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.
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
We are living a DREAM
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!
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.
After two wonderful days in Marigot Bay on St. Lucia, we set sail for Bequia, passing St. Vincent. Sadly, many cruisers skip St. Vincent because of the bad experiences we all have had on that island. The only place we might stop is Blue Lagoon Marina on the south side, as for the other harbors, we sailed past. Bequia, the next island south, has Admiralty Harbor, a dream harbor where the boat boys do NOT bother you and the locals welcome you and want you to stop in. Every cruiser you meet down here LOVES Bequia, and so do we. It was a joy to sail back here for the first time since 1991 and see this great harbor doing so well.
Walking the town
The waterfront is well managed and is alive with all the businesses centered around the very active ferry dock. These ferry docks are where all the products arrive and where all the tourists arrive as well. So there are taxis, fruit stands, gift stands, banks and customs and immigration. On our first walk we went into the St. Mary’s Anglican Church from 1828.
The entire waterfront has a concrete seawall with a walkway designed and built to move the people along the harbor. Along this path, there are many dinghy docks for boaters to tie up and to enjoy a coffee shop or pizza shop or fine restaurant. What a great idea to help the boaters with a place to tie up and explore. This walkway is well over 1 1/2 miles long.
Great Restaurants on the harbor
Boaters LOVE pizza and ice cream and Mac’s is the place to stop in and enjoy a great meal. Of course, this was our first stop on night #1 in Bequia.
Grenadine Sails and Canvas, Chaps in a Day
As much as we thought we would never add chaps to the dinghy, we have watched our 2007 AB dinghy take a beating in the tropical sun. The fabric was starting to deteriorate and we felt that if we added the chaps as so many boaters do, then it should last two to three more years. So, we called Grenadine Sails and Canvas on VHF. They said to come in now and we will take the pattern on the beach. That was Friday and by Monday afternoon we had them installed.
Chaps are made differently here. Usually, they are designed to go over the rub rail but that will simply chafe thru as we hit docks and pilings. So these chaps stop above the rub rail and then holes are drilled in the rub rail to tie down the chaps. Interesting idea. At first I did not like it, but it really is a good way to make and install chaps.
Fruits and Veggies abound
There are no shortages of fruits and veggies down here. The bananas are to die for, with so many different kinds. There are passion fruit, mangos, grapefruits, oranges, papayas, and much more. The street vendors sell everything, and we do mean EVERYTHING!
Dinghy Docks abound
Bequia caters to the to cruising boaters and they are very smart to make their waterfront so friendly to the boaters. There must be 6 dinghy docks like this along the waterfront. Here is Whale Boners and Frangipani.
For Jan and Al
Our good friends sent us a picture of the two of them on these chairs when they cruised into here years ago, so we needed to send them our photo. Thank you, Jan and Al, wish you were here aboard Coral Moon, too.
The South End of the Bay
We anchored right off this area on the south end of the harbor. What a view from on shore at the beach pub named Jack’s.
Fun on the LaaDeeDah, 65 foot Grand Banks
We met up with Gary and Betty owners of the 65 foot LaaDeeDah Yacht, a beautiful Grand Banks 65 footer. They invited us over several times to enjoy their company and their wonderful yacht. Having a happy hour up on the third floor of a 65 footer is like nothing we all have ever experienced. WOW, the view is amazing. But better yet, Gary and Betty make us feel so welcome, with lively conversations. Betty is such a fantastic chef. From delicious appetizers with great cocktails to fine dining on the aft deck with comfortable deck chairs, these were evenings to remember. Thank you, Gary and Betty, what a joy! We look forward to seeing you next season!
The LaaDeeDah, 65 ft Grand Banks
Bequia is a JOY
With all the services and support and a wonderful harbor that is safe and secure along with a town that wants boaters to stay, this all makes Bequia a real joy. Many boaters will spend weeks and even months here and make it a home. We can really see why. We love Bequia….
See our Travel Map here
Zoom in and Zoom out to see our entire trip from Annapolis, MD (Sept 22 to here!)
During our taxi tour around St. Lucia, the driver stopped at beautiful Marigot Bay. In November 1991, we chartered a 50-foot Moorings bareboat there with our dear friends Freddie, Gail, Scott, Barley, Craig and Wendy and we have not been back since. When we arrived by cab and walked around the newly built resort, we knew we had to sail here and spend a day or two. So, we checked out of Rodney Bay Marina and headed south along the coast, an easy sail of just 10 miles. Traveling in the lee of these islands, we find winds from the North, South, and West and if we are lucky, maybe East. The winds in the lee are so unpredictable. To really sail, it is best to be miles off the island, out of the wind shadow, where the winds come back down to the sea, steady and easterly.
Look at this happy sailor girl Radeen inside the harbor at Marigot with the resort to our starboard bow and palm trees off our stern. Memories of being here in 1991 flood our minds and we reflect on how lucky we are to now have sailed into Marigot on our own little Island Packet 35. Thank you ISLAND SPIRIT, you got us here….
Let’s take a look around
Much has changed since 1991, and yet, some of the places were still easily recognizable. DOOLITTLE’S is the same and we remember a really good time here. with our dear friends. We felt so remote, so wild and so far from home. With a poorly equipped and poorly provisioned Moorings 51 footer, we sailed out and south to Tobago Cays and Union Island and up to St. Vincent. It felt as if we had sailed to the moon and back. Here is a photo of Doolittle’s and the place where the Moorings base was located. We stayed in the hillside villas.
What did they build?
The other side of the harbor, which was just a ferry dock to get across the cove to Doolittle’s now has a 5-star resort, called the Marigot Marina and Resort. WOW, 5 restaurants, bars, spas, rum caves, grocery stores, gift shops, and swimming pools that waterfall into each other with swim-up bars and sushi chefs. We were amazed at what they have built! This is also a destination wedding resort and the day before there was a wedding so we could see the fresh floral arches and other decorations. We love boating into these kinds of places where we can either anchor out or take a mooring ball for only $30/night. With a mooring ball here comes full access to the resort. NOW you are talking! So, we stayed for two days. 🙂
Radeen loves pools
Of course, Radeen hit the pool right away. She loves to swim and she loves to do laps. All Pisces love the water and Radeen is here to prove that. We nearly had the place to ourselves as May 7 is towards the end of the cruising season and the resort was moderately occupied.
Meanwhile, back on the boat
Sunsets from the boat were a dream through the palm trees off our stern. The winds are always EAST so the sunset is always off the stern in the Caribbean when at anchor. Our daily routine is to enjoy the sunset while sipping an icy cold drink when the sky presents the many colorful hues as night falls.
The next morning I swam around the boat and cleaned up the boot stripe and the thru hulls and then went for a walk on the beach. Living on a sailboat is so simple, so peaceful (when all systems are working) and so different than living in a home.
Reflect on Life
With this cruising lifestyle, one really takes time to reflect on life and to take in nature and the beauty of a sunset. It is such a joy to see a sunset drop over the horizon and then watch for another hour as the sky darkens and the colors change. We find the time after the sunset is actually better than the sunset itself. Take time to watch a sunset this way and you will enjoy a small piece of the sailing and cruising lifestyle. Thank you Marigo, St. Lucia, for this reflection.
After stocking up on French wine and delicious cheeses, we finally pulled up the anchor off lovely St. Anne, Martinique and sailed south to St. Lucia. We needed a slip where we could lower our wind turbine and troubleshoot the wire connections. On the north end of St. Lucia, there is the perfect place to dock and that is Rodney Bay Marina. This is the primary destination for the World ARC sailors as they arrive from Europe. We can now see why. Rodney Bay Marina is 5-star top notch IGY marina with 50 foot floating slips which worked perfectly for us.
First the sailing. Once again the sailing south was a joy. Beam reaching in 20 knots just like the last several legs south has been a dream. Here are a few photos….
Docked at Rodney Bay
We sailed into Rodney Bay Marina to access a dock, as we needed to look into an apparent wiring short in the wind turbine. Little did we know that this marina had floating docks and full-length finger piers of 50 feet. PERFECT for the job we needed to do. Our request to dock to starboard was easily accommodated. The dock hands were fantastic in assisting and everyone we met was so helpful and kind.
Lowering the wind turbine pole to the dock went smoothly. I designed the mount to do exactly this in the case we would ever need to access the machine. We unbolted the two down struts and loosened the bottom bracket so it would hinge. We have not taken it down this way before, so it was a new process and we were pleased with how well it all worked out.
Re-wire the Wind Turbine
Since arriving in Antigua, we have been troubleshooting the turbine shorting out. This short would only happen on a port tack at about 20-30 degrees off dead ahead. When shorted, the electromagnetic brake would come on and the turbine would power down. When back to straight ahead, the turbine worked fine. So we wanted to find this shorted wire and document this for the company, Jeff Fields at MarineBeam.
We removed the turbine off the pole, inspected all the wires and even cut the wires off, removing perfect crimps and heat shrink. We checked all internal wires, taking the turbine totally apart. I sent photos Jeff which showed nothing chafed or disconnected. We could not find any issues. We reassembled the unit and made new crimps and added new heat shrink and reinstalled the turbine. Now it is working just fine once again. How odd, we never found a problem, but we are glad it is back to normal operation once again.
While docked, Let’s Wax
With the wind turbine fixed and back up, we decided to spend a few days servicing the boat. We have not been at a dock since early March at Samana, Dominican Republic, and our boat was looking neglected. The constant exposure to salt and sun really takes a toll. The cabin top needed to be compounded and waxed, the stainless steel needed to be polished (again!) and the teak needed a service coat of varnish.
Hello, SHERMAN! Yes, we met up with a very nice local man who works around the marina as a subcontractor, like so many others. We really liked him. He offered to help us with any and all jobs. Let’s get to work! We hired him to compound and wax the cabin top and the cockpit and then clean and polish the stainless steel. With the front sunshade up, Sherman worked on wax and I worked on teak. Two days later the boat was back to her beautiful self, clean and waxed and looking great. We highly recommend Sherman at Rodney Bay Marina if you need any help.
We took a small tour
One of the boats we are running with is a 65 foot Grand Banks called the LaaDeeDah. Betty and Gary were docked at Rodney Bay and we enjoyed time together, including a great cocktail party on their beautiful yacht up on the third floor roof deck. WOW, what a view and what a yacht! Together we hired a taxi to show us a few sights. We toured Castries, Marigot and the beach at the Sandals resort in Rodney Bay. St. Lucia is very large and we only saw a small part of the island. The driver also took us to the large Massey Supermarket, which was like a Costco.
On a Saturday, we rode a local bus (a privately owned mini-van) to and from the Mall. The shoppers were a mix of locals and cruisers from nearby anchorages. On days when there are 5 cruise ships in port, it must be very busy!
Eventually, we Need to Move on
After a full week, (we had intended to stay 2-3 days) we really needed to break free of this dock and marina. It was not the rate, as it was a reasonable $0.75/ft x 35 feet is only $26.25 a day to dock! YES, that is a deal, and it was why we stayed a week and worked on cleaning up the boat. But there is so much more to see. On our taxi tour, we saw MARIGOT and we knew we had to go there by boat. So, we celebrated our completed work with a happy hour drink at one of the many pubs and cafes and made a plan to move on.
Onward to MARIGOT, St. Lucia
The last time we were in Marigot was November 1991, when we chartered a 50 ft mono-hull from the Moorings with friends Craig and Wendy, Scott and Barley and Freddie and Gail. Wait until you see what has been built at Marigot, St. Lucia now…..next post!