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!

OFF WE GO

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…..you 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.

http://svislandspirit.com/bitter-end-yacht-club-photo-essay/

LET THE ADVENTURES BEGIN SOON….

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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.

USVI dreams

Hayden & Radeen walking the closed cruise ship dock of St. Croix

Arrival into the United States Virgin Islands after our wonderful ocean sail of 425 nautical miles direct from Grenada to St. Croix. We dropped anchor, washed all the salt off Island Spirit and then made breakfast and then crashed. After a wonderful sleep with the boat NOT moving, we dropped the dinghy and went for a swim in the crystal clear waters.  Ahhhh, the beautiful virgin islands where the water is crystal clear and here in 30 feet, we can see the chain out to the anchor. That is wonderful. After a few days of rest, we did go for a walk on the locked up and closed cruise ship dock, but this was the only land we stepped on as covid-19 shut down the island and we will quarantine 14 days onboard.

Laundry In a Bucket

We have been washing clothes for months in a bucket…
Sailing the Mack Sails Code Zero into Pizza PI
Anchored out off St. Johns living a dream, watching sunsets
The T-shirt map of the USVI
The closed up shops of the cruise ship dock in St Thomas, COVID SAD
The closed up shops of Charlotte Amalie and the main shopping area…COVID SAD
The Logo of the USVI
Full moon rise over Island Spirit off Water Island
Typical tourist photo op, St. Thomas on the cruise ship dock
Sailing out of USVI for Puerto Rico
Sailing south to St. Croix USVI to visit friends
Thank you “Caribbean BILL” for this amazing mooring ball in town, St. Croix, we love it here
St. Croix at sunset
On our friends mooing, thank you Caribbean BILL
Look at this mooring ball location, right off town…..perfect…St. Croix
Date night, St. Croix
Caribbean Bill and Cindi, our hosts in St. Croix. Thank you so miuch
Night shot of our boat off St. Croix
This says it all
Typical Caribbean Sailing
Radeen at the helm, sailing St. Croix for St. Thomas USVI
Anchored off USVI, St. John and Honeymoon Beach
Required selfie off Honeymoon Beach St John
Sunset over St. Thomas as seen from St Johns
The dust from the Sahara Desert blew in
This is life on anchor with the sun shade up
Our windshield and the Sahara dust
Radeen at the helm and taking charge of the boat
Off to Red Hook for some provisions
Typical scene in the USVI as we motor back west to town
This is THE PIZZA PI BOAT, yes, you can order pizza from this boat.
Pizza Pi, and look…..it is not a burnt one! YES
Moon over St Thomas

So, as you can see, living on a boat off the USVI is a dream life an we really enjoyed this. COVID has hit the USA and the world and we have been waiting here for it to die down. Well, it never really did die down, so we moved to Puerto Rico, hauled out and flew home to Philly, PA, USA. We will return here in Nov, and resume our sailing and living aboard.

Thanks for sailing along……

Sailing Grenada to USVI

We decided to sail 400 nautical miles from Grenada north to the United States Virgin Islands. WHY? Bottom line, we wanted to reach an open airport. Radeen and I have been sailing and cruising Island Spirit since 2001. That is 19 years and we really love this life. At the same time, we have learned that taking a break off the boat is refreshing and renews our love of cruising. So, with the airport closed in Grenada and no information on when it would reopen, we took a weather window and set sail north.

Island Spirit pushing north on a 400 nm starboard reach doing 6.7 knots for 60 hours, Fantastic sailing

The Route, Isla de Aves

When you plan the route from Grenada to St. Croix, the southern most US Virgin island, the course of 330 degrees sails very close to an island called Isla de Aves. Now, this looks like a great midway place to drop the hook and maybe take a rest in the lee of this sandy beach. WELL….hold on there, pirate….this island is owned by Venezuela and they are not too friendly to cruisers sailing in for a visit. Matter of fact, you are advised to stay well clear of this island or else the officials might divert your vessel into shore for an inspection. NO, THANK YOU!  Here is the overview of the route.

With the winds at 090 blowing 20 knots gusting to 27 knots, we decided to set a waypoint almost 50 nautical miles SW of this island. That way, we could run a broad reach downwind to that point, 36 hours away. Then once made, turn due north on the lighter 15-20 knots of beam winds for 24 more hours to St. Croix. This is exactly what happened and exactly how it all worked out.

Thank you to weather routing by Chris Parker, see: https://www.mwxc.com/ who worked with us for two weeks to pick the best days to run. We told him we like to sail, not motor, and that 20-27 knots was OK with us downwind. We let the first window pass as the seas were 6-8 feet and the next one we took. This was one of the best sails in Island Spirit’s history! Here is a short video clip of autopilot set to wind angle hold. We love our B&G autopilot.

Life at sea

On a 400 nm run, this should take 3 days, with an expected 125 to 150 nm per day average run. So, we departed Grenada on Sunday May 17th, 2020 for our sail. With a full main and a full jib we reached beyond the lee of Grenada and soon were in the 20-25 knot winds. There we dropped in a single reef in the main and ran this all the way to sunset. At nightfall, we added a double reef in the main but kept the full 110 % jib flying strong. We were sailing at hull speed, which for an Island Packet 35 is 7.2 knots. We ran this way for 36 hours until we made our waypoint west of Isla de Aves. With just the two of us, we set a watch schedule as provided by our mentor, Captain Blaine Parks, as the best for two people:

  • 0600-1200 Hayden
  • 1200-1800 Radeen
  • 1800-2100 Hayden
  • 2100-2400 Radeen
  • 0000-0300 Hayden
  • 0300-0600 Radeen
Hayden on watch, autopilot sailing, watching the sea and with a safety harness on connected to the cockpit jack line

Sunset was at 1830 and the tiny crescent moon rose at 0300 giving us very little light. These two nights at sea were the darkest nights we have ever sailed. No horizon at all, dim stars, and a black sea. The black night sky blended into the black sea and we were sailing hull speed, 7 knots, around the clock. The only two vessels we saw were a container ship bound for Aruba and two friendly fishermen on a brightly painted boat who pulled alongside and asked which way to Grenada! (This is not a joke – it was very hazy that morning and the island’s mountains were not visible from 17 miles northwest.)

Lucky for us, we have great faith in our B&G 4G digital radar where we set a watch guard 4-5 miles in front with a full circle around the boat 1 mile wide. If any solid object enters this zone, then an alarm goes off and a line on the screen points to the object. This is the only way we can feel safe that we will not hit something. Your mind really messes with you when tired at night going 7 knots full speed into the black. (Do not even let it go there, you need to stop all those crazy thoughts!)

Sunset on the second night at sea with 15-18 knot winds, perfect sailing….all night long.

See our recorded sailing speed

Whenever our boat moves, we turn on our Garmin Inreach satellite tracker. This device sends our position to a live map every 10 minutes and shows where we are. It also records this track as an archive map. We use another service called Spotwalla which actually does a better job than Garmin, because it allows you to create trip maps. Garmin just records it all and does not separate your travels.

When you go to our Garmin map, please first click the VIEW ALL button in the top right corner and then you can zoom out and see our travels. For this trip from Grenada to St. Croix, click on any point to see our recorded speeds. Remember, on this trip we did not motor, we sailed 99% of it, we motored the last hour to beat sunset. We also ran the motor one hour each night for hot water showers and for recharging the battery bank. Here is our Garmin Travel Map, so fun to study….https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit
PS: Speed was 400 nm in 60 hours = 6.7 knots for the trip!

Click to see our Garmin travel map, check out our recorded speeds. https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit

Spotwalla, our Travel Maps

We love this fantastic free service (which I donate to yearly) called SPOTWALLA. This genius figured out a way to create individual travel maps as we run around with tracking devices. You can do all of this with your cell phone if you are always in touch with a cell tower. So, for ocean sailing we need the Garmin satellite tracker. For land adventures, you can easily create travel maps with this service. Here are ALL the maps we have made with Spotwalla… https://spotwalla.com/publicTrips.php?un=IslandSpirit35

Here is a trip map via Spotwalla when we left Annapolis for Grenada in October 2019 https://spotwalla.com/publicTrips.php?un=IslandSpirit35

Now…USVI for June

We are now in the United States Virgin Islands, where we can re-discover St. Thomas, St Croix and St John. In the 80’s and 90’s we took some of our summer and Christmas vacations here for a week of chartering. Now, we are staying a week on one mooring ball, swimming the crystal clear waters and learning the reefs in Christmas Cove, St. James Island. Next up, the National Park on St. John and St. Thomas, followed by a return to St. Croix.

After June, we will move over to Fajardo, Puerto Rico and prepare for our haulout at Puerto Del Ray Marina. YES, we know this places us back into hurricane zone and, yes, we recall our previous hurricane damages there. Because we want to be in the Caribbean next season, we decided this was our best option to reach a working airport, where we know we can fly out and, more importantly, we can fly back to our boat. For now….let’s enjoy the USVI.

Here are some photos to show why we enjoy being here

The very cool Trunk Fish
Look at how clear the water is…
Blue sky reflected on the clear water over the reef
Radeen is a Pieces, the fish, she LOVES to swim

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Watching the sunset over St. Thomas from Christmas Cove off St James, USVI

Caribbean Dream

Our last post was from Marie Galante and now, after a month of Caribbean Dreams we are back in Antigua ready to sail south back to Guadeloupe and south to Grenada. We left Maria Gallante and sailed up to Guadeloupe then to Antigua. There we hosted dear friends Jim and Gail for a week of fun. After that we sailed up to Barbuda and fell in love with the pink sand beaches. from there  we sailed over to St. Kitts to rendezvous for a few hours with boat buddies Fran and Butch on mv Smartini. A quick ferry ride down to see Nevis and then a bashing back east 40 nm into the wind to return to Antigua and here we are.

We are now on the launch pad for sailing south to Guadeloupe and onward to Grenada for haul out May 8th. But for now, we have a lot to discover along the way. Here are some photos of the best along the way over the past month. NOTE: We are posting nearly daily to our PUBLIC Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/svIslandSpirit/ Please browse to this to see all the live action. NOTE#2, you do not have to be a member of Facebook to actually see a public web page, it is the internet, you may click on it and enjoy the content, even thought it has Facebook in the URL, it will not be a problem. Enjoy…

Going to town on Illes de Saints
Fun IPYOA rendezvous in Jolly Harbor
New Force Ten Stove installed in Antigua
Jim and Gail fly into to spend a week on Island Spirit
Shirley Heights is a required visit
Nelson Dockyard and Pillars is so interesting
Middle Ground Hike is a fun hike off Nelson’s
Birthday sailing was a dream off Antigua
Testing the new oven with homemade scones
Fun hiking Deep Bay Antigua with buddies
Off to Barbuda
Barbuda is AMAZING, this is a must visit place
Nevis via Ferry from St Kitts
Nevis and St Kitts are so different
Happy Birthday to Radeen, her 9th birthday on the boat!
Our travels

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Marie-Galante Carnival

Radeen says today was her favorite of this season! With the weather calm for several days, we sailed 3 legs from Martinique to Dominica to Marie-Galante, on the southeast side of Guadeloupe. It can be very difficult to reach here in usual east winds of 20-25 knots. With a large weather front up north causing high winds in Florida and the Bahamas, our trade winds have been pulled to the south and suppressed. Luckily for us, we rented the last car available in St. Louis and went to a restored sugar plantation and then to the island’s annual Carnival celebration! 

My favorite Carnival photos

Woy Mi Mas Carnival parade on Marie-Galante Jan 25, 2020
Woy Mi Mas is the Carnival celebration on Marie-Galante, January 25, 2020

Enjoy our 27 best of 300 photos taken!

Habitation Murat and Woy Mi Mas

Marie-Galante was discovered on Columbus’ second voyage and he named it after one of his ships. The country side is small rolling hills of beautiful farmland raising sugar cane, bananas and cattle. As with larger French islands, roads are excellent and easy to navigate. Though there are vacant buildings in disrepair, we saw no poverty. The 12,000 residents obviously work hard. They can travel to the mainland of Guadeloupe via frequent daily ferries. We met several Guadeloupe residents who had traveled here for the weekend to watch the MG jet ski races.

Habitation Murat is a restored sugar plantation south east of Grand Bourg, a 20 minute drive from St. Louis. Though 90% of the information on the signs was in French, we learned a great deal about how sugar cane was produced using power from windmills. At one time there were more than 100. Now, there are 50 modern windmills on the east side,  producing electricity for the island.

Carnival is celebrated year round in the Caribbean. We were very fortunate to attend the annual Woy Mi Mas celebration in Grand Bourg. We stumbled on a traditional Ka drumming demonstration in the morning and enjoyed the market, where Radeen bought two new hats. Local street food vendors were making fish fritters and hand-cranked ice cream and selling home made baked goods. At 3:45, the parade scheduled for 2:00, finally began at the ferry terminal. 25 bands from Marie-Galante and Guadeloupe participated in the long parade. The band featured in our YouTube and Instagram video was celebrating their 40th anniversary. We estimate 95% of the crowd to be locals. It was all very festive and we felt welcome. It was exciting to be part of their enthusiasm!

Where is Marie-Galante?

Live Garmin Tracking Map…when we move, this updates

https://share.garmin.com/islandspirit

 

Bequia Hikes

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 hiking team atop Spring Hill looking north to St. Vincent.

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.

The hike to Sugar Hill from the harbor provides a great view down to the anchored yachts.
Looking northwest into Admiralty Bay, Bequia
Our lil Island Packet 35 on anchor. It is the boat in the bottom center.

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.

Easy hike along the water to Fort Hamilton
Fran and Radeen strike a pose at Fort Hamilton
Radeen points to our boat, way over there
There we are, the top center, the small boat that is NOT white!
Fort Hamilton protected the harbor from American privateers and the French
Yes, it is named after Alexander Hamilton!

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 Hike up to SPRING HILL overlook at 700 feet
Keep pushing UP HILL all the way, hot and humid
Looking north to St. Vincent
Required selfie atop the 700 foot overlook
Our team: PRISM, DREAMCATCHER and SMARTINI atop the 700 foot hill with St. Vincent in the back ground. Notice the windjammer, STAR CLIPPER, under full sail. She later anchored in the harbor near us.
Going down hill was tough on the knees. Some hills, like this one, were so steep that we walked diagonally back and forth to save our knees. If you fall, it would be a long, long roll straight to the bottom.

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.

Arrival at Firefly, YES YES YES….food, rum, and a pool
Sunday lunch of curried chicken or tuna, plus plantation punches in those cool bottles. The crew of CLARITY met us there.
Radeen swimming laps after lunch, while I hydrate with a plantation punch and count her laps for her, 🙂

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.

Our team with the owners of La Plage on the right. We had a delicious lunch there after the hike to Fort Hamilton.

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!

Radeen with the cactus at Fort Hamilton
Yes, it is arid enough here for cactus
A small abandoned home above the harbor, Most homes are very well kept.
Returning home to Island Spirit after a great hiking day
Enjoying the sunset off Bequia from our cockpit

 

 

Shore Power FIXED Port Louis Marina, lets turn it off

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.

Christmas Presents for Radeen, two new shore power cords! I spoil her so much! $144 USD each. In the USA, these are $75

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.

Cut off the old, on with new power cord ends $$$$

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.

New cord ends on our two shore power cords COST $ 250 Done….still the same problem!

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….

Green to White, should be ZERO, look it is 40 volts indicating a short!
Green to Black showing 120 volts….see, you have power to your boat. Yes….but what about Black to White????
Black to White showing 83 volts here. This is NOT 120 volts. Houston, we have a problem. It is not my cords, it is the dock power.

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!

Cooking up some chilli, the best recipe of all. Radeen publishes all here recipes at http://boatrecipes.com/149-charmed_chili
Drop off laundry services will make any admiral happy, then to the pub for a cold one 🙂

Abby the Engineer visits Island Spirit

Engineer ABBY makes the blog on Island Spirit, what a SMART Lovely girl, we really enjoyed her visit.
Abby, Blue Eyes and Radeen on 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.

The dock electrician looks into the power pole wiring and find that they pole is wired wrong!

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.

I had it all set up and working, I was equalizing and THEN, they shut off the power on me. OMG!

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.

Grenada Flag, I love the Red, Green, Yellow colors
Island Spirit with nearly all the shade up to help cool the boat. It is HOT HOT HOT in dock
Merry Christmas to all, look at the typical landscaping.

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!

Our local YOLO Sushi Bar