Summer Refit Completed

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Working since June 3, we have spent the summer repairing systems and upgrading failed systems. We have mostly been posting the progress onto our PUBLIC Facebook Page, so please LIKE and FOLLOW us there. YOu do not need Facebook to read a public web page! Here is the direct link, it is fun to scroll back and see the work.

https://www.facebook.com/svIslandSpirit

Here is the summary of the work completed. This has been a very big list of jobs. We will now begin our shake down and testing of all upgraded systems. We plan to make our 20th Intracoastal waterway run heading for Stuart Florida for Thanksgiving. From there we plan to push out into the Exuams and out to the USVI asap. We want to spend Christmas back in the Caribbean Sea. It is just far too nice, and we love sailing the Tradewinds. Getting there, well that is not fun. 1,200 nm on a course of 120m with a 090 wind! Or sail out to Bermuda and hang a right. For us, it will be a third trip down the “thorny path!”

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KBW10 Transmission repaired

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WE DID IT, thanks to Alfred Holzer of Schooner Bay Marina for remanufacturing our KBW10 transmission. With his expert mechanical team, he was able to source the repair parts and remanufacture the gear. No one can do this, even Mack Boring said no, it can not be repaired. Well, not true, Alfred can do it.  If you need any Yanmar repairs, call, email or check is ENGINE LIST on his website here: https://schoonerbaymarinallc.com/site/ 

Here is our Facebook post about this repair.

 

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B&G Halo 20+ Radar added

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This will be our THIRD B&G radar antenna in 4 years! Not good. Especially since the antenna is mounted 25 feet up the mast at the spreaders. So, I had to climb up using my ATN top climber, and remove the broken radar so I could send it back to B&G and they could “sell” me a replacement one then at 50% off, or $1,100. Thanks. So, in early Aug I climbed the mast and remounted the new Halo 20+ antenna, and it fired right up. We are happy to have digital radar back for our offshore nighttime passages. We had to run all the way home from Nassau Bahamas last May/June to Maryland without radar. Offshore at night full speed ahead is not really safe without radar. Here is our Facebook post about the re-install:

 

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Trip Summary Caribbean to Chesapeake Bay

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Our wonderful winter cruising adventure concluded when we sailed into Rock Hall, Maryland, our home port since 1991. We both agree the sail home from the Caribbean took much longer than first expected. We departed USVI on April 2, 2022, and we arrived at our home dock on May 31, 2022. A total trip of 3,319 nautical miles was traveled this season, including Puerto Rico to Antigua.  The total NM sailed from St. Thomas USVI to Rock Hall, MD was 2,410! We both agree the sailing was fantastic departing the Caribbean. With an approximate course of 300 degrees and with the Tradewinds blowing from 090, that makes the wind 150 degrees off our starboard bow for a broad reach all the way home. Well, at least it is a reach from the Virgin Islands to The Exumas in the Bahamas!

Once we sailed north of the Bahamas, we began to get into the coastal frontal winds coming off the USA east coast.  These frontal winds pull the trades south or southwest and then the front blows in with northwest and north and northeast winds making for a challenge to plan passages north. We easily sailed 3 days out of Puerto Rico to reach the Bahamas, and then we sailed easily northwest thru the Exumas, but once we reached the Nassau, Bahamas area, we were firmly controlled by these coastal weather patterns. These delayed us a month on our way from Florida north to the Chesapeake Bay. Many cruisers ahead of us were “stuck” for weeks waiting for weather windows to simply move a day or two up the coast or even in the ICW, Intracoastal Waterway. 

This is the overview of our entire sailing season. 3,319 nm traveled.

Highlights of the Season

As I reflect back on the season past, I have many fond memories and images in my mind: the Southern Cross constellation rising over Antigua as seen from the blackness of Barbuda at 3 am. Code zero sailing and reaching downwind for many, many miles under autopilot vane steering. Coffee shops of French St, Martin. Sunsets over St. Thomas as seen from St. John. Happy hours at the rebuilt Saba Rock. Watching the sunset while anchored off St. Barts. Day after day of beam reaching for the Bahamas at hull speed 7.0 knots+ and discovering the beauty of Conception Island with great buddy boat IP370 SEA LYON. This winter and spring were pure joy and a wonderful escape from the hibernation of Covid. We really enjoyed this sailing season!

Island Spirit reefed down sailing hull speed into the sunset
We set these sailing and cruising goals to paper in 1996, they came true in 2011, and now, in 2022 they are still leading us onward.

Here are the 63 legs we ran this season

My interactive map where you can zoom in to see these legs is archived here:
https://new.spotwalla.com/trip/029c-222ed31e-ae72/view

Leg From To Nautical Miles
1 PR St. Thomas USVI 47
2 USVI St James 8
3 St James St. Martin 117
4 STX SMX 12
5 SMX St. Barts 25
6 St. Barts Antigua 90
7 Jolly Falmouth 7
8 Falmouth Jolly 7
9 Jolly Sailing 13
10 Jolly Sailing 20
11 Jolly Sailing 15
12 Jolly North Sound 25
13 North Sound Barbuda 37
14 Barbuda St. Barts 82
15 St. Barts St. Martin 16
16 St. Martin Sailing 10
17 St. Martin Marigot 4
18 Marigot Grand Case 5
19 Marigot BVI 110
20 Sopers Bitter End, BVI 29
21 Bitter End Anegada, BVI 17
22 Anegada Bitter End. BVI 17
23 BVI St. John, USVI 13
24 St. John St. James, USVI 4
25 BVI Willy T, Normans, BVI 15
26 Willy T Jost 13
27 Jost Sopers 6
28 Sopers USVI 6
29 Red Hook St. James 4
30 St. Thomas St. Croix 43
31 St. Croix St. Thomas 43
32 Red Hook St. James 4
33 St. James Red Hook 4
34 Red Hook St. James 4
35 St James Red Hook 4
36 Red Hook St. John 4
37 Red Hook St. Thomas 10
38 St Thomas Crown Bay 4
39 St Thomas Culebra, PR 30
40 Culebra Patillas, PR 58
41 Patillas Salinas, PR 25
42 Salinas Guanica, PR 42
43 Guanica Puerto Real, PR 38
44 Puerto Real Sailing 4
45 Puerto Real Mayaguana. BS 520
46 Mayaguana Conception, BS 178
47 Conception Georgetown, BS 48
48 George Town Black Point, BS 60
49 Black Point Highbourne, BS 56
50 Highbourne  Palm Cay – West Bay 64
51 West Bay Stuart FL 231
52 Stuart FL Ft. Pierce, FL 30
53 Ft. Pierce St. Augustine, FL 188
54 St. Augustine Charleston, SC 224
55 Charleston Cape Lookout, NC 257
56 Adams Cr. Belhaven, NC 51
57 Belhaven Coinjock, NC 87
58 Coinjock Great Bridge, VA 37
59 Great Bridge Portsmouth, VA 11
60 Portsmouth Deltaville. VA 55
61 Deltaville, VA Solomons, MD 64
62 Solomons, MD Annapolis MD 50
63 Annapolis, MD Rock Hall, MD 17
    TOTAL Nautical Miles 3319
    Total Statute Miles 3819
    Total Kilometers 6146

Again: Our interactive archive map is here:
https://new.spotwalla.com/trip/029c-222ed31e-ae72/view

The Decision to Sail Back

This photo says it all. As we set sail out of St. Martin with the sun setting on the French harbor of Marigot, Radeen and I decided that it is all simply too beautiful to sail out and head home with the thoughts of never coming back. So this photo was taken the moment we both agreed to sail back next season because this is just too beautiful not to. We have fallen in LOVE with the Caribbean Islands of USVI, St. Martin, St. Maarten, Antigua and Barbuda, and Martinique. We must return, so that is our plan. The boat is in our home port, where we will refit all systems for maintenance and upgrades. We will sail right back to the Caribbean Sea ASAP in the late fall of 2022. This is why we have the boat we have, she is meant to sail, and Island Spirit loves to sail the ocean. She will take us there!

The moment we decided to sail back, as we sailed out of St. Martin for the BVIs. That is the sunset on Marigot over our stern.

Cheers to all, and thanks for sailing along.

Celebration bubbly, Annapolis, MD May 2022
Island Spirit with her country flags flying
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Stern Tube and New Cutlass Bearing

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We decided while we were hauled out for Kyle Ulrick of Swan Creek Marina, to paint and wax and replace our gold stripe, that we would pull the stern tube and replace all. The last time this was done, was 2013 by the Island Packet Factory. Now after 2700 hours of motoring and many trips up and down the ICW and into the Bahamas and even the Caribbean, we thought it was time.

I will say, this job was way harder than I recalled from when I did it myself in 2001, I guess being 21 years older might be the reason. I highly recommend not trying this yourself. The biggest challenge was pulling off the prop shaft transmission coupler. That was very difficult. The yard mechanics said we would never get that off, well, that just made us work harder.

Thanks for some great buddies, like Freddie and Ken and Ray and Don and Radeen, we all worked for two days and pulled the stern tube and installed a new one along with a new packing gland and new packing. She is ready for another 2700 nm and 10 years at least.

Here is the Facebook post about this

 

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Bahamas to Maryland HOME

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THE TOTAL IS IN…., 3,294 nm run over 62 individual legs!
Here is the total trip:
https://new.spotwalla.com/trip/029c-222ed31e-ae72/view

We made it back to our home waters of the Upper Chesapeake Bay, May 30, 2022 after a challenging weather month of May.  Many cruisers were complaining about the spring weather and how they were stuck and could not move north. We wanted to sail from the Bahamas direct to Cape Lookout, a simple 3 day passage with the aid of the Gulfstream, but our weather router, Chris Parker, said there was not going to be a good 3-day window. So we headed for Florida and then ran north on shorter, single overnight trips. Here is a screenshot of our entire voyage:

Dec 2021 to May 2022, Caribbean Sea to Annapolis MD

Archive Maps are interesting

 We have all of our trips archived on our MAPS page. We use two services to do this, Garmin InReach and Spotwalla. The Inreach device is the tracker that sends our position report to the Iridium satellites and then back down to Garmin which records the position into a database.  This data is then pulled and presented on our shared public map. With Garmin, you can see the current position or you can VIEW ALL position reports to see everywhere we have sailed.  Here is our Garmin shared map, click VIEW ALL then zoom back!

https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit

The second service we pay for is Spotwalla. The developer recognized the need to extract these data positions and create what are called TRIP MAPS. A trip map has a start and an end date and pulls all the data points within that timeframe. We like this better than Garmin in the fact that we can focus on one season, where as Garmin combines all seasons together. Here is this season’s trip map:

https://new.spotwalla.com/trip/029c-222ed31e-ae72/view

All our Maps

With many years of cruising, we have archived ALL our maps and indexed them by years on the MAPS menu link.  One of the tasks I am working on is to extract the data of miles from these maps. Garmin keeps the mileages of each leg and I am working on the total of all of these. We estimate we have well over 40,000 nm traveled on Island Spirit since 2001. Here is out map archives:

https://svislandspirit.com/maps/

Bahamas to Florida

Our passage from Bahamas to Florida was the calmest we have had in 11 years of crossings. Literally, the Gulfstream was a lake. What a simple motor run this was. Look at the ocean on this passage, we never see this….

Arriving Stuart, FL

Of course, we had to return to Stuart, Florida and the Sunset Bay Marina, one of our all-time favorites. We enjoyed a wonderful week there with many friends. Thank you to Tommy BOY and Sailor GrL for the best cherry smoked rib-eye steak ever. What a treat that was. Thanks to all our cruising friends who loaned us cars, invited us to their homes, and simply enjoyed the sunsets and coffee bar with us as we all caught up on each others happenings. Here are a few Stuart Photos….

Tommy BOY…..
Sailor GrL…..
Alex and Amy world travelers…..
Cheerleader Lynn and Jim
Rick and Terri and Jean, lucky bums who live here in Stuart FL

Onward North….but no WX Window:

We really wanted to sail directly from Stuart Fl, 2.5 days direct via Gulfstream passage to Cape Lookout. Well, that never worked out because the storms were running and there never was a wx window more than a day or two. The CAPE index was really high, indicating strong updrafts in the air which turn into severe storms over the stream. This made us decide to NOT run the stream home, and that meant day hopping up the east coast! Here is the issue….

 

St. Augustine, here we come

We departed Stuart and made an inside run up to Ft. Pierce to visit our dear friend and world sailor, Jeffery of famed IP460 FLYING FISH. Jeffery just completed his circumnavigation and was in Ft. Pierce preparing his yacht for sale. If you are looking for the dream WORLD VOYAGING YACHT, then look at FLYING FISH HERE:

http://flyingfishsail.com/
https://www.yachtworld.com/yacht/2017-island-packet-460-8239004/

After a wonderful visit with Jeffery, we headed to sea for an overnight run to St Augustine, Florida. This is always a great stop because of the city and the outstanding harbor as well as Tina and John. We have “family” friends as we call them here in town. They always connect with us and enjoy our time together. Tina is the sister of our dear friend Anita at home. Then we also connected with our fellow yacht broker, company owner and lifetime sailor GrL, Melanie. She runs her own yacht brokerage firm called Sunshine Yachts. Always a good time in St. Augustine….

THE yacht broker, Melanie and owner of Sunshine Yachts
Our St. Augustine “family” Tina and John….

Offshore again to Charleston, SC

We had dreams of docking and walking EAST BAY Street in Charleston, but when we arrived and called every single marina for a dock, they were all full. ZERO slips available.  So we dropped the anchor off the aircraft carrier and rested. We were only here to pick up a new B&G RI10 radar interface box that never did fix the broken B&G radar. Thanks, B&G, we did not need it, even though your tech told me to buy one. The problem is the antenna and we have now ordered a new one. So, our visit to Charleston was a bust and out the inlet the next morning we raced….

Our view from anchor

Once more Offshore run to Cape Lookout, NC

We departed Charleston after breakfast and made the offshore run for Cape Lookout, NC. Each of these ocean runs was about 36 hours, so one more overnighter at sea. Sadly, much of this had to be motor sailing as again, we were running before storms and trying to get into port before they would hit us.  At this point of the trip, we were really missing Caribbean Tradewinds sailing, as the winds are steady and always from the east. Here on the coast, you need to deal with cold fronts and storms. Not fun, and we missed the trades. When we reached the Beaufort NC inlet, of course the winds were 20 gusting 25 knots. We needed to reef down to a double reef as we bashed into the ebbing tide, making 3 foot standing waves in the long, long inlet. Finally, we reached the ICW and ran up Adams Creek to a calm anchorage after 36 hours. Here are some ocean scenes…

Moring calm and the code zero
Sunsets at sea are wonderful

Now to run the ICW north….easy

Well, that is what you would think, except for more severe thunderstorms and lightning. We cant believe it,.We actually had to take a dock for 2 days in Belhaven, NC to wait out storms. While there we walked, reprovisioned, used their free laundry, and ran our ship’s air conditioning, a real treat. It takes 3-4 days to run the ICW up to the Chesapeake Bay. 

We ran this in one day!!!! and we also got lucky missing a 75 mph storm
This morning’s storm blasted the Outer Banks and ran behind us.

HELLO CHESAPEAKE BAY

We finally reached MILE MARKER #1, in Portsmouth VA. This is always a must stop location for us. Here we walked the town and waited in line for TOP GUN TICKETS. What a fantastic time at the movies. We also connected with fellow IP sailors Jane and Pat and their friend Race of M’Aingeal. Jane is an amazing singer and guitar player and we had a wonderful time together for two days in Portsmouth.

The GILMERTON Lift bridge, hello, Norfolk VA
Good times in Portsouth VA
Jane is an amazing guitar player and has a beautiful voice
We are not in the Caribbean….hello ship

Chesapeake Bay Stops

The normal run up or down the Chesapeake Bay always seems to be Norfolk, Deltaville, Solomons and Annapolis. These are all about 50 nm apart and take about 8-10 hours to run. During our stop in Deltaville, we met up with longtime friends Jim and Laurie and we also met new owners, Nancy and John. In Solomons, we connected with long-time boat buddies who sailed with us to Maine and Florida. Mary Anne and Ron.  What a wonderful home coming….

 

 

Laurie and Jim…
Mary Ann and Ron

Pulling into Annapolis is HOME

Yes, our home dock is in Rock Hall, MD, but pulling into Annapolis is the real feeling of HOME. We first sailed here and rented boats here in 1986. Every year since we have sailed to Annapolis and have spent many nights here. This is one of our all-time top destinations. When we sailed past the Thomas Point Light, we finally knew we were HOME…..it has been a long, long, much longer than expected trip from the Caribbean Sea. We feel very accomplished and we are proud of the distances we have run. Go, ISLAND SPIRIT!

12+ country, state and territory flags

CHEERS….we did it

Celebrating with fine champagne on mooring ball #1 Annapolis MD.

Thank you all for Sailing along.

We will soon wrap up this blogging season, but please be aware you can follow in more real-time on our Facebook public Web page. We enjoy posting and sharing there as well. Now it is time to check in on our house and also to fully service Island Spirit. She needs some work to keep her in mint condition and to prepare her for the return to the Caribbean Sea in Nov 2022. It is too wonderful there to not sail back. WE LOVE IT THERE……

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Sailing 425nm PR to Bahamas

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We did it. We sailed our longest stretch at sea, 72 hours, 3 days from Puerto Real, Puerto Rico to Mayaguana, Bahamas. We have sailed 400+ miles before but faster due to the Gulf Stream.  I am so proud of Radeen who had zero fear of standing watches in the black of night with no moon and no horizon sailing at 6-7 knots of boat speed rocking and rolling side to side. We both were exhausted upon arrival. simply from maintaining balance and trying to move around the boat. We are not long-distance sailors and we can not imagine longer legs, but for now, we are happy and feeling successful. Here is a map of the run.

3 days at sea, 425 nm 72 hours on a beam reach to broad reach doing 6 knots plus round the clock.

You can see our live sailing tracks and also VIEW ALL TRACKS here:
https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit

You can also see JUST THIS SEASON’s map of where we have sailed
https://new.spotwalla.com/trip/029c-222ed31e-ae72/view

Our watch schedule

We really tried to maintain the Captain Blaine Parks watch schedule for two. But it is difficult for me (Hayden) to sleep when Radeen is alone at night on watch. So, I never get enough sleep and that makes this process far more difficult. When we sail with three people, that changes the entire game. Here is the schedule we tried to maintain for 3 days:

  • 0600-1200 Radeen
  • 1200-1800 Hayden
  • 1800-2100 Radeen
  • 2100-2400 Hayden
  • 0000-0300 Radeen
  • 0300-0600 Hayden

Meals were at 0600, 1200, and 1800. Again, not easy cooking or getting even a one bowl meal together.  Radeen freezes the meals and they are then a warm-up and serve into one bowl. Here is our first dinner…Chicken Satay with peanut sauce, coconut rice, and peas.

Chicken satay w/peanut sauce, coconut rice and peas. One bowl, as taught by ocean sailor John Knight.

The sailing winds

We waited for one week in Puerto Rico until all the squalls and rain and thunderstorms moved out of the area. This delay gave Cat and Bob of  IP 370 Sea Lyon time to catch up with us. Once the stationary TROF and squalls left, we both departed for sea. This worked out so well as we had a predicted wind of 13-18 knots from 090 with gusts to 20-25 and squalls to 25k. Then the winds were to move to NNE at 15-19 gusting 20-25. These numbers on a course of 300 to 320 degrees placed the winds on a beam reach to broad reach for three full days. Our motoring was about 2-3 hours for battery charging and hot water for showers. The sailing was amazing. So, 2.5 gallons of fuel for 425 nm. Not bad. Here are some sailing photos.

We had dolphins playing in the bow wave, so this was the only time I was on deck
We sailed many hours under full sails, main, jib and staysail
The view out and thru our new strata glass windshield is fantastic
Hello sunrise off our stern, it’s about time. WOW, the nights are long when there is no horizon.
Hello SUNSET over our bow, nightfall is coming, just keep on sailing NW.
Rain squalls are a blessing as they wash off all the salt spray
Look out IP 370 SEA LYON, the squall is coming with rain and 27 knots of wind

A Sun Halo

This was so amazing. On day 3 at noon just south of the Turks and Caicos bank, I looked up at the sails and noticed this sun halo.  From what I read,….. A halo is an optical phenomenon produced by light (typically from the Sun or Moon) interacting with ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere…….well now, that was really cool. So of course I shot about 50 photos, here are a few!

This was my first view and I thought I was hallucinating Ha Ha.
Then I look fully and thought, no, that is really there, it is not on my camera

Of course, the challenge was to get this halo centered on the mast. This was the closest I could get.

Flying Fish Below Deck….yup

Imagine the thoughts this poor flying fish had when he took off out of the water and caught a flight up and over our cockpit then into the companionway and directly down below to crash land, not back in the water, but onto a hard teak floor. Sailing on a hard starboard reach, he flopped downhill and came to rest against our port sofa bunk. We never discovered him until breakfast daylight, and there he was. We were like…..WHAT??? how did this flying fish fly into the below decks. The only way was via the port side cockpit rolled up the enclosure. He was the largest flying fish I have ever seen. Poor guy.

 

 

One Flying Fish flew into the cabin below. NO WAY….yes way!
This poor Flying Fish did not make his passage South. He flew into our cabin below decks at night!

Arrival Mayaguana, Abraham’s Bay

After 3 days at sea, we arrived Mayaguana and thought we would just drop anchor off the lee shore and rest. We needed rest and we also heard that you can not check into the Bahamas here. So the plan was to drop anchor where the guides say to anchor and sleep. Well, we arrived at 6 am, and by 730 am I am fighting with my anchor chain and 55 lbs. Rocna anchor wrapped around rocks 30 feet down at Start Bay. I dropped in the sand but that must have been only 1 inch of sand and we dragged it right under and around large rocks nearly the size of the boat.

Once freed, we decided to try the west shore, Betsy Bay, only to find out that a north swell was running and 6-foot waves were crashing onto the beach making it impossible to anchor there. Now, we needed to bash back EAST into the 20-knot tradewinds to work our way into Abrahams Bay, a place we did not want to go due to tons of coral heads. With no other option other than to go back to sea and keep sailing, we decided to work our way into the reef area. Remember, we are exhausted and all we want to do is drop anchor and sleep. This all took us from 6 am arrival til 1130 when we dropped anchor. OMG, one shot of rum finally and we crashed!

Arrival at 0600….anchor down at 1130…OMG!

The REWARD….the Bahamas Waters

After sleep and hot showers we awoke to this….look at this beautiful water. We had great news via VHF from the local ambassador, Scully, who informed us that we now can clear into the Bahamas here, saving us a long sail to Clarence Town. After completing the lengthy clearing-in process and paying for our cruising permit at the new online government website, we went ashore with Bob and Cat to complete clearing-in. The Island Administrator, Ms. Chatham, was very helpful and pleasant to talk to. It was still time-consuming for our paperwork to be sent to Matthew Town, Inguaga Customs officer and to be returned. We felt so welcome by everyone we met!

Our Lil BUNS has a girlfriend. Sea Lyon’s AB dinghy 🙂 with Bequia chaps
Island Spirit on anchor off Mayaguana
Buddy Boat 370 SEA LYON achored off Mayaguana

 

Next up….an Island Tour with SCULLY, the man of Mayaguana

Today, should be a fun day with Scully showing the flock of pink flamingos and taking us to shelling beaches and then a traditional Mac & Cheese and BBQ chicken lunch at his sister Vicki’s home. This is a unique place and so remote. 

Hayden. Bob, Scully, Radeen and Cat on Mayaguana
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Off to Sea SAIL along

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Team Island Spirit, along with Bob and Cat of IP370 Sea Lyon, will make a three-day ocean run from Puerto Rico to the Bahamas starting Thursday at 0630. Over the next three days, we will be sailing (hopefully) on a broad reach of some 450 miles. Winds are forecasted to be 13-18 knots gusting 20. Of course, there will be squalls which will be 30+ knots and these usually arrive at night. We plan to sail under the B&G autopilot set to hold a 150-degree wind angle. We will double reef the main at night and shake it out in the morning. We hope to be sailing nearby our buddy boat, at least within sight of each other.  It is a big ocean and at night, it is great to see a light out there of another boat going your same way. Here are the sailing ladies of Island Spirit and Sea Lyon:

Radeen and Cat, ocean sailing ladies

Watch Schedule

It is just the two of us on Island Spirit, Radeen and Hayden, and our watch schedule will be 6 hours during the day and 3 hours at night. 

  • Hayden: 0600 to 1200
  • Radeen 1200 to 1800
  • Hayden 1800 to 2100
  • Radeen 2100 to 2400
  • Hayden 0000 to 0300
  • Radeen 0300 to 0600

The great aspect of this schedule is that meals are eaten together at shift changes.

Meals

  • Breakfast 0600
  • Lunch 1200
  • Dinner 1800

The challenge is to get your sleep when off watch. Keep rested. Stay alert when you are on watch. Be safe. JOB #1, do not hot anything. Job #2 call for help if any sail changes are needed: reefing, squalls, ships.

Here is a photo of the course, three days.

450 miles, Puerto Rico to Bahamas

Life onboard

We try to have normal days at sea, such as reading, fishing, sailing, cooking, sleeping, showers, and planning.  Yes, we have a nice bathroom below with a nice shower seat and space. We heat the hot water tank by running the engine 20 minutes. Then we have hot water for showers below deck in the head. YES, we shower EVERY DAY, just like at home. We are amazed at how showering on sailboats is a big deal. So many cruisers make this a big deal and always refer to how they wish they could take a shower. Well, on Island Spirit, we take hot showers daily, usually at night before going to bed. Even when sailing offshore!

Follow our LIVE track

Whenever Island Spirit moves, she has a live tacker that places a pin on a map. This creates an archive map of where we have sailed. It also is a valuable safety item as our land safety team of Jeff and Sharon (dear friends)  and Tom and Rita (MDschool.com) monitor our progress. They are the stand-by team that makes sure we arrive safely. We remain in communication, usually with Jeff and Sharon 24/7 and this helps to make us feel a bit safer. Please follow our live track here:

https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit

The fun aspect of this link is if you click the VIEW ALL button, and then zoom back, you will see all the courses we have run. Very cool to see.

Our Travel Map Archive, VIEW ALL to see, then zoom back

Buddy Boat IP370 SEA LYON

Lucky for us, we have good friends BOB and CAT sailing along with us. They just sailed up from Trinidad, and are also heading for the USA like us. They arrived a few days ago and lunch for us, we now have a buddy boat. We plan to be making the same run all the way to the USA. Here is their tracker as well. Hopefully, they will be in sight of us.

https://share.garmin.com/sealyon

Buddies, Bob and Cat of IP 370 SEA LYON

Thanks again for sailing along with us. Hayden and Radeen

Walking our 3 miles daily here in Puerto Real….

 

 

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What’s Up? Island Spirit

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What’s UP? I know. We have not been blogging here for a long time. That is because so many people have moved to social media, Instagram and Facebook that we too have been posting photos and videos there far more than we post here. Yet, I know there are many of our followers and family that do not use social media, so here is a quick update for all of us to share.

Full Moon rising as we wait on the west coast of Puerto Rico for the weather to sail NW to the Bahamas 500 miles+

Our Caribbean Adventures 2022

We have had a different but calm and easy Nov to April Caribbean season, our 4th winter here.  This season we started in Puerto Rico in Nov and departed the dock on Dec 20 for the USVI. We have fallen in love with the USVI. St. Thomas, St John, and St. Croix. Each has its own distinct personalities and plusses and minuses.  We can’t pick a favorite because we like them all for each aspect that we sail to them for. Then from the USVI, we pushed east out to Antigua and then after a great time there it was back north to Barbuda and westward to St. Martin. Talk about love? How about the FRENCH ISLAND of St. Martin. OUI OUI.  From there it was back to the BVI and onto a week or two at the Bitter End Yacht Club. A quick sail north to Anegada for lobster with Nina and John of IP 40 Sunkissed and back to the BVI. There we moved to Red Hook for the month of March where we had a full new canvas job built better than we could have ever imagined. Now, we have moved west down the south coast of Puerto Rico as we are trying to sail the boat back to our home port of Rock Hall, MD. Here is a map of our route this season.

Our tracking map of the Caribbean Season 2022

What? New Canvas?

Yes, we decided to search for and schedule a replacement full canvas job in Annapolis or Rock Hall, MD, when we got home in May June July Aug. After several bids and many not able to fit us in until the fall, we asked the local Island Packet dealer in Red Hook, Andrea, and Skip King, if they knew of a canvas guy in USVI. That was when it all turned around for the good. They connected us with David Livacz, of Neptune’s Loft, who was available to do our canvas in March. When he sent photos of his work, he really impressed us. Without ever meeting up, we committed to him and paid our 50% deposit. Then we moved quickly from the BVI over to Red Hook and we meet to overview the job on March 4th. He started the next day and within 3 weeks and 3 days he finished a completely new design full canvas job on Island Spirit. The job included a full cockpit enclosure as we have had for 20 years, plus some shade covers as well.  In the end, we were 100% pleased and thrilled with his work and his incredible skills.  He did exactly what we wanted and his work is better than any canvas job I have ever seen.

The goal of the new design was to get rid of the low Chesapeake Bay (not cool) dodger that upward sloped fill into the high bimini. What kind of design is that? With the inspiration of IP38 DREAMCATCHER which has a flat roof and full enclosure, we modeled it after Dean and Kim’s yacht. Now we have a full-height roof that we can walk vertically underneath right into the companionway steps to go below. For 20 years we were bent over 90 degrees just to trim a sail. NO MORE, now we can actually stand up and sail. UNREAL, So wonderful. It feels like a spacious new boat to us!

OLD, low dodger with upper bimini. Out with that….
NEW High dodger, forward bimini roof making the space far better.
Strataglass crystal clear enclosure and windshield
With a one level bimini roof design, 13 feet x 8 feet, the cockpit, seems even bigger
Custom shade fabric completed the job. This is 80% screen, so we can see out, but we take these down for driving and sailing.

Sailing For HOME, now

We dedicated all of March to David for the canvas job, and he met the deadline of not going one day into April. He completed the job and we started our trek westward to Puerto Rico. That means we went back to Charlette Amalie and of course the Green House for lunch to reflect on how lucky and grateful we are. 

One of our happy places since 1986, Green House St. Thomas USVI

Onward to Puerto Rico

From the USVI it is a dream to sail west to Puerto Rico and also the days down the south coast as well. There are fun places to stop like Culebra, Vieques, Salinas, Patillas, Gilligan’s Island, and Puerto Real. Each stop is a sail downwind from anchor to anchor in Caribbean Blue waters. Sailing west on the south coast of PR is as good as it can get…..that is unless you sail NW 1000 miles back to the USA east coast. Here is a social media post of sailing the south coast of PR:

Here is one more video:

Ready to Go to Sea, Thur

We are now on the west coast of Puerto Rico in a great harbor and town called Puerto Real.  We have been waiting here a week, as the severe weather north of the Dominican Republic dies down. That TROF and updraft of thermals dissipate Wed night and then Thursday at 0600, we will head to sea. The run will be 300+ nm to our first possible stop, BIG SAND KEY south of Grand Turks. If we press on past that, we will go to South Caicos or up onto the banks, another 24 miles. If we feel good and the winds are as predicted, we may just sail past the Turks and onward to the Bahamas. There, our target is Long Island, Clarence Town, another 210 miles where we can check into the country. Please follow along as we sail.

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Saba Rock and Bitter End

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After our fantastic sail from St. Martin to the British Virgin Islands, we checked in at Sopers Hole and immediately motored east into the trades to reach North Sound and the Bitter End Yacht Club. This is one of our happiest places on earth and we wanted to see the rebuilding and reopening of Bitter End 2.0. This entire resort was leveled and totally destroyed by hurricanes IRMA and MARIA in 2017. Now, along with Saba Rock, they reopened in the fall of 2021. What a joy to return! We have spent several Christmas vacations here and we have sailed into here on every charter boat we rented and we even hosted a wedding here for our friends, Debbie and Mick. So, Bitter End is dear to our hearts.

We arrived back at the Bitter End Yacht Club on Feb 10, 2022

Saba Rock vs Bitter End Yacht Club

One cannot sail into the North Sound and go to only one of these special places. Saba Rock and Bitter End have been the destination of every island charter boat ever since they were established many years ago. These two places are completely different and always have been. Saba Rock is literally a reef, a rock, an outcropping, that has been expanded and expanded over the years from a scuba diving shop and bar to the point where it is a full resort place to stay and a destination on its own.  Bitter End Yacht Club is a multi-featured resort with houses, pubs, a sailing center, restaurants, stores, and much more.  The Bitter End covers many acres and has beaches that are wonderful and a  sailing center for boat rentals, along with a full-service marina with fuel and water to service the visiting yachts. Time spent in North Sound will be shared between these two resorts. It is required.

Bitter End Yacht Club dining area.
Saba Rock Dining area

Saba Rock vs Bitter End Architecture

The architecture and the approach of the two resorts are an amazing contrast. Bitter End Yacht Club has focused on more natural materials, wood timbers, and wood framing with metal roofs and natural wood siding. Bitter End Yacht Club is much more casual and focused on an environmentally designed resort, one that will fit into the natural surroundings over time as the wood weathers. Saba Rock is a stainless steel structure bolted into concrete pilings and then cabled together with massive SS rigging cables and turnbuckles. The stainless steel was then coated with black epoxy, protecting it from the salt air. Saba Rock should never ever blow away again since the concrete footings are sunk into the seafloor. The owner spent $70 million dollars to rebuild the sleek and sophisticated Saba Rock!  Bitter End Yacht Club, BEYC, is much more casual and focused on an environmentally designed resort, one that will fit into the natural surroundings over time as the wood weathers. 

Bitter End Yacht Club with a beautiful view of our boat on one of their 60 mooring balls.
Saba Rock construction is epoxy coated stainless steel tubes, bolted to welded steel covered with wood then cabled together for additional bracing!

Both Places are a DREAM

We can not say one place is better than the other, yet of course, our hearts are in the BEYC with all our history and many fun visits there.  What is a joy to see, is the rebuilding of these resorts, after total destruction. It has taken 4 years, YES, FOUR YEARS to recover. It has taken millions of dollars and thousands of hours of labor and love.  So, to sail back here and to learn and enjoy the new resorts was a real joy. These places always will remain very special places in our hearts. We cannot wait to sail back next year!

Photo Essay of Bitter End and Saba Rock

Full Moon over Saba Rock on Valentine’s Day. Notice the waves wrapping around the island.
Full Moon Over Saba Rock
The lower bar and dining area of Saba Rock
Logo on guest room porthole
Guest room entrance
5 of 7 rooms at Saba Rock
The second-floor bar at Saba Rock
The second floor bar at Saba Rock overlooking sunsets on North Sound
The Quarterdeck second floor of Bitter End 0verlooking the marina and North Sound
Night shot at Bitter End Resort
The framed ceiling of the dining area at Bitter End Yacht Club
Our Island Packet 35 sv ISLAND SPIRIT on mooring ball #2 off the Bitter End Yacht Club
The new rental rooms/houses with 2nd-floor loft bedrooms and first floor living with hammocks, decks and dinghy docks
The new marina and dinghy dock at Bitter End Yacht Club
Overlooking the swimming beach from The Quarter Deck
The Clubhouse CH at the Bitter End Yacht Club
Quarterdeck overlooking the marina
The marina office and check-in area at the Quarterdeck
Beach bar in a real boat with beach games, Radeen killed me on the cornhole boards.
Saba Rock dining and bar area,  at the dinghy dock
Bitter End Boat Bar beach area
Bitter End boardwalk overlooking the beach bar
I am so amazed at the structure of Saba Rock. welded cabled stainless steel. OMG!!!
Back at the Bitter End Yacht Club bar for painkillers overlooking the beach
The provisioning store at BEYC
Bitter End Yacht Club loft looking out to North Sound, so cool
BEYC statue we all remember from check-in is now upstairs in the quarterdeck lounge.
Quarterdeck lounge
BEYC Quarterdeck porch 
A massive slab gathering table for diner parties of 10, BEYC
BEYC inside dining with a great view
BEYC inside dining
BEYC BOUY Room dining and pub

North Sound, BEYC, and Saba Rock Location

This location is at the far east end, into the tradewinds, the eastern end of Virgin Gorda. There are no roads to here. The only way is by boat. it is the Bitter End of the Virgin Island Chain of islands, hence the name. 

The location of the Bitter End and Saba Rock. All the way east. It is the bitter end…. 🙂

Thank you for taking a look at our happy place.

PS: We have been lost in the beauty of these familiar Virgin Islands since Feb 9, 2022. It is now March 23 and we are wrapping up a new canvas job here in St. Thomas. Soon we will set sail, in a week or two heading NW with a destination of Annapolis MD by May 15, 2022. That is our target. We will sail from USVI to Puerto Rico to Turks and Caicos to the Bahamas to the Gulfstream to Outer Banks, up the Chesapeake Bay and HOME. 1,500 nm approximately, taking about one month. Maybe??? For now, we enjoy these USVI islands and finish the canvas job.

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