Arrival into the United States Virgin Islands after our wonderful ocean sail of 425 nautical miles direct from Grenada to St. Croix. We dropped anchor, washed all the salt off Island Spirit and then made breakfast and then crashed. After a wonderful sleep with the boat NOT moving, we dropped the dinghy and went for a swim in the crystal clear waters. Ahhhh, the beautiful virgin islands where the water is crystal clear and here in 30 feet, we can see the chain out to the anchor. That is wonderful. After a few days of rest, we did go for a walk on the locked up and closed cruise ship dock, but this was the only land we stepped on as covid-19 shut down the island and we will quarantine 14 days onboard.
Laundry In a Bucket
So, as you can see, living on a boat off the USVI is a dream life an we really enjoyed this. COVID has hit the USA and the world and we have been waiting here for it to die down. Well, it never really did die down, so we moved to Puerto Rico, hauled out and flew home to Philly, PA, USA. We will return here in Nov, and resume our sailing and living aboard.
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.
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:
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!)
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!
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
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
Thank you for following, see our public Facebook Page
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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…
Please visit out PUBLIC FACEBOOK Page
We have many more photos, essays, stories and nearly live postings on our Facebook page, Again, you do not have to be a facebook iuser to surf the public web, it is just like reading the news or yahoo, or goolge, it is for all to see. So, if you would like to see more, then please click this link. Enjoy…..
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
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!
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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….
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!
Abby the Engineer visits 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Did the White (removed) Balmar Alternator really have a shore?
Did the White Balmar alternator blow up the regulator?
Why did the replaced and rewired fix run for 30 minutes and blow the next day?
Should I pull the replaced alternator and re-install the white Balmar?
If I put back on the white Balmar might it blow up this new regulator?
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!
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!!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
Caribbean Sailing is the Best
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.