Thursday, March 26, 2020

Bahamas

This is just a quick update while I have a connection. We made it to the Bahamas without incident. We checked in at Great Inagua Island before they started the serious lockdown. We have changed our plans and instead of being back in the States mid-April we are going to stay in the Islands as long as they let us. Maybe by then things will have calmed down. Stay safe and practice social distancing. Don’t forget to keep washing your hands.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Puerto Rico

We have moved to Puerto Rico.

While still in St John, USVI we spent a couple of days on a mooring in Lameshur Bay.  This is one of our favorites.  The view from the boat is forested hills on three sides and the open Caribbean Sea on the other.  There are two buildings that can be seen: the roof of the rangers cottage and a research facility at the dock.  There are no lights at night other then from your fellow boats, pure peaceful paradise.  I did some snorkeling and we hiked one of the trails to the petroglyphs.  The hike was a lot harder then I remember from last time we were here, about three and a half years ago.



Squid aka: calamari


We are in the furthest bay



Termite nest, the dark lines are their covered trails





Sandbox tree, Stories are they would tie you to the tree for punishment



The next day we motored around the island and again picked up a mooring in Caneel Bay.  From there we dinghied into town to do laundry and another burger at Tap and Still.

Saturday, Leap Day. we moved to Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas.  After lunch we went ashore and immediately ran into our friends on Peace.  We had not seen them since last year when we went on a tour in Dominica with them.  We spent a bit of time with them and then hit the grocery store.  We stocked up once more with fresh vegetables and added more rum to our collection.  Cruzan Rum is made in St. Croix and is inexpensive here.  The next day Cori went out exploring one of the islands in the bay in her kayak while stayed and ran the generator to bring the batteries up.  There was a small cruise ship in so a number of stores were open so we went ashore again.  One of our stops was at a small bar.  When we arrived there was one other couple and the bartender.  It turned out three of us were from Minnesota, all being happy to not be there this winter.  From there we wandered back to the Tap and Still for another burger.  They have a really good burger.  The next day we went ashore and walked to the Frenchtown district.  The streets have French names and the French Bistro had authentic Cajun food and a feel of New Orleans.  From there we walked to Crown Bay Marina.  Cori wanted to check on her NOAA mark.  Back in 2007 Cori's dad was in the islands surveying for NOAA.  One of the marks he was able to rename and marked it as Cori.  For her birthday that year he sent here the Lat and Long of her birthday present.  When we were here before we found it and she wanted to check on it again.  It needed a little polishing and she was able to borrow some polish from the mega-yacht that was docked next to it.



From there we caught a bus back to downtown to spend some quality time with Sydney, our favorite bartender at the Tipsy Turtle.

The next morning we pulled anchor and moved over to Brewers Bay.  The downtown anchorage was getting rolly.  We traded a rolly anchorage to one where the airport runway blocked the swell.  The noise wasn't bad, there is a nice beach and it is quiet in the evening and overnight when the airport shuts down.  We went ashore and collected more shells.

The next day, Wednesday the 4th, we pulled anchor and motor-sailed to Culebra.  Culebra is part of the Spanish Virgin Islands and is a part of Puerto Rico.  We were here around Christmas 2016.  We just hung out doing a couple of little projects.  On Friday we went back in for an early dinner at Zaco's Taco's.  It seems to be the thing to do.  After that we wandered to another bar for a beer and the view.  Checking Facebook I saw that our friends from Dos Libras were at at another establishment.  We quickly paid up and walked over. for a visit.  We had met them the last time we were here and had not seen them since Grenada last year.  They have now sold their boat and are living in Puerto Rico.

The next morning we motored around to the east side of the island and picked up a mooring to snorkel the reef.  This is one of the better spots that I have snorkeled and I wanted to check it out again.  We spent the night there and in the morning headed off for Puerto Rico.

Our plan is to move from Puerto Rico to the Bahamas and we wanted a chance to get caught up on some projects before then.  We also have to wait out some inclement weather.  First thing was to fill up on fuel.  We were down 3/4 of a tank.  My record show that we last filled in Guadeloupe last February before heading back to Trinidad for the summer.  We took on 60 gallons, by my records we have traveled 975 miles since then.  We do sail as much as we can.  Once we were in our slip and all settled in our friends on Blue Moon arrived.  We had not seen them since Trinidad last year.  They are on their way back to the US also.

Today is rainy and we are taking care of some projects.  I have redone the spicing on our anchoring bridle, it had gotten chafed, and I am running the equalizing cycle on our batteries.  This is the main reason for going into a marina.  I need 110 AC power to get the batteries to full charge and then run the cycle which can be an all day event.  Once this is done they should hold a charge better.  My records also show that this is the third time in almost four years since we left North Carolina that we have been to a marina.

We will be waiting out the weather for a good window for the jump to the Bahamas, possibly checking out the south side of the island while we wait.  Time and weather will tell.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Back in the US, Sort of...

Well we are back in the US, sort of.  We left Antigua and sailed to St John in the US Virgin Islands.

We were sitting in Falmouth Harbor, Antigua waiting for the winds to die down.  The forecast each day was for winds in the upper 20's with gust into 30's.  Not nice for sailing.  The harbor is large so with these winds there was a bit of chop kicking up and we were assured of getting wet when going ashore.  I really wanted to get over to the East side of the island to check out some anchorages but that involved motoring directly into the wind and seas.  Eventually we said "enough" and decided to move.  We motored out of the harbor and had two choices, left or right.  Left was upwind to the east and right was back to the west end running downwind.  Most sailors would say this is a no-brainer.  I on the other hand wanted to see the east end, how bad could it be?  We motored directly into 20-25 knot winds for an hour.  We were pushing directly into six foot seas with waves crashing over the bow and dropping into the trough between waves.  This continued as the seas grew bigger.  Finally we dropped off one wave at least nine feet high and plowed into the next burying the bow.  My next thought was that I would have to take these on the beam (side) when we turned to get into the anchorage.  That's when we decided we didn't like this and turned around.  We were off to the Jolly Harbor area like we should have done in the first place.  Running downwind was much more comfortable and safer.  We made it around the end and decided to continue a short distance past Jolly Harbor to Five Islands Bay.  Once in there we anchored just off the Hermitage Resort and were able to attach to their WiFi.  We had the added enjoyment of watching the Valentine Weekend sailing races.  On Sunday they raced again.  This was a lot different then Falmouth Harbor, we were among only six other boats.  While we were here we spent some time visiting with Robbert and Luuke on their catamaran Eight and also Ron and Penny on Arctic Vixen.  We made a trip to shore to check out some of the beaches and a couple of blow holes.  A blow hole is where a wave pushes into a confined space and then shoots out another opening, similar to a geyser.


On Wednesday, the 19th, we pulled the anchor and went around the point to Jolly Harbor.  We went ashore, bought some groceries and took care of the paperwork to check out of the island.  The forecast was for the high winds to start dropping and it was time to move on.  The next morning we pulled anchor and started our way to St John in the US Virgin Islands.  The winds were still 20-25 knots and the seas around six foot but we were traveling more downwind which cut the wind strength into the teens and the seas were off of our starboard quarter, behind and off to the side.  The seas pushed us around a bit as they moved under us causing a roll but it was manageable.  We had a little under 200 miles to go in an estimated 30 hours.  We sailed trough the day and overnight with clear skies and lots of stars.  Our wake was kicking up some phosphorescent critters which look like fireflies blinking in the disturbed water.  Altogether a pleasant trip traveling at 6-7 knots.  In the morning our batteries were running a little low and the wind was dropping.  Eventually we were doing around four knots and it was time to motor sail.  This would have the added benefit of charging the batteries.  Unfortunately when we started the motor the alternator did not kick in.  We continued motoring until we reached St John and picked up a mooring in Caneel Bay just off of the town of Cruz Bay.  We had the opportunity to try out the Customs and Border Patrols new app to check into the country.  I had filled in all of our information and once we were within cell phone distance I sent the notification we were arriving.  In about 15-20 minutes I got a response that we were cleared for entry.  That's it, no having to go ashore to the Customs and Immigration offices.  It was about 1:30 on Friday and we were now officially back in the United States.  187 miles in 29 hours.

We spent two days on a mooring at Caneel Bay, first trouble shooting the alternator problem then heading into town.  I had it figured that we had either a connection problem, a bad voltage regulator or a bad alternator.  First we got the spare regulator an alternator out of storage then dug into the problem.  We were in luck, it was a bad wire connector that failed.  I redid the connector and started up the engine.  We again had a working alternator.  Then we launched the dinghy and went to town.  There is a restaurant called the Tap and Still with very good burgers.  It has been four years since we had one on St Thomas and looked forward to a burger and fries.  We were not disappointing.  We wandered around town for a while and then went to Woody's Seafood Saloon for happy hour.  Happy hours run from 3:00 to 6:00 so it is never too early.  Woody's promotes itself as having "a world famous happy hour".  When asked why world famous, their response was because people from all over the world come there.  I guess that is simple enough.  It is a small place with three tables inside and two outside and the sound system blasts out a combination of older rock and country.  Three rum and cokes later, ($3.00 each) we were on our way back to the boat to run the generator to top off the batteries.

We spent two nights on a mooring in Caneel bay then moved around to the north side of the island to Waterlemon Bay and picked up a mooring and shared the location with ten other boats.  St John is almost all a national park and anchoring is not permitted.  The park service has installed moorings in most of the bays with convenient pay stations for us to use.  The fee is $26 a night but with my Senior Pass I get to use them at half price.  This location gave us a view on three sides of forested hills climbing up from the shore and several island that are part of the British Virgin Islands to our north.  The BVI islands were the only lights at night.  During the night a north swell filled in and we did a lot of rolling making for an uncomfortable night.   In the morning we dropped the mooring and moved around to the southeast side to Round Bay and anchored with four other boats.  So much for crowded anchorages.  We took the dinghy over to some rocky beaches to get off the boat and then spent a quiet night at anchor.

We are presently hanging for another day and night at Round Bay since it is out of the park and a free anchorage and we are getting fast WiFi.  We plan on spending a couple more nights in some of our favorite anchorages before moving on.

Here are a couple of photos since the WiFi is working:







Biggest hermit crab we have ever seen.


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.