New Yamaha 15 Enduro

We have been without a working outboard since we left Puerto Rico on Dec 20, 2021. Now, on Dec 27th in Saint Maarten, the Dutch side, we bought a new Yamaha, 15 hp Enduro Short Shaft. We bought this from Island Water World but later found out they buy them from Outdoor World which is the authorized Yamaha dealer. Still, the price was fantastic, $2600 and no tax or duty. The nice aspect about Island Water World is that they really cater to the cruising yachtsman. They are boaters and they are here to help. They even installed a set of planing fins for free. What a great service.

What happened to the Dinghy?

We last bought our Yamaha 15 hp two stroke in Abaco Bahamas in 2012. We have run that one 10 years and never had to service it at all other than normal items. What led to the failure was the impeller. When I launched the dinghy in Nov in Puerto Rico it started up on one pull like always, but it did not pump water. No problem, I will replace the impeller. Well in the process of this, I busted a bolt that holds down the impeller housing. So, I decided to take the lower unit to a certified Yamaha dealer, Fajardo Outboard Parts. Four weeks later I am given the motor back in parts and told they can’t fix it and they did not have time to fix it. That was after 4 weeks and $350 in parts.

This is how my motor came back. In parts with a $350 parts box. Good luck.

We tried to buy a motor

Now, with only a few days until we depart, Dec 20th, we tried to buy any outboard motor in Puerto Rico and also in USVI, St. Thomas. Like you all know, there is a supply chain shortage and nobody has any motors in stock or even any used motors. The service shops also were all backed up and they would not take our repair until the end of January at best. That is when I learned about Dutch Saint Maarten and how they have everything in stock. Of course, they are DUTCH and they love to trade. Island Water World had 15 Yamaha 15 two strokes in stock. So, we made a plan to move to SXM as soon as we could. We needed a working dinghy because we never dock and we anchor out every day. 

The Run to SXM was calm.

As you know from the previous posts, the run to Saint Maarten was calm and we arrived on Dec 24th at 11 pm.  We met up with John of IP420 ADVENTURESS and shared Christmas together and New Year together of Simpson Bay. John kindly towed our dinghy into shore where Island Water World installed the new motor. We finally, on Dec 27th had a working dinghy after a week on anchor without one. What a relief.

Thank you John for towing our dinghy in to get the new outboard.

What a difference

Imagine not having a car while living at home in a snowstorm, well that is similar to not having a dinghy while anchored out in a harbor. You are stuck and can not get out and you can not go for supplies. It is a very confining feeling and it is not safe. If you are going to be anchored out in remote harbors, you need a way to get to shore, hands down. So, now we were whole again with the new outboard and the running dinghy. Sint Maarten is THE PLACE to buy yachting items. They have the inventory and the goods. The best in the entire Caribbean hands down.

The Old Yamaha

We traded it to a kid on the docks and he was able to fix the lower unit in ONE DAY. Do you believe this? YES, a kid fixed it who lives on a motorboat at the docks with his Dad. Hereafter 4 weeks with a certified Yamaha dealer, FAJARDO OUTBOARD PARTS, who could not fix this in 4 weeks, this kid fixes it and has it running in a day. UNREAL. But buy this time, we already had a new motor so we made a deal with this kid and it all worked out fairly for both sides.

Breaking in the new motor

I have done this before and it is simple. You need to run a rich oil mixture, 25:1 for the first 6 gallons. During this time you need to not run ti wide open but for a minute. You need to vary the RPMs and you need to run it for a good 6 to 10 hours. Then after the initial warm-up and running you need to run it wide open for a full minute then back it off. At wide-open, I am guessing the boat is doing 25 knots, it is crazy fast. Almost too fast for a 125 lb boat. It wants to lift off the water and fly while just standing on the prop and airfoil fins. I will clock this and get a full speed test on the boat and motor. I believe this Enduro is way faster than the 15F Yamaha. The speed test will tell.

LOCKS and Security

We tried several styles of motor locks and finally went all-in on the very expensive STAZO Lock from the Netherlands. This is a solid piece of stainless steel that totally encloses one motor bracket spindle. The way pirates rob motors is that they simply cut the spindles off between the bracket and the transom. They use portable power tools and can cut a spindle in a minute. Once cut the motor can be lifted off easily. So this lock prevents the cutting of a spindle. To get the motor off they would have to cut the entire transom off, and that they do as well. The other item we use is a 25 foot 1/4″ stainless steel cable and a master lock. This cable goes thru the dinghy transom eye then the outboard than the fuel tank then the dock. So now they have to cut the cable and then also deal with the massive STAZO lock on the motor. We hope this will prevent theft. Then at night, we haul up the dinghy in the davits and lock it to the stern of Island Spirit. 

The STAZO LOCK, we bought in Saint Maarten, In the US these are $110 here $180 !!!!

Thank you for reading about our dinghy motor and all we went thru to get back up and running. We are currently in Antigua and will be here a few weeks before heading back to SXM.

Christmas 2021 Simpson Bay SXM

Arriving Simpson Bay last night, Dec 24th at 11pm with all the island lights and all the yachts in the bay lit up was a real challenge. It was far more difficult than we expected. HELLO….you are entering a new harbor at NIGHT on Christmas Eve….what did you expect? I know, I know, I know….don’t enter a harbor at night. But that is how it worked out and we knew we would be arriving around 11 pm. Thanks to digital radar and C-Map NT charts on our B&G Zeus 3 Chartplotter set-up in split-screen mode, we did it.  Here you can see the screen at 11:30 pm and we are going 0.5 knots as we are ready to drop anchor!

The Chartplotter in split-screen. Charts on left, radar on right. The red dots are boats or anything SOLID around us. Radar is in heads-up orientation, so 12 o’clock is dead ahead.

Christmas Day Shared with John Knight

Our long-time friend and sailing buddy, John Knight had just crossed the Atlantic sailing from Spain on IP 420 Adventuress. His crew had left and he was waiting for his lovely wife Nancy to fly in. He was smartly anchored over on the French side off Marigot, and we sailed into the Dutch side into Simpson Bay. We did this because the Dutch side did not require covid testing and would accept our triple vaccination status. Plus, our new outboard was on the Dutch side. So we decided to check in there.  We invited John to come on over and share Christmas Dinner aboard Island Spirit. He took us up on this and the next thing we knew, he was dropping anchor off our port beam. What a JOY! While Radeen was baking, John took me ashore to clear in with Customs and Immigration. All of our documents had been uploaded from USVI, but I still had to fill out every single one of them again by hand. 

IP 420 ADVENTURESS arrives off our stern, Chrismas Day
Perfect, John dropped anchor off our port beam. Merry Christmas, John.
I love to take photos and this view out our porthole is always a great photo. To take this I back up as far away from the port as possible and then zoom in and out the port, keeping part of the port frame. Perfect.

Christmas Dinner, Radeen outdid herself

This is a very brave undertaking, cooking for John. Why? Because he grew up spending summers in France and was taught for many years, as a child, how to cook! Consequently, John is a very, very impressive gourmet French chef. So, here we are, we have just invited John for Chrismas Dinner aboard. What will we make? YIKES!

First off, Radeen LOVES to BAKE so she started with baking homemade banana bread for a gift to John for his breakfast treats. Next, she baked a homemade crustless pumpkin pie for our Christmas dessert. Now, the meal. She planned ahead and marinated a flank steak. (Anyone that has had dinner at Saltbox 13, our home, knows this is our go-to meal. Thanks to Sharon Gabor, IP 420 Lucille, for the recipe!) Next, she made roasted carrots with thyme that were planned to be served chilled. The final dish was white beans and pasta with beurre blanc. This made for a very colorful plate and it all turned out delicious. Here are some photos of the meal.

Our Marinated Flank Steak, 4 minutes per side on a very hot grill pan, as suggested to us years ago by John. Next, rest it, and then slice. Always so good.
The plate with chilled thyme carrots, white beans and pasta and medium-rare marinated flank steak.
Dessert, a homemade crustless pumpkin pie. Radeen loves to bake.. NOTE: Radeen uploads her favorite recipes to a website I made for her….

After Dinner, Cigars and Wine or Bourbon

One of the joys of a fine meal with John is that he always has great cigars, and today was no exception. After the meal, we sat in the cockpit, enjoying the 78f degree Caribbean breeze and we smoked these fine cigars. Thank you, John!

A Gift from John

John gifted us one of their homemade hammocks used to store fruit or snacks while on passage. This hammock crossed the ocean to Europe and then sailed back. John added the dates of each passage to the band on the hammock and also added CHRISTMAS 2021. THANK you, John, and thank you, Nancy for making this. It will be a treasure on Island Spirit.

The handmade fruit hammock that crossed the Atlantic, twice!

A Great Day it was…

Anchored in Simpson Bay with our buddy and sharing great meals together and drinks and stories was a real joy. What a great life the cruising life is. So different from land life, so spontaneous, so unplanned. No schedule, no plan, just enjoy every day to the fullest. Merry Christmas!

This was our Merry Christmas 2021 spot. Simpson Bay, SXM.

St Thomas to St Maarten

This passage is known as the OH MY GOD-A PASSAGE, or the Anegada Passage, the leg from the USVI / BVIs 90 miles East Southeast to Sint Maarten (Dutch) or St. Martin (French) Caribbean Island.  This passage is usually rough, very rough, with big seas. That is because it is open ocean with nothing between here and Africa. The course is 120 degrees and the winds are ALWAYS 090 degrees.  This places the winds 30 degrees off the bow and a sailboat cannot sail this close to the wind. So, we put up a staysail, sheeted it in hard, turned on the motor and pushed into the waves. Here is Happy Radeen as we are leaving St. Thomas to stage up at Christmas Cove off Great St. James Is.. We need to go for a swim, and Charlotte Amalie harbor is not the place but Christmas Cove certainly is.

Radeen wanted to drive past the cruise ship because we both enjoy taking cruises, as well as cruising on our own little ship.

Stage up at Christmas Cove

Christmas Cove is a dream spot in the USVI. With the anchored PIZZA PI boat there, what else would you need? Sadly, this stop we never did get a PI as we swam, and snorkeled, and worked on firing up the Spectra Watermaker.  Remember, we are only 2 days out of Puerto Rico and we are still working on setting up the boat and getting all systems back up and running. So, starting the watermaker was a big deal. This is the unit we had to tear down and have rebuilt in Grenada. It had been pickled (storage chemicals installed) for 10 months, then in May 2021, pickled again for 6 more months. Not a good thing, but lucky for us, it fired right up and started producing fresh drinking water from salt water, all the while only using 8 amps of 12-volt battery power. WILLAMINA WAS BACK, We named her Willamina Watermaker, another valuable team member on the Island Spirit.

This is what 8 gallons per hour looks like, it is the amount of a drinking straw.
Snorkeling off Christmas Cove, we saw a “squad of squid” eleven of them, a first for us. So interesting to watch them swimming in formation!

Anchor up at O500, depart in the Dark

We were going to leave Christmas Cove at 1000 to 1200 on Christmas Eve day, but the calm was here early and we said let’s go at 5 am. This meant getting out of the harbor in the dark and it would also mean arriving in St. Maarten in the dark. Both harbors are wide open, so we decided we could do this with our digital radar, and bright spotlight, and also the moon. Well, it is still stressful moving a boat in a harbor at night, but we were in the back of the pack, so we cut between two yachts and then took the stern of another one and we were OUT. Next, we pointed the boat onto a 120-degree course heading and watched the sun come up. The sea was calm, the winds were 10-15 knots, which is quite calm for the Leeward Islands. We set the boat on autopilot to hold the course and off we powered.

Our B&G Autopilot is #1. We can set it to run to a coordinate, or to hold a compass heading or, best of all, to hold a given wind angle. We rarely sit at the helm offshore, auto takes over.
The sunrise at sea is always a joy to behold. This one was so beautiful.

What you can see at NIGHT

This passage would be 90 miles and at 6 knots that would take 15 hours. Well, in actuality it took us 17 hours as we left at 0500 and arrived at 2300. We went slowly in the beginning, taking an hour to get out, and then we went slowly at the end, going into the harbor at night. It is always interesting what you can see at night from the helm of a sailboat. First off, your red-lit compass is #1, here you can see we are on a course of 120, and that was the course the entire 17 hours.

It is crazy, that course 120 degrees is the course from Miami to Antigua, 1,200 nm. Here we are running 120 degrees from STT to SXM, into the wind we go.
This is the view from the helm. The compass at the bottom, then the digital radar with the red lights from below deck also seen. Over the bow, it is pitch black, we can see nothing but stars, maybe.

THERE SHE IS….Sint Maarten

Arriving into Simpson Bay, Dec 24, 2021 at 11 pm from sea might not have been the smartest thing we have done in a while. Guess what? There were tons of other yachts anchored there as well. All light up with Christmas lights, plus the shore lights and it was like arriving into Times Square. WOW, was this a difficult entrance, but we went slowly and watched our digital radar making sure there were no targets off our bow. We simply pushed onward and navigated our way into Simpson Bay, which is a big open bay. Look at the view from the helm as we approached the island.

Arriving Simpson Bay Dec 24, 2021 at 11 pm, from sea

Hello Daybreak, Sint Maarten

The next morning at daybreak we looked at the beautiful mountains of Sint Maarten and the calm harbor where we anchored. We were so happy to be here as our new Yamaha 15 hp outboard could be bought here. That is why 4 days after launch, we pushed 200 nm east to reach here, so we could get a running dinghy again. Hello Sint Maarten, Merry Christmas all….

Our anchorage in Simpson Bay, just behind the old broken down “DRY DOCK” structure that is abandoned in the center of the harbor. It was on the radar and it was on our charts. Good item NOT to hit at 11 pm at night because it has no lights on it.

Now, it was time to check-in and  to plan our new outboard  purchase so we can have a running dinghy. You can not row in these tradewinds, you need a working dinghy if you anchor out all the time, like we do. A big thank you to John Knight of IP420 Adventuress who had just completed his Atlantic crossing. He moved from the French side to the Dutch side and cheerfully provided transportation to Customs and Immigration for us to clear in. More about our fun Christmas Day with John to follow….

Merry Christmas to ALL.

We did it, Arrival Sint Maarten / St Martin Dutch / French Merry Christmas to All.

Departure Season 20 Begins

Yes, this is our 20th year of owning and sailing Island Spirit. She is family! We never thought we would keep her 20 years, as we always thought we would move up to the IP40. Now after 40,000nm+ we see that she does not stop us from going anywhere we want to go.  We have sailed her 10 times down the East Coast ICW and 10 times north. We have pushed 8 winters into the Bahamas and now this is the 4th winter in the Caribbean. Two of these runs to the Caribbean started in Annapolis, MD and ended in Grenada!  Island Spirit loves to run and we know this boat inside and out due to our 4 total refits. Here is our yearly send off photo….ten x two 🙂 December 20, 2021.

Hayden and Radeen start season #20. Here we are flashing 10 two times :-)…oops it is not a video.

Departing Puerto Rico

Leaving the dock after your yacht has been in storage for 16 months is not an easy thing. The number one concern is…WILL SHE RUN and WILL SHE KEEP RUNNING? Imagine this. You leave the shelter of the protected Puerto Del Ray Marina, turn EAST directly into the tradewinds on your bow. The waves are 4 feet at 6 seconds and you need to power directly off a stone wall jetty UPWIND. Of course, this would be the perfect time for the fuel tank to stir up some dirt and your fuel filter to clog and your engine to die. (This is why we polished the entire fuel tank ourselves before departing.)  We were nervous to say the least. Here is a photo taken about 1/4 mile out as we bashed east!

Island Spirit bashing East into 15-knot trades and 4-foot seas at 6 seconds.

Departed with IP40 Gypsy Soul

We left PR with new friends aboard IP45 Gypsy Soul. Todd and Kitti were heading to STT as well and we all were hoping to depart on the calmest day possible Well, 15 knots and 4-foot seas are calm here. You can see what an Island Packet 40 looks like in this sea state.

Notice the swell as it passes midship at the mast, this is an IP40 and the wave is at the deck!
Of course with 4-foot waves, the ride is a bit bouncy. Many times their anchors would punch into the next wave.

Blue Water is WHY

Why put up with such “calm” conditions you might ask. Well, one of the reasons is that the water is so beautiful. When compared to Florida, or the coastal waters or even the Bahamas, the Caribbean Sea and Ocean water blue is like no other blue. Look at this photo,  just a simple cell phone photo from the helm. The gorgeous is one of the reasons we love to sail here. It is worth all the effort and expense.

Bluewater Sailing

Arrival St. Thomas, USVI

There is something very special about sailing your boat to St. Thomas, USVI, and dropping the anchor off Charlotte Amalie. As the sun sets over your stern and the full moon rises over your bow, the city lights come on and illuminate the harbor. The water reflects the lights and makes a beautiful show of colors. 

Welcome to St. Thomas

Tradition, The Greenhouse for Lunch

Since 1986 we have always celebrated our arrival in STT by going to THE GREENHOUSE and looking out on the water and reflecting on all that we went thru to get here. This year we celebrated with Todd and Kitti and shared a very fun lunch together.  Here is the required selfie in front of The Greenhouse.

Hayden, Radeen, Kitti, and Todd at The Greenhouse on the waterfront in Charlotte Amalie.

You sail, you get presents!

One other tradition we (I, Hayden) have is that I like to buy Radeen a treat for being the great sailor that she is. Every time we sail into STT we go shopping, it is tradition. This year, with an exorbitant amount of boat expenses, and travel expenses, and dockage expenses we did not go wild. We simply wanted a necklace pendant of freshwater pearls and some pearl earrings.  So, off we strolled to our favorite place, GRAND JEWELERS and sure enough, I found exactly what I wanted. Radeen was thrilled and we were very happy with the deal. Again, WELCOME to ST THOMAS.

Notice the streets are empty, with only one cruise ship in port that day. Five ships were scheduled the next day. We had fun finding a pretty pendant for Radeen.
A few small diamonds with a drop pearl and a very nice chain. Perfect.

The Season has FINALLY begun…

Now that we have left the docks and we are out on the anchor, we feel the season has begun. You all know as boaters, the hardest part of any trip is simply leaving the dock. If you can do that and just keep going, then you are cruising. Sure the boat will break down, systems will fail, winds and waves and squalls will build, but, you left that slip and you are finally out, Once out, you simply learn to deal with these normal boat challenges along the way. They say, Cruising is….Fixing your boat in remote locations….and that is so true. We are so happy to have left the dock!

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Dec 2019 Weddings Coast to Coast

After 40 days of prep and two weddings coast to coast….we set sail!

It has been a long 17 months since Island Spirit set sail, and now, after 40 days of rebuild and system prep and after flying 14,000+ miles to attend two weddings coast to coast, we departed Puerto Del Ray Marina on Dec 20th, 2021 for points EAST.  Remember, we spent 15+ days putting the boat away in July 2020 and then life happened along with covid and we could not get back until Nov 12, 2021! One of the worst things you can do to a yacht is to park it and not use it, especially in the hot humid salt air. Everything corrodes and stops working. That is why it took us 40 days to get off the dock, but first, let me back up…..

Weddings, Yes, We flew out to TWO!

Both of these “Family” weddings were planned last year, but covid delayed them. Luckily for us, they were rescheduled only 6 days apart but collided with us getting back to the boat and to set sail after our own lockdown.  We decided to stay on our launch schedule (Nov 17) and begin to prep the boat to be ready after the weddings. One was in Tampa, FL and one in Temecula, CA, oh yes, and we are in Puerto Rico! So with 5 bookings on American Airlines bought while flights were still covid-cheap, we flew 14,000 miles to and from to attend these wonderful life events.

Nicholas and Bethany Dec 4, 2021, Tampa, Fl
Krista and Wade Dec 10, 2012, Temecula California

Friends along the Way

Since we were back in the USA why not swing in and see friends as well? Great friends, Sally and Conrad hosted us for days as we ran back and forth to wedding #1 in Tampa.  Here are some fun selfies taken with our boat buddies…

Sally and Conrad, IP 40 Final Packet, hosted us for 4 days, Thank you so much!
Reuben and Molli, formerly IP 380 Priority, great boating buddies had us over for a lovely lunch and to see their new Rhodes sailboat.
Punta Gorda friends abound here with Kathy, Allan, IP 420 Flatlander and Dennis, formerly IP 420 True North.
Sally, Radeen and Nancy enjoy some bubbly

Miami to San Diego, California

Departing Punta Gorda, west coast of Florida, we drove back to MIA to board our flight to California where we joined family for wedding #2. We flew SJU to MIA then MIA to DFW to SAN, then SAN to MIA then MIA to SJU! Thank you, American Airlines, you are the best! 

On one flight we even had those reclining seats that go flat. NICE!

My Student Gabi Connects in SoCal

Social Media is amazing at connecting friends and in this case, it really hit a home run. My Rotary International Foreign Exchange student from Hungary noticed we were heading west to California. He messaged me and worked out a lunch meeting midway between Hollywood and San Diego in Laguna Beach. What a JOY this was, as Gabi was always a super person and so well-liked when he was my high school student. Here, 20 years later, we connected, shared a drink or two and caught up on everything. Gabi has traveled the world working on Cruise Ships and he has lived in many countries and now he has settled in Hollywood working as a leader in Information Technology.  He runs a team with many members and works remotely online. What a great success story he is. Thank you, Gabi Gaspar, for taking time to connect and visit. What a joy!

Gabi Gaspar of Hungary, my Exchange Student from PVHS days

Finally Back to the Boat

After 13 days of travel from Puerto Rico, we finally made it back safely to the boat. Our wedding clothes were $hipped home via UPS, thanks to Tammy. We traveled back to the boat with our normal overhead bags. We arrived after 27 hours of travel from California, exhausted, but very happy to finally be on the path to sailing. Island Spirit has been waiting to be set free…

Island Spirit waits for us ….

The Outboard Saga continues

It was now 4 weeks since we sent our outboard out to be fixed for a new impeller and a busted impeller housing bolt. After $350 in parts, we were given the outboard back in parts and needed to find another mechanic who can fix this lower unit. Without a running outboard, we have no way to go to shore from our anchored boat. We do not want to dock as docking a yacht costs $100-$200 per day, so we always anchor out….unless we are flying to weddings and then we dock the boat to leave it 🙂

Our Yahama 15 outboard in parts, with a dead lower unit.

The departure date is NOW

Our dockage time expired Dec 17th, but we were able to extend this to Dec 20th. With our outboard motor broken, we called every shop in Puerto Rico for a used one or a new one and none exist. So, we called every shop in the USVI and none exist and no one would take our repair as they are booked thru all of January. Then we found out that in Sint Maarten the chandleries on the Dutch side had 13+ Yamaha 15hp outboards in stock. So, the plan was set to blast to SXM asap to get a new motor

On Dec 20th, we left the docks for the start of our 20th season on ISLAND SPIRIT! HERE WE GO….

And they DID IT…they left the dock and headed East….

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20 Days of Boat Work

It has been 20 days since we arrived here at Puerto del Ray marina, where we returned to Island Spirit after 16 months of storage on the hard. When we launched, all systems fired up and all systems seemed to be working fine. That is until we put them to the test.  Several systems needed work and service and one died and needed to be replaced. It is a B.O.A.T. and we all know what that stands for. It was expected after all this non-use. Boats do not like to be stored, they prefer to run constantly. Here is a summary.

The Darn AB Cold Machine, Frig/Freezer

We have been dealing with an intermittent frig freezer for a year, and we needed to resolve the issue. FYI, this is a brand new install two years ago and it has never been right. Imagine filling your freezer and then overnight in the morning you discovered it nearly thawed out and then refroze. NOT acceptable in a house and not on a boat either. So, after 3 days in the sail locker working on this Adler Barbour Cold Machine, (AB) resoldering the connections on the circuit board, I found out this did not help. Then a super tech support guy at AB informed me that we did not need this circuit board and he has found that it is the #1 issue on these units. So, he told me how to simply rewire it and remove the board and toss it in the trash. We did exactly what he said, and it has never worked better!

The Adler Barbour Cold Machine is a simple little compressor with a fan and controller. The evaporator is in the freezer. The copper pipe holds the refrigerant.
To work in a sail locker, imagine working in a crawl space that is 4 feet tall and 5 feet long by 3 feet wide. You have to fit in and then do the work. I spent three days in here doing this job!
This is the solution! Remove the board and wire it directly to the compressor! Too easy.
The direct wiring to the compressor, way too easy.
This is the AB Cold machine circuit board that is NOT NEEDED. Remove this and wire direct. A new one of these costs $160+ USD.

Next, the Inverter/charger died

With the frig now fixed, I could resume the normal yacht service jobs on my list. But NO, Island Spirit said, hold on, this 2005 charger/inverter just blew up. WHAT? Yes, we lost the boat battery charger on Thanksgiving morning. The inverter still worked, but we had no way to charge the battery bank other than solar, wind, or the alternator. That is all OK until you are anchored out and want 120v power. We usually only use 12-volt power, again, remember, we live off a car battery, imagine that! Try it at home and see how long it will last. Ha Ha. We have no idea why it died, but we are guessing it was the power grid here in Puerto Rico. The power goes out daily and then surges and things bet blown up, so that is our best guess as it was working for a week, then died. So, we replaced it with a new Xantrex HF Freedom 1800 watt inverter. This install sent me into the sail locker for a full day but I installed it without electrocution. That is a good thing. Here are a few photos.

This is the new unit we bought, Xantrex HF Inverter/charger, $605.00 plus $50 shipping. Ordered on Friday, arrived Monday.
Our wonderful 2005 Xantrex Prosine 2.0 inverter/charger that died. Sadly I removed this and gave it away $$$$, the inverter still worked and it could send out for service.
The new install. This unit is longer and with the limited room to install, I had to run the wires in the front. In my old install, they ran behind the unit. These large red and black 1.0 sized cables run to the battery bank. This is high amperage power, and dangerous!
The control panels. I will mount the new inverter charger control next to the solar monitor.

Living on the Boat

Even though we are still in dock, as planned for one month, living on the boat is so interesting and different. We walk miles every day, we are eating less, drinking less, and feeling better. Thanksgiving was simple, a whole chicken and veggies roasted in an oven bag, with a batch of my Dad’s pan filling. A fine bottle of French wine was found in the locker, still good, which was amazing.  Canned pumpkin for a crustless pie was found at the fourth grocery store. We are happy, even with all the boat issues and repairs, we both love this adventure. We are anticipating sailing off to the Virgin Islands on Dec 16th all goes well. For now…..we have a new adventure….two weddings to fly off to, one in FLA and one in CALI. Here we go!

The sofas and the bed are also clear,. Do not look int the aft cabin…OMG
Happy on the boat we are….This was Thanksgiving Day 2021

Island Spirit in Dock, PDR


Thi$ is our dock at PDR for one month. Needed to $tore the boat $o we can fly off to two wedding$!!!!

Island Packet Yacht Owners in PDR

Our IP Fleet is Worldwide and here we are with IP380 WILLFUL, Adele and Herman and IP45 Gypsy Soul Todd and Kitti as we gather around IP465 No Wahalla boat watching for John and Lisa.

OK…off for an 11 day Wedding loop Coast to Coast from the Caribbean!

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Launching a Yacht

We have been playing this boating game since 1982 and the process of launching a boat from land to water is always an exciting process. It is exciting to trailer a boat and use a launch ramp. It is exciting for a forklift to pick up your boat and launch it. But to me, the most exciting process is launching a boat that needs a hydraulic go-cart and then a marine travel lift.  It is exciting because this is the doorway to sailing and cruising adventures on bays, seas, and oceans. Our 20th year of cruising on Island Spirit has started and we are as excited as year #1. Here is our launch process today at Puerto del Rey Marina in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

First Remove the Hurricane Straps

In the Caribbean, our yacht insurance company requires the boat to be strapped down with 2″ hurricane tie-downs hooked into concrete footings. Island Spirit had 8 tie-downs, 4 on each side.  

2″ wide hurricane straps connect to concrete footings
The beginning of setting her free, the straps are off the cleats and dropped to the ground
NOW, that feels good, she says! This GrL is meant to sail.                                                                 Roll in the U shaped Hydraulic go-cart

This yard uses an under-yacht hydraulic lift cart that is controlled remotely by a very skilled operator. The U-shaped go-cart (as I call it) is driven under the yacht. The jack stands are removed, except the front and the two aft stands. VERY DANGEROUS as any wrong moves and the yacht could fall over or, worse yet, someone could be seriously hurt. Once the cart is maneuvered under the yacht, the skilled workers position the massive hydraulic arms, 3 on each side. The operator then remotely lifts the arms to support the yacht. Now the entire frame of the machine raises and 20,000 lbs are lifted off the final 3 jack stands. Next, the operator drives the cart out into the parking lot to the waiting travel lift.

The U-shaped cart going under the yacht
Three hydraulic arms support the yacht
Once supported, the entire frame raises up and lifts the yacht free
The cart is driven to the waiting travel lift

Why use this cart?

Because this process allows them to park yachts within inches of each other, which maximizes the number of yachts stored on the land. (See below!)

This is a Google maps image of the yard, Puerto Del Ray Marina, Fajardo, PR.

The Travel Lift Ride to the Water

After the yacht has been transferred to the travel lift, it is driven through the yard and down to the water. At the water’s edge, this massive machine will drive out onto a concrete reinforced dock with a slot of water between the wheels. Once over the water, the yacht is lowered enough for us to climb up onto the bow over the anchors. With us on board, the boat is further lowered into the water, BUT it is not let go until all systems below are checked for leaks.

Ruben of R.S. Marine and his helper touch up paint from the jack stands.
Off she goes across the yard heading for water
This yacht storage yard is very large. Here are just some of the powerboat racks
Island Spirit is lowered into the water where she belongs
We are always so excited to see this day, as it is the beginning of new adventures

Check the FUEL, Fire it up

With the yacht still hanging in the slings, but in the water, we fired up the engine and checked the fuel system and the cooling water. Remember, the tradewinds are blowing 20-25 knots directly into this launching well. Once they drop the yacht and toss you the lines, you need to HIT IT, and get her moving, In 2017, we were 2 minutes out of the slip when the fuel plugged up and the engine died. We drifted hard back into the concrete dock and tied up. So, today we were remembering what can happen,

Our fuel was spotless and looked great after 10 minutes of running hard prior to leaving the launch slip
The lil’ Yanmar engine (that we installed) is running great. Lucky us!


With all systems checked, we hit it hard in reverse and backed out into the tradewinds. We did a full 360 turn for a photoshoot for our surveyor who was there to inspect the yacht for insurance purposes. Off we motored!

See why BLUE is my favorite color?

The marina sent us to the wrong dock twice!

With 1,000 yachts in dock, this is the largest marina in the Caribbean.  We checked our slip assignment every day for three days. While we were motoring to our assigned slip, the marina radioed us and sent us to a different slip. Once docked and plugged in there, they called again to say. “Oops… need to move to yet another slip. WHAT?! So tomorrow, we get to do this all over again. Let the adventures begin, at least Island Spirit ran perfectly with no fuel issues! 

Little Island Spirit next to million-dollar yachts. We need to move… the annual slipholder is coming back.

You Do NOT want your boat to stall…

This is the marina. All these yachts are VERY EXPENSIVE. We do not want to have engine trouble driving around here!!!

HAPPY Hayden

OK, ISLAND SPIRIT, it is time to RUN, and RUN she did!

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We are BACK on Island Spirit Season 20

WE DID IT! We returned to Island Spirit in Fajardo, Puerto Rico after a long challenging 16 months away, with our boat stored on the hard.  Lucky for us, we hired Ruben of R. S. Marine to manage our boat and take care of the maintenance while we were away. Ruben and his team did an amazing job, and we are pleased to see our boat in better shape than ever….but first, let’s get here and share the story.

American Airlines to SJU

Spoiling Radeen with a nice seat in 2D
Of course, this seat comes with included Bubbly served in real glass, not plastic….at 9 am!

Hello Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Sea / Atlantic Ocean

Love this view as we fly into SJU and see the blue ocean and the reefs and beaches

We travel Light!

We usually travel with carry-on bags and a backpack each, but this trip we needed to bring boat items and that required two additional duffle bags. So, we each hauled one duffle on top of our rolling carry-on bag and one backpack. Not bad for a trip of 6 months!

This is what traveling light does NOT look like. Take away the blue duffle bag and that is more like it. Overhead bag and a backpack.

Puerto Rico COVID-19 clearance

Puerto Rico is doing a great job with covid management and with accepting tourists safely.  The process is very detailed. First, you need to be vaccinated to fly here or be tested upon arrival.  To pre-check into the country, you go to Travel.Safe.PR and upload your vaccine card and your travel info. Once approved, you are sent back a QRC code to your email. Upon arrival and after you gather your bags, you need to present this QRC code to exit the terminal. Once you do, you are free to go. It works very well. From when we read, 88% of people in Puerto Rico are vaccinated plus it is the law to wear a mask anytime in public. Guess what? EVERYONE IS DOING THIS and the positivity rate here is low. 

In this photo, you can see people in white jumpsuits with scanners to whom you show your QRC to exit. It works!

Off to Check into our Timeshare

Yes, Radeen loves her timeshares and she has owned hers since 1979. Back then you bought DEEDED timeshares so what she owns is a very good unit with great trading power. So, we booked a unit at the Coco Beach Club, which is at the Hyatt Grand Reserve. This place is AMAZING!

Our living room and dining table with a hot-tub on the balcony overlooking the Atlantic.
Our pool where we go after the boatyard and do some laps before cooking dinner

Our first Caribbean Selfie of 2021-2021 Season #20

The required selfie when we walked to the beach at our condo
The Hyatt hotel lobby with coffee shops, restaurants live music and more

OK, Off to see the boat

But FIRST Cafe con Leche at Panaderia El Timon, “Our” fav lil’ coffee shop.

We arrive at the boat…after 16 months of storage!

WE DID IT, we are back and it feels so good. We really have a history with this boat. She has pulled us thru some life challenges and she has sailed us to places of pure beauty….
The hull wax job was beautiful and she looks great. This is a 1994 Island Packet 35.
Radeen and BIG Island Spirit, 20,000 lbs, w/8,000 lb keel, 39 feet 6 inches, and 5-foot draft with a 49-foot mast. This boat is just big enough to sail the ocean and small enough to easily handle. Perfection.
Our old solar panel array managed the 6 AGM Lifeline batteries for the past 16 months
We have 7 coats of varnish on the teak toe rails and handrails. It was covered with a white tape called CapWrap. When removed, the varnish was still in good shape. AMAZING.
Sometimes when you store a boat in the tropics, the inside teak will have mold and mildew. Here is the teak table /wall and there is none! Thanks to R.S. Marine for managing this for us.

Now, what’s the PLAN?

The boat will be launched Wed Nov 17th, 2021 and we will dock her for one month as we tend to all systems and repair whatever we find not working. We also have some very exciting “family” weddings to attend back in Florida and also in California. So, we will be flying back in early Dec. After that, we plan to sail to the USVI and the BVIs and Sint Maartin, and then Antigua. We hope to spend nearly all of January in Antigua and Barbuda. Then, we might sail south a few more islands or we might head north or west. The ultimate goal is to sail our boat back “HOME” to Chesapeake Bay. There we will have access to her all summer long or we might ail up to New England for the summer. The only real goal is to get this yacht sailing again, and service all systems, and ENJOY this wonderful cruising lifestyle. We will sail with an Attitude of Gratitude, that is our goal.

Watching our FIRST sunset of Season #20. THANK YOU for following along!

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Adventures Resume Soon

We are very excited to resume our sailing adventures after 16+ months at home while Island Spirit waited on the hard in Puerto Rico. Yes, we did go down to Marina Puerto del Rey in May to service her and to run every system. Many systems needed attention but after a full 5 days of service, everything was working. We hope this was enough to maintain everything! We will find out soon, as we will be there mid-Nov and launch her back into the Caribbean Sea where she loves to be in the deep blue waters. Once we launch and begin to prep all systems, we will take a fun diversion to attend two family weddings, one in Florida and one in California. After celebrating at these lifetime events, we will return to Island Spirit and provision her for sailing. Our general outline is to move over to the USVI and then if possible we want to move into the British Virgin Islands, where we are hoping to spend Christmas at the Bitter End Yacht Club. We have spent many vacations here and our hearts were broken when we sailed in to see the destruction from Hurricanes Maria and Irma. After the BVIs we hope to push east into the tradewinds and return to Antigua for January. From there, who knows? At the end of this season, we hope to be in Annapolis MD by the middle of May 2022. 

So, we are on THE LAUNCH PAD as we call this time period. This is a graphic of what the outline looks like!

2021, Let the Adventures Begin…soon

The Bitter End Yacht Club before hurricane damage

Here is my photo essay of our happy place, the Bitter End Yacht Club, as it was in April 2017. This is before it was destroyed by Hurricanes Maria and Irma.


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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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