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.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Granada Part Two

We are still in Granada getting things running and preparing for the next leg of the trip.

I was able to get the bilge pump working with a new switch, I had to buy one but that means I still have a spare.  Cori finished up repairing the sails and brought them back to the owners.  This being Thursday we took the bus to the Brewery for cruisers music jam again.  It is interesting, there is a bus that will come to the marina to pick you up and will provide a ride back later.  The cost is $10 EC, when you pay the driver you get a voucher for a free beer.  The beer costs $10 EC.  I haven't figured out if I am getting a free ride or a free beer but we are enjoying it.  Wednesday Cori worked on polishing the stainless steel and the electrician came by to get us hooked to 110 volts.  It still doesn't work and he can't figure out why.  He has made several more trips with assistants but has not gotten it to work so we finally gave up.  If we need to charge batteries we are running the generator.  Not everything is easy here in paradise.

Thursday Cori took a bus to True Blue Resort for a free cooking class.  She ended up the only one there but says it was enjoyable.  She learned how to make fish lasagna with white sauce.  On  the boat I Googled how to replace the pull rope on the generator and decided I could do that.  What a mess.  While dismantling it I had a group of wires come out of their holder and I did not catch the order they were in.  The holder was slightly damaged and the wires would not clip-in securely.  At this point the generator would not start.  I had them in the wrong sequence.  I downloaded the service manual (thank goodness we are in a marina with wi-fi), verified the order they should be in , tried again with no luck.  One more try, making sure that the wires stayed in the connector when I plugged them in but still no luck.  I made a trip up to the shop that was repairing the pump to talk to them and was able to get a replacement cable off of an old generator they had for parts.  This color combination did not match what the service manual showed but what the heck.  Oh, I didn't mention that when I tried to get access to the other end of the wire there was a small spring that popped off.  Luckily I found it but while putting it back together it popped off several times.  I was able to find it each time.  Eventually it all went back together, I connected the cable, reassembled the generator and it started and ran.  I did't mention that everytime I tried something I had to reassemble the whole thing to try and start it.  I am now capable of tearing a Honda EU2000i generator apart and getting it back together again.

Friday the parts for the pump arrived.  I made the assumption that I would get it back and be able to reassemble everything and leave the marina on Sunday so I went to the office and payed up.  When I went to check on the pump I was informed that the service kit had evidently been put together wrong.  There were two of one part where there was only one needed and no seal.  We had the right number of parts but not the right ones.  Another kit was ordered and we were promised it would be here on Wednesday.  Everything was being Fed EXed from outside the country.

Saturday the highlight was free banana bread at the marine store.  In the afternoon a group of us caught the bus to partake in what is called a Hash.  I had never heard of a Hash but it is very popular here and when I Googled it found out it is a big thing all over the world and is done here every Saturday.  A Hash is a form of a hike. A hashmaster sets up a course or several courses for people to follow.  They will vary in how hard of a hike it is.  This week there were two courses: a short walkers, a long walkers mixed with the runners course.  The trail is marked by clumps of shredded paper and there may be some false trails to lead you astray.  Parts of the trails are not on established trails so there is some boon-docking involved.  We chose the short walkers trail and it was still intense.  We had to cross several rivers (streams) there were a couple of areas of steep climbs and descents, some nice open paths and some spots of "where the heck is that trail?"  The Hash starts and ends at a location with beer and food concessions set up along with pounding music on a sound system.  The food was either grilled chicken and fixings or oil down.  According to a Google search: Although many things in Grenada have been influenced by the Europeans over the years, oil down remains something purely Grenadian. No imported spices or seasonings, no choice cuts of meat here. This one-pot meal is made up of local veggies, “provisions” (the local term for starchy roots, tubers, and bananas that fill you up), salted meat, and aromatic seasoning —  all easily accessible, affordable ingredients in Grenada. All these components are combined in a large pot and cooked down in coconut milk over an open fire. In fact, the name of the dish comes from the coconut oils released from the coconut milk as it simmers and is absorbed by the other ingredients.  While sitting and resting we were approached by a couple that picked up on our accents and figured we were from the Midwest.  Jonathan and Susan have bought a house on the island they have been fixing up and will be moving here full time next year.  Johnathan was from Sioux Falls SD so he picked up on our "accent."  After the Hash we rode the bus back to the marina with only one stop at a bar along the way.  It was about 9:00 pm and showers felt good getting the mud, dirt and sweat off of us.  I should mention that the beer and food cost $10 EC each which translates to about $3.75 US, pretty cheap beer and food.

Oil down.

Sunday we were told is the day to go to Hog Island Beach to hang out with the other cruisers.  We were also told not to bother getting there until about 4:00 when the music starts.  It is a nice beach with very fine sand, a "bar" which is just a run down shack and several people with grills that are selling grilled lobster, chicken and a few other items.  There is a small group of cruisers that provide the music and a there are a number of picnic tables.  It was well after dark when we got back to he boat.  Cori was able to sell some of the sea glass she has been collecting to one of the cruisers that makes jewelry so we almost drank for free.  Again the beer was $10 EC.

Monday we joined up with Mike and Hilda from More Mischief and Tom and Jake from Epiphany for a tour of the island.  We got picked up at 8:30 and dropped off at 5:30.  It was a long but interesting day.  We rode around hearing of the history of the island, seeing a variety of the fruits that are grown, one of the waterfalls, toured a nutmeg factory, a chocolate factory and a rum distillery that is still producing rum using techniques and equipment from the 1700's, and saw monkeys.  I did not get a photo of one of the monkeys sitting on Cori's shoulder, he moved off too fast.  Here are some photos:

Sorting nutmeg.

Drying nutmeg.  Granada produces 60% of the worlds nutmeg.

Cocoa sorted for processing.

Nutmeg.  The red and brown shell is Mace and the nutmeg seed is inside of that.

Sugar cane fields used for the making of rum.

Water wheel that turns the cane crusher.

The cane crusher.

Rum distilling.

The final product.

Planes at the old airport from the US invasion in 1983.

Jake and his new friend, until the banana was gone.

Cocoa beans.

Cocoa bean.

Tuesday morning Cori left early to go fishing with her new friend Speery for conch and sea urchins.  He dives, his sister drives the boat and Cori helped with cleaning the conch.  Speery was the local guy that drove her around during the sailboat races on Easter Sunday.  I made another shopping bus trip to pick up a few fresh items.  Otherwise it was a pretty quiet day.

Wednesday was a big day.  Cori had made an appointment with a local dentist to have our teeth cleaned.  It had been several years since we are spending all of our time traveling.  The price is right, under $100 US for both of us and there is no difference between here and the States in technique and equipment.  Once back to the marina we checked and the pump was done.  I spent the rest of the afternoon reinstalling the pump and everything else I took apart to get at it and did a test run.  The pump was pumping water and not leaking.  Success!  However the alternator was no longer charging.  I tracked sown a connection that had broken.  Once that was fixed everything is as it should be.  We are ready to move on.

Today, Thursday, we were going to check out but decided to stay one more day.  Cori is off with Speery fishing for conch and urchins again and I am charging batteries and updating the blog.

We plan on leaving the marina tomorrow, checking out with immigration and making our way to Trinidad over the weekend.  Once in Trinidad we will be getting the boat hauled out for the summer.

Just a note on our preparations for this trip.  Today I had my last diet coke and yesterday I opened my last bag of breakfast cereal.  We are running low on things just as we had hoped for but still have too many provisions to finish off before we leave.  We may have to give some away.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Carriacou & Granada

On Wednesday, 4/5/17, we made the run to Hillsbourgh.  It was a bit convoluted.  First our driver needed to pick up more students, drop them off at the school, head out around the other side of the island to pick up his wife, stop at a teachers house to pick her up and then drop her off at the school.  Then we made our way to Hillsbourgh where he dropped us and his wife off.  We did a bit of wandering around the main street checking out the tourist center for information.  After a bit we caught another bus to go out to Windward.  We had heard of a man there that is still building wooded boats the old way.  We saw a lot of the island and when dropped off we walked over to his yard where he has a 60+ foot boat under construction.  His last boat was in the 40 foot range.  He has been working on this one for two years and says he hopes to launch in December.

 After riding back to Hillsbourgh we had lunch, bought a few vegetables and fruit from vendors and caught the bus back to Tyrell Bay.  Thursday Cori went to shore to look for sea glass and I took care of charging the batteries and making more water.  Later we dinghied around in  mangove salt pond.  While riding through the anchorage we came across a boat we recognized.  It used to be next to us at Matthews Point Marina.  The new owners are out cruising the islands.

On Friday we pulled anchor to make our way to Granada.  Raising the anchor was interesting since the control for the windlass started acting up.  First it would run intermittently then it stuck on "up".  This worked until the anchor was on the roller and I had to quickly disconnect it to keep everything from getting jammed.  Along the way I had time to take it apart and in spite of it being "waterproof" it had gotten salt water inside and corroded the electronics and the "up" micro-switch.  When we put out the headsail we found that the winch that controls the sail was not working properly.  We made do and I can take it apart later. The route from Carriacou to Granada takes you over the  active underwater volcano known as Kick Em Jenny and you have to stay clear of the exclusion zone.  Once past that we made our way down the west shore having a great sail in fifteen knots of wind with about a three foot following sea.  We had an idea where to stop for the evening and maybe go ashore for their Friday Fish event but the anchorage was not one I wanted to spend the night at so we continued on.  Along the way Cori had her fishing gear out and caught another barracuda that went back and then another nice black fin tuna.  When we got to St George Bay we started scouting a place to anchor.  We decided instead to move over to Dragon Bay and pick up a mooring.  Just around the point at Dragon Bay is a dive and snorkeling site that features an underwater sculpture garden.  Once we were settled on the mooring I noticed that the bilge pump would run about every five minutes.  We pulled the cover for the engine and found that the pump that brings in the cooling water for the engine was leaking.  After that I took the winch apart but could not find anything wrong and once back together it was working just fine.  In the morning I jumped overboard with my snorkel gear and went around the point to see what I could find.  The coral was in tough shape and there were not a lot of fish to see and I never did find the sculpture garden.  I think I figured out where it was but it was further away then I cared to swim.  Next time I will have to use the dinghy.

Saturday morning the batteries were low again so I ran the generator and watermaker before we moved on.  I like running the watermaker while the generator is running since that way they do not have a draw on the batteries.  We make between three and four gallons an hour so a couple of hours of charging the batteries also gives us a couple of days of water.  We rolled out the headsail and sailed off the mooring heading for Prickly Bay.  The guides show that most of the cruisers activities center around Prickly Bay and you can catch a bus or taxi at several locations when you need to visit town or go on excursions.  We pulled into the bay and started looking for a spot among the many other boats to anchor..We came up to the mooring field and a couple of "boat boys" talked us into renting a mooring ball.  It was only $10 per day in US money and gave us access to the marina facilities.  In the evening we went in for their half price pizza special.  Unfortunately there was nothing special about the pizza but at least they did the cooking for the night.

Late Sunday morning we went to shore and walked to where we were told we could catch a bus and made our way to St George to check out the Port Louis Marina.  We had seen a notice of a music festival there.  Once there we found out that it will be next month.  We consoled ourselves with beer, a burger and fries and wi-fi.  Once back at the boat I got the generator out to see if I could fix or replace the pull cord that chaffed through and broke.  I got it working but it still needs some attention and a new rope.  At least now I know how to take the generator apart.

Monday morning we went to shore at Spice Island Marina because there is a Budget Marine store there.  They do not handle the pump we need so we walked down and caught a bus to the Island Water World store.  They also do not carry our pump but were able to tell me who to contact to maybe have it rebuilt.  From there we caught a bus to take us downtown to be tourists and to stop at Digicell to get a SIM card for my phone.  I now can make phone calls and have a data plan.  We are able to communicate again without having to sit in a bar or restaurant.  Back at the boat we went to the marina office to pay since they were closed when we came in on Saturday.  We got the code for their wi-fi, got keys for the showers and treated ourselves to nice long hot showers.  Back at the boat we connected our wi-fi extender to their signal and settled down to downloading and getting up to date.  It is amazing how we take having the Internet, emails and messaging for granted and miss it when we don't have connectivity.  Unfortunately we were not getting a great signal from the marina and after the signal dropped one too many times our extender could not attach to it.  We had the same problem while in St Martin and there is no easy solution.

Thursday we decided to stay on the mooring ball another day so we went in to pay and then walked up the road to The West Indies Brewery.  They make Cori's new favorite beer.  We hung out for the afternoon using their wi-fi and then went back to the boat to get ready for the evenings entertainment.  There was a cruisers music jam scheduled for the evening at the brewery.  There are some very talented musicians in the cruising community and they provided an evening of very good and entertaining music.

We had been making phone calls on Monday and Tuesday to make arrangements to get our leaking pump to the repair shop and since they are located at Clarks Court Marina we made arrangement to rent a slip, I don't want to be sitting at anchor or on a mooring with the engine dismantled.  Wednesday morning we dropped the mooring and motored the five miles around to the  marina.  Once tied up we needed to wait for the engine to cool down before I removed the pump.  I also talked with the marina about getting a 110 volt connection.  I want to give the batteries a good charge and run an equalize cycle on them.  We had heard on the morning cruisers net that there was going to be a full moon party at one of the other marinas.  We took the dinghy across the bay and caught a bus with a group of other cruisers to the party.  They had three bands playing and food and drinks for sale.  A good time was had by all.  Thursday we hung out on the boat waiting for their technician to get us connected to the electrical system.  They use a 220 volt system and we use 110,  By the end of the day he had it figured out, he made a patch cord that connected the appropriate sized transformer to one of our shorepower cables and we would be set.  By now it was 5:00 pm.  It doesn't work and he can't figure out why, it may be a defective transformer.  Did we mention that Friday and Monday are Holidays and they also don't work on weekends.  We still so not have power.  Maybe on Tuesday.  Also while we were waiting we decided to do what is called "pickling" the watermaker.  This process cleans the membranes and prepares it for storage.  We won't need it until next season since we can fill the water tanks here at the marina for free.  It is a simple process but not everything happened to match what the manual says to expect.  I have been emailing the manufacturer (in Minneapolis) and they have given me a number of things to try.  They believe that it is OK but want me to give them a call after the weekend.

Friday was Good Friday and is a Holiday here so almost everything is closed.  We spent the day with the boat, Cori washed the boat, I did some troubleshooting on the watermaker and then I hoisted Cori up the mast to reset the wi-fi antenna.  The reset button they want me to hit is on the radio that is attached to the top of the mizzen mast.  While she was up there the reset didn't help so I had her remove it and I can deal with it on deck if I can get some network cable.  Did I mention it is hot here?  It is in the 80's and 90's with a stiff wind blowing all of the time

On Saturday the supply store here at the marina was open in the morning so I was able to buy a new control for the windlass.  They also told us where we could catch a bus into town if we walked a ways. We walked to where we thought they said to go but no bus came.  One of the marina employees stopped and told us the bus did not come there but she would give us a ride.  On the way she showed us where to catch it but it is further then I care to walk.  We told her we wanted to go to Prickly Bay so she dropped us off at the Prickly Bay Marina.  We should have been more specific, we were at the wrong part of the bay and had no way across.  Cori asked a gentleman at the dock if when he finished refueling if he could give us a ride across.  Not a problem but we would have to wait until his passengers arrived.  About a half hour later we were ready to go.  We wanted to go to The True Blue Resort for their Easter craft show and from the other side of the bay we could walk there.  Instead he gave us a ride around to the next bay and dropped us off at their dock.  There were a few thing there Cori was interested in and when we left we needed to find an ATM to get more of the local currency.  Google maps showed where to go and we started walking.  We let a number of buses pass by and when we got closer and stopped to check the map a taxi stopped and offered a ride, $10 EC.  We told him we didn't have it but he said to get in and he would take us to the bank.  It was a good thing, it was going to be a lot further on a much busier street.  Once we had cash he was ready to take us anywhere.  We wanted lunch, and we wanted local food, as in "where would you eat?"  He took us downtown and around several side streets to the back of a supermarket with a restaurant upstairs.  It was where the locals eat, we were the only two white people there and not sure what we were eating but it was good and inexpensive.  The cab driver not only took us there but showed us how to get upstairs and led us to the buffet line for his $10 EC ($3.75 US).  After lunch we walked around a bit, I bought a network cable, my big purchase for the day.  I had figured out how to fix the wi-fi extender.  We walked down to the market with all of the stalls selling goods and wandered into the fish market.  I pointed out a big tuna to Cori but the vendor said that is we wanted to see a big tuna to follow him.  He led us in back and opened a bin.  Under the ice was a yellow fin tuna around 150 pounds.  It was caught just a couple of miles offshore so it was fresh.  After buying some fruit from one of the street vendors we started back to the bus station but stopped to take a look at the old meat market.  It is a very old building with the windows broken out.  Inside are several booths set up with rusty steel partitions and each booth had a chopping block, a big knife and various chunks of meat sitting out with no refrigeration.  Very different than what we are used to.  From there we loaded up on a bus to go back and it was packed.  Instead of taking the number one and getting dropped off at the end of the run with a long walk ahead we caught the number two that goes to Woburn.  We explained to the bus driver that we wanted to get dropped off at the closest spot to the marina.  We figured that would be a shorter walk.  His understanding of closest is to drop us off near the town dock where we would have caught the bus if we had crossed over in our dinghy.  Once again we were on the wrong side of the bay.  There was no other option then to start walking.  Fortunately we had not bought much.  Eventually, as we neared the marina a taxi that someone had called to pick them up offered us a ride.  After arriving hitting the shower felt real good.

Sunday, Easter Sunday, everything is closed but we had heard that the Woburn Sailing Club would be having their Easter races.  They are the local working boats so when we saw them getting the boats ready we dinghied across to check it out.  It turned out to be an all day event.  The boats are wooden construction with a wood mast, a bamboo boom and a piece of bamboo lashed to the mast at an angle to reach the top of the sail.  The sails are lashed to the mast and boom with no provision to raise or lower them.  All of the rigging is done on shore with the boat on it's side and then pushed into the water.  There were four races.  The start is uncontrolled chaos.  The crew is trying to get into the boat, someone is bailing like crazy and the boats and sails are bumping and hitting each other until they get enough maneuverability to separate.  Cori made friends with the escort boat and she got to ride with him for each race and at one point towing one in after it broke it's rudder.  In one race one of the boats had to go ashore, lay the boat on it's side, re-lash the mast extension back into the race.  It was a great day except for the pounding music they were blasting us with.  Cori got handed a plate of the lunch they had cooking in a pot over an open fire, some kind of rice and meat dish.  I never found any meat on the bones, they may have been there to just add flavor.  In the evening we dinghied back to our boat for the night but could hear the music that went on until 1:00 am.

Monday, still a Holiday so everything is shut down.  I was getting ready to start the generator again when Cori looked into the bilge and noticed the water was higher then usual.  The automatic pump was not coming on.  I spent several hours troubleshooting and splicing wires trying to figure out why it was not getting power.  I believe it is the switch that connects the float switch and the pump.  The pump is not getting the message that it needs to run.  We have a spare but can't find it.  They sell them at the store here in the marina so in the morning I'll go get another.  They are not expensive and I would have to buy another spare anyway.  Cori spent her afternoon repairing sails.  With the generator running she got out her sewing machine and repaired several sails from the race boats.  She had tried to repair some of their sails with adhesive sail tape but it did not hold and one of the boats tore their sail when they got too close to another boat.  At the end of the evening she had collected their sails and rinsed them down so they would be ready to sew today.

On another note, several weeks ago in a message to our good friend Weezie, I said that things were going great and nothing had broken.  Since then we have had problems with the windlass, a winch, water pump, wi-fi extender, watermaker and the bilge pump.  I should know better.

Sail repair.

Local work boats.

This is how they pole out the headsail for a downwind run

No way to take the sail down when you break your rudder and get towed in.

Chaos at the start, people in the water, boats bumping, sails and booms colliding.
See the video below


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Carriacou Island

We have Internet!  We are in Tyrell Bay on Carriacou Island.  There is an organization here, The Carriacou Children’s Fund, broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal to the harbor.  For a donation they will give you the password.  The money is used to raise funds for the school and the students.  It is a win-win, we get internet and they raise funds.

We spent a couple more days in Isle de Saints sightseeing and relaxing.  We joined Bob and Brenda form Pandora for a golf cart tour of the fort and the island.  The views from the fort and a variety of other locations were spectacular.  The fort is well maintained and set up as a museum of the island.  I only wish it had more information about the fort itself.  On Wednesday I decided to address our fuel situation.  We are down to about a third of a tank of diesel and I am not comfortable with running low.  We only carry 80 gallons.  The next bay over has a fuel dock for the fishing boats, it is only accessible from the water: no roads lead to it.  We took our three jerry jugs, borrowed another and a gas jug and motored around to the dock.  It is too small and shallow to go by sailboat.  Back at the boat we added the new fuel to the tank bringing us up to a half tank, enough that we can motor all of the way to Trinidad if we had to.

Thursday, the 30th, we dropped the mooring and started our way South again.  We have several islands as options to stop but we wanted to get further along.  We figure we will stop at those islands next year.  Cori had her fishing gear out and caught a barracuda that we were happy to let go and a big Mahi that started stripping the line off the reel until he broke the line and left with the lure.  We know it was a big one when we saw it jump after the hook was set.  We really wanted that fish.  The winds were out of the southeast and in the afternoon switch around to the southwest with a lull in between that we motored through.  It was a little rough.  We sailed and motored through the night and then sailed on Friday.  The winds had shifted more from the east and we had a nice broad reach with the waves slightly behind us.  This is how we love to sail, later in the day it dropped again and we went back to motoring.  We were making between 4 and 7 knots and our chart plotter was showing that we would arrive at Carriacou around midnight.  We do not like arriving at night so we decided to change headings and stop at a little bay on St Vincent for the night.  It was the perfect location.  A black sand beach, high hills on three sides to protect from the winds, and we were the only ones there.  We also had a problem with the fuel again.  The priming bulb was collapsed and restricting the fuel to the engine.  We cut our rpm’s and it ran all right again.  In the morning I decided to eliminate the priming bulb and rerouted the fuel line.  So far it is working.

We left St Vincent early, we had not checked in so were technically not allowed there and set sail again.  We had another great day of sailing, the wind on the beam and following seas.  Cori had the fishing line out again and after catching and releasing another pesky barracuda she caught a real nice skipjack tuna.  We decided to stop at Mayroux Island for the night instead of going on.  We could just anchor for the night and if we didn’t go in we wouldn’t have to check-in.  St Vincent and the Grenadines are expensive to check in and out of and we didn’t want to pay.  We will do that next year.  Patrick, one of the local “boat boys” came out and tried to talk us into taking a mooring and visiting the restaurant and shops on the beach but we told him we had not checked in yet.  His advice was to raise the courtesy flag so it looked like we had and then we wouldn’t be bothered.   We ran the generator for a while and the water maker then settled in for a quiet night.

Sunday morning we took our time getting going since we only had about 15 miles to go.  We had stopped so that we would not arrive on Saturday and when we checked in we could say we arrived late on Sunday.  There is an overtime fee for checking in on the weekend.  As we were approaching Tyrell Bay Cori caught and landed another nice black fin tuna.  We are in tuna heaven.  We maneuvered into the harbor and around several boats and dropped anchor.  We were approached about going to a mooring but we are secure and comfortable where we are.  Since we were in early we got to watch the other boats as they arrived.

Monday morning we went to check in.  We had read several reviews in Active Captain about the anchorage and several have negative things to say about the Immigration and Customs officials.  Some of it is right.  When we arrived there was a lady mopping the floor.  She said that the others were outside in the patio area.  There is a television and we got some news but the main report was about the subway bombing in St Petersburg.  I asked a man in a pressed white shirt who I needed to see to check in.  I was answered with complete silence.  About five minutes later he looked up and said loudly “good morning” and stared at me.  It seemed I was one of those annoying tourists that forget to greet before starting with questions.  We had been warned of this in several guide books.  Once he had made his point he gave me the forms to fill out but we forgot to bring a pen.  Not wanting to ask him for one Cori borrowed one from another cruiser that was also filling out paperwork.  We all waited outside until the floor was dry.  One guy got chewed out for going into the office and tracking the floor.  Maybe they should have put a sign on the door telling us where to go.  They then started checking people in.  When it was my turn it turned out that I didn’t fill my paperwork out correctly but with a few changes it passed.  The problem then was I couldn’t tell if he was talking to me or the Customs lady.  They had a constant conversation going with short interruptions to ask or tell me something.  Rather confusing.  Then it was time to pay the Customs lady.  Previous reviews had commented on and I have to agree that it seemed an imposition to interrupt her to pay our money.  And of course I didn’t have enough Eastern Caribbean money on me so she had to calculate the amount in US dollars.  It is easier to check in on the French Islands where I don’t speak French then to deal with these two people.  But we were in, passports stamped, papers filed and fees paid.  We won’t have to bother again until we check out in Granada.  We stopped at the restaurant next door to get the password of the Wi-Fi and then back to the boat to log in and get emails and start communicating with the world.  Later we went ashore to see what is there and find out where to catch the bus to see the rest of the island.

Today, Tuesday the 4th, we had planned to take the bus to Hillsborough, the larger town on the island to check it out.  We got up and decided to do a boat project day.  Cori slept in and once our neighbors left I did a check on the batteries, topped them off and ran the generator and watermaker.  Since we have ample power while the generator is running Cori defrosted the freezers.  Once that is done they run for a long time getting back to temperature so it is best to do it when the generator is running and the batteries can recover.   For the rest of the day we will hang out here but may run into town for an ice cream.  The shop was out of it when we stopped yesterday but said they would have more today.

We plan to stay here for a few days then make the move down to Granada to get ready for the trip to Trinidad.  We hope to find several other boats that are making the passage so we can travel together.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

We have been moving along

It has been a month since our last update.  The delay is caused by our having a great time but mostly by not having Internet connections.  Normally we have a data plan on our phones that keep us connected but here in the islands it is much more complicated.  At each island we would have to purchase a sim card for one of the phones and then purchase a data plan for several days or up to a month.  This works except not every port has an office that sells sim cards and it starts getting expensive.  We have opted to try and get Wi-Fi connections wherever we can but then we are limited to low bandwidth, sharing with everyone else at the bar/restaurant and only being able to get connected with our phones.  That’s enough about our problems.
We are no longer in St. Martin but when we last reported it was Carnival and race week.  For Mardi Gras we joined Kim and Dean in a rental car to run some errands and take a tour of the island.  We ended the day at Grand Case, a small community north of St. Martin that has a Mardi Gras celebration.  The streets were filled with vendors and the restaurants were full.  Grand Case is known for the quality of their restaurants and they did not disappoint.  The meal was excellent.  On Wednesday the winds kicked in again and we spent the day relaxing on the boat.  During the night we heard some noise outside and found that the boat in front of us, who anchored much closer then I was comfortable with, had broken their snubber and their windlass had let out more chain bringing them much closer. They eventually got it under control but spent a long night on deck watching to make sure it didn’t happen again.  By first light they pulled anchor and relocated.  This is one of the problems with crowded anchorages. The next couple of days were spent with small projects, errands such as the grocery store and the phone store.  On Saturday we got together with Dean and Kim again with a car to run some errands and to go down to the Dutch side to watch the finish line for the races.  The Dutch side of the island has been hosting the Heineken Cup Races all week and there have been races and activities all week with a lot of beautiful boats.  The weather forecast was for a couple of days of light winds so we prepared the boat and on Sunday, the 4th, we pulled anchor before sunrise and headed out for St Kitts.

We had a great sail and Cori caught one and a half fish on the trip.  Something got half of her fish as she was reeling it in. Once we got into the lee of St Kitts we had to motor around to the southern end of the island.  We dropped anchor off of the town and settled in for the evening.  Technically we were supposed to check in but there is an overtime fee for checking in on the weekend.  In the morning we went ashore and after visiting three different offices we were checked in.  There were two cruise ships so the vendor area at the dock was busy and we had a short walk around the town.  At lunch time we went back to the boat and decided that this was not the place to be anchored, too rough and rolling.  We pulled anchor and proceeded down to White House Bay which was listed in our guides as being well protected from the forecast winds.  Once again the forecast was right, for the next five days we had winds in the 20’s, 30’s and some gusts in the 40’s.  We took an opportunity during the lull’s to check out the new megayacht marina being built around the corner and bought some gasoline and to get to shore to check out the small restaurant/bar on shore.  The interesting thing about this anchorage was that as the wind blew it would funnel down around the hills and vary what direction it was coming from.  Several times we were turned west with a rocky shore close behind us with about four feet under the keel.  The highlight was after the biggest blow when Cori went out exploring in her kayak.  She found two cushions, one made of closed cell foam that she had an idea how to use.  She brought that back then we went out with the dinghy to pick up the other beanbag type that we thought had blown away from the patio at the bar.  The manager was very happy to have it back and started serving us free beers before they had opened for the day.  As we were leaving he described the other cushion they lost and was very surprised when Cori told him that we had it.  He started offering anything from Champagne on down to get it back.  We went back to the boat, cleaned up and brought it in.  He explained that it would take two months to get a replacement and ordered dinner, beer and wine for us on the house.  It was a nice ending to a windy week.  Also while we were sitting out the weather we had a visit from the St Kitts Coast Guard and got boarded for inspection.  We passed with all of the right equipment and paperwork and they moved on to another boat.

Saturday, the 11th, we pulled anchor and headed down to the island of Nevis.  We rolled out the headsail and did about 6 knots for the short trip.  Nevis has set up a mooring field that you are required to use unless they are all in use or you have too large of a boat.  There is a charge for them when you check in but they also charge you the same if you are anchoring.  We picked up a ball and went in to check in.  We walked around a bit, had lunch of “goat water” from a street vendor and then decided to take an island tour.  Goat water is a stew made of mutton (goat), breadfruit and a variety of spices.  It is somewhat similar to thin beef stew but with bones.  We decided to take the tour since there would be a cruise ship in on Sunday and everything would be busy.  John, our driver, took us around pointing out areas of interest stopping at many so we could look around.  Unfortunately we did not see any monkeys.  Sunday afternoon we went back in to town but everything was shut down for the day.  The cruise ship people were being shuttled all over the island with every bus and taxi that was available.  We dinghied back up the shore near our mooring ball and went to shore to check out the beach bars there.  We had $2.00 beers and appetizers at several places then back to the boat for the night.

In the morning we dropped the mooring ball and headed off for Montserrat.  We have several reasons for wanting to get to Montserrat: the English settled it by shipping the Irish there, similar to how they settled Australia and it has an active volcano.  St. Patrick’s Day is a weeklong festival.  Montserrat has an interesting story.  The only port is in Little Bay but there is no town there to speak of.  The capital of Plymouth is further along the island but when the volcano erupted in 1997 they evacuated the southern half of the island for “the weekend” according to Joe our tour guide.  The evacuation is still in effect.  In December of 1998 an eruption sent a blast that in 30 minutes wiped out the villages in the southern section.  The following season’s rains, more eruptions in 2007-2010 and subsequent rains have covered large areas, including Plymouth, with mud and rock slides.  We were fortunate that the day we wanted to take a tour we joined up with Lou, Dave and Will from the boat Syreni.  They had made arrangement for the tour to include Plymouth and the exclusion area, for an additional fee.  With five of us dividing the cost it was more reasonable.  The additional fee is to pay for the police to open the gate and escort you in and out of the area.  It is surreal to be in Plymouth.  Everything is covered from the mudflows up to the second floor.  If it is a single story building you may see the roof.  At the former two story police station the power line connection that is normally overhead was at our feet.  The flow has extended the land far out past the old shoreline, the new at that time pier that could handle two cruise ships is now a third of its length.  It is being used to ship barges of sand to the other islands, their only export.  We were able to drive through areas that are just now being opened up for travel.  They were going to have a twenty year anniversary celebration and were clearing some of the road of the three feet of ash that had covered them so the people could go back to see their old villages.  We are extremely glad we got to go on that tour.

Back to Montserrat and the festival.  We were lucky enough to visit the local museum the only day it was open to learn the history of the island and learned a lot.  In order to go to the festival area in the village of Salem we needed to take a bus.  First we needed to walk to the nearest bus stop area, about a fifteen minute walk, then catch a bus.  It took several tries to learn the way to flag sown a bus.  If you wave to them they just wave back as they drive by.  Once we (Cori) had that down things went better.  On our first try we asked someone if we were going the right way to get to the bus, he told us to get in and he would give us a ride.  He dropped us off and about a half hour to forty-five minutes later drove by, saw us still waiting and told us to get in and he gave us a ride.  The village of Salem does not have much other than a few bars, shops, and small eating establishments.  We met two nice you men that grew up on the island and moved to London but they were back for the festival.  One was helping his mother run the bar during the festival so that became our go-to location.  At one point we struck out on foot to find a nearby bay that would be closer to anchor and come in for the activities.  We (Cori) finally asked a couple working in their yard if we were close and found out we were nowhere near where we thought we were.  He unhooked his boat trailer and gave us a ride to where we were going.  They were farmers from Saskatchewan and were getting their house ready to go back for the summer.  He dropped us off at Hanks Beach Bar which was on the shore of the bay we were considering to move to.  We realized that if we moved we had no way of getting into town.  Cancel that idea.  There were two men walking the beach and agreed to give us a ride back to town with a quick stop at the volcano observatory.  It was a wild ride up where the river used to be, it was covered in about 30 feet of debris that had washed down from the volcano and through small one lane roads climbing up to the observatory.  They eventually dropped us off at our favorite bar and then we caught a bus back to the harbor.  We made several other excursions on the bus to check out other areas during the week.

St Patrick’s Day finally arrived, this is a National Holiday.  We walked with another couple to the bus stop.  Just as we got there a taxi that had offered us a ride at a ridiculous price stopped and told us we would never catch a bus on a holiday and offered us a ride at $5 each.  The bus is $3 so we took the ride.  There is a small empty field in Salem and it was filled with vendor booths selling local food and souvenirs.  We wandered the area waiting for the parade.  The parade was similar to the carnival parades we had seen in St Martin with the difference in the music and the costumes had an Irish theme.  This is the biggest event on the island and it is well attended by locals, former locals and tourists.  At the end of the day we shared a bus with a family of five that are living and traveling on their sailboat.

On Saturday we checked in with Chris, our weather guy, and his advice was if we wanted to sail to our next destination we needed to leave now or wait until Sunday and motor.  We pulled the anchor and headed out.  As we got further down-island the winds shifted to almost on our nose and 15-20 knots.  As we passed by the abandoned city of Plymouth we had some gusts in the 30’s.  We didn’t need to be anywhere that important so we turned around and when back to the bay we had scoped out earlier in the week and dropped anchor.  Several other boats also stopped for the night and it was entertaining to see them trying to get to the beach bar with breaking waves on the shore.  Most gave up or anchored their dinghy near shore and swam in.  We stayed on the boat.  We decided to let the seas calm down and stayed an extra day.

Monday, the 20th and the first day of spring, we pulled anchor and made our way, motoring, to Guadeloupe.  We stopped at the small town of Deshaies, pronounced Day-ay.  Just as we were entering the harbor the skies opened up.  We spent a while with several other boats circling around waiting for it to stop raining so we could go in to anchor.  We scored a nice spot near to the mooring field with a short ride in.  We went ashore, checked in with customs and immigration, much easier in the French islands, and checked out the village.  On Tuesday we decided to see more of the island so we caught a bus to Pointe-A-Pitre, the largest city and about an hour’s ride away.  Armed with a map and sitting in the front seat we got to see the towns and countryside along the way.  There is still a lot of sugar cane grown on the island so we got to see fields of cane and what the other islands may have looked like back in the days they were producing sugar.  Once in the city we had nowhere to go so we just wandered up and down streets in the business district stopping for lunch at a Chinese restaurant.  We have not had Chinese food in forever.  We caught the bus back but didn’t get the front seat; it was a lot busier on the return trip with more stops.  Wednesday we went to shore to go to the Botanical Gardens since all of the guide books say not to miss it.  There is supposed to be a number that we can call and they will send a vehicle to pick you up.  We do not have working phones but Cori was able to have a couple at the docks try to call them.  It was evidently not the right number.  We were able to communicate where we were going and they offered a ride.  They are from France and speak no English and we speak no French, it is amazing that we were able to get a ride.  The Gardens are spectacular, we ended up getting there at about 10:30 and left at 5:30 on the courtesy shuttle we had tried to use to get there.  While there we met Bob and Brenda from Pandora and had lunch with them.  We are familiar with the boat from his daily calls in to Chris for weather during his trip down.  He came after us and had to deal with some really bad conditions on his trip.  Each day when he checked in we commented that we didn’t want to be out there.  Just a note here on our provisioning: I had my last ice tea at dinner.  I don’t remember how many 12 packs I brought but I am now out.  I do still have diet coke however and we are not running out of anything else.  On Thursday we went in to mail some cards and found out the post office was closed for a Holiday.  No one can tell us what the Holiday is but they are closed.  We did a quick walk up to the cemetery since we could see it from the boat and it looked interesting.  They have a combination of very ornate and fancy mausoleums, a variety of less fancy and just graves with a cross marker outlined in conch shells.  It reminded us of the cemetery’s we visited in New Orleans.  After that we pulled anchor and moved on down the shore.  We stopped at Pigeon Bay since the guidebooks list this as an excellent diving and snorkeling spot.  It is part of the Jacque Cousteau National Park.  Our friends on Syreni were anchored in front of us and while visiting confirmed that the snorkeling was great.  The next day I dropped Cori off to take care of the laundry and I went across to Pigeon Island to snorkel.  Cori does not care for snorkeling so I go by myself but had a good time.  After that I picked Cori up at the laundromat.  Back at the boat and we got things ready to move on.

Saturday morning, the 25th, we pulled anchor and made our way to the islands called The Saints.  They are just off the south shore of Guadeloupe and we would not have to do a check in there.  We had winds in the 20’s and 4-6 foot seas, on the nose as always, so we motored the entire trip.  We were warned that the mooring balls fill up early and so that is why we left early.  We arrived about 2:00 and no mooring were available.  This is a deep anchorage but we found a spot with several others and anchored in 40 feet of water, the deepest we have anchored.  Last year we replaced our anchor chain and installed 200 feet and we used all of it.  We didn’t move overnight but the wake from the ferries rocked us some.  In the morning we put the 15 horse outboard on and went exploring.  We checked out another bay that we were considering and on the way back stopped at Pandora to talk to Bob and Brenda.  There were several moorings free and they convinced us to move onto one.  Back at the boat we pulled anchor and moved to a mooring.  The fee is only 10 euros per day so it is actually a good deal.  We are now much closer to the dock.  We went in to check out the town, it is just like looking at a postcard of a small French village.  We checked out some of the shops, found where to go when we check out and tried to get our phones connected to some Wi-Fi.   We got the phones connected enough to check emails but cannot get a good signal on the boat.  Cori went out with her kayak to check out the beaches for shells and sea glass and hit a beach that no one has walked for a long time and loaded up on seaglass.  We made arrangement with Bob and Brenda on Pandora to rent a golf cart to tour the island so we have seen pretty much all that can be seen by road.   We checked out several beaches and Fort Napoleon.  The fort is in real good condition and the main building is set up as a museum but it is all in French but still interesting.

The weather forecast is not favorable for traveling south so we plan to stay here for a few more days so we will get to see more of the island.

We have a deadline now, the worst thing you can have on a sailboat.  We have committed to being crew on a boat returning to the States in March so we need to get to Trinidad to get Hi Flite ready to be left behind.  It sounded like an adventure we didn’t want to pass up.

Monday, February 27, 2017

St. Martin

I would like to tell you how much we enjoyed St. Croix but that will have to happen next year.  We left St. Thomas on the 16th and started on our way.  We got about 2.5 miles and the engine started to act up.  It felt and sounded like fuel starvation.  We turned around and headed back to the harbor.  Rather than drop anchor we picked up a mooring ball and I went to work replacing the fuel filter.  It did not look that dirty but you never know.  We dropped the mooring and headed out again, motoring directly into a light wind.  All was going well until about seven miles out the engine did its thing again.  It wasn’t the filter.  Checking things out I found that the fuel primer bulb that is used to push fuel to the filter when changing filters was collapsed.  By dropping the rpm’s it ran fine.  We decided this was a sign we were not supposed to go to St. Croix and we turned and motor-sailed to Great Lameshure Bay on St John.  This is our favorite harbor on St. John and is a great place to relax and get away from all of the other cruisers and charterers.  On Friday I replaced the priming bulb and everything ran fine, again.  I then ran the generator and made water while Cori went kayaking.  Lee and Sharon on Allegro came in and in the evening we joined them and Larry and Barb from Aquilla for social hour.

We decided to make plans for the next week to go to St. Martin.  Chris Parker, our weather advisor, was forecasting an unusual weather pattern.  A low was coming in and the trade winds were to die and we would get a couple of days of winds from the NW moving to NE.  His advice was to wait until Tuesday.  Being as we were where we wanted to be it was an easy decision.  Saturday I decided to find why the priming bulb collapsed.  Was it just old and soft or did something plug the intake to cause excessive vacuum.  I pulled the pickup from the tank but could not find anything, especially with a full tank.  Later Cori went kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling with Lee and Sharon.  I spent the day with a good book.  Sunday we were picked up by Lee and Sharon and Tom and Pat from Lonestar and we rode their dinghies around the point to the sugar factory to hike to the petroglyphs.  From there we took the trail that leads up to The Great House.  During the slave rebellions most of the master’s homes were destroyed but not this one on St. John.  Over the years the park service has made attempts to restore parts of it.

Saturday morning Lee and Sharon came over to drop off a book and give us advice on St. Martin.  Later in the morning we dropped the mooring and headed off to Virgin Gorda to get ready to cross.  We chose to sail on the south side of the islands instead of the Drake Channel and Cori put out a fishing line.  She caught a nice size barracuda but he was set free.  Later she hooked up a nice 10 pound black fin tuna.  Her first tuna.  After that we cut back into the Drake Channel and motored up to the North Bay hoping to get a mooring in Lubrick Bay.  We could use the free water and ice they give when you use their mooring.  With the wind forecast to come around from the west and northwest everyone else had the same idea.  We anchored where we could find a spot and settled in for the night.

The trip from the BVI’s to St. Martin is about 80 miles so sailors have to leave late in the day to arrive the next morning.  Otherwise we would arrive at night in the dark, not a good plan.  In the morning we listened in to Chris Parker and were going to verify his advice when another boat, Callahan, called and asked.  We were a go for a late afternoon departure.  We contacted Callahan just to let them know we would be out there with them and waited.  At 4:30 pm we raised the main and mizzen sails, pulled our anchor and were off.  Once out of the harbor we turned to our heading and put out half of our headsail.  The winds were on the beam at 20 knots, gusting to 25.  Chris forecasted the winds to drop during the night and about 10:30 we were under four knots and started the motor.  We had sailed 30 miles of the trip.  We continued to motor-sail through the night with one rain squall, and when the sun came up in the morning there was an island in front of us.  GPS and the auto pilot did not let us down.

We arrived in St. Martin about 9:30 am and motored around the harbor looking for a good spot to anchor.  We chose a spot with a couple of other boats well away from the pack.  We launched the dinghy just as it started to rain.  Once it was over we got our stuff together to check in.  The rain fooled us and we got soaked.  St. Martin is divided between the French side on the north and the Dutch side on the south.  Where you check in makes a difference.  We chose the French side, Marigot Bay.  I you stay on the Dutch side you have to pay more, there is a charge for going through the bridge and a cruising fee to anchor in their bay or their side of the lagoon.  The French are more lenient, They will charge a cruising fee if you check in at the Customs office near the marina but if you go into town to the Island Water World store they have a computer set up that you use to check in, print your paperwork and one of their employees signs them and collects your $2.00 fee.  Being poor broke sailors we opted for the computer option.  It was my first time checking in using a French keyboard and most of the form in French.  With a little help we got checked in and started to wander around the town.  After a great lunch at one of the bakeries we took the dinghy through the French bridge, through the lagoon, under the causeway bridge and took a tour of the Dutch harbor.  We stopped at the Island Water World store there to check it out and to meet Rene.  Rene is the store manager and a good friend of Lee and Sharon.  We pumped him for information then headed back to the boat.

Thursday, the 23rd, we loaded the Honda generator into the dinghy and got ready to run back to Island Water World to have it serviced.  It runs but after it ran out of gas once it would not idle smoothly.  I suspected some debris got into the low speed jet.  After waiting out a short rain shower we were off.  They could not promise when it would be done but we could make it through the weekend without it if we had to.  We also talked to Rene about our problem getting the dinghy up on plane.  His advice was that wings would help but a lower pitch propeller would make a big difference.  They gave us directions to the Yamaha dealer and we were off on foot again.  Just down the street is Budget Marine, the other big marine store and we stopped there to look around.  There we ran into Tony and Deb from Exit Stage Left that we had met and traveled with in the Bahamas last year.  Once back on the boat we called a dive service to come out and clean the bottom.  It hadn’t been done since we were hauled out after catching a crab pot up in the Delaware River.  They were just finishing a job and said they would be right over.  We now have a clean bottom again.  By 2:30 they were done and we headed into town to a shop called Shrimpies which offers a number of services for cruisers including Wi-Fi.  We have been without Wi-Fi for almost a week.  Once at the shop we were able to get online and get updates and email.  One email was from the shop repairing the generator.  Due to the rain showers earlier the service tech did inside jobs instead of working on boats.  He cleaned and adjusted the carburetor and it was running fine.  I made the run down to get it, stopped off at Shrimpies to pick up Cori and then back to the boat.  The transfer of the generator onto the boat was successful, we didn’t drop it overboard, and then we headed back to the Dutch side for happy hour with Tony and Deb.

On Friday we started out early by bringing a propane tank in to be filled and to catch the shuttle to the grocery store.  We met up with Tony and Deb again.  Once the groceries were on board I collected the tools and supplies I thought I would need and we set off with the dinghy to find a beach we could use to change out the prop.  The new prop gets us up on plane in half the distance and we don’t notice a loss of speed.  We are happy.  We went back to town and stopped at the Tourist Center and they were having an event for the Carnival: free snacks and pasties and a variety of music and dance acts.  We wandered back to the main town center and ran into Dean and Kim from Dream Catcher whom we met last year while we were in Nassau.  From there we stopped at a phone store to get a sim card for the phone and then over to Dream Catcher for dinner.  We now have a data plan for as long as we are here and on a variety of other islands.  We can again communicate with the world.

Saturday started with music for Carnival at 5:00 am blasting out into the harbor.  Later as I let the generator run we went into town to check out the market.  Lots of stalls selling everything they think a tourist should have and more.  There were also stalls selling fresh fish, meat and fruits and vegetables.  The weather forecast is for the winds to increase and be in the 20’s out of the east for the next week so we opted to pull the anchor and move closer to the shore with the others to be better protected.  On the second try the anchor set and we are now part of the herd.  In the afternoon we headed back to the Dutch side for a fishing seminar at Island Water World and then to a party at the Buccaneer Beach Bar being put on by Outpost Magazine.  Outpost Magazine is the latest of Bob Bitchin’s endeavors.  Bob became famous or at least well know when he started and ran Latitudes and Attitudes magazine and wrote a couple of books about cruising.  We spent the evening visiting with old and new cruising friends and talking to Bob.  It was a long slow ride back to the boat in the dark but we didn’t hit anything and we didn’t get hit by anyone else.

Sunday was the adult parade celebrating Carnival; the kids’ parade was earlier in the week.  We went to town early and took the climb up the Fort Louis. The fort was built around 1780 and there isn’t much left of it other than the walls but it is a spectacular view.  We met up with Dean and Kim again and moved down by the sports stadium to watch the parade.  The parade was set to start at 12:00 but would take a couple of hours to get to us.  We made use of the time at one of the vendors sitting under their sunshade drinking beer and eating.  For $16.00 we got ribs, chicken, rice, macaroni and a salad that fed all four of us and the beer was $2.00 a bottle.

Let me describe the parade: slowly coming down the street is an 18 wheel truck with a flatbed trailer.  On the trailer is a generator, as many BIG speakers as they can stack and either live of recorded music playing loud enough to make your ears bleed.  Behind that is a dance group with elaborate feathered costumes dancing.  This goes on for a little more than an hour but the party doesn’t stop.  It is reported they will be doing another pass.  We wander up and down the street partying with everyone else until we decide to go home.  We got back aboard about 6:30 and I lay down for a “nap” that lasts all night.

Today, Monday, we made a run into town and walked up to the grocery store for more fresh provisions.  On the way back we stopped at one of the sidewalk cafes for lunch and to use their Wi-Fi.  As Cori made a trip down the block to pick up some bread at one of the bakeries the people at the next table must have noticed my tee shirt from Oriental and announced they were from New Bern NC.  It was Hal and Marsha on Eagles Wings and Rick and Peggy on Vision Quest.  Back at the boat I am running the generator since it is mostly cloudy and the solar panels are not producing much electricity and the water maker is also running.

The weather forecast is for winds in the 20’s out of the east for the rest of the week.  When it looks like it will drop off we will move to another island.  Which one we still have not decided but it will be hard to leave St. Martin.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Enjoying the BVI

We have enjoyed the BVI.  We have been moving every couple of days staying on moorings some nights and anchored others.  We are trying to anchor more but a lot of the bays are either real deep for have a bottom that will not hold an anchor or we would be causing damage to coral if we anchored.  On Friday, the 20th, we moved over to Cane Garden Bay.  There is a beautiful beach but it is on the list for the cruise ships that visit Tortola and a lot of tourists are bused there for the day.  In the evening they all clear out but then the three beach bars start competing who can have the loudest music.  With the tourists being bussed in it feels very touristy, even the local rum distillery.  They promote that they make the best rum in the islands but if you go there all you get is four VERY small samples for a dollar.  No tour, no seeing the facilities, just them hawking their wares.  They even have signs up that photographs are prohibited until you have bought a bottle.  I don't need photos that bad, but I took one anyway and was told to stop.  When we arrived we took a mooring but after riding the dinghy around the harbor we chose a spot and moved there to anchor for the night.  During the night the swell off the ocean shifted and the harbor was a rolling mess.  In the morning we joined the exodus out.  We then followed the north coast of Tortola to find a new location.  We had decided on White Bay on Great Camanoe Island and headed for there.  On the way we topped at Monkey Point to check out the snorkeling.  This is part of the BVI National Park system so we had high expectations.  Cori launched her kayak to go exploring and I swam in to check it out.  There was a lot of different kinds of fish including the school of little ones that surrounded me.  Thousands of little two inch fish everywhere, then as you move along you are suddenly out of them, just a wall of fish along the edge of the group.  We continued on to White Bay but there were several boats there and not a lot of room so we continued on to the other side of the island and picked up a mooring in the area between Great Comanoe, Marina Cay and Scrub Island.  On Sunday morning Cori took off with here kayak to go beachcombing.  I stayed aboard and ran the generator to charge batteries and run the water maker.  When Cori got back we dropped the mooring and moved to anchor next to the mooring field.  After that we took the dinghy out exploring and I checked out an area that is reported to be good snorkeling.  A big variety of fish but the coral was a bit disappointing.  In the early evening a boat came by selling fresh fruit and tee shirts.  Cori bought some fruit we have never had before.  Interesting stuff.

As we meet other cruisers we are always asking where we should go and almost all say we need to go to Anegada.  Monday morning we pulled anchor early and headed out.  We had been told we needed to get there early and since the weather was cooperating everyone was going to make the trip and the harbor would be full.  We motored against the wind for the eighteen mile trip and joined a line of boats going into the harbor.  We maneuvered around for a bit until we were able to pick up a mooring.  The harbor is on the south side and the winds and waves were from the north so it was a comfortable location, which is why everyone was coming here.  There isn't much to the town, several small resorts, a few restaurants that fill up early so you need a reservation and preorder since everything is made to order.  No walk-ins, no just showing up.  What they do have is some of the best beaches in the BVI.  After walking around a bit and riding through the harbor we called it a day.  We are competing with hundreds of charter boats everywhere we go but we found a good use for them.  There is one company that has equipped the boats with their own WiFi, and not locked it down.  If you get close to one of these you get free WiFi and we have started to take advantage of it when we find it.
Getting WiFi means we get connected again to the rest of the world.  That is good and bad.  While here and connected Cori got an email from Francine on Both Sides Now.  She and Ken were the first people we met when we were in the Bahamas our first year.  We have met up with them several times and it was their sailboat we delivered from St Augustine to New Bern last year.  On their way south for this winter they stopped off at Matthews Point Marina and spent a couple of days with us.  This was not one of the emails we wanted to receive.  While spending their time in Florida, they decided not to go to the Bahamas this year, Ken passed away from a battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis.  Ken was a great guy and will be missed.  Another sad day on Hi Flite, we hate losing friends.  The other side of the coin is how friendly everyone is and how many new friends we make.  On the ride to Loblolly Beach we shared a ride with a family from Argentina.  At the beach I went swimming and snorkeling and Cori walked the beach looking for "treasures".  At the appointed time our driver "Lawrence of Anegada" picked us and the Avellaneda family for our ride back to our boats.  We learned that the family was on summer break and were checking out sailing for the first time, with a crewed charter.  When we got back to our boat Cori got out here box of jewelry and we made a trip to their boat to give the girls their choice of some Bahamian shell and glass jewelry and Dimas got a pair of sunglasses since Cori didn't think he would want jewelry.  Of course his little sister immediately claimed his sunglasses.  That is for him to work out.  Cori now has four new Instagram followers.  We need to also mention the locals on the island.  Everywhere we went we were greeted with "welcome to our island" and when the guy came out to collect for the mooring ball his greeting was "thank you for being my guest".  They have a small island and they are very welcoming.  A note on Anegada Island.  It is different then the other islands in the area.  It is very much a low limestone island very much like the Bahamas instead of the higher volcanic islands that make up the island groups.

On Wednesday morning we dropped the mooring and followed the herd out.  We set sail and headed for the eastern end of Virgin Gorda.  We tried sailing but after several tacks called it quits and motored our way into North Sound.  We chose a spot off of Prickly Pear Island and set the anchor.  We launched the dinghy and headed of to The Bitter End Marina to check it out.  BEM is a large resort and marina operation and we found out how expensive it can be.  We checked to see if we could buy milk and they had it available, at $12.95 for a half gallon.  We are still drinking the boxed milk we brought along.  No way will we pay that.  From there we moved over to the Saba Rock Marina for happy hour.  Several painkillers later we were back on the boat.  On Thursday morning Cori went kayaking and I stayed to listen to the generator run.  I am thinking we need a wind generator.  I spent the day in the hammock suspended from the boom and got myself a real unusual sunburn.  Later we took the dinghy to explore the bay.

Friday we decided to treat ourselves and went to Leverick Bay Marina for the night.  We thought of getting one of their mooring balls and dinghying in for dinner but a mooring ball is $30 and a slip is $1.00 per foot  which works out at $42 for the night with 100 gallons of water and a bag of ice included.  Electrical is an additional $20 but our batteries loved it.  When we finished tying the boat up there was a smaller boat pulled up to our finger pier to drop off some people.  It turned out to be Richard Branson and his people.  He seems a real nice person, greeted and shook hands with everyone before moving along.  He has a house on a neighboring island and was there with his guests the Obamas.  We checked out the facilities, made our reservation for dinner and Cori did a load of laundry.  Walking out of the laundry Cori thought she recognized someone.  Tom Emberson was sitting there waiting for his group to get out of the showers.  Tom is the guy we sailed with and then bought his 29' Ericson, "Carina" from up in the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior.  In the evening we went for the all you can eat BBQ buffet.  We both ate far too much but it was all good.  Later as the music played we retired to the boat and crashed.  In the morning we pulled out and started making our way along Virgin Gorda.  We put out the headsail and sailed around the point and aimed for Savanna Bay.  We pulled into the bay, tucking inside the reef and set anchor with several other boats.  Cori went kayaking, met a  group from Ohio and then on Sunday she did a little maintenance sealing the teak toerails and  polishing the stainless steel.  We had some rain showers off and on both days but nothing that amounted to much, mostly a dark cloud coming over the island and drizzling or outright raining for a few minutes and then the sun would be out again until it happened all over again.

Monday morning, it is the 30th now, we pulled the anchor and went around the bend, about two miles, to Spanish Town.  We picked up a mooring and headed into town.  First on our list was a haircut.  We both have not had one since we left the US.  The beauty shop was closed but we came across a barber shop and both got haircuts.  This was evidently his first experience cutting a woman's hair.  It looked pretty serious when he went at it with a pair of shears.  From there we found the Flow telephone office and topped off our data.  I have internet on my phone again and we can use it as a hot spot for our other devices.  Back at the boat we decided to take the dinghy down to the area called "the baths".  This is an area with very large granite rocks with pools of water between and through them.  It is very popular and we had planned to go early the next morning.  Approaching through the moored boats there we spotted the boat our new friends from Argentina had been on and we stopped by to check.  There was a new group on board and the captain told us the family had departed over the weekend and were off to go skiing in Colorado.  Instagram posts show they are having a great time.  We tied the dinghy to the dinghy line and swam in to check out the baths.  There are several nice beaches with paths through and around the rocks, up stairs and along rope lines getting you from one end to the other.  A very impressive display put on by Mother Nature.  In the morning we dropped the mooring and continuing past the Baths we stopped at Fallen Jerusalem Island.  We had been told that the rock formations were similar to the Baths and there was better snorkeling.  We dinghies in but it was too rough to beach the dinghy so we threw down an anchor and I jumped in to check out the snorkeling.  Not bad but there was a lot of wave action that bounced me around a lot so we gave up and continued on.  We stopped at Cooper island and again, picked up a mooring.  Cori took the kayak out to some remote beaches to look for shells and sea glass and later I took the dinghy out to find her.  She tends to stay away longer then I am comfortable with, and since she is out of sight I have no idea if she has had problems or not.  By mid afternoon the moorings were filled and boats were either moving on or anchoring further out.  It is a very popular spot.  In the morning, Wednesday, Cori was off on her kayak again and I got some quiet time on the boat.  By noon Cori was back and we dinghies around then went in to grab some WiFi from the coffee shop.  At 4:00 we went back in for happy hour then a quiet evening on the boat.

Thursday morning Cori got a message from Bo and Allison on Selah that they were on their way and after checking into the BVI would meet with us at Peter Island.  We dropped our mooring and set the headsail to make the downwind run to Peter.  We pulled into Deadmans Bay and set the anchor among a number of other boats.  Later Selah arrived and dropped their anchor.  We had a discussion, while other boats continued to try to anchor around us and we decided to leave to move to Great Harbor.  There we met up with their friends Mike and Melanie on Moonshine, friends of theirs from Ohio.  Friday morning the other two boats left early to dive and snorkel on a nearby wreck and then we met up with them in Cooper Island.  We hung out on Moonshine for the afternoon and then in for happy hour again.  In the morning Cori was ready to head off with her kayak to another remote beach but this time I towed the kayak there and she transferred over to head in.  This beach was open to the open water and had four to five foot swells coming in and breaking on a reef before calming down and hitting the beach.  Cori decided not to give it a try and paddled back to the boat.  We dropped the mooring and set our headsail and mizzen sail for a relaxing sail to Norman island and picked up a mooring in the bight.  We rode around on the dinghy for a bit, checking out Willie T's bar boat and watched some of the clients jumping off the roof and upper deck.  Willie T's is world renowned and we needed to check it out.  Just going by in the dinghy was enough.  From there I dropped Cori off at a beach and I went over to one of the points to check out the snorkeling.  After that I picked her up, dropped her off at another beach and I went snorkeling again.  After that we got cleaned up and just made it for the last 15 minute of happy hour to meet up with Bo and Allison and some of their friends.  We made plans to meet at a rock formation called the "Indians" to snorkel in the morning.  We decided to take the boats there instead of the dinghies so we headed out first thing in the morning to get one of the limited moorings.  After breakfast of fresh caramel rolls we went snorkeling while Cori went to the beach for treasures again.  The snorkeling was outstanding with a lot of varieties of fish.  Unfortunately I don't know what any of them are.  From there we moved to Privateer Bay for the rock formation called "The Caves" which is a series of caves cut into the rock.  Cori was off on her kayak and I dinghied over to the dinghy line to tie up and get in.  I swam around a bit looking at the coral and fish, didn't see any turtles although others said they did, and then swam into the caves.  The cave vary from small and narrow then opening up to large chambers, and another that curves around to another opening.  It is pretty interesting snorkeling and very different when you come above the surface and you find yourself in a cave.  An interesting experience I would like to do again.  That evening, not having any interest in the super bowl we decided not to go back into the bight and moved around the island and dropped anchor in Benure Bay with a couple of other boats.  We had a nice quiet, non-rolly night.  In the morning Cori went off in her kayak again and I charged the batteries and ran the water maker.  It was so peaceful we decided to stay another night.  By the time we left Tuesday morning Cori had collected more shells and sea urchins then she could count.  As she cleaned them and prepared them for travel she quit counting at 600.  That is not a typo, 600 and didn't bother to continue counting.

When we left Benure Bay we were planning to move up to Beef Island and anchor for the night but when we got there it was a bit rolly with the sea swell and when we dropped anchor and backed down on it we were too close to Selah and pulled it to move.  We checked out another spot but it looked too rocky so we moved back and dropped again, this time a bit further away.  Bo went out with their dinghy to check his anchor and was not happy with it.  We decided to move on.  We motored around Beef Island, straight into 20+ knot winds and waves crashing over the bow and made the decision to stop at Marina Cay again.  We picked up a mooring but by the time Selah arrived they were all taken so they anchored for the night.  We went in for happy hour at the Happy Arrrr Bar and then had dinner on Selah.

We had been planning to attend the full moon party in Trellis Bay so in the morning we moved across and picked up a mooring there.  Bo and Allison had been there, done that so they moved on.  Trellis Bay is right at the end of the runway for the Tortola airport but it was not really very annoying.  What was annoying was all of the charter boats coming in and circling around trying to find and pick up a mooring.  They are usually motoring too fast, can't turn in a short radius, have too many people giving orders, over-drive the mooring, drop their boat hook and overall entertain and scare the heck out of everyone else.  The full moon party was to be held on Friday evening but the advice was to get there a couple of days early to guarantee getting a mooring.  We arrived on Wednesday.  We made a short trip to shore to see what all was there and later Cori went in with a garbage bag and picked up trash.  She was rewarded with a free drink at Jeremy's Kitchen.  On Friday we went in to try to get attached to someone's wifi but it was too slow so we moved out to The Island Last Resort Bar and Restaurant to try there.  It was a bit better and the entertainment was better.  They have afternoon hermit crab races.  It is a lot more entertaining then it sounds.  In the afternoon we went to Avventure to visit with Rob and Cindy.  Cori met them previously while on shore picking trash.  Friday evening we went in for the festivities.  There are several bars and restaurants along with a variety of shops and an art center.  There is an artist that makes steel fire rings and fireballs.  They fill them with wood and light them on fire.  The designs he cuts into them are then highlighted by the flames.  They are really well done.  The other attraction is a steel statue of a man with his hands up in the air that is also filled with wood and set on fire.  The statue and two of the fireballs are set out in the water so you also get the reflections off of the water.  There is food served everywhere so we had a variety of choices to eat.  There were several music stages with a variety of music being played. If you didn't like what you heard you just needed to move along to find something else.  All in all it was a good night, and the full moon over the water was spectacular.  We planned to leave Saturday but when the money collector came on Friday we were told that we could have the fourth night free, so we stayed another night.  Most of the boats had left on Saturday so we had a quiet day with me running the generator and Cori polished more stainless steel.  Again, in the afternoon more boats came in to pick up mooring balls and the entertainment started again.  Just a side note but when we came in and picked up a ball Cori got applause from several other boats because it went so well.  We have developed hand signals so she is able to tell me what to do from the bow without yelling.  We are getting better.  Docking is another story.  On Monday morning we went across to Marina Cay to top off the fuel.  We circled for a while until the fuel dock was free then we made our approach.  The wind caught me and we had to go around and try again.  Again, the wind caught me and we had to try again.  This time I overadjusted my angle and just about took off the bow of the ferry that was parked there.  With a bit of help from the ferry crew on our lines we got tied up.  We got our fuel and then headed off to meet up with Bo and Allison at Jost Van Dyke.  We tried sailing but the wind was too light and from right behind us so we motored there.  Once there we anchored in the same spot we had on our previous visit and joined Bo and Allison for a trip to the bubbly pool.  The sea swell was higher then last time we were there so there was a lot more activity when the waves broke into the pool, enough to knock us off our feet and toss us around a bit.  A very good time.  From there we moved out to the Bee Line Beach Bar for happy hour.  We visited with a couple from St Paul's MN and with Bunkey, the bar owner.  Being the social animals they are Cori and Allison soon made acquaintances with Ricardo and Signe on Privileged.  He is from Portugal, she is from Latvia, they live in France and are spending their first time in the Caribbean after having their boat shipped over from Europe.  Later, Bo convinced them to just stay anchored where they were and join us for dinner.  We ended up bringing the meal to their boat and spent an enjoyable evening comparing cultures and telling stories.

Monday morning we picked Bo and Allison up with our dinghy and we made a run around the point to Little Harbor for lunch at Sidney's Peace and Love.  Later we all met up at the Bee Line for happy hour and again met a number of other boaters.  Thursday morning we moved to Great harbor to check out of the BVI.  We had been here 29 days and only had a 30 day cruising permit.  We checked out and motored to Charlotte Amelie on St Thomas.  Once anchored we went in to have lunch and find our way to Immigration to check back into the US.  Once that was done we did some grocery shopping then back to the boat for the night.

The reason we wanted to come back to Charlotte Amelie, other then check in was to find Cori's marker.  In 2007, Cori's dad was here with a NOAA survey crew.  When he placed one of the benchmark markers he changed the number on it to Cori's name.  He then sent a picture of it and the GPS coordinates for it to her for her birthday.  It has taken us ten years but we have finally made it here to find it.  This morning we took the dinghy across the harbor to the marina it is located at and got some pictures of Cori with her marker.  You can find a photo at her Instagram: https://Instagram.com/p/BQioND8gdNo/

We are planning to leave St. Thomas tomorrow and make our way to St. Croix for a few days before venturing further east to St. Martin and begin working our way down the Leeward and Windward Islands.

Sorry there are no photos, I am still trying to get them uploaded so they can be added to the photo galleries.