Our last day of work was June 25. We've spent most of the time since then working long hours getting Windchime ready for the big trip. Not much of a retirement yet, but it will all be worth it once we get underway. In the last month, we've installed or upgraded all the rigging, the electronics, and a good part of the plumbing and electrical systems.
We were hoping to be on our way to Maine by now, but circumstances have prevailed to keep us home a bit longer. Last week, we took a short shakedown cruise to Newport for the Wooden Boat Show, and found that the new in-boom furling system needed some tweaking. Consequently, it looks like we'll be on the dock for at least a couple of more weeks.
One thing after another has conspired to keep us in New London. The boom-furling problems have been worked out, so at least we can sail now. We have a few loose ends to tie up before we take off--insurance, computer stuff, people to visit. We're going to Essex early next week for another mini-shakedown cruise. Hopefully, we'll shove off before the end of the month.
September 2, 2004 Small Point Harbor, ME USA
Here we are in Maine at last! Linda's sister, Debbie, and her friend Susie joined us for the sail up to Maine. We stopped the first night at Point Judith, RI, then sailed nonstop to Maine. The water in Buzzard's Bay was 80F, so Debbie and Susie decided to go skinny-dipping in the middle of the channel. The overnight sail from Cape Cod to Maine was glorious. Clear skies, almost a full moon, and calm seas. In the morning, a school of dolphins swam beside the boat. We made landfall in Small Point Harbor and anchored for the night. It was a beautiful secluded spot. However, when we left, we pulled up two lobster pots on our anchor. We managed to remove them and headed up to Boothbay Harbor.
September 5, 2004 Boothbay Harbor, ME USA
We had a wonderful sail up to Boothbay. The winds were light and off the stern, so we flew the gennaker poled out wing and wing. Despite this being a tourist town and it being Labor Day weekend, we were pleased to find plenty of room to anchor and space on the town dinghy dock. We went into town and had lobster rolls for lunch at Kaler's--yumm! Debbie and Susie took off the next morning, and Deb's parents came down for a surprise visit from Bangor this afternoon. Some very nice lobstermen brought her Dad out to the boat to let us know they were here. They brought a small gourmet lunch which we enjoyed on the boat before heading into town. Everyone is so friendly here, and there are beautiful vistas from the anchorage.
September 8, 2004 Boothbay Harbor, ME USA
We're still in Boothbay and feeling quite at home. We're becoming regulars in the hardware store and the Moosehead Internet Cafe. The weather has been beautiful, but now the fog has rolled in, and rain is in the forecast. We went for a long walk around the bay yesterday. Most of today will be spent installing our water maker.
September 11, 2004 Boothbay Harbor, ME USA
We spent two rainy days installing our new water maker. After a couple of glitches and several trips to the hardware store, we got it working properly. It makes delicious tasting water from sea water--it's amazing! We also reinstalled the pressure pump and installed a new circuit panel. Yesterday, on the dinghy ride back to the boat, first we saw a Tartan 37 painted just like ours. Then a harbor seal surfaced right next to our dinghy. They sure are cute! Unfortunately, we didn't have our camera with us. We're heading up to Tenants Harbor tomorrow. It's supposed to be a beautiful day.
September 12, 2004 Rockland, ME USA
We had a magical sail today from Boothbay Harbor to Rockland. Tenants Harbor was our original destination, but we were having such a great time, we decided to keep sailing on to Rockland. We just finished dinner and are enjoying a very nice bottle of wine and a spectacular sunset. Today's sail was not uneventful. We had Windchime on autopilot most of the day, and it was amazing how she steered around the sea of lobster pots in our path. Then we took over the helm and ran over our first (and hopefully last) lobster pot Fortunately, it was swiftly cut away by the cutter we have installed on our propeller shaft, but not without a lot of noise. Then, while rounding Owl's Head on our way into Rockport, we spotted a harbor seal. We plan to head into town tomorrow and visit the Wyeth Museum and the Apprentice Shop.
September 13, 2004 Rockland, ME USA
It's another beautiful morning! We had a goat cheese and ham omelet for breakfast and now are enjoying watching the tall ships leave the harbor. There are five of them--no, make that 6--and we have an excellent view from our anchorage. We're not sure if there's a festival going on or if they live here. Maine is such a feast for the eyes!
September 14, 2004 Rockland, ME USA
We went ashore and explored Rockland yesterday afternoon. It's a wonderful town and couldn't be more boater friendly. There is a beautiful public landing that offers laundry, showers, and internet access, along with some very nice and helpful ladies from the Chamber of Commerce. We walked all the way up and down Maine Street and picked up some useful items for the galley. We also found out that this IS the home port of all the tall ships we saw leave port yesterday. There are at least seven "Windjammers" based here in Rockland.
September 15, 2004 Rockland, ME USA
Alas, even in paradise, one must do chores. We spent most of the day doing laundry and hiking to the grocery store to reprovision. By the time we got back to the boat, we just felt like relaxing. So we spent most of the rest of the day reading and lying around. Today, we went to the Farnsworth Museum to the Wyeth works. They had all three generations--N.C., Andrew, and Jamie. We liked Andrew's work the best. It's really quite striking to see them in real life. There was also a Connie Hayes exhibit that we enjoyed very much--bold and daring colors.
September 17, 2004 Rockland, ME USA
Yesterday, we pulled up to the town dock to refill our water tanks, and were surprised to find that our neighbor on the other side of the dock was from Mystic. Not only that, but the assistant Harbor Master is retired from Pfizer. It's a small world! There was a farmer's market in the park by to dock, so we picked up some fresh produce for the boat and a picnic lunch. Then we rode our bikes out to Rockland Breakwater Light. There is a 4300 foot jetty that goes out to the lighthouse. The weather was beautiful, and it made for a very scenic walk. On the bike ride back to the dock, we stopped at Hamilton Marine for some circuit breakers and fishing line. We're hoping to do some trolling during our next sail--even though we don't have a clue how to fish! Harbor seal sightings: 5.
September 19, 2004 Castine, ME USA
We had planned to check out the Jazz and Arts Festival in Rockland yesterday. However, incessant rain and wind kept us snuggled down on the boat. It was a relaxing day, spent reading and napping. Today, we made the trip from Rockport to Castine. It was a wet and wild ride! The winds were blowing at 30 knots and the waves kept splashing over the rail. We arrived in Castine and pulled up a Maine Maritime Academy mooring (compliments of Linda's sister, Debbie). Now, we're nestled in for the evening, about to stoke up the old heater, take some hot showers, make some dinner, and relax.
September 22, 2004 Castine, ME USA
Our first night in Castine was not as restful as we had hoped. The wind and current were forcing the boat in opposite directions, causing us to ride up on the huge mooring to which we were tied. It banged against the hull with such force, it sounded like it was coming right through. We got up continuously throughout the night and went up on deck with the wind howling, letting out more line, pulling the line in tight, even starting the engine to back us off of it, but to no avail. The next day, we moved to a smaller MMA mooring across the river--much further from town, but also much quieter. That afternoon, we met Sandy Bendixen, a student at MMA that Linda's sister, Debbie, had hooked us up with. (For those who don't know, Debbie was the first female to graduate from MMA back in the 70's, and is a legend here.) She gave us a tour of the Academy and of their training ship, the "State of Maine." We got to see a demonstration of the new simulator which is amazing! It made you feel like you were really on the bridge of a ship, swaying and all. After the tour, we met Sandy's mom, Laura, for a cocktail at Dennett's Wharf.
The next day, Deb's Aunt Janice and cousin Carmen, from Bangor, came down for a visit. We had lunch at Bah's Bakehouse and went for a walk on the beach. Then we ran into Deb's Uncle George and Aunt Joanne while making a pit stop at the town dock. We all went to the Wilson Museum, which is a museum in town founded by a local doctor. It had an eclectic collection of geological and historical artifacts--very interesting. That night, we had a lobster dinner with Sandy and Laura, at their house just outside of town. A couple of bottles of wine later, we ended up spending the night there, sleeping on a brand new air mattress they wanted to try out. It was a wonderful evening! We spent the next day at their house doing our laundry, relaxing, and making ourselves at home.
September 24, 2004 Castine, ME USA
Yesterday, we took Sandy sailing for the first time in her life. It was a perfect sailing day--sunny, calm, and just the right amount of wind--and we pretty much had the bay to ourselves. When we got back, we met Laura at The Reef for dinner--cheesy poofs and pizza. Saying goodbye was sad. In the few days we've known Sandy and Laura, we've really become close friends. Hopefully, they'll be able to join us somewhere along our voyage in the future. We're moving back south to Rockport today. According to the weather forecast, it should be as lovely a sail as yesterday.
We've arrived safely in Rockport. The forecast was correct about it being nice. The weather was warm and the water was like glass, but there was absolutely no wind. We motored all the way here and, with the tide in our favor, it only took 3 hours. There was no place shallower than 50 feet to anchor, so we're paying $20 a night for a mooring. It's a lovely harbor, but not much to do in town. We went in for lunch at 2:30 and the only restaurant in town was already closed. Finally, we came across a bakery and ended up having chocolate cake and coffee for lunch. We walked up to the Opera House to see if anything was going on there this weekend, but nothing. The limestone kilns at Marine Park were interesting, and Andre the seal's statue was there too. Now, we're sitting on the boat watching an elderly couple and their black cat, on the mooring next to us, getting ready to take off for an overnight sail in their beautiful mini replica of a 2-masted coastal schooner.
September 27, 2004 Boothbay Harbor, ME USA
We got up early on Saturday and went to The Corner Store (the only restaurant in downtown Rockport) for eggs Benedict. Deb's Uncle Joe came to visit us and see the boat at noontime. Then we spent the afternoon in the Rockport Public Library. We sat in the Marine Room, which was quite cozy. Deb updated the website and did a little internet surfing, while Linda read her book in a comfy overstuffed chair in the window until she fell asleep.
Sunday morning we left Rockport for Tenants Harbor. Once again, there was no wind, and we had to motor the entire way. The trip was uneventful, except for a lobster pot buoy that got snagged by our prop. Luckily, the cutter we have installed on our shaft cut it loose, and we were able to continue. The whole north side of Tenants Harbor was occupied by moored lobster boats and the southern half by sailboats. There were no decent places to anchor, so we picked up an empty rental mooring. We dinghied over to the marina to pay for the mooring, but they had a sign up: "Closed for the Season." Oh well, we tried. We wandered around looking for a place to have dinner and came across the East Wind Inn. It had a pleasant lobby with an old, friendly black lab lounging on the couch. We had a wonderful dinner and then spent a few minutes watching the Weather Channel in the lobby, checking on the latest track of Hurricane Jeanne.
We left Tenants Harbor early the next morning to go to Boothbay Harbor, figuring it would be a good place to ride out any hurricane-related weather. As usual, the wind was non-existent, so we were again forced to motor. The trip was highlighted by several sightings of harbor seals and dolphins swimming near the boat! As we entered Boothbay Harbor, Linda noticed there was a vibration associated with running the engine in forward. Deb got into the dinghy and saw pink and white strands wrapped around the prop--the same color as the lobster pot that we had run over the day before. We motored slowly into the harbor and dropped anchor. After numerous phone calls we finally hired a diver to come out the next morning to cut the offending rope from the prop. That done, we went into town for a Boothbay Mama (a rum concoction) at Kaler's.
September 29, 2004 Boothbay Harbor, ME USA
Our day, yesterday, started bright and early with the 7:00 arrival of Lawrence (don't call him Larry), the diver. He quickly freed our prop from what turned out to be plastic parts of a lobster buoy with a bunch of seaweed hooked to it. Anyway, it didn't look like there was any harm done. It poured ALL day. We spent the first half of the day doing some plumbing jobs on the boat, and the second half was spent watching six episodes of "The Sopranos" on the computer, drinking Guinness, and eating whatever tidbits of food we had left in the galley.
Today, we finished up the plumbing job we started yesterday. We enjoyed watching a small group of dolphins swimming near our boat for a little while. Then we went into town and hit the internet cafe, our favorite hardware store, and the grocery store. Tomorrow, we're planning on moving south down to Bailey Island. Our SIL (i.e. sister-in-law) Wendy's parents have a place there, so we thought we'd pop in for a visit
October 1, 2004 Wood Island Harbor, ME USA
We had a wonderful time with Bill and Sally (Wendy's parents) on Bailey Island. Windchime was too large to tie up to their float, so we ended up leaving her on the dock at the north end of the island at Cook's Wharf. They gave us a tour of the island on the way back to their cozy cottage, which is called "The Lark." Bill made cocktails for everyone, while Sally fixed a delicious dinner of sherry chicken. We slept well, in warm beds with fluffy duvets. Sally made eggs benedict for breakfast--mmmmmmm! Then they drove us up to our boat and saw us off.
Today's sail from Bailey Island to Wood Island was glorious--broad reach, no seas, and a steady 8-10 knot wind. We dedicated it to Linda's mother, who passed away one year ago today. She would have loved it!!
October 5, 2004 Gloucester, MA USA
Saturday, we went exploring on Stage Island in Wood Island Harbor. It had this monument on it that we wanted to check out, but we never found out what it was a monument to. Sunday we covered 60.4 miles from Wood Island to Gloucester, MA in 10 hours. The wind was at our backs, and the seas were rolling us around a bit, giving the Autohelm a workout. We were pleased with it's performance. We had a wonderful evening in Gloucester's inner harbor. Our neighbor played his trumpet while we enjoyed a delicious spaghetti dinner, compliments of Sally Friedlander. Monday, we spent a few hours walking around Gloucester--sunny and 70 degrees. We went to the Maritime Heritage Center and the Diving Museum (very enthusiastic proprietor). Then we found a wonderful little place on Main Street for lunch, followed by a walk along the waterfront.
October 6, 2004 Gloucester, MA USA
Yesterday, we spent the morning in the internet cafe, catching up on email and ordering boat stuff. Then we went to see the Fitz Hugh Lane paintings at the Cape Anne Historical Museum. The paintings were amazing! He was primarily a maritime artist, and his use of light in his paintings was incredible. The Lane paintings were well worth the price of admission, but they also had several rooms of maritime artifacts. One of the highlights was Alfred Johnson's boat, "Centennial." "Centennial" was a 18-foot dory that he had planked over and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in a record 66 days!
Last night we had our first encounter with unscrupulous cruisers. They invited us to go to the Crow's Nest (the bar in "The Perfect Storm") with them, and we ended up paying for the pizza and the drinks. She was pleasant, but he spent all evening regaling us with advice we didn't need. It was painful. The Crow's Nest had a reputation for rowdiness, but it was quite calm. The bartender was the brother of one of the guys that went down with the "Andrea Gail" in 1991.
October 7, 2004 Provincetown, MA USA
Yesterday, we motored the whole 40+ miles across Massachusetts Bay from Gloucester to Provincetown. Since there was no wind, we kept the cockpit enclosure in place, which kept us toasty warm. We like to call it our lanai :-). As we got close to Ptown, we saw whale watching boats all around, and we got to see two right whales! They are such awesome creatures to see up close and personal. We were pleased to be able to anchor close to the big pier. (Last time we were here, we had to anchor about 2 miles out!) We went into town and saw "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry" at the art cinema. It was very well done. Then we had a fabulous dinner at one of our favorite little Italian restaurants here.
October 9, 2004 Noank, CT USA
Our second day in Provincetown was spent soaking up the warm sun and walking down Commercial Street. We did a little shopping, bought a painting of Ptown, and spent a couple of hours talking to some very interesting women in a bar. We had an early dinner, shepherd's pie at the Squealing Pig, and went back to the boat for an early bedtime. We had to get up at 4:30 in the morning to make the favorable tide through the Cape Cod Canal. The next morning, we motored almost the entire 45 miles from Ptown to Cuttyhunk, because once again the wind was right on our nose. As we entered Cuttyhunk Harbor, we smelled a strong fuel odor. Deb went down to check the engine and found about a gallon of diesel fuel in the pan below the engine--PU! Fuel was hemorrhaging out at an alarming rate. We called Marcel, our favorite mechanic, and he recommended we sail home so he could take care of it. It wasn't something we could fix out in the field, and the mechanics on Cuttyhunk would soak us--that is, if we could find one on a weekend. We woke up around 9:00 on Saturday morning, checked the weather on the computer, and decided we should leave for Point Judith right away. Sailing out of Cuttyhunk was very peaceful. It was a beautiful day, and we had made it to Point Jude by early afternoon. With a favorable current for the rest of the day, we decided to continue on to our homeport. Our SOG when we entered Fishers Island Sound was 7.7 knots! At around 6:30pm, we sailed onto our mooring under the last vestige of light. We'll spend the next two to three weeks at home finishing up projects on the boat, getting our engine repaired, and taking care of personal business, before heading down to the Caribbean.
November 4, 2004 Noank, CT USA
As usual, things always take about three times longer to accomplish than you think they will. Consequently, we've been home on the dock for nearly a month now spending time with friends and family, preparing the boat, and trying to obtain health and yacht insurance for our voyage. The installation of the SSB radio was completed, and the Sailomat wind vane self-steering was assembled. We're hoping to get the new solar panel installed before we leave. The plan is to go down the Intracoastal Waterway, visiting with friends and family along the way. We'll finally be throwing off the dock lines on Saturday and heading down Long Island Sound toward New York. We're very excited!
November 9, 2004 Duck Island, CT USA
We left Spicer's Marina, at last, this morning at 8:50am! Marcel (our favorite mechanic) helped us shove off, then all the other guys came out in the work boat to wish us a good journey. We fueled up at Noank Shipyard and said goodbye to our friend, Lee. We ended up leaving a few days late, because Linda was still feeling the ill effects of a week-long flu bug. Unfortunately, we picked a record cold snap to take off in. It was a cold and windy sail, with one reef in the main and a reefed genny. Deb booted up the Raytech Navigation software on the computer, with crossed fingers hoping the hardware connections she had installed last week would actually work. Lo and behold, it worked! Now we can sit under the protection of the dodger, steer with the remote autopilot, and see where we are on the chart on the computer at the nav station. We arrived at Duck Island (just south of Westbrook) at 3:15pm, dropped anchor, put up the enclosure, and stoked up the alcohol stove. It's supposed to get down into the twenties tonight! I hope our plumbing survives it.
November 11, 2004 Oyster Bay, NY USA
Yesterday, we motored 40 miles from Duck Island to Lloyd Harbor on Long Island. There was no wind, so we kept the cockpit enclosure up, which kept us toasty warm. We left early this morning, hoping to make it through the East River today, but the weather had other plans for us. The seas were 10-15 ft and a steady 20+ knot wind on the nose slowed our speed down to 1-2 knots. There was no way we were going to make it to our destination before sunset, so we decided to duck into Oyster Bay Harbor. The weather is supposed to be nasty through Sunday, so we'll probably sit here a few days. It's a nicely protected harbor, and it looks like there are things to do in town. Another adventure! Luckily, we're not on any schedule
November 14, 2004 Oyster Bay, NY USA
We're still here. The day we arrived, we went into town to pick up some stove alcohol for our little heater and some drinking water. We found both at Oyster Bay Marine Center, left them in our dinghy, and walked around town for a couple of hours. It's a quaint little village and home town to Teddy Roosevelt. We got back to the dinghy only to find it high and dry on the mud flats, still tied to the dock. So, we killed some time at the library surfing the internet. We found some good information on the next few legs of our trip and caught up with our email. Then we had dinner at a very fancy restaurant and headed back to the boat.
The next couple of days, we spent hunkered down on Windchime, with the fierce wind and waves jostling us about. We kept the alcohol stove going most of the time, which kept the cabin in the high 50's. The weather has improved today, and will be better tomorrow when we head for Manhattan.
November 18, 2004 Cape May, NJ USA
On Monday, we had an amazing trip down the East River through New York City! The weather was perfect and the tides were with us all day. Manhattan looks different from the water, although the same mix of incredible architecture and dilapidated buildings was present. Once we got into New York Harbor, we took a little jaunt over to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island before heading down the Sheepshead Bay behind Coney Island.
Tuesday, we left for an overnight sail down to Cape May. It was a beautiful starlit night, and the wind was blowing off our beam--perfect sailing weather. Deb was experiencing some kind of flu bug, so Linda kept more than her fair share of the night watch. The lights of Atlantic City were visible for miles! It seemed like we would never get past them. We made landfall at 8:45am on Wednesday morning, anchored the boat near the Coast Guard station, and took naps in the sunshine. For the first time in a week, we were warm.
Today, Deb is feeling much better, and we're going into shore for some lunch and to pick up a more detailed C-map for Delaware and Chesapeake Bays.
November 23, 2004 Annapolis, MD USA
We've traveled some distance since our last log entry. On the 19th, we left Cape May, transiting the Cape May Canal, Delaware Bay, and more than half of the C & D Canal to Chesapeake City. Delaware Bay was uncharacteristically placid as we motored the entire way through dead calm waters. We dropped anchor in the last vestiges of light in the anchor basin in Chesapeake City. Entering the basin was a little exciting, as our chart showed 3 feet of water at low tide, and we draw almost 5 feet. Luckily, the tide was high enough to allow our safe passage.
The following day, we motored through the rain and still dead calm waters through the rest of the C & D Canal into the Chesapeake and down to Annapolis. We were supposed to go up to Clement Creek, north of Annapolis, to meet some other Tartan 37 owners, but we needed fuel, water, and showers (in that order), so we decided to pick up a mooring in town. The entrance to the harbor is quite impressive, with the U. S. Naval Academy looming on the right. Annapolis has a beautiful waterfront with a wonderful dinghy dock right in the thick of downtown. We went ashore for steaks at O'Briens, and explored Main Street a bit.
On Sunday, we motored up the Severn River to Clements Creek to meet some other women sailors, two of whom own a Tartan 37. (Interesting Navigational Note: Going under the first bridge, our autopilot suddenly steered us around 360 degrees!--caused, we found out later, by a magnet anomaly in that area.) We stayed on a guest slip at their community marina Great place to have a boat--a quiet little tree-lined cove. Leslie (one of the Tartan 37 owners) met us there and took us to Fawcett Boat Supply and to the Boatyard in Eastport for delicious blue crab sandwiches. The next day, we went to Leslie's house and did our laundry and caught up on email. Then we borrowed her car to go grocery shopping and to refill one of our propane tanks. Once again, a whole day shot doing chores.
November 24, 2004 Annapolis, MD USA
Yesterday, we returned to Annapolis, where we did a little sightseeing. There's a lot of history in this town. This is where Kunta Kinte first stepped foot in America. There are statues and plaques around the waterfront that pay tribute to him and Alex Haley. We went to the Maryland State House, which is where George Washington resigned his commission and the Treaty of Paris was signed. It's also the oldest continuously operating state house in the United States. Then we visited St. Anne's Church just up the road, which started out as the Church of England back in Colonial times. Now it's Episcopalian. When we got back to the dinghy dock, after dinner, there were three unattended little girls crawling on the statues of Alex Haley and the children he's reading to. One of them started violently kicking one of the little girl statues! We couldn't believe it. Linda gave them a little lecture on respecting public property, and they moved along.
Today, we're going to shore to take long hot showers at the harbor master's office and to update the website once again before we leave. We're spending Thanksgiving, which is tomorrow, here in Annapolis. We're making a turkey dinner with all the fixin's onboard Windchime. We leave early Friday morning for Solomons Island.
November 29, 2004 Poquoson, VA USA
We had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner onboard in our lanai, with the wind howling and the rain beating against the canvas. The next day, we moved 35 miles south to Solomons Island and then another 50 miles the next day to Indian Creek. We stayed in Debbie Dempsey's old house, now owned by Ward and Judy LeHardy, with Windchime anchored just off shore. Ward is a retired Army General and the two of them had completed a 5 year circumnavigation in a Corbin 39 about nine years ago. Needless to say, they were a wealth of information and inspiration for us. They couldn't have been more gracious hosts. They gave us a copy of their book, "Once Around" (available at Amazon :-)) and a couple of galley cookbooks, which will definitely come in handy. We had a wonderful two days there. Today, we motorsailed 30 miles south to Poquoson, and tomorrow we plan to anchor in Norfolk.
November 30, 2004 Norfolk, VA USA
We had an interesting cruise through Hampton Roads. We passed by Newport News (which looks a lot like Electric Boat in Groton) and then Norfolk naval base on the way to our anchorage in downtown Norfolk at Mile 0 of the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway). When we arrived, there was a huge Dutch Cruise ship docked nearby, which we watched turn on a dime to leave the harbor. We discovered WiFi access from the nearby marina, so we spent the evening catching up on email and updating the website--onboard Windchime! The weather looks bad for tomorrow, so we might check out the Chrysler Museum here, instead of moving into the ICW.
December 2, 2004 Goat Island, NC USA
The weather WAS horrible yesterday--rain and 35 knot winds buffeted us around a bit. We took the opportunity to do our Christmas shopping online. By early afternoon, the sun was out and we dinghied into town, where we visited the Chrysler Museum of Art. There was an incredible exhibit there called "The Quilts of Gee's Bend." It was a collection of quilts made by a group of African American farm workers (descendents of former slaves) in Gee's Bend, Alabama starting in the 1920's up to the present day. The quilts were works of art and the women who created them were amazing!
Today, we traversed the Great Dismal Swamp Canal--going through our first locks on either side. The ride up to the canal was gorgeous with tree-lined reflections in the water. The Dismal Swamp was a bit more dismal (although we've heard it's beautiful earlier in the year). It reminded us both of "Deliverance." Now we're anchored north of Goat Island (Did I mention we crossed over into NC today?!!) about 10 miles from Elizabeth City, having Dinty Moore beef stew and a bottle of red wine for dinner. Tomorrow, we plan to meet our friend Leslie in Elizabeth City--can't wait!
December 5, 2004 Alligator River, NC USA
We had a grand time in Elizabeth City! They really are boater-friendy. Leslie stayed with us on the free city docks for a couple of days, and we laughed the whole time! She had her car, so we got a lot of errands done, like grocery shopping and hunting down oil for our diesel engine. On Saturday, we watched the Christmas Parade, which went right by the city docks. We met a delightful couple on the boat next to us--Bruce and Betty-Jo. The last night we were there, the four of us girls ( Betty-Jo, Leslie, Linda, and Deb) went to the movies and saw "National Treasure" with Nicholas Cage. The movie was merely "entertaining," but the theater was cool!! Half of it was filled with tiers of tables, at which one could have dinner and drinks before and during the movie. The front half, where we sat, had rows of typical theater seats. Had we known, we would have gotten there sooner.
We shoved off early this morning to head further south--destination unknown. We ended up anchored in the Alligator River just off of Tuckahoe Point. We'll probably anchor in the middle of nowhere again tomorrow, so we can make Beaufort by Tuesday evening.
December 7, 2004 Beaufort, NC USA
Yesterday, our autopilot decided to quit on us. We anchored in the middle of nowhere last night just south of Hobucken. Linda called our home boatyard, Spicers, about the autopilot, and they told us who to call in NC to help us out. Luckily, it's still under warranty! We ran aground for the first time today shortly after leaving our anchorage--right in the middle of the channel! Apparently, running aground is inevitable in the ICW. We backed off and felt our way through the channel using the depth sounder. We made it to Beaufort early this afternoon and anchored in Taylor Creek, just off the town dinghy dock. Great place for boaters! We even discovered that we had WiFi access onboard Windchime in the harbor.
December 9, 2004 Beaufort, NC USA
Yesterday, Mike, the electronics guy, was onboard at 8am to diagnose our autopilot problem. He was most entertaining and determined that the entire unit would have to be replaced. Hopefully, he'll be doing that for us on Friday. We spent most of the morning doing engine maintenance. Leslie showed up around 1:00. We went for a drive along the waterfront--an interesting mix of traditional large southern houses and modern architecture. We spotted one of the wild ponies that live on Carrot Island across the river! Then we did a little shopping and discovered and article about us in Soundings magazine at Scuttlebutt Nautical Book/Chart Shop. We had a drink at Backstreet Tavern--a great little place that reminded us of a southern version of our favorite tavern back home. A delicious dinner was had by all at Clawson's, and then we shot pool for a couple of hours at the Royal James Cafe. The bartender there looked exactly like Mel Gibson--it was uncanny. Leslie had a little accident on the dinghy dock on our way back to the boat. The tide was way low, so we had to descend a few slippery steps down to the dingy dock--which, incidentally, had a board missing right where one would normally step off the ladder. Linda and Deb made it down fine, having remembered about the missing board. Leslie, however, put her foot right through the hole! After we determined she was alright, we couldn't stop laughing! She has an impressive bruise, but no permanent damage.
December 10, 2004 Beaufort, NC USA
We found out today that our new autohelm won't be arriving until Monday. We were hoping to sail outside the next leg of the trip, but Linda's not been feeling well (she's been in bed all day). We don't have an autopilot and the seas and wind are looking foul for tomorrow. Consequently, the plan now is to motor down the ICW Saturday and Sunday to Wilmington, where the new autopilot will be installed as soon as we get there. The weather was nasty today--we even had a tornado watch this morning!
December 14, 2004 Wrightsville Beach, NC USA
Sunday, we left Beaufort motoring south down the ICW. The going was slow, so we stopped midway at mile 252 in a shallow anchorage on the side of the channel. We did fine until it was time to go. Windchime had swung around in the current, and now her rudder was stuck in the mud. Using the windlass to pull her toward the anchor freed the rudder, and we were off. We were surprised to see dolphins in the ICW. Four times in two days, dolphins swam around the boat as we motored by. Early yesterday afternoon, we arrived in Wrightsville Beach (about 5 miles east of Wilmington), where our autohelm was to be fixed. We went for a leisurely walk on the white sand beach and then out for a disappointing dinner at King Neptune's. It was so bad that Linda threw her doggy bag in the trash on the way back to the boat. Today, the electronics technician came to the boat and installed a new head unit and drive motor for our autohelm, but it still didn't work. He determined the problem to be yet another part--the rudder reference transducer. The part was ordered, and he promised to come back tomorrow to install it. We're crossing our fingers that it works! We had docked Windchime at Seapath Yacht Club, because the technician was not allowed to dinghy out to a moored boat. Since he had to come back tomorrow, we decided to spend the $1.50 per foot and spend the night on the dock. It turned out to be a wonderful place with friendly and helpful staff. Phil, one of the dock guys, gave us the keys to the courtesy car and told us to go to Middle of the Island for lunch---delish!! Then we took the car to True Value for some more denatured alcohol for our small space heather and then to the grocery store. Now, we're hunkered down with the alcohol stove burning in anticipation of the 20 degree temperatures forecast for tonight.
December 15, 2004 Wrightsville Beach, NC USA
Our autopilot is working again for now. We're not sure how much it's going to cost us. The owner of the electronics company was a pompous ass, and the guy doing the work, while very nice, was not all that proficient. They say Raymarine will only pay for 3 hours of labor, and he was here the better part of two days. The guys at the marina where we docked couldn't be nicer though. They allowed us to stay tonight for free. We're leaving early tomorrow, but don't know what our destination will be. We're taking the ICW down about 20 miles to Cape Fear and then sailing outside. The weather, while cold, is supposed to be somewhat benign on the coast, so we might go for two overnights down to Hilton Head (about 200 miles).
December 16, 2004 Carolina Beach, NC USA
Well, we started out today, excited about our overnight sail and all the time we were going to make. However, early on, we realized our autopilot was still broken. We called the electronics place, and they met us at a dock about an hour down the waterway. Several hours later, it was fixed--HOPEFULLY!!!!! Anyway, it's too late to take off now, so we're leaving in the morning. The gentleman running the gas dock, to which we tied up to to pick up the technician, is graciously letting us stay overnight for free.
December 17, 2004 Atlantic Ocean, SC USA
Our spirits are much higher today. We're in the middle of beautiful turquoise water (lat 33 degrees 30.96 min N, 78 degrees 29.48 min W) off the coast of South Carolina. If all goes well, we'll make Jacksonville, FL by Sunday. It made it up to 70 degrees in our lanai today. It's nice not having to worry about running aground or bumping into things. We've only seen 4 boats since we got out here. We had a huge pod of dolphins playfully swimming around Windchime for more than half an hour today. It was spectacular! It's starting to get dark and it looks like we might get some rain tonight, but the wind and seas are calm.
December 18, 2004 Atlantic Ocean, SC USA
It's 8:30am and we're about 15 miles off the SC coast. We passed Charleston a couple of hours ago. The weather looks good, so we're going for one more overnight sail that should put us somewhere in FL tomorrow. We're sorry to miss visiting Charleston and Savannah, but at this point, we just want to get south to warm weather!!
December 19, 2004 St. Augustine, FL USA
We arrived in St. Augustine, FL at around noon today--just in time to beat the bad weather. We did 248.5 miles in 50 hours, nonstop--a record for us. We're
exhausted and are going to take a nap now. Our autopilot quit on us again about 4 hours before we got here, so we'll have to deal with getting that
December 20, 2004 St. Augustine, FL USA
This morning it was freezing when we woke up. We couldn't believe that we finally made it to Florida and still had to endure the cold!! It's as if it's following us. A 19 degree low was forecast for the next night, so we decided to spend the night at Deb's parents house in Summerfield. They took us out to an Italian restaurant in the Villages for Deb's birthday dinner.
December 25, 2004 St. Augustine, FL USA
Deb's parents drove us back to St. Augustine on the 21st. St. Augustine is the oldest town in the country, full of history and old Spanish architecture. We spent the next few days exploring town, doing some last minute Christmas shopping, and eating fabulous meals. The first day, we had lunch and a pitcher of Sangria at Columbia's, an excellent Cuban restaurant, with Deb's parents. Then we went back to troubleshoot our autopilot, after speaking to the Raymarine technician. We repaired some connections that had come loose, and it seemed to be working. We won't know for sure until we do sea trials. The next day, we went wine tasting at the San Sebastian Winery and ended up purchasing a case. For a lark, we visited Potter's Wax Museum. One evening was spent in the A1A Brew Pub drinking stout and listening to live blues. Leaving Windchime at anchor in St. Augustine, on the 24th we returned to Deb's parent's house to celebrate Christmas with them. We had a warm and relaxing Christmas--eating, drinking and being merry. Deb's Uncle George and Aunt JoAnn stopped by for an amusing visit on Christmas Eve day. Tomorrow, we head back to St. Augustine to get Windchime ready to sail down to Daytona Beach.
December 29, 2004 Daytona Beach, FL USA
The weather kept us in St. Augustine until the 28th. We used the time to visit the Lightner Museum, Flagler College, St. Augustine Bascilica, and the Museum of Weapons. Flagler College and the Lightner Museum were originally luxury hotels built by Henry Flagler in the 1800's. The architecture was amazing! We also enjoyed a couple of meals and pints of Guinness at a newly opened Irish pub on Market Square. Yesterday, we had a pleasant and warm trip down the ICW to Daytona Beach, where we anchored just south of the Halifax Harbor Marina. We were disheartened to learn of the massive devastation and loss of life wreaked by the earthquake/tsunami in Southeast Asia. What a horrific tragedy.
December 30, 2004 Daytona Beach, FL USA
There's no real dinghy dock on this end of town, but we were able to tie up near the boat launch at Halifax Harbor Marina. Yesterday, we had burgers and Guinness at the Stock Exchange, soaking up the warmth of the sun. Then we took a stroll down Beach Street and stopped in at a used bookstore to purchase some paperbacks. Today, Deb's parents and Uncle George and Aunt JoAnn came for a visit. We hooked up with Deb's cousin Dana who was also in town and got to see her new grandson. He was adorable. We all had lunch together at Cici's Pizza. Then we ran some errands and pulled Windchime up to the fuel dock to take on fuel and water and to give everyone a chance to see our floating home. We're planning on heading further south tomorrow.
January 2, 2005 Melbourne, FL USA
We unexpectedly rang in the New Year in Titusville. On New Years Eve day, just after motoring through the Titusville draw bridge, our engine overheated. We immediately turned off the engine and dropped the anchor just outside the channel. TowBoat US towed us back through the bridge to the Titusville Municipal Marina. We tried to get a mechanic out to take a look at it, but he couldn't come until the next evening. We went for a walk and discovered a CVS, where we bought a couple of DVDs, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, where we purchased our New Years Eve dinner. We returned to Windchime and enjoyed a good bottle of wine with our chicken and watched a movie. The next day, for the first time since we left home in November, we pulled out our shorts!! We spent the day cleaning the boat and then decided to have a go at the engine ourselves. We had already checked the raw water strainer while waiting for TowBoat to show up, so the next logical thing to check was the impeller. As usual, it was not in an accessible spot, but we managed to get the screws off. Then Cliff, a fellow cruiser and a very nice guy, came over to help out. The impeller was OK, so we replaced the antifreeze that had blown out in the overheat, and she ran fine. Then Cliff left, and we decided to change the oil and the zincs. While doing so, Linda discovered a disconnected hose, which turned out to be the raw water hose for the oil cooler. It was cut about 1/4" too short and had come off it's fitting. Linda managed to reattach it, but we'll have to replace it with a longer hose as soon as we can.
Today, we shoved off around 9am and motored down the ICW about 47 miles. The engine performed flawlessly! Now we're anchored in a lovely spot, behind a small island, about 7 miles south of Melbourne. Only 141 miles to go to Fort Lauderdale!!
January 11, 2005 Fort Lauderdale, FL USA
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale on January 5th, the day before Linda's sister Timotha was flying in to meet us. We motored down the ICW and through the plethora of drawbridges the entire distance, stopping in Jensen Beach and Palm Beach. In Jensen Beach, we discovered a problem with our steering mechanism. We decided we would be able to make it to Fort Lauderdale before doing anything about it if we stayed inside rather than venturing offshore. The homes along the ICW in West Palm Beach and Boca Raton were incredible--lifestyles of the rich and famous! When we got to Fort Lauderdale, we anchored in a very crowded Sylvia Lake. It was here, while attempting to take much needed showers, that we discovered our hot water heater was on the fritz. The next morning, we moved Windchime to a mooring at the Las Olas Marina.
Timotha arrived on the 6th, and we spent four days relaxing onboard, drinking mimosas, talking, laughing, catching up on some much needed sleep, and venturing out to restaurants now and then. The weather was beautiful, and we all had a wonderful time.
Our autohelm continues to be a problem. We spent half a day calling marine electronics places in Fort Lauderdale, but could get no one to come out to look at it in a timely fashion. Finally, Linda got fed up and called Raymarine in Nashua, NH, basically to say she was "mad as hell and wasn't going to take it anymore!" About an hour later, she received a call back from a VP at Raymarine asking how he could help. The best he could do was to get a friend of his, who is a Raymarine dealer down here, to come out on Monday. We now have a direct line to this VP and can call him anytime we wish.
January 18, 2005 Fort Lauderdale, FL USA
On Tuesday, we met some new friends. Dave and Joyce Froelich discovered the link to our website on the T37 Association website, and they've been following our adventures ever since. They took us out to dinner Tuesday night, then Joyce spent the next afternoon driving us around to do some errands. We had a wonderful time with them and hope they'll be able to join us onboard in the Bahamas. Thursday morning was spent rebuilding our very expensive Groco Model K toilet, which has now stopped spitting, but still doesn't work properly. The weather was forecast to be cool and rainy for the next few days, so we rented a car and ran a few errands. We're becoming regulars at West Marine and Sailorman. Linda got soaked running from the parking lot into West Marine. She looked like a drowned rat. She bought a dry $7 shirt off the clearance rack and changed into it. The employees there found it very amusing. Saturday, we drove out to a multiplex theater out in the burbs and saw "Kinsey," "Sideways," and "A Very Long Engagement" all in one day. We had a lot of catching up to do. They were all excellent. In between the second and third movie, we walked to the nearby grocery store where we purchased a bottle of wine, cups and a corkscrew, then picked up a pizza next door, and had a very nice picnic in the car.
Yesterday, we hooked up with Bill and Sally Friedlander, who were in Florida for a youth sailing conference. (Bill and Sally are the parents of our sister-in-law, Wendy. We visited them last summer in Maine at their place on Bailey Island.) They took us and Sally's brother, Bick, out to lunch at the Quarterdeck. At 2:00, Rich from Raymarine showed up--YEAH! He was very knowledgeable and quickly determined that, despite published specs, our unit was undersized for blue water sailing. We're waiting to hear back from the VP of Raymarine about the cost for the upgrade. Later that afternoon, Bill and Sally returned to drop off an old worn out hat they're hoping we can have duplicated at the Albury canvas shop on Man-O-War in the Abacos. We enjoyed Goombay Smashes aboard Windchime. Deb's parents are arriving today for a short 2-day visit. A friend from home wrote that it was going to be 3 degrees there today. Sunny and in the 70s here :-).
January 22, 2005 Fort Lauderdale, FL USA
We had a fun visit with Deb's parents--eating, drinking, walking around town. It started pouring as we were walking down the beach, so we ducked into the Swimming Hall of Fame, which was unfortunately pretty bogus. Deb's parents, Diane and Allen, stayed in a small hotel on the beach. One afternoon, we were having wine and cheese on the patio there, when the manager came out to tell us that someone had passed away in one of the rooms and not to be alarmed when the paramedics showed up. According to the manager, the dead guy had checked into the hotel to drink himself to death, and his aide hadn't been able to reach him for two days. We took a ride on the water bus down to the Riverfront area, which was very scenic. The real estate along the riverfront is a sight to behold! One of the residents thought his grandchildren would visit him more often if he had a great big yard with a swing set. So he bought the property next door, demolished the house and put up a swing set--to the tune of 2 million dollars. It must be the most expensive swing set ever erected!
Yesterday, Deb stayed home and installed the new Sirius radio that Jay and Jenn had gotten them for Christmas, while Linda went off with Dave and Joyce Froelich to look a Tartan 37 in Miami. The work party and the party party were both successful :-). We had another beautiful day today, while the north continues to get pummeled with snow. Still no word from Raymarine on our autohelm. We're still hoping that they'll do the right thing.
January 30, 2005 Fort Lauderdale, FL USA
We expected to have problems with the boat over our two years of cruising, but we didn't expect to have them all in the first two months!!! Where should I start? We paid to have our steering system rebuilt a couple of years ago, so it would be in good shape for the trip. As we previously reported, one of the idler pulleys was askew and was clanking when we turned the steering wheel. Well, last week we got down into the bilge and took it apart, only to find that the clevis pin holding that pulley in place was worn half way through! We sent some pictures of it to an Edson dealer, and he recommended replacing the entire assembly. Apparently, this was the only part not replaced during the rebuild. We ordered the parts and are now waiting for them to arrive, so we can install them. Next, we tackled the hot water heater. Deb cleaned the optical sensor (Thanks for the advice, Gary!), and it seems to be working fine now. Then, we decided to have a look at our engine overheat alarm, which we knew was not working since our overheat experience in Titusville. We found that one of the wires coming from the alarm had been cut and was just hanging there. Upon further investigation, we found the other half of it connected to the alternator. We deduced that someone had been working on the alternator and needed some wire. So they cut the wire coming from the overheat alarm and used it in the alternator installation. Maybe they meant to repair it later, but it was just hanging there, and we were without an alarm. Unbelievable!! Anyway, we got out the electrical schematic for the engine and were able to rewire the alarm to working order. Mike, a mechanic friend of ours whose boat is on a nearby mooring, came over to check out a couple of problems we were having. The first problem was a small diesel leak coming from the engine. He tracked that down and was able to tighten up a loose fitting. Next, he checked out a leak we thought was coming from our rudder stuffing box, but he decided it was coming from the fiberglass around the rudder post. He decided it was a small leak and that we didn't really have to do anything about it. However, we definitely want to take care of it before we head across the Atlantic next spring. We had paid our marina at home $750 to take care of this problem last spring. So Linda called them up, and they agreed to pay to have it repaired. The only problem is, we can't get into a marina here to fix it until February 9th. We've already been here nearly a month and are anxious to get to the Bahamas. We still haven't decided what we're going to do yet. This morning we discovered that our bilge pump has an undersized hose on it which will reduce the water flow if needed in an emergency. On the upside, Raymarine has decided to upgrade our autohelm for us. Rich, the field engineer in Fort Lauderdale, showed up Friday to install part of the new system and is returning on Monday to finish the job. He says we'll be very pleased with the new system. Despite all the problems on the boat, we continue to have a great time in Fort Lauderdale walking on the beach and spending time with new friends. There are definitely worse places to be stuck . We're having dinner tonight with Pam, the outfitting manager at West Marine. She's sailed around the world twice and is an expert on the Bahamas. We're looking forward to talking with her about our trip.
February 5, 2005 Fort Lauderdale, FL USA
Sunday, we had dinner with Pam and her husband, Andy, at a local Thai restaurant. We had a wonderful time talking with them about the Bahamas, and came away with a wealth of information. Rich completed the installation of our new ST6001+ Smart Pilot on Monday!! Can't wait to try it out! Thank you Raymarine! Tuesday, we spent the day replacing the idler pulleys on our steering system. In the process, we discovered a problem with our rudder stop, which we were able to repair yesterday after a trip to West Marine. We had our last dinner with Dave and Joyce on Wednesday, after Goombay Smashes aboard Windchime. We're very anxious to get to the Bahamas, so we've decided to put off the rudder shaft repair until we get to Man-O-War (the island in the Abacos on which Linda's Dad has a house). Linda's sister, Debbie, will be there until the 17th, and we're hoping to overlap our visit with hers. Now, we just have the wait for the right winds for the crossing of the Gulf Stream.
February 7, 2005 Fort Lauderdale, FL USA
Most of yesterday was spent doing engine maintenance. We changed the oil and transmission fluid and all the filters and zincs. Then we walked down to the Quarterdeck to watch the Superbowl--GO PATS!! We arrived at 4:30 and took possession of a booth with a great view of the television. Three appetizers, dessert and three pitchers of Guinness were consumed over the course of the evening. And our team actually won! What a great ending!
February 8, 2005 Fort Lauderdale, FL USA
The boat is all ready to go, and so are we! The mini shakedown cruise went off today without a hitch. NOAA says it looks good for a crossing tomorrow night. Fort Lauderdale has been fun, but we can't wait to get to the Bahamas. We'll miss hanging out with Dave and Joyce. Hopefully, they'll be able to join us for a cruise somewhere in the Caribbean. This may be our last update for awhile. We're not sure how prevalent WiFi access will be outside the states.
February 11, 2005 West End, Grand Bahama Island BAHAMAS
We threw off the mooring line at 9:10pm Wednesday night and made our way out of Port Everglades. Dave waved goodbye to us from the 17th Street bridge. Aside from massive traffic leaving Port Everglades, the crossing was fairly quiet for most of the night. The seas were calm, and the wind was blowing about 10 knots. We motor sailed most of the way, and the new autopilot performed flawlessly. (We decided to name the autopilot Rosie after Rich LaRosa, the Raymarine field engineer who installed it in Fort Lauderdale:-) At around 5:00am, the waves picked up to around 6 ft on the starboard rear quarter, causing Windchime to roll side to side. She handled it well, but the rough seas made the approach into West End somewhat challenging. We docked the boat, and Linda, as Captain, took care of the formalities at the Customs office. As there was no good anchorage in the area, we took a slip at Old Bahama Bay Marina. Last night, the wind kicked up to 25 knots, which kept us up a good part of the night checking dock lines. We were hoping to start making our way toward Man-O-War today, however the weather fax, delivered to our boat this morning, issued a Small Craft Advisory in effect through Sunday morning.
February 12, 2005 West End, Grand Bahama Island BAHAMAS
Yesterday morning was spent catching up on some much needed sleep. In the afternoon, we walked to the Settlement about a mile and a half down the road. The devastation wreaked by last summer's hurricanes is still very evident there. Many of the houses are still without roofs, and the marina is completely gone. We stopped in at the Village Tavern for a couple of Guinness and some very delicious burgers. There was a cocktail party at our marina in the evening. A couple of guys from a sport fisherman showed up with some fresh sushi--yum! We spent a good part of the time talking to Kyle, a marina employee, about his experience with the hurricanes. He showed us where hurricane Francis had taken out a huge section of the seawall, that they were still in the process of rebuilding. Miraculously, all the docks in the marina survived, despite the breach of the seawall. The whole West End was evacuated for Francis. Kyle was in Freeport, and the building in which he was sleeping on the fourth (and top) floor nearly lost its entire roof! All five of the marina cats survived both hurricanes. We're hoping the seas will be calm enough to cruise over to Great Sale Cay tomorrow.
February 16, 2005 Man-O-War, Abaco BAHAMAS
We made it to Man-O-War Cay, where Linda's Dad has a place, in two and a half days. The weather was beautiful and the water was the most incredible shade of blue! We stopped the first night at Great Sale Cay and the second at Green Turtle Cay, but we were too exhausted after sailing all day to go exploring. We arrived in Man-O-War around noon yesterday and tried to anchor off Scopely Rock, near the house. Unforturnately, our anchor snagged a cable that was not indicated on the chart. Linda's sister Debbie, their Dad Bob, and Debbie's friend Harriet showed up shortly thereafter in the Aquasport on their way home from Marsh Harbor. Debbie told us that a friend on the island had offered us the use of her empty mooring in the main harbor. So we disentangled the anchor from the cable and moved Windchime onto the mooring in the harbor.
February 19, 2005 Man-O-War, Abaco BAHAMAS
We spent our first couple of days here, hanging out at the house with Debbie and Harriet. Swimming, reading, walking on the beach, running errands in town on the golf cart. It was very pleasant--until it came time for Debbie and Harriet to leave. Linda's dad, Bob, is suffering from Dementia, and at times it makes him behave like a two-year-old. The plan was for us to take the Aquasport to Marsh Harbor to drop Debbie and Harriet off at 9am, then do some shopping in town, and pick up sister Timotha at around 2:00pm. Well Bob decided he was going with us, and he was not going to take "no" for an answer. I should explain that Bob is 85, has bad knees, and walks very slowly with the help of a walking stick. He also gets board very fast. There was no way he was going to be able to keep up with us, and we couldn't leave him sitting in the boat for 5 hours. We tried to reason with him, but he insisted on coming. At this point, we were already 20 minutes behind schedule. We finally got him out of the boat, and Debbie tried to start the motor, but it wouldn't turn over. Bob was standing up on the dock with a big smirk on his face and said, "What's the matter? Won't start?" He had removed the nut holding the battery cables in place. We pleaded with him to give it back, but eventually had to give into him and let him come in order to get the nut. We put the battery cables back in place, but the engine still wouldn't start. The battery connections were too corroded. At this point, we were about 40 minutes late. So Linda ran up to the house to call Bill Albury, a local with a fast boat. He showed up quickly, we all (except Bob) loaded into the boat, and we were in Marsh Harbor in 10 minutes--just in time for Debbie and Harriet to catch their 9:00 taxi. When we returned back to the house, we found that Bob had let our dinghy go from the dock! Luckily, the wind had blown it up onto the beach, but our motor was taking a beating in the sand. We washed the sand out of the water intake, and she started right up. Needless to say, we spent the next day hanging out on the boat and in town.
February 21, 2005 Man-O-War, Abaco BAHAMAS
On Saturday, we went to the Man-O-War flea market. It's quite the big event, with boatloads of people coming from all the surrounding islands. They have crab races and raffles and tons of food. We didn't end up buying anything, but we had some delicious conch salad. After the flea market, we went up to the house to visit with Timotha. Today, we have to talk to a guy at Edwin's boatyard about replacing the zincs on our drive shaft, which we just discovered are completely gone.
We finally figured out how to use our SSB radio this morning! Linda did a test transmission on the Cruiseheimers net, and they could read us loud and clear in North Carolina. (Note to cruisers with new Icom M-802 radios: If you're having trouble changing frequencies, as we did, there is an important step that is left out of the documentation. You must enter "Open" mode before you can program in or change frequencies. To do this, while the radio is off, press and hold "2", "Mode", and "Tx" while you turn on the power. Then follow the directions provided.)
This afternoon, we got the Aquasport running and took it over to Marsh Harbor for lunch at Sapodilly's and a booze run (M-O-W is a dry island). Our favorite restaurant, Mangoes, took a big hit from the hurricanes and was only open for dinner. When we got back, we went for an ocean swim with Timotha. It was most refreshing! Then we returned to the boat and waited for Edwin's to show up to replace the shaft zincs. It only took him about 10 minutes, but it's going to cost us $50 plus the price of the zincs. Now, we're thinking maybe we should learn to dive ourselves.
February 23, 2005 Man-O-War, Abaco BAHAMAS
We spent yesterday morning finishing up the last bit of plumbing for the water maker. We now have a flow contol valve which gives us a choice of running it directly into the tank or filling our water bottles. We had dinner at the house--delicious salmon steaks (Thanks, Debbie!) cooked on the grill. This evening, we're having Jeanne DesParois (the women who loaned us her mooring) onboard for cocktails. Then we have a date with Timotha for a moonlight stroll on the beach. It's a full moon, and we're taking a bottle of wine with us. It should be lovely.
March 1, 2005 Marsh Harbor, Abaco BAHAMAS
Another month has flown by! We had a wonderful moonlight stroll on the beach with Timotha on Wednesday. Everything was perfect! Thursday, Jane and Ralph, the next caretakers for Linda's dad, arrived, and we all went out the Hibiscus Cafe for dinner. Last Friday, Timotha sailed over to Marsh Harbor with us. It was a beautiful day, and we had an amazing sail, tacking around the Sea of Abaco, drinking Mimosas. Late that afternoon, we anchored and went into shore to have an incredible dinner at Mangoes. We chose a table outside on the deck, and we could see lightning off in the distance. Just before we received our entrees, the sky opened up! We quickly moved to a table that provided some protection from the elements. The rain did not let up. After several Goombay Smashes, we walked back to the dinghy about a quarter mile away in the pouring rain and endured the long ride back to the boat. We changed into dry clothes and watched "The Girl with the Pearl Ear Ring" on the DVD player. The next morning, we had a big breakfast and dropped Timotha off at the public dock, where Liz's taxi was waiting to take her to the airport. We spent the day exploring downtown. The next couple of days were stormy, so we relaxed onboard and read. One day, we got a phone call from our friends Nate and Karen, who were vacationing in Hawaii, to announce that they were engaged! We're very happy for them. Today, we did some grocery shopping and found out that WiFi access here is way too expensive to take advantage of. They want $40 a week!! We were only paying $10 a week at Man-O-War. We'll be heading over to Great Guana Cay sometime this week to catch the Barefoot Man concert at Nipper's on Sunday.
March 6, 2005 Marsh Harbor, Abaco BAHAMAS
We sited a baby dolphin and its mother off the boat this morning! It was soooo cute:-). Once again, we have been hit by mechanical difficulties. On Wednesday, while we were charging our batteries, our engine died. We tried bleeding it, but couldn't get it to turn over. Bodie, the mechanic, came the next day and diagnosed the problem to be a dead fuel injection pump. No wonder we couldn't get it started! He came by the next morning to remove it, and we shipped it off, at great expense, to Fort Lauderdale to be rebuilt. In the meantime, we had to camp out--no refrigeration, no running water, and no lights.
March 8, 2005 Marsh Harbor, Abaco BAHAMAS
We took the ferry over to Guana Cay for the Barefoot Man concert on Sunday. All of our new sailing buddies were there. We danced and ate and drank too many Nippers (a very potent rum drink). It was a blast! Coincidentally, we also saw the corset lady from Connecticut. We last saw her at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, CT. Our injection pump did not arrive in Fort Lauderdale today, as it was supposed to. We'll have to track it down tomorrow.
March 9, 2005 Marsh Harbor, Abaco BAHAMAS
Well, the saga of our fuel injection pump continues. We went down to TNT, the shipping company, to see what the hell happened to
it. When we got there, it was sitting on the counter soaked with diesel. Customs had not let it through, because of the fuel leaking out of it. So,
we called Bodie, our mechanic, to help us drain it for reshipping. In the meantime, we got some degreaser from NAPA, and cleaned and drained it
ourselves. When Bodie showed up, he insisted on soaking it in a mixture of clorox and ammonia--yikes!
Now we're hoping it makes it through customs without clorox dripping out. In the meantime, we're still camping out. The
wind generator and solar panel are doing a good job recharging the batteries, but it's a slow process since they were so run down from trying
to bleed the engine before we realized the pump was shot.
BIG change in plans. We've decided we can't afford to sail to Europe this year. The exchange rate is horrible! The original plan was to spend over a year there, but we don't have enough in the cruising kitty to do that. We could sail over for three months, but it hardly seems worth it. Our alternate plan, at the moment, is to spend hurricane season in Trinidad, which is very inexpensive, and island hop north through the Caribbean next winter. While based in Trinidad, we can visit Tobago, Grenada, and Venezuala. We've met a lot of other cruisers who will be summering there too. It'll be an adventure!
March 13, 2005 Marsh Harbor, Abaco BAHAMAS
We are still without an engine!!! Trying to get things shipped out of the Bahamas is just a nightmare! After shipping the pump out a second time, it sat in Nassau for three days before they decided they didn't want to ship it over to Fort Lauderdale. Why?--we don't know! It was completely cleaned of diesel. They were just being difficult. So now it's on a slow boat back to Marsh Harbor. They say it'll be here tomorrow, but we'll see. We're thinking about personally flying it over to Fort Lauderdale, waiting for it to be rebuilt, and flying it back. This is just getting ridiculous. We've been without an engine for 11 days and we're right back where we started. The good news is that the solar panel and wind generator have completely charged both battery banks. Now we can run the refrigeration sparingly, which cuts down on hauling ice. In the meantime, we're trying to have some fun. Last night, we enjoyed the BBQ and live entertainment at the Jib Room (Marsh Harbor Marina).
March 20, 2005 Marsh Harbor, Abaco BAHAMAS
It's been quite a week! Sunday we went snorkeling at Mermaid Reef and tried our underwater camera case for the first time. It was too murky to get good photos though. We got our pump back on Monday from TNT shipping. They agreed to refund the $77 in shipping costs, but the office in Marsh Harbor had no money! They assured us they would deliver the money to us as soon as they collected some cash. Two days later, they actually came through with $80. Tuesday, Deb flew the pump back to Ft. Lauderdale, and her parents drove down from Summerville to meet her. Wednesday morning, they dropped the pump off at RPM Diesel and waited anxiously to hear if the pump could be saved. The good news came at 10:30am: the pump would be ready on Thursday!! Deb made reservations to fly back on Friday and enjoyed the rest of the visit with her parents. They visited the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art and went to the big St. Patrick's Day party at the Riverfront. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Linda was looking after Windchime, painting, and hanging out with the other cruisers. She and Doris, who was also alone on her boat nearby, became fast friends. Deb arrived back in Marsh Harbor with the rebuilt pump in hand on Friday, and Bodie came first thing Saturday morning to install it. He did a masterful job refitting the pump, and the engine was running by 11:00am. Unfortunately, he had not labeled the wires when he removed them from the fuel pressure switch and the alternator, despite Linda's suggestion that he do so. The engine was now running fine, but the alternator was not charging the batteries, and none of the engine instruments were working. Bodie spent two hours (which he charged us for) making connections willy nilly trying to get it right, before we suggested maybe we could trace the wires and figure it out ourselves. Shortly after we dropped Bodie off onshore, John and Connie from Mirabar came by to see how it went. We told them our woeful tale, and John offered to help us out with the problem. He used to make a living doing this kind of thing. John spent five hours diagnosing and fixing the problem. First, he correctly wired the fuel pressure switch, but still no instruments. Then he found that the ground to the instrument panel had "corroded through" (or so we thought) at one end, so he put a new terminal on it and connected it to an engine ground. However, when we started the engine, wires started smoking at the back of the instrument panel and behind the alternator. It turned out that Bodie had connected three ground wires to the positive terminal on the alternator!!!, and this had caused the panel ground wire to blow off the negative battery diode. When we regrounded the panel, it fried the ground wires that were connected to the positive terminal of the alternator on one end and the tachometer on the other. John rewired a few things and got everything working, but now we have to trace back the fried wires through the wiring harness and pull them out, so they can't cause a short. What a nightmare! Thank goodness for John, our guardian angel! That evening, we went to the Jib Room for the Saturday BBQ to celebrate. We had dinner with John and Connie, Doris, and Skip and his daughter Piper (who had just arrived). There was eating and drinking and dancing and much toasting. We all had a wonderful time. This morning, we were pleasantly surprised by Skip who came by to share his Krispy Kreme doughnuts that Piper had brought him from the states. Things are definitely looking up!!
March 26, 2005 Marsh Harbor, Abaco BAHAMAS
It took us three days to replace and remove all the fried wiring from the Bodie fiasco. In the meantime, we discovered that neither of our refrigeration units were cooling down the icebox. Once again, John from Mirabar came to our rescue. He recharged both systems and taught us how to do it if we ever need to do it again. The problem de jour is a rather persistent diesel leak that we can't track down. Bodie strikes again!! It's Easter weekend, so nothing will be open until Tuesday. We may go to Edwin's Boatyard on Man-O-War to have them fix it.
We've only had two dolphin sightings since we've been in Marsh Harbor, but we see sea turtles on a daily basis. We also have a couple of pet fish that have moved in under Windchime's hull. I guess they like the shade. Linda has named them Ralph and Trudy.
The camaraderie among the cruisers here is incredible. I've already mentioned what a help John has been to us. A couple of days ago, Nova Star, a Corbin 39 that was in Marsh Harbor for awhile, lost their engine while out cruising the area. Te Amor, their buddy boat, was towing them back to the harbor, when their engine to overheated. So now there were two disabled vessels about two miles out that needed to be towed in. All the boats in Marsh Harbor heard the distress call on the VHF, and about a dozen dinghy's went out to provide assistance. Both boats were towed in by dinghy and safely anchored in the harbor in short order.
Nearly every night there is some kind of get together on someone's boat. Tuesday, Janetta celebrated her 47th birthday with a gala party aboard her Island Packet 42. Previously a corporate lawyer, she's decided the cruising life is for her. She and Charlie, the other single-hander in the harbor, seem to have hit it off. Wednesday night, we had sundowners with Doris and Tom aboard their catamaran Exit Strategy. They took off the following morning for Snake Cay. We wanted to follow them, but were still bogged down by electrical, refrigeration, and engine problems. Thursday, Connie from Mirabar came over to Windchime for cocktails. We had a wonderful time!
April 1, 2005 Man-O-War, Abaco BAHAMAS
Linda spent most of Monday painting a picture of Miribar for John and Connie. They were thrilled with it! We tracked down our diesel leak, and it turns out that the seal around the drive shaft in the injection pump is ruptured. Luckily, there's a weap hole at the bottom of the pump. Otherwise the diesel would leach into the engine oil. We think Bodie probably didn't have the pump properly aligned, causing the seal to rupture. Wednesday, we decided to return to Man-O-War to have Jerry Tubbs, a mechanic we KNOW IS COMPETENT, take a look at our engine. We're living in Linda's Dad's house on the beach, waiting for Jerry to return from a Florida vacation. He could be back anytime between the 3rd and the 9th, depending on who you talk to in town. Windchime is moored in the harbor, and we're just relaxing and unwinding while we wait. A couple of our sailing buddies, Peter on Christine and Ray on Gitzi, are also moored in the harbor.
We've been out to dinner every night since we've been here. Wednesday night at Leandre's, Thursday at Jeanne's, and this evening we went to the Pavillion for ribs. Tomorrow Leandre is bringing fish over to grill out, and Ray and Peter are coming too. Yesterday, we, along with Ray and Peter, took the Aquasport over to Hopetown. They're fun guys to hang out with.
April 7, 2005 Man-O-War, Abaco BAHAMAS
We're still waiting for Jerry Tubbs to return from Florida. We think he'll be back tomorrow, but who knows! In the meantime, we've been relaxing at the house, reading, painting, and enjoying the views. We also got some boat jobs done: wired the tricolor light, fixed the VHF antenna, and tuned up our outboard. Tuesday we went fishing with Peter and Ray in the Aquasport. We caught two yellowfin tuna that were too small to keep, and a third got away. We didn't have fish for dinner, but everyone had a great time. Yesterday, we took Leandre over to Marsh Harbor, for his flight home. We went to lunch with John and Connie at the Conch Inn, then ran some errands. The ride home was wet and wooly! A ride that takes about 10 minutes in good conditions, took us over an hour, and we were soaked.
April 11, 2005 Man-O-War, Abaco BAHAMAS
Jerry Tubbs returned to the island last Friday. Linda called and talked to his wife, Leslie, Saturday morning. He was out "putting out fires" and we haven't heard back from him yet. It POURED all day Friday. We went to check on the Aquasport (which has no bilge pump) after breakfast, and it's transom was only about an inch above the water!!! Linda got aboard VERY carefully, and bailed out what she could with a 5 gallon bucket. Then we pumped it dry with a hand pump. We had to bail it out every two hours throughout the day to keep it from sinking. Saturday morning, we met Ray, Christine, Peter, and Fleur (Ray's friend from South Africa) over at Guy and Addie's on Dickey's Cay for free coffee. That evening, everyone came over for a cookout. It was a wonderful time. Sunday, we spent relaxing, painting, and flying kites.
April 17, 2005 Man-O-War, Abaco BAHAMAS and Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Monday, we ran into Jerry Tubbs while having lunch at the Pavillion. After we told him our story, he advised us to take the pump off, get it back to Ft. Lauderdale to be rebuilt, and then he would install it. So we removed the pump (in less time than it took Bodie to do it) and, on Thursday, flew to Ft. Lauderdale with it. We dropped it off at RPM Diesel that afternoon, and told them we would need to pick it up by 12:30 the next day, in order to make our return flight. We stayed the night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Our friend Dave (who designed the retail space at the casino) was staying there too, and got us a free room upgrade. The bathroom alone was bigger than our boat, and the shower had nine jets! We went out to dinner with Dave and then for drinks at an Irish Pub at the casino. On the way back to our room, we tossed $20 into the slots. The next morning, we met Dave for breakfast, ran some errands, and picked up the pump just in time to make our plane. There was a big hassle with TSA and Continental about taking it on the plane. FINALLY, it was allowed aboard. Luckily, the plane was late, or we would have missed it. We returned home to a surprise dinner at the house with all our friends. That night and the next day, Deb, was very ill. We think she got food poisoning from a sandwich she ate at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. Linda spent the day taking care of her and painting.
April 23, 2005 Man-O-War, Abaco BAHAMAS
Jerry Tubbs was supposed to install our injection pump on Monday, but he never showed up. Wednesday, we went to Hopetown with Ray, Christine, and Peter in the Aquasport.. We had lunch at the Abaco Inn, climbed the lighthouse, walked around town and on the beach. The day ended with Goombay Smashes at Captain Jack's. Thursday, we all sailed over to Marsh Harbor for the day aboard Peter's Choy Lee Rhodes 40, Christine. It was a glorious and much needed sail! Doris and Tom came to Man-O-War on Exit Strategy Friday for a short visit before heading back to the States. They provided us with our latest sailing plan. It's getting too late to make it all the way down to Trinidad against the Trades, so now we're headed to Curacao for hurricane season. (Doris and Tom were going to Curacao this summer, but now have to sail home for a family wedding.) It's part of the Netherlands Antilles off the coast of Venezuela, and looks like a cool place to spend some time. The snorkeling/diving is supposed to be amazing. We're planning on meeting Jen and Jay in St. Thomas at the end of May. From there, the sail to Curacao will be a nice broad reach and should take us 4 to 6 days. John and Connie arrived on Mirabar, from Marsh Harbor, on Saturday. We enjoyed a swim and just hanging out with them.
April 27, 2005 Man-O-War, Abaco BAHAMAS
Connie and John dinghied over to our dock Sunday morning and prepared a brunch of eggs, bacon, mimosas, and delicious coffee cake baked fresh on Mirabar that morning.. That night we had a Full Moon party at the house, and everyone brought something. We had a good crowd: Ray and Christine, Peter, John and Connie, Jimmie and Jerry from a Grand Banks trawler (don't know the name), Bob and Deb from Chinook (we finally got to meet them!), and Jeanne Des Parois. It was a fun group, a beautiful moon, and everyone had a great time! We forgot to get charcoal, so we got the gas grills off of Gitzi and Chinook and mounted them on the Webber. It looked like a drum set :-). Tuesday, we decided we couldn't afford to wait any longer for Jerry Tubbs, so we installed our injection pump ourselves. It went without a hitch, and we had the engine up and running in short order! YEAH!!! Unfortunately, as before, neither of our refrigeration systems were working. Yesterday, we tracked down the leak in the engine driven system, charged it, and got it running. Today we're going to tackle the 12V refrigeration system and the water maker. If all goes well, we'll be out of here by this weekend.
May 7, 2005 Man-O-War, Abaco BAHAMAS
We fixed the 12V refrigeration and the water maker and moved back aboard, then the hot water heater stopped working. We fixed that yesterday, and are now waiting for a good weather window to sail to St. Thomas. We've decided to sail there directly, since we don't have time the island-hop. We're supposed to meet Jen and Jay there on May 29th. It'll take us about a week to get there, give or take.
In the meantime, we've been having a great time with our friends in the harbor and Linda's nephew, Rob, and his girlfriend, Laurel, who are staying at the house for a week. Laurel is a riot, and she and Rob are fun to hang out with. Sunday, we all went to a cocktail party aboard Jimmie and Jerry's Grand Banks. Tuesday Rob and Laurel went with us to Marsh Harbor in the Aquasport . We had lunch at Mangoes, then ran errands, while Rob and Laurel went snorkeling at Mermaid Reef. It was so hot and sticky that we hired our favorite taxi driver, Liz, to run us around town. The four of us met back at the Jib Room, but it was pouring rain and thundering and lightening. So we had a couple of beers while waiting out the storm. Between two fronts, we made a run for it. It was a wet and hilarious ride back to MOW. Wednesday, we took Rob and Laurel, Ray and Christine, and Peter for a sail on Windchime. It was a perfect day, and Windchime flew through the water. Thursday, we had a huge Cinco de Mayo party at the house. Everyone brought something--it was quite the delicious Mexican feast! Dave and Bob provided live music, inspiring both dance and clogging :-). Everyone agreed that it was the best party so far.
May 10, 2005 Lynyard Cay, Abaco BAHAMAS
Our weather window to get the St. Thomas opened up yesterday, but unfortunately the North Man-O-War cut was too choppy to navigate. So we said goodbye to our friends at MOW and moved down to Little Harbor, where the cut is a little more protected. We got quite the send off. Ray and Christine and Debbie and Bob escorted us out of the harbor in their dinghies. Once we got out, Ray mooned us! We couldn't stop laughing. We anchored for the night off Lynyard Cay. At 1:30 today, we headed out to sea. It should take us 7 or 8 days to get to St. Thomas.
May 11, 2005 En route from Abaco, BAHAMAS to St. Thomas, USVI
It's been about 24 hours since we left the Abacos, and we've gone well over 100 miles. The wind has been light, so we've been motor-sailing the whole way. Our current position is N 25 50' W 74 51'. We're in twice daily radio contact on the SSB with Ray and Christine back in Man-O-War. We miss all our friends back there.
It's hard to believe this is the same ocean we're so fond of in New England. The water is the most amazing shade--a deep, rich royal blue. When the setting sun turns the sky pink, it takes on a purple hue. We've seen dolphins twice and quite a few flying fish. Linda was trolling this morning and hooked a 2-foot long fish, but it got away. We're surprised by the abundance of plastic trash floating around out here. Once you get 25 miles out, you can dump anything overboard--except plastic. It's amazing how many people just don't give a damn. The night sky was a gorgeous--absolutely clear and star-filled. We each sited incredible shooting stars while on watch. Keeping a night watch is exhausting until you're body gets adjusted. We've spent a good part of today taking turns napping.
May 12, 2005 En route from Abaco, BAHAMAS to St. Thomas, USVI
We had an uneventful night. Still very little wind, although we were able to shut off the engine for a couple of hours and still make 4-5 knots. We haven't seen another boat since our first night out. Makes for quiet watches. With the light winds, we decided to put the asymetric spinnaker up this morning. Within about 15 minutes, the wind picked up and we had to take it down. We should have put it up two days ago!! Now we're cruising along at 7+ knots with a 15 knot wind off our beam. If we keep up this pace, the nav computer says we'll be there in 3 days--fat chance! It's a beautiful day and nice to be sailing without the iron genny running.
May 13, 2005 En route from Abaco, BAHAMAS to St. Thomas, USVI
We had our first intruder last night. Linda was on watch when a flying fish hit the dodger right behind her head. Good thing the dodger was there. We have big seas and 20 knot winds today. It's been quite the ride, but Windchime is handling it like a champ! Our engine is not pumping water out of the exhaust. We're going to check the sea strainer, but it's a bit lumpy out here now. Maybe we'll have to finish this trip the old fashioned way--sans engine. It's always something!
May 14, 2005 En route from Abaco, BAHAMAS to Providenciales, TURKS & CAICOS
We've been tossed about by big waves and high winds for a couple of days now. We almost lost the wind generator last night. It was lifting up off its base, and we had to tie it down with line on a winch. Chris Parker, the Caribbean weather guru, says it's going to get worse and that we should tuck ourselves into a safe harbor by Sunday. The nearest land is the TURKS & CAICOS, about 100 miles SW. Since we have no engine, we've altered course for there. We should make landfall sometime tomorrow.
May 15, 2005 TURKS & CAICOS
After a harrowing night and day of squalls we arrived at the TURKS & CAICOS.
The TURKS & CAICOS is an atoll, surrounded by coral reef, and there are
only a few place to get through the reef. We first tried Sanbore Channel, but
the wind was right on our nose, and remember we had no engine. So we
sailed 10 miles down to the southern tip of West Caicos and tried entering there
on a NE tack, but the wind had swung around and was on our nose again!! At
this point, we were exhausted and decided to call for a tow. No one was
available to tow us in. We either had to make our own way in under sail or
spend another night out at sea. We decided to go back to Sanbore Channel
to try again. It was getting dark, so we couldn't make out the coral heads
below the water. Using the chartplotter, we tacked back and forth at least
half a dozen times through the channel fighting our way against wind and
current. Finally, we made it in far enough to ride Pony Channel SW toward the
middle of Caicos Bank where there were no coral heads to worry about. It got dark before we made it to the anchorage, so we dropped the hook in the middle of the
bank just SW of Bluff Shoals. The waters were confused and choppy, but after 5 days at sea, a welcome respite. We're taking showers and
going to bed.
We'll tackle the engine tomorrow. Our batteries are really low, so we won't be able to make our daily SSB contacts. Hopefully, we'll have everything up and running soon.
May 16, 2005 Sapodilla Bay, Providenciales TURKS & CAICOS
After a very pitching night with waves crashing over the bow, we sailed into Sapodilla Bay. A small flotilla of dinghies came out to help us. Despite
the high winds, it went very well, but the guy behind us complained that we
were too close, and wanted us to move. When we explained to him that we had no engine, he said "I know you have no engine, but you have to move!" What an a-hole! So we hauled up the anchor, and the guys in the dinghies pushed us over to another spot. The a-hole didn't like that either, so we had to put out a second anchor to keep from swinging to near him.
The good news is that we got the engine running again!! Jim from Pipe Dream (also one of the guys who helped us anchor) helped us track down the problem. It looks like we need a new water pump. He was able to fiddle with it to get it working, but the bearings are shot. We need to replace it before we leave here. We're still hoping to make it down to St. Thomas before the end of the month.
May 17, 2005 Sapodilla Bay, Providenciales TURKS & CAICOS
The anchorage is beautiful, surrounded by expensive houses and a nice sand
beach. The dinghy dock used to be a private dock belonging to a house that
is no longer there. Everyone parks their rental cars on the
foundation. There isn't much within walking distance. There's a 7-11
about a mile up the road that has a good variety of products--including
Guinness. Customs is about a half mile away at South Dock, which is a
commercial port. We walked over there with Judy from Quest. Judy is
one of two women in the anchorage who are single-handers. They are both
leaving tomorrow for Luperon.
May 18, 2005 Sapodilla Bay, Providenciales TURKS & CAICOS
We rented a car today from Scooter Bob to run errands. We stopped by the Westerbeke dealer, and he said our pump should be in tomorrow or Thursday.
We picked up some groceries at the IGA. Then we went to fill up our diesel jugs and to dispose of our trash.
Neither task was easy. The first three gas stations we stopped at didn't take credit cards. There's only one in town that does! And at $4 a gallon,
it adds up fast. There are no dumpsters for disposing of your trash, so most people just leave it on the side of the road. We found a dumpster near
Scooter Bob's and made a deposit. We had a weeks worth of garbage onboard, because
even though you're allowed to throw everything but plastic overboard when offshore, we couldn't bring ourselves to do it. We were almost back to
the dinghy dock when the oil light came on in the car. We stopped at the 7-11, but they didn't have any oil. Then we drove about a mile up the road
to the nearest gas station, but they didn't have any oil either. So we drove back into town and found a gas station that did. The car was down 3
quarts! By this time it was raining, so we decided to stop for a pizza. It was still raining when we finished, but we headed back anyway. It was dark
and the windshield wipers weren't helping much, no shoulders and lots of potholes--and we had to drive on the left side of the road! We made it back
safely and felt our way down to the dinghy dock. Now we're
getting ready to crawl into bed.
May 19, 2005 Sapodilla Bay, Providenciales TURKS & CAICOS
We picked up our new water pump today and were in the process of installing it, when we discovered that the old pulley (it's belt driven) would not fit on the new pump. So now we have to order a new pulley, which since it's Thursday will probably not arrive until Monday. That's going to make it tougher to make it to St. Thomas while Jenn and Jay are there :-(. Also, if we aren't out of here by Monday, we're going to have to pay $100 to immigration.
All the oil leaked out of our rental car again today, so they gave us a minivan. However, the AC didn't work and none of the electric windows would
open. Did I mention that it's 90 degrees with 85% humidity here? So we went back, and they gave us a Corolla with the steering wheel on the right
hand side and marginal AC. We went to Hey Joses for a marguarita before
heading back to the boat.
The water here is beautiful. We've taken to swimming in our bras and underwear off the boat, because we're too sweaty to change into our bathing suits. That may have to change, because 3 new boats came into the
anchorage this morning.
May 20, 2005 Sapodilla Bay, Providenciales TURKS & CAICOS
Well, it turns out the water pump that was ordered was not the correct pump for our engine. At some point, Westerbeke switched to a different pump, and
this was the wrong one. So now the marina has ordered the proper pump (we hope!!), but we can't get it until Monday. Our hopes to get to St. Thomas
while Jen and Jay are there are fading fast. Oh well, I guess we could use a little down time. Linda picked up some kind of intestinal ailment while
out at sea and hasn't been able to shake it. Maybe a little R&R is just what we need.
We got out the instructions for the installation of the wind generator and
found that there are several bolts missing. Whoever installed it cut
several corners, making it unsafe for offshore conditions. Once again, we
have to fix what we paid top dollar for a yard to do.
May 23, 2005 Sapodilla Bay, Providenciales TURKS & CAICOS
We spent the weekend relaxing, swimming, reading--interrupted only by the job we had to finish on our wind generator installation. It poured all day Saturday, but Sunday was beautiful. Monday morning, we got a call from the Westerbeke dealer, saying that we couldn't get to the marina by car, because the road was flooded. So we rented a 4-wheel drive and barely made it through a very long 2.5 ft deep puddle on the way to the marine. At its deepest point, there was water coming in through the floor--good thing it was a rental car! Anyway, we made it to the marina, got our new pump, installed it, and it works great! The trades were out of whack, so we decided to make a run for it down to the Virgin Islands. We loaded on 35 gallons of fuel and are planning on taking off tomorrow.
May 24, 2005 En Route from TURKS & CAICOS to USVI
It's 3:30pm on Tuesday, and we're still north of T & C. We didn't get off until 9:40 this morning. Should arrive in St. Thomas sometime Saturday. So far, everything is calm--including the wind--as forecasted. We're motoring along right now. Tomorrow, the wind is supposed to pick up a bit, so maybe we'll be able to sail.
May 26, 2005 En Route from TURKS & CAICOS to USVI
We were finally able to sail today and were humming along at 6+ knots. However, now the wind is shifting around on us, so we may need to use the motor again. We just refueled with most of the diesel cans we had on deck. We still have a couple in reserve. So far, we've been lucky weatherwise--no squalls this time (knock on wood!). We're still hoping to make it by Saturday, but we may not make landfall until Sunday. We're going to clear in at Cruz Bay on St. John, then make the short hop over to St. Thomas to meet Jenn and Jay.
May 27, 2005 En Route from TURKS & CAICOS to USVI
Last night, we saw the most amazing lightening storm off in the distance. One lightening bolt after another lit up the sky above the clouds. It was like a fireworks show, except it went on for hours. The wind and current are not cooperating at all. It looks like we may not make it to the Virgins until Sunday now.
May 28, 2005 Cruz Bay, St. John USVI
After 5 days and 4 nights at sea, we arrived at the USVI!!! At 2:00am last night, we were doing only 3.7 knots and beating into the wind, trying to get further east before tacking south. There was no way we were going to make it to the Virgins by Saturday at that rate. We decided we had enough fuel to turn on the engine and motorsail the rest of the way. We also altered our course to head directly for the east end of St. Thomas. We FLEW on a broad reach for 22 hours, averaging 7 knots, heeled over at a 30 degree angle, which allowed us to arrive shortly before dark. Entering through Middle Passage, we headed left toward Caneel Bay, St. John, and picked up a National Park mooring. We'll check in tomorrow at Cruz Bay then move over to St. Thomas, just a couple of miles away, where Jenn and Jay are staying.
May 30, 2005 Redhook, St. Thomas USVI
Yesterday, we moved Windchime into a slip at American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook Bay on St. Thomas, and moved into Jenn and Jay's suite at Elysian Beach Resort. Today, we went to Charlotte Amalie, where there was a big Memorial Day celebration in the open air market with native foods and music. We spent some time shopping downtown, exploring the narrow roads and alleyways. The Dutch architecture gives it a European feel. Later, we drove out to Magen's Bay, billed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Jay, personally, thinks they haven't gotten out much.
The Virgin Islands are lush, green, and mountainous--in contrast to the desert-like terrain and flatness of the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos. The roads are so curvy, hilly, and narrow. They drive on the left side of the road, with the driver on the left side of the car, so that he or she can tell how close the edge they are. We're back in the U.S., so of course there are the usual fast food restaurants, Home Depot, Blockbuster, etc.
June 1, 2005 Redhook, St. Thomas USVI
Yesterday was a lazy day, spent lounging at the pool and doing 5 loads of laundry (everything on the boat got wet on the passage). The day ended with an excellent dinner at Robert's American Grille at the resort.
Today, we spent the day shopping in Charlotte Amalie again. We had reservations at the Old Stone Farm House for dinner (a very fancy place), so Linda and Deb had to buy outfits. Jay was looking for an anniversary gift for Jenn. We found a couple of outfits in the open air market. Jenn and Deb also bought hats. Jenn got a gorgeous necklace at H. Sterns, and we all had a couple of complimentary glasses of wine and free tote bags. We went back to the resort and got dressed for dinner. It was hilarious! Linda's head wouldn't fit through the neck of her new shirt and Deb's wrap-around pants were a little too exposing when she sat down. So we traded, and everything worked out fine. We had a fabulous 4-course gourmet dinner.
June 5, 2005 Redhook, St. Thomas USVI
Thursday, Linda, Deb and Jenn ran errands while Jay went diving. We got lost in downtown Charlotte Amalie and ended up in a colorful part of town. It was where the locals lived. There were unmarked one-way streets, dead ends and roosters running around loose. Twice, we came to an instersection, and the person on the porch in front of us pointed us to the way out. Finally, a very nice lady driving the US Postal truck behind us took pity and led us out of the neighborhood.
Friday, we relaxed by the pool. Saturday, Jenn and Jay flew back to the states, and we moved back aboard Windchime.
June 7, 2005 Redhook, St. Thomas USVI
We spent a couple of more days on the dock doing engine maintenance and rebedding chain plate covers. We enjoyed watching the pelicans dive bomb for fish near the boat. They are not graceful at all, but sort of belly flop into the water and come up floating with their prizes in their oversized bills. Byron, a waiter from Robert's American Grille, came by for a visit. He took us across the street to the Warehouse (aka the Poorman's Bar), where you pour your own drinks. Today, we moved out to the anchorage. Much more air and privacy out here. We're undecided about where we want to go next. Curacao or Trinidad? We could make it to either one before July 1, as our insurance company says we must. Curacao sounds nicer, but Trinidad would be a lot more inexpensive and would put us closer to the Windward Islands next winter. Hmmmmm.
June 13, 2005 Redhook, St. Thomas USVI
We've decided to go to Trinidad for the summer. Not only will it be cheaper, but it will put us in a better position next winter to cruise the Windward Islands. We can also visit Grenada, Tobago, and Venezuela if we get board. Now we have to get yellow fever vaccinations, for which we have appointments on the 15th. We're also waiting for a new pressure cap for our engine. It's been leaking antifreeze, and we're fairly certain that it's coming out of the cap. We moved over to Caneel Bay, St. John for a few days. As we were hauling up the anchor to leave Red Hook, Linda saw a 5-foot long reef shark swim out from underneath Windchime! While in Caneel Bay, we relaxed, swam a lot, went snorkeling, and dinghied around the point to Cruz Bay. We returned to Red Hook today. While sitting in Molly Molone's having lunch/supper, we got to watch the reading of the verdict in the Michael Jackson molestation trial. It was quite the event. All eyes and ears were focused on the television.
June 20, 2005 Redhook, St. Thomas USVI
Wednesday, we took the Dollar Bus to the hospital in Charlotte Amalie to get our yellow fever vaccinations, then walked downtown and had lunch. We spent time Thursday and Friday on the phone with Katadyn trying to fix our watermaker, but to no avail. We had to ship it to Minnesota, so they could fix it under warranty, so now we can't leave the USVI until it comes back. If all goes well, it will only be about a week. In the meantime, we're going to explore St. John.
June 27, 2005 Redhook, St. Thomas USVI
We spent 3 idyllic days in Trunk Bay on St. John. The beach there is incredible, and the snorkeling was the best yet! The U.S. Park Service had an underwater trail there, with signs telling about the reef and the animals living on it. We swam, snorkeled, read and relaxed. Our water maker miraculously arrived back in St. Thomas on Friday. We returned Saturday to pick it up and installed it the same day. Our mail drop from Smitty was supposed to arrive on Friday, as well. It's Monday now, and we can't wait any longer. We're heading for the BVI tomorrow. On the way to the grocery, we were spotted by Byron who was in the Warehouse. He invited us up for a couple of beers, and that sounded better than grocery shopping, so we went. He might join us sometime when we're down in Trinidad.
June 30, 2005 West End, Tortola BVI
Tuesday morning, we planned to sail to West End, Tortola. However, when
we went to raise the main sail, we couldn't get the head of the sail into the
mast track. We called Schaefer and analyzed the problem. It turns out
that while we were sitting in the USVI for the last month or so, the mast track stretched and jammed down into the feeder. Apparently this stretching in warm climates is a common thing, and the rigger (to whom we paid about a million dollars @%$&&%*&^!!!!) who installed it should have accounted for it. Unforturnately, he didn't. We motored the 6 miles to West End that afternoon and checked in with Customs--a very pleasant experience, in contrast to our experience with USVI authorities. As there is no room to anchor in this harbor, we were forced to pick up a mooring for $25 a night. We went to Pusser's for a very delicious dinner and potent rum coctails. Yesterday, we spent the morning taking apart the main sail track, and Linda cut off an inch and a quarter. Then we were hit with a tremendous squall, which almost flipped the dinghy over. Deb had an exciting time getting into the dinghy to attach the davit lines, but soon it was safely stowed. When the rain stopped, we reassembled the mast track, and now it's just like new. Another problem solved! We plan to sail to Virgin Gorda this afternoon and then on to St. Maarten tomorrow night--weather permitting.
July 6, 2005 Simpson Lagoon, St. Maarten NA
Saturday, we sailed up to Virgin Sound in Virgin Gorda and anchored for the night. We left the next afternoon for St. Maarten. The seas were calm, as was the wind, although we were able to sail for about five hours in the middle of the night. The most exciting part of the trip occurred a few hours after we left. We sighted a Sperm whale a few hundred feet from the boat. Then it turned and headed directly for the beam of the boat. When it was about 30 feet away, it stopped and put it's head up to look at us. Satisfied we weren't a threat, it swam off to the stern of Windchime. Then we saw that there were two other whales with it--probably it's offspring.
As we approached Simpson Bay early the next morning, we were hailed by Richard and Myrt aboard Labe Yoseph, a sailing vessel off our port quarter. They had made the same trip that night from the BVI. We dinghied into customs together to check in. The customs official was an hour and a half late, but she was very friendly. After clearing in, both boats moved into Simpson Lagoon to anchor. The island is divided between two countries. The north half is French (St. Martin) and the south half is Dutch (Sint Maarten), with the French side being slightly larger. It is said that the boundary was determined by having a Frenchman start at the north side of the island with a bottle of wine and a Dutchman at the south end with a bottle of gin. They both started walking toward the center, and where they met, the line was drawn. The French side is large, because the gin was stronger than the wine. The first night, we had dinner at an Argentinian restaurant, then went to the floating bar near Windchime, the Lady C. We met a very nice family at the bar. We were going to take them sailing the next day, but the weather didn't cooperate. So we went to Shrimpy's with Myrt and Richard for the marine flea market. Well, the flea market only had one vendor, but we had a great time just hanging out, drinking beer and eating free hotdogs (which were actually little sausages). That night we had dinner onboard Labe Yoseph. Myrt is quite the gourmet! We had baked brie, followed by gespacho, then a steak dinner, and finally homemade keylime pie for dessert (the limes came from her garden in Tortola)--Yummm! On the 4th of July, we were lamenting the fact that we wouldn't see any fireworks, so we went to see "War of the Worlds." When we got back to Windchime, we were pleasantly surprised by a fireworks display over near the airport. It was perfect, sitting on Windchime, watching fireworks, just like we do every year at home. Yesterday, we spent the morning installing a new pressure water pump. The old one died the night before in the middle of Linda's shower. Then we went to shore with Myrt and Richard. We had dinner and drinks at a world famous bakery (can't remember the name)--very delicious and unique food. Then we had a drink at Peg Leg Pub before going to see Mr. and Mrs. Smith at the cinema. It was pouring by the time we got back to the dinghies, and we got soaked on the way back to Windchime. Today, we're busy running errands and getting ready to depart tomorrow. As of this writing, we haven't decided which island we want to hop to next, but we're leaning toward St. Eustatius (Statia) about 30 miles south of here.
July 8, 2005 Orenjestad, St. Eustatius
We had a rough sail down to St. Eustatius (known as Statia)--10 foot seas and 20 knot winds. We arrived around 2:00pm, picked up one of the Marine Park moorings, and went ashore to check in. With the seas being so rough, we hadn't had lunch yet. So we walked down the street to the Blue Bead for a pizza. Friday, we walked into town, visited the museum, the fort and had some lunch. We were going to hike up the volcano, but it was very hot and time was short, so we'll have to save that for our next visit. The volcano is now dormant, and the crater has it's own ecosystem--a mini rain forest. We leave for Nevis tomorrow.
July 14, 2005 Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
We've had quite the week! We sailed to Nevis from Statia on Saturday the 9th and stayed onboard flying the Quarantine flag for two days, because customs was not open until Monday. It was a beautiful anchorage off Pinney's Beach, and we enjoyed a spectacular sunset as we had sundowners Sunday night. Monday, we had intended to check in and go visit a plantation and see the green monkeys. However, Mother Nature had other plans for us. We listened to Chris Parker (our weather guy) that morning at 6:30, as we do most mornings, and found that overnight Tropical Depression #5 was developing into Hurricane Emily and was headed our way! We quickly got the boat ready to sail and made a beeline for Grenada, a three day trip. The weather was nice, but we had to motor sail most of the time due to lack of wind. The second day out, we noticed a diesel smell. Deb checked it out, and found that the pan under the engine was filled with fuel!! The copper return line from the fuel injectors to the filter was severed. Without a reliable engine, there was no way we were going to make it to Grenada. Linda jury rigged the fuel line, and we headed for the nearest safe port, which happened to be Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, 68 miles away. Our friends, Myrt and Richard, with whom we'd been keeping in contact via SSB, had decided earlier that day to tuck into Rodney Bay to wait out the storm. We motored all night against the wind and a swift current. That morning, we got great news from Chris: Emily was tracking south instead of right through the middle of the Windwards, as originally predicted! At this point, we were still 13 miles from Rodney Bay and were losing fuel more rapidly than we thought. We pumped 3 gallons of diesel out of the pan under the engine and put it back in the tank. Eventually, the tank read empty and we had to shut down the engine. We called Richard and Myrt in Rodney Bay, and they started making arrangements to deliver some fuel to us. The wind was still on the nose, so we had to tack back and forth. Then the squalls hit. The first lasted about 30 minutes with horizontal rain, very steep, choppy seas and 48 knot gusts. We couldn't beat through it, so we tacked and ran on a NW heading doing 8+ knots with sails reefed down to 50%. After it passed, we turned toward St. Lucia again, which was hidden by the clouds of another squall headed our way. This one was a little more tame but much larger. It stayed with us all the way into Rodney Bay. Five miles out, our fuel arrived via a small water taxi. The seas were too rough to pull up along side, so they ended up heaving the three five gallon jugs into our dinghy which was hanging from davits on the stern. Deb pulled the jugs out of the dinghy and poured the fuel into the tank. We dropped the sails and motored directly into the bay. We were drenched and cold--for the first time since leaving Florida. We arrived at noon and anchored, but the harbor master came out and said with the bad weather on the way, we should move into a slip. So we docked Windchime in a double slip in Rodney Bay Marina and tied her up every which way. After taking showers, we went over to Labe Yoseph where Myrt had a hot breakfast waiting for us. We prepped Windchime for high winds. Totally exhausted, we were in bed and asleep by 6:30pm. It was stormy that night, but the gusts didn't get above 35 knots or so. This morning, we checked in with customs and had breakfast with Myrt and Richard at the Bread Basket. Then we went to Island Water World to see about fixing our fuel line. We're all going out to dinner tonight at Scuttlebuts in the marina.
July 16, 2005 Soufriere, St. Lucia
Our last day in Rodney Bay, we spent the morning doing engine maintenance, then dinghied over to the mall with Myrt and Richard to do some shopping. That evening, we had plank salmon (one of Myrt's specialties) for dinner onboard Labe Yoseph. Eating onboard Labe Yoseph with Myrt as chef is like going to a gourmet restaurant! The next day, we fueled up and left for the Pitons. The Pitons are two majestically beautiful, tall and narrow mountains surrounding the bay. We picked up a mooring just off Soufriere and were approached by our first boat boy. He wanted to help us tie up, which we refused. However, we did end up paying him $20EC ($1.00US=$2.70EC) to watch both the boats. We dinghied into town and had to pay some young kids a couple of dollars to watch the dinghies. It was very hot, so we stopped at Pirate's Cove for a drink and some ice cream. Then we walked through the town square and went into the church. There was a little boy, about 7 years old, in the church who wanted us to give him $5 so he could buy cake. He was very clean and obviously well cared for, so we politely refused. He said his mother was dead and he didn't have any brothers and sisters. He followed us through the church trying to get us to put money in the offering baskets. He was cute, but obviously a little scam artist. We walked up to the Hummingbird resort, which was very nice, and had a drink by the pool overlooking the Pitons. On the way there, we ran into the Bird Man, who was rolling himself a joint. He jumped up, introduced himself, and then proceeded to show us why he's called the Bird Man. As we watched, he carved out two hummingbirds from coconut husk, and sold it to us for $5EC. He said they would bring good luck. We again had dinner onboard Labe Yoseph--lobster and scallops in cream sauce on rice--which was to die for!
July 17, 2005 Vieux Fort, St. Lucia
We moved down to Vieux Fort with Labe Yoseph this morning, to drop Myrt off at the airport. Unfortunatley, she had to fly home to Canada to deal with some legal issues. Her flight didn't leave until later in the afternoon, so we decided to go into town for some brunch. This is not a touristy town, so there are not a lot of restaurants. We dinghied into the fishing port. The security guard there recommended a nearby hotel for lunch, but said we should take a taxi there. On the way, we realized why. It was a very depressed town with people living in shacks. The hotel was filled with a bunch of American teenagers there for some kind of camp. We had fish and chips for lunch then got a taxi back to the dock. Myrt and Richard dinghied out to their boat to fetch Myrt's luggage, then we went to the airport. Myrt's flight was overbooked, so we didn't know if she would make it on until the last minute. In the meantime, we all went to immigration to get our departure stamps in our passports. After we saw Myrt off, we went back to Windchime to work on our engine. Richard and Linda cleaned the heat exchanger out with muriatic acid, replaced the thermostat, and fashioned a gasket for the leaky pressure cap.
July 18, 2005 Wallilabou Bay, St. Vincent SVG
We motored with Labe Yoseph from St. Lucia down to Wallilabou Bay on the west side of St. Vincent. Windchime's motor was still overheating, so we could only run it at 1500rpms. We were hit by tremendous squalls, with drenching rain and thunder and lightning, along the way. During the trip, the copper return fuel line, which we had repaired in Rodney Bay, developed a leak in a different spot! Luckily, we had purchased some new copper tubing, and were able to replace it when we got into port. Shortly before entering the bay, Labe Yoseph was approached by a guy in a dinghy and Windchime by a boy in a red and green rowing skiff. They wanted to help us tie up. We were using moorings owned by the Wallilabou Anchorage Restaurant, and it turned out that Richard's guy, Joel, was an employee there and the only one allowed to help us tie up. So he got both boats on their respective moorings and took stern lines to the dock for us. In the meantime, the boy in the skiff was mad as hell, because he didn't get to help us. He was alongside Windchime ranting and raving and leaving red scuff marks on our hull. Eventually, we got him to go away. As soon as we were tied up, the other boat boys came swarming around us. One guy wanted a light for his joint. Another, paddling around on a surfboard, tried to sell us fruit and bread. When we told him we had just been shopping and didn't need anything, he asked if we had any extra food to give to him. We declined. After many polite refusals, they finally left us alone.
The movie "Pirates of the Caribbean" was shot here, and the whole set was left intact when they finished. We were surrounded by it. It was very cool! The mountains surrounding the bay were spectacular! We went ashore to find the Customs officer to check in. It was 4:00pm at the time, but due to flooding in town, he wouldn't be there until 6:00pm. In the meantime, we hung out with a couple of Swiss guys, also waiting to check in, at the bar. The Customs officer finally showed up, and Windchime was checked in. However, in order to clear immigration, we were informed, we would have to go to any police station the next day. We'll just have to spend the night as illegal aliens.
July 19, 2005 Blue Lagoon, St. Vincent SVG
This morning, Joel drove us to Barrouallie, the next town over from Wallilabou Bay, to check in with immigration at the police station. Then we threw off our lines and motored down to Blue Lagoon at the south tip of St. Vincent. Richard had some charter work there, and we decided to stick with him, since our engine was still overheating. We went over to Barefoot Charters, so Richard could check in, and had lunch there. There were two very entertaining parrots there who sang Happy Birthday. It turns out Richard had to start work the next day, not on the 23rd, as he thought. We met Virgil, the Barefoot Charters mechanic, who said he would come out and take a look at our engine tomorrow. Then we set out in search of steel tubing to replace the copper fuel return line. The line was originally steel, and had been replaced somewhere along the line with the softer copper tubing. We dinghied and walked to the nearest marine supply store, but they didn't have it. We knew that NAPA in Kingstown had it, so we caught the bus into town. What a ride! The guy drove like a bat out of hell along the winding narrow roads. We made it to NAPA, bought our steel tubing and also found a radiator cap with a gasket, which we're hoping will stop our persistent antifreeze leak. The bus ride back was slightly less scary. We decided to relax the rest of the day, watching a couple of movies and having dinner with Richard on Labe Yoseph.
July 22, 2005 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SGV
Yesterday morning, Richard was informed that he was going out on charter that afternoon with four teenagers. So we decided we would leave for Bequia, and he could catch up with us in four days after his charter. In order to do so, we first had to stop all the antifreeze leaks in the engine. We spent a good part of the day doing just that. By the time we finished, it was too late to go anywhere. We left early this morning for Bequia (only an 8 mile trip). The good news is that the engine did not leak and did not overheat--yeah!!!! However, about 20 minutes out of Bequia, we were hit with a tremendous squall. We were afraid we were going to get pooped (that's when a big wave splashes over the cockpit, filling it with water) by the huge following seas, but Windchime surfed right down them and kept us safe as usual. The storm had passed by the time we got to Admiralty Bay. We set the anchor and went into town. We were pleased to find an internet cafe at which we would finally be able to update the website. We're going there for breakfast tomorrow. While enjoying homemade ice cream sitting under the tamarind tree, we met a very nice family from Colorado. They were interested in doing the cruising thing someday and were interested in our experiences. Now we're back aboard enjoying sundowners.
July 27, 2005 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SGV
We spent the weekend running errands onshore and relaxing aboard. Saturday, we went to the Frangipani for dinner. Dinner was not served until 6:30pm, and it was only 5:00, so we had a couple of drinks at the bar. The Frangipani bar was a favorite hangout of Linda and her family's when they visited Bequia in 1975. We made friends with the bartenders, Rodney and Marlon, and had a great time discussing Bequia, the U.S. and politics. They told us the story of the nasty chain-link, barbed and razor wire fence around the dinghy dock. It seems that American Homeland Security had erected it to protect Bequians from terrorists. In addition to being an eyesorem it's really ridiculous, because the gate is always kept open, and a person could just walk around the fence on either side. It's also not the only dinghy dock in town. The fence used to be longer, but the fishermen tore down half of it, because it was blocking their boats. Sunday afternoon, a squall with 35 knot winds and a tremendous amount of rain moved through the harbor. Windchime stayed put, but boats were dragging anchor all around us. A 50+ foot schooner nearly rammed us broadside with it's transom. Linda yelled at the guy, who ran back to his helm and gunned his engine, moving his boat clear of us just in time. Richard and Labe Yoseph sailed into Admiralty Bay on Monday.
We all went sightseeing yesterday with Handy Andy. Our first stop was the turtle sanctuary. It was started 9 years ago by a fisherman who wanted to help save the endangered Hawksbill turtle. He collects hatchlings and rears them until they are 3 years old, when they are set free. Prior to his intervention, the survival rate of hatchlings was only 1 in 1000! They're really amazing creatures. They don't lay eggs until they are 25 years old, at which point they return to the exact beach at which they were released. They can live to be as old as 250 years. Next, we visited Moonhole. Moonhole is a collection of dwellings at the tip of the island constructed free-form of concrete and stone with a little wood thrown in here and there. Each house comprises several levels built into the hill. Most of the furniture is built in, and the rooms are open to the elements. It's a very unique and beautiful place. Linda and her family stayed at Moonhole when they were here in '75. Finally, we went up to the old Spanish Fort on the point overlooking Admiralty Bay. After stopping at the Frangipani for a drink, we had pizza at the world-famous Mac's on the beach.
August 2, 2005 Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou GRENADA
We spent our final day at Bequia doing boat jobs--installing a fan in the head on Windchime and helping Richard tune his rigging. Then the three of us went to the Frangipani for their Thursday night BBQ. Of course, we hadn't made reservations, but Rodney (one of our favorite bartenders) got us a table. There was a steel drum band playing and the food was fabulous. Early the next morning, we said our goodbyes to Richard and sailed the 38 miles down to Carriacou, which is part of Grenada. On the way there, we passed the magic insurance line: 12 degrees 40 minutes North. Now, we're covered if we get damaged by a named storm. The Carriacou Sailing Regatta was in progress in Hillsborough, where we anchored and checked in. We especially enjoyed watching the traditional workboats race. The boats are hand-carved by eye and are both graceful and fast! We also had a good time watching the kids race in the Optimist dinghies. What a riot! Yesterday, we moved over to Sandy Island, which, as its name implies, is a small island of sand off of Hillsborough Bay. It's quite peaceful and scenic and has great snorkeling. The water is so clear, it's like being anchored in an Olympic size swimming pool with fish in it. We went snorkeling this morning and took a walk on the island. A family of about 20 squid were hovering in the shadow of Windchime. Squalls were forecast for the rest of the week, so we decided to move into Tyrrel Bay this afternoon, which is a more protected anchorage. We took a dinghy ride through the mangrove swamp. That is where we'll tie up Windchime if threatened by a hurricane.
August 10, 2005 Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou GRENADA
Last week, we talked to Roy, the mananger of Tyrrel Bay Yacht Haulout, about our engine overheating problem and getting hauled out to put some Tropical strength bottom paint on. The bottom of Windchime is covered with black slime. Up to now, we've had to pay divers once a month to clean it. Roy informed us that Carnival was going on in Grenada Saturday through Tuesday, and that everything on Carriacou would be closed until Wednesday. He wasn't kidding. We had to go to Hillsborough to replenish our cash at an ATM, and it was like a ghost town. We spent the four days at Sandy Island relaxing, reading books, and snorkeling. We also met a very nice young couple, Yoann and Sara, who sailed their 26 foot aluminum boat, Pelloc'h, over from France. They are trying to sell Pelloc'h, so they can buy a bigger boat to sail down to Argentina. Linda called her Dad Sunday to wish him a happy birthday. They were having a big party for him at the house in CT, so she got to catch up with all the rest of the family too. While we were anchored off Sandy Island, our main computer, the IBM, decided to quit on us. We contacted IBM about it, and found out it's still under warranty, but the guy who received the service request was a complete idiot and was no help at all. We're going to try again tomorrow. In the meantime, we're using our nav computer for everything. We returned to Tyrrel Bay this morning, and went to see Roy again. The mechanic, Uwe (for you non-German speakers, that's pronounced Ooh-vay), is going to take a look at our engine either tomorrow afternoon or on Friday. He's supposed to be an excellent mechanic. If he can't figure out what's wrong with it, we're going to consider repowering with a Yanmar. It's very cheap to repower here compared to back home in CT. Next week, Windchime is getting hauled to do the bottom job.
It amazes us how politically savvy the Caribbean people are. Taxi drivers, waitresses, shop keepers, bartenders, fishermen all, are not only aware of their own governments' policies, but know more about U.S. politics and government than the average American does. The Bush administration and the war in Iraq are wildly unpopular here. Lucky for us, the people are wise enough to make a distinction between the American people and their government, and everyone is incredibly friendly.
August 14, 2005 Sandy Island, Carriacou GRENADA
Uwe, the mechanic, came by the boat on Thursday to have a look at our motor. He thinks our overheating is due to a number of factors, possibly including too small a raw water pump, too small an exhaust hose, wrong prop, etc. He's going to check it all out when we get hauled next week. In the meantime, we are anchored over at Sandy Island relaxing. A typical day at Sandy Island: Get up whenever we feel like it, eat breakfast and do a crossword puzzle, go for a swim/snorkel, read a book, have lunch, read a book, swim/snorkel, have cocktails and dinner while watching the sunset, if it's clear lay out on the deck and look at the stars, if it's rainy watch a movie down below. Idyllic.
August 19, 2005 Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou GRENADA
On Tuesday, we returned to Tyrrel Bay. We got hauled out first thing Wednesday, only to discover that the pintle bar holding up our rudder was very loose. It would have only been a matter of time before we lost our rudder! Good thing we decided to haul out and have the bottom painted. So now we have to drop the rudder and probably order a new pintle from Tartan. Looks like we'll be here a longer than we thought. We decided to rent a cottage at the yacht club while we're here. It has a kitchen, a clean bathroom, and best of all, air conditioning. Yesterday, while we were working on Windchime, Susan, Roy's wife, came by to see if we wanted to go shopping with her in town. We were too busy that morning, but she brought us back a great selection of fruits and vegetables, which we very much needed. Then we went to Turtle Dove with Roy and Susan to have pizza for lunch. It turns out Roy is a retired NASA engineer. He was at NASA for the Mercury missions through the Space Shuttle. He was actually on the console when Jim Lovell on Apollo 13 transmitted those famous words: "Houston, we have a problem." We can't think of a better person to entrust Windchime to. Roy had to get back to work at the marina, but the rest of us ended up hanging out there most of the afternoon, drinking beers and chatting. We had quite the show while we were there. Shadow is a 1 year old black lab that belongs to the restaurant's owner, Daniella. Shadow decided an iguana would make a good playmate. This was no small iguana either--it was nearly 4 feet long! Shadow had chased it clear out to the middle of the bay. Daniella called her boyfriend, Jerry (who owns the marina), and he came over and picked her up in his dinghy. They went out and retrieved the dog, and then, much to our surprise, they managed to get the iguana aboard. It rode up on the bow like a hood ornament, while Daniella kept a tight hold on Shadow. When they got back to the dock, it took some nudging to get the iguana off the boat, but once on the dock, he couldn't run, or I should say waddle, away fast enough. It was hilarious!
August 26, 2005 Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou GRENADA
Daniella graciously loaned us her copy of Harry Potter 6, so we both were finally able to read it last week. The boat is coming along. The bottom paint is done and most of the brightwork is finished. The rudder is back on, but they're trying to figure out some way to support the rudder post from the top, so that all the weight is not on the pintle bar. Uwe is working on our overheating problem. We discovered that the impeller in our brand new raw water pump only had 2 of 12 blades still intact! So we spent the better part of the day trying to flush the broken pieces out of the refrigeration condenser and the heat exchanger. Uwe has decided that we should try increasing the water flow through the pump by 20%, by reducing the diameter of the pulley that drives it. In addition, he's going to increase the diameter of the exhaust hose and decrease it's length. We've been having a great time hanging out with Susan. She took us up to her and Roy's house one afternoon for lunch. The view is spectacular, and she served real American hamburgers (a big treat for us, as we haven't been able to get one since we were in the Bahamas)! Yesterday, she took us shopping in town. It's amazing--you have to go to about 10 different stores to get everything you need! And Susan knows them all. She's definitely a woman who knows how to get things done. There's very little produce on the island due to hurricanes Ivan and Emily, so most of it is shipped in from Trinidad on Thursdays. We went to one market to get potatoes and onions and cheese, then another for lettuce and tomatoes, then to the automotive store for milk, juice, pears, and peanuts. We tried to get antifreeze there, but they didn't sell it. Then we went to another market for canned goods, Tostitos, hotdogs, and salsa, then to another for bread, then to the gas station for antifreeze. I'm sure I'm leaving something out. Susan had to pick up some paint for the boatyard that was due in on the ferry, so we had some time to waste. She took us up to the hospital, which is on one of the the highest points of the island and not very easy to get to. Another spectacular vista! Then we drove down to Windward, which is where they still build wooden boats by hand. We didn't have time to see the boat building, but we're hoping to make it back there sometime this week. Our friend Richard sailed Labe Yoseph into Tyrrel Bay a couple of days ago, so we've been spending time with him too. We're still staying in the cottage and feeding the little family of kittens on our porch. At least they'll get to eat well while we're here.
August 31, 2005 Sandy Island, Carriacou GRENADA
Free at last! Free at last! Windchime finally got launched yesterday after 13 days on the hard! We went out for sea trials with Uwe, and the engine is working fantastically! It was also Linda's birthday yesterday, so after we moved everything back aboard, we motored (very quickly this time and with no overheats) over to Sandy Island. Richard on Labe Yoseph came with us, and the three of us dinghied over to the Hard Wood Bar on Pleasant Beach for dinner. Joy, the owner, is a fabulous cook, and we enjoyed a delicious fish dinner. After we ate, she brought out a bottle of wine to toast the birthday girl and an Aussie at the bar who was also celebrating a birthday. We're enjoying a down day today, relaxing, reading, and swimming.
Trying to buy meat and poultry here is not easy. The markets only have things like chicken wings, chicken thighs, chicken legs, chicken feet, pig snout, pig tail, pig feet, pig hoof, brain, stomach, etc. There's no luncheon meat, no chicken breasts, and we have no idea what they put in the hamburger, but we can't eat it. Sometimes, we're offered fish by a local fisherman, but it's usually too big for us to eat before it goes bad. Susan has American hamburger shipped up from Grenada on the ferry. The other day, we were driving through Tyrrel Bay, and this guy yells at us. Susan pulls over and parks to see what they want. They had just butchered a pig and had a whole leg left, just sitting out on a piece of cardboard with flies buzzing about. Susan bought the whole thing, because pork is hard to come by. It did look like a delicious cut of meat. We're subsisting on canned chicken, that we brought down from the USVI and is almost gone, and canned tuna, which is available here.
List of things that don't work on the boat at the moment: Our phone will no longer talk to the computer, so we can't download email. The phone still works for voice, but we can only get email by going to an internet cafe. Our primary computer is still down. The regulator for our wind and solar power is misreading the voltage of the batteries and, as a result, has stopped sending power to them. The igniter on our propane hot water heater needs to be replaced, and we don't know if we can get a new one, because the company is no longer in business. Both our smoke detector and CO detector have died, and we can't find one anywhere in the Caribbean, because they don't use them. And finally, our camera is having trouble with the memory cards again, and won't take pictures. We have it working temporarily, but we'll probably have to buy a new camera. We're hoping we'll be able to deal with all these problems when we get to Grenada.
September 5, 2005 Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou GRENADA
Richard left for Grenada on Thursday, and we returned to Tyrrel Bay. After running some errands in Hillsborough, we had a wonderful sail back. We spent a couple of days tracking down the various people who did work on Windchime, so we could pay them. Saturday, Susan showed up to take us on the final leg of our tour around the island. We saw numerous breathtaking vistas, visited a cemetery on the shore (where some of the inhabitants are now being washed out to sea), and took a ride to the northernmost part of the island. The tour ended with lunch at Susan and Roy's house. Last night, we were invited to Daniella's (the owner of the pizza place) and Jerry's (the owner of the haulout) house for dinner. A couple of their friends, Rosie (a Brit) and Fitzroy (a native), were there as well. Numerous Goombay Smashes were consumed, and the dinner was delicious. We had such a great time, they invited us back again tonight for Jerry's beef stew.
Linda cleaned the sat phone connection and removed some broken plastic parts, and it's working fine now. It's so good to have email again! Now, if we could only figure out some way to update the website. Hopefully, we'll find a WiFi connection in Grenada. Richard says his sat phone, which is the same as ours, doesn't work down there. We're hoping we don't have the same problem.
September 10, 2005 St. George's GRENADA
Wednesday, we had a wonderful sail, averaging 7 knots, down to Grenada. The whole time our engine was overheating, we never had any wind for sailing. Now that the engine is healthy, of course, we have perfect wind! After four tries, we got the anchor to hold in the muddy bottom of St. George's Lagoon. The next day, we went shopping and picked up everything we needed at Ace Hardware, NAPA, and Island Water World. Then we dinghied over to Foodland (they have their own dock) to go grocery shopping. The Grenada Yacht Club has a very pleasant bar. We had dinner and did some internet surfing there. Yesterday, we were going to go shopping downtown, but after the weather forecast said it would feel like 100oF, we decided to stay on the boat where there was a very nice breeze. Deb spent nearly an hour on the phone with our web provider (most of it on hold), to see why our website had gone down. Fortunately, she was successful, and it is up and running again. Then she called IBM to see what we could do about our IBM laptop, that had been broken for over a month. After being switched around to 5 different people and being cut off twice (because the sat phone lost it's signal), we finally fixed the thing! All we had to do was remove the memory and put it back in. It's so nice to have our main computer up and running again. We were afraid we would have to FedEx it back to the states to be repaired. We spent a good part of the day reinstalling the closet in our head, which was no easy task. The screws holding it in place had snapped off, allowing it to fall back and lean against the hull. When we pulled it out, we discovered a leaky stanchion base behind it. So we rebed that. We also took the opportunity to remove an old deck fitting that used to hold the spinnaker pole, but was now just something we banged our toes on. While sitting out in the cockpit, enjoying the sunset last night, we heard gunshots on the shore. We're thinking maybe we should move down to Prickly Bay, where most of the yachties hang out.
September 15, 2005 St. George's GRENADA
Saturday, we went to the Grenada Yacht club to have lunch and update our website. While there, we enjoyed watching a very intense pool tournament, which was finally won be a German named Klaus. More boat projects on Sunday. Our friend, Myrt, was arriving Sunday evening, so we spent the day painting the head liner above her berth. It was nasty with old mildew stains. As usual, one project leads to another. When the trim was removed around the chain plates, we could see daylight around one of them. So, while Deb finished the painting job, Linda rebed the deck plate for the aft lower shroud chain plate. Since all the trim was down, Deb decided to install a new fan over the berth too. We finished just in time to catch the taxi to the airport. Of course, the plane was late, so we hung out in the pub watching football on TV and drinking beer. Once we got back to the boat with Myrt's massive amounts of luggage, we went out to the Tropicana for dinner. The next day, we HAD to do laundry at the Grenada Yacht Club (We were out of underwear:-). While Linda and Deb were doing laundry, Myrt walked downtown to get a card for her cell phone. While there, she hooked up with her friend, Phillip, and invited him to Windchime for dinner on Tuesday night. Tuesday morning, the three of us hiked into town to do some shopping. As we passed a restaurant on the Carenage, a very nice, clean and well dressed guy named Randy came out to talk to us. He was very pleased to hear we were American, because America had liberated his country from the communists back in 1983. He followed us down the road, telling us about Grenada and her history. We stopped into the Nutmeg (the oldest resturant on the Carenage) for lunch, and he came in with us and continued telling us about Grenada. We ended up buying him a beer. We went to the Museum of Grenada, then Randy showed us how to get downtown through the tunnel. He took us to Market Square, where we bought fresh vegetables and spices for dinner, then put us on a bus back to the yacht club. Myrt and Deb dinghied over to Foodland to see what ingredients they could find to work with and flew back to the boat. We enjoyed a delicious meal of scallops in cream sauce and grilled marinated eggplant. We laughed and told sea stories with Phillip, who used to charter his 55 foot Oyster in the BVIs. Wednesday was a relaxing day spent reading and doing crossword puzzles. Today, we're waiting for our propane tank to return from the gas company, so we can sail back to Carriacou tomorrow. There's some nasty weather off to the east that we're keeping an eye on, and we want to be near the mangrove swamp in Tyrrel Bay.
September 18, 2005 Sandy Island, Carriacou GRENADA
We enjoyed a beautiful sail back to Tyrrel Bay on Friday. All of our favorite boat boys came out to see if we needed anything. We bought wine from Simon and ordered oysters on the half-shell from Roberto (a.k.a. John) for the next evening. Saturday was spent lounging around and swimming, swimming and lounging. We had oysters and scallops for dinner and watched a movie. It was a hot windless morning in Tyrrel Bay, so we motored over to Sandy Island to get some air and do some snorkeling.
September 23, 2005 Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou GRENADA
Monday, we went into Hillsborough to run some errands. We had lunch at The Garden--deliciously prepared local cuisine and a great atmosphere, sitting out on the porch of the brightly colored house amongst the garden flowers. Tuesday, we dinghied from Sandy Island over to Paradise Beach (about 0.6 nm) to have lunch at the Hard Wood Bar and to go shopping at Fidel Productions (www.fidelproductions.com). After ordering lunch from Joy, we walked over to Fidel's which is housed in a green 20' container. Myrt bought all kinds of hand-painted calabash and a t-shirt. Deb and Linda had already bought a load of shirts and calabash when they visited the store with Susan. Myrt surprised us with a calabash that we had loved, but talked ourselves out of buying. We enjoyed a scrumptious meal of Caribbean fish and vegetables and a couple of beers. When we launched the dinghy from the beach to go back to Windchime, we had a little mishap. The sand dropped off sharply as soon as you got in the water, and Myrt went down--complete with her fanny pack containing her cell phone. Luckily, she did not have her camera with her. Linda, also in the water, laughed so hard she peed her pants. After getting back to the boat and trying unsuccessfully to revive the cell phone, we moved Windchime over to Tyrrel Bay. One evening, we ordered lobster from Roberto, but he wasn't positive he'd be able to get them. The next day, some fisherman showed up with lobster around noon time. We bought 6 lbs from them and steamed them for a late lunch. Then around 5pm, after we had just finished cleaning up the lobster mess, Roberto showed up with 10 lbs of lobster. So we got the pots out and steamed the second set of lobsters. We were too full to eat them, so we put them in the fridge for lobster rolls, etc. the next day. Excerpt from email Myrt was writing to Richard yesterday: "I'm having a hard time concentrating. Deb and Linda are acting silly. Linda wants to go swimming topless so Deb thinks if we fly the French flag it would be ok. What do you think?" (It's been our experience that most French cruisers go swimming nude.)
September 27, 2005 Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou GRENADA
We had an exciting weekend. Saturday, Linda decided to confront Simon, the boat boy from whom we buy our wine, about scratching up the topsides of Windchime. His boat has no rub rail nor fenders, and the raw fiberglass really does a number on our finish. We've put out fenders, but his boat always finds a way around or under them. She told him that if he wanted to continue to do business with us that he would need to get a fender. Well, he went ballistic! He accused us of being racist and thinking third world people are stupid--which couldn't be farther from the truth. Myrt and Deb were ready to haul up anchor and move on out. Linda quickly back-pedaled and apologized profusely. Simon accepted her apology and ended up having a beer with us. He was his usual friendly self once again and offered to take us on a tour of Carriacou. He still denied scratching our boat, but offered to polish it for free--which we didn't make him do. Linda had a bad weekend with all her maladies, including, a tooth ache, a deep stab wound in her hand (self-inflicted), and an ear ache. Her ear was causing her an incredible amount of pain. Sunday, a tremendous squall moved through, and for the first time with this anchor, Windchime dragged. We quickly put her in gear (the engine was already running, just in case) and re-anchored in the midst of the storm. We were drenched! On Monday, we decided Linda should see a doctor about her ear. Roy told us to go to Dr. Freddy in Hillsborough. His office was a bit primitive, but he was a very good doctor. Simon was picking us up for our tour at 9am that morning, so we asked him to make Dr. Freddy our first stop. Linda was taken in right away. Fifteen minutes and only $100EC ($40US) later, we walked out with all the medication she needed. As we suspected, she had a very bad case of swimmer's ear. Simon showed us around the island for a couple of hours, and then we treated him to lunch at The Garden. Upon returning to Tyrrel Bay, we saw that Windchime was not in the same place we had left her. As we found out later from Steve and Joan, fellow cruisers from Chant Pagan, she had dragged anchor again and was headed out to sea! Steve grabbed Joe from Island Girl, and Malcom came over from Kiwa, and the three of them re-anchored Windchime in a safe spot. That's how it is in the cruising community --everybody helping everybody. We had Steve and Joan over for drinks last night, and we had a wonderful time. They really hit it off with Myrt and invited her to go sailing with them for awhile after they get their engine fixed. Myrt and Deb left Linda onboard to rest (although she ended up painting a calabash) and went into Hillsborough to have lunch and run errands. Debbie, a single-hander aboard Illusions, came over for evening cocktails.
List of items currently out of commission on the boat: Hot water heater, Water maker (again!!!!), Regulator for solar panel and wind generator, IBM computer, Myrt's cell phone.
October 4, 2005 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
Last Friday, we sailed from Tyrrel Bay to Admiralty Bay in Bequia. A little over half way there, Linda noticed the bilge pump was going on about every minute. She checked under the floorboard, and found a large amount of water coming from the aft end of the boat. So we emptied everything out of the rope locker. Linda climbed down and found that water was gushing, like a fountain, through the rudder post stuffing box! The bilge pump was keeping up with it, and we were closer to Bequia than Tyrrel Bay, so we decided to continue on. At anchor, the stuffing box is above the water line and the gushing stops. Now we have to take apart the steering quadrant to get at the stuffing box. Hopefully, we'll just have to tighten it up, but we may need to re-engineer it. It definitely has certain design flaws. After anchoring, we checked in with customs and then went to Mac's Pizza for dinner. Unfortunately, the Frangipani, our favorite bar, is closed for the season. A lot of places that we enjoyed last time we were here are temporarily closed. Saturday, we went shopping downtown and had lunch at the Salty Dog--excellent food and it's AIR-CONDITIONED. Sunday, we spent the whole day doing boat jobs. On the engine, we changed the oil and filter, changed the zincs, and replaced a coolant hose. While we had everything out of the quarter berth, we decided to tackle the broken regulator for the wind generator. After three hours (due to bad engineering of the electrical connections in the regulator box), two phone calls to Jay (our favorite electrician and Linda's son-in-law), sacrificing a towel to Neptune (we were using it to cover the solar panel), and a lot of swearing, we were successful! We're happy to report that the regulator now works, and the solar panel and wind generator are no longer just stern ornaments. Yesterday, we ran more errands in town and had lunch at the Salty Dog again--we really love that air-conditioning. We're expecting Chant Pagan, the boat that Myrt is going to be transferring to, to show up today. We'll miss her :-(.
October 7, 2005 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
Myrt moved over to Chant Pagan a couple of days ago. Tuesday, we all went to the Salty Dog to watch the Red Sox/White Sox game. Elaine and Joe from Island Girl came too. Unfortunately, the Red Sox lost, but we had a great time at the bar. Wednesday evening, African, a Bequian who manages a couple of rental properies, showed up in his boat "African Pride." We chatted for awhile and watched the sun go down. The next evening, we had dinner aboard Chant Pagan and drank to Chris, Myrt's husband whom she lost to cancer a year ago. Today was a big day. We tackled the rudder job. It wasn't easy, but Linda managed to tighten up on the three nuts holding the packing gland together. We took Windchime out for sea trials, and the leak, while not completely sealed, was lessened to a tolerable level. We also made a cover for the mast step with the help of African. Linda asked him if he had any scrap wood to use for the project. She showed him the template she had made, and in less than an hour, he showed up with two perfectly cut pieces of 1/4" mohagany. So that job is done now too. He invited us to go see his villas tomorrow and hang out. We just got back from the third Red Sox/White Sox game. It was a good game, but the Red Sox were pathetic. The White Sox won the series 3-0. Oh well, you can't win every year.
October 11, 2005 Tobago Cays SVG
We spent our last few days in Bequia doing boat jobs and provisioning for our trip to the southern Grenadines. One day was spent replumbing the entire pressure water system on Windchime. The old non-reinforced tubing had blown up like a balloon since we replaced the original water pressure pump with a more powerful one. We rebeded yet another leaky chain plate and tried unsuccessfully to get our PowerSurvivor 40 water maker to work (aarrggh!). Last night, after dinner at Mac's with Myrt, Steve, and Joan, we all went to the Salty Dog to watch the LA Angels beat the NY Yankees--Go Angels! This morning the five of us sailed down to the Tobago Cays. We're anchored amongst beautiful unspoiled, uninhabited islands. The beaches have pristine white sand and are lined with palm trees. The snorkeling here is supposed to be fantastic. We've been invited over to Chant Pagan for dinner. They caught half a tuna on the way down (a barracuda got the other half).
October 15, 2005 Clifton Harbor, Union Island SVG
We spent two glorious days in the Tobago Cays. John and Lene, from London, whom we had met in Bequia, anchored next to us the second day. They, Steve, Joan, and Myrt came over for cocktails. We killed a bottle of Mount Gay and had a wonderful time. The next day, we went snorkeling on Horseshoe Reef with Steve and Joan. It was amazing! Definitely the best snorkeling we've done in the Caribbean so far. Steve and Joan had seen a 4-foot long Barracuda while snorkeling the day before, but luckily, we didn't run into it. Later that afternoon, we motored over the Salt Whistle Bay on Mayreau--a small bay with a beautiful beach. Perfect for Myrt's swimming lessons with Steve. Myrt took us all out to dinner at Dennis's Hideaway, which is actually in Saline Bay. Dennis, the unofficial mayor of the island picked us up and drove us home after dinner. The food was fantastic! We highly recommend it to anyone visiting Mayreau. Huge NNE swells are forecast to move into the Caribbean this weekend from the big storm over the Grand Banks. So yesterday, we moved over to Clifton Harbor on Union Island. We went ashore and had lunch at the Bougainvilla, did a little shopping, and went to the internet cafe. On the way back, we ran into Joe and Elaine from Island Girl, and we all ended up drinking rum all afternoon in some bar. Kate, a Peace Corp volunteer, was also there, as were three locals, Andy, Jimmy, and Roderick. It was Myrt's last night with us, so we were invited over to Chant Pagan for dinner. Before dinner, Jimmy and Roderick were dropped off by a friend. They had a couple of beers with us, and then we had to ask them to leave, so we could have dinner. They got in the dinghy, so Steve could take them back to the dock, and before Steve could get in, they started the engine and put it in reverse! Luckily, it was still locked to the boat. So Steve made them sit in the front of the dinghy and took them home. This morning, Myrt flew down to Grenada to catch a flight home to Tortola on Sunday. We'll all miss her.
October 18, 2005 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
Sunday, Linda went snorkeling with Steve and Joan on the reef in Clifton Harbor. Deb stayed behind, because she was still a little sunburned from the last snorkeling adventure. When they didn't return for several hours, she figured they must have stopped in at Happy Island for a few rum punches. Happy Island is a small man-made island in the harbor constructed of conch shells that has a bar on it which is run by Jaunti. So Deb got in the dinghy and went over to Happy Island. Linda, Steve and Joan were all there and very happy that she had shown up with some money. Joe and Elaine from Island Girl were also there, as well as a couple from Mustique, Patricia and Rodney. We had several more rum punches, and at some point, a bunch of local guys, including Andy, showed up. Joe and Steve had caught a bunch of conch the day before, and Andy agreed to cook it for us--since none of us knew how to cook it. So Steve went back to Chant Pagan to get the conch, and Andy sautéed it in butter. It was delicious! Monday, we spent most of the day rebuilding our damn water maker. It still didn't work! Linda was so upset, she made a call to Katadyn to vent her frustration, and tell them what a piece of crap their machine is. It's still under warranty and it's been broken more than it works. At this point, we estimate that it's cost us $5 for every gallon it's made, because it hasn't made much. And on top of that, we have to pay to fill our tanks here in the Caribbean and even more for drinking water. Water is not free down here like it is at home. But enough about that. We had a wonderful sail back up to Bequia today. The wind was perfect, and we were averaging 7 knots! It was a beautiful day.
October 27, 2005 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
On the 20th, we sailed up to Blue Lagoon, St. Vincent to pick up Linda's
sister Debbie and her friend Susie. It started raining right after we got
there and didn't stop for 2 days! Torrential downpours caused run-off to
turn Blue Lagoon brown. We couldn't move in the storms, so we sat around
all day doing Sudokus (these number puzzles that Debbie had brought us) and
reading. The next afternoon, we sailed down to Bequia to get some
provisions before heading down to the Tobago Cays. It was a lovely sail
down to the Cays. We were running late, so we stopped in Salt Whistle Bay,
Mayreau for the night. We spent three days in the Tobago Cays snorkeling
and relaxing. Our friend Doug, from Fellow Traveller, was there, and he
took us snorkeling on the outer side of Horseshoe Reef. The outside of the
reef is one big wall, very different from the coral heads on the inner side of
the reef. Doug had us over to his boat for cocktails and pizza that
evening. It wasn't raining, but Windchime had a wet sail back to Bequia.
It was blowing 20 -25K's for the entire trip (22nm), and we also had our fair
share of adverse seas, 5-8' on the starboard forward quarter. Deb was not
feeling well so she was down below sleeping on the
port settee. Well..........in the thick of it all ........ waves coming over the starboard bow up to the dodger, the port rail under water, Deb woke up because there was water cascading down the bulkhead and flooding the port book shelves and all of the storage areas on the port side! WHAT A MESS!!!!!!! It was the upper shroud chain plate that was leaking. We could do nothing about it, because motoring into the waves and wind would have taken all day and been very uncomfortable. We also had a time table to follow.....that was to be into port before sunset! Big rule down here----- NEVER NEVER arrive after dark!! You cannot see the bottom and anchoring in sand is a MUST!! So Deb moved as much stuff as she could to dry areas and we sailed on. Then Debbie caught a fish !! After we took pictures and patted Debbie's back she went down below to fillet it. She did a great job and then came up to help sail into Bequia. We had to tack (first tack of the day) which we did. Don't forget--- we're still out there in now 25K winds and 5-8' seas....now the starboard rail is under and we're flying along on a port tack. Well about 10 minutes later Debbie looked down below and realized that she had forgotten to reclose the seacock under the galley. The entire galley was flooded! There was standing water up to and under the stove, all over the counters and into the pots and pan storage!! Linda was steering and dealing with traffic, wind and waves, Deb was still asleep, so Debbie and Susie had to bail and wipe down everything. We grilled the mackerel fillets for dinner. There's nothing like fresh fish! Then Linda, Debbie, and Susie went to the Salty Dog to watch the last game of the World Series. We tried to go shopping in town today, but everything was closed due to Independence Day. We're going to the Frangipani tonight for the barbeque and steel band. Debbie and Susie leave on the ferry early tomorrow morning.
November 3, 2005 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
We shipped our broken water maker back to Katadyn in MN last Friday. What a process! First, we went to customs to see if we needed any special paperwork to get it back into the country duty free. He said we needed to get some form from a customs broker. So we hiked back to the other side of town--mind you we're hauling this water maker that weighs about 40 pounds around with us the whole time--and talked to the customs broker. She says yes, we need the form (which costs $54EC), but we can obtain it when the water maker comes back. We weren't sure if we would still be in Bequia when it was shipped back, so we decided to skip the form. Then we went to three different grocery stores to find the perfect box in which to ship it. We grabbed a table at De Bistro to put the package together. While we were there, we decided to order lunch. Then Deb had the thought that there might be a daily deadline for shipping things out. So Linda went down to Solana's, the FedEx agent in Port Elizabeth, and was told that the package had to be on the 1:00 ferry. It was 12:30 at the time, so Deb ran down to Solana's with the water maker all boxed up. Her frustration rose when she was told by the FedEx agent that he needed to see what was in the box. Now this was a carefully packaged and substantially taped up box. Fortunately, he agreed to trust her, and didn't make her unwrap it. She filled out all the required forms and went back to De Bistro to eat her chicken sandwich, which was by this time getting cold. On Tuesday, we repeated the process with our IBM laptop. We still had to go to three different grocery stores to get appropriate boxes, but everything else went much more smoothly.
Saturday, we were aboard ticking off boat jobs, when we noticed ferry after ferry come into the harbor carrying loads of people dressed in red and flying red and white starred flags. There were bands playing and speeches being given. We could hear it all from onboard Windchime. Linda stopped a couple of fishermen rowing by to ask them what the big event was. It turned out to be a campaign rally. Election day was approaching, so the Prime Minister of St. Vincent was in town trying to drum up votes. Red is the color of the Labor Party, which he represents.
The cheap, but not inexpensive, Perko hinges on our homemade toilet seat broke this week. We ran all over town, visiting four different chandleries and two hardware stores, looking for suitable replacements. The first chandlery we went to had the perfect hinge in stainless steel, but they only had one of them in stock. None of the other places had anything even close to what we needed. Well, after two days of having a sliding toilet seat, something had to be done. So, once again, we had to improvise. Linda cut out a pair of hinges from a scrap of leather we had onboard and screwed them in using washers and pan head screws. We're still on the lookout for stainless hinges, but the leather works well enough for now. While running around town, we finally took the time to visit St. Mary's, the Anglican Church on main street. It's a simple stone structure with a corrugated tin roof, filled with brightly painted blue pews. Beautiful stained glass windows memorialize parishioners who have passed on.
Linda found a calabash tree on the beach and got excited about making her own calabash bowls. She collected several calabash lying on the ground, and took them back to Windchime. After sawing them in half, she carefully cleaned out the insides with a spoon and knife. The calabash is not edible. When she threw the insides overboard, even the seagulls spit it out. Now she just has to wait for them to dry out sufficiently to paint them.
November 10, 2005 St. Anne, Martinique
Our friend, African, invited us to have dinner with him Sunday night. We had delicious pork chops (he's a very good cook) and got to see all the work he'd done on the villa since we were last there. It's a beautiful place with a spectacular view of the harbor. Monday, we went to FedEx to pick up our repaired water maker. They gave us a paper to take to customs. The customs officer sent us down to the other end of town to have a customs broker fill out the proper paperwork. An hour later and $60EC poorer, we went back to customs and were finally given our water maker--after they opened the box and went through it thoroughly. An officer was supposed to go with us to see that it actually made it back to the boat, but they trusted us to get it there ourselves. We reinstalled it and it worked! Tuesday was nasty weatherwise to move the boat, so we did some shopping and small boat jobs. African came by that evening to say goodbye, and we shared some wine and cheese.
We decided to break up the 90 mile trip to Martinique into two days, stopping at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. Bequia to Rodney Bay was 70 miles, so we left at 4:00am the next morning. It was a rainy and squally day, so we had a bouncy, but fast, sail. The trip was not uneventful. We enjoyed passing by the majestic Pitons of St. Lucia. We saw at least half a dozen rainbows. At one point, off the oil depot on St. Lucia, the water abruptly changed colors. The dark blue water we had been sailing through was interrupted by a light green patch of water with very clear edges--sort of like the color delineation seen on either side of a reef.. It was bizarre. There was nothing on the chart, so we went though it. We think it must have been some kind of run-off from the heavy rains. We ran into a similar patch later that day. Once we got into Rodney Bay, heading for the anchorage, we saw a white object ahead floating in the water. We couldn't tell if it was a buoy or a small fishing boat. When we got closer, it turned out to be a dead dog, bloated with it's feet sticking straight out. Poor thing.
This morning, we talked to our weather guru, Chris Parker, and he said we would have 6-9 ft seas and squally weather for the 21 mile trip to Martinique. So we decided to stay in Rodney Bay one more day. Then we changed our minds and decided to go for it. Well, Chris wasn't lying. The seas were 6-9 ft and even bigger on occasion. Luckily, we were able to dodge the squalls. We anchored in St. Anne under cloudy skies in 25 knots of wind. It's a huge open anchorage with plenty of room for everyone. We have to dinghy into Marin--a two mile trip--to check in with customs (la douane) tomorrow morning. "Ou est la douane?"
November 16, 2005 Marin, Martinique
It has been raining practically nonstop since we arrived in Martinique. We've spent a lot of time hunkered down on the boat doing crossword and Sudoku puzzles and reading. Friday, we dinghied 40 minutes into Marin, in the rain, to check in with customs. Unfortunately, it was closed due to the Victory Day holiday. We did, however, run into Yohann and Sara, our French friends that we had met in Carriacou, on the way in. They sold their boat, and are presently looking for a new one. We got some Euros out of the ATM and had lunch at Mango Bay. The next day, we again made the long trip into Marin and this time successfully checked in with customs. The customs official was very nice, and it didn't cost us a cent (that's a first for us). We picked up a few items at the various chandlries and dinghied back to Windchime. A big gale was forecast to be moving through that night, so we took down all the canvas and made sure everything was secured. The next morning, there was a break in the rain, so we went in to explore St. Anne. Nothing was open, because it was Sunday, but we enjoyed walking around town. We visited the cemetery perched on the edge of the cliff by the bay. It was made up of ceramic tiled crypts, containing whole families, and covered in colorful flowers. It started raining again that afternoon and into the night. We awoke the next morning to find that several of the crypts had plunged over the precipice due to a landslide caused by the heavy rainfall. What a mess! Rollers, produced by the storm that had passed through, were making the anchorage quite uncomfortable, so we decided to move into Marin harbor--much quieter. As we moved in to anchor, we noticed a boat from Connecticut named Drisana. After we finished anchoring, John from Drisana, who had noticed that we were from Connecticut, came over to say hi. We ended up chatting for over two hours. He left Shennacossett Yacht Club in Groton in 1995, and he and his wife, Ricarda, have been cruising the Caribbean ever since. In the winter months, they have jobs in St. Maarten, and the rest of the time, they are off sailing. Not a bad life! John came over yesterday to help us with our windlass. Electrolysis had stuck the aluminum drum to the stainless steel shaft, and we couldn't get it off to service it. John was able to remove the drum after much hammering and prying, and Linda spent all day cleaning all the parts and putting the windlass back together. Today, we hiked to the grocery store and were pleasantly surprised to find all the fixings for Brazilian burgers (a recipe Deb had gotten from her friend Katherine). We also discovered a very nice Bordeaux that only costs $3.80 a bottle. We're going to have to stock up our wine cellar before we leave. We just enjoyed a delicious lunch of Brazilian burgers on baquettes, homemade french fries, and a bottle of Bordeaux.
November 19, 2005 St. Pierre, Martinique
We spent our last day in Marin provisioning and stocking up on inexpensive French wine. Yesterday, we sailed up to St. Pierre on the northern end of Martinique. That evening, we had drinks with John and Ricarda on Drisana and got advice from them on what islands should not be missed on the trip north. Today, Drisana sailed on to Dominica, but we stayed to spend some time exploring St. Pierre. The city has quite an interesting history. It used to be a bustling city and the capitol of Martinique, with a population of 30,000. Then in 1902, Mt. Pelee erupted, wiping out the entire city! There were only two survivors: a cobbler, who was in his basement, and Cyparis, who was in prison for murder. The thick walls of the prison saved him, and 4 days later he was found alive in the rubble. He later made a living in Barnum's circus in America displaying his burns in a side show. The sad thing about the whole story is that the city could have been evacuated before 30,000 people lost their lives. In the months leading up to the eruption, several minor rumblings occurred, wiping out a couple of the surrounding plantations. However, the Governor and business leaders decided the financial losses would be too high if the city were evacuated, and told the people that the volcano was not a danger. Greed! Many ruins remain, and new buildings were often constructed using one or more surviving walls. At present, the town of St. Pierre has a population of 5000.
We visited the museum dedicated to the 1902 eruption of Mt. Pelee and then the ruins of the theatre and the prison where Cyparis survived the blast. Then we decided to hike up to the Virgin Mary statue that overlooks the town. It was quite the climb. We passed 14 stations of the Cross on the way up. From there, we took a very rugged trail over the mountain to the butterfly garden. In places, the trail was so steep that we had to use ropes to ease ourselves down. The butterfly garden was beautiful, but, unfortunately, we didn't see any butterflys. They were actually closed, but we enjoyed walking around anyway. There was a rustic gazebo there with xylophones and chimes made out of bamboo. The chimes were set up almost like a carillon, except the player pulls on baseball-sized balls that rattle the bamboo chimes instead of hitting levers to gong bells. We exited the garden and had lunch at a delightful restauant just outside, called 1634. Everything was in French, and the waitress didn't speak English, so the nice gentleman at the table next to us helped us order. We had couscous with lamb, chicken, lamb meatballs, Moroccan sausages, and vegetables over it. It was a real treat! We took to main road back into St. Pierre, which was much faster, but was narrow with no sidewalk. This has been one of our favorite anchorages so far. Tomorrow, we are sailing the 55 miles up to Dominica.
November 21, 2005 Portsmouth, Dominica
We had a wonderful sail up to Dominica yesterday. There were rain clouds all around, which produced a gorgeous double rainbow, but we didn't get wet. Unfortunately, the rainbow disappeared before we got to the end of it. Too bad, we REALLY could have used that pot o' gold. We sited a humpback whale between Martinique and Dominica. He showed us his fluke before disappearing into the depths. Sailing along Dominica was spectacular. It is an island, 29 miles long by 15 miles wide, that is all lush green mountains. Today, we went on two tours. For the first, we arose at 6am to take an early boat ride up the Indian River. Eddison, our guide, was very knowledgeable about the history and natural environment of Dominica. There was another couple, from California, on the tour with us. Dominica has 365 rivers (one for every day of the year), but this is the only one wide and deep enough to take a boat up. Eddison rowed us about a mile up the river through dense green vegetation. It was magical. At the end of the mile, there was a bar. We got out and took at hike through the gardens there. We saw oranges, grapefruit, cocoa, bananas, almond, and papaya trees, as well as several species of flower that I can't recall. Eddison wove us birds and fish out of palm fronds while we had a beer (it was 5:00 somewhere:-). On the way out, Eddison pointed out a pirate house on the river that was used to film "Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3." It turns out his boat was the "coffee shop" for the film crew. He got to meet Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom and had a wonderful time. That afternoon, we continued our tour of Dominica on land with Ken. He took us to the Syndicate Rain Forest and Water Falls. As we hiked through the rain forest, Ken pointed out the various species of trees, ferns, flowers, and birds. I wish I could remember some of their names. We saw the trees that the Carib Indians made their dugout canoes from. They grow straight up to a tremendous height and have now branches except at the very top. The Carib spent days hacking the huge trees down with stones, burned out the insides, then carved the canoe out of the shell. Really amazing! This other kind of tree, which we also saw in the river, had the most spectacular root system. It's hard to describe. The closest thing I can think of to compare it to is a cypress tree. There are pictures of it in the Photo section. We got to see a flock of Jaco parrots, which exist only on Dominica, one of the biggest species of parrot known to man. Ken collected for us oranges, tangerines, cinnamon, and a special treat, cocoa beans. If you suck the pulp of the cocoa beans, it is sweet as candy. Just don't bite down on it unless you want a bitter surprise. The hike out to the water fall was rugged, but well worth the trip. The waterfall is 80 feet high, splashing into a smal pool at the bottom creating mist that was like air conditioning. It was spectacular! On the hike back to the van, Ken collected us a dramatic bouquet of flowers for the boat that would have cost a fortune to purchase from a florist in the states. We're sailing to Iles des Saintes (part of Guadeloupe) tomorrow.
November 23, 2005 Dashaies, Guadeloupe
We had a glorious sail from Dominica to Iles des Saintes yesterday. Ten to twelve knots of wind on the beam and calm seas. It couldn't have been more beautiful! We anchored in the harbor of Bourg de Saintes on Terre D'en Haute. It was a beautiful little harbor with clear blue water, but there was a cruise ship in town. Fortunately, they were just leaving, but we found the prices in the stores somewhat inflated due to cruise ship clientele. We walked around town, looking for the customs office to check in, but to no avail. It was a cute little village. We had gelatos and made reservations for dinner. We ate at a French restaurant, Les Genois, that was highly touted in the guidebook, but we were disappointed. (We found out later that Steve and Joan on Chant Pagan had the same experience.)
Today, we motored to Dashaies at the northwest tip of Guadeloupe. We could see the volcano on Montserrat smoking in the distance. On the way, our GPS started acting up, so we had to navigate to our destination the old fashioned way. Dashaies is a small fishing village. We cooked our Thanksgiving meal one day early, because we thought tomorrow might be too hectic. We're planning on hiking up the mountain to the Botanical Gardens.
November 27, 2005 Falmouth Harbor, Antigua
Thanksgiving morning, we got a weather report forecasting building seas and wind over the next few days, so we decided to skip the Botanical Garden and make a run for Antigua. The sail up was a little rolly, but we were averaging 7 knots, and it was a beautiful day. We made our holiday family phone calls en route. We arrived in Falmouth Harbor and were pleasantly surprised to find our friends Steve and Joan on Chant Pagan anchored off the beach. We anchored next to them and they invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner. Before dinner, we went for a tour of the harbor in their dinghy, to see all the huge charter yachts that are starting to gather for a boat show here in December. Joan had ordered a rotisserie chicken from a local grocer for dinner, so we went in to shore to pick it up. We had a little time to kill, so we had a drink at the Mad Mongoose. It was a wonderful time! The next evening, we all went to Abracadabra in English Harbor for a fabulous Italian dinner. We highly recommend it to anyone visiting English or Falmouth Harbors. Yesterday, the four of us rented a car and toured the island. Our first stop was Half Moon Bay, where we took a walk on the spectacular white sand beach. Unfortunately, the beauty was interrupted by a huge defunct resort. What a waste! It was a little early for lunch, so we had a beer at the Tamarind on Brown's Bay. What a great atmosphere in which to sit and relax. We went to the famous Harmony Hall for lunch. The food was incredible! The view was gorgeous! And the service and hospitality were amazing! After our delectable and beautifully presented meals, Ricardo, the owner, gave us free shots of Lemoncello. Then we browsed through the art gallery there and purchased a hand painted photograph. It was a wonderful experience! We spent the rest of the afternoon driving around the north side of the island and into St. John's, the capitol of Antigua. Then we had Steve, Joan and Salty Dog aboard Windchime for burgers and Goombay Smashes.
November 28, 2005 Falmouth Harbor, Antigua
Today, we visited Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbor. The dockyard, then known as the Leeward Islands Station, was built in 1713 to service the British fleet in the Caribbean. English Harbor was chosen as the location, because it is an excellent hurricane hole, well protected and lined with mangrove trees. Captain Nelson was commander of the station from 1784 to 1787, which is why it is now known as Nelson's Dockyard. Many of the original structures are still standing, but today they house a marina, hotels, restaurants and shops. We spent the morning walking around the grounds and browsing through the museum. There are some beautiful yachts in the marina. We also saw the boat that was rowed solo all the way from England to Antigua (www.tinysatlanticrow.com) Then we enjoyed a delightful lunch on the terrace of the Admiral's Inn overlooking the harbor.
December 2, 2005 English Harbor, Antigua
Wednesday, we decided to get some boat jobs done. We installed a new igniter (which Debbie had brought to us) in our hot water heater, and for the first time in months, we had hot water!!! Then we decided to tackle the leaking rudder post stuffing box. We tightened down the very difficult to get to nuts as much as we could, but it wasn't enough. We needed someone with upper body strength to do the job properly. So Linda dinghied over to the yacht anchored near us and explained the situation. The fellow who owned the boat said gruffly, "We'll be over as soon as were done eating." About a half hour later, Jimmy, who happens to be from Jamestown, RI, not far from our homeport, came over to help us. After a lot of grunting and groaning and mild expletives, he was able to get a few turns on the offending bolts. He was very polite and gracious about helping us. It turns out, he owns a Tartan 30 that he restored from a salvage job. The next morning, Deb awoke at 6:00am only to see a dinghy floating by. She hopped in Sparky (her dinghy) and rescued it. Linda called the owners on the VHF, and they came to pick it up. It had disappeared from the dinghy dock the previous evening, and they were very happy to see it. Later that morning, we moved Windchime over to English Harbor and conducted sea trials on the tightened rudder stuffing box on the way. It was still not 100% dry, but it was greatly improved and good enough to get us home. We went to Nelson's Dockyard to mail a postcard and take advantage of the WiFi to publish the website. Who do we run into in the Post Office but Jimmy. We bought him a few beers and worked on the computer while he tried to write postcards between the chatting. We're hoping to hook up with him when we get back to CT and go sailing together. Last night, we went for one final meal at our favorite restaurant, Abracadabra. Once again, our meals were fantastic! What a treat! Today, we have to check out of the country, get some fuel, and then we're sailing overnight to St. Marteen.
December 11, 2005 Simpson Lagoon, St. Maarten N.A.
The overnight sail from Antigua was rolly, due to following seas, and we had to avoid a lot of traffic. The wind was greater than was forecast, and Windchime was flying. We had to keep reefing the sails to avoid entering Simpson Bay before daybreak. We dropped the hook just as the sun was coming up and, both exhausted, went to bed for a few hours. That afternoon, we checked in with customs and found out the Classic Yacht Regatta was in progress. We were going to move into the lagoon, but decided to stay out in the bay for one more day to watch the Sunday morning race. We enjoyed a gourmet breakfast of mimosas and bagels with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and capers as we watched the graceful classic yachts vying for starting position. It was a beautiful day for a race. That evening, we motored through the drawbridge into the lagoon. The wind has been blowing like a banshee all week, with gusts upto 50 knots! Consequently, we've been leery about leaving the boat for long periods of time. We've enjoyed a few tasty meals out, taken advantage of the free WiFi at Shrimpy's, run some errands, and caught up on some of the latest movies. We haven't been to the cinema since we were in St. Maarten last July, so we were very excited. Despite having DVDs onboard, we really missed going to the movies the past few months. The theaters here are so cool--not only do they have stadium seating, but they don't gouge you for popcorn and they even sell beer. In the past week, we've seen "Harry Potter 4," "Rent," and "Aeon Flux," and Separate Lies." We're also excited about having our IBM laptop back aboard. Smitty shipped it down to us here (duty free) after having it serviced in the States. Now the nav computer can go back to being just that. Last night, we had a great time sharing dinner with John and Ricarda (our friends from Drisana that we met in Martinique) at Philly's Pizza. Today, we went to France, but it was closed. That is, we took the long dinghy ride to Marigot, on the French side of the island. Almost all the stores were closed, so after walking around town, we had lunch and headed back. Tomorrow night, we're sailing the 17 hours to Peter Island in the BVIs.
December 24, 2005 Trellis Bay, Beef Island BVI
It's been quite some time since we made an entry into the log. That's because we've been busy busy busy since we arrived in Tortola. We've been having a wonderful time with our friend Myrt, who has a beautiful home here on Windy Hill. After checking in at West End, we had lunch with Myrt and Richard (who are just friends now) at Village Cay Marina. We spent the first two nights at Myrt's house. What a spectacular view! Both nights, she had dinner parties, so we could meet her friends. The first night was with Jim and Sheila, Paul and Betty, and Richard. Linda really hit it off with Jim. At one point, she complimented his boat, which we were anchored next to. He replied, "It's a pig. It sails sideways." Jim kept everyone's wine glass full, so we were all feeling pretty good by the end of the evening. The next evening, she had Nelson and Linda, and Peter (Myrt's friend) over. We had a great time with them too.
On Monday, Myrt and Peter sailed over to Jost Van Dyke with us, and we visited the legendary Foxy's. We were having a wonderful time until the sand fleas chased us off the beach. The next day, Peter took a ferry back to Tortola, and the three of us sailed to Red Hook, St. Thomas, so that we could do some shopping and Myrt could pick up Angie (her daughter) and Vince (Angie's fiancee) at the airport. We celebrated Deb's birthday while we were there with eggs benedict and bottomless mimosas at Molly Malone's. Deb had an encounter with a birthday barracuda later that day. Myrt bought a bunch of stuff, which she had dropped off at the marina for us to take out to the boat. So Linda and Deb, with the help of Barbara (the dockmaster at the marina) hauled the bags out to the dock. Deb went to get the dinghy to bring it around to load up. She was almost there when a 2 foot long barracuda jumped out of the water and hit her in the back of the neck! It then proceeded to fall into the dinghy under her feet, at which point, recognizing it as a barracuda, she started screaming and ran toward the bow of the boat, leaving the motor in gear. Linda and Barbara on the dock didn't see the barracuda jump out of the water, and couldn't figure out why Deb was jumping around. The dinghy hit the dock with Deb in the bow fending off. Barbara saw the barracuda and yelled, "Don't touch it!" The fish was flopping around like crazy trying to get out of the dinghy. Deb, still in the bow, turned off the motor with an oar, and a fisherman came over to help us out. He grabbed the barracuda in the middle and carefully returned it to the water. We drew quite a crowd on the dock while the barracuda was flopping around in the dinghy. Barbara said she's seen a lot of fish jump into boats before, but never a barracuda and never that big! Unfortunately, we didn't get a picture.
Wednesday, we sailed back to Tortola. Tim (Myrt's step son) and his wife Nikki arrived from England. The next day the whole group of us sailed over to the Bight on Norman Island to visit the "Willy T," a floating restaurant/bar on an old schooner. The Willy T is infamous, because of it's t-shirt challenge. If someone jumps off the platform, on the upper deck of the stern, naked, they get a free t-shirt. However, in order to collect your free t-shirt, after the dive, you have to walk back to the bar naked. They have a whole photo album of people who have done it. We had a very delicious lunch, then took our drinks to the upper deck. Tim was the only who dared jump from the platform, although he kept his swimming trunks on. Linda would have done it too, but she didn't have her bathing suit on.
Friday, Deb and Linda sailed Windchime to Trellis Bay on Beef Island. We visited Aragorn's studio and saw Gli-Gli, the largest Carib dugout canoe in existence. The whole gang, Myrt, Peter, Angie, Vince, Tim, and Nicki joined us for dinner at the Last Resort. The Last Resort is located on Bellamy Cay in Trellis Bay, and is famous for it's singing dogs and beer drinking donkey. The donkey they have now on the island does not drink beer though. The animal rights people got after the owner for feeding his donkey beer, and he was force to stop. Without it's daily beer ration, the donkey died a week later. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and were then entertained by the Singing Chef, who kept the place rockin' late into the night. We're currently on our way to Cane Garden Bay, which is near Myrt's house on Tortola, so we can spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with everyone.
Great boat name we saw in Trellis Bay: "Sailbad the Sinner"
December 29, 2005 Cane Garden Bay, Tortola BVI
We arrived in Cane Garden Bay on Christmas Eve in the late morning, at which point it started raining. Joan and Steve on Chant Pagan arrived a couple of hours later and came over to share some rum punch. At around 4:00, Myrt and Peter came down to pick us up. We stopped in at Myett's for another rum punch and to listen to KapEye for a few minutes, then headed up the steep winding road to Myrt's home. We had the best seafood chowder we've ever had in our lives for supper. Then we listened to Tim and Nikki, both members of the Cambridge University Music Society with wonderful voices, regale us with various songs.
We returned to the house the next day for Christmas dinner. Myrt prepared quite the feast: roast turkey, sweet potatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts, broccoli salad, carrots, and cranberry sauce. For dessert, we had traditional Christmas pudding with brandy butter and rum sauce--yumm! And, of course, we had Christmas crackers, complete with funny hats. We had dinner out on the deck and enjoyed a spectacular sunset during the meal.
We spent Boxing Day (that's the day after Christmas) patching all the leaks on Windchime, rebedding two chainplates and sealing the mast boot. While working out on deck, throughout the day, people kept stopping by to admire Windchime. It happens to us a lot, but today four different groups stopped along side. Linda even gave a tour of Windchime to a family who sail on a 23 mile lake in South Dakota. We went to Myett's for happy hour and Quito's for dinner. After dinner Quito sang and played guitar while we lounged outside on beach chairs listening to the music. Both the food and music were excellent! The next day, we patched a few gelcoat spots on the deck, and then were invited up to Myrt's for a barbecue. It was another wonderful evening. We said our goodbyes to Peter (who was going off on charter for 12 days) and Tim and Nikki (who were flying back to England in 3 days). We're taking Windchime to Virgin Gorda for a few days.
January 2, 2006 Trellis Bay, Beef Island BVI
Well, we never made it to Virgin Gorda. The seas were a bit rough, and Linda was getting a little seasick, so we decided to pull into Trellis Bay. After hearing about the planned New Year's Festivities here, we decided to stay. In the meantime, we discovered free WiFi and a great drink called the No see 'um at De Loose Mongoose. Two days ago, we watched a charter boat run up onto the reef in the bay. They had no clue how to get off, and only succeeded in getting themselves further stuck. Finally, Linda couldn't stand it anymore and went over to help them out. She was able to get them off by raising the mainsail. New Year's Eve, we stayed onboard Windchime, but didn't miss a thing. We drank Guinness, listened to three different bands, and had a perfect view of the fireballs in front of Aragorn's studio. At midnight, we were entertained by a fireworks display. It was a great way to ring in the New Year! The next morning, we had a big breakfast, complete with mimosas, of course. Late in the afternoon, we were down below, when we heard a knock on the hull. We were pleasantly surprised to see Peter! He came aboard for a beer and told us of the awful time he was having with his charter guests. Later that evening, he came back for a movie.
At the moment, we're trying to figure out where we want to go next. So many ports to choose from!
January 9, 2006 Charlotte Amalie Harbor, St. Thomas USVI
We returned to Cane Garden Bay to see Myrt and company one more time before taking off for the USVI. We enjoyed one last dinner at the house, and got to meet Joe and Lori, the couple who live in the guest house. The next day, as there was no wind, we motored to the USVI, stopping first in Cruz Bay, St.John to check in and then onto Red Hook Harbor, St. Thomas. We had spent a couple of weeks in Red Hook on our journey south, so we knew it well. Chant Pagan was on a mooring in Red Hook. We went to American Yacht Harbor to collect a couple of packages and then next door to Molly Malone's for lunch, where we promptly ran into Joan and Steve (from Chant Pagan). While eating lunch, we went through our latest mail drop (about 6 months worth) from Smitty and opened the Christmas package from Linda's kids. It was a huge mitten filled with a DVD and all kinds of goodies. It was a wonderful surprise! After lunch, we decided to tackle our laundry which had multiplied into five loads! We had dinner aboard Chant Pagan--a delicious experimental ham and cheese lasagna. The following day, we did some much needed grocery shopping at the Marina Market, and had Steve and Joan over for tacos. Friday, we motored over to Charlotte Amalie, the capital of St. Thomas, to meet a rigger who is to fix our boom furler. The mainsail has been nearly impossible to raise lately, so we wrote to Schaefer complaining about it. Much to their credit, they immediately hired a rigger to take care of us, and shipped several new replacement parts down to him. Unfortunately, one of the boxes was accidentally diverted to Germany, so we're still waiting. It should arrive today, and the rigger is coming by to check out the situation today.
Our new digital camera (a Konica Minolta Dimage X60), which we had purchased in December after our Canon died, was a real dog. We were not pleased with the quality of the images and night photography was impossible. Unfortunately, having limited space on the boat, we had thrown out the packaging, so we didn't think we'd be able to return it. We have to have a decent camera for producing the website, so we did some research on the internet, and determined the camera we wanted to buy. Our first day in Charlotte Amalie, we took our camera back to Boolchand's to see what they would do for us. We were pleasantly surprised when the manager gave us all but $50 back for our old camera, and sold us the camera we wanted, a Panasonic DMC FX-9, on sale. We're very happy with the new camera. After making the camera exchange, we had a yummy lunch and surfed the internet at Beans, Bytes, and Websites in the Royal Dane Mall. That evening, we had WiFi on the boat and enjoyed a conference call with both of Linda's kids free via Skype. Yesterday, we walked from downtown to the cruise ship area to pick up some things at Kmart (it's the only department store on the island). We just had a phone call from Myrt, to tell us she's going to be in Red Hook tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll be able to take the dollar bus down to see her and pick up some packages she has for us. We'll have to see how it goes today with the rigger.
January 14, 2006 Red Hook, St. Thomas USVI
Jay and Ben, the riggers, came out to Windchime on Monday to investigate our boom-furler problems. Ben went up the mast and discovered a crack in the top section of track which caused it to bend in and catch the sail. Schaefer actually sent us a section of track to replace the lower portion. However, that piece is 10 feet long and the top section that needs to replaced is 15 feet long. So now we're waiting for them to ship the 15 foot long track piece. Also, the new solid boom vang they sent is a little too long, so Jay's going to cut that down to fit. So now we wait.
Tuesday, we got up early to go to Beans, Bytes, and Website for breakfast and to use the computers, but our little Johnson outboard wouldn't start! That's a first for this motor. So we called the only place on the island that works on Johnsons, located at Independent Boatyard, and they told us to bring it in first thing the next morning. The only problem was, the heavy duty outboard lock we had put on the motor 7 months ago was rusted shut, so we couldn't get the motor off the transom. So Deb spent the morning hammering and prying and swearing and finally got the lock off. She also got the motor to run for a short while at a time. We woke up at 6am, and motored a very choppy and rolly four miles to Independent Boatyard. We had to anchor in Jersey Harbor about a mile away from the yard. Thank goodness the motor started up! It would have been a difficult row in over 6 foot swells. As we got closer though, it started loosing power, and about 50 feet from the dock, it died. We rowed the rest of the way in, pulled Sparky (our dinghy) up on the shore and took the Johnson to the repair shop. In the meantime, we decided this was a good opportunity to wash the bottom of the dinghy, which had become caked with slime and goo. That took a couple of hours. Our dinghy cleanser didn't do a thing. We finally had to resort to bleach and scrapers to remove the scum. Exhausted, we decided to pass the time at Bottoms Up, the bar in the boatyard. It was a great place! The bar is made of the transom of an old wooden boat. Years ago it was the whole boat, but only the transom is left now. It's surrounded by mangroves with hummingbirds flitting about, and Deanna, the bartender, couldn't have been nicer. We had lunch there--the food is very good--and a few beers and then headed back to the repair shop to pick up our little motor. When we got back to Windchime, the swells were even higher than when we left, so we decided to move over to nearby Christmas Cove. What a lovely anchorage! It's protected by St. James Island, which is uninhabited, and the water is clear, clean, and the most beautiful shade of turquoise. We spent a couple of days there relaxing and swimming. Today, we went to Red Hook to do some chores--laundry, grocery shopping, refueling. Shortly after we arrived this morning, Linda was throwing some moldy bagels overboard and yelled to Deb, "Come quickly! There's a shark under the boat!" It actually turned out to be a three foot long remora, but it sure looked like a shark. It has a big oval-shaped sucker on its head that it uses to attach itself to sharks, so that it can eat the shark's leftovers. It's been swimming around the boat all day. Myrt and Richard, who are anchored in Charlotte Amalie, took the dollar bus over to have lunch with us. Sadly, we said our last goodbyes to them. Tomorrow, we're heading back to Christmas Cove, where we'll probably hang out until we hear from the rigger.
January 26, 2006 Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas USVI
We enjoyed Christmas Cove for over a week, while waiting for our new track to come in. Actually, it never showed up. So Linda called Schaeffer 2 days ago, and told them we've been held up long enough by this, and that they had better do something about it! Their solution was to cut a 15 foot section in half and overnight it to us. The riggers received the track yesterday, and are installing it today. In the meantime, Christmas Cove was wonderful. Clear, blue water, just like a swimming pool. Nothing to do but swim, read, and do sudokus. Linda got to rest her back which had been bothering her since she helped that boat get off the reef in Trellis Bay. Numerous boats bring tourists in to snorkel there, but we couldn't figure out why, because the coral reef is dead. There are a lot of nice fish to look at though, and a couple of stingrays hang out there. We also saw a huge sea turtle! We returned to Charlotte Amalie yesterday and anchored in Elephant Bay on Water Island. On our way there, we got a hail from Myrt and Richard aboard Labe Yoseph, who were also headed to Elephant Bay, inviting us to dinner. They had some other friends over as well, and we all had a great time. We've given up saying goodbye to Myrt and Richard, since we keep running into them. This morning we went into Crown Bay Marina, so the riggers could work on the mast track. We are not marina people but we are enjoying this one, it's a very nice, clean and friendly place.
February 6, 2006 Ensenada Honda, Culebra Puerto Rico
The day before we left St. Thomas, we went for a trip on the Atlantis submarine. It was very cool! The sub dove down to 90 feet on the coral reefs off Turtle Island. We saw a bunch of sharks and a lot of other fish, as well as coral. Certain colors, like red, are absorbed at that depth, so anything red appeared purple. It was strange. There was a film crew from the Travel Channel aboard our trip, so you might see us lurking in the background on TV someday.
Last Thursday, we sailed to Culebra. Actually, we mostly motored, since there was no wind. We did, however, get to try out our repaired mainsail furling system for the first time, and it performed flawlessly--YEAH!! Culebra is beautiful and unspoiled--with the exception of one failing mega-resort. It is one of the Spanish Virgin Islands, the other being Vieques, and is part of Puerto Rico. It used to be used by the U.S. military for bombing practice. We stayed on a free mooring behind the reef outside Dakity Harbor for a couple days, then we moved closer to town anchoring behind Cayo Pirata in Ensenada Honda. We visited Dewey, pretty much the only town on the island, and scoped out the bars for someplace to watch the Superbowl. We found a TV at the Dinghy Dock, but Mamacitas, with it's big screen television, was the place. We got there early the next day to get a table near the television and passed the time playing cribbage with Steve, one of the locals. Captain Pat, a local Indian guide filled us in on all the places we shouldn't miss. They had great chili, almost as good as the chili we get at the Dutch Tavern back home. It was a good game, despite some questionable calls by the refs. Today, we spent some more time in town and went for a walk.. Culebra is home to a lot of young talented artist so it makes for interesting shopping. Tomorrow, we're going to explore the rest of the island in an electric car we've rented for the day.
February 10, 2006 Ensenada Honda, Culebra Puerto Rico
Our tour of the island was fun. The electric car was a riot! It's top speed was 25mph, and on steep hills, Deb had to get out and push it. We drove out to see Playa Zoni first. Zoni is a beautiful secluded beach which is also a protected turtle refuge. Next, we visited Playa Flamenco, touted to be one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. It is named for the Flamingoes that winter in the nearby lagoon, but we didn't spot any. There are a couple of tanks there, left behind by the U. S. military, who used it for bombing practice from 1901 to 1975. Fortunately, the gorgeous white sand beach survived. There is a very nice campground, right on the beach, that would be a great place to stay, if we ever return to Culebra by plane.
The next day, we sailed to Culebrita and picked up a mooring in Bahia de Tortuga--yet another incredible beach! As we pulled up to our mooring, we noticed our buddy Steve's boat, Saraband, on the adjacent mooring. He had brought four college seniors (John, Courtney, Kim, and Mike), whom he had met in town, out to the island for the day. They invited us over for rum punch, and we had a great time. It's a small world! It turns out that Steve used to live on the same road in Westford, VT that Linda's brother and his family now live. And the four kids were from Middlebury College in VT, which is where Linda's brother went to college. Also, Kim had the same camera as ours which recently died, so we sold her our underwater housing. They borrowed our snorkel gear and had fun taking underwater shots of each other. One less thing to sell on eBay when we get home:-). Overnight, a northerly swell developed, making the harbor very rolly, so we headed back to Dewey. After we run some errands in town, we plan to go back to Culebrita to enjoy the Baths and hike up to the lighthouse.
February 17, 2006 Green Beach, Vieques Puerto Rico
The day after we wrote the last entry, we found out that Linda's brother, John, and his wife, Wendy, were coming for a visit on the 27th of this month. We're going to sail around Culebra with them, so we decided to sail to Vieques instead of returning to Culebrita. Like Culebra, Vieques is a lovely, unspoiled island with gorgeous, palm-lined, white sand beaches and clear azure water. It also shares Culebra's history as a training ground for U.S. Navy bombing missions. The east half of the island was under U.S. military jurisdiction until 2003, when local protests forced them to leave. Vieques is known for its bioluminescent bays, some of the best in the world, and the wild horses that roam free on the island. We spent our first four nights anchored in Sun Bay, a large circular bay with a mile long perfect beach. After the first night, we had the entire bay to ourselves. We enjoyed swimming and reading and just relaxing on the boat. Monday we dinghied to the other side of the bay and hiked to the town of Esperanza. The surf was quite high when we landed and we were turned sideways as we beached. We had to jump out quickly and pull the dinghy up on the beach to avoid being swamped or flipped over! This was all witnessed by a woman vacationing from Pennsylvania (Emily) and she asked us if we were pirates. We said yes and that we had come to Vieques to pillage the Island. We talked with her for a while and found out that Emily and her husband have been vacationing in the Spanish Virgin Islands for a decade. They truly are beautiful islands. Once in town, we explored the main street, strolling down the esplanade along the beach. We had a delicious lunch at Banana's, since it was the only place open, and popped in to see the museum, which happened to be closed--ooops. When we got back to the dinghy, the waves had calmed down a bit, but we still had to be quick and carefully time the launching. Linda had to push us through the surf and got soaked during the process. We decided it would be better to anchor in Puerto Real off Esperanza for future trips into town. Mick Jagger's yacht was anchored nearby. The Rolling Stones were in Puerto Rico for a concert, so there's a good chance he was aboard, but we never spotted him. Thursday night we took a tour of a Bioluminescent Bay, also known as Mosquito Bay, on an electric pontoon boat. It was magnificent! This bay has a very high concentration of dynoflagellates--single-cell microorganisms that emit light when disturbed. The fish darting around in the water left glowing S-shaped trails behind them. Several people went for a swim, and wherever they paddled, the water lit up, creating the illusion of angel's wings. It was wild! Unfortunately, we weren't able to capture it with our digital camera. Yesterday, we took a taxi, or publico as they are called here, to the other town on the island (and the capital), Isabel Segunda. We went to a great little bar called Al's Mer Azure right on the water, and had a pizza delivered there for lunch. Then we hiked up to the lighthouse. Time was running short, so we did a little grocery shopping at the Super Mercado and took a taxi back to Esperanza. Today, we sailed around to the northwest corner of Vieques and anchored off Green Beach. We're the only boat here, and the view of Puerto Rico and the El Yunque Rain Forest is spectacular.
February 19, 2006 Bahia Tamarindo, Culebra Puerto Rico
We spent the past two days sailing from Vieques to Culebra via Cayo Obispo, off Fajardo on the east coast of Puerto Rico. The trip from Vieques to Cayo Obisopo was marked by very little wind, so we had to motor sail most of the way. On the way we sighted a humpback whale! Then in the anchorage of Cayo Obispo, we saw dophins and manatee. The marina on the island was disappointing. Encouraged by our guidbook, we had gone there with hopes of doing our laundry, refilling our diesel cans, and doing a little provisioning. However, we were able to accomplish none of the above there. About the only service they offer is a free ferry ride to the mainland. Today, we had a wonderful sail back to Culebra--15 knots of wind and fair seas. We saw another whale on the way, and this one was breaching and waving its fin! We also saw a school of dolphins and several frigate birds and brown pelicans (which are endangered). We picked up a mooring in Bahia Tamarindo on the east side of Culebra. The snorkeling here is fantastic! Our first time out, we saw a skate ray, a 4 foot barracuda, and tons of other fish. The coral was also impressive, with a lot of fan coral (yellow, tan and purple)and brain coral. Oh, I almost forgot--while swimming, we discovered that our skeg is gone! The skeg is a streamlined piece of fiberglass in front of the rudder. It was removed and reinstalled in Carriacou last summer when the rudder was dropped. We think we can make it home safely without it, but we're going to make some inquiries. Once again, we have the anchorage to ourselves. We enjoyed a glass of white wine while watching the sun go down. It's so beautiful and peaceful here.
March 14, 2006 Puerto Patillis, Puerto Rico
It's been quite some time since our last entry. We've been busy with visitors, a leaky rudder, a horrendous haul-out, and touring with old friends. It's had its ups and downs.
John (Linda's brother) and his wife Wendy arrived on February 27th for five days of fun in the sun. We picked them up in Fajardo, and that same day hooked up with Doris and Tom on Exit Strategy (friends we met in the Bahamas last year). Once we got John and Wendy aboard, we motored, along with Exit Strategy, to Cayo Icacos. We rafted up with Exit Strategy in some very rolly seas, so that they could transfer 50 gallons of water to us. We were out, and our water maker is not working so well. The six of us had sundowners aboard Windchime that evening. The next day, we had a wonderful sail to Culebra. We anchored in a bay that we thought was Tamarindo, where Linda and Deb had found some awesome snorkeling the week before. However, there was a fire on the hillside that was blowing smoke and ash onto the boat. So we moved around the point to the next harbor, which in fact, turned out to be Bahia Tamarindo. We had a great view of the dump on the hill, and it was a bit rolly, but we were out of the smoke. Then next day, we returned to the other harbor and picked up a DNR (Department of Natural Resources) mooring. John and Wendy swam ashore in 6' swells and hiked over to Playa Flamenco. They tracked down Gwen, their son Tyler's girlfriend, and her parents, Kevin and Nedde, who happened to be camping out there. It's a small world! In the meantime, Linda and Deb stayed on boat watch, because of the huge swells rolling into the harbor. When John and Wendy got back, they tried snorkeling, but the visibility was nil. We sailed to Dakity Bay to spend the night, then moved out the next day to Puerto Manglar, where we picked up a DNR mooring behind the reef. We went snorkeling, then took a sundowner dinghy cruise around the lovely mangrove lined harbor. Bright and early Friday morning, we sailed to Bahia de Tortuga on Culebrita and hiked to the Baths to take a dip. The Baths are pools of water formed by huge boulders, similar to those in Virgin Gorda. Some are very calm, and some have waves crashing in that create a jacuzzi effect. John and Wendy hiked up the hill to the old lighthouse, while Deb and Linda went for a swim and prepared lunch. Then we sailed back to Ensenada Hondo on Culebra. We had plans to meet Gwen, Kevin and Nedde at Mamacita's for dinner. It was a great time! As usual, we ran into Steve at the bar so everyone got to meet him. We awoke at 5AM the next morning, so Wendy and John could catch the 6:30am ferry back to Fajardo.
After seeing them off, we sailed to Cayo Santiago, also known as Monkey Island. Doris and Tom joined us there, and we had dinner aboard Exit Strategy. Monkey Island is home to the Caribbean Primate Research Center, and is inhabited by over 700 rhesus monkeys. We couldn't see any from where we were anchored, so we took our rum drinks and the dinghy in for a closer look. We spotted three monkeys--two small females and one large male.
The next morning, we left early for Puerto Patillas. Shortly into the trip, Deb did a quick engine check and noticed a river of water coming from the aft end of the boat! The bilge pump was keeping up with it, but went on every 27 seconds. Deb tracked the leak down to the rudder post, but it wasn't coming in through the packing gland. It was gushing up through the rudder post! Linda raised Exit Strategy on the VHF and explained our situation. We headed for the nearest port with a travel-lift, which happened to be Palmas Del Mar about 4 miles away. Exit Strategy changed course to follow us there. We anchored in the harbor and Tom dove on the rudder. He couldn't see any major problems, but thought there might be a leak in the area of the rudder around the pintle bar. Tom said he could feel a void behind the pintel bar but could not see it. Windchime only had water comung out of the rudder post under way, when stopped the water would stay in the rudder post at water line level. Linda called Marina Del Mar Shipyard to see about getting hauled out, but it was Sunday, and no one there spoke English. So we spent the night on the hook. We got hauled the next afternoon. Doris and Tom graciously invited us to stay with them on Exit Strategy ( which is a 39-foot catamaran). We were very grateful, because Palmas Del Mar is a very ritzy neighborhood, and it would have cost us $165/day for a hotel. We examined Windchime's rudder and discovered holes where the rudder sits on the pintle bar. Skip, the fiberglass guy in the yard, wanted to fill the holes by pouring epoxy down the inside of the rudder post. We didn't think that was such a hot idea, so we called Tartan to get their advice. They said "absolutely not!" The next morning, Skip was busy with another boat, so Linda and Tom cut a hole in the side of the rudder, near the leak to check it out. After digging out all the wet foam, we discovered a huge slit directly behind the pintle bar, where the two halves of the rudder were put together, as well as several gaps around the washer the rudder post sits on. We made plans for Skip and his right-hand man, Frank, to patch it. Frank did a great job with the repair, and now it's better than new. Unfortunately, we didn't stop there. We made arrangements for Skip to clean up the area where the skeg had fallen off, which was now a mess of raw uneven fiberglass, and to build a small three-inch "skeg" there to protect the area on the rudder where the leak had occurred. We figured the leak was probably aggravated by water forced in to the pintle bar area of the rudder, due to the missing skeg. Skip said it would be an eight hour job.
The next day, the four of us left Skip to build the stubby skeg and headed off to Old San Juan. It's a historic part of town filled with galleries, monuments, and forts, great restaurants, and cobblestone streets. We had a delicious Puerto Rican lunch at Spanglish--a place recommended to us by John and Wendy, who had visited Old San Juan on the day they flew home. After lunch, we visited the largest fort in the city, El Morro. It was built by the Spanish in 1539 to defend theirs interests in the Caribbean. El Morro offers spectacular views of the city and the Atlantic. Next, we walked by La Perla, the colorful slum of Old San Juan, to the other major fort, San Cristobal. Tired and thirsty, we stopped for a drink before heading back to Palmas Del Mar. We checked on Windchime before dinghying out to the boat. the skeg area had been cleaned and prepped, but there was no new structure.
Day four of the haul out, we decided to go to El Yunque, the tallest mountain on the island and home to the Caribbean Rain Forest. We stopped by Windchime on the way out, and Skip was there with an almost full size skeg cut out of foam. He had said it wouldn't be that much more time to make a full skeg (althought this one was about 6 inches short), so we let it go. We went to El Yunque and drove to the top for a hike up to an observation tower. The trail was uphill all the way through the rain forest. The weather was cool, so that helped. Forty-five minutes later, we arrived at the tower, and the view was spectacular! After that, we did some shopping in Fajardo.
Day five, we decided to stay close by and get our laundry and grocery shopping done. We arrived ashore around 10:00am, and checked on the the progress being made on our skeg. At this point the new skeg was glassed on. Skip informed us that they had 42 hours into the job between him and Frank, which we thought was totally outrageous!, and that it would be another 10 hours to finish the job. They had only been working on it for two and a half days, and Frank was the one doing all the work, yet they were billing us for two men for the whole time! Keep in mind that this yard bills at a rate of $60/ hour. We confronted Skip about it, but he conveniently forgot that he said it would only take eight hours! We took the dispute to Harry, the yard manager, and he took Skip's side of course and did nothing to help resolve the problem. He suggested they could put us back in the water right then and there with the raw fiberglass exposed, which was not an option! Skip pulled Frank off the job and went to lunch. We were extremely upset that this $500 job had turned into a $3000 job! We had to finish the job, so Linda went into the Barracuda, where Skip was having lunch, and negotiated him down to 40 hours for the whole job. It was going cost us $2000 more than it should have, but they had us over a barrel. We couldn't get back in the water without them. It was a very expensive lesson, but we'll never have work done on the boat again without getting a written estimate first.
Day six was Sunday, and we decided to visit Ponce, which is nearly clear across the island. We took the scenic route through the mountains to get there. Ponce is an old colonial town rich in the arts. We parked the car in Plaza Las Delicias and saw Our Lady of Guadeloupe Cathedral and the red-and-black striped old firehouse, Parque de Bombas. Then we hopped on the free trolley tour of the city which took us by the oldest tree in Puerto Rico (1000 years old) and numerous monuments and historic buildings. It made two stops, one at the Sports Museum and the other at a cemetery where the most important citizens of Ponce are laid to rest. The caretaker of the Sports Museum was very enthusiastic and led us on a tour where we learned all about famous Puerto Rican baseball players--including the woman's teams that played during WWII. It was not a place we would have visited had we not gone on the tour, but it was fun. While we were there, Linda went to the restroom and got stuck in the stall. Another woman on the tour, Carmen, heard her trying to get out and said, "Stand back." Then she threw herself against the door and forced it open. Linda was free! After the tour, we had lunch at a fabulous restaurant just off the square. We drove north of town to visit the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center, which is an archeological site where ruins of an ancient Igneris ceremonial center were discovered. The Igneris were pagans, and this site was visited by them on certain days of the year, such as solstices and equinoxes, to pay homage to their gods. The site was dotted by numerous calabash trees, which Linda had been looking for ever since we left Bequia. She stealthily stuffed a couple of small calabash in her pockets. Then Doris had the bright idea of asking the guide if we could take some of the calabash that had fallen on the ground. He said "sure, go crazy." So they both collected numerous gourds which proved to be quite heavy on the walk back to the car. We watched a movie about the site then walked through the museum, and paid a visit to the gift shop. The road on the ride back to Palmas Del Mar was shared with what seemed like every motorcycle on the island--and some of them had attitude. We got to Exit Strategy, and Doris put together some snacks and taught us how to play Farkle, a great dice game. Tom kept Farkling (which is bad) all night, and Linda won.
Day seven was again spent getting stuff done--more laundry, putting bottom paint on the rudder repair, downloading music to Doris' new MP3 player, returning the rental car, and paying our yard bill. As if we hadn't had a bad enough time with this yard already, they presented us a bill for $3500 and then refused to take our credit card! They wanted us to pay CASH! We couldn't believe it! Harry said it was nothing personal and blamed it on someone who had bilked them out of $36K by canceling payment on his card, but it was definitely because we were disgruntled customers. We told them that was the ONLY way we had to pay the bill, which was true. Finally, they called the owner, and he allowed us to pay by credit card--but not without first taking xeroxes of the front and back of our credit card and of Linda's driver's license. This was by far the worst experience we have ever had with a boatyard--and we've had some bad experiences. We highly recommend anyone cruising in Puerto Rico to steer clear of Marina Del Mar Shipyard. Tom and Doris said that Harry smacks of SOB (Son Of Boss) syndrome.
We got launched this morning and left immediately for Puerto Puntillas. It's a lovely anchorage, but not great holding in grass. After two tries of anchoring with our Bruce, we finally resorted to our Spade anchor. It held on the first try, as usual. We will just spend the night and leave for Salinas in the morning.
March 22, 2006 Salinas, Puerto Rico
We've spent the last week in Salinas waiting for a mail drop, reprovisioning, and repairing some canvas. It's a beautiful, well-protected harbor--the only problem being the ash that covers the boat every morning from the burning of the sugar cane fields. We've met so many nice people here. Clyde, our neighbor at anchor, has been a wealth of information and even gave us a ride to get groceries. Marianne, the owner of Tradewinds Sails and Canvas, did a fantastic job replacing the zippers on our dodger and connector and introduced us to her very friendly cockatoo, Zooey. She also fixed one of our burgees for us for no charge--a very nice surprise! The folks at the Cruiser's Galley, the internet cafe, are great. It's been wonderful place to hang out and grab a bite while we surf the internet. The marina has a nice dinghy dock and cooks up a mean BBQ on Friday nights. It's been fun, but it's time to move on. Provided our mail comes in today, we're heading out to Gilligan's Island tomorrow.
March 23, 2006 Salinas, Puerto Rico
We got our mail drop yesterday and were all ready to leave this morning at 9am. Everything was properly stowed for sailing, the engine was running, and Deb went forward to haul up the anchor. In the meantime, Linda plugged in the remote VHF mic and remote autopilot at the helm as she always does, but the autopilot remote was not working. Hold everything! After some troubleshooting, we determined it was the remote unit, itself, that was not functioning--which was no big surprise, because we're on our third unit in 4 years. So Linda called Raymarine, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was still under warranty. Now we just have to wait for them to overnight us (which actually takes 2-3 days out of the US) a new remote unit. Oh well, there are worse places in which to be stuck.
March 26, 2006 Salinas, Puerto Rico
This morning, we were tuning the rig, getting ready for our passage, and we noticed manatees swimming in the harbor. Clyde told us it's a family of four that live in the area. We got in our dingy to get a closer look. They were swimming around the sunken sailboat, so we tied up to that, along with another dinghy full of cruisers who had the same idea. We sat there for close to an hour while they swam around us.
April 1, 2006 Boqueron, Puerto Rico
Our remote autopilot arrived on Tuesday, and we sailed for Boqueron, stopping for the night at Gilligan's Island. It used to be called Cayo Aurora, after a slave that escaped from a farm on the mainland. She swam to the island and lived like Robinson Crusoe until she died at a ripe old age. Locals started calling it Gilligan's Island after the TV show, because it looked like the island on the show, and one of the fishermen who hosted pig roasts there looked like Bob Denver. We arrived in Boqueron on Thursday and waited for a weather window to make the passage to Turks and Caicos. Our first morning, we walked two miles to the Post Office to mail our old remote back to Raymarine. On the way back, we went down the wrong road, adding an extra mile to our trip. We were startled by a barking dog immediately behind us. Fortunately, it's owner had it on a leash. Then about 2 minutes later, a pit bull with blood on it's side came rushing across the street. We froze, hoping it would leave us alone. The owner called it back, and we escaped unscathed, except for the muddy paw print on Linda's foot. We continued on, a little shaken, and ran across a nature preserve near the coast. We followed the wooden walkway in the swamp. It was delightful. Today, while doing routine maintenance on our engine, we discovered our water pump belt was damaged. We were shocked to find that the spare belt we had was the wrong size. Auto parts are non-existent in Boqueron, so we hired Raul and his van "Rolling Thunder" to help us find a new belt. He took us to a tractor place way out in the country surrounded by defunct sugar cane fields and decaying sugar processing plants. Success! They had the belt we needed. However, they only had one, so we still don't have a good spare. Raul dropped us off at Galloway's in Boqueron, where we ate lunch before heading back to Windchime to put the engine back together.
It looks like the weather will be calming down enough for us to leave for Turks and Caicos on Monday. We're moving up to Mayaguez tomorrow to stage for the Mona Passage crossing. We're buddy-boating with a couple we met in Boqueron, Peter and Diane aboard Pearl (a Bristol 40).
April 3, 2006 N 19o28.8 W 68o59.8
So far, this is the best passage we've ever made! 15 knots of wind on the beam and a favorable current. We left at 6am this morning and have covered more than 70 miles so far! (It's almost 5pm now) Unfortunately, we've left our buddy boat in the dust, as they are traveling a full knot slower than we are. If we can keep up this rate, we're hoping to make it to Mayaguana or Acklins Island by either Wednesday or Thursday. The weather is supposed to be good through Friday--at least that's today's forecast.
April 4, 2006 N 20o10.7 W 70o23.6
We're currently north of the Dominican Republic. After sailing along at 7+ knots all day and all night, the wind finally gave out. So much for the Trades! We're motor-sailing now and plan to make landfall in Turks and Caicos tomorrow afternoon. We're hoping to make it to West Caicos, but may have to stop sooner if we can't keep up the speed. It's really magnificent out here at night. Nothing but the sound of Windchime whooshing through the water. The half moon is beautiful, it's reflection casting a trail of light on the water, into which Windchime sails. It takes on a rich ocher hue as it sets in the early morning hours. The stars are incredible! The total darkness after the moon sets allows one to see more stars than imaginable, and phosphorescent microorganisms create their own little light show our wake.
April 5, 2006 N 21o31.3 W 72o42.2
Guess what! We're having such a comfortable passage that we decided not to stop at the Turks and Caicos, but to keep moving NW. We're currently on a heading for the south end of Acklins Island. We'll be passing about 10 miles north of Hogsty Reef around midnight. Still experiencing light winds. We actually put up the spinnaker today, but the wind died immediately, and we weren't able to fly it. It's starting to pick up now though--10 knots on the starboard beam--and we're sailing again. Good thing, because we're running low on fuel. If we're not too tired and the wind cooperates, we'll probably buzz right by Acklins and go to Long Island (the one in the southern Bahamas, not the one in NY :-). It looks like it's going to be another lovely night.
April 6, 2006 Acklin Island, BAHAMAS
We just rounded the Castle Island at the south end of Acklin and are headed or Long Island. Now the plan is to sail overnight around the east coast of Long Island and then into George Town, Great Exuma tomorrow. It's absolutely gorgeous out here, and we're having a great time! Winds are still light, but our spinnaker has us moving nicely along at close to 6 knots.
April 7, 2006 George Town, Exumas BAHAMAS
After sailing 606 nautical miles nonstop, we're on our final approach to George Town. It's been such a wonderful passage, we almost hate to stop, but we need to check in. Windchime made tremendous time last night sailing up the coast of Long Island, and we will be arriving sooner than we thought. Our goal is to check in with customs and refuel today, then head up to Black Point, Great Guana tomorrow (about 50 miles). We're hoping to hook up with our friends John and Connie on Miribar somewhere in the Exumas.
April 8, 2006 Black Point, Great Guana Cay, Exumas BAHAMAS
We couldn't get out of George Town fast enough! After spending the last two months in Puerto Rico, where everyone is friendly and helpful, it was a shock to encounter rudeness and disrespect. Elizabeth Harbor is beautiful--light turquoise water and plenty of room for everyone. We anchored just outside Kidd Harbor and launched the dinghy. Linda had to go check in with customs by herself, as only the captain is allowed ashore until checked in. The ladies at customs were very nice, and after paying the exorbitant $300 cruising fee, she was done. Then she went to immigration. There was a sign on the door that said, "Do not open this door. Knock and wait for a response. If there is no response, go to the airport." So Linda knocked and there was no answer. She asked the cleaning lady if the immigration officer is in and she tried knocking to no avail. She did say that he was still around because his car was in the parking lot. Finally, the officer arrived, carrying his lunch, and took his time checking our papers, ridiculing Linda for a small mistake she had made on the form. OK, so now we were legal. Linda stoped at a small grocery on the way back to the dingy. There was a young Bahamian man blocking the narrow aisle Linda wanted to go down. The woman stocking the shelves to whom he was talking asked him to move. His response: "She can wait." Linda couldn't believe it! When she got back to Windchime, we loaded the dinghy for the diesel run. No one was on the fuel dock, so we went to the nearby Esso station. They said the dockmaster would be back soon. Well, he came by a few minutes later, looked snidely at our seven 5-gallon diesel jugs, and said we would have to get them filled at the gas station, and kept on walking. Once again, we couldn't believe it! We--and everybody else--routinely refill jugs at the fuel dock. So Linda got a boat cart and took the jugs over to gas station, where a very nice Bahamian fellow helped her out with them. He told her the dockmaster is a jerk who they can't fire, because he's Haitian and would cry discrimination. $143 later, our jugs were full of diesel fuel, and we returned to Windchime. We were planning on going out for dinner, but after spending $443 and enduring several insults, we decided we'd had enough of Geroge Town. So we grilled some steaks for dinner, and settled down for our first uninterrupted night of sleep in 5 days. Around midnight, a bunch of drunken guys from a neighboring boat returned from an evening of partying ashore and were screaming and hollering. Both Deb and Linda were awoken and could not get back to sleep before reading for a couple of hours. We got up early this morning and sailed 53 miles north to Black Point, Great Guana Cay. The wind and waves were directly off our stern, so it was a very rolly ride, but it was another beautiful day. We got an email from our friends John and Connie today. They're in Wardrick Wells for the next week or so. We have a couple of stops to make between here and there, but hopefully we'll catch up to them soon.
April 13, 2006 Wardrick Wells, Exumas BAHAMAS
While in Black Point, we went to see the Garden of Eden--well worth a visit! Willy, the creator of the Garden, gave us an hour long tour explaining his visions of the various sculptures made of drift wood, stone and shell. He told us about the process of creating the statues: He sees a shape in the clouds, be it a snake or a woman or a dolphin. Then he searches in the woods for a piece of wood or a rock that looks like his vision, brings it back to his garden, and orients the object to fit his vision. Some of the pieces look like other things when viewed from other directions. It's really quite amazing and beautiful. In addition to the sculptures, his garden has every variety of fruit and nut tree found in the Bahamas. We left there with hands full of papayas, guavas, tomatoes, and tamarinds. We went to Lorraine's for a delicious lunch of Grouper and fries. That afternoon, we motored 8 miles north to Staniel Cay, dropping the anchor in Big Majors Spot right before a huge squall enveloped us with 30 knot winds and horizontal rain.
Staniel Cay is the sight of Thunderball Grotto, named after the James Bond movie that filmed in the cave. After having lunch at Staniel Cay Yacht Club, we went snorkeling in Thunderball Grotto. Unfortunately, we don't have an underwater housing for our new camera, so we couldn't take any pictures. It was really quite spectacular! The cave entrance had about a foot and a half of head room. Once in, the sunshine streamed through a hole in the ceiling illuminating the cave. Tropical fish were abundant in the cave and swam all around us. It was probably the best snorkeling experience we've ever had. When we got back to Windchime, we decided we had time to make the 17 mile run up to Wardrick Wells, so we hurriedly prepared to take off. We flew northward inside the Great Bahama Bank up the chain of islands at 7+ knots under genoa alone, and anchored south of Emerald Island just ahead of another big squall.
The big squall never went away. We've had 25-30 knot winds and heavy rains for two days now. Despite the weather, we were determined to see our friends John and Connie on Mirabar, who were moored on the other side of Warderick Wells in Pirate's Lair. Yesterday we dinghied to nearby Beryl Beach, John and Connie hiked to the beach and the four of us went back to Windchime to visit and catch up with each other. It was wonderful seeing them again! Today, we plan to visit the Park Headquarters, which has a little museum, and maybe hike over to Boo Boo Hill. Tomorrow, we're heading out for a three-day passage to Florida. We plan to leave at first light.
April 17, 2006 Fort Pierce, Florida USA
Our last day in Wardrick Wells, we hiked up to Boo Boo Hill, named for the ghosts from a nearby shipwreck said to haunt the place. It was still blowing 25 knots and raining on and off, so we got a little wet. It is the custom to leave a momento from your boat on the hill, but we didn't partake. The view from Boo Boo Hill revealed the incredible beauty of Wardrick Wells. The island is laced with hiking trails, beaches, and amazing snorkeling spots. We'd loved to have spent more time there, but we couldn't afford to miss this weather window to Florida.
At first light on the 15th, we began our passage to Florida. It is recommended that the crossing of Grand Bahamas Bank be done in good light in order to steer around coral heads, which are quite numerous in certain spots. Our entire crossing was overcast and rainy, so we couldn't see a thing. Luckily, we didn't hit anything. When we rounded New Providence Island, the waves hit us. We were beating upwind and pounding into 6-10 foot seas, frequently burying the bow. At one point, the straps holding the full 6-gallon gas can on deck broke loose. Deb went up to tie it down as waves kept splashing over her. We got hit with one enormous wave that covered the whole deck and sent water rushing under the dodger and onto our nav table down below. What a mess! The charts and nav computer and everything else in the area got soaked. Fortunately, our nav computer is a Panasonic Toughbook which is waterproof. Deb flushed it with some fresh water and dried it off as best she could, and it never stopped working. It was a very bumpy and wet ride for most of the night, but in the early morning hours, it began to calm down. Not only did the seas flatten out, but we lost all our wind. We had to motor most of the way through Northwest Providence Channel, but we enjoyed the peace of not being jostled about. The traffic picked up as we cleared Grand Bahamas Island, and it was a stressful night keeping track of it all. A strange thing happened. We were both awake tracking a rather large freighter that was on a collision course with us. We could see it's lights--a red in the front and white in the back, and our radar had a MARPA fix on it. It was moving at 15 knots toward us. We slowed down, so that it would pass in front of us. It was about a half mile away, about to cross over our path, when it suddenly disappeared! Just before it disappeared, the radar said it was doing 36 knots. It was eerie. Then later that night, the radar picked up an object that we were not able to see visually (not even with our night vision monocular), and showed it tracking right over us! It was a long night, and neither of us got much sleep, but we arrived safely in Fort Pierce at around 7:30am.
We anchored just south of North Bridge and called Customs to check in. They said we had to report to immigration at the airport within 24 hours--arrgggh. So we launched the dinghy and went to Harborview Marina. We had Easter dinner at the restaurant there and then hired a cab to drive us to the airport. The door to immigration had a sign on it that said to ring the two bells to the right and wait. We rang the two bells, and a few moments later, a guy poked his head out of a door a little further down behind a chainlink fence, looked at us and then he let us in. He asked us the name of our vessel, looked at our passports and asked us to remove our glasses. He said we were legal and we could leave. Fortunately, the cabbie waited for us, so we went back to the marina, paid the $25 fare, and went back to Windchime to take naps. We were awoken at around 4:30 by our cell phone ringing. It was Dave and Joyce, our friends we met in Ft. Lauderdale before we left the States last year. They were on their way to see us. So we went back to the marina and enjoyed an evening catching up with them. After we got back to Windchime, we passed out and didn't wake up until 9:30 the next morning..
April 21, 2006 En Route from Cape Canaveral to Daytona Beach, FL USA
We arrived at Cocoa Village Tuesday morning, and Deb's parents, Diane and Allen, drove down to meet us. After a huge lunch at the Sunset Waterfront Cafe and checking our email at the library, we walked around historic Cocoa Village. It's a quaint little downtown area with numerous shops, restaurants, and even a live theater. Allen, Linda, and Deb had a Guinness at the Dog 'n' Bone British Pub while Diane did a little shopping. Deb's parents spent the night with us aboard Windchime. The next day, we visited the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. It was amazing and unexpectedly huge--kind of like Disneyworld. First we watched a spectacular IMAX movie: Magnificent Desolation, about the Apollo moon walks. Then a bus tour took us to see the launch pads, the Saturn V/Apollo exhibition, and the International Space Station building. We also went aboard the Space Shuttle Explorer, which surprisingly was mostly payload space and had very limited crew quarters. A marquee in the visitor's center announced the next launch would be the next day at 4:20pm of an unmanned rocket (which we had seen on the launch pad during our bus tour). We returned to Windchime to enjoy Deb's belated birthday dinner provided by her parents--Omaha Steak tenderloins, garlic mashed potatoes, spinach salad, and Lithuanian torte for dessert--after which Allen and Diane headed home. The next day, after routine engine maintenance, we moved the boat to an anchorage just west of Cape Canaveral, in order to have a good view of that afternoon's rocket launch. We had an early dinner and broke out the champagne Deb's parent's had given us. Precisely at 4:30, we saw flames on the launch pad and the rocket was propelled into space! It was a spectacular site! Now we're on our way up the ICW to Daytona Beach, where we hope to get some much needed supplies and hopefully meet up with Deb's parents again.
April 26, 2006 Wally's Leg, GA (mile 666 on the ICW) USA
We had a great time with Deb's parents in St. Augustine. We visited the fort, went wine tasting at San Sebastian Winery, and they treated us to lunch at Columbia, one of our favorite restaurants. The fort, Callisto de San Marcos, was very interesting. A tour guide in a Spanish period uniform showed us around and told us the incredible history of the fort. It was built by the Spanish and later taken over by the British Redcoats. Then, under control of the U.S., it was used as a prison and later a school for American Indians. Yesterday, we moved up to Fernandina Beach, just for the night, and left this morning at 7am. We're currently anchored in Wally's Leg behind Little St. Simons Island in Georgia. We had a tremendous squall move over us today while we were underway. Fortunately, we had just run aground (while in the channel). We saw the storm coming and quickly put out the anchor. Then it hit us: 40-45 knot winds and a torrential downpour, complete with thunder and lightning. Windchime was blown over about 40 degrees and pushed further onto the shoal. After it passed, we pulled up the anchor, which winched us back to our former position. Then Linda put Windchime in reverse, and we powered out of the mud at full throttle. We anchored about a mile upstream and prepared Windchime for more squalls which were in the forecast. Our friends on Calisto, from England, arrived about an hour after us and are anchored behind us. We hope this will all blow over by tomorrow, so we can continue moving north. We should arrive in Savannah on Friday, if we aren't held back by weather.
April 27, 2006 Kilkenny Creek, GA (mile 614 on the ICW) USA
We're anchored for the night in Kilkenny Creek about 30 miles south of Savannah. We plan to stop in Thunderbolt tomorrow, which has easy
access to Savannah, and spend a couple of days there before heading north again. The
marsh land we're traversing is beautiful: islands of golden reeds, dotted here and there with small islands, and numerous egrets and great blue herons. Unfortunately, the horse flies are also bountiful. We're very thankful for our screened in cockpit (made by John and Matt at Sharp Canvas, Chester, CT Ph: 860-526-2302)
April 30, 2006 Thunderbolt, GA USA
Windchime is safely tied up to a dock in Thunderbolt Marina. Our Westerbeke developed a fuel leak in the line to the fuel pump on the way here. Linda tightened up on the fitting, but it still leaked. So we called Captain Dave, the mechanic, on recommendation from Hal, the manager of the marina. He'll be stopping by today to take a look at it. This is a great marina! Hal is friendly and helpful, and we get hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a newspaper delivered to the boat every morning. Yesterday, we rented a car and drove into Savannah. We spent 4 hours walking around the historic district, stopping for lunch at the Boar's Head Grill & Tavern on River Street. The city is abundant with moss-covered trees and beautiful old architecture. The historic district is punctuated with small parks, or squares, each with it's own unique look and feel. Colorful flowerbeds, live oaks, benches, and street musicians make them inviting places to sit and relax. One of them is home to the bench that Tom Hanks sat on in "Forrest Gump."
May 3, 2006 Beaufort, GA USA
Beaufort is a beautiful Southern town, complete with moss-covered live oaks, magnificent buildings, and a quaint downtown with coffee houses and art galleries. During our one day there, we went for a walk around town and a nearby neighborhood, had lunch at a wonderful little bistro, and toured the Arsenal and the Verdier House. Lafayette gave a speech from the second floor balcony of the Verdier house during a visit. Tomorrow, we're moving north to Charleston.
May 5, 2006 Charleston, SC USA
It took us a couple of days to get to Charleston due to adverse currents in the ICW. Charleston is just a magnificent city! The architecture is amazing, it is full of history, and art galleries are abundant. We walked from the Municipal Marina down to Meeting Street and toured the Calhoun Mansion. What an incredible display of wealth! The current owner actually lives there, but opens the first two floors to the public during the day. It's filled with priceless paintings, religious icons, and hunting trophies. The Italian-style gardens are fantastic! We walked over to East Bay Street and enjoyed strolling along the bay. Next, we toured the brilliantly preserved Edmondton-Alston House, an example of early 1800's architecture. We had lunch at the South End Brewery and then went to see the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. The Exchange was used to trade rice and indigo, the most prevalent crops at that time, and the basement, the Provost Dungeon, was used by the British, when they occupied the city for two years during the Revolution, as a prison for "traitors." We took a different route back to the marina and enjoyed viewing more incredible homes. We wish we could spend more time here, but unfortunately, we need to get home.
May 11, 2006 Wrightsville Beach, NC USA
We've been plagued with engine problems again in the last week! First, on our way from Charleston to Georgetown, the engine temp kept creeping up whenever we throttled up beyond 1500 rpms. So, we spent our day in Georgetown rebuilding the raw water pump. We ran into one small problem that required the services of a machinist: we couldn't get a damaged key out of the keyway. So we took the pump into town and stopped in a little boutique to see if we could find some help in locating a machine shop. The lady there was very helpful and let us use her phone to call some potential places. After making a couple of calls, we decided to try the marina. So we walked to the edge of town to the marina. They told us to go to Ballard Iron, clear on the other side of town. We got directions and set off. The long walk took us all the way down Front Street, the main street in town, and onto Route 17, where we walked the entire length of the steel mill with semis buzzing by only a few feet away. We finally arrived at Ballard Iron and spoke to a young man in the front office. He said, "no problem," which was just what we wanted to hear. Forty-five minutes later, he emerged with our pump and two new keys! After walking back downtown, we stopped in at the Big Tuna for an early dinner and some of the freshest seafood we've ever had. Then we went back to the boat and put the engine back together. Windchime purred along at 1800 rpms with no problem the whole next day, passing through the dreaded Rockpile (a 4 mile stretch of the ICW in which there are underwater rocks if you stray from the channel) without incident. We anchored in Calabash Creek, just south of the North Carolina Border. The next morning, we passed through the Sunset Pontoon Bridge, the last of it's kind on the ICW, hoping to reach Wrightsville Beach that evening. Just before Southport, we discovered a huge leak that was keeping our bilge pump working overtime. We pulled over to the nearest dock to check it out. The rubber cap on the end of the heat exchanger was the culprit. Water was spraying out everywhere! The mechanic at the marina put it back on for us. It was still leaking, but not quite as badly, so we decided we could still make it to Wrightsville Beach. About an hour out, however, it hemorrhaging water again. We pulled into Carolina Beach, about 12 miles south of Wrightsville, and anchored to see what we could do about it. Linda cleaned the cap and heat exchanger and tried to reseal it. The next day, we started up the engine, and it didn't leak! We motored at about 1500 rpms for the first hour, and it was still fine. Then Linda throtted up to 1700 rpms, and that did it! Water was spraying out again, and now there was no water coming out of the exhaust. So she cut the engine and Deb quickly got the anchor down. Veritas, the boat behind us, graciously offered us a tow. So we threw them a line and off we went to Wrightsville Beach. Victoria, a classic powerboat, escorted us from behind. In the meantime, we called TowBoat US to help get us into the anchorage. TowBoat showed up about 20 minutes later and got us anchored in the harbor. We checked the heat exchanger only to find that the end cap had blown completely off this time. On further inspection, Linda discovered a slit in the cap. It was time to replace it, so we tracked down a new one by calling a couple of different Westerbeke dealers. It should be here in two days, if a goes well. In the meantime, we're looking forward to visiting with Jodie, our friend from CT who now lives in NC.
May 15, 2006 Wrightsville Beach, NC USA
Linda's brother, John, suggested we write a book about all the places we've been stuck in with mechanical problems...which got us thinking. So, for those of you with enquiring minds, we made the following table:
|Stuck in||Why||How Long||How Much|
|Titusville, FL||overheat||2 days||$75|
|Beaufort, NC||autopilot||5 days||---|
|Wrightsville Beach, NC||autopilot||3 days||$100|
|Ft. Lauderdale, FL||autopilot||6 weeks||$800|
|Marsh Harbor, Bahamas||fuel injection pump||3 weeks||$1500|
|Man-O-War, Bahamas||fuel injection pump||3 weeks||$1000|
|Providencialis, Turks & Caicos||raw water pump||1.5 weeks||$800|
|St. Thomas, USVI||water maker||1 week||$300|
|Rodney Bay, St. Lucia||fuel line leak||1 day||$650|
|Blue Lagoon, St. Vincent||overheat||1 day||$85|
|Carriacou, Grenada||overheat, rudder||3.5 weeks||$2000|
|Bequia||water maker||1 week||---|
|St. Thomas, USVI||boom furler||1 month||$100|
|Palmas Del Mar, Puerto Rico||skeg, rudder||1.5 weeks||$3500|
|Salinas, Puerto Rico||autopilot remote||5 days||$30|
|Savannah, GA||fuel line leak||1 day||$360|
|Georgetown, SC||raw water pump||1 day||$25|
|Wrightsville Beach, NC||heat exchanger end cap||5 days||$150|
|Portsmouth, VA||prop||2 days||$360|
May 17, 2006 Pungo River, NC (Mile 127 on the ICW) USA
We had a great time in Wrightsville Beach while waiting for our part to come in. Of course, it didn't arrive on Saturday, as promised. In the meantime, our friend, Jodie, drove down from Raleigh-Durham to visit us. She stayed aboard Windchime, and we had fun catching up with each other. We also met a couple of new friends: Bethany and Chrissie from Tevake, who are on their way to Maine. Bethany was rowing back to her boat with her repaired fuel filter when we invited her aboard for a beer. Bethany, Chrissie, and Al (a guy who Bethany knows that also, coincidentally, drove Deb to get propane last time we were in Wrightsville Beach a year and a half ago) came over for drinks on Windchime. Our heat exchanger end cap came in the next day, we put it on, and it worked!!! The next day, we sailed outside 70 miles to Beaufort, NC. We were going to hang out there for a day and do some laundry. However, Deb got an email from Pfizer requesting an interview in early June, so we put the return trip in overdrive and moved Windchime 77 miles north instead. Today, we saw a baby black bear swim across the ICW in front of us and crawl out on the opposite side! Our goal is to be home in New London by the end of the month.
May 21, 2006 Portsmouth, VA USA
We've had an eventful past few days. It all started with our traversing of the Dismal Swamp. We got through the first lock just fine and motored into the beauty that is the Dismal Swamp this time of year. However, in the first hour, we bumped logs on the bottom three times. Luckily, we made it over them and kept on going. Deb saw a brown snake swimming through the water. Then Linda thought she saw an alligator, but it turned out to be flock of ducklings. We were almost to the second lock when we heard a "CLUNK," and Windchime started vibrating. Linda cut the engine and the vibration stopped. We didn't know if we had picked something up on the prop, hit something and bent the shaft, or lost a blade off the prop. We had to make the last opening of the lock in about half an hour in order for TowBoatUS to meet us on the other side for a tow. So we ran at dead slow, which didn't cause too much shimmying, and made it to the lock in time. Rob, the lock tender, was very helpful, and made everyone else wait until we got in. He also played us a great concert on the conch shell. Judy and Joe aboard Just B'Cause were also very helpful. So we got through the lock, threw down the anchor, and waited for TowBoat to show up. About 10 minutes later, Frank showed up to tow us. Two groundings and two lift bridges later, we made it to the dock at Ocean Marina. Just B'Cause had pulled in there ahead of us, and there was a whole group of friendly and helpful people waiting for us to come in. After getting Windchime safely tied up, two delicious roasted pork dinners were delivered to us at the boat by some of the gang on A dock. Frank was very helpful in locating a diver for us to check out the bottom of the boat. In the meantime, we were invited over to Uwe's and Barbara's boat, The Duck, for dessert and drinks. Miraculously, the diver, Paul Wood, came out that evening to dive under Windchime. Structurally, everything was fine, but we had lost a blade off of our three-bladed prop. Paul said he could come back the next day and try to replace it with our old spare prop. He spent four hours taking off our prop, which was very complicated, and putting on the spare prop, and only charged us $50!! We tried to give him $200, but he would only take $100. We cannot recommend Paul highly enough! If you ever need a diver in the Norfolk/Portsmouth, VA area, call Paul Wood at 757-342-8819. He's the nicest guy in the world, not to mention incredibly competent. The next day we did a little sight-seeing in Portsmouth, stopping at the Bier Garten for lunch and visiting the Portsmouth Lightship and Maritime Museum. Then we enjoyed another delicious salmon dinner, cooked by Uwe, and the tremendous company of the folks on A Dock. They were so good to us! We had a good weather window, so we decided to sail outside straight up to Block Island, RI, leaving early the next morning.
May 25, 2006 Block Island, RI USA
The day we left Portsmouth, we found one of Barbara's favorite bottles of wine on our deck. We left at 7am and made our way through the James River and Hampton Roads, past the container ships and naval base, into the Chesapeake, and out to the Atlantic. The wind and waves the first day and night were much higher than NOAA had predicted. We were sailing closed hauled into 25 knots of wind and 8 foot choppy seas. Windchime was falling off every 4th or 5th wave, causing our fog bell to ring and making a bumpy ride for us. The next day, the wind moved around to our beam and the waves decreased to the forecast 2-3 feet. We just sat back and enjoyed the ride. That night, about 100 miles south of Montauk, we were contacted by a Naval Warship, asking us to identify ourselves, and for our course, speed and destination. After responding, we were told to maintain our course and speed. (We though Homeland Security was covered by the Coast Guard???) Around 6pm the next day, we pulled into Great Salt Pond, Block Island. Being the Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend, it was uncharacteristically empty. We picked up a town mooring, had a glass of wine, and went to bed. Today, we launched our dinghy, refueled, and spent the afternoon relaxing. We plan to head for home tomorrow, about a 5 hour sail away.
Reflections on the trip, written in the margins of my Sudoku book on May 24: As we motorsail toward Block Island, this our last day out at sea, my thoughts turn to the Caribbean. I'm huddling in the cockpit, wrapped in fleece, at the same time dreaming of swimming in the crystal clear warm Caribbean waters and anxious to get home. I am a little sad at the trip coming to a close, but am comforted by the though of returning home to New London. I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Two women vying the seas of the Caribbean alone. Despite Hurricane Emily, the boat boys, and what seemed like constant breakdowns, we survived! The trip was not as relaxing as I thought it would be--not one long Caribbean vacation. The much clichéd phrase, "Cruising is fixing your boat in exotic ports," is largely true. However, we did enjoy many moments in paradise, like being anchored off Sandy Island or in the bay on Culebrita, memories that will stay with me forever. Those times were worth all the troubles. The people we met along the way were the most special part of the trip. Many will remain life-long friends. While out at sea, we found ourselves in many potentially dangerous situations, but I was never afraid. I knew Windchime would bring us through safely. She has a soul of her own and loves to sail! She performed flawlessly. All we had to do was set the sails and hang on for the ride. I'm looking forward to going to the movies, concerts in Harkness Park, Adventure Series lectures at Mystic Seaport, art museums, Shakespeare in the park, going to New York or Boston for the day, and most of all, reuniting with our friends and family. The voyage was a tremendous experience that I wouldn't trade for anything, but it will be good to be home.
May 28, 2006 New London, CT USA
This will be our last log entry for our 19 month Caribbean voyage, as we arrived home yesterday! We planned to return the day before, but heavy fog and the threat of violent thunderstorms kept us in Block Island for another day. We took the opportunity to walk into town and had lunch at the Mohegan Cafe and Brewery. Yesterday, we awoke to fog once again. However, the weather was supposed to deteriorate the next day, so we decided to make a run for home. Once we got into Fisher's Island Sound, the fog lifted a bit, and we were amongst hundreds of boats out enjoying the day. We hadn't seen traffic like that since we left home! As we pulled into New London, Smitty (our best friend) and Emma (our yellow lab) were waiting to greet us aboard his boat, Sundance. John and Jenn (Linda's son and daughter-in-law) were also waiting on the dock at Burrs Marina. The launch ferried everyone to Windchime where we had a happy and tearful reunion. Later, our friends, Nate, Kieren, and Jenn showed up to see us. We visited and finished up all the beer we had left on Windchime and then went home to our apartment and crashed. The voyage had finally come to an end. What a trip it was!