Caribbean Sailing Grenada to USVI

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Sailing across the entire Caribbean Sea, north and south is a passage of 400-450 nautical miles. We sailed this course, as we ran from Grenada and the COVID-19 lockdown. We sailed north to the USVI where we could find a working and open airport.  Most of the Caribbean Islands were closed to incoming sailboats, but the USVI was open. Tradewind sailing is fantastic with steady 20-25 knot east winds. This course was a broad reach for 200 miles to Isla Aves, and then a turn to the north on a beam reach for another 200 miles. We sailed 400 nautical miles in 60 hours which is an average of 6.7 knots with only one hour of engine time to make hot water for showers. The MK450 wind turbine and solar panels provided all the 12-volt power for the ship’s systems. Enjoy this 5-minute video which shows our helm set up, wind data, and the sounds of sailing.

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Service Call to Island Spirit

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After leaving our boat in Puerto Rico, July 2020, we have finally made a trip back to spend a week servicing all her systems and checking in on her storage jack stands and hurricane tie down straps. We hired Ruben of R. S. Marine Services to wash and wax the hull and deck. He has been so helpful in taking care of our boat while we have been at home. So, here is the photo essay with captions showing the process we went thru. 

NOTE: We wrapped the teak, again, with Caprail Protective Tape and this is the second year we tried this. IT WORKS WELL. If you are looking for CAP RAIL TAPE, then see this link to buy what we are using:

https://nationalsupplydirect.com/maintenance/damage-prevention.html

Hayden and Radeen at PHL airport outbound for SJU

Welcome to San Juan

The iconic for of San Juan
Look at this! Two Horses in the back of a Ford F-150

We traded an RCI Timeshare

We booked a three bedroom 2 bath timeshare because we thought we might have guests

Arrival to Island Spirit at Puerto del Ray Marina

There she is, still standing and fully waxed decks washed and decks waxed as well
The cover was removed and tied back for deck waxing
The shine on the cabin top was obvious and the teak was well protected by the Caprail Protective white tape
https://nationalsupplydirect.com/maintenance/damage-prevention.html
The cockpit teak table varnish was still looking new

Lets Go inside

Happy Radeen is back aboard “her GrL” Island Spirit. This boat means so much to both of us. We cant wait to sail again in Nov.
The battery bank is full and the display says it all

Happy Selfie

Hayden and Radeen onboard

OK, Job 1, restore the dinghy

The 10 ft 6 in AB fiberglass dinghy was up on its side so the team could wash and wax the deck. We needed to inflate and store this back on the bow.

The TEAK WHITE CAPRAIL TAPE

We have been experimenting with CAPRAIL PROTECTIVE TAPE. This is placed over the varnish and sticks down. This was down for 10 months and it pulled off clean.
https://nationalsupplydirect.com/maintenance/damage-prevention.html

Replace Dinghy on Bow

Moving a 100 lb 10 foot RIB was a task, but we got it back into position so the shade cover could be re installed
Yes a 10 foot AB RIB will fit fully inflated upside down on the bow of an Island Packet 35. Removal of the silly and useless staysail boom required.

LUNCH TIME with BUDDIES

Some of our sailing buddies where here. John and Lisa were hauling out and storing and Steve just launched and is preparing for a sail directly to Panama!

The Teak Varnish Looks Good

We are very happy that our teak varnish is still looking good after 10 months of storage. Unreal

The JACK STANDS need attention

Jack Stands after a while will punch thru the plywood board placed under the legs. This then causes the stand to become loose. Then you know what happens when the hurricane blows. ….well this yard, Puerto del Ray is run by 3 LAWYERS, and they have you sign docs that holds them not responsible for your boat in their yard. So, they NEVER EVER EVER come out and look at your boat, they do not tend to your boat, and they surely will never tighten your jack stands or service them. Welcome to PDR…..hence you need a “BOAT WATCHER” that you pay monthly to “monitor” your boat. Their job is to #1 Look at and tighten your hurricane straps. #2 Look at and tighten your jack stands. #3 Look at and make sure the boards under the jack stand feet are CENTERED and not punched thru. We trust Ruben and he tends our boat and we pay him when he does a job. Thank you RUBEN!
This is what it should look like. Centered boards under the jack stand legs. many times we see boards on the corners or nearly out.
Island Spirit has 10 jack stands plus 8 two inch wide hurricane straps tied into concrete footings. When 100+ MPH winds arrive, we hope this will keep her upright

Onto Replacing the Cover

This is the 90% UV blocking Coolaroo Shade fabric. It is fantastic. We have covered out boat with this 4 years now. It keeps the sun off the boat and it keeps the temperature lower inside. This costs about $300 and is well worth it. See www.CoolarooUSA.com

We used T-9 Boeshield Protective Spray

This is the typical situation. Rust and mold on everything. So, we spray this with Boeshield and wipe it off leaving a film of protection behind.
Boeshield was invented by Boeing and it really works

Let’s FLUSH the engine

We did this in July, but lets do it again. We use Salt Away and connect a hose to the sea water intake line. Now start up the engine and let the engine run and it will suck in the solution and flush out the engine cooling side. Yes you can run an engine on the hard for 5 minutes with no problem
I had to add a funnel and then hold the hose up high to prime the sea water pump. I ran two full buckets thru the engine. I also ran the transmission F & R to lube that as well.

Let’s Buff and Wax the NEW Force Ten Stove

This brand new Force Ten Propane stove and oven we installed last season. Heck, this cost way more than a new one for the house, so we waxed the stainless steel to protect her as well.
The New Force Ten Stove with the old original teak top over the burners
The inside of the oven is all stainless steel and super clean.

Look at the WAX JOB on the Hull

This is a 1994 Island Packet 35 with 40,000+ nm under her keel. Look at this shine

The CAPRAIL PROTECTIVE tape

This is the teak as we pulled back the white caprail tape. Not bad for 10 months of storage in hot Caribbean sun, July to May!!!
We re-taped all the teak with a new layer of Caprail tape. We even taped over some ports and hatches, why not?
I taped over the windlass and the entire bow
This is the 12″ wide roll and I am pulling it out over the caprail. I can run one piece from Bow to side gate gutting in around the stanchions.
https://nationalsupplydirect.com/maintenance/damage-prevention.html
This is our varnish job from Grenada over a year ago, now getting re-covered this May until Nov!
Everything gets taped. It is just too easy

Let’s finish the cover

We use our whisker pole to make a ridge pole from Mast to Davits. This allows us easy access to the cockpit and below
The cover goes past the stern and reaches from side to side because our boat is only 12 feet wide. This one roll is 12 feet wide by 50 feet long. It costs about $300 See www.CoolarooUSA.com
You can see at the bow it hangs down with the 12 foot wide. The cover is simply zip tied to the life lines and zip tied together
Once this is all zip tied, the cover is bar tight and does not flap in the wind. It does not tear and it will not rip. We will leave this on in a hurricane.

AnotherTask, Spectra Watermaker Storage

We stored the watermaker in July, but that was 10 months ago, so we needed to reflush the system ad then flush new Spectra storage chemicals into this expensive desalinization machine. We do not want this system to fail, so she needed new service as well
To flush a Spectra watermaker you simply connect a pick up hose to the pump and add a discharge hose to the machine, Now simply cycle the flush thru the system. it takes about 10-15 minutes to service this. Very simple. This is the Specra Venture 200t watermaker

Have we run out of tape yet?

Well then, lets cover the speakers
Tape over the speakers

Buddies delivered to SJU Airport

Our good friends John and Lisa we offered to take them to the airport. Why not, we had a car. Fun times with buddies

A quick tour of Old San Juan

Old San Juan is so beautiful
A required selfie at Casa Blanca, the home of Ponce de Leon

Final Day at the boat

Radeen says…..that is a WRAP….boat is serviced and we will let her stored another 6 months!

Wait…tie down that Wind Turbine for hurricanes

This is a challenge. Hang off the stern and toss lines over and around the turbine to tie it down so it can not spin in 100 mph winds

Wait….what about the electrical system?

We check the panel, we check the battery bank and we spray it all with Boeshield

What about the Engine???

The Yanmar 3JH2e 38 hp engine that Radeen and I installed, looks clean and no rust.
The grounding lug looks clean, and so does the alternator

So….Let’s call it finished! OMG, another week of work.

So, here she is, ready for storage May 2021 to Nov 17 2021
We even shade cover the stern and the rudder as well

OFF TO THE BEACH! Finally

We took the last afternoon and found a nice beach to enjoy

Goodbye Island Spirit….til Nov 🙁

A very sad view with Puerto Rico off the tail of airplane as we fly back home leaving out great sailboat to ride out yet another hurricane season in the cross hairs

Conclusion

Sure, looking back on last season, when we ran from Grenada lock down  and sailed north to St. Thomas and St, Croix and St. John, we should have kept sailing north and returned home to the Chesapeake Bay. BUT….our plan and our goal was to only store the boat July til Nov and then we thought we would be back sailing in a few months, like NOV3!.

Well, that did not happen with the craziness of COVID, with no vaccine, and with CDC saying no travel to Puerto Rico, and MORE….we decided to stay home at our Saltbox13. 

Well we stayed home, all of…. Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, April, May and now, we thought we would go and launch May 26th and sail June and some of July on Island Spirit. Well I tried to get our Markel USA yacht insurance extended into July so we could keep sailing but they said no, haul out July 1 or sail north of Florida or south to Grenada. We said no, they said then haul out July 1. 

At that point, we decided that it would be insane to launch this boat, set her up with sails and canvas and rigging to only sail a month in the USVI. So we gave up on this dream plan of sailing and cancelled our May 26th launch date. Then we flew down to service the boat because our flights were paid and room was paid, so we did not want to loose that.

Final thought….yes, we could have launched May 26, set her up and prepared for a voyage.  We could have and we even talked about these options….

      1. Sail for Panama 10 days
      2. Sail for Grenada 2.5 days
      3. Sail for A B C Islands 3-4 days
      4. Sail for Florida / USA 7-10 days
      5. Sail for Chesapeake Bay 10-15 days 

None of these sounded good to us because…. ONCE AGAIN….we want to be sailing the Eastern Caribbean Sea one more season, THEN hopefully then we plan to accomplish one of the above.

20/20 hindsight says, should have sailed home….but so it is. We will now wait and we will look forward to Nov sailing once again. Until then, we will take road trips, we will visit friends and family, and we will bum rides on other boats. This is the first time since 1986 we are without a boat to easily sail or play on.  🙁

Thank you for reading and thanks for any and all comments.

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Winter at Home 2020-21

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With the Covid-19 pandemic raging worldwide, we have been hiding out in Saltbox13 and enjoying our first winter at home in ten years! Obviously, we are normally on  our boat, Island Spirit, spending winters in Florida, Bahamas or the Caribbean Sea. This has been a very different winter for us, but we have made the best of it, playing house. Did I say that we love our Saltbox13 which we designed and built in 1984? Well, we do! This house has been a lifetime joy, so spending time here has been fun, especially with our wonderful neighbors and the fantastic kids on our street. With the new media, bourbon, prosecco room, the weber grill, firepit and large bathrooms, we are not roughing it here. Please enjoy this photo update of winter 2020-21!

Time around our Fire Pit

Our first-ever firepit off the back deck, very enjoyable

YouTube on the Media Room TV, so fun

Sailing vessel DELOS released their 59 North Series. We supported them and really enjoyed the 4 videos!

Well, Let’s Decorate for Christmas

First time in ten years we were home for Christmas, so lets light up the place

We recommisioned the French Godin Petit Stove, so much fun

This is a Godin stove we have had since the 80’s. It really is fantastic and burns coal or wood, The coal storage under the garage floor had a over a ton of coal, so we had plenty of fuel.

SNOW SNOW SNOW, all winter long!

Our home looked so pretty lit up with the snow
We had an LED projector that placed snowflakes on the walls.

Winter at Home was Comfortable

A beautiful selfie that I always enjoy taking with Radeen

Upside Down Snowman and further Snowman FUN 

This was how we felt being home in the snow…argh

Walks, Walks, Walks, doing 60-80 miles a month

Jim and Gail met us for multiple walks and THE ANTUGUA BRIDE-TO-BE, Courtney, made a guest appearance!

Merry Christmas 2020

Hayden and Radeen’s Christmas at Home 2020 photo
Always our go-to bottle for a celebration, the best French Champagne, MOET
STINK, STANK, STUNK…2020

My Favorite Photographic Subject, Radeen

Looking good as usual, Love this

The Endless Winter of 2020

Our shadows as we walked every day
Selfie with Frosty our largest Snowman

We have the BEST Neighborhood Children

The sweet kids on our street knew we were missing the Caribbean, so they made us a Snow-woman with a Bikini top on…tooooo funny

Weber BBQ all winter long

I love to BBQ, so, I shoveled enough snow off the deck to keep the grill open 🙂

Did I say WALKS? Yup, 2.0 miles every day we can

Stretching one mile out with many layers on, it is COLD

Thank you all for following along. This is not our usual posting about sailing and luewater and travel, but 2020 has not been a normal year for anyone. Soon, we will have our 2nd Covid-19 vaccine shots, fly to Antigua for that special wedding and then we will return to sailing….we hope. For now, let’s get into SPRING TIME WEATHER SOON.

THIS IS WHAT WE LOVE…..

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Fall into Winter at home

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Yes, we are still at home from Summer 2020 into Fall 2020 and all winter 2020. I am trying to bring the blog up to date with a few photos and a brief update on what is going on with Team sv Island Spirit. We are home until we get Covid-19 vaccines, it looks like that will be in  late March 2020. Then sometime after that we will return to the boat, which is stored in Puerto Rico, and resume sailing. It might be April, May, June, July, and it might be the USVI and Spanish Virgins, but we will NOT be complaining about that.

We have been busy working on our home, which we call Saltbox13 as we took what was a flooded basement last winter, gutted it and remodeled it into what we are calling the MBP Room, or Media / Bourbon / Prosecco Room.  We have made great progress on this, with all the flooring, electrical, heating and tile work now completed. The bar is nearly fully stocked and the media wall is doing well with the Samsung Smart TV and surround sound. We added  Disney+ and, along with YouTube Sailing channels and subscriptions, we are fully immersed in sailing and travel entertainment.  With our refurbished French Petit Godin coal/wood stove and rebuilt mantel and hearth, this room is really taking shape. Take a look here….

Our Daily Routine

With Covid ramped up so high all Fall and Winter long, we have simply conceded to remain home and wait it out. We go for walks every day, walking 2 miles and getting in 60+ miles a month. We cook every meal in and we pick up groceries via cubside services at the stores. We use Amazon, of course, and we simply carry on. We honestly had planned to return to our sailing program Nov 7, 2020, but that was when the CDC published an advisory to NOT TRAVEL TO PUERTO RICO! So, with that, we postponed the flights. Well, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb….we are still waiting. Now it looks like we will be getting vaccinated in March and then, finally after that, we will set sail. Difficult time for everyone and we count our many blessings. It is what it is and we are pushing onward.

Photos of the MBP Build

We selected a remnant piece of granite for the bar top, It has red and gray in it!
Part way to working out the back splash and wall design

 

Good friend and artist, Sharon Gabor designed a black subway tile with pencil to work with the black vessel sink and our stone tile….PERFECT
Radeen shows off the new granite top and sink. Black back splash is not yet installed
The finished Bar needs a center drop light and final plumbing

Mallory Visits Us

We picked up Mallory at PHL and had a fabulous visit with our niece and my dad
Of course we had to eat at GENO”S STEAKS
Wonderful meals were shared around our table with Mallory and Dad
A required Liberty Bell and Philly tour 
Plus a stop at our very own neighborhood CHOCOLATE Factory

As Whiteaker Yacht Sales Brokers, we enjoyed selling several boats

Servicing our Grand Banks 38 Hardtop Express customers, we took the boat out for a demo run with dear friends Jim and Vanessa
I create my 18th yearly calendar for the Island Packet Yacht Owners Association
I sold an IP 35 and helped prepare her for trucking from NY to FL.

Fire Pits, Christmas Tree and Decorations

With winter setting in, we added a fun FIRE PIT off the deck and had a few fires and drinks
We have not had a Christmas Tree in ten years, so, lets go BIG. This beauty required a rental truck
Firepit GrL with Full Moon
The Tree is UP! And it is 9 feet tall. Thank you to Doug & Hayden Franks’ Boy Scout troop!

Fully Decorated for Christmas with LIGHTS!

What a fun time adding LED lights, about 10,000 til I was all finished. This was just the start 🙂

Conclusion

Our Fall into our Winter here at Saltbox 13 is going well, and we are really enjoying “playing house” as we wait out the Covid-19 pandemic. We can not think of a better place to wait. We really love this home we designed and built a long, long time ago.  It is a JOY to spend some time here, yet we really can’t wait until we can return to Island Spirit and be anchored off HONEYMOON BEACH. ST JOHNS, USVI. Thank you for checking in….

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Summer at Home

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After our storage in Puerto Rico, we flew home to USA where we enjoyed the rest of the summer and into the fall at home isolating from COVID-19. We spent the summer and fall renovating our family basement room into a very cool media / prosecco / bourbon room. We rebuilt the fireplace and hearth with slate tile, we replaced the floor with new floating planking vinyl floor, and we built a six foot black box floating off the floor to hold the large TV. Added to this was a new bar area with slate tile floor, new cabinets and a granite countertop. We still need new furniture and the library re-installed, but so far, this has been a very good stay at home covid-19 project to keep us busy. We have been slacking on the blog as we usually blog all about sailing and travel, but with this normal, we are trying to catch up and post a few updates. Thanks for following along.

Here are a few photos…

The media room basement remodel. Needs furniture and decorations…
We installed new ceiling heat and ceiling drywall
We installed new LVP, luxury vinyl planking….new floor
The media wall is RUBY RED and we found it is great for selfies. 🙂
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Haul out Puerto Rico, PDR

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We are trying to catch up on our blog as we now post most live updates to our Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/svIslandSpirit/ So, this post is a photo essay on the process we went thru to haul out the boat in Puerto Rico and prepare her for hurricane storage July 2020 to Nov 2020. Enjoy this photo essay and the captions. I hope you enjoy this….

Sailing from St. Thomas to Puerto Rico
Heading 270, WEST, very odd
Job one, drop all the sails and store them below deck
We flake our sails on the deck, then fold them and tie them up
We do LOVE our MACK SAILS
Here are two sails stored below deck, nice and neat
We covered all the varnished teak with a new material called CAP WRAP by ULINE, lets hope it works
We covered the ports and all teal with this cap wrap
We pulled out the 250 foot of 5/16″ HT Acco anchor chain and washed it, desalted it and then added WD-40 to the links for storage.
It was a full moon while we were in Fajardo, Puerto Rico
The boats around us had underwater lights that light our boat us and looked so cool
We protected the hatch and wrapped it for dinghy storage on deck
The 10’6″ AB RIB dinghy fits on the bow of an Island Packet 35
We changed the oil
She is now ready to haul out
We buy hurricane tie down straps
Our shade cloth, COOLAROO ships in and we pic this up
We roll out the coolaroo and pre-cut the shade fabric
Haul out time,, we have to back into the haul out slip
They lift her out of the water and drive her to the storage yard
It is always exciting to see this yacht out of the water, 20,000 llbs and 39 feet over all length looks big out of the water
They transfer the yacht to a trailer that is remote controlled. This allows them to move the yacht very tight and close to the next yacht maximizing the storage yard.
We hired Ruben to powerwash the bottom
Next we rolled out our shade fabric and covered the yacht
We extend our spinnaker pole to make a tent aft of the mast
The bow piece is stitched to the aft piece and pulled tight
There she is with a full top shade cover to protect her from the hot Caribbean sun
With the spinnaker pole tent, we can still get into the boat and work
We added 8 hurricane straps to secure her to the concrete footings
Hurricane straps from bow, midship and stern pull down to concrete footings. This is required by insurance companies
The straps and the tie down set up
We wrap the rudder and the stern to keep the hot Caribbean sun off these surfaces
it is recommended to add Vaseline to the straps and stands to keep ants off the boat!
Same thing on the jack stands…. add Vaseline to the stands to keep ants off the boat!
We take a break and tour the rain forest
Oh yes, Puerto Rico
Abd the beach
Welcome to HOME to “SALTBOX 13” our home we built and love….

And that is a wrap on cruising season 2020, where we started in Grenada, launched the boat and made repairs to get sailing by Dec 25, 2020. We sailed up to Bequia for Cruisers Christmas and then on north. We were in Antigua, in February and early March when Covid-19 was breaking out. By mid March we were running back to Grenada to be secure frm covid-19. We docked into Grenada and there we were, “stuck for March, April, May, with a covid-19 lock down. Safe and secure but with a closed airport we decided to sail for USA on May 18, 2020. We sailed 60 hours and 425 nm back up to St. Croix, USVI. There we quarintined 14 days on anchor and then moved up to St. Thomas for provisions. From there we moved to St John and waited for our haul out in Puerto Rico. We sailed over to PR in July 4, 2020 and immediatly had a covid-19 test. Locked down on the boat until results came back we then could begin to derig the yacht.

We down rigged for days and then hauled out July 9th 2020. With the boat now on land we worked on securing her for hurricane season. After we finished that, we moved to San Juan. There we enjoyed a weekend and then flew home to Philly, USA. 

Once home, we were once again quarantined for 14 days. W placed a yellow Q Flag on our home and stayed home. This would make the 4th time we have done 14 day quarantine.  After that, we began to return to a somewhat normal life….whatever normal is…

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USVI dreams

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Hayden & Radeen walking the closed cruise ship dock of St. Croix

Arrival into the United States Virgin Islands after our wonderful ocean sail of 425 nautical miles direct from Grenada to St. Croix. We dropped anchor, washed all the salt off Island Spirit and then made breakfast and then crashed. After a wonderful sleep with the boat NOT moving, we dropped the dinghy and went for a swim in the crystal clear waters.  Ahhhh, the beautiful virgin islands where the water is crystal clear and here in 30 feet, we can see the chain out to the anchor. That is wonderful. After a few days of rest, we did go for a walk on the locked up and closed cruise ship dock, but this was the only land we stepped on as covid-19 shut down the island and we will quarantine 14 days onboard.

Laundry In a Bucket

We have been washing clothes for months in a bucket…
Sailing the Mack Sails Code Zero into Pizza PI
Anchored out off St. Johns living a dream, watching sunsets
The T-shirt map of the USVI
The closed up shops of the cruise ship dock in St Thomas, COVID SAD
The closed up shops of Charlotte Amalie and the main shopping area…COVID SAD
The Logo of the USVI
Full moon rise over Island Spirit off Water Island
Typical tourist photo op, St. Thomas on the cruise ship dock
Sailing out of USVI for Puerto Rico
Sailing south to St. Croix USVI to visit friends
Thank you “Caribbean BILL” for this amazing mooring ball in town, St. Croix, we love it here
St. Croix at sunset
On our friends mooing, thank you Caribbean BILL
Look at this mooring ball location, right off town…..perfect…St. Croix
Date night, St. Croix
Caribbean Bill and Cindi, our hosts in St. Croix. Thank you so miuch
Night shot of our boat off St. Croix
This says it all
Typical Caribbean Sailing
Radeen at the helm, sailing St. Croix for St. Thomas USVI
Anchored off USVI, St. John and Honeymoon Beach
Required selfie off Honeymoon Beach St John
Sunset over St. Thomas as seen from St Johns
The dust from the Sahara Desert blew in
This is life on anchor with the sun shade up
Our windshield and the Sahara dust
Radeen at the helm and taking charge of the boat
Off to Red Hook for some provisions
Typical scene in the USVI as we motor back west to town
This is THE PIZZA PI BOAT, yes, you can order pizza from this boat.
Pizza Pi, and look…..it is not a burnt one! YES
Moon over St Thomas

So, as you can see, living on a boat off the USVI is a dream life an we really enjoyed this. COVID has hit the USA and the world and we have been waiting here for it to die down. Well, it never really did die down, so we moved to Puerto Rico, hauled out and flew home to Philly, PA, USA. We will return here in Nov, and resume our sailing and living aboard.

Thanks for sailing along……

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Video Clips Sailing 400 nm

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After several computer issues, one crashed and I rebuilt it only to then have it crash again after a few days. Then I bought a used one from another boater and set that up and loaded my data onto that one.  NOW, I finally was able to download the GoPro camera and view my video clips shot during our 3 day sail up from Grenada.  Using a new program called Camtasia, I created this video. Our sail north from Grenada to St. Croix has been our best sail every in 19 years on sv Island Spirit. Grab a coffee and please enjoy this video:

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Sailing Grenada to USVI

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We decided to sail 400 nautical miles from Grenada north to the United States Virgin Islands. WHY? Bottom line, we wanted to reach an open airport. Radeen and I have been sailing and cruising Island Spirit since 2001. That is 19 years and we really love this life. At the same time, we have learned that taking a break off the boat is refreshing and renews our love of cruising. So, with the airport closed in Grenada and no information on when it would reopen, we took a weather window and set sail north.

Island Spirit pushing north on a 400 nm starboard reach doing 6.7 knots for 60 hours, Fantastic sailing

The Route, Isla de Aves

When you plan the route from Grenada to St. Croix, the southern most US Virgin island, the course of 330 degrees sails very close to an island called Isla de Aves. Now, this looks like a great midway place to drop the hook and maybe take a rest in the lee of this sandy beach. WELL….hold on there, pirate….this island is owned by Venezuela and they are not too friendly to cruisers sailing in for a visit. Matter of fact, you are advised to stay well clear of this island or else the officials might divert your vessel into shore for an inspection. NO, THANK YOU!  Here is the overview of the route.

With the winds at 090 blowing 20 knots gusting to 27 knots, we decided to set a waypoint almost 50 nautical miles SW of this island. That way, we could run a broad reach downwind to that point, 36 hours away. Then once made, turn due north on the lighter 15-20 knots of beam winds for 24 more hours to St. Croix. This is exactly what happened and exactly how it all worked out.

Thank you to weather routing by Chris Parker, see: https://www.mwxc.com/ who worked with us for two weeks to pick the best days to run. We told him we like to sail, not motor, and that 20-27 knots was OK with us downwind. We let the first window pass as the seas were 6-8 feet and the next one we took. This was one of the best sails in Island Spirit’s history! Here is a short video clip of autopilot set to wind angle hold. We love our B&G autopilot.

Life at sea

On a 400 nm run, this should take 3 days, with an expected 125 to 150 nm per day average run. So, we departed Grenada on Sunday May 17th, 2020 for our sail. With a full main and a full jib we reached beyond the lee of Grenada and soon were in the 20-25 knot winds. There we dropped in a single reef in the main and ran this all the way to sunset. At nightfall, we added a double reef in the main but kept the full 110 % jib flying strong. We were sailing at hull speed, which for an Island Packet 35 is 7.2 knots. We ran this way for 36 hours until we made our waypoint west of Isla de Aves. With just the two of us, we set a watch schedule as provided by our mentor, Captain Blaine Parks, as the best for two people:

  • 0600-1200 Hayden
  • 1200-1800 Radeen
  • 1800-2100 Hayden
  • 2100-2400 Radeen
  • 0000-0300 Hayden
  • 0300-0600 Radeen
Hayden on watch, autopilot sailing, watching the sea and with a safety harness on connected to the cockpit jack line

Sunset was at 1830 and the tiny crescent moon rose at 0300 giving us very little light. These two nights at sea were the darkest nights we have ever sailed. No horizon at all, dim stars, and a black sea. The black night sky blended into the black sea and we were sailing hull speed, 7 knots, around the clock. The only two vessels we saw were a container ship bound for Aruba and two friendly fishermen on a brightly painted boat who pulled alongside and asked which way to Grenada! (This is not a joke – it was very hazy that morning and the island’s mountains were not visible from 17 miles northwest.)

Lucky for us, we have great faith in our B&G 4G digital radar where we set a watch guard 4-5 miles in front with a full circle around the boat 1 mile wide. If any solid object enters this zone, then an alarm goes off and a line on the screen points to the object. This is the only way we can feel safe that we will not hit something. Your mind really messes with you when tired at night going 7 knots full speed into the black. (Do not even let it go there, you need to stop all those crazy thoughts!)

Sunset on the second night at sea with 15-18 knot winds, perfect sailing….all night long.

See our recorded sailing speed

Whenever our boat moves, we turn on our Garmin Inreach satellite tracker. This device sends our position to a live map every 10 minutes and shows where we are. It also records this track as an archive map. We use another service called Spotwalla which actually does a better job than Garmin, because it allows you to create trip maps. Garmin just records it all and does not separate your travels.

When you go to our Garmin map, please first click the VIEW ALL button in the top right corner and then you can zoom out and see our travels. For this trip from Grenada to St. Croix, click on any point to see our recorded speeds. Remember, on this trip we did not motor, we sailed 99% of it, we motored the last hour to beat sunset. We also ran the motor one hour each night for hot water showers and for recharging the battery bank. Here is our Garmin Travel Map, so fun to study….https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit
PS: Speed was 400 nm in 60 hours = 6.7 knots for the trip!

Click to see our Garmin travel map, check out our recorded speeds. https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit

Spotwalla, our Travel Maps

We love this fantastic free service (which I donate to yearly) called SPOTWALLA. This genius figured out a way to create individual travel maps as we run around with tracking devices. You can do all of this with your cell phone if you are always in touch with a cell tower. So, for ocean sailing we need the Garmin satellite tracker. For land adventures, you can easily create travel maps with this service. Here are ALL the maps we have made with Spotwalla… https://spotwalla.com/publicTrips.php?un=IslandSpirit35

Here is a trip map via Spotwalla when we left Annapolis for Grenada in October 2019 https://spotwalla.com/publicTrips.php?un=IslandSpirit35

Now…USVI for June

We are now in the United States Virgin Islands, where we can re-discover St. Thomas, St Croix and St John. In the 80’s and 90’s we took some of our summer and Christmas vacations here for a week of chartering. Now, we are staying a week on one mooring ball, swimming the crystal clear waters and learning the reefs in Christmas Cove, St. James Island. Next up, the National Park on St. John and St. Thomas, followed by a return to St. Croix.

After June, we will move over to Fajardo, Puerto Rico and prepare for our haulout at Puerto Del Ray Marina. YES, we know this places us back into hurricane zone and, yes, we recall our previous hurricane damages there. Because we want to be in the Caribbean next season, we decided this was our best option to reach a working airport, where we know we can fly out and, more importantly, we can fly back to our boat. For now….let’s enjoy the USVI.

Here are some photos to show why we enjoy being here

The very cool Trunk Fish
Look at how clear the water is…
Blue sky reflected on the clear water over the reef
Radeen is a Pieces, the fish, she LOVES to swim

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Watching the sunset over St. Thomas from Christmas Cove off St James, USVI
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