Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fireworks

Here in Charlotte Amalie, USVI waiting to see if I have to move Reboot tonight. They are doing fireworks in the harbor and have established an exclusion zone. No one is exactly sure where it is, nor will we know until they actually anchor the barge. Such a pain.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The end of an era

It had to happen sometime. My odd Asus eeePC finally bit the bullet. Actually it succumbed to me spilling an entire cup of coffee on the keyboard. This was a tragedy. It could have been worse. The machine was 8 years old, could not be upgraded from Windows XP, and more and more applications were saying "no way" when I tried to run them. RIP

I decided to purchase a small tablet - and Amazon Fire. I was surprised to find that they would not ship it to the Virgin Islands. Apparently some licensing issue. I have to pay to have it shipped to my PO box in Florida. Then they will send it to me here. What is particular stupid is that it will get shipped by the US Post Office from Florida to here. Dumb.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Winds

First, since it that day Merry/Happy Christmas.

From late December to mid-January the winds in the Leeward Islands pick up. This happens every year. At the same time the temperature goes down (a little, lets say 5 to 8 degrees on average.) This creates a problem for anyone who wants to head East - the normal 4 to 6 foot waves can reach 10 feet or more, the normal 15 to 20 knot winds can reach 30. So what we mostly do is just hunker down. make sure we have a lot of rode (I have 200 feet of chain and 25 feet of rode) and ride them out. Because I hate to drag I have a lot more out than everyone else. This puts Reboot way out of the cluster of other boats. In fact, frequently there is a boat or two that is anchored somewhere between my anchor and my bow. As long as they haven't dropped on my chain I don't care since I don't plan to leave for a bit.

More at http://www.doyleguides.com/caribbean_weather.htm

Fair winds and following seas :)

Norwegian Spirit

Fat Turtle
I mentioned the other day that the Norwegian Spirit came in and anchored out. I was surprised. I ran into Forrest at Fat Turtle yesterday. He told me that several of the cruise ships had diverted due to the heavy seas.

The Fat Turtle is a restaurant/bar on the property of Grand Haven Yacht Marina. It  is about the first thing the Yachties hit when they get off their mega-yachts. So it can be quite the place, particularly in the evenings.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cruise Ship Misery

I have complained before about how cruise ships have ruined the Caribbean - particularly the smaller islands, It is not unusual to find everything closed as soon as the cruise ships depart. Nights spent with live entertainment in beach bars seems to be a thing of the past except in a few isolated places like Jost Van Dyke in the BVI.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the trades people here in the USVI don't like the ships either. At first I thought it was just the problem of being the servants to large groups of people you know you will never see again. Was I surprised to find that the problem is deeper. The people off the ships are characterized as cheap, don't tip, and don't buy stuff. I was in a store the other day talking to one of the clerks. She told me that people come in and take pictures of their stock and walk out. Apparently if you show the cruise ship staff proof of the cost of something on shore they will match that price on the boat. She said that she had worked in the store of the past 8 years and every year the revenue has been declining. Not good.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The view from the cockpit

Norwegian Spirit
We all try to coexist here in Charlotte Harbor. The cruise ships come and go. The harbor pilots and ferry captains try to keep us from anchoring in the wrong place. (This happened when we first came in, we were advised to move, good advice.) Reboot has an established position clear of the cruise ship transit zone and off the line of the range lights used by everyone who enters the harbor.

Imagine my surprise when I heard loud noises and walked out into the cockpit only to find the Norwegian Spirit about 200 FEET from Reboot. The next thing I heard was the rattle of the anchor chain as she lowered her anchor. I dialed up channel 14 and called the VI pilots. They told me not to worry, I was not in the way, they were just going to stretch the anchor chain. Slowly the Spirit backed away. But not very far.

Charlotte Amalie harbor has an interesting characteristic. The US Virgin Islands are right in the Easterlies zone and this time of year the Easterlies are well established. The wind is always from the East, the only variation is the strength - usually about 10 to 15 knots. There is also a (not so) convenient pass in the mountains that permits the wind to sweep across the anchorage all the time. This would be nice except for one thing. The entrance to the harbor opens South. The wave action is always from the South, broadside to the direction the boats have aligned themselves (i.e. the wind.)  Therefore we rock from side to side 24/7. Its not too bad, in fact in rocking can be nice most of the time.

This brings me back to Norwegian Spirit. Since she as at anchor she doesn't stay in one place. Either does Reboot. We are both moving around our anchor chains on a regular basis. It took me a while to realize that the sounds I was hearing every once in a while where her thrusters making sure she didn't hit me. It is kind of a freaky experience.

As an side note it is interesting to watch the cruise ships come in and out. They obviously have a lot of power and could really disrupt things in the anchorage. The cruise ships and the mega-yachts (which are required to use the pilots) are very gentle - we occasionally get the slap of a wave against the hull but nothing else. They do a nice job.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Yacht Nero

Nero
This beautiful yacht came into Yacht Haven Grand the other day. It is built along the lines of a 1920's motor yacht. Just drool like I did

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wet again

The dinghy engine is acting up again. Not to big a surprise. It has been raining on and off the last couple of days. My guess is that moisture has been getting into the fuel tank as the air vent does not screw down tightly. So its putt putt and occasionally buzz buzz. I stopped in the Yacht Haven Grand marine store to get some SeaFoam. They have every cleaning product imaginable, wine starting at $90 per bottle, and cases of water at $19.99. Do they have SeaFoam? Or any other useful product? Of course not!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink!

Powersurvivor 40E
Unless of course you have a water maker.Usually regarded as one of the most troublesome devices I recommissioned mine yesterday. In short order it started making nice clean water. And then it stopped. As it turned out all I needed to do was replace the filter on the intake. This morning it is chunk chunk chunking away again (I always run high energy using devices in the morning to give the solar panels the maximum time to refresh the batteries.

My water maker has a long history of being problematic. Until Katadyn discovered an internal problem with the unit and fixed it. Now it works quite well. The most important part is to "pickle" the osmotic filter if you are not going to use the device for a while I did, and it started up again after several months of "storage" quite easily.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Life on the Edge

No. Not about solo sailing. Rather about quantum biology. Click this for link! A short excerpt from the introduction on Amazon:

Life is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the known universe; but how did it come to be? Even in an age of cloning and artificial biology, the remarkable truth remains: nobody has ever made anything living entirely out of dead material. Life remains the only way to make life. Are we still missing a vital ingredient in its creation?

An amazing book.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Slow but steady progress

Back to being a solo sailor. I have been working on a number of small projects. I did get a ride to Home Depot and was able to purchase some snaps. So I have revamped the mechanism for holding all of the dock lines up in the air so they dry out. I also purchased some clips that I have used to secure a couple of the doors that keep flying open under sail. I continue to add "hard points" to secure various items underway. We ended up with a bunch of stuff on the floor in the forward bedroom on the last transit as it kept slipping off the bed. Now it will be possible to tie it down.

I received my first mail in about 2 months. Enclosed was the replacement Garmin wind vane. It will require a trip up the mast to reinstall. I also received a nice letter from the Federal Government telling me that all of my background information from my security clearance had been hacked. Way to go Government! I am so motivated to give them even more power! NOT! They have offered me free monitoring. We will see how that goes.

I have been slowly expanding my horizons around the dinghy dock at Yacht Haven Grand. I discovered the location of the clothing washing lady - I will take that trip tomorrow in the AM when the sun is not quite so hot.

Fair winds and following seas :)


Friday, December 11, 2015

Just another day in Paradise

Are we having fun yet?
Forrest and I are sitting in "Bad Ass Coffee" on the Yacht Haven Grand Marina property. At the edge of the property is the free dinghy dock. We, and most likely everyone else out in the harbor uses this dock. The fun part is that we motor in between the cruise ships and Rising Sun. Two walls of steel on the way to the dock.

Yesterday we made good progress. I talked to the folks at Neil Pryde sails. Feeling my pain they promised a new main sail in 2 1/2 to 3 weeks! Super. They will deliver it to their agent in St. Martin. That is great as it is a duty free port. The sail is also about $1,000 cheaper than the quote from Quantum. My current (now destroyed) Neil Pryde main was just fine.

We took the main down off the mast/boom yesterday. On the deck it didn't look as bad as in the air but the upper third was still pretty messed up.We cut it into two pieces to make it easier to handle into the dink. Forrest wants to keep it so when Jeanna can come over with the car we will load it up and bring it to shore.

My shore package has also arrived in the USVI. I will need to get over to the post office to get it delivered. Among other things I am hoping that the current documentation for Reboot is in the mix. It is always like Christmas, I am never sure what will be in the box. Since I only get my mail about once every three months who knows?

One relief. When we started using the dinghy the engine was a major pain. It would conk out with great regularity. We put in a new full tank of (NON ETHANOL!) fuel and it cleaned up in about 2 minutes. Since we are living on the hook that was very important.

Just another day...

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, December 7, 2015

//WL2K At anchor, Charlotte Amile Harbor, St. Thomas, USVI

We spent yesterday sorting out our engine problems. We spliced back the leaking hose. We added anti-freeze to the closed loop system. Since by the time we were done we were already committed to pay for another day at Yacht Haven Grand Marina we spent the night. This morning I went out and picked up more anti-freeze. I brought back two gallons only to discover that we were only about one cup short! Oh well, now we have lots of spare anti-freeze.

All in two nights at the Yacht Haven Grand Marina - $388.78. A mere bag of shells. Of course this marina is not set up for people like us (poor) but rather for the mega rich. Standing out among the other mega-yachts in the harbor is the 5th largest privately owned yacht in the world (Rising Sun). The 150 to 200 foot mega-yachts pale by comparison.

Much more interesting is "Artic". She is an icebreaker converted into a private yacht. Painted gloss black she has tenders that would make a drug runner jealous. Forrest pointed out the range - our little dinky sailboat, the small maga.-yachts (W, Spirit), Rising Sun at 454 feet and then the Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

With the engine healed (we hope) we motored slowly out to the anchorage. We will stay on board for a few hours to make sure that we have good holding and then put the dinghy in the water so we can continue our cleaning and fixing of Reboot.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

TWIC Cards - Hair Color

Forrest has been filling out the application for a  Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card from the Transportation Security Administration. We got a laugh when he opened the pull down list for "Hair Color" His choices were:


  • Bald
  • Black
  • Blond or Strawberry
  • Gray or partially Gray
  • Red or auburn
  • Sandy
  • White
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Orange
  • Pink
  • Purple
  • Unknown
Now I admit that finding some of the lower colors on the list was quite a surprise. But "unknown?" How could you not know your hair color?

Fair winds and following seas :)

E & S - The "Door Prize"

When we were transiting the Gulf Stream the panel door between the forward stateroom and the salon broke loose from its cleat by separating into two pieces. All that was necessary to repair it was removing the 40 screws in the piano hinge and then gluing and clamping the door. Since we could not glue and clamp on a flat surface we took it down to E & S in Nanny Cay Marina. They did a nice job of getting it back together so we now have a working door again.

I would recommend them for your woodworking needs in Nanny Cay, BVI.

Fair winds and following seas :)

B.V.I Marine Management Inc.

While in Nanny Cay Marina we had need for some machine shop support The tube that locks the swing door for the Monitor wind vane had become distorted. After disassembling half the Monitor we got it loose. The distortion needed to be ground out.

Enter B.V.I. Marine Management. They did a nice job of getting the tube back to round.

The next day we were checking the rigging and found one of the shrouds very loose. Alas the turnbuckle was jammed and would not respond to multiple applications of "Blaster." We managed to get the clevis pin loose and detached the turnbuckle from the shroud. Down to B.V.I. Marine again. They were able to get it loose and return it to Reboot the next day. I would recommend them for services in the BVI.

The Boss!

We missed again!

We set out day before yesterday for St. Martin (French side.) It was a uphill slog all the way - some 90 NM planned. When we were about 40 miles from St. Martin (past the point of no return) the engine decided to overheat again. Not to worry, we knew what to do. Sure enough, there was an air lock in the exhaust. Popped it open and got good water. Yea! About 2 minutes later the engine overheated again. Further investigation showed that one of the cooling hoses as a small crack - just enough to evacuate all of the anti-freeze (its a closed loop - open loop system.) We put up the sail (remember no mainsail) and sailed along for about an hour waiting for dawn. Since St. Martin was dead down wind we of course could make no progress in that direction.

We decided that taking the engine further apart while in the middle of the ocean was not a good plan. Upwind were the British and United States Virgin Islands. Since we had just left the BVI and Forrest had good friends in Charlotte Amile (USVI) we decided this would be a good place to go. In addition to the engine repairs Reboot needs a new mail sail. We figured that the USVI would have better shipping, no import duties, and of course it is our home country.

We sailed all the way back to the entrance channel to Charlotte Amile where we were met by Paul from SeaTow. He took us on a side tie and brought us into the harbor ($525 - too bad there is no TowBoat US - since we have their towing insurance.) On the way in a mega-yacht took issue that we were in the way (remember we are under tow - emergency lights flashing - Reboot "not in command.") So he powered by us so he could get into his slip (there must of been an important meeting on shore!) Since there was only one dock hand available we were forced to putt around the marina while the dock hand dealt with important issues like getting the garbage off the mega-yacht. He was most apologetic when he finally got away and came over to help us tie up.

An interest aside - there had to be a pilot on board the mega-yacht as he was big enough to require pilotage. Makes one wonder, Who was the a@#$hole? The Captain? The Pilot? The Coast Guard will want to know.

Forrest Hardy
Forrest will sign off Reboot here in Charlotte Amile. Like many his age he has college loans to pay off and although the company is fantastic on Reboot (XO the wonder cat just loves him) he does need to work. His friends here in the USVI have some opportunities lined up for him to investigate.

More on Forrest - he deserves and will get a blog entry from me. In the meantime - I would recommend Forrest without reservation as Crew or a Captain on any sailboat I had anything to do with. Lots more on Forrest at:

https://www.facebook.com/jforresth
https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=215997536+
Profile ID: 233064 on www.findacrew.net

I encourage you to look him up if you need any help on a boat - day work, cruising assistance, instruction, etc. Forrest spent a season at Mystic Seaport (Mystic Conn) teaching dinghy sailing.

We are at Yacht Haven Grande Marina. This is a mega-yacht marina with mega-yacht prices. The staff here is very nice. But we will leave as the costs here are draining my wallet. The plan is to anchor out in Charlotte Amile harbor while we sort things out.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, December 4, 2015

//WL2K Reboot Float Plan 12/4

Departing Nanny Cay Marina BVI for Saint Martin (French Side)
2 POB, 1 Meow
Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Yowling Competition

XO The Wonder Cat
Yesterday at 4:30 AM we were greeted by XO yowling. Now XO is quite vocal, he lets us know when he wants attention, food, water, or a clean box. But this was a new and very different noise. After a few minutes of trying to wake up and figure out what was going on I made it to the bow of the boat (inside) to find XO on top of the refrigerator and a Calico  (hence female) leaning into the open hatch yowling back. Forrest took issue with being woken up and took the water spray bottle to the bow. This dissuaded the Calico and she departed down the dock. XO was not mollified.

It seems as if there are a number of cats here in the yard/marina. They are not feral, they all get fed by someone on a regular basis. They are clean, friendly (for cats) and well fed. They have the run of the place and will not only get on boats but go down inside to explore! I guess they know the boats that have dogs aboard.

It is warm here in the evenings so we like to keep the hatches open. With the local contingent of cats that appears to be a bit of an issue.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Death Spiral

Nanny Cay Marina
Today we escaped from the Death Spiral. It works like this. When offshore one does not have access to normal things, like laundry. Throw in that every once in a while a wave will board the boat. This results in one's clothing being soaked in salt water. Since clothing soaked in salt water doesn't like to dry one changes into clean clothing. Of course since one has not bathed one's body is pretty ripe.

End result. Come into port with dirty hair, a beard, no clean clothing smelling like a goat. Find the laundry lady to do the laundry. There is no point in washing up as there is no clean clothing to put on. Wait for the laundry to be done. Take shower, shave, etc.

"You clean up pretty good!"

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Gorda Sound to "The Bight", back to Nanny Cay

Willy T
We left Gorda Sound yesterday morning for a 4 hour sail  to "The Bight" on Norman Island. This is the home of the famous Willy T restaurant. It was downwind most of the way so it was a very pleasant sail.

We went and picked up a mooring ball in "The Bight." The weather was very blustery so we spent a lot of time swinging back and forth. We (Forrest and I) decided to wait until later in the evening for the mandatory visit to the Willy T.

What we found was disappointing. Rather than the crowds and party of yore we joined a group of 6 other people (not counting the staff.) What was particularly surprising was that we had stopped at the beach bar (Pirates Bight I think) and there was no one there. This with almost every mooring ball taken, mostly by big catamarans. One would have thought there would be a big crowd, but apparently everyone else had succumbed to "cruisers midnight." In a way it was sad - how can tell stories of great parties when they are not happening?

This lack of people on shore has been the norm for our week here in the BVI. With the exception of one night in Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke the shore establishments are empty 1/2 hour after sundown. The night at Foxy's was a bit different but still it was only about 1/4 full.

This morning we departed Norman Island and headed back to Nanny Cay. We dropped off a few boat bits for repairs, had a nice cheeseburger, and headed back to Reboot. It has been raining on and off all day so we have been mostly hot and sticky.

It would appear that the British Virgin Islands have ceased to be much of a party place.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Marine Directory Asia - A useful resource

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