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.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Back in the USA

We are back in the US getting ready for the summer.  It is odd that we are ending our season when everyone in the US is just getting started.  That's the difference with us cruising in the winter and avoiding the summer weather in the islands, including hurricanes.  The reason we leaving the boat in Trinidad again is that it is out of the hurricane zone.  It's been over 100 years since a hurricane hit that far south, or so I am told.  She is up on land and a couple of workers will be taking care of some projects and looking after her while we are away.

 We had a great season even with the usual problems.  We visited seven countries, several are single islands and several others are groups of islands where we visited more than one of them.  We did not travel as many miles as we had in previous years.  We traveled 829 nautical miles or 953 statute miles.  Nautical miles are a little longer that statute miles which causes the difference.

We had some days of great sailing, a few that made us wonder why we are doing this.  We saw many beautiful sunsets, several "green flashes" (yes, they exist, Google it), many rainbows, several double rainbows, and any number of sunrises if we were up early enough or doing a passage.  We had many days with high winds, very few days with light winds.  Since arriving in the Caribbean we have changed our attitude of what constitutes too windy to sail.  Previously 20 knots was our upper limit.  In the islands 20 knots is the norm so we did a lot of sailing with winds of 20-25 knots.  We met a lot of other cruisers and ran into a number we had met previously.  There is a large cruising community out there and it doesn't take much to find common interests when meeting new people.

We are back in the States, having arrived in Boston.  We bought several used sails from another Pearson 424 owner and picked them up in Newport RI.  From there we drove down to Richmond VA to visit Cori's brother and then drove down to North Carolina and are staying with friends just up the road from our old marina home.  We have a storage unit in the area and will be storing the sails there until we return to the States with the boat.  From there we will be flying to Denver to visit Cori's other brother and then to Spearfish SD for the summer.  I have plans for several trips back to Minnesota to visit family and friends also.

What's next?  We are constantly making plans for the next season and revising them.  At this time our plan is to return to the boat in October or November, visit a number of the islands as we work our way North to the Virgin Islands.  From there we plan to make the move to the Bahamas and then back to the US.  We think we will be back in the States this time next year.  At that point we will go back to cruising up and down the east coast and spending the winters in the Bahamas.  Don't hold us to that plan since all plans are subject to change.  As we cruisers say "plans are written in sand at low tide."

We hope you have enjoyed following our adventure and will continue in the future.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Back in Trinidad

Wow! It's been almost a month.  Time flies when you are are busy I guess.

We spent a couple more days in St Pierre, mostly collecting sea glass, it is just too easy here and it is our last chance this season.  Monday, the 25th, we pulled anchor and moved on.  We had planned to stop at Fort du France but with the winds from the east we would have had a hard motor into the wind just to make a grocery stop.  We decided to continue sailing on to Petite Anse, also known as Anse de Arlette.  The appeal of this bay is a small town with a very pretty church and it is a smaller less crowded bay and beach.  It also has an office where we can check out of the country.  As we motored into the bay we spotted Ron and Penny on Arctic Vixen.  We had not seen them since they left Trinidad.  On Tuesday we walked over to Grand Anse beach with them and Jennifer and David from Triple Cream for lunch.  In the afternoon Cori went to a beach for more sea glass and I worked on the windlass, it was acting up again.  Wednesday, Cori went back to the beach and I continued working on the windlass.  The motor is completely falling apart but I got it to work again.  Later I made a trip to shore to buy our last baguettes and check out of Martinique.  In the evening we went to Arctic Vixen for drinks with them and Jennifer and David.  We had a favorable forecast for travel on Thursday so in the morning we pulled anchor and headed to Rodney Bay in St Lucia.  Again we set a reefed headsail and the mizzen with winds 15-20 knots doing 5-7 knots of speed.  We had a variety of wave conditions with the roughest about midway between the islands when we had waves breaking over the bow as we would drop into the trough between them and plow into the next.  Without the cockpit enclosure we would have been soaked.  We arrived at Rodney Bay about 1:30 having  made good time, dropped the anchor and headed in to check in with Immigration and Customs.  Our friends, Dean and Kim from Dream Catcher are here in the marina so we were able meet up with them.  The next morning we took care of a couple of projects, ran the generator to run the water maker and later joined Dean and Kim at the pool and for drinks later.  It pays to have friends in a marina.  The next day was a copy of the previous including the pool and drinks. Sunday was a quiet day with a short trip in to pick up some groceries and join up with Dean and Kim, they will be leaving in the morning.  Monday and Tuesday it was windy with rain showers so we had quiet days on the boat getting a few things accomplished.  We had found one of the stanchions leaking so that got re-bedded.  We have almost eliminated the leaks that have been plaguing us for years.

We were planning to leave on Thursday, the 7th, so we made a final trip in to get rid of garbage, have lunch, pick up some duty-free liquor and check out.  In the morning we were up with first light to pull the anchor and move on.  We have plans to sail overnight to Granada.  The winds had died down and we were in the wind shadow of the island so we spent the first few hours motoring.  About the time we reached the bottom of the island we were greeted by a pod of dolphins that stayed with us for a while.  The wind was building and we were able to sail with the headsail and the mizzen,  I don't know if i ever explained our sails.  We have the headsail, which is at the front of the boat that we roll up to take in or to make smaller, the mainsail on the main mast and a shorter mast in the cockpit called the mizzen that we use almost all of the time.  We have two mast so therefore we are classified as a ketch.  The winds had not built much only blowing 12-15 knots so we put up our main with two reefs making it smaller than normal and we were off.  We sailed through the night, completely by-passing St Vincent and the Grenadines and in the morning we were at the top end of Granada.  We had seen a couple of ships during the night but otherwise we were out there by ourselves.  We continued down to St George, the capital city, and since it was still early we decided to continue on to Clark's Court Bay where we would prep for the trip to Trinidad.  The seas had been from behind us giving a comfortable ride until we turned East at the bottom of the island.  Then we were hit with 20+ knot winds on the nose and were motoring into 6 foot waves and a current.  Finally we pulled into the bay and dropped anchor about 10:00 AM.  It had been a 28 hour trip, traveling 144 miles.  We launched the dinghy and rode in to check in with Immigration and Customs again.

We spent the next couple of days sorting out what we were going to store for the summer with our friends in Granada and what we were taking with us, doing a few projects and Cori spending time with her fishing friends on Hog Island.  One of my projects was to change the oil.  After getting everything out I found that I did not have an oil filter.  I had bought a lot of them back when we left the US but did not realize that I had used the last one.  I made a trip to shore but the boat shop did not have what I needed.  The next day I took the shuttle to town to another boat shop, again so luck.  Since it is supposed to be a common filter I took another bus into the city to check the NAPA store.  Again, no luck, I will just have to bring more back next season.  The weather forecast for was good conditions Tuesday and Wednesday so we made our last drop off for items being stored, bought some necessary provisions (diet coke), said our good-byes and took care of checking out of the country.

About 5:30 PM we pulled the anchor and with the headsail and the mizzen we were off to Trinidad.  It is about 80 miles and with the speed we travel we need to decide when to leave.  If we leave in the morning we will arrive at night, something we avoid doing.  If we leave in the evening we will arrive in the daylight but need to sail overnight.  The winds started out at 15-20 knots but after a couple of hours it dropped into the lower teens and we made good progress at 5-7 knots, at times the wind dropped off until we were only doing 3 knots but it always came back up after a while.  The seas were a moderate 4-6 foot on our side so at times it got to be a bit rolling. There was just the smallest sliver of a moon that cast a light to see by but eventually that set and it clouded over making for a dark night.  We saw the lights of a number of ships but nothing close to us.  We have a waypoint at a well lighted oil rig which makes navigation easy.  In the morning we approached Trinidad and were again met by a pod of dolphins.  We motored through the pass and into the harbor and were able to get the last mooring ball, arriving about 10:30.  We dinghied over to Immigration and Customs to check in then went to Powerboats to let them know we had arrived and to start the paperwork and then treated ourselves to lunch from our favorite lunch lady, with a big "welcome back" from her.

We had planned to be back here the beginning of April but were a month early.  They were able to accommodate us and put us on the list as the second boat to be hauled out in the morning.  Thursday, the 14th,  we first made a trip to the fuel dock to top off the tanks, it took two tries to get tied up.  This was our first time tying to a dock this season.  Then we had to maneuver to the lift which involved backing the boat between two concrete piers, again it took two tries, we don't back up very well and there was a side wind fighting us.  We were then hauled out.

Our season was over,  We have a list of what needs to be done before we fly out.  We met with a rigger to see about having the masts pulled.  In the discussion we decided to only pull the mizzen mast and scheduled that for the next week.  We have decided to replace the chain-plates, the hardware that secures the mast rigging to the boat, since it is all original and may be suspect.  I removed one and brought it to the machine shop that made our wind generator mount and got a delivery date, we will see, but it should be done before we leave.  There is a lot of cleaning and miscellaneous jobs to do so we started attacking them.  The big decision was to replace the windlass.  We can't rely on it another season and parts for it are no longer available.  We bit the bullet and made the purchase.  I spent a day removing the old one which should have been an easy job but of course wasn't.  Now I need to rewire it, modify the anchor locker to mount it, and hire someone to repair the fiberglass where the old one was.  Fortunately we know that Ricky does a good job with fiberglass and anything else we hire him for.  Yesterday we pulled the mast.  It either has never been removed or it had been a long time, since it was corroded to the mast shoe and gave us a fight before letting go.  Another reason to remove them on a regular basis.  Ricky is going to give us a bid on what it will cost to paint it and we need to do something to quiet the wires inside of it.  The windlass project is moving along with our friend Sterling making a mount to fit it into place and we met with an electrician to put the ends on the cables and to decide if we need to replace the existing wiring.  We have about a week and a half before we fly back so we are on a deadline.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Long overdue update

I will start out by apologizing for the length and not posting before this. We have not been able to get much of a signal even when ashore to be able to upload.

We were ready to leave Rodney Bay in St Lucia but had a small problem. The engine would not start, nothing happened when I hit the starter. I must have done something wrong when reconnecting the battery, if so it wouldn’t be the first time. I rechecked the starting battery and it appeared that I had not connected all of the cables, there are three on the positive connection and I had only two. One of the cables had fallen out of sight when I had them off to be cleaned. Once connected still nothing. A lot of head scratching was going on until I noticed the lights on the combiner. The combiner is what separates the starting battery from the house bank. It allows the house bank to drop while in use and the starting battery stays at full charge. Our starting battery was low so pushing the button to combine the two allows the starter to pull from the house bank. When the button is pushed the lights on the unit will change and they were not changing. By flipping the switch on the combiner the lights switched and the engine started. Electrical gremlins are a bear to track down. With the engine started, two hours late, we were ready to pull anchor. We motored out of the bay and set out typical sails, reefed headsail and the mizzen. We haven’t used the mainsail since Granada. We had winds of 15-17 knots with gusts into the 20’s. We started out going into the waves and swell from the ocean but about half way to Martinique they settled down and we had an exhilarating ride across the passage between islands. We sailed up the west coast for a bit and dropped anchor in the little harbor of Petite Anse, we didn’t see a reason to go back to St Anne so we bypassed it. The annoying bit was when we went to start the engine to motor into the harbor the starting battery would not turn it over so we had to hit the combiner button to pull from the house bank. This sudden pull from them caused the electronics to shut down, not a good thing. Once anchored we were hailed on the radio by Dean and Kim on Dream Catcher who were anchored around the corner in the next bay. Once checked in with Immigration and Customs we sat down with them for a beer. There was an odd swell coming in from the southwest causing some rolling that we did not expect, otherwise a peaceful night

The next morning, Friday, we were planning to go ashore at a small beach to search for sea glass. There is a possibility in many of these islands to have your dinghy stolen. We have a quarter inch cable that we padlock to the dock when we are ashore and at night we use our spinnaker halyard to raise the dinghy out of the water. The saying in the islands is to “raise it or lose it”. This morning there was a bit of water in the dinghy I wanted to drain before lowering into the water. I carefully climbed down into the boat and pulled the drain plug. Once the water had drained I put the plug back in but got off center in the boat. Remember, it is hanging from a single point. Getting off center caused the dinghy to tilt to the side and I wasn’t able to re-balance it. Mostly because I was now in the water. It had tipped enough that I couldn’t stay in and went for a swim. I have fallen off docks but have never fallen overboard before, a new first. Yay me! After Cori lowered the swim ladder I was able to climb back aboard. We dinghied over to the beach to collect sea glass for the rest of the morning. In the afternoon we walked around to Grand Anse beach to meet up with Dean and Kim for lunch and then some Ti Punch on board Dream Catcher. Saturday was spent searching for more sea glass with a break midday for lunch and WiFi. That evening we planned out the next week and decided to move up to Fort du France, the largest city on the island, and go in search of a starting battery. Ours was not doing the job anymore and I am not comfortable using the house bank for starting. We decided to make the move the next day, Sunday, so we could be ashore and at the chandlery first thing in the morning. At 9:00 am in the morning we went to pull the anchor and the windlass was not working. This had happened last year and I had an idea what it was. I decided to wait until we were in Fort du France to deal with it. I then brought in the 100 feet of chain and the anchor by hand, not a pleasant job, and we were off. It was only an eight mile trip so we motored and let the batteries charge. Once at Fort du France anchorage we choose our spot and dropped the anchor, again letting out 100 feet of chain. There is formula for how much chain to put out in relation to the depth of the water and we like to have a 5:1 ratio. Once we set and settled in it turned out we were too close to another boat. Time to pull anchor, by hand, and do it again. This time we were sitting comfortably among the other boats and called it good. After waiting to be sure that we were properly set and not about to drag the anchor we launched the dinghy to go ashore and find the chandlery (ship store). Of course we took advantage of being ashore to treat ourselves with some ice cream and WiFi. Back on the boat we were treated to music from a concert that was being held in the park for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening.

In the morning we dinghied back into town and went straight to the store. With our non-existent French and the clerks limited English we learned they did not have what we needed. It was possible there was a shop in the more industrial part of the harbor that may have it.. We started walking. Eventually we found the store and as we try to explain to the clerk what we were looking for, using a picture of a battery I had pulled up on my phone, he pointed to the display we were standing next to, a rack of starting batteries. We verified the price and that they would take our old battery and headed back to the boat. Once there I disconnected and pulled the battery making sure to keep the cables together so they would all be reconnected properly. Something I should have done last time. We were able to dinghy around to the next bay where the store was and traded our money and an old battery for a new one. Back at the boat I reinstalled the battery. We had lunch and decided we still had time to get to St Pierre, our next planned stop. We were close to the ferry dock and the wake from them causes a lot of rolling. We new it would be more pleasant in another anchorage. We started the motor, easily with the new battery, and started to pull the anchor, by hand again. There are a group of people that tend to anchor very close to their neighbors and we had one of them in from of us, right above our anchor. As I pulled in the chain we kept inching closer to them. I got their attention and he was ready with a boat hook to try to fend us off if we got too close. They swung a little off to the side and we broke the anchor free and motored away. We decided to motor for the day so the batteries could get a charge and we could run the water maker. We were running low on fresh water. When we arrived at St Pierre we chose to anchor a bit away from the town in a less crowded area, I wanted to set the anchor and be done with it. Last time we were here it took us two tries to get properly situated. In the morning, Cori took the kayak to shore to search for sea glass and I stayed onboard to service the windlass and make more water. The next morning we went ashore to check out the town, the bakery was still in the same place with delicious treats and a WiFi connection. We checked with the Park service about a hiking trail they have on their map only to be told it is closed and there are no plans to reopen it. After hitting the market for fresh fruit we went back to the boat and hung out for the afternoon watching the people on the beach in front of us. The next morning we went to shore to look for sea glass, it is everywhere. We filled several bags and called it quits at lunchtime, having a sandwich at our favorite bakery. Back at the boat I got out my snorkeling gear and we went over to a wreck that was close to us. The water was a bit stirred up so the clarity was not too good and it was deeper than I dive so the pictures did not turn out very good. We then headed to the beach to check it out. It is very popular and is your classic volcanic island black sand. I was able to get a couple of pictures of Hi Flite and then back to the boat. Friday, I brought Cori into shore to look for more sea glass and I went to check out. We were going to leave in the morning.

We have been having a week of fair weather with light winds and a lot of boats have been moving around. We decided to make our next move before it kicked up again. At 4:00 am the alarm went of and by 4:45 we were underway. We motored until light and then set the sails for the trip across the opening. There is always more wind between islands and we wanted to be ready for it. We had 12-15 knots of wind for a great sail. As soon as we got to Dominica the wind died, the island was blocking it. We started the motor and continued on. We had set Portsmouth as our destination for the night and arrived about 3:00 pm. We set the anchor and relaxed. We were planning to leave first thing in the morning so we didn’t bother to go ashore and check in. In the morning we pulled anchor, using the windlass, and were off again. Our destination was an island group off of Guadalupe called The Saints. We had winds 15-18 knots and held a steady 6-7 knots of speed, which is pretty good. We arrived at The Saints along with several other boats and started looking for a place to anchor or to pick up a mooring. The water is deep so there are limited spots to anchor so most people take a mooring. There were no moorings available and the only spot I would consider for anchoring was too rough with the swell coming in. We decided to continue on to Guadalupe. We just had to decide the destination and the route. We had been to the anchorages on the west side so we decided to head to Pointe A Pitre, in the center of the islands south side. It was a rough and rolling ride pointing just off the wind but had to run the motor to make any speed. We motor-sailed this way until entering the harbor. Pointe A Pitre is the largest city and the capital. It is also a major shipping port. We maneuvered around looking for a spot to anchor among the number of boats that are here. We finally chose a spot and dropped anchor at about 6:00 pm. It had been a long day, nine hours and 48 miles. In the morning we went to the marina to check in and then checked out the shops. This is a big marina and there are a variety of ship stores, touristy shops, groceries and restaurants. In the evening we heard music and drumming into the night. We thought it might be something to do with Carnival. Looking it up it seems that Carnival is celebrated over a two month period and this evening was one of the music and parade events. In the morning we took the dinghy into town to check it out. There were two markets where we docked, a produce and fish market. We bought some produce, we have been eating a lot of fresh produce this season since it is available everywhere we have gone. We crossed through the park to the Catholic Church to check that out and then through the flower market to the covered market. There was a cruise ship in so the markets were all busy. It makes for a very colorful scene. We wandered around the town a bit and then called it a day. The winds have been kicking up and it was a rough and wet ride across the harbor to the boat. The weather forecasts for the rest of the week were for strong winds from the east, the trade winds, so we spent a lot of time on the boat since the harbor was a rough ride back and forth. My phone also decided to die. It just turned itself off and has not restarted. It is an older iPhone 6 that we have converted as our “island” phone for the season. T-Mobile has an agreement with the phone companies in the Caribbean and with their SIM card we have phone and data service and can use it as a hot spot for our other devices. Now it is dead. I have put the SIM card in my iPad and we are using that as a hot spot but are no longer able to make phone calls or send messages except with certain messaging apps. We can wait until we get back to replace the phone since I am not going to try buying one here. In the US we use AT&T which we suspend while out of the country.

Valentines day arrived and I was able to give Cori her Valentine. It usually causes a lot of laughs. We have an anniversary card, a valentines card and a birthday card on board that on the appropriate day I give her, then file it away until I need it next year. We took the dinghy for a ride up the river. There is a river that splits the island in half and it is a short ride to the other side of the island. It comes out on the north end of the island in a large grove of mangroves with narrow waterways snaking back into the groves. A perfect place to dinghy around. We also found why we had water in the dinghy every morning, we have a leak, actually two leaks. Something we will need to contact the manufacturer about since it is an aluminum hull with inflatable tubes and the hull should not leak. We will probably have it repaired when we get back to Trinidad. While visiting with Stephen and Jody on Blue Pelican Jody mentioned to Cori that she keeps a can of duck confit on board for special occasions. Cori had picked one up and that was the plan for dinner. We need to find where in the US we can buy more, it was awesome! We spent the next day refueling. We carry 80 gallons of diesel and an additional 15 gallons in jerry jugs. We emptied the jugs into the tank and then made two trips to refill them and add them to the tank. This filled the main tank since we had only used a little more then a half tank so far. It was a couple of rough rides back and forth from the marina fuel dock since the winds are still kicking up the waves in the harbor. Saturday we decided to make the run to the grocery store, there is a large one within walking distance of the marina where we park the dinghy. As we started out we ran into John and Elizabeth from Pelican, we had not seen or heard of them since having dinner the last night in Trinidad. They were just coming back from the store and we agreed to meet up with them later for drinks. At the store we ran into John and Linda from Blue Moon who had left Trinidad before us. It is a small cruising community at times. Sunday morning I went into the marina to check out of the country and then get ready to leave in the morning. The winds were supposed to be lighter and from a better direction.

We had sat down with the calendar and had planned out our next couple of months. We had started out this season with plans to go up to Antigua and then turn around but have decided to put that on hold until next year. We decided to call it quits for the season a month earlier then we had planned and are now beginning the return back to Trinidad.

We pulled anchor in the morning and set a course back to Portsmouth in Dominica. We had a ride with the waves 4-6 foot but with winds at 15-25 knots causing us to beat into it and roll side to side. We were able to hold 6-7 knots of speed all the way however. Once in the harbor we dropped anchor had a drink to celebrate as the sun went down and got ready to do it again in the morning. We didn’t bother to check in since we would be leaving first thing in the morning again. In the morning it was almost a repeat of our trip up with the island and the mountains blocking the wind so we motored until we reached the bottom of the island and then sailed to Martinique with the same conditions as the day before. We arrived just in time because the forecast is for the winds and waves to pick up again making traveling uncomfortable. We are back in St Pierre, one of our favorite anchorages and will stay here for several days. In the morning, Wednesday, we went to get checked in and then we hit the beach looking for sea glass. This is Cori’s favorite spot for collecting sea glass. I even got into it filling a bag to overflowing before calling it quits. Cori continued for a couple more hours. In the evening I heard a strange noise on the deck. A flying fish had landed on the deck and was flopping around making a racket. In the morning I found another one in the dinghy. These are the only fish we have caught this year. Thursday we did a few minor projects on board and then went for a dinghy ride to check out the areas north and south of us. Today Cori is back on the beach collecting sea glass and I am out on the boat running the generator and making water and obviously updating the blog. Later I will dinghy back to town to get a fast WiFi signal and upload this update.

Beach with Mt Pelee at St Pierre

Market in Guadalupe

Church in Guadalupe

Market in Guadalupe

Mangroves up the river

Mangroves up the river

Rainbow in St Pierre

Sea glass on the beach

Sea glass on the beach how easy it is to find

Flying fish in the dinghy

Fish market in Guadalupe 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Granada, St Vincent, St Lucia and Martinique

We have been on the move.

We left Granada and sailed and motor-sailed up to Carriucou Island Saturday morning. Motor-sailing is what you do when the winds die and you are not making enough progress. You start the motor but leave the sails up to give a little lift from what wind there is. When the winds pick up you shut off the motor and continue sailing. We have a 4 knot rule. If our speed drops below 4 knots, about 4.5 mph, we start thinking about motoring. We were in the wind shadow of the island so the winds were up and down so we ended up motor-sailing about half the time. The passage between islands was rough and we took a lot of water on the deck and we found upon arrival that one of our stanchions was leaking. The stanchions are the posts that hold up the lifelines marking the boundaries of the boat, as in “stay inside the lifeline” or you are swimming. We re-bedded all of the stations in Trinidad and one had to be redone. Since then it has not leaked. We are closer to having a dry boat. In Carriucou we checked out the changes since we were here two years ago including the new grocery store and they have finished the new marina and boatyard. Tuesday we checked out of the country and headed up to Union Island which is part of St Vincent and the Grenadines. It was only an eleven mile trip. We went ashore to the bar/restaurant to see about checking in. The Customs and Immigration office is on the other side of the island but you can hire one of the restaurant employees to act as your agent and go to the office and check you and the boat into the country. For a fee of course, but it is about the same as the cost of taking a bus to the offices. While there we saw several large yachts and a small sailing cruise ship anchor in the bay. One morning the waitress said that it was Ed Scheeran (musician) and his friends off one of the yachts that were in for dinner. The weather was supposed to stay favorable and we decided to try going to Tobago Cays again. Last year we went there twice but it was so windy we bailed out both times. This time we were lucky. We did several hikes on the small islands seeing several iguanas and I was able to go out to the reef to snorkel. The coral on the reef is in pretty poor shape but there were still a lot of fish. The Cays are a Marine Park so there is a charge for staying there but worth the cost. You cannot go a day without seeing several turtles around your boat. Several days of this and it was time to move on.

Bloody Bay, Union Island

We left in the morning at first light to sail up to Willilabou Bay on the island of St Vincent. We had stayed in this bay last year, which is a location for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It also has an Immigration and Customs office so were able to check out. We had set our next harbor to be St Anne in Martinique but we were planning to do it in two hops. We planned to sail up to the Pitons in St Lucia and take a mooring (no anchoring allowed) without checking in and leave in the morning. We had such a good sail that we arrived too early to stop and decided to continue up to Margot Bay where we had spent several weeks last year. With a combination of sailing and motor-sailing we arrive there earlier then necessary so we continued up to Rodney Bay and anchored for the night. It was a pretty good day, traveling 58 miles in ten hours, arriving in time to have a rum drink and watch the sunset. In the morning we pulled anchor and sailed off to St Anne Martinique.

We had a wild ride across the pass with winds in the 20-27 knot range and 6-9 foot seas. We spent a lot of time climbing the swell and then dropping off the other side which was sending water flying everywhere. We, however, were dry and comfortable in our enclosed cockpit. About halfway across the winds died a bit and the tide changed and the seas calmed down. It is amazing the effects of wind and current on the sea state. We arrived in St Anne and set the anchor. Last year when we stopped here the anchorage was very crowded but this year there are about half as many boats but still close to a hundred. The inner harbor at La Marin is not as crowded this year either but still more boats in one place then I have seen anywhere else. It is a very popular destination. We went ashore to check in to find the cafe was closed on Wednesday. In the French Islands all you have to do to check in is to go to a designated cafe or business that has a computer and fill out the form and have the employee sign and stamp it. The other islands still use paperwork in triplicate with very overused carbon paper to make the copies. If you are too young to remember carbon paper just Google it. We went in the next day to check in and ran into our friends Stephen and Jody form Blue Pelican on their way to catch a bus and Dean and Kim from Dream Catcher. We had met Stephen and Jody about nine years ago when they were in a boatyard in Oriental NC the same time we were there. They have a sistership to Hi Flite down to the same blue hull paint. Since seeing them they have sailed the East Coast of the US, the Bahamas, The Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, home to Australia, the Indian Ocean, up the Red Sea, the Mediterranean and were just finishing their eight year circumnavigation. These Pearson 424’s are good boats. We spent a lot of time with them hearing their stories, comparing boats and Stephen was over one day to help tune Hi Flite’s rigging. They were deciding what their next move will be and it seems they have decided to stop for a haul-out to paint the bottom and then across the Caribbean Sea, through the Canal again and sail back to Australia. We have more modest plans. We spent a lot of time with Dean and Kim from Dream Catcher. We first met them when we were in Nassau for repairs and they were starting their cruising. Since then we have run into them numerous times.

While in St Anne we made several trips to La Marin by dinghy and bus. La Marin is the town inside the bay with the marinas, marine stores, shops, restaurants and grocery stores. One day the six of us and Craig and Billie from Flying Loon took the hike to Saline Beach. The hike is beautiful following along the shoreline and through the forest and the beach is your classic Caribbean crescent sand beach. The interesting part of the hike is that it takes you through the nude beach. I will not comment on this other then to say there are things that can never be un-seen. We have been having a bit of a rainy spell with short rain squalls passing through several times a day and overnight. One day the six of us, Hi Flite, Dream Catcher and Blue Pelican, rented a car and when sightseeing on the island. It is a beautiful place. We stopped for lunch in St Joseph and after checking out their replica of Notre Dame Cathedral we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant. We stopped at the Clement rum distillery but skipped the tour and just opted for the tasting room. The distillery is an old plantation with several tours including their newer art displays. When they said it took about two hours for the tour we decided to save the money and maybe do it another time. With as many cruisers as there are here there are many social events and we spent several Friday evenings in town sharing drinks and stories with cruisers from Canada, The US, and most any other English speaking countries. The other nationalities were doing the same at other venues. We again became regulars at the bakeries buying baguettes and a variety of pastries. It was a different experience from last year when we looked at the number of boats here and left as soon as we could.

Movie Set

Movie Set

Saline Beach, Martinique.

It was not all life in paradise. I was still having fuel issues so I spent a day changing a fuel filter and then figuring out what I had done wrong that the engine would not run. It took a while but I finally found my mistake. Another learning experience, I am in no way a diesel mechanic. Our other problem came up when I tried to use the generator to charge the batteries. It is again not producing electricity. It did this in Granada and after several tries we found a mechanic that was able to get it working. Evidently the salt water and salt air have corroded much of the wiring and electronics. It runs great, just to power output. With the cloudy days we have been having the batteries were very low and running the engine was not keeping them adequately charged. Time for a more radical solution. Generators in Martinique are of European design and produce 240 volts. Just South of us in St Lucia they use 110 volts. After a couple of emails to Island Water World we were able to reserve their last generator. Now we just had to backtrack to Rodney Bay to pick it up. Generally checking into and out of a country on a weekend involves an overtime fee. Not in the French islands however. Sunday afternoon we made the dinghy trip into town. I checked us out and Cori picked up more supplies including the bakery. Monday morning we said good bye to our friends, pulled anchor and had a great sail down to Rodney Bay. We anchored, had a late lunch, and went ashore to check in and pick up the generator. We are now the proud owners of a Honda eu2200i generator. We spent the day onboard running the generator giving the batteries a nice deep charge. In the afternoon we had another boat come in and anchor right in front of us. There is no shortage of space but evidently sitting on top of our anchor was the preferred spot. After a while I went out and made a bit of a fuss, I’m not sure they understood what I was saying but after a visiting with a neighbor boat then pulled their anchor and re-anchored a little further away. This morning Cori took her kayak to some of the beach area but came back reporting that the beach combing wasn’t any good. I took care of a couple of preventive maintenance items and relaxed with a book about Blackbeard the Pirate. We have made a trip into shore to check out with Immigration and Customs, pick up some provisions and duty free alcohol and are preparing to leave in the morning to go back to Martinique.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Christmas in the Caribbean

We would like to wish all of our friends and followers a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

We are still in Granada, but not for much longer. When we check into the country we are given a thirty day clearance for the boat. After that there is an additional charge. Our thirty days are nearly up and it is time to move on. Our first move will be to the island of Carriacou, which is part of Granada. We will check out there and move North to the Grenadines.

We have had some down time and also have been busy. Cori has been busy adding sunshade material to our cockpit enclosure which means she has been using her sewing machine. In order to run the sewing machine we need to run the generator to provide 110 volts and keep the batteries charged. We had been informed over the summer that the generator was not running and we brought parts with us from the States. Unfortunately the shop that was doing the repair was not able to find the problems. It had gotten splashed by saltwater and combined with the salt air it had a corrosion problem. Evidently most of the wiring had gotten corroded. We were about ready to give up on it and were making plans on where up-island we would be able to buy a replacement. Our friend Sperry got the name of another repairman and several hours after delivering it to him he reported that it was fixed and running. The batteries are happy, the sewing got done and we are enjoying our cockpit much more than previously. Before the enclosure every time it rained, which will happen several times a day, everything in the cockpit would get wet and we would have to duck below to wait it out, only to emerge into a wet cockpit. Now we are able to sit out and watch the rain. Speaking of rain, we have found a couple of leaks and have been tearing things apart to get at them. So far we have been successful, but this being a boat more will show up over time. Just one of the realities of living on a boat She has also been working on refinishing some of the woodwork. There is no end to the projects on a boat. One of the definitions of cruising is “repairing boats in exotic places” and there is far too much truth to that.

It hasn’t been all work. Christmas day we went for a local pig roast with a group of cruisers. One day we did some exploring the island and checked out another waterfall and a local museum. We made a couple of trips into the city which is always an adventure with the maxi-taxis. New Years Eve we went to a gathering of cruisers on nearby Hog Island but chose not to stay late. There were fireworks in the next bay but just out of sight for us. There are activities organized by the cruisers most days so we have spent time ashore for various music gatherings, pool tournaments and beach-time. Cori has spent several days with Sperry preparing what they call “sea eggs” which is the roe from sea urchins cooked and stuffed back into a sea urchin shell. It has been windy, 15-20+ knots most days, so there are days when we just stayed on the boat. One of those windy days, after a quick trip to shore, we had another boat drag down on us. It is a weird experience watching a boat with no-one on it coming your way. It seems to happen in slow motion. We heard a noise and saw the boat, Old Bob, bounce off the boat in front of us coming our way. We started grabbing fenders to try to keep it off but it turned at a 90 degree angle to us and then started to try T-boning us. Their bowsprit missed our headsail but was rubbing against the bow pulpit. We were able to hold it off and walk down the deck holding it off until it cleared our stern. After us it was heading to the boatyard when a group of cruisers arrived and managed to maneuver it to the seawall and get it tied up. We only got some scratches to the bow pulpit where a chain rubbed, nothing bent and no other damage. Luckily we had just arrived back from shore. If it had happened a little earlier we would not have been there to fend off.

The forecasts are for the winds and waves to drop in the next few days so we are using that as an opportunity to move on.