December 2014 ~ Boatyard
Day 1568 ~ Choosing FrenchDecember 31st, 2014
How far and how fast do we sail? Peter and Daniel need to fly to Alaska mid-January and the best airport for that is St. Maarten, followed by Antigua. The weather forecast shows 25-30 knot winds with 2.5-3 meter seas building up to Friday night and lasting several days. No matter how many islands we skip, we going to be grounded at some point. The bigger question is where do we stop and hang out? A couple nights ago, we figured we'd be holed up in Bequia, but then we gave St. Lucia a go and, while the waves were bigger, the side swell made it a lot more comfortable than our first two legs. So, last night we thought we may as well try Martinique since it was only a 3-4 hour run. However, our favored spot in Guadeloupe really does have more to offer in the way of laundry, groceries, dinghy gas and even something recreational and fun like diving. Since both destinations are on the same trajectory, we decided to decide enroute.
Peter, Daniel and Emma headed to town for wifi and a few fresh provisions. The girls and I remained behind and did a little to ready the boat for yet another passage. Returning about 11:30a, we finished preparing the boat and were motoring out of the bay around Noon. Rounding the corner, the swell was large, but then it's always crazy on the north end of St. Lucia. Once we were on our track, it became a fairly smooth ride with the side swell lifting us up and setting us down gently, unlike the head swell of a couple days ago that slammed into the boat. We cooked along between 8-9 knots, with peaks seen at 10 and even 11 knots occasionally.
Once across the open water, we assessed our comfort level and took a vote to keep on sailing to Guadeloupe. We've got two and a half islands of wind shadow calm and two more inter-island passages. Our GPS puts us in Bouillante around 3am.
Just off the coast of Fort de France, we're still doing 8.5-9.5 knots, hitting 10+ repeatedly. The waves are small because we're close to the island and Peter prepared a lasagna dinner in the wind shadow calm. Mt. Pelée only brought us down to 5 knots so we can't ask for better sailing. We actually had time to sit down to a real meal and finished our last bite just as we reached the northern end where the wind and waves started to pick up again.
Crossing the passage to Dominica was brisk, but again, not too uncomfortable. We continued along at around 9 knots and then it calmed again upon reaching the southern tip of the island. The girls and Peter started a movie and Daniel went to sleep. I followed soon after to get some rest and intended on waking in time to see if we could spot some fireworks and give Peter a break, but missed the turning of the new year by a half hour. Then again, we were between islands and a fair distance off.
GPS location Date/Time:12/31/2014 07:32:55 AKST
GPS location Date/Time:12/31/2014 12:21:30 AKST
GPS location Date/Time:12/31/2014 15:35:56 AKST
Day 1567 ~ On Our Way AgainDecember 30th, 2014
With a projected 12-hour sail ahead of us to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, our intended departure was 6am. However, we missed it by about an hour and raised the sails around 7. Rounding the north end, the swell was from the tradional Trade Wind angle and, although steeper than our previous two passages, not so bad. Had to start the motor in the wind shadow of St. Vincent. The swell wraps around the north end, so it became a bit more lively traversing that half.
Daniel mentioned earlier in the day, as he let out the fishing line, that he planned to catch us a meal around dinner time. Well, at precisely 4:42p when we were ready to turn toward Rodney Bay, the reel came to life. It wasn't a huge struggle to reel him in so we figured it wasn't a tuna diving down in the deep. As it came closer, we saw that it was quite large and a nice looking Wahoo, a solitary swimmer and fairly rare specimen in these waters. Getting him aboard with the pole we'd probably lose him so Daniel went for the gaff and managed to pull it in safely while remaining aboard himself. After filleting him, the edible parts reached the top edge of a 2.5 gallon bucket. There's no way we can fit or eat all that fish, so we'll have to try to find a cruiser in the next bay to help us out.
GPS location Date/Time:12/30/2014 03:46:50 AKST
GPS location Date/Time:12/30/2014 05:20:27 AKST
GPS location Date/Time:12/30/2014 08:30:24 AKST
GPS location Date/Time:12/30/2014 11:00:01 AKST
Crossing between islands wasn't half bad. Swell came from the side this time so, even though the waves were much steeper, we weren't slamming and bashing. Once in the wind shadow of St. Lucia, things calmed again. We motored the last hour into Rodney Bay and set our hook.
Peace and calm reigns...at least until the shore music starts.
Now to figure out how to share our fish supply. I just happened to look on the AIS and spotted a cruiser couple we met in Grenada our very first month aboard; she moderated the Cruiser's Net at the time and then gave us their little tree when Christmas time rolled around. Thankfully, their radio was still on and Lynn was over in five minutes to collect. We gave away over one-quarter of the fish and still had plenty. Next step was to think of enough creative ways to eat it before we get sick of Wahoo.
Any holiday in the former British islands must require music volumes at defening levels all night long. In light of the upcoming New Year's Eve, we're going to make a dash for Martinique, instead of staying here, to save our ear drums. The winds are predicted about the same as today, so it shouldn't be horrible.
Day 1566 ~ Relaxing DayDecember 29th, 2014
Spent the morning on projects and the afternoon in town or on the beach. Nice not to be bouncing around.
The girls from Iza (friends from Grenada) called to arrange a beach day with our youngest two. Peter chased down a few more leaks, put the water maker back online and puttered on other boat projects. After lunch, Peter and Daniel went on a fresh food finding mission in town and I headed to the beach to visit with the Iza girls' parents. All in all, a very relaxing day.
We decided to make a break for St. Lucia tomorrow before the really strong winds arrive in hopes of making more northerly progress. We still need to book tickets for Daniel's home-going and Peter's work trip to Alaska, but need to figure out which airport we'll be able to hit. At this point, the seven day forecast is looking pretty ugly for sailing too far.
Day 1565 ~ More BashingDecember 28th, 2014
Windy last night and a rain squall washed off all the salt off the boat which was handy. After a good night's sleep and before heading back out to sea, Peter made American pancakes to get us going. Not quite the traditional Swedish version, but pancakes nonetheless.
Pulled the anchor, raised the sail and headed north again about 9a. Normally the leg from Carriacou to Bequia is quite pleasant, but today was miserable. Having to contend with a swell from the north makes for a bumpy and wet ride. We have to tack several times as well. Going NE is slightly smoother than NW and it did calm slightly once off the shelf and in deeper water, but we did consider bailing out to one of the Grenadine islands a couple of times.
Most of the crew were down for the count as well, except for Peter. When things get rough, we generally end up horizontal and try not to move much, including Pippin. The girls watched a movie to help pass the time. Daniel crashed in the salon. I slept with Pippin right beside me; he's definitely not a sea dog. He'll lay shaking like a leaf too scared to move until we pull into the next anchorage. He won't eat, drink or go anywhere without a struggle. He prefers to be near someone with his head tucked in behind or covered – perhaps an 'out of sight, out of mind' thing – so we bend the 'no dogs on the seat' rule so he'll at least stop shivering violently.
By 4p we were close enough to motor the last hour or tack another three. We chose the former, fired up the engines, pointed directly into wind and waves and held on tight. I would vote that this final short run was worse than all the previous bouncing via sail. Water slammed up under the bridge deck and shook the table with each bang. The bows scooped the waves and flung them across the boat as they crashed and pitched along. Pippin, who had finally calmed a bit, began to shake and shiver with renewed vigor. Bequia is shaped like a comma so we didn't find relief from these unusual north seas until we were well into the bay.
Having visited a few times before, finding good holding can be challenging at best. Much of the base is hard pan with a deceptive shallow sand cover. Other sections are 30 feet but shallow to two in a short distance. Added to the mix, Christmas is the busiest time of year and a popular hang-out for charterers and cruisers alike so getting one's 5:1 scope ratio can be challenging in the deeper areas. Amazingly, we managed to find okay holding in about six feet of water on the first try, but we ended up directly over our neighbor's anchor. The forecast also shows 25-30 knot winds all this week so we want to be firmly set while we wait that out. Peter snorkeled and managed to find a better spot with deeper sand just 30 feet ahead so we moved forward and buried the hook enough to sleep well at night.
Anna made dinner, Peter crashed early and the rest of us played a quick round of Hearts before hitting the hay. Thankfully, the restaurants were also quiet.
Day 1564 ~ Bashing and SlammingDecember 27th, 2014
I dropped Tim & Judith off at Secret Harbor at 8:30a, then did one last load of laundry as we're not sure when we'll find the next washing machine. Returned by 9:30a and pulled the anchor. Engines work well; they purr instead of clunk. With clean props and hulls, we move fast even at idle.
Motor sailed along lee of Grenada to break in the new engines, and because we'd only go at a snail's pace under sail power. Peter checked the wind forecast and decided to turn toward St. Kitts instead. It's predicted to blow hard in a few days for a few days, so we were hoping to keep from getting stuck so far south.
However, by 4pm, the sloshing was so bad that none of us could imagine 39 more hours of bashing into the waves, so we tacked back three hours and anchored at Sandy Island in Carriacou just as it got dark. We'll head to Bequia in the morning and may just have to hunker down for the new year until the winds pass.
Day 1563 ~ Departure PrepDecember 26th, 2014
We have a short window in which to leave Grenada so I took Tim and Judith to Le Phare Bleu to clear out with Customs, buy some eggs and allow them to arrange a hotel stay for their last night.
In the afternoon, we all headed over to Secret Harbor one last time for volleyball while Peter caught up on some work.
Day 1562 ~ A Floating ChristmasDecember 25th, 2014
It's Christmas day and we're at anchor. What a relief. For the first time in six weeks, Peter didn't do a single boat project; none of us even went to shore. Breakfast consisted of French toast followed by the opening of our gifts. Rather, watching the girls open their large pile. Later, Peter and our friends went for a dinghy ride to return the chain hoist to Flying Buzzard anchored in the next bay, then everyone went swimming off the boat.
For dinner, Anna and Peter made Red Pepper Pasta, I made our special holiday punch and we enjoyed an Alaskan Christmas with our friends from home.
Day 1561 ~ Pre-Christmas RushDecember 24th, 2014
After a good night's sleep, some solutions were reached. The leaky water tank can be patched with a strip of fiberglass which will be fairly simple. For the water in the engine room, Peter realized that the mounting bolts may be the source. When he took them out of the old engines he was curious as to why they had caulk all over them. Now he knows. Granted, a hole in the boat is created when the bolts are removed, and thus a stream of sea water, so this needs to be thought out very carefully to minimize the flow.
We also realized that today would be the only day we could return unused boat parts so we headed to Whisper Cove to catch a bus into town. Most stores are closed for Christmas and Boxing Day and we hope to sail out on Saturday. We managed to hitch a ride with a local coffee wholesaler most of the way. We then walked the mile and a half to Budget, hitting a couple hardware stores along the way. A city bus happened to be waiting at Budget Marine so we hopped on, grateful to not have to walk a half mile to the normal bus stop. Next, we made a pit stop at the grocery store where we bought way too much. We made it to Island Water World just before they closed 20 minutes early. Whew.
The bus stop is just a short walk from the chandlery, but because there are very few buses in general that work the Woburn Loop that we need, it's always a risk to find one with enough room. Most buses fill up completely at the terminal downtown and don't start emptying until well out of town. After waiting about 45 minutes and watching three full ones pass us by, we were close to giving up, walking back down the hill and catching one to the terminal. It was then that a near empty bus arrived so we didn't even have to cram all six bags onto our laps while smashed in with 17 other Christmas shoppers.
Managed to make it back by 3pm so still had the afternoon for projects and a few games of volleyball at Secret Harbor.
Day 1560 ~ Launching OurselvesDecember 23rd, 2014
We either splash today or we're stuck 'til after the new year. Nothing like a little pressure added to the insult and injury of weeks of engine delays. My doctor was sick yesterday and rescheduled for today, so we will be short a driver, but getting back to Hog is pretty straightforward and our visitors added three sets of hands and eyes to keep the boat from hitting the chute on the way into the bay.
Peter tackled the water tank and prepped it to stuff it with epoxy just before lift-off. Last minute engine things taken care of. Plan is to have the lift come just before lunch so we have that hour to replace the rudder, paint the hull parts that were covered by the stands and paint the bottom of the keel that rested on the ground.
The lift came right at 11:30a and the water tank seemed to seal fine. Final prep was made while the workers ate lunch. By 1pm, they returned and the boat was moving toward the water...at last. Peter anchored at the mouth of Hog Island since we'll only be around for a few more days.
My doctor was an hour late so I was delayed getting back into St. Georges. I still had some last-minute Christmas things to get so didn't make it back before the crew arrived with the boat, but got there soon after. Unfortunately, there's water coming up from the sail drives into the engine room and Peter found another leak in the water tank, so we're not out of the woods yet. Peter and the guys will mull these new developments over and I'm sure come up with some plan.
Day 1559 ~ Leaks RuleDecember 22nd, 2014
Daniel and Peter were up early to tackle the last few bits and get the starboard engine on-line. I finished up the last of the deck cleaning. Peter paid our final bill ('no cash-no splash' policy) and requested a launch for after lunch. Mid-day, Tim and Judith moved out of their room at La Sagesse and Tim dove into the engine room. Soon after, a purr of the motor was heard; we have success! We just might make it in the water today after all.
Emma helped me wipe down the starboard water tank as some grit from catching rainwater runoff inevitably settles on the bottom. Never a fun job, it requires laying on the floor and, with rag in hand, wiping the tank through an 8" hole. The bottom is just shallow enough to reach if my whole shoulder goes in. Then, when the rag is soaked, one has to do some tricep exercises to lift the body out of the hole and ring out the rag. With Emma there, I only had to come up enough to exchange rags. Our other brilliant method suggested by Peter was to use a turkey baster for that additional reach to the far end of the tank.
After 45 minutes and a bucket full of gritty water gone, I started to fill the tank. Well, I got about halfway when the bilge pump went off, followed by several more times. Peter was just pulling up floorboards to see a small stream running out the opposite side into the bilge just as we heard the beeping of the lift coming for us. There's a small crack in the tank that opened up when we were set down on our keels. Once we get lifted, that gap will close and make sealing it (let alone finding it again) very difficult. We had to buy more time and asked for an hour and a half extra. Upon further inspection, there's water in the center plywood area so Peter won't be able to inject epoxy, but will have to use the putty stick.
Next step was to talk to the powers that be and determine if splashing in the late morning was even an option. The yard closes until January 5th, so it's tomorrow or we have to wait two more weeks. Grudgingly, they agreed, but told me there were five boats already scheduled; the sooner we were ready the more likely we'd actually get wet. Granted, in Maine, when hurricane Irene was approaching, the travel lift there probably hauled 20 boats in a day, for five days straight. However, we're not in Maine and we're at the mercy of Caribbean mentality so we just nod our heads and say, "okay, we'll be ready".
So, Peter pulled off the whole tank cover and dove down to see what progress he could make. So much for my contortionist work.
Day 1558 ~ Getting CloserDecember 21st, 2014
Well, we're still in the boat yard after all. Joe drove out to pick up Daniel, Tim, Judith and I for church. Peter stayed to tackle more engine bits in hopes of getting back in the water before Grenada Marine closes on Tuesday evening until Jan 5th. Tools and parts still litter the cockpit and back deck area and the surfaces are covered with dirt and grime from five and a half weeks of being in a dusty yard. Despite the fact we have one engine to get working, the opportunity to scrub is now while we still have an unlimited water supply and full pressure (because the yard is closed). I spent the afternoon in the shade cleaning the cockpit floor and the storage area below it. Tim and Judith jumped in to help with engines and cleaning when they returned. Once it got a little cooler, I tackled the decks and made some headway on the greasy fingerprints all around the engine rooms. We even had a nice breeze to keep the temperature down and keep the bugs away.
By the end of the day, we were all exhausted. Our launch is scheduled for tomorrow and I think we're still on target to make it.
Day 1557 ~ ExcavatingDecember 20th, 2014
Daniel moved onto the boat and Tim and Judith moved to a smaller room at La Sagesse. He and Peter worked all day on engines while I was finally able to stay home and focus on excavating the mess and cleaning. The girls and I busied ourselves with putting away our belongings brought from the cottage, minimizing the project supply sprawl, clearing off some of the flat surfaces and making the boat more hospitable for human life.
Day 1556 ~ Appointments, Tours and ProgressDecember 19th, 2014
I left at 9am for some doctor visits in St. Georges. Tim, Judith, Daniel and the girls left in the morning for an island tour with Joe. They covered the Chocolate Factory and Seven Sisters Waterfall.
Tim and Daniel came over after the tour to help with the engines. By the time I returned at 6pm, real progress was being made, and the second engine was in.
Day 1555 ~ Magical AppearancesDecember 18th, 2014
The girls and I spent the morning packing up the last of our belongings in the cottage. I arranged for Joe to pick us up any time after Noon to give Secret Harbor time to clean the room for the new guests. Once finished, it was playtime and all the kids busied themselves with tea parties, picnics and whatever their imagination concocted. Once Joe arrived, they went into Operation Move-Out mode and left me with only one bag to carry to his van. Now, that's teamwork!
Engine update: A momentous day. The engines, finally released from impound, arrived at the boat yard this morning about 10:30a. However, the preposterous obstacles have not yet been overcome. They came with upgrades we didn't order, but the dampers were not included so they couldn't be hoisted into the boat with the crane truck. Peter made a quick call to the Flying Buzzard captain, who removed our old ones. Thankfully, he still had them and arrangements were made to retrieve the old dampers rather than wait longer for Trinidad to ship new ones. The marina manager drove Peter to Secret Harbor where he took our dinghy to Flying Buzzard. Gratefully, they came off easily and Peter was headed back to the boatyard via bus in short order.
Day 1554 ~ ReleasedDecember 17th, 2014
Took care of final appointments today and borrowed the car again to make a last grocery run before moving out to the boat. Grenada Marine is essentially in the middle of nowhere so best to have what we need. Other than a small branch of Island Water World chandlery, a couple farmers who come weekly with fresh produce and a restaurant/bar, town is a 20 minute walk plus a 40 minute bus ride away, not exactly convenient.
Engine update: I called Trinidad to see why getting the engines on the manifest is a problem. He said he would call and look into it as they've sent all the paperwork to Grenada. He also told me that the delay in unloading the ferry on Tuesday instead of Monday may have been due to a report of illegal fireworks aboard. When that happens, they hold the boat with contents in port until the ferry is searched. By 2:30pm, the manifest had finally been properly amended and the engines accepted into Grenada at long last. Of course, the brokers still had to finish clearing them through Customs so tomorrow morning is our scheduled delivery date.
Day 1553 ~ Painting PartyDecember 16th, 2014
I borrowed a cruiser's car for the day to take us all to the boat for a painting party. The bottom paint is the last major job, besides the engines, to be done before splashing. Emma has been asking to earn some extra money so this is her opportunity. Anna also joined in the fun, although she ended up with much more paint on herself.
Engine update: the engines were finally off-loaded, but placed in the Port Authority's storage shed until the manifest is updated to include our engines.
Day 1552 ~ Snagged AgainDecember 15th, 2014
Time is winding down at the cottage. We need to move out on Thursday as there are new guests scheduled to arrive on Friday. Doubt the boat will be in the water as we still haven't been delivered. Made one last run to IGA before moving to the middle of no where.
Engine update: the engines are not on the ship's manifest so cannot be unloaded off the ferry.
Day 1551 ~ ChurchDecember 14th, 2014
Last year we met a really nice local taxi driver who took us and our kid boat friends on several tours. On one of the trips, we found out that he was also a pastor of a church in town. He pastored a larger church for a couple years, then started this one closer to the city. It's a small church with a small congregation and located in a tin building next to an auto parts store. Joe picked us up at the nearby marina and we attended a couple of services. This year, I've been going more regularly this year. Today was my last Sunday as our engines should arrive tomorrow so we should be able to sail out by week's end.
Day 1550 ~ December 13th, 2014
Day 1549 ~ A Bracing VisitDecember 12th, 2014
Anna's permanent teeth are a bit crowded and cause her pain now and again. Having intended to schedule a consulation with the orthodontist for three months now, we finally went on Tuesday. I had been putting it off because I thought it was two bays over and well off the bus route. Speaking with another cruiser last week, however, I found out that the office is only a 15 minute walk away. Nothing like the last minute.
The price for a professional opinion was also good - $18. The doctor said only the front teeth were an issue which should be straightened with about 10 months of treatment. The cost was compelling as well, all her teeth could be done for $550 per half, which is about half of what my parents paid...in 1984! The only glitch was the doctor is going on vacation next week so had limited openings. With Peter out of touch all day yesterday to make a decision, we missed out on one of the two openings needed so decided to fit the bottom half for now. Prices will only go up as we work our way north and are able to find the next opportunity.
Anna now has a silver and blue smile.
Engine update: the ferry arrived in Grenada, but after everyone went home for the weekend. Maybe Monday.
Day 1548 ~ Short on CashDecember 11th, 2014
Engine update: the Trinidad distributor was out sick all day yesterday and came to work this morning to find Monday's wire $2,200 short. The manager of the marina where we ordered claims he converted the currency from his British bank account wrong, but that he went to the bank straightaway this morning and took care of it. At this point, after thinking the Monday wire was the final break in the dam, I think that anything preposterous that can go wrong, will.
Day 1547 ~ Sail OpportunityDecember 10th, 2014
The captain of Spirited Lady, a wooden sailboat with a classic design, needed crew to help her get to Trinidad so she could have some work done in the boatyard there. This coincided with the log-jam with our engines and presented an opportunity to meet with the distributor and make certain they were going to board the ferry this time. Peter joined Susie and her crew of Maddie, an 18-year-old from England wanting to learn the ropes, two dogs and one cat last night and left St. Georges around 7pm.
The sail went smoothly, though there was no protection from sea spray in the cockpit, so any wave showered them with just a little salty wetness. The auto-pilot was not used, so they took turns hand-steering. Being a monohull, sleeping below was an exercise in futility due to the boat heeling toward the edge of the bed. By the time they arrived in port around 8am, the crew was a bit dazed and operating on only a couple hours of sleep. After checking in, the boat yard called and said they could haul right away, so more chaos ensued while they lifted the 7 foot draft boat. It also couldn't go in far enough, so they had to remove the headsail at the last minute.
Once safely set on land, Susie rented a car but only had time for a food and chandlery run. Peter called TrinTrac, the distributor, but neither the marine manager nor the engines were on site. He was out sick and the engines were on their way to the ferry loading dock. Despite not being able to do what Peter intended, this was the news we were waiting for and we hope to finally have our engines in hand by Monday at the latest.
Susie bought Peter's ticket home and arranged a taxi to the airport. Liat, known for its many 'not so gracious' interpretations on its acronym, managed to get him and the other eight Grenada passengers back without stopovers and only 45 minutes late. We count ourselves lucky. Those moving on to SVG were not so fortunate, as he eventually saw them disembarking and being handed food vouchers.
Engine update: TrinTrac delivered the engines to the ferry loading dock. Everything is on schedule for making tomorrow's ferry...we hope.
Day 1545 ~ Truth at LastDecember 8th, 2014
Engine update: I discovered that the engines arrived in Trinidad at the end of October and nothing was happening until I began making inquiries starting about three weeks ago. TrinTrac, the distributor, also confirmed that Prickly Bay Marina still owes the them 60% of our payment-in-full that we wired back in June, which the marina manager finally wired this morning. This is the main reason for their delay in being loaded onto a ferry bound for Grenada. Thanks guys.
Day 1544 ~ December 7th, 2014
Day 1543 ~ December 6th, 2014
Emma has volunteered several Saturdays at the Mt. Airy Young Readers Program where local kids come and practice their reading skills with volunteers from the community. Today is a big event. School is out so everyone got together for an end of year party before beginning their Christmas break. Cake, gifts and a farewell for some of the cruisers who are sailing on soon.
The younger kids spent their time with picnics and art on our deck. Since Secret Harbor is where most of the remaining kids are based, it's been handy staying in the cottage.
Engine update: There seems to be some undisclosed reason that the engines have been delayed. My thought is that payment was not made so I intend to find out on Monday.
Day 1540 ~ December 3rd, 2014
Day 1539 ~ Discovery GoneDecember 2nd, 2014
Today was a sad day indeed. Discovery, who needs to be in St. Maarten by the 15th, has to leave without us. Our engines are still coming 'next week' so have no idea when we'll make it out of here.
Day 1538 ~ Corrosion X PowerDecember 1st, 2014
When removing our old engines, all the bolts came out except one. This one sheared off at the base of the head. Peter managed to drill down into the side and then fill with Corrosion X. After sitting smothered for several days, he managed to break it loose. Whew.
Meanwhile, in the other bay, several of the remaining kid boats hiked over the hill to half-price pizza night. The kids kept busy themselves, finding plenty of things to while away the evening.