Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Shore Power Breakers

Shore Power Breakers
After the problems with my shore power I replaced the entry breaker (on the right) for the original 30 Amp circuit. I also added a second 30 Amp circuit (for heat/air conditioning someday) (Left) at the same time.

Merry Christmas.

Fair winds and following seas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Life Raft Maintenance

The Raft Opened
Life Rafts are required to have maintenance every five years. Since I want to stay alive and expect to do some more ocean crossing I decided to have my raft checked. I took it to Vane Brothers in Norfolk, VA. Tim and I took the raft up to Norfolk. When we dropped it off they asked if we would like to see it inflated. Of course we said yes. I got to pull the lanyard and off we went. You can see from the picture that the raft itself was in very good shape.

I turns out that opening and repacking a life raft is inexpensive, about $200. What it expensive is replacing all of the gear inside the raft - emergency food, first aid kit, flares (a big expense) and so forth. Total bill - $1700. Wow. At least I can feel that the thing will work if I need it.

Fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

New Power Plugs

Furrion Shore Power Plug
A frequent form of failure of shore power cables is that the female plug melts when there is a short. I have three cables that have had this failure. I decided to replace the ends and went to Defender to purchase replacements. I found Marinco Replacement Plug for $50.99. I then discovered that Furrion sels the same package for much less Furrion Replacement Plug for $43.99. It works just fine.





Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

XO is Home

After yet another few days and another operation XO is finally home on Reboot. I spent a long night with him waking me up every few minutes to make sure I was still there and to get rubs and hugs. I hope that he will recover quickly and get back in the black.

Fair winds and following seas.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

XO's Sympathy Sickness

As those who follow this blog know I have been suffering with a kidney stone for several weeks. Over the past few days XO has been acting more and more strangely. Finally yesterday I took him to the local animal hospital. The diagnosis: he had a blockage in his urinary track. They gave me a choice: an expensive (for me) surgery or put him down as the blockage would result in his death within a couple of days. I have now joined the ranks of those who have spent a large quantity of money on a animal. I elected the surgery. They put in a catheter. The also gave him antibiotics and pain medications. After the surgery his urine was draining and although uncomfortable he is recovering. (It will take a while for my bank account to recover!) He will spend another day in the hospital and should come home tomorrow.

Fair winds and following seas.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Shore Power Again

The shore power inlet to the boat burned (literally) out a couple of weeks ago. Apparently this failure mode is commonplace. It destroys both the inlet socket and the end of the shore power cable. After getting the parts together for both the shore power and the primary circuit breaker Maury and I replaced the shore power inlet. It is nice to be able to have hot water and use the microwave again.

Fair winds and following seas

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Why people hate cell phone companies

Today Maury (Gypsysails) took me to Radio Shack to replace my lost cell
phone. I was able to get a new phone for $19.95 with a $10 time credit. I
also paid $6 for an extended coverage plan. Normally I would not bother but
cell phones on boats don't do too well. Radio Shack also provides a
military discount (thank you Radio Shack) so my actual out of pocket cost
with the tax was under $20. Maury also needed a new cell phone. His phone
is on a family sharing plan so Radio Shack could not help him. On we went
to the Verizon store. The Verizon store is not run by Verizon, rather it is
run under contract to Verizon. Skipping to the chase as they said that
Maury could purchase a refurbished phone* exactly like my new one* from
Radio Shack for the low low price of $100. But wait, there is more. He
qualified for a $50 discount. Such a deal! But there is more - you get the
knives, the vegetable steamer, the cutting boards - all for the low low
price of ....

Yes, it really seems like a scam.

Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Oh Well

I think I have done something to really annoy the higher power. Now I have managed to lose my cell phone. They say that bad things come in threes - I hope this is number three.

Fair winds and following seas.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Continue to struggle

Yesterday I decided that even though I felt terrible I needed to get some work done on Reboot. I did get a small project completed. Then the kidney stone pain hit again. A long night with pain meds every 4 hours. I did not think that I could still be in pain (much less awake) after a dose of Oxycodone. Last night I proved that I was wrong.

Fair winds and following  seas.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

When it hits home.

Yesterday I made another trip to the doctors. I guess I am making some progress about getting well. But what really sunk in was the fact that I do not have to worry about payment - my military service retirement covers the costs. I think I was aware, for the first time, of the magnitude of the mess that the millions of people who have lost their insurance policies under Obamacare are in. I have been in pretty severe pain. I can not comprehend what it must be like to wonder if I could afford going to the ER for relief.

Fair winds and following seas.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A week to forgot - continued

For the second time in four days I visited the emergency room. This time I did not have a "minor" emergency, I upgraded to the full experience: ambulance ride, etc. I was riding back from working on a friend's computer when I once again started to get sweats and a massive pain in my side. I got back to the boat and took the meds from my "minor" emergency - an hour and one half later I was still in intense pain. I have heard that one can be having a heart attack without chest pain so I decided that I better call for help.

I called Maury and we agreed that we would call an ambulance instead of him driving me the 20 to 30 minute ride to the hospital. First to arrive was the Fairfield Harbour security department - EMT trained all. They took my blood pressure and heart rate. For me they were very high. The EMT's told me that they were "high normal." The ambulance arrived and they hooked me up to the EKG. The trace was normal. They explained that this meant I was not having a heart attack but that without a blood workup they could not tell if I had just experienced a heart attack.

Off we went to the hospital. Since I was not having a heart attack and they didn't know what was going on they were told not to give me any medications. It was a very unpleasant and painful ride.

I arrived at the emergency room and after about 1 hour they gave me a shot of morphine (the real reason I went in the first place...) I finally relaxed. My blood pressure dropped to 95 over 65 and my heart rate to 48 bpm. (Yes, in my normal resting state I am almost dead.) After a CT scan and blood work they informed me that I had not had a heart event but rather that I had a kidney stone that I needed to pass. Great - just another old person thing to experience! At least they gave me percocoet so the next time the pain hits I can just pass out instead of being in pain.

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving with a kidney stone. (Actually I have been invited to a local home for Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to it.)

Fair winds and following seas.

Monday, November 25, 2013

It never rains but it pours

I got back to Reboot after my visit to the "minor emergency" room. Muscle relaxing drugs and sleep were the plan. That worked really well until the shore power connector shorted out and all heat on the boat stopped. Its a balmy 26 F this morning so not having heat is no big deal.

Fair winds and following seas.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A week to forget

This has been, by all measures, a week to forget. I am feeling increasing pressure to get Reboot finished so that I can head south to warmer weather. I woke up Monday morning with congestion and a hacking cough. I would have preferred to just die. Fortunately Maury (Gypsysails) comes by every morning to pick me up for coffee. He and Ginger took me under their wing and made sure I had food and medicine. That took out most of the week. Then today, (Saturday) I was a Maury and Ginger's helping them set up their accounting software when I got a huge spike of pain in my back. I expected that it would go away after a while. I took a hot shower, put some cream on my back, and tried to find a comfortable position. After several hours of sweats, thinking I was going to vomit, and in general feeling miserable Maury drove me to the local hospital "minor emergency" facility. Three or four hours and a shot of morphine in my butt and I was at least able to sit or lay down with only minor pain. So all of my plans for the week have amounted to exactly no progress. At least I was not out on the ocean when I got sick.

Fair winds and following seas.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Corrosion

Perhaps one of the most frustrating parts of living on a boat in salt water is the constant and continual corrosion. I am working on new lights for the aft head. I sat on the 6 month old toilet seat (the head for the salty) and it went flying off (as did I.) Further investigation showed that the bolts that hold the toilet seat to the; bowl have rusted thru. Then I went out to hook up the propane heater. All went well until I tried to open the secondary valve. It was frozen shut. Uggggghhhhhhhhh

 

Fair winds and following seas.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kitty Proofing

Covers
XO the Wonder Cat, like many of his species, goes into high speed overdrive every once in a while. He runs from stem to stern, bounces off the walls, jumps on me, and in general acts like he is going crazy. When in port he is on a leash so that he does not wander. In both cases he has a tendency to trip or turn on the emergency bilge switch circuit breaker and selection switch. My project today was to put covers over the two switches so that I could still operate them but they would be less vulnerable to "kitty frenzy." The result is in the picture at the left.

Fair winds and following seas.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Negative Feedback

I have started my research about the San Blas Islands and transiting the Panama Canal. It has been quite an eye opener.

 

First, the fee for transit is now $1,000 US. The days when “little boats” could transit for a couple of hundred dollars are long gone. But what is more troubling is the web feedback. It can be summarized as follows:

 

  • Crime is rampant both on land and on the water
  • You don’t want to cruise without the company of other boats
  • The marinas are very expensive
  • The marinas are dirty, unfriendly, and in general undesirable.
  • The weather is terrible

 

Reading the web feedback one wonders why anyone would choose to go to the San Blas or Panama. Obviously lots of people do this trip. This brings to mind one of the major problems of the Internet – negative experiences are highlighted while positive experiences are overlooked. One remembers the posts of the two or three boats that had problems rather than the hundreds for whom a transit was uneventful.

 

More research to follow.

 

Fair winds and following seas.

 

 

 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Internet Void

For some reason none of the restaurants in New Bern have WiFi. The Hilton (now Doubletree) does have WiFi but now they charge for its use. On the other hand Wendys, Hardies, Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Burger King all have free WiFi. Go figure.

 

I had a number of errands to run so I rented a car from Enterprise on the weekend special. With the military discount it is only costing me $19 per day plus gas. As I was filling out the rental agreement I all of a sudden realized that I no longer have automobile insurance since I gave my car to Spencer. I called USAA. They told me that if I used my American Express or World MasterCard that I would be covered. Of course I had used neither card. So back to Enterprise to change the contract.

 

It has started to cool off in the evenings. When I go to sleep it is still warm but the last two nights I have woken up cold in the early morning. XO has taken to being a big warm fur ball under my chin. It is very nice. For some reason he has also become much more demanding. Each time I lie down to read or watch a movie he climbs up on my chest and hunkers down purring lake mad. I run the fans at night to keep the mosquitoes at bay. It is very wet here so we have quite a population. If would be nice if we could get a hard freeze to kill then all.

 

Today my dock neighbor Randy asked me for help with his GPS. He had moved his boat from the Chesapeake Bay where it worked perfectly. Several people on the dock suggested that it was an older unit and needed to be replaced. I said, just leave it on for the next 24 hours and I bet that it will work. Sure enough, after about 6 hours of searching for satellite it found one, updated the date and time, downloaded the almanac, and switched into 3D mode. Another satisfied customer.

 

Fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Jib up

This morning I took advantage of the relatively cool weather to put the jib back on the furler. It gives you real respect for the round the world alone crowd who do jib changes rather than furling a jib. Putting up a jib by oneself is quite a project. Flake out the jib, walk to the winch, crank till tight, rinse, repeat. Eventually it gets up all of the way. Of course I did not mark the furler sheet so I spent a good half hour getting the correct number of turns on the drum. In accordance with the “50 - 50 - 90 rule” the first time I spun the jib up on the furler I spun it the wrong way.

 

I also spent some time making sure that my re-bedding of the water fill was working. The compartment that was flooding is filled with electrical tools, not a good thing to get wet. I also laid down a good layer of bug kill. Until I went to the Caribbean I have never had any problem with bugs. Ever since I have been fighting to get rid of all the little things that have taken up residence. What is a bit ironic is that now I have spider webs on the boat in the mornings. I need to get Lori back on the boat to identify the little things for me.

 

Sopping wet – it is so hot that each day my T-shirt is ringing wet when I come in off the deck. I can not remember a time when I sweat so profusely.

 

Fair winds and following seas.

 

P.S. “50 - 50 - 90 rule”: If you have a 50 percent chance of being right and a 50 percent chance of being wrong 90 percent of the time you will be wrong.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gift to the sea gods

It is a sad fact of life that every once in a while one makes a donation to the sea gods. Today I was trying to put the jib back on the furler when I dropped a shackle in the water. I did not have the necessary rum to properly bless the donation. It remains to be seen if the gods will grant me good sailing as a result. To add to my frustration I asked a friend to drive me to West Marine so I could pick up a replacement. This is a 45 minute round trip as Fairfield Harbor is on the other side of the Neuse and Trent rivers from the New Bern shopping area. We arrived to discover that the staff at West Marine could not find the one shackle the computer said was in stock. They ordered me a shackle and it will be in on Friday. At least it is only a $14.part.

 

It continues to be very hot here – by 90 degrees at 11 AM in the morning. I have been trying to dry out several of the sheets. The ends have worn from use and I want to cut them back a foot or two. Since we keep getting afternoon and evening thunderstorms everything remains too wet.

 

The rain has made it possible for me to find the remaining water leaks around the windows. The frames seem to be sealed; now the leaks are around the rubber seals of the windows. I am considering sealing them permanently. I open them quite rarely and the water leaks are a royal pain.

 

Fair winds and following seas.

CRT Burn

Back in the days of Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT’s) a major concern was CRT burn. When a static or near static image was displayed on a CRT for a long time the phosphors would burn off leaving a ghost of the image imprinted on the display. The only way to repair the damage was to replace the cathode ray tube itself. That was a very expensive proposition. I leave my chart plotter (actually multifunction display) on almost all of the time. It serves as my alarm clock, severe weather alert, and channel selector for the XM radio on board. In proof of the truth that old ideas die hard one morning I woke up and said to myself: “OMG I am burning a hole in the multifunction display as the chart of Fairfield Harbor never moves!” It took a couple of minutes to remember that LCD displays can’t burn. Lots of laughs.

 

Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sopping Wet

Yesterday I finished re-bedding the windows on the starboard side just before the rains came. I then unloaded the storage spaces under the main cabin settee. I found water under one seat but was not concerned. I presumed that it had drained down from the leaking windows. I left it open to dry out. Imagine my surprise when this morning it had water again. Investigation revealed that the water was coming from around the deck fill for the port side water tank. In normal boat fashion I had to disassemble part of the kitchen cabinets to get to the hose clamp for the deck fill. The fitting was mounted on the nonskid so cleaning up the old caulk took extra time. But what the heck, it is only 94 degrees outside. It must be 100 in the boat.

 

Thanks to Tim I have a borrowed “carry on” 5000 BTU air conditioner. This keeps the forward stateroom cool. It has made a big difference in sleeping. During the day there is a real temptation to stop working and go “chill” in the cabin. By noon every day the temperature is in the 90’s. Walking on the deck barefoot is impossible without burning your feet. Tools left out in the sun get hot enough to burn your hands when picked up. This is not an environment conducive to working hard all day.

 

Maury (Gypsysails) and I go to coffee with a group of men from Fairfield Village each morning from 6 AM to 7 AM. It is great as it gets me out of bed and the day started. Most of the coffee group is sailors so the conversation frequently takes a turn to people and ports. It is a lot of fun. Today after coffee Maury and I picked up my main and jib from his home. He had stored it for me while the boat was at Sailcraft so I would not be tripping over sail bags all day. I came back to Reboot only to have the heavens open so the sails are still in the bags. The good news was the rainstorm helped me figure out that it was the deck fill that was leaking. The bad news is I now have wet sail bags to trip over. I did unpack the stack pack and put it up in a lull in the weather. It is back from being repaired at Neil Pryde. The jib was also repaired so I want a nice day to go over the repairs before I hoist it again.

 

I am feeling the wanderlust from being tied to a dock for too long. I am thinking of taking Reboot down to the Outer Banks for a couple of days just to get away from the dock. Unfortunately the hot weather continues to spawn violent afternoon thunderstorms. I will take a pass on sailing in them.

 

Fair winds and following seas.

Monday, September 2, 2013

An easy fix?

Today I got motivated to get some repairs done. It has been pretty hot in the afternoons and I have been lazy in the mornings. This morning I was also pretty lazy. Around noon, after it got to 88 degrees, I said this is ridiculous, I need to start working.

 

After fixing the leaking windows my second highest priority was to get the hot water heater working. Trying to bathe, clean dishes, and so forth with no hot water is a pain in the neck. Of course one can boil water on the stove. That is no where near convenient. After crawling into the engine compartment and over the water heater I removed the cover for the heater element. Much to my surprise I found a circuit breaker that was tripped. I reset it and so far it appears that I once again have hot water. To celebrate I have been washing all the dishes, pots and pans in hot soapy water. Yes, we cruisers are a little crazy.

 

I emptied out the stern locker so it could dry and air. Other than the hard working of dragging everything out and putting it on deck it was not a big task. I did find a few things that will go to the dumpster. Someone had also decided to store an umbrella at the bottom of the locker; just the place for a quick grab when it starts to rain.

 

The windows are waiting for it to cool of a bit before I put them back in. I have been letting the frames dry in the sun. Actually I have been procrastinating as sealing them is a messy job. But as the famous joke remarks “tonight’s the night!”

 

Yesterday a local friend – Wes – and I went out for a beer or two to chat and catch up. The bar is one I have been to a couple of times with Tim so some of the patrons were familiar. Some I had not met before. Once again I am amazed at the lack of interest in the cruising life style. I was introduced to two women by a mutual acquaintance. One of the women remarked that I was quite tan. I responded “I live on a sailboat.” She said “that’s nice” and changed the topic. It this was a rare event I would not have commented in my blog. But what is quite rare is anyone saying “Really, that sounds cool, tell me more about it.” After a couple of minutes of questioning the ladies as to their occupations and background I moved on. I guess that if I had a smart phone I could have looked them up on Facebook and we could have avoided the conversation completely. I did get to play some pinball and Wes and I had a good time.

 

Fair winds and following seas.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Butytl Tape Update

In the last couple of months my windows have started to leak badly. Yesterday I took three of the six windows apart to find that the butyl tape had completely deteriorated. I have been a big fan of butyl tape, even to the point of recommending it to others. I do not know if it was the salt or the heat in the Caribbean but the butyl had become almost liquid and had bled out of the bond. I re-bedded the windows 3M 4000UV .It was a real mess as the tube cracked open so I had to apply it with a putty knife. Then it rained about three hours later but the windows seemed to be sealed. We will see how it goes.

Fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back in Birdland

I brought the boat back up to Birdland in Fairfield Harbor yesterday. No wind - not a problem since I left the sails behind when I went to Sailcraft. We left at 6 AM and did well until about 10 AM when the sun came out with a vengeance. We sweat our way into Fairfield by noon..

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Three Day Mast Project

Looking Down the Mast
Tomorrow will be two weeks and two days since I arrived at Sailcraft Service Boat Yard for my three day mast project. Like most yard periods it took a lot longer than expected and the bill (that was fair) a lot more than I wanted to spend.

An aside: I travel a lot and have been in and around a number of different boat yards. Sailcraft was the best yard experience in my four years of cruising and my 6 years of owning Reboot prior to moving aboard. They are knowledgeable, they take care of your boat, and they bill for what they do. Now, billing for what they do may sound normal. At Sailcraft they work hard. A job that might get billed in another yard at one hour gets billed at 15 minutes. Believe me, that makes quite a difference. They are also a combination of a full service yard and a Do It Yourself yard. Several times it was suggested to me that I prep or finish up a project to keep the cost down. This is possible because there is more than enough skilled work waiting for the staff.

Why did my three day project take two weeks plus? Part of it was weather, in the afternoons it got very hot, so hot in fact that I would burn my hands on the tools left out in the sun. We also did get a couple of days of on and off rain. But the major reason was that going over the mast in detail after four years (the last time it was down was after transiting the Erie Canal) I found lots of stuff to do.

The list:

  • Install 40 mast steps. Each step required drilling and tapping four screws. This was the original three day project. It took about one week.
  • Install a tricolor. This was the second half of the original three day project.
  • Repair the lower port spreader. The spreader had cracked at the junction to the mast. Dan fabricated a modification to the clevis pin setup that holds the spreader much more securely. He also repaired the spreader. This was the unexpected but big safety fix.
  • Replace the VHF antenna. When I touched it all of the insulation fell off.
  • Add guide block for the whisker pole hoist. The halyard would bang around in heavy wind, once hopes it will not more.
  • Replace a squash into it rope cleat with a true rope clutch for the whisker pole hoist. The hoist line was constantly popping out of the squash in rope cleat.
  • Secure the steaming light. Over time the locking mechanism has gone south. This keeps the light from being knocked loose by a flapping sail or halyard.
  • Reset the top of the man overboard pole to more securely hold the flag.
  • Put blocks on the backstay so I can fly the American Flag from my backstay instead of the overloaded stern.
  • Add reflective tape to the top third of the mast. I want to be seen at night, I think this well help.
  • Replace the burned out bulb of the working light.
  • Modify the electrical connections with quick disconnects and add the wiring for the tricolor.
I also received my repaired autopilot linear drive back from Raymarine. The motor, the clutch, and the gears were replaced. Just a small repair. Tim of Rhyddid helped by performing the necessary contortions to get the drive unit back in place and the electrical reconnected.

An open item is the gearbox. It has been leaking oil for the past several months. The Sailcraft engine mechanic determined that I was grossly overfilling the gearbox with oil. He suggested that having too much oil would cause it to blow past the seals when the gearbox heated up. I pumped a whole lot of oil out to get to what I now understand is the dip stick mark. Tomorrow I will take the boat back to Birdland at Fairfield Harbor. Since all the sails are in New Bern I will be motoring the entire way. This will be a good test of the gearbox.

Fair winds and following seas


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I can drive again!

My drivers license finally got renewed today! So for the first time since November 2012 I can rent cars and drive legally. I haven't been this happy since I was 16 and got my first license. LOL

Fair winds and following seas

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Workday

I got up early this morning and decided it was time to get some work done before it got hot. By noon every day it is approaching 100 degrees inside Reboot. Today was sail day. I got the jib down on the deck, and removed the easy furl from the boom. Maury came over and helped me load the sails into the dinghy and run them over to his house. I also put the asymmetric sail in the dinghy. It took two trips. The first was easy as the sails were in bags. The second a bit harder as we just stuffed the jib into the dinghy. It wasn't until I was part way to Maury's that I realized that I could not see very well. So of course I met a sailboat coming down the channel. Not a big deal, I could see well enough by holding the jib into the dinghy.

I tied up the dinghy behind Gypsysails and we unloaded everything. Taking the jib out onto the lawn we were able to pack it up quite compactly as it is being shipped back to Neal Pryde Sails tomorrow for repairs. This is the first time I have been able to really look at the sail. With the exception of one rip all of the storm damage to the jib was from stitching failing. That is also why I am shipping the easy furl back for repairs, the stitching failed in two places. I am curious as to what if anything they will charge me for repairs, I notified them well inside the warranty period that the stitching had failed on the easy furl and they agreed to repair it at no cost.

After we got everything unloaded we pulled the dinghy out of the water and put its cover on. We had agreed that it would just be in my way in Sailcraft (the yard) so Maury graciously agreed to store it for the two to three months Reboot is in the yards.

To add insult to injury my Xantrex inverter decided to stop working for no apparent reason. I have bypassed the inverter so I still have 110 volt dock power inside the boat at the cost of extension cords all over in the inside of the boat. What a pain in the neck. Fortunate I purchased a "world charger" when I was in the Canaries.  It takes input power from 105 to 240 VAC. I am using it to keep the batteries charged. The solar panels would do the job but I disconnected them temporarly while trying to debug the Xantrex. I am waiting until Monday as Xantrex customer support does not work on weekends.

Fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hot Hot Hot!

It is definitely July/August in North Carolina. Yesterday we didn't get afternoon thunderstorms, we got sun. It was 101 degrees inside Reboot in the afternoon. It did not cool down inside until about 4 AM.

Fair winds and following seas.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fairfield Harbor

XO and I are now at a dock in Fairfield Harbor, NC (near New Bern) where we will work on the boat for the rest of the month. Then to Oriental for haul out.

Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The jib after the storm

Sacrifice!
Hopefully the damage is to stitching and the sacrificial.

Fair winds and following seas.

A morning of sunshine!

For the first time in several days there was actually sun this morning! I was sorely tempted to cast off and head for Fairfield Harbor but I checked the weather forecast first – 60% chance of showers and thunderstorms. So I checked tomorrow and the forecast is only 20%. Since I have no pressing need to move I decided to give it another day.

 

Fair winds and following seas

Monday, July 1, 2013

Waiting for a weather window

All that weather!
This is the view of my chart plotter weather screen this morning. This is what it has looked like since I was 200 NM offshore on my way to Morehead City. They say we have at least two more days of this.

CBP came by this morning and checked me in. They were nice and it was painless.

Fair winds and following seas.

Waiting for CBP

When I arrived I called Customs and Border Protection to check in. They told me that they would contact me on Monday to arrange for my arrival clearance. I am waiting for their call.

 

I am docked at the Sanitary Fish Market (restaurant and market) dock. The upside is it is very inexpensive. The down side is that there is not electric, no water, no showers, no laundry and no Internet. The closest Internet is in the waiting lobby of the restaurant or outside the front door. Unfortunately the coverage is so limited that I can not sit at a table or the bar and use the computer. It makes using the Internet quite a pain.

 

I am feeling the effects of not having a driver’s license. Mine expired when I was out of the country and I need a vision test to renew it. The major shopping area is 5 miles from the dock.  That includes the Laundromat.  I will try and find a convenience store closer to Reboot where I can get some Gatorade and soft drinks for the trip up Adam’s Creek.

 

The weather here has been terrible since (before) my arrival. It rains about 80% of the time. The rains are heavy and the wind is strong. This weather pattern is forecast to continue until at least Wednesday. Working, or for that matter sleeping, on Reboot as it is bouncing in the wind is no treat. It also makes exploring the local area for stores difficult. I have been caught out in a torrential downpour a couple of times.  The solar panels are having difficulty keeping up as there is little sun. As a result using power tools or the vacuum cleaner is something I have to be careful about.

 

I intend to move up Adam’s Creek when the weather breaks – most likely Wednesday or Thursday. Until then I will do my best to move forward with cleaning and working on Reboot.

 

Fair winds and following seas.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

We don't work weekends!

After a trying passage that ended at the Sanitary Fish Market in Morehead City, NC I called CBP to check in. They asked me if I was an American and if it was an American boat. I said yes. They asked me my prior port of call. I said Nassau, Bahamas. They said, “we don’t work weekends, someone will call you on Monday to clear you in.”

 

The Government works in strange ways its services to perform.

 

Fair winds and following seas

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Back in the USA

In Beaufort NC after a terrible trip. More to follow tomorrow.

Fair winds and following seas

Friday, June 28, 2013

Too much wind!

After several days of bobbing around with no wind i was treated to an nighttime thunder shower. I had already taken down the main and had reefed the jib to 50% when it became clear from the weather radar that I was going to be bit. What I was not expecting were 45 knot winds - sustained for about 15 minutes. I attempted to furl the fib futher but only succeeded in turning the jib sheets into a Gordian knot. This is only the second time in my four years of cruising offshore that I have been faced with winds and waves of such violence. Now that I think of it, maybe the third time. In any event it scares me s*(&(less. I remember the last time a halyard was loose and I spent the time listening to bang bang bang like Chinese water torture. The end rresult - the jib needs to be restitched and the sacrificial cover (which sacrificed) replaced. One more expense for the overhaul. At some point one of my Tacktick remotes was swept overboard. Another $600 gone. The joys of cruising.

I ended up rigging a spare jib sheet so that I could undo the knot. It was under tension so did not want to give. It was great fun hanging over the side of Reboot threading the spare sheet through the jib. Did I mention we still have 8 foot waves? And yes I had a life jacket and harness on, but I was not really ready to go swimming.

I have reached what I call the point of indifference. Because of the curvature of the North Carolina coastline I am equadistant from any port of call - with 100 NM to go in any direction. So off to Morehead City, hopefully making landfall (without a thunderstorm) tomorrow.

Fair winds and following seas.

--

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another frustrating day

I feel like I will be over 200 NM from Morehead City forever. Yesterday was another frustrating day. Very light winds. Rain in the afternoon. When the winds get very light the wind vane steering can not hold a course so I was doing a lot of sail trimming and hand steering. (The electric autopilot is broken, just one more expense when I get into port.) I must have been in a eddy of the Gulf Stream as there were times I was drifting south. What frustration. I only made about 40 NM towards Morehead City over the past 24 hours.

At the moment I have decent wind and Reboot is making progress north. I have favored going toward the west as the Gulf Stream nominal centerline is only about 35 NM to my west. I am hoping to pick up some current that will at least drift me in the right direction when I lose the wind. The trade off is that the warm water in the Gulf Stream spans afternoon showers. Hopefully it will not spawn thunderstorms.

Fair winds and following seas.


--

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Frustrating Light Winds

The last 24 hours have been most frustrating. Winds have been very light and I am sure I am east of the Gulf Stream as I am getting no current kick. Becalmed for 6 hours I have only made 60 NM in the last 24 hours. Not quite a record for going nowhere - that belongs to Andy and my time in Exuma Sound where we drifted at 1.1 knots for three days. At least I had Andy as excellent company!

The Gulf Stream swings east as it moves further north so I am hoping to get into the edge of it in the next day. I have decided that trying to sail over to it would not enhance my arrival, by the time I get there I will have added to many miles.

At the moment I am east of Flagler Beach FL and about 140 NM to the East. Most of the rain storms are about half way between Flagler Beach and Reboot. Flagler is the home of Bill (KI4MMZ.) He has been supporting me at sea for years. At the moment we are too close to communicate by radio.

Fair winds and following seas.

--

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bobbing Along

I am underway from Nassau, Bahamas to Morehead City, NC, USA. The winds have been light so my progress has been slow. The consequence of light winds is relatively low waves. Given that they are on the beam this has made for a more comfortable ride. So the trede off is: slow and comfortable or faster and more uncomfortable. I like the slow and comfortable. This is the first time in 8 months that I have been sailing solo. It is reassuring that the sailing is easy so far.

I have noticed (I reinstated my XM weather service) that there are lots of storms and rain on the coast. I am about 150 NM offshore so they do not reach me. But i will have to deal with them when I get close to Morehead City. At the moment the center line of the Gulf Stream is about 50 NM to my west. I do not think that taking the time to sail to it will result in a faster passage. It is shifting East so I expect that in the next day or so I will start to feel its impact.

Fair winds and following seas
--

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The $4,500 Visa Saga (Not the Credit Card, the United States B-2 visitors visa)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


Apparently not if you are from Slovakia and want to arrive in the United States by private sailboat.

It seemed so simple. I wanted help bringing Reboot back to the United States for a yard period. I needed to visit my doctors and wanted to share my family and beautiful country. Andrea (a citizen of Slovakia and the European Union) had been sailing with me for six months. We had been in and out of 10+ countries in the Caribbean with no problem. The United States code does not permit travel under the "visa waver" program to the United States on a private sailboat. You must arrive on an "approved carrier" which means a commercial flight. Andy could have applied for an ESTA, flown to Miami for about $150 and stayed in a hotel while I brought Reboot back to the United States.

I did my Internet research. It said that Andy needed a B-2 visitors visa for entry on Reboot. There are only two places in the Caribbean with an American Embassy. The obvious choice was Nassau in the Bahamas. I checked online for the visa wait times - 1 day.

The process is typically bureaucratic. First you apply. Then you pay. Then you go for an interview. Then you wait. We applied. I helped Andy translate the questions. It took 5 hours to fill out the application. Since the only place you can pay the fee is in Nassau I sent the Embassy an email and asked for special consideration to book the interview and then pay. I was turned down.

We arrived in Nassau. I went to the web site for directions to the "Cash-and-Go" to pay and found out that they take credit cards over the Internet. I paid and found out the next interview opening was 8 days later. We stayed in the marina at $100 per day and waited for the interview.

Andy went to the interview. Because she has very limited English language skills the "consular officer" invited me to come in and help translate. What I was asked to translate was that they were turning Andy down for a visa because she did not have a reason to go back to Slovakia. I explained that we were sailing the world and that Andy had no interest in going to Slovakia as we were heading for Mexico, Belize Guatemala, etc. on our way to the Pacific once Reboot was fixed. I offered to purchase an airplane ticket to Slovakia. I pointed out that we had be in 10+ countries in the past 6 months and never had a problem. Nothing I said made any difference.

Now it turns out that "consular officers" have the final say. No appeal rights. No other recourse.

I contacted my Congressman. I spoke to a very nice staff person. She said she would do what she could but that this is a story they have heard over and over and not to get my hopes up.

I figured, OK, I understand how this goes. So I purchased a plane ticket to Miami and a plane ticket in August to Slovakia. Andy applied for an ESTA under the visa waver program. Turn around time - 3 days. Outcome - turned down - we presume because she had been turned down for the visa. Scratch one non-refundable ticket to Miami.

We saw the hand writing on the wall. I purchased Andy a ticket on British Airways direct Nassau - London Heathrow. Then a car service to Stansted. A RyanAir ticket from London to Bratislava, Slovakia. We try to check in online. Check in online is blocked. We go to the airport - check in is no problem. (Of course I lost 10 pounds of sweat during the 24 hours before the flight worrying that they would not let her on the airplane.)

Andy gets on the plane and I sigh in relief. After all, what can go wrong now? She is an EU citizen traveling in the EU. Was I naive.

Andy arrives in London, gets her bags and goes to Customs. They take her apart. She spends about 2 1/2 hours in Customs while they empty her bag, sniff every bottle, and in general give her a hard time. Of course she doesn't speak enough English to understand what is going on. She is in tears.

They finally let her go. Of course the car service has long ago left. Apparently some kind soul with a telephone calls the car service and they say they will come back for an additional charge of 40 pounds. So back they come and on to Stansted. Where she of course misses the flight. RyanAir is not amused. The ticket was non-refundable. She did not fly. Tough luck. Purchase another ticket. So after sleeping in the airport all night she gets on the morning flight to Bratislava.

Andy does not live in Bratislava. She lives in Trencin, about 100 km away. After driving to Bratislava and finding no Andy her family returned home and drove back the next day. European fuel prices being what they are, and the terrible economy in Slovakia make this more than a minor annoyance.. But she at last arrives home.

So after paying for the marina, airline tickets, visa fees, ESTA fees, car service fees, and cab fares to the airport I am out about $4,500. All because I wanted help bringing Reboot from Nassau to Miami.

Thank you United States Government. You make me proud to be a citizen that gave 30 years of his life serving in the United States Navy.

Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Still in Nassau

Andrea goes to Slovakia tomorrow and I leave for the US on Thursday. Back to solo sailing for a while.

Fair winds and following seas

Friday, June 7, 2013

XM Weather Service

Now that we are back near the United States I have reactivated the XM Weather Service for my chart plotter. I don't know if I want to be happy or sad. Most of the time when making long transits you just deal the the weather as it is. Now I can worry about the bad weather I see on the chart plotter.

Lots of laughs

Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Nassau, Bahamas

We are in Nassau, Bahamas after a terrible trip. In my last post I explained that we were going to sail on the wind vane - we did. The trip to the Bahamas was uneventful with the exception of 10 foot seas that rocked Reboot. We decided to go into Eleuthera Sound to get away from the high seas. One never knows what would have happened if we had stayed in the Atlantic. Once in the Sound we experienced four days of heavy rain and then were becalmed for three days. Everything in Reboot was wet. Then we drifted around for a while as the vane could not steer without wind and I did not want to motor for a couple of days and end up with low fuel.

We eventually passed through the "Ship Channel" only to have the Garmin chart plotter freak out as we were in the tightest part of the passage. The last time it did this was as we were entering English Harbor. Not very reassuring.

As we headed up toward the next passage I noticed a sailboat in front of us on the AIS. It was another Catalina 42 - Threepenny Opera - a boat I was familiar with from the owners association web site (Catalina 42 International Owners Association). We raised them on the VHF radio. What good luck - they pointed out a route that would save us about 35 NM to Nassau. We motored across the Bahama Banks dodging the coral heads and made it into Nassau before sunset. They also suggested a marina. Things in Nassau are very expensive so having a modest place to go was important (modest is $75 per night - the Atlantis marina would be $250 per night (lol!) Addison then followed up with a message offering any assistance  - they have been sailing the Bahamas for years. Very nice.

We will stay here while we sort out Andy's visa.

Fair winds and following seas.

Monday, June 3, 2013

S*((& Storm 2

The saga of the toilets continues. Andy heard the sound of gas escaping from the vent from the back toilet tank. We also discovered that it was hard to pump the toilet into the tank. I ran the macerator pump but nothing much seemed to happen. I took a sharp object and jabbed at the wire screen covering the vent line. Boom! S&*((& Sto4m 2! Fortunately the vent is outside of the boat. The resulting spray was quite a sight. It did take quite a few buckets of sea water to clean up the mess. But nothing like the first time. The macerator pump has been working but of course at the moment it does not want to pump. This is the old pump. My guess is that it is clogged with feminine product like the front pump. Since the pump is inside the boat I will leave it alone until we reach the US and I can have the tank externally pumped and flushed. In the meantime I will toy with it endlessly in hopes it will start to pump again.

As is true of many of these kinds of discoveries I have now added a new item to my to do list – replace all of the vents. It would appear that over time the screens rust and they don’t work very well. I always wondered why all the old boats I have been on had no screens in the vents. Now I know.

Fair winds and following seas.

Autopilot Fairlure

We departed Nanny Cay marina after an extended stay, We found the local cuisine to give us stomach problems. Then the weather window closed. What had been intended as a four day stay expended to eight days. We worked our way out of the British Virgin Islands. It was fun for me to pass Soper’s Hole – the west end of Tortola Island. We then proceeded in 5 to 7 foot beam seas to work our way around Jost Van Dyke. Although the rolling was uncomfortable we had good wind and set course for Grand Turk Island. I figured that once we got closer (its 400 NM) we could work out a strategy for either going up inside the Turks and Bahamas or staying out in the Atlantic. We had not gone more than ½ hour when we heard a loud groaning noise. I went to the cockpit and determined that it was coming from the autopilot. Shifting a bunch of gear I was able to get into the stern locker. I found that nothing was blocking the autopilot ram but that when I turned off the autopilot the noise went away. We had not rigged the Monitor so I decided to return to the nearest island where we could shelter overnight (it was about midnight local) and sort things out in the morning. After hand steering for about an hour we were able to make landfall in a partially protected cove. After setting the anchor (my normal 200 feet of chain and 100 feet of rode in 30 feet of water – its there, why not use it?  I sleep better!  (Having the rode also acts as a nice shock absorber to the chain, it is much easier on the windless.)

After a somewhat rocky night at anchor I woke up and emptied out the stern locker. Again nothing seemed amiss. I think that the autopilot was part of the original installation on the boat. This would make it about 17 years old. I got out my trusty West Marine catalog and discovered that a new ram was $2,000 in the US.  Not a good way to start the day. Since almost all of the remaining equipment on the boat is Garmin I priced a new Garmin autopilot – about $4,000.

Early In my solo sailing experience the autopilot failed. It was the control head in the cockpit. I learned two things from that experience. Raymarine repairs took months (I waited three months for “my turn” in line, then the technician declared .the control head broken in 5 minutes) and that the control head, computer, and drive unit needed to be matched for them to work. I realized that I should call Raymarine technical support for advice. I spoke to the technician. He told me that it sounded like the clutch needed to be rebuilt and that it would be repaired for a flat fee of $575 and that it would be about a one week turnaround. This sounded a lot better than $2,000. The problem of course is that I am in the Virgin Islands. Shipping the unit to New Hampshire, paying for a marina for a month, and the cost of shipping it back would cost more than a new unit even at inflated Virgin Island prices. That assumes that the proper sub-model of drive unit were here and could be installed. Fat chance of that. The problem with world cruising: once you are away from your home base repairs and parts can get very expensive. The shipping costs to repair the watermaker were in excess of 400 Euros. “Overnight” packages take weeks to move around and get thru customs. It was not an appealing solution.

Since I had used the Monitor wind steering to cross the Atlantic twice I decided to set it up so that we could use it to sail to the Bahamas. Andy and I sorted everything out and were ready to go when a wave of thunderstorms decided to work its way across the area. We were both tired from the night before. We decided to get a long rest and leave early tomorrow morning. That will give us a full day of daylight to sort out the vane. Hopefully it will all work out fine.

Fair winds and following seas,

 

Silent Sailing

 

Many people believe that sailing if quiet. It is anything but.

 

Last night we were about 100 NM north of the Dominican Republic on our way from the British Virgin Islands. Most of the time we have been sailing at night the moon has been out. In fact when we departed the BVI not only was the moon rising before sunset but it was full. Last night (26 May) I was sitting in the cockpit at sunset. The moon had not risen and all of a sudden it was pitch dark. as only the middle of the ocean can be. Andy came up and commented that she could not see a thing.

 

For some reason I was reminded of the first time I sailed Reboot at night. My ex-wife, my ex-stepdaughter, and her friend accompanied me from Milwaukee across Lake Michigan. We departed in the late evening so that we would arrive on the Michigan shore after sunrise.  After a few hours the women all went to bed leaving me alone in the cockpit. I soon became aware of all the sounds: the wind in the rigging, the waves slapping against the hull, the dingy bouncing behind the boat; the various blocks and sheets stretching and relaxing as Reboot rolled in the waves. All in all there is a lot of noise! It was unexpected and added to my general nervousness of my first big “offshore: venture.”

 

Fair winds and following seas.

 

 

Dolphins!

Andy got to see her first at sea dolphins today. They came up and played with the bow wave for about 3 minutes. We didn’t get the camera out in time.

 

Fair winds and following seas.

 

Two lessons (33452Z May 31, 2913)

 

Lesson 1

When I was a young man I remember reading the phrase “amputation with a dull spoon is possible, it is just very slow and very messy.”  Wind steering with an improperly adjusted Monitor vane is possible, it just doesn’t hold  a course very well. We have had almost continuous rain for the past 35 hours wth gusty and changing winds. Since the Monitor keeps Reboot at a constant wind angle I was under the impression that we kept heading up because the wind shifted. Tonight I realized thet the direction was not changing, just the intensity. This led to the conclusion that there was a problem with the adjustment of the vane. Now I hate to do anything at night – I prefer the light of morning\.  We were sailing so poorly that I decided to give it a shot, After several attempts I finally dit on the correct combination – all of a sudden we were heading on the desired course independent of the wind speed. Since we were trying to head almost directly down wind the (*heat went down, the motor cooled down and that’s when I heard that highway sound”) ride became much better and the strain on the rig and the sails was greatly reduced. So lesson 1 is: Make sure the vane and a telltale attached to the boat are both pointing in exactly the same direction. Turn the wheel until the boat is maintaining the desired course. Then engage the wheel. What I was doing was misaligning the vane to steering wheel connection. Getting it correct makes a huge difference.

Lesson 2

I have been sitting in the salon most of the last couple of days because of the rain. About every 10 minutes I stick my head up and do a visual scan. I am comfortable with this as Reboot has both Radar and AIS – both of which have proximity alarms. I found that I was having a great deal of trouble staying awake. I finally realized that with e everything battened down for the rain that the cabin air was stale. I cracked two of the hatches and my difficulty staying awake was greatly reduced.. Yes I am tired as I write this, it is the middle of  the night. But not near as tired as I was in the stuffy cabin.

Fair winds and following seas (that at the moment are running 10 to 12 feet!_

 

 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Too safe a narbor?

We are in Nanny Cay marina. It is so sheltered that when the sun hits we are slowly roasting! The configuration is such that there is next to no wind in the marina. I discovered this when I took a cab to Customs to check out and found quite a breeze blowing across the water.

Fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Nanny Cay Marina, British Virgin Islands

We are in Nanny Cay Marina in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. We experienced slow trips from Guadeloupe to English Harbor Antigua and from English Harbor to Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten due to wind and wave conditions. We decided to leave early in the morning so that we had plenty of time to reach the BVI in daylight. We left the Simpson Bay Lagoon on the 9 o'clock bridge. We got very favorable winds so we arrived in the BVI at 3 AM. Actually, we were about 10 NM from the BVI at 3 AM. So we furled the jib to a handkerchief and bobbed along until sunrise. Of course when we sail at 1 1/2 to 2 knots in 5 foot following seas Reboot rolls like a drunk. The trip that was delightful at the beginning turned out to be quite uncomfortable in the end.

We checked in at Customs and Immigration in Road Town. It has been a decade since I was in the BVI. My memory of Road Town was a dirt street village with a few structures. I could not understand why cruise ships would come to Tortola. Road Town now looks like any other Caribbean cruise ship port. Lots of places to suck money out of the tourists within easy walking distance from the dock!. It is a small and modern little city (and to their credit quite neat and clean.)

The marina in Road Town was having a boat show so they were full. They were nice enough to let us leave the boat on the dock to check in but then we needed to depart. We headed down to Nanny Cay - about 3 MN east of Road Town. Tomorrow we try and get XO his rabies shot and hit the beach.

Fair winds and following seas...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Satellite Weather at Sea

Satellite Weather at Sea
Click on the link above for a nice summary

Back in St. Maarten

After four months we are back in St. Maarten. At the moment we are on the Dutch side as the new bridge construction is making it difficult to cross over to the French side. The weather has not been good, after a miserable trip up from Antigua with light winds and the sails banging we arrived in Simpson Bay only to be hit by heavy rain and gusty winds. So we spend a useless day waiting out the weather and finally made it into the lagoon only to discover we could not get to the mooring.

Yesterday we ran into a few of our friends then went to Budget Marine for parts to fix the toilets. After a s&*( job on the front head it is now working properly again. I will replace the leaking gasket on the aft head this afternoon. We were also able to purchase the proper dip stick for the transmission.

Last night we had dinner at Barnacles Greek Bar and then headed back to Reboot in light rain. This morning over to the yacht club for breakfast. Shopping, etc. We expect to head out on Monday.

Fair winds and following seas.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

It is their culture

A couple of quick observations about the Caribbean:

1) Public urination in marinas is accepted. The first time I saw a man relieving himself from a boat in full view of Customs and security personnel I was shocked. Then I discovered it was a common practice. I have not decided to join in.
2) At least at Carrefour (the French grocery chain) the carts have four swivel castors. This makes it impossible to push them in a straight line on anything but a smooth surface. The alternative is a big bucket - you just drop everything in. When you check out you have to bend over and drag everything back out again.
3)  Most restaurants observe lunch and dinner hours. For example, you can't get dinner before 7 PM at most places. Of course most everything is closed on Sundays.

Fair winds and following seas.

English Harbor - Antigua: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The forecast was for 5 to 10 from the South. We got 0 to 3 from the Northeast. Most of what we saw was because we had to motor the entire distance from Guadeloupe to Antigua. One of the annoying things about Bas du Fort marina in Guadeloupe is that it is 20 nm around the bottom of the island and up into the center of the butterfly. The canal that takes you north has been closed for a year, so you just have to suck up the extra time and distance.

We arrived at English Harbor in the early afternoon. We selected Nelson's Dockyard from the marina listings in our (free) Superyacht Services Guide. On the way in the cockpit chart plotter decided it did not want to display the detailed map of the harbor so there was a bit of up and down. Once in we did find channel buoys. My little hand held radio has also decided to give up the ghost so it was up and down from the radio to the helm.

The Good:
Nelson's Dockyard is a historical park. It is where 1st Viscount Admiral Lord Nelson commanded early in his career. It is beautiful. Many of the buildings are still here and there are lots of interpretive signs. We hope to do more exploring today. It also does have a contingent of services - I will try to get the refrigerator fixed before we leave. Last night there was a retreat (in the military sense) of the Antigua Police and band. It was fun.

The Bad:
1) For a marina "highly rated" in the  Superyacht Services Guide the actual dock facilities are terrible. The setup is Med mooring with no (or only a few) anchor buoys. So one has to back in, drop anchor, and then continue to back into the dock. This was a first time evolution for me. Andy was trying to help but the language differences were a problem. Since there were no buoys we had to go stern to instead of bow in. This is a real problem. The monitor wind vane sticks out on the stern. We have no boarding plank. Eventually, with the help of the boat next to us and the assistant dock master we did get settled in. Our neighbors suggested we share the anchor buoy they were using and we immediately agreed with thanks. They were quite nice as part of the settling in process was for them to relocate the stern of their boat. I think I will purchase a couple of big ball fenders on Monday. It will make me feel much more comfortable.
2) I was hoping to buy parts for the broken (new) head in the bow. There is a Budget Marine on the island but it is a 40 minute drive. I need a Budget Marine so I can beg them to replace the toilet as defective.

The Ugly:
1) Checking in was quite easy - at least for people and Reboot. The entire process took about 15 minutes and cost 26 USD. But for the first time since Mexico we had to check XO in. This required a visit from the Government vet. We sat for over an hour waiting for him to drive over and check XO's papers. The cost was 50 USD. Like Mexico he never actually saw XO - just checked the health certificate and rabies certificate.
2) Last week was Antigua race week. I think it might have been better that we missed it - I don't know what the marina availability would have been like. Having experienced Key West race week I know that if you are not a racer it really doesn't matter - everything is just a lot more crowded. Yesterday (our arrival date) were the  "dock days" festival at Nelson's. There were lots of food booths and local crafts. Not so bad. But why does every festival require a stage with 8 gagillion gigawatts of sound system to blare mediocre music and stupid DJ's long into the night? After 22 hours on the water, waiting for the vet, and so forth a little peace and quiet would have been nice. Fortunately the music stopped at 9 PM - I guess the crowd of 10 year old girls needed to go home for curfew.

Fair winds and following seas.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Empty Caribbean

I have been in the Caribbean since before Christmas. We have visited over 10 islands. I am struck by how empty the Caribbean has been. Every marina has many empty slips. Every restaurant has many empty tables. Tour guides and marine repair people are desperate for work. It is clear that the glory days before the financial crash are long gone. In a way it is sad. Most people I talk to have no expectation things will get any better without major changes in Washington.

Fair winds and following seas.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

And the rains came

The transition to rainy season has been abrupt. We left St. Lucia in a light drizzle and saw no more precipitation all the way to Dominica. The first day here it was sunny. Ever since it has rained. And I mean rain. 12" in a 24 hour period seems to be normal. Everything that can leak is leaking. At least the deck of the boat is clean.

Fair winds and following seas

Friday, April 19, 2013

The end of spider hunt 2013

We made the transit from St. Lucia to Dominica in a little over 15 hours. We left Rodney Bay in light rain and made very good time until we were off the coast of Martinique. Then the winds died and we were bobbing along at 1 knot for several hours. The wind finally returned and we made it to Roseau in the early morning. We have taken a mooring ball off the Anchor Hotel. Ian, Trevor, and Jenn have made contact with the local spider hunters and moved off the boat. They will head back south to St. Vincent and the Grenadines while Andy and I continue our trip north eventually to the US.

Fair winds and following seas

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The S^&( Storm!

In my post frustration I mentioned that both maceration pumps had jammed. I managed to free up the back pump without difficulty. The forward pump was another story. I disassembled the pump only to find it jammed with a large quantity of female hygiene product. I do not understand why women can not take simple direction and not flush their product down the toilet. After cleaning the pump it was still not pumping so I assumed that the pump was shot. In fact a couple of the bolts had sheared and could not be replaced. Off to Island Waterworld to spend $250 on a new pump. Installed it, still a problem. I concluded that the hose from the tank to the pump might be clogged. As I loosened the hose clamps to check the line - you guessed it - the hose popped off, the clog cleared itself and the contents of the tank, accelerated by the large quantity of gas in the tank sprayed over everything. The next four hours were spent cleaning the boat. (The vent line had become clogged when the tank filled to overflowing)

Fair winds and following seas

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Frustration

In the past two days the refrigerator has failed, both of the macerator pumps have jammed, and the forward toilet has stopped working. Great!

Fair winds and following seass

Friday, April 12, 2013

St. Lucia, Rodney Bay

We departed from Grenada and headed for St. Vincent to pick up Trevor Bloom, our new spider hunter. The passage was pretty bumpy but we eventually arrived. However, trying to get around the south side of the island into Blue Lagoon turned into a real problem. The wind tends to wrap around the islands and with the normal trades we keep experiencing 25 to 30 knot winds and 4 to 6 foot seas. Reboot has an oil leak in the transmission so I am unwilling to crank the engine up to full power to combat the adverse conditions nor am I willing to motor at 1 knot for eight or ten hours to make port. As a consequence we abandoned our attempt and looked for an alternate site.

As we were motoring along the island we spotted a St. Vincent Coast Guard boat. We gave them a hail and they motored over (at high speed - I think they were happy to play!) We explained that we were trying to check in and pick up a new crew member. They told us we could go into the next bay and check in at the police station. So we did. We motored into the next bay and were greeted by a man in a rowboat who told us he could show us where to anchor. We followed his advice and eventually got set up. He rowed me to shore and I found the police station and checked us in. The town was a slum. Not only poor but garbage all over the place. I got back to the boat and Trevor Bloom, our new crew member also managed to get from the airport to the boat. The entire afternoon we were inundated with people swimming around the boat and asking for money. Around sunset we realized we were slowly dragging anchor. Since we were very uncomfortable about the security situation (it is very bad in St. Vincent) we decided to raise anchor and once again try to reach the Blue Lagoon. There was no wind so we motored for several hours. Of course when we got a couple of miles from the lagoon entrance the wind and waves picked up to the point where we once again could not make good headway. In addition, since it was the middle of the night I was concerned about navigation. Since the only reason we were trying to make landfall was to check out (I had previously told the spider hunters I was unwilling to spend any time in St. Vincent) I made the command decision to just leave and deal with the customs issues in St. Lucia.

After another transit with adverse winds and a long period of motoring east we made port in Rodney Bay Marina just after sunset. Of course after sunset - my luck has been terrible. Working our way in was a treat. There was a small channel left by the boats anchored out it Rodney Bay, then a very narrow entrance channel to the marina (I am sure it will not seem so narrow in daylight when we depart.) The next morning we checked in - no problem.

The marina is quite nice. We are in the "North American Corner." Actually, that is because this particular section of the dock has 110 Volt AC power. Most of the rest of the docks have 220 Volt European. So the US and Canadian boats are all clustered together. Prices here for dockage are much lower than in the US but one normally also pays extra for water and electricity. The big unexpected benefit is cable TV. Andy has been watching football (soccer) and we have watched some movies. I have cycled through the US news stations - same old same old.

Fair winds and following seas


Friday, April 5, 2013

Some Days things don't work out

We planned to leave Grenada today and head for St. Vincent overnight. We took some naps, prepared the boat, checked out and were ready to leave. Then Andy said "Did you pick up the laundry?" Of course we had not. And the laundry was closed. So here we are for another day.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A spider hunt and a cold swim

Concord Waterfall, Grenada
Yesterday Andy, Lori, Ian (our new spider hunter) and I went to the Concord Waterfalls in Grenada. There are three falls, the first reached by highway, the second a third a hike up the side of the watershed.

We arrived at the site of the first waterfall and began the hike up to the second waterfall. This took us about an hour, most of it easy trail but the last bit required climbing over a bunch of big rocks. There were several places were we needed to cross the stream, at some point in the past there had been quite a flow of water and all of the bridges were destroyed. We used the stepping stones to get across. It was not hard but some of the stones were covered with moss so they were quite slippery.

We arrived at the second waterfall and I was the only one to take a swim. We decided not to continue to hike to the third waterfall but to work our way back while Lori and Ian did their spider collection.

We gathered back at the car for a quick lunch and then headed down the stairs to the lowest (first or third depending upon your frame of reference) waterfall. There Ian and I did the necessary jump from the cliff into the water where we were joined by Lori. Andy waded into the water, declared it too cold, and decided not to join us.

Refreshed we headed  back to Reboot.

Fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sonic - Marina Bas du Fort

We are here in the Marina Bas du Fort and they have a firewall that blocks certain kinds of web queries. Most of the time this is not a problem but I was surprised to see that Victoria's Secret is blocked. I guess the women can't buy sexy American clothing in France.

Fair winds and following seas.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Med Mooring - Marina Bas du Fort

The Bas du Fort marina here in Guadeloupe uses the "Med Mooring" scheme. This means that there are no finger piers. Everyone goes bow or stern into a dock. The other end of the boat is held by a mooring buoy. Since Reboot's stern has a wind vane steering device we elected to go bow in. Fortunately there was not much wind so sliding in between two other boats with nothing but fenders on either side was less of a problem than I anticipated. The Port Captain also takes care of tying a line to the mooring buoy and passing it to someone on the boat. But all in all it is not a very favorable setup. We have to climb over the bow pulpit every time we want to get on or off. Getting groceries, laundry, and so forth on and off is a two person job. The advantage for the marina is that they can get more boats in the same space. To the extent that this is reflected in lower prices I guess it is a good thing.

I continue to be amazed at the high prices for everything but wine in Guadeloupe. It seems every time I go to the grocery store no matter what I purchase the bill is $100 US. Rum is also cheap but we are not much of rum drinkers.

We are looking forward to Lori (Dr. Esposito) returning to Reboot this weekend. The plan is to sail direct to Granada and then work our way back north. After the run to Granada we will hopefully have more favorable winds.

Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quicken 2013 - I love stupidity!

Today I downloaded Quicken 2013. Of course I did not want to pay for it and download it. Quicken is disabling many of the features of the previous versions of Quicken to force you to purchase the upgrade. Now for a simple user like me each new version is slower and less user friendly than the previous version. So  to pay to upgrade from a piece of crap to a bigger piece of crap just puts me in a great mood.

I upgraded. My password would not work. It turns out that some genius at Quicken has shortened the password field. My old password was too long. So I had to uninstall the upgrade, restore the old version, change my password, re-install the new version. Such customer service. Wow - you can depend on Quicken.

Fair winds and following seas

Marine Directory Asia - A useful resource

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