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:
We have been docked in Grenada at Port Louis Marina since March 24, 2020. It is now May 9th and we have not moved the boat. We have also not been in the water, on a beach, snorkeled a coral reef or socialized with other cruisers. Grenada is under strict lockdown with curfew and restricted movement and have hardly left the marina perimeter in all this time. In the month of April, we walked 175,000 steps! As you can imagine, we were still getting very restless! So, we kept ourselves busy with a 25 day varnishing job on all our exterior teak.
We have been waiting for our Spectra watermaker to be repaired and returned. That took 6 weeks, as we dropped it off March 25th and it was returned May 6! The parts were in one parish and the watermaker repair technician was in another parish. Road blocks between parishes even on shopping days prevented the delivery. Permission from the police was granted on May 4th, it was repaired on the 5th, and returned and installed the 6th.
Now that the watermaker is back, installed and working, we can actually leave this dock and anchor out. BUT…now we think we need to sail north to the safety of USA via USVI and Puerto Rico. We have no idea how this pandemic effect will restrict the Caribbean islands, so we feel we need to move out and return first to the USVI. Of course, now the winds this week are at 20 knots gusting 27 and waves are 5-7 feet at 6 seconds, not great but doable. So, we are looking for an exit and an opportunity to sail out to USVI. We are so confused on what is best to do. After working hard thru all the options, we still cannot figure it out. Here is a chronological photo essay of the past few weeks…..
Thank you for following along
Thank you all for following along and for sharing in our sailing adventure. We are safe, secure, and working thru all the challenges that covid-19 pandemic has caused worldwide. Normally we plan our our every move and each year’s sailing goals. We are struggling with what to do now. On Facebook, we have posted about this struggle and we appreciate that many of you have given your input and ideas. The frustrating aspect is that every day, every few hours, we can convince ourselves that any one of the options is best. Then for the next few hours we work on that option. Four hours later, we think it is a bad idea and we work on another option. Next, we go to bed and wake up with another option and another viewpoint. It has been very unlike us because we have always had most things planned out. For this, we have no plan, like everyone. So, please recognize this and please try to understand. We will work it out, and we are sure it entails sailing out, sailing to somewhere. After all…… DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY….and sailing makes us very happy. 🙂
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Where in the world is Grenada? The country of Grenada is the next to last in the eastern Caribbean chain. South of here is Trinidad. Many cruisers were concerned about the increase of covid-19 cases in Martinique and Guadeloupe. At that time, Antigua and Grenada had none. We sailed 48 hours non-stop from Antigua on March 16-17 with John and Nina of IP40 Sunkissed. We anchored shortly after dawn in Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, the northern most island of the three island country of Grenada. That day, the country was placed under limited quarantine.
When we went ashore to check-in, it felt as if the world had changed in a blink. Social distancing was in full effect. For over 3 hours, we waited to give our medical and travel history and have our temperatures taken by a nurse in full protective gear. One day later, stricter measures were imposed and we were not allowed to get off the boat or access shore or visit from boat to boat. So, since March 20, we have been under strict quarantine. Here is a screen shot as we sailed south to Grenada to show where we are located now.
Job #1 Stop the Sinking
After a week in Carriacou under full lock down, we decided to sail south one more island to the “mainland” of Grenada, where the rules were more loosely imposed. Here we booked a dock at the Port Louis Marina because we were very concerned that the country would lock down more. If that were to happen, we decided we would want to be at a dock for water and safety. So glad we did! One day after arriving, a total lock down was imposed. Plus our water maker had stopped working and we knew could get it repaired here.
Hundreds of boats are docked here, with about 40 people on their boats. Most are empty charter boats from Moorings and SunSail and Dream Yacht Charters. Four other Island Packets are in St. Geroge’s: Lars and Laura of IP485 Sweet Dream (who just completed the Round the World Cruisers Rally, Mike and Lizzie of IP465 Gratitude, Daryll and Lynn of IP370 Open Agenda (whom we have cruised with since Antigua. Barbuda) and Richard and Shelley of IP465 Ailsa. No Mini-vous yet!
Now that we were safely in dock, our first job was to stop the sinking. Our propeller shaft stuffing box needed to be tightened and this would slow the leak to a drip. If you have ever worked on this, it is not an easy job on an Island Packet. The best tools are a 30″ crowbar and a big hammer, plus PB Blaster. After about 4 hours of soaking and tapping, I was eventually able to free up the cap nut and turn it tighter, stopping the leak. Good thing as all the haul-out lifts were closed and no boat yards were working. If you are sinking, you will sink, it is that simple. So, fix it yourself! Here is a photo of working on the stuffing box!
No Food Shortage in Grenada
Every day, ships arrive and offload supplies into this island country. There is no food shortage here and the government is announcing this daily, preventing panic within the population. Being in dock, we are now allowed off the boat as long as we stay on the docks and do not leave the marina. This is a very large marina and we have mapped out a 2,000 step loop which we try to do three times a day. We are getting in our steps, plus it is a good stress reliever.
Keeping the Beer Cold, Frig issues
In September 2018, we replaced our original 1994 Adler Barbour refrigerator with an identical unit (still working, gave it away, wanted to be pro-active). Of course this new one has stopped working many times since the first incident on Valentine’s Day 2020. I have discovered this new unit has very loose fuse sockets. So, over time the fuses push out, fall out, or just lose contact and then POOF the frig/freezer goes off. We see the freezer temps rising. ERRRRRRR, so into the sail locker I dive after removing 10,000 items stored in there. Then I can reach the back section of the locker where the compressor is mounted. Of course the fuses are on the side back edge where you need a mirror to see and access them. I have now emptied this locker 8 times and to work on it. Now it seems to be holding the fuses. Frustrating, but at least I know the fix.
Baking Bread, Scones and Great Meals
Radeen and I are both STRESS eaters, and this situation has potential to be NOT good for us, as we are eating more, baking bread and also scones. (Ignore the wine, bubbly and Crown Royal, we will not talk about that.) Our new oven works perfectly and Radeen is making delicious meals. Thank goodness we can go for walks, unlike the anchored boats.
Zoom Meeting with US Consulate
We are attending Zoom meetings with the US Consulate as they try to track all Americans here in the Caribbean. There has been one extradition charter flight to get people home, with only 3 days notice. We said no thank you, as we are not sure it is better in USA. We are monitoring everything daily and are on the mailing list for the USA STEP Program, so we are well connected to any support the Embassy is offering.
Food Delivered by SPRONKS Mega Yacht Services
We have now placed two orders with Spronks Yacht Provisioning. The public is allowed to go to the grocery store once a week on very limited hours. The lines are 5-6 hours long. We feel that is is best to not interfere and to not stand in lines, elevating our risk of covid-19. Several businesses have offered shopping and food delivery services for a fee of about $50 USD. You email your list to them and they shop before the doors open or on the days the stores are re-provisioning and then they message you when en route back to the marina. We feel this is best all around procedure.
Full Sun Shades
We are the shade masters. It might not look perfect, but it works. The sun is so hot down here between noon and 1600 that this really helps to keep the UV and heat off the boat. We have a shade over the boom that is about 10 feet x 14 feet with poles front and back. Then we hang Phyfertex side shades that block low sun angles. The bow shade was bought from another IP35 and designed to be lower on deck, but we rig it up higher so we can work under the bow tent.
One of the many walks we do daily. This is looking out the harbor to the west towards Panama! Maybe we should make a run for it, but then again, that country is closed as well, so we cannot sail there. We can walk outt here and see the sunsets at about 1830. Here is one of those many “selfies” we love to take.
Laundry via a Bucket!
This marina has a pool, wood fired pizza cafe, a bar, sushi bar, a full restaurant and a laundry, all of which are closed, yet we are paying FULL PRICE as if all services were offered. Heck, the water has been off for two days. They are gluing a PVC pipe, which takes me 10 minutes and then 30 minutes to cure. Its been two days, no water. With the laundry closed, we are washing our clothes in a bucket and then wringing them out and hanging them up to dry. It works, and we try to do a little bit every day, that is when the water is on! Did I mention that the air conditioning in the lovely bath house stopped three days ago and there are no opening windows in the building?
Why Not Strip the Varnish? WHAT?
The third week in March, we had an appointment in Bequia to have the teak on our toe rail, hand rail and eyebrow refinished. We decided since that was canceled and we are locked down til April 20 with no where to go, we might as well strip the varnish and refinish. After seven days of work, Radeen and I have all the varnish off the boat, the teak is cleaned and it is all taped off ready to re-varnish with Ephifanes clear varnish. This would be the third time in 19 years we have taken the wood down to bare and started over. The last time was December 2013, when the boat was in a shed at Snead Island Boatworks on the west coast of Florida. This takes a lot of work and a lot of time. (We have the time, but our spines might not do well with this. We need more yoga stretching to ease the pain. ) We use 2 carbide cabinet scrapers and, when needed, we use a little of the Citrustrip to get around the cleats and chain plates, etc. This seems to work the best.
Sunset looking west off Grenada
Thank you for following along. Remember, you can see nearly daily live postings and updates on our public Facebook page. You do not have to be a member of Facebook to surf the web. Facebook pages are live public web pages that anyone with a web browser or a smart phone may view. This is where we post more often. Please check it out here…
Making water while sailing to Marie Galante east of Guadeloupe on Island Spirit while under B&G autopilot sailing to a given wind angle. We thought there would be no wind, so we left the mainsail zipped in the stack pack. Well, there was a perfect 12-15 knot beam wind so we unfurled the jib and staysail.
We are never disappointed with the sailing capabilities of our Island packet 35. There tends to be this idea that these boats, Island Packet Yachts, do not sail well, when they really sail very well. No, it is not a J-Boat, but it sails well and it is comfortable.
Enjoy this short 3 minute video.
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We sailed into Martinique from St. Lucia where we always enjoy Marigot Marina and Resort. We only stayed two days there as we wanted to run the weather window to reach Martinique. The reason we ran for this French island is because Chris Parker was forecasting high winds and large swells and that everyone would be stuck and not able to move for maybe two weeks. We said, “if we are going to be stuck for two weeks, then it will be on a French Island!” HA HA, so off to Martinique we sailed. Check out this fantastic sailing day, I created these two short video clips and posted to our YouTube channel here:
Sailing St. Lucia to Martinique video #1
Fantastic Caribbean Sailing, video#2
St. Anne, Martinique
The most popular harbor is the anchorage on the south east side. This harbor has over 200 yachts on anchor and there is room for another 200 at least. The water depth is 10-20 feet, the bottom is sand and the holding is really good. Add to this, the town is cute with a beautiful church, bakery, grocery stores, cafes, crepe shops, gift shops and bus stops. Fresh fish can be bought at the fish market and all the fresh produce you need at the open air market. Cappuccinos daily, and beautiful sunsets, and you can imagine how difficult this place would be to leave. We stayed 10 days and could have stayed another 10. Here are a few photos:
We rented a car, off to Fort de France
With the high winds blowing, we decided to rent a car and drive the 1 hour to Fort de France. There we wanted to check out the waterfront and the town as well as the information to tour the fort. After our first run over the city, we did this again with boat buddies Fran and Butch on MY SMARTINI. We all four loved the tour of the fort and our walk around town as well as our fine savory crepes at La Savane, a wonderful street cafe,. So French.
Anchored off d’Arlet, so cute
Moving north, we stopped into Grand Anse D’Arlet and walked the town and over the hill to the next town. These are small beach front villages where locals as well as French residents fly in for a week of beach and snorkeling and diving. The towns are spotless, very cute and very laid back. Coffee shops, bakeries, cafes, pubs, and small grocery stores are so common in these harbors. They are wonderful places to drop the anchor and simply enjoy the high quality of French life.
Mt. Pelee, Saint Pierre
Our final stop heading north was the interesting harbor of St. Pierre where in 1902, the volcano Mount Pelee, erupted and killed 29,000 people. St. Pierre was known as the “Paris of the Caribbean.” Ships were sailing here from France in 15 day crossings, rounding the north end of Martinique and sailing into this harbor. The ships would drop off passengers, basic and luxurious fabrics and household goods and then load up with sugar, rum and tobacco and sail back.
The amount of trading was massive and the plantation owners were millionaires, and so it was, they build a thriving town on the slopes of an active volcano. St. Pierre was wealthy enough to have 12 jewelers and watchmakers! The three story theatre seated 800 people and was in active use for more than 150 years. It had marble floors that can still be seen in the ruins. The beautiful new museum was completed in 2019. We were fascinated to see many artifacts discovered after the explosion, such as porcelain plates fused together, a collapsed (but not melted) church bell and a distorted (but not broken) light bulb!
The Map of Martinique
Onward to DOMINICA, then Marie Gallante, then Guadeloupe, then Antigua! The weather is calm and we are running north as fast as we can. In general, ts easy to sail south, but harder to run north in the winter.
Here is our tracking map, LIVE DATA. When we move, this updates.
With a great weather forecast for ESE winds, we left Grenada on Dec 24th heading for Bequia with a planned stop on Union Island in Chatham Bay. The sail north was fantastic, and like always, we bashed thru the currents and waves at the north end of Grenada. This being our second run past here, we are learning how the winds and currents accelerate at the north ends or south ends of the Caribbean Islands. The winds are compressed and bent around the islands and then accelerate as they compress to make it up or down and around the end of the islands. It can be 30% more wind as you come out from behind the islands, so we always have a double reef in the mainsail.
Caribbean Sailing is fantastic.
Island Packets love 20-25 knots of wind and they really like this on the beam or downwind. On this leg, since we are in the Windward Islands, our sailing course is north or south on an east wind! That means beam reaching or close reaching and the sailing is great. Here are some sailing photos, please enjoy.
Rainbow, our first for this 2019-2020 season
It rains nearly every day for 5-15 minutes and that presents a rainbow as well. Here is a photo enhanced rainbow as seen on our first sail of the season. What a joy, this was actually a full rainbow, but my panoramic did not work out, so here is the closest end of the rainbow
On anchor off Union Island, Chatham Bay
Union Island, Chatham Bay was a great place to drop the anchor close and off the beach. We immediately jumped in for a Christmas Eve snorkel and swim along the reef. We saw our first “Snake Eel” and a moray eel along with many colorful fish. Welcome to the Caribbean where the water is about 78 degrees and when you jump in, you try to decide if it is cold or not. 🙂 The next day, Christmas Morning, we up anchored and headed out for more sailing to Bequia. Our first Christmas Day Sail.
Sailing Christmas Day
What an unusual way to spend Christmas Day. Sailing! Our destination being Bequia where we arrived around 1100 with time to check in with customs and immigration. After checking in, we were off to the FIG TREE where the cruisers were having a pot luck gathering. Everyone brought a dish to share and your own meat to grill. Our hosts had the grills running and all the tables set up and we brought in our filet mignon and homemade iced pumpkin bars to share.
Thank you John and Darcy and Lafayette
The Fig Tree has become the cruisers place to hang out because the owners, Sheryl and Lafayette, have made it so inviting to the boaters. This mother-daughter team opens their space for cruisers to come in and hang out for Christmas Day. Boat Buddies, John and Darcy, who got marrids here on Bequia, hosted and organized the pot luck. Tons of work for 80 cruisers to all have a place to sit and to have a buffet table and to share. What a great Christmas Day with everyone. We really enjoyed this.
Fun times on Bequia
We have now been here 5 days and we are really enjoying this island. Bequia has been a cruising favorite of ours since out first stop here in 1992. That was on a charter boat and like all charter boats, you only stay one day at a place because you only have one week and you want to see it all, so you move, move, move. Its so different cruising on your own boat. No schedule, no timeframe, so we can stay as long as we like an any location. That is what is so wonderful about cruising. So, we are hiking, walking, swimming, snorkeling the reef and visiting. Welcome to the simple peaceful life.
Up Next, Hiking…
We will write next about our wonderful three days of hiking Bequia where we have seen some amazing views. Thanks to our buddies on IP38 DreamCatcher, Dean and Kim, for organizing the hike. Here are a few teaser photos…..
Thank you all for following along. Radeen and I really enjoy sharing our sailing wit you. Your comments are emailed directly to us and we try to respond to them all. Thank you!
Living here at the Port Louis Marina docks is an easy life, but we came down here to go sailing, and sailing we will go on Dec 24 and Dec 25. Looks like we will have dream sailing conditions, SE winds from 110 degrees at 15-20 knots, calm seas, 5-7 feet seas. For the Caribbean Sea in the winter, this is as good as it can get. What a Christmas Day sailing adventure it will be. How lucky are we? For now, we are living well here at the dock as we provision the boat, and check each system and prepare. Here we are with our full sunshade up and our side shade drops blocking the hot sun. This really helps to cool the boat.
Living on the boat
Living on the boat is similar to living on land in a house. You need to go for groceries and you need to plan and prepare cooking meals. etc. Well, going for groceries from a boat usually requires taking the dinghy to the dock and walking to the store, then walking back to the dinghy to load the groceries and moving to the boat and then climbing onto the boat to lift up the groceries. Below deck its time to find places to stow all these items. Some items need refrigeration, some need to be frozen, some need to be stored in lockers.
We had help with some provisioning by using the services of John Hovan of Fast Manicou. John is an ex-pat who takes orders for canned food, beer, wine, frozen foods, propane, scuba tanks, etc and cheerfully delivers on a weekly schedule to all the southern bays on Grenada. Radeen is so good at managing our provisions and stowing all of this. It takes time and it takes a plan,and she knows exactly how to do it all. Plus, she knows how to cook great meals on our boat! Lucky us!
Cooking a great meal
Radeen has been making great, healthy meals on Island Spirit for over 18 years! I built her a web site where she adds her recipes for cooking on a boat. These are mostly her own recipes, but we invite others to login and add meals they make on their boats. Check out Radeen’s recipe site here: http;//www.BoatRecipes.com
Here is a simple meal for tonight. I usually do not blog about food, because I figure everyone eats, but here is a post about tonight’s meal. Marinated chicken with a satay peanut sauce and basmati rice, ribbon strips of cucumber and carrots in a sweet and sour dressing and, of course, red wine.
Photos Around St. George’s, Grenada
Here are a few photos of touring around town on the dinghy….
We found our Christmas Present, Dec 24, 25 SAILING WINDS
There is a large weather system north of the Bahamas and this low, with counterclockwise winds, is so large and so strong that it is effecting the tradewinds all the way down to South America! Well, we are in the middle of this area and that means our normal East or NE winds will be moving to the Southeast. That is wonderful for us, as our course north out of Grenada to Bequia and St. Lucia and Martinique is a course of 030, or NE. So, the wind clocking to the SE gives us a perfect BEAM REACH. Ask any sailor and they will tell you that is the dream sail, on the beam. So, MERRY CHRISTMAS TO US. We will leave here Dec 24 and sail NE to Union Island and then Dec 25 we will sail to Bequia where we hope to join the cruisers’ pot luck by 1300 with boating friends. Here are the current wind maps for Dec 24 & 25. Merry Christmas sailing!
Radeen and I are very happy to be here, our boat is ready, all systems seem to be in working order. We have provisioned with dry goods and beverages for several months, All we need to do is move out and go sailing. Here are a few photos walking the beautiful Port Louis Marina property tonight….
We have been working on a few systems over the past couple of days. Primarily the shore power cords and inlet plugs. We have concluded that the dock power is not working properly here as all our own connections are clean and check out with continuity thru the plug and thru the breakers. So, there is no need to work any more on our ship’s 110v systems. We think it is all related to the dock power feed. But then again, the boat next to us has been running air conditioning 24/7 off the same power pole, so who knows. Either way, we have been here 4 days, docked for power to run AC and we have no power. We have spent $235 USD on plug ends and ship power deck connections, etc. No 110v power into the boat, so we gave up.
We finally gave up, and we said who needs shore power, we do not. We usually are never plugged into a dock and we usually never run the AC, so after 3 days of trying and many hours and hundreds of dollars spent. Forget it. We put the power cords away.
On to Leaking Water system
They say, no good deed goes unpunished. Well that is true here. Last year, an IP owner was asking how the water faucets come apart and how do you stop a leak. So, while we were sailing south, I decided to take apart our own water system to make a photo essay to help this IP owner. In doing so, I broke our own shower system and we lost water pressure. OH MY GOSH!!!!! So, it took me two days of working on a fix at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia with hardware store parts and I made a fix. Not pretty but we could at least turn back on our water.
So, this year we arrived with parts to fix this problem properly. These Grohe cartridges are odd and very unique. I have never seen them in a home plumbing system. They are the system that seals off the water and or allows it to flow. They are behind the handle and they are thread into the plumbing in the wall or countertop. We carried 6 of these in for all the faucets on Island Spirit. Here are some photos of the process.
Prepare the “car” the dinghy
We next had to set the dinghy up with her sunshade chaps which protect the fabric from the intense UV. We also needed to add the 15 hp outboard and test the motor as we ran out all the engine fogging oil. We needed to connect the security cable and dinghy seat bag. We are happy to say, the Yamaha started up on one pull. What a great engine, The best of the best. Here is the dinghy hanging in the davits ready to run.
With all fixed, it was POOL time
Here at this Port Louis Marina, they have a great pool, so after a day of working on setting up the boat, we hit the pool for a few laps. Radeen loves to swim, so this is becoming a daily event. Now the question is ….”Why Leave hear?”
Duty fee Shops? WOW
Our friends Dean and Kim heard about a duty free shop in the cruise ship mall where we could get a deal on some liquor. So we rode the local bus for $2.50 ECD each one way. It took a bit of searching to find the store, but it turned out it was in the same shops that we shopped last year when we rode the dinghy over to here. Take a look at this price for Crown Royal, $20 USD! WOW
Living our Dream
It was 1996 when Radeen and I wrote done this sailing dream to retire in 2011 and to set sail. Now, this is year #9 of retirement and we are still sailing and stretching our areas and expanding our goals. We will say, that his has been the most challenging year of boat prep and launch. We think it is all due to the heat and humidity and storage of the yacht for 6 months that has taken a toll on the boat. We usually do not have so many issues to resolve when we launch, yet here we had a few that seemed bad. Now with most all fixed, we are into provisioning and loading up to take off. For now, we will enjoy Grenada, take in the sunsets and enjoy our friends here at the docks with us. This is the sunset as seen from the roof deck of good friends, Fran and Butch owners of Motor Yacht SMARTINI.
SMARTINI, the big Girl
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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
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. 🙂
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.