Sailing Grenada to USVI

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

Caribbean Dream

Our last post was from Marie Galante and now, after a month of Caribbean Dreams we are back in Antigua ready to sail south back to Guadeloupe and south to Grenada. We left Maria Gallante and sailed up to Guadeloupe then to Antigua. There we hosted dear friends Jim and Gail for a week of fun. After that we sailed up to Barbuda and fell in love with the pink sand beaches. from there  we sailed over to St. Kitts to rendezvous for a few hours with boat buddies Fran and Butch on mv Smartini. A quick ferry ride down to see Nevis and then a bashing back east 40 nm into the wind to return to Antigua and here we are.

We are now on the launch pad for sailing south to Guadeloupe and onward to Grenada for haul out May 8th. But for now, we have a lot to discover along the way. Here are some photos of the best along the way over the past month. NOTE: We are posting nearly daily to our PUBLIC Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/svIslandSpirit/ Please browse to this to see all the live action. NOTE#2, you do not have to be a member of Facebook to actually see a public web page, it is the internet, you may click on it and enjoy the content, even thought it has Facebook in the URL, it will not be a problem. Enjoy…

Going to town on Illes de Saints
Fun IPYOA rendezvous in Jolly Harbor
New Force Ten Stove installed in Antigua
Jim and Gail fly into to spend a week on Island Spirit
Shirley Heights is a required visit
Nelson Dockyard and Pillars is so interesting
Middle Ground Hike is a fun hike off Nelson’s
Birthday sailing was a dream off Antigua
Testing the new oven with homemade scones
Fun hiking Deep Bay Antigua with buddies
Off to Barbuda
Barbuda is AMAZING, this is a must visit place
Nevis via Ferry from St Kitts
Nevis and St Kitts are so different
Happy Birthday to Radeen, her 9th birthday on the boat!
Our travels

Please visit out PUBLIC FACEBOOK Page

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Marie-Galante Carnival

Radeen says today was her favorite of this season! With the weather calm for several days, we sailed 3 legs from Martinique to Dominica to Marie-Galante, on the southeast side of Guadeloupe. It can be very difficult to reach here in usual east winds of 20-25 knots. With a large weather front up north causing high winds in Florida and the Bahamas, our trade winds have been pulled to the south and suppressed. Luckily for us, we rented the last car available in St. Louis and went to a restored sugar plantation and then to the island’s annual Carnival celebration! 

My favorite Carnival photos

Woy Mi Mas Carnival parade on Marie-Galante Jan 25, 2020
Woy Mi Mas is the Carnival celebration on Marie-Galante, January 25, 2020

Enjoy our 27 best of 300 photos taken!

Habitation Murat and Woy Mi Mas

Marie-Galante was discovered on Columbus’ second voyage and he named it after one of his ships. The country side is small rolling hills of beautiful farmland raising sugar cane, bananas and cattle. As with larger French islands, roads are excellent and easy to navigate. Though there are vacant buildings in disrepair, we saw no poverty. The 12,000 residents obviously work hard. They can travel to the mainland of Guadeloupe via frequent daily ferries. We met several Guadeloupe residents who had traveled here for the weekend to watch the MG jet ski races.

Habitation Murat is a restored sugar plantation south east of Grand Bourg, a 20 minute drive from St. Louis. Though 90% of the information on the signs was in French, we learned a great deal about how sugar cane was produced using power from windmills. At one time there were more than 100. Now, there are 50 modern windmills on the east side,  producing electricity for the island.

Carnival is celebrated year round in the Caribbean. We were very fortunate to attend the annual Woy Mi Mas celebration in Grand Bourg. We stumbled on a traditional Ka drumming demonstration in the morning and enjoyed the market, where Radeen bought two new hats. Local street food vendors were making fish fritters and hand-cranked ice cream and selling home made baked goods. At 3:45, the parade scheduled for 2:00, finally began at the ferry terminal. 25 bands from Marie-Galante and Guadeloupe participated in the long parade. The band featured in our YouTube and Instagram video was celebrating their 40th anniversary. We estimate 95% of the crowd to be locals. It was all very festive and we felt welcome. It was exciting to be part of their enthusiasm!

Where is Marie-Galante?

Live Garmin Tracking Map…when we move, this updates

https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit

 

Bequia Hikes

We have been enjoying Bequia while here thru Christmas and New Year’s.  IP 38 DreamCatcher, Kim and Dean, organized hikes around beautiful Bequia.  They have been here for several seasons and based here most of last season. So, they know the island very well and have hiked many of the peaks and trails. We are grateful to them for planning and including us on these adventures. Our last hike took us up to 700 feet in elevation above sea level and provided a beautiful view north to St. Vincent. Imagine, at 10 feet per flight of stairs, this would equal 70 flights up and 70 flights down!

Our hiking team atop Spring Hill looking north to St. Vincent.

Our first hike

Our first hike was to Sugar Hill. Along the way, we could look back down into the harbor and see our anchored boats. This hike was on paved roads and with switchbacks and hills that were super steep. The views were incredible and the exercise well needed as living on a boat tends to be lazy. So, we appreciate these hikes and the work-outs they provide.

The hike to Sugar Hill from the harbor provides a great view down to the anchored yachts.
Looking northwest into Admiralty Bay, Bequia
Our lil Island Packet 35 on anchor. It is the boat in the bottom center.

Our second hike was to Fort Hamilton

The hike out to Fort Hamilton is a much easier hike as we walked along the water’s edge to the point, then climbed the paved roads up and out to the ruins of the fort, named for Alexander Hamilton who was born on Nevis. This also provided a different view, looking east back into Admiralty Bay, Bequia, where we are anchored to the far southeast of the harbor, north of Jack’s Beach Bar.

Easy hike along the water to Fort Hamilton
Fran and Radeen strike a pose at Fort Hamilton
Radeen points to our boat, way over there
There we are, the top center, the small boat that is NOT white!
Fort Hamilton protected the harbor from American privateers and the French
Yes, it is named after Alexander Hamilton!

The third hike to 700 Feet

This hike was the marathon and Dean kept telling us to take our time, it was not a sprint, but a marathon. It took us about an hour and half to climb from the harbor up to the overlook at Spring Hill. This overlook is at an elevation of 700 feet, proven by several altimeters we all had on our phones! Most of it was on paved roads but some of the hike was on a shaded trail along a ridge. We stopped at an interesting pottery studio along the way. At the top, there is a small picnic pavilion and an overlook north to St. Vincent. This was well worth the effort.

The Hike up to SPRING HILL overlook at 700 feet
Keep pushing UP HILL all the way, hot and humid
Looking north to St. Vincent
Required selfie atop the 700 foot overlook
Our team: PRISM, DREAMCATCHER and SMARTINI atop the 700 foot hill with St. Vincent in the back ground. Notice the windjammer, STAR CLIPPER, under full sail. She later anchored in the harbor near us.
Going down hill was tough on the knees. Some hills, like this one, were so steep that we walked diagonally back and forth to save our knees. If you fall, it would be a long, long roll straight to the bottom.

The Reward, FIREFLY

After reaching the peak, we turned downhill to the other side of the island and enjoyed lunch at THE FIREFLY RESORT.  This was a wonderful plan and a real treat especially with the swimming pool for cooling off after lunch. Radeen LOVES to swim in pools and she got her laps in after a few plantation punches and chicken and tuna curry lunch with callaloo soup, sauteed red cabbage, diced pumpkin, rice with pigeon peas and tiny yeast rolls with cornmeal  in them.

Arrival at Firefly, YES YES YES….food, rum, and a pool
Sunday lunch of curried chicken or tuna, plus plantation punches in those cool bottles. The crew of CLARITY met us there.
Radeen swimming laps after lunch, while I hydrate with a plantation punch and count her laps for her, 🙂

Thank you Dean and Kim

Thank you to our friends on Island Packet 38, Kim and Dean, for organizing these hikes. Bequia is a wonderful island for lingering, as the people are so kind and they really want cruisers to be here.  The harbor is well protected and there are dinghy docks at many locations. Cafes, pizza shops, pubs, beaches, grocery stores and laundry services. The snorkeling is great, too. What is not to like? That is why we skipped a great weather window on January 1  to stay here longer. Next, we will like to Bequia Head at the northernmost tip of the island.

Our team with the owners of La Plage on the right. We had a delicious lunch there after the hike to Fort Hamilton.

More photos around Bequia

Enjoy these last few photos. I have hundreds, so will share a few of the best. I have taken over 2,000 photos since Dec. 4th. It is so beautiful here!

Radeen with the cactus at Fort Hamilton
Yes, it is arid enough here for cactus
A small abandoned home above the harbor, Most homes are very well kept.
Returning home to Island Spirit after a great hiking day
Enjoying the sunset off Bequia from our cockpit

 

 

Shore Power FIXED Port Louis Marina, lets turn it off

After 7 days of rebuilding our own power cords, plugs, outlets we have finally found the source of the problem. There was an incorrect wiring installation in the brand new dock power poles. I found this problem when measuring the shorted out ground wires. I had been saying to them since day one, that it was not my boats problem, they kept showing me that I had 120 volts on Green to Black, so I did think it was my problem. What I did not know was that you really want to see 120 volts ALSO between Black to White and zero volts on Green to White. Well, they had 10-50 volts Green to White and 20-60 volts on Black to White. I said they had a grounding short and they said my boat had a problem. So there we were.

Christmas Presents for Radeen, two new shore power cords! I spoil her so much! $144 USD each. In the USA, these are $75

What is gong on?

With the marina electrician coming to my boat every day and showing me that he was delivering 120 volts between Green and Black to my boat, (and that was all he would measure) he kept telling me that my boat had a problem, Mon. It is not the marina. So with me seeing his volt meter presenting 120 volts, I thought it was my gear. So, we proceed with cutting off all 4 shore power cords and installing new cord ends at $30 to $60 each. This cost about $250.

Cut off the old, on with new power cord ends $$$$

With all new cord ends…

We still measured a short on the green side and the white neutral. Next we started to read up in shore power systems and looked into the Nigel Calder book as well. We read more than we ever needed to know about shore power. Oddly enough, we never really use shore power while cruising, but we came here to this dock 7 days ago to use the shore power for two things: #1 Equalize the battery bank, #2 Run air conditioning to dry out the boat. Now, after 7 days, we are still without shore power and we show them the problem daily….a short in their green ground wire to white.

New cord ends on our two shore power cords COST $ 250 Done….still the same problem!

Here is the Voltmeter Measured PROOF

After a few days of study on shore power systems and cords and plugs and with a lifeline support back to Reuben (IP380 PRIORITY) and Jeff (IP35 IP420 LUCILLE) we all three continued to say, it was the dock and they have a problem. We learned that when looking at a 30 amp shore power plug, the notched plug is GREEN/Ground and to the right is WHITE neutral and to the left is BLACK hot. A proper AV voltage on these should be:

  • Green to White = 0 volts for safety
  • Green to Black = 120 volts ( this is what the electrician was always showing me)
  • Black to White = 120 volts (this is your actual circuit that you will be using. The dock electrician never measured this)

Here are the measurements on our brand new cord ends after job one trying to fix this….

Green to White, should be ZERO, look it is 40 volts indicating a short!
Green to Black showing 120 volts….see, you have power to your boat. Yes….but what about Black to White????
Black to White showing 83 volts here. This is NOT 120 volts. Houston, we have a problem. It is not my cords, it is the dock power.

Meanwhile, Life goes on

Who needs power? We do have solar and wind power and also a working alternator and regulator, so we can keep the battery bank topped up and we can keep the beer and freezer cold. So, life goes on. Radeen is cooking some great beef chili and we gave a boat tour of Island Spirit to engineer Abby, friend of Butch and Fran of SMARTINI motor yacht. Abby and Butch came over to see what a sailboat is like, and Island Spirit did not disappoint. She is a great boat!

Cooking up some chilli, the best recipe of all. Radeen publishes all here recipes at http://boatrecipes.com/149-charmed_chili
Drop off laundry services will make any admiral happy, then to the pub for a cold one 🙂

Abby the Engineer visits Island Spirit

Engineer ABBY makes the blog on Island Spirit, what a SMART Lovely girl, we really enjoyed her visit.
Abby, Blue Eyes and Radeen on Island Spirit

Getting Serious now with Power

On Day #7 the dock electrician and dock master came out to investigate this power problem one more time. This time they took apart the power pole and looked into the brand new wiring job. These poles were made in Dubai and then shipped here to Grenada.  An English contractor arrived and connected it all together. It was reported that it never worked for 30 amp since it was set up, but it worked fine for 50 amp, so no worries. It is a well know fact in the marine supply store, Island Water World that boaters were coming in and buying power wires, plugs, splitters, etc. for months as everyone has had 30 amp power problems on this new dock. NOW, with the pole apart, the electrician FOUND THE PROBLEM! The green is connected WRONG and that is why it will short out the 30 amp splitters but not the 50 amp. The 50 amp uses both legs but the 30 amp uses one leg. The 30 amp side would short out and not work!. They moved one wire and POOF, we had proper power that now measured right. We connected our boat and POOF, our AC and Charger worked normally like always. FINALLY after 7 days on the dock, $580 spent, we now have power and we can EQUALIZE and run AIR CONDITIONING. Yahoo.

The dock electrician looks into the power pole wiring and find that they pole is wired wrong!

OK, LET’s Equalize the battery bank…Hold on MON!

Well not so fast sailor…..you are on ISLAND TIME MON…..WHAT? I get up on day one with power at 0630. I set up my equalization charge at 15.4 volts on my battery bank, and all is going well. Finally I can get this job done. Lifeline battery banks need to be equalize, or “have a conditioning charge” once a year, look it up on Lifeline site, they recommend this. I now have this started and I am 30 minutes into this 4 hour job…..KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK…..Hey Island Spirit, we need to turn off the power to check the dock. WHAT???? NO WAY, I JUST GOT POWER ON and now you want to turn it off. Yes, but for only be off for 15 minutes. OK, so I shut down my equalization charge and I unplug.

Now, four hours later, the power is STILL NOT ON, and they are not sure if it will be turned back on. So, after waiting for 7 days to get my power fixed, I showed them the problem, they fixed it and NOW, they turned off the power to look into the problem even more. I am getting very frustrated! Rightfully so.

I had it all set up and working, I was equalizing and THEN, they shut off the power on me. OMG!

OK, Drop Back, Calm Down, Chill Out, its Christmas Time

I am trying to remain calm. I have been at this dock now 8 days, all for the reason of setting up the boat, equalizating the battery bank and hopefully running air conditioning to dry out the boat. Instead I have spent $580 on new shore power cord plugs and two new power cords. I have not accomplished my two primary goals, but we are at a dock with a pool and a pub and an easy walk to town. So, we remain positive and focused and we accept that this is typical island time work and processes. Heck, I have been trying for days to get an alternator or a Balmar 614 regulator as a spare and I am told 6-8 weeks to ship one in. FORGET that, we will sail out and deal with it up north, like in Martinique where they have supplies and can ship items into the island in a few days.

Grenada Flag, I love the Red, Green, Yellow colors
Island Spirit with nearly all the shade up to help cool the boat. It is HOT HOT HOT in dock
Merry Christmas to all, look at the typical landscaping.

We are in paradise and the weather is beautiful, the people are kind and we are at a dock. Like we said….who needs power? Oh, and don’t ask about water, that is another story. 

YOLO, our moto

YOLO = You Only Live Once, and that is how we are looking at all. Let’s get the most out of every day and live with a positive attitude and an Attitude of Gratitude.  Carry on!

Our local YOLO Sushi Bar

 

 

New Balmar Regulator

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

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

The chain of events

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

We then replaced the alternator

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

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

After Rebuilding, all is fine

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

All is running fine, we are happy

Next day, blown fuse, again

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

Video on our discovery and running boat

With new Regulator we are running

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

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

QUESTIONS NOW?

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

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

Meanwhile, Full Moon and Flowers are blooming

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

Life is good…..

Haulout in Grenada Coolaroo

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

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

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

Hauled out to Land via a tractor

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

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

Before haulout, we prepped the cover

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

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

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

On the hard, Installing the cover

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

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

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

Coolaroo DOES lower the temperature

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

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

Prep Below deck

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

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

Finish Up the Coolaroo Cover

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

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

We are HAPPY

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

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

 

Grenada Sailing

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

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

Approaching Grenada sailing at Hull Speed+ 7.4 SOG

Caribbean Sailing is the Best

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

Ahhh, St. George’s, Grenada

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

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

Living off Grenada

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

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

Carriacou to Grenada

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

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

Sail Around a Volcano!

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

The Sailing is the Best

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

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

Anchored off Grenada

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

Goal Accomplished! 3,000 nm and 13 countries!

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


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Tobago Cays Photos

Tobago Cays, south of Bequia, is a National Marine Park managed and protected by the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  Several islands surrounded by a large fringing reef make this a top sailing destination.  Cruisers anchor behind the reef with nothing to the east except Africa. Behind the reef is a sandy bank only 10-20 feet deep. One of the islands has become a Green Turtle nesting area. The area is now fully protected. It is one place where you can easily swim with large sea turtles and watch and listen as they feed on the seagrass floor.  We spent two nights and three days here and swam with turtles every day. It was the highlight of our trip south so far!

Photo Essay of Tobago Cays

Island Spirit on a mooring ball as we swam around with turtles
The water is so clear, this is 15 feet of clear water over sand
GoPro photo as we swim
One of our favorite reef fish, a trunk fish
Swimming pool clear waters
A small live reef section
The Blue Headed Wrasse is another one of my favs
Pisces Radeen loves the water
Imagine swimming in this water right off your boat
The sandy bottom was covered with starfish
Starfish slowly move across the sand, that is fun to watch
Looks rough but I was holding the GoPro in the water to get this effect
Day two, let’s swim with the turtles some more….OK!
Under our boat, Turtle #1
A free dive down and I am swimming right next to this big guy
They stay under for about 15 minutes
Island Spirit looks so interesting from this angle
Radeen in the water with turtles and Island Spirit
They are fast and  move so gracefully
Every starfish is different
Light colors, dark colors
Turtles and starfish
So much fun to see
My favorite turtle photo as this one surfaced and two starfish were in the background
The clouds cleared and the sun was bright
Green turtle shell reflecting off the surface of the water
Looks like they exhale to dive
Down he goes, after a few breaths and then an exhale
Required selfie! We have on full sun protection as the sun is really very intense at this 12-degree latitude
A Google Map of the area to show the islands and the reef
A big scale map to show where The Grenadines are located

We are living a DREAM

We sailed wing on wing out of Bequia for Tobago Cays

We wrote down this sailing goal in 1996. Now, in 2019, it has become a reality and it is better than expected. That makes it all even more special. In 1996, we said we would retire in 2011, and set sail, and we did. We are very happy with the outcome and reflect every day how fortunate we are to be here. Our hearts are full of gratitude!

We sailed a fresh beam reach into the Grenadines

Zoom into our LIVE tracking Map here

Also, when looking at the tracking map, switch the layer to AERIAL and you will see the reefs and the sandy beaches and the islands.

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