Archive for February, 2008

Entry for February 25, 2008

February 25, 2008

Sunday afternoon and we’re both exhausted.. Another overnight trip and not much sleep.(Bill didn’t get any, so he’s now out for the count!) It actually was a wonderful sail for most of the way, and we were making such good time that we hit our St Barth’s anchorage at 5 am(too dark to maneuver into the harbor) so we opted for plan B.. continuing to St Martin’s. Sint Maarten as the Dutch side is called.
Yesterday, after making sure the engine was all up and running properly, with no leaks, we went to the grocery store to pick up a few items, then to customs to check out, and out into the outer harbor for a few hours. We did take an hour to do a little snorkeling around some of the island reefs, but there weren’t too many fish. We went back to the boat, had an early dinner and got everything tucked away for the trip. The winds were a steady 10-14 knots when we left Jolly Harbor, Antigua at 6pm and as I mentioned, we were making great time as the wind was mostly to the beam.. or on a broad reach(coming almost from behind us). Late into the night the winds and squalls picked up. .we missed most of the rains, but with the stronger winds, we had to pull in some sail. On about a half jib and ¾ main we were still making 7+ knots of speed. Somewhere around sunrise, there were squalls all around us, so we pulled the main in all the way and were still able to get over 6 knots with just about 2/3’s of a jib. We pulled into Simpson Bay and anchored at just after 8am. That means we did a whole 93 miles in 14 hours.. over 6.5 knots average!!
After only about an hour in the harbor, we pulled up the anchor and caught the opening of the bridge to head into the inner harbor, what they call Simpson Bay Lagoon. When Bill wakes up shortly, we’ll head into Customs and Immigration. We’ll probably stay here a few days, as the winds are calming down, and won’t pick up again until Wednesday or Thursday for our run to Anegada, BVI. Another overnight trip, that hopefully will be quick,, I love this down wind sailing!!


Entry for February 22, 2008

February 22, 2008

Thursday noontime and we’re nestled on a mooring inside a really nice harbor called “Jolly Harbour” on the west side of Antigua. Yesterday we took off from English Harbor, heading to the north-west corner of Antigua to jump off to Barbuda.. Unfortunately, when we got to Dickenson Bay, the smell of Antifreeze was very strong, so Bill went to check it out. Sure enough, we had a leak and the tightening of a bolt seemed to do the trick.

Let me back up just a bit. When we started pulling up the anchor in English harbor, the winds started howling and wouldn’t you know, a squall comes pounding over us as we are motoring out of the harbor. But it quickly went by, leaving Bill drenched.. I ran down below- hehe. From there to the west coast the down wind sail was wonderful,, no heeling and doing good speed – 5-6 knots, with only the jib. We rounded the corner to head a bit more north than west now. The waters here were a bit shallower, only 20-30 feet below us, and clear as a bell, it was so cool seeing the coral below us. Some areas were as shallow as 10-12 feet. And the waters are just a gorgeous aqua color. So we sail northward with the wind almost on the beam and are making some good time. But as we head closer into the northern harbor, we have to turn eastward, getting closer and closer to the wind- I’m sure Bill has explained that at some other time, but it boils down to the fact that the wind is almost on the nose and we seem to beat into it, heeled over at a 20-25 degree angle.. not so comfortable!! So as we’re “pounding” wouldn’t you know we see a squall approaching. We start rolling in the jib (it’s the only sail we’ve had out this whole time) About three quarters of the way, we lose one of the jib lines from the cockpit into the water. Luckily it still has one end attached to the sail, but it’s flapping like mad now on the opposite side of the boat. Bill finishes rolling the jib in, but can’t start the engine until the line is back in the boat. At this point the wind is whipping and the rain is now beating down in sheets, we’re both soaked and I can’t see anything through my glasses.. Bill goes out on deck, and hauls the line out of the water. Once back in the cockpit, he gets the engine running and we head about three miles more into the anchorage. The sun came out and dried us off some, but I’m still sitting there with goose bumps!! So we’re not so sure of this anchorage as we see a few boats rolling around, but we anchor anyway, grab a quick lunch and Bill checks the engine. Where he finds the leak and does the quick fix. Bill didn’t like the rolling so an hour later we pull up anchor and head to a bay about 3 miles south called Deep Bay.. we anchored less than an hour later close to a beautiful beach and nice quiet waters. It was wonderful. Until Bill checked out the engine again, and we were still leaking antifreeze.. argggggggg..

This morning we slept in a little, but knew that we wouldn’t be heading to Barbuda as planned. Knowing that Jolly harbor was only a few more miles south, we headed here to have the Marina engine shop take a look at our problem. No taking chances when we have an 80+ mile trip ahead of us back to St Barth’s or St Martin. We get into this harbor, pick up a mooring and head into the marina. The shop says they can check it out. We get back to the boat, Bill drains all the fluids and about 1 ½ hours later has the cooling system in his hands. He is now at the shop, so I’ll let you know the result upon his return…

This is Bill and I’m back from the engine shop without my oil cooler. The guys who told me, “We can weld anything!” can’t weld this. Instead, they are taking it to a radiator shop in town because they are better at fixing this kind of leak. It seems someone in the past had repaired the oil cooler by soldering the bronze cooler to fix a leak. It is now leaking around the solder.

But, let me back up a little. Did you ever have one of those days when you shouldn’t have even gotten out of bed? Yesterday was one of those for me. I had been studying the night before for my captain’s license and didn’t sleep well because all these strange facts were running through my head about what lights every kind of boat is supposed to have. So, I wake up early and decide to start logging my boating history on the computer which I have to do for the license application. I decided to check the Internet at the same time so I put my new spiffy wireless Internet antenna up in the cockpit and tried to connect. I had the antenna secure for anchoring with the winds from the front of the boat. But, wouldn’t you know it; a rouge wind comes through the anchorage from the side of the boat and sends my new spiffy antenna down two flights to the salon floor. It breaks into 4 pieces. They all seemed to go back together correctly but when I tried it, no joy. It was a goner. That started my day.

The next thing was picking up the dingy motor while getting ready to leave. I noticed the choke lever was very loose and when I started playing with it everything came apart in my hand. After securing the motor to its post on the aft deck, I took the choke linkage apart and about 15 minutes later had it fixed and back together. I felt pretty good about that – I actually fixed something.

Laura detailed the problems we had with the engine coolant leak so I won’t repeat her work except to say that was #3 for the day.

Also, when we had the squall come by while pulling in the jib, something happened to the jib roller and now it binds while turning. This is something I will look into tomorrow morning while waiting for the engine shop to fix my oil cooler. That was the fourth major problem of the day. Enough is enough! I knew I shouldn’t have told my sister how happy I was that everything on the boat was running so nicely …..

But, it’s not all bad. The engine problems occurred near a place that had a pretty good chance of fixing them and we were able to pick up a mooring (which are usually full) when we came into Jolly Harbor. I feel a lot better about being marooned without an engine while attached to a mooring because it had less chance of letting loose than our anchor in a strong squall. Yes, we are attached to a mooring with the engine in pieces and non-operational but we are in a beautiful harbor with a ton of nice homes, restaurants and other places to see. If we happen to be stuck here for the weekend, so be it. There is a Budget Marine for boat parts and a grocery store that is not too expensive. We went there this afternoon to buy paper towels so we could clean up the mess in our engine room while waiting for parts. We didn’t buy much because the dinghy was about ½ mile away and we didn’t want to carry several grocery bags that far. Maybe tomorrow we’ll take the dinghy in closer and buy some of the inexpensive chicken and other meats. For example, they had nice size oven roaster chickens for about $4 US. I love those because Laura makes stuffing, mashed taters and gravy so it seems like Thanksgiving!

Entry for February 18, 2008

February 18, 2008

The past 2 days have been awesome sailing from Ste. Pierre in Martinique.  On Saturday morning we were up early and had the boat ready to roll by 6:30am.  We motored out of the anchorage and had to motor-sail for the first hour until we were out of the wind-shadow of Mt. Pelée.  The wind gradually freshened to 15-20 knots on the beam and we shut off the engine which is my favorite part of the day.  Because we were a little unsure of the winds, we just had out the staysail, ¾ main and mizzen.  The winds became steadier as we sailed away from the island and we eventually pulled down the staysail and rolled out the jib.  At this point we were sailing on a beam reach at 7-8 knots with a few 9’s and an occasional 10 when the swells pushed us along from behind us.  It was great!

We sailed like this until we were in the lee of Dominica – about 25 miles.  Dominica is the most mountainous of the Caribbean islands and you can tell by the very erratic winds while sailing in the lee.  We had to run the engine for about 2 hours during calms but the rest of the sailing was great.  Around 5pm we motored into Prince Ruppert Bay on the northwest tip of the island.  The bay is huge and we found a nice, isolated place to anchor away from the 30 or so other sailboats there.  It was the best night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks.  The water was calm without any swell and the boat never moved a foot during the night.  We were wishing we had several days to spend there and Dominica is a place we haven’t spent any time yet.  Oh well, we have to leave some sights for next time….

Even while we were motoring into the anchorage a local motorboat came out to us and introduced himself as “Martin” the tour guide.  We told him “Maybe next time…” since we were only staying for the night on this trip.  Before we had the anchor set another gent came by rowing a surfboard wanting to sell us a bunch of mini-bananas – only about 4 inches long.  He gave us a free sample and they were excellent.  We ended up purchasing 20 bananas and 5 mangos for $15 EC (about $6 US).  It was a little expensive “for the islands” but Laura’s frozen Hummingbirds, with fresh bananas, were excellent and well worth it!  A couple other locals came by to sell us stuff but we declined and they gracefully went their way.  Since the wind had died down in the anchorage, we had our first BBQ in several weeks – pork chops!  Mmmm.

We slept in a little longer today (Sunday) and pulled up the anchor around 7:30am.  Once again, it was a great sail to Guadeloupe with only 15 miles across open ocean until we were in the lee again.  We sailed most of the way up the west shore of the island and the winds only became a little crazy when we were within 5 miles of Deshaies (pronounced “Day’ hay”).  For the first 4 hours of our sail today, we averaged over 7 knots / hour which is a first for us.  Second Wind really comes into her own with the winds on the beam.  Even when the winds were down to 10 knots, we were still sailing at 5 ½ – 6.  What a great sail!

Tomorrow we are planning to head out early for a NEW ISLAND (for us) – Antigua.  We have a 45 mile sail across the ocean to a beautiful anchorage north of us.  You have to visit Antigua on the way north because it is into the wind when you are traveling south through the Carib.  We’re planning on staying there a couple days or more (depending on the weather) and may head north from there – 25 miles to Barbuda for some great snorkeling before turning west to St. Barth and St. Martin.  St. Martin is a milestone for our trip since it marks the northeast corner of the Caribbean.  From there we sail mostly west all the way to Turks and Caicos (just before the Bahamas).  We’re already logged over 400 miles from Trinidad (of the 4,000 miles before we reach the Hudson River).

These last 2 days we’ve covered what took us 4 days of close-to-the-wind sailing on the way down.  In addition, we haven’t had to leave real early to make our destination before dark and we’ve been able to anchor and clean up the boat before sunset each night.  Maybe this is what sailing the Caribbean is supposed to be like!

Remember I said we had traded DVDs with Freedom and I had scored the first 4 seasons of Cheers?  We’ve watched them all except for the last ½ of the 4th season.  We have been watching 3-4 episodes each night since the local TV had been in French or not at all.  This morning, Laura woke up and said maybe we had been watching too much Cheers.  She had a dream about it with people she knew playing the characters.  The funniest part was my friend Jim Briele was Norm.  I couldn’t stop laughing as she was telling me about her dream.  Bob – if you read this, make sure to tell Jim the next time you see him at volleyball.

Monday morning we were up at 5:45 and underway by 7am.  We had hoped to make this the 3rd good sailing day in a row but it was not to be.  Our cruising guide said the winds usually wiped around the north end of Guadalupe so we were not concerned when we pulled out of the anchorage with 20-25 knot, gusty winds. 

As we sailed away from the island, the winds didn’t calm down and the seas increased to 8-10 feet.  We played with different sail plans and finally settled on the “jib and jigger” (jib and mizzen) flying with the main in reserve.  We were sailing along pretty nice at 7 knots but the seas were lumpy and the ride a little wet at times.  A couple hours into the trip one of the swells started breaking as we went over it and dumped a lot of seawater into the cockpit.  The walls of our cockpit are about 8 feet above the water so that was tough to do.  We both were soaked but the Sun was out so I just took off my wet t-shirt and dried off in the warm Sun.

There was a sailboat 1 mile in front of us that was motoring through these big seas and eventually turned around and went back to Guadalupe.  It reminded me of some “sailors” we had met in Grenada who never sailed but motored everywhere.  The wife didn’t like the boat leaning over.  Unfortunately for them, the ride with sails up is much, much better than without.  This is because the sails act as a buffer to the boat rolling from side to side.  The wind resistance against the sails greatly dampens the roll of the boat.  When we saw this sailboat coming back toward us, they were rolling from side to side probably 20 degrees each way.  At the same time we were sailing along (without the engine running) and our attitude from side-to-side was between 20 and 25 degrees to port.  Of course we were bouncing up and down with the waves but we were not moving side-to-side hardly at all.  With the boat heeled over 20 degrees, we just wedge ourselves into a corner where we can watch things going on and not be tossed around the boat. 

We arrived in English Harbor, Antigua around 2 pm.  We averaged close to 7 knots again for the 44 mile trip.  We motored around the harbor for over an hour looking for a good place to anchor.  We finally decided on a spot but I’m not too comfortable here because we are close to a couple other boats.  On my way to check in with Customs and Immigration, I stopped by the boat nearest us, introduced myself to the guy polishing his teak decks and asked him if he was ok with how close our boat was.  He was fine with it so I hope I will get some sleep tonight without worrying too much.

Customs, Immigration and Port Authority were all in the same building and I checked in fairly quickly.  Antigua was more expensive than most places and charged us $35 US for a week in the country.  I hope it is worth it!

Entry for February 15, 2008

February 15, 2008

Second Wind anchored in Ste. Pierre harbor with  a full rainbow in the background.

Entry for February 15, 2008

February 15, 2008

We took this picture while hiking in the hills above Ste. Pierre.  You can see how nice the town looks and the volcano in the background with its top in the clouds.

Entry for February 15, 2008

February 15, 2008

Here is a picture looking out the cockpit of Second Wind when we are sailing on a close reach in 25-30 knots of wind.  Hold on to your hats!

Entry for February 14, 2008

February 14, 2008

Ste. Pierre, Martinique is a very interesting town.  It is built on the foot of the Mt. Pelée volcano and the background scenery is mostly cultivated lava flows from past eruptions.  As you approach from sea, it looks ominous because the lava flows go right up to the town.  But, when you get closer, you see the very green mountain sides that look lush and beautiful.

In April and May of 1902, the mountain began rumbling and gave plenty of notice that something was going to happen.  But, the government didn’t want to spend money on evacuations and convinced themselves and the local population that everything would be ok.  On May 8th, the side of the mountain above Ste. Pierre glowed red and burst open “releasing a giant fireball of superheated gas that flowed down over the city.”  (Quote is from our Doyle cruising guide.) An estimated 29,933 people burned to death with only two survivors: a cobbler who was in his cellar and a prisoner who was being held for murder in a stone cell.  Twelve ships in the bay were also destroyed at anchor.  This ends your history lesson for today….

We walked around town yesterday after posting the blog at the Internet café.  We stopped at several shops to look around and ate lunch at a sandwich shop.  Martinique is a bit of France brought to the Caribbean and not everyone speaks or understand English.  Also, a large majority of the cruisers here are from Canada or France as they work and play in their own language.  It is not too difficult for us to make ourselves understood with either hand signals or the little French that Laura and I remember from school.  At the sandwich shop, we spend about 10 minutes trying to decode the menu on the wall.  Laura finally ordered poulet (chicken) and I had jambon (ham).  The sandwiches were made with baguettes (long skinny French bread) and were huge (eat your heart our Jack – that’s his favorite bread).  Many of the prices here are a little eye-opening for us since we are used to the inexpensive living of Trinidad and slightly higher costs in Grenada.  Most of the Caribbean is expensive and the prices here are in the range of 30-40% higher than Trinidad with the exception of fuel that is 600% higher.  I paid $3 Euros for draft beer at the café which is equivalent to about $5 US.  A similar draft beer in Trinidad would have been about $2 US.  One exception to the rule is French wine which is excellent and about $5-6 US / bottle in the grocery store. Eggs were about $5 US / dozen so we were glad we didn’t need any yet.  Our plan was to stock up enough in Grenada to last us until we hit St. Thomas.  Most of our stores will last until then except for the fresh veggies.  Plus, it is nice to eat out once in awhile.  I don’t think we’ve eaten in a restaurant for at least 3 weeks, maybe longer.

The winds are supposed to “blow like stink” (one of Rob’s famous sayings) for the next 5-7 days so we might be staying here for awhile.  I say “might” because as we were looking at the weather forecast on the Internet yesterday, I also noticed that the winds Monday and yesterday were about the same as predicted for the near future.  That means we sailed 140 miles, fairly comfortably, in 8-10 foot seas with 25 knot winds gusting to 30.  We know we’ve been sailing in much rougher conditions that we’ve been used to because we had to spend extra time over the past few days securing things below that previously stayed in their place.

This morning, I worked on a few boat projects. I checked the upper side of our dingy for leaks by pouring soapy water over it and repaired the only tiny leak I found with a rubber patch and glue.  Our dingy seems to need air almost every day now so I hope this helps.  I also dug out my spare blocks and changed around our mizzen sheet configuration.  I liked the way Todd had Capaz setup with dual mizzen sheets – one of the starboard side and one on the port.  It made controlling the bend of the sail much easier because there was usually one sheet pulling straight down and one sheet off to the side controlling the angle. I had just enough spare blocks to hook up another sheet and we now have both port and starboard mizzen sheets.  Laura wasn’t too happy with me because she was just getting used to the names and use of our old rig. I like keeping her on her toes anyway (HA!).

The wind took away our “Made By Laura” dinghy motor cover somewhere in the past few days so Laura spent a little while this morning making another one from the spare Sunbrella canvas we have aboard.  The sewing machine isn’t behaving well and we think it may not be happy with the moisture and sailing conditions we’ve been experiencing.  Oh well.  We’re pretty good at fixing things and it probably just needs a good cleaning.

We’ve been running the watermaker over the past few days to refill our fresh water tank which was down to less than ½ full.  The quality of the water coming out of it is much better since we cleaned and conditioned the membranes in Trinidad.  The water here is very clear and our pre-filter should last a long time.  When we run the watermaker in murky water, the filter needs changing about every 50 gallons.  We’ve already used this one for over 100 gallons and it still looks brand-new.  We haven’t put any “shore water” in our tanks since leaving Trinidad 3 weeks ago.  The watermaker needs to run about 1 hour for each day we are away from the dock to make up for our usage.  That’s about 8-9 gallons a day for 2 people to live.  Most cruisers would think this extravagant but we like to take fresh-water showers every day.  But, we do take short, military type showers where we don’t keep the water running while soaping up.

We’ll post some pictures shortly (I forgot to download the camera before coming to the Internet café.  Bummer…)

Entry for February 12, 2008

February 12, 2008

After taking our time and waiting for some milder winds, we finally left Bequia and sailed north.  Our plan was to sail around St. Vincent to St. Lucia and take a mooring near the Pitons (2,600 foot high mountains right on the coast).  The wind didn’t cooperate and we wouldn’t have made it there before dark so we decided to keep going north.  Now, some of you might ask why we just didn’t start the engine and motor to the mooring.  Well…  it’s almost impossible to push a 40,000 pound boat through 8-10 foot seas against the wind with 58  horsepower.  We end up doing less than 2 knots with the engine in those conditions.

So, we sailed through the night around St. Lucia to Martinique.  At this point the winds were so good, we got there around 1am.  Since we didn’t want to anchor in a strange harbor in the dark, we kept going.  We sailed to the north end of Martinique thinking if the wind held we would go to Dominica and spend a few days there sightseeing.  Unfortunately, the wind didn’t hold as the large mountains on Martinique blocked most of it and we were becalmed.  Around 5am I decided to head back about 5 miles to a nice anchorage shown on the chart in a little town called St. Pierre.  Alls well that ends well as we anchored ¼ miles off the cozy, little town with 20 other boats in a calm, but windy, anchorage. 

We took a couple hour nap before finally getting up around 11am and cleaned up the boat from our 26 hour passage past 3 islands and across three 20-25 mile, open-ocean runs between the  islands.  As we were putting the mizzen sail to bed, the Customs boat swung by and asked us a few questions.  After that, we decided we should check in here so put the dink in the water and came into town – our first steps on land in 6 days. 

I’m writing this from a nice Internet café that overlooks the harbor.  The local draft beer is excellent and it’s nice to be sitting on solid ground.  This café also does Customs check-ins which are computerized – a first for us.

We’re probably going to be here for 5-6 days as the winds are strengthening.  I’m not too upset as this is an excellent place to take walks and sightsee.  We may even rent a car and see more of Martinique!

Entry for February 9, 2008

February 9, 2008

It has been a very busy last 5 days.  We spent 2 days walking all over southern Grenada stocking up the boat for the next month or so until we reach Puerto Rico.  Then, on Wednesday, we left Prickly Bay and had a nice sail around the southwest corner of Grenada.  I love to sail without ever starting the engine and we sailed into the bay just north of St. Georges without ever running it.  As we sailed into the bay with steep hills all around, the winds became intermittent and there were a few locals fishing which made tacking up to the anchorage a little challenging.  Troubles started when a high-speed motorboat that was passing in front of us suddenly stopped about 100 yards directly ahead.  We were under full jib and main with the boat moving along nicely around 6 knots.  I wasn’t really ready to tack yet as there was a fishing boat anchored just off our port beam.  But, there really wasn’t any choice so we tacked to port.  As we were tacking, the jib caught on forstay of the staysail and was locked up.  Laura went up on the deck as I pulled the sheets.  She finally untangled the lines but now I was now heading right for the anchored fishing boat.  I let loose the sheets and fell off to port.  I’m sure the guy thought we were nuts running around the boat as we sailed all over the bay.  We finally had everything straightened out when the wind died completely.  We had the jib and main sheeted in tight as we were beating up-wind when all of a sudden the wind blew about 25 knots right on our beam.  The boat heeled over about 25 degrees which wasn’t a lot but the sudden movement threw us around a little.  The gust stopped and the boat straightened up and heeled a little to starboard like a pendulum that was let go.  As the masts started coming up straight, I asked Laura to loose the mainsheet in case we got another gust on the beam.  I was about 5 seconds too late as we were hit by a 40 knot gust from the same direction as the last one.  Since the boat was just coming back to straight up, the gust really blew us over and this time the boat didn’t seem to stop.  All of a sudden the port side of our cockpit became the floor as the boat was blow over almost 90 degrees.  I felt like it was a dream.  The boat went over so fast we didn’t really have a chance to react other than move our feet to the walls.  I saw the whole port side of the boat in the water and looked up to see the sails almost horizontal and in the water.  I think the bottom of the jib was actually in the water because it was wet when we finally straightened up. 

Yes.  The boat came back to vertical almost immediately while Laura and I just looked around to see if everything was still in its place.  If the boat’s sails hit the water it’s called a “knockdown”.  I don’t think this really qualified but it was darn close.  We pulled in the sails and motored up close to shore and dropped the anchor.  Unbelievably, almost everything below was fine.  A few things were on the port side of the boat that belonged on the starboard side but at least they were mostly soft things like the sofa cushions.  It was a great lesson to remind us that bays with high hills make the wind go crazy.

Thursday and Friday were mostly an exercise in sailing futility.  The Windward and Leeward islands from Grenada to St. Martin are shaped like a bow that is bent toward Africa.  With the typical tradewinds from the east, this means that the first few days heading north from Grenada we need to sail northeast which is very close to the wind direction.  As any sailor knows, sailing close to the wind is doable but not the most fun part of sailing.  The first day we logged 42 miles to go just 26 miles from where we started.  Yesterday, we faired a little better and logged 48 miles to go 40.  The extra miles were tacking away from our destination so we had a better angle on the wind when we turned back. 

Hopefully, we’ve sailed through the worst part of this eastward sailing against the trades and we can now start to head more north which is easier sailing.  We are currently in Friendship Harbor, Bequia which is a less used anchorage because it is a little harder to get to.  We’re trying to stay at different anchorages than we did on the way down the islands last year to experience new places.  Unfortunately, this choice wasn’t the best as this is one of the most rolly and windy anchorages we’ve every stayed in.  The good news is our anchor is set really good but I had to stay up most of the night to build my confidence in it.

The winds are supposed to moderate a little on Sunday night into Monday so we will be staying around here until then.  From here we will spend a long day sailing to St. Lucia skipping St. Vincent.  It will be about a 65 mile sail so we’ll have to leave in the early morning hours to arrive before dark.

We’ve heard from Rob and Sue on Mandate who are still in Florida.  We’ll meet them somewhere on our trip back to the U.S. and had hoped it would be around Puerto Rico.  Now it looks more like they won’t make it past the Bahamas this winter.

Jack also emailed us and said he had changed his plans away from sailing to Venezuela because of the security issues there.  He is sailing in our direction after experiencing Carnival in Trinidad and we hope to meet up with him in a week or two and maybe sail into the Virgin Islands together.  That will be fun!

Here is a sunset picture from Tyrell Bay, Carriacou where we anchored Thursday night.  Enjoy!

Entry for February 2, 2008

February 2, 2008

Thursday afternoon has the winds blowing 20-25 knots in the Prickly Bay anchorage and kicking up a short chop on the water.  This is our third day anchored here and we’ll probably stay a couple more before heading north.

Every morning there is a cruisers net on the marine radio for the anchorages and marinas in south Grenada.  Today, we offered our Venezuelan charts and money for sale since we won’t need them in the near future.  They were scarfed up almost immediately by a couple leaving next Monday for Los Testigos and VZ.  We received a good price on everything and were happy to recoop much of our investment.  It’s interesting that the couple who bought all our stuff asked my why we didn’t stay in Venezuela longer.  I told them we did not feel safe and there were too many reports of theft and shootings for us.  They gave us the typical answer we’ve heard from other people – “We’ll stay around other boats and be careful.”  Well…  That didn’t work for our neighbor Michael on Sundance and I don’t know what it would take to make most of these cruisers believers other than having something happen near them.

We had Gary and Nita, from Freedom, over for dinner on Second Wind last night.  Laura made a great meal of Chicken a la King over linguine and Nita supplied a nice tossed salad.  We talked for quite awhile during and after dinner about cruising and chartering – it was a lot of fun.  Gary is making long range plans for a 5-year sail around the world starting March of 2009 from Panama on his brother’s 58 foot Catamaran. We talked a little about the South Pacific and my 4,400 mile sail there last year. I gave him the lowdown on all the great places (HA!).

I’ve been troubleshooting a problem with our main engine which started on the way here from Los Testigos.  The engine skips a little while running at speed which typically means fuel problems.  I changed the primary fuel filter while we were underway and it didn’t seem to help.  Yesterday, I changed out the on-engine fuel filter which has fixed this in the past.  Darn – it didn’t fix it this time.  Even while running the engine at low RPM in the mornings to charge our refrigeration, we can still hear it changing speed.  So, back to work on it!

Today I enlisted Laura’s help with climbing down into the engine room to completely clean out our primary fuel filter.  We took the filter completely apart to make sure there was no dirt or water getting into the lines.  It was sparkling clean when we put it all back together.  Before calling in a diesel mechanic, I decided to take the boat out of the anchorage and run the engine at higher speed, under-load for more troubleshooting.  We prepared the boat for sea and pulled up our anchor for a short cruise.  Motoring out of the bay the engine was not happy as it was changing RPM about every 10 seconds.  I increased the RPM to almost full throttle (we never run this speed!) and it seemed to even out a little.  When I pulled back the throttle it seemed to be running much better.  We did this a couple more times and each time it seemed to help.  When we motored back into the anchorage 30 minutes later, it was running pretty smooth.  My current assumption is we had / have some water in the fuel system and it took a bit to work through.  I will monitor this closely for the next couple days and call in a mechanic if it persists.  I don’t want to leave here if there is any chance it’s not fixed because the good mechanics are here in Grenada and we’re comfortable getting around since we spent 2 months here last year.  As we go north, we’ll be into more remote areas and finding the right people will be more difficult.

Friday morning brings clear skies and more beautiful weather.  The temps since we’ve come back to the Caribbean last month have been fantastic – highs in the mid-80s and lows near 70.  It has been much nicer than when we left in October when it was hot, hot, hot.  It rains almost every day in the afternoon when the trades pick up.  This is typical for winter in the Carib.

Laura and Nita are doing a major grocery this morning.  We were hoping to stock up our larder in Margarita which is supposed to be the cheapest of the entire Caribbean but that was not to be so we’ll pay a little more for stocking up in Grenada.  We’ll buy staples for 4-6 weeks to last until we get to Puerto Rico and Wal-Mart. 

The engine is still acting up slightly and I’m torn between letting it go or calling a mechanic.  I guess we’ll spend the weekend in this harbor and if it’s not 100% by Monday, I’ll call in an expert (I hope!).

Last night we went over to Freedom for a desert of port and chocolate fondue with pears and apples that was organized by the gals (thanks again K. for bringing us that great Deavers port).  Both Laura and Nita are chocolate nuts – go figure.  I brought over our DVDs for swapping and it turns out they are also big Si-Fi fans. They wanted about 20 of my DVDs which they hadn’t seen.  They had didn’t have a great selection of movies but they did have the first 2 seasons of Deadwood and every year of Cheers.  I let them have all my Si-Fi movies and came home with 5 new movies, the 2 seasons of Deadwood and the first 4 years of Cheers.  Wow!  It will probably take us a year to watch all that!

Tonight we are picking up the bus to Gouyave for their Friday night fish-fry.  We went to this twice when we were here last year and it’s a great pig-out and party.  The whole town is a Carnival-like atmosphere with about 50 booths with all different seafood dishes from fish cakes to shrimp stir-fry.  Gary and Nita are going also so it should be a lot of fun.  They are leaving tomorrow as they need to be in St. Luca in a week to pick up a charter.  We’ll miss them.

Want to hear something funny?  Last night we were talking to them about chartering and Gary said he could recommend some people who had run many charters that we could talk to.  He said in St. Thomas we should talk to Byron.  Laura said “Byron?” and I said, “Byron Rose?”  We all started talking at the same time and it turned out they were good friends with Byron and Margo Rose who ran the sailing charter we took in 2004.  It’s a small world out there folks…