ESCAPE TO THE CARIBBEAN

(Posted from Francis Bay, St. John, USVI 18 21.9, 64 44.8) 
 
I had planned to do a blog update before we left for the Caribbean, but it didn’t happen.  The last couple of weeks before our crew were to arrive was total bedlam.  In addition to all the things we had to do to get Compass Rose ready for sea, we had one fellow remodeling our saloon and another installing new counter tops in the heads and galley.  These projects required us to unload a major portion of the storage in the boat, move it out of the way, and re-stow it at the last minute.
 
We got hauled out to paint the bottom, wax the hull, and polish the fuel.  Then we learned the GPS had failed so we had to buy and install another.
 
Somehow Jackie and I managed to retain our sanity, although there were times when we didn’t think we would.  We got a big boost from our friend, Tim, who had headed out on his boat, but left us his car keys.  At least we could go get things that we needed.
 
In the midst of all this craziness Jackie finds time to make a batch of baked ziti that lasts for 2 1/2 dinners and is a huge hit with the crew.
 
Nov, 11.  Our brother-in-law Mark, and friend Dave (owner of Dickerson 41, Down Home) arrived at the New Bern, NC airport.  Unfortunately Mark got re-routed at the last minute, but his luggage did not.  Luckily, the bag arrived Saturday morning and friends were in New Bern and retrieved it for us.
 
Don (of Don and D) and Doug and Anne came to the slip to see us off and Anne brought us a gingerbread cake for the trip.  We got Compass Rose underway and out of the channel without getting stuck.  We approached the fuel dock in Oriental and there were Don,  Doug, and Anne ready to catch our lines.  We fueled up and by 2:30 we were on our way.
 
Things started a little less that ideally.  By the time we reached Moorehead City, we knew the autopilot would not be participating as part of the crew.  Dave and Mark both were on board with hand steering the 1200 miles to the Virgin Islands. 
 
It was dark by the time we got to Moorehead City and entered the ocean.  There was a nice breeze and we began sailing.
 
It can be cold at sea in November
For the first few days we had nice winds and smooth seas.  We found we could lock the helm and balance the sails to steer the boat.  Both Mark and Dave managed to do a three hour shift without touching the wheel. 
 
People ask me how the sailing was, and I reply the I’m not sure,  because I spent a lot of time in the engine room.  The challenges began when  the wind died and we started motoring.  An alarm went off in the engine room and we found that the alternator was locking up and destroying the fan belt.  We swapped out the alternator.
 
Despite having the fuel polished there was still some crud in the tank.  We had to change the primary and secondary fuel filters and later pull the pickup tube from the port tank to get a big glob of crud out of it.
 
What else?  We had a poor connection in a wire in the engine room cause the wire to break.  We had to repair this twice as it broke on both sides of the connectors.  Another wire shorted behind the instrument panel, so we had to pull the panel and replace the wire.
 
Along with these fun events, we occassionally found a lot of water in the engine room.  We determined that the bilge pump float switch was not working, so we replaced the pump and switch with a new pump that had a built in switch.  Then we found that the Manual/Off/Automatic switch was working intermittantly, so I had to jumper the contacts to get the pump to run sometimes.  We never did figure out where the water was coming in, but we think it may be past the rudder post.
 
All the repairs were pretty disheartening to me, but Dave and Mark took a lot of the load off by keeping the boat going while I tried to keep the systems working and the boat afloat.

Who says it isn't beautiful at sea?

 
 

Orderly chaos in the cabin
 

We alter course to go after the wind

 
 

Finally it warms up

After a few days of motoring, the wind filled back in.  The forecast at one point was wind to 30 and gusting higher.  Most of what we saw was in the high teens and low 20s, but we did have a substantial amount of time with it in the high 20s.   The seas kicked up and we spent a day or two with them in the 12-14 ft range.  Luckily the wind and seas were mostly on the beam, so Rosie just rolled right along.  We spent a couple of the windiest days under partially rolled jib and reefed mizzen.

 

 

The seas got higher

 
 

Sunset at sea

The seas calmed down the last couple days we were out, but the wind kept us moving well most of the time.  The next consideration was where to make landfall.  If we arrived in the dark, we would go west of St. Thomas and up into one of the areas I was familiar with.  If in the light, we would head for St. John. 

LAND HO! Mark sights Jost van Dyke

 Nov.  22, 10:10 AM Mark sights land.  Jost van Dyke is right where we expect it.  We consider our options and decide to go into Cruz Bay, St. John, to fuel the boat and then head to nearby Christmas Cove on Great St. James Island.  It turns out we arrive in Cruz Bay along with all the little power boats day trip boats that were out for the day.  They are returning to fuel up and clear into customs.  We also have to contend with ferries going through the middle of this crowd.  Finally we make it into the fuel dock, top off the tanks, and head back out. 
 
By 17:00 we are anchored in Christmas Cove.  We have travelled something like 1200 miles in 10 days, 2 1/2 hours.
 
By 17:05 Mark is swimming with a beer.  Dave and I are close behind.

Mighty hunter finds an elusive conch

 

Egrets visit us in Christmas Cove

Mark "relaxes" after the trip

 

Dave relaxes after the trip

All in all, it was a pretty incredible journey.  We did some fantastic sailing and saw the sea in many different moods. Compass Rose took everything in stride and kept us as comfortable as could be expected.

 
Dave and Mark were outstanding crew.  No matter what was happening they just soldiered on.  The long night watches steering through big waves, trying to sleep while the seas did their best to bounce you on the floor – they just did what needed to be done without complaint.  I can’t thank them enough.
 
So here we are.  The quick trip down left Mark and Dave with about a week to enjoy the islands before they fly back, so we will cruise around and play tourist until then.
 
It’s good to be back in the islands.

Glad to be back in the islands

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4 Responses to “ESCAPE TO THE CARIBBEAN”

  1. Carla Cove Says:

    Ah, Christmas Cove! Good memories.
    When/where is Jackie joining the boat?

    Hopping Hugs from the Singing Frogs!

  2. Your brother Dave Says:

    So if you just completed a 1200 mile shake down, when do you start the real voyage?

  3. Barry S/V Crew Rest Says:

    Well you guys just “Snuck out of Dodge, again!” All of us in the DOA are looking forward to your regular updates and vicariously enjoying every moment with you.

    Cheers,
    Barry & Judy

  4. moonlight Says:

    Well done! Sounds like a great voyage – must be good to be back south again.

    Love John and Ann (in Vero Beach, heading north!!)

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