Caribbean Sailing Grenada to USVI

Sailing across the entire Caribbean Sea, north and south is a passage of 400-450 nautical miles. We sailed this course, as we ran from Grenada and the COVID-19 lockdown. We sailed north to the USVI where we could find a working and open airport.  Most of the Caribbean Islands were closed to incoming sailboats, but the USVI was open. Tradewind sailing is fantastic with steady 20-25 knot east winds. This course was a broad reach for 200 miles to Isla Aves, and then a turn to the north on a beam reach for another 200 miles. We sailed 400 nautical miles in 60 hours which is an average of 6.7 knots with only one hour of engine time to make hot water for showers. The MK450 wind turbine and solar panels provided all the 12-volt power for the ship’s systems. Enjoy this 5-minute video which shows our helm set up, wind data, and the sounds of sailing.

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https://www.youtube.com/islandspirit35

 

Service Call to Island Spirit

After leaving our boat in Puerto Rico, July 2020, we have finally made a trip back to spend a week servicing all her systems and checking in on her storage jack stands and hurricane tie down straps. We hired Ruben of R. S. Marine Services to wash and wax the hull and deck. He has been so helpful in taking care of our boat while we have been at home. So, here is the photo essay with captions showing the process we went thru. 

NOTE: We wrapped the teak, again, with Caprail Protective Tape and this is the second year we tried this. IT WORKS WELL. If you are looking for CAP RAIL TAPE, then see this link to buy what we are using:

https://nationalsupplydirect.com/maintenance/damage-prevention.html

Hayden and Radeen at PHL airport outbound for SJU

Welcome to San Juan

The iconic for of San Juan
Look at this! Two Horses in the back of a Ford F-150

We traded an RCI Timeshare

We booked a three bedroom 2 bath timeshare because we thought we might have guests

Arrival to Island Spirit at Puerto del Ray Marina

There she is, still standing and fully waxed decks washed and decks waxed as well
The cover was removed and tied back for deck waxing
The shine on the cabin top was obvious and the teak was well protected by the Caprail Protective white tape
https://nationalsupplydirect.com/maintenance/damage-prevention.html
The cockpit teak table varnish was still looking new

Lets Go inside

Happy Radeen is back aboard “her GrL” Island Spirit. This boat means so much to both of us. We cant wait to sail again in Nov.
The battery bank is full and the display says it all

Happy Selfie

Hayden and Radeen onboard

OK, Job 1, restore the dinghy

The 10 ft 6 in AB fiberglass dinghy was up on its side so the team could wash and wax the deck. We needed to inflate and store this back on the bow.

The TEAK WHITE CAPRAIL TAPE

We have been experimenting with CAPRAIL PROTECTIVE TAPE. This is placed over the varnish and sticks down. This was down for 10 months and it pulled off clean.
https://nationalsupplydirect.com/maintenance/damage-prevention.html

Replace Dinghy on Bow

Moving a 100 lb 10 foot RIB was a task, but we got it back into position so the shade cover could be re installed
Yes a 10 foot AB RIB will fit fully inflated upside down on the bow of an Island Packet 35. Removal of the silly and useless staysail boom required.

LUNCH TIME with BUDDIES

Some of our sailing buddies where here. John and Lisa were hauling out and storing and Steve just launched and is preparing for a sail directly to Panama!

The Teak Varnish Looks Good

We are very happy that our teak varnish is still looking good after 10 months of storage. Unreal

The JACK STANDS need attention

Jack Stands after a while will punch thru the plywood board placed under the legs. This then causes the stand to become loose. Then you know what happens when the hurricane blows. ….well this yard, Puerto del Ray is run by 3 LAWYERS, and they have you sign docs that holds them not responsible for your boat in their yard. So, they NEVER EVER EVER come out and look at your boat, they do not tend to your boat, and they surely will never tighten your jack stands or service them. Welcome to PDR…..hence you need a “BOAT WATCHER” that you pay monthly to “monitor” your boat. Their job is to #1 Look at and tighten your hurricane straps. #2 Look at and tighten your jack stands. #3 Look at and make sure the boards under the jack stand feet are CENTERED and not punched thru. We trust Ruben and he tends our boat and we pay him when he does a job. Thank you RUBEN!
This is what it should look like. Centered boards under the jack stand legs. many times we see boards on the corners or nearly out.
Island Spirit has 10 jack stands plus 8 two inch wide hurricane straps tied into concrete footings. When 100+ MPH winds arrive, we hope this will keep her upright

Onto Replacing the Cover

This is the 90% UV blocking Coolaroo Shade fabric. It is fantastic. We have covered out boat with this 4 years now. It keeps the sun off the boat and it keeps the temperature lower inside. This costs about $300 and is well worth it. See www.CoolarooUSA.com

We used T-9 Boeshield Protective Spray

This is the typical situation. Rust and mold on everything. So, we spray this with Boeshield and wipe it off leaving a film of protection behind.
Boeshield was invented by Boeing and it really works

Let’s FLUSH the engine

We did this in July, but lets do it again. We use Salt Away and connect a hose to the sea water intake line. Now start up the engine and let the engine run and it will suck in the solution and flush out the engine cooling side. Yes you can run an engine on the hard for 5 minutes with no problem
I had to add a funnel and then hold the hose up high to prime the sea water pump. I ran two full buckets thru the engine. I also ran the transmission F & R to lube that as well.

Let’s Buff and Wax the NEW Force Ten Stove

This brand new Force Ten Propane stove and oven we installed last season. Heck, this cost way more than a new one for the house, so we waxed the stainless steel to protect her as well.
The New Force Ten Stove with the old original teak top over the burners
The inside of the oven is all stainless steel and super clean.

Look at the WAX JOB on the Hull

This is a 1994 Island Packet 35 with 40,000+ nm under her keel. Look at this shine

The CAPRAIL PROTECTIVE tape

This is the teak as we pulled back the white caprail tape. Not bad for 10 months of storage in hot Caribbean sun, July to May!!!
We re-taped all the teak with a new layer of Caprail tape. We even taped over some ports and hatches, why not?
I taped over the windlass and the entire bow
This is the 12″ wide roll and I am pulling it out over the caprail. I can run one piece from Bow to side gate gutting in around the stanchions.
https://nationalsupplydirect.com/maintenance/damage-prevention.html
This is our varnish job from Grenada over a year ago, now getting re-covered this May until Nov!
Everything gets taped. It is just too easy

Let’s finish the cover

We use our whisker pole to make a ridge pole from Mast to Davits. This allows us easy access to the cockpit and below
The cover goes past the stern and reaches from side to side because our boat is only 12 feet wide. This one roll is 12 feet wide by 50 feet long. It costs about $300 See www.CoolarooUSA.com
You can see at the bow it hangs down with the 12 foot wide. The cover is simply zip tied to the life lines and zip tied together
Once this is all zip tied, the cover is bar tight and does not flap in the wind. It does not tear and it will not rip. We will leave this on in a hurricane.

AnotherTask, Spectra Watermaker Storage

We stored the watermaker in July, but that was 10 months ago, so we needed to reflush the system ad then flush new Spectra storage chemicals into this expensive desalinization machine. We do not want this system to fail, so she needed new service as well
To flush a Spectra watermaker you simply connect a pick up hose to the pump and add a discharge hose to the machine, Now simply cycle the flush thru the system. it takes about 10-15 minutes to service this. Very simple. This is the Specra Venture 200t watermaker

Have we run out of tape yet?

Well then, lets cover the speakers
Tape over the speakers

Buddies delivered to SJU Airport

Our good friends John and Lisa we offered to take them to the airport. Why not, we had a car. Fun times with buddies

A quick tour of Old San Juan

Old San Juan is so beautiful
A required selfie at Casa Blanca, the home of Ponce de Leon

Final Day at the boat

Radeen says…..that is a WRAP….boat is serviced and we will let her stored another 6 months!

Wait…tie down that Wind Turbine for hurricanes

This is a challenge. Hang off the stern and toss lines over and around the turbine to tie it down so it can not spin in 100 mph winds

Wait….what about the electrical system?

We check the panel, we check the battery bank and we spray it all with Boeshield

What about the Engine???

The Yanmar 3JH2e 38 hp engine that Radeen and I installed, looks clean and no rust.
The grounding lug looks clean, and so does the alternator

So….Let’s call it finished! OMG, another week of work.

So, here she is, ready for storage May 2021 to Nov 17 2021
We even shade cover the stern and the rudder as well

OFF TO THE BEACH! Finally

We took the last afternoon and found a nice beach to enjoy

Goodbye Island Spirit….til Nov 🙁

A very sad view with Puerto Rico off the tail of airplane as we fly back home leaving out great sailboat to ride out yet another hurricane season in the cross hairs

Conclusion

Sure, looking back on last season, when we ran from Grenada lock down  and sailed north to St. Thomas and St, Croix and St. John, we should have kept sailing north and returned home to the Chesapeake Bay. BUT….our plan and our goal was to only store the boat July til Nov and then we thought we would be back sailing in a few months, like NOV3!.

Well, that did not happen with the craziness of COVID, with no vaccine, and with CDC saying no travel to Puerto Rico, and MORE….we decided to stay home at our Saltbox13. 

Well we stayed home, all of…. Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, April, May and now, we thought we would go and launch May 26th and sail June and some of July on Island Spirit. Well I tried to get our Markel USA yacht insurance extended into July so we could keep sailing but they said no, haul out July 1 or sail north of Florida or south to Grenada. We said no, they said then haul out July 1. 

At that point, we decided that it would be insane to launch this boat, set her up with sails and canvas and rigging to only sail a month in the USVI. So we gave up on this dream plan of sailing and cancelled our May 26th launch date. Then we flew down to service the boat because our flights were paid and room was paid, so we did not want to loose that.

Final thought….yes, we could have launched May 26, set her up and prepared for a voyage.  We could have and we even talked about these options….

      1. Sail for Panama 10 days
      2. Sail for Grenada 2.5 days
      3. Sail for A B C Islands 3-4 days
      4. Sail for Florida / USA 7-10 days
      5. Sail for Chesapeake Bay 10-15 days 

None of these sounded good to us because…. ONCE AGAIN….we want to be sailing the Eastern Caribbean Sea one more season, THEN hopefully then we plan to accomplish one of the above.

20/20 hindsight says, should have sailed home….but so it is. We will now wait and we will look forward to Nov sailing once again. Until then, we will take road trips, we will visit friends and family, and we will bum rides on other boats. This is the first time since 1986 we are without a boat to easily sail or play on.  🙁

Thank you for reading and thanks for any and all comments.