2014-11-06 (Thursday)At anchor at Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada.
Lots of last-minute cleaning and packing. As usual, George showed up 15 minutes early, and I had to tell him it would be another 10 minutes. But our timing is good; the rain has stopped.
Ashore on time, and to the airport. Short line at ticketing, but they charged me US$25 for checking my bag; that's a new fee, although they say it isn't. No line at all at Security. To gate by 8:30 for 9:50 flight. AC power and Wi-Fi.
Uneventful flight to Miami. Realized I brought no US cash at all with me; will have to hit an ATM.
New, automated passport machines in the Miami airport, which took a digital picture of me. Smooth trip through Immigration and baggage and Customs. One electronic sign about Ebola, saying something like "if you've been to West African countries and have a fever, see nearest official". About 3 hours to wait until next flight. No free Wi-Fi.
A little headachey; took a sumatriptan. Found an ATM, had some lunch, wandered around. Tried to practice my Spanish by listening to the announcements, some of which are repeated in Spanish. But it's very fast Spanish.
Then my flight started getting delayed. Supposed to leave at 4:35; actually took off a little after 9. 3.5-hour connection turned into 8-hour connection.
Fairly rough flight to Philadephia; plenty of turbulence, attendants had to stop serving a couple of times, kid nearby screaming for long periods of time.
No problem getting my baggage and getting picked up by my brother. Home by 1 AM. One hour different from Grenada, so today's trip took about 16 hours, door to door.
2014-11-07 to 2015-01-26Boat's at anchor at Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada. I'm in New Jersey, then Barcelona, then NJ again.
Usual pile of mail and packages waiting for me.
First time in a while that I've been in NJ in time to see the fall colors. Took pictures, then realized I forgot to bring the cable to download from my camera to my laptop. And Amazon one-day shipping has failed me: none of the cables they offer for this are available in less than 5 business days or so. Got them out later: pics.
Took the train up to New York City and went to the Spanish consulate. A bit of a rushed consultation, since I didn't have an appointment, but a nice man came out to talk to me across the Security desk. And said a lot of surprising things, almost all making the process simpler and cheaper than I expected. Good news. Wandered through Manhattan, stopping at St Patrick's Cathedral, Public Library, etc. Pics.
Bought a new USB cable for my camera in NYC, and still can't get pictures out of the camera. I think the camera may be dying, but not having the old cable with me adds a complicating factor to the diagnosis.
Nov 12: off to Barcelona ! Trip diary will be BarcelonaTrip2014Late. New credit card (one with chip in it) didn't arrive before I left. But I'm getting out of NJ just before the cold weather arrives. [Sitting at airport gate, got email from my brother saying new credit card just arrived in the mail.]
Jan 22: Back in NJ, from Barcelona. Snowing when I arrived at Philadelphia airport. At my brother's house, a couple of packages waiting for me: new eyeglass frames and a new external hard drive.
Surprisingly hard to get the external hard drive working; they must sell a million of these per year, yet I had a bunch of hiccups trying to get the drive to appear, the software to run, the software to update itself, etc.
Went to DMV to renew my driver's license, and their computers are down. Sat there for 2.5 hours, gave up and went home. Back again in late afternoon, but computers still down. Will try again tomorrow.
Woke up to 2-3 inches of new snow on the ground. Got to DMV at 9:45, lots of glum-looking people sitting and waiting, nothing going, but receptionist says the computers have been up and down this morning. So I decide to wait, and my brother goes home. I ask what the process will be if/when the computer comes back up, will my name be called or something. And the supervisor takes me to a station and has a woman make me a new driver's license ! Take my picture, pay $24, here's your new license. I was holding my breath, didn't want to ask "wait, I thought the computers were down, you can't do this, why is everyone else having to wait ?". Done by 10, now I have to wait 90 minutes for my brother to come back and pick me up. No problem. As far as I could tell while I was waiting, no one else was getting licenses. Strange.
I'm flying out Monday at 11 AM or so, and a major, MAJOR winter storm is expected to start Tuesday 6 AM or so. Might be 18 inches of snow here in a few days. [They ended up getting less than 6 inches in the Trenton/Philadelphia area.]
Jan 26: Forecast has changed to more like 8 inches of snow here. But still glad to get out ahead of it (I hope). Up at 6, caught 6:54 train, connect at 30th Street station, to Philadelphia airport, through to gate by 8:50 for 11:15 flight. Snowing. AC and free Wi-Fi in the airport.
Flight loaded on time, but then waited a long time for de-icing. Snow doesn't seem to be accumulating, but I think the temperature is right about at freezing. Ended up with the wings colored lime-green; I haven't seen that before. Took off late.
Uneventful flight down to Miami, arriving about 3:05. Flight to Grenada takes off from exactly the same gate in 2 hours. AC and free Wi-Fi here.
Flight to Grenada was about 2/3 full, and uneventful. Landed around 9:30, through Immigration and Customs, and George the taxi driver was waiting for me. As we drove to the marina, he was saying he thought someone had been on my boat, and he tied a hard dinghy to the back of it to make it look like I was aboard. I'm starting to get worried abut what I'll find.
To the marina, into George's skiff and out through light rain, and onto my boat. Sure enough, someone has snapped off the main companionway lock. But there are steel grates and another lock behind that, and they didn't get through that and into my boat. Everything fine inside.
George waited out some rain, and as we chatted, I suddenly realized that my kayak is gone ! And that rings a bell with George: a kayak was found ashore a month ago, a local guy figured the thieves were using it to get to boats, and so he BURNED my kayak ! Bummer.
Boat is a mess, as usual after returning from a trip. Started sorting it out a little, getting toilet working. Then to bed.
Up in middle of night, adding water to batteries. I left the wind-generator running while I was gone; didn't mean to do that. But the batteries aren't boiled dry, and were ruined before I left anyway.
2015-01-27 (Tuesday)At anchor at Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada.
Started getting the boat straightened out. Moved jugs out of cockpit. Pumped up one tube of the dinghy, lowered it, pumped up the other tubes. Hauled outboard up out of cabin, onto stern deck, down into dinghy. Listened to the cruiser's net, and told them about my kayak. Got the outboard started after 6 or 8 pulls, and it runs okay. Put the raincatchers out on deck.
Daniel stopped by to say hello.
Started the water system and filled jugs to put in refrigerator. Started refrigerator and gave it a dose of refrigerant from the can that's still attached.
Ashore at 9:30 for the shopping van. Richard says he's off for Florida in a few days, with 5 crew plus himself, via Dominica and Dominican Republic and Cuba.
Out at bank, walked to hardware store, walked to ATM, walked to police station. Spent 45 minutes giving a theft report, which amounted to 1.3 written pages. Bought tomatoes at veggie stand. To supermarket, said hi to Patrick and Bernard, got groceries. Running out of energy; all I've eaten today is a powerbar and a cup of cranberry juice. Had another powerbar and felt better, but sleepy. Into van, veggie store and CK's, back to boat by 1:15.
Refrigerator seems okay, gave it another shot of refrigerant.
Two local guys stopped by at 1:30, to take away the hard dinghy still tied to the back of my boat, and to (sort of) say sorry for burning my kayak. They thought it had been stolen from a couple bays over, or something. I'm sure the thieves were using it, as they thought. And turns out he tied his hard dinghy to the back of my boat to keep his dinghy off the beach so the thieves wouldn't get it, not to protect my boat.
Pulled up 10 feet of anchor chain, to let the stuff growing on it die before I scrape it off: pic.
Chili and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner. Propane stove running low, but I thought the tank should have plenty of propane in it.
2015-01-28 (Wednesday)At anchor at Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada.
Ran engine for 20 minutes. When I first turned the key, nothing at all. Tried several more times, nothing. Then again, and it slowly cranked and quickly started. Ran okay.
Replaced old propane camp-stove with a shiny new one: pic.
Scraped barnacles off the dinghy painter; the thieves left it dangling in the water, and a lot of stuff grew on it.
Scraped barnacles and grass off 10 feet of the anchor chain, and pulled in another 10 feet.
Gave myself a haircut.
Ashore at 1:30 and walked over to Pickly Bay marina. Played dominoes; about 17 people at three tables. A nice time, and everyone wanted to hear about my trip to Spain and my plans to go back there. Walked back with Peter and Anne and Daniel and Brenda.
Outboard motor still giving me trouble; hard to start, sometimes choking. Squeeze-bulb in fuel line seems to be collapsing a little, so maybe the problem is there or in the tank.
Sausage-onion-cornbread-cheese and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner. New propane stove runs better than the old one, but still acts like the tank is running low. Which it shouldn't be.
2015-01-29 (Thursday)At anchor at Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada.
Loafed most of the day.
Was planning to move to other side of harbor to get more wind power, but the Wi-Fi is better over here, so I think I'll stay put.
In late afternoon, went snorkeling under the boat to scrape hull and prop. Thick, thick growth under there. Got the prop and about 1/3 of the hull done.
Spaghetti and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-01-30 (Friday)At anchor at Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada.
Ashore in early afternoon. Nice chat with Gary and Dick. Bought a gallon of gasoline. Did some yoga. Went for a walk.
Salad and spaghetti and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-01-31 (Saturday)At anchor at Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada.
Ashore in early afternoon. Did some yoga. Went for a walk.
Still having problems with the outboard; have to nurse it to keep it running sometimes. Doesn't seem to draw gasoline sometimes; have to run it with the choke 2/3 out sometimes.
Forward water tank has run dry.
Pulled in another 10 feet of anchor chain and cleaned it.
Leftover cold chili and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-01 (Sunday)At anchor at Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada.
Took the sails up onto deck.
Ashore at 1:30 and walked over to Prickly to play dominoes. Nice to see everyone again, 20+ people at four tables. Forgot to bring my wallet; borrowed a 20 from Daniel. Nice game, but I did poorly. Long chat afterward with Mirie and Pierre-Yves. Back to Secret Harbor, saw Daniel and Brenda at the dinghy dock, repaid the 20 I borrowed.
Leftover sausage-cornbread and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-02 (Monday)At anchor at Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada.
Headachey; took a paracetamol-plus.
In late afternoon, went snorkeling under the boat and did a long session of scraping. Sometimes, it feels like this. Finished the job and got everything as clean as it's going to get.
Salad and some PBJ for dinner.
2015-02-03 (Tuesday)At anchor at Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada.
Ashore for 9:30 shopping van. Had to wait for last van. To hardware store, and bought motor oil (only had 1 gallon of kind I wanted to buy), can of refrigerant, spark plug for outboard. All sold out of solar garden lights.
Walked to another hardware store, no luck, to ATM. To supermarket, got a ton of groceries, to van with a couple of minutes to spare. Stopped at veggie store (long line), CK's closed (fine with me), back to marina. Back aboard at 11:55, took 10 minutes to stow all the groceries.
Fuel level 6 inches at engine hour 4880.
Added water to the batteries; one cell took a lot.
I'm hoping to leave this harbor on Thursday and start heading north. We'll see how it goes.
Ashore in late afternoon. Did a big run at the book-exchange. Did some yoga. Went for a walk. Chatted with Kitty and then Eric and then Dick. Outboard running very badly on the way out to the boat.
Hoisted the jib, but didn't unfurl it. I think it doesn't furl/unfurl properly any more, so I won't mess with it until I leave.
Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner. Took forever to cook, with the propane still acting funny, and swirling wind blowing out the flame 6 or 8 times.
2015-02-04 (Wednesday)At anchor at Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada.
Hoisted the mainsail, and realized the furling line needs to be replaced.
Cleaned some anchor chain, pulled in another 5 feet of anchor chain and cleaned it.
Weather forecast has changed slightly; maybe I'll leave on Friday.
Realized I bought the main furling line extra-long last time, so I can cut it shorter if one end frays. So I did that now. But the furler drum is sticking. Was able to take out a setscrew, oil everything, and get it working.
Realized I'm short a couple of key groceries, mainly dishwashing liquid. Really can't do without that for long.
Around 10, headed ashore. Outboard running so badly that I almost turned around and stayed on the boat. But I kept going, and made it. Started walking into town, and was delighted when Jenny the fruit-veg lady offered me a ride in her jeep, just outside the marina. She dropped me off at CK's, saving me a ton of walking.
Into CK's, bought the dishwashing liquid. Came out and realized I didn't have my hat. Looked in the store, not there, must have dropped it on the scramble in and out of the jeep, or left it in the jeep. Held a paper towel over my head to block the sun while I walked down to the hardware store.
No joy there, still no solar garden lamps. Went next door and bought a big jar of garlic, another must-have item.
Long, hot walk back, holding a bag or towel on my head to block the sun. Didn't find my hat on the road where I got into the jeep.
At the dinghy dock, took out the outboard spark plug, and it looks fine. Motor ran very badly, but got me out to the boat. Done a little after 11:30. Hot and tired.
In late afternoon, took the carburetor off the outboard. Happy to find brown gunk in the bowl; cleaned it out, cleaned out all the passages in the carb. Put it back together and back on the motor, and the motor runs much better. Went over to Dick's boat and gave him some 2-stroke oil I had left over from the previous outboard. Outboard ran well.
Pulled in more anchor chain, finished with the barnacle-scraping. Trying to get the chain fairly vertical so the anchor will loosen a bit overnight.
Dumped 5 gallons of diesel from jug to tank.
Sausage-onion-cornbread-cheese and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-05 (Thursday)At anchor at Mount Hartman Bay, Grenada.
Weather still looks good, time to get going.
Engine start at 9:25. As usual after it's been here for a while, in deepish water, the anchor is a SOB to get up. I get the chain vertical, heave and heave, it stays bar-tight. Soon I'm able to move the boat, the anchor must be free of the bottom, but I still can't pull it up. Lots of twist in the chain. Heave, rest. I motor around in circles, trying to untwist it a little, mainly trying to shake everything up. Stop and let out 20 feet of chain, pull back up, and the big twist-curl is gone. Pull again and again, start making progress, and my back gives some warning twinges. Rest some more and pull more carefully, and soon I'm making real progress. I can hear the anchor chain untwisting itself, in lurches. Anchor up at 10:15.
Mainsail up by 10:20; furler drum still sticky. Decide not to unfurl the jib. I motor-sail out of the harbor, and start heading W along S coast of Grenada.
A couple of boats come out of Prickly Bay, and one of them, after we're slowly converging for a while, turns and cuts very close across my stern, and heads outside of Glover Island.
At the SW corner of the main island, that boat is back again, all three of us are turning the corner at the same time, but no problem. Around by 11:10.
I checked the engine oil leak a few times earlier, then let it go too long. Check at 11:45, and the bucket is full and overflowing. Stop engine, and it needs a LOT of oil. If I'd run another 15 or 30 minutes, I probably would have ruined the engine.
I have lunch, take my time dealing with the oil, the boat is sailing itself in the right direction but probably making less than 2 knots. Looks like the oil is leaking from the joint where the aft hose screws into the filter housing, but I put a wrench on it and that joint already is super-tight. Engine start again at 12:10.
I keep checking the oil, the leak is steady but not too fast. Am approaching my destination when I decide to deal with the accumulated oil again. Engine off at 1:00, quickly dump oil back in, going again in a couple of minutes.
Harbor entrance is hard to spot. Handheld GPS works once, then is dead; I forgot to charge it. Sloppy. But I've been here before, and soon see the little cabin low down by the entrance.
Into harbor. I've been here before, but anchored in the deep N end; now I decide to be bold and sneak under the low powerlines to anchor in the shallow S end. As I get to the powerlines, they look far too low, but that's an optical illusion. I back off once, then go close to shore (high end of the powerlines, but there are rocks and a wreck here), don't look up, and then I'm past the powerlines. Quickly round up, lower the anchor, find I'm in about 12 feet of water: perfect. Anchor down and engine off by 1:30 at Halifax Harbour, Grenada. Swinging near the wrecked freighter here, but that's okay. Nice, calm anchorage.
In late afternoon, took apart hose connections into oil filter base. There's a broken O-ring, and I can't find my bag of spare O-rings. But a bigger problem: the threads are not grabbing when I tighten the pipe into the filter housing. They grip a little, then are loose. I put in a bunch of thread sealant, tighten it as best I can, and leave it to dry overnight. Hope I didn't make it worse.
Chili and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-06 (Friday)At anchor at Halifax Harbour, Grenada.
Started engine at 7:15, and oil is pouring out of the connection. Engine off, took joint apart, tried to put it back together, and the threads are not gripping at all. Used pliers to try to get small pipe section out of other connector, and soon the threads are mashed. Cleaned them up with a hacksaw, screwed pipe into housing, and the threads still are not gripping at all. From the bad angle I have, the threads inside the housing look okay. But the joint just is not tightening. I might be stuck here for a while; can't run the engine without this working. And there's nothing in this anchorage but access to the coastal road. Could dinghy several miles up or down the coast to a town to get help.
I apply teflon tape, stick the joint back together and then wire it together with seizing wire. Tighten it by twisting the wire ends, but it's not very tight.
Start the engine at 8:00, and the leak is manageable. Quickly get the anchor up and motor out.
Start heading north, but by 8:15 the bucket is full and I have to stop and dump oil back into the engine. I could keep doing this every 15 minutes, but the trip up to Carriacou normally takes me 8 hours or more, and this will turn it into 12 hours, maybe. Common sense says give up and turn around and head south to St George's.
Soon the oil leak is making the decision for me: I have to stop again after only 5 minutes. Put oil back in, make a U-turn, start heading south. And the leak is worse: now can run the engine only 1 or 2 minutes before I have to stop.
So I do that for a while, stop, start, stop, start. Would be nice if I could sail a bit, but there's no wind. I tie a rope around the connection and crank that to tighten, and that helps a little.
I take a break for a while, start a cycle of motoring for 1-2 minutes, sit for 10 or so, dump oil back in, do it again. Slowly making progress. Occasionally a little puff of wind lets me sail at a knot or so for half a minute.
I'm bummed; there's a lovely period of low seas for the next week or two, and I'd hoped to get up to Bequia. Now I'll miss most of the opportunity.
Sometimes the leak is very bad, but I figure out how to push the hose down in a certain direction to make it decrease again.
Nearing the cruise ship dock, I have a tense situation with two oncoming sailboats. They're sailing north at 3 or 4 knots, I'm making about 1/10th of a knot sailing south, and they're passing very close to me. I don't want to lose headway and slew across in front of them. I just ran the engine, so have to go below and dump oil before I can run it again, but I have to stay above and steer while they're so close. Wish they'd stay further away. But eventually they're past.
More wind down by the harbor entrance, but of course it's coming from exactly the direction I want to go. At least the leak has slowed a bit; now I can run for 3-4 minutes before stopping.
Eventually up and through the anchorage. Head close to the beach, shut off the engine just before the bucket is full, lower the anchor. Nice depth, but the chain is only halfway out when I get to the huge twists still in it from the months while the boat was idle. Should have gotten them out yesterday afternoon. I quickly furl the mainsail most of the way so the boat stops sailing around at anchor, quickly back to the chain, untwist 5 feet, let it out, do another 5 feet, etc.
Finally done by noon, at St George's, Grenada. Took me a little less than 4 hours to go 4 NM today.
After 1, I start cleaning up the engine a little, and taking the wires and rope off the filter connection. I'm thinking of taking the whole thing out and going ashore to find a machine-shop. But I'm tired, and want to make sure my anchor is holding well before leaving the engine disabled for several days, probably. Tomorrow is Saturday, machine-shops probably will be closed, but I could take it to a hardware store and see if I can buy a couple of little pipe-connectors. And I need to find my O-rings.
No free Wi-Fi over here; would have been nice.
Tired; not going ashore today.
Found the bag of O-rings.
Nice-looking sailboat here: pic.
Salad and leftover chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
Quiet night, but there's a slight roll in this anchorage that just never stops. That's why I've never liked it here.
2015-02-07 (Saturday)At anchor at St George's, Grenada.
Turns out today is Independence Day here in Grenada, so no stores will be open.
Rain at 7, then fairly grey day, some periods of sunshine.
In midafternoon, took the oil filter housing off the hoses. The outlet won't grip, so of course the inlet hose connection was on extra-solid; had to put big wrenches on it and hit one with a hammer. Got it off: pic. The outlet connection just is too short or the hole in the mount has expanded or something, I think. Maybe the little connector-pipe is screwed too far into one end; never liked that arrangement. I tried to get the little connector-pipe out of it the other day, and ended up just mashing threads. But now I think I'm remembering it wrong; the only connector-pipe is vertical, holding the filter on, not also at the sides ? Will have to try to find the little pamphlet that came with the mount.
Found the picture from when I installed it a couple of years ago, and there are no side-pipes: pic. Bad news: I probably need a new adapter-pipe, the thing on the right in today's picture. Or a new mount.
Party-boat went past in the evening, loud music playing: pic.
Salad and spaghetti and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-08 (Sunday)At anchor at St George's, Grenada.
Awake and thinking at 5 AM, and wondering how a machine-shop could fix the oil-filter mount. And I doubt they really can. So I decided to try a fix myself. Got up, cleaned the parts well with soapy water, dried them well, then JBWeld-ed them together. Will let that dry for 24 hours, then (carefully) put them back on the engine tomorrow morning, and start the engine. If it works, I'll head north. If it doesn't work, I'll take the parts ashore and look for help.
Freighter came in (pic); they're interesting to watch. One or two in and out of here each day, it seems.
Got some free Wi-Fi. Nice.
Salad and leftover sausage-cornbread and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-09 (Monday)At anchor at St George's, Grenada.
Up at 6:30, and carefully assembled the oil filter and mount onto the hoses. Engine start at 6:55, and no oil leak. Took my time getting the boat ready to go, had a little trouble getting the anchor up, and still no oil leak when the boat got moving at 7:15. Motored out, mainsail up, no wind, motored north, keeping a frequent eye on the oil situation. And it kept being fine.
Long, typical day; I've done this trip 5 or 6 times before. Very calm and easy up the W side of Grenada, rougher and windier as the island turned NE, and a real slog NE across the gap between islands. Seas low (4 feet) as forecast, but plenty of them from a couple of directions, and more wind than I expected, and no SE in it to help me. A long, slow trip, with me hoping the engine keeps going okay. Fairly rough at times.
Current and wind forcing me more W than I wanted to go, and the day ended with several hours going mostly E and just enough off the wind to keep the mainsail from luffing. But the engine is doing fine.
Relieved to get into Tyrrel Bay and get the anchor down by 3:55 at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou. Nice and calm and quiet here. Lots of boats.
Salad and leftover spaghetti and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-10 (Tuesday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Around 10:30, launched the dinghy. Stopped at nearby boat and chatted for a moment, asking about a fuel-barge someone had told me was here. But they said no, that is up in Bequia.
Headed ashore, going around a fuel tanker that just came in to fill up the big fuel tanks on land. Docked at the ferry dock. Took a big load of garbage to the dumpsters. No one selling produce at the dock today, and little on offer from the shacks. Into the grocery store, and bought a lot of stuff. Back to the boat, swinging wide around the fuel tanker, which has floated a hose in to shore to deliver the fuel. They used to use an undersea pipeline here, but I guess that's not working any more.
After lunch, looked at engine. Oil leak situation seems okay. But there's a steady drip of water from the raw-water pump while the intake valve is open; have to investigate that.
Got a tiny bit of Wi-Fi, very flaky. It lasted a few minutes and then went away and I couldn't get it back.
Took the cap off the engine's raw-water pump, and the gasket disintegrated. The impeller looks reasonable, and I'm not taking it out, because it's a royal pain to put back in. Turns out I have three spares of that gasket aboard, so no problem.
Scraped the remains of the gasket out, and put new gasket and old end-plate on, using lots of anti-seize and teflon jelly. No water leaking now. Will see if that holds next time I run the engine.
Made a general radio call for information about fuel, and my friend Flemming on "Tinuviel" answered. He says there's no fuel-barge here, but the marina sells fuel very cheaply. We chatted a bit about my oil leak and such.
Around 3:30, dinghied over to the boatyard and checked out the fuel dock. Guy who runs it was busy elsewhere, but I got the prices (EC$8.64/gallon, 4% charge for using a credit-card) and scoped out the navigation needed to get in and out. Only tricky thing is a shoal fairly close by on the W side, and I want to do a U-turn right near it. But I think it will be okay.
Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
Fair amount of wind all night; wind-generator running.
2015-02-11 (Wednesday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Had been planning to take the boat to the fuel dock this morning, but it's blowing pretty hard, not sure I want to do it. Boat's rocking a lot; getting the anchor up will be slightly tricky. Went back and forth on the decision, finally decided not to do it today.
Ran the engine for a couple of minutes, to check the oil and water leaks. Everything fine while it was running, but after stopping, plenty of water dripping from the war water pump again. Felt around and decided the water is leaking from the front, not the back where I replaced the gasket yesterday. So the pump needs a rebuild, probably a new bearing. I might have the rebuild kit in my spares; will have to look.
Ashore to Slipways restaurant before 2, to play dominoes. About 18 people playing at 4 tables, and lots of people I've met before. Some nice conversation. I came in about 4th.
Went over to the fuel dock to confirm a few things, and tell them I'm coming in tomorrow morning. I'm nervous about it; don't like close maneuvering near hard things.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-12 (Thursday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Engine start at 8:30. Called fuel dock on radio, they said a couple of boats occupying it, so I shut off engine. Waited 20 minutes, called again, a boat at the dock needs to be towed away.
Around 9:15, a sailboat is towed past me. Start engine, raise anchor, get it free, back to helm and find engine has quit, I accidentally left it in gear. Now I'm drifting back toward the boat behind me, "Xanadu". Try several times to restart the engine, and it won't catch. Finally give up on that and dash back to the bow. Put the anchor out, with about 50 feet of chain, and it catches and stops me about one boat-length directly ahead of "Xanadu". Call them on the radio and ask them to stand ready to fend off if needed.
But the anchor holds. Over the next hour, I try several times to start the engine. Not cranking well, and not catching. I investigate, find a slightly loose ground connection on the starting battery, tighten it. Battery is so low that the combiner is cutting in and out, not charging it properly, so I bypass that with jumper cables. Wait for solar and wind-gen to charge battery, with clouds coming over to delay things.
At 10:15 or so, I take the jumper cables off and crank the engine, and it cranks well and starts. I give a thumbs-up to the people on "Xanadu" and another cruiser in a dinghy at their side. Engine runs for 20 seconds or so, then surges and dies.
Don't want to swing so close to them any longer, so I ask them to use their dinghies to help me re-anchor. They're unsure that a 5 HP plus a 6 HP will be strong enough, but I'm sure it will work. They get on my stern and push, and I get the anchor up, but they're not being very smart about it, pushing me over the anchor before I can get it all the way up. Then it's up, and the bow is falling off to leeward. I run back to the helm and put full port rudder, and we slowly come around. Come a bit close to another boat, but we're okay. Get to where I want to put down the anchor, and they're still pushing hard. I yell at them to stop, but they can't hear me. I put down the anchor, and let out chain as they keep pushing and pushing. Finally I run back to the stern and tell them to stop. Takes several minutes for the boat to drift back, anchor holds fine, I'm right where I want to be. Done by 10:30.
We speculate that I must have water or clogs in the fuel filters. I thank them, they leave. I'm sweaty and wrung out; need to calm down. Put the jumper cables back on to charge the starting battery better.
I'm very glad this happened in this safe anchorage, instead of halfway through a trip between islands.
Turns out I do have a rebuild kit for the engine raw water pump. As well as a couple of sets of new fuel filters. But no diesel in the jug, which I need to fill the new filters.
Headed ashore after 1, to the boatyard fuel dock. But the guy who runs it is at lunch. Saw Mary in the cafe and chatted with her a little while; her boat is being splashed today.
Back to the fuel dock, chatted with some people on a big charter-catamaran. The guy told me they were anchored at PSV last night, dinghy in the water out behind on a medium-long painter, and a local skiff from the resort came flying by in the total dark, no lights, and ran right up on top of their dinghy and got stuck there. Took a while to get it off, too. The local guys came back this morning and dove down to retrieve the dinghy's outboard motor cowling, checked that everything still worked, then tried to charge the catamaran people EC$350 for helping them ! No money was paid.
Got 4.5 gallons of diesel for about EC$39, or US$3.60/gallon. Water costs EC$0.20/liter here, or about US$0.28/gallon.
Had some trouble getting off the dock: several boats had me stuck in a tight space, and lots of mooring balls and a couple of anchor ropes. Paddled out, got outboard started but it quit any time I put it into reverse, then it wouldn't start any more. Paddled out some more, pumped the bulb, eventually got it started and back to the boat by 2:30.
Took out first fuel filter, and it was fairly black, fluid was black, and there was black stuff in the bottom of the housing. Cleaned up the housing and put new filter in, filled up with diesel, put it back on. Did the second one, the water-separator, and the filter was fairly black, no gunk at the bottom, fluid that came out was lighter and more watery.
When done, cranked the engine and it wouldn't start. Gave up for today.
Salad and cornedbeef-onion-cornbread-cheese and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-13 (Friday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
In mid-morning, cranked the engine for a long time and eventually it fired and ran for a couple of seconds, then quit. Left the battery to charge for a while.
At noon, tried again, turned key, and ... nothing. No click, no starter motor, nothing. Looked in the engine compartment and found that the connector holding the negative cables onto the battery negative terminal has broken: pic. Put jumper cable across it and tried to find a spare connector. Couldn't find one; thought I had one kicking around somewhere.
Went ashore around 2, disposed of garbage, walked up to auto / home store. They had exactly what I needed: pic. Walked back into "town", chatting to some German tourists on the way. Bought some bananas. Back to the boat, the outboard running very badly.
Put the new connector on and started charging the battery. Half an hour later, Flemming stopped by to say hi, and while he was there I tried the engine. Cranked it for 20 seconds or so, cranking well, and then it started. Ran for 20 seconds or so, racing and surging, then it died. Need to bleed air out of the fuel system. But first I think I'll replace the third fuel filter.
Started to work on the water pump, but first I have to clean up lots of spilled engine oil. Cleaned up in the engine compartment.
A local guy stopped by to tell me I was swinging over one of his mooring balls, and in a day or two he might need to put a boat on it. If so, we'll move my boat again using dinghies.
Tried to clean up the bilge, and got nowhere. Can't get the hand-pump to prime. Gave up for today.
Salad and leftover chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-14 (Saturday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Started cleaning the bilge a bit.
Went ashore and bought a few groceries, and fruits and vegs.
Replaced the third fuel filter on the engine. Tried to use the lift pump manually to drive fuel into it, but that didn't work. So now the fuel lines and filter are full of air. Cranked the engine in hopes it would drive it out. Will try that a few more times.
Started trying to get the water pump off. Lots of thick, short, stubborn hoses in awkward places.
More bilge-cleaning. More engine-cranking, with bleed-screw on side of fuel injector pump open. Another try at getting hoses off.
Salad and hotdog-onion-mushroom-cheese-omelet-sandwiches and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-15 (Sunday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Took the fuel lift pump (pic) off the engine and disassembled it. Couldn't find anything wrong, except that it wasn't full of fuel. Put it back together and back on.
Headed ashore for dominoes at 2. Outboard running very badly. Got about 80% of the way there and the outboard quit. Every time I restarted it, it ran for one second and then quit again. Paddled in to the dock.
Nice dominoes game, seven of us playing. I did great for 5 hands or so, had a couple of disastrous hands, came in about 4th. Outboard still won't run. Flemming towed me back to my boat.
Took the carb off the outboard and disassembled it. Some chunks of yellow gunk in the bowl. Cleaned it out, blasted all the passages, put it back together and back on the motor. Took the fuel filter off, looked okay, blasted it out with cleaner, put it back on. Took off the fuel pump, disassembled it, a little yellow gunk, cleaned it, put it back together, put it back on the motor. Started the motor, and it ran as if it were brand-new. So, I'm not totally incompetent.
Leftover cornedbeef-cornbread and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-16 (Monday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Opened up the fuel lift pump and poured diesel into it to fill it. Was swinging close to another boat in unusual N wind, and the guy suggested bleeding by loosening injector lines, instead of the bleed screw on the side of the injector pump, as I have been doing. So I did that. Cranked the engine and got some fuel out of both injector lines. Will have to wait for battery to charge before cranking again.
After several more cycles, at 1:50 got the engine started and ran it for several minutes with no problems. So I think the fuel system problem is fixed !
I'm still wondering how this happened. My best guess: when I was getting ready to go to the fuel dock, I opened an inspection pipe on top of the fuel tank and left it open. I wanted the additional venting when I added fuel; the normal vent line is very narrow, so fuel goes in very slowly. Somehow, I guess, that inspection pipe can not be left open when running the engine; it must let air into the fuel pickup in the tank. I can't see how, but that must have been the problem.
Worked some more to get the raw water pump off. The hose-to-pipe connections are tough to get loose.
Got the aft ends of the pump-hoses off. Tried to loosen the collar around the pump shaft, and it sheared right off the engine; not good: pic.
Eventually got the hoses off the pump, and got the whole pump out: pic.
Salad and sandwiches and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-17 (Tuesday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Cleaned up the forward end of the water pump; you can see why it needs a rebuild: pic.
Water pump mount area on side of engine is pretty bad: pic. Cleaned off much of the rust and scale so I could see the situation better. It's a big bracket held to the engine block by four big bolts. I'm reluctant to try to take it off: I'm sure it's been on for 42 years (the boat is a 1973), those bolts won't want to move, I easily could snap a couple of them off. I think I'll just try to jury-rig something to replace the snapped-off top piece.
Took the impeller out of the pump (not easy, even with the pump out and easily accessible). Now I need to take a circlip off the shaft. I have a toolset for that, but where is it ?
Looked and looked for that set, never did find it. Eventually got the circlip out by using two screwdrivers. Got the shaft out, but the main bearing is disintegrated and the shell of it is bonded into the housing of the pump. Chipped at it with screwdriver and hammer, but that did little. Started cutting it out with the Dremel, having to be careful not to cut into body of the pump. Slow going. Stopped for today, doused the area with penetrating oil.
Diagram for the pump: Sherwood_RPBC.
Around 3:30, I was about to go ashore, when here comes the local guy, Dexter. He tells me that he needs to put a boat on the mooring early tomorrow morning, I need to move. And he points out that my chain has ripped off his mooring ball; must have happened last night, and I must have dragged a bit. Bummer. He says he'll come back, and leaves.
I ponder for a little while, then decide not to wait for him. I go ashore, looking around on the way for any cruising boats with people I know aboard, or with beefy outboard motors on their dinghies; no luck. Everyone I see either is a charter-boat or has a 2 or 3 HP motor on their dinghy.
Dispose of four bags of garbage. To Budget Cafe and use the book-exchange. Rain starts. Into the grocery store, where they have no bread at all. Buy a couple of items, wait a little for the rain to ease, back to the dock, out to the boat. No sign of Dexter.
I decide to head off any attempt by him to charge me for recovering the mooring. I snorkel and find it and pull up the mooring line with a grapnel, and put a float on it.
I go to a neighboring boat "Ansari" and ask for help. The guy, Peter, is friendly but has guests arriving any minute. He says he'll get a couple of guys and come over with three dinghies tomorrow morning at 8 and we'll move my boat. Fine.
Salad and chili and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
I'm a little anxious in the evening, watching the boat swing; I've definitely dragged a bit in the last few days.
2015-02-18 (Wednesday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Around 8:15, Peter is over in his dinghy, and goes to scout out an anchoring location for me, and drops a buoy at it. He comes back and says we'll need to use my dinghy, so I launch it. Soon three or four more people in three dinghies are around. They want to tow my boat or kedge it over or tow it with a dinghy on each side, but finally they do what I want: two dinghies pushing on the stern, one near the bow to coordinate things and push the bow sideways as necessary. A lady, Sue, comes aboard to take the helm of my boat. I'm doing the anchor-handling.
We raise anchor, veering quite a bit from side to side in gusts of wind and with uneven pushing from the dinghies. Finally it's up, boat is moving forward, we have steerage. Up to the buoy, put the anchor down, overshoot as people still are pushing a bit. Boat starts settling back, then stops too soon. I think the anchor chain is looped and grabbing a hillock on the bottom.
Peter insists that I snorkel the anchor, so I do that. Sure enough, the chain is making a bit hook-shape on the bottom, and the anchor is not dug in. I dive down repeatedly, 8 or 9 feet down, to move chain and anchor, as the dinghies try to drag my boat back. Finally all is set. I go back to the boat, and I'm much farther from the beach than I wanted to be, close ahead of a couple of mooring balls and anchored catamarans. But it's too late to do much about it. Peter says no one has used that white mooring ball in years. The others leave around 9:30, telling me my outboard quit and couldn't be restarted, and strongly suggesting I put out a second anchor. Great.
Soon the boat is settling back a bit closer to that white mooring ball, and to a catamaran anchored behind it. The guys on the catamaran are giving me anxious looks. I start working on the outboard, and can't get it started. A guy on the catamaran tells me I'm swinging over their anchor, and they want to leave. I tell him my engine and outboard are dead.
I take the carb off the outboard and open the bowl, and the jet-screw falls out; it was loose. Put that in properly, put everything back together, motor still won't start. I take off hose from outlet of fuel pump, squeeze the fuel-bulb, and what comes out looks like milky lemonade, not gasoline. Bad gas at the bottom of the tank. I pump out until it looks right, and fairly soon have the motor started. A relief. Boat seems to have stabilized; I'm not dragging.
So I stand by in the dinghy with the outboard running, as the catamaran slowly gets ready to raise anchor. Sure enough, their anchor is close by my starboard side, so I use the dinghy to push my boat to port a little, and keep it there. They get their anchor up with 30 feet between the sides of our boats, and they're gone.
To the bow and pull out the second anchor and chain and rope rode. Into the dinghy, around to the bow, and pull anchor and chain and rope down into the dinghy. Out to the NE and drop anchor. Back to the boat and haul in until I have all-chain to the bow from that anchor, which seems to be holding. Done by 10 or so. Boat now at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
I shower off. The catamaran behind me to the NW raises anchor and leaves. Five minutes later, a dive boat coming by tells me I'm too close to his two mooring balls, I should move. Great. The white ball behind me (in ENE wind) is no problem. The red ball to port might be a problem when the wind goes SE again. I'm not moving, for now.
Did a small bucket of laundry.
Went ashore at 11:30. To grocery store. One loaf of bread in the whole store, and I grabbed it. Got eggs and hotdogs, back to the boat.
Used the Dremel on the water pump some more, trying to carve that old bearing out of there.
After 1 or so, there was a boat on the mooring I used to be swinging over, so Dexter really did need to use it.
Ashore at 2 to play dominoes. Nice time, I came in 3rd out of about 14 players. Over to fuel dock afterward, and bought water (39 liters for EC$7.80, about US$2.90). One or both of my water-jugs might be leaking; hard to tell.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cheese-egg-sandwiches and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
2015-02-19 (Thursday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Fairly grey and some rain in the early morning, but I did a bucket of laundry anyway. Half of the water leaked out of one of my water-jugs overnight; time to throw it away.
Sunny after 1 or so. So I did a couple of hours of cutting and pounding on the water pump, trying to get the old bearing out (in chunks). As Peter said when he swung by to say hi, I'm carving hard stainless steel out from inside soft bronze, a tricky job.
Eventually I realized there's an old circlip embedded in a channel in the bronze pump-body, in front of the old bearing shell, and everything is welded together. Got out a few shards of the circlip, then got out two big chunks of the bearing shell: pic. Light at the end of the tunnel ! Should be able to get out the rest of it tomorrow.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
Fairly rolly night; light N wind holding me parallel to the beach and the swells.
2015-02-20 (Friday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Headache; took a couple of rounds of paracetamol.
Headachey until after noon; finally sumatriptan and lunch made me feel better.
Finished Dremeling the water pump; got out all the old bits of bearing and circlip.
Went ashore. Nice walk, chatting with a couple of new cruisers. Bought veggies at the ferry dock. Bought a few groceries at the market.
Salad and tuna sandwiches and a rum-and-dietcola for dinner.
Still headachey; took another paracetamol.
2015-02-21 (Saturday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Still a bit headachey.
Still can't find the circlip toolkit. Started putting together the pump, doing a little more Dremeling to make the bearing slide in easily, but now I really need that toolkit. Didn't mind if I damaged the old circlips a bit getting them out, but I'd rather not twist the new ones when putting them in. Hmm, the rebuild kit came with only two of the little circlips, but both diagrams I have show three are needed. Fortunately, I have one more left over from a previous rebuild.
Spent more than an hour searching for the circlip toolkit; looked again in the likely places, and in many unlikely places. No luck.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cornbread-cheese and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Still a little headachey; took another paracetamol.
2015-02-22 (Sunday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Still slightly headachey.
Searched a few more places for the circlip toolkit; gave up.
Took a sumatriptan.
Made a radio call to borrow a circlip toolkit, and got an immediate response from Marcus on "Island Kea". Got in the dinghy and went all the way downwind, about as far as you can go in this harbor, to his boat. He had a bit of a search for the toolkit, but found it after about 5 minutes. Chatted a little, then back to my boat.
Fairly quickly got the circlips and bearing and seals-spring assembly onto the shaft, and into the pump housing. Then struggled to get the impeller in. That's always a hassle: you have to rest a key in a slot on the side of the shaft, then force a big, stiff impeller into the housing and down the shaft, perfectly line up the keyway in the impeller with the key in the side of the shaft, and push the impeller down over the key. All without being able to see what the key is doing and how it is lining up with the keyway in the impeller. Tried 6 or 8 times and took a rest.
Finally got the impeller in. Had to tap on the other end of the shaft to get it in the last 1/4" or so. Sprayed a lot of teflon lubricant, let it sit, tapped it a few more times, seems to have settled in properly. Put the cover on the pump.
Ashore at 2 to play dominoes. Ten players, premier-league football on a badly-focused TV, and free Wi-Fi so I left my laptop doing some downloading.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Still headachey during the night. Took a paracetamol, but it didn't help much. Eventually took a sumatriptan, and that worked.
2015-02-23 (Monday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Got the raw water pump back onto the engine. Working on the mounting: one pipe from the pump can be tied to another pipe to steady it, and I need to cut some wood to hold the pump down onto the remains of the mounting bracket.
By early afternoon, had everything in place. Started the engine, and everything ran fine. Ran it for 15 minutes, no leaks of oil or fuel or water, and the water-pump didn't shift, and the wood I put in place didn't shift. Success !
Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-02-24 (Tuesday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Engine start after 9:45; everything seems okay. Raised two anchors. Got the second halfway up, called the fuel dock, there's a boat occupying it. Shut off the engine and waited 10 minutes, with the anchor slowly dragging, toward a mooring buoy behind me. Eventually started engine, fuel dock says they're clear, raised second anchor. Left it dangling off the bow and headed through the anchorage.
A real obstacle course here, lots of boats anchored or moored. Was heading towards one gap when a catamaran came in and started anchoring in it. Tried to go behind them, and they started backing down towards me. Waved them away and got around them. To the fuel dock, and no one is there, no one answers the radio. Turned up into the wind and managed to hold the boat stable; not a comfortable situation. Eventually the guy appeared and waved me in. A downwind docking onto the upwind side of the dock; not what I prefer. But I got in okay.
Started pumping diesel, and the guy is admiring my boat. I told him he can have it for a low price, and he's interested. He wants a boat he can sleep on, and a couple of visitors can sleep on.
We get 100 gallons of diesel loaded, the guy doing half the pumping, which was nice. Paid EC$875.22 (about US$325); includes 4% surcharge for paying by credit card.
Gave the guy a tour of my boat, and he's interested, but I'm planning to leave tomorrow morning (had thought of leaving today). If he reached for his wallet or started negotiating price, I'd stay. But he wasn't that excited. And I quoted him a very low price, my end-point of a negotiation instead of the starting-point.
Off the dock at about 11:40, a little tricky in the NE wind. Up through the anchorage, anchor down by 11:50 at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou. Checked the engine, and everything still looks okay with oil hoses and water pump.
Trying to decide whether to hop across to Union Island tomorrow. Stronger weather is coming in right afterward, so I'll be stuck there for several days, and it's more pleasant (Wi-Fi, dominoes) to be stuck here than there. But I feel the need to start making progress northward.
Salad and chili and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Very calm night.
2015-02-25 (Wednesday)At anchor at Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou.
Ashore at 9:45 to check out with Customs and Immigration. Had to pay EC$20 departure fee, and bring my cruising permit up to date (4 months, total of EC$300).
Ran into the fuel-dock guy, told him last chance to buy my boat, and he said "If I had the money, we'd both be smiling and you'd be looking for an airline ticket". Oh, well.
Back to boat, hoist and stow dinghy, get everything ready to go. Engine start around 10:30, anchor up at 10:30. Motored a little to near ferry dock, rounded up and unfurled mainsail, motor-sailed out.
Around W tip of island, and smack into teeth of wind and current. I'm heading NE today, and wind is from the ENE or so, and stronger than I expected. A slog.
Making decent progress, heading up toward N tip of Carriacou, when at 11:50 suddenly the engine races slightly and the boat stops making forward progress. I idle the engine and run below. Nothing wrong with oil leak or water pump. Put the engine in gear, prop shaft is turning, but no forward motion. I assume the worst: prop has fallen off or the key has sheared off.
I start sailing toward Hillsboro, only a couple of miles away, and I can get there. Soon I wonder if I just snared a fish-trap on the prop, and try some reverse and forward, back and forth. But no go. I'm fearing the worst, thinking I might be stuck here for weeks, maybe I can get a tow around the island and back into Tyrrel Bay. Bummer. I'd have to check back into the country. Hillsboro is a lousy anchorage; I've never liked it.
I'm worried that I'll be in a wind-shadow from the hills as I get to the anchorage, and start calling on the radio to see if I can get some help. Would be great if a cruiser anchored there could get in their dinghy and push me the last 300 yards. But the only response is from boats in Clifton, my original destination.
One of those boats calls the Marine Park rangers, and they come over in a skiff. I explain that I want to get into shelter at the NE corner of the anchorage (I'm assuming I might be there for a while, and strong NE weather is coming). They aren't too interested. I put out fenders and docklines in case they need to raft to me, and keep sailing while they hover nearby.
Suddenly I'm heading for a shoal. The chart shows it just deep enough for me to pass over, but they insist on towing me away from it. So we scramble to tie together, and soon all is confusion as my sail still is up, they want to tow but don't put their motors in gear, etc. Eventually they start towing me in.
But then we start arguing about where to anchor. Now that I'm in 15-20 feet of water, they want me to go to the bow and put the anchor down. But I'm half a mile from land, in open water, in the general channel used by all the traffic. I keep coaxing them to take me closer and closer to land. I want to get about 100 yards from shore, but eventually I put the anchor down about 300 yards out at 12:50 and they take off, washing their hands of me.
I lower the dinghy, get out the snorkeling gear, and go under the boat. I'm delighted to find that the problem is just a big net wrapped around my prop, making it into a useless ball; I can fix this. I do some chopping and cutting, not so easy with thick poly netting, boat rolling and slewing a fair amount, careful not to get myself tangling in the netting. But eventually I figure out how to unwind it, and get it all off fairly easily. Pic. Back aboard, hoist dinghy, rinse and stow everything, ready to go again by 1:25. But I pause for a bite to eat.
Engine start at 1:40. A hassle to get the anchor up, with the boat rolling and gusty wind making the bow slew back and forth. Anchor up by 1:50 and head NE again.
Rough at the N tip of Carriacou, as usual, and a rough slog across the gap. I think the wind is a little stronger than forecast, at least some of the time.
But the engine keeps going, mainsail gives me some drive and lots of stability, and eventually I get across to Union Island. Into the Clifton anchorage.
Anchor down by 3:35, but I'm too close ahead of "Tinuviel". Raise anchor, while a catamaran that came in behind me is hovering around behind me and making me nervous. Hard work, since I have no anchor windlass, and it's windy and gusty. Finally anchor down again by 3:45 at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
And now the wind is a bit ESE, and I seem to be close to another boat directly behind me, and the big catamaran "Aral" alongside me is swinging a little differently than I am. Where was this wind direction when I needed it today ? But my anchor is holding solidly, and I get ready to go ashore. Soon the wind is more E, things look better. And once in the dinghy, I see we have plenty of room between us; everything looks closer from on deck on the big boat.
Ashore to the Yacht Club. As soon as I put the netting on the dock, intending to throw it away, a local guy wants it and I give it to him.
Walk to airport, and check-in is more expensive than I expected, because after 4 PM is "overtime". I pay EC$81.25 to Customs and EC$35 to Immigration, total of about US$43. When I was here last year, it cost me only EC$35 total. "Tinuviel" says they paid EC$75 to check in a week ago.
Back to the Yacht Club, use the book-exchange, back into the dinghy. Out into the anchorage, and I stop at "Tinuviel" to chat for a while. Back to my boat around 5. As I'm unloading the dinghy, a cruiser stops by and says I left some clearance papers at the airport, here they are ! A lifesaver ! My brain must not be working very well.
Leftover chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Wind blew fairly hard all night, probably E 18 knots or so. As much wind-generator power as I wanted. Anchor held fine.
2015-02-26 (Thursday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind blowing harder, probably 18-20 knots, with a slight bit of N in it. Now I'm lying better, as expected when I put the anchor down, no longer a boat directly behind me.
Got a teeny burst of Wi-Fi, just enough to upload my log file. Couldn't get any web pages to load.
Wind a little lighter than expected in the afternoon, but picked up in the evening.
Salad and spaghetti and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-02-27 (Friday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
A little headachey; took a paracetamol.
Still getting VHF radio net from Grenada, and also one from Erica's here in Clifton. Seas are running 7-10 feet in open water, winds around 20 knots, and on Saturday there will be some 25-knot wind.
Went ashore in early afternoon. Disposed of two bags of garbage. At some point, wind blew hard enough to break off a table-roof: pic.
Walked down waterfront, through town, up hill to hospital to take usual picture of the anchorage: pic. Nice to get some exercise and be off the boat.
Back into town, stopped at half a dozen stores and a fruit/veg stand, bought groceries. Went for my usual rum, 70% alcohol by volume, but they had some that was 84.5% by volume. Rough, wet ride back out to the boat.
Got a little Wi-Fi. Was able to get a few web pages. Strangely, WindGuru weather for this area says seas are in 6-foot range with wind gusting to 20 knots, and seas won't go over 6-7 feet even when wind is 20-25 knots. Not sure I believe that. Probably can get out of here on Tuesday.
Salad and leftover spaghetti and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-02-28 (Saturday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Strong wind as a front/squall came through at 9:15. But the rest of the day wasn't any stronger than yesterday. 17-18 in the morning, maybe 19-20 in later afternoon.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Around 7:15, suddenly wind blasting 25 knots or so, and then suddenly one of my sails is flogging. I run onto deck to find that the top of the jib has come unfurled. I rush to loose the wire halyard on the winch, and start bringing the sail down. The open part is catching a lot of wind; have to be careful it doesn't lift me off my feet and throw me. I get it mostly under control, 2/3 down. lashing it with free end of the main furling line.
Then Neil from the neighboring big charter catamaran arrives in a big dinghy, and I accept his offer to come aboard and help. He holds the sail, I grab some more line out of the cockpit, then I loosen more halyard while he pulls the head of the sail down the forestay to the bow. I lash up the whole length of the sail, I thank him and we chat for a moment, then he heads back to his boat. I get another line and lash the sail down some more. By 7:30, the wind is easing back down to 18-19 or so.
Another blow after 8, and another around 9. Kept going that way all night, every hour or less. I was very anxious through the first couple, standing in the companionway, watching the three boats near me, ready to start the engine. But the anchor seemed to be holding fine, and you can't stay anxious all night. Went to bed, and only got up occasionally.
In the middle of the night, my eyeglass frames came apart. Moved the lenses to a new set of frames.
2015-03-01 (Sunday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Grey, windy morning, blowing steady 20+ knots. Anchor held fine all night.
Strong front/squall came through just before 8. Lots of rain and wind. Another one at 9:50.
Went ashore at 2 to play dominoes with Flemming and Hella from "Tinuviel". Barracuda's bar said we couldn't play there ! We ended up in the Clifton Beach Hotel, had a nice game. Saw an enormous sloop come down from the north, turn in front of the harbor, then anchor off Palm Island: pic. Did some Wi-Fi during and after the game.
Salad and tuna-salad sandwiches for dinner.
Wind starting to ease a bit; probably 18-20 knots.
2015-03-02 (Monday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Still a little too windy and rough to leave today. And cruiser's net says no easing tomorrow; WindGuru says conditions will be lighter tomorrow.
Reasonably strong squall at 7:35.
Wind getting lighter starting at 10 or so, but picked up again in late afternoon.
Went ashore in midafternoon. Exchanged several books at Erica's. Walked up to the top of Fort Hill, looking down over the airport and the anchorage; great views in all directions. Pics.
Back down to town. Stopped in half a dozen places and bought groceries. Noticed the clock in one grocery store: pic. Big excitement at the ferry dock as a ferry came in and picked up a couple dozen schoolkids, as well as other traffic.
Wind getting stronger in the early evening, and mostly NE, not much ENE. Not good.
Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Big sloop came in well after dark and anchored. Fortunately they weren't near me.
I'm hoping to leave here tomorrow morning, but the wind blew a bit strongly all night, probably 18-19 knots. Doesn't bode well for leaving.
2015-03-03 (Tuesday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Grey, windy morning with lots of waves on the horizon. I'm not going anywhere today. Might be stuck here for a couple more weeks.
Got a bit of Wi-Fi. WindGuru is just flat-out wrong about today's weather here: says it's 11-12 knots of wind, while we're getting more like 17-18 right now.
Weather calming down around 10:30, but I think I'm going to stay anyway.
In late afternoon, gave myself a haircut and a shave, then went snorkeling under the boat. Scraped hull and prop. Was wondering why the prop looked different than usual, when I realized that the prop-shaft zinc is gone ! It was old, and I guess the net tore it off. I'll have to put on a new one; I have a spare aboard. Last time I did that myself, it worked loose and fell off in a month or two, and I had to get someone else to put on another. Maybe I'll do better this time.
Wind picking up, getting stronger.
Sailboat came in: pic.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cornbread-cheese and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Big front came through around 7, and wind blew quite hard for several hours afterward, probably 23-25 knots. Blew fairly hard all night too.
2015-03-04 (Wednesday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Ashore at 2 to play dominoes, through fairly strong wind. On the way in, I had to dodge two boats leaving, a swimmer snorkeling his anchor, a local skiff, and then I circled back when someone's dinghy drifted loose (but a skiff corralled it).
Nice game with Flemming and Hella, but my luck was strong, and I won again. At one point, we watched as a big ferry/freighter did some strange docking gyrations at the ferry dock, and a charter boat came in for a downwind landing at another dock. At first both situations looked like problems, but eventually they both got settled okay.
Did Wi-Fi. Skyped with Dora in Spain; nice.
Very rough and wet dinghy-ride back out to the boat; wind really strong.
Salad and leftover chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Very strong wind all night.
2015-03-05 (Thursday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind still very strong.
Around 11:30, a shiny big sloop (with a bow-thruster) came in and anchored just off my port aft quarter, a little too close. Not really a problem unless my anchor drags, in which case there would be no time to handle the situation before a collision. But my anchor is very solid, it's been solid for a week. But the sloop sails around at anchor quite a bit, often ending up practically in a "T" close off my stern; very disconcerting. Looks like an expensive charter boat.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cheese-omelet-sandwiches and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
2015-03-06 (Friday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind still very strong. It eased a little around 5 AM, but then a strong front came through at 5:45, and the wind started blasting again.
Big sloop close off my port aft quarter left around 10:15. Less than 5 minutes later, a captained charter boat came in and anchored off my port forward quarter, not too close.
Just after noon, mounting on one of my boat-hooks failed, and it fell in the water. I managed to run around and grab the other hook and fetch the first one out before it could float away.
In midafternoon, went ashore. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Walked through town and then up a hill to the "Donalson" neighborhood, just for exercise. Back down into town, bought a fair amount of groceries, back out to the boat.
Before 4, wind easing quite nicely, down to 10-15 range. But at 4:15 it came blasting back again, and blew hard all evening and night.
Salad and chili and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
2015-03-07 (Saturday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind still very strong.
Got a small bit of Wi-Fi, first in a couple of days.
Gave myself a bit more of a haircut.
Salad and leftover sausage-cornbread and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
2015-03-08 (Sunday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind not so strong; seas still look fairly big. Weather forecast on VHF says wind picking up again tomorrow.
Around 11, "Tinuviel" called to say they're leaving for Mayreau, so no dominoes today.
Mild wind today; maybe should have gone to Canouan today. Changing my mind back and forth.
Saw a big sailing ship passing off Carriacou, heading N or NW: pic.
Went ashore around 1, to do Wi-Fi. Town pretty quiet, anchorage fairly empty, dinghy docks fairly empty.
Wind picking up a bit around 6, blowing pretty hard again by 8 or so.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cheese sandwiches and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
2015-03-09 (Monday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Forecast on local VHF radio said it's going to blow 20-25 knots all week. Sure enough, by 8 it was blowing 25 or so. Yesterday, WindGuru was saying there will be a lower-wind day on Thursday or Friday.
Aft water tank just ran dry; I think the forward tank has only about 10 gallons. I'm a little surprised; thought the aft tank had more in it. So I'll have to go ashore and buy water. And I'll have to buy an additional water-jug; I'm down to one 5-gallon jug, because the other started leaking and I threw it away.
Switched water tanks and confirmed that I do have some water. Dumped the 2-3 gallons in the jug on deck into the tank. The water in the rainbuckets is cloudy, not fit for use.
Went ashore around 3, through rough conditions. Used the book-exchange. Disposed of a bag of garbage.
Walked through town, looking to buy a 5-gallon water jug, but none is to be had for love or money. Found two places that had 5-gallon gasoline jugs, and bought one for EC$98 (US$36). Not too bad for such a small town. Is there some reason, other than volume production, that gasoline jugs are slightly cheaper than diesel jugs ? Are the diesel jugs stronger ? Would proper water jugs be even stronger ?
Bought EC$20 of gasoline at EC$16-something per gallon, double what it was Tyrrel Bay. Should have bought gasoline, water and water jug when I was there; was stupid.
Bought groceries and produce and back to the dinghy dock. Had to wait a big rainsquall; lots of lovely water coming through sideways at 20-25 knots; hard to catch. Bought 10 gallons of water at the Yacht Club for EC$10 (US$3.70); not too bad. Rough, wet ride back out to the boat. Dumped the water from jugs into the water tank. My remaining old water jug may have a slow leak in it; not sure.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Wind blew very hard all night long.
2015-03-10 (Tuesday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind still very strong. Headache; took a Neobrufen.
Went ashore in midafternoon. Went for a walk down towards Ashton. Got to the "Jerome" neighborhood, sat and talked with some locals for a while, then walked back to Clifton. Bought a couple of grocery items, then another 10 gallons of water (cost EC$11 today, instead of EC$10, for same amount of water into same jugs as yesterday). Wet and rough ride back out to boat. Dumped water from jugs into water tank.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread-etc and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Wind really blowing hard this evening, probably in 23-25 knot range.
2015-03-11 (Wednesday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Slight headache; took a paracetamol.
Ashore after noon. Did Wi-Fi. Decent weather-window forecast for next Monday and Tuesday. Bought a few groceries. Bought more water; accidentally stopped one jug half a gallon before full, but bill still came to EC$11. Wet and rough ride back out to boat. Dumped water from jugs into water tank.
Salad and tuna sandwiches and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
2015-03-12 (Thursday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind slightly less this morning; supposed to sag quite a bit for a few hours in the middle of the day, according to WindGuru.
In midafternoon, lowered the dinghy and went snorkeling under boat. Lots of grassy stuff growing there; I didn't expect that in such a barren anchorage. Scraped the prop and hull a little, then put on the new propellor shaft zinc. A little tricky: it comes in two halves, with a bolt loose in each half, have to be careful not to drop anything. But got it right on the first shot: dove down and got the first bolt started without letting the second one get free. Dove down again and got the second bolt started. After that, the rest was simple, just tightening. Definitely need a new cutless bearing: the shaft is coming through below-center in the bearing, but it doesn't wiggle much.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cornbread-cheese and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Strong wind suddenly started up again at 7:45 or so.
2015-03-13 (Friday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Grey and very windy morning.
Got a little Wi-Fi.
The day stayed very grey and windy, with frequent light horizontal rain, until midafternoon. Then I went ashore. Disposed of a bag of garbage. To the ATM, since I'm just about out of EC dollar cash, but as expected it won't take my card. I could use my credit card (incurring big fees), and I have plenty of US dollar cash.
Went walking, past the power station and out to the salt pond and beach, up over the hill, back to town. Got a couple of groceries. Wanted water at the dinghy dock, but it's charter-boat change-over time, and they're very busy. Waited more than 20 minutes and gave up.
More N in the wind now, and that has a big catamaran directly behind me, barely a boat-length away. I was here first, and we have no problem unless my anchor drags, but it's an uncomfortable situation. If we get a huge NE squall in the middle of the night, it could be bad.
Salad and chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-03-14 (Saturday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind easing slightly, and back to ENE or so. But later in the morning it was blowing harder again.
In late afternoon or early evening, wind eased down nicely to 12 knots or so. I started thinking maybe the forecast is a bit wrong, maybe I can leave tomorrow. But of course around 7 the wind blasted in again, and pointed me right at that big catamaran close behind for a while. Then it swung less N, so not so close to that catamaran. Wind blew fairly hard all night, not as hard as earlier in the week.
Salad and chili and a rum-and-Sprite for dinner.
2015-03-15 (Sunday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Big catamaran that was too close behind me left before 9:30; didn't even notice them leave.
Ashore after noon, to do Wi-Fi. Skype-called Dora in Spain, and my Mom in Pennsylvania.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a rum-and-Sprite for dinner.
Wind supposed to ease after midnight, but I think it kept going 15-17 knots all night. More than I expected.
2015-03-16 (Monday)At anchor at Clifton, Union Island, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Wind not down quite as much as I hoped, maybe 15-16 knots, but it's not going to get any better than this. Time to go.
Engine start at 6:40. Anchor up by 6:50. Guy on catamaran "Genesis" ahead of me motored out of my way a little because he was swinging almost over my anchor; very nice of him.
Motored out, unfurled mainsail, started motoring up the channel. Ferry went out. Across in front of the reef, over towards Mayreau. Seas not too bad. Engine running fine; I check the water-pump and oil filter mount often.
Passed west of Mayreau around 7:45. Seas rougher off north end of the island, but not too bad. Easy jump up to Canouan. Wind just barely off the nose.
Passed west of Canouan around 9:15 to 9:30. Lots of boats coming out from there, and other anchorages.
Seas quite big off the north end of Canouan, but after 20 minutes or so I got out into lower seas. Long, slow slog up to NNE, with wind just barely off the nose, as usual. Halfway across, seas from several directions, very ugly, but not too big.
Got up to the SW tip of Bequia around 2:15, and the usual current and waves coming off there, and wind just about dead on the nose. Slowly, slowly got around the corner and up toward the harbor. Finally far enough in to get out of the waves, and furled the mainsail at 3:40. Motored in. Anchor down at 4:10, but swinging too close to another boat. Raised it and put it down better at 4:20, at Bequia, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Relieved to be here, calm anchorage, all quiet now that the engine is off. Little wind in here.
Scoping out the next hop north: 50 NM or so to St Lucia. I averaged about 3 knots today, so that's 17+ hours overnight on next hop. Leave at 4 PM, arrive at 9 AM. I could leave tomorrow, but it would be nice to get an extra day of rest here, weather allowing. Don't want to waste too much time; we have a nice weather-window this week.
Leftover cold chili and a rum-and-Sprite for dinner.
Got a solid 6-hour chunk of sleep from 9 to 3 or so; first really solid sleep in a while. With all the wind blowing, and anxiety about getting north, I haven't been sleeping too well.
2015-03-17 (Tuesday)At anchor at Bequia, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Medium-sized cruise ship in harbor this morning.
Did a small bucket of laundry.
VHF cruiser's net at 8. Weather forecast sounds good for going north for next several days, so I'll leave tomorrow afternoon.
Got a bit of free Wi-Fi. Weather looks good for heading north for next week or more. Wind E to ENE, waves down in 4-5 range.
Went ashore around 10. Did yoga near the dock, to the amusement of many local people. Used book-exchange at marine store, getting a couple of books by authors I like. Disposed of two bags of garbage. Did a walk up into the valley above town, getting a lot of exercise. Pic. Stopped in the stadium to rest and cool off. Down into town. Bought groceries at a fruit/veg stand, and at the main grocery store. Back to dinghy and back to boat around noon.
A bit headachey, and a sore muscle in my neck; took a Neobrufen.
In late afternoon, went snorkeling under the boat. Prop is clean, shaft zinc still on solidly. Cutless bearing really looks bad; should haul out and replace it. I guess I'll have to do that in St Lucia. Which means missing the remainder of this nice weather-window. I guess I'll check it again after arriving in St Lucia, and decide then. Kicking myself for not seeing this and hauling out in Tyrrel Bay while working on the water pump; wasted a lot of time. Or I could have gone back from Clifton to Tyrrel and done it while the wind was blowing hard for 2 weeks.
Salad and hotdog-onion-mushroom-cornbread-cheese and a rum-and-Sprite for dinner.
2015-03-18 (Wednesday)At anchor at Bequia, St Vincent and Grenadines.
Didn't hear any cruiser's net this morning.
Did some soldering to get a jury-rig working for the bow navigation lights. And there seems to be something intermittent right in the light fixture.
Tried and tried to get some Wi-Fi. Eventually got the WindGuru page; weather good for going tonight, and for the next 7 days or so.
Hmmm, my whole web site seems to be inaccessible. Files still there, I think, but not being supplied to visitors.
Checked engine fluids. Oil down slightly; added some. Fresh/antifreeze coolant down a lot; added a lot of water. I've been checking the level occasionally, but I think maybe the reflection from the metal was fooling me, and it's been low for a while. Another thing to worry about.
Went ashore around 2. Disposed of garbage. Got a couple of books at one small book-exchange. Was heading for another one when some cruisers hailed me. Bill Kale (I think), who has read my site, we met in St Thomas, and now he's cruising on a catamaran. His wife and another couple. We chatted for a while; nice.
To the govt building, and checked out to go to St Lucia.
Back to the boat by 3:05. A little tense and achey; took a paracetamol. Got the boat ready, then engine start at 3:20. Anchor up by 3:30. Motored out, unfurled the mainsail, started heading NE along the coast of Bequia.
Out into the big passage between Bequia and St Vincent, and things are bad. The wind and waves are fairly low but right on the nose, as usual. And after a while I realize there's a stiff west-setting current down this channel, and I'm bucking it. For a long time, I seem to make no progress at all, maybe 1 knot over ground. I slowly edge up to the St Vincent side, and now I can see I am making progress, but it's very slow.
Eventually I realize the mainsail is hurting more than helping, and furl it.
I eat leftover curry-chicken for dinner, and it's not too appetizing. Too much cold slimy onion in it. Not a good idea for this situation.
I slog it out, and it takes me a good four hours to get up that passage and start to turn the corner. Dark by then, and I'm close to St Vincent, trying to get out of the current.
Past Milligan Cay around 9:30. Now I'm going NE, wind still right on the nose, but the swells are more from the E, and the boat is rolling badly. I unfurl the mainsail, and try to keep wind in it so it doesn't luff. It stops the worst of the rolling.
But then at 10:15 there's a big bang and lot of noise, and the mainsail is loose and high in the air and flogging. Somehow both feet of it have come loose from boom and gooseneck, and only the halyard and the furling line and outhaul line are holding it to the boat. The furling line is at the aft end of the boom, not much use. I ease the halyard and try to pull in the outhaul line, while trying to find a helpful heading for the boat. Have to be careful I don't get injured or go overboard. I struggle for 15 minutes or more, the boat gyrating, the sail trying to fly away, before finally getting it mostly down and lashed up.
Managed to avoid having it tear anything off the boat (such as the wind-generator), kept it from dropping into the water and creating enormous forces that way, kept it from smacking hardware into the pilothouse windows and breaking them. Looks like the track for the outhaul block failed again; I fixed that once. The bolt must be undersized. Not sure how the furling drum came loose from the gooseneck. Good news is that I think the sail is undamaged. At first I had assumed the tack had torn off the sail.
But I'm stressed and anxious and coming down from adrenaline, and the boat is rolling badly again. I want to keep going, so I lie down in the cockpit and steer with little nudges, and try to keep the rolling from making me seasick. I have to get up several times to lash down things that are sliding around; the rolling is very violent at times. Wind still right on the nose, so no point in trying to put up the jib.
I have a couple of really depressed hours, bummed at the problem and slow progress and the horrible boat motion. I think about getting to St Lucia and offering the boat for some low amount of cash, take it and run. Or just dumping the boat somewhere for a while, or even hoping a hurricane takes it while I'm gone.
I wonder if I should have gone up the lee side of St Vincent instead of the windward side. The wind was supposed to be E, not NE. And I didn't plan on the mainsail failing. Slogging NE against current in that channel was horrible, but the same is supposed to be true when coming off the lee side at the N end of St Vincent.
But I keep going, and the engine keeps going. Hard to gauge progress; none of the islands and passages down here are square, everything curves, I'm heading mostly NE.
Seas may be low and wind fairly light, as forecast, but nothing is helping me tonight. I have to hand-steer constantly, and the boat motion is terrible at times. Any time I leave the helm for 20 seconds, the boat is off course and slewing around and rolling.
I find that two glass jugs in the refrigerator have bashed together, and one broke.
2015-03-19 (Thursday)In transit from Bequia to St Lucia.
Rain at 3:30 AM, as I'm nearing north end of St Vincent. Well behind my expected progress.
Shut engine off at 4 AM. A pint of oil has leaked out so far; not bad. I reclaim it and top off the engine with fresh oil. Restart the engine and keep going. All grey ahead of me, nothing to guide my steering, so I sit backwards and steer relative to a bright light on St Vincent.
First light around 5 AM, usable light by 5:30. I fix some problems on deck, re-lashing dinghy and mainsail and jugs and buckets and dock-boxes.
Quick glimpse of two dolphins around 8 AM.
I have a couple of big bruises and other aches; take a Neobrufen.
Partway across passage between St Vincent and St Lucia. My eyes are playing tricks and suggesting land everywhere on the horizon ahead. Finally I get out the Mini-GPS and it says St Lucia is 15+ NM ahead, a little more north and less east than I've been steering.
The conditions keep varying; sometimes rolly, sometimes waves right on the nose slamming the boat to a near-stop, other times flatter or easy to find a quartering line through.
Land ho at 9:10; GPS says it's 13+ NM to the anchorage. But conditions still are opposing me; it's going to take a long time to get there and in.
As usual, the last couple of hours of the trip are interminable: I can see the anchorage, it's right there, why is it taking hours to get there ? But I'm only making 3 knots or less through waves from various directions and wind right on the nose. And there's probably current here, too.
Finally, finally, I pull up to town and anchor down at 2:40 at Vieux Fort, St Lucia. A relief to have the engine off and the boat stable.
Surprised to find almost no other cruising boats here; one cruiser-sailboat far on the other side, and one liveaboard trawler I've seen here before. There was a cruiser murdered here 6-9 months ago, I think, so maybe that explains it. A tug and gravel barge anchored here, too.
Start untying things. Launch the dinghy, lock up the boat, head ashore to the commercial port. To Customs and Immigration, and no hassle, no charges at either one. Nice ! Done and back to the boat.
So, the trip. I'm glad I took the pills before and during; that was a good idea. Maybe going north while there's still north in the wind and waves was a bad idea, but I don't want to wait another 4-6 weeks for the south in the wind to start appearing. Probably should have gone on the leeward side of St Vincent. I kept myself fed and watered pretty well; didn't let myself get dehydrated. Should have put on sunscreen; I got a lot of sun somehow. A trip I hoped would take 17 hours ended up taking 23 hours.
Tied the mainsail down more and turned on the wind-generator. A few funny noises, but seems to work. Later, decided the noises probably came from something else.
Got a tiny bit of Wi-Fi, just enough to upload the log file, and see that my site (at least the home page) is working again.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a rum-and-Sprite for dinner.
Slept and slept and slept.
2015-03-20 (Friday)At anchor at Vieux Fort, St Lucia.
Fairly rolly at times; not the most comfortable anchorage. Maybe that's why it's so empty.
Untangled the mainsail a bit, and it looks like there's a shackle missing that should have been holding the furling drum to the gooseneck. The bottom end of the furling drum doesn't look too solid; probably should get it welded. And at the other end of the boom, the track pulled up and let the car there loose. Pics. Not sure which end failed first; probably the track at the aft end of the boom. Found the set-screw from the furling drum on deck, but I don't see how that could have caused a problem; probably came out as the sail flogged, before the failure.
No Wi-Fi this morning. And now the laptop is playing up, the charge connection not working. A long-standing intermittent problem with no easy solution. Eventually got it going again.
Cruising ketch "Emily Morgan" came in some time in early afternoon, I'm not sure from what direction.
Patched a small worn spot/tear in the mainsail, unrelated to the overall failure.
Got out a new shackle for the drum-to-gooseneck connection, did a temporary tie of the outhaul block to the aft end of the boom, hoisted the mainsail. Took three tries to get the furling line onto the drum correctly. But I think I see a cause of the failure: the hole through the furling drum axis is fairly small, so I had to use a shackle two sizes smaller than I'd like to, to get the shackle pin to fit through the hole. So the shackle is undersized for the job, I think.
Cruising catamaran came in around 4, probably from the SW. But they took their time anchoring, didn't rush ashore to the officials, so maybe they came from the N, already checked in.
Tied a jury-rig lashing of the main outhaul block to the aft end of the boom.
Another catamaran came in sometime in late afternoon.
Checked engine fluids. Coolant is down slightly, not too bad. Added some water.
My left knee is really hurting; must have compressed the tendon just under the kneecap when climbing up onto the pilothouse roof to sort out the main halyard.
Found a sharp, rusty shard of metal on deck; I wonder if it's a remnant of the failed shackle ?
"Emily Morgan" re-anchored twice, then left toward the W and N around 6 PM.
Got ready to hoist the jib and furl it; it's been lying on the deck since Union Island. But the wind picked up a little, and then dark set in, so I didn't do it.
Saw a freighter heading E, and the tug and gravel barge left here and headed S.
Salad and chili and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner. Hard to cook with the boat rolling heavily every few minutes.
Knee still hurting, and various other aches, so took a Neobrufen.
Four other cruising boats, plus the trawler, here for the night, far down at the S end of the harbor.
Quite rolly all evening, until after midnight, then it calmed down.
2015-03-21 (Saturday)At anchor at Vieux Fort, St Lucia.
Engine start at 5:55, anchor up by 6, unfurled mainsail, motor-sailed W.
Lovely mild conditions, not much wind, very overcast for first couple of hours. Wind started out on the beam, eventually came onto the nose as I went clockwise around the island. Just past the Pitons, as I turned NNE, the wind became stronger. Furling the mainsail was a bit tough, with lines sticking at various points, and the outhaul managing to get wrapped around the aft end of the boom. But got it done, and motored on. Wind eased down half an hour later, but still right on the nose.
Lots of boats out today. And I can see Martinique to the NNE.
Past Marigot, past oil depot, past Castries. Just chugging along.
Wind picked up again as I neared the harbor. But finally up and in and anchor down at 12:45 at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
A bit lumpy and rolly here. One network supposedly offers free Wi-Fi, but I think I'm too far away to use it.
Went ashore around 2. Everything still where it was when I was here 4 years ago. To the boatyard, where the office is closed on the weekend, but I did confirm that I can live aboard while the boat is hauled out.
To the shopping area. Found Scotiabank and my ATM card worked. To the supermarket, and it's so nice to be in a proper big supermarket, the first since the south end of Grenada. Lots of nice-looking women, too. Got as many groceries as I can carry. Back to the dinghy-dock, where I found my dinghy had blown around the corner of a fence, and I had to stand in someone else's dinghy to wrestle mine back around. Back out to the boat.
Chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
2015-03-22 (Sunday)At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Totally grey and still morning. Low grey clouds, boats pointing all directions at times, heavy rain at 8:15. Very light wind from W or SW.
A little sun starting around 10:15, and wind starting to get back to E. Sailboats racing in the harbor, at first in almost zero wind, maybe 1-2 knots: pic.
Went ashore around 2 to do Wi-Fi. Found an ice-cream shop with Wi-Fi and an AC outlet, but after I got the computer booted they changed from "yes we have Wi-Fi" to "Wi-Fi isn't working anywhere in the marina today, they've been trying to fix it". Went upstairs looking for a book-exchange, found some people who told me the password for another network. But the password wasn't quite right, or has been changed. Eventually gave up and went back to the boat.
Got out the spare cutless bearing. It has a red dot painted at one end, obviously meaning something. Should the dot go at the forward end or aft end ?
Went snorkeling under the boat. Cutless bearing looks no worse than before, but definitely needs replacement. Shaft can be moved up more than 1/8" or so, and probably there is some metal contact with the prop shaft.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cornbread-cheese and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
2015-03-23 (Monday)At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Put a new can of refrigerant on the refrigerator.
Checking my records, seems my last haul-out was 5/2006. Thought it was more recent than that.
Fuel level 12 inches at engine hour 4880. But the engine-hour meter is lying; the alternator output drops to zero if I'm motoring along and the solar panels drive the system voltage high, so the meter doesn't run. That fuel level means about 120 gallons in the tank. Which is enough to get me to St Martin at least, probably St Thomas. But if I go to the fuel dock here to get water, I probably should get some fuel too. Will have to find out prices.
Got some Wi-Fi from the boat; a relief.
Cruiser's net on VHF 68 at 8:30; nice to hear.
Went ashore around 10. To boatyard, where there's bad news: they require me to have insurance before being hauled, and I don't have insurance. Talking to them and looking at the paperwork, they've arranged it so most liabilities are pushed off onto other people. Even placement of the lift straps on the boat is my liability. The office manager is going to consult the top manager and decide if they'll haul me. The yard boss later said maybe I can sign some kind of waiver. They have a slot at 1 PM today, and 8 AM tomorrow.
Over to the marine store to see if they have the right kind of bottom-paint in stock; the yard wasn't sure. The store has 3 gallons of Petit Trinidad 75 Black, and another 3 or 4 of the same in blue, and my boat should take 4 gallons for 2 coats. Back to the boat.
If they won't haul me, how can I jury-rig the worn cutless bearing ? Stuff some hard rubber or Teflon into the bottom of it, from outside ? Maybe.
Refrigerator still isn't running properly; another thing to worry about.
Fruit/veg boat visited nearby cruising boats: pic.
Did Wi-Fi, had lunch, while waiting for any radio call from the boatyard office.
At 1:30, the lift guys at the boatyard called on the VHF and said "you were supposed to be here at 1, where are you ?". I told them the office was deciding if they'd let me in. They went away for 15 minutes, came back, said "come on in". I said it will take me a while to hoist the dinghy, start engine, raise anchor, be there at 2:30.
So I run around and do everything, and get the anchor up and start heading in. At the entrance to the channel, another boat is ahead of me, and going very slowly, so I circle around and put some distance between us before heading in. Then get in and up to the lagoon, and call the lift guys on the radio. No response for a minute, and then they tell me to stand by, and I do a loop while eyeing the situation nervously. I have to back in, because the forestay would prevent the lift from getting far enough over the center of my boat. And there's a bit of a crosswind, and it's blowing in the same direction as my prop-walk when in reverse. I have a few fenders out in case of a crash landing.
Soon three competent-looking guys come out, and I get the boat in fairly easily, no bumps, no crashes. The wind is blocked by the high sides of the haul-out slip, and with a bit of futzing with getting lines out and reversing in and such, we get the boat in.
I get off the boat at 2:30 and head for the office. Do the paperwork, no mention of insurance, and back to the lift. They have my boat up out of the water, and even though they put the aftmost sling back a little further than I specified, all is well. They start moving my boat over land, then start pressure-washing it. The lift is controlled by a guy standing nearby with a wireless remote control, not a driver sitting on the lift.
The pressure-washing goes on and on, as I wander around the yard and talk to workers and wait. Of course I forgot and left my camera aboard, so I can't take pictures of my boat in the slings, or anything else in the yard. One of the contractors tries to talk me into using him to polish the hull-sides and such, but I'm not doing any of that. I find the bathroom and showers, which turn out to be fairly nice.
The pressure-washing goes on and on. Finally around 4:30 they're done, and start moving the boat. They set it on blocks, put jacks on the sides, and they're done. I'm up the ladder and aboard by 4:45.
Soon back down the ladder with camera and tools. Took a few pictures of my boat (pics) and the yard (pics).
Yard boss and I went in his car, over to the marine store in the marina. He said they usually use paint called "Hempel" or something, but I want to stay with Petit Trinidad modified epoxy. Updated my registration with the store. Bought four gallons of Petit Trinidad 75 bottom paint, on the yard's account. Got one gallon of blue and three of black because they didn't have four of black; the blue will go on as part of the first coat. Back to the yard.
Soon got the prop off (pics). Yard boss stopped by and noticed something wrong with the rudder shoe, and I found a broken weld on it (pics). So took it off the rudder skeg.
Sounds like the bottom sanding and painting will take about 2 days; that's fast.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Down the ladder and to the showers. Not the best shower, but a treat after my usual showering on the stern of the boat.
Down the ladder a couple of times during the night to go pee at the restrooms. Have to be careful to avoid falling off the ladder. If you fall overboard at anchor, you get wet. If you fall overboard in the yard, you break your neck.
2015-03-24 (Tuesday)Hauled out at boatyard at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Very grey morning. Steady hard rain from 8:30 to 9:30 or so. A bit more at 10.
Took the safety collar off the prop shaft. Tried to loosen the stuffing-box nuts on the propellor shaft, but they won't budge, and I don't have good wrenches. Loosened the shaft setscrews up at the forward end.
Some of sanding crew showed up at 10:45. I talked to the yard boss, and he said only light sanding is included in the standard sand-and-paint deal, and I need power-sanding. I agreed to pay extra, maybe US$150, for that.
Told him about the stuffing-box nuts, and he says I want a chain-wrench, which should be cheap to buy. Went to the welding shop, but the guy is busy. More rain at 11.
Went across the street to Johnson's Hardware. But they only have the large model of chain-wrench, EC$192 (about US$71), not the cheaper model. To the marine store in the marina, and they have no wrenches of any kind that would work on stuffing-boxes; surprising. Back to the boatyard.
To the welding/machine shop. Gave the rudder shoe to the guy; he says EC$90 (about US$33) to weld it. He'll come to my boat later to see what needs to be done for the shaft, and quote me a price for that.
More light rain, off and on, and weather staying mostly grey. Depressing. But at least I can throw money at the boat to get problems fixed.
Got a little bit of free Wi-Fi; that made me feel better.
Realized I haven't tried any penetrating oil on the stuffing-box nuts, so applied that.
At 1:30, someone started power-sanding my hull.
Took another shot at the stuffing-box nuts, and got them free ! It took a little judicious pounding with a small sledgehammer. And I'm sure the penetrating oil helped.
About 2 minutes later, there's the guy from the shop at the top of my ladder, asking what we need to do. I tell him we should be able to take the shaft out now to do the cutless bearing, and he says we should be able to do it without pulling out the shaft. By the time I get dressed and down to ground, he has the set-screws out and the old cutless bearing slid out a bit; he put a big pipe-wrench on it. (Last time we put one in, we left half an inch hanging out for exactly this reason: you can put a wrench on it to get it out.) He took off the zinc, got the bearing out the rest of the way, and cleaned up the set-screw holes a bit. I put a bit of grease on the outside of the new bearing, to make it easy to get out next time, and he was able to slowly pound it home (last time, we refrigerated the new bearing overnight to help get it in). Put the set-screws back in, put the zinc back on, he's done.
To his shop to get the rudder shoe he welded, and paid EC$200 (US$74) for the two jobs combined; not too bad. He says the metal on the shoe isn't so good, he had a little trouble doing the weld. I've heard that every time I take something from this boat to a welding shop: the stern ladder, the steering wheel, now this shoe.
The old cutless bearing doesn't look as extremely worn as I expected. I'll keep it as a spare in case of emergency; it could go in upside-down next time. Sure, it well needed replacement. But I don't think there was any metal-to-metal contact as I feared. The guy showed me that the prop shaft was worn where it contacts the bearing, but I think that's just because it's (probably) a 42-year-old shaft with lots of mileage on it. And I think barnacles have built up in there from time to time as the boat sat unused for months and months.
Later, I showed the bearing to the yard boss. He said it was extremely worn, and also showed that the rear end of my engine should come down slightly: on the bottom, where all the wear is, the outer end of the bearing is more worn than the inner end.
Sunshine starting around 2:15 ! Nice.
I put the set-screws back into the forward end of the shaft, at the coupling to transmission. Fortunately I didn't get that end loose, so the screws went right back in without any alignment hassle.
Put the propellor back onto the shaft. It's a bit loose; I noticed that a month ago. As far as I can tell now, the key is fine, it fits tightly into the slot on the shaft. I think the slot in the propellor has become slightly enlarged. The propellor is pretty old and tired; a new one would be nice.
I started working on putting the rudder shoe back on, and had some problem getting the through-bolt aligned and through. Just as I got it right, the yard boss came by and pointed out that his guys had started power-sanding my bottom again, and I was breathing the dust from it. So I stopped and washed up and went aboard.
They've hauled two more boats today; watched one of them go past: pic.
Achey and headachey; took a paracetamol-plus.
Showered, and did a few pieces of laundry in the restroom sink.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cheese-egg-bread and a rum-and-DietCoke for dinner. Not sure I'm allowed to cook on board, but I need to use up some food before it spoils; the refrigerator seems to be not working at all.
2015-03-25 (Wednesday)Hauled out at boatyard at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Somewhat grey morning, but no rain.
Did a little more work on the rudder shoe.
Looks like the hull-sanding is about half done. Talked to the yard boss. They've sanded down to the gelcoat in some places, so need to apply primer there before applying bottom-paint. But they should be able to apply first coat of paint this afternoon.
I looked at the hull. I don't see any resin weeping from pinhole-blisters, as I saw in previous haul-outs.
Grey and raining by 9:30. Fairly heavy rain, stopping the hull work, but by 10 or so it was clear and a bit sunny, and work resumed.
At noon, looks like the sanding is done but the priming hasn't been started.
Adjusted the rear engine mounts. Put the stuffing-box nuts back together.
Nothing happening under the boat from noon to 1:30. Went to ask, and I think the boss is over at the marine store buying the primer.
Checked at the fuel dock. Diesel EC$9.96/gallon (about US$3.70), but you have to be cleared out to get that price. Water EC$0.40/gallon (sounds too low, maybe that's US$0.40, but I specifically asked if it was EC$).
Before 2, the boss was back and primer was going on.
Finished adjusting and screwing down the rudder shoe. I added a wooden shim at the forward end to make the shoe mate more solidly with the rudder shaft at the aft end.
Grey clouds moving in around 2:30; hope rain doesn't prevent painting the first coat this afternoon.
Tried to diagnose the wind-generator, and I think the diode block may have been damaged by overheating. Expecting some strongish wind on Friday and Saturday; will see how it behaves then.
Heavy but brief rain around 2:45.
By 4, I'm getting worried that priming has been done, but painting the first coat hasn't started. I find the boss, and it turns out the guys are mixing the paint right now, blending blue with black. And soon the paint is going on, and first coat done by 5:15 or so.
Took some more pictures in the boatyard. A surprising number of boats with bow-thrusters, often very small bow-thrusters. Pics.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Futzed with the wind-generator in the middle of the night, and found the problem was the simplest possible thing: somehow the disconnect switch got flipped. Must have snagged it while I was moving in and out of the engine compartment a few days ago.
2015-03-26 (Thursday)Hauled out at boatyard at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Guys getting ready to paint second coat, at 9 AM.
Walked over to marina to use Wi-Fi in ice-cream shop. Need to warn my credit-card company that a large charge will be coming today.
Back to boat by 11. A little surprised to find the painting still continuing, and by 11:30 it's still going. I hope that if I can splash by 2:30, they'll charge me for 3 days instead of 4. Fiberglass guy came by to beg me to pay him to polish the hull-sides.
Rain at 11:55.
Down the ladder at 1:30, to go pee, and find out the status. Yard boss says the paint is drying, he has me scheduled for splashing at 4 PM, I can go pay at the office. So I do that.
The bill is a little higher than I expected; turns out there's a big mark-up on the bottom-paint. I think it said US$193 per gallon in the marine store, but on the bill it's about US$276 per gallon. So the big chunks of the bill are paint (US$1105), haul out and splash (US$455), painting (US$455 again). Plus the primer paint, materials, pressure-wash, sanding, 3 days in yard.
Total bill is EC$7290 (US$2700). Goes through on my credit card, no problem. (Came through as $2711.61 on credit card statement.)
I go over to the fuel dock, and ask about getting water. They'll probably be closing about the time I get into the water, and they say their pump is slow, I'm better off buying water in the boatyard. So back to the office, and ask about that. Turns out the price is the same, US$0.40/gallon. And it's US$, not EC$.
Back to the boat, and soon a guy with a hose appears. I spend about 20 minutes filling the tanks, losing a gallon or two as the water is being shut off at the end.
A bit later, to the office to pay for the water, and the lady tells me the price iS EC$0.40; she mistakenly said US$0.40 before. So it's cheap, about US$0.15 per gallon. I loaded 169 gallons (thought it would take more), so pay EC$67.60 (US$25).
So, total charges for this experience: EC$7290 to the yard, EC$200 to the mechanic/welder, EC$68 for water. About US$2800 total.
At 4 PM, the yard boss hails me. I'm expecting him to say "let's splash it", but he says "the paint hasn't dried properly yet, we'll splash you tomorrow morning, no extra charge".
Walked over to the marina to go to the small grocery store, to get a few items.
Saw the yard boss, and gave him EC$200 as a tip for him and his guys. That, plus the new cutless bearing I'd already bought a long time ago, bring the total spent up to about US$3000. [Later, credit-card company added a $81.34 "foreign transaction fee".]
2015-03-27 (Friday)Hauled out at boatyard at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
At 8:10, the word is that they will lift another boat, then splash me. So it will be a while yet.
Watched them haul a boat, then a guy came by to say they want paint to dry for 24 hours (which might mean noon for me). At 10:30, they're starting to haul another boat. I'm in no hurry, and I actually have some Wi-Fi.
At 2, the lift was coming toward me. But it went past me, to a big powerboat.
Going down to the restrooms, I noticed someone has sanded/polished my propellor ! Tip of one blade is pretty bad, notched and toothy from some collision, I guess. Pics.
Around 2:50, the yard boss stopped by and yelled up "are you staying until next week ?". I said no, he asked if the lift guys had said when they were going to splash me, and I said no. So he went over there; I think there's been some miscommunication.
A couple of minutes later, he came back and said "they're going to splash that catamaran, then you". A couple of minutes after that, here came the lift, and they said "we're splashing you now".
So I scrambled off the boat, and watched as they lifted it and the painter painted the spots that had been covered by the stands. Soon the lift was heading for the launch slip. Pics.
I got on a stern corner as the boat was hanging over the slip. They lowered the boat into the water, and I checked below for leaks. Stuffing box is leaking quite a bit; tightened it, but still leaking. It's supposed to have a slight drip while the shaft is turning, then be dry when stopped; a tricky balance to achieve. Go ahead, anyway. They took lines, I started the engine, checked below again, everything reasonable. They moved the lift away, then I put the engine in gear and they threw the lines aboard. Moving by 3:35.
I'd like to check the stuffing box again right away, now that the shaft is turning, but I'm in a congested lagoon with lots of small traffic. So I head out the channel without delay. As soon as I get out into fairly open water, I duck below, and the stuffing box is tolerable. Quickly find a decent anchoring spot a couple of hundred yards N of the channel entrance, and anchor down by 3:45 at Rodney Bay, St Lucia. Check the stuffing box, tighten it, stop the leak. Make sure the anchor is holding, try to relax.
Check the stufing box and bilge several more times, but all is well. Start straightening up the boat a bit, taking in lines, putting up the mizzen backstay, putting up the mizzen topping lift and boom.
Still can't figure out what's wrong with the refrigerator. It runs a little, one tube up the back gets warm, but then it quits. If I overfilled it with refrigerant, the leak should let pressure come back to proper range. If all of that refrigerant leaked so quickly, there's no hope of keeping enough of a charge in it to keep it running.
Salad and tuna sandwiches and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Headachey around 3 AM; took a paracetamol.
2015-03-28 (Saturday)At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Wind blowing hard today, from the E.
Nice Wi-Fi from the boat.
Went ashore in midafternoon, into the lagoon against a stiff wind. Did my good deed for the day: a Sunsail guy in a dinghy had his outboard quit ahead of me, so I towed him 100 feet back to the marina, upwind.
To the ATM for cash, then to the supermarket. Back to the dinghy, easy downwind trip back to the boat.
Ashore again, to the big book-exchange in the restaurant at Pigeon Point.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-03-29 (Sunday)At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Wind blowing fairly hard. Did a bucket of laundry. At 8:45, someone reported 2-4 whales, 3-4 miles N of St Lucia. Started doing my income taxes.
Hard rain at noon.
Ashore at 1, into stiff wind. To ice-cream place to do Wi-Fi and Skype. But their Wi-Fi isn't working. A totally wasted trip.
Back to the boat. And the Wi-Fi there is pretty good, but no answer from Dora on Skype.
Someone has a new toy: pics. What will they think of next ? Looks like a big hose is running back to the jet-ski behind him, providing the power. Probably pretty simple: just divert half of the jet-ski output to send it up the hose instead of backward to propel the jet-ski.
Salad and spaghetti and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-03-30 (Monday)At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Grey morning. Did a bucket of laundry.
Ashore in midafternoon. To the marine store, and bought new furling and out-haul lines for the mainsail, total of EC$296 (about US$110). Bought tomatoes at the little grocery store. Asked a question at Customs/Immigration about checking out in the afternoon and leaving the following dawn: no problem.
Back to the boat. Put the new lines up. Probably should have gotten the furling line a smidge longer, could have gotten the outhaul a bit shorter and thicker, but they're okay. Much better than the tired old lines that were on there.
Salad and leftover spaghetti and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-03-31 (Tuesday)At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Put the jib back up. Looks pretty raggedy. First strong squall probably will unwind it again and I'll have to bring it down in a hurry.
E-filed my income taxes. Cost $28 to tell the Feds and state that I owe no tax because I have essentially no income.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
No wind at all until 2 AM or so, when it suddenly turned on again.
Headachey at 3 AM or so; took a paracetamol.
2015-04-01 (Wednesday)At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Grey morning. Weather forecast good for going to Martinique tomorrow. Federal tax return accepted by IRS.
Went ashore after 11. Disposed of several bags of garbage. Over to the hardware store to buy some caulk. Back into the dinghy, and over to the supermarket. Someone had tied up a big inflatable, probably 16 feet long, with about a 2-foot painter to the dinghy-dock, taking up most of it.
Bought groceries and headed back to the boat. About 200 yards short, the outboard quit and wouldn't restart. I started paddling, but soon a cruier came by and towed me the rest of the way.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Caulked the base of the mainmast. If I don't do that every few months, rainwater comes in and goes down the compression post.
Opened the fuel line to the carb on the outboard, and the gas looks bad again. Pumped it until it looked more like gasoline, motor runs for a second or two after pulling, then quits again. Took apart carb and fuel pump and cleaned them; there was a bit of goo, but not too much. Checked plug and oil. Everything back together, and eventually got motor running. But it's running badly, and won't run unless the choke is out.
Headed ashore around 3, to check out. Outboard sputtered horribly but made it all the way in. To the Customs/Immigration office, and there's a crowd ahead of me. It thinned out a bit when a bunch of them were sent off to some Health officer's office. Once I got the form and filled it out, the process went quickly. Paid EC$40 to the Port officer. Out of there in 25 minutes.
To the dinghy, motor started, sputtered as usual. Over toward the marina fuel dock, to get some fresh gasoline, but it's 15 minutes to closing time and three big boats are circling anxiously and a skiff is fueling and a guy from a dinghy is walking toward the office. Decided that's a bad bet, and headed to the fisherman's fuel dock halfway down the channel. Got there and found they have no gasoline at all, a truck will be coming sometime. Gave up; will have to buy fresh gasoline in Martinique, at twice the price.
Outboard sputtered and ran horribly on the way out to the boat, but only quit once and restarted immediately. Sputtered and crawled and got me back to the boat.
State tax return accepted by NJ. So that chore is done.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cornbread-cheese and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-04-02 (Thursday)At anchor at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Up at 5:30. Got boat ready to go. Engine start at 6, anchor up by 6:15. Motored out, rounded up, unfurled the mainsail. Sure enough, the furling line is about 5 feet shorter than ideal, but it works. Motor-sailed out and around Pigeon Island. Had to loosen the stuffing-box nuts to get a drip of water started.
Lovely flat water until I got out of shelter of the island, then starting hitting NE and E swells. Soon it was rougher than I'd expected from the forecast, and the first hour or two north of the island were rough and rolly. But I'm making good time; I think the paint job and propellor-polishing have added about a knot, and today there's enough E in the wind to give me some drive from the mainsail.
Saw a couple of ocean-crossing freighters heading SE, maybe to Barbados, maybe beyond. Kept an eye on the oil leak and stuffing box.
Made good speed across, but it stayed fairly rolly. As I neared Martinique, saw a bunch of sailboats coming out in various directions. Those trying to head E against the prevailing current and swells were having a rough time of it.
Around the peninsula and there's the St Anne anchorage, and there are a LOT of boats here. Wasn't nearly this crowded when I was here 4 or 5 years ago.
Furled the mainsail and threaded my way through the anchorage to get close in to shore. An inflatable with some officials started hovering around me, getting in my way a little. As soon as the anchor was down, they were rafted up to my side. Anchor down by 10:40 at St Anne, Martinique. I backed down on the anchor, shut off the engine, tightening the stuffing nuts, etc, before going out to deal with them.
They checked my papers, then all three of them came aboard, and two of them started searching my boat. Checked that I had distress flares. They asked 4 or 5 times if I had any guns; they said Americans usually have guns. Asked a couple of times if I had a lot of cash, and where it was. Asked if I had a safe. All three of them are armed, but one seems to be the boat-handler, two are searching, and only one of them speaks much English (but his English is reasonable).
Boat's a mess from the trip, and age, and my general messiness. They opened the acces to the stuffing-box area (since the carpet was peeled back and the hatch was obvious). Opened spaces under the aft bunks, the space by the rudder post, looked in the drawers, looked in the closet. Leafed through a box of my financial records and a box of cruising bulletins, I guess to see if cash or drugs were hidden between the pages. Noticed the wobbly board in the hallway sole and had me open that. Heat of the engine compartment kept them from going in there. Glanced in the old AC freezer compartment. Glanced in the forward head and V-berth. Looked in the space holding the drinking water pump. Asked about access to the water tanks (there is none) and the fuel tank (about an hour's work to get at that, and the access is tiny). By that time, they were discouraged by the size of the boat, the clutter, the heat, and the dirt. Up into the cockpit and did paperwork, and they left at 11:25. The bad news is this was independent of clearing-in; still have to go do that. I found that they opened a couple of ports I rarely open; fortunately none of the plastic broke.
Had a quick lunch, then launched the dinghy. The motor started and ran (stumbling) all the way to the dock. Chatted briefly with a cruiser at the dock, asking him where to clear in, etc.
Found the cafe with the PC to do clearance. Got the password, got to the form, filled it in. Always fun to use a French keyboard, where A and M and some other keys are in non-USA positions. And the form makes you shift to do numbers in some fields, and not shift to do numbers in other fields. Got it done, had the guy put paper in the printer, printed it out. He signed and stamped it. Then he changed US$72 to €66 (rate of 1.09, not bad at all) for me, and I paid €2 for the clearance. Done !
Wandered around town. Took a few pictures: pics (first picture shows only about 1/5th of the anchorage). Found the market and bought a couple of tomatoes (cheaper than in the islands further south). Wasn't able to find a gas station.
Back to the dock, got in the dinghy, motor started and ran for about 10 seconds, then quit and wouldn't restart. Started paddling (very sheltered conditions, only about 200 yards to paddle), and soon someone came by and towed me to my boat. Three guys on a cruising boat, and one of them is a guy I chatted with briefly at the clearance PC. Back on my boat by 1.
Around 1:25, I'm below when I hear anchor chain rattling very nearby. I go on deck to find a French boat putting their anchor down right on top of my chain, and now they're sideways across my bow while letting out more chain. I go to the bow and point out my anchor chain and where my anchor is, and watch anxiously while they pull up their chain and anchor. Fortunately they don't snag my chain, and go elsewhere.
As I expected, no free Wi-Fi here.
Poured most of the gasoline out of the outboard's fuel tank and into a transparent 2-liter soda bottle. It looked okay, and after 15 minutes no layers had separated out. Poured it back into the tank.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a warm Coke for dinner.
2015-04-03 (Friday)At anchor at St Anne, Martinique.
On deck at 5:20 AM to watch the International Space Station pass overhead.
Was using the laptop around 10:30 when I realized the battery was very low, the charger had stopped supplying outside power. I've had problems with the connector before. So I fiddled with the connector for quite a while, with no luck. Turned on the inverter and tried the AC adapter, with no luck. Messed with it for more than half an hour, and couldn't get it to work. This is bad; I use my laptop a LOT. Gave up and had some lunch.
An hour later, tried the laptop again, and the adapter started charging the battery ! A big relief. Left it charging while I did chores, then left it charging while I went ashore. My best guess is that using an external disk drew too much power, and something in the charging circuit got hot and decided to turn off for a while.
Took the connector off the end of the outboard fuel line, and pumped some gas out into the soda bottle. A good 1/4" layer of water settled out into the bottom. Poured most of the good gas back into the tank.
Launched the dinghy, took the fuel line off the carb, and pumped some more gas out of there into the soda bottle.
Outboard sputtered horribly and got me ashore at about 1/4 knot; at least today this is directly upwind, so if the motor won't get me back, it will be an easy paddle back to the boat.
Went for a walk along the shore and around the SW corner of the peninsula. Lots of people have come by car to enjoy the beaches, early on a Friday afternoon. Nice walking paths, except where a resort has been built in the way. Puzzled my way around that.
Through lots of woods and along the S coast. Got to a big beach area with lots of cars and tents. And now one of my sandals has worn a hole in the back of my left heel. Kept going anyway, foolishly, trying to loop through and back to town. Down a long dirt road and out to the main road. Where there are two lovely bus stops.
But no busses. I waited 45 minutes, and no bus in either direction. I had planned to walk to town along the road, but traffic is very fast, there are no shoulders, no shade, and I'm not sure how far it is. I decide to retrace my steps.
So, back up the dirt road, past all the parked cars and tents, through the woods, and eventually back to town. A long, thirsty slog, my heel not feeling too horrible. But I've definitely overdone it today. Saw one nice-looking topless woman on the beach, near town.
Into the dinghy, the motor starts, and I start sputtering back to the boat. Then I try putting the choke in, and suddenly the motor is running fine ! So it's flipped from "only runs with the choke out" mode to normal mode. Great !
Back to the boat by 4:15. Big glass of water, some cranberry juice, bathroom. Start to feel better. Relax and eat a big grapefruit. Another glass of water.
Then I go snorkeling under the boat. Swimming in the cool water feels great, after being sweaty and overheated all afternoon. And the bottom of the boat looks terrific, all clean, zinc and prop and cutless bearing and rudder shoe all fine.
Looked at the soda bottle with gasoline in it, and probably have 5 or 6 tablespoons of water at the bottom.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and a warm Coke for dinner.
2015-04-04 (Saturday)At anchor at St Anne, Martinique.
Looking at charts, this is the eastern-most point of my trip from Grenada to Puerto Rico. All of the big hops from here on are N and NW and then W. Which means there shouldn't be any more serious upwind trips.
Poured the last half-cup of gasoline-plus-water into a tall plastic cup to try to salvage as much gasoline as I could, pouring off the gas from on top of the water. Did something else for 2 or 3 minutes, looked back, and the gasoline had dissolved the plastic cup and spilled in the cockpit. Wiped it up.
A bit headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Ashore around 2:30 (outboard ran fine), and town is pretty dead. Limped around a bit. Found the veggie market was closed, but both grocery stores open until late. Sat in the harbor plaza for a while and read my book. Some nice-looking women. Eventually got some groceries and went back to the boat. Outboard ran fine except for a couple of hiccups.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Headachey in the middle of the night; took a paracetamol.
2015-04-05 (Sunday)At anchor at St Anne, Martinique.
Engine start at 6:45, anchor up and mainsail unfurled by 6:55. Motor-sailed W, with seas from SE, and wind and current from dead astern. Fiddly steering, and a couple of accidental jibes of the mainsail, but the wind is light, and the apparent wind even lighter. Making good speed. Breathing a lot of exhaust fumes; the wind is blowing them right up into the cockpit.
Past Diamond Rock around 8:30, turned the SW corner around 8:45. A nice romp NW for a half-hour or so, with wind from starboard stern quarter, following seas and current. Had to dodge some fish-floats. Then a bit of an upwind slog in the big harbor, but seas are small.
Into the anchorage by the fort; a lot of boats here. First anchoring had me too close to land; the winds are fluky and spinning here. Pulled it up and anchor down again by 11:15 at Fort de France, Martinique.
Took a couple of pictures: pics.
Headache; took a sumatriptan.
Got a tiny bit of free Wi-Fi from the Tourist Office, just enough to see a weather forecast and send an email to Dora.
On the beach, a religious group came down and sang some songs and then three of them went into the water and someone got baptized.
A bunch of teenaged boys swam out to an unoccupied anchored boat and used it as a dive platform for ten minutes or so. The boat looks like a cruising boat but no one was aboard overnight, so I guess it's been here a while. Pics. Later, they were swimming around another anchored boat even closer to the beach, but couldn't get aboard it. I'm glad I'm aboard my boat now, to keep them away. And I'm anchored in a slightly less accessible location.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Rolly at times during the night.
2015-04-06 (Monday)At anchor at Fort de France, Martinique.
Went ashore at 10. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Then found out the whole town is closed on a Monday morning. I need some basics such as a loaf of bread; not a chance. One pharmacy has a tiny wall-hatch open with a line of people picking up medicines. One hotel lobby is open. A few workmen on a couple of construction or remodeling sites. Everything else closed tight. Eventually got some free Wi-Fi on the harbor plaza.
Started to walk to W end of town, decided it was stupid. Back to boat. The boat the kids were on yesterday now has a dinghy behind it, so it's not unoccupied.
Laptop not charging properly again. But an hour or two later, it's working again.
Ashore again at 2:15 or so. Was going to stop by the boat the kids were on, but the dinghy is gone again.
Everything still closed. Must be a holiday. Easter Monday or something ? I don't know when Easter is. Only thing open is Twix (McDonald's), and prices there are not cheap. Sat for a while in the harbor plaza, then back to the boat.
Tuna-salad, and later leftover chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Right at dark, about 6:45, former-sailboat "Atraxia", now with no masts, came in and anchored fairly close to my anchor. I'm backwinded to the E now, and they've backed down to the W, but that might not last. It took a couple of tries, and a bit of a wind shift that brought us closer together, but finally I communicated my unhappiness to them, and they moved a bit further away.
2015-04-07 (Tuesday)At anchor at Fort de France, Martinique.
Around 10, launched the dinghy. Went out around the fort and up past the long commercial docks, straight upwind, and to the fuel dock. Which I'm glad to find is open. Bought 7 liters of gasoline for €10.
Back to the boat, to drop off the gasoline jug (after putting some in the tank). Customs boat is boarding a cruising boat. Went ashore. Everything is open in town today.
To Leader Price supermarket, which is a bit of a zoo right after the days closed. Got groceries. Hauled everything back to the boat. Nice to have bread and fruit and vegs again.
Went ashore at 2 or so. Couldn't find the cybercafe I saw the other day. Walked all over the central area, asking people, eventually got directed to one. But it's not too cheap, €1 for 30 minutes, and has no AC outlets (and I don't have the right adapter anyway). Did 30 minutes. Weather forecast for going to Guadeloupe has gotten a bit less favorable. Was planning to go tomorrow; will have to check the forecast again tomorrow morning.
Went into Carrefour to buy some bananas, but the lines were too long.
To marine store. They still have the check-out computer, but no longer have a book-exchange. Did some Wi-Fi in waterfront plaza.
Back onto boat. Laptop not charging.
Salad and spaghetti and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
2015-04-08 (Wednesday)At anchor at Fort de France, Martinique.
Leaving for Guadeloupe today.
Laptop still not charging.
Winds are fluky in this anchorage; two boats almost touching: pic.
Ashore after 9. Brief Wi-Fi in waterfront plaza; weather forecast has moderated slightly; nice. To an ATM and got Euro's from my debit card, no fee, no problem. To Leader Price, but the lines were too long. To the marine store and checked out (no charge). Back to boat.
Engine start at 11:20. Anchor up by 11:35; the wind fought me every way possible, spinning the boat and driving it way forward over the anchor again and again.
Motor-sailed W down the N side of the harbor. A romp, with wind dead astern and seas from stern quarter. Debated unfurling the jib, but the wind is stronger than I expected, and the jib is not good.
At noon, the jib made the decision for me, about 1/3 of it near the top unwinding and starting to flog horribly. Took me more than half an hour to get it under control, down and lashed on deck.
Around the corner and heading N, and the wind is dying. Lovely flat water here in the lee of the island. But soon rainclouds were moving in, and it got mostly grey and rained repeatedly.
Passing St Pierre at 2 PM. Saw a couple of small black or black-and-white dolphin jumping out of the water a few times.
At 2:50, shut off the engine and checked the oil leak from the oil hose. Wanted to do it here in calm conditions. Not too bad, maybe half a cup in 4 hours.
Around 4, passing off the N end of Martinique. Conditions here not as forecast: the wind is supposed to be E, but it's NE. And the NE seas are bigger than I expected. I'm heading NNW, so there's a lot of rolling (but the mainsail checks much of it).
At 4:15, a strong front/squall came through. Rain blasting through the pilothouse and getting me fairly wet, followed by a 10-degree temperature drop. And I have to drive carefully to keep the mainsail from getting overloaded and damaged somehow.
At 4:25, a glimpse of Dominica well in the distance. Then the grey closed in again.
Several sailboats heading S, over the next hour or two.
Saw that a damaged section of the rubrail facing, which I'd tried to repair yesterday, now is ripped off and dangling by one screw. Probably the jib sheet ripped it off. I'm not going out on the wet deck, on the low side, in these rough conditions, to try to secure it.
Saw a couple of dolphins jumping near the boat, but they were gone quickly.
At 5:15, another strong front/squall.
At 5:45, boat rolled by a couple of very sharp seas, and crashing noises from below. I went down to investigate, and got caught by the next such wave. I only had one hand on something solid, and the motion rotated me backwards. Everything I grabbed for was not solid, but fortunately I came away with just a scrape on my forearm and a torn-off scab on my heel. Could have been bad.
At 9:10, finally reached S end of Dominica, and started getting shelter from the rolly seas. Within a mile, the boat was fairly steady. Took a paracetamol. Had leftover spaghetti and a Coke for dinner.
At 10:10, shut off the engine and laid down and rested a little, enjoying the quiet as the mainsail kept the boat steady, maybe ghosted us along at 1/10th knot. Checked the oil, and it needs a fair amount, more than came out at the hose connection leak. Checked the situation on deck; mostly okay. Rubrail section is gone. 3/4 moon (waning gibbous, I think) is coming up over the island. Got a little common sense and put on warmer clothing.
At 10:45, started engine and got going again. Within half an hour, the calm was gone, wind strong, kicking up a chop. Later, it calmed again, then got strong again. Lights from a couple of fishing boats, I think, but they're farther out than me.
2015-04-09 (Thursday)In transit from Martinique to Guadeloupe.
At 2:30 AM, stopped engine and checked oil again, wanting to do this in the lee of Dominica before getting to open water. Oil down about a quart in 4 hours or so; not good.
I'm starting to get very tired. I wish the wind would calm down a bit.
Before 4 AM, passing the N end of Dominica, and out into very rough conditions. Wind consistently very strong, and again I'm heading mostly NNW in NE seas and NE wind. And I'm very tired. At least the boat is sailing itself most of the time, despite the rolling. I only have to make small adjustments to mainsheet and steering every now and then, and it stays on course. I worry that something will go wrong with the mainsail; that would be a total pain in these conditions.
Sun up around 6; conditions still rough, but the end is in sight.
At 7, into Iles Des Saintes. Out of the rough conditions. Soon am able to furl the mainsail. Wind my way around and up to town. As I read, now they've put in a mooring field and prohibited anchoring at the town. I've never liked this place as an anchorage, and now it costs money, too. The anchorages here generally have deep water, not much sand, lots of rocks, often rolly. Town is cute but not that great.
I decide to avoid the mooring field, and anchor in a local-boat type of area, in front of a nasty rocky lee shore. I expect I'll get kicked out of here, but maybe I can get into town before that happens. Anchor down by 8 AM at Iles Des Saintes, Guadeloupe.
Five minutes later, some harbor guy in a skiff comes over to tell me I can't anchor here. But when I ask if I can check in first, then move, he nicely says yes. And tells me the check-in place opens at 9. Great, I can grab some breakfast, shave, wash a little, make sure the anchor is holding.
Ashore just before 9. A little trouble finding it, and the check-in place is a cybercafe; I remember it from when I was here 4 years ago. But it's not open on time this morning. Two big ferries arrive and the town fills with tourists.
I go to a grocery store and buy a few things, then the cybercafe is open. Check in, pay €2. And I find the moorings here would cost me €11 per day (rate depends on length of boat, cheaper for weekly, etc). Internet here costs €3 per half-hour, and they have no USA-type power outlets.
As I'm leaving the dock, a third ferry pulls in with more people. I notice that the mooring field is pretty rolly.
Back to the boat by 9:35. Anchor might be dragging slightly.
Strange: engine oil is completely full; didn't lose any while running from 2:30 to 8 this morning. So where was it going before ? I don't think it's leaking into the bilge, and if being burnt because of bad rings or something, why didn't it keep on getting burnt ?
Engine start at 9:45. Struggled to get anchor up; tight quarters and some wind. Got it up, looped around to a different area about 200 yards farther from town, anchor down by 9:55 at Iles Des Saintes, Guadeloupe. Should have anchored here in the first place. A bit exposed to NE, but the other anchorages I saw looked full, especially in the shallower water. Even so, I'm in about 20 feet of water here, deeper than I like (I don't have an anchor windlass).
Relax a little, straighten up the boat a little, read a book, write this log file. Soon down for a nap.
Got up, did some stuff, started straightening up after the trip, managed to bash my toe into something and make a big bloody gash on the top of it. Wonderful.
At 3:45, a Customs boat comes by and shouts some questions from 50 feet away, about where I've been and where I'm going. They go hover near the boat behind me, then spend the next hour or more just hovering around in the vicinity.
At 5:15, as I'm fixing some salad for dinner, the Customs boat is coming over again and saying they're going to board me. They have fenders, and nudge up to me briefly, just long enough for three officers to step/jump across to my boat.
We sit in the cockpit and I give them my documents and one asks some questions. Finally they say they will search the boat, but 15 seconds into that, they get a radio call saying that I was searched while in Martinique. They say no need to search me again, why didn't I tell them I'd been searched ? I figured it's a different country, but they say no, the same. I show the form from the previous search. The guy says "did they search the whole boat ?", I say "well, it's a big boat, that would take two full days". The guy smiles and jokes "well, we start today". Then they leave, again doing a dangerous jump between boats.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner. Anchorage getting pretty rolly; have to grab the cooking dinner a couple of times to prevent it from sliding off the stove.
A very uncomfortable night, lots of rolling.
2015-04-10 (Friday)At anchor at Iles Des Saintes, Guadeloupe.
Engine start at 6:45, anchor up by 6:55 in some rain, moved out, unfurled the mainsail, motor-sailed NW. Out of the Saintes and going across the channel to the SW corner of Guadeloupe. The usual rolling starts, but it's daytime and the wind is not as strong as the last couple of days, so not too bad.
At 8:15, 95% of the way across, while I'm below taking a quick look at the engine and stuffing-box, I hear a bang from on deck. I assume the main accidentally jibed; the steering has been fiddly with some following seas. But I go up to find that the main halyard has failed at the top, where the wire halyard goes over in a fairly tight bend. It's always been a weak point (and I specifically checked it a week or so ago). Now the mainsail is hanging over the starboard side and the head is underwater.
Fortunately, I guess it's too short to reach the prop. I have a relatively easy time gathering the sail up, lashing it in sections, getting it all aboard and under control. Except I bang my injured toe into a stanchion base, causing a lot of pain.
By 8:40, past the lighthouse on the SW corner of the island, and into fairly calm water.
I had been planning to go all the way up to the NW end of the island today, to Deshaies. But I'm pretty sure there is no marine store or other facilities up there. I think I have everything I need aboard already, to replace or at least jury-rig the halyard. But I'm about to pass a major town with a marina and other marine facilities, and it would be smart to stop here and deal with the halyard. If the anchorage is tolerable; I've never stopped here.
So I head in, and find some other cruising boats moored and anchored. Anchor down at 9:15 in 20-25 feet of water, at Marina Riviere Sens (just S of Basse-Terre), Guadeloupe. Quite calm here.
A bit tricky: this is one of those anchorages downwind from a big hill, with wind making boats point all different directions. And I'm between anchored boats in two directions, a moored boat, and a rocky shore.
Laptop is charging from the adapter !
I take the jib down and curl it up on deck. Probably won't be trying to use it again.
Sure enough, after 10, a big blast of NE wind puts me very close to an anchored catamaran, which seems totally unaffected by the wind, just riding loosely on its anchor.
At 10:15, engine start, raise anchor, move it maybe 50 feet NE. And suddenly I'm in totally different wind, lying 200+ feet from the catamaran, now I have to worry about getting too close to shore. Engine off at 10:30, and we'll see how it goes.
Rolled by a wake from a big ferry that passed half a mile to the south of here.
At 10:45, squall going down the channel and coming over the hill, strongish wind from the S. No free Wi-Fi here. Rain moving in at 11:15.
In early afternoon, opened up the cabinet with all of my spare and used rigging wire (pics). I have three old halyards, and that's without digging down to really old stuff. I think I need 80 feet for the main halyard; if I was buying new I'd buy 90 feet so I can cut it back as it breaks. The current broken halyard was cut back a couple of times over the last couple of years, to the point where it barely reached.
Took down the current halyard (pic) and coiled it.
By measuring the diameter and number of turns of each coil, and multiplying by pi, I'm estimating the length of each piece of wire. Two old ones and the current one estimate at 75 feet; the fourth coil estimates at 80 feet, looks better than the other two old ones, and already has an eye swaged to one end. So I'll try that one. If it comes out short, I can bulldog another piece of wire to it. And I have one new 3/16" swage-sleeve in my spares, so if I have to swage a new eye to some wire, I can do that. Looks like I don't have to find a marine store. But I'd still like to get the new wire up while in this anchorage, and then test it on the easy trip up to Deshaies, rather than first testing it on the big hop to Antigua.
After 2, heard "Jolly Friends" (I think) asking for info, having a "situation" about 8 miles W of Portsmouth Dominica. Very fragmentary, but it sounds like they tried to tack and then something went wrong. Later heard them asking about facilities where the prop could be taken off. Maybe a line got in the prop and broke something ? And now they're definitely saying the call is just to inform the Coast Guard, not a distress call.
By 2:15 or so, wind is very blustery, boat rocking and swinging a fair amount. And I'm not feeling 100% today. So I'm not going up the mast this afternoon.
Around 4, working on the wire-winch for the spare halyard, which is balky. Brake was stuck. Got winch apart, couldn't get it back on with the circlip fully engaged. Looks like corrosion has sprung the base of it a bit; may have to grind off a little metal with the Dremel. Huge blasts of wind coming from SE as I was out on deck, just blasting. And halfway up the mast, the halyard has decided to detour sideways around the steaming light; no way to fix that without climbing. But all of these issues can be dealt with.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
Nice, quiet night, very little rolling. But wind still blasting occasionally. And I'm still achey and tired; took a paracetamol after midnight, and a sumatriptan before dawn.
2015-04-11 (Saturday)At anchor at Marina Riviere Sens (just S of Basse-Terre), Guadeloupe.
Still feeling a bit shaky this morning.
After lunch, worked on the winch for the spare halyard, the one I'm going to climb on. Got nowhere.
Around 1, guy from small sailboat behind me came by. His name is "Friday", his boat is "Akemi". They accidentally drained their battery, have no way to charge it but the engine, and it won't start the engine. So he brought over the battery and I attached it to my system, with solar and wind-generator. But there's little wind, and soon the skies turned grey. He's from Dominica, his girlfriend is French, he bought the boat 4 or 6 months ago, and is a bit discouraged about how much money it's sucking up, how much there is to repair. He went back to his boat, and soon I started the engine to get some charging going. Ran the engine for 25 minutes.
Launched the dinghy. Took the battery back to Friday, and headed ashore. Into the marina, which has far more boats inside than I expected from the outside; they're really packed-in here. And they even have a boatyard, with Travellift, although I think it's too small to haul my boat. Fuel dock, sailing-school, all kinds of stuff in here. Hard to find a spot to leave the dinghy, but I did.
Disposed of a bag of garbage. Walked 1.5 miles or more up to town, Basse-Terre, making only one brief wrong turn. Very nice waterfront walkway and some statues and pavilions: pics.
Found a fruit/veggie market with most vendors closed and leaving, but bought veggies at one that was open. Down a little further, and found a Leader Price / Ecomax supermarket. Got meat, cheese, bread, etc. Walked back to the marina, sandal rubbing my hurt foot a bit painfully. Into the dinghy just as a dive-boat was tying up to the same cleat; good timing.
Out into the anchorage, and got hailed by a newly-arrived boat, "Windborne". I recognize the boat name; this young couple just bought the boat in Grenada. Chatted with them a bit, but I couldn't answer most of their questions about this marina and Customs and such. The guy has a horrible burn completely around one ankle; in Dominica, they went to see the hot springs, and the ground gave way under his foot, and in 5-10 seconds of exposure he got badly injured. As we chatted, we saw a big bike-race heading by ashore, with vans following the racers, etc. Looked like a big deal.
The couple I charged the battery for are ashore right now, so I don't know if they got their engine started.
Back aboard a little after 4. Pleased that I got off the boat, got some exercise, got some food, didn't open up either of the scabs on my left foot.
A little before dark, saw a cruising sloop being helped into anchorage on the other side of the marina, accompanied by a skiff.
Grapefruit and salad and spaghetti and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner. The wind-blasting thing started again around 6, and blew out my stove flame 4 or 5 times.
2015-04-12 (Sunday)At anchor at Marina Riviere Sens (just S of Basse-Terre), Guadeloupe.
Wind still blasting this morning.
Before 8:30, a skiff full of local guys dragging one end of a big net around from shore, right across my bow, and back to shore, trapping whatever fish were in the big enclosed area. Fortunately the net didn't snag my anchor on the bottom (not very likely, anyway).
Started getting ready to climb the mast: hoisted the climbing rope on the spare halyard, then locked the winch and tied it to keep it from sliding off the shaft (since I still can't get the circlip back on). Got the "new" halyard ready, and the climbing gear ready. But the wind still is blasting.
Around 9, saw Friday on deck on his boat, and yelled across to him. He says his battery is okay; I guess the engine started. But then he says his dinghy is gone !
So I launched my dinghy and went over to his boat. He had the dinghy-painter tied with only one knot, a clove hitch; not a good idea. With the strong wind we had all night, that dinghy could be 20 miles away by now.
I go downwind past the marina, a bit nervous because my outboard has stumbled a few times in the last day or two. No sign of the dinghy. Into the marina, which is very quiet and everything closed. No sign of the dinghy there. Back to tell Friday the bad news. I offer to take him and his girlfriend ashore later. Back to my boat, and I make some radio calls to ask other boats to be on the lookout for the dinghy.
After 10, got my nerve up, and climbed the mainmast. Wind still blasting every few minutes, boat rocking a little, not absolutely 100% confident the halyard winch will hold. But everything went okay. Went up halfway, got the halyard I'm climbing on straightened from around the steaming light, went higher. Had to keep passing the new halyard around shrouds and spreaders to keep it aft of the mast. Got to the top. As usual, half of the stuff up here is galled, the other half is broken. Managed to pass the new halyard over and get it on the right sheaves without too much trouble, but there's a broken block that the halyard used to go over, I think. Didn't put it on that. Back down and done by 10:30. And the halyard is plenty long, probably have an extra 5-7 feet. All the usual climbing-bruises on feet and legs and forearms, but didn't tear the scabs on my toe or heel, so that's good.
At 11 or so, saw Friday standing on deck on his boat, so figured they wanted to go ashore. Closed up the boat and into the dinghy and over there. His girlfriend is Beatrice and they have a one-year-old son David. They've decided to go into a slip in the marina.
They all get into my dinghy, and we go into the marina. Tie up behind the fuel dock, walk around to the office, and slips are available, but the office closes at 12. So we have to do this right away.
I take Friday back out to his boat, he starts the engine and raises anchor, and eventually gets into the marina. I circle for a while, wanting to help nudge him into the slip if necessary. But he thinks the assigned slip is too tight or something, and circles while a lot of French is being spoken from boat to shore.
Eventually I give up and tie up my dinghy again, and go walking to see what stores are here. Only a few are open, including a nice fruit/veggie shop, and I don't find anywhere to do Wi-Fi. Back to my dinghy, and over to Friday's boat. I help move him from one mooring buoy to another. Then we sit on his boat and have a nice chat, and they give me a beer, which soon has me sleepy. Try to do Wi-Fi, for which we have a password, but the signal is too weak.
Back to my boat around 1:30.
Got the bitter end of the wire halyard through the channel in the winch; always tricky. By 3:15, got the mainsail hoisted and furled, suffering only one wind-gust while doing it.
Cleaned up after the mast-climbing: took down the climbing gear, put up the spare halyard wrapped around the mainsail, put lines back in cockpit, etc.
Salad and spaghetti and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
A bit shocked to see how sunburnt I got today, between climbing the mast, work on deck, being in the dinghy for so long, walking around outside the marina. Not good.
Very small sloop with mast down came in just before dark and anchored slightly close to me. Guy hauled out an inflatable kayak, inflated it, and went ashore.
Saw a 40-foot or more sloop come in after dark. I thought it was anchoring next to the small sloop, but later it was gone. Two othe rcruising boats here tonight, on moorings.
Plenty of wind-blasts during the night.
2015-04-13 (Monday)At anchor at Marina Riviere Sens (just S of Basse-Terre), Guadeloupe.
Engine start at 7 or so; anchor up by 7:10. Motored out, rounded up, unfurled the mainsail.
Motor-sailed NNW along the coast, enjoying views of Basse-Terre. Soon in very flat conditions, lovely flat water. Enough wind to keep the mainsail full, and wind mostly from astern.
Loafed along, heading up the island. Engine off at 9:05 to check oil level and fix the bag catching the slight oil leak. Start again at 9:10.
Passing Pigeon Island around 10, and shortly after that, conditions changed totally. Wind starting blasting from NE and E, gusts up to 25 knots, plenty of sustained 20+ knots. And soon it had whitecaps on the sea. More of a test of the main halyard than I wanted.
Wind kept blasting for the rest of the trip, up to Deshaies. Worried about how difficult it would be to furl the main, but I got lucky. Looked for a slight lull, got one, quickly loosened the sheet and ran out on deck and quickly got the main furled before the wind started blasting again. Nice.
Up into harbor, and it's crowded, as I expected. And they've put moorings and nets and such in all the shallowest places to anchor. But I found a decent place in the middle, maybe 20 feet deep. People on boat "Safari Njema" behind me watched closely as I anchored. Anchor down by 11:35 at Deshaies, Guadeloupe. Plenty of wind blasting down through here, so I'll watch the situation carefully for a while.
Got some free Wi-Fi ! Able to upload the log, email Dora, get a weather forecast. Nice.
Scumbag credit-card company tagged on a $81.34 "foreign transaction fee" to my boatyard bill.
Wind-blasts finally mostly stopped around 4 PM.
Sailing-ship came in: pic.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
A very quiet night; nice. But at 3 AM, wind very light and sometimes S or NE, and the boat rolled badly at one point due to slight W swell coming in.
2015-04-14 (Tuesday)At anchor at Deshaies, Guadeloupe.
Boat directly behind me has left. Fair number of boats moving in and out today. I'm trying to judge weather for going to Antigua, but it looks like wind and waves will be straight E for a while, and Antigua is straight N from here. E 5-foot seas will make for a rolly trip.
Calm morning, then wind started howling at 11:30, but not for long. Fairly grey for a while, some rain at 4.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
From about 7 to 8:15, light wind going to directions I didn't expect, in a week of E 15-20 forecasts. Soon N and then NW. Bad for me, since I'm anchored at the edge of the mooring field: now I'm swinging close to a moored sailboat. So I sat out in the cockpit and kept watch. Finally wind got back to E and strengthened a little, moving me away and getting settled. Checked several times during the night; no problem.
2015-04-15 (Wednesday)At anchor at Deshaies, Guadeloupe.
From 5:30 to 7:30 or later, wind light and spinning again, putting me too close to a moored boat. Sat in cockpit and watched.
At 8:30, in calm conditions, raised anchor and moved about 100 feet W, away from the moorings.
Hmm, weather forecast has changed a fair bit. I'll probably go to Antigua tomorrow. E 4 seas, not great, but I might have to wait a while for better.
Went ashore after 3. No signs telling people where to clear in/out. Went up and down the whole (small) town; no answers. Most places closed, too; looks like they'll re-open at 4. Up the hill to the Douane building, and it says clear at "Le Pelican". Back down into town, and no one knows where that is. Got directed to a "multi-services" internet place, so started waiting for that to open. Wandered some more. Pic.
Into a fruit/veg shop, but all I have is a €50 bill, too big for them. Across to a pharmacy to get them to change it for me, which they are nice enough to do. Back to get fruit/veg.
Guy unlocked door at internet place, but he says "Pelican" is last shop at other end of town. Go there, don't see it, ask some more, eventually find it. It's a small women's-clothing shop with a hard-to-read sign out front; I happened to see the name painted clearly on the side of the building. Someone already using the clearance computer, so I went across and got groceries in the store. Looks like Barca football on television; I'd like to stay and watch.
Back to the clothes shop, but now someone else is ahead of me. I chat a little with the guys as we wait. Finally I get to do the clearance, and am charged €4.
To the dinghy dock, and the guy I was chatting with asks me a question about his engine. Yanmar 75 with a turbo, and the turbo has died, his engine has little power. Does running it with a bad turbo damage anything ? I guess no, but I don't really know. Out to the boat.
Salad and chicken-cabbage-rice and a warm rum-and-Coke for dinner.
I hardly sleep at all. Warm night, slightly rolly at times, I ate too much for dinner, and I'm anxious about tomorrow's trip. Which should be an easy trip: daylight trip, no fancy navigation, to a place I've been before.
2015-04-16 (Thursday)At anchor at Deshaies, Guadeloupe.
Engine start at 5:30 AM. Anchor up easily in very calm conditions; fortunately no boats swinging over my anchor. Motored out, unfurled the mainsail, headed N.
Started to get some chop from NE as I approached N end of Guadeloupe, but ocnditions were pleasantly mild even out in open water. Great !
A long slog across. Conditions calm for a while, rolly for half an hour, back to milder, rolly again, etc. Guadeloupe faded out of sight between 9:45 and 10, with a glimpse of Antigua up ahead, and a pretty good view of Montserrat to the W until cloud covered it. Beautiful sunny day with fair amount of cloud but no squalls. Listening to lots of radio programs on my MP3 players.
Stopped engine at 11:05 to check oil. Not much has leaked out of the oil hose connection, but the engine oil is down more than a quart, maybe almost two quarts. Engine must be burning it. Tricky to check the oil in rough water: the dipstick is close to the very hot exhaust manifold and exhaust riser. I could get a serious burn if I get thrown against them.
Conditions got rougher as I got closer to Antigua. Finally got close, and there are a zillion classic sailboats out sailing, right in front of the entrance to Falmouth Harbor. Found out later: it's "Classic Boat" week. Beautiful boats; the two or three biggest are 90 feet or so, with 5 sails up, and there are a couple of smaller classes. This looks like practicing; a large variety of boats, in all different places. But I don't have time to take pictures, and my boat is rolling heavily anyway. I'm anxious to get into harbor and get to the officials before they close. Lots of small sailboats, plus some committee boats and some people out in inflatable dinghies; a lot of traffic to watch out for. Fortunately I'm able to edge around the activity, claiming the area closest to shore, and get in without cutting anyone off.
In and furl the mainsail at 2, right next to anchored "Picton Castle", a tall ship I toured while in Grenada. Past it and found a lovely shoal in the middle, and anchor down on it by 2:10 (in a sharp rainsquall) at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
Relax, straighten up a little, shave. Ashore by 2:45 or so. Walk over to English Harbour, to the officials. Now they're making everyone register for eSeaClear on the computer, so I have to do that. Something which it seems is used only in this country, so probably I'll never use it again (except when clearing out in a few days).
Back and forth among the various officials, and I'm yawning and feeling drained. Three or four other skippers come in to clear, and they all look tired too. Pay EC$62 (US$24) and I'm done. (When I check out, I'll have to pay an additional US$0.07/foot per day spent anchored in English or Falmouth harbors.) Said hi to the guy I chatted with yesterday in Deshaies; we made the same crossing today. But he has another guy as crew. I'd guess they sailed, while I motor-sailed. He's heading for Jolly Harbour to have his turbo fixed/replaced, I think.
Nice to be back in an English-speaking country; I really struggled in the French islands. But I miss the French "officials"; here the officials are numerous and picky and the paperwork is large and expensive. Of course, I did get boarded twice in the French islands.
Wander around the dockyard for a little while, taking pictures of some boats: pics. Surprised to see that there actually is a little space to anchor in here; I assumed it would be jammed. But the center of the action seems to be Falmouth. Asked at a couple of places, and no one has a schedule of exactly when the races are run; I guess it's online somewhere.
Back to Falmouth, wander around to get the lay of the land, but my energy is ebbing. The big book-exchange that was here 4-5 years ago seems to be gone. Run into a couple of people I know: Margie and Gary on "Inspiration". Very pleasant. I think Margie said they went from Grenada to St Lucia in two weeks flat this season; that took me about 6 weeks, with breakdowns and waiting for weather.
Take a few pictures from the dock. Back to the dinghy, and take a few more pictures as I head out to the boat: pics. The day's races have finished (around 4, I guess) and the boats are docking. Which must be an anxious operation with such beautiful boats.
Onto my boat, stow stuff from the dinghy, open the boat, start updating the log file. Hoist the dinghy, lash the mainsail, etc.
One reason I feel so wrung out: forgot to have my usual drink of tea (with caffeine) with lunch. Also I didn't eat much, just a banana for breakfast and a half-PB-sandwich and a grapefruit for lunch.
Salad and leftover chicken-rice and a warm cranberryjuice for dinner.
Lovely calm night; slept fairly well.
2015-04-17 (Friday)At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
Did a bucket of laundry.
Boats heading out at 9; race at 10 or 10:30. VHF net at 9 announced winners of a couple of races yesterday, a singlehander's race and a big-boat race, so I guess what I saw wasn't (just) boats practicing. But later, the committee boat was calling today's 10 AM race the first race of the regatta, so I'm confused.
Nice boat sailing in the harbor: pic.
As I expected, no free Wi-Fi here.
Fuel level 9.3 inches.
Listening to the races on VHF 77; committee boat and other boats. There was a warning to press and spectator boats to stay clear; apparently last year a press boat trying to get really good pictures of a man overboard from a racer almost ran over him/her. They have about 3 races going on the course simultaneously, different classes, started about 10 minutes apart. One boat retired before a race because of gear failure. Wind is a couple of knots stronger today than yesterday.
Scoping out the next big passage I have to make, and it's the longest one. About 100 NM, from W side of Antigua around N end of St Martin and into the lagoon in St Martin. Took me 28+ hours in the other direction, 5 years ago. Makes me tired just thinking about it, right now.
A little headachey; took a paracetamol.
Saw this megayacht come in, and it backed all the way down the channel and into the marina: pics. I'm not sure why; there's a big turning basin in front of the marina. But I assume they know what they're doing.
Ashore at 3. (In passing, noticed that a mooring here for my boat would cost me US$25 per night !) Used huge book-exchange at Jane's yacht services.
Got a tiny bit of Wi-Fi, standing awkwardly in a high-traffic area and holding the laptop. Just enough to upload the pictures and log file.
Chatted with John from "Purrfect", and met Susan from "Spirited Lady". Susan was on a race boat today, and says the seas were pretty big.
Bought groceries, and out to the boat.
Lowered the mainsail and looked at the halyard; looks fine.
Salad and hotdog-onion-cheese-cornbread concoction and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
2015-04-18 (Saturday)At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
Diesel spill in the harbor.
Ashore before 9:30, to dock at Pigeon Beach. Joined about 6 other cruisers and we went up the Middle Ground trail to the top of the hill. Nice view down onto the harbor and the race area outside the harbor. Nice chat with a lady from "Windswept Dreams", and Margie from "Inspiration".
General pictures of the scene, and the boats going out and in: pics.
First race started at 10, last one (three big boats) around 10:45. Lots of nice-looking boats, a fun morning. Didn't worry too much about which boat was which or who was winning.
First race: pics.
Second race: pics.
Third race: pic.
Fourth race (three big boats): pics.
They did a long upwind leg away from us, and when there was little else to see close by, we started heading back down the hill. Back to my boat by 11:30 or so.
Wind blowing pretty hard after noon.
Ashore at 3. Tried another book-exchange place, but it was closed. Did a little Wi-Fi. Got several weather forecasts, and sent email to Dora, but while uploading pictures and log file, the connection died and wouldn't come back, leaving the log page broken. Bought a little fruit and veg, and back to the boat.
Salad and onion-cheese-egg-bread and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
2015-04-19 (Sunday)At anchor at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
Engine start at 7:25. Anchor up with little effort by 7:30; I love anchoring in very shallow water. Unfurled the mainsail and motored out.
Easy romp straight downwind, with seas on port stern quarter, but steering was fiddly because of the seas and the risk of accidental jibe. Down to the SW corner of the island, around, up the W side to Jolly Harbour. Lovely water color here, and 15+ boats anchored.
Anchor down by 9:35 in very shallow water at Jolly Harbour, Antigua. I knew I was pushing into very shallow water, but the anchor hit bottom a foot or two before I expected; I'm probably in 4 to 4.5 feet of water, with my 3.5 foot draft.
Got a free guest Wi-Fi connection that lets me do only Yahoo Mail, GMail, Google. Not too useful.
In midafternoon, dinghied across to a little beach. Walked up a hill and took pictures of the anchorage, and Jolly Harbour, and the long beach at Morris Bay: pics. Back down the hill, over to Morris Bay, and walked halfway down the beach and got my toes wet. Pleasant, but hot sun. Back to the dinghy, had trouble getting the outboard started, and it ran badly back to the boat.
Pumped some gasoline out of the motor, and it looked okay; no layer of water.
Cruising boat (45-foot or so gaff-rigged sailboat) came in and went ahead of me. I think they were aground briefly. Then they anchored off to port and a bit forward; they must be in very shallow water. Maybe they have a centerboard. Pic.
Went snorkeling under the boat. Water under the boat is a little deeper than I expected, maybe 5.5 feet, but probably shallower up at the anchor. Everything on the bottom of the boat is fine except the shaft zinc is gone ! The boatyard guy took it off to do the cutless bearing, and put the zinc back on. I should have tightened it more after he was done.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread concoction and a rum-and-Coke for dinner.
2015-04-20 (Monday)At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.
Did a bucket of laundry.
Took carb and fuel pump off the outboard, and there was a fair amount of yellowish varnishy gunk in both of them.
Odd-looking motorboat came out of the harbor: pic.
Went ashore to the marina. Disposed of garbage. Found a book-exchange. Did Wi-Fi in a restaurant, free with paying EC$12 for a Sprite. Weather forecast is a bit contradictory, but looks okay. E 10-15 wind and E 4 seas diminishing to E 2 seas further north, and I'll be going NW.
Got email from friends telling me Martinique police seized 2 tons of cocaine on a (falsely) American-flagged sailboat last Wednesday. So maybe they had a tip and were searching more when I went through there.
Back to boat for lunch.
Ashore again after 2. To supermarket, where I can't spend too much because I want to have some EC$ for fees while clearing out. To the officials, where it's the usual: Customs, Port Authority, Customs to do eSeaClear and sign 5 times, Immigration, back to Customs. Fortunately no encounters with grumpy female officials; I had that last time I was here. No demand that I bring the boat to the Customs dock, and either no one noticed or no one cared that I dated my departure for tomorrow instead of today.
Back to the boat, and hoisted a "Q" flag just in case some official boat comes by. I usually don't bother with signal or courtesy flags.
Salad and chicken-cabbage-rice for dinner. Cooked early because the chicken is fresh and I have no refrigeration. Skipped the alcohol because I want to sleep solidly tonight.
2015-04-21 (Tuesday)At anchor at Jolly Harbour, Antigua.
Engine start at 5:50, anchor up easily in 5 minutes. Motored out, rounded, had a bit of fuss getting the main unfurled and flying properly. Motor-sailed W out of the harbor, then turned NNW and NW.
Lovely day, partly cloudy, no signs of squalls. Seas calm in shelter of Antigua, pick up a little later, and are more like ENE than the forecast E. Sometimes they're on the starboard stern quarter, which is nice, but sometimes they're on the beam and rolling me.
At 9:55, engine stop for an oil check. Dipstick reads very low; added a lot, and ended up with it reading very overfilled. Rolling is making it hard to get a consistent reading. Engine start at 10:15.
By noon, Antigua has disappeared over the horizon.
Seas are nice for a few hours in the middle of the day, pushing me from behind. But they tend to push the boat off course; I have to steer a fair amount.
At 2:20, engine stop for an oil check. Dipstick reads fine. Took a paracetamol. Engine start at 2:35. Can see St Barts on the horizon ahead. Never saw Barbuda.
I'm making better speed than expected. Which is good (shorter trip), and bad (arrive in dark). But I know the area, and the harbor is big, so it's feasible. Still not what I planned.
Seas getting rougher, and more on the beam. Weather forecast said conditions would be milder up here than in Antigua, but I didn't believe that forecast, it was too mild (2-foot seas). Seems to have been a mistaken forecast, maybe for a sheltered part of St Martin.
Around 7, dark, and I'm about 6 miles SE of St Barts. Rough and rolly, I've passed some fish-trap floats way out in deep water. Hope I don't catch a float in the prop, or hit a fisherman, in the dark. Heard some cruising boats heading overnight to Jolly Harbour.
Tricky to go along St Barts, not enough lights, everything heading NW so the compass and GPS directions are not square.
See St Martin ahead, and as usual I think I've arrived, but I won't arrive for another 5 hours. And in this case, I have to circle halfway around the island and go into a big bay on the other side. I briefly consider going clockwise around, but since I'm approaching from SE, distance is about equal, and I'm more familiar with the E side. So I go that way.
Tricky getting up around Tintemarre island; it's not lit, and my brain is tired. I swing wider than necessary, wasting some time.
At midnight, I turn W along the N end of Tintemarre and St Martin, and the rolling stops, I'm going straight downwind and down-seas. Nice, but fiddly to avoid accidental jibe of the mainsail.
Feeling my way into harbor around 1. Nervous to see some large commercial ships anchored. Even more nervous when I see another medium-sized commercial ship moving, fortunately not too close to me.
Slow way down, furl the mainsail, ease ahead, standing on deck to look out for anchored sailboats. I ease around a couple, and find a large empty space near the beach. Go in closer. Water here should be shallow, but the chart shows one big hole that is 35 feet or so; don't want to hit that.
Relieved when anchor hits bottom in about 10 feet of water, and I can see it down there. Anchor down by 1:35 at Marigot Bay, St Martin.
So, that was about 19.5 hours; I had expected 24+ hours. And nothing broke. A good trip.
Straighten up the boat a little, close up hatches to engine compartment, put out "Q" flag and anchor light, drink water and take a Neobrufen. In bed by 1:55.
2015-04-22 (Wednesday)At anchor at Marigot Bay, St Martin.
Awake at 5:45. Check anchoring situation; fine. Straighten up boat, get engine ready to go if needed. Engine oil level is exactly right.
As I expected, no free Wi-Fi here.
Heard cruiser's net at 7:30 on VHF 10. Bridge first opening time is now 0900, instead of the 0815 it used to be.
Engine start at 8:50. Bow veered around in the wind and current as I raised the anchor. Saw two other boats (a motorboat and a catamaran) lining up to go in when the bridge opens; that's good, I can follow them. I've done this here before, but it's easier if someone else worries about the traffic signal.
Only one sailboat came out, but as the other two boats started in, the one that came out got in my way, staying in the neck of the channel as they started to work on raising sails. Got around them, followed a catamaran in. And they got in my way, too ! They went through the bridge and then started to dock at a boatyard dock immediately past the bridge, hanging well out into the channel as I was coming through the bridge. Got past them.
Went straight across the main channel and into very shallow water of the anchorage. Nudged forward until the bow was sliding aground on grass. Anchor down by 9:25 at The Lagoon, St Martin. I can see right up the bridge channel from here. Nice and calm water here.
Soon launched the dinghy and headed ashore. Into the marina, and the Capitainerie has moved across to the other side. Found it, docked, in, did the computer screen, paid €6, done. Exchanged a book at their tiny book-exchange bookshelf. Chatted briefly with a cruiser I've met somewhere before, Bob. He remembered my name, I didn't remember his. I think I met him in the BVI's several years ago. He just arrived from the BVIs, after hopping back there from here. Said they've been aboard 11 years and are tired of it. I'm in the same situation.
Walked around the near part of town for a while. Too upscale for me: jewelry stores, nice cafes, Sotheby's, nicely-dressed women. Nowhere likely to sit and have a soda and do Wi-Fi. No internet cafe. Back to the boat.
Loafed, tried to nap, loafed more. Seem to be a lot of dinghy-tours and jetski-tours here, or maybe I was seeing the same ones multiple times. I think my anchor is sliding a little on the grass.
Scoped out the next passage I have to make, from here across Anegada Passage to BVI's, and it's far longer than I remembered. 120 NM west and 20 NM north, then another 5 NM north once I arrive.
Salad and leftover hotdog-cornbread and leftover chicken-rice and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
2015-04-23 (Thursday)At anchor at The Lagoon, St Martin.
Listened to the cruiser's net. Weather forecast is strange: for next week, wind will be SE 7-14 and seas will be NE.
Got a bit of free Wi-Fi. Comes and goes, but I was able to upload files, do email, grab weather forecasts.
I think I've been noticing the engine vibrating a bit much. So checked the engine mount adjustment nuts, and found the two on the port-forward mount were quite loose; the lower nut had vibrated loose and down, I think.
Fuel level 8 inches.
Engine start at 11:50. Anchor up while sliding aground on grass; no problem. Out and down the ill-marked channel to the main body of the Lagoon. Threaded my way through the numerous anchored boats and up to the E end of the shiny new bridge. Odd to see it there; that was open water when I was here 5-6 years ago.
Anchor down by 12:15 at The Lagoon, St Martin. Nice, quiet area with some rough-looking boats (pics), but the holding is questionable.
By late afternoon, swinging a bit close to some nearby boats. Not sure if the anchor is holding.
New bridge opened from 5:15 to 5:225 to let a big crane-barge through.
Salad and spaghetti and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Wind has put me with a boat directly behind, about 60-70 feet back; not good. But the good news is that the wind has picked up and blown about 15 knots steadily, and the anchor is holding. So I'll keep an eye on it during the night, but shouldn't have to move.
New bridge's center span is lit with neon, which changes colors in various patterns. Nice.
2015-04-24 (Friday)At anchor at The Lagoon, St Martin.
New/causeway bridge opened at 8:15 to let a smallish cruising sailboat through. Opened again at 10:15 for a couple of catamarans.
Launched dinghy and headed over to Dutch side. To Lagoonies. Office (containing book-exchange) was closed. Chatted with a cruiser I recognized from Grenada. He said yesterday, on the French side, a couple of boats were broken into in broad daylight. Chatted with a local guy. To Budget Marine, and disposed of garbage and used oil. To Daily Extra supermarket for groceries. Back to boat.
At 5 PM, a minor car accident on the bridge, near me.
Fruit and salad and leftover spaghetti and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Almost no wind in the evening, and for most of the night. Wind will be light for next few days, too.
2015-04-25 (Saturday)At anchor at The Lagoon, St Martin.
Lowered the mainsail and checked the halyard. A bit of stress where it goes over the masthead, but still okay.
Ashore in midafternoon. Looks like office at Lagoon Marina still is closed, so didn't stop there. Docked at Budget Marine. Checked their price for engine oil, went to NAPA Auto, bought a gallon of oil there. To Daily Extra supermarket for groceries. Back to the boat.
Hot afternoon, and very little wind. Airport running its runway in reverse of the usual direction, at times.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Very still evening and night.
2015-04-26 (Sunday)At anchor at The Lagoon, St Martin.
Warm and still morning. By by 10 or so, there was nice wind from S. Still a hot and hazy day.
Got a tiny bit of free Wi-Fi just enough to get weather forecasts and do a little email.
Guy on the radio was calling about his dinghy that was lost or stolen last night.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
2015-04-27 (Monday)At anchor at The Lagoon, St Martin.
Got a little free Wi-Fi, enough to get weather forecasts. Probably will leave here Wednesday morning, for BVI's.
Ashore in midafternoon, to Palapa Marina. Hot, quiet, not much happening. Today is a holiday; in fact, on the Dutch side, Monday, Thursday and Friday this week are holidays. Got cash at an ATM.
Walked through to the Simpson Bay beach, and it's a bust. SE wind driving seaweed and waves straight onto the beach, sand is 1/3 the width I've seen it before, few people. Pic. Did see one nice-looking woman in a bikini. 15-20 boats anchored here, all looking very unhappy as they pitch and roll in the waves. A cruiser on the net this morning was complaining that the weather forecast says N swells, but here they're getting SE waves.
Walked down the beach a bit, back onto the road, to the bridge, back up the main road. Found a small supermarket open, prices surprisingly reasonable, bought a load of groceries. Back to the boat. Hot.
Gave myself a little bit of a haircut.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Very still night. Started to get a small breeze around 2 AM. Decent wind started at 4 AM. Headachey and didn't sleep well; took a paracetamol in the early AM.
2015-04-28 (Tuesday)At anchor at The Lagoon, St Martin.
Headachey. Took a sumatriptan.
Headed ashore before 10. To fuel dock for $5 worth of gasoline. Chatted with David from "Haymede" for a minute; like most other boats, they're heading south soon. To Lagoon Marina. Office says open but is locked, found manager, found out they've discontinued the huge book-exchange they have in there, they got tired of it so just locked it up. To Napa Auto and bought two gallons of engine oil. To supermarket and bought groceries. Back to boat. Hot and not feeling very well.
Engine start at 11:50. Anchor up in 5 minutes or so; it was holding better than I thought. Through the anchorage, around to French side. Of course I met a very wide tour boat right at the narrowest point of the channel, and they don't have any markers on this part any more. Got through there, anchor down by 12:15 at The Lagoon, St Martin.
Got a bit of free Wi-Fi, but it's very flaky.
Not feeling good. A bit headachey, a bit weak, maybe a bit dehydrated. I think this hot and very humid weather is doing it to me. Wondering if I shouldn't leave tomorrow. Finally decided to try going. If I wake up tomorrow morning feeling terrible, I'll stay and check back in.
And the wind in here this afternoon has been S and SSW, not the forecast SE. Not so good for going WNW to the BVI's.
Ashore at 3 to the Capitainerie, and checked out. Cost €6. Back to boat. Took a paracetamol.
Timed the bridge opening perfectly. Engine start at 5:22, anchor up at 5:30, I'm a hundred yards from the bridge, bridge started opening a minute later. Three boats ahead of me, and they went through very slowly, so slowly I was afraid the catamaran in front of me would stop and I'd lose control in the narrow channel. I tried calling them on the VHF, but they weren't listening. And they were waving to people on the banks ! Finally got through, past impatient boats waiting to come in. And a few minutes later, heard the bridge tender telling those boats to speed up, too. The bridge was open for a long time.
Out and quickly around to anchor by 5:45 in about 5 feet of water at Marigot Bay, St Martin.
Wind more SE and SSE out here; nice.
Not much appetite, but I bought food today that has to be cooked, so did so. Spaghetti and a cranberryjuice for dinner. Appetite revived a bit by the time the food was cooked.
Took a Neobrufen. During the night, took a sumtriptan. Slept fitfully.
2015-04-29 (Wednesday)At anchor at The Lagoon, St Martin.
Up at 5:40. Feeling okay, but maybe it's the pills. Wind is right. Decide to go.
Engine start at 6:10, anchor up by 6:20, unfurled mainsail, motored out.
Around the corner and heading W. Seas very flat, but I'm still in shelter of island.
Soon realize I've miscalculated the distance again (did this on the Antigua-to-StMartin hop, too). I guess my brain hasn't been working very well recently. This trip will be more like 90 NM, not the 120 I had thought. Good and bad news: shorter trip, but I'll arrive in dark. Shouldn't be a problem: easy harbor, I've been there before, there will some moon.
Bilge pump isn't working. Fuse looks bad. Replaced it, pump still doesn't work. Left it powered on, and half an hour later found it had turned on and emptied the bilge. A relief.
Hazy day. By 8:15, St Martin has faded from view. Even the clouds are hazy and indistinct. Makes for hard steering; I like to pick an aiming point ahead or behind, and lie down and make little steering adjustments now and then. Easier than craning my neck to look at the compass. But today there's nothing to aim at. And partly-following seas are slewing the boat around a bit.
Passed a fishing boat, saw several cruising boats going all different directions.
At 10:15, stopped engine and checked the oil leak and the oil level.
At 1:30, another sailboat also heading W passed me, probably doing 3 knots more than me. Our courses crossed, and I realized their course was right, I was heading too north. Started following them, which makes for an easy point to aim at. But the new course brings the seas more onto the beam, and I think the seas have changed from SE to a little more S. More rolling; uncomfortable.
Took a Neobrufen.
By 2:45, sailboat ahead is out of sight, all clouds have disappeared, the world is just uniform sky everywhere, uniform water everywhere, sun mostly overhead. I can use wind-angle to guide steering a bit, but have to do lots of looking at the compass.
At 2:45, stopped engine and checked the oil leak and the oil level. Added about a quart of oil.
Sun coming down in front of me, so I can use that as a bit of a steering point. But looking into the sunlight is not helping.
Getting tired and headachey. Had some leftover spaghetti for dinner.
At 6:50, stopped engine and checked the oil leak and the oil level. Added about a quart of oil.
And suddenly, things are much worse. Sun went down into the haze long before getting to the horizon, soon it was dark, waves seemed rougher, more rolling, wind lighter so sail isn't steadying the boat as much. I have to turn on the cockpit light to see the compass, so now I mostly can't see out of the cockpit to see the horizon and the waves. Start feeling queasy. Adjusting the sail steadies the boat a little more.
At 8 or so, take a paracetamol and soon feel a bit better. But head and stomach still aren't good.
At 8:40, suddenly feel nauseous, and soon vomit until all of dinner is gone.
Chugging on and on. Feel a little better when I see some light-loom of islands on the horizon ahead. But they're still a long way away.
Eventually start closing on the S end of Virgin Gorda, and I can see some lights on land. Checking the GPS frequently; there's some nasty stuff on the south end. But I'm coming in from a safe angle. And soon I can see the flashing light on Ginger Island, marking the entrance I'll use.
Up and into the Round Rock Passage. Everything agrees: GPS, flashing light, eyeing it in the moonlight. And it's a fairly wide passage. Still a bit nervous as I ease up and through by 11:30. Into calmer water.
Head N up the W side of Virgin Gorda. Watching out for fishing boats and other traffic, but there's nothing. Approach town. Furl the mainsail. Ease forward, and find the shallow coral-head area starting further out than I expect. Anchor down by 12:35 at Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
A relief. Straighten the boat a little, close things up after the passage, drink a lot of water, relax. Soon into bed, and sleep decently.
Lessons from this trip: be more careful when calculating distance and time, don't leave when feeling a bit sick, wait for less S in the weather when going W, get an auto-pilot. Of course, I knew all those things already. But I arrived safely, and nothing broke on the boat.
2015-04-30 (Thursday)At anchor at Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
Launch the dinghy, finding that a bolt is coming loose out of a davit. Ashore and to the officials by 8:15 or so, but they don't open until 8:30. Then back and forth among 4 windows. And the fees here are outrageous: $1 to Immigration, $13.88 to Customs, $44 to Port Authority. Looks like departure will cost another $5, and maybe there are other fees to come. But going past BVI last night to get to USVI would have taken a couple more hours of travel, and last night I would have paid any price to avoid that. Back to boat by 9:20, and try to nap.
Went ashore in early afternoon. Marine store no longer does Wi-Fi, but I exchanged half a dozen books at their bookshelf. Stopped at marina office, and they kindly gave me the Wi-Fi password even though I'm anchored out. To a restaurant to do Wi-Fi. Nice to do 2 hours of reasonable fast Wi-Fi, and I was amazed that the bill for that and a Sprite was only $2. In such a high-priced place, I was expecting $5.
Had been planning to do a bit of snorkeling here in the BVI. But online, people are saying there's a big bloom of small jellyfish or something, from Guadeloupe up through the BVI and USVI, and people are getting stung a lot.
Salad and leftover spaghetti and a light rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Slept well, although this anchorage is a bit rolly at times.
2015-05-01 (Friday)At anchor at Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
Wi-Fi access from the boat, using password I got yesterday. Nice.
Went to fix missing nut on a bolt on the port davit, and found that cross-piece has broken welds at both ends, and a sheared-off bolt on the starboard end. Fixed bolts/nuts on both ends, but the cross-piece needs to go to a welding shop.
Online, after much back-and-forth, booked a flight from San Juan to Philadelphia on the 28th.
Went ashore in midafternoon. Disposed of garbage. Bought groceries. Hot. Back to boat.
Four-foot-long barracuda hanging around under my boat.
Salad and chili and a light rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Starting at 3:15 AM, pretty rolly and uncomfortable.
2015-05-02 (Saturday)At anchor at Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
Looking at flights from Philadelphia to Barcelona in July/September. Airfares are 40% higher than last time ! About $1450 round-trip.
Went ashore in midafternoon. Nice to get off the boat, which still is fairly rolly. To the restaurant to do Wi-Fi.
Realizing I'm going to have a problem when checking in to USVI and Puerto Rico. It used to be that you could just go ashore to the officials. But apparently now, this is forbidden, and you MUST phone-call first, and give your Local Boater Option number. I don't have either a phone or an LBO number. If I get Wi-Fi from the boat when I arrive, I could Skype-call. But I doubt there will be free Wi-Fi where I need it. Online, just ordered a LBO decal (for $27.50), but it's going to be mailed to my address in New Jersey, and I don't know if I can find out the decal number online.
Further messaging on the Culebra Facebook group, and it looks like I can go ashore to officials in USVI, but have to call first in Culebra.
Salad and leftover chili and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-03 (Sunday)At anchor at Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
Lowered the mainsail and checked the halyard; no problems.
In midafternoon, dinghied ashore. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Wi-Fi not working at the restaurant. Bought chicken at the supermarket. Back to the boat. A lot of effort for little result.
Salad and chicken-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Headachey in early AM; took a Neobrufen. And boat is rolly again, too, which doesn't help.
2015-05-04 (Monday)At anchor at Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Today is my 14-year anniversary of owning and living on Magnolia ! It's been good much of the time, but I've had more than enough of it by now.
Engine start at 8:45. Anchor up by 8:55 in windy conditions; also took about 5 minutes to get the mainsail unfurled. Then headed due west.
Nice romp, straight downwind and down-swell, down the Sir Francis Drake Channel, along the S coast of Tortola. Fair amount of traffic out, and had to keep a sharp eye on the steering so I didn't accidentally jibe.
A bit of a choke-point at Soper's Hole, but got through there okay. Nice beam-reach up to Jost, into harbor, found nice shallow area on the E side, anchor down by 1:05 at Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands.
Nice to be in a non-rolly anchorage again.
Pretty good film of Sahara dust on my solar panels.
Salad and leftover chicken-cabbage-rice and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Calm night; slept well.
Except: at 12:15, suddenly the wind has flipped and started blowing a bit strongly from the N or NW. I jump out of bed and run up onto deck, to find myself swinging two feet from a smallish anchored sailboat, with the guy on board at the stern. I start the engine, and he yells a warning that I'm over his stern anchor. That's the problem: I knew he was on two bow anchors, but didn't see that he also was on a stern anchor, pinning him in place. His boat didn't move an inch when the wind flipped.
I go to the bow and pull in some chain by hand, to move myself away from his stern before using the engine. Fortunately conditions are easy: the wind isn't very strong, there's a full moon out, and my anchor and chain are down in very shallow water. Motor away from him a little, but my anchor is down close to his stern, and I can't get there safely in this wind direction. I pull in some more chain, then the wind changes a bit and I'm able to get near him and raise my anchor. I motor a little more N, probably into shallower water, but don't run aground. Soon have anchor down with less chain out. Engine off.
I sit in the cockpit for a half hour or more, listening to MP3s and watching how the boats swing and the wind changes, making sure I'm okay. Then back to bed.
2015-05-05 (Tuesday)At anchor at Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands.
Added oil to engine; I think it's burning a lot now. Launched dinghy and went ashore around 9:45. Into the officials, out 5 minutes later and only $1 lighter. Back to boat by 10.
Engine start at 10:10. No problem getting anchor up and motoring out, but a bit of a problem getting the mainsail out. The outhaul decided to wrap around the end of the boom a bit. Got that sorted, and headed SSW.
Nice downwind motor-sail to the NW corner of St John. A little confusing to find the gap I wanted to go through, but got to it. Down past Caneel Bay, furled the main, into Cruz Bay. Relieved to find a spot to anchor in the transient/check-in area; having to anchor outside would have been a pain. Anchor down by 11:45 at Cruz Bay, US Virgin Islands.
Launched dinghy again, went in to officials a little after noon. Fill out a form, run stuff through the computer, done with no charge, easy.
Asked the official about my DTOPS / Customs decal, to see if he could look up the number for me, but he said "that's a Puerto Rico thing, we don't use those, we have no access to that here".
Went out and into the Post Office. Lunchtime, so a long line, but it suddenly melted away when the guy fetching packages came out of the back room. So not too bad. Mailed my letter. Back to boat.
Quick lunch, add oil to engine, engine start at 1. Motored out. Incredibly rough and rolly going SW across Pillsbury Sound. It's always lumpy here, with a zillion ferries going across. But today there are huge long-period rollers coming up from the SE, probably some kind of SE swell hitting a south-setting tidal current in here or something. Nasty.
Finally got into the shelter of James Island, and through Current Cut. Christmas Cove pretty darn full, but I'm not going there. West down to Benner Bay, and it's a fairly rough trip. Anxious about finding space inside; it's always jammed, full of extremely shallow spots, and there's no good alternative anywhere close. 1.5 miles back upwind and up-swell to Christmas Cove, or another 5+ miles down to Charlotte Amelie.
As I head in, here comes an enormous dinghy-tour group, or two of them. About a dozen dinghies coming out. Fortunately they all stay to one side or the other. As I go in, watching out for them, I'm also looking for anywhere I could wedge the boat into a spot, if there's nothing inside. I see a couple of maybe tolerable spots.
Get inside, and it's even more crowded than last time I was here. Have to practically put my bow on a marina dock to make an upwind U-turn. Make a quick decision, loop down west of last marker on the main channel, nestle up behind two anchored boats. Water looks about 1 foot deep here, but I don't run aground, and anchor down by 2:20 at Benner Bay, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands. The guy next to me on "Paramour" says he draws 4.5 feet, and I draw 3.5, so I should have no problem. Was a little worried that my stern would swing out and block the channel branch heading west from the main intersection, but the (light) wind is holding me parallel to it. Nice and calm here; I'm relieved to have found a spot.
Got some free Wi-Fi from the boat. Too bad I'm planning to stay here only one night.
Email from DTOPS says my Customs decal will take 2-4 weeks to process, and they won't even know the number until that's complete. So we'll see what happens when I enter Puerto Rico at Culebra.
Went ashore in late afternoon, stopping to chat with the guy next door for a minute. He says every now and then the water-cops chase him out of this anchoring spot, claiming he's in a channel (nonsense). He says it's a case of "boating while white".
Ashore, it looks like everything is unchanged from 6 years ago, except that the half-demolished marina where I used to hang out is now a new leased-slip marina. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Exchanged a couple of books. Bought a shaft zinc in Budget Marine. Walked out to the supermarket and bought a load of groceries. Back to the boat.
Salad and spaghetti and a rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Lovely calm night. This is the most sheltered harbor you'll find just about anywhere.
2015-05-06 (Wednesday)At anchor at Benner Bay, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
Headachey; took a paracetamol-plus.
Found some broken wooden mounts on the solar panels.
Engine start at 10, anchor up in 5 minutes with lots of seaweed on the chain, motored out through the channel. Out and straight upwind into large seas; the first half-mile is the wrong way, until I can turn the point. And I'll have to unfurl the mainsail at the turn, which may be exciting.
But miraculously, up at the point, I managed to unfurl the mainsail in one shot without the bow blowing off to either side. Turned and started heading west. Big seas from the ESE, wind almost dead astern, tricky steering. Other boats out here having a rough time of it too. Glad I'm going west, not east.
Easy romp along the S side of St Thomas, watching the main harbor go past. Past SW corner of Water Island, turned NW, and got out of the worst of the seas. I can see Culebra, 16 miles or so to the west. [Wrong; I was seeing some much smaller and closer island.]
Down around the W end of the airport, with a smallish plane landing a couple hundred yards ahead of me, then another a couple hundred yards behind me as I was past the end of the runway.
Relieved to see lots of other boats anchored here; I'd heard some vague report of not being allowed to anchor here any more. Pretty windy in here. Had some trouble furling the mainsail, but got it done.
Tried anchoring on the N side, but water that looked 10-15 deep turned out to be 25+. So headed up to the SE corner, and anchored in about 5-7 feet of water; nice. Anchor down by 12:15 at Brewers Bay, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
Free Wi-Fi from the nearby UVI college ! Briefly saw a Wi-Fi network from a plane as it landed.
Used JB Weld on the wooden solar panel mounts.
Online, got my DTOPS decal number. Just in time for Culebra tomorrow.
Salad and leftover spaghetti and cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-07 (Thursday)At anchor at Brewers Bay, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
Engine start at 7:30. Anchor up easily, motored out, rounded up and unfurled the mainsail. Motor-sailed west.
As soon as I'm out of shelter, the big swells start coming in from the SE, shoving the stern around, making it hard to steer. And wind is almost dead astern; have to watch out for accidental gybe. Windier and rougher than I expected. But it's all pushing me the right direction.
Very hazy today, with Sahara dust, I think; St Thomas fading out before Culebra starts fading in. But no problems, good points to steer by. Halfway across, I'm practically surfing down big SE and ESE swells.
As I get very close to Culebrita at 10 AM, the swells pile up and get bigger, and the last 1/4 mile is a bit tricky. But soon I'm rounding the north end of Culebrita, and into flat water by 10:15. Now I have a chance to use the head and drink some water; on the passage, I didn't dare leave the steering for more than 5 seconds.
For a while I'm heading almost straight into the wind, slowing progress and making the mainsail flog a bit. But then the wind is more and more on the beam as I round the SE corner of Culebra, then back on the stern as I head in to the main entrance.
Up the length of the harbor, a bit of trouble furling the mainsail, then anchor down by 11:25 at Ensenada Honda, Culebra. Nice spot close to town.
Signed up for a week of Wi-Fi ($15), fired up Skype, and tried to call the officials to clear in. One phone number didn't connect. The other did, but they had a lot of trouble hearing me. At first, they said "you'll have to go to the airport to clear in", but then the connection got a little better and they started taking my info. It was painful, with the connection fading in and out. Got most of the way through and the call dropped. Called back, connection was better, eventually got it done. They gave me some registration number that will smooth things next time, then an 18-digit "release number" representing this clearance. Took 25 minutes to get it all done.
Around 3, launched the dinghy, pumped up the tubes, loaded it up with lots of stuff. Started the outboard and it ran okay. Put it in gear, got about 20 feet from the boat, and it quit. Tied onto the side of the boat and just could not get the outboard to start again. Moved to the stern, unloaded the dinghy a bit, took the carb off the outboard. Took it up into the cockpit, opened it up, cleaned some crud out of the bowl. Put it back on the motor, and it started. Loaded up the dinghy and headed ashore.
To the town dock (I'm anchored pretty close to it). Asked for directions to a doctor's office I'd heard about. On the way, saw I guy I knew 6 years ago in Benner Bay, and he seemed to recognize me, but he was going somewhere on a bicycle and didn't stop.
Found doctor's office, asked about tests to get a visa letter to Spain. The doctor is very cooperative, no charge for a letter, but he wrote a prescription for about a dozen blood tests, cost maybe $200, and the clinic here does them on only Tuesdays and Thursdays, and it's not clear who would carry the results to the doctor's office. I'm planning to be here only a week.
Gift shop that had a big book-exchange is closed, looks like it's out of business. Found the (new) library, and exchanged 9 of my books for 3 of theirs on a book-exchange outside the library proper. To grocery store for a couple of items.
Saw this sign on a small unremarkable side-street, maybe 20 feet up from sea-level: pic. I wonder how much has been spent to put these up ? I can't think of anything unusual about this location, except it is along an ocean-facing channel or creek, perhaps slightly funnel-shaped ?
Directed to one health clinic, turned out to be wrong one. I need to go to the other clinic, which is the hospital, and it's up a steep hill. Not today.
Back to dinghy, up shallow channel, to gas station. Bought 5.8 liters of gasoline for $5 (didn't want to get quite so much, but I didn't realize the price per gallon was so low). Outboard ran poorly on the way back; just would not throttle up much without trying to quit. But got back to the boat. Wind has died down a bit now; it was blowing hard when I first went ashore.
Salad and chili and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-08 (Friday)At anchor at Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Did a bucket of laundry.
This afternoon, my Wi-Fi service, which I paid money for, isn't working. Connects and never gives me the login page. But I found a free network to use for a while.
Looked at the outboard, intending to clean out the fuel pump. But after pumping out a little maybe-bad gas, it ran fine, and I put it in gear and throttled up and used it to push the boat a bit, and it ran fine. Strange. Let it sit for 10 minutes, did it again, no problem. So why wouldn't it throttle up yesterday afternoon on the way back to the boat ?
In late afternoon, went snorkeling under the boat and put the new zinc on the prop shaft. Fairly strong wind, some currents, boat moving around a bit, made it a little challenging. Took a couple of tries; got it done.
John from "Buddy" passed by and said hi; haven't seen him in 6 years or so. But he was picking someone up and I was swimming, so we didn't have a chance to chat.
Salad and leftover chili and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. I think I found a reason for one or two of my recent headaches: latest bottle of rum is 85% alcohol by volume (not 85 proof; 85 percent). So if I pour a little heavy, I get a pretty big dose. Usually I have 70% rum (not much lighter, I guess). But I think most of my headaches are due more to some stress, the weather, dehydration, migraines.
Online in the early AM hours, made my flight reservations for going to Barcelona. Will be there all of July, August, September. Ticket prices are high: $1440 round-trip. But that's for nonstops on the dates I want (other dates weren't any cheaper) from the most convenient airport for me (Philadelphia), so not too horrible. I guess part of it is the summer vacation season, but also I heard a podcast saying airline consolidation has reduced competition. They're probably going to stick me in center seats; they want another $99 to give me an aisle seat.
2015-05-09 (Saturday)At anchor at Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Paid Wi-Fi still not working.
Lots of thick grey clouds going over, but no rain. It's been a while since any rain; would be nice to get some to wash off the boat a bit. Tiny bit of rain at 9:30.
Ashore at 3 or so. Disposed of several bags of garbage. One grocery store closed. Got cash at ATM. Groceries at Milka's. Back to the boat. Outboard ran fine there and back.
Paid Wi-Fi is working again. Was down for about 24 hours. My service ticket got a response apologizing for the outage, and blaming it on island-wide power outage (not true) or phone outage (doubtfull). Other Wi-Fi networks were up.
Salad and chili and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-10 (Sunday)At anchor at Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Headache before dawn; took a paracetamol. Later, took a sumatriptan.
Wind really blowing hard today.
Around 6 PM, paid Wi-Fi failing again. But the free Wi-Fi is failing, too.
Salad and leftover chili and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-11 (Monday)At anchor at Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Around 10:30, went ashore through very windy conditions. Disposed of a couple of bags of garbage.
To the hospital to find out about blood tests for my Spain visa application. Have to go at 7:30 AM tomorrow, no fasting required, total cost will be about $160 (I was expecting worse), results in a week or so, they'll send results to both the doctor and to me if I wish. All good !
Cute chicken-family on sidewalk: pic.
To the police station to ask about fingerprinting for my Spain visa application. The news is bad: they don't do it here any more, since they've changed from ink to electronic. Have to go to Fajardo or somewhere else. And even there, I don't think I'd get a printed card I could mail to a "channeler".
To the marine store, and bought an equivalent of JB Weld epoxy. To the library, to find out the charge for printing. To the grocery store, for food. Back to the boat. Outboard ran fine both ways.
Online, found out some more about the fingerprinting business. I may have to do it myself.
Ashore again in midafternoon. Outboard quit 50 feet from the boat. Paddled back, pumped out some maybe-bad gas, ran fine after that. To the library, wasn't able to get my laptop working with their printers, but used their computer and printed fingerprint and background-check forms. Exchanged three books for one.
To two grocery stores and the marine store, but no ink-pads available. I'm told there's a school-supply store on the other side of the harbor. To the police station, showed them the fingerprint form, all I want them to do is ink my fingerprints onto it, but no go. Nice street art: pic. Back to the boat, outboard running fine.
Salad and chicken-onion-cabbage-rice and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-12 (Tuesday)At anchor at Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Up at 6:30, to the hospital by 7:25. Waited, got to the receptionist by 7:45. She's very helpful, but it turns out I was given some wrong info yesterday. The person yesterday said $160, but didn't tell me that she wasn't able to look up a couple of the tests; the real total is $208. No problem, paid it. The usual awkwardness when giving information: I have no local address, no local emergency contact, etc.
By 8, waiting outside the laboratory. Had to sign up there, and found out the real bad news: I was supposed to fast before these tests. Dammit, I specifically asked that yesterday, and was told the wrong thing (but I should have guessed that, and fasted anyway). Maybe it was an English/Spanish problem. Can't do the tests today; have to come back again Thursday morning. Back to the boat by 8:30.
Around 10, back into the dinghy. Long, rough, wet, windy ride across the harbor. Found a little dock to land at, but it was missing a lot of cross-boards. To the street, walked SE, asked someone for direction to the school-supply store that's supposed to be over here. He didn't speak English, and seemed to say it is closed. He directed me to the hardware store near the airport.
So I made the longish, hot walk down to there. No ink-pads there, but the guy there said the school-supply store does exist, it's open 3 PM to 9 PM. Walked back up past the dinghy, and found the store about 200 feet past where I talked to the first guy; I would have been better off not talking to him. It's open 4 PM to 8 PM. Looks small; doubt they'll have what I want.
Back to dinghy, back to boat. Outboard ran fine both ways.
I'm thinking of taking the ferry to Fajardo tomorrow to get fingerprints done at a police station. But online I can't find the address or a decent map. There's little info about the police, and it's in Spanish.
Around 4:30, into the dinghy and headed across the harbor to the school-supply store. Very windy and rough. Outboard ran fine. Picked a nicer dock this time. Got near and realized I'd forgotten to bring my sandals. Walked barefoot up the sidewalk. Lots of construction over here, lots of pebbles on the sidewalk.
Got to the store at 4:37 and the lady was just arriving to open it up. Gave her a few minutes, went in, and she has no ink-pads. As I suspected, only about two shelves of school supplies, the rest is T-shirts and jewelry and perfume and trinkets.
Back across the harbor to the boat; wind has eased a bit. But outboard is not running well. Grabbed my sandals, headed to the town dock, outboard really limping now. Walked to the police station, this time the guy at the front desk doesn't speak good English. I tell him I need the address to go to in Fajardo, but instead he gives me the name of the place and a bunch of phone numbers. No address, no street name, no map, can't tell me the price for fingerprinting. And of course they're open from 8-4, so it's too late to call them today and will be too early tomorrow before the ferry goes.
To a grocery store to get a few things. At the dock, pumped out a little maybe-bad gas, and outboard ran fine back to the boat.
Online, tried Skyping one of the phone numbers the policeman gave me, and got someone who spoke no English. Searching on those phone numbers doesn't give any addresses. Eventually got a useful answer from a cruiser on Facebook's Culebra Cruiser's group.
Salad and leftover chicken-rice and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-13 (Wednesday)At anchor at Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Up at 5:30. A little headachey; take a paracetamol-plus. Ashore a little after 6, to the ferry dock. Turns out the schedules on the two web sites I checked are wrong; passenger ferry left at 6, not 6:30. But there's a cargo/passenger ferry at 6:30, so I took that. Round-trip $4.50. Sat outside, upstairs.
Nice trip, cloudy enough to keep the sun off, downwind and down-swell, except that we're smelling the boat's exhaust a fair bit. Nice long conversation with a guy named Jay. Ex-Navy, ex-Customs, former software developer, now retired and has a house here, has visited a lot of interesting places. I eat a PBJ sandwich for breakfast.
And when we arrived in Fajardo, Jay offered to give me a ride to the police station, which I accepted. He and his friend Mike dropped me off and pointed to the right building. Got there about 8:35, waited 15 minutes as the office sorted itself out, finally got in to the "technical services" office, which is just one room with half a dozen officers in it. And a LiveScan fingerprinting computer.
The usual awkwardness when giving information: I have no local address. A small hit to my ego: cop looked at me and wrote down my hair-color as "grey"; first time that's happened. Then a little strange: instead of just putting all of my fingers down simultaneously on the scanner, it's exactly like the old ink-and-paper method, except without the ink and paper. The officer grasped each of my fingers one at a time and rolled it on the scanner plate. Finally printed out two copies on FBI fingerprint forms. No charge ! Done by 9:05.
A ferry just left at 9; next one is at 3, so I have some time to kill. Walked up to the highway and found a KMart. Nice shiny store, picked up a hat and a propane camp-stove, but paying at the cashier took forever, at least 20 minutes as the supervisor had to go back and forth among the registers fixing issues.
Over to the snack bar inside the KMart, had a soda, and filled out the background-check forms, then read my book for a little while. Back down the street to the post office, got an envelope, mailed forms and fingerprints to an "FBI channeler" company to do the background check.
Wandered around central Fajardo for a while. Nice main plaza, some guys playing dominoes, nice fountain: pic. Wanted a burrito or something for lunch, but had to settle for a big calzone, lots of bread and cheese and tomato sauce but not much filling.
Sat a little while in another plaza, then into the bus terminal around 1:30. And it's a fiasco in there; no one can tell me where to get the publico back to the ferry dock, which is supposed to cost $2. And taxi guys are trying to get me to pay $10 for a ride. One guy directs me to wait in a certain place, I wait for a while, talk to some other people, go back to the guy, he admits he doesn't know anything about the publico to the ferry. I give up, head to Tourist Info at the main plaza. They want to send me back to the bus terminal, then want to call a taxi for me. Eventually they come up with a decent map, and I decide to walk it.
A hot 2-mile walk, straightforward but long and a bit anxious as I'm not sure what time it is; my watch is buried somewhere in my bag. Halfway there, a publico passes me. Get to the ferry terminal, can't see any clock in there as I hustle through, make it onto the boat with 9 minutes to spare. Overheated, grab a seat right under a blasting air-conditioner.
Boat undocks. This is the passenger ferry, several knots faster than the cargo ferry, and now we're going against the seas, so it's a rougher ride. But I just take a Neobrufen, eat some cookies, snooze, put on a jacket when I get cold, snooze some more.
We dock at Culebra. Through the crowds, over to the town dock, into the dinghy, back to the boat by 4:50.
Salad and a grapefruit for dinner. And then start my fast before tomorrow's blood tests.
2015-05-14 (Thursday)At anchor at Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Wind has eased a bit. Maybe I'll leave here tomorrow.
Ashore at 7, to hospital. A little delay as I was waiting unnecessarily in the wrong place. Then in to the laboratory, and things went quickly. Drew a big vial of blood, gave a urine sample, punctured for a TB test. Then told I have to come back on Saturday, to Emergency, to have someone read the result of my TB test. So I guess I'm not leaving tomorrow. Back to the boat.
Went ashore in late afternoon. Got cash from ATM, got a few groceries.
Salad and spaghetti and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
Wind swinging more E now, instead of SE. Then a very still night.
2015-05-15 (Friday)At anchor at Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Did a small bucket of laundry.
Skype-called Dora in Spain.
At the last minute, managed to construct an email address at the Spanish consulate in New York City and get someone to respond ! I've been trying this for about a year now; they never respond.
Salad and leftover spaghetti and a very light warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-16 (Saturday)At anchor at Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Grey and wind coming from various directions, sometimes no wind. Sun later.
Online, looked at forecast, decided to stay here another day or two. No hurry, and in this weather, it's going to be sweltering-hot in Salinas harbor.
Ashore in mid-morning. To hospital Emergency, to have my TB test result read (took two seconds; no bump on my arm). To library to exchange 3 books for 1 at the shelf outside. To grocery store for a few items. Back to boat. Light wind slowly clocking around; hot.
Rain at noon-thirty. Cooler and very grey all afternoon. Often no wind, boats pointing all directions. [Later, heard that St Thomas had near-record rain today: almost 4 inches of rain !]
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-17 (Sunday)At anchor at Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Grey, humid, little wind.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-18 (Monday)At anchor at Ensenada Honda, Culebra.
Clear and sunny weather.
Headachey; took a Neobrufen.
Engine start at 10:40. Anchor chain stuck to something hard on the bottom; took a bit of to-and-fro to get it loose. Anchor up by 10:50 and started motoring out.
Halfway up the harbor, unfurled the mainsail. Out through the narrow entrance, and turned SW toward Vieques. Very mild conditions, light and variable wind, 1-foot seas coming from both SE and N.
At 11:35, suddenly the mainsail has come down and is trailing overboard. Dammit ! I took it down and checked the halyard not 5 days ago, and checked briefly again when putting it back up about 2 days ago.
Put engine in neutral, pull the sail out of the water, start lashing it up on deck. Get it up off the solar panels, and suddenly see what happened. Because of the very light wind, the sail came almost straight down, and the heavy furling-swivel at the head of it landed right on the forward solar panel, destroying it. Pic. Wonderful. One of the few things on the boat that's been working perfectly.
And what failed was not the halyard. The swivel was attached to the halyard with a clevis pin, with a cotter pin through the end of it. Somehow the cotter pin must have come out or been pulled out, the clevis pin came half out, then one of the flanges on the swivel bent until the halyard came off the clevis pin. Pic. I can't remember specifically checking that cotter pin a few days ago; I was checking the halyard. But I would have noticed if the pin was missing.
Sharp shards of glass on the side deck and top of the pilothouse; soon I'm punctured on my heel and on one hand. Get the sail tied up, glass out of my skin, put engine in gear, keep going.
Easy trip along N side of Vieques, just having to watch out for a couple of reefs. Smelling a lot of engine exhaust, with this light following wind.
Engine stop at 2:40. Recovered leaked engine oil, added about 2 quarts to the engine. Must be burning it. Engine start at 2:55.
Eventually get to NW corner of Vieques. Ease across the shallow diagonal reef here, probably through 6 feet or less of water. A relief to turn toward the anchorage. In and anchor down by 4:50 at Green Beach, Vieques.
Three other sailboats here, further S. And one powerboat left as I was coming in.
I strap a bunch of clear packing tape over the broken solar panel, trying to keep it from coming apart more, and maybe it will still produce power. But I do only about 1/4 of the panel before stopping; the glass is cracked and shattered along 1/2 or more of the length of the panel. Sweep up shards of glass from the roof and the deck and wash them overboard.
Salad and tuna sandwiches for dinner.
Quiet night, a bit rolly at times when the light breeze went E.
2015-05-19 (Tuesday)At anchor at Green Beach, Vieques.
A little headachey; took a paracetamol.
Climbed the mainmast at 9:15. Had to go to top, down, then halfway up again because I forgot to take a line with me. Got the end of the main halyard down. So now if the engine quits, I'll be able to put a sail up.
Added more than a quart of oil to the engine; this is getting really bad. Engine start at 10:25, anchor up 5 minutes later, motored west.
Slow, uneventful motor-trip, going across SE corner of Puerto Rico and then down the S side of it. Only saw one motorboat fishing off the SE, another motorboat going E on the S side, all day. A dozen huge wind-generators on the SE corner of the island, barely turning in today's light wind.
Engine stop at 1:15; added a quart of oil, started again at 1:30.
Wind picking up, maybe 10-12 from the E.
Slightly tricky entrance, around a reef with visibility not so easy. Then dodged an unmarked, hard-to-see shoal in the middle of the anchorage. Anchor down by 4:15 at Puerto Patillas, Puerto Rico. Three other sailboats here; only one looks occupied.
As I circled to anchor, I saw that I have oil coming out the exhaust and floating on the water. The engine isn't burning it so much as putting it out the exhaust. So not piston rings so much as ... what ? Head gasket ? I don't see oil in the coolant, so I don't think it's the fresh water pump. (Although I am losing coolant; I assumed a leak in the heat-exchanger.) I don't think the exhaust manifold has any contact with the oil system. Maybe a bad sleeve on an exhaust-valve ?
Took a sumatriptan. Got a little free Wi-Fi.
Salad and a very light rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Very quiet night, after some music ashore stopped. Warm and little wind.
2015-05-20 (Wednesday)At anchor at Puerto Patillas, Puerto Rico.
Did a bucket of laundry.
By mid-morning, wind blowing pretty hard, maybe 15+, from the SE. Not according to the forecast, which was more like E 8.
Nice couple from cataraman "Polaris" stopped by to say hi on their way ashore. They're hoping to go E to Vieques and then SSW down to the ABC's for hurricane season.
Laptop charger has stopped working again.
Online for a little while. One reader suggested the oil cooler is the problem. Good idea. That thing is 10+ years old, and it has engine oil, raw water, and transmission fluid going through it. Easy to replace.
Stowed the jib down in the main cabin. Pulled out and looked at the secondary anchor chain, but it has a thin section just as the main chain does. Not sure if I'm going to leave the boat on one anchor or two in Salinas.
Salad and a PBJ sandwich and a very light rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-21 (Thursday)At anchor at Puerto Patillas, Puerto Rico.
"Polaris" left around 9:30. They seemed to be going S instead of E to Vieques; I guess they're trying to sail there; not easy in the W-setting current, seas and wind along this coast.
Engine start at 9:45, anchor up about 5 minutes later. Motored out to SW. Pretty rolly with seas coming from SE.
Monotonous trip, few other boats out, hazy day. Fairly rolly at times. Wind slowly strengthening to maybe E 15 knots.
Got rolled viciously a few last times, before getting in through Boca del Infierno cut at 12:55. Engine stop, checked and added 1-2 quarts of oil, start again at 1:05.
Thirty huge wind-generators five miles or so W of the harbor.
Up into harbor, watching out for shoals, water pretty cloudy and hard to read. Lots of boats anchored or moored here, probably half unoccupied. Circled several times before anchor down in very shallow water by 2:20 at Playa Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Ashore in late afternoon. Not much has changed here in the 6-7 years since I was here last. The marine store has closed; that's not good. Disposed of some garbage. Used the book-exchange at the marina. Got a few groceries at the tiny grocery store, which seems to be mostly a slot-machine and lottery-ticket place. Back to the boat.
Salad and chili and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-22 (Friday)At anchor at Playa Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Went ashore to marina at 1, to do Wi-Fi etc. Prices are cheap here; $1.61 for a Seven-Up.
Chatted with some cruisers, Mike and Karen, and Tony. Pumped them for all the info I could get. Mike and Karen on "Drifter" have been cruising for 18 years, mostly living here, recently returned from several months in Grenada. They own a house and car here.
Dominoes here Wed at 1 and Sunday at 1 !
As expected, still no good way to get from here to San Juan airport. They said a liveaboard named "Corky" might drive me up for money. They said about a dozen cruisers flew out last week; I missed the crowd.
We talked a bit about selling a boat, and it was very discouraging. Apparently Mike and Karen have a 45-foot sailboat, loaded with equipment, everything works fine, they have about $300K invested in it over the years, they'd sort of like to sell, and Mike doubts they could get more than $30K for it. If they got serious about selling, they might take it up to Florida and get more for it there. By that standard, my boat is worth about zero.
They said the marine store has moved; it's still open, somewhere near the high school (I don't know where that is), but prices are high. And yesterday, the Puerto Rico legislature raised the sales tax to 11 percent. Best to order things and have them sent in.
Laptop refuses to see AC adapter; ran out of battery in 30 minutes or less. Back to boat.
Glued solar panel supports with steel-epoxy.
Laptop refuses to charge battery from DC-DC adapter; I tried fiddling with it many times. Could be a serious pain if my laptop has become unusable.
The cruisers I chatted with had said there's little Customs or Coast Guard presence here, and the police are interested only in the jet-skiers. Sure enough, around 3, a police boat has stopped a jet-ski upwind of me. I watch as they drift past me rafted together, no more than about 10 feet off my starboard side. I'm thinking, "typical police boat, overpowered with three 200-HP outboards". Then I realize they are 300-HP outboards. Pic.
At 5:15, started engine and put out second anchor.
Salad and leftover chili and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
2015-05-23 (Saturday)At anchor at Playa Salinas, Puerto Rico.
At 7 AM, tried to hoist and furl mainsail, but the halyard is sticking at the top of the mast. Gave up. Really need to pull the mast and have everything at the top re-done.
Struggled to get the laptop to accept power from the DC-DC power adapter. Gave up, changed to the AC adapter, eventually got that to start charging the battery.
Around 10, went ashore. Disposed of a bag of garbage. Walked through Playa Salinas, looking for any kind of fruit/veg stand, but this place is pretty empty. Just houses and a few bars and restaurants. Some new road construction in progress. A new tourist-info office, but it's closed on a Saturday morning.
Eventually out to the main road and walked to the edge of Salinas, about 1.5 miles from the harbor. Supermarket I used to go to, across from the post office, is out of business and abandoned; I forget if it was open or closed last time I was here. Walked toward the center of Salinas. Stopped at the bus terminal and it's as I expected; no busses to San Juan. This island really could use a nice bus system. Guy hanging around the terminal says there is a "bus", but he means a taxi-van I could call, that would cost about $120.
Into the center, and there's a small weekly fruit/veg market right in the plaza. Three stands all selling mostly the same stuff, and they look a bit artificial, as if they're govt-sponsored or just derived from some wholesaler. But I buy bananas, tomatoes and a cucumber, and am happy to get them. I guess the big supermarkets out on the highway have put everything else out of business, and you really need a car to get to them.
Walk back to the harbor, taking a different route through Playa Salinas, finding nothing much useful to me. Didn't see the marine store. There is a pharmacy and hardware/lumber store.
Chatted with a few cruisers in the marina. They said Corky might not be a safe driver. They pointed me to Louis, who's maybe a security guard here. He said he'd drive me to the airport for $80, and seems pretty reliable. I'll probably do that. He's available only mornings, and only certain days of the week, but his schedule works for me.
Back out to the boat, straight into stiff wind and chop. Can hear a bit of racing from the Salinas speedway.
Huge billowing smoke-cloud from a big fire somewhere just north of the harbor in midafternoon. Went away, happened again, and then again. Strange. [Later, someone said that is just grassy fields being burnt off. Too close to town to be sugar cane fields, I think.]
Ashore again at 5, to check out a bar that supposedly is the cruiser's hangout. Okay place, but only one cruising couple there. Nice bartender (Janso) and his wife, and he's looking to buy a boat to live aboard here, so we started talking about my boat, and his wife looked at my web site to see about my boat. The timing is bad: my boat is a mess, I'm flying out in 5 days, going to be gone for a long time.
Sat with the cruising couple, nice people from Germany who sailed across the Atlantic in 2012, have spent some time in Trinidad, soon heading down to Curacao for hurricane season. They got a local map at Tourist Info, and there's a road I didn't know about, and a (not too short) way to a big supermarket.
Exchanged a couple of books at the bar bookshelf. Janso says maybe Sidney can take me to airport for $50; will have to find him (turns out, that's the Hertz rental guy). Back to boat, got almost there, remembered I wanted to get some meat and cheese at the tiny grocery store. So back ashore for that.
Salad and spaghetti and a warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
2015-05-24 (Sunday)At anchor at Playa Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Started cleaning up the boat a bit. At 9:30 or so, took ashore four bags of garbage and four gallons of used engine oil for disposal. Into the marina office to pay for the oil disposal, fearing a charge of $5/gallon or more. But the charge is 45 cents/gallon. Back to boat, and some more cleaning.
Ashore again before noon, to do some Wi-Fi and then play dominoes. Played with Dick and Jane, Karen, and Pam. I had a pretty rough game, but it was fun. They all were saying how convenient Salinas is for everything, but of course they all have cars here. They're permanent residents at this point, and they all have houses here now.
Dick offered to drive me to the airport on Thursday, but that's a pretty big favor to promise. Well after the game was over, I sat down with his wife Jane, and she immediately said he can't do that. He's 89 years old and his blood-pressure skyrockets when he drives. Then Pam said she'd drive me, but we'll have to rent a car. So I'll take her up on that.
Went to other bar, and Janso said he'd come to see my boat at 10 AM tomorrow.
Salad and leftover spaghetti and a light warm rum-and-DietCoke for dinner.
Bad news: water leaking in from the attachment of the rudder skeg. Maybe when I fixed the rudder shoe while hauled, the bottom of the skeg got tensioned a little more aft, and a leak opened up. Can't think of a way to fix it without hauling out.
2015-05-25 (Monday)At anchor at Playa Salinas, Puerto Rico.
More boat-cleaning. Went ashore at 9 to dispose of 5 bags of garbage, and use the book-exchange.
Janso was supposed to come to see my boat at 10, but he didn't show up. No problem. Did some more cleaning. Boat is cleaner than it's been in 10 years. Pics.
Ashore at noon to do Wi-Fi. Called rental-car place to get a car for Thursday. Saw Janso, he said he didn't close his bar until 4 AM last night, so he slept through our time this morning; will come over at 5 today. Skype-called Dora in Spain.
Back to the boat at 4, through stiff wind.
Janso came over a little after 5, accompanied by Mike from "Drifter" and a local guy I hadn't met, a big guy named Pepito, I think. They walk around on deck for a while. Mike and Janso start pointing out various soft spots on deck, and that the pilothouse is ancient and failing. I have a nice little chat with Pepito about Puerto Rico for a few minutes. Eventually down below to show the engine and such to Janso.
Then Mike and Janso had a lot of disparaging things to say about my boat. They were muttering about "neglected" and that I was "negligent". They had to struggle to avoid being rude. I said "hey, it's a 42-year-old boat", but they weren't having any of that. Janso's boat is just as old, Mike's is 6 years older, and they say both of their boats are "pristine". Well, I don't do "pristine". And maybe that explains why Mike has $300K "invested" in a boat that maybe he could sell for $100K if he's lucky (just guessing). Janso's boat looks to be a 32-foot or so sloop, with he and his wife living on board here for a while, so easier to make it "pristine". I have about $120K "invested" (maybe "sunk" is a better word) in my boat, and I'm not going to put in another $100K to make it "pristine". What would I end up with ? A pristine 42-year-old motor-sailer slow monohull that maybe I could sell for $50K if lucky.
And then Janso is moaning "everything's broken". I don't know why he's surprised, he's come with a print-out of my web page listing everything that's broken and how much it would cost to fix. And he'd told me he wanted a live-aboard boat, which I took to mean "not going to cruise long distances". He seems to think everything has to be fixed to make the boat useful at all; that's not true, and I just cruised for 3-4 months up from Grenada with most stuff in this state (maybe not the smartest thing to do, but I got here). For example, he said the pilothouse has to be torn off and replaced now, which is crazy, it still keeps the rain and sun off just fine, I can even walk on top of the roof (staying away from the edges).
I name an asking price, he won't even hazard an offer price, says he'll talk to his wife, that's that. Not too unexpected.
Salad and tuna sandwiches and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-26 (Tuesday)At anchor at Playa Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Pulled out about 50 pounds of old USA charts to throw away.
Pulled the second bilge pump up out of the bilge and tried to figure out why it's not working. A maze of wiring. Eventually figured out the ground connection has been disconnected; can't see where the other wire end went, maybe it fell down into the bilge. Ran a new temporary ground wire, put pump back down, tested both pumps by flooding the bilge.
Ashore after noon. Disposed of 3-4 bags of garbage and a big pile of charts and chart-books and guides. Walked up to the Tourist Info place, and it was open, but their map is very poor, and the woman couldn't tell me where the marine store has moved to.
Walked back down through Playa Salinas, trying to use the map, trying to find the lumber/hardware store I saw the other day. Got a bit lost, gave up on that, tried to find the long road out to the shopping mall. Some people pointed me in the right direction, then a man pulling out of his driveway offered to drive me. Nice of him, but you have to be careful because you might get a ride 8 miles out to something and then have to walk back. I got in, and soon recognized the route; I came down this road at least once last time I was here. He dropped me off in the huge shopping center, next to the supermarket.
Into the supermarket, which is huge and nice. But had to be careful not to buy too much; I have to carry it back, and I'm leaving in two days. Got stuff and did the walk back. A bit long but not too bad, since it's a fairly cloudy afternoon, not too hot. Found a hardware store, bought a new hasp for the companionway hatch.
Out to the boat, and it's getting grey and windy.
Changed the battery wiring to use the engine starting battery as the house battery while I'm gone; don't want the (badly damaged) house batteries trying to charge like crazy and drying out badly while I'm gone. I'm planning to leave the Bebi LED anchor light running 24/7, using the starting battery and the solar panel.
Installed the new hasp on the hatch. Not the strongest thing, but it will keep out the casual thief, and there are locking steel bars inside if they get past the hasp.
Gave myself a bit of a haircut. Then went snorkeling under the boat. Visibility is terrible, maybe 1 foot. Zinc on prop shaft is fine. Looked at and felt around top of rudder skeg, and couldn't find any open joint to try to seal. I have a package of underwater epoxy, but there's nowhere to put it.
A bit headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Moved third anchor and rode up to the bow; I'm going to leave them out ready in case a hurricane approaches while I'm gone.
Salad and salami-and-cheese and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner. Absolutely still evening, bugs out and swarming.
2015-05-27 (Wednesday)At anchor at Playa Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Ashore at noon, to do Wi-Fi and dominoes. And had email from Pam saying she can't drive me to airport tomorrow, but her son can. I sent email back; hope this arrangement doesn't fall through. Got her on the phone, and it will cost me $70 instead of the $50 or so for a rental car arrangement. But okay.
Fairly slow dominoes game with Karen and Dick and Jane, but I ended up going out 4 of the last 6 hands, and won !
Back to boat by 5, through grey and rainy skies. Thought heavy rain was coming, but it held off. So got back in dinghy and went looking for a ride for tomorrow morning. First boat I stopped at, trawler "Mirage", was willing. The guy has a thick accent, might be German, his name is something like "Andreas".
Back to boat, ran outboard out of gas (took a while), then soon hauled the outboard up onto deck (not easy) and stowed it in the main cabin.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Heavy rain starting at 6, and continuing for half an hour or more. This island badly needs the rain.
Salad and salami-and-cheese and a warm rum-and-cranberryjuice for dinner.
2015-05-28 (Thursday)At anchor at Playa Salinas, Puerto Rico.
Headachey; took a paracetamol.
Packed my suitcase, laid out third anchor on the bow, set electrical switches and through-hull valves correctly. I was ready to go by 8 or so, but I'd asked the guy on "Mirage" for 9:15. He came over at 9, which was fine.
Marshall was 10 minutes late picking me up at the marina, but showed up at 9:40, which is okay. Stopped for gas, paid him the $70, then onto the highway. Arrived at the airport around 10:50.
Asked if I could get a more direct flight, but all flights are full. Did get a couple of my seat-assignments changed. Had to pay $25 for my checked bag.
Security confiscated two lovely apples I was going to eat as part of my lunch. Through to the gate by 11:20. Found AC power. No free Wi-Fi.
Still headachey; took a sumatriptan.
As we boarded, guy in a first-class seat was wearing a VR helmet, something similar to an Oculus Rift. Uneventful flight to Miami. No free Wi-Fi in the terminal.
Uneventful flight to Tampa. Plenty of empty seats. Nice cubicles with AC power in the terminal. And free Wi-Fi !
Uneventful flight to Philly, but no empty seats and I was stuck in a center seat. Got my suitcase, my brother picked me up within 10 minutes, arrived at his place in NJ by 11:10 or so.
My FBI criminal-record check results have arrived; the Feds have decided I'm not wanted for anything at present. Now I need to have it apostilled. [Mailed that on the 29th.]
Forgot to pack my sneakers, enough socks, enough shirts.
Next log file