New Balmar Regulator

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We are back up and charging with our replaced Balmar 614 regulator. Turns out the unit shorted out on the power input side of the regulator.  I never tested this aspect BEFORE. Our Balmar tech support advised me that the alternator had a short.  I really can’t blame them, as I should have had enough skills to think this out  myself. The situation now all makes sense, but questions remain.

Our new regulator which we bought two years ago so we would have one if ours failed. This was $350 back then in Annapolis. I cant imagine what this would cost here in Grenada.

The chain of events

We first noticed no charging when running the engine. I found a blown fuse on the power feed to the regulator. I replace this 10 amp fuse. When I plug back in the regulator, it sparked and smoked, at the regulator’s power plug (this should have been a clue) and then blew the fuse again. So, I think there is a wiring problem causing a short. I then called Balmar in Washington State, USA and their tech support has me measure the ohms (resistance) on the blue field wire to ground to check the alternator. IF it measures 350 ohms it is normal, mine measures 0.007 ohms. This he said indicated a short inside the alternator and that is where our problem lies. NOTE: At this point I wish I had checked for a short on the regulator power plug, but I did not at this point.

We then replaced the alternator

 That sent us down the rabbit hole of pulling the alternator and installing our spare. This took a few hours until I rewired all the wires from the regulator to the alternator and installed our back up alt.

We replaced the alternator, we have two spares, the white one is the Balmar we measured a short on….

After Rebuilding, all is fine

After we installed the back up alternator, leaving the regulator in place, we ran the boat for 30 minutes and all was charging fine. The system was generating 14.4 volts and eventually dropped back into the 13 volts like it should, so we shut it all down. We were happy it all was back up and  running, we assumed we had a bad alternator at this point.

All is running fine, we are happy

Next day, blown fuse, again

The next day, we prepare to leave and upon starting the engine, the fuse burns out again and the regulator goes off line. WHAT? Why are we blowing fuses? Now what is the problem? We have all new wiring to the the regulator, we have a replaced alternator, and it ran fine for 30 minutes after rebuilding. One more call to Balmar and we were advised NOW to test the red and black power feed to the regulator to see if it could have a short. Good idea. We test that and there you have it, THE REGULATOR HAS A SHORT on the power plugs! OMG. no way. This would have been very easy to measure yesterday when we started down this rabbit hole, but I never thought to check the regulator. I was advised that the short was in the alternator and that the blue filed wire was back feeding the reg and blowing the fuse!

Video on our discovery and running boat

With new Regulator we are running

So, to replace the regulator took about 5 minutes, as it is unplug old, plug in new and turn on the engine. UNREAL. that was the problem.

Unplug old, plug in new….too easy with exact replacement

QUESTIONS NOW?

      1. Did the White (removed) Balmar Alternator really have a shore?
      2. Did the White Balmar alternator blow up the regulator?
      3. Why did the replaced and rewired fix run for 30 minutes and blow the next day?
      4. Should I pull the replaced alternator and re-install the white Balmar?
      5. If I put back on the white Balmar might it blow up this new regulator?
      6. Should I let it alone as is, keep it running and send out white alt to be tested?

Our general rule while out cruising is….IF IT IS RUNNING and IF IT IS WORKING, THEN DO NOT TAKE IT APART, LET IT ALONE! So, we think we will see if someone can prove that the white alternator is shored or not. If shorted please fix it, if it is all OK, please don’t touch it. Then, once tested, we would re-install the white one and we would be back to normal with a new regulator. What an ordeal and it all could have been found with a quick testing of the regulator power plug and the short found in 5 minutes. As it was, this took 6 to 8 hours and two days!

Meanwhile, Full Moon and Flowers are blooming

Flowers are blooming, it is 80 degrees F
Full moon setting over our stern
Full moon in the masts of ATHENA, mega sailboat

Life is good…..

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Blown Charging No shore power

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Well, we started up the engine after our happy fix yesterday only to find out the Balmar regulator blew the fuse again and shut down our replaced spare alternator. So, we said….”Who needs an Alternator?” We do not, and we disconnected the positive output from it and pulled the power on the 614 Balmar regulator and started the engine. We have 400 watts of solar and 450 watts of wind turbine to power the 12 volt electronics. The engine will run as long as it has fuel and cooling. The alternator belt is needed to turn the coolant pump, so it needs to stay in place. So, we start up YEAR #9 of boating retirement cruising with several challenges.

Our happy photo departing Clark’s Court and heading for the cut thru the reef

What is going on?

This problem should not be that big of a problem. It is a simple regulator and a standard alternator. The problem is that the 10 amp fuse that is in the red positive line to the regulator keeps blowing. Then when I unplug the regulator from power, and I replace the fuse and then plug back in the regulator, it smokes and sparks and blows the fuse and I pull the plug again. Tech support at Balmar had me measure the ohms on the field wire (blue wire) to ground. If this showed a very low ohms reading then it must be a short in the alternator. So, that is WHY we pulled the alternator and replace it. The really odd aspect is that when rebuilt, it all ran fine for 30 minutes producing 14.4v, then down to 13.9v so the new rebuild was working fine. We were happy. The next AM, we fire up the engine and POOF, blown fuse, dead regulator and the same situation when replacing the fuse. 

No charging when the engine is on, this is not good. We need a regulator and alternator working

So, we depart, Let’s Go

We do not need an alternator or regulator to run the engine. That is only needed to produce 12 volt power and we have wind and solar for that. The engine is starting, the engine is running fine, the alternator belt is turning the coolant pump, so let’s go. We did. We ran out thru the reef, performing our engine checks as taught my Tom Tursi of MDSchool.com and made it to sea. There we turned downwind and rolled out the jib. We motor sailed most of the way west and around the south corner of Grenada.

Rolled out the job on starboard as we motor sailed west in 10-15 knots
Radeen is always so positive and so happy and she is a great sailing GrL. This photos makes me smile.
We round the south corner and jib to port.

SQUALL, here we go…

Shortly around the corner we had a rain squall and the winds came up to 25 knots dead on the bow, so we turned downwind to 120 angle and set the jib on a nice broad reach and then we furled the jib. Of course the furling line was not run properly so it was far more difficult, but we got the sail in an then turned back into the wind pushing on into limited visibility. Our start has been and continues to be challenging. It is Dec 12, 2019, seven days after flying in!

The visibility is limited due to the rain on the canvas
This was our view making this run. We even docked in the rain

Welcome to Port Louis, Grenada

We roll up the enclosure and suit up with foul weather jackets, set up the dock lines and get out the fenders. We are docking at a marina with shore power, water, laundry, restaurants, and a pool. YES, this will really be nice. We mainly want to plug in the boat to run the Air conditioning to dry out the boat from all this humidity.

Happy Radeen in the rain heading into St. Georges, GRenada
We are docked on the NEW docks with water, power and view of the marine supply store called ISLAND WATER WORLD where we have an account!

Let’s plug into shore power

Well not so fast there sailor. You are in the Caribbean, power is tricky down here. It took 2.5 hours to get my plug plugged in and to turn on the power switch from the other side of the world. Via numerous radio calls, managers, electricians, service workers, etc, they finally were able to plug us in. Well, HOLD ON says Island Spirit, I might have another problem.

YUP, we now have no 120 volt on the boat. We have proven power is to the end of my cord. The cord is plugged into the shore power plug like we have done since 2001. NO power into the boat. No worries, I have two plugs, lets forget the battery charger plug, let’s plug into the air conditioning plug because that is all we really need. NOPE, no power going into that plug either. So the dock team leaves proving with a volt meter that they have delivered 120 volts to the end of my shore power plug.

So, we now have a NEW challenge. Why is there no 120 volt power going into the boat? It all worked last year, because we used it. OK, time to tear apart another electrical system.

We find corrosion on the breakers, but the plugs looks fine
We have two plugs with two breakers. One plug and breaker are original 1994 on the right. The other plug and breaker to left are new 2001 for direct to air conditioning. Neither are working

We think we have problems? Ha

Check this out. This yacht owner has problems too, and he is a billionaire from Russia. Look at this! He is missing the E on his OCEAN VICTORY yacht sign board. Can you imagine the stress and frustration of that? We are so lucky, we just have no way of charging out boat and no way to plug in our boat…ha ha 

Russian Steel billionaire Ocean Victory Yacht is soooooo beautiful. That is 6 stories above the water
See, even mega yachts have challenges, she is missing a letter!

We also do not need 4 fuel truck

This is also NOT our problem. This mega yacht named DAR, another Russian billionaire needed not one, not two, but four fuel trucks to take on 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel. So, we think we have problems, ha, not like this. 🙂

The 4th fuel truck to empty into motor yacht DAR, 30,000 imperial gallons loaded
Motor Yacht DAR, google that Took on 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Merry Christmas. Remember, these are all a wright off for tax evasion, as they are “charter boats” and book as a business. This yacht has a crew of 30 and takes 12 guest. So that is 2.5 crew per guest. WOW!

We will figure this all out

We are safe, we are warm, we have solar, we have ice in frig, we have water and food, who needs power? We will now replace the regulator and next we will look into replacing these plugs and breakers after we trouble shoot them with our volt meter checking if they are working or not. Welcome to the Caribbean, where your boat takes a beating from storing it in the hot humid tropics!

The local street bar that we need to check out
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Alternator Short

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Well, our first Caribbean / Grenada boating day started out great but then presented new challenges. While warming up the engine at 0900, to check all systems, we noticed that the charging system was at 12.5 volts. That is odd. That means that the alternator is not putting out the normal power, which should be 14.4 to 13.3 volts. This is usually a very simple solution with Balmar gear. Usually 99% of the time, it is simple power to the Balmar 614 regulator is off. A wire came off, a fuse burned out, there is a short somewhere.  So, after running for 15 minutes, we concluded that the alternator was not working and we needed to look into this. We alerted IP38 DreamCatcher that we would remain in dock and solve this problem. Well…..from 0900 to 1500 we did. OMG.

We are ready to go

We had just spend 5 days in the boat yard preparing the boat for launch. We launched it yesterday and finished the sails and dinghy late last night. Today we were planning on departing and moving over to town where we could have access to groceries and marine supplies plus water and power on the dock. This dock is the service dock and water and power are not easily delivered. So we planned to launch the boat and move. Well, not today.

Island Spirit with IP38 DreamCatcher

We start with the Balmar 614

Like most alternator problems, it is the 12 volt power not getting to the regulator. So we first start there and check all the fuses with our volt meter. Sure enough we find a blown fuse on the red line powering the regulator. So, we replace this and POOF, it blows again along with smoke and sparks. NOT GOOD on a plastic boat. NOW it is serious, any time we have electrical problems, we take them very seriously because they can start a boat fire and that is not good. So, we now need to find out why the fuse keeps blowing and where the short is located.

Checking the 614 regulator wiring harness. All is good.

Balmar to the Rescue plus Google Fi phone

Balmar has always provided the best support over the many years we have used them. So, I called Washington State from Grenada and spoke with support. I explained the issue and they pointed me to testing the alternator for a short. I said, it was fine when I put it always, and now it was stored for 6 months and POOF, it is not working. Very odd.  I wanted to Full Field the alternator and jump it, but they explained that this could be a serious problem if there is a short. So they had me check the ohm reading on the blue field wire to the ground. If it was 7 – 8 ohms then that would be OK. If not, we have a short. Well the ohms were .007 which means going to ground, a serious short inside the alternator. So they directed me to pull it and replace it. 

OH, sure, this alternator cost about $650 dollars, I will just go get another one!

Balmar documents and help is always the best

Off with the old. which is new

So, we pulled the old, 3 year old $650 Balmar 100 amp alternator and we checked all the wiring. We could not see anything wrong with our ships wiring, so it had to be in the alternator.

Pull the old white Balmar
We always disconnect the red power feed from the alt back to the battery, as that wire is large and directly to the bank. It is serious if you short out that large wire, so we take it off the bank first, then drop the alt.

Pick an alternator, we have 3

We have full spare parts on Island Spirit just in case we need to make repairs at sea or in remote locations like this. So, In our bow locker under the bed we pull out two spare alternators and one spare Balmar 614 regulator.  So, we have the parts to fix this. The problem with alternators is that they all fit the saddle differently and their wiring connections are in different location. Add to this, their field wire and stater plugs are different. They all should be universal but they are not.

The oldest alt seemed to be my best fit. The saddle was right, and the field wire plug was the same as the Balmar, so it was plug and pray. 

My three alternators, Balmar 100 amp, Ample Power 120 amp, and Yanmar/Hitachi 55 amp. We use the smallest one,

Of course we do it twice

We always do things twice it seems with 12 volt power as this is our weakest skill set. Here I installed the alternator with positive, negative and temperature prob, leaving the field wire til after installed. Once fully set up and bet tension done, I go to the back to plug in the field wire and it is behind the heat exchanger, so I have to remove it all and start over. Round two, I connected all wires and THEN mounted and installed the alternator.  Rookie mechanic mistake.

Installed and running, all looks good.
Close up of my marking from when I last removed this. Positive, Field and Negative>s it is not the right bolt on top, but it was all I could make work.

We did it

A required selfie with our success. We are happy and all is back up and running. This has been the most challenging launch in 18 years. The heat, and humidity is high. The boat is in the worst shape in 18 years. We are having breakdowns on new systems that we put in to come down here. And to top it off we are rusty and not even close to up to speed. Toughest start ever and we think it is just the remoteness of the start.  It sure is 10 times easier in Stuart, Fl or Miami, Fl. WOW. 

Hayden and Radeen with an alternator repair need now in Grenada

Next up, hanging with the big boys

This is where we are gong, over to the main marina in town, Port Louis where we will hang out with the big players. Check out these buddy boats!

Oh yea, we hope to stop over and visit….NOT INVITED….i bet
Our first destination from Clarks Court Marina.

Our LIVE tracking MAP is here

We run the Garmin InReach and when the boat moves it places a pin on this map often. Please look at out map here, and if you want to see all our pins, click the VIEW ALL TRACKS and then zoom back.

https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit

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Grenada Launch Day

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We did it, after 5 days of boat yard work we launched the boat here in Clark’s Court Grenada at 0900! SHE FLOATS, ENGINE STARTED, we did not sink! even after doing this every year since 1991, we still get very nervous doing this. There are so many aspects that could go wrong, and there are many systems that have not been running, we get very nervous until we are floating and docked and secured.

It is so hot, we are soaked every day by 9 am, and during noon to 2 pm you have to take cover and get out of the sun. Here we are, 9am and the boat is picked up. We started at 8am

Launching with a tractor and hydraulic trailer

We have not seen this set up before pulling into here in May. This hydraulic trailer is incredible and our boat at 18,000 lbs is a dinghy for this machine. The driver can make the rig wider, taller, lower, and tilt. It is really interesting to see. 

The lifting trailer backing up to our boat

Move the Jack Stands!

In order to back the trailer under the boat, they need to remove the jack stands. Notice how they re position them at an angle allowing for room for the trailer! This looks so dangerous, we stayed back.

The jack stands are cleared but a few are put back at an angle to hold the boat.

Back up the trailer!

The driver then backs this massive trailer under the yacht while the helpers help with direction. The trailer is in the lowest position right now. Look at how close the frame is to the ground and wheels.

The trailer is backed under the yacht

Raise the Hydraulic rams

The large rams then are raised up taking the load of the yacht but they do nto lift the yacht. First the process is to get these rams up and tight against the yacht. Then all the remaining jack stands can be removed.

The rams are raised and pressed against the yacht

Jack up the trailer

Next the entire trailer is lifted as the frame hydrailic rams press the frame vertically. Notice the frame and the wheels now, the entire yacht and frame are pushed up and the yacht is now lifted off the ground. That is 18,000 lbs mininum and more like 20,000 lbs due to all the extra gear we have loaded onboard. So, 10 tons lifted and off it goese.

The frame of the trailer now is lifted up

There she goes

Island Spirit is headed for the water on a trailer with a tractor. OMG! How crazy is that? We then move the car and follow along with the rig.

Riding the trailer to the water
We are in company with RUTH, the 100 foot tall ship also heading to the water in the 240 ton travel lift,
Very cool photo, Island Spirit with RUTH, 35 foot vs 100 foot
Look at the scale of this mega yacht

Back her down the ramp

This part was interesting as Radeen and I had to climb a ladder to the board the yacht. We then had to ride it down the ramp and into the water. Then when the boat was deep enough we had to check all thru hulls and start the engine and get water flowing and cooling and then, they let us free. We backed away and with 20-25 knots of ENE winds blowing we are feeling the rush. It is always so wild….what if….will drive you crazy.

Backing into the water

Off we go, our first leg

Drive from the ramp to the marina and dock. Get your dock lines ready, hope and pray the engine keeps running, hope and pray the anchor is ready, get your fenders down, get to the dock.

Radeen is getting the lines and fenders ready

Success, leg #1 completed

We did it. Leg one is finished. We launched and moved 200 yards to the dock. Notice that the dinghy needs launched, the staysail needs installed. The jib needs installed, we never do these on the jack stands as that is not safe.  We need to finish these jobs today, which we did, and then check out of here and move over to the town of St. Georges where we will dock at Port St. Lucie where they have electric and water on the dock. No services here.

Island Spirit on the dock, day one Dec 10, 2019
Dinner on the dock over looking the marina with a nearly full moon rising

A celebration Beer

Ahhhhh a cold one to celebrate and dinner with Dean and Kim. Let the good times start. Enough work….

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Grenada Prep Day 3 4

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We are ready for launch and  will move out of our comfy air conditioned condo and onto the boat Tue, December 10, 2019. Boat yard work can be so difficult, especially when it is hot. First you have to climb 12 steps up a ladder to the deck. Your power is only wind and solar for lights and fans as there is no access to a power plug. This means there is no air conditioning. Water is only the water in your tank, as there is no water hose that is easily reachable. So, we are preparing the boat with all our own services. To help, we hired out the hull waxing, the stainless steel cleaning, and the interior cleaning, for the first time ever. So we are helping the local economy as we prep the boat.

 

Our 1994 Island Packet 35, ready for launch Dec 9, 2019, Grenada

The Prep Work

After a quick breakfast in the condo, our first task (after painting and hull wax) was to re-run all the halyards we had pulled off the mast to protect them from the intense summer sun. While I am working on deck, Radeen is working below deck cleaning and sorting out the boat. 

Boxed milk, protein Weetabix and finger bananas, yum yum
Good morning Radeen, can you tell it is HOT and she is ready to clean da boat 🙂 ?Halyards and sheets going up.

Halyard work

Most people do not pull the halyards and sheets off the boat and store them below decks. This is something we have done since we arrived down here in the Caribbean. When pulling off the lines, we pull a small 3/16″ chase line in its place so we can then re-pull the large halyards back up and into the mast. Yes, most of our lines are internal, but when stored, half of the line is external, and that gets damaged by the UV/sun.

Mack Sails rigging, they add a nice loop on the lazy end, making pulling easy!
The main halyard pulling 50 feet up the outside of the mast, into the crane head and down the 50 foot mast and out the exit. You really do not want to lose these inside the mast!
My jib halyard, I used my old green main halyard so this I had to sew together and then tape. Sewing makes sure it does not pull apart as you pull it into the mast.

Loading the Main Sail

Our new main sail is a fully battened main sail, which means it weighs in at about 50-60 pounds. We also have a stack pack, which we love, but putting this all back together and pulling up the lazy jacks and loading in the sail battens can easily take two hours. It is not an easy job, and I have done this 18 years! First we have to run the stack pack bolt rope into the boom and hang the pack inside out. Then we load the loose footed main sail onto the boat, but just the tack and clew. We then push all the main sail over to the port side. Now we pull the bottom of the main sail up and over the boom to the starboard side. With the first bottom batten pocket now on the cabintop, we can take apart the batten car and install the long batten and tension it. We do this for each batten,  until we reach the head of the sail. At this point we can then load the head of the sail into the Tides Strong Track, and push and lift it up the mast track until all is loaded. With the main sail only pulled up about 4-5 feet, we can now work on the lazy jacks and lift up the stack pack. Once the stack pack is lifted, we can then fold and store the main sail into the pack.

The Stack Pack on the boom inside out with lazy jacks on the deck
The Main sail fully loaded and the lazy jacks pulling the stack pack up and into position. We need to run the reefing lines next!

Run to town

While Radeen is working below decks cleaning, I ran to town to get dinghy gas, car gas, propane bottle filled, WD-40 and more. Notice that the car ha the steering wheel on the “proper” side of the car, the right side. In Grenada, they drive on the left side and that makes for an interesting activity. I fold in the mirrors when driving because the cars pass each other about 1 millimeter apart, so we are NOT paying for mirrors. A common charge. Who needs mirrors? I bought $60 ECD for the car and I bought $70 ECD of gas for the dinghy. This was about 4 gallons in the car and 5 gallons for the dinghy! $1 USD to $0.37 ECD, basically divide the ECD by 3, that will get you close.

Our rental car, Toyota Rav 4, $50 USD per day plus $15 Insurance with a $2,000 ECD  deductible! YIKES, do not wreck.
I found one gallon of oil, so I bought it. That’s the rule in the Islands, if you see something and will need it, buy it no.  Thje gallon was $100 ECD for one gallon, so that is $37 USD for a gallon of oil. OH MY GOSH!!!!!

Spoiling Radeen

Sunday the local cafe here at Clarke’s Court had local craftsman selling handmade items. I had to buy Radeen something, so I found these Grenada colored ear rings. So nice.

Christmas present for Radeen, spoiling her daily 🙂

 

Of course I took her out to lunch but the place was closed today….

Our Lunch stop….closed, darn it

Finish the Bottom Paint, Install Canvas

The yard has to move the jack stands so we can paint under the pads. So, they came out and re positioned all 9 jack stands. This is why we keep back a half a gallon of paint. The extra covers these pad areas and then the rest is used as a second coat around the water line. That is a wrap on the painting and we can then pull off the tape

Removing the tape, bottom paint is finished. Yes, our boot stripe is needing another paint job, but it OK for one more year.
Looking good,
Much easier than loading the sails, the dodger and bimini go on next. This canvas is old and needs replaced. Design ideas are being discussed.

Out to dinner at Clarke’s Court

Breakfast and lunch are in our condo/room but for a treat after a hard day’s work in the boat yard, we shower and go downstairs for a nice dinner. Radeen ordered a Caribe and said it was the best beer of her entire life! The Cruiser’s Reef Cafe is newly open and they are doing a great job seven days  a week, 7 am to 11 pm. WOW, that makes long days for the staff, who are all consistently polite and friendly.

Look at Beautiful Radeen, the hard working boating GrL

NOT FOR SALE…..but ….. make an offer…

We always joke that we are always prepared complete with signs and all. Island Spirit is NOT for sale, no way, …. but …. go ahead, MAKE AN OFFER….ha ha….like we said, She is NOT for sale….but sometimes we ……nope, won’t go there. OK, launch day Tuesday, Dec 10th is here…

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Grenada Boat Prep 1 2

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We arrived into Grenada with our two duffel bags, two overhead bags and two backpacks after two days of travel. First PHL to MIA, spent the night in Cambria Hotel and caught up with Dr. Nicholas.  Day 2 MIA-GND and landed in the country about 430 pm. Passed thru customs and our car rental drive was waiting for us with a sign with our name on it. How wonderful. We love it when a plan comes together. Let the new sailing season begin.

Welcome to Grenada, it is sunny and warm 85F. Off to customs

But first, getting there….

We asked out dear friend Jenna is she would UBER us to the Philly airport because were were leaving for 6 months and wanted to leave out car in the garage. Well she was a real pro. Jenna and her cute son arrived right on time and she even had snacks and drinks for out ride to the airport. What a great friend. Thank you Jenna!

UBER Jenna and our new Crew member and jib trimmer in back with Radeen.
Running light, 2 duffel bags, 2 overhead carry on bags, 2 backpacks. We are gone

Arrival in MIAMI, the best

We have flown into Miami many times but this approach was incredible. The pilot flew down the coast at about 5,000 feet just offshore and we watched the coast and the famous sights of West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, South Beach and the City of Miami pass by our wind. What an amazing sight to see.  

Just offshore of Florida around West Palm Beach
Turning west flying directly over South Beach, so cool
Flying across Miami to the airport out west of town

UBER Drive # 2 Dr. Nicholas

Our other personal UBER drive was Dr. Nicholas who is the son of Dr. JB our great diving instructor and close friend. Nicholas picked us up at the MIA and took us to our Cambria hotel where we all three enjoyed dinner together and we caught up on his Doctoral work in Psychology. How proud we are of him and all his hard work. Thank you Doc Jr.

Dr. Nicholas helped us out when we arrived Miami, thank you so much!

Day 2 of travel to Grenada

Back to the MIA airport via shuttle van at 0830 for out 1130 flight. We like to be early and it has always worked out.   We were told to dress up like you are going to Sandles Resort so that customs does not look for boat parts. We failed, as we always look and dress like boaters. My IPY hat and my Whiteaker Yacht Sales shirt were not helping me sneak in to Grenada.

Selfie on the Flight MIA to GND
There it is, arriving GND, of course you fly into the EAST Trades!

Welcome to Grenada

We are happy to be back and we are looking forward to Caribbean sailing Season of 6 months! No schedule, no destination, no plans, just get this boat up and running, get her launched and lets go sailing. Let season 18 on Island Spirit begin NOW….GRENADA!

WHAT NO CELL, NO GOOGLE FI?

You all know how much we love out Google Fi service and since March 2019, when we started using our first two Fi phones, Motorola X4 $150 shipped into St. Thomas, thanks to JENNA. We love this service. Since March we have taken the service to 19 countries and we have connected upon arrival. Here are are in Grenada, where it worked fine in May, and we can not get onto the grid.

Well, 6 hours of tech support, with Google Fi and three different techs via WiFi chat, no one could get our two phones onto the grid. So, I asked my good boat buddy, Dr. Don of sv Fezywig and he gave me the answer in 4 or 5 clicks. POOF, we had 4G LTE just like that, just like expected, just like before. So, a BIG thanks to Don for connecting us back to the net.  

It is amazing how cell technology is on every island, this is our tower

Let’s Get to WORK, unwrap, prep for paint

Job #1 was to remove the 1,200 sq.ft. of coolaroo sunshade cover. This is a 90% UV blocking fabric that we buy and fit to the yacht. This is the third time we have done this and it works great. We simply cut the sip ties dropped it and then folded and rolled the fabric back into 4 rolls. We are thinking of storing it here, but Radeen wants to pack it into the sail locker and take it with us. YIKES! Not sure we have enough room for it, we will see.

This is our cover of Coolaroo, see previous blog post on how we did this.
We rolled it up and tossed it to the ground
The folded length of 50 feet rolled up onto the car hood, that worked
4 rolls of coolaroo fill the back seat of this RAV

Next Task, PAINT THE BOTTOM!

We have painted the bottom of our boats since 1991. We know the process well and we have painted this IP 35 nine times. It takes us a couple of hours to prep, we do not sand the bottom. We simply flake off any loose paint, sand that area, and then tape the boot stripe and roll on new paint. Painting takes 2 hours with both of us working on the job. Radeen has always helped paint the boat, she helps on every job and THAT makes us a great team.

Radeen preparing the bottom, chipping off loose paint
12 steps to the deck, one full flight up, we get our workout
Radeen like to cover up because this paint is nearly impossible to get off your skin or out of your hair. I just use latex gloves.
I took this photo to show how far ONE GALLON reaches. All the starboard side plus this much of the port side. One Gallon of Trinidad is about $325 USD, we need two gallons to paint this boat.
Touch up Radeen as she works the rudder and prop areas
We tried to recreate the AMERICAN GOTHIC photo, pitch fork etc, but with paint rollers…ha ha
Painting on Day 2. Taped at 0730. Shook paint at 0800, Started painting at 0800, wrapped up at 1030, time for coffee now

Power in Grenada = 220v 50 htz

When we travel, we always travel with power plug adapters, and here in Grenada, the power grid is 220 volts, much like the rest of the “real” world. Look at this plug, it is like the one used in England. Also notice that our room has 110 volt next to all 220 v. This is very kind, but also very unusual. They know many Americans come here so they are trying to accommodate us all.

The rooms at Clarks Court Boat Yard can be booked and we stay here while working on the boat. Nice rooms with a balcony, little kitchen and bath.
The room view looking over the docks and the exit to sea in the distance
Here are the power outlets. On the left, 110 volt like USA, on the right, the normal UK/Grenada 220 volt. Not the switches on the outlets. Very nice.

A nice Break at UMBRELLAS with Dean and Kim

We are here in the yard with another Island Packet Owner, IP 38 DreamCatcher owned by Dean and Kim. They invited us to go to Umbrellas on the beach for burgers and PainKillers. YAHOOOOO….great idea. So, after we painted the boat, we cleaned up and hit the beach bar at 1230. Dean and Kim have been cruising their IP 38 now 4 years and they have sailed from Florida to Grenada and they know the area well. They have helped us with this area and this boat yard. We are following their lead.

The best Beach Bar, Umbrellas, Grenada
If you are with “PhotoBoy” Hayden, then there will be selfies. Fun times to remember. Hayden, Radeen, Kim and Dean.

We picked up two pets

These are the local goats and they are everywhere. Herds of them roam the boat year and come down out of the hills. These are the two at out yard exit. Should we take them on the boat? nahhhhhh

Team Island Spirit’s new PET GOATS

Up next

We need to have the jack stands moved and paint under them on Monday. We need to keep cleaning and unpacking and get the rust off all the stainless. We have hired helpers to help us out. We hired out the hull wax, thank goodness. We need to re-run all running rigging Sunday. We need sails and canvas put back on. We need to recommission the dinghy and 15 hp Yamaha. All by Tue when we launch and move aboard. Lots of work recommissioning a boat that is in storage. Welcome to the boat yard. 

Thanks for sailing along. 

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Off to Grenada 2019

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Let the new sailing season begin in Grenada Dec 5, 2019. We fly in, spend 5 days preparing the boat (uncover, wash, paint and wax) and then we launch Dec 10th! Move aboard that day, and then move the yacht around to the town of St. Georges, Grenada where we will dock Dec 11th to 16th setting up the yacht. Sails, halyards, dinghy, outboard, watermaker, and provisions. If all goes well, we plan to sail out Dec 16th for maybe Bequia where we think there is a Christmas celebration. This season will be one of simple cruising and Eastern Caribbean Explorations. Hopefully filled with many new discoveries. Final task today…PACK and get to PHL!

The Plan on getting there
The plan on where we will sail
This could be a fun diversion to the west and downwind.
We still have our sights set on a full Caribbean Exploration, 2 years East and 2 years West!
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Haulout in Grenada Coolaroo

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After our run-in with Hurricanes IRMA and MARIA in Puerto Rico and our ultimate repairs by Mack Sails and Mack Yacht Services in Stuart, FL, we were determined to push south to Grenada and store our boat safely at 12 degrees north. Since departing Annapolis Oct 2018, Clark’s Court was our destination via a delivery down the “Thorny Path” to store on the hard from June 1 to Dec 10.

Clark’s Court is an amazing boatyard and the newest one in Grenada. The entire staff is friendly and professional. Their very cool haulout system is a tractor with a massive hydraulic trailer that can handle 80,000 lbs and 70-foot boats. So our little Island Spirit at 20,000 lbs and 40 feet was like a dinghy to this rig. WOW!!

The haulout tractor and trailer at Clark’s Court, Grenada

Hauled out to Land via a tractor

We have never seen this a haulout procedure quite like this. While it was going on, we went to Facebook LIVE and published a video of the entire process. It really was amazing. The skilled yard workers positioned the boat over the trailer and divers went under the boat to make sure the lifting points were in the best place. Next, the tractor driver operated the hydraulic rams, pushing the boat up and out of the water. The trailer wheels also were hydraulic and they pushed down, lifting the entire trailer up, as the boat was then pulled up the ramp. What an interesting process to watch!

Island Spirit on the trailer at Clark’s Court Grenada
The tractor and trailer allow the yard workers to place yachts within inches of each other, fitting more boats into the yard. The workers were very careful to level the boat fore and aft and port and starboard before installing the jack stands. They used a 3 ft. long level and poured water in the cockpit to be certain it will drain completely.  Thank you!

Before haulout, we prepped the cover

For storing in Florida and in Puerto Rico, we covered the yacht with a 90% UV sunshade block called “Coolaroo” made by Gale Pacific.  This will be the third year we have used Coolaroo to protect Island Spirit. We think it is a great product and at a cost of about $300 we feel it is worth it to keep the hot tropical sun off the boat for 6 months during storage.

This year, we made a sketch of the cover pieces and rolled the fabric out at the dock to pre-cut the 4 required pieces. Then we rolled the top pieces into long 12 foot rolls and placed them onto the deck, ready to roll out in the yard once we were blocked and stored. This was the best year ever for putting on our Coolaroo cover, because we had done it in Florida and in Puerto Rico, so we knew exactly what to do.

We rolled out the Coolaroo on the dock and pre-cut the lengths.
The two top 12 foot pieces were unfolded and then re-rolled into 12 foot tubes
The two top 12 foot wide covers, rolled into tubes and folded in half, on the deck ready to be unrolled
Our Coolaroo Cover plan and sketch. The 6 ft pieces hang down the sides, and the 12 ft pieces cover the deck.

On the hard, Installing the cover

To install our Coolaroo 90% UV shade cover, we use black zip ties. The fabric will not tear, yet it is easy to cut with scissors.  The zip ties simply push thru the weave of the fabric which allows you to connect it to the lifelines and stitch it together.  We start by hanging the 6-foot x 40-foot pieces off the top lifeline. These will hang down to the waterline. This takes about an hour or less to hang the sides.

Next, we roll out the top bow piece and zip tie it to the front of the pulpit. We precut around the staysail and jib and bring it back together in front of the forestay. Now we simply pull the top back to the mast and zip it tight to the mast. Next, we work from the bow coming aft to secure the top over the lifelines. We reach over the sides and zip the top to the sides and continue to the midship shrouds.

The sides are easy to hang, we zip tie them to the top lifeline
The bow cover is ready to unroll. Notice the 10ft AB dinghy on the deck fully inflated. It will be covered by the bow cover. Perfect!
The bow cover is pulled back to the mast and secured midship, then we zip the sides down

Coolaroo DOES lower the temperature

The cooling effect of placing the yacht into the shade of this amazing fabric is very noticeable. We choose the heavier grade of Coolaroo rated at a 90% UV sunblock, yet it allows wind and rain thru the open weave of the fabric. To check how well it really works, we used a temperature gun and took readings of the deck temperature under the Coolaroo vs the deck temperature in the direct sun. We also checked the inside temperature of the boat, and it was matching the ambient air temperatures. Look at these readings; Coolaroo works!

The deck temperature in the direct sun. Island Packet decks are tan and can be too hot to walk on in bare feet.
The same deck under the Coolaroo in the shade is 15 degrees cooler.
The inside temperature is 89 and that is under the bow under the Coolaroo, so it really does work.

Prep Below deck

When we put the boat away, we pull all the halyards and store them below to protect them from UV damage for 6 months. We flush the engine with Salt-Away to push out all the seawater. All clothing and linens are packed in vacuum bags to prevent mold. We wipe down all the walls with vinegar and water solution to cut away any salt that may be on the walls. We empty all the lockers and all the food we give way to others. Then we close up the boat and deploy 4 SunPac mildewcide packs that will take out all the O2 and prevent mold and mildew. This is our first time using them instead of large DampRid containers. We hope they work as well as reported; we won’t find out til we return in Dec.

Flushing the Yanmar with Salt-Away
After rinsing and drying, all halyards and lines are hung up. Pillows, clothing and linens are vacuum packed.
We stand up all cushions, bag the books and open all lockers. This is how we left the boat.

Finish Up the Coolaroo Cover

To finish the cover on Day 2, we add tie-down lines to the side drops and pulled these down under the yacht to the other side drop, pulling them as tight as we could. When the sun cover is finished, it is bar tight and will not flap or tear from the wind. We will leave this up in a hurricane, but here we will NOT have any more hurricanes, we hope!

The top aft piece is held up via our whisker pole from mast to davits
The whisper pole gives us room to be underneath as we come and go
The side tie down lines are now on
The sun cover is bar tight
The yard adds hurricane tie-down straps to concrete blocks
The stern is left open for access into the cockpit

We are HAPPY

After 5 days in the marina room and preparing and storing the boat, we are happy to be taking a break and heading home to “Saltbox 13” or “Club FRED” as we call our house. I found this cool shirt for Radeen becuase she is always a positive, happy, motivated Girl, and I love her for that!

Happy Radeen and Hayden celebrating “it’s a wrap, the boat is put away!”

 

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Grenada Sailing

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Our latitude and longitude: 12 degrees 25 minutes by 61 degrees 31 minutes…..LAND HO, Grenada, there she is as we sail around Kick Em Jenny and into the lee of the island. Kick Em Jenny is an underwater volcano which last erupted in July 2015. It rises 4300 ft. above the sea floor and is 600 ft. below the surface. There is a maritime exclusion zone and a website that shares the current level of seismic activity. The bubbles of gas from an eruption can cause a sinking hazard. We gave it plenty of room!

Radeen and I left Annapolis Maryland after the 2018 boat show and now, May 18, 2019, we have Grenada over our bow. What a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. No, we did not cross an ocean, (not yet). No, we did not sail offshore directly to get here via the Caribbean 1500. We did the “Thorny Path” for a second time, and here we are. Proud and Happy! Check out this picture of the GPS data and note we are sailing at 7.4 knots of speed around Kick Em Jenny.

Approaching Grenada sailing at Hull Speed+ 7.4 SOG

Caribbean Sailing is the Best

Kick Em Jenny to the left, Grenada over our bow
Radeen loves to travel, and she loves to sail, Bluewater Sailing Girl
The view looking back east over the underwater volcano, Kick Em Jenny
In the lee of Grenada and the calmer winds and seas

Ahhh, St. George’s, Grenada

Radeen and I both agree we love anchoring off towns and taking the dinghy into explore, walk, and discover great towns.  Dropping the anchor off St. George’s was a real joy after being in so many smaller towns on smaller islands. This is like Manhattan for the Caribbean Islands. WOW. What a wonderful town this is and we look forward to fully discovering it next year.

Radeen re-discovers St. George’s. We were last here in 1991.
The harbor has two sides, this is the commercial side, no anchoring here
Commercial fishing is a big industry in Grenada
Christ of the Deep bronze statue along the Carenage. It was donated by the Costa Cruise line commemorating the kindness of Grenadian citizens who housed over 600 passengers following a cruise ship fire.
The fishing boats dock on the wharf of town, the fish market is just over the hill

Living off Grenada

Many cruisers move south to Grenada for protection from hurricanes which can develop during the summer and fall months. June to November are the months to be safely anchored in Grenada. St. George’s is one of many places to be anchored. With an easy dinghy ride to town and many dinghy docks, this was an easy place to live. Add in Grand Anse Beach just a mile down the coast and we loved it. This is our kind of place to live on a boat. Full town services and a calm safe anchorage off a beautiful beach. Perfection.

Sunset from anchor off St. Georges, Grenada
Watching a sunset is a nightly enjoyment, something people rarely do on land.
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Carriacou to Grenada

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We left Happy Island off Union Island and sailed over to Petit St. Vincent which has one of the most amazing beaches in the lower Caribbean Sea. Anchored there for the night with a morning beach walk, we pulled up anchor and moved on south to Carriacou Island. This was a great place to stage up for the last leg to Grenada.  Carriacou has a very large harbor and it is also the place to check into Grenada. So, it was here on this island that we officially reached our goal of sailing to Grenada. GOAL ACCOMPLISHED selfie photo required!

Hayden and Radeen, as we cleared into GRENADA May 18, 2019 on the island of Carriacou,

Sail Around a Volcano!

WHAT? That is right, we had not read about this but our great buddy boat FEZYWIG alerted us to this navigational risk. On the leg from Carriacou to Grenada, you need to sail west of KICKEM JENNY, the semi-active underwater volcano. The reason this is a boating risk is that if it erupts it will send gas bubbles up to the surface. These gas bubbles will cause a boat to sink (along with the crew) immediately due to the lost displacement as the boat can not float in bubbles. Yikes.  So we happily sailed west of this area and stayed well away from our first underwater volcano. Here is the route we ran and where Kickem Jenny is located.

The Sailing is the Best

One of the reasons every boater dreams of sailing south to the Caribbean Sea is because of the tradewinds. These are always blowing 20 to 25 knots from a direction of 080 or 090 or 100 and then the only other variable is 15-20-25 knots. Usually, it is more 20-25 than 15-20. That means we have mostly sailed with a double reefed main, a full 110% jib and a full staysail. The Island Packet 35 loves 20-25 knots and when reaching or close reaching we simply reef the main and let her run. Island Spirit is a fantastic sailing boat and we really enjoy the ride. Here are some sailing photos from this last leg.

Looking off the stern, trying to photograph the waves
Looking East to where Kickem Jenny underwater volcano is located
Sailing at hull speed, 7.2 knots with a full jib and reefed main
Bluewater sailing is a real joy
Bluewater sailing!
Double-reefed main, thank you, Mack Sails.

Anchored off Grenada

St. George’s is the main town on the southwest side of Grenada. Cruisers anchor off the town near Grand Anse Beach. With the sun setting behind you to the west and the high island hills to the East, it makes for a wonderful place to drop the hook. From here we discovered St. George’s and the wonderful people of Grenada.

Goal Accomplished! 3,000 nm and 13 countries!

We cannot express how happy and proud we are that we actually made it to Grenada. People were placing bets that we would not make it all the way south after our hurricane rebuild and having to start over. Add to that, we sailed back to Annapolis MD and started there when we could have left the boat in Florida after Colin Mack’s team rebuilt our boat. But, we wanted to sail, so we sailed from Stuart Florida north to Annapolis, MD in the spring of 2018. Then we sailed back south to Florida, Bahamas, Turks, DR, PR, USVI, BVI, St. Barths, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Illes de Saints, Martinique, St. Lucia, Bequia, Tobago Cays, Union, Carriacou and Grenada! Dreams do come true, we are so lucky.


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