Sunday, December 10, 2017

We think we are ready

We think we are ready, we have scheduled our launch - just before lunch tomorrow.  Why before lunch?  After they lower us into the water we need to make a check of all of the through-hull valves and where the prop-shaft and the rudder post go through the hull to make sure there is no leaks.  We will have the time to check everything and get ready while the crew is off to lunch and we will not be so rushed.  If everything checks out we will move out to a mooring ball and finish putting everything back where if belongs.

The major projects have been checked off the list with the most recent being replacing some of the steering gear.  The steering wheel is mounted on a pedestal that has a chain running through it connected to cables that run through several pulleys then attach to the rudder post.  One of these pulleys was no longer turning when we turned the wheel and needed to be replaced.  A call to the manufacturer informed us that our system was well beyond it's expected life and most of it needed to be replaced.  Since being able to steer is high on our priorities we agreed.  Of course, any project creates several more.  While the locker that gives us access to the steering was empty we took the opportunity to replace the packing where the rudder post goes through the deck.  Unfortunately I couldn't reach it to do the work so we had to hire it done.  The pedestal is made of aluminum and had some corrosion in a couple of areas that I always meant to get at and now was the perfect time while it was out.  Again, I looked at it and decided there were two ways to do it, my way and the right way.  We opted for the right way and hired one of the workers to strip it, etch the aluminum so it would hold the paint and to paint it.  This turned out to be the right decision since it turned out looking like new.  Replacing the steering gear was almost an easy task, if you consider crawling in and out of locker and trying to work either upside-down or on your side with only one arm easy.  I only lost one nut to the bilge in the process, almost a record.  Of course Edson (the manufacturer) was right, we had reached end of life.  Several of the other pulleys could have been replaced but a local machine shop was able to replicate the worn center pins and there are as good as new.  The new chain and cable assembly went in without too much trouble.  The bearings and parts in the pedestal were replaced and it appears that the rudder is properly turning when the wheel is turned.  Steering is good!

Not all of our time was spent on projects.  We have met a number of other cruisers that are also getting their boats ready and a number of happy hours have happened.  We also took a day off to go on what is called "The Taste of Trinidad Tour".  This is a tour around the island stopping to sample traditional Trinidad foods.  Trinidad food is derived from African and East Indian settlers using their traditional recipes with the local fruits and vegetables.  The tour kicks off when the bus picks up at 9:00 am after the driver (Mr. Jesse James) has picked up some traditional breakfast dishes on his way.   We were eating before we left the parking lot and that is what we did for the next eleven hours.  He would drive for a bit, stop get a dish which we could all sample.  There were nine of us on the tour.  There were many foods I cannot remember, pronounce or will ever have again.  Only a couple of them I would say I did not like.  By lunch time we had made over 13 stops and had sampled around 40 different dishes or fruits.  Lunch consisted of five Indian dishes eaten at a beach on the east side of the island with the Atlantic Ocean behind us.  From there we continued.  We lost count of the number of dishes we tried.  Some of the memorable one were: bbq pigs tails (delicious), cow heel soup (okay), and what Jesse called the "alien fruit" which he was able to get at one of the fruit stands.  It is not a fruit but looks somewhat like a flying saucer, if you use your imagination.  After chopping off the top we found brazil nuts inside with the shells easy to crack open.  Brazil nuts fresh off the tree, who would have imagined it?  We made stops at every imaginable restaurant,(we stayed in the bus), roadside vendor, roadside fruit stands (one selling pickled fruits), and even a stop at a cocoa field to steal a cocoa pod for sampling of fresh cocoa beans.  The day ended with a stop at an ice cream vendor in Port of Spain, the capital city.  Eleven hours of eating, traveling and learning about this beautiful and fascinating island and it's people.  We took one evening to experience several steel band performances.  The steel drum originated here after WWII and has become an art form.  During Carnival in February there is a steel band competition with bands in different size classes.  We saw five bands in the 20 member class perform.  Bands can be up to about 120 members.  We have often heard one or two drums performing but that is nothing like twenty playing their hearts out.  I have posted one of the Christmas songs to our YouTube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0trLpxlb8c&t=13s

We finished a couple of minor projects: touching up the bottom paint and the non-skid paint, scrubbing the boat down, servicing the thru-hulls and just getting prepared for the coming season.  We have made a couple of trips for provisioning, they have scheduled buses that will take the cruisers to several stores and on Saturday to the public market.  Saturday we made the run to the market and then got dropped off downtown Port of Spain to do some sightseeing.

We think we are ready, so continue coming back to read of our adventures.


Steel Band


Barbecued pig tails


Roadside fruit stand


Jesse with the "alien fruit"


Brazil nuts


Atlantic Ocean


Lunch


Hibiscus

Friday, November 24, 2017

Time for an update

It's time for an update.

We are back in Trinidad working on the boat.  There is always something that needs to be done.  Cori has been here for five weeks and has been buffing and polishing almost non-stop.  I am not sure Hi Flite has ever looked better.  I arrived three weeks ago and have been checking off jobs while adding more to the to-do list.  Every job seems to create several more.  For example: there was a small leak above the nav-station.  It had caused a shelf to delaminate and was loose, also ruined a number of CD's that were stored there.  We gave it to one of the shops here to have it remade and since it was out Cori decided it was a good time to varnish the area.  As the table top was being sanded she found a small problem with one of the hinges (there is storage under the tabletop) that we thought could be replaced.  In order to get at it we had to remove the two shelves under the table, and then remove the bottom of the storage area all in order to get at the hinge from below.  Of course all of this did not help since the hinged top cannot be opened far enough to get at the screws that need replacing.  Basically the boat was built around the station and short of a saws-all it is not coming apart.  However, it all looks really nice with its new coat of varnish and it is all more secure with the old and somewhat corroded screws replaced.

The biggest news is that the wind generator got installed.  One of the reasons we got jobs this summer was to buy some new stuff for the boat and top of that list was a wind generator.  Just before Cori left for Trinidad we ordered the generator to arrive just after she did so she could pick it up after it cleared customs.  Then she had to fine a shop that could make the mount for it and arrange for a rigger to remove the old TV antenna and install the mount when it was ready.  Now remember we are in the islands and are dealing with "island time".  Of course they need to know how soon we need it, "no problem mon, it be ready".  After several weeks, he shows up to test fit it and says it will be ready Thursday.  Thursday comes, no mount.  Rigger gets rescheduled to Monday.  Saturday comes and here is the mount to be checked for fit before adding the support piece.  "No problem mon, it be ready Monday".  Monday morning, lo and behold here it is and it is beautiful.  Where is the rigger?  Cori finds him up another mast and he will be here is the afternoon.  Afternoon comes, no Gary, still up the mast. "Be there in the morning" and shows up after lunch.  He had been up another mast in the morning.  Once up our mast and measuring, marking, drilling and feeding the power cable it was looking good until he looked out and said "rain in five minutes".  It was only three and work had to stop but they will be back in the morning.  Wednesday morning they are back and after several hours the mount is mounted.  During this I have been working out where to locate the controller and how to run the cabling.  The controller will look real good where the AM/FM radio is mounted.  No problem, I can relocate that later (every project creates several more).  After several days of working out the cables and several trips to one or both of the supply stores it was completed.  The only thing left to do was to connect the wires and mount the generator.  Friday morning Cori winches me and all of the turkey, stuffing and other Thanksgiving food I ate the day before, up the mast.  With a minimum of cussing and a major change in the wire connections it was mounted and tightened down.  Next Cori hoisted up the blade assembly and I got that installed and tightened down just as the wind came up and it decided to start spinning.  Once back on deck the rain started.  We had finished just in time.  A quick check of the controller and it seems to be working.  SUCCESS!!!

It has not all been work.  There is a social life here with different events scheduled such as drumming night at one of the other marinas, pot luck and grilling on Thursdays and music jam sessions on Fridays not to mention trips to town for shopping and a variety of other activities.  We have been able to get into the city (Port of Spain) several times for provisions, a new phone for use in the islands, the public market and Cori even got a trip to a fabric store for one of her projects.  We have several other outings scheduled during the next week.

Along with all of this we have had to deal with insurance problems.  Not a claim, just trying to renew.  It seems our insurance carrier decided to stop writing marine insurance but didn't tell anyone.  Also the agency got bought out.  The bottom line - we have no insurance.  We got several quotes but both are higher than before, go figure, and need a new survey.  We choose a surveyor and he shows up to start going over the boat.  At the end of the day he is not done and is back the next morning.  By mid-day he is done, for now.  We need to call him back when we start working on the steering project so he can check that when we are done.  That is the next big project: replacing some of the steering components under the cockpit.  I am not sure if I can actually fit under there and get the work done but I have to try.  There is only so much we can afford to hire out.  We seemed to have picked a good surveyor since he is looking at everything, stuff that had not been looked at in previous surveys.  Things like when were your fire extinguishers last inspected, not just where are they and how many.  This morning we had to send all of the extinguishers out for inspection.  The spreaders are out of alignment, so we have the rigger go up the mast and adjust them.  More unexpected $'s. He is just looking too darn close.


The sails are back from the sail loft, and are ready to be bent on and we will start looking like a sailboat again.

At the market







The new wind generator


Thanksgiving pot luck



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

BRRR

We are still in Spearfish.  The trees are changing colors, last night we had more then a frost warning - actual frost, and there has been snow reported in the higher hills.  It is getting close to our time to head back to the boat.  We have both given our notices at our jobs and have booked our flights.  Now it is a matter of what to pack to bring back with us.

The next cruising season is in sight!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Settled in for the summer

I just wanted to add an update.  We are in Spearfish SD staying with Cori's folks and working at a couple of part time jobs.  We have some high-buck items we want to add to Hi Flite so we choose to get jobs instead of just taking the summer off.

Our plans are for Cori to make the trip back to the boat sometime in October to work on a couple of projects before I return in November.

Winter plans are to visit the islands we passed by and to revisit some we enjoyed but didn't spend enough time at.

We will keep you posted.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

British Virgin Islands to Newport RI by way of Bermuda

Someone once said “It’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.”  When it was suggested that we crew for Lee and Sharon on Allegro returning their boat from the BVI to Newport RI we thought it could be an adventure.  Well, we had an adventure.

We finished up getting Hi Flite ready for summer storage and in the early morning caught a ride to the Trinidad airport.  When we tried to check in for our flight to Tortola we were informed we did not have the proper documentation to enter the BVI and we may not be allowed to board the plane.  They finally decided to let us on the flight but the documents from the boat captain had to be faxed to the airline in Antigua before we would be allowed to continue.  They got the documents while we waited to change planes and we were on our way again.  Once off the plane in Tortola we were told by Customs they still were not happy with our documentation but we were allowed to enter the country.  There are strict rules about having a return ticket or some other proof that you are not entering their country with no plans to leave.  Once cleared in Lee met us and we were ready to take the short walk to Trellis Bay where the boat was waiting when the skies opened up with pouring rain.  Once that was finished we rode out to the boat to stash our stuff and came back in for lunch and some wifi.  Trellis Bay is the site of the full moon party and there was going to be a full moon so there were a lot of boats in the harbor and music running late into the evening.  The next day Tony flew in and joined us onboard.  He was going to be the fifth member of the crew.  In the morning we moved off to several other anchorages until it was time to meet with the other boats that were making the trip.  This is a rally run by The Salty Dawgs with about twenty boats involved.  Some were going to the Chesapeake, some to New York and New England and others like us were going to stop in Bermuda on the way.  There were several parties and weather briefing sessions over the weekend and then on Monday most of the boats left.

We left Nanny Cay Marina about 9:30 Monday, the 15th, and worked our way around the island and then were on our way.  We set our course and were off with about 860 miles to go.  We were having a great sail and all was good.  A couple of hours into the trip we had a wave break next to the boat into the cockpit and everything was wet.  The thing about salt water is that it never dries.  It leaves a salt residue and always feels damp and then you drag that salt into the boat and it gets on everything.  At this point we were only uncomfortable but it got worse.  Later in the day while Cori was on watch the auto pilot acted up and shut down.  Lee tried troubleshooting it and found that after the wave broke onboard it migrated down into the locker and got into the auto pilot computer.  After several tries to solve this it was evident we did not have an auto pilot for the rest of the trip.  We began hand steering with six days to go.  We modified the watch schedule so there were two on watch switching off steering every hour.  Steering in the open ocean is a challenge with no fixed points of reference and at night it even harder.  The second night we got a light taped to the compass so we could use that instead of the instrument readout but we were still stuck with staring at the compass and trying not to oversteer.  We had one squall hit and it was timed for just as dinner was being served.  The salsa went flying but the burritos were saved.  Each day the winds would vary so that we were making several sail changes and motorsailed when it was too light.  Our days were set up with four hours on and four hours off when we tried to get some sleep and everyone was getting tired.  The last night and day approaching Bermuda the wind died and the water was flat calm.  Saturday morning we entered St George Bay and reported to Bermuda Customs and Immigration.  After checking in we dropped the anchor settled in.  We made a short trip to shore to check things out and get some ice cream.  Nothing tastes as good as ice cream after a long trip.  Many of the boats going to the Chesapeake were diverted to Bermuda because of bad weather off the east coast so we had a lot of company while we were there.

There were several reasons to stop at Bermuda.  Sharon was going to fly back to the states to help with the grandkids, Chad, their son was going to take her place and the America Cup races were scheduled to start.  Chad was also bringing in a replacement computer for the auto pilot and we did not want to continue to hand steer.  We spent a week sightseeing, checking out the other end of the island where the races were to take place but the race village was not open to the public yet.  We got to watch the first set of races for the eliminations but the second day we found that they were better to watch on television then from shore.  We spent an afternoon in The White Horse Pub drinking dark and stormy’s and watching the races.  One day there was a party for the Salty Dawgs on a private island that had been in the host’s family for four generations.  The house had been built in 1868.  There were several tall ships that arrived and more are scheduled to be there during the races.  They were not open for tours yet but we got a good look at several of them while tied up to the wall.  Cori and I took a day by ourselves and took the bus to the other end of the island to check out the race situation, the old British Cemetery and to walk a beach looking for seaglass.  The cemetery is unique to us because the headstones tell how the person died.  I was surprised by the number of graves of children and how many died in several yellow fever epidemics.  While Cori walked the beach I found a spot to watch the races.  The beach Cori was checking out was next to a former dump and the shore is littered with broken glass that is being ground down by the waves.  It was the first time she reported to being overwhelmed by how much there was.  This was when I found that there is not much to see during the race until the boats get close to where you are.  On Sunday Chad flew in with the part.  In the evening Lee installed it and spent several hours configuring it.

Monday morning, the 29th, Sharon left for the airport and we pulled the anchor to maneuver around the harbor calibrating the auto pilot.  Once we were confident it was working we re-anchored and Lee went in to check us out of the country.  We were on our way again.  As we were leaving the harbor we met with a cruise ship coming in and misread where they were going and basically tried to get run down.  Another adventure was underway.  This time we were going to have a watch schedule of someone in the cockpit during the day and each of us taking a two hour shift during the night.  We were not going to be as tired as the previous leg.

Once we were clear of the island and reefs the seas started to build and it was getting a bit rough but the auto pilot was doing a great job.  It continued to build overnight and in the morning it was rough with seas coming at us from a variety of directions.  We were pretty much riding in a washing machine again.  Something tripped in my system that morning and I suddenly felt sick.  I have not been seasick in years but something clicked and I was hanging overboard getting rid of breakfast.  This knocked me down for two days.  I pretty much slept for the next two days except for my nightly watches.  While I was out the others were keeping things running and the seas were getting progressively calmer.  We were approaching the Gulf Stream and that had everyone worried.  The forecasts were all over the place.  If we hit the stream at the right time and place we could expect relatively mild seas and light winds or if the impulse the weather people were watching turned into a low we could see winds into the 50’s.  Every forecast was different.  We hit the stream and the seas built topping off with some swells at about 15 feet.  Several squalls hit but the winds did not rise above the mid-twenties.  We exited the stream before nightfall and we had a nice ride with light winds and a quarter moon lighting the way.  We eventually had to start the motor and continued on.  We arrived at the entrance to Narragansett Bay Friday morning.  As we arrived at Newport harbor we were approached by a Coast Guard cutter and they requested to come aboard for a safety inspection.  We maneuvered around the harbor with the Coast Guard following us until the inspection was done and then pulled up to the dock at the Goat Island Marina and tied up.  We let the Coasties off, their boat came in to pick them up and Lee made arrangements to meet with Customs to officially reenter the country.  We had traveled about 640 miles this leg giving us a total of almost 1500 miles traveling from the BVI’s to Rhode Island.

Cori and I have rented a car and are going to making a run up to New Hampshire to pick up a used sail we bought and are going are spending several days with her brother who has recently moved to New York City.  After that we will be making a run to North Carolina to visit our storage unit to drop off the sail and pick up some boxes of stuff that we are taking with us to South Dakota.  We will then be spending the summer in Spearfish SD until October or November when we return to Trinidad and re-launch Hi Flite.


We signed on saying that this might be an adventure and it turned out to be one but not a negative experience.  It did make us want to go back to Bermuda to experience more of the island.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bermuda

We are in Bermuda but with limited Internet access. We are enjoying ourselves and yesterday watched the first of the Americas Cup qualifying races. We will be leaving Monday for Newport RI and will update when we get there and have better access.  We left Hi Flite in Trinidad and are helping friends bring their boat back to the US.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

End of 2016-2017 cruise

Granada to Trinidad

We had everything ready on the boat and we left the marina for a mooring ball in Prickly Bay.  We wanted to be there because the Immigration and Customs office is right there and it is a straight shot out of the bay for when we leave.  We paid for two nights because we plan to leave on Sunday to arrive in Trinidad on Monday.  If we arrive on a Saturday or Sunday we would have to pay an overtime charge when we arrive.  We made a trip to Immigration and Customs to check out of Granada on Friday so we would not have to pay an overtime charge to check out on a weekend.  We were supposed to leave Granada by 2:00 pm Saturday but stayed the extra day illegally.  On Saturday Cori took her kayak and met up with Sperry and her fishing friends to help out another day.  In the evening we met up with Mike and Helga from Making Mischief for happy hour and pizza and to say good bye to friends.

Sunday was our last chance to get ready to move.  The waterline had gotten very dirty while at the marina so Cori got in with her scraper and scrubbers to clean it while I got the batteries topped off one last time.  We don’t want low batteries on a passage.  About 5:00 pm we raised the mizzen and main sails, with two reefs in the main, and dropped the mooring to head off to Trinidad.  We were leaving in the evening because it is about a 12 hour trip and if we leave in the morning we would arrive after dark.  We started off doing 7 knots but as the night went on we ran from 4-6 knots.  The seas were running 7 foot but again, as we continued they dropped to about 4 foot.  There is also a strong current running east to west so we needed to compensate for that in our piloting.  By morning the winds had dropped to the point we had to motor the last 5-7 miles.  We arrived in Chagaramas about 10:00 am and started looking for the Customs dock.  We missed it, got into a tight harbor and had to get turned around without hitting anyone.  We made it and back into the main harbor we asked a couple in their dinghy where we were supposed to go.  Their response was to pick up a mooring and dinghy in which we did.  Once we cleared Immigration and Customs, no small feat, we made a side trip to Power Boats Marina to see where we were going.  Before moving to the marina we stopped at the fuel dock to top off.  I felt like a power-boater.  We needed about 45 gallons.  Everything here is metric and Trinidad/Tobago dollars.  We put in 169.8 liters at a cost of $892.00 local currency.  Sounds like a lot but it is about 48 gallons at a cost of $86.00 US.  From there we moved to the dock we had reserved.  We had a mess when we tried to dock.  The slip was bigger than we are used to so our lines to the pilings were too short and the stern was not secured as we tied up the bow and we ended up against the boat in the next slip.  Fortunately he had a lot of fenders out.  Cori got into the dinghy to get multiple lines to the pilings and eventually we were tied securely.  It was our poorest showing of docking skills in many years.  We were lucky there was no damage to either boats but our pride took a beating.  I almost wanted to do it again to show them I do know how to dock our boat.  We spent three days at the dock removing the sails and getting ready for the haul out.

One more chance to laugh at Dale: we are putting the dinghy on the foredeck so it needed to be cleaned.  I took everything out of it, including the oars, and motored around to the dinghy dock.  Or tried to motor to the dock.  I ran out of fuel not quit there, with no oars, only a bucket.  I tried paddling with the bucket but ended up leaning over the side and using my hands to finally reach another boat so I could pull myself to the dock.  The marina manager saw me and called over to tell me not to worry, they would not let me drift off to Venezuela.  They didn’t have to launch a boat to get me but were ready to.  After cleaning it up I added a bit of fuel and motored back to the boat and got it hoisted onto the deck.  Next was giving the bottom a good scrubbing.  In the evening we joined a group of cruisers for a pot luck dinner.

Thursday morning we were hauled out and moved to where Hi Flite will be spending the summer.  The only mishap was when the lift operator caught a water spigot and broke it off flooding the area until maintenance could get around to fixing it.  We have been working our butts off getting everything ready.  We got the hull polished, the biggest job and are working at getting everything stored away.  We have never left the boat for this long and everything needs to be removed and stored out of the weather.  The biggest concern is the humidity.  People complain about coming back to several months of mold growing.  We are taking a friends advice and renting an air conditioner to run while we are gone to control the humidity.  We are enjoying the culture, what little we see.  We are eating breakfast and lunch from the roadside stands outside the marina but have not gotten any further afield.  We will have to wait until November when we get back.

Now a review of the trip: we left North Carolina November 21st with our first stop in Puerto Rico.  From there we moved to the Spanish Virgin Islands, the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Leeward Islands and then Windward Islands finishing up in Trinidad.  We traveled a total of 2376 nautical miles or 2734 statute miles.  We essentially traveled from New York to Los Angeles at about 7 miles an hour or just a bit faster than a jogger.


This brings us to the end of our 2016-2017 winter cruise.  But not to worry, we are starting our next adventure tomorrow.  We will be flying to the British Virgin Islands to meet up with Lee and Sharon on Allegro to be crew for them as they bring their boat back to Newport RI by way of Bermuda.  Once back in the USA we will work our way to Spearfish SD for the summer with plans to return to Trinidad in November to relaunch Hi Flite for the next adventure.