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A BUMMER July 22, 2014

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Our granddaughter and parents were to come this week. My daughter who is in real estate was negotiating a deal and could not come. Therefore, all is delayed till October. All are bummed out. Hopefully all will turn out for the better. The real estate deal never happened. The parties were not even close, in my estimation.

It is Tuesday and there is a tropical low that is to pass north of us and die. In the mean time we will get wind and rain. A strong breeze is ok. The wind generator loves the wind, to about 30 knots. Hopefully all will go north all season. That is why the insurance company has us down here.

Some excitement Saturday. We had lunch with some boat buddies who are putting there boat in the yard for two months while they go back to California. When we got back to the boat I notice the neighbor boat seemed to be dragging anchor. They were not on board so I thought I would go and see if I could solve the problem. While looking around, I realized the boat drifting was not theirs, but ours. Really not good. It was fairly breezy and we were in pretty tight confines. The Mate got the engine cranked and I started pulling up the anchor. Got it up, reset it and it would not set. Take the anchor chain all back up again (165 feet of chain) and try again. The bottom is mud and rock shelves. We had dropped the anchor on a shelf and just pulled the anchor across the top. The second try we set and were further off to the left of the shelf. By the time we got the amount of chain out that we need we were very close to 3 other boats. The anchor was holding and we decided to wait until Sunday morning to reset it.

Sunday starts of with another tropical wave passing buy and we have lots of rain and a strong wind. Not the best for re-anchoring. Monday morning was busy with have to do things. Therefore no re-anchoring. Plus it was still pretty breezy. 6 o’clock Tuesday morning the anchor is coming up. Again hit the shelf on the first try, but got ahead of it on the second try. We are were we were originally and the Captain is happy.

Now the question is why did we drag after one month and a few good wind storms. We are right off a beach bar and beach. There are tourist catamarans that bring in loads of people from the resorts. They pull onto the beach and set a stern anchor (one off the back of the boat) to keep them square to the beach so the stairway from the front of the boat lets the people off in ankle deep water. I had already had a discussion with the Captain about dropping the stern anchor very close to my anchor rode. Therefore he became suspect number 1 in my mind. There is a boat that is anchored right beside my anchor. He is German and speaks little English. I asked him about what could have happened and he said Yaa, but he was quick to assure me he did not want to get involved in any problems. Well I was not happy, but I was not going to cause any international incident. There were others who saw him come in so close and drop his anchor to close to others. We were all out staring at him as he came in Sunday. He knew! He dropped his stern anchor in close where he should have all along.

I did get my cap rail refinished. Today we started on the Taft Rail. 9 spindles that have to be sanded and built up with fresh varnish. That will about do the refinishing this year. I did the cockpit cap rail, table and hatch last year and they are all in good shape.

TIME IS FLYING BY July 14, 2014

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Seriously, It is already the middle of July. There is much to do to the boat before heading out. We still have not nailed down a date for our daughter and family to come. That is a factor in getting work done on the boat. When they are here and how much is left to spend on the boat. I want to pull the main mast and have the yard get the electrical lines in the mast secured. That has to be done before we go out and beat this poor old boat some more. Have been discussing new strategies with our boat buddies on how to avoid the rough seas around the north and south ends of the islands. We have had our roughest and scariest seas in these areas.

If we spend another year in the eastern Caribbean we will need a bottom job. We tried a harder paint this time and it worked extremely well while we were moving. Being at anchor is totally different. I have to work on the waterline at least every other week. The algae here really adheres itself to the hull. I am also getting small barnacles scattered around the hull. They are small, but again really stuck to the boat. I bought a stainless wire brush with scraper on the end. A real painters tool. The scraper does a job on the barnacles. The brush is needed to work on the prop. Everybody’s tricks including mine to keep the prop clean, do not phase the algae. I think it grows right into the bronze. Looks like a big fuzzy basketball after a coupe weeks.

On the nicer side, a week ago Friday the Museum sponsors a jazz night. There were 4-5 sax players, drums, and base guitar in the main group. They also had up and coming bands, songwriters, poets and artist of the paint and photo type on exhibit. A most enjoyable evening.

Yesterday we went to a Boil Down. They through everything imaginable into a big pot and fill it up with a broth made of various seasonings and water and boil it away. Then you eat what’s left. It was very bland. I was expecting something more like gumbo. The mate was very disappointed in it. I am always happy to find something to eat after it is all in one pot. Goes against my picky eater ways. So to me this was good, I got enough to eat. And yes I also like Gumbo. I like my food a littleThis was sponsored by one of the bus companies that do the tours around the island.

I do not know of any big events going on this week, but it is only Monday. We do have 2 tropical waves scheduled for the week. The first one is to start tonight. It was to have started this afternoon, but the weatherman are the same all over. He missed. That’s OK, it was one of the nicest days of yet. I have been asked how many mile we traveled to get here. Should have that for next week.

Woops, it just started raining. Suppose to have 35 knot wind in the squalls. Lasting for the next 24 to 36 hours.


Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Alright we are 2.5 weeks into Paradise. I am learning the names of the various marines in the area and which do what. I go to one for; garbage, fuel, pick up for church and watching the world cup. And cheep beer. I go to another for cheep but fantastic lunch, expensive beer and to buy meat. It is also the closest and we can catch the buses to St George. That is an experience.

The mate went into St George last week to get her hair cut. They did a great job. And I mean that. She got the bus and transferred. The ride she found traumatizing. Today I did my first bus trip. For the first mile I would agree, then we got behind a truck, and had to do a reasonable rate. The roads are two lane very narrow strips of asphalt. Vehicles stop in the middle of their lane and talk, let people off or anything else. There are very few guard rails and the drop can be hundreds of feet. There drainage system is a ditch made of concrete at the edge of the asphalt. It is about 1.5 feet wide and 2 feet deep. When crossing the street you must jump them. When walking on the sidewalk, you are the other edge of the ditch. Sidewalks are wide enough for one person. The vehicles many times put some of their tire over the edge of the ditch to have room to pass, all at 40+ miles an hour.

The buses are 15 passenger vans. They would be 9 passenger in the states, but they add a couple rows, put in 4 people per row and have no problem putting 20 people in them. And that does not include any kids that may be held. The roads have no yellow lines. In fact, they have no lines at all. Therefore, you may pass at any place. And the bus drivers do, on corners, blind hills, etc.

Another interesting thing is there are roads that come up a hill so steep, a vehicle can not stop before entering the more main road. No problem, just blow your horn and pull out. The other cars seem to get stopped or maneuver around without to many deaths.

Sunday on the way to church we passed a 3 car accident. All were able to get away without a visit to the hospital. A van, a BMW and a small stake truck. Messed up a lot of sheet metal.

Another interesting thing is they have a driver and a helper. He open the door, collects fair, flips up jump seats, hangs out the window trying to get anybody interested in taking their bus. If he is successful, the bus slams on it poor brakes and stops for the person.

One last comment. If you are young, attractive and female, you get taken to your front door, no matter where it is. If you are an old graying, American, they get you somewhat close, ½ mile let you out tell you to turn left at that intersection and stay on that road till you get there. They are a very friendly, courteous people, but they really did not like getting invaded by us. They admit that things were going down hill quickly, but they believe they could have worked it out.

On the mates return from the beauty parlor, she told the bus driver the wrong stop. Big mistake. You can not even get a bus to the marina she mentioned because of construction. They dropped her off and said it was at the end of the trail. When she is off shopping by herself, she takes the hand held VHF radio so she can call when she wants picked up. This day she call right on the edge of its range. She is out of breath from climbing this hill. She says the road kept getting smaller and then it was a dirt trail. As I am consoling, she reaches the top of the hill and says she can see the bay. A few seconds later she says she can see the marina. I jump into the dinghy and speed off to pick her up. By the time I get there she in on the dinghy dock, and is not a happy camper. Like I told the driver where she wanted to go or that she had to walk over a hill to get there. Good thing she was real happy with the hair cut. Helped block out the other parts of the day.

Tomorrow she is going shopping with an organized trip with one of the cab companies do 2 days a week. She will go to the bank and the IGA for some groceries and then back to the marina. Same van will take her and bring her back to the same marina. This should work.

GRANADA July 3, 2014

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Let’s see, I went on vacation for a week, got busy, forgot. That last one could be for real. Ok, I just forgot and got busy, but it has not been a vacation.

We check in at Calaciou on the 16th. It is a very poor island. Customs was at the port, immigration was at the police station across the street. We spent the night and left early in the morning for Granada.

The plan was to stop at 2 snorkeling sights. The first one was very small and the mooring balls to close to shore for our size boat. The next one had good mooring balls, but the snorkeling sight was in open water. The mate said she was not ready for that. That is to bad. The sight has an underwater area where someone put many statues. All standing up like they should. The pictures look interesting. It has been in National Geographic. I still want to go. I’ll have to put something together with some others that are interested. Has to be a good calm day.

We therefore moved on to St George, the capital and a good size city on an island of only 112,000 population. We motored through the inner harbor which has 2 marina but no anchorages. The anchorage is outside in an open roadstead. That means you are just anchored out along the coast. It was a quiet night and not very roily. That is a good thing. I hate hanging on to the sheets with my fingers and toes to stay in the bed. Our weather window was closing and we were told that the anchorage at Hog Island was very well protected. We had a tropical wave that was to pass to the south of us and produce some squally, windy weather.

My daughter and family are coming either in late July or October. Depends on their business. They will be staying at a place called True Blue. It has a small bay and we went into it to check it out. It is small and crowded. The next bay over is Prickly Bay. We also check it out. Both have bad reputations for being roily. The next bay is Hartman Bay, which we skipped and went on to the bay at Hog Island.

We got really lucky. There was a place close into the island and its beach and bar that was big enough for us to have swing room. An old boat buddy of ours was anchored near by and said there had been 2 smaller boats anchored there and they left about an hour before we arrived. It was good that we were there and secure. That afternoon the wind started building. It got up to about 30 knots and stayed there for the better part of 3 days. Then it got back to the normal 15 to 20 knots. It makes the dinghy rides rough and wet.

You kind of get used to being damp to wet all the time. No mater what we are going to do we must start with a dinghy ride. We have found a couple bakeries and a great meat market that only sells organic meat. It is very good. He does his own smoking of meats and cheeses. Today we went there and he was experimenting with a new bread. He puts different spices in the dough. He gave samples of this right out of the oven. Oh, was it good. It was almost lunch time and I could have eaten the whole loaf.

Last Monday we did a tour of the island that included a chocolate factory, a ginger factory, a run distillery, the rain forest, a waterfall with a cliff diver, monkeys in the wild, stops at a couple historical homes and more information on what grows here then you ever wanted to know. It was a great tour.

Tuesday we went to the outskirts of St George to do grocery shopping, with stops at a bank, a hardware store and another grocery store that was like a small Sam’s. Only had groceries in bulk. A carton of this, a carton of that. Not real conducive to a sailboat. These shopping days are organized by a couple cab companies that bring 9 passenger vans. It is amazing how they stuff this van with people and then all their groceries. Then you go careening around the narrow mountain roads back to the marina and your dinghy.

Also have had a port(that a window) repaired. The glass cracked a couple weeks ago. Hopefully Saturday I will get to a marine store and the shipyard. I need some items to work on my bright work. I also want to see about having my main mast pulled and fix the swinging of all my electrical cables in the mast. I also was told to have a seal replaced on the main engine water pump. This is not the main seal that kills your water pump, it is the seal that seals a conversion piece for these engines when they are used in various configurations. Hopefully neither of those will cost very much.

Have also had my windshield re-stitched and my awning patched. Good canvas guy and very reasonable.

Well we will keep everyone posted on how one spend hurricane season on a small island in the south Caribbean.


Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.

Off again at 8 am for Canquon. About 4 hours. Nice sail till the north side of island then the seas built and it again got very roily. This was not any where near as bad as going to St Vincent. But 30+ degree rolls are a pain.

Nice bay, but open to the west. Was some shat roily. During the night we had a thunderstorm. At least one rumble or thunder and one flash of lightening.

First time in months. The area of both the Leeward and Windward has been with out rain for almost a year. The lush color of the island looks like New England in the winter. The local say the trees will come back after some good rain. I tried to break a small twig that looked very dead and it was green on the inside. Therefore I guess they know of what they talk.

The next day we headed for Salt Whistle Bay on Mayreau. Great stop. There were big seas leaving the island and coming to the next. I guess we have to get used to that. These were not to bad. Got there in the morning and went to the resort for lunch. The hotel part of the resort is closed, (slow season) but the bar and kitchen are open. When I get a chance I get an hamburger. They are excellent. I think it is because they have a higher fat content then we are used to in the States. It might not be good for you, but what a way to go.

Lunch was great, and it was under little private pagodas. One direction you looked on the bay with the anchored boats. The other you looked across a 100 yards of sand and vegetation to the Caribbean. Really a neat place for an expensive lunch. I think we are getting used to this. We walked along the Caribbean and then went back to the bay and had a nice swim before returning to the boat for a nice afternoon nap.

The next day we sailed for an hour to Jamesby island in the middle of Tabago Cays. This is suppose to be one of the best snorkeling and diving spots in this part of the world. I do not think so. The water was a little murky. There were strong currents. Mostly rock and not a lot of coral, unless you went out to the outside of the reef. Not a safe place for us newbie’s. I did see my first sting ray in the wild. Otherwise it was a bust. Then the weather turned bad. Squalls and high winds. We left the next morning because the real divers were not getting into the water. Maybe next time.

We went on to Clifton, Union Island. These island are all with in a few miles of one another. Nice. It is where we will check out of St Vincent and enter into Granada. Our southern goal. We may spend some of the day here tomorrow, get some bread, check on laundry before moving on. The mate says there are 3 thing you need at any anchorage. Garbage, bakery and laundry. We got rid of the garbage today to a boat boy, Could stand some fresh bread. We are getting spoiled by having fresh baked bread, always. We could go several day before laundry becomes and issue.

Will try to get this off tomorrow.

BEING WRONG IS OK June 11, 2014

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Got the mechanic to the boat the next morning and found that a bolt that holds on one of the engine mount brackets backed out and is somewhere in the bilge. The bolt actually goes into one of the engine oil returns. Thus the oil leak. Take the mechanic back to shore, to be picked up later. Ten minutes after he is on board, it is fixed and after running for a half hour, no leak.

The next morning we head to the Petons. These are two peaks that have shed most of there sides in land slides. What is left are very steep peaks. We anchored about 300 yards from one of them which is 2460’ tall. That evening we had a ¼ moon and it made them just plain eerie. When you realize that this was caused by land slides on all sides, and we are close to it, what if a hunk were to break off and slide down. Would make one hell of a wave.

Obviously it did not happen and the morning found us off to Chateaubelair, St Vincent. It has a reputation of allowing cruisers to be mugged on their boats. The cruising guide says to anchor in front of this one restaurant that is beside the police station. I figure that is to make it so the police do not have to travel very far to fill out their report. The closer we got to the place, the less desirable it looked.

The trip across to St Vincent started with 4-5 foot seas and ended with the largest I have sailed in so far. Many 8 footers, breaking on our quarter causing us to roll to 40 degrees. I am not used to that. I will not say scary, but most uncomfortable. Even with the prospect of more seas like those, the thought of staying on our boat in Chateaubelair seemed even less desirable. So, on we go to the small islands south of St Vincent that are part of the country. That is Bequia. A protected little harbor with crazy wind that whips down a valley and into the bay. Since we have been here for three days is rare if the wind drops below 20 knots. It will frequently gust to 30 knots. It is a nice island and the town is quaint. Tomorrow we leave for Canouan. This looks like an interesting place for a day or two.

Till we see WIFI.


Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.

We left for Portsmith in Dominica on the 27th. Another wild ride between islands. We motor sailed with the staysail and mizzen sail. Made good time with the wind on our beam at 27 knots and seas that built until we saw 7 footers. This is not good for a wife who is afraid of big seas. 3 footers is big enough. Portsmith is a dirty little town and I was shopping for new mooring lines. The marine store was very small and did not have what I needed.

The mate did not go ashore and we decided to move to another town the next day. The morning sail was so good we decided to go on to St Pierre, Martinique. We only had 4’-5’ seas so the passage was ok. I want to go back to Dominica. The country is very mountainous and green. It has rain forests and I want to tour. Added it to the list.

St Pierre has two lasting memories. The Anchorage is very rolly and secondly the beginning of bad times. We woke in the morning to find that our inverter died. That is a key piece of equipment that runs the refrigerator. The town is very small, but did have customs. We did not check in, just left for Fort de France. A major city on the south end of the island.

Unbeknown to us it was Ascension day, a national holiday for France and all was closed including Customs. So we wait another day. We would run the generator about 3 hours and wait 4 hours before running it again. This kept the freezer frozen and the frig cold. It is also an expensive way to keep things cold.

On the way in the next morning, we meet a couple we have seen before since they are traveling the same way we are. I mentioned my plight and he says he doubts I will get a new one here. This is France. I had no clew what he was talking about. In the French islands you check in on a computer. They may be in a store, a bar or anyplace. This one is in the marine store. How convenient. I walk in and there is a whole cabinet of inverters. I first checked in and then went to buy my new inverter. I needed a 12VDC/120VAC 1800WATT. Not so fast Yankee. This is France. Everything is 220VAC 50 Cycle. Everything!!! So it is off to the next island, St Lucia.

We went down island about 10 miles to stage for a shorter passage to St Lucia. Grande Anse D’Arlet had a new experience for us. We ran across this in the Saints, but here the mooring buoys are close together and the wind was blowing 23 knots. The Mate writes of this in her writing on my Facebook page. Read it, it’s funny.

So it is off to Rodney Bay, St Lucia. Again we are motor sailing because we can make water and a faster passage. ABORT, ABORT! About 5 miles out the alternator bracket extension breaks. So we sail back and pull into a small bay and anchored engineless among the weekend crowd. This added new fear to the mate. Not a good thing at this time. The extension is made of small aluminum angle iron. I turned it over, drilled new holes and wala, new extension. Bright and early at 6:30 am we are headed south. Life is not all that bad. The ice cube situation is getting bad, but the frozen food is still frozen.

Now we are better then half way and sure enough the extension breaks again. Well we are a sailboat, it is time to sail. Once we got sail selection worked out, the boat went almost as fast and almost on the right course. Plus she rode the seas better. It also helped that the seas were about 4’ with only 22 knots of wind. Life can get worse.

Because the current set us off our intended course, I decided to do one long tack back into the bay and then tack in the bay to the anchorage. Got to my tacking point and tacked. Nothing happened. The boat would not come into the wind. At this point we have only the staysail and a heavy reefed main up. As we close the coast, the wind come down between the hills and the wind goes from 10 knots to 35 knots in less then 10 seconds. You through the helm over into the wind, heal 40 degrees and hear the mate muttering about MY chosen life style. Well since the boat would not turn to windward, I decide to jibe. Nothing. But worse. Now I am going down wind away from our destination. But we are also going half the speed we had been doing. I give the mate the helm and go aft to see if I could find the problem.

In this part of the world there are things called fish traps. These are drift nets that are a few hundred feet long. They are held up by old coke bottles. You can not see these thing in a sea way period. Well one of the blades of the prop snagged one. Well in these seas I am not going over the side. So it is good time to ask for a tow. Not in this part of the world. It is obvious that if thing were going to change, we were going to do it. I have a 12’ boat hook and after several tries snagged the line between the prop and the net. With much effort I was able to raise it up enough that laying on the deck I could reach the line with my knife. BINGO! Now do not get ahead of the story. The net and most of the coke bottles are gone but there are still enough that we only have 2/3 our speed in these conditions. But we are headed the right direction and can tack. After a slow trip back to Rodney Bay, what ever it was, it untangled it self. We were off at speed. Now the mate is afraid of running into someone while anchoring without an engine.

We are here. The next day, I check in, and buy an inverter. It is 1/3 larger then I need and accordingly more expensive. But, we have an inverter. I also found the granddaddy of all hardware stores across the street and got a piece of SS Flat stock to make my bracket extension. I also found the line I needed and a piece of PVC pipe that I use as a bow in my awning. Things are looking up. We splurged and went into the marina and had A/C. We also while their replenished our food, got the laundry done, and off loaded the garbage.

Now off to a town at the southern end of the island to do some touring. Not so fast. Today we got underway and fueled up. Went to start the engine and nothing. It is dead. Batteries are great. Low voltage to the starter. Now the fuel pier is at a shipyard. They always have electricians. Long story short, he got us going for a reasonable price. I was happy, did not even close up the engine room and just got underway for the anchorage. When anchored I went below to put the boat back together. Then I notice over a half quart of oil in the pan under the engine. REALLY NOT GOOD. My best guess is the front seal has expired. I am to contact a mechanic in the morning and we will go from there.

If I have to be at the marina for this, I will have WIFI and you will have this.

SOMETHING NEW May 30, 2014

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Heading to Deshise, Guadalupe. That is Day-ya. I do not know, that is just the way they say it. Anyway, we got up early and when I cranked in the anchor, it did not come up. It was stuck. Tried rocking the boat fore and aft, still stuck. It is 6 am and the dive shops do not open till 8 am. 2 hours to sit and do nothing. I ended up leaving out about twice as much chain and motored around in different directions. Cranked it all back in and still stuck. Then I notice we are drifting away. I crank some more on the anchor and she is coming up. Wahoo, no diving bill, no delay and we are off about a half hour late. Within about 2 hours we pass our buddy boat who was sailing only. We were motor sailing while making water.

Got to Deshise, checked in and found the bakery. That is our breakfast place in these French islands. They know how to make pastries. We also found restaurants, laundry, and small grocery stores. And the place is a real nice small town.

A great surprise was a botanical garden. For the entrance fee they came and picked us up and brought us back. FREE. Well, it was probably in the admissions fee. I have see botanic gardens in at least 6 places around the world. The best is in Victoria B.C. It was built on the estate of the inverter of dynamite. This place was second. Of course, the plants are tropical, but really beautiful. It is not a formal garden set up, just a path that has new and different plant on both side of the path for miles. Really neat.

The trip here was noteworthy. We had 7 foot growlers (big waves). As high as the Bimini. We rolled up to 43 degrees. That is a bit much. The Mate spent a couple hours in the cockpit. She usually go below when the seas are big. She is trying to get used to this stuff. When we get to the Windward’s, the seas and wind are normally like this.

We have one more French island. Good thing. I was getting rid of my belly. Now, not so much. Breakfast and dinners out are killing the diet. I am going to miss this. Especially the breakfasts. The French really know how to make pastries and bread.

On Saturday we moved about 10 miles south to Pigeon Islands. Great diving spot. The water was 78 cold degrees. I did not go in. It was amazing how many snorkelers’ were in the water. You really had to be careful not to run over any of them. Our buddy boat people are big divers and snorkelers. They loved it. In fact they stayed and extra day to snorkel.

Sunday we moved on to some small islands off Guadeloupe call the Saints. We went to the Bourg de Saints, the main town in the group. Again a neat little town. Had dinner at one of the recommended establishments. I have a problem convincing waiters that I like my steak medium well. We get mixed up with rouge, ie, red and my steaks come out with a pulse. Not good. This night we had a waitress that had good English skills. I still ended up with a raw steak. I think it is something in the French makeup that will not allow them to overcook a piece of meet. The mate thinks I should try something else for dinner. But it is so good when it’s good.

Till I find a WIFI.

BE FLEXIBLE May 23, 2014

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Weather would be rough to go east to Antigua. So lets go to Montserrat. Well look at the squalls and seas. ABORT, ABORT!

Lets try it again. It is the 13th got to be better…. Not really. But we forge on. We are learning with these volcanic islands, there are ledges off there shore that go from a hundred feet to 2000 in a quarter mile or so. These create large mixed seas and some miserable sailing. Got to get used to it. So we plunge on. Problem was that even off shore we were still going into almost the same seas and currents. The mate does not like this one bit. It worries me that she could say enough at any time. Thank goodness this island was the start of some good experiences.

The north end of Montserrat is the area that the people took refuge from when the volcano went off in the mid 90’s. The population thought they could go back to normal after the first eruption. The last eruption was in 2010 and was the biggest. It buried several towns around there seaport. This was like covering up half of Pensacola. This was also the end of the island that had all the resorts and tourist areas that are the big part of there economy. The feeling one gets looking at the destruction was like returning to Pensacola after Ivan, but worse. The destruction was far more total. It is hard to rebuild when your town is 20, 30 plus feet below ash. You cannot even find where to start. Not only was your town buried but a half dozen others as well. Plus the mountain is still active. We were lucky to have the guide who is mentioned in the cruising guide as the best. He was. He is able to get into the lower rated exclusion area to show us much of the residential destruction. This included his own home. The area that he lived was covered with ash and the jungle was taking over the homes that were half buried. These are poor island if compared to the US. They do not have FEMA or other funding to dig out a place this large. It was cheaper to move to the other end of the island with another “midrange of mountains” to protect the new growth town. No one was killed in the eruptions, because the mountain got worse all the time over a long period of time. When the warning was given they left. The last one was on a Friday and the people were told to pack for a weekend, but get out. Our guide says he is still waiting for the Monday when he can go home. He was given a small some of money for his home and property. Of the 12,000 residents of the island, only about 5,000 are left. The rest relocated to England or other island in the area.

When we left Montserrat we headed south east. That took us on the side of the island we did not see. We were told that the volcano still put out steam and occasionally puffs of volcanic gas. We did not see any. In fact we did not see the top of the mountain because of clouds. When sailing away, the wind is against that side and the clouds are blowing over the volcano. Then you could see two large area that had steam venting from the side of the mountain. It is alive and well and will probably blow some more.

We went from Montserrat to English Harbor, Antigua. This was for some repairs and rest. This is the Harbor that Lord Nelson had his shipyard during the times of the wars with the French and Spanish. This area changed hands through the years and ended up with the English. They have preserved it as an historical sight and the building are the same but are used as stores, restaurants, etc. I think it was a good use of an historical sight that is large instead of trying to make a big museum out of it.

Got the important work completed on the boat and were ready to go.

We did have some fun. On Sunday night there is a party on the top of this hill. A few hundred feet up, that you can walk up if so inclined. Only a couple miles. Mostly at steep angles. We flat landers are smarter then that. Took a taxi. The party had a steel drum band playing when we arrived, souvenir vendors and a BBQ that fed hundreds as smoothly as feeding your family dinner. The only thing was they did not have enough picnic benches for all to eat when they were ready. The food was hot and ready when you were. It was very well organized. About 8 pm they switched bands to a modern rock and roll/raga band. They were very good. Other then a couple lunches while shopping, that was our adventures ashore for pleasure.

Time to find a WIFI café. OMG, I just picked up WIFI at my anchorage.


Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Almost a full gale, but more on that later. We arrived in St Kitts Monday evening on a holiday in which nothing was open. We ate dinner after a day with a wonderful sail to the island of St Kitts. We got to the west side of the island as the wind died. We therefore motored the last two hours.

Tuesday morning I went through one of those, ”not the best day” check-in with customs, immigration and the port people. It started with my following the instructions in my cruising guide. Wrong office. Got back into the dinghy and went about a mile away to the cruise ship facility. The custom people were friendly, but their computer was not. After several tries, and phone calls, they dough out the old form and stencil paper. Have not even seen the stuff in years. Good government, 3 copies. They filled it out by hand and all I had to do is sign…, all 3 copies.

Then on to immigration. One lady office listening to some gospel program straight out of W Virginia. Good old gospel songs. And she sang along. Good thing she has a day job. That went really well.

Off to the Port Office. They charge you a fee based on the size of your vessel and the number of people on board. Their computer was working, kind of, but there was a software glitch. The boss was talking on the phone with the computer people, the individual who was to do the work had 2 other pair of hands trying different things on her computer. There was this third person who was somewhere between the clerk and the boss. All three could not get the system to compute the fee on a boat twice. The guy in line in front of me with a smaller boat they wanted to charge $70. They wanted to charge me $15. That was fine by me but not the port people or the other boat owner. None of them had a clue about how the fees were calculated. I got away with what I felt was about right. I ran into the other guy a day later and he got his reduced some and feels he just contributed to a poor government in a poor country.

The capital of St Kitts is an industrial port. Not a nice place. We therefore moved to a bay about 4 miles south. It was very nice place with about 4 other cruisers anchored.

The next day we moved on to Nevis. They have mooring balls to tie too and those you pay for by the night. We were to leave Saturday, but the weather was to turn bad. There was a tropical wave interacting with a stall trough. About 10 pm the interaction got serious. The trades winds are from the east and we were on the west side of the island. This storm came out of the west, putting us on a lee shore. This means the beach was 150 yard behind us. It my mooring line broke or the mooring system failed we would be on the beach in no time. Not good. The wind pegged my instrument at 39kts with gusts into the lower 40’s. The seas were big enough to break over the bow on several occasions. I sat in the cockpit with the engine running so if things went south and I headed east, I could motor out to the west into a gale…. You should here me do “who’s on first”. It finally subsided about 12:30 am. The wind died to maybe 10-15kts and shifted about 90 degrees. That meant the seas were now on our beam. We rolled 35 degrees, back and forth almost till dawn. We took the cushions off the settees and put them on the floor to sleep, as best as one could. Things settled enough about 4 am to go to the john and climb into my bed. The mate felt it was still safer on the floor. I got up at first light and went out to look for damage. All was shipshape. The mooring line was stretched and twisted and had some ware spots, but all else was good. Sunday was pretty good and there was hope to move on.

Monday morning we decided to go to Montserrat for a couple days. This island is an active volcano that destroyed about a third of the island around 2005. It is still smoking, but has been quite for about 10 years. Never been on a live volcano before. Want to do that. We left our mooring about 8 am and headed south for the 30 mile trip. As we got to the southern end of Nevis, a squall started blowing and the seas were up again. This is not fun and after our Saturday night experience, I lay to and watch to see if it was a small local squall or something bigger. It was bigger, and we headed back to the mooring ball. The rest of the day has been rain, wind, calm, over and over again.

We have decided to skip Montserrat for the time being and go on to Antique. Till we have WIFI, keep us in your prayers. We may need it.


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