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TOURING NEVIS May 19, 2015

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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My touring of Nevis last year, was a trip to get my propane tank filled at the south end of the island. About a 5 minute cab trip. I also went to the gas station in town, to get dinghy gas. That was a total rip-off. The propane was ridiculously expensive, the gas was worse and the cab ride was the most expensive since NYC. This time we were smarter and propane prices are rock bottom low. The cab we had used to take us on a tour so on the way back, we worked a deal. We got the price down from last year, and Stan a boat buddy from Pensacola also needed propane, so we split the cab fare. Made the price of a bottle of propane almost normal.

We did two tours, one by cab and one by bus. We started with the cab. This was to a sugar plantation that has been restored and turned into a boutique resort. Great restaurant. Reasonable and great food. That is hard to beat in the islands. The grounds were beautiful. There was a swimming pool we could use, but it was overcast and windy. To cold for us tropical types. Wind and water around 80 degrees.

The next day we went to a botanical garden by bus. The ride there was good. They detoured and took us to the gate. The trip back was a little more arduous. We had to walk about a ¾ a mile, mostly up hill. Hill in these volcanic island are serious. We 2 old geezers made the walk and got the bus back to town without any heat attacks. For pictures see my Facebook page.

Weather window happened on Friday and we sailed to Montserrat for the night. From there we sailed on to Deshaies, Guadeloupe. The trip to Montserrat was not what was forecast. 20-25 kts on the nose with 4-5 foot lumpy seas also on the nose. Made for a super slow trip. I was one very unhappy camper by the time we got anchored. I had all kinds of excuses, but the biggest mistake was not sailing the boat right. I did not get the main ready to set, and when I needed it, it was so rough, I was not going out on deck to set it. Therefore, no speed.

The trip to Guadeloupe was almost a perfect sail. 3-4 foot seas and wind around 16 knots. Started out about 0630 on a tight reach. Around noon the wind picked up to high teens and back to a point we had a broad reach. Great sailing. Got anchored with a smile.

Time for a great bakery and more tours. Next week. See Facebook

MY ISLAND, ST BARTHS May 12, 2015

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I love the place. It is a beautiful island, very up beat and modern. The people are as the island. Now the mate is kind of over it. Our, or maybe my favorite restaurant needs to work on a new menu. We have a tendency to eat the same thing because we like it. I do not find a problem with that, but we are getting tired of the same food

The weather got worse so we were stuck there. This is the first time the in our visits that the anchorage was rolllie. The first couple days were bad. Also, it is expensive. Not only to go ashore, but to stay at your anchorage cost money for each night. Even though you are on your own anchor. We had planned on staying for only a few days, but it has stretched into a week.

On Friday and the weather looks as good as it is going to get, so we go. We got out about 5 am for a 52 mile reach past St Kitts to Nevis. Wind 16 – 19, gusting 23 knots. Seas 5-6 foot. Things are to get worse as evening approaches. As usual, our weather guru is a little light on reality. Wind was gusting to the higher 20’s and the seas were a lot of 6 footers and many 7 footers. Not good.

The mate took up residency on the deck in the saloon. She is afraid she could get tossed off the settee and does not like to be out in the cockpit. So, she feels that you can not fall below the deck. Well this is not all that safe ether. We secure the boat before leaving on a trip. We have not had anything go flying in the saloon in a year and a half…. Not any more. Books and other stuff that is wedged in very tightly came flying down on the mate. One banged little finger, but otherwise unscathed. The saloon looked like a bomb went off. We have had the forward stateroom get messed up, but it is paper products, swim noodles, life jackets and other light stuff. In the saloon we have books and other heavy things. Nothing that we could find broke. We got lucky.

The first 4 hours were with the wind a little forward of the beam. We started motor sailing with a reefed main, full staysail and mizzen. We started taking rolls approaching 40 degrees and I took in the mizzen. The seas were to have a 8 second period. That is pretty short and seas have a tendency to run in sets of 3. The first wave would roll us over and then we would rise out of the trough and fall off the next wave with another heavy roll. It was tough

I do not like to sit and look at big waves coming at us. I therefore sit on the windward side. I can still see them if need be in time to do something if I have to. We were rolling so hard, that I could not stay on the windward seat. I would fall off the seat therefore I had to move to the leeward side. The view to windward was scary. You could only see clear blue sky and then a wave would well up right beside the boat. This is when the big roll would happen and you would slam into the bottom of the trough.

After about 4 hours we got on the back side of St Kitts. At first the wind and seas were on our nose but, less than before, After about a half hour the seas got down to 3-4 feet and the wind got into the mid teens. I had a nice 3 hour sail up to our mooring ball. It was beautiful. My blood pressure needed the nice relaxing sail.

Guess what. We are stuck waiting a weather window. Seas out there are in the 8 foot range. That would separate me and the mate. By my untimely and suspicious death. Friday and Saturday appear to be out next window.

May 9, 2015

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BACK TO CRUISING

We went back to the boat rather melancholy after dropping off the kids. We then started to get the boat ready to sail. Saturday was suppose to be rather calm and very little wind. The forecast was right. Some wind and small seas. That is the third time we have crossed the Anegada Passage and had perfect weather for the mate. We are going to pay. Back in St Martin it was shop till you drop time. Could not believe we left less then a month ago and needed so much stuff. Also laundry and groceries.

Got all our supplies and could make it to St Barts on Saturday with a nice weather window. Well not quite. Should have had 15 to 18 knots of wind and 3-4 foot seas. Well the wind forecast is always 5 knots light. The seas are usually close. The wind was in the low to mid 20’s and the seas 4-6 and lumpy. Things were also suppose to calm down in the afternoon. Our weather guru missed that by 100 percent. The wind stayed and the seas started to form swells out to the southeast. That was the direction we were going. We made it about 2:30 PM. Averaged around 4 knots instead of 6. My bottom is so full of growth that it is limiting our speed and cutting my fuel consumption to 25% of normal. Tomorrow a friend and I are going to have a go at cleaning the bottom. In the mean time we are stuck here waiting for a weather window. Seas are forecast for 7 feet. After Saturday’s voyage, taking the mate out in 6 foot seas on purpose may cause the untimely death of the captain. We do not want that.

Our next stop is to be Nevis. We were there last spring, but did not go on a tour we wanted to go on. Going to try to accomplish that this time. From there it is back to Antigua and then south. Sure hope the trades calm down a little.

WHAT A WEEK April 29, 2015

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Son and daughter-in-law arrived on schedule Saturday evening. Now there were 7 of us. There flights had one interesting item. There flight from Tampa to San Juan was on a normal size jet. Then they transferred to a Cessna 440. A 10 passenger plane that only had 2 passengers. Them. My son got to ride in the second seat, next to the pilot. The flight from San Juan to St Thomas is short and they flew low so it was like sight seeing. I do not believe either of them had been on a plane that small before.

Then started a week of fishing and visiting the beaches on St John. My grand daughter wanted a beach trip each day, so that was the main plan. Thursday the ladies decided to go to Cruz Bay, the main city on St John and shop. Tuesday we had taken my son and his wife on the boat to Hurricane Hole in Coral Bay. There he fished and his wife kayaked all day. We had the daughter and granddaughter along and they also kayaked after the daughter-in-law wore herself out. The kayak is a one person affair, but when the granddaughter is around, she can squeeze in with you. Hard to miss hitting her in the head with the paddle.

Wednesday all of us went back to Hurricane Hole, but in another spot. It was a repeat of Tuesday, but with more people and a lot more activity. We also discovered that there were lots of starfish in the shallow water. See my Facebook for pictures.

Friday they packed up and went to Cruz Bay to await the ferry back to St Thomas. The mate and I rode the buss there and checked out of the USVI, so we could head to St Martin the next day. We then met up with the kids for lunch and good-byes as they departed on the ferry. The grandkid did not want to go home. Must have been a good vacation. It definitely was for grandma and grandpa.

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS April 22, 2015

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The granddaughter with her parents got here on time with no real incidents. Other then Southwest charges you to sit with other members of your family. Dumbest thing I ever heard of. What if a kid gets sick or there is a real emergency. Some stupid accounted thought that was easy money without thinking about all the ramifications. But I am retired and should not be bothered with poor management anymore.

Anyway, first week on St John was mostly going to the beach, sugar plantation ruins and finding the right grocery stores. Ate out a few times, rather expensive for what you get. Good quality, just expensive. $12 to $18 for a hamburger. Very good, but not in a cruisers budget. We will not talk about the group meal. But, that is St John’s. If you have to ask, you should not be here.

The grand kid loves the beach and it is a bit of an issue to get her to leave. We have been going to various beaches, but have decided on Maho beach as the most user friendly for a 7 y.o. I agree, soft sand, easy to drive to, only moderately crowded, some small fish about…, perfect.

Saturday our son and daughter-in-law arrive. That will be the first time we are all together in over 2 years. This will also be challenging. The daughter-in-law gets sea sick easily and the son-in-law is no better. Match that with a son who’s only purpose in life is to fish, and you may have a difference in opinion in what we should do from day to day. I am with him. He is a catch and release kind of guy. That’s great, neither of us eat fish.

SAD TO SEE HIM GO, BUT THE GRANDKID IS APON US April 13, 2015

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Our guest wanted to visit a quiet anchorage. That is hard to find in the BVI’s during the high season. One of our cruising buddies told us of a bay they found and liked for its seclusion. It is in a private island north of Tortola. We were the first boat of the day and ended with 3 other boats in a good size anchorage. Nothing ashore but rocks and shrubs. The first house was about 5oo feet straight up the hill.

The next morning we headed to Sopers Hole. Got checked out ate a great lobster, shopped a little. The Dock Lord bought stuff for his grandkids and some rum. Can’t go home without some rum. The next morning he left for Pensacola and we for St John. Ours was a fiasco.

Before going to the BVI’s we were in a bay in St John and called our son. We did not notice that our phone was picked up by the company in the BVI’s and we just talked away for 50 minutes of roaming charges, till they cut us off. You check back into the us customs via telephone. We have no phone, we have been cut off forever according to the message we got. To complicate matters we went to the bay where we would be anchored while our kids visit. That could be problematic. To complicated to explain here. We borrowed a phone, but the custom people are set up to take a message from you and they call back when they have your info pulled up and it is convenient for them. Well, that did not work with a borrowed phone. While waiting for the bus to go to the other end of the island, we actually hitchhiked there. Yep. This 70-year-old geezer and his almost that old bride hitched a ride with a couple that was older then us. Got dropped off at customs and the mate at the mall to talk to the cell phone people. All went very well and we took the bus back for a dollar each. Such a deal.

Saturday, the granddaughter and her parents got here about 4 pm. So we start another adventure.

SOPERS HOLE AND A DOCK LORD April 6, 2015

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We came here Monday with our guest (My dock lord from Pensacola) arriving Tuesday. He got here and we got him and luggage on board and then off to dinner. The next day we headed to Jost Van Dyke and Little Jost Van Dyke island. There is a place called Bubble Pool. The waves crash in through an opening in the rocks, especially at high tide. Timing was good and the place was bubbling. See the pictures in facebook. We left there around noon for the Soggy Dollar Bar. It is a famous beach bar that is behind a reef and you have to anchor on a mooring ball. They were all taken so we headed across to another bay for the night.

I will not bore you with details of the week. That is like watching someone’s home videos’. But there were a few other interesting place that was new to us. One was at Trellis Bay. They celebrate the full moon with a party. Again see my facebook for pictures. They build fires in these 2 pots and a figure and light them around 9 pm. They should burn for quite a while, but the wind we had made them last only a couple hours. The music, it lasted loudly till 3 am. We were moored about 60 yards from the beach and 70 yard from the sound system.

Another interesting place, was The Baths. No pictures, we accidently drowned the camera. Waiting for a new one in a couple weeks. Have been using the phone, but WiFi here is bad at best. The Baths are huge bolders that have washed out and create an area in which you can walk under and around the rocks. They are the size of large houses. It is an interesting place.

Tuesday we start heading back down the chain to Sopers Hole to drop off our guest and allow him to go home. It has been great having him on board. We have visited several other island and bays. Had some great meals and also one of the worst man has ever paid for. It has been quite breezy and rough going east. We did get a great sail in Sunday after leaving The Baths and going to The Bitter End. Outran a 40 foot Lagoon Cat while we were towing our dingy. They were out twinking there sails. One knew what he was doing and got a great shape out of his genoa. That was one of our highlights. Our guest is a great sailor and a even better helmsman.

YEA WE DID April 5, 2015

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Back to Caneel Bay, did some grocery shopping, left off laundry and rolled for the night before we could go and get the laundry and leave. Moved on to Maho Bay. Real nice beach and no roll. Some place to take the grandkid. Got the kayak out and chased a green turtle and a gray ray. The ray got to grass and dove under the sand. That was a real nice experience. The next morning I again took to the kayak and saw a spotted ray and followed him for a while. He did not go far and just settled on the bottom and sat there. I got tired of waiting for him to move and left. He was probably very happy.

We ran across one of our old boat buddies and went snorkeling with them. We did a very calm area around some rocks. Some nice fish and coral, but little else.

We went back to Caneel Bay and finished re-provisioning for our guest. Because of the rollieness of Caneel Bay we then moved along the north side of St James Island to Waterlemon Bay. This was straight across from Sobers Hole where we would pick up our guest Tuesday. We had heard that it was very crowded. Therefore, we wanted to be able to go early and get a mooring ball.

I am a day ahead, we shall see if the strategy worked. Also if we can find WFi.

VIRGIN ISLAND HERE WE ARE March 24, 2015

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Monday was as advertised. Light winds and dying seas. We left St Maarten about 3 pm which would get us to the USVI around 8 am. I guess if you are not getting blown to pieces, it is good. Well maybe. We had 4 foot seas and 7-9 knots of wind. Both on our starboard quarter or dead astern. Think right rear fender, The seas there caused us to roll around 10 – 15 degrees all the time. We tried to sail, but the wind was to light to overcome the roll. I therefore tightened up the main and mizzensail and used them as steading sails. It worked most of the time. An occasional large wave would still cause us to roll 20+ degrees and make the sails snap back and forth. That is how you break gear. The good Lord looked out for us and nothing broke.

We got to Cruz Bay, St John, USVI about 7:30. We had a good current and with the waves pushing us along and we made good time. We checked in through Customs and headed to the medical center to have my arm looked at. Had to make an appointment for Tuesday, which we did. The outcome Tuesday was the MD gave me a referral if I wanted to use it for a specialist in St Thomas, the main island in the USVI’s. We had a long talk some of which was how I could monitor the spot myself and what to look for that was a bad sign. I have decided to do that. Have to keep the suntan lotion on and use long sleeve shirts. I have been doing that.

We left Cruze Bay and took a mooring ball for a couple days in Caneel Bay. There is a nice resort there, (rooms from $500 to $800 per night) we had a couple beers for $6.50 a piece. That cut down our stay. When my son was down last spring he took us here for lunch. Three people, $160. That may have been the most expensive lunch I ever had. If I recall I had a roast beef dip. That will kill the cruising kitty.

Thursday we moved to Frances Bay for the night. Very nice place and ran into one of our boat buddies who had guests aboard for the week. We had them over for Sundowners. A good time was had by all.

Friday we were on the move again. We sailed up Drake Passage to the east end of the island. We had 12-15 kts. wind and about 1-2 foot chop. Perfect. Made 11 tacks to cover the 7 miles. The most tacking I have done in many years. I figured I would not be able to move the next day. But, surprise, I was not stiff at all. We ended up in Johnson Bay which is a part of much larger Coral Bay. We were securely tucked in behind a reef. That kept us from rolling very much. Coral Bay is very open to the SE and the Caribbean. Talked to the people anchored beside us and they said it could get very rollie there. Thank goodness not this time.

Saturday we explored the area. There is a large anchorage in one of the bays. The water is dirty and the anchorage is crowded. Many derelict boats there. We did some grocery shopping and had lunch at a little deli. It was very good and cheap. Good is easy to find in St John, cheap is not.

We liked where we were anchored. It is near the entrance to Coral Bay. The water was very clean which we wanted because we wanted to make as much water as possible. We have my dock lord from Pensacola coming next week for 10 days. We have 200 gallons stored up and are now keeping that much on hand. It is good to have a wonderful water czar.

Sunday we were going to leave when I discovered we could get WiFi. We both spent a lot of time catching up with email and iChating with the grandkid and her parents. Found out they are coming to St Johns the 3rd week of April. That was wonderful news.
The kids are renting a place overlooking Hurricane Hole, another bay in Coral Bay. After the computer sessions we jumped in the dinghy and rode over to the area of their rental. It is half way up a 520 foot hill. Has to have fantastic views. We are oh so looking forward to the visit. Grandma is in high speed planning on things to do with the granddaughter. After what we did last summer in Granada, it will be hard to top.

Tonight we are anchored in Lameshure Bay on the south side of the island. Tomorrow we will go back to Cruz Bay to get laundry done, get a sim card for the phone, fuel up and move back to Caneel Bay and get WiFi. In a couple days we will move over to the British Virgin Islands and await our guest.

IT COULD HAPPEN March 17, 2015

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Carabbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing the ICW.
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The trip to the clinic did not happen. The mate woke up feeling like she may beat the cold, so why go. Well I caught her cold yesterday and although am not as sick as she was, I am far from 100%. Plus I have been trying at least half heartedly to see a doc about these spots on my arms. My arms have been in the sun a lot in 70 years, and my lifestyle does not led one to the inside or even the shade. I have looked on the internet, now there is some stuff that will scare you. I see nothing as bad as that stuff, but maybe a little. Maybe in St John USVI. At least there is Medicare and insurance. We will see.

Well, the weather guy is up to his lying ways again. Back into the 20’s, gusting into the 30’s. Just like the last 3 weeks. We are anchored a long ways from anyplace. Everything is between 1-2 miles away. One of those ways is against the wind and the chop of the seas. It is impossible to stay dry. Once wet with salt water, you tend to stay wet. Once you get a cold, you tend to keep a cold. But mine is getting better faster then the mate’s. Oh, the weather guy…, next week.

The weather patterns are changing, so you work at getting ready. Last loads of laundry, last grocery shopping at as many as 3 different stores. Get part you need. None of which are in the same direction.

After being in one location for 6 weeks, you tend to develop new relations. Our Canadian Boat Buddies are scattered around the islands. We will run into them here and there, but our effort to reach Grenada was accomplished. This anchorage we fell in with a group that was heading south for the first time. We are heading a little further north to the Virgin Islands. After a month in the Virgins we will also head south.

Monday is looking good. If the weather is right, we will head straight for St John USVI. We will visit the island more then the 2 days we did last year. Then we will go to the British Virgin Islands and meet my Dock Lord from Pensacola. After he leaves in mid April, maybe my daughter and family will come. With our daughter, you never know until they climb on the plane. We were hoping our son would also come, but coordinating 4 jobs and school is to much to overcome.

Time to get the boat ready to sail. Still no wifi, plus if we leave, it could be a while. Wifi in the Virgins was a hit and miss situation.

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