We sailed into Martinique from St. Lucia where we always enjoy Marigot Marina and Resort. We only stayed two days there as we wanted to run the weather window to reach Martinique. The reason we ran for this French island is because Chris Parker was forecasting high winds and large swells and that everyone would be stuck and not able to move for maybe two weeks. We said, “if we are going to be stuck for two weeks, then it will be on a French Island!” HA HA, so off to Martinique we sailed. Check out this fantastic sailing day, I created these two short video clips and posted to our YouTube channel here:
Sailing St. Lucia to Martinique video #1
Fantastic Caribbean Sailing, video#2
St. Anne, Martinique
The most popular harbor is the anchorage on the south east side. This harbor has over 200 yachts on anchor and there is room for another 200 at least. The water depth is 10-20 feet, the bottom is sand and the holding is really good. Add to this, the town is cute with a beautiful church, bakery, grocery stores, cafes, crepe shops, gift shops and bus stops. Fresh fish can be bought at the fish market and all the fresh produce you need at the open air market. Cappuccinos daily, and beautiful sunsets, and you can imagine how difficult this place would be to leave. We stayed 10 days and could have stayed another 10. Here are a few photos:
We rented a car, off to Fort de France
With the high winds blowing, we decided to rent a car and drive the 1 hour to Fort de France. There we wanted to check out the waterfront and the town as well as the information to tour the fort. After our first run over the city, we did this again with boat buddies Fran and Butch on MY SMARTINI. We all four loved the tour of the fort and our walk around town as well as our fine savory crepes at La Savane, a wonderful street cafe,. So French.
Anchored off d’Arlet, so cute
Moving north, we stopped into Grand Anse D’Arlet and walked the town and over the hill to the next town. These are small beach front villages where locals as well as French residents fly in for a week of beach and snorkeling and diving. The towns are spotless, very cute and very laid back. Coffee shops, bakeries, cafes, pubs, and small grocery stores are so common in these harbors. They are wonderful places to drop the anchor and simply enjoy the high quality of French life.
Mt. Pelee, Saint Pierre
Our final stop heading north was the interesting harbor of St. Pierre where in 1902, the volcano Mount Pelee, erupted and killed 29,000 people. St. Pierre was known as the “Paris of the Caribbean.” Ships were sailing here from France in 15 day crossings, rounding the north end of Martinique and sailing into this harbor. The ships would drop off passengers, basic and luxurious fabrics and household goods and then load up with sugar, rum and tobacco and sail back.
The amount of trading was massive and the plantation owners were millionaires, and so it was, they build a thriving town on the slopes of an active volcano. St. Pierre was wealthy enough to have 12 jewelers and watchmakers! The three story theatre seated 800 people and was in active use for more than 150 years. It had marble floors that can still be seen in the ruins. The beautiful new museum was completed in 2019. We were fascinated to see many artifacts discovered after the explosion, such as porcelain plates fused together, a collapsed (but not melted) church bell and a distorted (but not broken) light bulb!
The Map of Martinique
Onward to DOMINICA, then Marie Gallante, then Guadeloupe, then Antigua! The weather is calm and we are running north as fast as we can. In general, ts easy to sail south, but harder to run north in the winter.
Here is our tracking map, LIVE DATA. When we move, this updates.
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!
With a great weather forecast for ESE winds, we left Grenada on Dec 24th heading for Bequia with a planned stop on Union Island in Chatham Bay. The sail north was fantastic, and like always, we bashed thru the currents and waves at the north end of Grenada. This being our second run past here, we are learning how the winds and currents accelerate at the north ends or south ends of the Caribbean Islands. The winds are compressed and bent around the islands and then accelerate as they compress to make it up or down and around the end of the islands. It can be 30% more wind as you come out from behind the islands, so we always have a double reef in the mainsail.
Caribbean Sailing is fantastic.
Island Packets love 20-25 knots of wind and they really like this on the beam or downwind. On this leg, since we are in the Windward Islands, our sailing course is north or south on an east wind! That means beam reaching or close reaching and the sailing is great. Here are some sailing photos, please enjoy.
Rainbow, our first for this 2019-2020 season
It rains nearly every day for 5-15 minutes and that presents a rainbow as well. Here is a photo enhanced rainbow as seen on our first sail of the season. What a joy, this was actually a full rainbow, but my panoramic did not work out, so here is the closest end of the rainbow
On anchor off Union Island, Chatham Bay
Union Island, Chatham Bay was a great place to drop the anchor close and off the beach. We immediately jumped in for a Christmas Eve snorkel and swim along the reef. We saw our first “Snake Eel” and a moray eel along with many colorful fish. Welcome to the Caribbean where the water is about 78 degrees and when you jump in, you try to decide if it is cold or not. 🙂 The next day, Christmas Morning, we up anchored and headed out for more sailing to Bequia. Our first Christmas Day Sail.
Sailing Christmas Day
What an unusual way to spend Christmas Day. Sailing! Our destination being Bequia where we arrived around 1100 with time to check in with customs and immigration. After checking in, we were off to the FIG TREE where the cruisers were having a pot luck gathering. Everyone brought a dish to share and your own meat to grill. Our hosts had the grills running and all the tables set up and we brought in our filet mignon and homemade iced pumpkin bars to share.
Thank you John and Darcy and Lafayette
The Fig Tree has become the cruisers place to hang out because the owners, Sheryl and Lafayette, have made it so inviting to the boaters. This mother-daughter team opens their space for cruisers to come in and hang out for Christmas Day. Boat Buddies, John and Darcy, who got marrids here on Bequia, hosted and organized the pot luck. Tons of work for 80 cruisers to all have a place to sit and to have a buffet table and to share. What a great Christmas Day with everyone. We really enjoyed this.
Fun times on Bequia
We have now been here 5 days and we are really enjoying this island. Bequia has been a cruising favorite of ours since out first stop here in 1992. That was on a charter boat and like all charter boats, you only stay one day at a place because you only have one week and you want to see it all, so you move, move, move. Its so different cruising on your own boat. No schedule, no timeframe, so we can stay as long as we like an any location. That is what is so wonderful about cruising. So, we are hiking, walking, swimming, snorkeling the reef and visiting. Welcome to the simple peaceful life.
Up Next, Hiking…
We will write next about our wonderful three days of hiking Bequia where we have seen some amazing views. Thanks to our buddies on IP38 DreamCatcher, Dean and Kim, for organizing the hike. Here are a few teaser photos…..
Thank you all for following along. Radeen and I really enjoy sharing our sailing wit you. Your comments are emailed directly to us and we try to respond to them all. Thank you!
Living here at the Port Louis Marina docks is an easy life, but we came down here to go sailing, and sailing we will go on Dec 24 and Dec 25. Looks like we will have dream sailing conditions, SE winds from 110 degrees at 15-20 knots, calm seas, 5-7 feet seas. For the Caribbean Sea in the winter, this is as good as it can get. What a Christmas Day sailing adventure it will be. How lucky are we? For now, we are living well here at the dock as we provision the boat, and check each system and prepare. Here we are with our full sunshade up and our side shade drops blocking the hot sun. This really helps to cool the boat.
Living on the boat
Living on the boat is similar to living on land in a house. You need to go for groceries and you need to plan and prepare cooking meals. etc. Well, going for groceries from a boat usually requires taking the dinghy to the dock and walking to the store, then walking back to the dinghy to load the groceries and moving to the boat and then climbing onto the boat to lift up the groceries. Below deck its time to find places to stow all these items. Some items need refrigeration, some need to be frozen, some need to be stored in lockers.
We had help with some provisioning by using the services of John Hovan of Fast Manicou. John is an ex-pat who takes orders for canned food, beer, wine, frozen foods, propane, scuba tanks, etc and cheerfully delivers on a weekly schedule to all the southern bays on Grenada. Radeen is so good at managing our provisions and stowing all of this. It takes time and it takes a plan,and she knows exactly how to do it all. Plus, she knows how to cook great meals on our boat! Lucky us!
Cooking a great meal
Radeen has been making great, healthy meals on Island Spirit for over 18 years! I built her a web site where she adds her recipes for cooking on a boat. These are mostly her own recipes, but we invite others to login and add meals they make on their boats. Check out Radeen’s recipe site here: http;//www.BoatRecipes.com
Here is a simple meal for tonight. I usually do not blog about food, because I figure everyone eats, but here is a post about tonight’s meal. Marinated chicken with a satay peanut sauce and basmati rice, ribbon strips of cucumber and carrots in a sweet and sour dressing and, of course, red wine.
Photos Around St. George’s, Grenada
Here are a few photos of touring around town on the dinghy….
We found our Christmas Present, Dec 24, 25 SAILING WINDS
There is a large weather system north of the Bahamas and this low, with counterclockwise winds, is so large and so strong that it is effecting the tradewinds all the way down to South America! Well, we are in the middle of this area and that means our normal East or NE winds will be moving to the Southeast. That is wonderful for us, as our course north out of Grenada to Bequia and St. Lucia and Martinique is a course of 030, or NE. So, the wind clocking to the SE gives us a perfect BEAM REACH. Ask any sailor and they will tell you that is the dream sail, on the beam. So, MERRY CHRISTMAS TO US. We will leave here Dec 24 and sail NE to Union Island and then Dec 25 we will sail to Bequia where we hope to join the cruisers’ pot luck by 1300 with boating friends. Here are the current wind maps for Dec 24 & 25. Merry Christmas sailing!
Radeen and I are very happy to be here, our boat is ready, all systems seem to be in working order. We have provisioned with dry goods and beverages for several months, All we need to do is move out and go sailing. Here are a few photos walking the beautiful Port Louis Marina property tonight….
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 have been working on a few systems over the past couple of days. Primarily the shore power cords and inlet plugs. We have concluded that the dock power is not working properly here as all our own connections are clean and check out with continuity thru the plug and thru the breakers. So, there is no need to work any more on our ship’s 110v systems. We think it is all related to the dock power feed. But then again, the boat next to us has been running air conditioning 24/7 off the same power pole, so who knows. Either way, we have been here 4 days, docked for power to run AC and we have no power. We have spent $235 USD on plug ends and ship power deck connections, etc. No 110v power into the boat, so we gave up.
We finally gave up, and we said who needs shore power, we do not. We usually are never plugged into a dock and we usually never run the AC, so after 3 days of trying and many hours and hundreds of dollars spent. Forget it. We put the power cords away.
On to Leaking Water system
They say, no good deed goes unpunished. Well that is true here. Last year, an IP owner was asking how the water faucets come apart and how do you stop a leak. So, while we were sailing south, I decided to take apart our own water system to make a photo essay to help this IP owner. In doing so, I broke our own shower system and we lost water pressure. OH MY GOSH!!!!! So, it took me two days of working on a fix at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia with hardware store parts and I made a fix. Not pretty but we could at least turn back on our water.
So, this year we arrived with parts to fix this problem properly. These Grohe cartridges are odd and very unique. I have never seen them in a home plumbing system. They are the system that seals off the water and or allows it to flow. They are behind the handle and they are thread into the plumbing in the wall or countertop. We carried 6 of these in for all the faucets on Island Spirit. Here are some photos of the process.
Prepare the “car” the dinghy
We next had to set the dinghy up with her sunshade chaps which protect the fabric from the intense UV. We also needed to add the 15 hp outboard and test the motor as we ran out all the engine fogging oil. We needed to connect the security cable and dinghy seat bag. We are happy to say, the Yamaha started up on one pull. What a great engine, The best of the best. Here is the dinghy hanging in the davits ready to run.
With all fixed, it was POOL time
Here at this Port Louis Marina, they have a great pool, so after a day of working on setting up the boat, we hit the pool for a few laps. Radeen loves to swim, so this is becoming a daily event. Now the question is ….”Why Leave hear?”
Duty fee Shops? WOW
Our friends Dean and Kim heard about a duty free shop in the cruise ship mall where we could get a deal on some liquor. So we rode the local bus for $2.50 ECD each one way. It took a bit of searching to find the store, but it turned out it was in the same shops that we shopped last year when we rode the dinghy over to here. Take a look at this price for Crown Royal, $20 USD! WOW
Living our Dream
It was 1996 when Radeen and I wrote done this sailing dream to retire in 2011 and to set sail. Now, this is year #9 of retirement and we are still sailing and stretching our areas and expanding our goals. We will say, that his has been the most challenging year of boat prep and launch. We think it is all due to the heat and humidity and storage of the yacht for 6 months that has taken a toll on the boat. We usually do not have so many issues to resolve when we launch, yet here we had a few that seemed bad. Now with most all fixed, we are into provisioning and loading up to take off. For now, we will enjoy Grenada, take in the sunsets and enjoy our friends here at the docks with us. This is the sunset as seen from the roof deck of good friends, Fran and Butch owners of Motor Yacht SMARTINI.
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!
Well, we started up the engine after our happy fix yesterday only to find out the Balmar regulator blew the fuse again and shut down our replaced spare alternator. So, we said….”Who needs an Alternator?” We do not, and we disconnected the positive output from it and pulled the power on the 614 Balmar regulator and started the engine. We have 400 watts of solar and 450 watts of wind turbine to power the 12 volt electronics. The engine will run as long as it has fuel and cooling. The alternator belt is needed to turn the coolant pump, so it needs to stay in place. So, we start up YEAR #9 of boating retirement cruising with several challenges.
What is going on?
This problem should not be that big of a problem. It is a simple regulator and a standard alternator. The problem is that the 10 amp fuse that is in the red positive line to the regulator keeps blowing. Then when I unplug the regulator from power, and I replace the fuse and then plug back in the regulator, it smokes and sparks and blows the fuse and I pull the plug again. Tech support at Balmar had me measure the ohms on the field wire (blue wire) to ground. If this showed a very low ohms reading then it must be a short in the alternator. So, that is WHY we pulled the alternator and replace it. The really odd aspect is that when rebuilt, it all ran fine for 30 minutes producing 14.4v, then down to 13.9v so the new rebuild was working fine. We were happy. The next AM, we fire up the engine and POOF, blown fuse, dead regulator and the same situation when replacing the fuse.
So, we depart, Let’s Go
We do not need an alternator or regulator to run the engine. That is only needed to produce 12 volt power and we have wind and solar for that. The engine is starting, the engine is running fine, the alternator belt is turning the coolant pump, so let’s go. We did. We ran out thru the reef, performing our engine checks as taught my Tom Tursi of MDSchool.com and made it to sea. There we turned downwind and rolled out the jib. We motor sailed most of the way west and around the south corner of Grenada.
SQUALL, here we go…
Shortly around the corner we had a rain squall and the winds came up to 25 knots dead on the bow, so we turned downwind to 120 angle and set the jib on a nice broad reach and then we furled the jib. Of course the furling line was not run properly so it was far more difficult, but we got the sail in an then turned back into the wind pushing on into limited visibility. Our start has been and continues to be challenging. It is Dec 12, 2019, seven days after flying in!
Welcome to Port Louis, Grenada
We roll up the enclosure and suit up with foul weather jackets, set up the dock lines and get out the fenders. We are docking at a marina with shore power, water, laundry, restaurants, and a pool. YES, this will really be nice. We mainly want to plug in the boat to run the Air conditioning to dry out the boat from all this humidity.
Let’s plug into shore power
Well not so fast there sailor. You are in the Caribbean, power is tricky down here. It took 2.5 hours to get my plug plugged in and to turn on the power switch from the other side of the world. Via numerous radio calls, managers, electricians, service workers, etc, they finally were able to plug us in. Well, HOLD ON says Island Spirit, I might have another problem.
YUP, we now have no 120 volt on the boat. We have proven power is to the end of my cord. The cord is plugged into the shore power plug like we have done since 2001. NO power into the boat. No worries, I have two plugs, lets forget the battery charger plug, let’s plug into the air conditioning plug because that is all we really need. NOPE, no power going into that plug either. So the dock team leaves proving with a volt meter that they have delivered 120 volts to the end of my shore power plug.
So, we now have a NEW challenge. Why is there no 120 volt power going into the boat? It all worked last year, because we used it. OK, time to tear apart another electrical system.
We think we have problems? Ha
Check this out. This yacht owner has problems too, and he is a billionaire from Russia. Look at this! He is missing the E on his OCEAN VICTORY yacht sign board. Can you imagine the stress and frustration of that? We are so lucky, we just have no way of charging out boat and no way to plug in our boat…ha ha
We also do not need 4 fuel truck
This is also NOT our problem. This mega yacht named DAR, another Russian billionaire needed not one, not two, but four fuel trucks to take on 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel. So, we think we have problems, ha, not like this. 🙂
We will figure this all out
We are safe, we are warm, we have solar, we have ice in frig, we have water and food, who needs power? We will now replace the regulator and next we will look into replacing these plugs and breakers after we trouble shoot them with our volt meter checking if they are working or not. Welcome to the Caribbean, where your boat takes a beating from storing it in the hot humid tropics!
Well, our first Caribbean / Grenada boating day started out great but then presented new challenges. While warming up the engine at 0900, to check all systems, we noticed that the charging system was at 12.5 volts. That is odd. That means that the alternator is not putting out the normal power, which should be 14.4 to 13.3 volts. This is usually a very simple solution with Balmar gear. Usually 99% of the time, it is simple power to the Balmar 614 regulator is off. A wire came off, a fuse burned out, there is a short somewhere. So, after running for 15 minutes, we concluded that the alternator was not working and we needed to look into this. We alerted IP38 DreamCatcher that we would remain in dock and solve this problem. Well…..from 0900 to 1500 we did. OMG.
We are ready to go
We had just spend 5 days in the boat yard preparing the boat for launch. We launched it yesterday and finished the sails and dinghy late last night. Today we were planning on departing and moving over to town where we could have access to groceries and marine supplies plus water and power on the dock. This dock is the service dock and water and power are not easily delivered. So we planned to launch the boat and move. Well, not today.
We start with the Balmar 614
Like most alternator problems, it is the 12 volt power not getting to the regulator. So we first start there and check all the fuses with our volt meter. Sure enough we find a blown fuse on the red line powering the regulator. So, we replace this and POOF, it blows again along with smoke and sparks. NOT GOOD on a plastic boat. NOW it is serious, any time we have electrical problems, we take them very seriously because they can start a boat fire and that is not good. So, we now need to find out why the fuse keeps blowing and where the short is located.
Balmar to the Rescue plus Google Fi phone
Balmar has always provided the best support over the many years we have used them. So, I called Washington State from Grenada and spoke with support. I explained the issue and they pointed me to testing the alternator for a short. I said, it was fine when I put it always, and now it was stored for 6 months and POOF, it is not working. Very odd. I wanted to Full Field the alternator and jump it, but they explained that this could be a serious problem if there is a short. So they had me check the ohm reading on the blue field wire to the ground. If it was 7 – 8 ohms then that would be OK. If not, we have a short. Well the ohms were .007 which means going to ground, a serious short inside the alternator. So they directed me to pull it and replace it.
OH, sure, this alternator cost about $650 dollars, I will just go get another one!
Off with the old. which is new
So, we pulled the old, 3 year old $650 Balmar 100 amp alternator and we checked all the wiring. We could not see anything wrong with our ships wiring, so it had to be in the alternator.
Pick an alternator, we have 3
We have full spare parts on Island Spirit just in case we need to make repairs at sea or in remote locations like this. So, In our bow locker under the bed we pull out two spare alternators and one spare Balmar 614 regulator. So, we have the parts to fix this. The problem with alternators is that they all fit the saddle differently and their wiring connections are in different location. Add to this, their field wire and stater plugs are different. They all should be universal but they are not.
The oldest alt seemed to be my best fit. The saddle was right, and the field wire plug was the same as the Balmar, so it was plug and pray.
Of course we do it twice
We always do things twice it seems with 12 volt power as this is our weakest skill set. Here I installed the alternator with positive, negative and temperature prob, leaving the field wire til after installed. Once fully set up and bet tension done, I go to the back to plug in the field wire and it is behind the heat exchanger, so I have to remove it all and start over. Round two, I connected all wires and THEN mounted and installed the alternator. Rookie mechanic mistake.
We did it
A required selfie with our success. We are happy and all is back up and running. This has been the most challenging launch in 18 years. The heat, and humidity is high. The boat is in the worst shape in 18 years. We are having breakdowns on new systems that we put in to come down here. And to top it off we are rusty and not even close to up to speed. Toughest start ever and we think it is just the remoteness of the start. It sure is 10 times easier in Stuart, Fl or Miami, Fl. WOW.
Next up, hanging with the big boys
This is where we are gong, over to the main marina in town, Port Louis where we will hang out with the big players. Check out these buddy boats!
Our LIVE tracking MAP is here
We run the Garmin InReach and when the boat moves it places a pin on this map often. Please look at out map here, and if you want to see all our pins, click the VIEW ALL TRACKS and then zoom back.
We did it, after 5 days of boat yard work we launched the boat here in Clark’s Court Grenada at 0900! SHE FLOATS, ENGINE STARTED, we did not sink! even after doing this every year since 1991, we still get very nervous doing this. There are so many aspects that could go wrong, and there are many systems that have not been running, we get very nervous until we are floating and docked and secured.
Launching with a tractor and hydraulic trailer
We have not seen this set up before pulling into here in May. This hydraulic trailer is incredible and our boat at 18,000 lbs is a dinghy for this machine. The driver can make the rig wider, taller, lower, and tilt. It is really interesting to see.
Move the Jack Stands!
In order to back the trailer under the boat, they need to remove the jack stands. Notice how they re position them at an angle allowing for room for the trailer! This looks so dangerous, we stayed back.
Back up the trailer!
The driver then backs this massive trailer under the yacht while the helpers help with direction. The trailer is in the lowest position right now. Look at how close the frame is to the ground and wheels.
Raise the Hydraulic rams
The large rams then are raised up taking the load of the yacht but they do nto lift the yacht. First the process is to get these rams up and tight against the yacht. Then all the remaining jack stands can be removed.
Jack up the trailer
Next the entire trailer is lifted as the frame hydrailic rams press the frame vertically. Notice the frame and the wheels now, the entire yacht and frame are pushed up and the yacht is now lifted off the ground. That is 18,000 lbs mininum and more like 20,000 lbs due to all the extra gear we have loaded onboard. So, 10 tons lifted and off it goese.
There she goes
Island Spirit is headed for the water on a trailer with a tractor. OMG! How crazy is that? We then move the car and follow along with the rig.
Back her down the ramp
This part was interesting as Radeen and I had to climb a ladder to the board the yacht. We then had to ride it down the ramp and into the water. Then when the boat was deep enough we had to check all thru hulls and start the engine and get water flowing and cooling and then, they let us free. We backed away and with 20-25 knots of ENE winds blowing we are feeling the rush. It is always so wild….what if….will drive you crazy.
Off we go, our first leg
Drive from the ramp to the marina and dock. Get your dock lines ready, hope and pray the engine keeps running, hope and pray the anchor is ready, get your fenders down, get to the dock.
Success, leg #1 completed
We did it. Leg one is finished. We launched and moved 200 yards to the dock. Notice that the dinghy needs launched, the staysail needs installed. The jib needs installed, we never do these on the jack stands as that is not safe. We need to finish these jobs today, which we did, and then check out of here and move over to the town of St. Georges where we will dock at Port St. Lucie where they have electric and water on the dock. No services here.
A celebration Beer
Ahhhhh a cold one to celebrate and dinner with Dean and Kim. Let the good times start. Enough work….