Archive for October, 2010

One Year

October 28, 2010

Excerpt from the logbook of Compass Rose:

Oct. 28, 2009
10:05  Departed Galesville, Maryland.  West wind 10-12 most of day.  Began motorsailing app. 1 1/2 hours north of Cove Point.

17:30  Anchored Solomons Island.  Engine passed 4000 hours.

End of quote.

Thus starts our voyage.  What it doesn’t tell you is the misery of the previous two weeks.  The weather was cold and rainy.  We found leaks that we thought we had fixed.  We had renters in our house, but we still had gear to buy and install.  We had a car and pickup truck to sell, but the car was absolutley full of gear we needed to store on board and we needed the truck to run final errands.

Somehow everything got on board, the vehicles found new homes, and we were off.  We got out onto the Bay and turned south.  The sun peeked out.  The temperature was a little cool, but very comfortable, and the wind was on the beam.  We set the sails and got the autopilot working.  It was like the workweek was over, the weekend was here, and finally, finally we could relax…..

…..It’s been a long, wonderful weekend.

The trip to Hampton, VA was three days of easy sailing.  We decompressed.  Jim Beaudry made sure we had a slip waiting for us at a “friendly” rate and he and his wife Melinda loaned us their van to run last minute errands.   Their help was the boost we needed.  We can’t thank them enough.

Our friends Peter and Beth van  de Geijn met us in Hampton and stayed with us to Cape Canaveral.   They were an immense help – especially in the one and three night passages off the east coast.  It’s hard to find better sailing companions.  We can’t thank them enough.

And what would a trip like this be without a Dickerson connection?  We arrived in Oriental, NC with Don and D of Southern Cross waving to us from the dock. They found us free dockage and free bicycles.  They collected gear that we had shipped to their house.  They gave us free run of their laundry room and showers.  They made sure our stay was comfortable and fun.  When you buy a Dickerson, the support and comraderie of the owners group comes free.  Thanks Don and D,

In Cocoa Beach, FL, we caught up with Mark and Michelle on Reach.   Mark and I owned sister boats and had known each other for some time.  They did the Bahamas the year before and were old hands by now.  We “loose buddy boated” with them the rest of the way to Grenada.  Sometimes we went our own ways, and sometimes we travelled together.  In many ways they were our mentors, helping us to find our place in the cruising lifestyle.  But more importantly they were our friends.  Soon they will head west and we will head north.  We will miss them.

Thanks, M&M.  Fair winds.

So when you are facing the big passage with a once-in-a-lifetime weather window who do you call? Brother Dave.  On Friday he was asking for time off work.  On Tuesday he was on a 4 1/2 day passage from the Bahamas to Puerto Rico.  We choose our crew with great care and Dave was the guy we could leave on watch and know the boat was well cared for.   We were happy to introduce him to the wondeful Bahamas weather and Puerto Rico south coast cruisng.

Finally, I want to mention our friends Dave and Trudie on Persephone.  They have shared the anchorage with us here in Mt. Hartman Bay and it looks like our plans for the coming year are in sync, so we should see a lot of them going back up island.  It’s great to have good traveling companions.

So what have we learned?  Well, for one thing, long tail down = sheep, short tail up = goat.

You can get fresh croisants delivered to your boat in some of the French islands.

The best fishing seems to be at the top and bottom of the islands where the water goes deep.  Especially if there is a squall on the horizon.

The sound that comes from a steel pan drum is unbelieveable.

If you really want to make sure you catch a fish, stop at the fish market the day before and fill your freezer.

Stuff breaks at the worst possible time. 

The last people into an anchorage always think there is room for one more boat.

The average cruiser will give you the shirt off his back.  If there are holes in it he will mend it first.

Local food, local music, local people – miss them and you might as well stay home.

What was our favorite island?

The one we are at when you ask the question.  The Bahamas and Caribbean islands have been an incredible experience.  The islands have been beautiful and the people have been wonderful.

What would we do differently?

Start cruising younger.

Would we do this again?

We are not really sure – ask us again a year from now after we have collected more data.

Fair winds and following seas,

Eric and Jackie on Compass Rose

Oct 28, 2010, Mt Hartman Bay, Grenada

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A Little Bit of This and That

October 2, 2010

Painting

The paint project continues.  I caught what looked like a good day and checked for painting help. Mark on Reach was busy swapping generators, but Dave on Persephone was available. He had never rolled and tipped before, but he caught on quickly and did a great job.  It came out very well.

Dave smiling because the fresh coat of paint looks great

Boat Repair

We had a spot in the deck that leaked and dripped into the cabinet behind the reefer.  I tracked it to one of the screws that holds a brace for the lifeline stanchions.  The offending fastener was screwed into the deck and the point came through below.

The proper way to fix this is to drill a hole bigger than the screw and fill it with epoxy.  This seals the plywood in the deck so water can’t seep in and rot it.  Then you drill a new, smaller hole through the epoxy and put the screw back in.

I have a lot of experience working with epoxy and I have done this process many times.  So I was surprised when I tried to fill the hole with epoxy I brought with us, and it didn’t harden; it just turned into a sticky, gooey glob.  I thought maybe the epoxy was bad so I cleaned out the holes and bought a small amount of fast hardening epoxy.  I mixed the epoxy and got ready to pour it in the holes but it already started to harden. The hardening process happens due to the heat created when you mix the resin and hardener.  This stuff started to get HOT, so I put it in some water to cool off.  I mixed some more resin, quickly poured it in the holes and waited.  It got sort of rubbery and gooey, but never hardened.

I tried this a few more times, but no luck.  Finally I took the tape off the bottom and top of the holes and let them air out for most of a day.  Then I mixed a batch and began to pour it in.  I poured slowly and carefully to make sure I got it in the hole and not all over the deck.  Then I noticed that I was pouring, but the level in the hole wasn’t changing.  I was sure it wasn’t leaking out the bottom, but it wasn’t getting any fuller, either.  Then I realized that the epoxy had hardened.  I pulled the “stream” free, mixed another batch of epoxy, and quickly finished filling the first hole and all of the second.  The epoxy hardened in both holes and I was finally able to finish the job.  I can only guess that at first the wood was damp and prevented the epoxy from hardening, and that airing the holes out made the difference.

This REALLY FAST hardening epoxy

Nimrod’s Rum Shop

We have our regular shopping bus on Wednesday and Friday, but if we have to make a trip to town any other day we dingy around to Clark’s Court Bay and catch a bus in Woburn. 

The dock at Woburn

Even this dock won't keep us from Bernadette's rotis at Nimrod's

If it’s a tuesday or thursday we time it so that we are at Nimrod’s Rum Shop at lunch time. Nimrod’s is a bit of an institution in the cruising community.  Nimrod died a few years ago, but his wife, Bernadette, and their son still run the shop.

Nimrod's - rum shop to the left, restaurant to the right

You will be surprised that we don’t go there for the rum, we go for their delicious Rotis.  Roti is a flat bread folded into a pouch and filled with a curry and potatos (or similar provision?).  They usually include Chicken, beef or lambi (conch).  Some places just chop up the chicken and cook it bones and all, but Nimrods caters to cruisers so the bones are left out.  Bernadette’s rotis are so good, we don’t even bother to ask what type she has, we just tell her how many and she cooks up whatever is available.

L to R Trudie & Dave (hat) on Persephone; Dave & Michelle on Daniell Storey, Babbie & Ronnie, Campechano

There are always chickens wandering the yard around the shop.  While we wait for our rotis we think up names for the chickens.  We try to be original, but they all seem to get named “Lunch”.

Bug Hunting

“Bug” is the island term for lobster.  In the last blog entry I mentioned lobster hunting and included a picture of the one I shot – and ate. Yum! Dave on Persephone has been my lobster hunting mentor and he recently showed me a new technique for getting lobster.  He uses a pole spear, but he baits it with $20 EC notes and holds it out when the local fishermen come by.  He caught one for me, too.  Of course I did the courteous thing and replaced the “bait” he used.

EC notes - effective "bug bait"

Underwater Exploration

We expected rain yesterday so I couldn’t paint, but I did take advantage of some sunshine to dive under the boat and look around.  The boat bottom is covered with a variety of soft marine growth.  The bottom paint is supposed to prevent stuff from growing.  It is a soft paint and works best when the boat moves through the water once in a while to wear off a little paint, thus presenting a fresh layer to the surface.  It doesn’t work very well when the boat sits still for long periods of time.  The propellor is even worse. The paint quickly wears off the prop when motoring.  We have been anchored in the same spot for about two months, so Little Rosie is turning into an artificial reef.

Our prop was a mass of soft marine growth and barnacles.  I spent about 45 minutes diving down and scraping stuff off the prop.  Our prop feathers – that is the blades swing free when sailing so they create little resistance.  So after I cleaned the prop I made sure all the blades moved freely and that the spring loaded hub moved properly.

The growth on the anchor chain is the same as on the bottom of the boat

I don’t even want to think how long it will take to clean the boat’s bottom and chain.  At least the fish like our artificial reef.

Needle fish (left); bait fish (right)

Stray Cat

Yesterday afternoon one of my neighbors dinghied over to tell me that while I was at the store that morning a catamaran nearby had come loose from its mooring.  We haven’t seen anyone on the cat since we got here, so we think it’s stored here waiting for the owner to come back.  My neighbor was able to get the anchor down, but not set it properly.  He did get in touch with someone who looks after some of the vacant boats around us, so hopefully it will get taken care of today.  So what happens?  About 6 AM the wind pipes up and blows towards Compass Rose from the catamaran.  I stuck my head out periodically and checked on the cat, but it seemed to be staying put.  As I write this a few hours later the wind has clocked to the south and the cat is swinging away from us.  The wind is supposed to stay in this direction and the cat is staying put, so it looks like the anchor has dug in a little.  Hopefully it will stay put.

Stray cat - back on a leash

Herding Cats

There really is no predicting how the boats will swing here.

These cats swing whichever way they want, but at least the stay home