We did it, after 5 days of boat yard work we launched the boat here in Clark’s Court Grenada at 0900! SHE FLOATS, ENGINE STARTED, we did not sink! even after doing this every year since 1991, we still get very nervous doing this. There are so many aspects that could go wrong, and there are many systems that have not been running, we get very nervous until we are floating and docked and secured.
Launching with a tractor and hydraulic trailer
We have not seen this set up before pulling into here in May. This hydraulic trailer is incredible and our boat at 18,000 lbs is a dinghy for this machine. The driver can make the rig wider, taller, lower, and tilt. It is really interesting to see.
Move the Jack Stands!
In order to back the trailer under the boat, they need to remove the jack stands. Notice how they re position them at an angle allowing for room for the trailer! This looks so dangerous, we stayed back.
Back up the trailer!
The driver then backs this massive trailer under the yacht while the helpers help with direction. The trailer is in the lowest position right now. Look at how close the frame is to the ground and wheels.
Raise the Hydraulic rams
The large rams then are raised up taking the load of the yacht but they do nto lift the yacht. First the process is to get these rams up and tight against the yacht. Then all the remaining jack stands can be removed.
Jack up the trailer
Next the entire trailer is lifted as the frame hydrailic rams press the frame vertically. Notice the frame and the wheels now, the entire yacht and frame are pushed up and the yacht is now lifted off the ground. That is 18,000 lbs mininum and more like 20,000 lbs due to all the extra gear we have loaded onboard. So, 10 tons lifted and off it goese.
There she goes
Island Spirit is headed for the water on a trailer with a tractor. OMG! How crazy is that? We then move the car and follow along with the rig.
Back her down the ramp
This part was interesting as Radeen and I had to climb a ladder to the board the yacht. We then had to ride it down the ramp and into the water. Then when the boat was deep enough we had to check all thru hulls and start the engine and get water flowing and cooling and then, they let us free. We backed away and with 20-25 knots of ENE winds blowing we are feeling the rush. It is always so wild….what if….will drive you crazy.
Off we go, our first leg
Drive from the ramp to the marina and dock. Get your dock lines ready, hope and pray the engine keeps running, hope and pray the anchor is ready, get your fenders down, get to the dock.
Success, leg #1 completed
We did it. Leg one is finished. We launched and moved 200 yards to the dock. Notice that the dinghy needs launched, the staysail needs installed. The jib needs installed, we never do these on the jack stands as that is not safe. We need to finish these jobs today, which we did, and then check out of here and move over to the town of St. Georges where we will dock at Port St. Lucie where they have electric and water on the dock. No services here.
A celebration Beer
Ahhhhh a cold one to celebrate and dinner with Dean and Kim. Let the good times start. Enough work….
We are ready for launch and will move out of our comfy air conditioned condo and onto the boat Tue, December 10, 2019. Boat yard work can be so difficult, especially when it is hot. First you have to climb 12 steps up a ladder to the deck. Your power is only wind and solar for lights and fans as there is no access to a power plug. This means there is no air conditioning. Water is only the water in your tank, as there is no water hose that is easily reachable. So, we are preparing the boat with all our own services. To help, we hired out the hull waxing, the stainless steel cleaning, and the interior cleaning, for the first time ever. So we are helping the local economy as we prep the boat.
The Prep Work
After a quick breakfast in the condo, our first task (after painting and hull wax) was to re-run all the halyards we had pulled off the mast to protect them from the intense summer sun. While I am working on deck, Radeen is working below deck cleaning and sorting out the boat.
Most people do not pull the halyards and sheets off the boat and store them below decks. This is something we have done since we arrived down here in the Caribbean. When pulling off the lines, we pull a small 3/16″ chase line in its place so we can then re-pull the large halyards back up and into the mast. Yes, most of our lines are internal, but when stored, half of the line is external, and that gets damaged by the UV/sun.
Loading the Main Sail
Our new main sail is a fully battened main sail, which means it weighs in at about 50-60 pounds. We also have a stack pack, which we love, but putting this all back together and pulling up the lazy jacks and loading in the sail battens can easily take two hours. It is not an easy job, and I have done this 18 years! First we have to run the stack pack bolt rope into the boom and hang the pack inside out. Then we load the loose footed main sail onto the boat, but just the tack and clew. We then push all the main sail over to the port side. Now we pull the bottom of the main sail up and over the boom to the starboard side. With the first bottom batten pocket now on the cabintop, we can take apart the batten car and install the long batten and tension it. We do this for each batten, until we reach the head of the sail. At this point we can then load the head of the sail into the Tides Strong Track, and push and lift it up the mast track until all is loaded. With the main sail only pulled up about 4-5 feet, we can now work on the lazy jacks and lift up the stack pack. Once the stack pack is lifted, we can then fold and store the main sail into the pack.
Run to town
While Radeen is working below decks cleaning, I ran to town to get dinghy gas, car gas, propane bottle filled, WD-40 and more. Notice that the car ha the steering wheel on the “proper” side of the car, the right side. In Grenada, they drive on the left side and that makes for an interesting activity. I fold in the mirrors when driving because the cars pass each other about 1 millimeter apart, so we are NOT paying for mirrors. A common charge. Who needs mirrors? I bought $60 ECD for the car and I bought $70 ECD of gas for the dinghy. This was about 4 gallons in the car and 5 gallons for the dinghy! $1 USD to $0.37 ECD, basically divide the ECD by 3, that will get you close.
Sunday the local cafe here at Clarke’s Court had local craftsman selling handmade items. I had to buy Radeen something, so I found these Grenada colored ear rings. So nice.
Of course I took her out to lunch but the place was closed today….
Finish the Bottom Paint, Install Canvas
The yard has to move the jack stands so we can paint under the pads. So, they came out and re positioned all 9 jack stands. This is why we keep back a half a gallon of paint. The extra covers these pad areas and then the rest is used as a second coat around the water line. That is a wrap on the painting and we can then pull off the tape
Out to dinner at Clarke’s Court
Breakfast and lunch are in our condo/room but for a treat after a hard day’s work in the boat yard, we shower and go downstairs for a nice dinner. Radeen ordered a Caribe and said it was the best beer of her entire life! The Cruiser’s Reef Cafe is newly open and they are doing a great job seven days a week, 7 am to 11 pm. WOW, that makes long days for the staff, who are all consistently polite and friendly.
NOT FOR SALE…..but ….. make an offer…
We always joke that we are always prepared complete with signs and all. Island Spirit is NOT for sale, no way, …. but …. go ahead, MAKE AN OFFER….ha ha….like we said, She is NOT for sale….but sometimes we ……nope, won’t go there. OK, launch day Tuesday, Dec 10th is here…
We arrived into Grenada with our two duffel bags, two overhead bags and two backpacks after two days of travel. First PHL to MIA, spent the night in Cambria Hotel and caught up with Dr. Nicholas. Day 2 MIA-GND and landed in the country about 430 pm. Passed thru customs and our car rental drive was waiting for us with a sign with our name on it. How wonderful. We love it when a plan comes together. Let the new sailing season begin.
But first, getting there….
We asked out dear friend Jenna is she would UBER us to the Philly airport because were were leaving for 6 months and wanted to leave out car in the garage. Well she was a real pro. Jenna and her cute son arrived right on time and she even had snacks and drinks for out ride to the airport. What a great friend. Thank you Jenna!
Arrival in MIAMI, the best
We have flown into Miami many times but this approach was incredible. The pilot flew down the coast at about 5,000 feet just offshore and we watched the coast and the famous sights of West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, South Beach and the City of Miami pass by our wind. What an amazing sight to see.
UBER Drive # 2 Dr. Nicholas
Our other personal UBER drive was Dr. Nicholas who is the son of Dr. JB our great diving instructor and close friend. Nicholas picked us up at the MIA and took us to our Cambria hotel where we all three enjoyed dinner together and we caught up on his Doctoral work in Psychology. How proud we are of him and all his hard work. Thank you Doc Jr.
Day 2 of travel to Grenada
Back to the MIA airport via shuttle van at 0830 for out 1130 flight. We like to be early and it has always worked out. We were told to dress up like you are going to Sandles Resort so that customs does not look for boat parts. We failed, as we always look and dress like boaters. My IPY hat and my Whiteaker Yacht Sales shirt were not helping me sneak in to Grenada.
Welcome to Grenada
We are happy to be back and we are looking forward to Caribbean sailing Season of 6 months! No schedule, no destination, no plans, just get this boat up and running, get her launched and lets go sailing. Let season 18 on Island Spirit begin NOW….GRENADA!
WHAT NO CELL, NO GOOGLE FI?
You all know how much we love out Google Fi service and since March 2019, when we started using our first two Fi phones, Motorola X4 $150 shipped into St. Thomas, thanks to JENNA. We love this service. Since March we have taken the service to 19 countries and we have connected upon arrival. Here are are in Grenada, where it worked fine in May, and we can not get onto the grid.
Well, 6 hours of tech support, with Google Fi and three different techs via WiFi chat, no one could get our two phones onto the grid. So, I asked my good boat buddy, Dr. Don of sv Fezywig and he gave me the answer in 4 or 5 clicks. POOF, we had 4G LTE just like that, just like expected, just like before. So, a BIG thanks to Don for connecting us back to the net.
Let’s Get to WORK, unwrap, prep for paint
Job #1 was to remove the 1,200 sq.ft. of coolaroo sunshade cover. This is a 90% UV blocking fabric that we buy and fit to the yacht. This is the third time we have done this and it works great. We simply cut the sip ties dropped it and then folded and rolled the fabric back into 4 rolls. We are thinking of storing it here, but Radeen wants to pack it into the sail locker and take it with us. YIKES! Not sure we have enough room for it, we will see.
Next Task, PAINT THE BOTTOM!
We have painted the bottom of our boats since 1991. We know the process well and we have painted this IP 35 nine times. It takes us a couple of hours to prep, we do not sand the bottom. We simply flake off any loose paint, sand that area, and then tape the boot stripe and roll on new paint. Painting takes 2 hours with both of us working on the job. Radeen has always helped paint the boat, she helps on every job and THAT makes us a great team.
Power in Grenada = 220v 50 htz
When we travel, we always travel with power plug adapters, and here in Grenada, the power grid is 220 volts, much like the rest of the “real” world. Look at this plug, it is like the one used in England. Also notice that our room has 110 volt next to all 220 v. This is very kind, but also very unusual. They know many Americans come here so they are trying to accommodate us all.
A nice Break at UMBRELLAS with Dean and Kim
We are here in the yard with another Island Packet Owner, IP 38 DreamCatcher owned by Dean and Kim. They invited us to go to Umbrellas on the beach for burgers and PainKillers. YAHOOOOO….great idea. So, after we painted the boat, we cleaned up and hit the beach bar at 1230. Dean and Kim have been cruising their IP 38 now 4 years and they have sailed from Florida to Grenada and they know the area well. They have helped us with this area and this boat yard. We are following their lead.
We picked up two pets
These are the local goats and they are everywhere. Herds of them roam the boat year and come down out of the hills. These are the two at out yard exit. Should we take them on the boat? nahhhhhh
We need to have the jack stands moved and paint under them on Monday. We need to keep cleaning and unpacking and get the rust off all the stainless. We have hired helpers to help us out. We hired out the hull wax, thank goodness. We need to re-run all running rigging Sunday. We need sails and canvas put back on. We need to recommission the dinghy and 15 hp Yamaha. All by Tue when we launch and move aboard. Lots of work recommissioning a boat that is in storage. Welcome to the boat yard.
Thanks for sailing along.
Remember we are SOCIAL MEDIA people too 🙂
If you look at the menu on http://svislandspirit.com/ you will see all our social media links. Follow and like us there as well……
Let the new sailing season begin in Grenada Dec 5, 2019. We fly in, spend 5 days preparing the boat (uncover, wash, paint and wax) and then we launch Dec 10th! Move aboard that day, and then move the yacht around to the town of St. Georges, Grenada where we will dock Dec 11th to 16th setting up the yacht. Sails, halyards, dinghy, outboard, watermaker, and provisions. If all goes well, we plan to sail out Dec 16th for maybe Bequia where we think there is a Christmas celebration. This season will be one of simple cruising and Eastern Caribbean Explorations. Hopefully filled with many new discoveries. Final task today…PACK and get to PHL!
Departing Tobago Cays, we sailed downwind a very short distance west to Union Island where a man named Janti built “Happy Island.” This is similar to the island off the Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI’s called Saba Rock. Saba actually was a rock that was expanded dramatically, but HAPPY ISLAND did not exist before. Janti created the island by piling up conch shells on the reef. WHAT? Yes, he gathered up conch shells tossed away from the harvest of the conch. Next, he hauled and piled these shells up until he had enough area to build a small shade building. Eventually, this grew and grew and grew into what is now Happy Island with a complete house and bar with a dinghy dock, palm trees, picnic tables, and large speakers for party music. Happy Island is the place to stop on Union Island, it is right in the middle of the reef! Look at these photos over the years!
A walk around Union Island
In order to leave for Grenada, one must check out of the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. That requires a stop on Union Island at the Customs and Immigration offices at the airport or at the local town’s office building. The local office will charge an overtime fee if you request services over lunch or on a weekend. We stopped in at 1205 and decided to walk the town until early afternoon and spend the overtime fee on ice cream instead. Union Island is a busy little town with street vendors, gift shops, bakery, grocery store, banks, and a coffee and ice cream shop. Of course, we hit Gypsy Soul, the coffee and ice cream shop above the Captain Gourmet.
Union Island, the town of Clifton, is the home of all the hard-working people who run boats over to Tobago Cays. They sell bread, fish, jewelry, collect trash and they created a Beach BBQ for cruisers and charterers. The trip from Union is about 7 nm in small homemade wooden boats with outboards. Supporting these industrious people at their BBQ is well worth the $40 US, including transportation from your boat in their boats. The menu is a choice of chicken, fish, or ribs with vegetables, rice and bread served family style. They all work so hard to make it a special event for the cruising boaters. Then after running the Beach BBQ, they make the crossing across open ocean waters to Union Island late at night. Thank you CLIFTON, we will be back.
Where is Happy Island?
Zoom Into our Travel Map Here
Thank you for sailing along with us, we really enjoy sharing this adventure with our friends and family.
Our summer at Saltbox 13 flew by and it is always a comfortable retreat and change of pace and activity from the cruising lifestyle. We find the contrast of life on land vs life on a boat to be so interesting. On the boat, we live off solar power, wind power and a 100 amp alternator and a little diesel fuel. We make fresh water out of salt water, we walk for all groceries. At home, we live in a passive solar home but have endless water (38 gal/minute well) endless power 120 volt, 24/7 internet, cable TV, cars, bikes, and a large Weber grill. Life on land is soooo easy, life on a boat is soooo simple. The contrast is interesting and we enjoy both equally.
Our first two weeks aboard find us in Annapolis Maryland as we stow and store all the items we moved onboard. We are adjusting to living without a car for the next 8 months. We are working thru the yacht systems, some need repairs, some need adjusting. Solar and wind are working great, and we have found once again, our new B&G 4G radar is not working AGAIN. So we are focused on that major system which allows us to sail offshore safely at night. We need to fix it as we are heading offshore 5 days after the boat show!
We spent one rainy week on mooring ball 50 in Annapolis and then a fun 3 days at the Seven Seas Sailing Association SSCA gathering at the Maryland Yacht Club in Rock Creek, near Baltimore. Now we have moved back to Annapolis where we are attending the sailboat show, as we have done for over 25 years. We really enjoy seeing so many cruising friends and Island Packet Yacht Owners. We created and host lunches at the Fleet Reserve at the 2nd-floor roof tent every day from noon til about 2 pm. It is a great way to meet up with buddies. We also look at all the new gear and rigging ideas, most of which we either have or don’t need. We go to seminars and learn new ideas and hear about other sailors’ adventures. It really is a great way to spend a long weekend. We can’t imagine missing the Annapolis Boat Show.
So, we will return to blogging and we will share our photos and adventures once again. Our destination this year is the Caribbean Sea once again, but this time we will push onward past Puerto Rico and make it to Grenada by May 15, 2019. There we will haul out and store the boat from June 1 to Nov 1 for hurricane season. Between now and then, we will have much to share and many photos to capture. Thanks for sailing along.
Our New 2018-19 cruising map is active here. It will be updated as our boat moves. We use the Garmin InReach tracker and the Spotwalla service to archive our trips. This way you can always see where we are. It is interesting to see the creeks and rivers we run and the ocean passages we will make.
It is very difficult to blog and post while moving the boat 10-14 hours a day, every day, 1,000 nm. Twelve days after departing FL, we finally are getting a chance to catch up on photos and blog postings. We have had a fantastic run from Stuart, going offshore direct 525 nm in 3 days to Cape Lookout, NC. There we entered the ICW, Intracoastal Waterway, and worked our way north to the Chesapeake Bay. Once in the Bay, we blasted north in 2 days. We never did that before, running the bay in 2 days. We count home waters as Annapolis to Rock Hall, Maryland, with the Bay Bridge as our defining landmark signifying we are home.
This 2017-18 cruising season has been an unusual one, starting in Puerto Rico with a damaged mast from hurricane Maria. We shipped the boat to Florida and had it repaired by Mack Sails. We tested the rebuild out by sailing a loop around the Abacos and the Berrys. With it being so late in the season, we decided to sail for home where we could use our boat for the summer and wait out the next hurricane season. We will sail back to the Caribbean next season and resume our adventures there. For now, we will enjoy the boat here on the Bay for the summer of 2018.
Here is a graphic of our season.
We departed Stuart on Monday, noon, May 21
Heading out the inlet in a near squall that caught up with us about 3 miles offshore, we were out and heading north. There was a nice 3 to 4-day weather window with forecasted southeast winds of 15-20 knots and no threat of thunderstorms. We liked the forecast so, even with the squall, we left. It was a bit exciting, but we kept telling ourselves the forecast was great. Let’s keep going. Well, we took a beating for about 4-5 hours out of the inlet and we actually thought about turning around, but we pushed offshore to the Gulfstream.
Our passage was great
We had it all, broad reaching full sails, all three, we reefed 4 times, had 3 squalls, lightning and rain, and even 4 hours of code zero offshore. The sailing was really wonderful for days. We both commented many times how amazing the sailing was. Endless sailing. This trip was the longest offshore trip we have made. 60 hours 525 nm. We had two days of 200 nm which was due to the 3-4 knots of the Gulfstream. Making a 200nm day is a great day on any sailboat, let alone a little 35 footer. We were pleased with our speed and the push of the Stream.
The days rolled on and we enjoyed the passage. Radeen and I are not always thrilled about ocean passages, but we do them when we can to cover longer distances. For us, we would rather anchor and rest at night, but sometimes you just have to go to sea and do shifts and keep running 24/7. This was a great time to go offshore, to go north, and we are very glad we did it. Here are the photos from offshore…
Arriving Cape Lookout at 0400
We arrived Cape Lookout before daybreak in a thunderstorm. Our new radar went out the afternoon of the second day so we were running blind all night, a very uncomfortable situation. After making the Cape straightaway, we decided to not go into the harbour until daybreak because it was so dark. With no moonlight, no radar and one lighted buoy missing, it was best to wait. We simply put away the jib and, with a reefed main, we sailed along the shore until 0530 when it was light enough to go in and drop the anchor. We slept until 0800 and then headed out using our code zero for the Beaufort Inlet and into the ICW in beautiful conditions.
Up the ICW, Cape Lookout to the Chesapeake Bay
This is always an easy and interesting section of the ICW. We have run this 10+ times and know the route well. We also know the stops and the anchorages. We have stopped before at Oriental, River Dunes, Manteo, Edenton, Elizabeth City, Dismal Swamp, Norfolk, etc. but this time we were on a delivery running for home. So, we followed our dear friend Reuben’s route into Coinjock. There we made reservations for a prime rib dinner and a dock. What a treat that was after days at sea and on the hook. Coinjock was a welcome relief and we may always go this way from now on. It also saves one day of travel so that was another reason we went this way. Very fun stop. Thank you, Reuben.
The next stop PORTSMOUTH, VA
We never ever miss this stop at the Portsmouth, VA ferry basins. We dock along the waterfront and walk into town on High Street, taking in the Bier Garten, the Commodore Movie Theater, and the local coffee shop. What a great stop to see the new Star Wars movie, “Solo.” So much fun for sure.
Photos of the ICW…
We reach the Chesapeake Bay….HOME waters
These are our home waters! When we reach the Bay, we feel at ease and safe. Starting our sailing here in 1986, we have anchored in nearly every creek and cove. First stop, Annapolis, the state capital of Maryland. and one of our favorites. It was an unexpected pleasure to have dinner with Mary Ann and Ron of IP380 CAVU and Sharon and Greg of IP40 Dreamcatcher, but we have no photo of the fun to share.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge, NOW we are HOME
We have not been north of the Bay Bridge by boat since 2015. We stored our boat in Stuart FL two years ago to prep for sailing to the Caribbean Sea. Then last season, we stored in Puerto Rico. Now we have returned and it was a fun run to cross under the Bay Bridge again. We always cut the corner and that presents these great photo shots looking back into the center span of the bridge with the perspective vanishing point. Very cool photo.
Rock Hall, MD tower
From the center span of the Bay Bridge, we ran for the Rock Hall tower which is a range marker pointed to the main ship channel. Once we reached this, we were home. We motored into Swan Creek and around the creek to Spring Cove Marina. We have been at this marina since 1991. It is the special place where we built all our sailing and cruising dreams. We spent many summers planning and dreaming of going off cruising. For now, we will base here and enjoy our boat.
CHEERS, it is a great life cruising on a sailboat
We celebrated our arrival at The Harbour Shack with great friends, Sharon and Jeff of IP35 Lucille and Ray of IP 27 Wye’s Guy. Again, no photo of the fun.
Thank you all for following along. Your comments arrive in our email box and we love to hear from you.
OUR MAP. Where we have been and where we are now. If our boat moves, this map updates. How fun.
We added a new sail to our rig, a CODE ZERO. After repairing and rebuilding our new mast and rigging, we finally got the boat back to where it was when we stored her in Puerto Rico. Then Hurricane Maria damaged us and we came back to Stuart Florida for repairs by Mack Sails. Once finished we really had nothing to show for all this work and money, so, we bought Island Spirit a cool new CODE ZERO furling spinnaker. These sails are good with a wind angle of 40 degrees down to 140 degrees but the best angle is 50 to 110 and apparent winds up to 20 knots. The true beauty is that the sail simply unfurls and out it comes. Then when you are finished with it, you simply furl it up and it stays in place forward of the jib. To accomplish this we added a masthead crane extension and a new halyard. We welded a new attachment point between the anchor rollers and we added a new self-tailing winch to the mast. Here is a photo of the first day we hoisted the sail:
Welding the Bow
We needed to add an attachment point on the bow, so we hired the best welder in Stuart, Florida, Mike Davis of Native Welding. We moved the boat to the docks and placed the bow over the dock and Mike was able to modify our bow rollers and we added a new arch welded between the two rollers. This places the Code Zero attachment point dead center and well forward of the forestay. On the newer IPs, with the larger bow rollers, they can simply shackle to the existing roller structure. This mod, we are now pulling up on both anchor rollers which are thru bolted with larger bolts than our forestay uses, so we have no worries about strength here. Take a look at the welding process photos. Very nice work.
The Furling Rig
Code Zero sails use a continuous line furling rig. This rig is the Profurl NEX 2.5 which has a working load of 2.5 tons, or 5,000 lbs. The idea is that these sails can be rolled out and deployed easily and they can be furled back up just like a jib. The furling line is continuous and comes off the drum back to the cockpit where it returns to the drum via a ratchet block. This helps with furling by allowing the sail to roll out easily. To see, watch this YouTube Video here by Profurl: https://youtu.be/rcgc5CnJbl4
The Code Zero forward of the Jib
The Code Zero stays furled up and forward of the jib. This becomes one of the most used sails on the boat because it has such a wide range of uses. Unlike a spinnaker, which you have to get out, hoist with the sock on it, rig up the tack to the bow, set up the sheets and pull up the halyard. Then set up the boat on the course, pull up the sock and then set the sail. With this, you get on course, roll out the Code Zero and sail. When finished, roll it back up and leave it right there. For the spinnaker, you go up on deck as the wind builds (oh great) then pull down the sock, now this big tube of sail is hanging there, now lower it to deck or down a hatch and good luck finding a place to store it. Code Zero, furl it, forget it. DONE.
Sailing Photos, Fun Fun Fun
Our second day we sailed 3 times up and down the river and sailed from 40 degrees down to 140 degrees. This sail loves 50-110 degrees. We have a whisker pole and a topping lift so we can rig this for dead downwind as well. Enjoy these sailing photos.
Captain Photo Required
Hayden with his new code zero, way more to follow, just wait til we get to sea with this sail
Tomorrow we hit the OCEAN
.Tomorrow we will take Island Spirit out to the ocean and test this sail out in 10-15 knots with the full mainsail up. This will be very exciting. We will have a drone flying and our friend Ed taking video from a chase boat. We are working with Mack Sails on a video, this should really be fun.
This sailing motoring passage of 79 nm from Grand Bahama to Florida gave us everything from flat calm seas, to beam reach sailing to marine warnings over the VHF to thunderstorms, lightning, rain and reduced visibility. Overall, with 8 crossings of the Gulf Stream, this one was by far one of the calmest and smoothest sea states we have seen.
First, we exited Port Lucaya on Grand Bahamas where we ran out a very narrow rock-lined channel. There is zero chance to turn around and no opportunity to pass another yacht in this channel. Any SOUTH winds blowing into this narrow channel would create a serious problem. We departed at 7 am with the 10 knots of crosswinds. It looked like this.
Here we go
Radeen and I keep out boat moving at full speed whenever we are on a passage. We are not out here for a day sail. We want to make the passage as short as we can make it, so we do whatever it takes to keep the boat moving at or near hull speed which is 7.2 knots. With the motor in flat calm water, we can motor about 6.2 knots, add some sail and we can motor sail at 6.5 knots. Give us 10 knots of breeze and we can motor sail at 7 knots. That is what we do. We find that in the ocean, Island Packet Yachts need 15 knots to push the sea state due to their beam and weight. If the winds are 15-20 knots then these boats sail at hull speed. We can always sail faster than we can motor, but we need 15-20 knots of wind in the ocean. Here we are with a reefed main and a staysail because the winds were only 5-8 knots that morning, so all we wanted to do was stabilize the boat in the seaway.
Then the Winds Die
AS forecasted, the winds died. This weather situation is what is called “diurnal” which means that the winds are based on the thermals off the land. So, while we were near Freeport Bahamas, we had the land pulling in the wind from the sea. Then once we got out to sea, no more thermals, so no winds. Flat calm sea. This was the situation until we reached the south winds blowing along the Florida coast. Look at the ocean, this is amazing, it is never this calm!
Gulf Stream 3 knots
When crossing the stream, we need to plan for the 3 knot current that is flowing north. With a 36 mile wide stream and our boat speed at 6 knots and a 3 knot flow northward, that means we would be in the stream for 6 hours (36/6) Six hours drifitng 3 knots northward will move your boat 18 nm northward. So, that means when you come out of the stream you will be 18 to 20 miles north of where you were heading, Planning for this common set and drift navigation challenge, you need to point your boat 15-20 degrees south of your actual rum line. In this example, we were pointed 270 but we were going course over ground of 300. This ran us right to our destination. In the next photo you can see the effects of the Gulf Stream flowing northward at 3 knots. Look at the compass and then look for COG on the B&G screen.
OH NO, Thunderstorm ahead
As forecasted, the late afternoon thunderstorms would develop over South Florida, and sure enough, there they were. The VHF radio was going off with NOAA weather alerts and severe weather warnings. We were 20 miles offshore when they said…”BOATERS SHOULD SEEK SAFE HARBOR”….great, we are 3-4 hours out at sea and there is no safe harbor. The next thing you know, the temperature dropped rapidly and the winds shifted. We moved into a full out Chinese fire drill, reefing the jib and dropping the full mainsail. The winds picked up rapidly to 25 knots. They were forecast to be 40-60 knots with hail. The most we had was 27 knots, thank goodness.
LAKE WORTH INLET, a CLASS A….ahhhhh
We really like CLASS A inlets, they are deep, they are wide and they are straight in and easier than non-class A inlets. In this area we have Lake Worth and Fort Pierce as class A inlets with St. Lucie in between. We chose to come into Lake Worth in case we could not make it in daylight, then we knew we could enter this inlet at dark and via radar. Lucky for us, we arrived at 7 pm and sunset was at 7:50 pm so we had daylight to enter. Just inside the inlet and to the south we dropped anchor and enjoyed watching this old cruise ship heading out. It was nice we did not meet it in the inlet. Welcome HOME, we are back in the USA.
Welcome to West Palm Beach, Check in with CBP
Since 2011, we have been checking back into the USA from the Bahamas using the LBO, Local Boater Option. We also use the SVRS, Small Vessel Reporting System. Both of these systems have all our biometrics, passports, photos and all info about our vessel. While in the Bahamas, we filed and processed an SVRS/LBO float plan and activated this plan when we’re ready to depart which then gives us a Float Plan number. This float plan number is all that Customs and Border Patrol needs. When you call, they enter your float plan number and you are checked back into the USA.
Surprise! NOT anymore.
You are supposed to use the CBP ROAM app on your smartphone. When you go to download and to use this app, it tells you straight up that it is in BETA form and is experimental to use. I downloaded it but was unable to log-in. So, I called in with my float plan number and the officer refused to take it, he said I must use ROAM. I called back in 3 more times getting a different CBP officer each time. I explained my problem and kept trying to use my float plan number. Finally, on the 4th call, the officer believed my difficulties and asked me for all my data, never using my float plan number. He then cleared us in.
CONCLUSION: You need to use CBP ROAM app, enter all your personal data, your yacht data, your passport, home address, LBO numbers, etc, then you can check in via your cell phone on a conference call with the CBP officer. Other friends have used it successfully. I just wish our government would perfect the APP and get it out of BETA because I never use beta software. I do not trust it at this point in time. The float plan filing website should be discontinued since the Float Plan numbers are no longer used. Filling it out was a waste of time.
That is a WRAP
Year # 7 to the Bahamas is now a wrap. Yes, we were supposed to be in the Caribbean, but the Bahamas are a dream as well. So, it was down with the flag, and store it till next year, when we will once again be on our way to the Caribbean Sea!
PS: We crossed Island Spirit’s Shipping Track
If you look at this live tracking map, you will see that on this trip, Florida to Abaco to Berrys to Lucaya to Florida, we crossed the shipping track that Island Spirit traveled inboard from St. Thomas in January. How interesting to study that. We really enjoy using this Inreach device by Garmin. https://share.garmin.com/IslandSpirit
Our 75 nm run from Great Stirrup Cay in the Berrys to Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island was a mix of sailing and motor sailing and then sailing again. We had planned to depart Stirrup Cay at sunset, which we did, and we planned to sail all night. One last look at radar showed storms coming. So, we smartly turned around and returned to safe anchorage and waited for them to pass. At 10:30. we were ready to sail again. but Radeen was looking at the Weather Bug radar app and it showed severe storms and thunderstorms tracking directly across our projected path, just beyond our 36 mile radar. Well, these storms came all night long just inches north of us right up until the last storm passed us at 7:30 am. Needless to say, we did not get much sleep that night! So, as the last storm was passing, we hoised a reefed main sail and sailed out behind the storm with the lightning just past us to the east. Here is a map of our passage.
What would a sail be without scones? So, I baked 16 scones and gave 4 away and packed up the rest for the next few days of sailing and travel. These are very easy to make from scratch, we simply use the basic recipe from King Arthur Flour. It is fun to bake on the boat.
Cruise Ships Lease these Islands
Royal Caribbean leases Little Stirrup Cay (aka Coco Cay) and Norwegian Cruise line leases Great Stirrup Cay. The ships anchor off their private islands and then ferry passengers, 5,000 of them, back and forth. WOW, it is crazy how packed the islands are. We sailed past these ships the day before as we moved into Great Stirrup Cay to stage up for the sailing northwest. A cruise is a great option for being here because you really need to get to the Bahamas to see the beautiful blue, blue ocean waters and the powder sand beaches.
Harness on and Hook in, it is off to sea
Radeen and I like to take these selfies as we head out to sea, it is something we do and cherish as we look back and remember the sailing trips we have taken. We wear harnesses and tethers which we hook onto the boat. The idea is to make sure no one falls off the boat, and if you do fall off, then you will not be lost. We have these on at sea all the time. Happy selfie as we head out after a sleepless stormy night on anchor.
Set Sails and Sail
After the storms passed, we had a perfect beam reaching wind for about 4 hours. We started with a reefed mainsail and then shook out the reef to a full main and even added the little staysail. Now under full sail, we were making 6 to 6.5 knots directly towards our destination. PERFECT. Here are some sailing shots.
SHAKE out THAT Reef
With our new mast and our new “Strong Track” and with my new simple single line reefing system (I removed the boom shuttle cars), our mainsail is really easy to reef and also easy to shake out the reef. Here I am after a simple shake out and under full sail with the staysail out as well. This is one happy bluewater sailing captain.
ERRRR, the Winds move FORWARD
WHY, WHY, WHY does the wind change direction? WHY? Especially when we are all set up, we have been sailing along for about 4 hours, all is perfect. We have a long way to go, and then, POOF, the wind moves from 180 degrees to 280-300 degrees and our course is 315. So, furl in the big jib, sheet in the staysail, lower the main back down to a reef and fire up the motor. We now set up for motor sailing with the wind 20-30 degrees off our port bow. We could sail this wind, we just would not get to our destination. When we are on passage, we keep the boat moving and we make sure it is moving towards our destination. Sailing is great, but we are not going to sail in the wrong direction just to sail. So, we motor sailed and hoped the wind would move back towards the south. Now it is waves and salt spray all over the deck and the windshield. One salty boat in a matter of minutes!
Look out, SHIP! Radar has it
While on passage, we set up our digital radar to have a Guard Zone set to 2-3 miles ahead of us, 1 mile wide and arching about 140 degrees. If anything solid enters this zone, an alarm starts to beep and alerts us to the position. The radar will cast a line in the direction of the target and we begin our visual search for the target. At 2 miles out, that is 20 minutes away, and 10 minutes if it is coming at you the same speed, so we like to find the targets quickly. Here is what our radar guard zone looks like. Also see the pointer named ALLEGRO, that is a ship sending out its AIS info.
Can you see the ship? Here is the view from the helm looking towards that ship. Do you see it?
Here, let me zoom in and NOW, you can see the ship. This is a calm day, and a ship is easy to spot, BUT, radar is still #1. it is your eyes at sea. We like AIS, but it is not #1 because many ships turn them off and some do not have AIS. So, radar is it. It is the only thing we count on to identify solid objects that we could hit and that could sink our boat. Look what radar found long before I saw it. Now that I know it is out there, 6 miles, I can watch it. Also, with AIS, I will be warned if there is any danger of a collision.
At night, this ship would be lit and we would have seen it much more readily. We also would think it is much closer at night, because the sea is so dark and a light, any light, will seem like it is running you down. With radar and AIS these situations are far easier. We really like our B&G Zeus3 and our B&G 4G radar.
Powering on, we enjoy the BLUE WATER
AS we powered onward, (yes, fishing, but catching ZIP) we took in the beauty of the blue water all around us. It is amazing how the sea color changes with the sky color and clouds and sun angle. These photos are around 1400 hours and the sun was bright. Look how blue the ocean really is….
SALT SPRAY EVERYWHERE
On a trip like this, the salt spray is over the bimini roof. Everything is covered in saltwater. The decks are soaked, the lifelines, the bow pulpit, the mast and boom and the windshield, all covered in salt spray. Then it dries and it leaves behind all the salt crystals. When you get into port or when you drop anchor, your entire boat is covered in dried salt. If you don’t wash it off, it gets in your shoes, you track it below decks, you sit in it and your clothing becomes salty and damp. Your hands and feet get salty. It is a pet peeve of ours, so we wash it all off after every sail. It takes about 5-7 gallons of water and about an hour for both of to hand wash all the salt off the boat. The ocean seems 10 times saltier than the bays and rivers and creeks. So she was one salty boat today.
BUT THEN THE WIND SHIFTS SOUTH
Near the end of this trip, the winds returned to the south and we were able to turn the motor off and set full sails once again. This was late in the day and the sun presented these great angles thru the rig as we sailed on.
We arrived OCEAN REEF YACHT CLUB
At 1900, about 30 minutes before sunset, we arrived at the Ocean Reef Yacht Club and docked for the night. Job #1, hook up a hose and wash off this SALT.
Thank you for sailing along
We will depart Ocean Reef Yacht Club in the morning for a direct run across the Gulfstream to the Lake Worth Inlet. Our next blog will share the beautiful yacht club here in Lucaya, Grand Bahama…