Monday, February 10, 2020

Moving On Up

As the theme song for the tv show "The Jefferson's" says: We are moving on up.  In our case we are moving on up the islands.

We decided our time in St Anne was up and we pulled anchor on the 27th and moved around to the west side of the island to Petite Anse.  It was one of those special days when it all comes together, a downwind run then one tack to the bay.  We took the opportunity to play with holding the headsail out with the whisker pole since we foresee doing that on later in the trip.  Petite Anse is a small anchorage where there is a small community, an old church, a bakery, good snorkeling and more.  Once we were anchored Cori took the dingy to a beach to look for sea glass and I dove in to check our anchor and swim over to the main snorkeling area.  On the way there I was passed by a big turtle.

The next morning we checked out the town and the fish market and decided to move on.  The anchorage had an uncomfortable roll.  We tried sailing but the island was blocking the wind so we motored up to St. Pierre, at the northern end of the island.  St. Pierre is one of our favorite spots.  The town has a very interesting and sad history but the beach is one of the best for finding sea glass.  We anchored by Arctic Vixen and the next day Dreamcatcher caught up with us.  We spent several days wandering around and collecting sea glass.  The other two boats left to move up-island but we planned to stay over the weekend.  Those plans changed when we checked the weather forecast and decided if we were going to make it to Antigua we needed to leave Sunday.

At 5:30 Sunday morning the alarm went off and we were on our way by first light.  We had a combination of motoring and sailing to Dominica.  Along the way Cori saw a whale but I was too slow getting on deck to see it.  We pulled into Portsmouth harbor in the afternoon and picked up a mooring near Arctic Vixen and Dreamcatcher.  We were planning to stay just the night so we skipped checking in and just settled down to visit and rest.  We are not sure when we will see these friends again.  The next morning the alarm went off at 5:30 and at first light we headed out.  We need to do three fifty mile days so we needed to get an early start each day.  Once we cleared the top of the island we had a near perfect sail until we got into the wind shadow of Guadalupe and then started motoring.  We stopped for the night in the little harbor of Deshaies and settled in for the night.

Thursday, the fourth, we pulled anchor again at sunrise and started off on the final leg to Antigua.  We had visited these stops before so we didn't feel we were missing out.  We have not been to Antigua yet and were eager to check it out.  I got a momentary look at a whale as it dove down but couldn't tell you what kind.  We arrived in the afternoon at Jolly Harbor and anchored in one of the best shallow sandy anchorages we have visited since the Bahamas.  We spent the night, checked out the community in the morning and then motored around to Falmouth Harbor.  There is an additional fee if you check in at Falmouth or English Harbor so that is why we stopped at Jolly first.  Falmouth is protected almost 360 degrees so it is a popular anchorage.  I also has several marinas that cater to the mega yachts so there are some unbelievable boats here.

The winds have been howling, we get a little wet going ashore but we are enjoying our stay.  We have been getting together with Gary, Deb and Jack from Angel Sea.  Jack is somewhat famous, check out his Instagram page at "Jackthesailingdog", he has over 10.5k followers, I have 109.  It is a short walk over to English Harbor which is the home of Nelson's Dockyard.  In the 1700-1800 the British had a repair yard here and Lord Nelson was stationed for a while.  The buildings have been restored and is now an international heritage site.  There are several nice hiking trails that lead you to various defense sites the British built to defend the area.  Along the trails you run into a lot of wild goat which are fun to watch.

We plan to stay here until the winds let up and the seas calm but it may take a week.  Once that happens we hope to get further around the island to check out some of the other anchorages.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Moving On

Happy New Year to anyone reading this. It has been rather quiet and somewhat relaxing here. After the big push to get the major projects done it is nice to take a break. Not that nothing has been happening. Cori has been busy making covers for our fuel and water jugs. We carry extra fuel and water on the deck and the ultraviolet is harsh on the containers. She has some material that she uses, it lasts several years and this is the year to replace it. She is able to sew since I have been running the generator often. More often then I like but we are still using more power then the solar panels and wind generator can provide.

The winds have been blowing and most cruisers are staying put, us included. There is no reason to go out and get beat up. The beach at Hog Island is a short dinghy ride and we have been joining the group that congregates there. We also found that the restaurant in the boat yard next to us has a happy hour every Friday. Two for one beers and $1 wings. We have been going over since with the exchange rate it is an inexpensive evening. Usually the bill comes to about $40 EC which is about $14.80 US. We have made a couple of trips out and about: dinghying to other bays, bus to town for shopping and sightseeing (I love going to the local markets), music and entertainment at a variety of places depending on the evening. There is a large cruising community in Grenada and every morning the various activities are announced. We participated in one of the hashes our last weekend here. A hash is an event that involves a hike along a marked trail with a party following with about a hundred “hashers” participating. We brought our friend Sperry’s daughter, Alexa and her friend with since she had joined us in previous years and we got a chance to catch up and say good-bye. Overall it has been a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend our last time in Grenada.

Finally the winds moderated and it was time to move on. Boats that come into Grenada get a thirty day clearance and we were close to the thirty days. In the past I have had to pay for an extension just to leave a couple of days later. This year the timing worked out. On Monday, the 20th, we pulled anchor and moved into the marina to top off the water tanks. After that we motored out of the bay and moved around to the West side of the island to anchor outside of St George, the islands capital. The next day we took the dinghy into the main harbor for a look at the town from the water then stopped for lunch with a couple we had been on the hash with. After lunch we checked out of the country with Immigration and Customs and went back to the boat to prepare to leave in the morning.

It’s time to move on, we have a lot of miles to go this year. We have visited several of the islands nearby so we decided to make a bigger jump. We were going to do an overnight sail to Rodney Bay on the north end of St Lucia, about 150 miles. We pulled anchor about 8:00 am and started out. The winds were forecast to be light and they did not disappoint, except when they were too light to sail and we had to motor or when they were blowing 15-20 knots kicking up a swell we had to pound through. The winds are light while in the wind-shadow of the island and then kick up as they funnel through the openings between the islands and then you also have to deal with current and tides. All went well except at one point when my hat blew off. Most would say “it’s just a hat, let it go”. Not us, we do hat overboard drills instead of planned man overboard drills. It was now time to recover the hat. The hat incidentally is an $80 Tilly hat and this is not the first time it has been recovered. Once it was back onboard we were off again. We saw only a couple of ships during the trip and very few cruising boats. We arrived in Rodney Bay and dropped anchor at 10:00 am covering a distance of 136 nautical miles in 26 hours. We arrived just in time for a rain shower to wash the salt off the deck. We got a hold of our friends on Dreamcatcher and found they were just waiting for the shower to end and they were leaving for Martinique. After the rain shower we dinghied into the marina to check in and pick up some very important provisions. Unfortunately the Customs and Immigration offices were closed for lunch and would not reopen until 1:30. We went to the Duty Free shop to make arrangements for our purchase once the paperwork was complete. We were planning on checking in and out at the same time, leaving in the morning, and we needed the check out paperwork to buy the rum. I have found a favorite spiced rum made in St Lucia that I wanted to stock up on. Another disappointment, they were out of my rum. The store next door had it but a little more expensive. Saying what the heck, I bought five bottles and we decided we didn’t need to check in, we were pulling anchor and leaving. St Lucia is a beautiful island with a lot of wonderful people. As everywhere there are also the not so wonderful people. Rodney Bay now has the reputation of more dinghies stolen then any where else in the Caribbean and the officials are doing nothing to stop or prevent it. As expected cruisers are bypassing or keeping their visits short.

It was 1:30, time for the offices to open when we pulled our anchor and sailed the 20 miles across to St Anne, Martinique. At 5:30 we are anchored next to our friends on Arctic Vixen and talking to Dreamcatcher. The next morning we go ashore to check in. The French Islands are the easiest. You bring your paperwork to wherever they have set up the computer, some places it is a shop, a restaurant or tourist info location. We filled out the single form, printed it, the clerk stamps it and collects their fee. In this case three euros at a small cafe. Done, you are now free to wander aimlessly about the island. And wander we did, we joined a group of cruisers going for a hike. It turned out to be more then we had planned. We hiked across the island and followed the shore around the south side of the island. Stopping at Saline Beach, a very beautiful beach, where we met up with others who had opted for the shorter hike. After lunch we continued on back to town, with this leg passing through the nude beach. We won’t discuss the sights that can’t be unseen. Back to town we rewarded ourselves with ice cream. It turned out to be an eleven mile hike, more then we are used to.

Yesterday, Saturday, we took the bus into La Marin for shopping and we stocked up on french provisions. Somehow that ended up being an all day affair. Today is a quiet Sunday with Cori off with friends while I run the generator to bring the batteries back up and recommission the water maker. We will be back to making water rather then buying it. At the grocery store we saw cruisers with carts loaded with bottled water and can’t imagine where we would put it and what they do with the empty plastic.

In case anyone is interested, my project to eliminate the rattling inside the mast is a complete success. No matter how much we rock the cables are totally silent. Amazing what you can do with pool noodles.

That will be it for now, I am sorry that I don’t have the bandwidth to include pictures this time. Also I am having trouble with the No Foreign Lands map feature but I will get it sorted out. That is the link over on the right side that shows where we are on a map and the route we have taken to get there.

Until next time, Fair Winds and Following Seas.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Years Eve or "Old Years Night" as it is called here in Grenada

It's New Years Eve and we are sitting in Grenada.

The last post I said we were scheduled to be launched Monday afternoon.  We are used to "island time" and how things don't happen on a tight schedule.  We had a number of things that had to be finished by our 3:30 launch time and we were working on them when the lift operator stopped by to confirm he would be there and have us launched by lunchtime.  They only had two boats to launch and they wanted to be done early.  Soon he was back to let us know the other boat was not ready and he would be right over to get us.  So much for "island time".  The launch went without incident, nothing leaked, the engine started and we moved over to the slip we planned to spend the night in.  I made a trip over to the Customs office to let them know we were now in the water.  Last year we did not notify them and they were displeased.  This year they couldn't seem to care at all.  You never know what rules they are going to enforce.  The next day, Christmas Eve, the rigger came over and did a final tuning of the rigging.  I noticed that the fresh water pump seemed to be cycling more than usual.  A quick check showed that one of our water tanks we had just filled was down a quarter.  We searched everywhere looking for the leak and couldn't find anything.  Cori did a final load of laundry and sent out our float plan.  When traveling to and from Trinidad we have three Trinidad contacts that we notify so they are aware that we are out there and our contacts back home that we notify in case there is a problem and they get contacted.  After that we moved out to a mooring to finish preparations.  The weather forecast was saying the next two days were favorable for the trip to Grenada.

Wednesday, Christmas Day.  It was a quiet night on the mooring and it felt good to be back in the water again feeling Hi Flite gently rolling.  I found where I suspected the water leak was and decided to do a temporary fix.  I bypassed the pump that distributes the water and connected to a foot pump at the galley sink that usually pumps sea water in.  We still had fresh water but only at the galley sink.  By this time we were down a half a tank, thirty gallons.  We made another trip to the yard for a quick shower then went over to check out.  I had asked at Customs what the fee would be for checking out to be sure we had enough TT money.  I had not thought to check with Immigration if they had a fee.  Checking out with Immigration went very smooth and I was glad I had the $200 TT ($30 US) to pay them.  Off to the Customs office we went.  Because it was Christmas Day there was a clerk who didn't normally do that job.  After filling out the paperwork and she calling her supervisors to decide if everything was ok she asked for the fee, $250 TT ($37 US).  It was a holiday and overtime charges were added.  I had checked with Customs and had money for their fee but gave most of it to Immigration.  I was $200 TT short.  She was able to find enough change to break some of our US currency and we were checked out.  A lesson for next time, check with both offices about their fees.  Back on the boat we finished preparations and decided to move over to the fuel dock to top off the water.  We didn't want to leave without our tanks full.  Being a holiday the fuel dock was closed but the water was still turned on.  With the tanks full we cast off for our overnight trip to Grenada.

We make this trip overnight because of the distance and speed we travel, 80 miles at about 5-6 knots.  If we leave during daylight we will arrive after dark,  We try very hard not to arrive after nightfall, too many things can go wrong.  It was 4:00 pm and we raised the sails and headed off.  We have made this run two other times and we agreed that this was the most pleasant of the three.  The winds were out of the east-southeast at about 15 knots and the seas were only about 3-4 feet.  The best conditions we could ask for.  We made the passage without a problem arriving in Grenada just after sunrise.  It had been a cloudless night without a moon and the stars and milky way were as bright as I had ever seen them.  We motored up into Clarks Court Bay and dropped anchor at 8:00 am.  We sorted things out and lay down for a nap.  It had been a long night even with us changing off shift.  The day after Christmas is Boxing Day and is another holiday.  We opted to not check in and waited to do it the next day and avoid the overtime fee.

Friday morning we took the dinghy around to the next bay and checked in.  We were now officially in Grenada.  On the way back to the boat we stopped at Whisper Cove Marina to pick up a loaf of bread.  They have a bakery  and have some of the best fresh loaves of bread I have found.  Once on the boat it was time for a PBJ sandwich on fresh bread.  There is little else that can compare.  Now it was time to get to work.  I had planned out how to troubleshoot the leak problem by disconnecting and plugging one feed line at a time.  I reconnected the pump and started changing connections.  The third line I checked was the culprit.  Fortunately it was a line we do not use.  Several years ago we removed the sink in the V-berth and had left the line to feed a connection into the anchor locker for wash-down purposes.  Since then I had installed a wash-down pump and feed line from the forward water tank and that line was not being used anymore.  It was a simple matter of capping it off at he distribution manifold.  Problem solved.  Since the boat was built around the line it will stay there unused forever.

Saturday we made a run to a marina to buy some gasoline since I needed to charge the batteries after running them down on the crossing.  We are still using more power then the solar and wind generator can put in.  Cori joined her local friends at Hog Island to clean and prepare sea urchins to make what they call "sea eggs" and I spent the day reading and listening to the generator.  Sunday was a quiet day on the boat and we later joined a group of cruisers at the Hog Island beach for a couple of beers.  Monday was spent going to visit a local family that is storing some of our stuff and sorting it out and making arrangements to get it back on the boat.

It's Tuesday, New Years Eve and again I am charging up the batteries.  We have had a couple of overcast days and we are anchored where we don't get the full effect of the wind so the batteries need help.

Here is a little story about our time in Trinidad.  Trinidad and Tobago are an independent country that was a former part of the British Empire.  They have their own currency, the Trinidad/Tobago dollar ($TT).  The exchange rate of one TT  dollar is equal to about fifteen cents US.  Therefore it takes a lot of cash to pay for something.  For example one evening we went out for fish and chips.  The price was $98 TT or $14.50 US.  Needless to say most transactions are made with hundred dollar bills.  They announced that beginning December 14 they were introducing a new one hundred dollar bill.  Now when the US does this it leaves the old bills in circulation and takes them out of circulation as they wear out.  Here in Trinidad they announced that you had 14 days to trade in your old bills.  The old bills were being replaced and after December 31 would not be worth the paper they were printed on.  They become scratch paper.  You can imagine the confusion and the lines at the banks.They also required that you show proof of identification and fill out a form describing how you came to have this money.  There were several stories of people showing up with millions of dollars to trade in but they put a limit on how much you could trade at one time, depending if you were a customer of the bank or not.  It also took several days to get the new bill into the ATMs.  There were stories that car sales had jumped with many instances of being bought with cash.  People with too much cash were looking for ways to get rid of it.  This was all taking place during the Christmas shopping season and several days when the banks were closed for holidays.  Many of the businesses put an early limit on when they would no longer accept the old bills so that they would have time to exchange what they had on hand.  We had to be careful when exchanging money to be sure that we received the new rather then the old.

That's it for now.

We want to wish all of our friends and families a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Almost Ready

We are still in the boatyard.  I had originally estimated that we would be here for three weeks and it has been a little over five.  But we do have a launch date.  Of course we had one a week ago that got pushed back.

The big delay has been because we  decided to have the mast painted.  It took several days to remove all of the hardware, several more waiting for the welder to make some repairs, several to have it painted and several more to have it reinstalled.  While the mast was off we made some modifications.  We ran a new cable for the VHF radio.  This involved some soldering which is a skill I never developed but we made do.  The cables inside the mizzen mast (we have two masts) had been hitting the sides of the mast when the boat rocked.  We added several new cables in the last few years and it was now making a noise that we could no longer ignore.  This was the reason to have that mast pulled from the start.  We solved this by running the cables through several pool noodles and sliding them up inside the mast.  Now the cables will have some padding around them and the noise will stop.  Who knew there were so many uses for pool noodles?  Eventually all these were sorted out and it was  time to reinstall (step) the masts.  The reinstall went smoothly and all is well. I must mention that while the hardware was off the masts Cori gave every piece of stainless steel a thorough polishing and waxing.

Once the mast were installed it was time to get around to other projects.  I started a simple project with the engine.  I replaced the sacrificial zinc anodes and attempted to replace the water intake pumps impeller.  I say attempted because it didn't exactly go well.  First off you need to understand that we have a diesel engine installed in a very confining space.  To make matters worse it is installed backwards.  The front to the motor faces the stern and is only serviceable from the rear.  This means that in order to do simple jobs like adjust the belts I have to work while laying on top of the engine and working around an array of cables and hoses.  The pump is in a very awkward space and hard to work on.  Replacing the impeller involves removing four bolts, sliding the face plate off. sliding the impeller out.  Not impossible but just very clumsy to do while laying on top of the engine and trying to reach the work area with both hands.  I also had to deal with the fact that for some reason the power was out in the yard and I needed to aim a flashlight to the area I was working in.  Well, to make a short story long, it didn't go well.  The fourth bolt I attempted to remove sheared off.  It had corroded and was weak.  This meant that I now had to remove the pump and find a repair.  In order to remove the pump I first needed to reroute some hoses, and remove the alternator.  Not insurmountable but remember trying to hold that pesky flashlight?  Once the alternator was off I was able to get at the pump mount.  I was very proud of myself for not dropping anything until the last bolt and the specially designed mounting nut dropped under the engine.  Fortunately it and most everything I was working with are not stainless steel.  Stainless steel does not react to a magnet but this part did.  I was able to swing a magnet on a line near enough to catch it and the day was saved.  Losing things in the hidden pockets in a boat is not unheard of.  I once lost a socket and ratchet wrench while replacing the impeller several years ago.  I never have found them, I just need to add them to the price when we decide to sell the boat.  This all happened on a Friday and we were scheduled to be launched on Monday.  I checked around and was given the mane of a shop in the neighboring boat yard to take the pump to.  Remember I said the power was out?  It was an area thing and since the power was off they closed and went home for the day.  I checked with Budget Marine next door to see if they carried the pump, they didn't but told me who may have it.  I packed it up and caught a bus to check.  I told the driver where I was going and they dropped me off right in front.  Continuing my streak of luck the person who dealt with pumps was gone for the day.  I left the pump and asked him to contact me on Monday.   Monday I received an email from him that it was no problem, I just needed to decide if I wanted it in a week or in three weeks and the price was totally out of our budget.  I made the bus trip back to pick up the pump and they suggested a machine shop near the boat yard.  Back on the bus.  By now it was late and they were closed.  The next day, Tuesday, I brought the pump over and they said not a problem they would have it done by lunch.  Now I have to find a rebuild kit since the original problem was that the seal had failed and water had leaked out and ruined the bolt, not to mention the bearing.  Several calls and I was told they had the parts.  Another bus ride and I had the parts in hand.  I dropped them off at the machine shop and they said they would get at it right after lunch and to pick it up at 3:00.  We are used to everyone operating on island time but this is the first time that someone was true to their word and it was ready.  Wednesday morning I started early reinstalling everything.  It helped that the power was on and I had a light to work with.  I didn't drop anything, used no words I would be ashamed of saying in front of my mother and it was once again ready to run.  I also took the opportunity to change the oil, the filter and transmission fluid.   Service engine checked off the list.  We are getting closer.

The offending pump

The red beast that lives within

Now not all we are doing is working.  Most days, around beer-thirty, we have been making a trip to the store in the yard to have a couple of beers with other cruisers and compare the day.  Most days my problems are small compared to the others.

Cori has been busy with getting the sails on, giving the boat a good scrubbing and working on some sewing projects.  Today, Saturday, we took a break and made a trip to PriceMart (similar to Sams Club or Costco) for our final provisioning.  Other than fresh fruits and vegetables we have enough supplies to last several months.

We are scheduled to be launched Monday afternoon and plan to spend Christmas here.  We plan to make the trip to Granada later in the week when the winds and waves look more favorable.

That's it, not what I had planned when we arrived but it is all part of the cruising experience: repairing boats in exotic locations.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Still in the Yard, Working On Projects

Here's an update on how we are doing.

We are still in the boatyard, I had guessed we would be here for about three weeks and it has been two and a half so far.  I am estimating another two at most.  We have been busy.  We decided to pull the mainmast and have it painted.  There was some corrosion and we would be able to repair it and give everything a close inspection.  Having the mast pulled was the easy part.

I had gotten everything ready the day before and it took less than an hour.  That's when the work started.  I spent two days with a three pound hammer and an impact driver removing everything I could from the mast.  Most of these screws had been in place since the original construction in 1981.  The mast is aluminum and the screws are stainless steel.  There is a chemical reaction with two dis-similar metals and they will seize together.  A lot of PB Blaster, a penetrating oil, was used and a lot of force from the driver.  My arms ached for days.  Our painter got busy once everything was removed and stripped the old finish and got it ready for painting.  We were delayed several days while we waited for the welder to repair some spots with severe corrosion.  He did an excellent job of filling in and then grinding down the problem areas.  Finally it was time to paint.  Painting aluminum involves a number of steps.  First it needs to be cleaned, then etched so the paint will adhere, then primed and finally painted.  This was all done in an afternoon.

It is now sitting over the weekend to let it cure.

While all of this has been going on Cori has been polishing the stainless pieces that have been removed.  She has borrowed a grinder with a buffing wheel and is giving everything a good going over.

Other things have been happening also.  We have been having a problem keeping the batteries charged so it is time to change them out.  We use six 6 volt golf cart batteries as our main house bank.  When changing out batteries you have to replace them all at the same time or the older ones will drag down the new ones to their level.  Fortunately this doesn't happen very often but it is an ongoing cost of cruising.  The Budget Marine store next to the yard carries the ones I need.  An order was placed and when they were ready we made a trip to Customs to declare them and they were ready to be installed.  The yard provided us with a forklift and driver to raise them up instead of carrying them up  the ladder.

This is what $8400 TT (Trinidad and Tobago dollars) will buy.  It isn't that bad since it converts to $1200 in US dollars.  The reason for the trip to Customs was so that we would not have to pay the 14% VAT (value added tax or as we call it, sales tax).  We should get at least six years of use if I take care of them.

Another project was to finish up the windlass install.  It did not come with the proper size gypsy to fit our chain so that needed to be switched out.  I had bought the right one over the summer and brought it with us.  I found that I would have to remove the windlass in order to make the switch.  That went well.  I was also going to add a chain-stopper to guide the chain as it was going in and out.  Once I got the mount for that made and decided where it needed to be placed I realized I needed to remove the windlass once again in order to access the underside of the deck to bolt it down.  I am now very proficient at removing and installing the windlass.

It hasn't been all work.  We stop around 5:00 or beer-thirty to sit back and have a couple of beers with some of the other cruisers.  Sunday afternoon is time for dominoes.  Cori sends me to play and tries to get more work done without me in the way.  Thursday was Thanksgiving and in previous years we have joined the other cruisers for a pot luck dinner.  This year there are only about three of us from the US so it didn't happen.  Thursday evening is BBQ night where they fire up a grill and you bring something to put on it and a dish to share.  We spent the evening with three Canadian couples and grilled some chicken.  The day did not go by without some turkey being eaten.  Here is what lunch looked like:

This last Saturday we made a run to the public market.  It wasn't that we needed much, it is just another adventure.  Here are some photos:

Tomorrow we start putting the hardware back onto the mast.  Once that is done we will schedule having them reinstalled and continue with the projects.  Several of them can't be done until the mast have been re-stepped.

Did I mention that it is hot?  Everyday is about the same, 80-90 degrees during the day with a rain shower most afternoons that really kicks the humidity up and then down 70 at night.  We have an air conditioner so we are able to be comfortable and can get out of the heat at times.  Here is a typical weather forecast:

I have taken advantage of a good Internet connection to add a lot of photos.  I hope you enjoy them, I won't always have a good connection.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Another Adventure Begins

Well, we are back in Trinidad.  I didn't expect the adventure to begin until we were back in the water but others had different ideas.

We were scheduled to fly back to Trinidad on November 12.  It was going to be a long day but manageable.  We were up at 3:00 am to be at the airport in Rapid City by 5:00 for our 6:30 flight.  As we were being dropped off at the airport the temperature reading was -1 degree Fahrenheit.  We boarded the plane on time and then taxied over to the de-iceing station.  After being sprayed down the pilot announced they had a warning light in the cockpit and needed to go back to the terminal.  At the terminal we were ordered to gather our belongings and exit the plane.  It turned out to be a problem with a fuel pump.  After several hours they canceled the flight and we were re-booked on the 1:30 flight and would have to spend the night in Miami. They assured us that if we hustled when we got to Dallas we could make our connection to Miami.  Our flight in Dallas was already boarding when we arrived and we just made it, being the last ones on the plane.  We just made it but once on board they announced that there was a problem with the maintenance log and we would have to wait for a mechanic to straighten it out.  An hour later they cleared us for takeoff.

On arrival in Miami we checked in with customer service to see what they were going to do with us.  We lucked out and they would hold our bags rather then make us collect them and recheck them in the morning.  We had checked four bags each weighing between 48 and 52 pounds.  We didn't want to be dragging them around.  They also provided us with a hotel room for the night due to it being a mechanical problem.  I was guessing what flea-bag hotel we were going to but they booked us into a Hilton.  Room service closed at 11:00 and we just got an order in before closing but learned in the morning that they could not take our meal vouchers.  We set an alarm for 7:00 AM and crashed.  In the morning we checked out and caught the 8:00 shuttle back to the airport where we had breakfast using our vouchers.  We also had a voucher for dinner the previous night that we couldn't use so we bought some sandwiches to take with us.  Our 1:00 am flight left on time and we arrived at Port of Spain, Trinidad about 3:30.  We had booked a driver to pick us up and once clear of Immigration and Customs we were off for an hour and half drive to the boatyard.

But first we needed to stop at the Customs office near the boatyard to declare the boat parts we were bringing in.  Trinidad does not charge a duty on boat parts but you have to declare them, show receipts and explain their use.  We had told the Customs agent at the airport that we had six packages of parts.  On the ride we dug through the parts and came up with six items that we packed into separate zip lock bags with their receipts and that is what we presented to the next agent.  It turns out our Sodastream machine is not considered a "boat part" but she decided not to charge us the duty.  We were finally dropped off at the boat about 7:00 pm.  We were back home on Hi Flite, now we could eat the sandwiches we brought with since there is no food on board yet.

The rest of the evening was spent rearranging things on board so we would have a place to sit and clear the bed.  We had workers on board while we were gone so we had to have certain areas clear for them to work, so much of our stuff had been stored for the summer out of their way but in ours when we arrived.  We left unpacking for the morning, to the point we left the suitcases under the boat rather then bring them up the ladder.  Remember, we are out of the water and anything we do requires a trip up or down the ladder.  In the morning we treated ourselves to doubles from the vendor outside the boat yard entrance.  Doubles are a breakfast item popular here and is one of our favorites.  I bought lunch from our favorite lunch lady, again in a booth outside the yard, who was happy to see us back and had enough left over for dinner.

We have been unpacking, rearranging stuff and making plans for the next set of projects.  We had the mizzen mast (the shorter mast in the cockpit) pulled and painted and we have decided to have the main mast pulled and painted so that they will look alike.  Something we had debated doing last fall and kept rethinking all summer.  We have a laundry list of other projects that need to be finished so it may be up to three weeks before we are launched.  Cori made the first trip for provisions, once unloaded it seems to be a pallet load.

I have added another feature to this blog.  If you look at the top of the list of links on the right side you will see a link to an interactive map that will show our travels this season.  If you click on that link and search for the vessel Hi Flite it will show our current location and tracks.  Hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

End of Summer Update

It's now late October and we are getting things ready to return to Hi Flite.

A lot has happened since we returned.  We came back earlier then we had planned so that I could have cataract surgery. It is amazing to not need glasses, except for up close, for the first time in about sixty years.  We had two graduations to attend and now the nephew and great-nephew are beginning their careers in the Air Force.  We both returned to our jobs from the previous summers and got back into the workforce.  This helps with the cruising kitty, pay for maintenance and buy boat parts which there seems to be a never ending list.  It wasn't all work, we put about a thousand miles on our ATV exploring the trails in the Black Hills National Forest and spending time with friends and family.  I took time off to go to my high school reunion, can't believe that it has been fifty years.

While we have been away we have been getting updates of projects we contracted to be done over the summer.  Many cruisers will not contract to have work done while they are away choosing to be on hand to monitor the work.  We have been lucky that we have some very reliable contractors and they give up periodic updates.  We had the mizzen mast pulled and it and the booms are being repainted, photos show that it looks impressive and we may need to do the main mast. There is a bit of deck work to be done to repair and paint the area the old windlass was mounted and around several hatches.  Below deck everything is teak.  Prior to moving aboard we re-varnished everything.  Now it is time for some major touch-up.  Living aboard and trying to varnish is a major pain, the fumes are hazardous, it's almost impossible to not touch or bump into fresh varnish and we are constantly moving things to access another area.  Cori threw in the towel and arranged for the worker that replaced the cap-rail last year to do the varnishing.  There are some additional advantages to finding a good boat yard and workers.  We got a notice one day that there was something spilled in the cockpit.  There is a box built in the cockpit that also serves as a table that the previous owner used to store his dive tanks.  I use to store motor oil and changing supplies.  Evidently one of the containers started to leak and the cockpit floor was awash in motor oil.  Usually this would be an unpleasant surprise when we return.  Cori got a notice from Ricky, who is watching the boat and doing some of the work, that they found the spilled oil and cleaned it up. There will most likely be more surprises for us on our return.  Boats do not like to be left on their own and will let you know with a variety of problems and surprises when you return.

We are scheduled to fly back to Trinidad November 12.  We are in the process of stocking up on things we will need that we cannot get in the islands and a variety of boat parts.  A short story of how that is going: we have a water-maker on board.  Last season while repairing the pump I damaged what is called a "poppet" and it's corresponding spring.  I wrote about that experience in a previous post.  I contacted the manufacturer (Katadyne) to determine which part kits will replace the damaged parts.  I received a response with the appropriate kits and an offer to just send me several replacement poppets, springs and o-rings at no charge.  They arrived several days ready to install when back to the boat.  Other parts range from inexpensive to rather expensive (windlass gypsy = $400), light-weight to heavy for their size and some odd shaped and hard to pack.  We will be paying for the extra bags we will be taking and they all must be under fifty pounds.  We looked into shipping a package before we leave to meet us there but the cost is prohibitive.

Once we arrive in Trinidad we have a couple of projects to finish before we start moving up-island.  We are planning for this to be our last season in the Caribbean and are planning to work our way up the islands back to the Virgin Island and from there work our way to the Bahamas and then back to the US.  Once back in the US we are planning to continue full-time cruising the east coast from New England to the Bahamas and possibly on excursion into the gulf coast.  As usual we keep the old adage of "sailing plans are written in the sand at low tide" meaning they are subject to changes on a regular basis.