her. She was about to distribute copies of the Carnival schedule, but when I asked she realized her copies also don't show times or locations.

Chili and a rum-and-Sprite for dinner.

Very windy at dusk. Wind blowing mostly ESE, I'd say, 20 with gusts to 30. Kept blowing hard until after midnight, then eased. Forecast was for E 10-15 changing to SW 10, so I guess that was wrong. No rain during the night. Wind-generator was driving the system voltage so high that I shut it off for a while, several times.
Sun for a new day  4/14/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Very grey again, but not raining.

On the morning cruiser's net, the weather forecast from WindGuru says wind today S 10 or less, Thurs N 10-15, Fri NNE 10-15. Good for going to Antigua over Thurs/Friday. But immediately two boats called in to say that right now it's blowing SE 20+ outside, not the S 10 or less the forecast claims. So it looks like the forecast is not very reliable.

Surprised to hear that a boat left for Antigua early this morning. I guess yesterday's forecast said wind today was going to be SW 10, changing to W 10 tomorrow, which would be okay for going. But it blew so hard from ESE last night, and today's forecast is totally different from yesterday's.

I guess I could look at the weather and wait for the forecast at 0730 Thurs morning, make a go/no-go decision, dinghy in to the Capitanerie on the French side and check out, back to the boat, and make the 1100 Dutch bridge opening.

During the net, a boat called to say that the Dutch coast guard was moving through the anchorage, checking papers of boats anchored on the Dutch side. I'm just about on the border line. I can see them on the other side of the Lagoon, checking boats. They probably won't bother me. Apparently no big deal if they find a boat that checked in on the French side and then anchored on the Dutch side: they just tell you to move.

Checked engine oil and intake strainer.

Rain at 1:20, with some SW wind, just as I was getting ready to go ashore. Weather matched forecast after the rain: wind S 10 or less.

Dinghied ashore to IWW dock. Water brown and smelling of sewage. Walked up to Ace Hardware. Cheapest circular saw is $47; didn't have Kevlar gloves, or a couple of other items I was looking for. Back to IWW, where they didn't have the gloves either. Over to Budget Marine dock. Disposed of a bag of garbage. No Kevlar gloves here either; guess I'll have to buy them online. To supermarket for groceries, back to dinghy, back to boat.

Still and hot afternoon. Wind slowly moving around to SW and W, and putting me gently aground.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

Miserable evening: hot and still and mosquitoes invading the boat. Slapped them for a while, then sat out on the foredeck where it was cooler and less buggy. Eventually went to bed and got some sleep. Warm and still night.
Sun for a new day  4/15/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Grey in early morning, but the wind has gone N as forecast. Maybe 5 knots at dawn, but I'm sure it will pick up later, and be stronger out in open water.

Boat is aground, sideways to the breeze. Walked up to the bow, but shifting my weight didn't free it. Launched the dinghy, pumped up the bow tube, and used the dinghy to slide the boat free.

Forecast from cruiser's net at 0730 sounds good: wind today N to NE 10-15, Friday N to NE 18-19. So I'll head for Antigua. Heard other boats on the net doing the same. The net controller announced there is a young woman hitchhiker is looking for a free ride to Antigua, but it's short notice and I really don't want a passenger, plus the possible hassle at Immigration.

Started heading ashore around 8:45. Long, slow dinghy ride around the Witches Tit and up toward Marigot. A bit of rain sprinkled on me for a couple of minutes. Into the basin, disposed of a bag of garbage, then to the Capitainerie. Self-service computers upstairs, and I had a little confusion at first: do I find the copy of my entry form and modify it, or start a new form and enter all the information all over again ? The latter. Filled out the form (mostly in French, using a French keyboard), printed it out downstairs, and paid the fee (5€, and at this office they give an honest exchange rate, to $6.75 or so; at the ferry-dock they convert to $8). Noticed that they never looked at any of my documents: passport, boat registration, exit document I filled out. Long ride back to the boat; got there at 9:50. Time to stow everything and get ready to move.

Dumped 3-4 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Replaced the locking cable on the hard dinghy with a rope line; if that dinghy swamps and becomes an immovable object in the middle of the night, I want to be able to cut it away.

Started engine at 10:40 and started raising anchor. Ran into a few problems: started getting huge clumps of grass on the chain, then pulled myself aground before getting to the anchor. Started to get concerned that I might miss the 1100 bridge opening.

Got the anchor up and the boat free from aground by 10:50 or so. Motored toward the bridge, and my timing was perfect. Got to the end of the line of half a dozen boats as the bridge opened. Then had to be very careful as boats went through very slowly; don't want to hit the boat ahead of me or go out of control because not enough water over the rudder. Some smaller sailboat at the front of the line is dawdling for no reason. Now I'm not last in line any more; a huge poweryacht is right behind me. But I'm sure he has twin engines and bow thrusters and lots of crew to keep him under control.

Might have heard someone calling my boat name on 16 as I went through the bridge; maybe the bridge-tender keeps a list and I'm not on it ? But they sounded French, and I'm not sure it was my boat name.

Finally we get through, and I'm free of the line of boats by 11:15. Out through the anchorage into open water. Lovely day, sunny and some clouds, no big swell. But we're on the south side of the island; the swell will be from the north.

I round up and start raising sails. Mainsail goes okay, but as usual after having the sails down for storage, the jib sheets are twisted (even though I tried to untwist them when rigging the boat, before raising anchor). Finally get everything set and turn the engine off and start sailing a little before 11:30.

Nice conditions. Making 3.3 knots on a broad reach (somewhat downwind). Wind fades for a minute or two, and I'm making 2.0 knots. Then it's back, and I'm beam-reaching at 3.9 knots. Very nice. I can see a boat several miles ahead of me getting good wind, so I think there will be plenty of wind once I get out of the shadow of St Martin.

Just to spoil things, I turn on the auto-pilot back-end (the board has been running for a while, looking good). As soon as it starts steering, the board starts going crazy again (steering about 6 times every time it should be steering once). Dammit ! It's running off an independent battery, so how is inteference getting from the back-end into the board ?

Sailing 4.0 knots past Phillpsburg at noon.

Heard a strange "thunk" and went on deck to investigate. Found the port main backstay loose, and saw that the chainplate has pulled halfway out of the deck (pics). All three bolts must be sheared off ? Crap !

That backstay will be loaded for this whole trip, as long as I'm sailing (whole trip will be with wind on port side). Don't want the mast to come down. Maybe could jury-rig the port backstay, and hope that and the starboard backstay and the triatic stay are enough to keep the mast up. Wind could be stronger later in the trip. Don't feel like motoring 20+ hours to Antigua. If this had happened 1/4 or 1/3 of the way there, I would have jury-rigged something and kept going. Decided to turn around and go back to St Martin.

So do I sail around the island and go in the French bridge, legally ? Probably could barely make the 5:30 opening, but then the check-in place (the Capitainerie) would be closed. A lot of motoring. And if I miss the bridge opening, a night in a very rough anchorage. Or I could go in the Dutch bridge, illegally, and be right at my favorite anchoring spot. Decide to do the Dutch side; if they have me on a list to ticket, might as well be on the list twice. Maybe a 10% chance they'll come after and find me, and maybe the fine would be $100 ? I'll plead ignorance.

Sailed back to within 2 miles of Simpson Bay, then had to motor the last mile or two. Anchor down by 2:15 at Simpson Bay, St Martin.

Launched the dinghy around 2:30 and headed in. Under the Dutch bridge, then a long, long, long ride upwind across the Lagoon, around the Witches Tit, and up to the Marigot end. Saw a grounded boat being pumped out, with water flying (pic), at least one guy aboard, but no tender. [Saw that same boat again 3 weeks later, still sunk.]

Went into the Capitainerie. Told the guy I checked out this morning, went out and had something break on my boat, do I have to check back in ? He wasn't sure, was starting to say yes, then the lady I saw this morning appeared and I latched onto her. I explained, she asked if I'd done any paperwork on the Dutch side, answer was no, and she said "ehh ! You are still on zee French side !". I was happy with that answer, and left without asking if I could get back the fee I paid this morning (figured that would be pushing it). Started heading back to the boat. Then it occurred to me that I might have been able to call the Capitainerie on the VHF, they might have answered, I might have been able to get my issue across, and I might have gotten the same answer. No, probably best that I went there in person.

Downwind a bit easier, but I'm hot and getting sunburned and want to get back. Feels like I've been in the dinghy all day. Water still being pumped out of that grounded and listing boat.

But I got halfway back, next to a couple of wrecks, and there was a guy in a dinghy with a motor that had quit. He was French, I'm American, and we seemed to have no useful word of language in common. So I handed him a line and started towing him upwind, back toward the French end.

I thought I was towing him to his boat, but it turned out he was just out of gas. That saved a bit of travel; I took him to the Cadisco gas station. But if we'd been able to communicate, I'd have tried to pour some gas from my tank to his (not easy), or towed him to the Shell station downwind, in the direction I had been going. Oh, well, maybe the good karma this has earned me will come in handy.

Anyway, merci beaucoup from him, and he offered to buy some gas for me but I declined. Back downwind, around the Witches Tit, across to the bridge and under it, and back to the boat by 4:10. Tired and sweaty and sunburnt.

Now I just have to get through the inbound Dutch bridge at 5:30 without getting ticketed or something.

Had salad as the start of dinner.

Raised anchor at about 5:20 and made it through the bridge okay, one of half a dozen boats. Saw a woman with a clipboard reading boat-names as we went through.

Over to my usual spot and anchor down by 5:45 at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin. Feels good to be settled.

Cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/16/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Windy morning. Started out grey and sprinkling rain, but later fairly sunny. Feeling tired and a little headachey, mainly from a little sunburn.

Loafed all morning.

Removed the wall-panel in my berth, and immediately saw what was wrong with the chainplate (pics). I checked them all after I bought the boat, almost 10 years ago, and replaced a couple of them. This is one I didn't replace (can tell because of the square holes for the bolts). Looks like I'd better check them all again. A pain to get at the bolts from inside the boat, past all of the interior wood and trim.

Not only did the chainplate rust through and fail at the top of edge of the top bolt-hole, it cracked through and was about to fail further up, still well below deck-level. Had a lot of trouble getting it out without breaking it at that second place; didn't want that chunk getting stuck in the hole, and didn't want to lose any pieces, so I could be sure of the length and bends needed. The plate is not flat; it bends twice, to accommodate the curve of the hull and then the position of the hole through the toerail.

I think I'm not going to put the wall-panel back on after I install the new chainplate. All of the interior wood panels and headliners just prevent me from seeing problems like the cracks on this chainplate, prevent me from tracing deck-leaks, and get in the way when I need to fix things. I think as I need to pull panels out, I'm not going to put them back in. A painted-fiberglass look will not be as nice as a wood look, so I'll do it mostly in places that are less visible.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/17/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Still windy, as forecast.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies; dinghy-dock is jammed, because there's a flea market this morning. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Walked next door to FKG and gave them my chainplate to replace. Paid a $50 deposit, and was a little nervous when they couldn't give an estimate; told them not to do it if it's more than $80. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything; the people there tend to have a "take it or leave it" attitude, since they're really the only major big-boat rigger in town. I just don't want leave a blank check for any job.

Went to the book-exchange at Lagoonies, and those people in the marina office are getting strange. The lady always made a big point of saying "you have to exchange 1 for 1", as if everyone didn't know that already. Today, the guy counted the books I took in and the books I took out ! He says they saw some guy taking five and leaving none, so now they're worried, and "things are going the wrong direction". Crazy; like most book-exchanges, they have so many books that they're running out of space. They put in lots of shelves lately, and they're already full to capacity; they must have two to three thousand books.

Back to the boat through wet and windy conditions.

Took out the chainplate bolts and washers; they look okay. Sanded the inside of the hull; maybe I'll paint tomorrow morning.

Salad and cheese sandwich and PBJ sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/18/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Painted the hull-side in my berth, where I took out the chainplate.

Dinghied to Lagoonies. Disposed of a bag of garbage. But they're closed and they've turned off the AC power, so I can't do much internet. Did about 10 minutes, the laptop battery was exhausted, and back to the boat.

Put another coat of paint on the hull-side in the berth.

After lunch, decided it didn't need another coat of paint.

Dinghied ashore and did my usual walk: up Simpson Bay beach, through a neighborhood, and onto Maho Beach. Cloudy and slightly cool; nice weather. A few pretty women here and there. Got some good exercise.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/19/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Hmmm, Paul on "Bear Necessities" is selling most of an auto-pilot, cheaply. I think I might buy it.

Dinghied ashore. First to use the book-exchange at Palapa Marina. Then to Lagoonies. Paid $4 for soda and tip and AC power and Wi-Fi. Skype-called home to PA and chatted with Mom.

Went next door to FKG and checked on the chainplate job. Guy said it will cost $115. New ones in Marathon 9 years ago cost $50 each. Apparently the amount of polishing adds to the cost here; told him to polish only the part above deck. If he could have shown me what no-polishing looks like, I might have left the whole thing unpolished.

Dinghied to Budget Marine, walked to supermarket, got a few groceries. Back to dinghy and back to boat.

Around 3, called Paul on the VHF and then went over to his boat. Ended up buying the auto-pilot stuff from him for $80; he had mentioned $100, but snapped up my offer of $80; maybe should have offered $60. And I should have looked up these things on EBay or somewhere; have no idea what they're selling for. It's a used Navico PH8000, with lots of the associated parts (pic): JB8000 main box, H8000 programmer, HS8000 gyro, FB1 rudder feedback, PC8000 control unit. None of the back-end hydraulics, and no display unit. Supposedly fully working (I know Paul, and trust him, and he plans to be here until June).

I met Paul in Salinas and briefly in the BVIs. We chatted for a while about various things. He's trying to clear out the boat so an ex-wife and maybe a kid or two can come visit him. He has or had three complete sets of SCUBA gear, not used much. Also two spearguns. But certain things, such as three radio-controlled planes, are on the must-keep list.

He has a really nice skiff he built himself, a 20 HP electric-start Tohatsu he got a great deal on, huge welded aluminum railings and davits he made himself. One of those savvy boat-guys who make me feel a bit shabby and clueless. But he's a bit of a cross-dresser, and is retired because he broke his back in three places 30 years ago, so I guess I should count my blessings too.

Read the auto-pilot manual, and wired the various pieces together (pic). Power connections weren't clear (power gets routed through the hydraulic pump piece I don't have), so I tried a 9V battery first. Then found a section of some additional notes that let me figure out the power wiring, and got a little life out of it (LCD display on the programmer lit up). Looks like the auto-pilot won't work without the rudder feedback part installed; I had hoped to put off that part of it for a while. Splicing it to my existing back-end will take a little thought; the two systems aren't directly compatible. The Navico drives one wire to +12 or 0 to specify steering to right or left; the existing back-end has separate wires for right and left, and you drive one or the other to +12.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/20/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Trying to figure out where to mount the Navico auto-pilot pieces and how to run the wires, and how to connect it to the old back-end. Not easy. To mount the "compass sensing unit", which wants to be low on the centerline but not near any wiring or big metal, it's probably time for me to rip out the old AC-powered freezer compressor that I haven't used in 8 years or so.

Lots of horn-honking at 9 as one of the huge megayachts that has been here for a long time finally leaves. Almost all of them are gone; they 've left in the last few weeks. I guess they're starting to head toward their hurricane-season locations, in Europe or USA or wherever.

Got out the soldering iron, unwired the Navico auto-pilot, and tinned the ends of the wires so they'll go into the terminals neatly. Had some trouble with some corroded wire-ends that just wouldn't take solder; cut them back to clean metal and they took solder easily.

Took a deep breath, and started removing the AC freezer from the boat. Hate to remove what was once a valuable piece of equipment (like the genset), but it's only half-working, I haven't used it in 8 years, it runs on AC power, it's air-cooled, and I don't need a huge freezer anyway. Like the genset, it made sense in a charter-type environment, with 6 people aboard and in a marina on shorepower, or running the genset several hours per day. Now, it's just extra weight and in the way.

Opened up the cabinetry to get at the compressor pallet (pic). Hack out some controls on the wall of the engine compartment (pic). Hacked through various wires and tubing and unbolted the pallet until I was able to slide it out (pic). That's a typical view of a boat-project: barely enough room to step over or around things, remains of one project getting in the way for the next project, have to move three things to get at the thing you want.

Hoped to take the pallet out in one piece, and maybe even offer it to that refrigeration shop for free, but it's way too heavy. Had to unbolt the compressor, and hauling just that up into the cockpit took some muscle (pic). The remainder of the pallet was much lighter (pic).

So now I have more space in the engine compartment and under the settee, and a place to put the compass unit.

Hot and still afternoon; light wind working around to SW.

Installed the compass unit under the settee and put everything back together.

Looked at the rudder-post area, to see about installing the rudder-feedback unit. That will take a bit of work.

Hotdog-onion-batter-cheese concoction and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/21/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Grey and humid and warm and very light wind; supposed to be like this for several days. Got sunny later.

Cleared out some space near the rudder post, and found some rotted wood. Can't see how to fix it or even investigate it without major surgery: it's fiberglassed-over wood behind the rudder post, forward of the transom.

Another hot, humid afternoon, but at least there's a decent breeze.

Did a couple of hours of solid work on the rudder-position feedback unit. Took out an old one (just a potentiometer) that never worked. Spent a lot of time measuring and figuring out how to build a mount. A messy, sweaty job, leaning down into the area under a settee, resting my chest on the cabinet edge and getting it bruised, then reaching back past the rudder post and into a tight area where the steering-arm sticks back and is connected to the hydraulic ram. Hard to see and measure things back there, and no chance of drilling an additional hole in the steering-arm. Cut and drilled a piece of wood to mount onto the arm, and then I'll be able to drill a mounting hole in the wood and connect a rod from the feedback unit. Working in the cockpit is a pain because it's full of freezer parts to throw away.

Drilled a couple of pieces of wood to mount the feedback unit on, then screwed it to the top of the pieces of wood. Cut a nice piece of aluminum lathe to use as a connecting rod. Turns out there's supposed to be some nice swivels and a length of threaded rod to use, but Paul didn't give me the swivels, so I'll do without. Got everything just about ready to put together, and was too hot and sweaty and tired to finish it today.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

A bit hot and uncomfortable in the evening; sat out on the foredeck in the dark and breeze for a while.
Sun for a new day  4/22/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Warm and humid with light wind.

On the morning net, "Silverheels 3" offered a pair of outboard fins for free, so after the net I called them and dinghied over and got the fins (pic). I've been wanting to try these, to see if my outboard will perform better. Nice chat with Ken and Lynn for 45 minutes or so. They're from Toronto, left Georgetown on Jan 1, heading for Grenada to satisfy insurance hurricane-season requirements.

Dinghied into Portofino Marina. Disposed of a lot of garbage, mostly freezer parts. Got cash at the ATM. Got groceries at the Gourmet Marche. Back to the boat.

Ken said installing the fins would be easy. But it involves drilling holes in the lower unit of my outboard. So I think I'll find installation instructions on the internet first, and do that job some other day.

Put the Navico rudder feedback thing together and installed it onto the steering-arm (pic; hard to interpret because there's no room to get the camera above it for a decent picture; the "arms" are pointing straight back, and the aluminum connecting rod is going left to right in the background). Looks like the connecting arm needs to be 1/4" or 1/2" shorter; needs a different hole drilled in the aluminum. Good enough for now. Now I need to snake the wire through from the rudder area into the engine compartment and then up into the forward cockpit area; not easy.

Before 3, lots of grey cloud came over and stalled above us, killing the wind. Stayed that way the rest of the day.

Hauled the freezer compressor into the dinghy. Around 3, dinghied ashore to Portofino Marina and lugged the compressor to the dumpster and up into it. Then went to the IWW dock, and walked to Lagoonies. There's an informal Atlantic-crossing forum at 3:30, and I wanted to see if I could learn anything. Lots of people there; I parked at the IWW dock because I figured the Lagoonies dock would be a zoo.

But the power had failed, so the forum didn't start on time. I used the book-exchange. Then next door to FKG to pick up my new chainplate (pic); total bill came to $97, which isn't too bad.

At Lagoonies, the power came back on and the forum started. But it turned out to be pretty lame, just a lot of generalities you could get from reading the first few pages of a couple of guidebooks. They did have several guys who had been across and back several times, so I guess if you had a burning question you could buttonhole one of them afterward. I listened for a little while, then moved away and had a nice chat with some guy sitting nearby. Showed him my old and new chainplates. He has a Westsail 32 and says his chainplates are on the outside of the hull, which leads to a false sense of security: they corrode on the side you can't see, up against the hull.

Had a Diet Coke ($2). Managed to snag a copy of a newspaper insert that gives times and locations of Carnival events. Then back to the boat.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate out on the foredeck, in the cool breeze, despite threatening clouds.

Hot and uncomfortable in the evening; sat out on the foredeck in the dark and breeze for a while.
Sun for a new day  4/23/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Again, warm and humid with light wind.

After the cruiser's net, dry-fitted the new chainplate into position. Eyeballing it yesterday, I had been worried that the new holes didn't quite match the old holes. But I was wrong; it's perfect.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. Paid $4 for soda and tip and AC power and Wi-Fi.

Just found out that there's no way for me to be included in the US Census: "Private U.S. citizens living abroad who are not affiliated with the Federal government (either as employees or their dependents) will not be included in the overseas counts." Bummer.

Very little info available about the Navico 8000 auto-pilot; apparently it's throroughly obsolete. All I want to know is what kind of signal runs from control unit to motor-unit, but I guess I'm going to have to figure that out myself. I guess I know everything except the "don't steer either way" state of the signal.

Chatted a little with a Swedish guy next to me, and turned out he lived in NJ for a while (I was born and lived there), and he even lived in a house in Barnegat Light on Long Beach Island at about the same time we had a vacation house there (maybe a few years later).

Interesting: looked at the bill for my chainplate. $16 for the metal, $11 for 9 sanding disks, $68 for 1.5 hours of labor. (A reader says that polishing reduces opportunities for corrosion to get started; maybe I should have paid another $20 or $30 to have the whole thing polished, instead of just half of it.)

Used the book-exchange at Maintec. Back to the boat, through hot midday sun. For the last week or so, I've been noticing this mastless boat with sunken dinghy (pic) moored near IWW. I wonder if the dinghy is being kept vertical by the weight of an outboard motor down there, or just that only the bow tube is inflated ?

In the early afternoon, enough cloud to block the solar power, no wind, and hot and muggy. But sunny again by 2:30 or so.

Installed the new chainplate.

Inspected the other backstay chainplate, as much as I could without pulling it out of the boat. Not a speck of rust, no cracks, looks perfect. But I can't see the inch or two just below deck-level.

Salad and PB-crackers and an apple for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/24/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Heard on the cruiser's net that there have been two or three armed robberies of cruisers now that Carnival has started; apparently crime ticks up around Carnival. A couple of the robberies were in the early evening, 7 to 10 PM, in the Port Royal basin at the NE end of the Lagoon. Cruisers stuck up by a guy with a gun; lost laptops and money and such.

Grey all morning. Rain starting a little before noon and continuing until 2. Light wind slowly clocking and backing a few times. Dumped 20 to 21 gallons of water from buckets to tank. More rain from 3 to 3:45. Stayed solidly grey and little wind. Dumped 8 to 9 gallons of water from buckets to tank.

Hotdog-onion-batter-cheese concoction and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate out on the foredeck, in the cool breeze.

Ran engine for 20 minutes to charge batteries.

A little rain at 6:30, then none for the rest of the night.
Sun for a new day  4/25/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Grey around 7, then sunny and breezy. Grey again by 9:30, and little wind by 10.

Around 1, dinghied ashore. Disposed of garbage. Caught a bus ($2) over the hill to outside the west end of Phillipsburg, to see the start of the Junior Parade for Carnival. Fun to see everything, and perfect weather for a parade (mostly cloudy), but a pretty small deal. Only 4 or 5 kids groups, and 4 or 5 big sound-trucks (the kind that make all of your internal organs thump around). Pics.

Watched the parade start off. The start is fairly far from town, and the route in town is pretty long; those kids are going to be tired.

Walked to Cost-U-Less to get a couple of items. Another bus ($2) back to the dinghy, and back to the boat. Sunnier and breezy now; nice afternoon.

On the way back, noticed a nice-looking sailboat (pic; steel hull and wooden masts). What really caught my eye was where they stow their bicycles (pic).

Bailed about 5 gallons of rainwater out of the hard dinghy.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/26/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Feeling headachey.

I've been looking for an excuse to get rid of an old fender marking an abandoned mooring near me. I hate it when people stake out a prime anchoring spot, use it for 6 months, and then leave it occupied with an unused mooring ball for the rest of time. This morning the fender got caught behind my rudder, so I cut it free.

On the local FM radio, heard people complaining about how bad Carnival is this year. A sponsor or two have pulled out, a concert was cancelled, yesterday's parade was small.

Pretty good rain at 9:45.

Tinkered with the auto-pilot program a little; will have to wait for open water before I can test the changes.

In midafternoon, dinghied ashore to Portofino Marina. Disposed of garbage. Walked down to Palapa Marina and used the book-exchange. Sat and chatted with a couple of guys crewing on fairly huge sailboat "Baracuda" out of Gibraltar. They were loading 38,000 liters of diesel from two big fuel-tanker trucks; guess they needed more than one truck had in it. Boat's tank holds 43,000 liters. Not sure why they're doing it here; newspaper says prices are lower in St Thomas and in Antigua, each about 80 miles away. But the boat has been here a couple of months, and it's most convenient to fuel up here. In fact, prices are slightly cheaper on the other side of the island, in Marigot, and they're not bothering to hop over there to fuel up. They're planning to leave tomorrow morning, to head across to the Azores and then to Athens.

One guy was saying that he's actually been losing money while they've been here, since there are lots of expensive bars and restaurants and clubs and casinos to spend money in here. Boat has a crew of 8 or 9. He drank two Heineken's and the other guy drank one in the 45 minutes or so I was sitting with them. He is from Dublin, and I was there last July. This cruising season, this boat has been to only St Martin, St Barts, and Antigua.

A guy they knew came over from a nearby big poweryacht. He said they had been planning to start crossing the Atlantic in a few days, but the owner just showed up, postponed the plan for a month or more, and told this guy his services were no longer needed as of two days from now. So he has to scramble to find another position. He'd turned down a couple of recent offers because he had this position already. They are going to fly him to Antigua; apparently there are a lot of boats there. Still, the guy is bummed.

A good-looking and very well-built waitress or hostess went by a couple of times while we were sitting there, reducing us all to quivering masses of lust. A couple of the female crew from various boats weren't too bad-looking either.

Got a few groceries and back to the boat.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Had a headache all night.
Sun for a new day  4/27/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Still have headache; still popping pills.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. Did Wi-Fi ($4 for soda and tip and AC power). Skype-called Mom and chatted for a while.

To Budget Marine's dock, and walked to the supermarket. Got groceries, and back to the boat.

Napped and loafed most of the afternoon; headachey.

Recaulked the base of the mainmast.

Salad and a PBJ sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  4/28/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Felt good during the night, but then my headache is back a bit this morning.

Worked on the auto-pilot program some more. Came up with a hack that may work. Since the board is resetting (for some unknown reason) after steering, I changed the behavior so that there's a big delay after reset, before starting to listen to the GPS. So the board steers, resets, waits, steers, resets, waits, etc. Seems to work.

Hotdog-onion-batter-cheese concoction and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Warm, still, headachey evening; pretty miserable.
Sun for a new day  4/29/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Headache is gone.

Looking for weather to go to Antigua, but it's not clear. I'll be heading mostly ESE, and wind for next week or so is varying from E to ENE with maybe a little NE. Will have to keep watching it.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Dinghied ashore around 9, to Portofino Marina. Disposed of a bunch of garbage. Across the street and caught a bus ($2) over the hill to Phillipburg; the Carnival's Grand Parade is supposed to start at 10. Couldn't see the start of it, and ended up getting off the bus a little late, in the west edge of Phillipsburg. Saw an unusual restaurant: pic. People setting up to watch the parade or sell drinks and food, but they didn't seem to be in any hurry. Walked around a bit, wondering which road the parade would come down. Chatted with one guy for a while. Hot morning. Eventually got some reasonable-sounding info, and walked back up to the Grand Marche area. Found the start of the parade well down a side-street. They seemed to be in no hurry to start, and a couple of people told me the newspaper had it wrong; the start was supposed to be at 11, not 10. Into a Burger King to have a soda and enjoy the air-conditioning; it's a hot day.

The parade finally started fitfully around 11:30 or 11:45, and went extremely slowly. Glad I'm at the very start; the people in downtown Phillipsburg aren't going to see anything until 2 PM or so, and the people in the parade are going to be exhausted by the end of it. Found a nice low wall to perch on and watch, in the shade but fighting some ants. The parade was nice, but not too big, maybe 20 or so groups. They went very slowly, with lots of stops and lots of dancing, so we got a good view. Except that a couple of professional-type photographers kept barging right into the middle of each group, getting in the way of shots that the spectators were trying to snap. Pics.

End of the parade finally went past. Took only about 5 minutes for a group of us to persuade a bus-driver to turn around and take us the direction we wanted to go. He gave me 50 cents change from my $2; I probably should have been paying $1.50 all along. Quick stop in the supermarket, where they didn't have the cabbage I was looking for. Out to the boat for lunch and cooling off.

Hot afternoon.

Salad and a cheese sandwich for dinner.

Warm evening, but a bit of a breeze, so not too bad.
Sun for a new day  4/30/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. Did Wi-Fi ($4 for soda and tip and AC power). Pretty hot and still in the bar this morning; everyone was wilting and complaining by noon. Back to the boat. More breeze out in the open, but the sun is strong.

In the heat of midafternoon, got into the dinghy and lifted the outboard motor off the transom (with a line tied to it, in case it got away from me and went overboard). Cut and chiseled the plastic/rubber Doel-fins a little to make them fit; I think they're intended for a larger outboard than my 6 HP. Ran an AC power cord over deck and down into the dinghy, drilled holes in the outboard's small metal fins, and mounted the Doel-fins. They look good. Put the motor back onto the transom and let it sit for 15 minutes; turning it upside down can make oil pool in bad places. Pulled the starter cord gently a few times, then started the motor. Zoomed around the boat a few times, and the fins definitely make the dinghy faster at the same RPM. Maybe 20 percent faster ? Will have to see how it feels over the next few trips. Still doesn't come up onto plane, but it's a heavy dinghy and I weigh about 220 pounds, with a 6 HP motor, and I'm too chicken to totally floor the throttle. Pics.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate out on the foredeck to get some shade and breeze.

Very warm night; didn't sleep very well.
Sun for a new day  5/1/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

I've been thinking of buying a circular saw, to saw a hole in the cabin sole to remove some ballast. On this morning's net, Owen on "Magic" offered a saw for free, so after the net I went over and picked it up: pic. Looks good, except it draws up to 10 A at 120 VAC, or 1200 watts, and my inverter is a 500 watt inverter. Maybe I'll be able to use it in short bursts ? Could use a new blade, too.

Was chatting with Owen about various things, and I said that my boat really wasn't an ocean-type boat, with the shallow draft and wide beam and so on. He said "Oh, you could add a bulb keel very easily". That's never occurred to me, not that I have any intention of doing it.

On yesterday's net, heard the controller say there was a lot of NE wind in the forecast. But then when I looked at WindGuru myself through Wi-Fi, it was ENE. This morning, he said varying E through NE again, but when I questioned him about that, he said "well, the arrows are small and hard to see; maybe it's ENE, not NE". I'll be heading ESE to Antigua, so wind varying E to ENE isn't really going to work for me.

Interesting scam reported on the net this morning, on St Kitts: some cruisers had their dinghy pulled onto the beach, well-secured, they said. They took their eyes off it for 10 minutes or so, and then some guy came up to them and said "I found your dinghy floating away and rescued it for you; pay me $200 for doing that". They ended up giving him $20.

Cleared out some space in the hallway where I want to cut a bigger access panel in the sole. Measured and marked it, plugged in the saw and turned on the inverter. Got about 3 seconds worth of power, cut a trench about 2 inches long and 1/8 inch deep, and the fuse on the inverter blew. Guess plan B is to buy a cutting disk for the Dremel, to cut the part that has a 2x4 underneath the length of the cut, and use the jigsaw on the parts that have an air-space under the plywood.

Replaced fuse in inverter.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/2/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

After evaluating the latest America's Cup designs, got out my tools and materials and budget and started making a rudder for the hard dinghy. An hour's cutting and carving and filing and drilling resulted in this: pic. Need to slap on some paint, add a tiller across the top, figure a way to attach it to the dinghy's transom, and Bob's your uncle !

Later, put a coat of paint on the wood part of the rudder.

Gave myself a haircut.

Chicken-onion-mushroom-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/3/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Put a second coat of paint on the wood part of the rudder.

Dinghied in to Lagoonies. I'd say the outboard is about 20% better with those fins on it. Disposed of garbage. Paid $4 for soda and tip and AC power and Wi-Fi. Used the book-exchange. Klaes told me he has some kind of vibrating-tip power-tool that might be able to make the cut in my cabin sole.

About 2/3 of the way through my normal time doing Wi-Fi, the internet was working for most of us, but one guy was having problems. So the bartenderette rebooted the Wi-Fi hub. That guy still wasn't sure, so she rebooted it again, and this time the internet connection died for all of us and wouldn't come back no matter how many times she rebooted the Wi-Fi hub. So I packed up, went to the Budget Marine dock, and walked to the supermarket.

Back to the dock with groceries, and a lady waiting there asked for a ride out to her boat; her husband hadn't shown up to pick her up. So I gave her a ride out. Nice lady: Terese on "Limay", a 50- or 55-foot sloop; they're about to cross to the Azores. We had a nice chat on the way out.

To my boat, and the wind is pretty squirrelly today: shifting and gusting, and this morning it spun the boats around a couple of times. Forgot to look at the weather forecast when I was online, but I don't think it's any good for going to Antigua this week.

Put a third coat of paint on the wood part of the rudder.

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Decent amount of rain at 7:45.

More rain at midnight-30, and heavy rain at 1:50.
Sun for a new day  5/4/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

My 9-year anniversary: I've owned "Magnolia" and been living aboard for 9 years.

Dumped 8 gallons of rainwater from buckets to jugs.

Windy day; at one point the wind-generator tripped the high-voltage disconnect on the solar controller, so I shut off the wind-generator.

More work on the rudder for the hard dinghy. Put it together and put a tiller across the top. A thing of beauty: pic. Held it against the back of the transom, and it fits. Now have to figure out how to attach it to the transom (hey, why think ahead ?). Want to do it without drilling holes below the waterline, if possible. Want to re-use some existing holes in the transom, too. Started measuring and cutting wood.

Added water to the batteries.

Cut and sanded and painted some wood for the rudder-mount.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/5/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Pretty strong wind from NE this morning; might have been a good day to start for Antigua. And the weather forecast on the net had a lot of NE wind in it, if Mike wasn't confusing it with ENE again. But I think I'll see how it looks for early next week.

Had a thought during the night: what I want is a cutting-wheel for the electric drill, not the Dremel. To cut an access hole through the cabin sole in the hallway, to remove some ballast. Then in the morning, as I was thinking of going to the hardware store to buy one, I realized I probably had such a wheel aboard; I vaguely remember seeing one. A few minutes of searching located it.

So I started cutting into the cabin sole. A slow process, since the wheel binds a little, and I have to take breaks to avoid overheating the inverter and the drill. And it's hard to tell when the cut is deep enough.

Put another coat of paint on the rudder-mount pieces.

Got the cutting about 1/2 or 2/3 done, and started having problems. Figured out that the cutting-wheel is wearing down, and getting out of round. Need to buy a new wheel.

Put a final coat of paint on the rudder-mount pieces.

Salad and cheese sandwich and PBJ sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/6/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Weather forecast on Net sounds good for going to Antigua next Tues/Wed. Probably will go to grand Case first, on Saturday. Will have to see weather forecast myself, online.

Dinghied over to the Shell station and bought 4.3 liters of gasoline for $5. Then to Lagoonies, to do Wi-Fi ($4 for soda and AC power and tip). Shoot: Mike on the net has confused ENE and NE again; the wind will be ENE. Might try going anyway, especially since I'll be starting from further N than I did last time. Mon/Tues as good as Tues/Wed, maybe slightly better.

Walked up to the Ace Megacenter (love that name) and bought two cutting disks ($6).

Glanced at a medical insurance site: http://www.expatmedical.net/ For their "CitizenSecure Economy" program with a $5K deductible, I'd pay $1870 per year. Doesn't quite say what's covered (for example, any limits on hospital per-day charges); does say they don't cover ER charges unless you're admitted to the hospital afterwards. I probably should sign up. Sent email to them to get more info, but it failed; not a good sign.

Skype-called Mom and chatted with her. Used the book-exchange.

Dinghied in to the Budget Marine dock. To the supermarket, got groceries, back to the boat.

Worked on the hallway sole, but it's slow going, because the cutting disks I bought are for cutting metal, not wood. Says so in tiny lettering on the package. Didn't see any other disks with the kind of hub my tool requires, anyway. But the disk is cutting the wood.

Hotdog-onion-batter-cheese concoction and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Rain and wind from 9:30 to 10:15. More rain from 11 to 12. More at 5:30 AM.
Sun for a new day  5/7/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Totally grey and damp morning.

Weather forecast on Net this morning was pretty garbled, and didn't sound right.

Dumped 10 gallons of rainwater from buckets to jug and tank.

Heard "Silverheels 3" say they were going out the Dutch bridge this morning, and I know they're anchored on the French side. And saw "Mojimo" racing over from the French side to make it through the bridge. Didn't hear the bridge tender yelling at them on VHF 12. So maybe I should go out the Dutch bridge, which saves mileage to Antigua. But I think I'll stick to my plan to go up to Grand Case first.

Engine start around 9:20, and anchor up by 9:30. Threaded my way through the anchorage, then around the Witches Tit and up toward Marigot. Anchored by 9:55 at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

A little rain as I anchored, then it got sunnier. Much more traffic over here: high-speed motorboats, dinghies, etc. My previous spot was very quiet, which is one reason I was there.

Around 11, dinghied ashore. Went to the Capitainerie and checked out; only $6.50 this time because the dollar-Euro exchange rate has been improving. Walked to the library and read a few newspapers. Then a longish walk to the Home And Tool, where they didn't have any cutting wheels that would fit the hub I have. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Worked on the hallway sole some more, and finally got it done. Used the cutting wheel some more, and then a handsaw on parts that didn't have anything under them. Had to deal with a couple of nails, and a tack. Finally got the piece up: pic. Pretty pleased that my cut follows the middle of the supporting 2x4, on the left side. After I get the ballast out, I'll have to add some more supports so I don't get weak spots in the sole.

Can see about 7 ballast pigs (I guess that's the right name for them), but only one is loose; the rest have had some kind of tar poured over them to fix them in place. Pulled out the loose pig (pic). It's pretty darn heavy, somewhere in the 45-50 pound range (it's about 15" x 3.5" x 3.5"; I'll have to look up the density of lead and do some calculation). [Calculated later: that comes to 75 pounds ! The sides of the pig are not square, so I'm estimating some of the dimensions, and it might be a little less than that. Not sure it's pure lead, too.] Took some effort to roll/slide it under the main table, over on the starboard side of the boat. I had thought the pigs had "Gulfstar" stamped on them, but it's "Gulf-Coast". Neatened up the wood of the sole and put it back together. Will deal with the other pigs some other day.

Went snorkeling under the boat to scrape hull and prop. Not too bad, but plenty of small barnacles started to grow. Scraped plenty off the hard dinghy, too.

Rain at 4:45.

Headache in the late afternoon and all evening and much of the night.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/8/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Simpson Bay Lagoon, St Martin.

Listened to the morning net; sounds okay for a Tues/Wed hop to Antigua, but I'll have to see an online forecast for myself. Mike still is saying NE when the WindGuru he's reading from is saying ENE, I think.

Engine start, anchor up, and through the 8:15 opening of the French bridge. Small sailboat two ahead of me going very slowly; maybe that's the best speed he can do ? Finally out into Marigot Bay, and motored up to Grand Case. Conditions very nice. Stupid auto-pilot board isn't working properly: steering direction seems to have no correlation with what GPS is saying.

Into harbor and anchor down by 9:30 at Grand Case, St Martin. Fewer boats here than last time I was here; this is the start of the off-season; the Lagoon is emptying out too. Wind slightly S of E.

Got a minute or so of a fleeting Wi-Fi signal, then a rainsquall came through. Was able to get the WindGuru forecast, and sure enough it's for ENE wind starting Tuesday, not NE wind.

I guess even trawlers need to have the mast climbed sometimes: pic.

Still feeling slightly headachey.

Dinghied ashore in the early afternoon. Some kind of floating swim-area (pic); maybe swim-meets use this instead of a pool ?

Not many people on the beach, and most shops closed for siesta (or whatever it is in French). Walked up and down the main street, and I can see it might be nice in the evening. But walking is a bit awkward since there are almost no sidewalks, so you're constantly watching out for cars. Back to the boat.

Drilled and fit a bit of wood for the hard-dinghy rudder mount.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Quiet, comfortable night. Some lousy singing from a bar ashore, but it ended early. Getting fairly steady power from the wind-generator; I had suspected that I was in a bit of a "wind shadow" in my usual spot inside the Lagoon. So maybe the wind-generator will be doing better from now on.
Sun for a new day  5/9/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Grand Case, St Martin.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Got a little Wi-Fi. Weather still looking acceptable for a Tues/Wed trip to Antigua. Would prefer NE wind, but will have to settle for ENE.

Noticed a very small cruising sailboat near me: pic. Figure the dinghy is about 9 feet long, so the sailboat is about 20 feet long ?

After noon, launched the dinghy and headed over to the NE corner of the harbor, to Rocher Creole (pic; Anguilla is in the background). Odd-looking sailboat anchored out toward there (pic).

Had a very pleasant snorkel, circumnavigating the rock. A bit rough and some currents on the north side. Fair number of smallish fish, with some nice schools. Almost no coral; it's all rocks.

Took a couple of pictures of Grand Case as I headed back (pics), but I still find it hard to take an interesting-looking picture of most islands.

Back to the boat, and scraped the hull and prop and hard dinghy a little more; they're as clean as they're going to get.

A couple of bars playing loud, annoying music in the late afternoon and early evening, trying to drown out each other.

Salad and cheese sandwich and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/10/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Grand Case, St Martin.

On the morning net, a boat in the IWW marina said they were broken into and a laptop stolen, and the data on the laptop is worth ten times the value of the laptop to them. Ouch !

Did some Wi-Fi. Weather grey and sprinkling a little rain. Hard to check airfares when connection keeps dropping. As I expected, flying out of St Martin is far cheaper than the other islands south and east of here. Flying out of Antigua is not too bad. Trying to think ahead 2 months, deciding where I'll be and where to leave the boat and how to fly out.

Wind starting to blow a little harder, and more often from NE. Good for going tomorrow, but it does make it a little more rolly here today. Weather stayed grey all day.

Meant to mention: there's a smallish (15-inch-long) sea-turtle swimming in the anchorage much of the time, sometimes within 20 feet of my boat. Nice to see; hard to photograph.

Did a little more Wi-Fi, but the connection became very fleeting after a while.

Opened up the hallway sole and pried out two more ballast pigs (pics). Slid the pigs over to the starboard side, under the main table, next to the first one. Boat definitely has much less of a list now. The rest will be more difficult to get out, since they're nested more tightly. The goop poured around them isn't as bad as epoxy, but it seals them down pretty well, and it's on all sides of them.

Started straightening up the boat a little. Checked engine fluids and cleaned the intake strainer.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/11/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Grand Case, St Martin.

Couldn't get Wi-Fi, but weather looks as predicted, and forecast on Net is about the same. Time to go.

Engine start at 8:10, and anchor up by 8:20. Motored N, up between Rocher Creole and the main island, and started ENE past Anse Marcel. Waves and wind right on the nose, boat pitching a lot.

Long, slowish slog (making 3 knots) for a couple of hours to the NE corner of Tintamerre. Got there around 10:15 and started unfurling sails. Boat rolling and getting pushed around, so it took 10 minutes or so to get the sails out and set. Finally was sailing, and shut off the engine. Nice. Making about 3.5 knots, going ESE or SE.

Able to get the sails and helm balanced, so I don't have to do a lot of constant steering. Boat never gets more than 10 degrees or so to one side or the other, before correcting itself. But as I thought, the wind is ENE and I'm not going to be able to sail ESE as I need to. SE or SSE is what I'm going to get. My boat just doesn't sail that close to the wind.

Didn't think I was going to clear the north shore of St Barts, and I didn't. Around 2:20, had to start the engine and motor-sail E. Was able to shut off the engine around 2:45 and sail again. Finally clear of the E end of St Barts around 3:15. Making about 3 knots, generally SE.

Nice-looking boat going the other direction (pic).

After dusk, noticed the battery voltage was getting a bit low. Guess the sails have been shading the solar panels a bit. Turned on the wind-generator, and was delighted to see it can swivel just enough to take advantage of the apparent wind coming over the boat. With the limited angle imposed by the mizzen-mounting, I wasn't sure I could get power while sailing at this angle to the wind. Nice.

Saw one light that probably was a fishing boat. We didn't come close.

Around 8:30, looks like a powerboat coming straight for me, not deviating at all, exact reciprocal course. So I started the engine, made a hard left turn out of his way, and then back onto course and shut off the engine.

But after that, the wind seemed to ease a little, gust for a minute, then ease again and stay lighter. Making 2.5 knots at 160+ degrees. Want to head 130 degrees or so.

And somehow (maybe the lighter wind), I had lost that nice sail-helm balance I had before. Had to play with it for half an hour or so before I got the boat stable and sailing itself again.

A few light rainsqualls sprinkling me with rain, but no wind.

By midnight, thinking in an hour or two I'll have to start motor-sailing, or motoring. Otherwise I'll sail down to a point dead west of Antigua, and have to do the last leg heading due E into wind and swells from ENE, which won't be very efficient. Better to cut the corner, motor-sailing or motoring ESE.

The decision was taken out of my hands suddenly at 12:15. BANG ! Something in the sails let loose and started flogging around. At first, I thought it was the tack of the mainsail, since that seemed to be flogging. Then saw something was blowing up the starboard side of the pilothouse. Worried that the main had come loose and would flog up into the wind-generator, so I ducked down below and turned the wind-generator off. Back up, and now I can see it's the jib that has failed; the mainsail seems okay, just flogging a bit.

I look out the starboard door of the pilothouse, and there's the jib's roller-furling drum, flogging around and bashing into the lifeline and stanchions. Somehow it's come loose from the bow.

My first worry is that the drum will bash into the pilothouse windows and break them. I grab a bungee cord, step out of the door, and lash the drum to the lifeline. Have to be careful: it's pitch dark, boat is rolling, no one else is out here, I'm 10-20 miles from any land. If I get injured or go overboard, I'm in huge trouble.

I start the engine. Check to see that no lines seem to be going overboard from the jib; getting a line into the prop would be disastrous.

Now the jib is flogging wildly, threatening to tear the lifelines or stanchions off. And lowering the halyard will be a pain, because it's on one of the two wire-winches that have sticky brakes. I've tried and tried to fix them, but for some reason the brakes stick, and you have to tap and fiddle with them to get the halyard out, foot by foot.

So I do it, out onto deck with flashlight in hand, and to the winch. Loosen the brake-screw, then start fiddling with the brake and pulling wire out. Then I capture a billow of the jib, being careful not to let it bash me in the head or throw me overboard. It's flogging loudly and violently, an enraged beast. Then the wind swings it out to the starboard side, out of reach.

Use the engine to swing the boat around, to get the jib downwind and then across to port, so I can reach it on the foredeck. But that puts the wind and waves on the stern, and as soon as I leave the helm, the boat starts slewing around and heading upwind again. [Right about now, it would be great to have a couple of crew aboard, or at least a working auto-pilot !] After a while I figure out that the mainsail is causing most of the problem, but I can't do much about it. Too much work to furl the mainsail right now. And if I ease it out to a downwind-sailing position, that will just lead to violent crash-jibes as the boat swings around.

So, much swearing and sweating and frantic scrambling around on deck, getting halyard out and capturing billows of jib and tying them down any way I can. Takes until 12:45 before I have the situation stable.

So, start motor-sailing with the main up. I'm sweaty and a bit upset, but things aren't too bad. Just have to hope the engine keeps going.
Sun for a new day  5/12/2010 (Wednesday)
In transit from St Martin to Antigua.

As dawn comes, I'm in the usual situation on one of these trips. Tired, anxious, and I can see my destination but it's going to be a long time before I arrive there. I can see Antigua, but it's a solid 25 miles away, which means 6 to 7 hours. It feels like that scene in Monty Python's Holy Grail, where Sir Lancelot is charging across the field toward the gate of Swamp Castle, and he's running hard, but every time they cut back to him, he's just as far away as before, or farther.

And conditions seem to be getting slightly worse. I think the wind and waves down here are a little more E than before, somewhere between ENE and E, instead of pure ENE.

Glanced at the jib roller-furled, lashed onto the lifeline, and immediately I can see what failed. The nub-fitting on the bottom of the reel tore right through, from old age, I guess (pic). Could be irreparable; will have to see.

Finally see one or two sailboats, going W or NW. Big-looking boat going W, well S of me (pic).

The guidebooks say that VHF 16 here is to be used for distress calls only; do normal hailing on VHF 68. But I can here local fisherman gabbing away on channel 16.

Then the rainsqualls start. Hard to tell if there's significant wind in them. A couple of them miss me, then one approaches. I decide to furl the mainsail; don't want it damaged. As soon as I furl it, boat motion is far worse, very rolly. And I have to head straight into the worst of the waves, to avoid worse rolling, which cuts down boat speed, which already was low. Nothing worse than seeing Antigua be 5 hours away at 3.4 knots, and then have that turn into 7 hours away at 2.5 knots.

But there's no wind in the squall, and soon I'm able to unfurl the mainsail and stop the horrible rolling. Boat is a real mess down below; lots of stuff thrown onto the floor. I have to keep going down below to open and close the aft hatch as squalls threaten; I want it open to let some cool air flow into the engine compartment and help cool the engine and batteries. But walking down below, with boat rolling heavily and stuff all over the place and engine heat, is difficult and makes me feel a little queasy.

Squall after squall, some making the whole island disappear. And I never seem to be able to get into the lee of the island and get some shelter from these waves. Hours and hours of this, so frustrating I scream at the elements a few times. One of those times you could buy my boat for a nickel if you could get me out of here instantly.

Finally start to get into shallower water, 80 feet or so, as I'm 3 or 4 miles from the harbor. Then 50 feet, as another huge squall greys everything out. Now I'm really arriving, getting shelter from the waves, and I can relax a bit: if the engine failed right now, I could anchor and be uncomfortable but safe. A lot of anxiety had come from thinking: what if I motor to within 10 miles of Antigua and then the engine quits ? Sail back to St Martin ?

Into the anchorage, and start picking a spot, and another squall is approaching. So I get rained on a bit as I anchor, but not much wind, and I'm so happy to be here that the rain doesn't bother me at all.

Anchor down by 12:30 at Jolly Harbour, Antigua. What a relief !

So, my usual kind of trip: a bit ugly, but I got there. 2 hours of motoring, 14 hours of sailing, then 12 hours of mostly-motoring motor-sailing. One busted piece of equipment. One frazzled human being.

12 to 15 other cruising boats anchored here. No one I recognize.

Started straightening up the mess inside the boat. Not too bad, nothing spilled or broken. Just a lot of stuff thrown onto the floor. On deck is a bit ugly, too, with the jib lashed to the lifelines (pic).

Shaved and had a sandwich. Started launching the dinghy, but several more squalls came through, back to back, so I waited a bit.

Found a casualty of the trip on deck: pic.

The hard dinghy towed fine, all the way, with no damage or water inside.

Finally got into the dinghy and headed ashore. Into harbor, and it's quite a bit bigger than I expected. And completely dead: I don't see a single person moving anywhere. Maybe the rain, and it being off-season, has activity down. Can't find the Customs building; should have brought the guidebook and the map in it. Finally I see someone on a boat, and he points me to the Customs dock; I should have noticed the big yellow "quarantine" flag they have flying. I was looking for something with a country-flag flying on a big flagpole.

In to Customs, and a major hassle. The woman officer asked for my clearance from previous country, looked at the date I left, and said "this is not a valid clearance !". I violated the rules by checking out and then staying a couple of extra days in St Martin. My fault: I knew it was wrong, but was pretty sure St Martin didn't care, and it would have been a hassle to go from Grand Case back to Marigot just to clear out on the proper day. Would have added several hours to my trip. Well, here they care.

The officer also is outraged that I didn't come immediately to check in; I arrived at 12:30 and got to the office by 2. And why didn't I bring the big boat straight to the dock, instead of coming by dinghy ? Well, last country I've been in that made me bring the big boat to the dock was the Bahamas. I don't like docking (being close to lots of hard things), didn't know how big this harbor was, didn't even know exactly where the Customs dock was.

She even glanced at my shorts and sandals; I think she would have been happier if I'd been in long pants and real shoes.

But I didn't say all of that to her. Said as little as possible, and I said sorry as many times as I could, and had to hang around worrying for half an hour while she made phone calls to someone. Hope they don't refuse me entry, or fine me $500 or something. Smile and be polite and happy and stay cool, the usual way to deal with officials.

Eventually I just had to write and sign a short letter saying what I'd done. I added a sentence saying I was sorry in that, too. Then fill out the normal forms, which are extensive. One item asked how many GPS's I had aboard; why in the world do they ask that ? Lots of stamping of forms in three different offices. Paid EC$40 (US$16) and done ! Good to stay for one month, then renew it month by month, for another $10 or so each time. Put planned departure as Aug 12, but that can be modified, I'm sure.

Pleasant good-byes, and motored away from the Customs dock slowly and carefully: they have huge fines here for driving too fast inside the harbors (although I've already seen a local breaking the limit and making a big wake inside this harbor). Don't wany any trouble, nothing happening over here, everything fine.

Saw someone sailing a dinghy in, and followed them to the marina dinghy-dock. Said hi to the guy and mentioned that things seemed quiet, and he said "absolutely dead". Then he was off before I could ask him anything about the local setup.

Wandered through the marina shopping arcade. Big marina with lots of stores, most closed or moving now that it's off-season. Chatted with a couple of locals working there, and they're very friendly. Found a cafe with Wi-Fi and book-exchange; will come back here tomorrow.

Out of the marina to a supermarket nearby. Very nice, but prices seem exorbitant. And hard to understand; everything's in EC$, which are 2.70 to the US$, I think. And units are listed as "T"s, but I can't figure them out; why is one kind of rum listed as $17.95 for 3 T's and another is $18.95 for 1 T ? The bottles look the same size. On cheese, "T" seems to equal kilogram. [Figured out later: they have different sales tax rates, depending on where an item was produced.]

In retrospect, prices aren't too horrible, just higher than St Martin or St Thomas. Worst is soda: US$1 per can. Local rum is EC$18 for a fifth, so that's, uh, US$6.50, compared to similar rum for US$4 in St Martin. Good thing I stocked up on most things in St Martin, but I should have bought much more soda.

Ended up buying only bananas. Paid with US$1 bills, and they used a special pen to check for counterfeits. I joked with the cashier, saying most places check only $50 or $100 bills, and she said they've seen even counterfeit $1 bills here. Weird.

Back to the boat. Notice that every other boat is flying an Antigua courtesy flag. I haven't bothered with a courtesy flag in years, but maybe they care here. Better see if I can make or buy a flag. Maybe I'm feeling a little paranoid.

Brought the jib halyard down the rest of the way, unfastened it and tied it off. Tied the jib down a little more. Found the broken-off nub of the furler lying on deck (pic).

Read through the "Antigua and Barbuda Marine Guide 2010" I picked up in the Port Authority office, and page 3 "Yacht Entry and Clearance Procedures" says "you must clear in within 24 hours of arrival". So why the hassle about 12:30 versus 2:00 ? Don't think I'll go back and argue the point with the officer.

And my Pavlidis guide to Leeward Islands says if the Customs dock is full you can dinghy in instead of bring the big boat in. I had extended that to assume that coming in by dinghy would be okay, but I guess not. Again, not going to argue it.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner; ate it in the nice shade and breeze on the foredeck. Stove flame a little weird; may be running out of propane ?

Slept very solidly.
Sun for a new day  5/13/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Grey morning. Dumped 10 gallons of water from buckets to jugs.

Started untwisting the jib / furler mess. After I lashed the furler drum to the lifeline (pic), the jib spun around half a dozen times and twisted the rigging wire into a curlicue (pic), and twisted the various lines around that. Got the furler free (pic) and will try to get the broken part off.

Plenty of rain and wind at 7:35. More rain at 8:10.

Spent quite a while writing up the trip. Trackpad on the laptop seems to have stopped working (but after hibernation, it started working again).

Tried to get the shaft out of the roller-furling drum, and I got the setscrew and the bolt out, and the shaft comes out part-way, but not all the way. Something's binding, or there's a trick I don't know. Best to take the whole thing in to a shop.

I know I have a spare roller-furling drum aboard, but I can't put my finger on it right now. And I'm 99% sure it's a small one, for main or mizzen, not a big one for the jib. I remember picking it up for free from someone, years ago.

Free Wi-Fi right from the boat !

Weather stayed grey and windy all day. I'm liking my wind-generator more and more. Supposed to blow hard from E for next 3 days.

Was trying to buy plane tickets to fly out in July, when a squall came through and my Wi-Fi adapter stopped working. Switched to a backup adapter and it worked poorly. Tried again later and all was fine; booked flights in July to Philly for $555 roundtrip.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Lots of wind and rain from 9 to 11. Torrential rain a few times.

Occasional rain through the night, and heavy rain at 4:15. Plenty of wind most of the time.
Sun for a new day  5/14/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Wind howling this morning.

Dumped 6 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank. I think the tanks are about full.

Added water to the batteries.

Was reading a web page about Antigua rules and regulations, and this caught my eye: "You should be aware that it is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing."

Did a little Wi-Fi. Someone on Facebook asked if I should get harnesses and lifelines for emergency work, and my response was:
I do have harnesses and lifeline webbing aboard, but I don't use them. Just no way I could dash back and forth from helm to bow while using them, with various parts of lashed-down jib and other lines in the way. If I needed to stay on one part of the deck for 5 minutes and work on something, yes, harness and lifelines would work. But no emergency I've had yet worked that way.

Dinghied ashore, into the harbor and to the marina. Took my furler-drum to a shop in the boatyard, where several guys puzzled over it. I pointed out to them that it's not a simple shaft running through the middle of it; there's some kind of swivel inside there. Left it with them to be worked on, at $65/hour (US$, I'm sure), and I'll check back with them tomorrow.

To the fuel dock, where their price for diesel is EC$10.79 per Imperial gallon. What's that in real money ? Guy said it was about US$4.10/gallon, but did he mean US gallon or Imperial gallon ? Water is EC$0.27/gallon, but same question. [Imperial gallon is 1.2 US gallons. So that fuel price is US$3.33 per US gallon, a very good price. That water price could be 8.3 US cents per US gallon, also a very good price.]

Disposed of two bags of garbage. To the cafe, where it turns out the bookshelf is books for sale, not a book-exchange. But a guy doing Wi-Fi said there's usually a book-swap outside the supermarket on Saturday mornings, so I'll have to check that out.

To the marina office, where I chatted with the dockmaster and used their book-exchange. He says there's no problem if I want to put my boat in a slip here if a hurricane threatens, so that's a viable option if I stay here through hurricane season. This inner harbor and marina are very well protected. And he pointed out lots of great anchorages on Antigua (which I already knew about from the chart); he thinks Antigua should be more popular as a cruising destination. Back to the boat.

Bailed 6-8 gallons of rainwater out of the hard dinghy.

Did some more Wi-Fi.

A little headachey in the late afternoon.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/15/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Did a little Wi-Fi.

Dinghied ashore around 9:30. Walked through the marina to the supermarket. As I mostly expected, no sign of any kind of book-swap going on.

Through the security station and out onto the road. Interesting-looking hotel: pic. Turned right and found my way to the beach, through a fancy resort (pics). Beautiful big beach, with a dozen or so people on it. Back out to the road, and up to the main road, to check out the bus stops there. Nothing else of interest outside the marina/resorts.

Back into the marina complex, and got a couple of groceries at the supermarket. Tried the ATM inside the supermarket, and two outside banks in the marina complex, and none of them would accept my ATM card. Two of the ATM's might have been credit-card-only types. The banks are closed today. And the banking system here is a bit screwed up, from what I read. A year or two ago there was a massive fraud involving an ATM in English Harbour that cost a lot of cruisers dearly.

Stopped into a Moneygram store that had a book-exchange and internet computers. Couldn't believe it when the sign said when you exchanged a book, one of yours for one of theirs, you also had to pay them EC$5 ! Ridiculous.

And their internet access costs EC$48/hour. That's almost US$18/hour.

Over to the boatyard, to the machine shop, even though I told them I wouldn't come over until this afternoon. Good news: the roller-furler drum is repaired, and it looks good. Bad news: the price tag is US$325 ! About twice what I hoped, but it had to be done. I don't have enough cash, and their credit-card machine isn't working. So I'll have to come back on Monday. Back to the boat.

Rain at 11. A little more at 11:30, and again at noon.

Skype-called Mom and chatted for a while.

Rain at 12:40.

A little after 2, eight sailboats came sailing out of the inner harbor, having a bit of a small regatta (pics). Very nice. They started coming back in around 3:45.

Rain at 2:30.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

Wind suddenly died just before sunset, and I didn't realize it for a while. So my laptop use pulled the batteries a little low, with no way to recharge them short of starting the engine. Will see how low they get overnight.
Sun for a new day  5/16/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Sunny morning with very light wind. Nice, but it's not supposed to be this way. Yesterday's forecast had the wind easing from the 18-20 we've had for the last few days to 15-17 for the next few days. But we got maybe 6-10 knots overnight and this morning.

Did a little Wi-Fi. Forecast is unchanged, even a little stronger today than I recalled. Wind E 16-19 today, 15-17 for a couple of days, then 17-20 on Wednesday. But conditions last night and this morning don't agree.

Wind suddenly started up again around 7:45. Howling by 11:30 or so.

Rain at 2:15, and again at 3:15. Then a huge squall/storm from 3:30 to 3:50 or so, with more coming after that. More after 4, and tons of wind at 4:15. Just going on and on.

Hotdog-onion-batter-cheese concoction and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Rain at 6:20, 7, very strong storm starting at 7:45, more from 9:10 to 9:35, rain at 11:30, a little more just after midnight, then the wind stopped and it was quiet the rest of the night. Except that it got rolly after midnight, for an hour or so. One of the big storms had been more from the SE than the usual E, and I guess it brought some SE swells that curved in and hit us.
Sun for a new day  5/17/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Wind suddenly turned on around 8:15 this morning.

Did a little Wi-Fi.

Dinghied ashore. To the machine shop, where they were able to run my credit card to pay for the roller-furler work. They added a US$10 fee, so US$335 came to EC$904.50 total. But one problem: the hole they drilled in the shaft is a little narrower than the old hole; otherwise they'd leave too little material around the hole and it would break again. But now the old shackle won't fit. And despite a couple of sessions spent in the Budget Marine store upstairs in the same building, I came away with two new shackles (can never have too many shackles aboard) but none that will fit. They suggest going to the store in English Harbour.

Poured rain for a while as I came out of Budget Marine the first time (pics; notice boat with hatches wide open). Poured again as I went into the marina to try the banks. Tried my credit card in 3 ATMs, but I don't have a PIN for the credit card (I've never needed one before). And my ATM card doesn't work in the 3rd ATM I found today; tried the other two on Saturday. Finally went into one of the banks and got a cash-advance on my credit card. Got EC$400 for US$148.15. I'm sure it will trigger ugly stuff on my credit card bill: they'll probably add a cash-advance fee and a foreign-transaction fee and charge interest on the US$148.15 and the US$335 (machine shop) and US$555 (airfare) starting immediately. But I wanted to make sure I had some way of getting cash here.

To the supermarket, got a few groceries, and then it was pouring when I came out. Eventually made it to the dinghy. Got rained on a bit on the way out to the boat, but the heavy rain didn't arrive again until I was aboard.

Chatted with several people while I was ashore. Seems that the bus info I got from a security-guard lady was wrong; there's no direct bus from here right into English Harbour. Best to take the boat over to Falmouth Harbour or English Harbour.

By the way, "security" seems to be a major employment industry here. Each small bank branch has a guard in it, the marina shopping arcade has several wandering around at all times, the boatyard entrance has a guard station with several guards, the marina entrance from the road has a guard station, the big resorts have guard stations and roving guards.

Very grey and very rainy today, but no wind. WindGuru said we're supposed to have E 18 wind today. Heard a visitor ashore saying the weather forecast said this would be the rainiest day of the week.

Weather stayed wet and miserable all day.

Started making a courtesy flag.

Salad and PBJ sandwiches for dinner.

Ran engine for 20 minutes to charge batteries.

Had a thought: I already have a shackle that fits the roller-furling drum; it just has a pin that is too thick. So if I buy a thinner bolt that fits through the hole in the drum, it will fit through the holes in the shackle, and I can put a nut on the end of the bolt.

At midnight-thirty, wind suddenly started up. Tapered off over the next hour or so.
Sun for a new day  5/18/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Did a bucket of laundry. Hope I can get it dry before the evil rainsqualls start up again.

Did Wi-Fi. Getting lots of power from solar and wind today.

Weather stayed windy and sunny all morning, with grey clouds threatening but not delivering.

Fuel level 9.3 inches at engine hour 4631.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/19/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Up at 5. Did a little quick Wi-Fi, to pay my credit-card and try to avoid the 25% interest rate.

Anchor up by 5:30, and motored out. Hoping to make it to Falmouth Harbour before the strong wind starts up, but the wind is already stirring. Motor-sailed S along the coast. Turned SE and motor-sailed at 4.4 knots inside the reef, but soon ran out of room and had to furl the sail; speed down to 3.5 knots. Got to the mouth of the reef and the wind picked up and the waves got big, and speed soon down to 2.5 knots. Started plowing into every third wave or so, wind getting stronger and stronger, and speed soon down to 1.7 knots or so. Gave up at about 7:30, and turned for shore. Vicious rolling until I could get some shelter. Anchor down by 7:50 at Carlisle Bay.

Nice here, except for a slight roll. Resort hotel with a deserted beach.

Crap: the only damage below was that a six-pack of soda got thrown onto the floor and three of the cans burst. That stuff's expensive here.

Got a little bit of free Wi-Fi, but the signal is fleeting.

Wind blowing pretty hard by 11:30. Half a dozen people on the beach, and one sailing a small Hobie-cat.

Rain at 1:45.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Fairly comfortable night; fair amount of breeze, mostly from the N. Rolling not too bad.
Sun for a new day  5/20/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Carlisle Bay.

Anchor up at 5:20 and motored out. Conditions outside not as good as I hoped, but better than yesterday morning's. Throttled up slightly and made about 3.5 knots, with lots of rolling, and occasional slamming into a wave. Up and into harbor, and anchor down by 6:45 at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Ahh, free Wi-Fi here, too !

Heard the weather announced on VHF 6 from English Harbour this morning, and it wasn't much. Just a forecast for today, ENE to ESE 14 to 18 with gusts to 25, and the lady remarked "well, that about covers it, doesn't it ?". And nothing else, no cruiser's net, nothing.

Around 9:30, dinghied in to Antigua Yacht Club. Found the Antigua Slipway chandlery, and the woman running it recognized my furler-drum as an old-style Schaefer drum. But this is just a branch store, and it's closing for the season, so she'll fetch the shackle I need from the main store tomorrow morning. She measured the hole as 1/4", which is why I was struggling with the MM-denominated shackles in Budget Marine.

Walked around the area a bit. Found a place that does mail and propane refill and has a big book-exchange. Propane is EC$75 (US$28) for 20 pounds, which isn't too bad. Down the road in one direction, and bought a couple of tomatoes and a cucumber from a roadside stand for EC$5.25 (US$2).

Went into a cafe-arcade, and chatted with the lady there for a while. Then to the back end of English Harbour, but didn't go through the gate into the Dockyard, which you have to pay for. Some goats enjoying the growth from all of the recent rain: (pic. Lots of businesses closed for the off-season, or open limited hours.

Back to the Yacht Club, and bought a six-pack of Coke for EC$13.50 (US$5). Noticed that internet computers in the cafe here are EC$10/hour, a lot better than the EC$48/hour in Jolly Harbour.

Several big sailboats in the marina, but could get clear pictures of only a couple of them (pics). Back to the boat.

Headache all afternoon; took pills.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-chickensoup-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner. The can of soup was from Publix, which means I bought it in Miami in early 2005.

Woke up to a squall at 11:45, and my headache was gone. A couple more squalls after midnight.
Sun for a new day  5/21/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Rain at 6:30. Still getting water down the mainmast compression post; that acrylic latex caulk I tried is not working.

Did some Wi-Fi.

Dinghied ashore around 10. To the chandlery, and the 1/4" shackles the lady brought were too narrow, so I had to settle for a 6 MM shackle. The price seemed high, EC$56 (US$20.75), and that's with a discount from EC$65 and avoiding 15% sales tax. But I bought it. [Later saw the same thing in a Defender 2009 catalog for US$14 (plus shipping), so I guess the price here isn't too bad.]

Found a small book-exchange in a cafe and used it, then to the big one in the yacht management place and used that one, too.

Checked diesel prices: US$1/liter in the Yacht Club, EC$10.90/ImperialGallon at the gas station. That's $3.80/USGallon versus $3.36/USGallon. And diesel was slightly cheaper at Jolly Harbour.

Back to the boat. Pretty calm, so I started working on reconnecting the jib, but by the time I had everything together, the wind had picked up. Will wait for light wind before I hoist it.

Recaulked the base of the mainmast.

In midafternoon, dinghied ashore to the other side of the harbor, to Catamaran Club Marina. Nice-looking small sailboat in a slip: pic. Not too much over here, in terms of shops. Fuel US$3.41/USGallon at the fuel dock. Turtles in the marina office: pic. Walked up the street to Bailey's Supermarket, which is a small grocery store. For propane refill, they quoted EC$32 (US$12) for 20 pounds, which is an unbelieveably low price. But I asked two different cashiers, several times. Probably if I take my tank there, they'll say the price is double that, but it's still cheaper than at Jane's.

Bought a six-pack of Diet Coke, and had some confusion at the register. Marked EC$2.20/can on the shelf (which would be EC$13.20 total, cheaper than at the other grocery store), rang EC$2.30 on the register, and then the total ended up at EC$15.89. That 15% sales tax really takes a bite, and I realized that I hadn't looked at my change when buying a six-pack at the other store. So a six-pack of soda is close to US$6 here; US$7 at Jolly Harbour.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

Before dusk, hoisted jib. Took a couple of tries to get it furled the right way and the furling line wrapped correctly.

Realized later that I still have to replace that twisted length of wire; it goes between the furling drum and the tack of the jib, to raise it a foot or two so it clears the pulpit.
Sun for a new day  5/22/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Low dark clouds. Rain almost continuous from 6:15 to 7:15, and again from 7:50 to 9. No wind, so the clouds are hovering overhead and dumping on us. Boats slowly spinning around.

A little sun around 9:45, and then some breeze started up. Rain at 10:20.

Did Wi-Fi.

Nice-looking sailboat at anchor here: pic.

Dumped 5 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank. I have another 10 gallons in buckets, but I think the tanks are just about full.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate out on the foredeck.

Warm and uncomfortable in the evening; sat out on the foredeck in the dark and breeze for a while.
Sun for a new day  5/23/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Warm and calm and a bit rolly this morning.

Loafed and read and did Wi-Fi.

People sailing around in a small sailboat: pics.

Guys sailing a couple of radio-controlled sailboats: pic.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Warm and uncomfortable in the evening; sat out on the foredeck for a while.
Sun for a new day  5/24/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Sunny and breezy and rolly morning.

Dinghied ashore to the other side, only to find that today's a holiday (Whitmonday), so the rigging shop and grocery store I wanted to go to are closed. The marina store is open, and actually had some swage-sleeves, but not the size I need. Back to the boat.

Did Wi-Fi and loafed.

Watched a big 4-spreader ketch leave the marina dock, but all they did was anchor for a while so they could run the mizzen sail up and down a few times to fix problems with it, then they went back to the dock.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Another warm evening.
Sun for a new day  5/25/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Maybe a bit less rolly today. [Later: no.]

Did some Wi-Fi.

Dinghied ashore to the other side. To the rigging shop and bought 4 feet of 7 MM 1x19 rigging wire and two swage-sleeves. US$26.50, including US$4.50 for the guy's time to find the wire and measure it and cut it. No wonder he moved so slowly, and I was the one who found the reel of 7 MM wire. And the swage-sleeves are 8 MM; I'll have to crush them down to 7 MM.

To the grocery store, got some food, and double-checked the price and time for the propane refill. On the way back, chatted with a guy named Scott, who crews as engineer on megayachts, but is looking for a job right now. Back to the boat.

Cut apart the old jib-pennant to recover the thimbles from it. Bent and wrestled the new wire into shape, got the swage-sleeves onto it, and fit the thimbles in place. Then started swaging the sleeves on, but one of the bolts on my swage-tool is binding near the end. Finished all of the swaging and applied some seizing wire, then realized I'd better make the swages tighter. Will try again tomorrow; my hands are tired and a little bruised from tightening the bolts as hard as I could.

Dinghied ashore to the Antigua Yacht Club. Down the street to Jane's and used the book-exchange. Chandlery closed for some reason; maybe they've closed this branch for the off-season. Back to the boat.

Weather still hot and humid. Adding to the haze is that two different places ashore seem to be burning garbage. This is a Park area, and my garbage is piling up because they don't seem to have any public garbage cans ashore.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/26/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Windy morning.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Did Wi-Fi, of course.

Worked on the swage-tool a bit, but one bolt still sticks, regardless of which hole I put it in. Used the tool and improved the swages, and the jib-pennant is done: pic.

Installed the pennant between the jib and the furler drum.

Was planning to take the propane tank ashore this evening to get it filled, but when I shook it, I think there are 2 or 3 pounds of liquid still in there. So I'll wait.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  5/27/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Feeling a little headachey.

Still a bit windy. Supposed to shift to SE, but it still looks pretty E to me. Supposed to be SE today and S tomorrow, and tomorrow I would use the S to sail around the SE corner of the island and into Nonsuch Bay.

Did some Wi-Fi. Yup, the forecast has shifted out a day; S wind coming on Saturday now.

Opened up the cabin sole in the hallway. Pried out one more ballast pig, and that's the last of the easy ones. Started chipping out the epoxy or polyester that's been poured over and around the others, and shards flew everywhere. Worked for 45 minutes or so and said that's enough for today.

Weather stayed totally grey all day, with more wind than forecast, and it stayed E.

Skype-called home to PA and chatted with Mom, but the connection didn't last too long. Her Wii-bowling group is traveling over to another senior center this afternoon to have a friendly match with a team over there; I told her not to lose the rent money.

Salad and cheese sandwich and PBJ sandwich for dinner.

Totally grey and humid and very light wind all night. Rained a couple of times.
Sun for a new day  5/28/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Rain at dawn. Grey and breezy morning. Wind finally getting to SE and SSE a little.

Did a little Wi-Fi. Forecast looks perfect for leaving tomorrow, S 13 wind. Of course, I'm just doing a short trip, 15 miles or so around the SE corner of the island. But it would be nice to sail it.

Small dolphin swimming next to the boat.

Rain at 8:55, sprinkles at 9:30, and stayed grey and sprinkly.

Dinghied in to Antigua Yacht Club. Used the book-exchange at Skulduggery. To the gas station, and got EC$10 worth of gasoline. Into the grocery store and bought some food; no stores at all in the next several anchorages along the S and E coasts of the island. Back to the boat.

Dumped 3-4 gallons of rainwater from buckets to jug.

Four charter-type catamarans came in and anchored very close across the marina entrance. Other boats have been straggling in over the last couple of days. So I guess there's still some life here even in the off-season.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

A little rain in the evening, with wind moving around to SW and W for a while.
Sun for a new day  5/29/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Weather looks right, forecast looks good, time to go.

As I was getting the boat ready, I found that IR-thermometer. Been wondering where that thing had gotten to.

Engine start at 6:55, anchor up by 7:05. Motored out, unfurling the main as I went through the harbor, and unfurling the jib at the mouth of the harbor. But the wind outside is more SE than S, and the first leg is dead to SE. So I motored and tried to keep enough of an angle on the wind to keep the sails from flogging. Seas are a bit comfused, mostly from the S but some from E or SE.

Motor-sailed along the S coast of the island. Boats rolling badly in English Harbour. Tried putting the engine in neutral after English Harbour, but speed quickly dropped from 4 knots to 2.4 knots, so I put the engine back in gear. Tried again off Willoughby Bay, but speed dropped to 2.8 or so. So I put the engine back in gear and motor-sailed with the engine at low RPM.

Around the corner of the island. Tricky to pick out the entrance, and it's unmarked and has several turns in it. Made it into Nonsuch Bay, and found 4 other boats anchored here. Anchor down by 10:00 at Green Island, Nonsuch Bay, Antigua.

As I furled the sails, noticed that the painter on the hard dinghy chafed through on the way over (or maybe last night ?). Good thing I had a second line on it.

Repaired furler-drum, and new jib pennant, seem to have worked fine.

Would you believe it: free Wi-Fi here, too !

A couple of big day-snorkel catamarans came by in the early afternoon, and a couple more catamarans came in later. This place is a lot busier than I expected.

A couple of buddy-boating SCUBA catamarans anchored too close in front of me. But they left after an hour or two.

Rain at 3, and again 45 minutes later. Wind generally from WSW.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Six boats staying the night here.
Sun for a new day  5/30/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Green Island, Nonsuch Bay, Antigua.

Did a little Wi-Fi.

Launched the dinghy and went snorkeling. Headed outside the reef right away, since today and tomorrow are the calmest days we'll have here. Had to thread my way through a narrow gap next to an improvised marker; I'd seen a skiff use that path earlier. Out to the NE corner of Green Island. More of a swell than I expected. Anchored and swam over to the rocky shore. Lots of broken staghorn coral, all brown and grey. Some nice fish, including a school of 300 or so French Grunts (I think). Very pleasant swim.

Back in, and snorkeled inside the reef, off the north shore of the island. Some big brain-corals here, but mostly grey silt-covered coral otherwise. Some small yellow stripers, but not a lot of fish. Pleasant, but a little disappointing.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate out on the foredeck to beat the heat.
Sun for a new day  5/31/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Green Island, Nonsuch Bay, Antigua.

Warm and humid and hazy again. Yesterday was a rare clear day.

Was reading a Wikipedia page about MythBusters, and saw this:
Myth: A sinking ship creates enough suction to pull a person under if that person is too close (as was rumored to occur when the RMS Titanic sank).
Fact: Charles Joughin, the Titanic's chief baker, testified in a 1912 enquiry that he held onto the stern railing of the ship as it went down. As the ship went under, he stepped off; his hair did not get wet, much less himself get sucked under with the ship.

Windier today than the forecast predicted.

Added water to the batteries. Checked on a slight drip from the bottom of the oil filter housing.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

Crap ! After dinner, I started thinking about a slight problem with the mainsail: on the way up, I was having trouble getting the outhaul tight enough to take the pressure off the topping lift. I thought the problem was just a big, awkward block preventing me from getting the last couple of inches of tightness. But one glance at it now and I can see the problem: the track has broken off the boom again (pic). Same thing happened in 9/2007: pic and pic. I think this time I'll get rid of the whole track arrangement, and go to something simpler and more reliable.

Wind stayed E and steady and fairly strong all night; doesn't match the forecast.
Sun for a new day  6/1/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Green Island, Nonsuch Bay, Antigua.

Did some Wi-Fi, but it's not working so well today.

Got the end-cap off the boom. Can't find the nut and washer from the bolt that failed, so I can't tell if the bolt sheared off or the nut just worked loose. Got the other two bolts off and the whole track off, and it's clear that the nut just worked off the third bolt; it's not sheared off.

All three bolts really should be thicker, but that would require drilling bigger countersunk holes in the track, something I'd probably have to have done by a machine-shop. And may be a good idea to get a fourth hole and bolt, to help the one that takes all of the force. I think I may just get rid of the track entirely. Will have to think about this.

Got out some marine catalogs. Looks like that track is Schaefer T-Track, 1-1/4" x 3/16", and it's not horribly expensive, if I wanted to buy new. But I could just straighten the old one out. Maybe I should enlarge the holes, add a second bolt in the critical place, and use hex-head bolts. The bolt-heads would prevent me from sliding the car on the track; I'd have to take the track off to adjust the position of the car. But I never move the car anyway. But that won't work: the car is nearly 4 inches long, and the bolt-holes are 2 inches apart, so the critical two bolts have to have countersunk heads. Maybe I can have the holes drilled for thicker countersunk bolts, and use one hex-head bolt to stop the car at the right position.

The track has straight holes that are supposed to be used to pin the car in place, but my car doesn't have a locking pin. And I don't see the equivalent of my car in the catalogs. A new, much simpler car is listed at anywhere from $25 to $65 or so. And I could buy a small car with just the stopper-pin on it, to hold my car in position; that alone is $60, for some reason.

But the bad news is that Budget Marine's catalog lists only Harken stuff, no Schaefer stuff, so I probably can't get any of this at the store in Jolly Harbour. Will have to use the more expensive store in English Harbour, if they have it, or order online.

After lunch, got out my handy vise (thank you, Sandy Gurnell) and pipe-wrench, and straightened out that piece of track (pic).

Found a nut and some washers that will fit the bolt.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/2/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Green Island, Nonsuch Bay, Antigua.

Today's my birthday; I'm 52 years old ! [The other day, thought I should get a T-shirt that says "Best if used by 1979".]

Put the main outhaul and the boom-end back together, and it looks good. Switched bolts so one with a sticky nut is in the critical spot, and added caulk to all three nuts to semi-lock them. Added anti-seize to the bolts holding the boom-end-cap on.

Found a lot of Montserrat dust on my solar panels, maybe from when the wind was from the WSW that evening in Falmouth Harbour ?

Sprayed oil on the hinges of my eyeglasses; if I forget to do that every few months, they rust and lock up and break.

After lunch, dinghied around to the S side of Green Island, to the reef on the SE side of Ricketts Harbour, and had a nice snorkel. A little better here than on the north side, with some 12-15 inch fish, and plenty of smaller fish. And one nasty-looking barracuda, a good 5 to 6 feet long, eyeing me. Very pleasant snorkel. Hull of a 35-foot-ish sailboat is sitting high and dry on the reef, totally stripped. A couple of the big day-sail catamarans were anchored here when I arrived; this must be their regular lunch stop.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner, and some cocktail peanuts and a rum-and-coke to celebrate my birthday.
Sun for a new day  6/3/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Green Island, Nonsuch Bay, Antigua.

Loafed all morning.

After lunch, tried some Wi-Fi, but my usual signal wouldn't connect, and the one that did was painfully slow and flaky. Gave up, and decided to move. I'd been debating whether to move the big boat tomorrow or explore the bay with the dinghy.

Engine start at 1:25, and anchor up by 1:35. Motored W, avoiding Middle Reef, and went along the S shore of Nonsuch Bay. On the way, discovered that the engine oil drip is not from the oil filter housing, it's from a hose connection to the oil-cooler.

Down into the bay, and this place has several expensive-looking resorts, and every one of them is dead and boarded up for the off-season. Just nothing happening. I was pretty sure I wouldn't find a grocery store down here, and now I'm positive.

Tried to nose into Brown's Bay, but they've seeded it with enough floats and balls to keep boats out of the sheltered part of it, and there's no point to anchoring in the mouth and being exposed to the long fetch of the bay in this E or ENE wind.

Motored N across the bay to Cloverleaf Bay. Sheltered from the E and ENE wind here. Want to anchor right in the mouth of the bay so I still get some breeze, but not waves. But the water at the mouth is deeper than charted, and I have to go close to the edge to put the anchor down. Will be fine as long as the wind stays E. So just after I get done, a rainshower comes through with some N wind. But it soon passes. Hope it's not too still and buggy at night. Anchor down by 2:20 at Cloverleaf Bay, Nonsuch Bay, Antigua.

But then very light wind is staying a bit NE, at least in here, maybe forced by the shape of the hills. I might not stay here tonight.

Did a little Wi-Fi, but it's very flaky here, too.

Got out the big crescent wrneches and loosened and tightened that oil hose fitting.

Too hot and still here, bad Wi-Fi, I'm too close to the mangroves, and this place is dead. Engine start at 3:50, anchor up by 3:55, and motored out. Up through the harbor, keeping an eye out for reefs (little bits of them are sprinkled through here), and back to more or less my old spot. Anchor down by 4:25 at Green Island, Nonsuch Bay, Antigua. Strong breeze here. Only one other boat here now. Engine oil drip seems to be fixed.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Wind blew steadily and fairly strong all night.
Sun for a new day  6/4/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Green Island, Nonsuch Bay, Antigua.

Loafed and did Wi-Fi and loafed and read and loafed. Just finished a biography of Einstein; starting a book about how Israel got nuclear weapons. As well as reading some lighter books when I get tired of the heavier stuff.

Salad and apple and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/5/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Green Island, Nonsuch Bay, Antigua.

Bummer: the Wi-Fi was great yesterday morning, not working at all yesterday evening, and not working at all this morning.

More loafing; I'm really very lazy.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/6/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Green Island, Nonsuch Bay, Antigua.

Still essentially no Wi-Fi. The main signal connects but then won't access anything on the internet. There's one other very slow and flaky connection, good only for doing a few brief emails before it gets too tiresome.

Some Montserrat dust on my solar panels again, although wind hasn't had any W in it. How is it getting here ? Montserrat is WSW of here, I think.

Wind is a little SSE, not so good for the trip, but it's time to leave anyway. Been here long enough, W-Fi is gone, almost out of fresh food.

So, engine start at 9, anchor up by 9:10, and motored out. Through twisty entrance, then straight into the wind and waves until up to York Island. Unfurled the mainsail and jib and started motor-sailing, but had trouble getting enough angle to keep wind in the sails. Really didn't get much help from the sails until halfway through the trip, as I turned the SE corner of the island. Even then, the wind was bit light.

Past the mouth of Willoughby Bay, then furled the sails and headed in. Into nice shelter, threaded through four hobie-cats sailing in the harbor, and anchor down by 11:15 at Mamora Bay, Antigua.

Quiet here, but half a dozen people on the resort beach, and another half-dozen sailing the hobie-cats. Only two sailboats anchored here, and they look like permanent residents. One certainly looks like it hasn't gone anywhere in a while: pic. Goats baa-ing in the hills.

Did some Wi-Fi.

School of a hundred or so silvery fish, 6-7 inches long, jumping out of the water in unison as they chase small fish. Happened several times. Pretty noisy. And cool.

Dinghied ashore. As I thought, it's all resort, with golf-cart roads and one real road through it. (One of the few places you'll see one of these any more, I'll bet: pic.) Mostly deserted, but a few dozen people sprinkled throughout, some on the beach or at a pool, or fishing from the dock, or in the restaurant.

Followed signs to the Village Market, which I was surprised to find open on a Sunday afternoon. But it's a one-room affair, with mostly soda and beer and liquor and munchies and some breakfast cereal. No prices on anything, and I was afraid to ask. But a nice view of my boat at anchor: pic.

Hot inland, with the breeze cut off. Sat and chatted with a couple of taxi-drivers for a while, then wandered back to the dock and back to the boat.

Hot on the boat, too, in the late afternoon.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/7/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Mamora Bay, Antigua.

Did a little Wi-Fi. Engine start at 8:30, anchor up by 8:35, motored out, being passed by a dive boat in the narrow, unmarked channel.

Conditions outside are sloppy, wind is light, and there seems to be a current against me. I'm making about 2.6 knots, at a throttle setting that should give me 3.5 to 4 knots. Thought the current would be in my favor on this little trip. Slow, rolly slog along the coast.

Into English Harbour, and finding an anchoring spot is a little tricky. There's room, but the guidebooks warn about the wind spinning oddly at night and banging boats into each other. And there are big 200-year-old chains across the bottom in various spots. Finally try a spot, and anchor down by 10 at Freeman Bay, English Harbour, Antigua.

I'm anchored right across from Fort Berkeley (pic). And near a sailboat with an interesting paint-job (pic).

Got a little Wi-Fi.

After an early lunch, dinghied ashore to Nelson's Dockyard before noon. Boats anchored pretty close together back in the middle of the harbor; maybe the nightly wind-shift isn't such a big deal.

Landed amid lots of historic stuff, yardarms and cannon and brickwork and such. Very scenic. First thing I asked was: where is the garbage dumpster ? Turned out to be a bit of a walk up a hot dirt road, but I dumped 3 bags of garbage. First garbage can I've found since leaving Jolly Harbour. Six bags of garbage have been stinking up my cockpit for a while.

Then to the officials, for a bit of wallet-lightening. To the Port Authority office. Renewed my cruising permit for 2 more months: EC$50 (US$18.50); not too bad. Then paid for entering English Harbour, daily environmental (garbage) fee, and a 3-day stay in the Park area. Total of EC$39 (US$14.50).

Wandered around a bit. Nice-looking sailboat getting loaded up with a lot of supplies (pic). Lots of historic anchors and cannon and stuff spread around, but it's not very easy to photograph from ground level.

Found a liquor-and-munchies store, with ceiling so low I had to stoop to avoid conking my head on the beams; everything here is a historic building. Found a small bakery and bought a loaf of bread (EC$5 or US$1.85). Found a vegetable stand and bought EC$15 worth of produce. That's just about it for facilities in the Dockyard; everything else is a boutique or restaurant or boat-store. I'll be going over to Falmouth Harbour (next door) on Wednesday, and go to the grocery stores over there. But I need to get more cash somewhere; I'm down to about EC$75 (plus US$120 on the boat as a reserve). Back to the boat. A bit rolly.

Nice-looking woman in a bikini on a nearby dive boat.

Around 2, went back ashore. Took a little while to find the start of the trail, but then I walked the trail out to Fort Berkely, passing a guided tour group on the way. A pleasant walk, but hot. Nice views from out there, including a sailboat with tan-bark-colored sails leaving the harbor and heading SW. Pic (with red line indicating "Magnolia"). Pic (with "Magnolia" straight off end of path). Pic. Walked back to the main Dockyard.

Disposed of four more bags of garbage; I'm getting my money's worth out of that garbage fee I paid. To the bank, which is the only one accessible to cruisers on the entire S coast. The ATM wouldn't take either of my cards, and I'd cleverly managed to get there about 15 minutes after the inside office closed for the day.

Walked back toward the dinghy dock. Stopped to sit for a while on the second floor veranda of the old Officer's Quarters. Shady and breezey and a great view from up there. I could imagine the British officers sitting there and drinking themselves silly on local rum; not much else to do here in those days. Later, I read that actually there were a lot of "available" women here in those days, so maybe things weren't quite so boring here. But heat and mosquitoes and disease made it a bit of a hardship post anyway.

Saw this boat on a mooring (pic), and figured out what it was after seeing a couple more of them on trailers ashore: it's an ocean-going rowboat. A long-distance race must start or end here. Saw a five-foot-long cousin of it on the beach: pic.

Dinghied across to the other side to check things out at Antigua Slipway. Diesel about the same price here as the other fuel docks I've checked (except that Antigua Yacht Club in Falmouth is more expensive than anywhere else). No book-exchange. Nice chandlery and boatyard, all closing for the day. Back to the boat. Hot afternoon.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate out on the foredeck to beat the heat. Nice-looking woman in a bikini on a nearby big catamaran.

Warm, uncomfortable night. Not too rolly, but not much breeze, and when it shifted I got up to make sure I wasn't swinging too close to anything. Didn't sleep very well.
Sun for a new day  6/8/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Freeman Bay, English Harbour, Antigua.

Dinghied ashore to the Dockyard. To the Port Authority again; yesterday they said "oops, I just wrote that you had one crew in addition to yourself, should be zero", and then never corrected it. So this morning the lady officially changed the one to a zero. Just wanted to have them do it instead of me.

To the bank, and got EC$400 (US$148) in cash using my credit card. Stopped in at the museum for a few minutes; some nice model ships. Looked around for a book-exchange, and got some clues, but one place is closed for the season and the other until tonight, so I struck out there. Back to the boat.

Then ashore again, to the Galleon Beach area. Walked on the beach briefly, then on the road. Trying to find a path around to the top of Charlotte Point, but everything was private properties and private driveways; couldn't find a way through. Back to the dinghy and cruised along the beach near the point, but the woods looked pretty thick and I didn't see anything that looked like a trail. Back out to the boat, stopping by to ask my neighbor, but he didn't know of a path either. So gave up.

Time to get out of here. Hoisted and stowed everything, then engine start at 10:05 and anchor up by 10:10. Motor-sailed out and around and into Falmouth Harbor. Motored in and found several boats occupying the nice shallow spot I'd been in last time. But anchor down by 10:55 at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua. Much nicer here: much less rolly, more breeze, cooler, more room to swing.

Did some Wi-Fi. Grey and raining at 12:20. Weather forecast says it's going to blow 18-20 for the next couple of days.

Salad and apple and cheese sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/9/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Windy. Wi-Fi very flaky; always seems to get that way when it's windy, either because of boat motion or maybe trees or something ashore.

Dinghied ashore to the Yacht Club. Hit two book-exchanges; third one was closed. Exchanged 5 books at the first place and 10 more books at the second place. Bought a six-pack of soda (EC$14) and back to the boat.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Had been planning to take the propane tank ashore after dinner, to leave it overnight to be refilled. But when I got the hose off and the tank unlashed, again it felt like there's 3 to 4 pounds of liquid inside the tank. So I decided not to have it refilled, and lashed it down again. Refill price here is very cheap, but why bother if the tank is good for another month or two ?
Sun for a new day  6/10/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Rain at 7:30, then eventually got windy later. Still grey.

Dinghied ashore to Catamaran Marina and walked to the grocery store. Got EC$56 of groceries and back to the boat.

Anchor up by 10:20 and motored through the harbor, rounding up to unfurl jib and mainsail. Motor-sailed out, having to pass between two day-sail sailboats working their way out the entrance. Turned W (downwind).

Wind and waves in my favor, but they're dead astern, so steering and keeping wind in the sails is tricky. Got things set after a while, went to tie down the mainsail's jibe-preventer line, got about 3 steps out of the cockpit, and a wave swung the boat around and crash-jibed the main. Back to the helm.

Finally got a decent angle on the wind about halfway along the S coast portion of the trip. Around the SW corner of the island, and a nice jaunt up the W coast. Of course, wind was light early, when I could have used it, and then came roaring in later, when I wanted it to ease so it would be easy to furl the sails. Never quite works out the way you want it.

Nice-looking sailboat sailing south: pic.

Up and into harbor, and anchor down by 1 at Jolly Harbour, Antigua. Few boats here, maybe half a dozen. Last time there were 15 or so.

Nice Wi-Fi here.

Salad and a PB sandwich and a cheese sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/11/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Rain at 5:15 and 7:25.

Can see Montserrat in the distance; don't remember seeing that last time I was here. Later, saw it very clearly, and also Redonda and Nevis faintly.

Did Wi-Fi most of the day. Skype-called Mom and chatted with her.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Rain at 10 and 10:45.
Sun for a new day  6/12/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Very calm after dawn. So anchor up at 6:25, unfurled the mainsail, and motored out. Turned N and up through the passage inside the Five Islands. Across the mouth of Five Island Harbour, which is huge and empty except for one catamaran on the S side and a huge smoky garbage-dump fire at the NE corner.

Across the mouth of St John's harbor, and around an offshore tanker-berthing station.

As I approached the NW corner of the island, having had flat water and no wind, the E wind suddenly kicked in at 8:10, just as I was about to turn E. About as I expected. So speed dropped from about 4 knots to about 3 knots, and I had to tack through the Boon Passage to keep wind in the mainsail. Still, a pleasant trip, not too rough. Had to maneauver around various unmarked shoals sticking out from various points, and one or two right out in the middle.

Approached the anchorage, and suddenly there's traffic: a small ferry zooming up from behind, a tour motorboat passing me on the left bow, and a hobie-cat coming out from the beach. But they all passed, and I got to the spot. Anchor down by 10:25 at Jumby Bay, Long Island, Antigua.

Lovely spot here, very protected, nice and shallow anchorage. The whole island is an exclusive resort for the rich, but I've managed to get here anyway. Just to rub it in, did a bucket of laundry.

Some kind of big radio-telescope dish on the main island, a couple miles south of here: pic.

Free Wi-Fi, of course ! Love that about this island.

Maybe half a dozen people on the beach during the day. A couple of people water-skiiing, a small motorboat visiting, ferry boat every half hour or so. Otherwise pretty quiet.

Salad and salami-and-cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Rain at 11:45.
Sun for a new day  6/13/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Jumby Bay, Long Island, Antigua.

Loafed and Wi-Fi'd and read all day.

Catamaran came in around 4:30 and anchored behind me.

Chicken-onion-carrot-noodles and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Was eating on the foredeck and the wind blew over my cup and spilled the last ounce or so of my drink !

Nice steel-drum band in the restaurant this evening.
Sun for a new day  6/14/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Jumby Bay, Long Island, Antigua.

Did a little Wi-Fi. Surprised to see a small freighter go past, but I know there are some factories south of here.

Anchor up by 8:55, unfurled mainsail, and motor-sailed out. Went down along W side of Maiden Island, with a few anxious moments as the water was hard to read and the channel markers were unclear. That catamaran left right after I did, went down the E side of Maiden Island, and now is anchored off the SE tip of the island. Wonder why ? They're pretty exposed to wind and chop from the E, I don't think there's any great snorkeling there, and there's a dock on the W side if they plan to go ashore.

Past that radiotelescope place. One big dish and 4 or 5 small ones, and no sign saying what the place is. Couldn't find anything about it on the internet. Most of the dishes are aimed horizontally, so I assume they're inactive, although two small ones are pointed up and SE, probably at satellites. [Found out later: it was part of the "Apollo manned spaceflight tracking network" (MSFN). Don't know what it's used for now.]

Then down past some factories and a group of docked tugboats and barges and the desalination plant and probably the power plant, into Parham Harbour. Four sailboats anchored here, 3 in the N end and one in the S end. Anchor down by 9:45 at Parham Harbour, Antigua.

This place looks good. I've been heading here deliberately, hoping to leave the boat here when I fly out to USA in 3 weeks or so. Need a place that I can anchor, mostly safe from storms, fairly safe from thieves, need a way to get a dinghy-ride from and to my boat on the travel days, and a reasonable taxi-ride to the airport. This place looks like it fits all of the criteria, except I'll have to see about the dinghy-ride. I don't think anyone's living on the 4 sailboats anchored here, but I'll have to find out. Two of them have roller-furling jibs up, so they haven't been left unattended for hurricane season. And they look okay, so thieves haven't gotten at them.

If this place doesn't work out, I could leave the boat in or outside Jolly Harbour. Inside, I'd have to pay for a mooring or slip. Outside, a dinghy-ride back and forth would be harder to get. If I left the boat in Falmouth Harbour, a dinghy-ride would be easier, but they charge $2/day Park fee. And taxi-rides between airport and either Jolly or Falmouth would be fairly expensive. Hey, I'm cheap ! Anyway, several possibilities and 3 weeks to decide and get the boat there.

No free Wi-Fi here, at least right now. Can't have everything. And in the last week or two, I've saved enough web pages and MP3 files to my laptop to keep me busy for a couple of weeks reading and listening to them.

Dinghied ashore aorund 10:45, noticing that the big satellite dish has moved, and is now pointing up and SE. So it is in use.

Ashore to the town dock, and started wandering around. Pretty sleepy place (pic). Goats and chickens (pic) and a few people moving around. Supposed to be an interesting hexagonal church here somewhere, but I don't think this is it (pic).

Up one street and back, then to the waterfront dock area. I had thought it was a marina complex, but it turns out to be a government run "artisanal fisheries support" facility, basically a lot of fish freezers and cleaning tables and equipment lockers and an office selling permits and maybe inspecting catches. The people in the office were not encouraging, and said a cruiser like me should be over at Jolly Harbour or Falmouth Harbour. Starting to think they're right; there's some activity here, but mostly 30-foot fishing boats, not skiffs. Getting a ride to and from my boat might be tough.

No public garbage cans here. Getting rid of garbage on this island is a problem.

Wandered some more, finding three tiny grocery stores, the kind with lots of empty shelf space and not much stock. Bought bananas and a cookie in one shop, hotdogs in another. Wouldn't even be easy to get a taxi to the airport in this place, although the airport is only about 3 miles away. Discouraging. Back to the boat by 11:30. The big satellite dish is pointed up and N now.

After lunch, thought about the situation for a while. Decided I can't leave the boat here; getting a dinghy-ride and then a taxi are a little too chancy here. I probably could do it, by pestering some people, but if I got unlucky, I could end up missing my flight or having to swim out to my boat. And sitting here for a few days before the flight is not attractive. So I'll probably leave the boat in Jolly Harbour.

Anchor up at 1:45. Motored north, past those factories and tugboats and such. A couple more boatyards than I noticed the first time I went by, but they're pretty quiet places, only a few commercial-type boats in them.

Up around Crabbs Point, and ENE across the sound. Into anchorage and anchor down by 2:50 at Great Bird Island, Antigua. That catamaran is anchored half a mile south of here, a day-snorkel boat is just leaving from north of here, and there's a skiff east of me.

A bit of a roll here; I could have gone closer in, but I wanted to get as much breeze as possible at night. And an hour later, that catamaran came up and anchored in front of me, closer in.

Salad and salami-and-cheese sandwiches for dinner. Have run out of olive oil !

Nibbled at the "sugar cake" cookie I bought, and the thing is loaded with ginger (plus sugar and cinnamon and coconut). I assumed ginger was mostly an Asian thing; what is it doing in West Indian cooking ?

Wind picked up, as forecast, and blew all night.
Sun for a new day  6/15/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Great Bird Island, Antigua.

Breezey and a bit rolly.

Loafed all morning, mainly reading stuff on my laptop. When I popped my head up at 11, found two day-sail sailboats rafted together near me, a catamaran anchored further off, last night's catamaran gone, and some day-snorkel boats going around the N side of the island. Popular spot.

At noon, launched the dinghy and went snorkeling. First to the S side of the island, where I had trouble figuring out if a couple of floats were moorings for dinghies, or fish-trap floats. I anchored apart from them, diving several times to get my anchor in a decent spot, then swam over and found that the floats are moorings for dinghies. The square shape I saw on the bottom wasn't a square trap, it was a big square concrete block for the mooring.

Snorkeled there for a while, but it's a bit rough. Some nice fish, lots of gray and brown coral, but not too exciting. Back into the dinghy, and around to the N side of the island. Found three day-snorkel boats pulled up to the beach in the cove there. And the dinghy from the catamaran anchored further out, surrounded by snorkelers. As they left, I anchored my dinghy and started snorkeling.

Nicer here, sheltered and a few more fish, but still pretty rough as soon as I tried to get around the corner to deeper water. But a pleasant snorkel. Back to the boat by 1:15 or so.

Anchor up by 1:45 or so, struggling a bit in the strong breeze. Then a pleasant downwind sail. Had to avoid one reef, but it was on the chart and where it was supposed to be, so no problem. Sailed about 3 knots when both sails on same side, but then was able to turn straight downwind, put the sails wing-on-wing, and made 3.5 to 3.8 knots. Turned again, up through narrow channel, and then started engine and furled the sails. Took several tries to get the starter solenoid to engage; I need to take the starter off and lubricate it. Anchor down by 2:50 at Jumby Bay, Long Island, Antigua. Nice and sheltered here.

Did some Wi-Fi. Had some email from a friend mentioning a tropical low approaching the Caribbean. Looked at 92L on wunderground, and most of the models have it going well north of here, but one model has it coming right here ! Then noticed that it's forecast to die completely about 2 days before it gets here.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate on the foredeck; the pilothouse gets too hot in the late afternoon. Used binoculars to keep the wind from blowing my drink over.

Stubbed my toe on something as I was cooking dinner, and a few minutes later found I was leaving drops of blood as I walked around. Somehow managed to puncture the tip of my toe.

Nice breeze all night.
Sun for a new day  6/16/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Jumby Bay, Long Island, Antigua.

Breezey and a bit rolly.

By 8, lots of low dark clouds blowing overhead.

Did a little Wi-Fi. 0800 forecast for storm 92L has it no longer dying, and now all models say it's coming more or less here. Maybe with 40-knot winds. Not a problem, but doesn't bode well for leaving the boat unattended outside Jolly Harbour in July.

Lots of wind and pretty good rain at 9.

Just after 10:30, two day-snorkel powerboats came roaring into the anchorage, making big wakes close by me. One anchored near me. And a small motorboat showed up and started water-skiing around the bay.

Did Wi-Fi and loafed.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Lots of rain and wind from 2:30 to 3:15, and again at 3:45. Big lightning strike close by at 2:50. Made me think of my friends on "Angel Louise" who recently got hit in Melbourne FL and had $16K+ of damage,
Sun for a new day  6/17/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Jumby Bay, Long Island, Antigua.

Windy morning, a little more from N than before.

Dumped 9 gallons of rainwater from buckets to jugs and tank.

Did a little Wi-Fi, but couldn't get an update on storm 92L; wunderground still has yesterday's info. Not a big deal.

Engine start at 8:55, anchor up, unfurled sails, engine off, and sailed out by 9:10. Lovely romp westward, on a beam reach to close reach, making 5 knots, which is fast sailing for this boat (I think my sailing speed record is 7 knots, set one day in Exuma Sound). A bit rolly, with swells a little aft of the beam. When the swells ease a little and the wind stiffens for a minute, boat speed gets up to 5.3 or so.

Through the channel south of Prickly Pear Island, and turned slightly more downwind. Still making good speed, but a little harder to steer and keep the sails full of wind. The day-snorkel boats are coming past in the other direction, motoring into stiff swells and wind.

Around the NW corner of the island, passed close to a monohull sailing up to windward, and jibed to go down the W side of the island. I notice that a 2-inch-wide strip of the sun-protection layer on the jib has come loose, still attached at the ends but about 10 feet of it pulled loose in the middle.

Avoided the Little Sisters, a nasty unmarked set of rocks out in open water. Skirted the edge of a squall, as I passed a crane barge working on the oil terminal, which is out in the middle of the water. Had a little trouble getting lined up on the harbor, which points SW as I'm approaching from NW, and from this angle looks like every other point between the beaches along here. Finally saw it and headed in.

By 11:10, inside the harbour mouth. Started the engine, rounded up, furled the sails. Two freighters anchored near the Customs area. I kept going all the way down to the farthest SE end of the harbor, which the guidebooks say is the best place to anchor. But the small cove there turns out to be tiny, lined with small fishing boats med-moored to a seawall, and with a large excursion-boat moored just outside it, in the only place big enough to swing on one anchor. So I go back out, and anchor in the first little dip off to the side of the channel, with much more room. Anchor down by 11:45 at St Johns, Antigua.

I'm directly south of the bigger of the two piers (quays), which has US Navy ship "Grasp" on one side and a small grey coast-guard ship "P02" on the other side.

There's a guy lounging or dozing under a tree about 100 feet behind my boat, and I'm watching another big squall approaching. It hits at 12:05, and I watch him try to stick it out for a while. After 5 minutes or so, he slinks away, soaked.

Couldn't get any Wi-Fi.

Rain at 4:30.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Saw a guy swimming, maybe placing a net, near shore a few hundred feet from the boat. Then he and another guy fished for a while. We're right in town here, there's a fair smell of sewage at times, and you couldn't pay me enough to swim in the water here or eat fish from it.

Loud music suddenly started up at 7, from a bar somewhere near that tiny cove I looked into. Glad I didn't anchor in there. The music stopped after a while, then started up later and kept going for several hours.

Rainsqualls every 30 to 60 minutes, all night long.
Sun for a new day  6/18/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at St Johns, Antigua.

Very grey, and still having rainsqualls every 30 to 60 minutes.

Dumped 5 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Pumped up dinghy's bow tube.

Dinghied ashore around 9:30. Disposed of 3 bags of garbage; they have a public garbage can on the dock. Nice-looking buildings, but pretty dense, the only real town on the island. A lot of car-traffic, and plenty of foot-traffic. Quickly worked up a sweat in the humid heat. Interesting store sign: pic.

Found the west-side bus station, and it's a big deal, with a couple of dozen buses and 8 or 10 routes listed. But most of the routes list major roads, not towns, so I can't figure out which ones I'd take from Jolly Harbour to here to the airport. But it can be done, and they allow suitcases, so that's what I'm going to do.

Across the street to the public market, where I'm tempted by the produce, but I want to check out the supermarket first. Uphill to the east edge of town, just to see what's there, then back into the center of town. Found the library, and sat in the air-conditioning for a few minutes and read the local newspaper.

Down to the dock. Lots of duty-free shops, but they seem to be mostly clothing and jewelry. Along the waterfront, where I see a bar full of guys watching a World Cup soccer match (I can tell without seeing, because of those horns). Nice view of the Navy ship: pic.

To the supermarket building, and there are lots of big signs on the building, but none points to an entrance, and I completely circle the building without finding it. A couple of people direct me into a mini-market, where I'm informed that the big supermarket closed last week for good, and maybe moved outside of town. Lovely. Bought a loaf of bread, walked down another street or two to see what was there, and then back to the dock and back to the boat. No rain the entire time I was in town.

Rodded out the outboard's cooling-water outlet; it's gotten clogged again.

Did a small bucket of laundry, probably foolishly. Got fairly dry before I took it down to go into town.

After lunch, dinghied ashore again, to the fishing dock in the cove. Wandered out toward the south outskirts of town, but didn't see anything interesting. Into the public market, and bought 2 tomatoes, 3 onions, a big head of cabbage, and half a dozen small bananas for EC$20 (US$7.40). Back to the boat.

Didn't get a chance to put the laundry back out to finish drying. Dark clouds moving in solidly. Rain at 2:30, with no wind, so the clouds are hovering.

Rain and plenty of wind at 3:20. Around 3:45, rain mostly to N of the harbor, with half a dozen lightning strikes. I guess this is storm 92L ? Since there's no free Wi-Fi here, I have no information on what's happened to it.

Afternoon stayed very dark and humid with very little wind. Icky.

Salad and salami-and-cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Rain at 5:45.

Lots of rain and wind from 7 to about 9. Rained several more times during the night. [Later heard that Puerto Rico had tons of rain and flooding on Saturday from storm 92L, so it must have been over me this evening.]

Sun for a new day  6/19/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at St Johns, Antigua.

Dumped 10 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank and jug.

Added water to the batteries.

Totally grey morning, humid and everything damp and drenched. Enough of this place. Engine start at 7:30, anchor up by 7:40 with lots of disgusting mud on chain and anchor, unfurled the mainsail, and motored out. Around the point and into the bay, and as I approached the anchoring spot, a squall came in and started to rain on me. Anchor down by 8:35 at Deep Bay, Antigua. Lots of rain, but I didn't have any buckets out to catch it, and I don't feel like getting drenched while putting out buckets. One cruising catamaran here.

Supposed to be a couple of nice snorkeling spots here, including a wreck, but this weather doesn't have me in the mood to snorkel.

I had hung yesterday's laundry in the engine compartment this morning, and on the way over here it got nice and dry.

No free Wi-Fi here.

Catamaran left by 10.

Windy by 11, and very windy with some sunshine by 11:30. The sunshine didn't last more than half an hour, but the wind kept going all afternoon.

A monohull came in and anchored between me and the wreck.

Around 3, lowered the dinghy and went for a snorkel. A long swim downwind out to the wreck, which is bigger than I thought, maybe 120 feet long, and not far below the surface; it's a pretty big hazard with only a tip of the wheelhouse poking above the water part of the time. Almost swam straight into a jellyfish just before I got to the wreck; a translucent-and-purple jellyfish about 15 inches in diameter, which would have been nasty. Too rough to see much on the wreck or spend much time there.

Swam across to the north shore of the bay. Too rough today to see much there, either. Swam along the shore a bit and then back out to the boat, dodging 8 or 10 more jellyfish along the way. A long swim, probably 200 yards total, which maybe doesn't sound like a lot, but it is.

Bailed out the hard dinghy, which had 10-15 gallons of rainwater in it.

Rain at 4.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/20/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Deep Bay, Antigua.

A little blue sky in among the clouds this morning, but still lots of cloud and some dark cloud.

Anchor up at 7:10, unfurled the mainsail, and motor-sailed out. S along the coast, and a pleasant little jaunt. Wind picking up as I turned E and went in. Anchor down by 8:25 at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Did some Wi-Fi, of course.

Salad and cheese sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/21/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Rain every 20 or 30 minutes or so, all morning.

Tropical storm 93L has formed off the ABC islands, and bids fair to become a hurricane. But it won't threaten me; it's headed for the Yucatan channel. Maybe it's good that these storms are forming now; they'll churn up the water and cool it off. I think the sea-temperatures are higher than normal, which is one reason they're predicting a more-active hurricane season than usual.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Warm and humid night; almost no breeze. Very uncomfortable.
Sun for a new day  6/22/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Wind started howling around 10:45.

I'm trying to decide where to leave the boat while I'm gone to the USA. Now that tropical storms have started up earlier than I expected, this spot isn't looking too good (it's wide open to the W and SW). And there are almost no other boats here; getting a dinghy-ride to and from shore so I can catch a bus to the airport would not be easy. Might get stranded ashore on the way back.

After lunch, dinghied into the harbor. Stopped at the fuel dock, but the guy who knows the price for a propane refill wasn't there. To the marina, and disposed of a bag of garbage. To the office, and used the book-exchange. But the dockmaster wasn't there, and I wanted to ask him for some advice. Found out that moorings inside the harbor cost $20/day (no discount for a week or month), and a slip costs 50 cents/foot/day (about $22/day for my boat). To the supermarket for some groceries, then back to the boat.

Then to the sailboat "Celebration" anchored next to me, to ask the couple there for some info. He has a Spanish accent, but speaks English fairly well. They offer to look after my boat while I'm gone, which is very nice, but I wouldn't ask anyone to do that. He says getting dinghy-rides here should be no problem, but I'm not so convinced. Like everyone else, he really recommends leaving the boat in English Harbour, which I guess I'll try to do. It looked crowded to me when I was there, but maybe my shallow draft will let me get back to the far reaches of it. And if I can't find room, I'll leave the boat in Falmouth Harbour next door, which is too big to be as well protected, but better than here. Leaving the boat in either of them costs a $2/day Park fee, which I guess I can afford.

Salad and salami-and-cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

A little breeze during the night, so I slept okay.
Sun for a new day  6/23/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Huge squall starting at 8:50 and lasting about 15 minutes, with rain and lots of wind. Continued grey and windy from S for at least 45 minutes afterward.

No wind by 11. Stayed grey.

Huge, intense squall/storm starting at 1:15. Wind well over 40 knots, probably 50 knots at times, for the first 15 minutes or so. Plenty of horizontal rain. Wind mostly stopped by 1:45, with a little rain continuing. Grey.

I wonder if should have turned off the wind-generator when I saw that coming ? But the wind-gen came through it fine, and I wanted the power.

Not getting a lot of power later in the afternoon; too grey for much solar, and not much wind.

Dumped 5 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

No breeze in the evening. Rain at 12:30. Lots of rain at 2:30, followed by plenty of wind for half an hour or so.
Sun for a new day  6/24/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Weather is grey, grey, and more grey. At least there's some wind.

Doing Wi-Fi, trying to check out rental car rates and such in Philly. One problem is that I don't have auto insurance, and they charge $24/day for full insurance. That just about doubles the cost of the rental. [A couple of readers suggested my credit card may cover this; I always forget that. Turns out it covers collision but not liability insurance, so I'd pay $14/day for liability instead of $24/day for full coverage.]

Salad and PBJ-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/25/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Weather still totally grey.

May have found the explanation for this weather: another Tropical Low has formed, to the E of here, forecast to head due N.

Dumped 8-9 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Watched a skiff with a couple of local guys slowly tow a half-sunken inflatable dinghy out of the harbor, over to a nearby beach, and abandon it in shallow water.

Lots of winged bugs flopping around on the foredeck; must be spawning or something.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for 15 minutes to charge batteries.
Sun for a new day  6/26/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Weather finally has broken; mostly sunny this morning.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Kids sailing small sailboats nearby; lots of capsizes. Pics.

Wind starting to howl by 10:45 or so. Had to add more clothespins to the laundry to keep it from blowing off the lifelines. Wind eased by 11:30.

Odd: wind flipped around to the W in the afternoon. Then nasty black clouds started building up over the island (pic), and approaching us from the E by 4 or so. Some thunder. But the clouds eventually thinned out and mushed into grey, giving us only a few sprinkles of rain.

Watched a yawl sail in (pic).

Patched a crack in a water-bucket with JB-Weld.

Salad and salami-and-cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/27/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Fairly cloudy this morning, but some sunshine.

Wi-Fi didn't work much in the morning, but worked okay after lunch.

In late afternoon, launched the dinghy and took a long ride W to the Five Islands. Did some snorkeling, which was pleasant but nothing great. Water a little rough and cloudy, a few colorful fish, but nothing special.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-mushroomsoup-noodles and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Pretty good rain at 2:30.
Sun for a new day  6/28/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Sunny morning, but light wind from S and dark clouds to the S of us. Soon clouds were over top of us, wind light from SW, then light from NE.

Was debating whether to go ashore today or tomorrow, then saw a lady on a neighboring boat unable to start her outboard, and trying for quite a while. So I launched the dinghy and gave her a tow ashore. A German-sounding lady who works for the local charter-company. She was very grateful; she was going to pick up a girlfriend from the airport, who will be staying with her for 4 weeks.

Disposed of two bags of garbage. Exchanged 6 books at the book-exchange in the marina office. Walked out to the street and asked a bus-driver about buses to the airport. To the supermarket and got some groceries, including a US$6 six-pack of Diet Coke, but they didn't have any bananas. Back to the boat.

Useless weather: light wind from WNW with clouds hanging overhead; very humid and a little solar power and no wind power. Light rain at 1:45.

The other day, I noticed that the small Danforth-type anchor I carry in the dinghy was rusted, so that the flukes no longer rotate. So today I hit it with a hammer to free up the joint. Instead, big chunks of rust started flying off and the whole thing started disintegrating ! So I'll be in the market for a new dinghy-anchor.

Salad and salami-cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/29/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Did some Wi-Fi. Skype-called Mom but got her machine. Reserved a rental-car in Philly; won't be quite as bad I feared, probably about $700 for 20 days, including liability insurance.

Received an interesting account of an Atlantic crossing, and put it on my site at AtlanticCrossing.

Chicken-onion-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  6/30/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Totally grey, rainy, still morning. Rain at 7:30 and 8:15. More later.

Carrot and cheese sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  7/1/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Windy day; wind-generator really humming.

Dinghied ashore. Used book-exchange in marina office, then found another one I didn't know about, and used that one, too. To the supermarket for a few groceries, then back to the boat.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  7/2/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Loafed and did Wi-Fi and read all day, as usual.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Catamaran nearby raised anchor and left at 2:45 AM, for some reason.
Sun for a new day  7/3/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

Backed up laptop to external hard disk; long overdue.

Had to throw away about 5 gallons of rainwater because it was full of Montserrat dust.

Added water to the batteries.

Time to start heading toward the place I'm going to leave the boat while I'm in USA. Engine start at 2:40, anchor up by 2:45. Motored out a bit and then unfurled sails. Engine off and sailing S by 3:00.

Pleasant little sail, up to 3.5 knots when wind puffed, down to 2 knots when it died. Down the W side of the island, and anchor down by 4 at Crab Hill Bay, Antigua. As I expected, a slight roll here, but not bad.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Found an extra pack of hotdogs in the freezer. Didn't know about them, and I need to eat everything so I can shut off the fridge when I leave for the USA. Guess I'll have to eat a few bigger meals than I planned.
Sun for a new day  7/4/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Crab Hill Bay, Antigua.

Bailed a few gallons of water out of the hard dinghy; should have done it yesterday.

Engine start at 5:20 and anchor up by 5:30. Unfurled mainsail and motored around the SW corner of the island and headed E. It's really all motoring; not getting much out of the mainsail. Started getting some swells as I got past the reef and neared Carlisle Bay, but not bad. Finally up and into harbor (or "harbour"), and anchor down by 7:45 at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

No free Wi-Fi here; maybe later I'll raise anchor and move deeper into the harbor.

Wind blowing hard by noon, which is why I left so early this morning.

Still no Wi-Fi here, so anchor up at 12:05, motored in, anchor down by 12:20 at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua. Wi-Fi here !

Salad and hotdogs and noodles and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Fairly strong rainsquall every hour or so from 9:45 to about 2 AM.
Sun for a new day  7/5/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Grey, damp, fairly still morning.

Did a one-item bucket of laundry, my "good" pair of shorts that I intend to wear on the airplane. Forecast says it's supposed to be windy, so that should dry the shorts.

But it didn't happen. The grey and still air continued, and then at noon the skies opened up. Rain, hard at times, lighter at others, kept going until 3:30 at least. Very dark at times. Little solar power and no wind power.

Dumped 8-9 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Dumped 5 gallons of diesel from on-deck jug to fuel tank. Added a little BioBor.

Salad for dinner.

Ran engine for 15 minutes to charge batteries. [And laid the wet shorts right across the top of the engine; that got them dry.]

Around 5:30, hit by huge wall of wind and horizontal rain, probably 35+ knots, that kept going for 10 minutes or so. Really strong. Saw one sailboat drag anchor for 50 feet or so, then stop.
Sun for a new day  7/6/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.

Did a little Wi-Fi. Turns out that was a tropical wave that came through yesterday evening. I guess my usual weather-sites, wunderground and windguru, don't tell me about them, or I'm not reading the right parts of them.

Windier this morning, as expected. But no help for it, it's time to move. Engine start around 8:20, anchor up around 8:30, and motored out. As expected, a slow, rough slog to windward, making barely 2.5 knots most of the time, with lots of pitching and rolling. But I'm only going a mile or so, to English Harbour.

Finally got into the mouth of the harbor and into smooth water. Through and all the way to the back, seeing several spots where I could back up to the mangroves and tie myself into place. But I headed for Tank Bay, did several circles as I talked across to a guy anchored there, and then started putting anchors down. Will end up swinging on anchors, not tied to the mangroves.

A bit of sweaty work, and ended up maybe 10 feet closer to a trimaran than I wanted, but a couple more anchors should fix that. Two anchors down by 10:00, at Tank Bay, English Harbour, Antigua. Only about 1/2 mile from where I was anchored two hours ago !

Got a bit of a Wi-Fi signal and did a little internet.

Put out two more anchors. Hot and sweaty.

After lunch, dinghied about 100 yards E to the Customs area. Paid US$43 for my stay here through the 28th (I'm inside the Park now, which is one reason I didn't come here until two days before I'm flying out). Up the hill and disposed of two bags of garbage into the dumpsters. Back to the boat. Saw a few interesting boats along the way: pics.

Dinghied about 20 yards S to a waterfront bar that I can see has a big book-exchange. Turns out the bar is closed today, but the guy from the small sloop in front of me is there; I guess he runs the place. His name is Simon, and he's flying out from the 16th to 28th. I asked about the buses to the airport, and he said just take a taxi. I guess I'll do that; costs US$30 or so instead of maybe $10 for buses, but it is fast and direct and more comfortable, I'm sure. Exchanged 9 books at the book-exchange, then back to the boat.

Dinghied about 30 yards SW to another dock, and walked toward Falmouth. Yacht services place (which has a big book-exchange) is closed today; wonder if it's a holiday. To the Yacht Club, where I found the restaurant closed too. Exchanged one book at the small shelf in the snack bar, bought a few bananas in the grocery store, and back to the dinghy and boat. Hot and sweaty.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Decent breeze in the evening, but still hot and uncomfortable inside the boat.
Sun for a new day  7/7/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Tank Bay, English Harbour, Antigua.

Moved the primary anchor forward about 30 feet. Bit of a tricky operation, since it's the upwind anchor, there's not a lot of room behind me, and I'm operating solo. Added some line behind the chain for the primary, and let the boat settle back onto the two side anchors. Dinghied out, lifted the primary's chain and moved it forward, got to the anchor and raised it and moved it forward. Back aboard the boat, pulled in as much line as I could by hand, then started the engine and motored forward, pulling in more line. Had to stop and get into the dinghy again to ease one of the side anchors, then was able to motor forward enough to get the end of the primary's chain onto the bow cleat. Repositioned the side anchor, checked the stern anchor, took in a little on the other side anchor to keep me away from Simon's boat, and done. Now I have some space behind me in case we get strong wind from the E, the most likely direction. In fact, another tropical wave is supposed to pass through on Sunday, I think. And I have placed the anchors to assume a hurricane, with wind from any direction. No guarantees if that happens, but I've done my best.

Did some Wi-Fi. It wasn't working at all yesterday afternoon, but not too bad today.

Dinghied ashore around 2. Hot (but it's going to be hotter in NJ; they're having a heat-wave). Never fails: when you're sitting on the boat, you think "geez, I'm really close to that boat next to me, this is bad", and then you get ashore and look at it, and there's plenty of space between you.

To the Dockyard entrance, and I didn't see any buses. But I asked the guard, and he says there's a bus every 5-10-15 minutes or so. And sure enough, as I walked towards Falmouth, two buses passed me.

To the yacht service place with the big book-exchange, passing a tethered donkey. Sweltering inside the open-air office; I was dripping sweat. Exchanged 5 books. Tempted to go to the open-air bar next door and watch the soccer game I could hear, but it was a re-run (England vs Germany) and sounded like it was almost over anyway. So back to the dinghy and back to the boat. Hot.

Added water to the batteries.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Took the sails down (have to prepare as if a hurricane will come while I'm gone).

Shut off the refrigerator, defrosted it, and cleaned it.

Hot, uncomfortable evening and night.
Sun for a new day  7/8/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Tank Bay, English Harbour, Antigua.

Did a little Wi-Fi. Geez, doing Facebook is a pain at the best of times (it puts a huge performance drag on my laptop, for some reason), but doing it through a flaky Wi-Fi connection and with a "sticky" trackpad really sucks.

Packed my suitcase. Put the sails in the cockpit. Recaulked the base of the mainmast. Brought various buckets and jugs from deck into cockpit. Turned off engine intake through-hull. Turned off wind-generator; if I thought a hurricane really was coming, I'd climb the mizzenmast and take the blades off.

Just as I showered on the stern deck at noon, a big rainsquall came through, with cold rain that felt like hail.

Dinghied ashore and disposed of two bags of garbage. Then went looking for someone to give me a dinghy-ride. First boat I went to, "Shakwe", obliged. Back to my boat, hoisted and locked the dinghy and locked up the boat, and then the guy from "Shakwe" arrived and gave me a ride to shore. Walked up to the Dockyard entrance and started waiting for a bus.

In a couple of minutes, a taxi guy arrived, and talked me into taking his taxi to the airport. Cost EC$50 (US$18.50) instead of the EC$80 Simon had said, and the driver said it was because business was so bad. Ended up happy I took the taxi; the drive was longer than I expected, I didn't have to haul my bags from one bus to another, and it was almost 1:45 by the time I got through ticketing and security, for a 2:50 boarding for a 3:35 departure. So the two-bus hop would have cut it a little close, maybe. Flight left early, too.

In hindsight, might have told the taxi driver a little too much about my boat being unattended and me being gone for 3 weeks. But I did tell him someone would be watching it (not true). And it's locked up with grills on the hatches and a cable through the outboard.

Had to pay an EC$70 (US$28) departure tax.

Hard to get an AC outlet for my laptop inside the airport: the outlets were either dead, had no chairs near them, or had chairs full of people. Eventually got an outlet just as my flight started boarding.

Smooth flight to Miami, with an empty seat next to me. Carried baby stroller for the lady in the window seat, as we walked about a mile through the airport to Immigration. Then to baggage claim, and as we waited, it occurred to me that I haven't seen this many women in a month or two. Through Customs, then turned the baggage in again, through security, and to the gate. Clustered around a power-pillar with three other laptop-users, and updated my log file.

This really is interesting; the women here are just fascinating to me. I've been isolated too much on the boat the last couple of months.

Smooth flight to Philly, arriving before midnight. Got my rental-car right at 1:00, and at my brother's townhouse by 2. A quick shower (heaven!) and into bed. I think I had a little too much caffeine today; I wasn't tired while driving here, and it took a while to get to sleep.
Sun for a new day  7/9/2010 - 7/27/2010
Boat's at anchor at Tank Bay, English Harbour, Antigua; I'm in NJ/PA.

Good timing: I've missed a stretch of really hot weather. Was 102-103 degrees here a few days ago.

Ahh, FIOS internet access, TV, and NPR. Nice.

To Walmart et al to buy some stuff. Bought a couple of garden-solar lights (less than $4 each at Home Depot, couldn't resist), USB mouse, USB speakers, solar shower, clothing.

I've been thinking of buying myself a new laptop for Christmas. Saw some Compaq laptops in Walmart for $400 or so, which seemed unbelievably low to me. And they're quite a bit better than my current 6-year-old laptop, of course.

Going through the paper mail that has accumulated in the last 5 months or so, found a notice about a 401K account I'd forgotten I had (thought I'd transferred and closed all of those accounts when I retired). Maybe I have paperwork on it on the boat somewhere. It was a confusing situation where I'd worked for company A, which got acquired by company B, which got acquired by company C, then I quit, and later company C got acquired by company D. And in there, some of the companies switched from one 401K firm to another, so I had paperwork from 5 or 6 different 401K accounts. Anyway, nice to have extra money I'd forgotten about.

Argh ! Bought the wrong type of speakers for my laptop. I want ones that connect to only the USB port, getting power and audio from there, since the analog audio part of my laptop died a while ago. But most speakers say they are "USB" on the box without telling you if the audio comes through USB or headphone jack.

Drove Mom down to DC to see her brother in the hospital (he's in bad shape). Stayed at her sister's place, then back north the next day. Had one of my two-day headaches while coming back and the next day, sinus and tension and what-not.

Ordered some things online: 3M 101 caulk, Kevlar gloves.

Returned the laptop speakers to Walmart and bought a "laptop speaker bar" at Best Buy.

Received the Kevlar gloves; they don't feel as plastic-y as I expected, they feel like knit cloth gloves made with dense thread.

Ordered two 36-LED swivel-type lamps for my cockpit (Kaper L26-0068; total $66 plus shipping). Had a hard time ordering; the web site is "unmaintained", their dealer list is inaccurate, and they didn't respond to email. So I called them, got probably the head of sales, and placed the order directly.

As of 7/19, a tropical Low has started up off the north coast of the Virgin Islands (maybe explaining the rough weather my friend Mark saw there a day or two ago). Predicted to head WNW (so no threat to my boat in Antigua) and not quite get to hurricane strength.

Had a nice lunch and chat with my friend Stacy, who bought a Krogen 42 trawler in Norfolk a few years ago.

Went to the beach at Belmar NJ; nice. Temperature going to be 100 tomorrow.

About a day-and-a-half before flying back to the boat, I called Kaper and asked "where are my LED lamps and why hasn't a charge appeared on my credit card ?". Turns out their computer ate the order again (it ate it once the first time I was on the phone with them), and they didn't have my address and phone number written down on paper. So I gave them that info again and the lamps will arrive in NJ a week after I'm back on the boat.

New ATM card didn't arrive before I left.
Sun for a new day  7/28/2010 (Wednesday)
Boat's at anchor at Tank Bay, English Harbour, Antigua; I'm in NJ/PA.

Up at 2:30, to the airport, and sitting at the gate by 4:15 for a 6 AM departure. Free Wi-Fi !

Hmmm, on Friday the wind will be ENE 20, great for going S to Guadeloupe, but the waves will be 8 feet from the E. Probably best to wait until next week.

Cold on the airplane. Woman next to me asked for a blanket, and was told "we don't give out blankets, but I can sell you one for $8" ! Cold in Miami airport too. No free Wi-Fi. But lots of pretty women.

Arrived in Antigua; nicely hot here, around 85 degrees and bit muggy. Through officialdom, and looked for a taxi. Tried to beat the official rate by calling the driver I had three weeks ago, but one payphone had the handset ripped off and the other had a jammed coin-slot. A porter tried calling a friend of his, but he wouldn't beat the official rate. So I had to pay US$31 for a taxi-van to English Harbour; not too bad for such a long trip.

Boat's afloat; that's a good sign ! Into the bar/club next to my boat, and they're demolishing the place and moving across the harbor. Got a dinghy-ride from Simon (AKA "Boo") within 10 minutes or so, just 100 feet out to my boat; arrived at 3:45. Simon arrived about 15 minutes ahead of me, after flying back from the UK; too bad we didn't share a taxi. Unlocked the boat, opened hatches, checked it out, and everything looks fine !

I noticed that Simon left his boat hanging on just one anchor while he was out of town. But I'm sure he has several buddies here who would put out more anchors for him if a hurricane threatened.

Replaced the galley water filter.

PB-crackers for dinner.

Hoisted the jib and mainsail.

Still, muggy evening with a few mosquitoes, but not too uncomfortable.
Sun for a new day  7/29/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Tank Bay, English Harbour, Antigua.

Turned on the refrigerator and loaded it up with as much stuff as I could.

Wind started blowing hard after 10 or so.

Into the dinghy. Brought the third and fourth anchors in near the bow. Onto the bow, and pulled the lines in and then hoisted the anchors up. Washed everything off a little. Disconnected the anchors and connected the lines behind the chains on the primary and secondary anchors. Stowed the anchors on the stern deck. Rolled up the lines onto the reels in the chain locker. Sweaty, messy work.

Did a little Wi-Fi. Not sure if I want to go to Guadeloupe tomorrow or wait until Monday. Don't want to go on the weekend because officials may be closed, at one end or the other. Wind is a little better tomorrow, but waves are 7-8 feet from E instead of 6 feet on Monday. And I still have to get anchors up, and scrape the prop. Maybe buy some food. I think I'll go Monday. [Later realized that means I'd check out on Monday afternoon and go on Tuesday morning; doubt the officials here are open on Sunday.]

Put on my new Kevlar gloves, and they're a bit too tight (I'm sure I ordered extra-large, but there's no size shown on the tags on the gloves). Into the dinghy, and tried to raise the second anchor, by following the chain out from the bow. But the chain seems to be snagged on something on the bottom, about 30 feet from the bow. Couldn't get it to budge, lifting from the dinghy. So I'll have to try it from the bow, using the weight of the boat, tomorrow.

Dinghied ashore, walked to the grocery store in the Yacht Club, and got a few groceries. Hot afternoon, and the place is pretty dead. As I saw yesterday, passing by in the taxi, there are very few boats anchored in Falmouth Harbour; good thing I didn't leave the boat here and have to try to bum a dinghy-ride over here. Back to the boat without any dawdling.

Added water to the batteries. Got battery-acid in an anchor-rode cut on my fingertip; stung like hell until I washed it out.

Shaved, gave myself a major haircut, and showered on the stern deck. Felt good.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate on the foredeck.
Sun for a new day  7/30/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Tank Bay, English Harbour, Antigua.

Windy and gusty. Rainsquall at 6:30.

Started the engine, and it started and ran fine. Took about 45 minutes to raise the second anchor, in windy conditions with the chains twisted around each other, and first the chain snagged on something and then the anchor well fixed. There's definitely a snag down there; the primary chain caught on it too, briefly. Maybe more than one snag.

Swinging a little close to Simon's boat now, on one anchor with a little NE in the wind. Might have to raise anchor and move this afternoon.

After lunch, took another 45 minutes or so to stow the primary anchor rope, then the secondary chain, disconnecting the anchor, untwisting the chains, and then reconnecting the anchor.

Did a little Wi-Fi. Hmmm: tropical storm "Invest 90" has suddenly appeared, projected to pass over here as a category 1 hurricane in about 5 days. The forecast could change completely, but I'd better keep an eye on this. And it complicates my plans to go to Guadeloupe; I probably could get there a day or two ahead of the storm, but then might have to look for a hurricane hole right away, and be in trouble if anything went wrong and I couldn't get to one.

Finally had an attack of common sense: dinghied ashore and went to the port office and asked about their Sunday hours. Open until 4, but they might sneak out early, so I'd better get there by 2:30 (that's what they told me). No overtime charges.

Disposed of a bag of garbage. Back past the boat, and walked over to the Falmouth side. Exchanged half a dozen books at the snack bar bookshelf. Got a couple of groceries, and back to the boat. Hot.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

Wind stalled out after midnight, and it got warm and buggy.

Around 3:30, I went out on deck to find that the tiny bit of wind was from the NW, a direction that has me closest to Simon's boat. If the wind strengthened, we'd collide. I debated starting the engine and moving away, but the engine startup would have jolted everyone nearby out of their sleep. Watched the boats and the wind off and on for the next 45 minutes or so, and finally we got some NE wind, the boats moved apart, and I could relax.
Sun for a new day  7/31/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Tank Bay, English Harbour, Antigua.

Did some Wi-Fi. Frustrated trying to get info about "Invest 90": as of 10:15 AM, wunderground still showing data from yesterday at 2 PM.

Another attack of common sense: why sweat at night ? Had a Caframo fan, but a while ago it fell over and the blades shattered (pic). So got out a spare fan, built a little platform for it (pic), and put it next to my berth; will use it tonight.

Had thought of moving to the other, cleaner end of the harbor and snorkeling under the boat today. But decided to stay here tonight, for better Wi-Fi and to keep my spot in case that hurricane keeps coming here. So started the engine, moved the bow over, and put the second anchor down with 40-50 feet of chain. Ended up only 15-20 feet further from Simon's boat, but that's enough for comfort, and now I have a chain to pull on in the middle of the night if I need to move away from him. And I shouldn't move toward him in light NW wind anyway.

At noon, "Invest 90" has disappeared from wunderground ! Maybe I caught them in the midst of an update. [Still no info at 1:30.]

Dinghied over to the fuel dock, to get 10 gallons of diesel, as a cushion for the trip to and around Guadeloupe. But they're closed: summer hours are MWF 8-4. So back past the boat, and walked over to the gas station on the Falmouth side, carrying a jug. Got about 5 gallons of diesel for around US$17. Schlepped it back to the dinghy and out to the boat. Hot.

Did Wi-Fi at 3. Blog entry from 2 PM says "Invest 90L" has gotten disorganized and NHC is no longer generating forecast tracks for it, so that explains that. Wind/wave forecast looks good all week except for Thursday, when it gets wacky. But should be safe on west coast of Guadeloupe. And lighter conditions there than on Antigua.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate out on the foredeck to beat the heat.

Ashore, a convoy of cars blaring horns arrived around 7; maybe it's a wedding party ?

Loud music ashore from 11:30 to 4 AM; a big party, with a DJ and dance lights. Only about 200 feet from the boat, so it was inescapable. Didn't bother me too much, but kept me awake much of the night.
Sun for a new day  8/1/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Tank Bay, English Harbour, Antigua.

Windy. Did some Wi-Fi, but had trouble getting connected. Looks like that storm is "organized" again, now called "Invest 91". Finally got some 8 AM Sunday info: most models have it going N of the NE Caribbean (us) 3-4 days from now, but not far N of Anegada. One model has it going S of here, maybe between Dominica and Martinique. Intensity now going up to 90 MPH, which is what, category 2 ? Wind/wave forecast not changed much, except the weird wind on Thursday will be a lot lighter than forecast yesterday. Waves a bit higher than I'd like for crossing tomorrow (E 7 near Antigua, E 6 near Guadeloupe), but that's what comes with moderately strong wind. So I think I'll head to Guadeloupe tomorrow early AM.

Added 1/2 quart of oil to the engine.

Started engine at 10:10, and started raising anchors, in fairly stiff wind. Paused halfway to chat across to Simon, who was curious to know where I was going. He hadn't heard about the hurricane. Got the anchors up and motored out to the SE end of the harbor. Anchor down by 10:40 at Freeman Bay, English Harbour, Antigua. A little too close to a mooring float, but I'm too lazy to move (may regret it if that float gets snagged on my prop). Wind swirling unpredictably as usual in this spot. Some whitecaps out in the open water, but the waves don't look too huge. A little rolly in here, as expected.

No free Wi-Fi here.

Sure enough, within 20 minutes that mooring float was twisted around the painters to the hard dinghy, and the force was bending the big U-bolt the painters are tied to. Launched the inflatable dinghy and untwisted the mess.

After an early lunch, went snorkeling under the boat. The amount of growth on the hull is impressive, a result of a hull overdue for bottom-painting and a mangrove anchorage with stagnant water and plenty of nutrients. Scraped about 2/3 of the hull, and the prop and rudder and the bottom of the hard dinghy. Spent about 75 minutes doing it, and got lots of wriggling little brine shrimp all over me.

Dinghied ashore before 2, and disposed of a bag of garbage. Then to the port office by 2, fearing a dollar-intensive check-out procedure. But I was amazed: instead of charging me $12 for the last 4 days of port fees, the guy said "no charge, everyone says Antigua is too expensive". And there was no mention of the $50 embarcation (departure) fee, despite big signs about it. I had to pay it when I flew out on July 8. Maybe it only applies to departure by commercial service ? I didn't bring up the subject, and got my departure clearance without paying a dime. Nice !

I mentioned the hurricane to them, and asked if they could access a 2 PM update on the internet. The Customs guy tried, and said wunderground said "no tropical activity". From the bad angle I had on his computer screen, it didn't look to me as though he was looking at wunderground. None of the officers had heard of the storm.

Wanted to sit on the shady, breezy second floor of the officer's quarters and read my book, but they've taken in the chairs. So back to the boat.

At 3:45, I was below, using the laptop, when a sudden squall caught me with all hatches open and clothing drying on the lifelines and the cockpit coaming. Had to dash to bring everything in and close up.

Checked engine oil. Cleaned engine intake strainer, which had lots of seaweed in it, then couldn't get it closed again. The wingnut on top has always grabbed by just a thread or two (a dangerous situation; could sink the boat if it lets go), and now I guess the washers have swelled and it won't grab at all. So I carved a new washer out of thin gasket stock, and that fixed it. Might try a different nut, later.

Watched the boat pass over top of that mooring float a few times, and decided I really didn't want to have a problem when I try to leave tonight. At 4:50, raised anchor and moved 100 feet or so.

More rain.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

More rain at 6:35. Squalls keep coming over. Not a good sign for going to Guadeloupe.
Sun for a new day  8/2/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Tank Bay, English Harbour, Antigua.

Up at 1:45 AM, and wanted to leave around 2. But just as I had everything ready and the engine running, a big squall came over and it started raining heavily. Tried to wait it out, but after 10 minutes it had eased a bit but not stopped. Put on my foul-weather jacket and raised anchor in the rain. Then unfurled mainsail and jib. Motored out, watched landmarks carefully to make sure I don't hit the small reef or the rocky fort. Not a problem: I looked it over this afternoon and evening, and noted the landmarks. Out of harbor by 2:30, and motor-sailing S.

By 2:45, engine off and sailing S, making 3.5 knots or so. Waves not as bad as I feared, but they're substantial, and coming from the E, so it's going to be a rolly trip. Keeping the sails full of wind should slow the rolls.

Squalls coming through every half-hour or so, and I'm worried that one of them might be strong enough to blow out one of my sails or cause something to fail. Not a chance of furling the sails for each squall: I can't really see them coming, there're too many of them, and the boat is rolling heavily, so going on deck to furl the mainsail would be dangerous. I settle for turning the boat somewhat downwind and running with the wind from each squall, to try to minimize the pressure on the sails. Boat speed getting up to 6 knots in squalls, and 4 to 4.5 otherwise.

Feeling queasy around 4 AM; too much rolling, not much of a horizon to look at, and I have to check the compass frequently. The boat usually stays balanced and steers itself, but the seas knock it sideways every now and then. A bit of a moon tonight, but the clouds are covering it most of the time.

First light at 5:15, and my queasiness starts to ease a bit.

At 5:45, sunrise behind clouds.

Around 6:45, a big, slow ship passed about 5 miles ahead of me.

At 7:10, I can see the outline of Guadeloupe ahead of me, Antigua behind me, and Montserrat off to the W.

No more squalls after that point, until arriving at the harbor, although I got the wind from a couple of squalls that missed me. Often sailing at 4.5 to 5 knots or more, which is nice.

At 7:30, ran engine for a minute, to circulate the transmission fluid. The prop and shaft are freewheeling as I sail, and doing that for long periods of time at high speeds can damage the transmission.

Start approaching Guadeloupe. As usual, feels like I'll never get there; the last couple of hours crawl by.

Around 10:45, I start getting some shelter from the island. And I notice that the main painter for the hard dinghy has parted (again).

At 11:35, I'm at the harbor, and I start the engine and furl the sails. As I start in, a big rainsquall comes down from the hills and into the harbor.

Find a spot, and lower the anchor in the rain. Done by 11:55 at Deshaies, Guadeloupe.

Well, that was a good trip ! About 9.5 hours to cover about 43 NM, so averaging about 4.5 knots, and I sailed the whole way. Mostly on a beam reach. I relearned something I knew: my boat likes more wind than I'm comfortable with. On a beam reach in 18-20 knots of wind, it performs decently (as long as nothing breaks).

Start picking up all of the stuff that fell off the shelves during the trip. And it starts pouring rain. Hot inside the boat, I'm sweaty and tired and sticky, and I can't open any hatches. And I need to go ashore to check in with the officials.

Well, the rainsqualls keep coming and coming. Every time one finishes, I go on deck to stow stuff and start launching the dinghy, and within a minute or two the next squall is arriving. Crazy ! Finally I slow down, make some lunch, and sit eating and reading, waiting out the rain. The officials here are supposed to be pretty casual; they won't mind if I can't get ashore right away.

A little before 2, there's a gap between squalls, and I launch the dinghy and head ashore. The little fishing-boat-harbor is packed with boats and has no dinghy dock. I go up a nasty brown little "river" and tie up there, next to another dinghy and various local skiffs. I trudge up the road to where Customs is supposed to be, and follow a sign to "Bureau de Douane". I'm surprised to find them open; both guidebooks say you may have to try multiple times to find them open.

Just a one-page form to fill out, no money to pay, and soon I'm done. I joke about the rain, and the woman officer says it's supposed to rain like this all week ! Then I ask if they know anything about the tropical storm / hurricane, and they call the head guy out of the back room. But all I get from him is a torrent of French, and then some English saying "go to the internet cafe in town and go to the French Met office web site". Thanks.

Of course it's raining again when I leave. Down to the dinghy, out to the boat, and it stops raining long enough to let me hoist and stow the dinghy. One of those days with low grey clouds preventing much solar power, and no wind for wind power. And the boat is humid and drenched. But I'm here, and all is well !

Dumped 10 gallons of rainwater from buckets to jugs and tank. Could have dumped more; didn't empty all of the buckets, and didn't worry about spilling a couple of gallons.

Four other sailboats here, and three of them look like occupied cruising boats. Half a dozen other boats, and the fishing-boat harbor is full of small boats. But the town looks pretty small. A few more sailboats came in before dark. One catamaran anchored too close in front of me, but when I talked to them, they said they weren't staying there. An hour later, they moved further out.

At 3:30, rain followed by sun, and it stayed fairly sunny for the rest of the evening. But we're surrounded by high hills, so a squall can appear quickly and surprise us.

Realized that the snorkeling yesterday gave me some welts where things bit me, and some open scrapes on my feet where the fins chafed me (forgot to wear my snorkel-socks).

Cornedbeef-noodle and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Heavy rain at 11, and again around midnight.

Found a little bit of English-language radio after midnight, but most stations are French. But once away from the hills here, I might be able to get more English-language stations.
Sun for a new day  8/3/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Deshaies, Guadeloupe.

Feeling a bit tired and headachey. Weather grey and damp. Rain at 6:30 and 8:20.

Got a little free Wi-Fi. Position of boat and shore antenna required that I sit on forward part of cockpit with laptop on my lap and one hand holding Wi-Fi antenna out the door, an awkward position. But it worked. Found that the storm is now TS Colin, is tracking a bit further north than when I last looked at it, and is not forecast to become a hurricane any time soon. No threat to me here. Looks like weather here is going to be strange for next week or so, starting tomorrow: light wind of 10 knots or less, from many directions.

Frequent rain from 10:45 to 2:30 or so.

Dinghied ashore around noon, and walked through the town a bit. A couple of internet cafes (€8 for a day of Wi-Fi at one place, €2 for 90 minutes of Wi-Fi at another). Didn't see where you could check in or out, but most of the signs (all in French only) were Greek to me. The gas station sells diesel, and had rack after rack of butane tanks; wonder if getting a propane refill on this island will be difficult ?

Got €70 at the ATM at the Post Office, apparently with no fee charged. Found the Spar "supermarket", which is small but well-stocked. Prices about the same as on Antigua, unfortunately, but they had a few special sales going. And this is a small town; probably cheaper in the bigger towns. Bought some "chipolatas" (sausages); I saw that word in a Harry Potter book and was able find out nothing about it on the internet, and now I have some. Would have expected to find them on a British island, not a French one. Bought €26 worth of groceries, including some 100-proof local rum for €6.50/liter. Found out you're supposed to bring your own bags, so I had to buy one.

Got rained on as I got near the dinghy, waited out the worst of it under a roof for a minute, then got rained on some more as I went out to the boat. Ended up hot, sweaty and wet, and it's still raining so I can't open up the boat. But there was enough breeze to cool me off in the cockpit.

Dumped 4 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank. Could have dumped more.

Bailed out the hard dinghy, which had 5-10 gallons of nasty algae-ridden water in it.

Weather clear and sunny and breezey in the late afternoon, again.

Nice light, so I took a picture of town from the boat: pic (big).

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner. Not sure what kind of cheese I bought today; I think it's more of a "cheese-like processed food substance". But it does have an artificial rind on it, and it tastes good.

Couldn't get my anchor light to light. Fortunately, years ago I got tired of climbing the mast to fix it, and brought it down and put it on a wire so I can hang it from the boom or inside the pilothouse. So it will be easy to work on.
Sun for a new day  8/4/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Deshaies, Guadeloupe.

Woke to find the fresh-water pump running constantly, and dry. There's a very slow leak in the intake side of the water system somewhere; usually I leave the power to the pump turned off. The running doesn't seem to have damaged the pump, but it's not intended to run for long periods of time, and not dry.

Sunny and light wind from SW this morning; atypical, as forecast. Maybe that means we won't get the rain today ?

Did a bucket of laundry.

Did Wi-Fi.

By noon, wind blowing fairly hard from SW, keeping dark clouds over the island from coming over us, mostly.

Fixed the problem with the anchor light: loose wire on the socket I was plugging it into.

Couldn't get any Wi-Fi in the afternoon.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

A bit rolly in the evening: swells from SW, then wind stalled and very light from SE.
Sun for a new day  8/5/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Deshaies, Guadeloupe.

Loafed all day, reading and computing. Did a little Wi-Fi. Light wind from SW.

A couple of small sloops sailing around in the late afternoon (pic).

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Some time after midnight, the typical wind-flow came back, and the wind blew fairly hard from the E for the rest of the night.
Sun for a new day  8/6/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Deshaies, Guadeloupe.

Wind blowing pretty hard by 9.

After lunch, dinghied out to the NW corner of the harbor and did some snorkeling. A pleasant swim, but not very good snorkeling: mostly rocks, very little coral, some fish, pretty deep water.

Got a tiny bit of flaky Wi-Fi.

Dinghied ashore and went to the small supermarket. Went a little too early; town stays mostly closed from 12 to 4. Poor selection of very high-priced bread in the store; maybe I'm supposed to go to a bakery instead ? Got some groceries and back to the boat.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate out on the foredeck.
Sun for a new day  8/7/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Deshaies, Guadeloupe.

Wind blowing hard again this morning.

Got a bit of flaky Wi-Fi.

Engine start at 9:45, and anchor up by 9:55. Out and sails unfurled and sailing by 10. Wind very variable, shifting direction from NE to E to SE and strength going up and down, caused by the hills on the island. Boat speed from 3 to 5 knots. Very small swells, from the stern, mostly. Pleasant.

About 4 miles down the coast, the wind faded quite a bit, and speed dropped to the 1.5 to 2.5 range, in not quite the direction I wanted to go. Totally becalmed a few times. Several sailboats motor-sailed past me. Waited it out, had an early lunch, and eventually got some bursts of strong SE wind that let me sail about 4 knots in a good direction. But down to 2.5 between nice times.

Eventually neared a point NW of Pigeon Island, and the wind was blowing straight from the harbor. Engine start at 12:45 and furled the sails, and motored in, crossing behind a sailboat that had been gaining on me (pic). Arrived around 1:20, and the harbor is rolly and full of moorings and moored boats. Did a loop around for 15 or 20 minutes, and ended up back at first spot I saw. Anchor down by 1:45 at Anse Malendure (Pigeon Island), Guadeloupe.

No free Wi-Fi here.

Noticed that the GPS antenna on the pilothouse roof has come loose. Might have been knocked over by the boom; maybe the topping lift has stretched a little.

Rain at 2:30 and 4:20; squalls coming off the island pretty frequently.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Light rain from squalls much of the night. Rolling not too bad until 4 AM or so, then it got worse.
Sun for a new day  8/8/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Anse Malendure (Pigeon Island), Guadeloupe.

Pretty rolly this morning. Uncomfortable.

Engine start at 11:25, anchor up by 11:35, and motored out to Pigeon Island. Wanted to pick up a mooring ball in the lee of the island, to get shelter from the swells, but the only one there is very close to the rocky shore. So tried for a more-exposed ball on the W end of the island, missed the first try, picked a ball a little further in, and got it. Done by 11:55 at NW corner of Pigeon Island. Can see bubbles from SCUBA divers next to the boat.

Lowered the dinghy, into the water, and went snorkeling. As expected, deep and rocky here, and little coral. Few fish, but they're bigger than usual. Pretty exposed and rough here. Did a fairly quick snorkel and back out. As I washed up, started getting rained on.

Engine start at 12:35, slipped the mooring, and motored south. Almost no wind. Down the coast and into the only available harbor. It's smaller than expected, and the only water not full of moorings for small skiffs is 40 feet deep. Found some 10-foot-deep water along one edge that has me swinging too close to one unused mooring float; with luck, it will remain unused tonight. Swinging close to a rock shore, too. Anchor down by 2 PM at Anse a la Barque. Not much here but a main road passing by. Sucks, but it's the only shelter on this corner of the island.

Some swell coming in, so if I get sideways to the harbor entrance, I roll.

Chewing over a choice: do I want to leave very early tomorrow to get around the SW corner of the island and up into the middle ? Or leave at 8, say, stop at Basse Terre and spend a night there ? Or even backtrack to Deshaies and end up going to the north side of the island ? I need to provision up at a big supermarket; Basse Terre has a couple of those. But it has almost nowhere to anchor, and no shelter at all; I'll be rolling all day and night. If I go north back to Deshaies, I'll have to go through the river that splits this island in two, before I get to the big city (Pointe a Pitre) and good shopping. Finally I decide: leave early, don't stop at Basse Terre, go up into the middle of the island. A shame to skip Basse Terre, it sounds like a nice place, but maybe I'll take a bus to it later.

Several weak rainsqualls during the afternoon.

Eventually had the bright idea of waiting until almost dark, and then grabbing onto the nearest mooring, which looks pretty sturdy. That will keep me from swinging into boats or shore if a sudden wind comes up.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/9/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Anse a la Barque.

Grey and threatening rain. Retied the main topping lift. Engine start at 5:45, anchor up by 5:50, unfurled sails, motored out. No wind.

Almost ran over a long net three fishing-skiffs were putting out; had to be about 1/3 of a mile long, with few floats. They waved me off just in time.

Raining and grey. Kept raining all the way down the coast. Boat making 4.8 knots for some reason; must have half a knot or more of current in my favor.

Turned the SW corner of the island, Pointe du Vieux Fort (pic), at 8:10, and now there's wind, as expected. Motor-sailed for another 15 minutes or so, making 3.8 knots, but not in the direction I want to go. The wind is straight on the nose from the direction I want to go. So I furled the mainsail and motored, making about 3 to 3.2 knots.

Saw several ferries going back and forth between Guadeloupe and Iles des Saintes. One passed very close to me.

A long slog up the coast. Weather got nicer, wind easing a little, and sunny.

Saw a couple of sailboats far off on the horizon. Not much traffic today, here.

Tried to get some drive-by Wi-Fi as I rounded Pointe de la Capesterre, but I'm really fairly far out. Connected to two signals briefly, but one was for-pay and the other was too faint to work.

Last 6-8 miles pretty rolly; beam-on to the swells, and not enough wind to keep the mainsail full. Really almost no wind; most of the apparent wind is coming from the boat speed.

Last 1-2 miles pretty confusing: the terrain doesn't match the chart in my guidebook. Supposed to be a tiny island (Caye a Dupont) off to the E, with a wreck and a yellow marker on the N end of it. I see a wreck, a lot of shoals running to the S, and a yellow marker on the S end of the shoals. Supposed to be two biggish islands (Ilet Fortune) to the W, with shoals S of it. I see one biggish island with shoals to N and S of it, and a yellow marker N of the shoals. And the depths I'm seeing as I head up E of the W island don't match the charted depths.

So I trust my eyes and the depth-sounder, and turn in N of the shoals N of the W island. A lot deeper here than charted, and there's a red buoy that's not on the chart. But I nose into shallow water, and put the anchor down by 1:50 at Ilet Fortune.

Nice here: calm, quiet, lots of room, far from land so it shouldn't be buggy. And the nearest town, Goyave, looks like it might be more interesting than I expected: about a dozen 40-foot sailboats anchored around it. One trawler and one motorboat anchored out here at Ilet Fortune; I don't see how they threaded their way into their positions. But I'm happy right where I am; no need to get in close.

Surprised to find a couple of Wi-Fi signals here; I'm pretty far out. But nothing free.

Various skiffs coming by, taking people between Goyave and Ilet Fortune, for swimming and whatever. Some of them came very close by making big wakes; annoying. There's a marked channel into Goyave; that's not on the chart.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Slept like a log; very nice anchorage.

Heard a little BBC radio in the early AM; nice. Haven't been able to get it since leaving Antigua.
Sun for a new day  8/10/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Ilet Fortune, Guadeloupe.

Fairly grey morning, with huge rain-squalls passing north and south of me. Dramatic views of the storms hitting Basse Terre (the volcanic island that forms the west part of Guadeloupe) and Pointe a Pitre (the main city, on the east island). But no way to get a decent photograph of them.

Had planned to go ashore to Goyave this morning, but ended up loafing instead. Rain at 11:25.

Cut the GPS antenna mount down a bit, sanded it, and glued it back onto the top of the pilothouse roof. Can be lower now that I moved the solar panels to the other side a couple of years ago. Antenna seemed to work even lying on its side.

Dinghied in to Goyave, following a channel marked with sticks. There's a channel marked with big official metal buoys, but it's in close to the mangroves and I don't like the color of water in it. Makes a weird turn, too. Almost looks like the buoys have drifted in there from other places.

Found an empty spot in the marina and tied up. Lots of teenaged boys loitering around and looking at me curiously; hope nothing happens to the dinghy. The "marina" turns out to be more of a fishing-boat station, like the one in Parham, Antigua. No office, no fuel dock, no facilities except storage lockers and fish-cleaning tables.

I walk across the street and dispose of two bags of garbage. Then start walking through town, hauling my laptop in a heavy bag. It's hot, and there's nothing interesting in sight. Just houses, one closed-up grocery-type store (it's still siesta time), a couple of bars. Maybe all of the good stuff is up over the hill and half a mile inland. So my list of possible errands evaporates: wanted to get cash, gasoline, groceries, do Wi-Fi. I sit in a park for a few minutes, fire up the laptop, and get no free Wi-Fi. Back to the dinghy and the long ride back to the boat. All I accomplished was to dispose of garbage.

Occasional rain from 5 to 6:30.

Chicken-onion-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Heavy rain from 6:45 to 7:30, with some pretty good lightning. Wind is from the S.

Light rain from 7:30 to 8:30 or so, with wind from SW, which is putting me aground. Not a problem; the bottom here is grassy and sandy and firly soft. But I didn't expect wind from the SW.

Out on deck at 10. Very light wind from NE, so I walked around the deck, trying to see if shifting my weight would let the boat slide off ground. It's very lightly grounded, wobbling and bumping. But soon the wind was back to light from the SW, so I gave up. Saw a couple of shooting stars; must be the Perseides.
Sun for a new day  8/11/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Ilet Fortune, Guadeloupe.

Very light wind from SW again, and I'm lightly aground.

Dumped 9-10 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank, and 5 gallons from buckets to jug.

Engine start at 7:10, and easily slid off the grassy/sandy bottom and into deeper water. Anchor up by 7:15, unfurled the mainsail, and motored NE. Should have bailed out the hard dinghy; it has 10-15 gallons of rainwater in it, and it riding pretty low in the water. But the swell is on the beam, and conditions are very mild, so it should survive a 5-mile tow.

Easy trip up to the city, with a bit of a roll, and not enough wind to keep the mainsail filled and stop the roll. Had to dodge a couple of fast ferries coming out of the harbor as I went in. A few circles in the anchorage I wanted, finding the water a little deeper than I hoped. But had anchor down in 23 feet of water by 8:50, at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

As I circled, I noticed that a moored boat seemed to be sinking. As I anchored near it, I saw a couple of guys, including maybe a Coast Guard officer, are aboard it with a pump. Pic.

No free Wi-Fi.

Dinghied ashore into the big Marina Bas du Fort to see if I could get oriented and accomplish a few errands. First stop was a very nice fuel dock. Unfortunately, the fuel truck was delivering fuel, so the pumps were off for 10 more minutes or so. I waited for a while, then realized it was going to be a zoo when the pumps came back on: 4 or 5 boats at the dock waiting for fuel, and 2 more circling, waiting for a spot at the dock. Decided not to bother them with my 1-gallon, non-French-speaking order today.

Dinghied down the north side, looking for the Champion supermarket and a nearby dinghy-dock. Couldn't find either. Back out to the middle, and saw a dinghy-dock at the Capitainerie; I'd missed it first time through. Docked there, wandered a bit, and eventually found the supermarket (of course the entrance and big sign are on the road side, and no sign on the water side). Fairly nice supermarket, but not nearly as big as a USA supermarket. They even had some items on sale. A bit of a hitch at the check-out: I was supposed to weigh and tag the produce down in the produce aisle. I went to do that, came back, and turns out I had pressed the wrong button for my bananas (they sell at least 3 different kinds). But the check-out lady was patient. The usual oddities: they didn't seem to carry any peanut butter, no Diet Coke in cans, no jars of chopped garlic, etc. Lots of expensive mystery items, labeled only in French; I'm sure they're all delicious.

Back to the dinghy, and back to the boat. Didn't see an ATM or internet place ashore.

Added some more glue to the GPS antenna mount on top of the pilothouse roof.

Bailed out the hard dinghy.

Bit of an interesting harbor here; has a containership port on one side (pic), main city and hotel complexes north of me, several floating dry-docks in the cove where I'm anchored (pic), and the big marina-and-boatyard complex SE of me. Sunken ship in the cove where I'm anchored (pic). Freighter came out past me just after noon (pics).

Dinghied ashore again in the early afternoon. Fuel dock was empty, and I got some gasoline, but I had sticker-shock. This morning, I read "€0.90/liter" off the gasoline pump. Which seemed a bit expensive: at 3.8 liters/USgallon and US$1.32/€, that's US$4.51/USgallon for gasoline. So I'd been thinking that I made the wrong choice; I had been trying to decide whether to fuel up in Antigua or wait until Guadeloupe, and all of the internet-searching I did would not reveal which place had cheaper fuel prices. Well, it's Antigua, where gasoline was about US$3.50/USgallon, I think.

But wait, there's more ! Turns out the €0.90/liter price is the non-taxable price, the price you get if you've checked out and are leaving the country. The with-tax price is €1.36/liter ! That's US$6.82/USgallon ! Taxable price for diesel is €1.19/liter, or US$5.97/USgallon. Ouch !

Had to buy some gasoline; I'm running low. Bought €10 worth, or about 1.5 USgallons. Might be able to avoid buying diesel here, but probably will have to buy some. Ugly.

Over to the Capitainerie, and walked down to the shopping area. Found an ATM and got €140. Found an internet cafe (with book-exchange) next to the ATM, closed for lunch. Looks like internet costs €4/hour, which is US$5.25/hour; another ouch ! Cheaper if you sign up for a week or a month, and it's possible I could get access right from the boat; will have to look into that. Saw several restaurants that advertised free Wi-Fi, but a drink in them costs a minimum of €3. Still might be worth it.

Back to the Capitainerie. Stopped in and looked at a big rack of tourist-brochures, but everything is in French. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Light rain from 4:20 to 5.

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Heavy rain from 5 to 5:35.

A freighter went out past me just before dark.

Heavy rain from 2:15 to 2:30.
Sun for a new day  8/12/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

One freighter went out past me before dawn. One came in at dawn, and another came in at 6:30. Pretty busy port.

Feeling a little headachey this morning.

Dinghied ashore around 9:45. Went deep into the marina complex, which turns out to be even bigger than I thought. All the way to the back, to the Aquarium. Tied up the dinghy on a mudbank and walked out to the street through a locked parking lot for the aquarium.

Followed directions from a guidebook, to go to a megastore, but at first I thought I must be going the wrong way. The directions had me walking on the shoulder of a big highway, with 2-3 lanes of traffic in each direction. But I kept going, got to the first exit, and the megastore was right there.

Got inside, and it's a mall with a dozen small stores (banks, pharmacy, jewelry, shoes, McDonald's). And then the Cora megastore, a huge supermarket. Went in and shopped, and got a little frustrated. Can't buy anything heavy, such as soda, or anything refrigerated, because it's a hike back to the dinghy. Can't find jars of garlic. One brand of peanut butter and it's very expensive. Bought some Nutella to try as a substitute, but it's basically cocoa and sugar and milk. What's a good substitute for peanut butter ? Bought some crackers and other snacks, as much as I felt I could carry. Checked out, walked back to the dinghy, and back to the boat. Hot.

Freighter went out past me as I ate lunch (pic). Another came in around 12:20 (pic).

Still no free Wi-Fi here.

Fast ferry went out (pic).

Usual afternoon dark rainclouds are coming over at 1:15. I'm not going to lack for water on this island. Meant to do laundry this morning; all of my buckets and jugs are full, and I think the water tanks are nearly full.

Dinghied ashore around 3. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Asked at marina office about bridge opening times. Asked about propane refill, and got a flat "no". Went to internet place and found they don't open until 3:30. Book-exchange is in place next door, which doesn't open until 4. Sat down and fired up the laptop, thinking I might get free Wi-Fi from a nearby restaurant, but all of the Wi-Fi signals had security on them.

Then the internet place opened up, so I went in there. Turns out to be €3/hour if you use your own computer. But all of their outlets are French-type, and they didn't have a French-USA adapter. I should have anticipated this. Around the corner to the chandlery, then to an electronics shop, but neither of them had the right kind of adapter.

Back to the dinghy. Stopped at the fuel dock to ask about propane, but no luck there either. Back to the boat.

Feeling a bit depressed. I think the isolation is getting to me: no internet, weather info, radio, conversation for over a week. Now I'm worrying about high fuel prices, and running out of propane. I consider backtracking to Antigua (not appealing), or heading down to Dominica (but no good anchorages there, no hurricane holes, and guidebook says propane is a little awkward to get down there too). Reread the guidebook about getting propane here, and it's not as negative as I first read it to be; there's a place over in the industrial area N of the commercial port where I probably can get it. Getting there might be a chore; best by dinghy, probably.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Adding to my depression: the chicken I bought on sale turns out to be chicken wings (the package was mostly opaque, and who knows what is French for "wings"), and the store-brand diet cola I bought is awful. But getting food and alcohol into me and reading a couple of funny books made me feel better. Ate some chocolatey cookies I bought this morning, too. And I should focus on the positives: nothing serious broken on the boat, lots of facilities and anchorages here, close to a good hurricane hole. The fuel thing is just money, the propane and electrical things are solvable. And the people here are nice, they just don't speak a lot of English.
Sun for a new day  8/13/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Big freighter came in before dawn; I like to watch them go past. Would be nice to know a little more about what they ship in and out of here.

Feeling a little headachey this morning; took a pill.

Did a bucket of laundry.

A little windier this morning; maybe the tradewind is coming back. Wind's been pretty light the last week or so.

Dinghied up to town. Turns out to be a pretty interesting place. Some sailboats anchored here, all looking unoccupied, and a couple looking derelict (pic; note lack of mast, and presence of pelican). No problem docking the dinghy along a seawall, although a hundred cockroaches fled my approach. Past a smelly fish-market area, where people buy fish straight from fishing-skiffs.

To the Tourist Office, where the nice people gave me a couple of maps and directed me to a place where I could buy a power-outlet adapter. Found the store and bought an adapter-set for €6. Walked down to the (empty) cruise-ship docks, and back along another street. Nice outdoor spice-and-trinkets market, but I didn't see any jars of garlic, and I still don't know the word for garlic [found out: it's "ail"]. Lots of bottles of strange liquors, many with pickled vegetables in them; couldn't figure out if they were mixers for drinks or what. Fair number of pretty women on the streets.

Back to the Tourist Office to ask about propane. At first, the guy said "any gas station", but I pointed out that was for butane or CNG (probably butane). I asked about Sodexgaz, a place the guidebook said was on the industrial side of the harbor, and the guy showed me where it was on the map. It's actually SW of the commercial docks, and on the outside of the peninsula, not inside the harbor. But I couldn't figure out if he was saying you have to go there by boat, or you can't get there by boat. It's on the waterfront, so I'm going to try it on Monday.

Walked S out of town, looking for a couple of businesses shown in the guidebook. But I don't think either of them exists any more. A hot walk through some pretty low-rent streets. Back to town, into the dinghy, and back to the boat. Feeling a bit more cheerful today.

I'm anchored near the "Lights And Buoys" department. At 12:50, a helicopter arrived, carrying an old buoy (pic). Made quite a racket. Left an hour later, carrying nothing.

Found I had a spare one-use propane bottle aboard; is it a 1-pound or 2-pound bottle ? Good enough for several weeks at least, for me.

Dinghied ashore to do internet. Did an hour of Wi-Fi for €3. Connection a bit slow, but part of that was my laptop trying to download/update four things simultaneously. Weather looks fine: no tropical storms, and nothing unusual for here. Lots of email to go through.

Email from my friend Ed on "Angel Louise" said: "We thought that Guadaloupe was most difficult, more foreign to Americans than other French spots". And: skip the Rivier Salee (which starts at N end of town here); too buggy. I had been planning to go through there, to get to the N side of this island, but maybe I won't bother.

He also said some other things I had been thinking: from here, skip Dominica, go to Martinique, then to St Lucia, skip St Vincent, go to Bequia, and on south.

But still lots of good anchorages to see up here, before heading south. And hurricanes are a factor. Riviere Salee here is a good hurricane hole. Martinique has a couple of decent hurricane holes. The rest, no good holes until you supposedly get south of the hurricane area.

After internet, went next door to exchange half a dozen books at the book-exchange in the laundry. Friendly young woman there spouted a lot of French at me before realizing I didn't understand it. Her English was halting, but we chatted a little. She says she's been here 10 years, and still hasn't learned Creole, the other language here.

Back to the boat. Starting to get some weekend idiots zooming around in fast boats.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/14/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Two loaded container-ships came in, in quick succession, around 6:30. They left again in the evening, after dark, one loaded and one empty. And a gas-tanker went out in midday (pic).

Did a small bucket of laundry.

After lunch, dinghied ashore. Looked around for a shady place to sit and read a book, but didn't find anywhere very good, so didn't stay too long. And there's not much activity in the marina; I thought there would be more on a weekend. To the small supermarket and got some groceries (including garlic powder), and back to the boat.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-couscous and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/15/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Added water to the batteries. Cleaned engine intake strainer.

Lots of motorboats zooming around, making wakes.

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Pretty nice fireworks over town at 8:20; I think today is a holiday, Assumption Day.
Sun for a new day  8/16/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Low, dark clouds and threatening rain all day. Decided to postpone the dinghy-ride to see about propane.

Rain at 9:40. At 1, lightning over town. Heavy rain and strong wind from 2 to 2:15 or so.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Ran engine for 30 minutes to charge batteries.
Sun for a new day  8/17/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Lots of low, dark clouds again this morning, but not as thick as yesterday. By 10 or so, pretty windy, blowing the clouds away.

Got ready to take the propane tank over to the commercial side of the harbor, in search of a refill. But when I unlashed the damned thing and shook it, it still had 3 or 4 pounds of liquid in it ! I keep thinking it's about to run empty, but I'm always wrong. Maybe it's a perpetual tank; I should patent it. Guess I'll just keep cooking until it absolutely runs dry. Lashed it down again.

Dinghied ashore and walked to the big megastore, Cora. Partly just to get off the boat and do something, but also because I really do need to provision up a bit. Got a lot of cereal and snacks and a few other items. A lot of hot walking, to and from. Back to the boat after noon.

Wakes seem to have gotten worse in the last day or so; maybe our angle has changed. Every now and then a ferry comes by and the boat rolls wildly.

Fuel level 6.25 inches at engine hour 4680.

Around 3:30, dinghied ashore to do internet. Noticed that ketch ("Euros IV"), that someone had been pumping out when I arrived a week or so ago, is sinking again; looks bad (pic).

Disposed of a bag of garbage. Into the Capitainerie to ask about buses to Basse Terre and going up the volcano on Basse Terre, but the usual woman wasn't there and the woman covering for her spoke very little English. (Later realized that the name of the volcano is "La Soufriere"; should have asked about it by name.) I had been thinking of reporting that "Euros IV" was sinking again, but it's not moored in their area, and someone already knows it's in repeated danger of sinking, I'm sure. And we just weren't communicating.

To the ATM, and got some cash. To the internet place, and did an hour of Wi-Fi for €3. Weather looks good for heading east down the coast tomorrow and for the next week or so. Went next door to the laundry, and exchanged half a dozen books on their bookshelves.

Hadn't planned on doing groceries, but if I want to leave tomorrow, I should shop now. So I went in and got a few items; didn't have my bags with me, or I would have bought more. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Stowed everything, looked out around 5:30, and that ketch has sunk ! Pic. A shame.

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/18/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Still, muggy morning.

Dumped 5-6 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Engine start at 8:15. Took a while to get the anchor up, in 24 feet of water (so I'm lifting about 50 pounds when pulling chain, and 95 or so when the anchor comes free). Anchor well stuck in the bottom, and definitely had dragged from the spot I initially had put it down. Finally got it up by 8:35. Unfurled mainsail and motored out.

Straight into the light wind, and a brief motor E along the coast. Into anchorage, avoiding a swimmer, and anchor down by 9:30 at Ilet du Gosier, Guadeloupe.

So this is where the action is ! Lots of boats here: maybe half a dozen cruising boats (such as pic), 8 or 10 local boats moored, and 6 or 8 day-boats. Swimmers on the beaches on the small island and the main island. A small ferry operating between islands. Nice breeze, and only a little roll getting around the reef.

No free Wi-Fi.

Rain from 11:20 to 11:50.

Fairly rolly in the afternoon, with light wind from E. But then the wind moved to N, and the rolling stopped.

Quite a crowd of swimmers on the small island in the later afternoon; place is very popular.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

All afternoon, and even at dusk, people have been swimming from the main island to the small island and back. Must be at least 150 yards each way, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it is.

Nice night; got a little rolly in the early AM for a while, but not too bad.
Sun for a new day  8/19/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Ilet du Gosier, Guadeloupe.

People swimming out from main island to small island at 6:15; people here are swimming fools !

Around 9:30, launched the dinghy and headed for the main island, maneuvering around swimmers in the anchorage. The guidebooks say there's a dinghy-dock on the main island here, but it doesn't exist any more. Saw a small beach, E of the main beach, that looked like a possible landing. But I don't like landing on beaches; my dinghy is too heavy to drag far enough out of the surf by myself. Went W the whole length of the big swimming beach, to the W end of town, to look on the other side of a big breakwater. But no way to land there. So back the length of town, and landed on the small beach I first saw. Dragged the dinghy up as far as I could, put the anchor well inland, and hoped the surf doesn't come up and fill up the dinghy while I'm gone. Should be fine; very calm today.

Walked inland, and this town is hilly. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Hot walk up and then down to the swimming beach. Had planned to explore town a bit before buying groceries, but was surprised to find a small warehouse-type food store right next to the swimming beach. I thought this was a tourist-type town, and expected to find small stores and high prices. So I went in, loaded up with food at good prices, and back to the dinghy. No problems there, struggled a bit to drag it back into the water, and back out to the boat by 11 or so. Surprised it's so late; felt like I was ashore for 15 minutes.

In early afternoon, dinghied ashore to the island (Ilet du Gosier). Anchored in water a bit deeper than I expected, and got wet over my waist; guess I'll find out if my camera still is waterproof after all of these years. Wandered about, wishing I'd brought my sandals; enough pieces of coral and such to hurt my tender feet. Nice picnicing areas, a snack bar, and a nice lighthouse (pic). The lighthouse looks really cool at night, since the whole top of it glows with red light, and the rotating light is red also.

Back to the boat. Had planned to go snorkeling later, but since I'm already wet, might as well go now. Rinsed off the camera and left it aboard, grabbed my snorkeling gear, and off to the reef.

Quite a bit nicer snorkeling than I'd expected ! The anchorage here is all grassy and sterile, and I'd expected the same on the reef. But there are plenty of fish, and some decent coral heads. A couple of big schools of medium-sized fish, and a huge school of small fish. Water is warm. As I was snorkeling, it started raining, with big, cold raindrops. I kind of enjoy that sensation, getting rained on while snorkeling. All the hatches and ports on the boat are closed, but my hat and glasses in the dinghy are getting wet.

Back to the boat, and snorkeled underneath briefly to see if prop and hull need scraping. They're fine; just some grassy growth. Wow, the water right here is very warm, as warm as I've ever swum in.

Washed off the gear and showered with a little light rain still falling.

Nearby sailboat has a badly damaged jib-sail (pic).

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Bought several kinds of cheese today; the one I'm eating tonight is labeled "Carre Ambassador", so I don't know what type it is. Maybe that means it's sort of an ad-hoc variety ? Seems quite nice to me.
Sun for a new day  8/20/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Ilet du Gosier, Guadeloupe.

Still and warm morning.

Camera still works, so it survived yesterday's dunking. It's supposed to be okay down to 5 meters, but you're also supposed to have the gaskets changed every year (for $50 to $75 !). Got it 3.5 years ago and haven't ever changed gaskets. But I don't take it snorkeling any more.

Dinghied ashore around 9:30, and it's hot already. Walked a couple of blocks uphill to the top of the bluff, then E for a while. Nice-looking place, with some interesting buildings. Found the "Superette" and bought some groceries. Stopped at an overlook to take a few pictures (pic; arrow points to "Magnolia"), then back to the dinghy and back to the boat. Hot.

Recaulked the base of the mainmast.

Hot afternoon.

Added a shackle at the foot of the mainsail, to try to fix the problem with the topping-lift and the out-haul. Often, I haven't been able to get the out-haul tight enough to take the strain off the topping-lift. Can't ease the topping-lift, because that will make the boom too low when not sailing. Will see if this fixes the situation.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Opened the 100-proof bottle, and it's got a kick !
Sun for a new day  8/21/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Ilet du Gosier, Guadeloupe.

A big freighter (actually, a tanker, I think) has been anchored a couple of miles outside the Pointe A Pitre harbor entrance for about 4 days now; must be waiting for a cargo or something.

Sailboat came in and anchored uncomfortably close alongside me. There is a stereotype about the French, that they anchor too close, and I think there's some truth to it.

The small ferry-skiffs are really roaring through the anchorage today, milking the big weekend crowd. And much of the time they're roaring through the narrow gap between me and the sailboat near me; I think they consider this their "channel".

Started getting windy in the afternoon; wasn't in the forecast I got several days ago. But I'm getting no internet, VHF WX, marine SSB, or English-language commercial radio here, so I'm in the dark.

Fortunately, the too-close sailboat left after a couple of hours.

Topless woman on a powerboat anchored here.

Used some glue to try to fix a boat-hook mount in the rigging. Doubt it's going to hold; I need something to prevent a wired-on ring from sliding down a vertical wire in the standing rigging. Probably need to use epoxy.

Cabin-cruiser came in around 5 and anchored too close in front of me. There's plenty of room here; they didn't have to pick that spot. What if the wind flips during the night ? We'd collide; I have a lot more chain out than they do. I'd like to leave tomorrow morning; will be awkward if they're still there. Hope they're not staying the night.

Salad and Camembert cheese sandwiches for dinner.

Bummer: that cabin-cruiser right in front of me is staying the night.

Startled around 8 to hear anchor-chain rattling near me. A sailboat came in after dark and anchored near me, but fortunately ended up behind me a decent distance.

Around 9 PM, a huge front came through, with lots of wind and rain until 9:15, then wind after that. And everyone's anchors held fast.

At 10:30, a big squall with plenty of wind and rain.

Stayed very windy, and often rolly, all night.

At 2:30, plenty of rain and wind and some lightning and thunder.
Sun for a new day  8/22/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Ilet du Gosier, Guadeloupe.

Rainy and very grey, with fair amount of wind. Rain at 6:45, 8:05, 8:35. No swimmers this morning, maybe because of the weather, and also because it's Sunday ?

That cabin-cruiser parked over my anchor left before 8:30. A relief.

Changed my mind back and forth about what to do today. I'd like to head E, to some new anchorages. Every time the wind eases and the sun comes out, I think of going E. But then the wind pipes up again, it gets rolly in here, and I know the next couple of anchorages aren't well-protected from the E. So I decide to stay here. Then I think of going W back to Pointe A Pitre tomorrow, mainly to do some internet. Or maybe I could find an internet place here. If I went back to Pointe A Pitre, also could try to go by bus to Basse Terre, but would be nice to have clear weather for that.

Finally decide to stay here today, and see what tomorrow looks like.

Dumped 5-6 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank and jug.

Feeling headachey all afternoon.

Launched dinghy and went for a snorkel around 2, but it's a bit windy and rough, lots of particles in the water, and reduced visibility. Still had a nice snorkel.

Chicken-onion-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Big crowd on the island today, and it took until after dark for the skiff-ferries to get everyone back to the main island.
Sun for a new day  8/23/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Ilet du Gosier, Guadeloupe.

Still undecided about what direction to go today. Some periods of light wind, then longer periods of strong wind, which is bad for going E.

Still no free Wi-Fi here. Getting windy again. Watched a very small sailboat motoring E, and going up and down a lot.

Engine start at 8:10. Took some work to get the anchor up in windy conditions; bow kept blowing off. Up by 8:20, unfurled the mainsail, turned off the engine, and sailed downwind. Additional shackle on the mainsail seems to work well, but will get a better read on it next time I go upwind.

Sailing into harbor by 9:15 or so. Wind died a bit near the marina entrance, so I started the engine and motored in. Did a couple of loops, trying to find a place with shallower water than last time, and closer to town so smaller ferry wakes, maybe. Got closer to town, at least. Anchor down by 9:35 at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Got some free Wi-Fi ! Turns out there's a TS Danielle, but it will be going well N of the Caribbean. Wind here will get light again on Wednesday and stay light for a while; I'll go E again then.

Whoops ! Just found out my web site host deleted my site for some unknown reason; this happened once before, with no explanation before or after. And of course this time it seemed to happen just as I went incommunicado for a week or so. [I notice that some readers seem to assume "log file not found" means "boat sank" or "decided to stop blogging". Much better to assume "Wi-Fi hiccup" or "web host service screwed up again".] [Site got restored within an hour of notifying them.]

Did some more Wi-Fi.

Nice mural on abandoned water-tank nearby (pic).

Salad and salami-and-cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/24/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Dinghied ashore to town around 9. Disposed of two bags of garbage. Walked around a bit, to see the place. Nice cathedral, built mostly of wood inside. Couldn't find the Match supermarket the guidebook talked about. Tourist Office guy gave me a map and marked all of the supermarkets on it for me. Went to EcoMax; not as nice as the one in Gosier, but prices pretty good. Back to the dock, just in time to see a big fishing boat coming in and wanting to tie up right where my dinghy was. They eased my dinghy aside very nicely; no damage. If I'd been there 30 seconds earlier I could have had it out of their way. Back to the boat.

Put away the groceries, cooled off for a few minutes, then decided I might as well do some more grocery-shopping. Dinghied around to the N side of town, where a big "Super U" is supposed to be, but no way to get ashore there: it's all fenced-off docks for ferries and cruise-ships and Customs. So back around to the S side. Walked up to the main street along the E side of town, then N up to the "Super U". Prices not too super, bread selection pathetic, but got a bunch of stuff. Lots of people and shops along the busy main street, so that was interesting. Back through town, into the dinghy, and back to the boat. Hot.

Did a little Wi-Fi in the afternoon, but no wind and lots of grey clouds, so I had to conserve electricity a little.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/25/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Did a little Wi-Fi. Two tropical storms active, but both forecast to go N of Caribbean.

Engine start at 9:15. Anchor not up until 9:30 because I had to wash mud off the chain as I raised it. Unfurled the mainsail and motored out.

Light conditions, as forecast. But as I neared Ilet du Gosier, a big front/squall came through and rained on me for a while, and put some stronger headwinds in place. But no problem. Motoring with the mainsail up, almost straight into the wind, making about 4 knots. That freighter/tanker is still anchored out here.

A lot of exhaust fumes inside the boat; something must be wrong with the engine exhaust system. And engine running about 5 degrees hot by the end of the trip.

Up to anchorage, dodging fish-trap floats, and rolling quite a bit as I turned sideways to the swells and headed in. Anchor down by 11:40 at Petit Havre, Guadeloupe. A bit rolly here, as I feared, but I'll stick it out for one night. No other boats here. Hoped to do some snorkeling today, but it's very grey.

Started raining at 12:35, and kept going until after 2. Some strong wind and periods of very heavy rain. Not at all what I expected. But I guess I read the weather info just to get wind and sea info; I don't look at the cloud/rain info.

Hard to air out the boat, to get rid of the engine heat and the exhaust fumes, when it keeps raining. Getting very little solar power and no wind power.

Rain again from 2:15 to 2:40, more from 2:45 to 2:50, light rain from 3 to 3:05.

Dumped 6 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank. Spilled a bunch, and didn't empty the buckets on the port side of the boat.

Light rain from 4:05 to 4:30, then heavy rain until 4:40.

Salad and jelly-and-crackers for dinner.

Very heavy rain from 7:05 to 8:25.

More rain most of the night, including very heavy rain from 11:30 to midnight or so, with some strong lightning over land. A deck-leak down the side of my berth is irritating me, but other than that and some water down the mainmast compression post, the boat is pretty tight. Rain finally stopped around 4 AM.
Sun for a new day  8/26/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Petit Havre, Guadeloupe.

Very still morning, everything drenched, fairly cloudy but sunshine peeking through. No wind.

Got a little English-language radio from Antigua, through a lot of static. And a little reception of Chris Parker's weather, through static. Apparently hurricane Danielle is threatening Bermuda as a category 3 or 4, TS Earl behind it will skim N of the NE Caribbean as a category 1 or 2, and a third storm is forming up behind them.

More rainwater in buckets than I know what to do with. Dumped some into jugs and the water tank, but that's just about full, I think.

Got a very brief shot of free Wi-Fi. Good to see the hurricane info graphically. Got the local weather info and it's supposed to be nice today, and pour buckets again tomorrow.

Dumped some more rainwater into the water tank.

Some nice sunshine by 9:15 or so. Put my bedding out on the foredeck to dry it and let the sun disinfect it. Checked the engine exhaust and found the bolts holding the manifold to the block have worked loose again; tightened them. Cleaned the engine intake strainer; a little seaweed in it. Bailed 30-40 gallons of rainwater out of the hard dinghy.

Looked to find the source of the deck-leak into my berth, and I think it's coming from this stanchion-base: pic. I've struggled before with this thing, and its counterpart on the other side of the boat. Mounted sideways into the toe-rail, always loose. And after spending half an hour removing interior wood down below, you still can't get at the bolts/nuts inside the toe-rail. And both of them are in the low spots on deck, where water pools. I think today I'm going to let the sun dry it off, then slather caulk on the outside of it.

Hot, humid morning without much air moving. Enough work for now.

After lunch, slathered caulk on the outside of that stanchion base.

Around 3, went snorkeling. Visibility not so great, water a little rough, and much of the reef here is flat and grassy and uninteresting. But the tip of it, rounding into deeper water, had plenty of nice fish. Pleasant.

Chicken-onion-carrot-mushrooms-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Hot on the boat; with sun to the W and very light wind from the S, it's hard to find shade anywhere.
Sun for a new day  8/27/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Petit Havre, Guadeloupe.

Sunny, clear morning.

That anchored freighter/tanker is gone.

Eyeglass frames came apart a little: one of the hinge-screws has frozen and then sheared off. Put the stub of the screw back in, but I don't see any way to get the sheared-off end out to make a proper repair. Too tiny to drill it out. Occurs to me that I don't have an eyeglass-repair kit aboard (I think), and I should get one, but it wouldn't help me with this problem anyway.

Heard a bit of Chris Parker's weather; sounds like TS Earl is coming a little close for comfort, might bring 35-knot winds to the islands 80 NM north of me.

Dumped last 8-9 gallons of rainwater into the water tank.

Got a little Wi-Fi. Info on TS Earl confirmed. Local forecast says we'll get some SW 22 and SSW 20 wind on Monday, with gusts to 27, I assume as a result of TS Earl.

Engine start at 8:55, anchor up by 9. Unfurled the mainsail and motored out. Motored E, straight into the wind as usual. Exhaust leak is fixed. 3 miles up the coast, dodging fish-trap floats.

Into harbor, and anchor down by 10:05 at Sainte Anne, Guadeloupe. Looks like a nice place. Maybe on Sunday afternoon I'll move over to the W side of the harbor to get shelter from that strong wind forecast for Monday.

Couldn't get any free Wi-Fi.

A little before 2:30, boat rolling too much for comfort, so started engine, raised anchor, and moved in closer to the reef. Moved 100-120 feet or so to Sainte Anne, Guadeloupe, and the rolling got a little less, but still not very good. Moving to W end of harbor wouldn't solve it either, because there's a second entrance over there, and the SE wind we have today would let the swells right in over there.

Salad for dinner.

Developed a headache, and it made for a miserable evening and night. Hot, humid, rolly, headachey. Miserable.

Pretty strong rain at 12:15, for 15 minutes or so. Afterward, wind slowly cycled around the compass over an hour or two, making me nervous: I'm pretty close in behind the reef, and strong N wind would put me on it. But the wind stays very light.
Sun for a new day  8/28/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Sainte Anne, Guadeloupe.

Still feel like crap: headache, and taking pills.

Hurricane covering entire Bahamas

Alarming news about TS Earl on Chris Parker at 7: storm is at latitude 15.7, which is S of my latitude, and moving W. Supposed to turn to WNW and then NW, but very uncertain when it is going to turn. Sounds pretty likely to hit St Martin and Virgin Islands or just N of them, which means some chance it could turn late and come right here ! Sounds like it could arrive Monday, and is moving a bit slowly, so could be strong and slow to pass over. I think I'd better head for shelter.

Couldn't hear Chris Parker's weather at 8:30 to see if there was any update.

Decided to see this place briefly, since I'm here. Dinghied ashore and walked around. Disposed of two bags of garbage. Nice waterfront walk, town square and cathedral. Lots of traffic, even at 9 on a Saturday morning. Plenty of people at the ATMs, getting cash to start their day. Beach starting to get going. Lots of shops, and lots of tourist-type shops.

Into a grocery store and got some food, but as usual their sliced-bread selection is pathetic and expensive. Went next door to a bakery, but I don't see anything resembling sliced bread, I'm hot and headachey, and the bags of rolls that caught my eye are hard as rocks. The place seems to deal mostly in pastries and baguettes, and I think you're supposed to eat a baguette within an hour of buying it. I want something I can keep in my fridge for a week. Don't want to deal with the language thing with a line of customers behind me. So I give up and drop out of line before getting to the front. Buy some bananas at a sidewalk stand, and back to the boat.

Still can't get any Wi-Fi here, to see about TS Earl. Right, I'm out of here.

Engine start at 10:40. Anchor up, unfurled sails, motored out, engine off, started sailing by 11. Almost no wind. Sailed at 1 to 1.5 knots for a while. At 11:25, started engine and motored. Conditions so calm that at times I can see the bottom at 21 feet down, while cruising past.

Headache felt quite a bit better after some lunch. Hot day, especially when the wind from astern matched my boat speed, leaving me with no breeze, and exhaust fumes.

Into harbor just ahead of a small freighter. Anchor down by 1:55 at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe. No wind and just enough rain to make me keep the hatches and ports closed; sweltering, and I need to ventilate the boat to get the engine cooling down so it doesn't make the boat hot all night. Soon the rain stopped and a slight breeze came through, from the S.

So, now I'm 3/4 mile from a decent hurricane hole (the Riviere Salee), and I should be able to get some Wi-Fi here.

No free Wi-Fi at 3.

Light cool breeze from NE, and the sky has cleared; nice.

I notice a construction crane in town (pic), and wonder if they secure it if a hurricane approaches. Wondered the same thing in Gosier; there's a crane there too. I notice that this crane seems to swing with the wind; it's not fixed in position. Maybe the wind passes right through the open lattice of a crane and doesn't affect it too much ?

Got a little Wi-Fi just after 5, and got the 5 PM forecast from wunderground. Will have SW and SSW 20 wind here Monday, gusts to 24. TS Earl will pass N of here on Sunday; Guadeloupe will be just outside the area of storm-force winds. Looks good. Could have stayed put, but not worth the risk.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate on the foredeck in the breeze; nice.

But: Heard Chris Parker's weather at 7, and he disagrees a bit with the official NHS prediction. NHS says center of Earl is at 16.5N latitude; Chris says it's somewhere S of there, between 16.0 and 16.5. Since I'm at 16.13, that's important. Chris says Earl will track a little more S and W of the official predicted track, passing just N of Barbuda. Earl is traveling at 20 knots now, but will slow to 10 knots and intensify rapidly. Guadeloupe should see N 30+ wind on Sunday evening, then SW and S 20-30 wind on Monday.

Nice, calm harbor; slept well. A bit warm in the evening, as usual. Headache almost gone; still took a pill after dinner.
Sun for a new day  8/29/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Very grey morning; light wind from N or NNE.

Heard Chris Parker's weather at 7 through a lot of static. I think he said center of TS Earl is at 16.9N 56.9W; still says it will pass near N tip of Barbuda. Watches and warnings come down through Antigua; Guadeloupe is first island with no watch/warning. Looks like St Martin / Anguilla will get a direct hit; wind there will go either N - W - S or N - E - S, so choosing a spot in the Lagoon in St Martin would involve guesswork. For Guadeloupe, expect this afternoon N 30 wind, then W 30 then SW 30 tonight/tomorrow, with plenty of squalls.

I'm in deepish water (20+ feet), and a bit of an exposed position for N/S wind right now, and on a lee shore for W 30 wind, so it's time to move further up the harbor.

N 15+ wind suddenly started at 8:15.

Couldn't get any Wi-Fi.

Engine start at 8:30, and anchor up by 8:35 after a good cardio workout. Motored N up the harbor. Saw a sailboat coming N behind me, but he turned off to anchor in that cove off the S end of town, which is not great for W wind.

One trawler up where I was heading, but he left and headed S. No other boats seem to be sheltering; either they don't know about the storm or don't think the wind will be anything unusual. Could be right.

Anchor down by 9 at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe. Fine spot: about 4.5 feet deep (my draft is 3.5) and soft mud. Lots of space around me. Should be great for N - W - SW wind, okay for everything else.

Couldn't get any Wi-Fi. Tried several times until midafternoon.

At 11:20, catamaran "Gecko Loco" came past me and anchored to the NE of me. A little too close to the channel, in my opinion. They're right on the edge of it, and in W wind they'll be in the middle of it. But that's their business.

Light rain at 11:40; heavier rain at 12:30. Very grey and fairly dark.

By 1:45, blowing NNW 25+.

At 3:05, band of low dark clouds came down from N, with lightning and N 30+ wind, followed by heavy rain and soon totally grey skies down to ground level.

By 4, N 35+ wind and heavy horizontal rain. Two big lightning strikes within 1/4 mile. Around 4:25, visibility less than 200 yards.

By 4:45, wind eased and gone NW, but still plenty of rain. Wind soon increased again.

At 5, wind WNW 15-20.

Salad and salami-and-cheese sandwiches for dinner.

At 5:30, wind N20-25 and heavy rain.

Starting around 6:30, wind and rain eased a little, then up and down for rest of evening and night.

Heard Chris Parker's weather at 7. He said at 5 PM (I think) center of TS Earl was at 17.6N 59W, which is about 100 NM NNE of me. Pressure is 978, and Earl will intensify to category 3 or 4. Will pass maybe 30 NM north of Barbuda and then maybe 30 NM north of Anguilla, but hurricanes "wobble" up to 30 NM from side to side as they travel, so ...
Sun for a new day  8/30/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

At 4 AM, wind now SW 25, and soon SW 15. A bit rolly; somehow there's a chop coming up the harbor from the SSE.

At 4:45, wind is S 15-20. Raining off and on.

At 6:45, wind S 20+; by 7:30, S 25 or so.

Couldn't hear Chris Parker at 7: all static.

At 7:40, heard some English-language FM radio, maybe from Antigua. Seemed to say that hurricane Earl's center was about 50 miles ENE of St Martin and moving NNW. So St Martin has avoided a direct hit, which is good since Earl now has central wind-speed of 105 MPH, which I think is category 3.

At 8:30, very grey, rain, low clouds, wind W 15.

Wind wandering from S to W and back, 15 to 20, frequent light rain.

Still no Wi-Fi here. Surprising, since I'm across the river from lots of apartment-blocks north of town, maybe 300-400 yards away. You'd think someone there would have a free Wi-Fi going.

At 10:25, blowing S 30 or so, and wind-generator started sounding funny. Blades look fine, but no output, and I think the thermal breakers in it have tripped, the first time since I installed it. Started working again 10 or 15 minutes later. Happened a couple more times during the day.

Wind blew hard all day, around the 22-25 knot range, from S and slightly SSW. Some sunshine from 2 on, but still plenty of grey. Turned off the wind-generator to give it a rest. Was able to open the hatches to get wind through and start drying out the boat.

Added water to the batteries.

Catamaran left a little before 5. Seemed to dawdle quite a bit on its way down the harbor.

Wind easing down to 15-18 range. No rain all afternoon.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-mushroom-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Couldn't hear Chris Parker at 7: all static.

Still no Wi-Fi here.
Sun for a new day  8/31/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Warm, humid, and just about no wind. So the gnats are out, from the mangroves near by.

Couldn't hear most of Chris Parker's weather at 7. Sounds like Earl is a strong category 4 hurricane, central pressure down to 931 mbars, passing 30-40 miles N of the Virgin Islands.

Lowered the dinghy and pumped up the tubes. Bailed about 40 gallons of water out of the hard dinghy.

Engine start at 7:50, anchor up by 7:55, and motored down the harbor. Looks like several boats, including a Navy/police boat, sheltered in that cove at the S end of town, which seems too exposed to S and W, and probably deepish too. Anchor down by 8:20 at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Couldn't quite get Wi-Fi here. And I've gotten it on this spot before.

Normal breeze from SE or so has started up again, by 9:15 or so.

Dinghied ashore. Transient row at the marina is full; looks like a lot of boats came here to ride out the storm. Most of them look like charter-catamarans.

Disposed of a bag of garbage. Did an hour of internet for €3. TS Fiona is approaching, but is forecast to follow exactly the same track as Earl, NE of here, and predicted to have absolutely no effect on the local weather here. Wanted to Skype-call Mom, but there are people sitting right next to me, and the internet connection isn't all that solid anyway. Exchanged 3 books at the book-exchange in the laundry.

Asked about Iles des Saintes at the marina office. I'm trying to figure out how to handle checking out and fueling up and seeing the Saintes. They're 20-22 NM SSW of here, and supposed to be nice. I'd like to see them on the way to Martinique. But I'd kind of like to fuel up here, after checking out. And the Saintes are part of Guadeloupe.

It seems there are two alternatives: go to the Saintes without checking out here, either skipping the fuel or buying with-tax fuel, and check out in the Saintes. Or, check out here, saying I'll spend 1 week in the Saintes, buy non-taxed fuel here, go to Saintes. The first choice means no fuel or expensive fuel, and the second choice means committing to a departure date a week ahead of time, without being sure of the weather. I don't absolutely have to get fuel here; I probably have enough to motor all the way to Martinique if I had to. But fuel probably is even more expensive there.

Back to the dinghy, and back to the boat.

So, how much longer do I want to stay in this burg ? Not much to do here. Could take some bus-trips: to Saint Francois, to Basse Terre, to Saint Claude at the base of the volcano, to Pointe Noire to go across Route de la Traverse. Supposed to be some nice waterfalls. And if I was really ambitious, hiking up the volcano.

Still can't quite get Wi-Fi here.

Readng a copy of Caribbean Compass; the first English-language magazine/newspaper I've seen in a month. Says Sept 10 is "date statistically most likely to host a hurricane".

Very light wind wandering all over the compass this afternoon. Warm and muggy.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

Couldn't hear much of Chris Parker at 7: mostly static. Wanted to hear about TS Fiona.
Sun for a new day  9/1/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Warm, humid, grey, and just about no wind. Had been thinking of a bus-trip this morning, but the weather isn't inviting and I feel punky.

Couldn't hear Chris Parker at 7: all static.

At 9, wind suddenly sprang up, S 15 or so and very steady. Occasional hints of sunshine by 9:45.

Loafed all day.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Hot and uncomfortable night.
Sun for a new day  9/2/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Heard part of the very end of Chris Parker's weather, and he seemed to say tropical storm Gaston is headed right here next Tuesday or Wednesday. I'll have to go online and check it out.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Dinghied ashore a little after 9. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Long, hot walk diagonally across town and then past the cruise-ship and ferry docks to the NW bus station. I want a bus that goes to Maison de la Foret, the tourist station in the rainforest. Found a bus to Pointe Noire and Les Mamelles, which are on the same road as the Maison, the road called Route Traversee. The bus is here, but no driver. The one lady waiting for it doesn't speak much English. We waited 30+ minutes, and eventually a driver strolled over and opened up the bus, and half a dozen people started getting on. But when I asked to go to the Maison, he waved me off. He doesn't speak any English, none of the passengers could help, there's no office here, so I gave up and left. Found a 1€ coin on the ground on the way back, so it wasn't a total loss.

Back across town, to the Tourist Center. Not much English spoken here today either. After a lot of false starts, eventually one of the people said I should have been looking for a bus that said only "Route Traversee" on it. I didn't see any such bus the whole time I was there, and each bus had an assigned parking slot with the name on a sign, and I didn't see a sign that said "Route Traversee" on it. So who knows ? No schedules or route explanations were posted, and none available at the Tourist Center.

Back to the dinghy, picked up my shopping bag, and went to the EcoMax grocery store. Got a few items, back to the dinghy, and back to the boat a little after 11.

Well, that went about as I expected: lots of confusion, didn't work, and I learned a little. Par for the course. At least got a little exercise and saw a little more of the town. Could have been worse: could have been raining.

Salad and salami-and-cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

At 7, Chris Parker said TS Gaston has "dissipated"; good news !

Hot and fairly still evening and night; didn't sleep well.
Sun for a new day  9/3/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Took the starter motor off the engine and lubricated the gear. Something's been sticking. If this doesn't fix it, must be the solenoid, and I'll have to find a place to take it ashore. Sweaty work getting the motor off and back on: the bolts are placed awkwardly, I didn't want to take off the wiring, and the heavy motor is mounted right above the dipstick-neck, and damaging the neck's joint to the oil-pan would be a disaster.

Dinghied ashore. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Did an hour of internet for €3. Hmmm, WindGuru says we'll have E 40+ wind next Wednesday; must be thinking there's a TS coming, but wunderground says there isn't. Skype-called Mom and talked to her; first English-language conversation I've had in a month, and it's starting to weigh on me. (Using Skype was awkward: I need to connect mouse, Wi-Fi and headphones, but have only 2 USB ports. So I had to place the call and then unplug mouse and plug in headphones while the call was ringing.)

To the Champion grocery store, and checking out became an ordeal, with long slow lines and a guy holding up our line by questioning the price of an item. Finally got out of there and back to the boat.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/4/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Caught very little of Chris Parker's weather at 7 through huge static, but he seemed to say that TS Gaston still exists in some form, but maybe we'll get only sustained 20 knots of wind here, on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Dinghied ashore to town, walked across town and out to the NW bus station, and started looking for a bus that said "Route de la Traversee" on the sides. Asked a driver where it would be, and he pointed all over the station, so I sat down to wait. Brought a book this time. Watched buses come in for 35 minutes, reading the stops listed on their sides. When a couple came in with blank sides, I got up and walked around a bit to see the stops listed in their windshields. Noticed a guy who was sort of directing traffic a little, so I asked him about the "Route de la Traversee". As far as I could tell, he said it ran from a different station !

So I gave up for today, walked to a part of town I haven't seen, and got some groceries at a "Super U". Back through town and to the Tourist Center. Same lady I talked to before. With much discussion, she and a guy agreed the "Route de la Traversee" bus should run out of that station; they don't know what the problem could be. Then another woman came back from break or something, and said that bus no longer runs because storms damaged the road, and the first woman said "oh, yes". Doesn't make sense to me; the bus I tried to get on two days ago runs down that same road, stopping maybe 3 miles from the stop I want. So now the woman suggested renting a car; she said most people do that. I don't want to, because of cost and not having an international driver's license and not knowing the traffic signals and signs and rules here.

Just to complete the disaster, I asked about getting to the volcano Soufriere by bus, and immediately she said it can't be done, you have to rent a car. Someone in this office weeks ago told me you could do it by taking a bus to St Claude. But she says there's no such bus (I don't believe it; St Claude looks like a fairly big town). But I think even getting to St Claude would leave me a couple of miles short of the volcano visitor's center and the start of the trail. And the chances are just about nil that I could successfully negotiate a bus to Basse Terre, then another to St Claude, then some way to the trailhead, at least a couple of hours of hiking, then the travel in reverse.

So, no walking in the rainforest, no hike on the volcano, nothing. Bummer.

Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Read in one of my guidebooks that you can get a "local driving permit" here to drive for less than 20 days, so you don't need an international driver's license. So I guess I'll find out how much a rental care would cost. And if that fails, maybe a bus to St Claude and a taxi to the volcano ?

In midafternoon, dinghied into the nearby cove to explore a little. The outer shore looks like all boatyards; no stores. But the hidden, inner cove behind it has a lot of shacks, built right down at water level. And a cafe, built so low that water is sloshing around half of the tables, with people putting their feet up on parts of the table-legs to keep them out of the water; strange.

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/5/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Started the engine, to check the starter motor. Took 3 tries to get the motor to work; something still sticking. Will have to take it off and take it ashore.

Rain at 8:15. Fairly strong S or SSE wind at 10. Rain at 10:50.

Dumped about 5 gallons of rainwater from buckets to jugs and tank.

Used JB-Weld to repair a bucket.

Fairly strong wind from SW and WSW most of the afternoon, putting me on a lee shore. But the anchor held firm. Occasional rain.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/6/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Chris Parker's weather at 7 (through tons of static) said we'll feel the effects of the remnants of TS Gaston tonight; probably sustained 10-20 knots with squalls that may have 30-40 knots. I think I want to be anchored in shallower water, and further off shore, for that.

Dinghied ashore. Outside (transient) dock in the marina is still almost full; I guess people have settled in for the hurricane season ? Disposed of a bag of garbage. To the boatyard, to see about starter-motor places. Looks like Fred Marine is a good place; couldn't find the Marine Services place listed in the guidebook. Waited under a roof as it poured rain for 10 minutes or so.

To the internet place, and did an hour of Wi-Fi for €3. Weather picture very confusing; wunderground is not tracking Gaston as a storm, but a related blog says it may re-form into one. But WindGuru has wind here tomorrow only E10-12, with no gusts, unlike the E40 it was predicting a few days ago. Wind supposed to be very light all week. I should have used yesterday afternoon's SW wind to sail the 16-17 NM E to Saint Francois; now I'm going to end up motoring to there. But I wasn't ready to go yesterday afternoon, and expected 30-40 knot squalls tomorrow.

Went next door to the laundry, where I exchanged one book at their bookshelf. To a rental-car place a block away. They don't speak much English, but it's €30/day for the cheapest car, including insurance and local driving permit; not bad at all (but may not include VAT ?). To the grocery store for a few items, and back to the boat.

Dumped several gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

After lunch, started engine (first turn of the key) at 12:10, and raised anchor by 12:25, chain very muddy. Across the harbor, and circled several times trying to find some shallow water. Finally had to settle for 15 feet, not very good (I'd like 5 feet), but plenty of swinging room. Anchor down by 12:50 at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Wind from NE most of the afternoon. Lots of coconuts floating by, and some big patches of seaweed.

Watched water pouring from anchor hawsehole of a containership at the docks. I've seen that before, water pumping out even though the ship hasn't raised anchor recently. Why do they do that ? They can't be cleaning out the chain locker or washing off the chain for that long. [In fact, the water was still going the next morning.] They can't be pumping bilges or ballast tanks out through the hawsehole, can they ? This particular ship is riding fairly high above its waterline, so it doesn't need to shed ballast.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.

Pretty dramatic and threatening sunset (pic), but it's all W of me, over the W half of the island.

At 11, wind about W 10, but still no signs of the strong squalls forecast for this evening, from TS Gaston.
Sun for a new day  9/7/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Ugly weather in the morning, with little wind, grey and with low dark clouds hovering everywhere. Started raining at 6:40. Then strong wind and rain starting at 6:55, from S and then SE. Soon wind up above 40 knots, perhaps to 50 knots; these things are hard to estimate. Horizontal rain, less than 100 yards visibility, chop about 18 inches from trough to peak. Wind-generator cut off and on several times, turned off by its thermal breakers, but I never really saw more than 15A or so coming from it; strange. Worst of the squall/storm kept going from 7 to 7:15, then it started easing. Rain finally stopped by 7:40. Looks like everyone's anchors held, including mine.

A little rain at 8. Still lots of low dark clouds hovering around 9, but then by 9:30 it started clearing, and by 10 it was sunny and breezey from SE and ESE.

Weather stayed nice most of the day, but a lot of low grey clouds from 2 to 4 or so.

That docked freighter had water pouring from the anchor hawsehole all day.

Saw a 9-inch-diameter jellyfish in the water next to the boat.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate out on the foredeck to beat the heat; very pleasant.
Sun for a new day  9/8/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Light NE this morning; I think I'll try to go to Saint Francois.

Bailed out the hard dinghy.

Couldn't hear any of Chris Parker's weather; too much static.

Engine start at 7:15, anchor up by 7:25. Unfurled mainsail and jib as I motored out.

As I expected, wind on the nose from where I want to go. I want to go E, but to keep wind in the sails I have to go N or SSE. Worse, the wind is a lot stronger and the chop bigger than I expected, partly because a couple of sets of dark clouds are coming through.

A little before 9, I got tired of going 60 degrees off where I want to go, at 3.5 knots, with lots of pitching. Turned N and headed into Gosier. Furled sails and anchor down by 9:05 at Ilet du Gosier, Guadeloupe. Could have been here half an hour ago if I'd just motored straight here. Guess I'll sit here a day or two and hope for less wind, so I can motor E.

Strange, no skiffs ferrying people out to the small island today.

Around 10:15, a helicopter came by, made a couple of low passes over the small island, and hovered over the far side of the island a couple of times, winching a guy (or maybe a dummy) down and then back up. Pics. Maybe a practice drill for a rescue copter ? Maybe that's why the island is empty this morning ? If they were shooting a movie, I'd expect to see people with equipment on the island.

Did a bucket of laundry. Just as I started doing it, we caught the edge of a huge grey raincloud that's sitting over the main island; it's pouring rain in the anchorage I left a couple of hours ago. Bigger than I thought: by 11, it was raining pretty hard on me, and it's been pouring for 10 minutes or more in the main harbor, completely greying it out.

A lot more rolly here than I expected. Thought the reef would protect me from the S, but it doesn't seem to be doing so.

More rain at 12:30, and at 2:15 and again later.

Salad and salami-and-cheese sandwich for dinner.

Rolling died down a bit during the night.
Sun for a new day  9/9/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Ilet du Gosier, Guadeloupe.

Couldn't hear Chris Parker this morning.

Tried to start the engine at 7:30, and the batteries are too flat. Checked the wiring and didn't find anything obviously wrong. Finally got it started at 8:25, and the alternator is putting out good voltage, but no current ? Maybe fan belt is loose ?

Probably should have stayed put and worked on the engine, but instead raised anchor by 8:35 and motored out. No point in unfurling the mainsail: wind is very light and right on the nose as I motor E.

Long, slow slog up E up the coast. Two big squalls.

Into harbor and anchor down by 11:00 at Sainte Anne, Guadeloupe. Not many people on the beach today.

Launched the dinghy and went ashore. Kept an eye out for an internet cafe, but couldn't find one. Got cash at an ATM. Bought bananas and cabbage at a roadside stall. Back to the dinghy just in time to get soaked as I went out to the boat.

Feeling headachey; took pills.

Tried to get some free Wi-Fi, almost connected, but too tenuous. Noticed a for-pay place that advertises 15 hours for €10; maybe I'll go ashore and sign up for it.

Squall at 1:20.

In midafternoon, noticed that the wind-generator was putting out 15.5 V in a moderate breeze. That gave me a clue, and investigating in the engine compartment around a still-hot engine, I found that a terminal had sheared off a battery, disconnecting one of my two banks of golf-cart batteries. This was a shipping-damaged battery I bought for $10, so getting a couple years of service out of it was good. But now the terminal is disintegrating, and soon I'll have to buy new batteries, probably $700 or so for four of them.

Drilled out the terminal a bit and screwed the cable on; should hold for a day or two, then I'll have to do it again.

Went snorkeling on the reef, but it was pretty bad. Very rough, mostly grass, some small fish. Back to the boat, and scraped the hull and prop for a while. Now I can see why I was motoring so slowly this morning: lots of small barnacles on the prop (and hull).

Dinghied ashore after 4, to try to find a Wi-Fi place. There's one with a signal I get strongly on the boat, but no way to sign up online. I found the building, but it looks like a home-pedicure business that does Wi-Fi on the side, and no one home. Looks like they really want you to phone them, but I don't have a phone and don't speak French.

Wandered around a little. Bought a loaf of bread at a grocery store. Found a place that advertises internet as well as other services, but looking in, there was a line, and it's a bookstore/newsstand; didn't see any computers or room for them. Across the square, and there's a "biblioteque multimedia"; is that a library ? Didn't go in, because I was carrying a loaf of bread, and it's dinnertime. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Feeling tired and sweaty and headachey, and the boat is very rolly. Maybe it's just as well I didn't sign up for the Wi-Fi; don't want to stay here.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Feeling better in the evening; pills and dinner have knocked out the headache, and the rolling may have lessened a little.
Sun for a new day  9/10/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Sainte Anne, Guadeloupe.

Low dark clouds and plenty of wind, but no rain, at 5:35 and again at 6:45.

Couldn't hear Chris Parker this morning.

Engine started first shot this morning; repaired battery terminal still holding. Anchor up by 8:20 or so. Motored out, unfurling the mainsail, and found a lot more wind and swell than I expected, right on the nose as usual as I go E. Making only about 2.5 knots, at a throttle setting that would give me 4 in flat water with little wind. Lots of up and down.

Probably should have gone right back in, but I want to get to Saint Francois and spend some time there before the next TS or hurricane chases me away. So I kept going.

Huge storm approaching at 10. Furled the mainsail. Tons of rain and wind and swells from 10:05 to 10:20; boat speed down to 1.5 knots or less.

After the storm, unfurled the mainsail, and found that the covering of the furling line has worn through; it binds a bit when unfurling the sail. Need to replace that line (and several others; my running rigging all needs replacement).

Within a couple of miles of the destination, boat-speed slowly picks up to 3.7 knots or so. Must have had a contrary current, and the swells and wind have eased a bit.

A little nervous about this harbor entrance; one of the guidebooks says never go in with a following sea and wind. But since the entrance faces SE and the tradewind comes from SE or ESE, this place will almost always have such conditions.

No problem going in; the light is good, the buoys are well-placed, and I can see the reef and breakers on both sides. A catamaran has just raised anchor and is heading into the marina, so I grab the spot they vacated, more or less. Anchor down by 11:40 at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe. Lovely anchorage, no roll, very shallow. Several lived-on boats here, and several more unused boats.

At 12:25, big squall from the SE with tons of wind. Very nice to be at anchor in a good harbor for this one. Soon lots of rain too. Wind kept going for 10-15 minutes, with another 10-15 of rain.

Got some free Wi-Fi. Looks like a tropical storm or low passing south of here, to hit Cuba later. And TS Igor heading right for me, but projected to turn N before it gets here. And local weather forecast for end of next week is odd: strong W and SW wind, maybe as a result of TS Igor passing by. A relief to get some weather info ! But the Wi-Fi soon faded, and another squall approached.

Another big squall starting about 1:45.

Tried a little more Wi-Fi, but didn't get a signal for long.

Several backpackers keep appearing on a damaged dock in front of a ruined hotel nearby; I wonder if they're camping or squatting there. One of them was standing on the dock with backpack on and getting totally soaked by the 12:25 squall.

After 4 or so, the wind piped up and stayed at maybe 18-20 knots, and then blew 20 knots or so all evening. Wind warm and humid. Good thing I came here today; sea tomorrow probably will be ugly, not that it was great today.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Watched a small sailboat, powered by an outboard, come out of the marina around 4:30 and head out the channel to open water. I was thinking "that guy must be crazy, it's rough out there, and where can he be going just before sunset, there's no major destination within 2 hours of here". Sure enough, he pitched horribly at the open end of the channel, spent a minute sideways out there, and came back in. Strange.

Headache; went to bed early.

Saw a motorboat go out from the marina into open water at 10:30. Went out briskly, too. He must know the channel very well; although the buoys are lit, the channel isn't very wide, with a sharp reef on one side and more reef with breakers on the other. And it's rough out there tonight. He must be going to Desirade or Marie Galante.

Wind blew 20+ all night. Occasional rain, but mostly just wind.
Sun for a new day  9/11/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Still blowing like stink; steady 20+ with higher gusts. This wasn't in the forecast I got from WindGuru yesterday; I think they said 10-12 or something. Completely wrong.

Still a little headachey, and a little tired.

Wind-generator still cutting in and out, as the thermal breakers keep it from overheating.

Couldn't hear Chris Parker this morning.

Guy para-sailing over the reef; he's really good at it. He was out there for at least an hour. Once I saw him catch air, get about 20 feet up, and take 5 or 6 seconds to float back down.

Day-charter catamaran went out at 8; they'll get a rough ride today. Horizontal rain just after they got into open water.

By 9:15, two more para-sailers going.

Odd: there's a wind-farm nearby, with a dozen very large wind-generator towers, but the blades aren't turning very fast, even in this very strong wind. Maybe the blades on those big wind-generators never turn very fast ?

Couldn't get any Wi-Fi in morning or afternoon.

Strong squall at 10:30.

Five wind-surfers appeared after noon.

Big squall from the S or SSE starting at 1:25. Around 2, the wind started easing into the 15-knot range. But still very grey and lots of threatening clouds all around.

Big squall from the SSW starting at 3:30.

Wind moved to the SSW and then SW by 5 or so, and the anchorage got pretty rolly.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Wind ESE 15-18 by midnight; rolling mostly gone.

Squall at 2 AM.
Sun for a new day  9/12/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Still blowing hard, ESE maybe 18-20, but a lot sunnier this morning.

Got some Wi-Fi, off and on for a while. TS Igor definitely is going NE of the NE Caribbean, not coming here; that's a relief. And the next wave/low behind Igor is forecast to turn N also. WindGuru forecast for here still doesn't match actual conditions.

Dinghied ashore into the marina. Pretty quiet, in off-season. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Walked a mile or two through the E end of town; more shops open than I expected on a Sunday. Into the "Super U" supermarket, which is the hub of activity this morning. Pretty decent store. Got 4 or 5 items and back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

More activity in the anchorage today: wind-surfers and para-sailers and small boats taking people to snorkel or walk on the reef, more boats anchored with people loafing, a few sailboats going out into open water. Pretty rough out there today.

Watched strange behavior of red-hulled sailboat that was anchored up closer to the reef. He raised anchor, did a couple of circles, then rafted up to a dismasted catamaran in front of me, for a minute or so. Then he let go, did another circle or two, then went out the channel into open water. Pretty rough out there; I watched his 40-foot boat pitch viciously. Took him quite a while to raise sails; I would have raised them in the calm anchorage and motored out with them up already. Finally he sailed off to the W.

Got a pretty good Wi-Fi signal in the afternoon and did internet for a while. 2 PM update on hurricane Igor still has it going well clear of here; didn't realize it's already category 4 ! A monster.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

Motorboat came in after dark, playing music, anchored behind the reef, and played music well into the AM hours. Didn't bother me.
Sun for a new day  9/13/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Beautiful morning, sunny and wind maybe E 12 or so.

Suddenly occurred to me that the nasty squalls of the last few days might be due to the tropical storm well W of us, forming up S of Puerto Rico and forecast to head across Cuba. [But later I found that the storm is far to the W of us, S of Cuba, so the squalls probably aren't related.]

Tried a couple of new shortwave nets, plus Chris Parker's net, and couldn't get any of them. Heard one net, but it was unintelligible, probably because it uses LSB and my receiver just has an "SSB" switch, which probably expects a USB signal. Heard one half of a private SSB conversation on another frequency, and was able to hear Chris Parker a week or so ago, so I'm fairly sure my receiver is working. Just a lot of static in the air this week.

Got some Wi-Fi. Weather situation looks good. Supposed to get some W wind on Thursday; maybe I'll use that to sail to Iles de la Petite Terre, ESE of here.

Launched the dinghy and went W, down to the fishing harbor. Found they have a fuel dock, and prices seem to be the same as in Pointe a Pitre; I think I'll get some fuel here. Walked around town a bit, and it's a nice place. Flat, unlike the hills of Gosier. Lots of tourist-type shops, and some others, but many things closed. Thought there was another supermarket in there somewhere, but didn't see it. Got some exercise, back to the dinghy, and back to the boat.

Back at 11:30, and the wind has moved more firmly to the NE, and I'm sorely tempted to raise anchor and sail to Iles de la Petite Terre today. They're about 14 NM ESE of here, and this wind direction is good for sailing on a close reach to them. But eventually I decide no: it's slightly late in the day to be starting, I'm hot and sweaty and want lunch, fuel is slightly low, there's still a bit of an E swell from the strong wind we had recently. And after I decide, the wind eases to the 8-10 knot range for a while, so sailing would have been difficult. And by noon, wind was varying between NE and ENE. So who knows ?

Did some Wi-Fi.

Went snorkeling on the reef. Just mediocre stuff, but of course a bad day of snorkeling beats a good day of doing many other things. A couple of nice schools of fish, including one school of a couple hundred Blue Tangs; I love their color (old pics of similar fish).

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner. Ate out on the foredeck.
Sun for a new day  9/14/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Very clear and sunny morning, with light wind from N, as forecast.

Heard much of Chris Parker's weather this morning, so my shortwave receiver is working. But a little later a wire on the power-adapter broke, so I'll have to fix that.

Did some Wi-Fi. Storm situation looks good (for me). Some 6-foot N and NE swells over the next 3-5 days.

Dumped 5 gallons of diesel from jug to fuel tank. Then launched dinghy and took jugs down to fishing harbor to see if I could buy some fuel. They have only non-taxable fuel pumps there. Expected one of three outcomes: buy fuel for cheap non-taxable rate, buy fuel for normal taxable rate, or unable to buy fuel at all. Guess which one it turned out to be ? They can sell only to local fisherman; no way for me to buy fuel there.

Back to boat, left jugs and boat-docs there, then headed into the marina. To the capitainerie (the office). Asked for a town map, and where the gas stations are. Neither is particularly easy to get to, but then the guy offered to drive me there and back at 2:30. Very nice ! Took him up on his offer. Back to the boat.

Did some more Wi-Fi.

At 2:15, dinghied ashore. Waited for 5 minutes, then the guy showed up and we went off in his mini-SUV. Nice guy, speaks fairly good English, and we chatted a bit. About 3 miles to the gas station, and a bit uphill. Got 37 liters of diesel for €43.37 at €1.17/liter; let's see, at 3.8 liters/gallon and about $1.30/€, that's about $56 for 9.7 gallons, or about $5.79/gallon ! Still, it's a better price than I saw a month ago in Pointe a Pitre's marina, where I think it was €1.36/liter. Back to the marina, and put the fuel jugs in the dinghy.

Walked to the "Super U" and got a few groceries. But they were out of onions, no decent bread, no 2-liter bottles of Coke or Diet Coke (and six-packs of soda are obscenely expensive). Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Anchorage very rolly in the later afternoon and evening. There's a 2-meter N swell running, and somehow it's bending around the E tip of the island and hitting us here as an E or SE swell. And the wind is light from N or NE, so we're getting much of the swell on the beam. The reef isn't quite solid or high enough to stop it. Uncomfortable.

Salad and salami-cheese-crackers and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Rereading the guidebooks about Iles de la Petite Terre, I realize I screwed up my plans: I can't go there until this 2-meter N swell goes away, because this kind of swell causes breakers right across the tricky entrance there. So probably can't go there on Thursday as I planned.
Sun for a new day  9/15/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Sunny and slightly hazy morning, with light wind from N.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Before noon, wind blowing N 15-18 or so, a lot harder than forecast, I think. Big waves on the reef, and pretty good swell coming through the anchorage.

Did some Wi-Fi. Storm situation looks good. Wave situation looks like I won't be able to go to Iles de la Petite Terre until Tuesday, and the wind will be back to E by then.

Soldered the broken wire on the shortwave receiver's power adapter.

Hot afternoon, and no shade on the boat, with wind from the N and sun from the W. And very rolly, too.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Very rolly evening. Rolling finally diminished a bit when the wind shifted, and then the big swell seemed to ease around midnight.
Sun for a new day  9/16/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Sunny and slightly hazy morning, with light wind from NW and W. I'm really tempted to sail to Iles de la Petite Terre, despite forecast of big N swells; the wind is perfect for sailing there.

Did some Wi-Fi. WindGuru says swell is NE 8 feet. Not going anywhere today.

Launched the dinghy and went W to the fishing harbor. Walked W from there, along the waterfront, and then the main street just in from the waterfront. Found the gas station, and then an EcoMax supermarket. Got a few groceries (no Coke, but nice loaves of sandwich bread), back to the dinghy, and back to the boat.

Did some more Wi-Fi.

Around 3, went for a pleasant little swim around the boat; very refreshing.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/17/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Heard Chris Parker's weather pretty clearly this morning. Three hurricanes active simultaneously (Igor, Julia, Karl), but none a threat to me. An odd area of disturbed weather somewhere E or SE of here, that may develop into a tropical low at any time. Sounds likely to give us strong squalls here on Monday or Tuesday.

Did some Wi-Fi.

Wind blowing pretty hard, probably WSW 15-20, by mid-morning.

Wind eased a bit and went more SW, from 3 PM to 5 or so. Then picked up again.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Guy in a powered para-sail came past.

Wind blowing pretty hard, probably WSW 17-21, all evening and night. Wind-generator humming away, charging voltage up near 15 volts.
Sun for a new day  9/18/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Wind still blowing hard, about SW 17-20. Back to WSW by mid-morning.

Feeling headachey in midday.

Several wind-surfers and para-sailers active today, really going fast.

Did a little Wi-Fi, but signals very intermittent.

Salad and a few cheese-and-crackers and a sandwich for dinner. Still have headache; took more pills.
Sun for a new day  9/19/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Headache gone. Wind still blowing hard, about S 17-20.

Around 9:45, a helicopter came by and some people jumped from it into the water, with a big inflatable standing by and an instructor or two in the water. Must be some kind of Coast Guard or military training. Came by five more times, ending up with 17-18 people in the water and swimming to shore. Pics.

Couldn't get any Wi-Fi this morning.

By 11, wind around to SE, and a huge black squall/storm approaching. Much of it went to the E of us earlier, with some big thunder. Rain started at 11:25. Rained hard for about an hour, then stayed very grey and dark. Sailboat "Callipyge" nearby is swinging too close to me; I think their anchor has dragged, but maybe I just anchored too close to them when I arrived here. Will see where the wind ends up and where we end up; I may have to move.

Grey and very light wind in mid-day; getting little power from solar panels or wind-generator.

More heavy rain from 2:50 to 3:10, with wind from the NW, which puts me closest to that nearby boat. Wind stayed light, and once I pulled in 40 or 50 feet of chain to pull myself away a bit. I'm hoping the wind goes E before I have to start the engine and raise anchor and move.

Starting at 3:25, more heavy rain, and wind from the W, for 15 minutes or so. Then lighter rain until 4:30 or so.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-coke for dinner.

Around 5:30, started the engine, raised anchor (took a while, in blustery conditions with boat nearby), and moved N a couple of boat-lengths. Had to judge how close I'll swing to nearby boats and buoys under each wind direction. Glad I moved.

A little rain around 6:30, and then a quiet but damp night.
Sun for a new day  9/20/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Cloudy with rain threatening. Wind blowing maybe E 14-16.

At 6:45, used the laptop for 15 minutes or so, and it ran slower and slower and then suddenly turned itself off ! Couldn't get it to restart; it just kept flashing LEDs at me and turning off again.

Couldn't hear Chris Parker's weather.

Tried a different battery in the laptop; no go.

Dumped 5 gallons of diesel from jug to fuel tank.

Dumped 8 gallons of rainwater from buckets to water tank. Dumped 4 gallons of rainwater from buckets to jugs.

End broke off dinghy-hoist line; glad that didn't happen while I was underway. Retied the lone shorter.

Dinghied ashore. Wandered some streets I hadn't walked before, then to the supermarket, then back to the boat.

Worked on the laptop, taking it apart as far as I could. It appears the fan died, the laptop overheated, and the RAM is damaged.

Having no laptop is going to be grim; I already had no English-language radio or VHF or VHF WX. So now I'm down to reading books, eating, and wandering ashore. Until the weather eases and I can do some swimming, too. Starting to think about leaving Guadeloupe, although the next stop, Martinique, probably will be more of the same.

Thinking of laptop options: buy parts online or locally, maybe buy a whole new laptop on this island, find repair shops on this island.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

At 7:45, a big squall with heavy rain, first from SSW, then from ESE, eventually from ENE.
Sun for a new day  9/21/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Wind blowing ENE 15-20, so I won't try sailing ESE to Petite Terre today !

Couldn't hear Chris Parker's weather.

Dinghied ashore. To a computer store in the marina, but when I showed the laptop-fan to the guy, he said he didn't have one (no surprise) and wouldn't order one (surprising). Wandered some streets, went to the supermarket, back to the boat.

By 11, wind probably E 20-24.

Added water to the batteries.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/22/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Still blowing E or ENE 18-20; by mid-morning blowing E 20+.

Couldn't hear Chris Parker's weather. Starting to suspect that the antenna on my radio isn't working; works fine for AM and FM, but maybe they use an internal antenna. I have a reel-type shortwave antenna for this radio, but can't find it.

Dinghied ashore. Computer store closed, although hours on sign say they should be open. Walked a mile or two NE out of town, but couldn't find the library where someone said it had been moved to.

To a cyber-cafe, and paid €5 for an hour of internet; bit of a rip-off. And a real pain: not only a French keyboard, which has major differences from a USA keyboard, but all the web-sites helpfully come up in French too, and I have to figure out how to set language to English on each of them.

No tropical storms threatening; got the weather forecast, and ordered a (used) fan for the laptop. But it will be delivered to NJ, which is another hurdle to overcome. Stuff for me is piling up at my brother's place, and shipping it to here probably won't be cheap. Back to the boat.

Managed to get the laptop running, without some of its RAM, and without a fan. But shouldn't run it for more than 15 minutes or so at a time.

Salad and cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  9/23/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Wind supposed to be E 15-16 according to WindGuru on Tuesday, but it's still E 18-20 or so.

Couldn't get any Wi-Fi.

Straightened up the boat a little, especially the main table, but couldn't find the external shortwave antenna.

A trawler "Lola" appeared at anchor in the anchorage; maybe came out of the marina.

Chili and a rum-and-pineapplejuice for dinner.

Finished reading the entire Patrick O'Brian (Jack Aubrey) series, all 21 books. Read them in order in the last 2 months or so, along with other books.
Sun for a new day  9/24/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Tried to hear an SSB net on 9740 at 0600, and got BBC instead ! I thought they'd stopped all of their shortwave broadcasting.

Wind supposed to be E 12 according to WindGuru on Tuesday, but it's still E 18-20 or so.

Dinghied ashore. Stopped in Capitainerie with a few questions, but the guy who speaks some English wasn't there. Learned that Wi-Fi is pronounced "wiffy" in French; I say it as "wie fie". Disposed of two bags of garbage. Walked to the E end of the marina entrance, then back and E along the shore. Through huge ruined hotel to the beach. Found €4 on the grassy path ! Back to the dinghy and back out to the boat; wind SE 18+ now. Soon down to 15 or so, then back to E, then rain.

Did several short Wi-Fi sessions over the course of the afternoon and evening. Very difficult: the laptop overheats and shuts off rudely at about the 15-minute mark, and then I have to let it cool for an hour or two. When running, it takes 3-4 minutes to boot up (in reduced RAM), then 3-4 minutes for Firefox browser to load, then maybe I can get Wi-Fi and get a few web pages before it's time to shut it down.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Batteries very low overnight. Too much grey in the late afternoon, the wind died down, I ran the computer, and my batteries are dying. Almost no wind tonight, too.
Sun for a new day  9/25/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Wind finally easing, into E 12 range.

Got a tiny shot of Wi-Fi, just enough to see my email subjects, and that the vendor I'm buying the fan from has some question about the order. Crap !

So I dinghied ashore and walked to the cyber-cafe. Expected to have to pay €5 for an hour, but ended up using only 15 minutes, and was charged only €1 instead of the expected €2. And there's no problem with the fan order; the vendor was using EBay's "question about the order" facility to ask me to give them a good rating on EBay. Irritating. To the supermarket for several items; a few pretty women there. Stopped by the marina office to try to get the mailing address for the marina in P-a-P, but no luck. I have two different addresses for it, and neither looks complete. Back to the boat.

Rain from SSE at noon, then grey and light wind all afternoon.

Went snorkeling under the boat, to scrape prop and hull. Managed to gash the back of my right calf on something; when I got out of the water I was surprised to see how big and bloody the gashes were. Rain at 4 as I was washing off after snorkeling.

I've lost the sheared-off screw that was holding the hinge of my eyeglasses together; had to wire the hinge together.

Boats flying spinnakers came in; pretty (pic),

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-pineapplejuice for dinner. Ate out on the foredeck.

Long but moderate storm from 2:30 to 3:30 or so, with wind first from E then from S. Fair amount of thunder and lightning.
Sun for a new day  9/26/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Saint Francois, Guadeloupe.

Grey morning, threatening rain, with light N wind. Guess I'll see if the wind will help me sail to Petite Terre.

Engine start at 6:30, anchor up by 6:40. Unfurled the mainsail and motored out, unfurling the jib as I went. As I expected, almost zero wind out in open water. But it's better than E or ESE wind as I'm going ESE, which is the forecast for the rest of this week. And the waves are small. Motored with the sails up and doing nothing.

Into harbor. Picked up a mooring on the second try, but the mooring ball had no pennant, just a loop. So I had to haul the ball up out of the water, somewhat against the motion of the boat, and strained a rib muscle doing it. Finished by 9:25 at Iles de la Petite Terre, Guadeloupe.

One day-charter boat here, with people swimming and snorkeling, and setting up a picnic ashore. Pic. One topless woman, some other women in bikinis. Weather still and humid and fairly grey. Another small motorboat here, looking like a fisherman sleeping during the day.

Hot day and afternoon; very little breeze. Half a dozen motorboats in and out, but only the one big day-charter boat; I thought there'd be several, on a weekend.

Dumped 2 gallons of rainwater from buckets to jugs and and another 2 into the tank.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Boats started leaving around 4. Someone seemed to be having a lot of trouble with a big jet-ski, and another boat seemed to be getting ready to tow them. But then they left separately. Long ride back to the big island on a jet-ski, about 11 NM or so to St Francois.

Around sunset, after everyone else had left, a couple of guys came by from that moored motorboat that was here when I first arrived. They seemed to be staring at my boat, and I got a little worried that they wanted to steal my hard dinghy during the night. But later I saw them picking up garbage on the beach, and then a light was on after dark, near the base of the lighthouse. So I think they're light-keepers or park-keepers. No one else staying the night here; no other boats except that park boat.

Nice, calm night, with a little rain at 1:15 and some occasional breeze.
Sun for a new day  9/27/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Iles de la Petite Terre, Guadeloupe.

Sunny morning, nice breeze. No one else here except the park-keeper's boat.

Dinghied ashore to the bigger / southern island. Nice walk on the beach to the W, seeing a 2-foot sand shark swimming in 6-inch-deep water about 10 feet from the short. Nice view of my boat in the anchorage (pic).

Back E and up the path to the lighthouse (pics). Saw several iguanas, but they all scurried away too quickly to get a picture. Up to the lighthouse, and saw an iguana down a side-path (pic), and a hermit-crab (pic). Down the path to the E end of the island; nice view of tidal pools, and lots of ocean until you get to Portugal or somewhere like that.

Back to the beach, and back to the boat. Very quiet here today; no one here but me and the park-keepers.

Big barracuda swimming behind the boat (pic). Maybe 4 to 4.5 feet long.

Little birds coming into the pilothouse every now and then (pic).

Gashes in my leg are healing pretty well (pic).

After lunch, went snorkeling. First to the NE corner of the anchorage, which turned out to be rough and fairly barren, although I did see a nice grouper, maybe 15 inches long and 6 pounds. Then to the SE corner of the anchorage, which was a lot calmer. Still no good coral, everything covered with brown vegetation. Not many small fish, but some nice bigger ones, including a grouper maybe 15-18 inches long. Not as nice as I'd hoped, given that this is some kind of marine preserve.

At 4:30, big front came over from the ESE, with lots of wind but only brief rain.

Chili and a rum-and-pineapplejuice for dinner.

Squall from ENE at 2:45, then steady wind the rest of the night.
Sun for a new day  9/28/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Iles de la Petite Terre, Guadeloupe.

Wind stronger than I expected this morning, maybe 13-14 knots, from the E. Could sit here doing nothing for another day, but why bother ? I'd like to sail somewhere. Can't sail NE to Desirade, could sail WNW back to St Francois, but I think I'll sail SW to Marie Galante.

So, engine start at 8:25, slipped the mooring, and motored out, carefully over the tricky bar with wind and seas from behind. Sails unfurled and engine off by 8:45, and sailed WSW around the end of the island, making about 5 knots. Speed dropped to 4.5 knots in more open water, and it's rougher than I hoped, pretty steep swell from the E, making it a very rolly trip. Kept going, and stuff is sliding around on deck and some stuff is thrown onto the cabin sole inside the boat. But not too bad.

Halfway across, speed down to the 3.5 knot range, and I notice that the primary painter on the hard dinghy has broken again. Hope the back up holds; doubt I can fix it under these conditions, can't even add another painter, and if the dinghy gets loose I'll just have to let it go.

Odd: heard fisherman on the VHF speaking in Spanish, several times. We're hundreds of miles from any Spanish-speaking land.

A long, rolly trip, a little longer than I expected. But very nice to get into calm water, with hard dinghy still attached. Enough wind to keep sailing down the W coast of Marie Galante, until rain passed, and I lost the wind at the charmingly named Pointe du Cimitiere. Started the engine at 1:35, furled the sails, and motored the last mile. Anchor down by 1:55 at Saint Louis, Marie Galante, Guadeloupe.

Nice, calm anchorage (in this weather).

Biggish turtle swimming next to the boat.

Grey afternoon, with lots of threatening clouds, but only one rainshower.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches and a rum-and-orangejuice for dinner. The fruit-juice they sell here seems a little bitter for my taste. Maybe I'm just used to American-style juice, loaded up with corn syrup ?
Sun for a new day  9/29/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Saint Louis, Marie Galante, Guadeloupe.

Heard fragments of Chris Parker's weather. Sounds like a tropical wave is heading for me, bringing squalls and wind from NE and then SE. Should be no problem.

Couldn't get any Wi-Fi.

Dinghied ashore. As I expected, town is fairly big, but very quiet. Found a superette and bought a few groceries, but they had no bananas and the bread was very expensive, so I didn't buy it. Stopped at the open-air market on the way back and bought some bananas for a big price; I should have just said no when the lady asked for another euro. But I think they sit there all day with few customers, so I didn't mind it too much.

Back on the boat, I thought "why stay here another night ? I'll sail to the nice beach a couple miles S of here". And given calm water and a nice breeze, I tried to sail off anchor. Mistake; the breeze picked up, the mainsail yanked me back and forth and forward over the rode, no matter how much I let out the sheet. Finally started the engine at 11. Even with that, the sail and wind yanked me around, and didn't get anchor up until 11:10. Then unfurled the jib and shut off the engine and sailed.

Lovely little sail southwards, could have used a little more wind and not quite so dead astern, but nice. Turned around the sugar-loading dock and got a better angle on the wind. But the beach turned out to be a disappointment; it's billed as a "mile-long" beach, but it has a lot of scrub growing right down to the water in a lot of places, and is totally deserted: no houses, shacks, boats, people.

So I decided that instead of anchoring at the S end of the beach, I'd go another 2 miles down to Grand Bourg. That backfired ! Soon after I turned the point and could see town, the wind strengthened and came on the nose, and the fish-trap floats got thicker. Worst, when I strated the engine at 12:45 and tried to furl the jib, I couldn't get it furled. It kept sticking at various points; I rolled it in and out and pulled so hard on the line that I have rope-burns on my hand. Watching the depth (I don't have a good chart for here), juking around fish-trap floats, wind and swells picking up, cursing at everything. Finally furled the mainsail and motored in with the jib flogging wildly. Up onto the bow and found the furling line has jumped off somehow and is wrapped aorund the outside of the reel. Can't fix it here.

Motored in and got some shelter from the harbor wall, and was able to straighten out the mess on the furling reel and furl the jib. Went into the harbor, and as I thought, it's tiny and impossible to anchor in. The one spot the guide says you can anchor in has a couple of permanently-moored boats in it. Went outside and anchored by 1:35 at Grand Bourg, Marie Galante, Guadeloupe. As I expected, rolly. Probably will stay just one night.

Big ferry came in before 2; good thing I didn't try to anchor inside.

Couldn't get any Wi-Fi.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-orangejuice for dinner.

Frequent very light rain during the night. Rolling not too bad.
Sun for a new day  9/30/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Grand Bourg, Marie Galante, Guadeloupe.

Totally, totally grey, with frequent light rain and sometimes heavier rain. No wind, and batteries getting low, but then SE wind started around 11.

Rain mostly stopped after noon. Launched dinghy and went ashore. Disposed of 3 bags of garbage and a worn-out solar shower. Town looks okay, but it's grey and humid and lots of the shops are closed for the season, or permanently. Wandered around, but couldn't find a cyber-cafe, or the big supermarket supposed to be in the NE corner of town. Lots of schoolkids out for lunch. Back to the dock and back to the boat.

No reason to stay here, and need to run the engine to charge batteries. So started engine at 1:40, anchor up after some struggles by 1:50, and motored N. Around the point and anchor down in 5-foot water by 2:15 at Anse Ballet, Marie Galante, Guadeloupe. Nice and calm here; almost no roll. Cattle lowing ashore.

Soon a little sun and some ESE wind. But more rain at 3:40.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers and a rum-and-orangejuice for dinner.
Sun for a new day  10/1/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Anse Ballet, Marie Galante, Guadeloupe.

Very grey and still morning. Rain at 7; a little E wind after 9. I want to sail NW to Pointe A Pitre, but there's not enough wind for it today.

By 10:45, a little more wind, and a hint of sun, so did a bucket of laundry. Need to use up the rainwater in buckets before I go sailing.

Want to move N a little, to see if I can get some Wi-Fi, and to make the big jump shorter. Anchor up by 12:25, engine off, sailed N. Wind light and fluky. Making 2.5 knots at first, later less than 2 knots. A pleasant little sail.

Up to the sugar-dock point, and wind lessened and more on the nose. Started engine at 1:30, furled sails, and motored toward town. Stopped halfway, near a hotel, and anchored by 1:45 at Saint Louis, Marie Galante, Guadeloupe. Rain, then very grey. A slight swell from the N making it a little rolly here, but not bad.

Strong squall at 2:15.

Can't get any Wi-Fi here.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.

Several fishing skiffs went by well after dark; I seem to be on the route between the two towns (not good).
Sun for a new day  10/2/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Saint Louis, Marie Galante, Guadeloupe.

Sunny morning, then more grey later. Light wind, varying between NE and E. Rainsquall at 9:45. Still slightly rolly here, but I don't see any point to moving. Chris Parker's weather came in quite strongly this morning, except for the part about tomorrow's forecast for here. Sounds like wind will turn S tomorrow, but still be fairly light. Maybe enough wind to sail back to the big island, maybe not.

By 11:45, wind is from SSW. By 1:30, it's SW 12 or so.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

At 6:40, suddenly strong WSW wind and swells started up, and it blew hard (20 knots ?) until 8:30 or so, then tapered off (wind mostly stopped; swells kept coming). Not good; there's no shelter from the W on this side of the island. The swells didn't get too big, but the boat was rolly most of the night. Eased off a bit after midnight.
Sun for a new day  10/3/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Saint Louis, Marie Galante, Guadeloupe.

At 5:15 or so, SW 12 or so wind started. Good for going NW to Pointe-a-Pitre.

Engine start around 6:05, anchor up by 6:15, sailing by 6:20. Making decent speed, around 4 knots on a beam reach, at first. But by 7:45, the wind had eased quite a bit, and now the sails often are slatting around horribly as the boat rolls.

Totally, totally grey over just about all of Guadeloupe (which is not a small island), down to sea-level and ground-level. And it doesn't look like it's moving much, which means no wind.

A little after 9, a huge front or squall with strong WNW or NW wind appeared. Boat is moving again, but I'm forced to sail NNE instead of NW. Might end up in Petit Havre. Front kept going until a little after 10, then wind eased. Still sailing NNE.

Around 10:40, wind started backing from NW or WNW to SW or SSW, and the boat slowly turned with it; I have the helm balanced, sailing close-hauled. So the bow followed the wind back to a decent heading, NW or WNW. Then another huge squall, with tons of wind, and I'm sailing at 5 knots or so, heading right where I want to.

Around 12:40, outside the entrance to Pointe-a-Pitre harbor. A ferry arriving just as I do, and another sailboat ahead of me, so I decide to start engine, round up and furl the jib, and get out of their way. Happens every time: as soon as I turn into the wind, what felt like a nice 15-knot breeze behind me turns into a 25-knot screamer in front of me. Jib flogging nastily. And I can't get the jib furled, again ! It's sticking, I don't see anything wrong with the furling line, and conditions are so rough that I can't investigate now. So I motor-sail in with jib 2/3 out and mainsail out.

Inside, the wind is just as strong, and I do a couple of loops, avoiding channel markers and a shoal, trying to furl the damn jib. might be something wrong with the bearing in the furler reel. If it's something that the Antigua machine-shop guys did wrong or should have anticipated, I'm going to be pissed.

Finally give up, and furl the mainsail. Back to the jib, and release the halyard, but the halyard reel brake is sticky (I've tried to fix that, a number of times), so it takes a while. Bow of boat keeps blowing off, jib flogging hideously, with strips coming off the edges, and when the jib back-winds and gets stuck across the foredeck, the engine is hard-pressed to turn the bow back across the wind. Loop after loop, cursing, grabbing sections of jib and tying them shut, getting halyard down, a real fiasco.

Finally get it down, and look for a spot to anchor. This anchorage is a pain: mix of water 30-feet deep and 1-foot deep, with little between. Finally find a 15-18 spot I've used before, and anchor down by 1:30 at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Well, a pretty successful day until that damn jib-furling problem !

Found a broken piece of plastic on top of the pilothouse roof; came out of the rigging somewhere (pic). I think it's a deadeye (is that the right word ?) for the flag halyard, which broke and jammed up near the spreader six months ago; the rest of it came down and ended up on deck today.

Wind kept blowing hard all afternoon.

Chili and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.
Sun for a new day  10/4/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Totally grey morning. Light wind from W, then stronger from SW. Light rain starting at 6:20 and showing no sign of stopping at 8:30. Very strong wind, S 25+ starting at 8:25.

Rain paused and wind maybe 10-15 knots at 9:30, but I was too slow to take advantage of it. Raining a little again when I launched the dinghy and headed ashore before 10. Didn't get too wet on the way in.

To the fuel dock, as the rain was picking up, and bought about a gallon of gasoline for €5. Across to the dinghy-dock. Disposed of two bags of garbage. Into the marina office, confirmed their address by looking at some letters for other cruisers, and then got the lady to confirm that they would receive a package that came from DHL or FedEx or whatever.

To the internet place, and paid €3 for half an hour of internet on their computer, with my thumb-drive attached. Could have stayed another half-hour for one more euro, but didn't bother. Sent email to my brother to ask him to ship my mail and parts to me at the marina office. Hope that goes smoothly; I need the eyeglass frames and laptop fan that should have arrived at his place.

To the book-exchange at the laundry, but no new books there. To the Champion supermarket, to get 7 or 8 items. Still raining when I came out; I don't think it's paused the whole time I've been ashore. Not too bad a ride out to the boat.

Rain paused again at 12:30, but it's still totally grey in all directions, and fairly dark grey too.

At 12:45, plenty of rain and lots of wind from the S, and by 1:15 it was still going, blowing 20-30 knots from S and SSW. I never know what to call these things: is it a squall, a front or a storm ? I think of a squall as something that's over in 5 minutes. I think of a front as something that has a well-defined edge, and stretches in a line for a hundred miles or more. A weather book says a storm is "a low-pressure system with winds 48 knots or greater". This weather is a result of a tropical wave, but I don't think it is the wave itself.

Still going at 2:20, with some gusts well over 30 knots. Wind down a bit at 2:45. But still going, and by 3:15 there's heavier rain, less wind, very dark. More wind again by 3:30.

At 4, watched a guy taking two dogs ashore, through the monsoon, with his outboard quitting a few times and having to be restarted. A good reason to not have dogs aboard.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.

Still blowing hard by 5:30. Rain stopped in mid-evening, and wind eased by midnight, but still blowing S 15 or so.
Sun for a new day  10/5/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Very grey and fairly windy after dawn, but a little sunshine by 8:30. Still plenty of clouds and wind, but no rain so far.

Remembered I have a spare muffin-fan on board, a spare for the fan behind the refrigerator. So I made a cable to wire it to a cigarette-plug, propped it up to blow on the laptop, and we'll see if it lets me run the laptop for more than 10 minutes at a time.

Weather soon back to grey. Then a little sun, then grey for the rest of the morning. But wind lighter, and no rain.

Laptop fan worked fairly well; was able to run laptop for 30 minutes or more. Don't want to push it too hard.

Big squall/storm/whatever from S from 12:10 to 12:30; lots of wind and rain. More starting at 12:40; rain stopped after a while, but wind still going an hour later; very grey day.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-saffronrice and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.

Big squall/storm starting at midnight.

Wind started up again at 3:45 or so.

Some rain starting at 5 AM.
Sun for a new day  10/6/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Still grey and breezey and damp, but sun trying to poke through.

Longish dinghy-ride downwind to town. Passed place I've anchored before, and noticed that the small yellow sloop I anchored behind has blown ashore.

To an internet/copy place, and paid €.50 for 5 minutes of internet. Package from USA can't go until eyeglass frames have arrived in NJ; posting will cost about $30 through post office, which isn't bad. FedEx or similar would cost well over $100.

To Tourist Office for directions, then to a computer store. A new Dell laptop here would cost €800, which is about $1100. Same model direct from Dell would cost about $800, I think. Would have to pay shipping from Dell; might have to pay sales tax here (forgot to ask).

To EcoMax supermarket, then back to dinghy. Long, rough ride upwind to boat, but at least I didn't get rained on. Lots of small kids sailing in small prams nearby.

Wind strong and clouds low and dark and threatening, as usual. Where has all of this grey been coming from ? It's the result of a tropical wave or two passing NE of the Caribbean, creating a big low up there, but maybe all of this moisture has been sucked up from Venezuela ?

Around 11, a flock of kayakers came past ! More activity than I've ever seen here, and in such ugly weather.

Rain at 1. Big squall/storm at 1:45.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Squalls at 8 and 10, then a monster storm starting at 11. Very strong wind from SW and then W, and even stronger wind 10 minutes later, maybe up to 50 knots. Sheets of horizontal rain. Wind and rain eased by 11:20 or so, but NW wind afterward, and steady rain kept going until 1 AM or so. Light, intermittent rain for an hour or two after that.
Sun for a new day  10/7/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Still grey and breezey and damp, but more blue in the sky and sun trying to poke through. But I've been saying that the last couple of mornings, too.

That small yellow sloop that had washed ashore seems to be gone now. Either someone retrieved it yesterday afternoon, or last night's storm sank it or blew it somewhere else. The only other odd thing I can see is that a catamaran anchored well behind me is floating sideways to the wind now; maybe it's snagged a prop on its anchor rode ?

Maybe the weather really is clearing; lots of sunshine a little after 8 AM. Wind starting to howl from SE and SSE by 9:30; might be the tradewind coming back.

A little after 10, saw a guy go over to that catamaran, go snorkeling under it, and get it loose so it pointed into the wind again. Also, I think I see that yellow sloop anchored up near the harbor entrance, so someone must have retrieved it and re-anchored it yesterday afternoon.

No rain all day; nice to get the boat dried out a bit.

By 4, very grey again, with light wind from W.

Around 4:30, saw a guy nearby stand up and dive out of his dinghy as it approached his boat. Saw it out of the corner of my eye; I couldn't figure out exactly what happened. At first, I thought there were two in the dinghy, and the guy had jumped out for a swim. Then he was swimming after the dinghy as it drifted downwind, away from the boat. He seemed to catch up with it, but maybe it stayed just a foot ahead of him, or he couldn't grip it, because soon I saw him give up and wave his arms in frustration, and the dinghy kept going.

He swam after it, and soon he saw me watching, and called for help. I was about to light the stove to cook dinner, but reluctantly started putting stuff into the dinghy to launch it. Since it's up on davits, it takes a while to launch, and there was slim chance I'd get it launched and out to his dinghy before his dinghy hit shore. And then I saw someone in a fairly big inflatable down at that end of the anchorage, and waved to the guy that maybe they'd get his dinghy. So I stopped launching my dinghy. The guy in the inflatable didn't see the loose dinghy for quite a while, but eventually he saw it and grabbed it, just as a passing pack of jet-skiers picking up the swimming guy. So all ended well.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.

Wind light and NE by 8 or so, and then SE and stronger by midnight.
Sun for a new day  10/8/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Sunny with SE wind.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Dinghied ashore to the marina. Disposed of two bags of garbage and my pillow. To the marine store. Bought a nice water-dipping bucket for €6. Looked at an 8-pound dinghy-anchor for €27 (that's about $37; maybe plus tax) but didn't buy it. To the boat-electric store, and was quoted a price (including tax and everything) for Trojan T105 golf-cart batteries: €168 apiece; that's about $232 each. Quite a bit higher than I'd hoped; the last price I remember is $149 in St Thomas maybe 18 months ago.

Walked in a direction I hadn't explored. In the boatyard, saw a bow-bulb on a 50- or 60-foot powerboat (pic); I've never seen one of those on anything less than 120 feet or so. Ended up at a small EcoMax supermarket, then to Champion for bananas. Then back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Army types kayaking past my boat, carrying lots of gear; probably the same guys (and women) I saw jumping out of a helicopter at Saint Francois.

Pretty windy from SE most of the morning and afternoon.

Added water to the batteries.

Salad and cheese-sandwiches and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.
Sun for a new day  10/9/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Dinghied ashore to the marina. Disposed of some garbage. Did an hour of internet for €4. Apparently all of the grey and rain for the last week or so was a result of Hurricane Otto, to the N or NNE of the Caribbean, I'm not sure where. From a weather blog: 'St Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Otto and its precursor storminess dumped 15.25" of rain over the past eight days'. Decided to have my brother hold my mail a bit longer; the eyeglass frames apparently haven't even shipped yet, much less arrived in NJ. So I think I'll head to the Saintes, then to Martinique, and see if I can get my mail when I get there. Since I have a work-around for the laptop problem, I don't need the new/used fan too urgently.

Walked to the Cora megastore, got some stuff, endured horrible check-out lines, and back to the dinghy. Probably walked about 5 miles, in hot weather, but I needed the exercise. Back to the boat. Calm, sunny day.

In late afternoon, took a dinghy-ride to explore W of the anchorage, up south of the industrial Jarry area. The propane-place is up there somewhere, so I wanted to see if I could scope it out, but also I just wanted to explore. Turned out to be much more interesting than I expected. I'd seen a few boats back in that direction, but the islands turned out to be full of houses and docks and boats. And the main island had a park with several boat-ramps and docks on it, then an industrial area with tanks and refineries and something that looked a bit like a fish-farm (but too small to be that). And what the heck does this sign (pic) mean ? Got ashore at one dock, but found a security-gate keeping me from getting out to the street. On a weekday, probably could have gotten through and found the gas place. Back to the boat.

Chili and a rum-and-orangejuice for dinner. Ate out on the foredeck; very pleasant.

Rained three or four times during the night. Little wind.
Sun for a new day  10/10/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Unfastened the tack of the jib from the roller-furler drum, and the drum rotates freely; can't feel anything wrong with the bearings.

Started working on the jib, and it's a mess. The edge of the leech is ruined, mostly torn off. Started hand-stitching it back on. Want to use the jib to sail to the Saintes on Tuesday, and then to Martinique a week later. Sweaty work in the sun, wakes rolling the boat, and quickly broke a needle.

Salad and miscellaneous sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  10/11/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Sunny and very still; going to be a hot day. Feeling a little headachey.

Defrosted the refrigerator.

Army guys kayaking past my boat at 7:30 or so. I was out on the foredeck putting some more stitches into the jib.

Did some more stitching on the jib, cut off a lot of dangling bits, and decided to hoist it and see what it looked like. A bit of trouble getting it up and untangled and all the way up, but it looks okay. Figured out the problem with the furling: the drum is pointing down too much, not sideways, and it jams somehow if the line is pulled from too great an angle to the drum. Sitting on the foredeck, I can pull the line by hand and keep the angle correct, and furl the jib that way. Inconvenient, and a bit dangerous in a high wind or rough seas, but it will work. Can't see what has changed recently to make the drum-angle change.

Dinghied ashore to the marina in the late afternoon. Disposed of a bag of garbage. To the Capitainerie, and double-double-checked that I could check out of Guadeloupe at the office in the Saintes; my guidebooks have been unclear about that. Got €200 at the ATM. To the internet place, and paid €1 for 5 minutes of access, a rip-off. But I wanted to make sure that my brother had gotten my message about my mail, and I wanted to check the weather situation again. To the supermarket for some groceries. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Chicken-onion-cabbage-carrot-rice and a rum-and-orangejuice for dinner. Ate on the foredeck; very nice.

Still, warm night.
Sun for a new day  10/12/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.

Sunny with light wind from E or ENE; going to be a hot day. Feeling a little headachey. Forecast said wind would be E 10-12, okay for sailing S to the Saintes.

Engine start at 7:25, anchor up by 7:35, unfurled sails, and motored out of the harbor. Engine off at 7:55, and there's very little wind, from the SE, out here. Making less than one knot (GPS reads 0.0 if speed is below 0.9). Low dark clouds hovering, giving no wind and no sun.

Around 8:15, as the dark clouds passed, a strong SE wind came up, and I was able to sail S at 4 knots. Great !

By 8:30, back to light S and SE wind, making about 1 knot to the SSW.

After 9, making no progress in any direction, no wind at all, flag hanging straight down. Slowing drifting W toward fish-traps and reef and wreck off Goyave.

Ran engine from 9:15 to 9:30, to get away from Goyave a little. Afterward, was down bvelow when I heard water sloshing in the engine compartment; that's not good. Looked in there and saw hot saltwater spraying out of a hole in the side of the engine exhaust manifold. It has a couple of aluminum plates on the side, and water seems to eat a hole through one of them, in the same spot, every couple of years. That spot is where the hot saltwater gets pumped into the manifold, after coming out of the heat-exchanger. Well, it's happened again. Made a bit of a mess on that side of the engine compartment.

Go back to helm, and still no wind of any kind, and gentle swell making the boat roll quite a bit. Back down below, and careful investigation of the hot engine (don't want to get thrown onto the exhaust riser and get a back burn) shows that there are two holes in the plate on the exhaust manifold. I gouge them out a bit with a screwdriver, and then drive screws into them to plug them, as a temporary fix. Then crimp some aluminum foil over the screw-heads to keep the water from spraying too far if they leak again.

Back up on deck, and still no wind. I sit there for about 50 minutes, with the boat rolling and the sails flogging, and no wind. If wind comes up, should I try to keep going to the Saintes (another 15 miles) or head into the island off Goyave (2 miles) ? Don't want to waste a nice wind (supposed to be E 10-12 today and tomorrow only, then a week of E 5). But Goyave is the last anchorage between here and the Saintes; if the wind dies again, I'll have to motor for a couple of hours, on a patched engine.

Started engine at 10:25 and started motoring in to the island off Goyave, checking engine every couple of minutes to make sure the screws I put in have stopped the leaks. Furled the sails. Still no wind. Anchor down by 11:05 at Ilet Fortune, Guadeloupe. Ended up about 4 NM from where I started; route was a "C" shape.

Around noon, a nice wind from the SE starts up. Maybe a little ESE in it. Guess I started too early this morning. And forecast said E. Oh, well. Just lucky that the engine problem happened here, and not in the middle of the long trip to Martinique.

Took the plate off the exhaust manifold, cleaned the plate and the mating surface on the manifold, drilled the holes bigger, put bolts/washers/nuts through the holes, put high-temperature gasket-former in the holes, tightened everything, and put the plate in the sun to dry. Pics. A straightforward job, but the engine still is pretty hot, the boat rolls a little, and it's a hot day, so I got very sweaty.

Why do they design these engines with the water-parts up top and the electrical parts down lower ? Should be the other way around. Water from this leak poured down onto the starter motor and solenoid.

Nice wind by 2 or so, but still from SE, mostly. Some ESE.

Went to put the plate onto the manifold, and found it wouldn't fit: the bolt-heads are too close to the edges. Should have dry-fitted it before I put the gunk on. So I had to take the bolts out and replace them with flathead bolts. Put the plate on (flipped, so fresh metal will be in the vulnerable spot) and hand-tightened the six mounting bolts; will tighten the rest of the way after the gasket stuff has hardened a bit.

I wonder if I should have the replacement plate made in steel ? Would be more durable. But might set up some kind of electrolysis problem with the rest of the manifold.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches and a rum-and-orangejuice for dinner.
Sun for a new day  10/13/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Ilet Fortune, Guadeloupe.

Light wind from S, then SW. After 9, wind more like SE 7-9, with occasional ESE. I could work with SE 9 to get S to the Saintes, so I think I'll go.

Engine start at 9:45, and no exhaust manifold leaks. Anchor up by 9:55, unfurled the mainsail, and motored out. Long motor to SE to clear the big reefs off the island. Wind not looking very favorable. Unfurled the jib. At 10:25, tried shutting off the engine. Wind light and SE, swells from SE. Need to make a course of about 170° to keep off the reefs here, but can't make better than 210° or so, and within a minute or two I'm drifting down onto some fish-trap floats. In another 10 minutes, I'll be onto a reef. So I start the engine again, and motor-sail. Really just motoring; not getting anything useful out of the sails.

And, as I helf-expected, I end up having to motor the whole way. The wind stays SE, sometimes even SSE, and gets lighter, down to maybe 3-5 knots. Totally useless. Kept engine at low RPM and made 4 knots or slightly less. Checked exhaust manifold several times; no problems.

Around 1:20, a squall passes behind me, and the wind changes to SE 12-14 or so. I start getting an extra few tenths of a knot out of the sails, but I'm getting close to the Saintes, and if I shut off the engine, I'll end up sailing off too far to the W. So I keep motor-sailing.

Into harbor, and anchor down by 2:45 at Baie de Marigot, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe.

Beautiful anchorage, surrounded by tall hills and cliffs, but the water is nicely shallow for anchoring. But the wind is light outside, and the cliffs and hills cut most of it off inside, so it's a bit hot. And the wind is fluky and backwinded, so it's hot on the boat and hard to find a piece of shade that stays put.

Pretty quiet here. Looks like mainly a fishing-skiff harbor. Some activity around the dock on the E side around 4. A resort nearby, with some music playing from a restaurant or something.

Haircut, shave and shower, and felt like a new man ! Or, at least, a not-quite-so-old man.

Catamaran came in around 5:15, coming down from the N. I saw him coming, sailing down (or maybe motor-sailing), sailing a lot closer to the wind than my boat can. Anchored too close to me on the first try, but better on the second try.

Chili and a rum-and-orangejuice for dinner. Sun disappeared behind a hill and I ate in shade on the foredeck; very pleasant.

Awkward night: with wind spinning around and fluky, occasional spritzes of rain came from odd directions, so I had to keep most of the hatches and ports closed. Very unpredictable.
Sun for a new day  10/14/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Baie de Marigot, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe.

Catamaran left at 7.

Couldn't hear most of Chris Parker's weather forecast this morning, as usual. But now it's more important; I'm in an exposed position here, in the middle of hurricane season. If a hurricane threatens, I need to get back up to the middle of Guadeloupe (1/2 day from here), or down to the bottom of Martinique (1.5 days from here, plus check-out and check-in). If I don't hear about the hurricane for a couple of days, and then anything goes wrong as I try to move, I'm screwed.

Almost got a little Wi-Fi.

Dinghied ashore. Walked over a small hill into town. Pretty island, nice houses, narrow streets with a few vans and lots of scooters. Center of town is lively, with ferries coming and going. Only one internet cafe, and it's closed this morning. Went out other end of town, and hiked up to Fort Napoleon (altitude 330 feet). Got a lot of exercise walking up the road; most people are going up on scooters or in vans.

The effort was worth it; the fort is great ! Big fort, impressive stonework (pics), tremendous views (pics). A small art gallery, nice museum, lots of ship-models, nice video of coral and reef fish. Some traditional fishing boats and gear, and models or taxidermy of fish. Well worth the €4 admission. Nice views down onto my bateau in the anchorage (pics). Interesting view of a squall approaching from the E (pic); you can see the rain hitting the sea.

On the way back, saw lunchtime on a farm: pics. Saw various goats and chickens and a cow in yards or bushes outside town. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Almost got a little Wi-Fi. Very frustrating. Can't use the fan in the cockpit (can't get the power-connector on the helm binnacle to work), so I'm limited to about 10 minutes of laptop use before I have to shut it down. And with reduced RAM, the laptop is slow. So by the time I get it booted, get a signal, connect to it, and try to do something, the boat swings and I lose the signal, or it's time to shut down the laptop before it overheats.

Seems like there's a lot of wind today; doesn't match the forecast at all. Maybe they can't account for wind from squalls. Blowing NE 15 or so at 2:30.

Finally got connected to the Wi-Fi signal, and it turns out to be a for-pay signal.

Dinghied over to the dock/boatyard nearby, and it really looks grim. Lots of rust and weeds and not much happening. Three fuel pumps, one looks like it's powered on and working, diesel pump is off, third pump powered on but displaying insane characters. Store/office looks closed for the season, maybe. Guy standing around on dock just said "no" when I asked about the fuel pumps. I think he's a fisherman, not staff here. And as usual I can't tell whether "no" means "closed forever", "closed for season", "closed this afternoon but try tomorrow", or "can't sell to non-locals". I've tried to keep an eye on these pumps, and I haven't seen anyone fuel up from them. Someone's working in a shed here, probably doing fiberglass work on a fishing skiff. Back to the boat.

Snorkeled under the boat and scraped some grass off the hull and prop. Water a bit rough, and there's no current so all the gunk I scrape off just hangs around and gets all over me. Something stung me on the forehead, and I decided to call it quits.

Rain at 4:15, 4:35, 5:00, 6:00.

Salad and cheese-sandwiches for dinner.

Wind here is irritating: brief bursts that come from the side. By the time the boat swings into them, they've stopped, so the wind-generator never gets a chance to start spinning. And I need some extra power at night; my batteries really are nearing end-of-life. At this point, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to start my engine from about 10 PM to dawn, unless the wind-generator has been turning, which is a dangerous situation.

Rain at 3:45 AM.
Sun for a new day  10/15/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Baie de Marigot, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe.

Fuel level 4.7 inches at engine hour 4711.

Engine start at 8:10, anchor up by 8:15, and motored out and around and into the main harbor. As I expected, fairly crowded, and water is deeper than I like. Found a 25-foot-deep spot. Anchor down by 8:50 at Bourg des Saintes, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe. Disappointed to find it rolly here. May have to try moving into NE corner of the harbor later, if I can find some space there. At least the wind is a lot nicer here, very consistent.

And I don't see a fuel dock here anywhere. And I didn't see a gas station yesterday, although there must be one. I really need at least 10 gallons of diesel before the trip to Martinique. I could probably motor all the way there (80 NM or so) on what I have in the tank and the 5 gallons I have in a jug, but that would be cutting it a bit close.

Lots of Wi-Fi signals here, but no free signals.

Dinghied ashore to the fishing harbor area at the south end of town, and went wandering. Went SW to the Yacht Club (mostly a bar and restaurant) and commercial dock. Then one street back from the waterfront; this town has some pretty streets and houses. But I'm mostly looking for a gas station. By the time I got back into the center of town, I was thinking there is no gas station here, unless it's hidden out at the airport or something. Sure enough, the lady in the Tourist Office confirmed my fears: no fuel to be had. She pointed to the fuel dock at Marigot, the bay where I stayed the last two nights, but as soon as I started saying no, the fuel dock was closed, she was saying that too. She didn't know the words in English to explain why, something about "no - square". Maybe she meant that most of the dock in Marigot has been destroyed; it looks a lot bigger in my guidebook charts than it does in reality.

Anyway, the only fuel available in the Saintes is on the other big island, Terre D'en Bas. And my guidebooks describe that fuel dock as "make sure you filter the fuel" and "in a squeeze fuel can be arranged but it's not really suitable for yachts". And it makes getting out of here more complicated. I'm going to have to: get the weather right, go to the "Maire" here to start checking out, they'll fax forms to Guadeloupe, I come back later and get the finished forms, then I leave here and go to Terre D'en Bas for fuel, then I can head south, or stay the night at an anchorage on Terre D'en Bas, and head south the next morning. What a pain ! I can't believe that all of the scooters and vans on this island are fueled by people having private arrangements to bring fuel from Terre D'en Bas or Guadeloupe.

Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Dinghied ashore again at 3 and got into the cyber-cafe. €3 for half an hour of internet. The news is good: no hurricanes threatening, and reasonable weather forecast for heading to Martinique next Tues/Wed (E and ENE 12-14 wind and N 4-5 seas; wind is slightly light, but okay). Weather forecast I looked at was for Marie Galante; should have checked those for Dominica and Martinique too. Copied some web pages to read later, set up a stock trade to sell out of the market a little more, uploaded log file and such. Back to the boat.

Crap ! Reading a book on the foredeck after 4, when I started having pain in my right kidney. Feels like a stone; I had a whole series of them 15 to 25 years ago. Finished cooking dinner (chicken and rum-and-OJ), ate about half of it, and had to give up and go to bed. Started taking ibuprofen. Sweating and chilled and nauseated and pain in my right kidney. Sucks.

At 9:15, threw up. Felt pretty good until 10 or so. Felt terrible the rest of the night, taking pills and not getting rid of the pain. Up frequently to try to throw up. Can't keep much water down.
Sun for a new day  10/16/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Bourg des Saintes, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe.

Still feel horrible; kidney stone. Threw up several times from 5 AM to 7. Switched from ibuprofen to acetaminophen, and that seemed to do a lot better against the pain. Need to drink lots of water to flush out the stone, but keep throwing up. Sweating and throwing up and panting and not drinking enough: have to watch out for dehydration.

Harbor is really rolly and wakey this morning; ferries and fishing skiffs and tourist boats coming and going. Really sucks to be sick on a boat in conditions like this. And my boat has some loose woodwork or something, so when it rolls heavily and the hull flexs, the interior woodwork near the aft cabin squeals loudly, further annoying me. In the past, I've tried to look for sheared-off tabbing to the hull, but everything is so covered up by multiple layers of stuff that I couldn't figure out where the problems are.

Dinghied ashore at 9. Staggered to the Tourist Info place, told the lady I was sick, and she directed me to a doctor's office (I'd seen it yesterday). Got a passerby to decipher a sign outside the office, which said "usually we're open on Saturday mornings, but not today !". Back to the Tourist lady, who said that the only other doctor is closed on Saturdays. And the "Dispensairie" I saw yesterday is defunct; closed and maybe turned into a massage place.

Down the street to the pharmacy, where I bought some anti-nausea pills, and they didn't have any non-prescription pain pills other than what I already have. Sat on the curb outside and took one of the anti-nausea pills. Back to the dinghy, back to the boat, drank a glass of water, and threw up spectacularly.

Back to bed, and tried some 10-year-old prescription pain pills left over from the last time I had medical problems. Neither type worked, so back to acetaminophen.

Got some sleep from maybe 11 to 1:30, and felt better. Still an ache in my kidney, but the pills are keeping it dull. Took another of those anti-nausea pills at noon and let it settle for a long time before eating or drinking anything. Ate some crackers and water and iced tea, and haven't thrown up since this morning.

Felt pretty good all afternoon, and cautiously ate and drank more.

Fair number of boats in for the evening, anchored all around me.

By 7, kidney pain is back again, and took some more pills. An uncomfortable night with not much good sleep. Took more pills. No more nausea, but something that feels a little like acid-reflux.
Sun for a new day  10/17/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Bourg des Saintes, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe.

Mainly feeling sinus-headachey this morning; still a little kidney pain, tiredness from not sleeping well.

Noticed odd rig on a sailboat near me: no mainsail, no main boom, but instead a mizzen staysail (I think that's what it's called): pic. Maybe they removed the boom when they added the pilothouse ? Don't think I've ever seen something like that. [A reader says it's called a "luna" rig.]

In the afternoon, still some headache, some kidney pain, some tiredness. But not doing too badly.

Cleaned the engine intake strainer. Tightened and seized the turnbuckle on the port backstay.

Trying to figure out whether I should leave here on Tuesday, and the logistics. Need to get more weather info, but the cyber-cafe has limited hours. Official paperwork will impose an unknown delay; they have to fax to Guadeloupe and back. Then I have to get over to the other island and get some fuel. And I need to be healthy and rested enough to do the trip.

Dinghied ashore around 3, mainly to get off the boat for a bit, but also to see about a few errands. Bought AA batteries for my clock. Found a couple of one-computer internet places in boutiques, so now I know I'll be able to check weather info tomorrow morning even if the big cyber-cafe is closed. Most other things closed this afternoon, so I wandered and sat and then went back to the boat.

Salad and cheese-sandwich for dinner.

Lousy night; can't get rid of this headache. Ran out of the old batch of allergy-pills, and I suspect the next batches I've tried may have lost their potency while stored on the boat. Didn't get much sleep.
Sun for a new day  10/18/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Bourg des Saintes, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe.

Still have headache and feeling weak, but not having any kidney pain or nausea any more.

Dinghied ashore around 9, and ran into roadblock after roadblock. At the pharmacy, they've never heard of Tylenol (acetaminophen) and of course don't have any (isn't it one of the most common drugs in the world ?). [Found out later: the full base name is "para-acetaminophenyl-something", so USA calls it "acetaminophen" and Europe calls it "paracetamol", then each has lots of brand names on top of that.] The big cyber-cafe isn't open (as I expected), but the two single-computer places I saw yesterday don't have their computers working either (for unknown reasons), and a fourth place is closed.

Eventually gave up on trying to get internet and a weather update, and went to the Mairie to check out. That went much better than I expected. No faxing back and forth to Guadeloupe; they're computerized now. I filled out the on-screen form; would have been easier if the guy had let me use the mouse, too, but maybe the wire didn't reach my side of the desk or something. He didn't check my documents, and no charge. Set my check-out day as tomorrow, because I want to go get fuel first. And that gives me some flexibility; could leave any time in the 24 hours of tomorrow, if the wind takes a while to build. But I'll probably leave in mid-morning.

Got a few grocery items (picked up bananas out of a box of them, and a cloud of fruit-flies rose up), and back to the boat. Grey and light rain at 10:50.

Decided to get moving quickly. Engine start at 11:05, and got quite a workout hauling up anchor and chain from 30-foot-deep water. Anchor up by 11:15 and motored SW. Over to Terre de Bas. The bay with the ferry/fuel dock in it, Anse des Muriers, is tiny; not taking the big boat in there unless I have to. Anchor down by 11:55 in the next bay over, Anse Fideling, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe. Nice, calm place, and I can see Dominica off to the SSE. Good to get moving again, even though I'm still tired and a bit headachey.

Another sailboat came in around 1.

Dumped 5 gallons of diesel from jug to tank, and got ready to take empty jugs to next bay over to see if I can buy some fuel. As I got ready to go at 2:20, it started raining. So I waited.

Dinghied over. Found fuel pumps, and they do have diesel (gasole). But they only have two pumps: gasoline without tax, and diesel with tax. So I'm forced to pay the tax, even though since I'm checked out of the country already, I should be able to buy without tax.

Bought 41 liters for €47; that's 10.8 gallons for US$65.80, or US$6.09/gallon.

Dinghied back to the boat and got the fuel into the tank without getting rained on or spilling any fuel. A relief to get the fuel; now I'm positive I could motor all the way to Martinique if I had to.

Heavy rain from 3:30 to 3:55.

Sudden kidney pain at 3:55.

More rain at 4:15.

Made a pork-noodle-butter-parmesancheese thing for dinner, and got most of it down. I need to have some fuel in my body before this trip; the sickness has weakened me.

Heavy rain at 5:30.

Got a couple of good chunks of solid sleep; I haven't been sleeping much lately, and starting an all-nighter trip with a sleep deficit would be bad.
Sun for a new day  10/19/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Anse Fideling, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe.

The forecast stronger wind has appeared overnight; looks like it's time to go.

Bailed out the hard dinghy.

Had to wait until 7:20 to start the engine, because the batteries were so low. Didn't get much power yesterday afternoon, and the batteries are tired anyway.

Engine just barely cranked and started, and after it was running, there was a burnt-electrical smell in the engine compartment. Great way to start the trip. Checked a couple of times to make sure nothing was continuing to burn, and nothing obvious looked melted or burnt.

Anchor up by 7:25.

Within 15 minutes, sailing with main and jib up, making 3.5 to 4 knots toward the N end of Dominica. Wind E to ESE 15-18, seas ESE. Forecast was for wind E to ENE 12-15, seas N. I like the stronger wind.

About 10 minutes after starting out, I wondered if I had been wise to ignore the burning smell. Maybe I should have shut off the engine and tried starting it again. But I really want to go today: the weather seems right, and my 3-month stay here ends in 2 weeks. An hour later, it occurred to me that I'd better test the engine-starting later today when I still have daylight to charge the batteries, and when I have daylight to check any problems. Later, it occurred to me that I could have turned back, but the last place I want to be stuck with a boat-problem is that middle-of-nowhere anchorage in the Saintes.

Saw a couple of sailboats sailing N, and a freighter crossed my bow a couple of miles ahead as I approache Dominica. Other than that, pretty empty out here.

At 11, had kidney pain, and took some pills.

At 11:20, starting into the lee of Dominica. Able to turn a little more S, a little less close to the wind, and speed increased to 4.5 to 5 knots for a while.

By 1, wind lighter, more SE, only making 2.5 to 3 knots.

2:15 more kidney pain.

By 2:30, wind stronger, but SE, and I'm making 3.5 knots. The wind was supposed to be E and ENE today; SE is bad for me. I'm going to be turning more and more SSE and SE.

Around 3:45, decided it was time to try starting the engine, to let it pump fluid through the transmission, and to see if there's any electrical problem. Sure enough, the starter or solenoid clicks, acts like a short across the whole electrical system, drags voltage down so low that a buzzer I didn't even know I had starts going off, and doesn't crank the engine. Crap !

Checked out the cables and battery terminals, wondering if maybe half of the batteries aren't getting charged, and the remainder is too little to turn the starter. But found no problems.

Eventually used the old "tap on the solenoid and starter with a hammer" trick, and got the engine started at 4:05. Ran it for a few minutes and shut it off. The boat's sailing well; at this rate I might be able to sail almost all of the way to Martinique. I've already sailed almost half of the distance of the trip.

Famous last words ! Around 4:45, the wind died near the S end of Dominica. Down to maybe 8-10 knots, and I'm sailing 2.5 knots about 50 degrees from where I need to go. And I think adverse current and swells are starting up around the SW corner of Dominica, as I start out to the wide channel between Dominica and Martinique.

At 5:20, more kidney pain, and more pills.

At 5:30, I suddenly realized I could be in trouble if I didn't get the engine started right now ! Could be drifting around with not enough wind to do anything, adverse current and swells, no engine, limited electrical power. Turned the key and barely got the engine started. Very, very happy ! Started motoring toward Martinique.

And the motoring turns out to be a slog. There's a lot of current against me, maybe a knot's worth, the swells are coming up, and the boat's rolling a fair amount. Ugly.

As I think about it, I'm a little scared at how close I came to being helpless, drifting with little wind and no engine. Not really dangerous per se, but supposed the engine wouldn't start tomorrow morning either, after solar had recharged the batteries ? With little wind, I might end up in a multi-day "sail" downwind to the USVI's.

Saw a cruise-ship leave Dominica and slowly go up ahead of me. One of those night-gambling things. Turned on my RADAR to exercise it and be ready for any big shipping I might see.

At 10:15, mainsail's wire halyard went ka-blam ! Came apart near the head of the sail, and the sail went over the starboard side of the pilothouse and partly into the water. Very difficult to get it bundled up and lashed down, because that sail was keeping the boat from rolling too bad in these seas. Boat rolling violently, and the roll changing as the boat circled around, as I went on deck and wrestled with the sail and tried to keep from sliding overboard. Deck is wet, sail is billowing, boat is pitching and rolling wildly. Finally got it secured.

Crap ! Now I'm really anxious, and very uncomfortable. I hope the engine keeps going, because if it quits, I'll be drifting with just a jib sail to use, until I can jerry-rig something for the mainsail. And I'll definitely be "sailing" downwind to Dominica or somewhere else I don't particularly want to go. If I even have enough wind to get into a harbor. I decide not to touch the throttle for any reason, just let the engine keep ticking along, at a fairly low setting. I'm making only 2.7 knots over ground; I think there's as much as a knot of current and swells and wind against me. It's going to be a long, uncomfortable second half of the trip.

And it was. Eventually, I started getting into the lee of Martinique a bit, shielding me from the current, and speed slowly increased to 3.4 knots. By 4 or so, I was getting some shelter from the swells, and the rolling was much less.

Hope the solar panels are okay. The heavy swivel on the head of the mainsail could have landed on the solar panels and smashed one when the sail came down. Not going to risk my life to go on deck and try to look to see the tops of the panels.

I've been thinking that the problems on this trip were due to my sloppiness or laziness. I knew the starter motor was ailing, and I knew there was a meat-hook or two on the mainsail's wire halyard. But I put off doing the repair/replacement, and it came back to bite me at the worst possible time. I'd better open my wallet and fix some things on this boat before something really hurts me. For example, much of the rigging needs replacement.
Sun for a new day  10/20/2010 (Wednesday)
In transit from Guadeloupe to Martinique.

Dawn at about 5:30, as I'm starting to pass St Pierre. Around 5:40, I went on deck and found that the solar panels and wind-generator look okay. I had been worrying that the heavy swivel on the head of the mainsail might have landed on the solar panels when the sail came down. Just one of many things I'd been worrying about during the night; I'm pretty anxious.

Sunrise around 6:10, over tall volcanic hills/mountains.

This is a big island, and I still have a long way to go to get to the harbor. I'm worried that the engine could quit for some reason, and I keep looking for some way that I could avoid drifting right back the way I came if the engine quit. But nothing in the situation is giving me anything to work with: the wind is coming off the land, the water here is deep everywhere until you get right to shore, there are almost no other boats or skiffs out to beg a tow from. And as I get to the last 5 or 6 miles before the anchorage, the wind strengthens and stays right in my teeth, ready to blow me right back out if the engine quits. Very deep water right up to the edge of the anchorage; can't get a break.

But the engine keeps going, and I get there. Anchor down by 9:10 at Baie des Flamands, Fort de France Bay, Martinique. Feels good to have things quiet and stationary (mostly) again.

Physically I feel okay; I'm not falling asleep or dead tired. But I'm still a bit wrung out from the anxiety, and still a bit weak from the kidney problems and the medicine.

Looks like the damage from the trip is: starter motor, broken end of mainsail wire halyard, and one bucket broken.

Straightened up the boat. Noticed a lot of grey dust on the solar panels; I wonder if that heavy rain the other afternoon was full of volcanic ash ?

Two other sailboats anchored here; one has someone aboard.

We're right next to a big ferry dock. About every 15 minutes we get a pretty big wake from one. I anchored as far in as I could, so that they're going slowly when they pass me, but their wake comes in after them.

Dinghied ashore around 10. This part of town is bigger than I expected, and there's a lot more to this area than just the town. The nice big central park I'm anchored in front of seems to be closed and fenced off for renovations. Walked up to the Tourist Office, got a map (in addition to the one in my guidebook), and asked where Customs is. As I half-expected (my guidebooks are slightly old), I was directed to a marine store to check in. A longish hot walk to get there, because I went the scenic route through the old part of town, and the sidewalks are about 1.5 people wide, the streets are full of cars circling looking for a parking space, and the sidewalks and streets are uneven.

Checking in was very easy; same computer system as used in St Martin and Guadeloupe. No document-checking, no charge. I asked the salespeople about a shop that fixes starter motors, and mostly drew a blank (but later in the guidebook, I found a place in the big marine complex in the next bay over, right next to here, as I expected). Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

After lunch, up onto the pilothouse roof to wipe off the solar panels.

Couldn't get any free Wi-Fi here.

This is a pretty town, I think (pic). It spreads out in all directions; something like 130K people in town and total of 400K on the island.

Chicken-onion-carrot-cabbage-rice for dinner. No rum, because I still have a lot of medicine in my system.

Odd-looking sailboat came in for an hour or two, then left (pic).

Four other sailboats spending the night here with me.

Very nice anchorage at night, after the ferries stop running. Slept like a log.
Sun for a new day  10/21/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Baie des Flamands, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

At 5:45, kidney pain, and took a half-dose of the pills.

Fuel level 4.6 inches at engine hour 4729. In the last 18 engine-hours, running a 6-cylinder diesel at low throttle, I used about 16 gallons of diesel. That's 1.1 gallons/hour, not too bad.

Worked on getting the starter motor off (pic). More kidney pain at 9:15; took the other half-dose of the pills. Got the starter motor out (pic).

Around 10, launched the dinghy, put the starter motor and empty fuel jugs into it, and headed off around the fort, over to the commercial harbor. Found the electrical shop very quickly, but no one home. Within a few minutes, guys came back from a break. I carried the motor to the shop. They have little English, I have little French. I told them "do whatever is needed", and they said "come back tomorrow same time".

Over to the fuel dock, and I'm starting to feel bad again. They sell gasoline with/without tax, but diesel at one price only, €1.06/liter, which is halfway between the taxed and non-taxed rates in Guadeloupe. That's US$5.64/gallon. Bought 38.23 liters of diesel for €40.52.

On the way back to the boat, had to stop the dinghy and throw up over the side. Feeling worse and worse.

On the boat, took more pills, but feeling horrible. Threw up at 11:15. Have to get to a doctor.

Dinghied ashore just before noon, after closing up the boat carefully and grabbing what I need for what might be an extended stay ashore, if I end up in a hospital or something.

Up the street to a pharmacy, and got directions to a doctor's office. Got there, and two patients waiting. I'm feeling terrible, kidney pain and sweating and panting and nauseated. One patient went in before I could grab the doctor. When that patient came out, I was throwing up in the toilet. Begged the doctor for help, and he took me right in. I said "kidney stone" and pointed to my kidney, mimicked vomiting, pointed to my sweating and panting. He asked if I'd had stones before, I said yes, 15 to 25 years ago, and soon he was giving me a pain-shot (something like "votardin" or "volarin"). Then he wrote me a prescription, gave me directions to a pharmacy around the corner, and didn't ask for payment or anything. I waited to throw up one more time, then out and down to the pharmacy.

Got the pain ("Spasfon" / phloroglucinol/trimethylphloroglucinol) and anti-nausea ("Bi-Profenid" / ketoprofene) pills (€12 total), but I couldn't understand much about how many to take and how often and with/without food. And there's nothing about dosage printed on the outside of the boxes (or on the leaflets inside, it turns out); I guess you're supposed to get that from your doctor.

Still feel pretty weak, but the pain is gone, and I want to hit an internet cafe to upload my log file and check email. The one I had in mind is pretty far away, so when I see a sign on the street I duck in and hit a place on the second floor. I just want 5 minutes, but their minimum is 30 minutes for €3. And they seat me at a computer right in the full blast of an icy-cold air-conditioner. I use it for about 10 minutes, until I feel I'm going to faint. Pay for it and leave. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat by 1:15 or so.

Had a lousy afternoon and evening. Soon nauseated again, despite the new pills. Threw up at 2:10. Rain at 3:35. Trying to sip water and iced tea and fruit juice, and nibble on the end of a cracker. Kidney pain is gone, so I don't take the new pain pills.

Threw up at 4. Rain at 4:55. Can't eat anything. Stomach feels full but I can't throw up. Threw up at 6:15. Feeling horrible.

Didn't bother to hoist the dinghy for the night; I always do, to keep it from getting stolen.

Finally figured it out around 10: the pain has migrated to my belly, and is dull, and the new pain pills are for "intestinal pain" as well as other things. So I take one of the new pain pills, and within 10 minutes I'm feeling a lot better. After that, I kept on taking an anti-nausea pill and a pain pill about every 6 hours, and was able to drink a fair amount, and eat a little. Still not urinating much, which is worrisome. Slept a bit.

Rain at 1:45.
Sun for a new day  10/22/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Baie des Flamands, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Feeling okay, still a bit tired. Loaded up with medicine.

Rain at 7:20 and 8:45.

Dinghied ashore around 9:15. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Looked into the Post Office to see if I could receive a package "general delivery", but there was a line of more than 20 people, so I didn't stay. To an ATM and took out a lot of cash.

To the doctor's office to see if I could pay a bill for yesterday's pain-shot and prescription, but there were 5 people waiting and no secretary/receptionist, so eventually I left a note asking him to print a bill and I'd come in and pay it.

Stopped at a Tourist center to ask about receiving mail somewhere, but they said I'd have to do that in the industrial area, Lamentin, which is 5 miles east of town; I can't believe that.

To the marine store. Exchanged 3 books at their tiny book-exchange. They don't sell golf-cart batteries; they have a 12V 100AH 800A battery for €136 (US$190). I have four Trojan T105's, which I think add up to 440AH at 12V. So I guess I'd get four of these 100AH batteries for $800. Don't know if the numbers include tax.

Guy in marine store said nearby cyber-cafe would receive mail for me; I went there, and they won't. They also said Lamentin.

Back to the dinghy and back to the boat. Dumped fuel from jugs into tank.

Dinghied around the fort, through the commercial harbor, and to the starter-motor place. The motor was fixed; he was spray-painting it (green! pic) as I arrived. Paid him €150 (US$210) which is about what I expected. Wish we were able to communicate; I expect all he worked on was the solenoid, and it would have been nice yesterday if I could have told him to check the brushes and wires on the motor itself too. [I guess next time this happens, I'll try fixing the starter and solenoid myself. Would be nice to avoid paying these prices, and I should be able to learn how to do it. Have a Nigel Calder book that probably tells me a lot of what I need to know.]

Wandered around the boatyard complex, and eventually found a place that sells batteries, but they were only starting batteries, I think. The only rating on them was cranking amps. Power Master M27-MDX or M27-MDC battery for €133, I think.

Got another 38+ liters of diesel, and a few liters of gasoline. Back to the boat, where lifting the starter motor up from dinghy to boat was an adventure.

Feeling okay except for a slight headache.

Dumped fuel from jugs into tank.

A sailboat nearby had some problems with a jammed in-mast furler: pic. Always heard that those things can jam badly.

In midafternoon, put the starter motor back onto the engine. A bit exhausting to hold up the motor with one hand while trying to get the bolts started with the other hand. Motor probably weighs 50 pounds.

First try at starting the engine gave just a weak cranking from the motor. Sounds like weak batteries. But the solenoid worked, first thing, so the guy fixed that. Tried again 30 seconds later, and after a second or two of weak cranking, the engine cranked fine and fired right up. Ran it for a minute and shut it off. So, progress.

Chili and an apple juice for dinner.

Lots of music from shore in the evening, but not unpleasant. Got some decent sleep after midnight.
Sun for a new day  10/23/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Baie des Flamands, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Feeling okay, still a bit tired. Loaded up with medicine.

Still feeling punky, but forced myself to dinghy ashore around 10:15. Felt better after walking a little. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Walked over near the fort, then across town to a supermarket. Should have mentioned earlier: this town has a lot of very pretty women. It's a treat to wander around. Got some groceries, and down the pedestrian-mall street to the waterfront. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat, about 10 minutes ahead of a huge grey squall that came through at 11:35.

Another pretty good squall at 12:30. And again at 2.

By 5 or so, the belly-pain and kidney pain is building, and the pills aren't working any more. Threw up at 6:45 and 7:15; that made me feel a little better, but I'm still in pain and getting more and more dehydrated. Looks like I'll have to head for a hospital.

Dinghied ashore around 8, into festivities on the waterfront. Staggered to the street, and asked a couple of capable-looking people to call an ambulance. They did their best to help me, but I'm feeling absolutely horrible, shivering and sweating and hurting. Ambulance gets there within probably 10 minutes, but then asks me lots of questions and doesn't actually get moving for another 10 minutes or so. Several questions about whether my boat was locked, where were the keys, etc. Not much English spoken; hard to communicate info such as when I started having pain.

[Aside: this isn't France, but: I've read that in France, their thinking is that an ambulance shouldn't rush to the hospital, but should go slowly to avoid bumping and stressing the patient and to let the attendants do their work. So when Princess Diana was in that car-crash, she was alive when she went into the ambulance, and DOA 45 minutes later when it got to the hospital. My ambulance seemed to go at a reasonable speed.]

We get to the hospital, and I'm parked on a gurney in triage, groaning and panting and gasping with pain. Thirsty as the devil. Cold and sweating and shivering.

Eventually I get seen and moved further in, and punctured for an IV and braceleted. Only one doctor speaks English, but he is young and very fluent and a nice guy. The treatment is to drip a couple of drugs and some water or whatever into me to rehydrate me. So my gurney is parked in a hallway and the IV starts dripping.

I seem to be there forever. Lots of other gurneys parked too, with some seriously sick old people on them. I'm still hurting and sweating and shivering for a long time.

Eventually my condition starts stabilizing, and I try to get a little sleep as the IV keeps going. And then I get moved into a private room, which makes things a little quieter. But the staff here seems to have no inhibitions about calling loudly to each other or banging doors and such, in the middle of the night with people trying to sleep.

At one point, I have somebody lower the angle of my gurney so I can sleep better, but I find that it makes my stomach feel worse. Maybe I need to keep my shoulders elevated to help minimize my stomach pain.

Place seems well-equipped, except for a few items, such as: no drinking cups or glasses to be had, no pillows in evidence, only way to control temperature of room is to open a huge window.

Doctor finally says "well, you could leave now", and I discuss with him what could happen if I go home and this happens again. He says he'll prescribe better medicine than I had before. But it's 3 AM on Sunday, I ask where I'm going to find a pharmacy open on Sunday, and he says the airport pharmacy should open at 7 AM on Sunday.

Eventually get unhooked from the IV, and I walk out to the front. A crazy young woman is screaming and running around out there, with a cop and a few attenedants trying to calm her down.

I get to the accounting lady, and fill out forms. I can't understand her very well; she's speaking French and behind bulletproof glass and there's a lot of noise out here. Eventually I gather that a bill will come later, and she has no idea what the total will be.

Out at 4 AM, and I get the accounting-lady to call a taxi for me. Very bad phone-connection; she dialed and explained and handed the handset to me. Realized later I was talking across radio to taxi dispatcher, with half-duplex. And I think her phone handset wasn't quite right either.

Taxi arrives in 10 minutes, but the guy says the airport pharmacy will be closed today, I should go to a pharmacy in town. So I have him drive me back to the waterfront (€20 plus I overtipped; I don't think he was expecting a tip at all). Relieved to find the dinghy is still there; I had been nervous about leaving it on a busy waterfront at night. I get out to the boat by 4:30 AM or so, and collapse into bed.

Soon I find that I need to prop myself up in bed; if I lie flat, my upper stomach starts to feel bad, and a vomit reflex or cramping starts. So I bundle a bedspread under my pillow and work out a couple of positions that let me sleep. A bit awkward.
Sun for a new day  10/24/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Baie des Flamands, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Tired, anxious, and stomach still cramping. But not in real pain.

Dinghied ashore around 9:15. Both pharmacies I know about are closed. In fact, everything is closed except the cathedral and some street-vendors. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Back to the boat.

Slept, nibbled food and sipped liquids, read a little, napped. Sunny, windy day. Just trying to build up my strength and keep stable until I can get more medicine tomorrow.
Sun for a new day  10/25/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Baie des Flamands, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Feeling okay, a bit tired. Worried that my condition could go downhill again. But the vomiting has stopped and my GI tract seems to be getting nearer to normal, and I'll pick up the new medicines this morning, so things should be okay.

Got ready to go ashore, but the weather decided otherwise. Big squall/storm from 9:30 to 10 or so.

Bailed out the dinghy and got in it, and then a big Defense Force boat hovered nearby and a guy called across to me. Wanted to know where my boat was from, and (after some confusion) did I have anything to declare ? They eventually said okay, and I went ashore.

To a pharmacy, and got 6 boxes of medicines prescribed from the hospital; €61. To the Tourist Office, for another map, and to ask about any place to receive a package of mail from overseas (no luck). Then to the doctor's office, where there was a crowd, but my timing was good: the doctor popped out of the back office, said "ah, you want to pay", and I paid €25 for the shot and prescription I had from him on Thursday.

Over to the W side of town, looking for a particular internet place, but it's not there any more. Stopped at Sea Services, exchanged 3 books at their book-swap, and asked about any place to receive a package of mail from overseas (no luck).

Looked for another internet place, and eventually ended up back at the one I used last week. The first computer wouldn't open my thumb drive; the second wouldn't save web pages to the thumb drive. But got the essentials done. No tropical storms threatening. Going to have some strong winds here starting on the weekend, sustained E 20+ knots. Eyeglass frames and ATM card still haven't arrived in NJ; will have to chase down both orders and get them fixed. Don't have the energy to do it right now. Paid €3 for half an hour of internet. Asked the ladies at the counter if this internet place would receive a package for me, and that triggered a long discussion trying to figure out what I was asking, and eventually a "no". Guess this town is not a "boat" place; I'll try marinas and businesses close to marinas elsewhere in this harbor. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Fairly grey afternoon, with frequent rainshowers.

In late afternoon, dinghied ashore again, to get off the boat and maybe admire some pretty women. Sat on the waterfront and read my book and enjoyed some pretty women. Eventually went to the marine store and bought a couple of swage-sleeves to repair the main halyard; cost more than $2 apiece, when similar I bought in St Thomas (I think) were about 50 cents apiece. To the Leader Price small warehouse-type store, which turned out to have some really good prices on some things; I loaded up. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

A little salad and some bread-and-butter for dinner.

Frequent squalls and rainshowers all night long.
Sun for a new day  10/26/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Baie des Flamands, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Stomach feels pretty good, but still have pain in kidney area and lower. Still nervous about my health.

Want to move across the harbor, mainly to get access to another marine store to see about their selection of batteries. At 9:15, tried to start the engine, but got slow cranking and hot battery cables. Tried twice more over the next 15 minutes, got same result. Gave up for a while. Tried again around 11.

Family on a French aluminum sailboat came in and anchored in front of me, and went ashore. Boat soon was behaving oddly, pointing at right angles to all of the other boats here. And I thought their anchor might have dragged a little, too. An hour or two later, they came back out to the boat, raised anchor, and went and anchored extremely close under the tall wall of the fort. I think they're likely to be back-winded and pushed ashore, that close in. Strange.

At 2, tried the engine again and got it started. Anchor up by 2:15. Motored S across the harbor, and anchor down by 3:05 at Anse Mitan, Fort de France Bay, Martinique. Full of mooring buoys and other buoys and boats here, but I managed to wedge into a spot. Ended up a little close to a boat behind me; might be a problem when the strong wind starts up on the weekend.

Still getting ferry-wakes here, but much less frequently than I was getting over at town. Many more boats here, too, about two dozen, with maybe half being live-aboard or cruising boats.

Chicken-onion-rice and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.

Warm, still night.
Sun for a new day  10/27/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Anse Mitan, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Feeling okay.

Power-cord/adapter on the shortwave radio has broken again.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Got a little free Wi-Fi. First time it's been on Wi-Fi in a while, so everything wants to download big updates. Firewall, anti-virus, Windows. But the laptop overheats, and the Wi-Fi signal comes and goes as the boat swings.

Dinghied ashore to the ferry dock, and wandered the length of the town and the peninsula. A hot and sweaty walk. Not much in the "town" part, and lots of boutiques and restaurants on the peninsula. And the marine store / mechanics shop I was looking for has closed and relocated to Marin on the S coast, so there's nothing for me here. I'd been planning to go to Marin; now I'd better do it as soon as possible, before my batteries die completely. Which means fixing the main halyard today, and going tomorrow, if I can. Back to the dinghy, outboard quit for a minute, and back to the boat.

Did some more Wi-Fi, in 5-minute shots because the laptop overheats if I run it much longer than that. Today's forecast says strong wind coming Friday instead of late Saturday, but not as strong as before. So maybe I'll stay here a few days.

Started working on the main halyard anyway. Took a while to get the spare halyard down; the winch sticks. Will have to climb the mast to get the end of the main halyard and run it down the right side. Will have to climb between ferry arrivals, to avoid the big wakes. And don't want to climb in the heat of the day.

Took apart the shortwave receiver and tried to figure out the problem. Eventually decided the power-converter has died (pic); it gets pretty hot as soon as I plug it in. No problem: I have a spare converter, kept for just such a situation. So I plug that in, and can't get more than 0.7V out of it regardless of the setting of the output switch. Must be defective. Crap !

This is feeling like a death of a thousand cuts. Eyeglass frames, starter motor, exhaust manifold plate, laptop, shortwave, batteries, halyard, kidney; everything is breaking.

Start working on a 12V extension-cord to let me run a muffin-fan in the cockpit, so I might be able to run my laptop for more than 5 minutes when doing Wi-Fi.

Finally get all of the equipment ready, gather my courage, and right after the 5 PM ferry leaves, I climb the mainmast. I've never climbed in such open waters, and a couple of small wakes from unknown sources roll the boat, and slam me back and forth around the mast. But I get to the top, unjjam the end of the halyard, pull it through and down until something jams down near deck-level, and tie a line from deck to it. Back down to deck, and I'm able to pull the halyard-end down the rest of the way. There's just enough length left to cut it short, swage the thimble on, and use it again. That's a job for tomorrow.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwich for dinner.

Warm, still night.
Sun for a new day  10/28/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Anse Mitan, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Feeling okay. Had to take a pain-pill at 4 AM; had gone 34 hours without taking any pills. Feels like stone has moved out of kidney and gotten lower.

Grey clouds hovering overhead, and little wind, much of the day. Finally some solar and wind power after 2 or so.

Strange-looking craft motored by; called an "Aquascope", so I guess it's some kind of glass-bottomed boat, or submarine (pic).

Cut and swaged a new fitting onto the main halyard (pic). Those copper sleeves are easier to swage than the aluminum ones; hope they hold as well.

Did a little Wi-Fi. Found that the forecast stronger wind is from a developing possible tropical depression that might pass S of here.

Around 3, was getting more nervous about being close to the boat behind me, and stronger wind coming. So I tried starting the engine. Turned the key, and absolutely nothing happened: no click, no nothing. So started checking battery cables, and almost immediately found a loose connection of ground from one battery-bank to the engine block. And it's from the "good" bank; the other bank has a damaged terminal. So, fixed that, and the engine cranked fine and started right up ! Whee !

Raised anchor by 3:15, and motored around a few places, trying to find a better place to anchor. Finally settled on a spot about 200 feet from where I had been, and anchor down by 3:45 at Anse Mitan, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

That would be great if the engine-starting problem, and much of the battery problem, was fixed ! Feeling much more cheerful now.

Noticed a rude little plastic lean-to on the inaccessible rocky beach ahead of me (pic), and thought "a guy must be camping there". Later saw two guys and a dog come out of it.

Chicken-onion-carrot-couscous and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.

Warm, still night.
Sun for a new day  10/29/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Anse Mitan, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Grey, humid, still morning. Perfect time to raise the mainsail and straighten it out. So I attached it and raised it, and found a foot-long tear in the middle of it ! Bummer. Pic. Lowered it down, and will wait for the sun to dry it before I work on it. A bit of sun starting around 9.

Dinghied ashore to get a few groceries.

Caulked the base of the mainmast, where it's been leaking.

Tried to do some Wi-Fi, but it's just impossible. Laptop spends all of its time swapping, because of reduced RAM, and Wi-Fi signal keeps dropping. Firefox taking up a ton of memory, Windows downloading yet another round of updates. Ridiculous.

Then a guy from the small green sailboat I used to be next to came over, and said a hurricane is bringing 60- to 70-knot winds here, tomorrow. He says I can move to one of the white moorings, for free. I don't believe he's right about the weather. Tried the Wi-Fi again, and it's fighting me as hard as possible. Soon saw the guy moving his boat forward onto a mooring. I spent 45 minhutes struggling with the Wi-Fi, to get about 3 web pages. Wunderground says all models have Invest 91 going well S of here, probably right over Grenada (maybe 140 miles S of here), strengthening to 70 MPH or so in 2 days. Windguru has us getting sustained E 22 Sat (tomorrow) and Sun, with gusts to 26.

So I go over to tell the guy. He's Michel, on "Tessa". We have a lot of trouble communicating, but I tell him what I learned.

And I'd never trust a mooring in 70-knot wind. I might tie to a mooring as an aid to two or three anchors.

Rain at 2:15.

Later, I see the owner of the mooring come back, and "Tessa" moves to another, less good mooring.

Salad and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Suddenly, around 6:45, I have a lot of stomach and kidney pain and nausea. Start popping pills, but they don't seem to be doing much good. This is bad. On a weekend, with strong weather coming, in a tourist place.

At 9:10, threw up. Took more pills.

At 10, a squall, and I threw up again. More pills.

Threw up at 11:15 and 2 AM. Miserable night, not getting any sleep, sweating and chilled and aching and nauseated.

Sustained wind started around 4 AM.
Sun for a new day  10/30/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Anse Mitan, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Feeling horrible. Threw up at 5:30.

Hurricane covering entire Bahamas

Huge squall/storm from 6:25 to 7:15; very dark and grey and low visibility, lots of wind and near-horizontal rain. Weather stays that way all day, grey and windy and gusty and rainy and low visibility. A bit rolly, too, which doesn't make me feel any better.

Unfortunately, I seem to be anchored right on a boundary here. The hill to the E of me is splitting the wind from the E. I'm getting a lot of NE wind, and my neighbor to the S is getting a lot of ESE wind, so we're coming close to each other, and lying at right angles to each other. But I watch and watch, and we never get too close. So I let it stay.

I work something out that makes my nausea a little better: I can't lie down to rest or sleep, even with my shoulders and head propped up. I need to rest sitting up straight. After experimenting in various parts of the boat, I find it best to sit on the bench next to my berth, put pillow on a box on top of my mattress, and lean over to rest my head on the pillow. Not great, but I get some sleep.

Stomach is spasming and hiccuping violently at times, despite all of the anti-nausea pills I've taken. Did that much of the night, too.

Threw up at 10:35.

Around 1:15, on deck in the rain to lash the mainsail down better; it's been getting a little loose. Also retrieved a bucket that's blowing around.

Threw up at 2:40. Felt quite a bit better afterwards, for many hours.

Anchor chain is catching on the rocky bottom, making the boat jerk and bang as it moves around. And the wind is incredibly fluky and gusty, even backwinding me sometimes.

The rainwater in the buckets on deck is very white; may be full of Sahara dust.

Getting fairly little power from the wind-generator: the wind is so fluky and contrary that it rarely blows steadily enough from the bow to let the wind-generator work.

In the evening, wind frequently ENE and conditions very rolly; swells from the main harbor are curving in and rolling us. Very uncomfortable. Finally dumped out the buckets and took them in; they were sliding around on deck and thumping into the fiberglass. Some wind-gusts over 30 knots, I think.

Wind first very NNE, putting close to that boat S of me, with us at right angles to each other. Then the wind started cycling N - E - S, moving me all over the place. Then lots of S, putting me close to the ruins of a marina dock. From the forecast, I'd expected lots of E wind, not all of this N and S. Clearing the dock by 40 feet or so, which is too close for comfort. Started the engine and ran it for a few minutes, so that it would be warm and easy to start if I need it later. Then in a lull around 12:30, I went forward and took in 10 feet of chain.

Just after midnight, the whole harbor (probably 100K people) lost power. Poof ! Generators started coming on, and then main power was back in maybe 15 minutes.

By 2 or so, the wind had settled down to E or ESE, and I started getting some sleep. Still can't sleep lying down; did it for a while, and my stomach started complaining, so back to upright sleep.

Something near the stern making a loud thump every time the boat rolls. Went on deck a couple of times to try to fix it, but couldn't find the source.
Sun for a new day  10/31/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Anse Mitan, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Feeling headachey, and various kinds of belly and kidney pain. Taking pain pills.

Weather still very grey and damp and often rainy, but much less wind this morning. Often very still.

Found the source of last night's thumping: when the boat rolls, as the dinghy swings on its davits, the pull-handle on the outboard catches the davits lines and then releases from them, making a big thump/twang kind of noise.

Napping, snacking, taking pills, trying to get rid of this headache.

A little sun around 1:45.

Got a little Wi-Fi, just a few minutes before it started to rain again (typical). Turns out hurricane Tomas probably came a lot closer than I expected; probably passed/formed between St Vincent and St Lucia, maybe 50-70 miles S of here instead of 140-150 miles S at Grenada. Of course, have to take this weather info with a grain of salt: WindGuru has us still getting 25-30 knot wind here today, when we haven't seen any wind.

Rain at 3:50.

Ran engine for 10 minutes to charge batteries, but at least one bank doesn't seem to be charging much.

Tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner, and my stomach seems okay.

Was able to sleep lying down, and my stomach stayed okay. Slept well. Quiet night.
Sun for a new day  11/1/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Anse Mitan, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Stomach and kidney feel good, but still have headache.

Grey and still morning, but getting a little sun by 9.

Did a little Wi-Fi, but signal is very flaky. And Yahoo Mail changed something a week ago, making it almost impossible to reply to emails. Keeps rejectng messages if they have links in them, and demanding I type in "captchas" to prove I'm human. By the time I do that, the signal has dropped again.

Hurricane Tomas hit St Lucia as category 2 ! Lots of damage there, Barbados, St Vincent, and Dominica (NW of here !).

Haven't seen (or been waked by) any ferries today. Maybe it's a holiday ?

Started the engine at 10:35. Anchor up by 10:45, after letting it work itself off some rocky bit of bottom that it had hooked onto. Motored out into the bay, and the wind is a lot stronger out here, maybe ENE 15-18. Guess I was more sheltered than I thought in that anchorage.

Motored NE across the bay, and anchor down by 12:05 at Cohe de Lamentin, Fort de France Bay, Martinique. This is the real hurricane hole here; I would have come here if I'd know that hurricane was going to come so close. Industrial area, with airport on S side, refinery to NW, lots of big stores to the N and NE, if I can get to them.

Napped and snacked, trying to get rid of the headache. Weather stayed very grey. Wind-generator much happier here. Couldn't get any Wi-Fi.

Pork-onion-noodle concoction and fruit juice for dinner.

Police boat stopped by at 10:15, but all they wanted to know was if I had seen a "red flyer" or maybe "red fighter". I said no, I'd been sleeping, and they went away.

Slept pretty well.
Sun for a new day  11/2/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Cohe de Lamentin, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Feeling mostly okay, which is a big improvement. Weather still pretty grey. Anchorage a bit buggy in the early morning.

After noon, a bunch of guys sailing a traditional-looking sailboat around; probably a team practicing for a regatta. Pics.

In early afternoon, dinghied ashore to the Marina La Neptune. Turned out to be just a lot of slips and storage bays for sailing schools; no office open, no fuel dock. Disposed of a couple of bags of garbage. Nice-looking walking park next door, but I wasn't up for it. Walk inland toward the highway looked pretty bleak, so I didn't do that either.

Back into the dinghy, and toured the edge of the mangroves to the NE and N of the anchorage, looking for a place to get ashore. Finally found one where that traditional sailboat had launched from; half a dozen more such boats hauled up there. I pulled my dinghy up on the shallow beach and started walking inland.

A lot more hilly here than I expected; walking is hard work. But it feels good to be off the boat, getting some exercise, feeling healthy. Chugged uphill and down a bit, and miraculously got to my target with only one slight wrong turn. Got to the Antilles Gas Cimex place, supposedly the only place on Martinique where you can buy propane. And the guy there promptly informed me that they don't sell propane. And when I asked if anywhere else sells it, he said nowhere on Martinique. So that's that.

Back to the dinghy, and toured further W, past the refinery, looking for the entrance to a creek that heads N toward the highway and shopping. But I couldn't find it; it's probably overgrown with mangroves. Back to the boat.

Salad and salami-cheese-sandwiches for dinner.

Felt okay all night, but didn't sleep very well.
Sun for a new day  11/3/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Cohe de Lamentin, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Dinghied around to Marina de Cohe, which turned out to be further away than I expected, and quite an odd place. A narrow mangrove creek, absolutely stuffed with boats of every sort. Some quite new and nice: a couple of big sportfishers, a couple of skiffs with three 275-HP outboards on the back of each, a go-fast boat, some other shiny boats. And a number of tired old boats that look like they haven't moved for quite a while. And then out-and-out abandoned boats, in water or on shore, plus some junked cars. Looks like the place used to have an old boatyard; some old brick ruins and rusty pieces of equipment. Pics. Half a dozen people spread around the place, working on boats, but it looks like individual owners or mechanics. A couple of mechanics had a laptop plugged into one big outboard motor to diagnose and tune it. There's no office or facilities, and maybe only a couple of people living on boats. I wandered around for a while, then back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

I've been looking for a place to leave the boat while I fly to the USA for Christmas, and neither "marina" here is the place. I need somewhere reasonably sheltered to anchor, plus a fair amount of daily dinghy-traffic so I can bum a ride to and from shore at the ends of my trip. Neither of these marinas has any dinghy-traffic to speak of. Too bad; the marina I checked out this morning is right next to the airport, so that would have been very convenient. I'll have to head to Cul-de-Sac du Marin on the S coast.

So, not much point in staying here any longer. Added 1/3 quart of oil to the engine, and engine start at 12:40. Chain came up with lots of gooey muck on it; anchor up by 12:50. Wind stronger from NE now. Motored S across the harbor, with a couple of rainsqualls coming through. Engine running 5 or 10 degrees hot. Almost ran myself aground on a shoal, but saw the change in water-color, looked at the chart, and realized the route had a kink in it that I hadn't noticed.

Dodged the ferry going into harbor, turned upwind and threaded through some moored boats, nosed up until the bow was almost aground, and anchor down by 2 PM at Trois Ilets, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Got some sporadic free Wi-Fi, just enough to upload the log files and get weather info.

Anchor dragging, even in this very shallow water ! Started engine at 3:05, moved forward an extra 75 feet or so, and anchor down again by 3:15. No problem after that.

Chili and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/4/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Trois Ilets, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Grey morning. Rain at 8:45 and 9:40. Strong squall at 10:10. More at 12:10.

Took apart that cheap power adapter for the shortwave receiver and tried to fix it, but no luck.

Managed to smash my left little toe into the corner of the companionway steps; hope it's not broken.

Did some Wi-Fi. As I feared, flights out of here are horribly expensive. Round-trip $700+ just to San Juan Puerto Rico, which is maybe 350 miles from here ? $1150 or so round-trip to Philadelphia. Will have to keep scratching to find something better.

Dinghied ashore after the 3 PM squall. Town pretty quiet, and drenched. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Wanted to wander a bit and then find a grocery store, but accidentally went straight to the stores. Bought a baguette at the patisserie, and bananas at the small grocery store. Just as well; right after coming out of the second store, my toe started hurting a lot, and I limped back to the dock and went back to the boat. Had dinghy hoisted and everything stowed well before the 4 PM storm hit.

Banana and salami-cheese-sandwiches for dinner.

Frequent rain all night, until about 3 AM.
Sun for a new day  11/5/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Trois Ilets, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Sunny morning at first. Dumped 12-13 gallons of rainwater from buckets to jugs and tank. Then a rainsquall a little after 9.

My toe is dark pinkish on top and a little black-and-blue underneath, but doesn't hurt much unless I try to use it. Guess I cracked it, and now I'll be limping for a while.

I need to patch the mainsail and hoist it up, but it's still too windy and rainy to spread it out and work on it.

Listened to some podcasts I'd saved on my laptop a while ago; nice to hear an English-speaking voice.

Did some Wi-Fi. Weather will get a little weird over the next week: instead of typical E or ESE wind, we'll get a couple of days of S wind, then a couple of days of light W wind.

Checked out plane flights some more. It's the usual limited choices, from an island airport. I need to have someone give me a dinghy-ride to shore, then bus/taxi to the airport, and be there an hour or two before departure time, and don't want to arrive at Philly too late, so something like a noon departure would be great. So the choices so far are 8:30 AM or 5 PM.

Around 3:45, a charter-type sailboat trying to leave the harbor went aground. Easy to do here: the channel has exactly one marker, and you have to make a sharpish turn just inside it. They were aground on the downwind side of the channel, and I thought they'd be there a while. But they used the dinghy to put out the anchor to one side, pushed the bow with the dinghy from the other side, hoisted the mainsail, and ran the engine, and the combination got the bow off and they were out within 15 minutes.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.

So still in the evening that some fog rose up; can't remember the last time I've seen fog around the boat.

Boat bumped aground a few times in the early AM.
Sun for a new day  11/6/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Trois Ilets, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

GI tract not feeling so good this morning, so I'm loafing (more than usual). Hurt toe still hurts. A couple of rainsqualls early in the morning.

Around 1:50, kidneys and belly started hurting a lot, and took pain pills. Slow to take effect.

At 2:15, watched a sloop aground in the far W side of the W anchorage, with both sails up. Might be a cruising boat; they have a wind-generator. Yellow motorboat trying to pull them free.

Threw up at 2:30.

By 2:45, the sloop was free and the yellow motorboat was towing them out across the main bay.

More pain pills at 2:45. Feeling horrible.

At 3:15, launched the dinghy, in case I have to go ashore and look for help.

Threw up at 3:20, and at 4. Still feeling horrible.

Put on clean clothes, and got together a bag of medicines and paperwork and other stuff for a stay ashore, if needed. Dinghied ashore and looked for the hospital that's supposed to be here. Found it, but it turns out to be a psychiatric hospital, with no ER. Four doctors or interns or attendants tried to help me, but they spoke little English. Went through the normal litany, seeing them grimace as I responded "No address, I'm living on a boat. No one with me, I'm alone. No phone. No car."

They were willing to try to find a doctor for me, and made a phone call or two. But I was feeling okay as I was standing there talking to them, and it was almost 5 PM on a Saturday. So I didn't want them to chase down some doctor and drag him away from dinner, for a non-emergency. It was hard to communicate to them that I was trying to scope out my options in case I got much worse later. Eventually I left with a phone number for something called "SOS Medicins".

Of course, about a block from the hospital, the pain came back and I started feeling pretty bad. Took another pain pill. Decided to go back to the boat, where at least I had water and juice and such.

Threw up at 5:25, 6:50, 8:30, 1:10 AM. After each time I threw up, I immediately drank some more fluids and took some more medicine, to replace the losses. I seem to be throwing up every bit of fluid I drink; little is getting absorbed. Tried to nibble a cracker every now and then.

Sweating and chilled and feeling weak; haven't had much solid food today. Eventually the pain ebbed, and I got the vomiting under control. Still having bad stomach spasms any time I shift from one position to another. Not getting much sleep.

Boat slowly spinning around as the light wind changes oddly; wind is supposed to be changing to S. Boat bumping aground at times.
Sun for a new day  11/7/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Trois Ilets, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Still feeling weak, but little kidney pain and stomach seems to be settling down. Ate a powerbar at 8 AM and it stayed down.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Did some Wi-Fi. May have found a bit of a breakthrough on the air-flight front: flying from the airport at the S end of St Lucia (UVF), about 50-60 miles from here, is far cheaper ($600 versus $1200) than flying from here (FDF), and they even have a non-stop to Philly (PHL). But there is no puddle-jumper from FDF to UVF, so I'd have to take the boat there and leave it there. Better read up on St Lucia.

Tuna-salad for dinner; I haven't been eating a lot recently.
Sun for a new day  11/8/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Trois Ilets, Fort de France Bay, Martinique.

Engine start at 8:45; cranked pretty well. Tricky to get the anchor up while I'm bumping aground, but got it up by 8:55. Eased out, only once crunching over something hard. Motored out through the channel, making a sharp turn by the green marker and keeping a sharp eye on the depth-sounder, but no problems. Unfurled the jib and started motor-sailing out.

Pleasant little motor-sail WSW down the bay, making about 4.5 knots. As I got to the bay entrance and turned more SSW, wind came around to the bow, so I had to furl the jib. Some swells coming in from the W, too.

Then the trip got ugly. Turning S and SSE near Cap Salomon, I hit a lot of current coming straight at me, probably 1.5 knots or so. Light wind right on the nose, and two sets of swells, one on the nose and the other from the beam. Knocked my speed over ground down to 2.0 knots, and lots of rolling. Swells knocking the boat off course, so I had to steer a lot. Would be nice to be able to use the mainsail to stop the worst of the rolling, but I haven't repaired the tear in it yet. Something always seemed to keep me from getting to the that job: rain or wind or sickness.

A long, slow, uncomfortable slog down to the SW corner of the island. Cutting inside Diamond Rock and turning E, I hoped I would get out of the worst of the current and swells. But enough remained to keep speed down to the 2.7-knot range, and the boat still rolled badly.

A long, slow slog along the S coast of the island. Anxious that my fuel will hold out (really should be no problem) and nothing go wrong with the engine; there aren't any good anchorages to fall back into, and my mainsail still is unavailable. Wondering why the heck I do this any more; maybe Paul and Steve have the right idea: they just sit in their favorite harbor, Culebra, and do little day-sails every now and then.

Finally, finally made it up and into harbor, not getting out of the rolly swells until 4:40 or so.

The anchorage near town is a pretty intimidating sight at first look: a multitude of masts, hundreds and hundreds of hulls, scads of sailboats. But I plunge in and look for a spot, and really don't have much trouble finding one. As I prepare to anchor, a French couple pops up from their nearby boat, and the guy tries to warn me not to anchor there. Takes a while, but I figure out he's saying there's a shoal, it's shallow. But I just nosed forward over the area he's pointing to; it's not shallow. I do another circle, more over behind him, and find it's 15 feet deep there, too. I tell him so as I go past, and he shrugs, and says maybe it's worse further over. So I continue anchoring more or less where I was when he started waving.

Anchor down by 5:25 at Marin, Cul-de-Sac du Marin, Martinique.

So, that was a pretty ugly trip. Expected maybe 5 hours and it turned out to be 9. Distance slightly longer than expected, and speed a lot lower than I hoped.

A couple of small salami-sandwiches for dinner.

Very still night. Kept an eye out to make sure I wasn't swinging close to anyone, but everything's fine.
Sun for a new day  11/9/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Marin, Cul-de-Sac du Marin, Martinique.

Harbor doesn't look quite so crowded in daylight. The dense areas of masts are in the marina and its mooring field, and in the boatyard. Maybe 400 or 500 boats in those areas, and another 200 at anchor. And there is a shoal to the E of me, but I was nowhere near it yesterday evening when that guy waved me off.

Relieved to find that the laptop booted up okay. Last time I used it, I tried to install a Windows Update, and that hung, and cancelling it hung, and trying to shut down the laptop hung, and I had to power it off hard.

Couldn't get any free Wi-Fi.

Feeling some kidney-stone pain; took a pain pill.

Dinghied ashore to the Caren Antilles area. Bought fuel: 3.08 liters of gasoline for €4 (about $6.90/gallon) and 37.75 liters of diesel for €40.02 (about $5.60/gallon). Exchanged half a dozen books at the book-swap. Into the chandlery, where they have Trojan T105 6-volt batteries for €162 apiece (includes all taxes; that's about US$227 each). Disposed of a bag of garbage. A couple of interesting boats in the boatyard: pic1, pic2.

Over to a nearby dock, and into the Leader Price supermarket for some groceries. Then back to the boat, swinging through the anchorage to look for any USA boats with people aboard. No luck.

In midafternoon, dinghied ashore to the SE end of the marina. Found an internet place for €3/hour; I'll do that tomorrow. Wandered along the street into "town", looking for useful businesses. Into a chandlery, and they had Trojan T105 batteries for €198 apiece ! That's insane, that's about US$277 apiece ! They also had a DC-DC converter I could use for my shortwave receiver, but it was €11.80, or about US$16.50, which seems a bit pricey.

Can't imagine why this floor of this building needs so many air-conditioners: pic. Nothing in there but a couple of office-type businesses.

Found a pharmacy, and took care of one of my to-do items: they refilled my prescription for pain-pills with no hesitation, which is great. And the pills are cheap, too, about US$5 for 30 pills. They're Spasfon (phloroglucinol / trimethylphloroglucinol), which I've never had before, but they work well.

Wandered a little more, then to a supermarket. They have a couple of nice supermarkets here; good place to provision. Back to the boat.

Chili and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/10/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Marin, Cul-de-Sac du Marin, Martinique.

Left little toe still swollen and hurting a bit.

Took the patched plate off the engine exhausta manifold. The part that gets eaten through by the hot saltwater still is pretty solid; the patch would have kept working for another couple of months. But when it went, it would have sprayed hot saltwater all over the starter motor, and the engine compartment. And who wants to keep motoring with a patched engine ?

Dinghied ashore to the boatyard. Saw another odd-looking glass-bottomed boat: pics. Took a little while to find the machine-shop, and then to find the boss. Not much English spoken, but I gave him the patched plate and said I wanted the same thing in steel. Some confusion about plain steel versus stainless steel, I asked the price, he shrugged it off. Then he grabbed a length of 3/8" plain steel sheet, said "okay ?", put it into the chomper machine, and chomped off a chunk the right size. He handed it to me and said "done", but I pointed out I needed the six holes drilled. That took him 10 minutes or so, and he charged €20; probably would have been free without the drilling. I was happy to pay; can't beat that service.

Back to the boatyard office to use their internet computer. But one lady had said it was working; now the other lady said it wasn't. Exchanged half a dozen books at the book-exchange at the fuel dock, then back to the boat.

Holes on the new plate maybe aren't quite perfect, but with some taps of a hammer, the plate goes on. The plate isn't quite perfectly flat, either, but I guess that's what gasket-goop is for. Filed the edges and holes of the plate a bit, probably without accomplishing much. Pic.

After lunch, cleaned off the manifold surface, put on the goop, put on the plate, tightened all of the nuts. Will test it tomorrow. And that will be another item off the to-do list.

In midafternoon, dinghied ashore to the marina. Across the street to Cyber Marin, and did an hour of internet for €3. Caught up on a lot of email.

Found a message from my bank, in their private email system, saying they were about to cancel my ATM card. I've been trying to get a new card from them for a year or two; they keep saying it's been ordered, but it never arrives. Now it appears the problem is that they don't have a phone number for me, for the good reason that I don't have a phone of any kind. And now would be a bad time for them to cancel the card on me: I'm about to move from Martinique (Euro's) to St Lucia (EC dollars).

Confirmed that the flight to Philly from St Lucia is half the cost of the flight from Martinique, so that's what I'll do. Trying to get a read on how safe (from thieves) it would be to leave the boat anchored at Vieux Fort at south end of St Lucia.

Got a little clever, and sent email to the marine store in Rodney Bay St Lucia, asking their price for batteries. They have Deka golf-cart batteries for US$160, so I'll buy those there.

I've had a lot of messages from my readers about my health problems, and I do appreciate the concern and suggestions. A few people suggest maybe it is something other than kidney stones, but I had a series of kidney stones about 20-25 years ago, and I'm absolutely sure that's what this is. Several people suggest I should park the boat somewhere and go to the USA for treatment. But there's not really much they can do for kidney stones: take pain-pills and let the stones pass naturally, shock-wave lithotripsy to shatter them, or urethroscopy to pull them out (if low down). The latter two usually involve X-rays and then hospital stays. And I have no medical insurance. Except for the language barrier, I think the Martinique doctors and hospitals would do as well as the USA ones; not sure about St Lucia. So I'm going the "pain-pills and pass naturally" route. The only thing that worries me is that my urine output is way down, despite drinking a lot of fluids. But for the last 3 or 4 days, I've had just dull pain, and taken maybe 2 pain-pills, total. And no vomiting.

To the supermarket for a couple of items, then back to the boat. A few odd things about supermarkets in the French islands: peanut butter is hard to find and extremely expensive, no hamburger-type pickle slices, half of the breakfast cereal has chocolate in it.

Salad for dinner.

During the night, occurred to me that I should have painted that plate before putting it on the exhaust manifold.
Sun for a new day  11/11/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Marin, Cul-de-Sac du Marin, Martinique.

Took the new plate off the engine exhaust manifold and started painting it.

At 9:30, after using the laptop to read some saved web-pages about kidney stones, I felt very faint, and had to go lie down before I passed out. Probably psychosomatic: I've been known to faint in doctor's offices every now and then. Felt better after a few minutes. Took a pain-pill; my kidneys are aching a bit.

Several coats of paint on the exhaust plate, but I'm not sure how well it's sticking. Put the gasket-goop on and the plate on and tightened it a bit. Later tightened it more.

Started repairing the tears in the mainsail. Someone had asked how I do that, and I'm no expert, but here's what I do. Basic tools: thread, needle, beeswax, cutters, sail-repair tape (pic). I do some stitches across the tears, mainly to hold the edges in place. Then sticky sail-repair tape over both sides. Then stitching on the corners of the repair tape, to hold both pieces of tape and the sail material together. More stitches to hold things more. I use cutters to snip the thread; scissors don't work so well. If threads came loose out of a seam in the sail, I try to stitch through the old holes. Sometimes have to use needle-nose pliers to force the needle through. Hard to get a good picture of the final result, but: pic.

Leftover chili, over rice and with a few odd bits added, for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/12/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Marin, Cul-de-Sac du Marin, Martinique.

One last tightening of the nuts on the exhaust manifold plate, now that the gasket-goop has hardened.

Put some more stitches in the mainsail.

Dinghied ashore in the midafternoon, to the marina. Disposed of two bags of garbage. To the internet place. Message from my bank says the old ATM card won't be cancelled until I activate the new card. Bought plane tickets from St Lucia to Philly for Christmas; US$547 round-trip and it's a non-stop both ways; half the price of flights from Martinique, and no connections. Finally got my eyeglass-frame order unstuck; they'll probably arrive in NJ tomorrow. Tried to Skype-call Mom, but got her answering machine, and the microphone on the headset wasn't working anyway. €3 for an hour of internet.

Dinghied over to the boatyard and exchanged 3 or 4 books at the book-exchange. Then to Leader Price for some discount groceries. Back to the boat.

More stitches in the mainsail, then hoisted it and furled it. Good to have it done.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/13/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Marin, Cul-de-Sac du Marin, Martinique.

Grey and threatening rain all morning. Light rain at 11:15.

Dumped 10 gallons of diesel from jugs to tank.

Fuel level 7.0 inches at engine hour 4743.

Rain at 12:45.

Ran engine for 5 minutes to test exhaust manifold plate. No problems.

Opened up hallway sole, chipped away at ballast pigs without making much progress, and put wood pieces in to shore up weak spots under the sole.

Rain at 3:45.

Spaghetti and a light rum-and-dietcoke for dinner.

Waterfront restaurant/bar played music all night long, and I mean all night long: didn't stop until 6 AM. Pretty far away from me, not too loud, and didn't really bother me, but I'd hate to live near that place.

That reminds me of a scene from The Simpsons: the Simpsons get put into the witness-protection program, and are sent to live on a houseboat. As they're walking up to their boat, Homer's saying "the great thing about living on a boat is, if you don't like your neighbors, you can just leave !" They go inside, slam the door, and every other boat leaves.
Sun for a new day  11/14/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Marin, Cul-de-Sac du Marin, Martinique.

Grey again. Rain with big raindrops and no wind at 6:45.

Loafed all day, reading. No energy to do anything. Weather stayed grey and almost-rainy all day. Pretty good rain at 5. More rain during the evening.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/15/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Marin, Cul-de-Sac du Marin, Martinique.

Weather showing a hint of the ENE wind I'm waiting for, to go to St Lucia. More E than ENE, but at least it's stronger than the last few days.

Did a bucket of laundry.

Rain at noon.

In midafternoon, dinghied ashore to the boatyard. Disposed of a pile of garbage; I'm trying to straighten up the boat a bit. Exchanged 3 books at the book-swap. Then ran into an English-speaking couple, Mike and his wife from Texas, so I walked and talked with them as they headed to a nearby shopping-center to get a SIMM card and then some groceries. Very nice to have an English conversation; first in several months. Nice people. He's a stereotypical Texan, loud and with an unlit cigar in his mouth, laughing about mangling French with a Texan accent. They've been cruising for about 10 years, I think, and this is their second time up and down the Eastern Caribbean.

They came up from St Lucia just yesterday, I think. I told them I planned to leave the boat at Vieux Fort St Lucia, and asked if that would be safe. Mike didn't seem to realize where I was talking about, but then he did, and he said there are plenty of cruisers down there, and I shouldn't have any problem getting someone to keep an eye on my boat. He said the boat-boys in St Lucia are no problem; I've been a little anxious about that, never having had to deal with them. We chatted about other places. He said Venezuela is interesting but getting too volatile these days. He said the only reason to go to Trinidad is to have work done on the boat (and maybe also to get out of the hurricane zone); no one goes there to cruise. And in the two months they were there in Chagauramus, eight dinghies were stolen. They were in Florida a year or so ago, and agreed with me that we'll never take our boats back there: it's become very cruiser-unfriendly.

Said good-bye, and back to the dinghy with a few groceries. Then over to Leader Price for a few more, then back to the boat.

Chili and a rum-and-dietcoke for dinner. Rain prevented me from eating on the foredeck.

Rained several times during the night.
Sun for a new day  11/16/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Marin, Cul-de-Sac du Marin, Martinique.

Added oil to the outboard.

Dinghied ashore to the marina and went to the Customs office. Four computers, and soon they were all in use, with one or two people waiting. Filled out the computer form, printed it, the Customs lady stamped it, and done. Put tomorrow as my departure date; I want to stay in Sainte Anne tonight. Back to the boat.

Engine start at 8:45. Anchor up by 9 in windy conditions. Motored W down the harbor and out, sharp turn around the red buoy, and SE. Buzzed by a Coast Guard helicopter, which then went offshore to do some winch-a-man-up-and-down drills. Anchor down by 9:40 at Sainte Anne, Martinique.

Free Wi-Fi ! Did some Wi-Fi.

Dinghied ashore. Nice little town. Nice church (pic). Got a little altitude and saw some nice views (pic).

Did some more Wi-Fi.

Snorkeled under the boat and scraped hull and prop. Not too bad, mostly grass. Some dead barnacles and crunchy stuff that I didn't get to the last time I scraped.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

Some odd anchor-lights on boats here tonight. Sailboat next to me has a white strobe halfway up the mast. Sailboat behind me a ways has some kind of revolving red/white light, where the red is wide and the white is more focused and piercing. Of course, I shouldn't talk: I'm using two Home Depot garden solar lights, one on the each stern corner. If I'm in a high-traffic area, I hang a Davis anchor light inside my pilothouse, which makes all of the windows glow. I gave up on an anchor light at the top of the mast a while ago; had to climb the mast every 6 months to fix or replace the stupid thing.
Sun for a new day  11/17/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Sainte Anne, Martinique.

Did some Wi-Fi.

Time to go to St Lucia. Engine start at 7:10, anchor up by 7:20, engine off and sailing by 7:30. Lovely little downwind sail around the point and out into open water, dodging some fish-trap floats. headed SSW to St Lucia. Making 4+ knots.

Big squall hit the island behind me around 8:30, and I caught the edge of it. Started raining, wind picked up maybe 5 knots, and then bang ! Something let go on the tack of the mainsail, and it's loose and flogging. Raining harder now; I got pretty wet dealing with the sail. Sheet is still attached to the tack, so I pulled the sheet around a cleat and started pulling the sail into a decent position. Boat rolling pretty heavily with mainsail not steadying it any more, and the wind has died a bit and the swells increased. Got the boat moving well again. Saw what let loose: the out-haul block let loose from the boom. Probably a pin failed. Decided to run the sheet back onto the boom; the mainsail isn't doing very well sheeted to that cleat. Took a while on a rolly boat in the rain, but got it done. Boat sailing well again by 9 or so, making around 4 knots again, sometimes up to 4.5 knots.

Soon the mizzen-boom was loose; the sheet chafed through. Quickly lashed it down. Haven't used the mizzensail in ages, because the boom sheets to the davits, and heavy sailing tends to crack the bases of the davits if I use the mizzen. Never have found a good place to attach the mizzen sheet.

Uneventful trip after that; sailed all the way. Nice to avoid using up that $6+/gallon diesel. Leech of jib is coming apart again; the half-baked stitching job I did several weeks ago needs to be improved.

Rolly, but plenty of ENE and NE wind to keep me going 4 to 4.5 knots, which is fine. Glad I'm going S; saw 6 or 7 boats going N, and they were having a tough time of it. Seas started out E, then ENE, then started curving NE as I got near the N end of St Lucia. Big following seas for me. Tricky hand-steering at the end, with fairly strong wind and big seas directly on the stern.

As I neared Pigeon Point around 12:45, a French sailboat came motoring out, heading N. What are they thinking, starting so late, and heading N on one of the rare days when there's some N in the wind and seas ? Should have done that trip two or three days ago, when wind and seas were E and light. And I'm a firm believer in starting early in the morning; if something goes wrong, you want as much daylight as possible to deal with it.

Sailed into the bay, and struggled to furl the sails. Neither furled very well, but I got them in. Started raining lightly again as I looked for the entrance to the marina; it's narrow and hard to see. I was heading for it by GPS when I saw a powerboat come out, showing me where it was.

Got inside, and the marina dock layout doesn't match the diagrams in either of my guidebooks (which are a bit outdated, vintage 2005). No yellow posts marking a Customs slip either. No official-looking flagpole showing where Customs is. So I called the marina on the VHF, and they said they don't have a dedicated Customs slip (both guidebooks think they do), just dock on the end of G dock.

Saw G dock with the binocs, put out fenders and docklines. An easy docking, which is good, since I hate going into marinas (all those hard, expensive things you can hit). Docked by 1:30 at Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia. Good timing; Customs closes from 12 to 1:30 for lunch.

Grabbed my stuff, onto the dock, and eventually found the Customs office. Filled out a standard-type form, showed my documents, no problems. Until it came to pay the fee: EC$42 (about US$15.55), and I have only Euro's and US$. But soon they took my US$20 and gave me EC$10 change, which is just about right.

On the way out, stopped at the marina office to see if they have a book-swap, but it's an antiseptic place. Back to the boat through more light rain. Engine start a little after 2, no trouble casting off and getting separation from the dock, and motored out. Anchor down before 2:20 out in the harbor, at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Sorted out the boat a bit before the next wave of light rain could come in. Fenders and docklines in, sails lashed down, stuff on stern deck moved back into place.

Guy came by in a skiff, selling vegetables and flags and stuff, but I said no, thanks, I'm okay, and he went away.

25 or 30 boats anchored here, probably half with someone aboard.

Rice-onions-leftoverchili and a rum-and-dietcoke for dinner.

Pretty good rain at 9:15. More rain at 2:15 and 4:30. Quiet night, but a bit rolly.
Sun for a new day  11/18/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Totally still, humid, damp, grey. Rain at 6:15.

Investigated the failure of the mainsail's out-haul, and it turns out to be easy to fix. I forget exactly what had been there, some kind of swivel built into a multi-sheave block, I think, but whatever it was exploded and went overboard. Easy to replace with a standard shackle, and that got rid of an ugly twist in the system too. And looking at it, I realized a knot was tied in a way that made it hard to get the out-haul tight enough to take the weight off the topping-lift. Re-tied the knot, and that should fix that problem. Unfurled and furled the sail, and it looks good.

Dumped about 9 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Guidebook says a cruiser's net on VHF 68 at 0750, but I didn't hear it. Maybe defunct, or not in off-season. Would have been nice to hear.

Skies getting lower and darker. Rain starting at 9:10. Heavier by 9:45, and then coming straight down, no wind at all, boats pointing in all directions.

Rain kept going and going, finally easing mostly by 11:30. Still very grey, but a little more sunlight getting through. Water in the onshore half of the bay has turned brown with runoff from land, and the boundary between brown and blue water is pretty distinct.

Dumped another 9 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Light rain started again around 11:40.

By 2:30, the rain had stopped and the sun had come out, so I launched the dinghy and went ashore. Sunshine lasted about half an hour.

Wandered through the marina. Tried the ATM at the bank, but it wouldn't accept my card. To the Island Water World store, but it's closed this afternoon for some reason. No sign of any book-exchanges. Out and across the street to a hardware store. Prices not too bad. Bought a DC-DC converter for EC$37 (US$13.70). Looked at a 4-pound dinghy-anchor for EC$77 (US$28.50), but didn't buy it.

Back into the dinghy, and down to the SW corner of the lagoon. A guy hanging around on the dinghy-dock tried to cadge money out of me to watch my dinghy, but I said no. Out to the street, where there are a couple of shopping malls and a lot of small stores. Tried ATMs at three banks, and none would take my card. This is just like Antigua; there must be something funny about the banking systems in these former-British, EC$ islands. My card worked fine in ATMs in St Martin, Guadeloupe and Martinique. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Salad and cheese-sandwiches for dinner.

Batteries getting low; it's been grey and windless all day. Tried to start the engine so I could charge batteries; not enough battery to start the engine, and trying just flattened the batteries even more.

Made cable to connect shortwave receiver to DC-DC converter.

Lots of rain at 3 AM.
Sun for a new day  11/19/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Powered up the shortwave receiver but couldn't get anything useful except 5 minutes of news from Deutsche Belle radio. No BBC, no decent English-language AM or FM stations, no Chris Parker.

Grey, then sunny, then grey again. Then sunny after 9. Then grey.

Dumped another 9 gallons of rainwater from buckets to tank.

Should have gone ashore during the non-rain from 9 to 11, but I loafed and missed my chance. Everything went grey, then heavy rain started at 11:35 and continued to 12:20. A pause, then heavy rain again starting at 12:45. Coming from W and then NW and N, which is odd. At 1:10, a lightning strike within 1/4 mile or so. Rain stayed heavy until 1:40, then lighter to 2:30, then very light the rest of the afternoon. But it never really stopped raining, and was heavy a few times.

Tried starting the engine at 3, but not a chance.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.

Hallelujah ! Wind started up at 9 or so, and wind-generator started putting out some power. And maybe this grey murk finally will blow away. Wind kept going all night, not very strong, but strong enough to keep the wind-generator going.
Sun for a new day  11/20/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Still plenty of grey in the sky, but pretty steady wind, and sunshine. So batteries getting charged, and I can run the refrigerator and laptop.

Around 8, saw a cruise ship heading into Castries, I guess, or maybe N of there. Cruise season must be starting.

Got some free Wi-Fi !

Bailed about 50 gallons of rainwater out of the hard dinghy.

Dinghied ashore to the boatyard. Disposed of a bunch of garbage. Diesel price with-duty is EC$12.62/imperialgallon, which works out to US$3.90/USgallon, far better than the Martinique/Guadeloupe prices. The without-duty price, which you get after checking out, isn't much lower than the with-duty price.

Tried to get out to the street from the boatyard, but the entrances are locked and guarded. Doesn't look like there's anything out there, anyway. Someone said there was a bank.

Chatted with a couple of cruiser guys from "Nemo", wandering through the boatyard looking at boats, as I was. They came up from Trinidad. They agree with the couple I met in Marin: no reason to go to Trinidad except to have work done on your boat. I asked about dinghy-theft there, and they said no one tried to steal their 2 HP outboard, but on a nearby catamaran, thieves came in the middle of the night while people were sleeping aboard, lowered the dinghy down from its davits, and stole the 15 HP outboard.

I asked about Vieux Fort, at the S end of St Lucia, where I'm going to leave my boat. And they totally contradicted the couple I met in Marin: these guys say there are no cruisers or liveaboards in Vieux Fort. So I'll have to find some local guy to pay to keep half an eye on my boat, I guess.

Over to the marina. Bank closed, so I can't try to get cash from credit card. Into the Island Water World store. They have a maybe slightly better dinghy-anchor for about US$1 more than the hardware store. I'm going to open a duty-free account; otherwise the duty is 37% ! A week ago they told me they had 41 Deka golf-cart batteries in stock, but they go fast. Today they have 41 Deka batteries in stock. Got one item at the small grocery-store. Tried the ATM at the bank one more time, but it wouldn't take either my ATM card or my credit card. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Did some more Wi-Fi.

In early afternoon, dinghied N across the Bay to Pigeon Island. Saw four USA-flagged sailboats, and a topless kayaker. Found a large book-exchange in the Jambe de Bois waterfront restaurant, and exchanged 7 books; will have to come back next week with more. Can see that the cruise-ship I saw this morning anchored just S of here, well N of Castries. Walked up to the peak, to Fort Rodney. Great views in all directions, but only the Bay itself made for good pictures (big pics). Back to the dinghy and back to the boat. Pretty windy this afternoon. People out sailing hobie-cats, para-sailing, etc.

Salad and cheese-and-crackers for dinner.

Breezey all night; wind-generator running.
Sun for a new day  11/21/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Sunny and breezey.

Loafed all day. Read and did a little Wi-Fi.

Chili and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/22/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Did some Wi-Fi.

Dinghied ashore to the marina. Disposed of a bag of garbage. To the bank, and it's open (I had thought today was a holiday here). Got EC$600 (US$) through my credit card. The teller says my ATM card doesn't work because it's not a member of the Cirrus network, and my credit card probably would work in a Scotia Bank ATM.

To Island Water World. Opened an account so I can buy duty-free. Bought a dinghy-anchor ($30) and four Deka golf-cart batteries ($640). They'll charge the batteries overnight and I'll pick them up tomorrow.

Found that the laundry in the marina is also the propane-refill point.

Back to the dinghy, unlocked it, patted my pockets by habit, and my camera is gone ! I know I had it in my pocket when I unlocked the hard dinghy from the RIB, out at the boat. Probably slipped out of my pocket there or on the way in, and sank to the bottom. Anyway, locked the dinghy again and retraced all of my steps through the marina, bank and IWW store. Back to the dinghy, unlocked it, then had a thought and locked it again. To the dumpster, retrieved the bag of garbage I threw away, and looked in it. Not there. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat. Camera is gone. Oh, well, Christmas is coming up.

And that's only the second time I've lost anything significant overboard, I think, in 9.5 years of cruising. The first thing was an outboard-part that sprang overboard when I was working on the outboard in Marathon city marina. I know people who've lost glasses, tools, keys, etc overboard. I've been lucky so far.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

Heard an hour or two of BBC on an FM station after midnight.
Sun for a new day  11/23/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Did some Wi-Fi.

Around 8:45 a smallish freighter came in and anchored just inside Pigeon Island, and a big tug/tender rafted up to it. Strange; didn't think there would be any commercial traffic in here. They were gone by early afternoon.

Dinghied ashore to the marina. Picked up my four golf-cart batteries from IWW. Just getting them down into the dinghy from the dock made my back a bit tired. Stopped to chat with an old security-guard for a few minutes, talking about aching backs and how we're not as young as we used to be. Out to the boat. Tried lifting the batteries up the side of the boat, but that's not working. Went around to the stern, let down the swim platform, and was able to get them aboard that way. Tiring. Got the batteries down into the hallway without any mishaps.

Soon took two of the old batteries out. One has a damaged terminal that has crumbled away, and the other leaks badly from the top seam. The battery-box for the second one had quite a bit of battery water/acid sloshing around the bottom of it, and some of it spilled onto the engine as I wrestled it out. Wiped it up with baking soda and water as best I could. Got the battery out of the box and dumped the water/acid overboard. Got both batteries up into the cockpit, and out to the stern deck.

Cleaned up the cable-terminals; quite a bit of crud on some of them. Had to use a wire-brush and a couple of files.

The four new batteries were pretty low on water; I guess they ship them that way ? Added water and put them in battery-boxes and hauled them into place. Cabled them together by 1 PM. Was shocked to see how low the voltages were: one set was at 11.85 V, and the other was probably not much different (couldn't tell because the combiner had it connected to the remaining two old batteries I'm going to use as starting batteries). Will have to go tell the guy at the store that he did a lousy job charging and testing the batteries.

Solar panels putting 12 A or so into the batteries. But then clouds started coming over. Turned on the wind-generator, and if sun and wind-gusts are going at same time, getting 20+ A into the batteries. But the voltage is very slow coming up. Still down at 12.35 V or so by dusk. Fortunately, the wind shows no signs of slackening.

Around 3, lowered the two old batteries into the dinghy and went ashore to the marina. Found a dock-cart and trundled the batteries and some other garbage off to the dumpster area; the guy at IWW said to leave the old batteries there and someone will deal with them.

Found a tiny book-exchange in a restaurant at the marina; pathetic for such a big marina. And when I pulled out one book, a big cockroach jumped off it. This in a pretty plush restaurant. Exchanged two books.

Over to the SW corner of the lagoon, almost getting hit by a local guy driving a dinghy at the perfect speed to keep the bow tipped way up so he couldn't see where he was going. At the dinghy-dock, a guy tried to set me up to pay him money to watch my dinghy. Out to the big IGA supermarket, where prices weren't very good. Food prices were a bit better in Martinique. Got a bunch of stuff and back to the dinghy, and back to the boat.

Leftover chili, over rice and with a few odd bits added, for dinner. Made too much; now I have leftover leftovers. Had a rum-and-fruitjuice with dinner.

Wind blew well all night, keeping juice going into the batteries.

Listened to couple of hours of BBC on an FM station after midnight.
Sun for a new day  11/24/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Very grey first thing in the morning, but sun coming through by 8 or so. Plenty of wind at times; wind-generator charging the batteries. System voltage up to 12.70 V with laptop loading it and solar and wind charging it.

By noon, wind howling and grey clouds coming with occasional light rain. By 1, wind-generator thermal breakers starting to cut in a bit.

Did some Wi-Fi.

By looking at the horizon to the NW, I can see that there are big swells out in the open water; not a good time to be going N. And some of the swells are curving in here and making the place pretty rolly.

Salad and cheese-sandwiches for dinner.

Less wind tonight, but still getting some power out of the wind-generator.
Sun for a new day  11/25/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Very grey at dawn, but then clearing a bit. Wind lighter but wind-generator kicking in occasionally. Then grey again, rained a couple of times, then sunny by 10 or so. Pretty good swell coming in; pretty rolly today.

At noon, dinghied over to Pigeon Island. Exchanged another 8 books at the book-exchange in the restaurant. Back to the boat, then ashore at Gros Islet. The docking there is a bit tricky with such a swell going, and fishing boats with long stern anchor lines out, but I got it done. Walked through the town, but there's no much to it. Half a dozen small shops, a dozen small bars and restaurants. Walked N to the beach, and had a nice walk up and down the beach, but not much happening there. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat.

Noodles-sausage-onion-leftoverleftoverchili and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner. I'm into a bottle of the 100-proof rotgut rum from Guadeloupe, and bargain-basement fruit drink. Makes for a potent but nasty-tasting drink.

Windy all night.
Sun for a new day  11/26/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Windy day. Loafed all day. Did some Wi-Fi. Finished reading a fascinating book: "Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found" by Suketu Mehta.

Salad and then a cracker-based dinner: PB-crackers, jelly-crackers, cheese-and-crackers.
Sun for a new day  11/27/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Grey and windy after dawn. Total grey and big rain from 7:35 to 8:45, light rain until 9:15 or so, then still grey.

I've been reading a bunch of interviews of cruisers, and think this one is particularly good.

Loafed all day, and squandered the few nice hours of sunshine in midday. Grey and rainy again by 2:30 or so.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/28/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Sunny morning and lighter winds.

Finally stirred myself and did a tiny bit of work: moved a ballast pig to the starboard side to counter the weight of the new batteries. And added water to the batteries; only the remaining old pair needed any water.

"Club Med 2" cruise ship is in the bay, but it looks like few people aboard. It's one of those cruise ships with five fairly tiny masts stuck on top.

Later, a 5-masted square-rigged schooner came in. This one is a cruise ship too, but could actually sail. A tall ship, really.

The usual weather today: some sun after dawn, then grey, then sun before noon, then grey and threatening rain all afternoon.

Got the equipment ready to do an engine oil change, one of my least favorite jobs, and then decided to put it off a couple of weeks, until I get to Vieux Fort. I'm at about 265 engine-hours since last change; will be at about 275 when I change it.

At dusk, that schooner lit up lights all along it's rigging, along every spar and many of the lines. Very pretty. An hour or two later, they raised anchored and slowly motored off toward Dominica, probably.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  11/29/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Grey and windy morning.

Dinghied ashore. First to the boatyard fuel dock, where I got 8 imperial gallons of diesel (EC$13.02/gallon) and 1 imperial gallon of gasoline (EC$12.84). Then to the marina, where I disposed of a couple of bags of garbage. And remembered a reason to do my oil-change here: they have a used-oil disposal here. Then to the dinghy-dock in the SW end of the lagoon. Walked up the street a ways to get some exercise and explore a little. Then into the supermarket and got EC$101 worth of groceries. Back to the dinghy and back to the boat. Windy this morning.

In midafternoon, dinghied NW to Pigeon Island and exchanged 10 books at the book-exchange in the restaurant. Windy and wet ride across and back.

Chicken-onion-carrot-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.

My friend Ed emailed me that the rotgut rum I have is better for cooking than for drinking, but I think it's okay mixed with soda. But Ed sent me a recipe for rum-bananas; I'll have to try it. Probably a billion calories, but I gave up that fight years ago.
Sun for a new day  11/30/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Pretty rolly today, and big swells on the horizon in open water to the NW.

Loafed all day, using the computer, reading books.

Apple and salad and cheese-sandwiches for dinner.

Plenty of rain, almost constant, from midnight to 3 AM or so. Not big raindrops, but plenty of little drops.
Sun for a new day  12/1/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Still pretty rolly, and lots of big swells on the horizon in open water to the NW of here, heading SW.

Loafed all day, again; I've been very lazy. Dumped some rainwater into the water tank.

Rolling got worse around 4, and stayed bad all evening and night. Light wind from NE, swells coming in from NW.

Chili and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  12/2/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Still pretty rolly at times.

In midafternoon, dinghied down to Reduit Beach at the SE end of the harbor, but the swell was bigger down there, and it looked too rough to land the dinghy on the beach. Not worth the risk.

More boats coming in, now that hurricane season is over.

Salad and cheese-sandwiches for dinner.
Sun for a new day  12/3/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Dinghied ashore to the marina. Dropped off my propane tank for refilling; they wanted to charge me for the whole 20 pounds, but I think there's still 2 or 3 pound in there, so they'll see what they can do. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Into IWW and bought 30 feet of 10 mm double-braid line (US$21) to replace one of my dinghy-hoisting lines. When I mentioned to the guy in IWW that a lot of boats were arriving in the anchorage, he said it's the ARC (Atlantic-crossing rally) arriving.

Chatted for half an hour or so with an older security guard I've chatted with before. He said the ARC hasn't quite started arriving yet; I'm probably seeing boats arriving to watch the arrival. Had a nice chat about many things. Back to the boat.

Occurs to me that if the ARC arrives while I'm here, I'll probably wish I had a camera.

Around 2:30, started the engine and ran it for a minute or two, just to test it. Took two tries to get it started; I'm using two old T105 batteries as a starting bank, and I guess they just don't have much capacity left.

Dinghied N to Pigeon Island and exchanged a dozen books at the book-exchange. Looked for any boats that looked like ARC boats, but didn't see any flying ARC-looking flags or rigged for serious downwind sailing, or with totally worn-out crews. Guess they haven't arrived yet.

Dinghied in to the marina at 4 to pick up my propane tank. They said it took only 13 pounds; I'd guessed it would take 16 or 18. Cost was EC$60.

Chicken-onion-carrot-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-coke for dinner.
Sun for a new day  12/4/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Low grey clouds hovering and raining. Pretty good rain at 9 and 9:35.

Another Club-Med-type cruise-ship-with-masts is here this morning, but this one is named something like "Wind Surf".

Loafed all day, using the laptop and reading books.

Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.

No sign of any ARC boats, but at sunset a sailboat all decked out with flags went out fairly far and anchored, probably to welcome the ARC boats.
Sun for a new day  12/5/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Still lots of low grey clouds hovering, but some sun by 9:15.

Lowered the mainsail and checked the wire halyard, to see if it needs to be replaced (it broke six weeks ago). Seems to have some life left in it; hoisted the sail back up.

Did some Wi-Fi. Someone sent me a link to the ARC schedule, and it looks like the first event is the Early Arrival party on Wednesday, and things don't really get started until Friday. But I'm planning to leave here by Tuesday or so.

First ARC boat came in around 10: blue three-spreader sloop "Berenice", about 60-65 feet long, with ten crew on deck.

Dumped 10 gallons of diesel from jugs to tank.

Weather turned totally grey again around noon, and stayed that way the rest of the day.

Chicken-onion-carrot-cabbage-rice and a nasty rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.
Sun for a new day  12/6/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Sunny morning, very pleasant.

Dinghied to Pigeon Island. Had a nice chat with a couple of vacationing ladies, who were intrigued with the idea of living on a boat. Into the restaurant, where they were giving a seminar on cooking to a group of visitors. Exchanged 13 or 14 books at the book-exchange.

Salad and cheese-sandwich and PB-crackers for dinner.

Surprised that no more ARC boats have arrived. I'm sure that first boat was an ARC boat; it was welcomed with horns and gunshots and an escort of dinghies and skiffs, and drumming ashore when it got to the marina. But no more boats in the day-and-half since ?
Sun for a new day  12/7/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Lots of low dark clouds. Rainsqualls at 8:15 and 8:50.

Loafed all day.

Around 2:50, an ARC boat came in. Very similar to the one that came in two days ago: a 3-spreader sloop about 65 feet long. But this one had a black hull, seven or eight crew on deck, and named something like "Bambridge".

At 4:05, another ARC boat came in. Two-spreader sloop, 60+ feet long, 13 to 14 crew on deck. The name is written in such a fancy way that you can't read it; I hate when they do that. Maybe "Denim" or "Venom" or something ? [The next day, heard "Fleur" on the VHF; maybe that's what it is.]

Noodles-sausage-onion-leftoverchili and a rum-and-fruitjuice for dinner.

Didn't sleep too well; developed a headache halfway through the night.
Sun for a new day  12/8/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Feeling headachey.

Saw another ARC boat heading into the marina at 7:05. Three-spreader sloop, seven crew on deck, name looks like a registration number. It occurs to me that none of the boats I've seen so far are cruising-type boats; they're all big sloops with those retracting spinnaker poles that come out of the bow.

Engine start at 8:45; took four tries over a period of 20 minutes or so, since the starting battery bank is pretty weak. Anchor up by 8:55, and engine off and sailing by 9:05. Pleasant little sail SW out of the harbor, then SSW down the coast.

As I was raising anchor, I found an exploded shackle on the deck at the bow. It's an old strap-type shackle with "Shaefer" stamped on it; must be part of the boat's original rigging. At first, I thought it must have come from the failure of the mainsail's outhaul, but how did it get to the bow ? Later, I thought maybe it was part of the complex of shackles under the jib's roller-furling drum, and maybe that explains why the jib furling line doesn't feed fairly any more.

Off the entrance to Castries at 10:10, I was relieved when the engine started easily at the first shot. Furled the sails, then a bit of confusion as I contacted Port Control (not mentioned in my five-year-old guidebooks, but I heard other boats doing it) and asked for permission to go in and anchor.

Then massive confusion as I got inside the harbor, and it seemed much smaller than I expected. Nosed into Vigie Creek, where idiot marine police in several high-powered inflatables were doing high-speed donuts and other stupidity. The Creek is smaller than I hoped and totally congested; no room for anchoring here. Back out into the main harbor, and I still just don't see what I expect. I start to give up and leave, but then I realize the harbor continues between two cruise-ships that I had thought were docked side-by-side. The angle I was looking from had fooled me.

So up into the E end of the harbor, and there's the town and some anchoring space. A Port Police boat was waiting, and came by and kept urging me to go further in "to get a good grab onto the rocks". I don't think they quite understand anchoring; I don't want to get too close to the rocky edges of the harbor.

Anchor down by 11:10 or so, but I'm too close to the only other boat anchored here, a charter catamaran. And just then the guy comes out from shore to say they're leaving at 11:30, and the subtext is "and you're right over top of our anchor". I tell him I'm too close and I'm moving right now. And I raise anchor, move forward another 75 feet or so, and anchor down by 11:20 at Castries, St Lucia.

Lots of traffic noise, and I'm closer to the E end of one cruise ship than they'd allow in a USA port, but the police are okay with it and there's not much choice here. Plenty of boat-traffic in and out, servicing the cruise-ship passengers: water-taxiis, excursion boats, even a couple of sportfishers.

The catamaran close behind me left at about 12:15, and came very close while raising their anchor, but no problems.

There's one other sailboat here, rafted up to a couple of moored tugboats. Must be someone living aboard.

Did a little Wi-Fi; signal flaky.

Headache all afternoon and all night.

Salad and PBJ-crackers for dinner.

Watched the cruise-ship leave, to see if their props and thrusters would create currents in the water and move my boat. But they left very slowly and gently. Sometimes the cruise-ships in St Thomas would churn up huge pools of swirling muddy water as they left.
Sun for a new day  12/9/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Castries, St Lucia.

Still have headache, and I'm out of sinus-headache pills.

Two cruise ships came in around 8. They look absolutely identical to the two that were here yesterday, but the names are different.

A couple of charter sailboats came in and anchored; this must be a standard stop (lots of duty-free shopping, and restaurants).

Dinghied ashore. Disposed of garbage, then walked the town pretty thoroughly. Interesting place, some prettily-painted buildings and houses, a couple of very nice town squares with grass and trees and monuments, and a beautiful cathedral. A few pretty women here and there. A fair number of bums hanging around, too.

Bought sewing needles and gasket-gunk. Then to a supermarket and got a bunch of stuff (including sinus-headache pills). Back to the dinghy and back to the boat. Large ketch "Quixote" has anchored between me and nearest cruise-ship, so I guess I wasn't too close to it.

Couldn't get any Wi-Fi.

Pills mostly got rid of headache, over the course of the afternoon.

Chicken-onion-mushroom-carrot-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
Sun for a new day  12/10/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Castries, St Lucia.

Headache just about gone.

No cruise-ships today.

Couldn't get any Wi-Fi.

Headache coming back a bit by midday.

Salad and cheese sandwich and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
Sun for a new day  12/11/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Castries, St Lucia.

Headache gone.

No cruise-ships today.

Got a tiny flicker of Wi-Fi, just enough to upload the log file and get a weather forecast.

Dinghied ashore and got some exercise, walking W towad the airport, then back and into town. Lots of activity outside the central market: lots of vendors blocking the sidewalks with their merchandise. Into a grocery store and bought a few things, then back to the boat.

Engine started at second try, at 11:45. Anchor up and mainsail unfurled by 11:55. Motored out and motor-sailed S along the coast. A short hop down and into harbor. A local guy zoomed out in a dinghy to "help" me, and probably demand money later, but I waved him off. Anchor down by 1:10 at Marigot Bay, St Lucia.

Got a little free Wi-Fi, very slow and somewhat unreliable, but got a few things done.

Over the afternoon and into the evening, visited by half a dozen different local guys in dinghies or on surfboards, peddling various stuff. Several with fruit, one looking for any boat-work to be done, another with a handbill for a restaurant, one selling baskets.

Saw a motorboat come in with the lady aboard putting her bikini back on. Very artificial-looking boob job.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner. Ate on the foredeck; very pleasant.

Several boats came in before dark, and the anchorage is pretty congested. But conditions are calm, so probably everything will be fine. A strong squall from a strange direction would cause chaos.
Sun for a new day  12/12/2010 (Sunday)
At anchor at Marigot Bay, St Lucia.

Did a little Wi-Fi, and then my laptop crashed.

After lunch, dinghied ashore. As I expected, not much there, and most of it closed on a Sunday. But good to walk around a bit.

Salad and PBJ-sandwiches for dinner.

Stayed awake much of the night reading a good detective/mystery book.

Couldn't hear much BBC; I think something's wrong with the antenna of my SSB receiver.
Sun for a new day  12/13/2010 (Monday)
At anchor at Marigot Bay, St Lucia.

Added half a pint of oil to the engine.

Tried starting the engine from the starting bank (old batteries), but no go. Tried half a dozen times from 7:45 on, until finally giving up and cross-wiring the house bank (new batteries) to the starting bank (always carry jumper cables on board; I have two sets). Engine started right up, at 9:15. I think I'll be buying a starting battery in Vieux Fort, when I get back from Christmas.

Anchor up by 9:20 and motored out. Unfurled the mainsail. Very light wind, as it has been for a while now. Very pleasant conditions motoring SSW down the W side of the island. We'll see how it gets when I turn SE along the S side of the island.

Worked on the antenna of my SSB receiver, adding a wire to bridge a loose connection.

Reading a good book about (women) choosing the cruising life: "Changing Course" by Debra Ann Cantrell. One thing I learned/realized: I should spend a little more money doing things ashore (trips, restaurants, etc). I tend to focus on the "living aboard" and "water-based" parts of this lifestyle much more than the "entertainment" and "culture" parts. Mostly it's my personality: I never was big on "entertainment" stuff (restaurants, bars), and I'm "cheap", what can I say ? Some of it was the language barrier in the French islands. And the "cultural" stuff (museums, history, art) on most islands can't hold a candle to that in the USA. A few nice forts and museums here and there.

Passing Soufriere at 11, and I'm surprised to see only two boats moored there. I thought it was a very popular spot; the guidebooks make a big deal about it. I'm not stopping because it didn't seem very interesting to me, you can't anchor and they charge for moorings, and I need to get to Vieux Fort so I can fly out on Saturday.

Turned the SW corner of the island, and speed dropped from 4+ knots to 2.5 knots. Bummer. Then down to 2.2 knots; sux. Then down to 1.8 knots !

Engine running 10-15 degrees hot.

Over the next couple of hours, as I approached the destination, speed slowly increased. Doing 3 knots just before turning off to go in.

Anchor down by 3:20 at Laborie, St Lucia. A bit rolly here, as I expected, but it's lovely to shut the engine off and relax.

After a while, edged around the hot engine to disconnect the jumper-cables in the battery system.

Chili and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner. Ate out on the foredeck, in the coolness.

SSB receiver isn't working at all now; have to mess with antenna some more. It has this really cheesey metal finger-thing inside, to allow the antenna to rotate, and to allow opening the case and ending up with the antenna on one half and the circuit-board on the other half. The finger must not be making contact any more.
Sun for a new day  12/14/2010 (Tuesday)
At anchor at Laborie, St Lucia.

Got some Wi-Fi, but not steady enough to do the work I need to do. It's time to order a bunch of stuff over the internet, so it arrives in NJ while I'm there.

Engine start at 10:30, and anchor up by 10:35. Motor out, and today the headwind is a solid 10 knots stronger than it was yesterday; glad I did the big hop yesterday. Motored E, making a little less than 3 knots into stiff wind and current and some swells. Into harbor, and anchor down by 11:45 at Vieux Fort, St Lucia.

A little rolly here, but not bad. Found a good shallow place to anchor. One other cruising boat here.

Can't quite get a free Wi-Fi signal here.

Dinghied ashore into the fishing harbor in midafternoon. Pretty big operation: lots of skiffs, lots of guys hanging around or cleaning fish or doing boat stuff. But not much of use to me in terms of guarding my boat while I'm gone; I had hoped to see security guards I could talk to.

Disposed of garbage, then walked out into town. Up the main street, which is pretty lively with people and shops. Tricky walking: the sidewalks are very uneven, change levels a lot, constantly crossed by gutters running from houses down to street. Very easy to turn an ankle or something.

Went the whole length of the street, up to the airport runway, without seeing an internet place. Consulted my map, took a right turn toward the shopping center, and saw a sign for "Computer World". Upstairs and down a hall, and there's a computer-sales place, but with one internet computer also. EC$4/hour, which is a bargain. So I sit down. First hurdle: my thumb-drive won't fit in, because the stupid computer case has the USB ports recessed and surrounded tightly by plastic. But the technician loans me a USB extension cable, which works.

Then I start spending money. I order: I finish my hour and pay EC$4. Then back to the harbor and back to the boat.

I notice that there's been some turnover among the boats out here: a couple of cruising boats have arrived, and at least one left. Might be someone living aboard one sailboat here. They're all down at the SE corner of the bay; maybe I'll try moving down there tomorrow. Would be nice to have cruisers around my boat while I'm gone, to deter thieves. I anchored up here because the water is shallower, and in hopes of getting Wi-Fi on the boat, and thinking of having the fishing port security guards keep an eye on my boat. But no Wi-Fi and no guards.

In late afternoon, a 2-spreader sloop, maybe 50 feet long, flying an ARC pennant, came in and anchored down at S end of the bay. First cruising-type ARC boat I've seen. Flying a red-black-yellow striped flag; is that Germany ?

Salad and cold leftover chicken-rice-whatsis and half a cheese sandwich for dinner.
Sun for a new day  12/15/2010 (Wednesday)
At anchor at Vieux Fort, St Lucia.

Great: putting my thumb-drive into that computer at the internet place yesterday infected it with a virus ! But my virus-checker was able to clean it. First time that's happened to me.

Engine start at 10:05, and anchor up a bit before 10:15. Motored S across the bay, and had to get pretty close to shore to find 20-foot-deep water; I really liked the 9-foot-deep water at the previous spot. Anchor down by 10:30 at Vieux Fort, St Lucia. Two cruising boats here, and they're both transients. Big trawler "Krystal's Toy" anchored here too, and it looks unoccupied.

After noon, wind started swirling around, pointing boat in odd directions, and close to shore (although still in 17 feet of water).

Around 12:30, I noticed catamaran "Salty Paws" nearby struggling to raise their anchor. One guy at the helm, the other snorkeling in the water trying to unwrap the chain from something. After a while, I launched my dinghy and went over to offer any help I could. They said the chain was wrapped around a big chunk of concrete with rebar sticking out in a couple of directions. The only way I could have helped was if I had SCUBA gear aboard, which I don't. But they thanked me for the offer. One guy said they were told there's a series of blocks, maybe engine blocks, on the bottom here, maybe coming close to where my anchor is. Not good news. The guy recommended that I snorkel to see.

Instead of taking that excellent advice, I went ahead and put down my second anchor by 1:30, in a direction away from the danger area, I hoped, and to hold myself away from shore. And with two anchors pinning the bow in place, I won't have chain sweeping along the bottom and looking for something to wrap around. It's a theory, anyway. Will find out when I come back and try to raise anchor.

By 1:50, "Salty Paws" had their anchor up, and started looking for a new spot to anchor. They made a pass by me to ask about the coordinates of a wreck I'd told them about, from one of my guidebooks. I shouted the coordinates across to them. They nosed around several more times, and finally were anchored by 2:30 or so.

Launched my dinghy around 3 and soon headed over to "Salty Paws". Chatted with them for a while; Mike and Greg aboard. Ended up giving Greg a ride to shore, and walked through town with him. Some very smelly local guy latched onto us and wouldn't go away. Finally I peeled off. Went to "Computer World" and told them they have a virus on their computer. To NAPA Auto, looked at starting batteries, and was appalled at the prices (EC$600 to $800, which is US$220 to $300). Ran into Greg again, went to another internet place with him, and did half an hour of internet for EC$2.50. Left him there, back to the dinghy, back to the boat. Into the cockpit, saw a cushion knocked out of place, looked down into the cabin and saw a mess, and got a sinking feeling.


Stepped down into the cabin, and the carpet is very wet right at the bottom of the companionway steps; someone must have swum out to the boat and gotten aboard. Laptop is missing, binoculars are missing, one drawer pulled out and dumped on the floor, several other drawers pulled out halfway. In aft cabin, mattress pulled off berth so bins underneath could be opened. A mess.

I get out and back into the dinghy, and head over to "Salty Paws"; I want some help. I tell Mike I've been robbed, and ask him to come along as I head to shore to see if a guy living there has my stuff.

So we end up looking around on shore, talking to an old guy living in a hut there, hoping we'll see my stuff. No luck. So I head in to the fishing harbor. Start telling people I've been robbed. A few offer sympathy. And everyone immediately says I shouldn't have anchored on the S side of the bay; much safer where I had been, on the N side. End up in the office, and the lady calls the police for me. Start waiting for them. Wait 20-30 minutes for them. It's starting to get dark; I hate being ashore after dark, or dinghying around after dark. Call again, wait another 10-15 minutes, finally they show up. I head out in the dinghy, they head out in a boat, and we meet at my boat.

They look around a little, get some info from me, then send the boat for another officer. She arrives, takes some pictures, then they're loafing and chatting when I just want them to leave. Finally they go, and I start sorting through the mess and cleaning up. PBJ sandwich for dinner, and to bed by 8 or so.

Around 10, Mike and Greg come by, with some Dominoes pizza and garlic bread. We munch and chat for an hour or two. They tell me they've been robbed twice, in St Thomas and in Trinidad. They lost a $1200 pair of image-stablized binoculars, five days after they'd gotten them.

They leave, and back to bed around 11:45.
Sun for a new day  12/16/2010 (Thursday)
At anchor at Vieux Fort, St Lucia.

As I straighten up some more, I'm expanding the list of stuff that was stolen. Laptop, binoculars, computer mouse, computer speaker bar, computer AC adapter, Skype headphones, CD drive, floppy drive, nice Fluke multimeter, haircutting kit, a couple of bags of granola.

Started engine at 9:30, and raised both anchors by 9:48, getting pretty exhausted in the process. Motored back over to the N side, close to where I was before, and anchor down by 10:05 at Vieux Fort, St Lucia.

Dinghied ashore in the afternoon. Chatted with a local guy who's been pretty sympathetic, and sort of promise him EC$100 to keep half an eye on my boat while I'm gone. Did half an hour of internet (EC$2) to get serial numbers of some of the stuff that was taken. Back to the boat.

Spaghetti and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.

A problem: the police I saw yesterday were night-shift guys, and they said call them at 6 PM today and maybe they'll come to the boat. But I don't have a phone, and won't go ashore after dark just to call them. No sign of them.

Thief did me one favor: dumped out a box that turned out to have the external antenna for the SSB receiver in it ! Listened to BBC for a few hours, after midnight.
Sun for a new day  12/17/2010 (Friday)
At anchor at Vieux Fort, St Lucia.

Dinghied ashore and walked to police station. Gave them a writeup on the stuff that was taken, with descriptions and serial numbers and everything. Also gave them a few boxes the thief probably touched, with the idea that they might get fingerprints from them if they ever catch anyone. The night-shift guys I dealt with aren't around, so the day-shift officers I handed the stuff to were noncommittal. Probably nothing will come of it. Quick stop at the supermarket, then back to the boat.

Greg stopped by, and I chatted with him. I ended up getting fairly badly sunburned, sitting out on deck in the brightest part of the day for 20+ minutes with no shirt or hat on. Stupid.

Caulked the base of the mainmast.

Anchorage suddenly got rolly at 2:30; swells coming in from the S. Stayed rolly all afternoon. Uncomfortable.

Chili and a small rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
Sun for a new day  12/18/2010 (Saturday)
At anchor at Vieux Fort, St Lucia.

Fairly grey and windy day. Anchor chain still snagging on coral on the bottom. Want to re-anchor, but can't get the engine started, even cross-connecting the battery banks. And anchor chains are a bit twisted, so getting the anchors up might be ugly anyway. Totally fed up with the boat and this place !

Packed up my suitcase. Looked for my newer pair of ($15) sneakers, and looks like the thief took them ! Turned off the refrigerator and emptied it out. Bringing buckets and jugs and stuff inside so I can lock them away from thieves. Can't decide what to do with the (expensive) propane tank; putting it in the cabin would keep it safe, but a leak could cause an explosion, or at least lead to a really dicey cleanup situation (cabin and bilge full of propane). Finally decide to cable-lock propane tank and dinghy gas tank in cockpit, out of sight from casual observers but not really well secured.

Around 1, started thinking about getting a ride to shore. "Salty Paws" said they would take me at 2, but I haven't heard from them, and don't see their dinghy at their boat (a long way away, and I no longer have binoculars). I call them on the VHF around 1:15, and have a long chat with Mike. Turns out they've had a bad experience: last night while Greg was ashore, someone stole the fuel line out of their dinghy, in the fishing harbor. He was able to borrow a line from a fisherman to get back to the boat last night, then had to go ashore this morning at 5 AM to return the line so the fisherman could go fishing. And he's been ashore all day, trying to get parts (Mike wasn't sure what was going on today).

I'm just finishing talking to Mike on the VHF, when I see Greg coming out towards me in the dinghy. He's all sweaty and totally pissed off about the theft and the people here. I say I can get a ride from one of the other boats here, but he says he's perfectly happy to ferry me ashore, but the people from "Avanti" nearby are going ashore to make a pickup from the airport. So I launch my dinghy, and we both go to "Avanti" to see what's going on. Turns out their daughter from Denmark hasn't arrived because of heavy snow in England and Germany, so they're not going ashore today. So Greg will ferry me.

I go back to my boat. Detach the outboard from the dinghy and haul it up onto deck (not easy, awkward climbing the stern ladder with a bulky, unwieldy 55-pound motor held by one hand. Wrestle the outboard into the cockpit and down into the main cabin, and lay it on the floor. Pretty good odor of gasoline, but there shouldn't be much left inside it.

Hoist the dinghy and lock hard dinghy to RIB dinghy. Get ready to go, call Greg on VHF, then lock up. Into his dinghy, and he drops me off at the commercial dock. Start walking towards town, but there's a taxi-guy right there, and we agree on EC$20 to the airport. Could have walked 3/4 mile over a hill and got a bus for EC$3, but why bother ? Just want to get out of here.

Everything smooth at ticketing and security. No baggage fee or departure tax.

Airline terminal was pretty full; they need more seating. Nice chat with a couple from Long Island; guy worked for NYC and ran one of the cleanup crews at Ground Zero in the first several months after 9/11. Chatted with another couple from South Carolina.

Plane had 110-120 seats, and only 20-25 passengers. Non-stop from St Lucia to Philly. Uneventful flight, about 30 degrees at Philly, and my brother picked me up. Very nice to get to his place and relax.
Sun for a new day  12/19/2010 - 1/7/2011
Boat's at anchor at Vieux Fort, St Lucia; I'm in USA (NJ and PA).

New laptop (Dell Inspiron 15R) was waiting for me when I arrived. Pretty nice machine, but I hate the keyboard layout and small size of the arrow and PgUp and PgDn keys. Learning the joys of Windows 7.

Working through all of the mail waiting for me. Got the new LED lamps I want to put in the cockpit. Got the new eyeglass frames, and transferred the lenses into them. Activated new credit card. Two conflicting sets of instructions about activating the new ATM card. Notice that my driver's license needs to be renewed. No bill from Martinique for my emergency-room visit. Got the new fan for the laptop that just got stolen.

Restoring data from backups onto new laptop. Had a big backup from mid-July, a few of the most critical recent files on a thumb-drive, and then will download cruising files from my web site, which has the latest versions of just about all of those files. So I haven't lost a LOT of data, but some.

Bill for emergency room in Martinique arrived on 12/20. €196.10 (about US$257; € is at about $1.31 right now). That's for about 7 hours in Emergency, most of it parked on a gurney in a hallway with an IV dripping into me, with occasional visits from the doctor. Wonder what that would have cost in the USA ? Bill is in French, with lots of cost-code numbers and no explanations in any language. Since I forgot to bring my checkbook with me, I'll have to mail payment when I get back to St Lucia.

Rented a car: two days for almost $140 (fully half of that amount is for insurance, since I have no auto insurance myself, and I paid for full collision/liability/etc coverage). New credit-card worked.

Renewed my driver's license ($24 for 4 years). They asked if I wanted to keep the old picture or take a new one, and I kept the old picture. No thumbprint or fancy stuff involved. Chatted with a guy in line. Told him I took my driver's test in this facility at age 17, and failed it the first time, and my brother often reminds me of that. The guy told me his son lived in New York City and first tried to get a license at age 22 or so, and took five tries to pass the driving test. And during one of his tests, he caused a major traffic accident, and the examiner said "I guess I don't have to tell you that you failed".

After a Christmas-present run to Border's, did a run to Walmart. Among other things, bought a pair of 10x50 binoculars for $25. New ATM card works. [Got home, and a few hours later got a message from my sister saying she had our Dad's old binoculars and I could have them. So I'll return the new ones to Walmart.]

Received the power adapter for running the new laptop from 12 VDC on the boat.

Caught a pretty nasty multi-day cold and sinus headache.

Found out my buy.com order for a new camera was cancelled for unknown reasons. They didn't send me an email saying so, their site gave me three different reasons for the cancellation, customer support was no help, told me to call verification dept M-F 9-5. Gave up on them and placed a new order with Amazon.

After a week of using Windows 7, I must say I'm not very impressed. It has shut down mysteriously twice while I left the machine running idle; not a problem with power settings, because other times it has run longer while idle. And it has crashed once.

Received email from Greg on "Salty Paws", telling me that my boat looks okay as of 12/26. Very nice of him.

Stayed inside through the big blizzard: had about 8 inches of snow here in W NJ; places in E and ENE NJ had up to 30 inches.

Finally got over my sinus headache, after 5-6 days of feeling bad.

Received my Bebi anchor light on 12/30, from Fiji. Received new camera, which is smaller than the old one, and rubbery-black instead of shiny-silver, so maybe it won't fall out of my pocket so easily.

Got my Dad's old binoculars from my sister. Decided to keep the new $25 ones from Walmart too, so I'll have two sets aboard. Old ones are Nikon 9x35, new ones are Tasco 10x50.

Had a visit from my friend Stacy, who has a Krogen trawler in Norfolk.

Bought a hair-cutting kit ($11) to replace the one stolen.

After 2+ weeks of using my new laptop, it's still crashing about once a day. Chatted with Dell tech support twice, and they installed a couple of new drivers and ran lots of diagnostics (which all passed). Strong suggestion that I should let them re-install the OS from scratch, losing all of the data and programs I've installed. But they really don't know what the problem is; they just fall back to "it must be something you've installed, let us wipe out everything, wouldn't life be nice if users just used systems as delivered and never added or changed anything". Instead, I took a suggestion from someone at the university computer dept where my brother works: re-seat the RAM SIMMs. Will see if that fixes it. [Nope, crashed again that evening.]

Had a nice visit with Bill Scully, a reader who stopped by on his way from DC to PA. Lots of good conversation about cruising and boats and lots of things.

I've been eating out a lot on this trip. Several Trenton pizzas (best in the world), but none quite as big as this one: pic. Chinese take-out a couple of times. A Malaysian/Thai restaurant. Several diners (burgers, Reuben).

Starting to snow again, a day before I'm scheduled to fly out. But I'm pretty sure it won't interfere with my flight.

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