Hiya,

Saturday morning, another cloudy day.  Wind still blowing at around 19kn.  Chris Parker (our weather router) did another forecast for us last night.  Instead of reinforcing our decision to go, the new forecast is throwing doubt on the proposition.  As I sit staring at my computer, I’m feeding this growing pit in my stomach.  Am I trying to put a spin on what I’m reading because we are on a (gasp!) schedule, or is the passage doable?  Finally, I decide that it’s probably the plane tickets in Puerto Rico talking, and by 06h00, I’m crawling back in bed, knowing that we won’t have another window for at least a week.  Suz asks me what’s going on-I read her the forecast.  C.P. says that the weather and seas will be rough for the first three hours of the trip, as we beat up to the northern tip of Long Island, then should moderate throughout the day.  After that, the prediction gets a little murky.  If a Low forms along the TROF currently preceding the Cold Front moving our way, it will probably bring with it Squally conditions, with winds of 40+kn, and seas to 7’.  IF we can thread the needle between the Low and the Front, we should have tolerable conditions.  Okay, here comes the disclaimer.  He says “If my forecast is wrong, you could have considerably worse conditions.  If you run into the backside of the Low, you’ll run into the squalls.  On the other hand, if the Cold Front catches you, you will lose the suppressing effect that it is having on the winds.”  At any rate, he says that we MUST be in to the Turks and Caicos by Monday morning, as the winds will be significant for the rest of the week.  His last shot was to the effect of “Fortunately, you’re in a well-found, stabilized boat.”  Suz added “At Home On Any Sea”, Kadey Krogen's corporate slogan.

This is the part where it’s good to be part of a team.  The Admiral breaks it down:  Let’s stick our nose out.  If it’s too bad, we’ll turn around and come back; When we turn the corner at the North end of Long Island, if the beam seas and wind have not moderated, we’ll come back down the lee side to Salt Pond (a 3 hour backtrack); If conditions head south later in the day, we can head in to Clarence Town on the South end of Long Island (at night); After that, we’ll be on our own until mid-morning on Sunday when we could duck into the Bight at Mayaguana Island.  It all still sounded pretty “iffy,” but it was a plan.  By 06h32, the anchor was up, and we were on our way.

During the first leg up to the end of Long Island, we beat into 17kn winds and 2’-4’ seas on 5 second intervals-nothing that we hadn’t rocking-horsed through on the Great Lakes.  As we changed course from NE to SE, we began to have a beam sea, and the waves moderated to 1’-3’ on around 7 second intervals-NICE!  Of course, all day we were waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Toward the end of the day, the seas went to around 2’-4’ on about 8 seconds, with very little wind chop.  When I came on watch at 00h30 on Sunday morning, the conditions were about the same, and stayed that way throughout the night, with the exception being the seas near the Plana Cays.  I had plotted our course a little too close to the islands, and as the depth changed from thousands of feet to one hundred, the waves stacked up accordingly.  As The Girl changed course for deeper water, the steep waves abated.  Rounding Mayaguana Island, Suz woke up, and we decided to continue on under lowering skies, the wind picking up slightly, and the radar showing rain all around us.  With the windometer creeping up, we decided against our original plan of heading to Blue Haven on the north side of Providenciales, opting instead for the South Side marina, and the relative safety of the Caicos Bank on the south (and lee) side of the island.  We figured our ETA would put us through the reef, and on the Bank well before dark, and possibly, even to the marina before all light was gone.  Well……….” The best laid plans.” For the next three hours, the wind and seas crept higher.  We were still seeing rain on the radar, but the cells all dissipated before we hit them.  We now had steady winds in the upper teens, with gusts into the twenties.  The seas were up to 4’-6’, but not uncomfortable.  Then the squalls hit us.  As we passed through each, the winds would rise into the 30’s, with the tops blowing off the now 6-8 footers.  In between squalls, the wind would drop back into the 20’s.  Never scary, but a bit uncomfortable.  We could only imagine what was going on behind the Velcro tie-wrapped doors of the cupboards as we listened to the crashes emitting through their louvers.

A couple of nervous “Hee, Hee, Hee’s,” as we entered the unmarked break in the reef and rode up onto the relatively calm Caicos Bank three hours later.  Our ETA now shot to heck, we arrived at the turn which would take us a mile-and-a-half over very shallow water into the marina in near darkness.  This was a story in itself, but suffice it to say that Bob, the owner of South Side Marina, talked us in over the cellphone (another story), and we never saw less than 6’ 3” of depth.  By 19h30, we were safely tied at the dock, and by 20h30 we were dead asleep.

This morning we had visits from Customs and Immigration.  Both were smooth, although a little late.  That was okay with us, as it gave us time to wash the salty Girl.  We chatted with Bob, an expat who has lived in the Islands for some 40+ years.  He chuckled when he said that it was almost a good thing that we came in at night, ‘cause we couldn’t see how bad it was.  (Both of us had sensed the tension in his voice when he had talked us in last night).  We’ll get the bikes down, and do some exploring this afternoon.

-Later

Good Afternoon,

Day broke as we ran due east over the Bahama Bank, just south of Highbourne Cay.  As we passed familiar anchorages heading south in the Family Islands which comprise the Exumas chain, memories from last year flooded back.  We exited the Bank into Exuma Sound around mid-afternoon, and immediately got the lines in the water.  The only rewards that we got for our efforts were a small Barracuda, and a little Skipjack.  As darkness fell, we began to question the wisdom of pushing on, having to enter the reef to our Stocking Island anchorage at night.  And night it was.  With the moon not scheduled to rise until around 00h00, it was dark as a pocket as we threaded through the reef at 20h00.  Of course, (it’s the Bahamas) the sole lighted buoy on the way in was extinguished.  Always a little unnerving to hear waves breaking on both sides of you when there’s 4 feet of water under the boat.  We breathed a sigh of relief as the breaking waves receded behind us.  Approaching our old familiar anchorage in Monument Bay, we discovered that the boat wouldn’t come out of gear as we headed towards shore.  We did a one-eighty, weaving through other boats anchored in the pitch-dark bay, and got the Girl back into deeper water, Suzanne driving while I scrambled around, looking for a reason for our troubles.  Everything looked good under the helm and at the transmission.  Fortunately, the controls at the upper helm responded, and we got the anchor down safely.  (The next day, I bled the hydraulic lines to the shifter, thinking that maybe small bubbles in the lines had coalesced and caused a blockage, subsequent to some work that we had done in Solomon’s).  At any rate, the controls now work, so we’ll see.  By the next morning, the Cold Front that had been chasing us caught up, and the wind was howling, and did so throughout the week.  Morning light revealed that the trawler lying next to us was “Privateer”, a Krogen 52 belonging to Greg and Lisa Smith, delivered just the month previously.  We had met Greg and Lisa two years ago at the Krogen Rendezvous, when they were still Krogen wannabees on a fifty-four-foot sailboat, “Chasseur”.  We enjoyed their company during this past windy week, and shared Thanksgiving dinner with them aboard “Alizann”.

I won’t bore you with the details of our stay in George Town.  You were here with us last year.  Let’s just say that it’s one year and one hurricane older-nothing much has changed.  (Except, our old beer-and-a burger, freewifihangout “Red Boone” burned to the ground last week under suspicious circumstances.)

It’s Friday afternoon.  The wind is still cookin’, but it is supposed to moderate for 48 hours, starting in the morning.  Seas are projected to drop to 4’-6’ at 8 second intervals before the next Cold Front arrives on Monday morning, whipping up the wind and waves again.  It’s about a 35 hour ride to Providenciales, in the Turks and Caicos, so we’ll make a run for it starting early tomorrow.  The wind and seas will still be up then, but by the time that we reach the north end of Long Island and head out into the Atlantic in late morning, they should be diminishing somewhat.  (At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.)  We should be to Mayaguana Island by midmorning on Sunday.  If it’s really dogmeat, we can duck inside the reef there to wait out the weather-probably until late next week.  If not, we’ll continue on to the Blue Haven Marina in the T & C.

-Until next time

Wow! We’re finally off.  Anticipating our Thursday departure, our Krogen pals, Lisa and Mark threw a “Bon Voyage” party for us at the Sunset Bay Marina.  Being the partiers that they are, around thirty fellow Krogenites showed up for heavy apps and sips.  We were touched by the gesture, realizing that we probably wouldn’t see this gang for a few years.  Ever the sentimentalist, Randy quickly brought me back to Earth with the comment that having a party was the only way that they could get our “*sses off the dock”.  True to form, we DIDN’T get off the dock on Thursday.  Angel and his guys weren’t quite finished with the varnish (yes, we broke down and hired it out this year).  It was a good thing, too.  We discovered that one of our heads was leaking, which required breaking in to the inventory for some spare seals.  That crappy job accomplished, I was under the galley sink looking for disinfectant, only to discover that the trap was dripping through a rusted-through elbow.  A quick bike ride to Ace Hardware, and a few minutes of work had that problem cured.  I have to admit that I was a bit shocked by a plumbing job that actually went smoothly.  Somewhere during the course of the day, I got a text from Scottie, our ace mechanic, techie, friend, moral supporter asking if the parts had arrived.  Parts?  Oh yeah, those parts (spare alternator and starter for the generator that I had ordered a few weeks earlier and completely forgotten about (they didn’t make it on to my checklist, which was now empty)).  We weren’t too overly concerned about not getting out quickly, as the weather looked very UNfavorable for a crossing to the Bahamas until the middle of the following week.  Long story short, within a few hours UPS tracking said the parts would be here Friday by 10h30, we went out to dinner with our pals Larry and Deb, and the weather forecast changed.  Surprise! It looked like we would have a very short window to cross the Gulf Stream on Saturday.  So, this is boating, right?  The goods were delivered, and we were off the dock by Noon, headed down the Intracoastal Waterway, planning to exit the Lake Worth Inlet off West Palm Beach.

Since we would be heading into unfamiliar territory this year, and aren’t real familiar with the weather patterns there, we decided to contract with a weather router for personalized reports.  We made our first contact with Chris Parker, weather guru of the Caribbean, for his advice.  He concurred, saying that a midnight departure should provide us with a good ride ahead of an approaching front, which would bring heavy winds with it.  In fact, if we ran non-stop, we might even make it to Georgetown before it caught up with us two days hence.  Sounded good to us.  We pulled in to the anchorage near the turning basin in Lake Worth(Palm Beach) right at dusk, got the hook down, and were treated to the spectacle of a cruiseliner departing through the inlet.  We hit the sack at 19h30, anticipating an 00h00 departure.  Problem was, at 21h22, (but who’s counting?) up on the roof, there arose quite a clatter.  No-it wasn’t Santa and his reindeer.  Suzanne elbowed me awake, exclaiming that there was a boat next to us.  I was in the total fog that envelopes us in the second hour after sleep, but I could totally look up out of our porthole, and see a boat with floodlights ablaze, looming above us.  I pulled on my boxers and scrambled out on deck for a look.  The guy on the boat 3 feet away from us is screaming at me that we were dragging anchor, and that I needed to “get the Hell away from his boat!”  I wasn’t quite sure how we had dragged anchor, then drifted upwind in a 17 knot breeze, against a 3 knot incoming tide to hit him in the stern, but it was no time for debate.  By this time, Suz had the main started, and I was hauling in the anchor, which was well-embedded in the bottom on a 5:1 scope.  We moved about a quarter mile away from the anchoring expert on the 65 foot motoryacht with the rope rode and shiny (and probably seldom-used anchor).  Yes, that was sarcasm.  Two hours later, we woke up and motored out of the anchorage, past the aforementioned yacht, their deck lights fully lit, and someone on the foredeck fooling with the anchor.  No harm, no foul.  Coulda been worse.

The seas had laid down to 1’-3’, on 4 seconds, and it was a gorgeous, moonlit night.  I took the first watch, because, as usual, I was too excited to sleep.  As the night wore on, the seas continued to moderate, and by 09h00, when Suz got up, we had about a 1’ chop, with winds down to 10 knots.  I got my beauty rest in, and we are on the Bahama Bank, cruising under fluffy cumulus clouds, temperature 73F.  I anticipate that we’ll pass by the west end of New Providence Island (where Nassau is located) at around 01h00 Sunday morning, continuing southeast to the Family Islands of the Exuma chain.

-Later

Well……..  The weather and seas were about what we expected on our fifty-one hour passage from Morehead City, NC to the St. Johns River inlet near Mayport.  It was just wavey enough to keep us from doing a lot of reading or writing, but not enough to be uncomfortable.  The wind was predicted to pick up, precluding our heading further south, so we ducked in to the ICW at the St. John’s River.     Our old pal, the Zumwalt (U.S. Navy’s first 1000 Class destroyer, and the vessel that we saw being built in the yard in Bath, Maine 2 years earlier) hailed us on the VHF, asking us to wait for her to pass before entering the inlet.  I suspect that we’re in her database, since we’ve talked to her 3 times, once in Maine, once as she was leaving her berth in Norfolk, and now, here outside Mayport.  They must think that we’re “groupies”.  Anyway, three hours later, we were at Palm Cove Marina, where we spent the rest of the day desalting the Girl.  While we were washing, we spotted “Alba”, a new Krogen 48, toodle down the waterway past us.  The next morning, we headed out around first light, hoping to get past St. Augustine, and in to one of our favorite stops at Marineland.  During the course of the day, the havoc wreaked by Matthew became more visible.  Where docks had once been, there were now only twisted pilings remaining.  We saw literally scores of boats, many of them beautiful yachts, completely on land.  In the early afternoon, we pulled in to the familiar haunts of Marineland Marina, where a large dredge was hard at work.  Finally, the dream that Eric, the harbormaster, had told us of three years previously was coming to fruition.  He told us that the dredging would be done, and the new floating docks should be installed by the Spring of 2017.  Suz and I love the feel of this place, and hope that all of the new improvements don’t change its’ character.  A four-mile bike ride to “Captain’s ,”(we were craving barbeque) revealed more Matthew devastation.  The first-floor contents of most houses were piled at the roadside, awaiting pickup.  Many in low-lying areas were still actively pumping storm water out.  D.O.T. and utility company crews were scattered along the roadside, clearing splintered and uprooted trees.  The dunes that comprised the spine of the north end of the island were now completely gone.  All that remained was the roadbed, with the sea on one side, and the ICW on the other.

We love this stop, but it was time to keep moving.  We were up early, motoring from “Cain’t see to Cain’t see”, making it to the NASA Causeway bridge, where we anchored after dark for the night.  We were up before dawn, motoring to the Vero Beach Municipal mooring field.  There, we planned to stay a couple of nights to catch our breaths, eat some fantastic tuna nachos at the Riverside Café, breakfast on the beach at JC’s Seaside Café, hit the farmers market, and visit Krogen friends, Bruce and Sue, who have a condo north of town.  We did it all.  It sure felt good to hop on the bikes and pedal around one of our very favorite little towns.  (they don’t call it Velcro Beach for nuthin’).  Bruce drove over and picked us up, taking us out to Sue and his fabulous home (there’s nothing “condo” about it), where we enjoyed good food, great company, and a little college football.  Joining us were Brian and Judy, who had arrived on “Alba” that day.  Many bottles of wine later, we called it a night.  Sunday morning, we began the leg which would bring us to Sunset Bay Marina, in Stuart.  There, we would pick up our mail, do our provisioning, and boat maintenance in our last U.S. port.

-Soon

 

 

 

Hola!

After three days in Deltaville, VA, our heads were about to burst.  The first day’s seminar was presented by ABT, the designer and manufacturer of our boats’ hydraulic system.  You probably remember that we built an “all hydraulic” boat (bow thruster, anchor windlass, and stabilizers), as we didn’t think that electrical motors and saltwater were a good mix.  But……. that’s a debate for another day.  The seminar was a slimmed-down version of one that we flew to California for several years ago, but it was a great refresher for our ever diminishing memory banks.  Days two and three covered all things trawler-from electrical troubleshooting, engine room 101, bottom paints, weather, anchoring, and an olio of tips ‘n tricks, all presented by Steve D’Antonio, a nationally renowned authority.

At first light on the 17th, we felt like we were finally on our way.  This time, we were headed in the right direction (south).  We made the 17h00 opening at Great Bridge, and wedged in to the gas dock at our old haunt, Atlantic Boat Yard, as there was “no room at the inn”.  The bridge had been damaged by Hurricane Matthew, and had just recently opened, leaving a clot of boats stranded above it.  Coupled with the gang headed south after the Snowbird Rendezvous in Hampton Roads, the closure created quite a traffic jam.  I think that The Girl was a little worried that we were going to leave her at AYB for another three months, so when we toodled off the dock at 05h00, I’m sure she was relieved.  Running down the ICW, which was strewn with storm trash was a trip, but the full moon helped the Admiral as she kept watch on the bow in the 58-degree morning chill.  A few thumps and bumps were the only indignities that we suffered.  By the time the sun came up, we were at the start of the twisty-turnies, and the turnpike bridge behind us was closed for the rush hour.  Bonus!  That effectively made us the only boat on the ICW for just about the whole day (we only saw three other boats and a barge).  Running past Coinjock marina in Virginia, we impulsively made a left turn, heading out to Roanoke Island, in the Pamlico Sound, rather than to our intended anchorage at Deep Point.  We had planned to visit last May, when weather stopped us at Okracoke Island.  Over the VHF, Mr. Carl Jordan, the dockmaster at Manteo, guided us to the harbor through the shoaled-in channel (the Admiral had already pulled up a video on You Tube demonstrating the proper course in).  Safely secured, we were greeted by our old pals, Steve and Julia, from “Erben Renewal” (see Bahamas & Nova Scotia).  “Lost Colony Brewery” across the street from the marina, gave us the perfect venue for reconnecting with our good friends.  Next day, we hauled our trusty, rusty bikes down from the boat deck for some exploration.  Our departure was delayed.  Even though the machines had been in their bag for the past months, their chains were frozen solid with rust.  Armed with oil and a couple pairs of vice grips, each individual link was resurrected to flexibility.  Riding the paved bike trail out to the north end of the island knocked some rust off our joints as well.  On the way home, we stopped at the National Park on the site of the “Lost Colony”, whose 117 settlers disappeared without a trace in between 1585-1590, while awaiting the arrival of reinforcements and supplies from England.  To this day, their fate remains a mystery.  After stops at the Verizon store, post office, and Piggly Wiggly (groceries), we tossed the bikes back up to their perch, vowing to keep their goodies oiled in the future.  Mark and Mary, aboard “The Good Life”, had just returned from visiting some local relatives, so the 6 of us convened on “Alizann” for some cocktails and conversation.  Even though Steve, Julia, Mark and Mary had been at our Rendezvous, we really hadn’t had a free minute to get with them, so it was nice to have some one-on-one.

At 0700 on the 20th, we were off the dock at Manteo, headed for Ocracoke, with “Erben Renewal” and “The Good Life” in hot pursuit.  Pamlico Sound was placid, and we had a beautiful, sunny day for the eight-hour cruise.  At Ocracoke, we tied up at the National Park Service dock (around $16/night), and headed out to “Smacnally’s” for a brew.  What? Closed.  The kid at the golf cart rental next door said that they had a power outage that morning, so probably decided not to open.  Not to worry.  Down the road to “Jolly Roger.”  Closed.  Next.  “Ocracoke Bar and Grill.”  Closed.  Okay, what was the name of the place that we ate at in the Spring (when we had bikes under us)?  “Ocracoke Oyster Company”.  By now, the 200-yard walk had become a mile-and-a-half mission.  Success!  A couple dozen raw oysters, a few baskets of steamed shrimp, and (whose countin’ anyway) Carolina Blonde lagers assuaged our disappointment, sated our appetites, and quenched our thirst.  Oh, Man!  Forgot we told S & J that we were headed out for a brew.  Fortunately, we caught them in time to suggest bikes, and a good time was had by all.

So……you’re probably wondering why we’re dinkin’ around in the Pamlico when we should be heading South (STAT).  The weather offshore had been dogmeat, and was going to be, for the next few days.  Better to spend time with our buds on these beautiful islands than sit in the marina at Morehead City waiting for a weather window.  On the 21st, it looked like the weather would be favorable for an offshore run on or about the 23rd.  Given that we were having our mail sent to the Morehead City Yacht Basin, we said goodbye to our friends, and headed to Morehead City.  There, we pre-cooked some meals, cleaned up and battened down the Girl, making preparations for a 2-day offshore south.  It wasn’t all work and no play.  We caught up with some other Krogen friends who were berthed there, and watched my Wolverines dismantle Illinois on the Big Ten Network.

I haven’t really said much about the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.  Up north, where we had travelled thus far, the damage was limited mainly to the effects of high water, with only moderate wind damage.  As we passed down the ICW, the water was still very high, and the channel was strewn with floating debris.  Reports were filtering in from South Carolina and Georgia, relating the news that whole marinas had been destroyed, and that the ICW (always dicey in many spots through here) had new shoals and hazards, with many buoys off-station.  These reports reinforced our preference for biting off big chunks for our travels south.

The morning of the 23rd dawned clear, with the temperature at forty-eight degrees, wind at 19 knots out of the northwest, and the barometer high (1029mb).  Since the forecast had been consistent for the previous 3 days, and the conditions were as predicted, our plan was a “go.” Planning landfall at the mouth of the St. John’s River in around 50 hours’ time, we had possible bailout ports at Bald head Island, Charleston, Beaufort, SC, and Fernandina Beach on the table.  At the sea buoy off Beaufort Inlet (Morehead City), we were surprised to see “Ida Rose”, “Bulldog Sally”, and Klassy Kadey, 3 other Krogens, on our AIS, following us out.  There was a bit of a beam sea, but we expected that to subside in around 3 hours or so, so we fired up the satellite dish, and settled in for a day with the NFL.

-Later

 

Hola!

After three days in Deltaville, VA, our heads were about to burst.  The first day’s seminar was presented by ABT, the designer and manufacturer of our boats’ hydraulic system.  You probably remember that we built an “all hydraulic” boat (bow thruster, anchor windlass, and stabilizers), as we didn’t think that electrical motors and saltwater were a good mix.  But……. that’s a debate for another day.  The seminar was a slimmed-down version of one that we flew to California for several years ago, but it was a great refresher for our ever diminishing memory banks.  Days two and three covered all things trawler-from electrical troubleshooting, engine room 101, bottom paints, weather, anchoring, and an olio of tips ‘n tricks, all presented by Steve D’Antonio, a nationally renowned authority.

At first light on the 17th, we felt like we were finally on our way.  This time, we were headed in the right direction (south).  We made the 17h00 opening at Great Bridge, and wedged in to the gas dock at our old haunt, Atlantic Boat Yard, as there was “no room at the inn”.  The bridge had been damaged by Hurricane Matthew, and had just recently opened, leaving a clot of boats stranded above it.  Coupled with the gang headed south after the Snowbird Rendezvous in Hampton Roads, the closure created quite a traffic jam.  I think that The Girl was a little worried that we were going to leave her at AYB for another three months, so when we toodled off the dock at 05h00, I’m sure she was relieved.  Running down the ICW, which was strewn with storm trash was a trip, but the full moon helped the Admiral as she kept watch on the bow in the 58-degree morning chill.  A few thumps and bumps were the only indignities that we suffered.  By the time the sun came up, we were at the start of the twisty-turnies, and the turnpike bridge behind us was closed for the rush hour.  Bonus!  That effectively made us the only boat on the ICW for just about the whole day (we only saw three other boats and a barge).  Running past Coinjock marina in Virginia, we impulsively made a left turn, heading out to Roanoke Island, in the Pamlico Sound, rather than to our intended anchorage at Deep Point.  We had planned to visit last May, when weather stopped us at Okracoke Island.  Over the VHF, Mr. Carl Jordan, the dockmaster at Manteo, guided us to the harbor through the shoaled-in channel (the Admiral had already pulled up a video on You Tube demonstrating the proper course in).  Safely secured, we were greeted by our old pals, Steve and Julia, from “Erben Renewal” (see Bahamas & Nova Scotia).  “Lost Colony Brewery” across the street from the marina, gave us the perfect venue for reconnecting with our good friends.  Next day, we hauled our trusty, rusty bikes down from the boat deck for some exploration.  Our departure was delayed.  Even though the machines had been in their bag for the past months, their chains were frozen solid with rust.  Armed with oil and a couple pairs of vice grips, each individual link was resurrected to flexibility.  Riding the paved bike trail out to the north end of the island knocked some rust off our joints as well.  On the way home, we stopped at the National Park on the site of the “Lost Colony”, whose 117 settlers disappeared without a trace inbetween 1585-1590, while awaiting the arrival of reinforcements and supplies from England.  To this day, their fate remains a mystery.  After stops at the Verizon store, post office, and Piggly Wiggly (groceries), we tossed the bikes back up to their perch, vowing to keep their goodies oiled in the future.  Mark and Mary, aboard “The Good Life”, had just returned from visiting some local relatives, so the 6 of us convened on “Alizann” for some cocktails and conversation.  Even though Steve, Julia, Mark and Mary had been at our Rendezvous, we really hadn’t had a free minute to get with them, so it was nice to have some one-on-one.

At 0700 on the 20th, we were off the dock at Manteo, headed for Ocracoke, with “Erben Renewal” and “The Good Life” in hot pursuit.  Pamlico Sound was placid, and we had a beautiful, sunny day for the eight-hour cruise.  At Ocracoke, we tied up at the National Park Service dock (around $16/night), and headed out to “Smacnally’s” for a brew.  What? Closed.  The kid at the golf cart rental next door said that they had a power outage that morning, so probably decided not to open.  Not to worry.  Down the road to “Jolly Roger.”  Closed.  Next.  “Ocracoke Bar and Grill.”  Closed.  Okay, what was the name of the place that we ate at in the Spring (when we had bikes under us)?  “Ocracoke Oyster Company”.  By now, the 200-yard walk had become a mile-and-a-half mission.  Success!  A couple dozen raw oysters, a few baskets of steamed shrimp, and (whose countin’ anyway) Carolina Blonde lagers assuaged our disappointment, sated our appetites, and quenched our thirst.  Oh, Man!  Forgot we told S & J that we were headed out for a brew.  Fortunately, we caught them in time to suggest bikes, and a good time was had by all.

So……you’re probably wondering why we’re dinkin’ around in the Pamlico when we should be heading South (STAT).  The weather offshore had been dogmeat, and was going to be, for the next few days.  Better to spend time with our buds on these beautiful islands than sit in the marina at Morehead City waiting for a weather window.  On the 21st, it looked like the weather would be favorable for an offshore run on or about the 23rd.  Given that we were having our mail sent to the Morehead City Yacht Basin, we said goodbye to our friends, and headed to Morehead City.  There, we pre-cooked some meals, cleaned up and battened down the Girl, making preparations for a 2-day offshore south.  It wasn’t all work and no play.  We caught up with some other Krogen friends who were berthed there, and watched my Wolverines dismantle Illinois on the Big Ten Network.

I haven’t really said much about the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.  Up north, where we had travelled thus far, the damage was limited mainly to the effects of high water, with only moderate wind damage.  As we passed down the ICW, the water was still very high, and the channel was strewn with floating debris.  Reports were filtering in from South Carolina and Georgia, relating the news that whole marinas had been destroyed, and that the ICW (always dicey in many spots through here) had new shoals and hazards, with many buoys off-station.  These reports reinforced our preference for biting off big chunks for our travels south.

The morning of the 23rd dawned clear, with the temperature at forty-eight degrees, wind at 19 knots out of the northwest, and the barometer high (1029mb).  Since the forecast had been consistent for the previous 3 days, and the conditions were as predicted, our plan was a “go.” Planning landfall at the mouth of the St. John’s River in around 50 hours’ time, we had possible bailout ports at Bald head Island, Charleston, Beaufort, SC, and Fernandina Beach on the table.  At the sea buoy off Beaufort Inlet (Morehead City), we were surprised to see “Ida Rose”, “Bulldog Sally”, and Klassy Kadey, 3 other Krogens, on our AIS, following us out.  There was a bit of a beam sea, but we expected that to subside in around 3 hours or so, so we fired up the satellite dish, and settled in for a day with the NFL.

-Later

HooooWeeee!!

That was a quick 4 months.  With our teeny weeny SUV packed to the roof, and the cooler loaded with dry ice, we headed on back to Michigan, with stops in Greensboro, NC, and Ann Arbor, MI.  The Admiral’s family gathered in NC to celebrate her Aunt’s 95th.  Then it was off to the home of the Maize and Blue to visit our daughter and son-in-law at their new digs.  After a quick stop at our home in northern Michigan, it was off to Europe for a cruise down the Danube (can’t get enough of boats) with Suz’s sibs ‘n spouses to celebrate her Mom’s 90th.

Back at the ranch, we started working through the list of dirtchores, of which there was no shortage.  We didn’t fret about the work, as it was interspersed by reconnections with our landfriends and family.  We took a timeout in mid-summer for a road trip and week at the beach in Charleston.  Before we knew it, it was time to haul and winterize the mini-fleet and move on down the road to rejoin The Girl in Chesapeake, VA.  Leaving Michigan was bittersweet, as we realized just how many great friends we have there.  On the way out, we got a chance to go to a game in The Big House to watch my beloved Wolverines do their thing.  Living in Ann Arbor, our daughter is the beneficiary of our 48-yard line tickets, so we all enjoyed the game together, celebrating Ben and her anniversary at the same time.

After getting Alizann cleaned up, we kicked the tires and lit the fires, heading up to Solomon’s, MD ahead of then-forming Hurricane Matthew.  Not sure if I had mentioned it before, but in a weak (and possibly ethanol-soaked) moment a few years back, we volunteered to chair our annual Kadey Krogen owners rendezvous in 2016.  After a years’ work in planning this 4-day event, which included educational seminars, catered meals, and social gatherings, culminating in a party with live music, we had to consider the possibility of cancelling everything as Matthew roared through the Bahamas, heading our way.  Besides the monetary loss, we had to weigh the safety of the crews of the 51 vessels and 139 people attending the event.  From day to day, we all were on pins and needles, monitoring the National Hurricane Centers’ website on an hourly basis, and getting haul outs scheduled for 24 boats locally, and others’ elsewhere.   At literally the eleventh hour, Matthew turned East and headed out to sea after battering the Southeast.  Party On!  The wave of relief spreading through our group was palpable.  Haul outs were cancelled, crews that had bagged out earlier called to tell us that they were coming, and the good times rolled.  When the party was over on Saturday night, the weather hemmed us in for another two days.  Finally breaking up on Monday, I’m pretty sure that many of us realized that we weren’t the partiers that we used to be (but we all did our very best).

Suz and I stayed until Tuesday to recoup and regroup, getting ready to head over to Deltaville, VA for a one-day course in hydraulics, followed by a two-day seminar in trawler maintenance.

-Soon

 

Soooooooo………..

We rolled into Atlantic Yacht Basin a little after 18h00, and were directed to the Girl’s home away from home for the next 3 months or so.  She’s under a shed, but still in the water, which is pretty much fresh, as the marina is behind a lock and far from the ocean.  While she’s living here, she’ll get hauled for a fresh coat of bottom paint, and have her boot stripe raised (as part of it is currently below the waterline, and catching barnacles).  She’s also looking forward to having the techies from Northern Lights come in and install an experimental gadget aimed at alleviating our recurrent clutch problems.  Other boats with similar setups have had clutch problems as well, and NL has been looking for the right “test boat” to try out the laboratory guys’ proposed fix.  We’re it, so they’ll fly in from Washington state sometime this summer and work their voodoo on our recalcitrant generator.  After getting the Girl secured, we strolled out to the face dock, where the wake-making Krogen scofflaws were tied, to administer an appropriate helping of static to them.  After the good-natured (and tongue-in-cheek) tongue-lashing, we headed out for dinner.  El Toro Loco is a great little Mexican restaurant just a short walk from the boatyard, and a favorite of ours.  We three Krogen couples were joined by our mutual friends, Karen and Jeff, who were piloting their DeFever motoryacht north for the summer.  They say that wherever you have 2 or more Krogens, you have a party, so it was our duty to keep that adage alive.  A good time was had by all.

The next morning was the beginning of hammer time.  Over the next week, Alizann was cleaned and polished from the top of her mast to the bottom of her bilges.  Drippy-drips were fixed, and every nut and screw was tightened.  A couple of tired parts were replaced, the serpentine belt was changed, and filters exchanged.  Radars and the satellite dish were taken off the mast, so that their brackets could be sandblasted and repainted.  By the end of the week, we were “slap wore out”, but the Girl was exuding new-found energy.  I think she was a little disappointed when we told her that she needed to rest for a few months-the first time in a couple of years.  By the time September rolls around, she’ll probably fly out of that shed.

During the “Big Clean”, we packed up all of the stuff that we thought was indispensable when we left land 2 years ago, but haven’t used since.  In addition, all of our cold-weather clothes were packed up to bring back to dirt, as we didn’t anticipate being in less than tropical weather for the next couple of years.  We’ll box this stuff up and leave it back in Michigan so our pals back there can ship it to us when we need it again.  All computers were disconnected and packed so that new charts could be installed, and software upgraded with the help of reliable internet back in Michigan.  SCUBA rigs and cameras were boxed to head back to land for their much-needed maintenance visits.  Add in the 50-70# of Mahi in the freezer, and we had quite a load.

At Oh Dark-Thirty, we were on our way.

-See Ya in the Fall

Oops.

Been really busy.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.  Sure beats getting’ old and scattered.  This episode was written a month ago, and has been sitting on my desktop- thought I’d put it up. Oh well, a day late and a dollar short.

We spent the night at Morehead Yacht Basin, a familiar locale for us, then headed up the ICW to Oriental, NC.  There, we stayed at Whittaker Marina.  The marina is a pretty small operation, but is very nice, with a modern clubhouse and a swimming pool.  The best attribute, however, is that they have a courtesy car, which would allow us to do a little exploring.  Since we arrived a bit after 12h00, we had “first dibs”, and set out to West Marine and the town of Oriental.  There, we had lunch at “M&M’s”, highly recommended, but maybe a bit overrated in my opinion.  On the way home, the Admiral had us drive to River Dunes, a residential development that also has a pretty swanky marina.  The marina was gorgeous, but was a looooong way from anywhere by land, virtually trapping you on-site if you were visiting by boat.  (note to self) Back at the Girl, we decided to abandon the ICW the next day, and head out to Ocracoke island to do some tourist stuff, as we had a few days to burn.

So, let’s talk about Ocracoke.  The first folks known to be here were Algonquin speaking Native Americans, who never had a permanent settlement here, but used the island as a base for hunting and fishing.  The first European to describe area was Verrazano, in 1524.  He was unable to navigate the tortuous channel here, but assumed that China lay on the other side.  Later, in 1585, Sir Walter Raleigh ran his ship aground here.  Attempts at colonization were made, but met with failure.  Although uninhabited until 1750, Ocracoke was a favorite hangout for Edward Teach (a.k.a. Blackbeard), until his demise here in 1718.  From the 1750’s until the turn of the century, Ocracoke (then named Pilot Town) was the home to a group of skilled captains, who piloted small schooners trading on the North Carolina mainland from the Atlantic through the ever-changing shoals into Pamlico Sound.  By the late 1800’s, the shipping industry had died, and the main economic engine for the area became tourism, and remains so today.

We pulled in to the National Park Service dock in Silver Lake, the harbor at Ocracoke Village, and tied to the wall.  With my “Seniors” National Park pass, dockage was $.60/ft.  Yeah, Baby!  We cruised the dock to meet our neighbors, and the guy on the sailboat adjacent to us had a “Dunleavy’s” T shirt on.  (one of our favorite joints for mussels and beer-located on Sullivan’s Island, SC).  I had mine on too, so I said “Hey, nice shirt.” He looks up at me and asks how long I’d had it.  “About 3 years, but this is my third one.” Yeah, he’s had a couple too, and by the way, his name was Bill Dunleavy, and he owns the place.  We have a nice chat, find out that he lives on his boat-down south in the winter, Block Island in the summer.  Suzanne walked away with a new “Dunleavy’s” visor, and we gained a new boat pal.  The next morning, we rode our bikes to the ferry landing at the north end of the island.  Most of the north end is just a narrow dune, with the ocean on one side, and the Pamlico Sound on the other.  It made for a nice, albeit windy, ride.  After 28 miles, we had plenty of sand in our ears, and a couple of sore butts (after not riding since Eleuthera).  We treated ourselves to some Ahi and baked oysters at Oyster House when we returned to the village.  Back in the harbor, we had a couple of brewskies at “SmacNally’s” while we watched the rain roll in.  The winds were predicted to be 15-20 knots with seas of 3’ as we left the harbor the next morning.  In reality, we had 30 knot winds, pouring rain, and 2-4’ seas, right on our nose as we began the 12-hour trip to Manteo, site of the “Lost Colony”.  Good thing that boating plans are written in sand.  We decided to catch Manteo in the fall, and altered course to the east to catch the ICW.  We had 2 hours of “cupboard cleaners” on the beam, which sure beat 12 hours of beating upwind.  By 18h00, we had the hook down in 25 knots of wind at one of our favorite overnighters, Deep Point.

This morning, we were up and out of the anchorage by 05h45.  As we passed the Alligator River bridge, we were joined by 2 other Krogens, Evergreen (a 44’), and Gratitude (a 48’).  We planned on getting some boat chores done while taking our usual leisurely ride, timing to hit the Centerville Turnpike at 18h00.  It’s closed for rush hour between 16h00 and 18h00, and the 2 other boats decided that they’d pedal to the metal to make it before 16h00, so we didn’t travel together very long.  Later in the day, Suz and I witnessed a first-over the VHF a Krogen (!) being scolded for going too fast, throwing a wake into Coinjock Marina.  We’ll have the opportunity to give them an earful when we see them at Atlantic Yacht Basin tonight-Just Sayin’.

Just left North Carolina, crossing the Virginia state line.  The Girl will stay here in Chesapeake, Virginia for the summer while the crew returns to dirt for house chores and some travel.  We’ll stay with her for the next week or so to do some maintenance, varnishing, cleaning, and waxing, so we’ll talk ta ya…..

-Later

 

 

Goooood Morning!

Our stay in Charleston was wonderful, as usual.  Emily picked us up, and we all had a tasty dinner at Leon’s.  The eclectic menu featured several Clam apps, grilled Oysters, shrimp wraps, some interesting salads, and really good fried chicken, among other things.  I’d definitely go there again.  The next morning after church, we met Em for breakfast at The Queen Street Grocery.  Cam and Evan came over at 17h00, and we headed to Minero’s for Mexican food.  Killer!  We could barely waddle down the stairs and out the front door.  I should know better than to try and run with the big dogs.  C & E are 6’5” and 6’7”, respectively, play on about 5 soccer teams between them, and work out like mad dogs while they’re not fighting fires for the Charleston Fire Department.  Yeah, they can eat.  The Admiral had an appointment for a cut & color on Monday morning, so after dropping her off at the salon (Lordis Aveda Salon, for you Ladies), I walked through the back streets to the Girl.  Wax on, wax off for the next 5 hours while Suz got coiffed and clothing shopped for our upcoming European vacation.

Tuesday morning, we were off the dock by around 07h00 to take advantage of the slack water.  Getting out of the marina was a breeze (I had been up since 05h00, concerned about the current).  Unfortunately, we couldn’t take advantage of the ebbing tide as our first bridge (the Ben Sawyer) didn’t open until 09h00, and was only 6 miles away.  As we drifted downriver with the current, we spotted a Krogen Express at Charleston’s Megadock.  As we entered the Intracoastal Waterway behind Sullivan’s Island, unspoken excitement was mounting.  We had never traversed this section of the ICW aboard Alizann, but were well familiar with the area, as we have vacationed on the Isle of Palms for the past 30 summers (excluding last year, when we couldn’t make it back from Newfoundland).  Summer beach vacation with Suzanne’s family starts with the gang meeting at Morgan Creek Grill before taking possession of the beach house.  This year, we got pictures of the Grill from the water.

The rest of the trip to Georgetown was uneventful.  The currents were favorable most of the way, and we made good time.  Around the halfway mark, we were passed by “Viewfinder”, the Krogen Express from Chucktown.  We got a couple sips of diesel at the fuel dock in Georgetown, then moved over to our spot on the face dock.  Well……….we were around 12 feet longer than the space on the el, so we pulled out into the current, changed fenders and lines, did a 180 and backed in.  That way, our bow hung over, and our stern was secure.  Once tied up, the guy that was docked on the other leg of the el came over.  He was concerned that we were blocking him in, but felt better when I told him that we’d be leaving before daybreak.  Meanwhile, Trig and Alice from “Viewfinder” came over and introduced themselves.  Half an hour later, they were onboard with us for sips and chats.  They have a second home on Bald Head Island where we were headed, so we agreed to get together there.

It was like a new experience exiting Winyah Bay to the Atlantic the next morning, as the last and only time we were through here, the visibility was zero due to heavy fog.  As the sun burned off the morning mist, our trusty little ship turned North for a leisurely cruise to Bald Head Island, North Carolina.  Twelve hours and 85 nautical miles after our departure, we were safely tied at our “home away from home”, slip A-3 at Bald Head Marina.  Trig and Alice, having arrived 40 minutes earlier on their faster boat did the honors, handling our lines.  The Dockmaster told us that our friend, Betty, who has a home here would be arriving on “Lili” the following morning, and that 3 more Krogens would be here by early evening.  Yay!  Mini rendezvous.  Alice invited us to their home for sips the next evening, and Trig told us that he’d leave a golf cart at the marina for our use while on the island.  That’s boaters!  After sleeping in, we grabbed the cart and tooled to the other end of the island, where we walked the beach at Cape Fear.  After hitting the grocery, I’m standing on the dock talking to Betty, Jill & Diane, who have just returned from the Bahamas.  Suz walks up to me and quietly says “Marty, I need you to look at something”.  My stomach is now floppin’, ‘cause that’s how she ALWAYS leads in to bad news.  Back on the Girl, she leads me to the storage area under the settee, where we store our staples and canned goods.  OMG!  It smells like something died in there.  I thought she’d produce a dead mouse.  As it turned out, there was a thin film of liquid in the bottom of the compartment that had wicked up through all the contents.  Boxes, and bags of pasta, flour, rice, and etc. were sodden.  The labels on all the cans were wet and falling off.  Everything out, we thought that the culprit was a box of chicken broth.  We pitched all the wet boxes and bags, and marked each can with a magic marker, then started working on the (gag, gag) smell.  We thought that we’d better check the next compartment to the aft, just ‘cause.   #$%@!!  Even wetter than the first, with similar contents.  Repeat performance.  Next compartment back.  No food, but a heater/blower is housed there.  This one had standing water.  AND…. the culprit.  The PVC plastic fitting for our shore water inlet comes into this space, and had a stress fracture in it, sending out a fine mist of water.  (By the way, this is the same part that failed aboard “Idyll Time”, flooding Jeff & Susie’s pilothouse several months earlier).  The next compartment over contains the subwoofer for our stereo, and multiple keyboards, mouses, and assorted computer spare parts.  It was dry.  Working forward from the first wet compartment, the next was just slightly wet.  Judging by the quantity of mold, we’re thinkin’ that it must have been leaking for a week or so.  Suz had been in there a little over a week previously, and hadn’t noticed a problem.  The good news was that I had a spare part onboard, after already having replaced ours once before.  Okay, there seems to be a pattern here.  Let’s not repeat the behavior.  The new regulator is in, but that’s not the end of it.  I get online, and fail to find a stouter (more stout?) water inlet, but I have some thoughts about a design which will be more robust.  I’ll hit the plumbing supply stores this summer, and see what I can fabricate.  In the meantime, we’ll watch this one like a hawk.

Back to Bald Head.  We’re having sips at Alice & Trig’s beautiful home, and the sky is darkening.  The wind picks up, and there’s lightning in the distance, so Trig and I head out to the deck to stow the patio furniture.  Here comes the first of the 3 Krogens.  By now, the marina is closed, and as they beat past us through the whitecaps, we realize that there’ll be no help for them at the marina.  We pile into the golf carts and make it to the marina just as they’re getting to the docks.  Lisa and Mark, aboard “Tapestry”, Dave and Judy, on “Evergreen”, and Roberto and Maria, “Gratitude”, had just completed an overnight run from Fernandina Beach, and were rightfully proud, although pooped.  After going back to the house, we wrapped up Happy Hour, then went back to the marina to join the gang at “Mojo’s”, for dinner.  Suz and I enjoyed their “travel tales”, then returned to the Girl, where the contents of the compartments were still strewn about, drying and destinking.  We spent the next day putting things back together, and joined the Fernandina crew for dinner at Delphinas restaurant near the marina.

This morning, the 14th, we were off the dock at 05h15.  As we bucked the tide and current up the Cape Fear River, the fog moved in.  By the time that we got to Snow’s Cut, which is scary in full daylight, we had zero/zero visibility.  To make matters worse, the sun was glaring through the thick ground fog, effectively making me “snow blind”.  Suz read the chart plotter, doing the “left, “right, left, right” thing, while I drove, staring into the whiteness.  Good, clean fun.  We exited the ICW at Wrightsville Beach, and are now in the Atlantic under sunny skies, with a 3-foot swell on our beam.  We’ll reenter the ICW at Morehead City this evening to cross the Pamlico Sound the next day or so.

-Until Then

Pages

Captain's Log

Good Day,

John and Paulette arrived just when we were finishing up with our projects.  The last coat of Awlbrite went on the teak, Gazza and Peter finished up with the detailing, and I was done with the mechanicals-for now.  It looked like the wind and seas would abate somewhat in a few days, so we made ready to skedaddle to Tobago.  We said goodbye to Rob and Cindy over dinner at the marina, and had our last Indian food fix at “Spice of India” (sister restaurant to “Masala Bay”, which we enjoyed several times while at Marigot.)

On the 18th of January, we started our first passage of the new year.  Alizann was off the dock at 05h08.  Our plan was to run in the Caribbean down the lee side of St. Lucia, then into the Atlantic for a straight run to Tobago.  The seas were forecast to be 3’-5’, increasing to 4’-6’ by the end of our 26-hour run.  Winds pretty steady at 15-18 knots.  Both the wind and waves were predicted to be just a little aft of our beam, causing us to expect a bit of a rolly ride. As Seamantha is a larger boat, and thus a bit faster, we left about an hour ahead of John and Paulette, figuring that they’d catch us sometime in the middle of the afternoon.  The first four hours were gorgeous.  We had a slight push of current, and seas were running less than 2’.  As we rounded the southern tip of St. Lucia, the seas ramped up a bit to 2’-4’, pretty much on our beam.  A 1.5 knot current pushing against us was going to be the story of our life for the southbound cruise.  (In actuality, it varied from .5-1.5 knots nearly the whole trip.)  The lines went out, and by 12h30, the fishing drought was over.  We hooked into a 4.5’ Wahoo, and before we lost him 15 minutes later, he gave us quite a show.  At 13h00 the reel was zingin’ out again.  This time, we boated a 48” Mahi.  Less than a half hour later we boated a 42 incher.  At the same time, the other reel was spoolin’ out.  When the Admiral brought it in, there was a disembodied Skipjack head on the lure.  Missed another biggie!  Yow!  Suz thought that the fishing would be better out in the Atlantic, and she sure was right.  Stopping for the fish thing slowed our progress, and Seamantha caught and passed us.  By now, the seas were running 3’-5’ with a bit of chop on top, thanks to the now steady 18 knot winds.  Getting a bit too wavy to fish, as every time we hook up we have to slow the Girl, and she commences to rock and roll, pitch and yaw.  It’s always hard to gauge the height of seas, but when I’m standing in the cockpit and can’t see over the top of the waves, I feel pretty comfortable calling them 3’-5’.  We were still 19 hours from Tobago, so our little buddies folded up in the cooler needed to be butchered and refrigerated.  Brought out the Husky portable workbench, braced my back against the bulkhead and went to work.  Of course, after I was done the cockpit looked like the scene of a mass murder.  I didn’t start feeling pukey(sp?) until I was just about done cleaning up on my hands and knees.  Not good.  Suz had to come down and chunk up the filets and throw them in the freezer while I stood in the pilothouse door, gulping in fresh air.  (Note to self-take antiemetics when filleting in cockpit in rolling seas.)  Some pre-cooked sloppy Joe’s hit the spot, then we settled in for the evening.  Four to six feet now, winds back to around 15 knots.  The inside of the cupboards were being re (or is it “dis”) organized as we listened in amusement to the clatter from the outside.  As the sun sunk below the horizon, it was dark as the inside of a pocket, being just a day or two from New Moon.  Suz hit the rack early, so by 00h30, she had six solid hours of sleep under her belt when she came on watch.  By 06h30 when I got up, the seas had dropped to 3’-5’, winds still 15 kn, and the current was abating.  The Admiral said that during her watch, the current had become so intense that she lost another knot of headway, causing her to have to increase throttle.    By morning, Seamantha was two and a half miles ahead of us and headed for the barn.  As Tobago drew closer, the seas dropped to 2’-4’, then 1’-2’ over the last hour of the trip.  When we entered the harbor John and Paulette had the hook down, and Suz maneuvered the girl into position where I snubbed the anchor chain with 225 feet out in 40 feet of water.  While I was studying our position relative to other boats, an “Oh sh$#t” exploded from the door of the pilothouse.  “John and Paulette just dropped their dinghy!” “So?”  “I mean DROPPED, not lowered.”  We couldn’t see their tender due to the relative positions of the boats, but we could see bright red gas cans floating on the water.  Now we’re getting nervous as they’re not answering their VHF and we can’t see either of them.  Boats rotate a bit.  There’s John.  There’s Paulette.  This all transpired in probably less than a minute, but it seemed like an eternity.  Amazingly, all four of the dinghy lifting lines severed at the same moment, dropping the tender straight down where it landed upright.  What if the dinghy hadn’t been clear of the boat?  What if only one or two legs of the bridle had broken?  What if it had swung back and hit one of our pals?  Thankfully J & P had some good JuJu going in a bad situation.

Time now for the Customs and Immigration Chacha, but that’s a story for

-Later

Good Day, Good Day

Here in the islands, it’s very poor form to neglect greeting someone, even if just passing on the street.  A little bit different than back in the States.  “Good day, everything okay?, you good?”  Then, you’d better be ready to chat for a minute (or ten) with a total stranger.

It was a good thing that we headed to Carolina with an extra bag-lotsa boat parts to bring home.  Kurt’s partner, Richard was waiting for us at the airport when we arrived in St. Lucia.  We took a leisurely ride back to Rodney Bay, stopping at a scenic overlook on the windward side, and the “bread man” in the interior.  Baked in a traditional stone oven, the 8 inch loaves were split and slathered with butter and slices of cheese while still hot.  Richard looked the other way as we ate in the backseat of the minivan.  (Just what we needed after all the food and drink over the holiday).  Back at the ranch, the Girl looked good.  Zim had looked after her while we were gone, even watering Suz’s plants.  They looked better than when we had left.

Over the Holiday, I had talked to Jeff, on Idyll Time.  He and Suzie had just gotten their boat surveyed for their insurance renewal.  In the course of the survey, a small leak was noticed in…….Guess what?  The gennie exhaust elbow.  Time to face the music.  Easy(?) jobs always seem to grow in scope as you’re working through them.  One of the screws holding a flange was buried behind the shore power cord bin.  Only the shorty screwdriver would fit-my hand wouldn’t.  Grrrhh!  Sweat, swear, sweat, swear.  Repeat.  Screws out, flange won’t budge.  Chinese 5200 (permanent adhesive) under the flange and around the elbow.  Repeat sweat/swear mantra.  Fetch 4 pound sledge.  Satisfaction.  When the elbow was out, the cause of the problem was evident.  A faulty weld had allowed the stainless steel to corrode, and there WAS a small leak in the tubing.  One of the legs of the new fiberglass elbow not long enough, and another problem discovered with the original installation.  Time for a re-engineer.  Incredibly, Island Water World had some fiberglass tubing.  JB Weld, a couple coats of glass matting and some epoxy followed by a coat of black paint, and the new bits were ready for install.  Channeling MacGyver? Guess the dues were paid on the removal, ‘cause the install went super smoothly.

Suz and I had been commiserating over recoating our brightwork (teak caprails).  The teak still looked good, but we knew that it wouldn’t be long until the epoxy coating (Awlbrite) began to fail.  After procrastinating for a month, we hired Tony and “Friend” to do the job.  It sure felt good to have that project off our plate, as we had both dreaded the prospect of taping, sanding, coating and etc.  Oh yeah, we had to move the boat so that the guys would have access to the port side, and as we were moving the Girl, Suzanne heard a new and strange noise.  We finally determined that it was the raw water pump for the oil cooler.  I thought that it’d always sounded that way (see: Delusional thinking).  Nope, “That’s new” says the Admiral.  Check spare parts spreadsheet-Yep, got one of those.  Yada, yada, yada.  They say that one of the definitions of cruising is “working on your boat in exotic places.”

My sad story is done for now.  I’m sure that it really choked you up.

Gary and Tori came in shortly after our return in anticipation of starting the first leg of the ARC around the world rally, so we had more playmates.  New Year’s Eve saw a cruiser-organized wine tasting dock party on the tee head next to our boat.  Local hikes, including a stroll up to Fort Rodney on Pigeon Island kept us occupied for a few days.  We had eight dive days with Dive St. Lucia.  They have a great program.  A two-tank dive with lunch in between dives off a well maintained, open transom 46’ dive boat costs around $100 (U.S.) a head.  The crew is well trained and very enthusiastic-we love ‘em.  Suz headed back to Ann Arbor in the States for a few days to attend Ali, our daughters’ baby shower.  While she was gone, I had a chance to replace that pesky pump, and do a thorough cleaning on Alizann.  From the flybridge to the bilge, everything was removed from its’ hiding place, cleaned and replaced.  Stopped counting at 29 hours.  (I know, sob, sob, sob!)  The good news was that I ran out of time, so hired Gazza and Peter to wash, wax and detail the outside.  It took the two of them two full days, which of course was stretched to occupy the better part of three-and-a-half to get the job done.  At the end of the workday, we sat in the cockpit of Alizann sipping cold beverages and rappin’.  Gazza is a Rastafarian, and we had some spirited discussions on religion.  Gazza had some very unambiguous opinions on both.  I thought it was a dealbreaker when I told him that Suz and I were Catholic, but serendipitously, a guy came by in a dinghy after just having lost his chain and lock in the water.  When I dropped everything, donned my mask and snorkel and found the lost goods, Gazza decided that I was a righteous man and let the Catholic thing slide.  Whew!

Shortly after Suz returned, Rob and Cindy on “Avventura” (Grenada pals) came back to their boat from a holiday trip to the States.  The weather was so cold in Kansas City, where they live, that some pipes froze and burst in their home.  Maybe one of the few things more expensive than boat repairs is hiring a plumber on New Year’s Day.  This boating thing is so hard to describe, but the intense friendships that you develop and renew periodically are one of the attractions for us.

Too soon, it was time for the World ARC to leave.  After years of preparation and planning, Kim and Zim on Someday and Tori and Gary on Solitude dreams were about to come to fruition.  You can follow these two boat and others on www.worldcruising.com.  As the last days before departure wound down, their moods changed and the tension was palpable.  After all, this wasn’t a 3 or 4-day passage.  They were leaving to go AROUND the world.  Two nights before departure, Suz broke the tension with a “Bon Voyage” meal aboard Alizann.  The “Four Cheese, Drunken Sun-Dried Tomato and Spinach Pasta” casserole, washed down with a few bottles of French red and white pop was delicious.  Dinner was capped with a homemade Key Lime pie, Godiva chocolates, and orange-infused rum.  Yum!  After the forty World ARC boats left the marina, it was pretty quiet, but no worries.  John and Paulette, aboard Seamantha, were soon on their way from Martinique to join us for our Trinidad/Tobago excursion.

Internet is spotty.  I’ll try to bounce some pictures into space when it gets better.

-Later

Au Revoir, Martinique.  Hello St. Lucia.

Time to giddyup.  The weather window popped open, so we were off to St. Lucia.  Had reservations for a slip beginning on the 15th, but figured that 2 days early was no big deal.  Emails to the office went unanswered, and our phones were acting up by not acting at all.  Arriving at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia, we found that there was “no room at the inn.”  Oops.  Elton, the Dockmaster worked his magic and put us at the “Big Boy” dock, where Alizann nestled in among the 100 and 200 footers.  He even got us a U.S.A. power supply.  Livin’ large in the expensive seats (at the cheap seat price).  He said that we’d probably have to move over to the “poor side of town” as soon as a spot opened up on the other dock.  So, I’m doing the post passage engine room check, and there’s some dried salt on the floor of the generator compartment right under the raw water cooling pump.  Sheesh!  My handy dental mirror and flashlight reveal that there’s also a trickle on the underside of the pump.  I knew that it was going to be there, but I like to delude myself now and then, preferring to think that everything’s O.K. when it’s not.  I know the drill.  There’s a spare pump on board.  We’ll get another spare when we’re home at Christmas-Ka-ch$ng!  Continuing the inspection, there’s a puddle of dried rust on the sole where the generator exhaust passes through the engine room bulkhead.  Hmmmh.  It’s directly under a stainless-steel elbow which is bright and shiny.  Mirror and flashlight reveal a different story underneath.  Clean rust trail off with emery cloth-shiny, no worries.  Tighten hose clamp, repeat delusional thought process.  Run generator for 10 minutes-no leaks.  Finish engine room inspection-all good.

Over the next few days, we get The Girl dressed up for Christmas with outdoor lights, etc.  In the meantime, we meet up with Kim and Zim (s/v Someday-St. John’s and Grenada), who are here for the start of the ARC Around the World Rally.  Theresa, Randy and the boys from Pilot’s Discretion are here too.  After being on the megayacht dock for a few days, we figure that they’re not moving us.  Meticulously get all the chafing gear on the lines, double-tie, get down extra fenders so that we can leave the Girl over Christmas.  Kiss of death.  Next morning, Sean, the marina manager comes by to tell us that we need to move.  Grrrhh.  Meanwhile, the elbow is nagging me.  Pull hose on other side of bulkhead to check inside of elbow.  Looks good, but the elbow is made from SS tubing, not pipe which is thicker.  Google, Google, Google.  Okay, the experts say that the fittings should be SS pipe or fiberglass/polyester.  We better have a spare.  Call Krogen-Gregg says that he has a new Stainless elbow that he can ship.  Thinking, thinking.  Hmmh, if it does start leaking, and I have to replace it, why not use fiberglass, which will never corrode.  Kill a half day online.  Order fiber elbow to be delivered over Christmas.  Sheila, just add it to the pile of boatstuff that’s accumulating in your guest bedroom.

“Oh, you’re leaving your boat in the marina for ten days with no one onboard?  You need a Temporary Importation Permit.”  Are you kidding?  The Customs cha-cha all over again.  (Why can’t I just keep my mouth shut?)  Customs needs a boat inventory before the officer can come to do a boat inspection before we can get our permit to leave.  Ka-ch$ng!  Okay, most of our stuff (spares, tools) is enumerated on spreadsheets, but it’s not a bad idea to have a list of all our goodies for insurance purposes.  We ended up with 5 sheets, single-spaced, 2 columns for our boat inventory.  When we gave it to the Customs officer, his eyes nearly popped out.  We made it about halfway through the first page, when he said he’d take our word for it.  He had an icy drink, signed our papers in triplicate, and was on his way.  (They DO love their paperwork down here in the islands.  Suz and I believe that they comprise 90% of the world market for carbon paper.)

Kurt picked us up at Noon on the 18th, for our hour-and-a-half drive to the airport.  Fourteen hours later, Suzanne’s sister, Sheila, picked us up in Asheville, North Carolina.

-Later

Bonjour,

Ah Martinique.  Great food, wonderful grocery stores, cheap French wines, great food, good roads, lots of hiking trails, great food, many sights to see.

Soo…..  Our plan was to anchor out in Martinique.  Then, we thought we’d get a mooring ball so that we could be close to the marina.  Then, maybe we should rent a car (John and Paulette had one).  Well, let’s see if they have a berth at the dock so we could have easy access to the car.  Long story short, we rented a car for 2 weeks, and Le Marin found a spot on the dock for us, on the condition that we left in a week.  The marina holds around a thousand boats, but was jammed full.  We figured that things would work themselves out as long as we just hung loose.  Okeey Dokey.  Time to Med-moor between our neighbors who were about 19 feet apart (our beam is 17.5).  I’m backing the Girl in from the pilothouse, totally blind.  The monkey working the controls while the Admiral is in the stern whispering commands into my headset.  (We prefer this routine to my driving from up top, as I can step out of the pilothouse to the bow easily).  The dock guy is in his tender, holding the bow mooring ball sorta out of the way, as I’m backing between the our neighbor’s stern  and the ball.  All’s going well until we’re sideways without a lot of room to maneuver.  “Oops, I meant stern to starboard, not port”.  It was gettin’ on towards dusk, and cloudy, but I could see the dock guy’s eyes, as big as pies as the Girl slid past his tender before he disappeared below my line of sight.  No crunch, no foul.  We got ‘er straightened out without a go-around, Suz got stern lines on with the help of the young lady next door, and our Dude, now visibly more relaxed, got the bow attached to the ball.  We jammed some fenders between the boats, and we were home.  Our neighbor lady, Elodie, had just single-handed from France in the Mini Transat, a race which had ended for her the day previously.  (The Mini Transat is a race for 6.5 meter-that’s 21 feet, folks- boats that starts in France, and ends in Martinique around 17 days later.)  We didn’t see much of her for the first few days as she was laying in the cockpit of her Uncle’s boat next to us, catching up on her sleep.  Our neighbors on the other side?   Let’s just say that we locked up tight whenever we left, even for a minute.  Not judgin’-just sayin’.  The always colorful life on a boat!  We solved the European shore power problem (partially) by wiring up an adapter to allow us to bring 220V, 50Hz into the Girl.  We charged our batteries with one of our chargers which would accept 50Hz, while running the boats’ AC appliances off of a different inverter.  The only appliances that we lacked were air conditioning and the washing machine, as our inverter doesn’t put out enough voltage to run these guys, and they don’t like 50Hz frequencies.  (Okay, tech geeks, I tried to keep the explanation simple)

The hikes on Martinique are plentiful.  There are kilometers and kilometers of reasonably marked trails covering much of the island.  Suz and I knocked off the south end of the windward coast in several day-sized pieces, as well as a few in the interior.  There’re still plenty for our next visit.

There are plenty of other attractions to visit:

The banana plantation, Habitation Balfort, where we toured the fields aboard a little train.  We were taught us everything that we needed to know about the cultivation of bananas.  All of the fruit exported from Martinique goes directly to France. 

The Habitation Clement, a restored sugar plantation, gave us a taste of what life was like on a 19th century sugar plantation.  (It was also the location where George H.W. Bush and Frances’ Francoise Mitterrand met following the First Gulf War).  Several buildings and an old rum distillery were available for a walk-thru.  At the end of our tour, we had a real bonus!  Rum tasting-with samples of all of Clement’s current products.  The pourers weren’t in any rush to chase us out.  I had the feeling that we could have tasted all afternoon, but we had to drive home in the now torrential rain.  It was raining so hard that there was a guard at the bridge over the raging creek to show us the way to drive over the now-submerged, railingless(?) plank bridge. 

We were a bit disappointed after driving all the way north to the sugar refinery, only to find that they were closed until a few months into the dry season when cane would again be harvested.

The ruins of the Chateau Dubuc  on the Caravelle peninsula were extensive, and the setting was stunning, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the windward side.  Another rainy day, but as we walked along on our self-guided tour, we stopped to seek shelter for our brown bag lunch (baguette, French cheese and meats, of course!).  We had planned on hiking another segment of the shore trail after our tour, but were foiled by the pouring rain.

Another day took us to Jardin Balata (Balata Gardens).  Even though exotic species of plants from all over the world were displayed, Balata wasn’t your typical botanical garden.  Instead of groupings by species, the garden was designed to be a work of art, blending different colors and textures of plants to create scenes pleasing to the eye.  Every time that you rounded a turn in the serpentine path coursing through the property, you were confronted with another Kodak moment.  Very cool.

The Anse Cafard memorial was very moving.  Erected on a prominence overlooking a bay where a slave ship grounded on a stormy night in 1830, killing most on board, it features fifteen modern art stone sculptures.  Depicting slaves, the figures are oriented so that they face the African’s homeland of Ghana, thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

The childhood homesite of Josephine (Napolean’s wife) is worth a stop, if for no other reason than to say that you were there…Nowadays, only the foundation of the main house and the ruins of the sugar mill are visible.  A small museum is also on the grounds.  (You may know that both Martinique and St. Lucia claim to be her birthplace)

La Savanes des Esclaves is a reproduction of a typical slave “village” that would be found on plantations during the 18th and 19th centuries.  Although the guided tours are in French, a self-guide brochure, printed in English, allows you to fill in the blanks if your French is “iffy”.  Very easy to spend a couple of hours there.

Martinique is a country where daily life revolves around lunch, much like France.  Businesses close between Noon and Two P.M., and there are no two ways about it.  We fell easily into the habit of taking our main meal at lunch time, and our days of exploration were punctuated by lunch at some great little restaurant that someone had recommended.  I could name names, but the places will probably be different by the time you get here.  Don’t be long!..........tick,tick,tick.

Do the French like their wine?  As my pal Dick would say “Does a chicken have lips?”  I’ve never quite figured the simile, but it rolls off the tongue well.  Yeah, French wine is inexpensive here, but mores so when you shop at Pomal wholesale distributor (Thank you, John and Paulette).  This is where the retailers shop, and we felt fortunate to escape with only 6 cases of red and white pop.

All in all, the two weeks flew by.  Yes, on day 7 we were awarded a reprieve of 3 more days.  On day 10, the Dockmaster appeared at our stern and informed us that we “must leave right now”, as a boat was coming in to this, their reserved slip.  No worries.  He moved us to the “Big Boy” dock for the remainder of our stay.  John and Paulette’s 58-footer looked like a dinghy compared to the other yachts berthed there, so you can imagine how lost Alizann looked.

It would be really easy to get sucked in to life here at Le Marin.  The dockage is inexpensive, and there are modern conveniences here on Martinique (In absolute contrast to Dominica and St. Lucia, around 30 miles or so to the north and south, respectively).  Fresh baguettes every morning, loads of great little restaurants, good roads, nice beaches, a real shopping mall………….

We may be back.

-Later

Hellooo….

So, let me say a few words about Marigot Bay.  This is an extremely sheltered, nearly round bay surrounded by tall headlands rising to nearly 600’.  The narrow channel leads out to an anchorage which has a few mooring balls, and room to anchor.  The inner harbor has many mooring balls and a dock running along the shore with room for about 25 boats to Med-moor (stern-to, bow tied to a lead line away from shore).  Both the moorings and the dock are owned by Capella Resort, which is adjacent to the bay.  The good news is that as a marina customer, you have access to their two swimming pools and spa.  Dockside power is European (240V, 50Hz), but they had a small converter which allowed limited power for 2 or 3 North American boats (220V, 60Hz).  This allowed us to keep our batteries charged, and run the A/C in our stateroom at night.

Day two dawned bright and sunny.  The Admiral went for a ninety-minute massage while I chilled at the boat, taking care of some odds ‘n ends.  John’s brother and sister-in-law flew in from England for a 3 week visit on board Seamantha.  The afternoon had me peelin’, slicin’, and dicin’, while the Admiral handled the skilled job of prepping food for our Thanksgiving celebration the following day.  Aboard Seamantha, Paulette was continuing her preparations, which had already been in process for a few days.  Later in the day, the rest of the U.S. Thanksgiving gang cruised in.  Randy and Theresa, along with their two boys Ryan (12 years old) and Ronan (10 years old) docked their 54’ SeaRay, “Pilot’s Discretion” down the way.  John and Paulette had met them a couple of years before when docked in Grenada for the Summer.  Randy is retired from American Airlines after serving stints as Bob Hope’s, then Clint Eastwood’s private pilot subsequent to a stint in the U.S. Coast Guard.  Theresa is an attorney on sabbatical, as they have been cruising for 3 years.

It wasn’t Thanksgiving with the family and Detroit Lions football on the tube, but it sure weren’t bad.  Appetizers and sips started at Noon, and we pushed away around 16h00.  John started us out with some French white pop.  Smoked salmon (brought by John’s family from Scotland), Paulette’s homemade Spanakopita, and steamed shrimp got the party started.  Then the real fun began.  I’ll just give you the list:  Roast beef; Turkey; mashed potatoes (of course!); roasted vegetables; roasted Brussel Sprouts; roasted Sweet Potatoes; Onion casserole; Cranberry and Orange sauce; gravy and stuffing, all washed down with a red(?) Sancerre.  Dessert put us over the top:  Pecan pie, Chocolate cheese cake; ice cream; and stewed fruit with whipped cream were all on the menu.

We didn’t waste a minute during our weeklong stay at Marigot.  The day after Thanksgiving, John and Paulette arranged for Curt Joseph (a.k.a. Island Man) to take us on a tour of St. Lucia.  He picked up John, Paulette, Michael, Wendy, Suzanne and I at 09h00, and we didn’t return until after dark. We visited Tet Paul Nature trail first.  There, our guide took us along an easy trail, identifying local plants and trees along the way, culminating in a spectacular lookout which overlooked The Pitons (Gros and Petit), two extinct volcanic cones, which are St. Lucian geologic icons.  Next stop was the Diamond Botanical Gardens, where we spent a couple hours strolling the paths.  Our guide did a superb job of identifying and describing the uses of the myriad of plants there.  We took a late lunch at “Fedo’s” restaurant, located on one of the back alleys of Soufriere.  We never would have found it on our own, but Curt said that he wouldn’t eat anywhere else.  After lunch, we could see why.  Then, it was off to the Soufriere volcano.  We were the only tourists there, as it was late in the day, so we had our own personal guide.  We walked the boardwalks over pits of boiling mud through tendrils of sulfur-laden steam which had bubbled up through the Earth’s crust.  Cool.  Afterwards, we visited the “Volcano Museum”, which provided some rudimentary facts.  At sunset, we walked the beach outside the town of Soufriere, viewing Gros Piton one last time, from a different angle.  It was a long, sleepy ride home.  We all agreed that Curt was the man.  He picked us up early enough that we were ahead of the busses filled with cruise ship passengers, timing lunch so that they could pass ahead of us, and finished our tour after they were on their way back to their ships-perfect!  The next morning Theresa and the boys led Suz and I on a hike that almost literally went straight up through the forest to a 630’ peak overlooking Marigot.  As we were scrambling up the path, at times aided by ropes strung along the side, and starting mini slides of loose stones, I have to admit I was worrying about how we’d get back down.  The view from the top was well worth the climb, and a different path, this one winding down another face of the peak took us back down.  We enjoyed pizza and a few sodas while the boys played pool at “Doolittles” before taking the little ferry boat back to our side of the harbor.  That evening, Suz and I had dinner at “Masala Bay,” an exceptional Indian restaurant located right at the marina (the Seamantha and Alizann crews managed to wedge in 2 lunches there during the week too).

It’s funny how inertia can grab ahold of you.  When Suz and I are on the move, we can’t wait to see the next anchorage.  When we pull into a marina and stay for a while, it gets tough to move along.  I guess that we just get used to the routine……… Anyway, it was time to get on up island.  On Tuesday morning, the crews of Alizann and Seamantha pushed off for the 5 hour hop to Martinique.

-Later

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