Our check out time slot for the rally boats’ customs and immigration was 11-12, so we upped anchor at 10 and made our way to the friendliest fuel dock in the entire world. They have been open for two months and are working hard to deliver to the rally!

Check out was smoothly organised with the officials coming to us in the resort where we ‘Bob’. Far better than the rigmarole we went through for check in.

The formalities completed, we set off to anchor for the night at Santa Kruz on the NW tip of the island. After a couple of attempts to get the anchor to set, we spent a fitful night with the anchor alarm going off as the wind shifted.

A full moon at Santa Kruz. Not much sleep, but magical view.

Thursday morning at 5.30 we set off for Aruba and experienced our first day in the fleet! We sailed down wind with just our un-poled headsail and were making around 8 knots, but boats with their headsails poled and main sails goose winged, were gaining on us and those with their cruising chutes and parra-sails up, overhauled us all!

Checking in in Aruba was a fiasco! We were originally due to all arrive at the cruise ship dock in Oranjestad, but only the very early birds managed this before the fleet was turned around and sent back, into wind and tide, to the container port two miles away. Our ploy of being a ‘tortoise’ worked in our favour and we turned into the port before most of the ‘hares’ had beaten their way back along the coast!!
We then had to take turns at mooring against randomly spaced, filthy black tractor tyres and rafting out against each other, while immigration took our forms and passports away to their office and we waited for the customs officers to finish their lunch and to turn up to work!!
Two hours later, we left the dock and the next flotilla pulled along side.

We were all eventually anchored in the Airport Anchorage just before sunset.

Sunset in the Airport anchorage.

The anchorage is aptly named, as the planes fly low enough for us to count their rivets, but strangely the noise is not too bad at all.

So far we have been on two missions in Oranjestad….. The first was to find – and get to – Budget Marine by bus to pay for the new anchor chain. It was a great relief to see it laid out in its entirety on the floor…..not such a relief to pay for it! We now have to work out how to get it onto the boat and how and where to dispose of the old one.

Our second mission was to get to a supermarket. The area where we’re anchored caters totally for the cruise ships. If we wanted designer clothes, jewellery or watches we’re in the right place, but food has to be hunted for in the hinterlands!!

6.00am and the cruise ships are docking!

Yesterday, Tuesday 27th Nov. we pulled up our rusty old anchor chain for the last time and came into the marina. We nosed over the pontoon and took delivery of our new chain and gypsy…… all very shiny and sleek! Once the rusty chain was off the boat, and in the deliver truck, out came the ‘Henry’, to vacuum up all the rust shards that have covered and coloured the fore deck……not a common sight on a sailing boat! and having paid for water, we took the opportunity to fill up the tanks and to wash down the decks and cockpit……months of crud and gunge!!!

As in all communities we are devising clubs and interest groups. We have ‘Yoga on the Beach’ three times a week and ‘Noodling’ in the gaps.

Noodling in the anchorage.

Last night we had the first jam session on the beach and today a group is going diving……. I bet the airlines don’t promote the ‘sunken airplane’ dive in their Aruba brochure!!
We now have a leaving date for the next leg to Santa Marta, Colombia and it’s tomorrow, Thursday 28th, so I’ll catch up with y’all again in Colombia.

Having checked out with immigration and got our C14 form stamped by customs we spent Friday afternoon filling up with diesel and topping up our water tank ….. the C14 is proof that we are leaving and as such are a duty free boat in transit…..ie. cheaper fuel!

Stan and Cora at the Lambie Queen.

On Friday evening we went over to The Lambie Queen, a local bar on the waterfront, for dinner and to listen to Stan and Cora play. Andrea, Dianne, Janice and Jean-Luc, my noodling buddies were there, so it was a good to see them and say goodbye on dry land!

We were up at 0600 the following morning, Saturday 10th Nov. Once the stowing of outboard and dinghy was completed and our rusting anchor chain carefully flaked in the chain locker we were off and away  away by 0800,

We have opted to order a new anchor chain of the more readily available size, to be picked up in Aruba, but as nothing is that simple, we have also had to order a new gypsy….. the toothsome bit of the windlass….. so that chain and gypsy match and the chain doesn’t jump when hauling it in. The theory is that we should be able to replace the chain with ease next time we need to; maybe 10 yrs down the line?!

Life on board, sailing downwind, is a pleasant change to all the upwind motor sailing we have done for the majority of the time since we arrived in the Caribbean 4 years ago and ventured north as far as Nova Scotia!!
The wind and current were with us, but with light trade winds we were finding keeping the sails filled a challenge and the sails are collapsing and snatching, making a lurching and rolling motion, but apart from the crack of the sails filling, there was no constant sound of the motor!!!! We are a sailing boat again ⛵️🙏

Company on the way to Curacao.

How cruisers cope with watches on passage is always a topic for earnest discussion. We have found that both being up and about during the day allows us to take a short nap when we feel like it, but not at the same time!!
At 2000hrs I will generally take the first 3 hour sleep and then we alternate three hours on, three hours off during the night until 0800hrs. Some people do 4 hour watches all day, others put an egg timer on and both sleep for 15 minutes and then one gets up to check, others we have met both go to sleep and put the radar and AIS alarms on!!
Having spent the first night dodging fishing net buoys and small fishing boats, that don’t show up on any of the navigational gizmos, we won’t be adopting that technique!!

Day two and everything had been going too well !!……. In the late afternoon the tab that holds the headsail down on the reefing furler, gave way, but luckily the sail didn’t disappear up the forestay. The engine went on and I went up on the lurching bow, armed with some webbing, needle and thread and scissors and set to work sewing a temporary tab onto the foot of the genoa. Bodge job completed, we sailed on with about three turns in the furler, so that my running repair was shielded from the full force of the sail.

Not to be out done by it’s sibling, the main sail uphaul tab decided to part company with its halyard just as we were rolling it away…..luckily the sail was almost all the way into the mast when the sail dropped!!

Our last day and night were completed with just the limping genoa and we only turned the engine on as we turned towards Spanish Water Harbour at about mid day on Tuesday 13th. Quite an achievement!

Next stop Spanish Water Harbour, Curacao!

As we motored up the narrow channel into the anchorage, we passed our first ‘rally boats’ proudly flying their OCC burgees and big rally flags.

Entering Spanish Water with rally boats moored to the dock.

Once within earshot, we were cordially invited to join everyone for a ‘bob’ at 4pm in the swimming area, off the resort’s beach, for the Admiral of the Suzie Too fleet’s birthday.

With a promise to return at 1600hrs, we made our way round to the designated anchorage, dropping our anchor and reversing towards the rope that the harbour authorities had strung out to take our stern lines. Luckily two dinghies, with helpful rallyers aboard, appeared right on cue and took our lines to tie them off on to the submerged rope and hand us back the ‘bitter ends’ to make off on the stern cleats.

We are the 6th boat from the right!

With a few fine adjustments we were soundly secure, leaving plenty of time for an arrival beer before launching the dinghy, attaching the outboard and setting off in our cossies ….drinks in hand and spares in the cool bag….. to experience our first ‘bob’ and to make contact with some of the people we are going to share the next five months with!

At the Bob. Stand Up Paddle boards act as a very good bar!

Getting late and fingers getting ‘pruney’.

After a good 11 hour sleep, we joined Leanne and Dave, who we met at the Bob, to go and check in. We were so grateful that they a) had a hire car and b) knew their way around. Some ports do not make customs, harbour authority and immigration paperwork easy for yachties. The computer check in system was down and the offices are a good mile and a half apart on either side of the river that divides Willemstad and Punda and the port! With Dave and Leanne’s help we got it all done in four hours, rather than the fortnight it would have taken if we’d attempted it on bus and foot!!

Our next big job was to get the sails mended. Fellow cruisers have a wealth of knowledge and skills and with their help we located the one and only sailmaker on the island, Rob Harms, and arranged for him to sew the sails…… Getting the sails to him was another matter altogether.

With the help of our neighbours, Tim and Nancy on ‘Larus’, we got the two massive sails down onto the deck and folded without even a hint of divorce!! We put out a call on the radio to see if anyone with a hire car could give us a lift with said sails to the sail loft…… no answer, but then a dinghy came by and offered to drop off the sail that we had ready and needed the most stitching. The  following day we managed to hire a car and took the remaining sail to be mended, which was done within the hour and we went into town with the fixed sails taking up the entire rear of our Kia Picante!!

Willemstad is a world heritage town and boasts and extraordinary floating bridge that opens by powering the eastern most barge…. 1 of 13 barges that the bridge sits on…… and swinging the bridge in its entirety until there is space enough to let traffic through. We were actually walking across the bridge when it opened. No health and safety problems; you just stay on the bridge until it closes again!!

Picturesque Willemstad with the bridge closed.

On the bridge.

Sunday morning, we were up at sparrow’s fart, and managed to haul the sails back up before the wind got up. We then took the hire car for a tour of the island and went to look at the bay of Santa Cruz where we might drop anchor for the night on Wednesday before heading off to Aruba.

Flamingos on our route north.

Jaanchie’s for lunch.

Jaanchie’s cat eying up Marcus’ red snapper

Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz.

Lagun bay.

When we returned to the boat we found that Fergus, on Two Drifters had returned our out haul line with a neatly fashioned splice in the end…….once again we put out an appeal for anyone who could help us with splicing and the offer was there!
Cruisers are a wonderful breed and it seems that this Suzie Too rally has attracted the very best of the best and, of course, us!! Everyone is there to look out for and after everyone else and lend a hand whenever and wherever it’s needed.
Any apprehensions we may have had about joining a rally have already been allayed and we’re looking forward to getting going!!

And so our first rally begins!!

Some shots from snorkeling in the bay next to the anchorage.

05. November 2018 · Comments Off on Carriacou · Categories: Sailing Blog

 

This must be one of my favourite islands. It’s like taking a step back in time and tempo.

A little piece of paradise…..

Being the outpost of Grenada, it is even more reliant on local produce and ingenuity and the ferries. We are anchored in Tyrell Bay, where all our cruisers’ needs are catered for in a very low key way.

There is a ferry that brings goods, ordered from Grenada 3 times a week, a brand spanking new supermarket, with A/C and free WiFi; stocking exotic delicacies such as Heinz baked beans and artichoke hearts, but often little to offer in the way of fresh fruit and veg, if the ferry hasn’t arrived!
The No.10 bus runs at will into the main town, Hillsboro, and ‘toots’ it’s way along the winding road attracting potential passengers. Occasionally there’s a shout from inside a house and the bus will stop, reverse and wait for its owner to emerge. Said owner will then either get in the bus, or ask the driver to deliver a message, a package or ask him to pick something up for them. Yesterday, a woman came out with a set of keys that her husband had forgotten and asked the driver to drop them off…….I love it!!!!

As in most anchorages, we run into boats we have met before. Taylor and Margaret aboard Wild Goose, who we first met in Jacksonville and again in The Bahamas and again in Prickly Bay, are starting their new adventure as Captain and Hostess aboard a large charter catamaran and they pulled into Tyrell Bay specifically to make us dinner and play Mexican Train Dominoes!

A touch of the good life aboard White House with Taylor and Margaret.

Whilst anchoring here last Saturday, in the squall of the year, we had a big problem with the anchor chain jamming in the anchor winch. Back in Jacksonville, Marcus doctored the rust on the chain and we and reversed it, so that the length that had spent most of its life, doing nothing in the chain locker, is now at the working end; however, the rust has now won the battle and we have to order up a new chain. As I said, there is everything here, but a ferry away!

We’re hoping that, once we have sorted out the exact dimensions of the links, our new chain will arrive while we are on land next week, having our biannual scrub, scrape and anti-foul painting done at the new Tyrell Bay Marina 🙏🙏

It is now next week and we were lifted out this morning. We are chocked up and waiting for work to start on sanding the hull, ready for the paint job.

An anxious time. It’s like putting your baby into the arms of a stranger!!

Best job in the boatyard…..checking the strops are not going to lift us by the prop shaft!!!

Not to scale!!

Safely reversed into our slot…..right next to the toilets!!

Not a bad view for the week.

One of the ‘hardships’ of living in the boat on the hard is that the refrigeration, generator and air con, which all depend on water cooling systems, won’t work on land…… So after IK was sitting safely, we went foraging for ice to put in the fridges and cool box……. The first of many trips, as the temperature is in the high 30s and the ice is already melting by the time we get it on board. Just remember our plight as you grumble about the cold in the UK!!!!😉

Simple delights abound here. Three times a week I join the ‘noodlers’ at the beach for an hour of aqua aerobics…..we can go snorkelling in the crystal clear waters of the marine park…..we joined in with the launching of a friend’s self built dinghy and got to test row and sail it…..

Angie and Johnson celebrating the launch of a dinghy, built to his design and her refinements.

……an eccentric French circus boat pulled up against the dock at the marina and entertained the cruising crowd with magic, music, acrobatics and aerial silks, followed by crepes.

Aerial silks, juggling, fire poy, trapeze artists, a Ring Master hanging about in the cross trees and a captivated audience.

Our very own Cirque de Soleil!

……the following evening, Cora 🎷 and Stan 🎹 performed for us all as ‘Ruff a Nuff’ at a beach pizzeria. They have traveled the world by boat as jobbing musicians and have a great repertoire with lots of swing classics and a style a bit like Jools Holland’s Orchestra. They are consummate professionals, adjusting almost seamlessly to accompany a local guy, singing Blueberry Hill, at a completely different tempo and pitch to the intro they’d played!! A great time was had by all 🎹🎷🎤

‘Ruff a Nuff’
Stan and Cora at The Lazy Turtle.

The painting has now been completed and we are due to be launched tomorrow morning, Tuesday 6th November.

Needless to say, things have not gone smoothly with the chain procurement. We were assured that the chandlers in Grenada had 1,300 ft of chain…..Fantastic!!……however they then told us that it was in pieces and the longest section they had was 120 ft, some 80ft short of our required length!! So….we are going to have to try and source it along the way.

We hope to set off before the end of the week for Curacao, a three day sail, where we will meet up with our fellow rally members and future friends!!

 

23. October 2018 · Comments Off on Hello again after a long time away!! WARNING…….This is a lengthy episode!! · Categories: Sailing Blog

After a lot of miles under the keel, since the last blog entry, we are now in Grenada and Carriacou, sitting out the hurricane season and preparing for our next big adventure, that starts in November.
We have signed up to take part in the ‘Suzie Too’ Ocean Cruising Club Rally, starting from Curaçao in November and arriving in April in Belize.
Our route will take us via Colombia, where we will spend Christmas with Jenni and Cristian, who are flying in from Australia, and will get to meet all of Cristian’s family. It’s going to be great to celebrate a Colombian Christmas!!!
After a month in Colombia, we will move on to The San Blas islands, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala……..time to look out the atlas, or google earth!

To fill you in quickly on our last year………
We left our Jacksonville, in February and sailed in company with Wavelength with Colin, Dawn Marie and their Boston terrier, Cypress, on board across to the Abacos in the Bahamas.

Wavelength’s motley crew!

 

The Bahamas!

From there we made our way south encountering very shallow waters, some very rough seas and swimming pigs!!

One of the pushy swimming pigs at Staniel Cay

They clearly had no food!

 

Arty shot at Green Turtle Cay.

 

Sharks at Staniel Cay too!

 

The Beach Bar at Little Harbour at the bottom of the Abacos Island chain.

 

A fond farewell to Allan and Claire on Moonstone of Aberdour……built in Tonbridge, Kent and fitted out in Aberdour, just across the Firth of Forth from Tash in Scotland!!

We checked out of the Bahamas in Great Inagua, the most southerly island in the Exumas, and headed for the windward passage and then west bound along the south coast of Cuba.

The winds this year have been against us….. the expected northerlies never arrived and we found ourselves having to motor-sail for 500 miles all the way to Cienfuegos, so that we could make it in time to welcome my sister, her partner and grandson aboard!!
To cut a very long story short, we limped into Cienfuegos with two days to spare, with a broken bracket, that should have held the alternators on the engine block and a makeshift fan belt, made from a pair of tights (that I just happened to have onboard), to run the water pump that cools the engine.
Liney, Jackie and Malachy were the perfect guests for two stressed out mariners, with a boat that wasn’t going anywhere!
As seasoned travellers they took it all in their stride and took to life on board like ducks to water! Having a young person with us gave us the bonus of spending days at the beach and at the nearby pool……something that we don’t normally do.

Family on a red rhinoceros in the sculpture park next to the marina.

 

Tied up and going nowhere!

 

Malachy (and Liney!) relaxing after being hoisted up the mast.

 

School work is hard when you are on holiday!

 

Learning to sail, however……

 

Jackie at the helm…..

……time to relax on the foredeck.

Once Marcus eventually managed to get a bracket made to remount the alternator, we had to persuade the officials to let us take a trip around the harbour to test the engine. It was only by going to a second official, who had to clear it with the harbour authorities, that we set off for a half mile trip out and and back……. As it happened we couldn’t have gone further, as the newly welded bracket fell apart….. so, back to the dock and back to the drawing board!!
We had the boat upside down for days while a ‘fit for purpose’ bracket was designed, made and fitted.

Marcus definitely earned his design technology proficiency badge in Cuba!!
Once the boat was able to move, we anchored out and at least were able to give the family a taste of being away from the dock!

 

IK at anchor at last!

 

Our final farewell to Liney, Jackie and Malachy, We were sad to see them go 🙁

Having bid a fond farewell to Liney, Jackie, Malachy and our engine problems, we took a holiday and made a couple of trips to Havana and Trinidad, to get a feel for the country and its history.

Here are a few of the photos to give you a feel of Cuba.

We arrived here in Grenada in early June, having battled our way into wind and waves; motor sailing all the way from Cuba to Jamaica, where I celebrated my 66th birthday, swimming at the bottom of a waterfall!

Jamaica……

Local fresh fish.

 

The local market.

 

Our favourite stall where I spoke ‘cricket’ with the stall holder!

Birthday lunch of the tastiest goat curry ever!!

We then pushed on to the Dominican Republic, stopping briefly at a Haitian island to rewind our furler on the stay sail

The DR officials…Customs, Immigration and Port Authority….leaving after a beer on board and papers signed!!

and then on to Puerto Rico. Once again we were caught having to make the deadline of our flights booked from Grenada, so after just two nights in Puerto Rico we checked out and did a 5 night passage all the way down to Grenada in one hit.

 

We both then flew home for 7 weeks to celebrate my Mum’s 99th birthday…..

 

99!!

The Sky Garden at Anglesey Abbey……how else do you celebrate you 99th birthday?

………and to travel the length of the UK visiting friends and family.

 

We visited Dan for his birthday too and he was

doing what he loves.

 

With the fantastic summer they were having, we felt right at home and it even crossed our minds that we could retire somewhere like Dartmouth!!
At the beginning of August, Marcus flew back to look after Island Kea and to make sure she was safe during the hurricane season, whilst I flew over to Sydney for 5 weeks to be with our daughter, Jenni, to give her a lot of Mummy TLC, as she underwent some serious surgery……

A very poorly Jenn.

 

10 days later and her first venture out and about.

Happily the op went perfectly and she is now totally recovered and signed off by the surgeon.

 

Some shots of Australia, just to whet your appetite!

Me and another bridge!

 

Up close and personal with a kangaroo.

 

Walking the cliff north of Sydney.

 

A night at the opera. we went to see ‘A Turk in Italy’

Island Kea is a very high maintenance girl and there isn’t a day when she doesn’t demand our attention! The generator is now working, after hours of dehydrating work by Marcus, in furnace like conditions, down in the engine compartment. The water maker is partially repaired, but needs expensive new membranes before it can work it’s magic and supply us with desalinated sea water! Only then can we abandon the regular multiple trips to and from the dinghy dock to fill the water canisters and deposit water into our empty tanks……all 350 gallons of emptiness!!

Since I returned from Australia in September, we have managed to put up the full boat canopy, which gives us good shade and funnels the wind, lowering the temperature aboard by a good 10F to 15F degrees.

The latest tantrum IK has thrown was to stop the domestic fridge from working……. After a week of trying to unravel the mysteries of thermostats, wiring, water pumps and relay boxes, Marcus has now earned his refrigeration proficiency badge!!

Life here is punctuated by the social events that the cruisers put on during the week …….. Mexican Train Dominoes, Texas Holdem poker, a Trivia Quiz night and the pool competition, followed by a music night at a local Rum Shack.

I have taken the opportunity to help out at the Mount Aery Young Readers sessions on Saturday mornings. This is a very worthy voluntary reading class, run by Grenadians, Jeanne Pascal and her husband Everest. It’s held in their garage, where they roll out the chairs and desks and the walls are covered with book cases, rather than tools.

The Garage School Room

Marcus lasted one week!

Two of my students Claudesha and her cousin.

The shopping buses run on Tuesdays and Fridays, so getting back from town with bags of shopping is made a lot easier. The regular buses don’t come down to our bay and they are always rammed to the gunnels with as many as 26 people in a 16 seater mini bus!!
We generally try to do one job a day and count it as a bonus if we manage two! …….No jobs on Sunday.

At the beginning of September Marcus’ aunt, Betty and cousin, Tracy, came out for their second visit to us in Grenada and this time stayed at the True Blue Resort, which is a 15 minute walk from the dinghy dock. It was good to spend time with them and sample the delights of the resort. It’s always lovely to have friends and family come out to visit and share a little bit of our life.

 

I’m am writing this in the Gallery Cafe on Carriacou…..one of the few places with decent wifi. Our lift out has been delayed due to bad weather, a bank holiday and a broken pulley on the travel lift!!!!

Nothing is ever simple!

09. May 2017 · Comments Off on Bahamas contd. Man-o-War and Elbow Cay. · Categories: Sailing Blog

With th the weather looking calm for a few days, we escaped from Marsh Harbour and sailed across to the nearest of the Outer Islands, Man-o-War. Although Marsh Harbour could hardly be described as a metropolis, landing in Man-o-War is like stepping back in time. Having made sure the anchor had set firmly, we lowered IKITUTU and made our way through some pretty shallow water to check out the settlement.

Man o War lagoon by dinghy.

Man o War lagoon by dinghy.

The inner ‘lagoon’ is divided in two by the inlet from the sea, allowing for deeper draft vessels to enter the west mooring field…..sadly not deep enough for us!

DSC01448

‘Owls Nest’ at the far west end of the MoW lagoon. My dream house!

We tied up to a dock that looked free, having missed the signs on the two public docks, and strolled through the deserted streets. The roads are just wide enough for two golf carts to pass each other…..there are no cars allowed on the island…….  and the speed limit is 10mph. One bit of British legacy is that they drive on the left, but all the carts are left hand drive!!

The corner of Lovers Lane MoW.

The corner of Lovers Lane MoW.

The Bank and car park.

The Bank and car park.

We took a path that led up between the houses and only then realised just how narrow the island was as we came out onto a beach. As you can see the weather was changing!

View to the left.........

View to the left………

.......view to the right!

…….view to the right!

We managed to get back to the boat before getting the tail end of this down pour.

Back on the boat, our minds turned to the next knotty problem that IK has thrown our way. Whilst having the boards down over our bed to look at the throttle cable, we noticed that the steering cable was fraying where the water had caused some rusting. MoW is a working island and although it clearly caters for tourists, it also boasts three or four working boat yards. We decided to call in at one the following morning and see if there was a chance of replacing the cable, incase it decides to break as we approach the dreaded Jacksonville Main Street bridge!!!

We stopped by a boat that was moored at the end of Edwins Boatyard dock,to ask for advice on who to speak to. We not only got the name of the most experienced boatbuilder, but also the promise of some Mahi Mahi that the guy we asked wanted to clear from his cool box!! A fantastic result!

After our day trip round the island, (which I will get to later!), Keith, the boatbuilder offered to come out to the boat and take a look at the steering cable. Having given it a good inspection, he declared it fit enough to do the 300 miles to St Augustine, but said it did need replacing sooner rather than later!

The fraying on the steering cable. Let's hope the diagnosis is sound!!

The fraying on the steering cable. Let’s hope the diagnosis is sound!!

As I said, we decided to do a tour of the island and hired a golf cart for the day.

Our wheels for the day to explore the whole island.

Our wheels for the day to explore the whole island.

We didn’t encounter too much other traffic and as there was only one main road with side roads at right angles in the settlement, we felt sure we wouldn’t get lost. They gave us a map for the settlement, that is only about three quarters of a mile square, and then we were on our own and off piste!

Relics of the island's past.

Relics of the island’s past.

Joining the settlement end of the island and the posh second home end is a causeway that must get totally covered during storms and ultra high tides. There is a distinct  difference between the people’s buildings of the settlement and the mega rich soulless buildings at the posh end of the island.

The Low Place.......that really is its name!

The Low Place…….that really is its name!

As we took a side road off the main track, we came to the island’s new cemetery. The old one, that housed the original families that settled the island, was washed away in a hurricane and a memorial, with the names of the lost graves, has been erected. It makes interesting reading as there are only three or four surnames, but there are no two Christian names that are the same!

The new cemetery that replaced the original that was washed away in a hurricane..

The new cemetery that replaced the original that was washed away in a hurricane.

The names of the people who inhabited the original graveyard, before the hurricane.

The names of the people who inhabited the original graveyard, before the hurricane.

Continuing our tour to the posh end of the island, it was time to cool off and give the driver a rest!!

Up the posh end of the island at Manderlay.

Up the posh end of the island at Manderlay.

Island Kea at anchor.

From the private dock we found we could see Island Kea at anchor.

The golf cart in off road mode!

The golf cart in off road mode!

The following morning we returned the golf cart and decided to stay the night, before heading for the shelter of Marsh Harbour again, as strong winds and thunderstorms were forecast!

The signposting is DIY, but works just fine!

The signposting is DIY, but works just fine!

The winds arrived in Marsh Harbour and left again. We were snugly tucked up in almost the same spot we had left three days before!

Monday, being my birthday, we decided to treat ourselves to a ferry ride over to Hope Town on Elbow Cay. It was a beautiful, calm sunny day and I don’t think I’ll ever forget where I spent my 65th birthday.

The ferry dropped us on the lighthouse side of the harbour and we were soon making our way up to the top. It is the only remaining kerosene lamp, with a counterweight mechanism to turn the light, left  in the world! ( I don’t know if that is a bit like the ‘World’ series in baseball, that only has American teams!?) Anyway, there are two lighthouse keepers who have to crank the mechanism every two hours and pump the pressure chambers throughout the night!! ….worse than being on watch!

Elbow Reef lighthouse.

Elbow Reef lighthouse.

A wannabe lighthouse keeper!

A wannabe lighthouse keeper with the kerosene pressure pump.

The counterweight mechanism was built in Birmingham!

The counterweight mechanism was built in Birmingham!

Once at the top, there was a small door leading on to the balcony. A bit of a squeeze for some!

Ornate? Or a warning to hold on tight?

The door handle. Ornate? Or a warning to hold on tight?

I didn't realise I was wearing lighthouse camouflage!!

I didn’t realise I was wearing lighthouse camouflage!!

Recovering from the climb!

Recovering from the climb!

Lighthouse completed we headed off for a look a t Hope Town……..

Birthday girl appearing again!

Birthday girl appearing again!

The Main Street called The Queen's Highway!

The Main Street called The Queen’s Highway!

It's a bit like Cornwall, but no granite, only wood.

It’s a bit like Cornwall, but no granite, only wood.

Hope Town is so small you can get a glimpse of the lighthouse from most corners.

Hope Town is so small you can get a glimpse of the lighthouse from most corners.

Having walked the entire town, we returned to the harbour an Cap’n Jack’s for a birthday lunch, overlooking the water.

Lunch at Cap'n Jack's.......and yes! That is the lighthouse behind us!

Lunch at Cap’n Jack’s…….and yes! That is the lighthouse behind us!

A perfect end to a perfect birthday!

A perfect end to a perfect birthday!

Joining in with the sunset chorus of conch blowers.

Joining in with the sunset chorus of conch blowers.

We are now on our way to the US and hope to arrive in St Augustine on Thursday morning!

05. May 2017 · Comments Off on Bahamas at Last (via West Palm Beach) · Categories: Sailing Blog

Having made our way to Cape Canaveral we moored up against a concrete dock for two nights, until a sheriff in a launch asked us to move. Apparently the marina had complained about us being there. Probably annoyed that a boat our size wasn’t paying into their coffers!

Looking at the weather radar we saw there was a big storm heading towards Cape Canaveral and didn’t fancy taking the brunt of it, so we decided to leave and head out to sea and south to avoid it. Once on our way we heard that the bridge to the canal in Cape Canaveral was shut until the evening because of the threat of lightening. The radar showed lighter weather to the south and we could see the main cells trooping up the coast. Unfortunately we failed to outrun the whole storm and were caught in strong winds, driving rain, lightening and hail! It was bad enough for us to donn our lifejackets and reduce sail to a minimum. After two hours huddled together in the cockpit,weathering the storm, we sailed out of the last of it and headed for West Palm Beach and the peace and quiet of Lake Worth.

Whilst there we called our Island Bum friends, Nic and Tyler and they came out to us in their friends’ boat and brought their ‘Nic’ friends who were visiting with them.

Nic, Nikki and Nick with Tyler, Marcus and me!

Nic, Nikki and Nick with Tyler, Marcus and me!

We went with them in the evening to visit Mindy and Andrew who have a fantastic house on the water. By the time we left, there was a definite chill in the air…..

On our way back home.

Huddled together under cover on our way back home.

Our stay in Lake Worth was short, as we had to take the only likely weather window within view to cross to the Bahamas. The Gulf Stream is the governing factor. It flows northwards at around 4-5knots. If there is any ‘north’ in the wind, then there is a wind over tide effect that can make for an uncomfortable and even dangerous crossing!

Needless to say, leaving didn’t go quite to plan! First we tried to mend the staysail furler that has unaccountably decided to jam. With no luck on that front we trussed the sail up, just incase it changed its mind, and will just have to manage with only the Genoa until we can consult a rigger!

While we were busy with the staysail we heard on the ‘bridge traffic’ radio that Beyzano, with our Trinnie friends, Rob and Rhian aboard, was making her way up the ICW to Lake Worth. We hadn’t seen them for two and a half years, so we delayed our trip across to the fuel dock until they arrived.
We had no sooner pulled up our anchor and said our farewells when the engine spluttered, coughed and stopped…..a quick redeployment of the anchor may have puzzled Rob and Rhian, but they were too polite to question it! We knew that we had run the starboard tank nearly dry, but didn’t realise it was down to fumes only! A quick ‘up floorboards’ to get to the fuel taps and we soon had the full port tank feeding the starving engine.

At the fuel dock it took us an hour to fill the empty starboard tank…….not due to quantity, but due to their modern ‘high speed’ pump causing air locks and back wash if we tipped more than a tea cup’s worth at a time down the old girl’s throat.
Duly filled we were off…….well almost……we decided to make a pass by Beyzona, but approaching from a different angle we somehow managed a brief, but effective grounding! They say mishaps come in threes, so we were feeling confident as we set off to cross the Gulf Stream that we had had our quota.

We arrived in Bahamian waters with no more events and spent a restful night at anchor, sheltered from strong overnight winds by an uninhabited island. We got up early to move 5 miles south to check in at Green Turtle Cay. The holding here was in patchy weed and it took us five attempts to set the anchor!

During the course of the third anchor lift, the throttle cable broke, so once again a quick redeployment of the anchor to slow down our drift and another ‘up floor boards’ so that we could assess the problem. It seems that the cable that comes down from the cockpit and turns at a right angle above our bed on its way to the engine has rusted through, so within an hour and in the best Heath Robinson tradition, we jury rigged a line that attaches to the throttle on the engine, runs to a block under the board below the companionway steps, comes up through a purpose drilled holed in said board, up to a block on the coach roof, across to a block attached to the bimini upright and then over to a jamming cleat at the helm!!

The slightly modified jury rig. The line now goes up to the block above the helm.

The slightly modified jury rig. The line now goes up to the block above the helm.

The slightly modified jury rig. The line now goes up to the block above the helm.

The slightly modified jury rig. The line now goes up to the block above the helm.

……..It actually works better than the cable, so we don’t have to panic and get spares sent out here…….a very costly proposition! We’re hoping it will do the job until we’re back in the US…….fingers crossed!!

Having completed our running repairs and satisfied ourselves that the anchor was well dug in, Marcus went ashore to check into the Bahamas in the customs office, which appeared to be an extension of the public toilets! We got some local advice about going out through the cut at Whale Cay passage and headed for Marsh Harbour to meet up with Mel and James on Blew Beyond and to transfer all their provisions weighing down our forepeak.

We dropped our anchor near BB and, after a couple of groundings, found a deep enough hole to suit our draft!

View of the dinghy dock from our anchorage.

View of the dinghy dock from our anchorage.

It was great to see Mel and James again. They left us in January and have been down to Cuba and back up through The Exumas and Eluthera……..places we will hopefully visit on our way south at the end of the hurricane season in November/December this year…………..we’ve been intending to get down to Cuba for the last two seasons, but things never seem to go to plan!!

The only negative experience we had in Marsh Harbour was having both our bike sadles and both front wheels stolen from our bikes! At first we thought they had stolen both ours and Mel and James’ bikes, but I suddenly spotted them lying on the ground over the wall we had been sitting on for the past half hour! They were still padlocked together, but the wire fence had been cut. The three lads caught on video must have had a real struggle lifting them over the wall!! We reported the theft to the police, but the wheels and seats have clearly gone into hiding!

We had a very sociable time in Marsh Harbour. Mel and James’ friends, Susan and Robin, arrived the same time as us and were staying in a villa right on the water a twenty minute walk from the dinghy dock. We ate together with them and their three girls most evenings……at restaurants, on BB, at the villa and on IK. During the days we did our own thing……for us it was shopping, boat maintenance and a bit of sightseeing by dinghy and socialising with other boats at anchor!

We met up with old friends; Wolfgang and Birta on TANAMERA and David and Suzanne on SUZIE TOO. Wolfgang  was a great help putting heads together with Marcus over our jammed furler. David and Suzanne came aboard for a quick visit and reawakened our interest in joining their OCC rally from Curaçao to Belize in 2018.

We made new friends with John and Georgina on SHAMAL. It turns out that they too knew SUZIE TOO and had taken part in the last Belize rally. We joined them on a wet and windy afternoon for Mexican Train dominos and they kindly gave us cruising guides for Colombia and Belize.

On the maintenance front, we wrestled the staysail off in light winds and Marcus managed to wiggle the foil up high enough to free the jammed mechanism……..it seems a screw that holds it up had come loose!

One of the dinghy docks.

One of the dinghy docks.

Worth the walk!

Worth the walk!

It would have been great to have had the bikes:(

Every other morning Mel, James and I went for a 30min run along the waterfront. We left together and came back together, but my little legs couldn’t keep up with their pace in the middle!! It was great to have that extra incentive to get out there and do it!

Last week saw the arrival of Hywell, Julian and Ken; friends of Mel and James who are crew for the Bermuda leg of their homeward journey. It was a quick turn around for them, but we managed a trip around to Mermaid Reef with them for some snorkelling.

A shoal of fish swam past me and one actually nibbled my calf!

A shoal of fish swam past me and one actually nibbled my calf!

There were some big ones!

There were some big ones!

Someone had to stand guard with the dinghies!!

Someone had to stand guard with the dinghies!!

We all went to Colors for a last supper and waved them off on Saturday morning.

Our last supper together.

Our last supper together.

The night before we left Marsh Harbour, we were awoken at 3 a.m. by the sound of fog horns. At first I thought it was part of my dream of a liner leaving dock to the merry blasts from a small boat flotilla. When Marcus leapt out of bed I recognised it for what it really was………in the strong winds a 60foot catamaran, JADE,was dragging through the anchorage and boaters were sounding a warning and trying to waken the crew. We quickly leapt into the dinghy and ‘Haywards’ International Rescue’ was once again in action! By the time we got to the Cat, it became clear that there was no one onboard and there were three other dinghies nudging it away from boats in its path. A young couple in a small dinghy arrived back with the spare anchor off their 26′ sailboat, TURTLE. No one thought it could possibly hold a boat nearly three times their size……but it did!!

Once tethered the rescuers could work on breaking the lock on the anchor locker and getting her own anchor deployed. Once happy that she wasn’t going to drift any further, we shadowed the little dinghy back safely to TURTLE. On our way back to IK we called by to see Paul on BELLA LUNA, another of the early rescuers, who had actually climbed aboard and attempted to steer JADE between the unsuspecting anchorage.

Another job well done! ……….If we were Sea Tow we would be claiming a six figure salvage fee!!

20. April 2017 · Comments Off on Up, Up and Away! · Categories: Sailing Blog

Leaving Jacksonville has been a big wrench. We grew roots over the enforced four months we were there. We have made good friends through our trials with the mast and experienced only kindness and helpfulness from everyone we’ve met. The stereotype that we have of Americans in Britain is completely false and does them a disservice ……..unfortunately the face of America is now Donald Trump and he reinforces our prejudice on a daily basis!!
Our sanity throughout all the mast, salvage and refitting has been being adopted by the big family that is the Lake Shore Bar! From our first foray there to find a pool table we have been made to feel at home. Robin and Cecil, who own the bar, even came down to the boat to wave us off and are changing their holiday plans to coincide with being in Edinburgh at the same time were up there for the wedding!
Marcus has played pool in the Thursday tournament every week and taken a 1st, 2nd and 3rd! He was also asked by Katie Mac, the dynamic bar maid, to play on the bar’s ‘Hot Shots’ team in the Tuesday pool league. My role has been cheer leader/groupie/designated driver and occasional darts player!

The Hot Shot pool team with chief mascot and cheerleader!

The Hot Shot pool team with chief mascot and cheerleader!

Once the new mast arrived we spent our days working to remove all the lines, cables, winches, cleats, blocks and track from the old one and measuring up, mousing, drilling , screwing and riveting everything back onto the new. Until you actually remove all the bits you don’t realise just how many adornments a mast has! The spinnaker pole track needed a hundred rivets drilled out, a hundred holes drilled on the new mast and the a hundred new rivets popped into place. Where bits had to be screwed on, Marcus had to learn how to tap a thread into the mast…….very slowly by hand at first and then a quick whizz-whizz with the electric drill by the end!
Julian, our rigger, spent a morning with us fixing the bits we had problems with and getting it ready to be lifted……….In the meantime we had totally rearranged the storage on IK, moving out the ‘elephant in the corner’ to make beds for Keith and James, who flew out for a week in sunny Florida. Unfortunately for them their arrival coincided with the coldest cold front this spring and, fortunately for us, with the craning of the mast back on to the boat. It was great to see them both and we thoroughly enjoyed their company and their help.

Leaning on the imaginary mast, waiting for the crane.

Leaning on the imaginary mast, waiting for the crane.

 

The Crane preparing to lift our new mast lying on trestles.

The Crane preparing to lift our new mast lying on trestles.

 

Quality control by Byron and Son.

Quality control by Byron and Son.

 

A very nervous moment....Hooray and.....

A very nervous moment….Hooray and…..

 

.....up.......

…..up…….

 

.....she rises!!

…..she rises!!

 

......and down again!

……and down again!

 

Last, but not least, the boom is craned on.

Last, but not least, the boom is craned on.

…….Keith helped Marcus sort out all the electric and electronic wires that come down the mast and had to be reconnected at the base. They had an hour of bottoms up and aching knees while they sorted it all out.

James hauled aloft to fit the wind vane.

James hauled aloft to fit the wind vane.

James was elected to be hauled up to the mast head to put the wind vane back in place and then we set to and hauled the sails back onto their rollers. The following day we took IK out for her first outing with her new mast……perhaps a little to eager to be sailing, we left too early and got stuck in the mud out in the channel for while before the tide came up enough to float us off. Returning we only grazed the mud……should have turned back a little sooner?! Only one mishap and potentially dangerous rig failure happened when a block at the mast foot exploded under strain and shot past me along with the winch handle that the tensioned line had whipped off the mast! That was the second exploding block in two days…..the first happened when I was tensioning the mast backwards on the running back stay for Julian to get the aft stay bottle screw on. The out haul block broke and the line flew forwards just brushing my forehead. Two close shaves in two days!

While they were with us, we took a trip with Keith and James down to Daytonna to see the ‘bike week’. Frank and Mary Anne had told us that it was a ‘must see’ event, so off we went for the day.

As eccentric as Whitby!

As eccentric as Whitby!

 

Me an ma dawg!

Me an ma dawg!

 

Quite an eclectic mix of people! Today I shall mostly be wearing me snake!!

Quite an eclectic mix of people! Today I shall mostly be wearing me snake!!

 

Now that's a real Pony Express.

Now that’s a real Pony Express.

 

Marcus' Wallace and Grommit imression!

Marcus’ Wallace and Grommit impression!

 

Alligator boots on a day of sweltering sun!

Alligator boots on a day of sweltering sun!

 

It's not what it looks like...... colors means clubs or gangs that all wear the same colours!!

It’s not what it looks like…… colors means clubs or gangs that all wear the same colours!!

 

Taking it all on board!

Taking it all on board!

 

This season we will mostly be wearing bikinis with chaps?!

This season we will mostly be wearing bikinis with chaps?!

 

......did'nt quite know where to put his hands!

……did’nt quite know where to put his hands!

 

Marcus with his hands full!

Marcus with his hands full!

 

One happy man!

One happy man!

There were thousands upon thousands of bikes and bikers of every description. Unlike the Brighton seafront gatherings of our memory, this was a non threatening, slightly ageing demographic with eccentricity rather than aggression at the core.
A good time was had by all!

On the Sunday before we left we had an ‘open boat’ for all the friends we’ve made and spent a great day at the marina with them.

Curry and Barbecue and plenty of drink!

Curry and Barbecue and plenty of drink!

Corn hole at the marina with Eric and Xavier.......

Corn hole at the marina with Eric and Xavier…….

.....Marcus and Paul.

…..Marcus and Paul.

Cecil and Marcus with Paul photo bombing!

Cecil and Marcus with Paul photo bombing!

We were talking with Frank and Mary Anne about the problem we were having in getting rid of the old mast, as the guy who was going to take it have cried off. When the conversation turned to cutting it up for scrap, Frank said he had the right tools and would do it for us the following morning!! He’s not just a great pool player and he certainly is a good friend.

Marcus' mentor, Frank........also very skilled with a sawsall!

Marcus’ mentor, Frank……..also very skilled with a sawsall!

Before setting off we were due to do another provisioning trip, so when Mel and James, who visited us over Christmas and had the gearbox problems, contacted us from the Bahamas to ask if we could bring ‘some food’ over for them we were only too pleased to help. They had eaten their way into and through most of their stores while they were in Cuba and are now preparing for a six week trip, with five people onboard, to Bermuda and then on via the Azores to Lisbon. As provisioning panic set in, Mel and I were sending shopping lists back and forth, with additions and amendments, on what seemed an hourly basis. To provision in the Bahamas is astronomically expensive……one litre of UHT milk costs $1 in the US and $4.50 in the Bahamas!
Norman and Jan kindly took us to Costco to fill two huge carts with both Blew Beyond’s and Island Kea’s dietary needs. It took another trip with Mary Anne to the naval base to fill all of BB’s list. By the time all was stowed away, the forepeak was replete and the boat had a definite forward list!

As I mentioned before, Cecil and Robin came to wave us off………..

Captain Robin...... is that a parrot on her shoulder?

Captain Robin…… is that a parrot on her shoulder?

…………we made our way out gingerly over the shallows and headed for the fuel dock, just before the dreaded Main Street bridge. Fully fuelled, we called for the 4 o’clock opening, checking twice that they had opened it high enough for us!! There were a few expletives from me, as we went under the span, but we got through with no damage except to Marcus’s delicate ears!!

Our plan was to catch the ebbing tide and to spend the night at Sister’s Creek, just before the inlet entrance. I had been told that the old lifting bridge had been replaced by a new 82’ fixed bridge, that wasn’t on the charts. Sure enough, as we approached there was a fixed bridge, but as we got closer we thought it look less than 82’!!

Probably 70ft????? Not the 82ft we were told!!

Probably 70ft????? Not the 82ft we were told!!

On closer inspection, the tide gauge on the parapet showed 67’ on the lowest mark!!……..luckily it was a low Spring tide and we guess there was a least 70’ clearance. We held our breath and ducked and the mast and aerials passed under without a twang to be heard!!

We pulled up to the dock and two men, from the two other sailing yachts, came to take our lines.

Needless to say, having survived another bridge and it being near sunset we had sundowners out before you could say ‘Jack Robinson’! Once we got talking to Steffan and Kiki on the Swedish boat, it proved yet again what a small village the cruising world is……..they knew Magnus and Sara and Kiki worked with Sara! They also knew Anders and Eva, who we met on board ‘Mahi Mahi’, with Magnus and Sara in Teneriffe and had they sailed on the Curaçao to Belize rally with Dave and Susie on ‘Susie Too’ and Rob and Rhian on ‘Beyzano’.

Its such a warm feeling making new friends and discovering where our paths cross!

Steffan and Kiki helping Michel to cast off.

Steffan and Kiki helping Michel to cast off.

Our little flotilla leaving Sister's Creek.

Our little flotilla leaving Sister’s Creek.

11. February 2017 · Comments Off on Back on the radar! · Categories: Sailing Blog

We are back on the radar and finally have our lives back!!
It seems ages since I updated the blog……..I fact it was last year!
Happy New Year to one and all.

The reason for our ‘radio silence’ is that we have been keeping a low profile whilst we have been dealing with what we feel are an unscrupulous, piratical towing company.

As you will remember, after we had hit the bridge, we were offered a tow from the bridge to the river wall, which we accepted knowing that there would be some charge involved, but we figured 200m and 8 minutes work would come to a couple of hundred dollars. Imagine our consternation when Sea Tow’s lawyer called us and said they were going to be claiming salvage!!

The very day that we had the mast lifted, December 14th, we received an email to say Sea Tow were claiming $35,000 for salvage and had put a high priority lien on the boat. Not the birthday present I had in mind for Marcus!

To cut a very long story short, we have spent the past three months speaking to 4 different lawyers, writing copious emails and biting our nails to the quick trying to find a way out of the nightmare of this seemingly legalised modern day piracy.

The whole of the boating and local community have been behind us and very supportive, so we have not been totally on our own, but common sense and common decency have nothing to do with the salvage laws here in the USA.

We have been told that we may have been the victims of a ‘bait and switch’ scam…….the tow that we accepted suddenly became a salvage claim once we were tied to the dock and the ‘pirate captain’ tricked us into signing a salvage form…… I gave him the boat details which he ‘jotted down’ on a form that he told me was a piece of scrap paper. He then asked Marcus to sign the form that ‘his wife had helped him with’…….you’ve guessed it……Marcus signed thinking it was a towing form!

It was two days later, after the added trauma of his untimely dip, that Marcus remembered that he had a copy of the form and we discovered that what he had signed was not a towing form, but one for salvage!……..Clearly not something he would ever have done if there hadn’t been skulduggery afoot!

The whole episode has left us emotionally and mentally exhausted. We eventually managed to persuade the towing company’s lawyer that we didn’t have that sort of money and that Sea Tow would be better off in accepting our insurance company’s offer to pay ‘reasonable’ towing costs, which they set at $1,125……..rather more than we felt Sea Tow deserved in payment for a botched tow and ramming us into the dock, causing damage to our bow roller and pulpit!

After some more posturing from Sea Tow, claiming they deserved 3 times as much, due to the conditions at the time, we sent their lawyer a couple of the 36 photos that a fellow cruiser……(who by fate, just happens to be moored in our marina!)…..had taken at the time. These clearly showed that the conditions were not a factor and Sea Tow came back with a reduced offer of $2,000 which we agreed to, in order remove the dark cloud that has been hanging over us………….Perhaps we should consider a career change……$15,000 an hour is tempting !!
So…….as of yesterday we are $2,000 poorer, but the salvage claim and the lien on the boat have been removed and we have our lives back!!!!!

On a brighter note, after arriving at Ortega River Marina, we have been visited by old friends and made quite a few more new ones. There are about 17 live aboard boats in the marina and everyone is very friendly and helpful. More of these in a later post!

Ortega River Marina.

Ortega River Marina.

 

Moon rise from the boat.

Moon rise from the boat.

After seeing on AIS that we were in Jacksonville, Serge and Charlotte on KUAKA, decided to detour on their way south and visit us. We first met them in Jacaré, Brazil, two years ago and have crossed paths as we’ve made our separate ways up through the Caribbean and on to the east coast of the USA. It was wonderful to see them again and they decided to stay until after Christmas, so we spent a lot of time with them and thoroughly enjoyed their company. We have been so lucky to have the use of our friend, Norman’s, car to get out and about and take the odd trip to the cinema and local attractions.

Both Marcus and Serge were chefs and at one point, when we were wandering the historic streets of St Augustine, we realised they were having a verbal duel of French cooking terms, trying to catch each other out……. Serge had a slight advantage as he is French Swiss and Marcus only has kitchen french, but I think they declared it a draw! We both have a son and daughter of similar ages and they appear to have similar personalities, so Charlotte and I enjoyed comparing notes! We even managed to fit in a game of petanque with them.

Serge and Marcus..... so much in common!

Serge and Marcus….. so much in common!

 

Fun and games......petanque with Serge and Charlotte complete with wine!

Fun and games……petanque with Serge and Charlotte complete with wine!

Our second set of visitors, were James and Mel on BLEW BEYOND. Good friends who we first met in Cape Canaveral with Jim and Paula and then journeyed up to New York with and met up with again in Newport RI. They also checked the AIS and saw that we were in Jacksonville and, when they heard what had happened to us, they too decided to detour our way. Unfortunately this area seems to have it in for us Brits! After sailing down and around Hatterass the wind dropped off and they put the engine on, only to be greeted by a ghastly grinding noise from below decks and no drive, so they had to sail slowly through the night and arranged for Tow Boat US to meet them 10 miles off the Jacksonville Inlet and tow them into the entrance.

We drove up to see them and to commiserate with them. The marina they were in was so awful that we were easily able to persuade them to come up to Sadler Point Marina for repairs. They were part of the merry throng for who arrived in time for Marcus’ Birthday Barbecue and the Christmas festivities. We let them have our slip and we went out to anchor……without an engine it is not safe to anchor.

Marcus' party with good friends.

Marcus’ party with good friends.

 

 

Jan and Marcus celebrating.

Jan and Marcus celebrating.

 

Marcus birthday party evening looking over the marina.

Marcus birthday party evening looking over the marina.

 

Christmas Eve aboard Kuaka. Delicious lamb shanks and apple tart mmmmmm!

Christmas Eve aboard Kuaka. Delicious lamb shanks and apple tart mmmmmm!

 

Smoked Salmon, scrambled eggs, bucks fizz and great company.

Smoked Salmon, scrambled eggs, bucks fizz and great company aboard Island Kea.

 

Pressie Time!

Pressie Time!

 

Carols played on pipes!

Carols played on pipes!

 

The Plied Pipers!!

The Plied Pipers!!

 

Serge and Charlotte paddling home after Christmas breakfast.

Serge and Charlotte paddling home after Christmas breakfast.

After a fortnight, dealing with an unscrupulous mechanic, Mel and James were towed into Sadler marina for the expert attention of the legendary Chip, who despite his age and reduced mobility, managed to reattach the gear box on the most awkward engine he had ever worked on in 60 years! While they were there, the jerk who had started working on their engine and couldnt fix it, boarded their boat while they were out with us for the evening, locked their companionway hatch and threw away the key!! An irrational way for a mechanic to behave we all thought!!! He accused them of moving away without paying their bill……they had moved all of 30yds and were’nt going anywhere with no gear box. Luckily on a freezing night they were able to break in through the aft cabin hatch. Trumpton has some very irrational people who we can only worry that without the control of a social conscience, might take over the asylum!!

We waved a sad farewell first to Serge and Charlotte and then Mel and James.
We’re happy for them, as they escaped from Jacksonville and delighted that they have become good friends. Plying their separate ways south, they have met up in St Augustine and Key West and now they are together again in Cuba.

‘Oh for a tall ship and a star to sail her by!!’

13. December 2016 · Comments Off on Jacksonville ……. Don’t try this at home! · Categories: Sailing Blog

As a lot of you will already have heard, disaster struck in the form of a stuck rudder, a fast flowing tide and a bridge that failed to raise!!

We were gilling around, waiting for the construction workers to return from lunch before the bridge could be raised. All was going well until, suddenly, the rudder got stuck to port and we had to steer in circles with the tide dragging us steadily, but surely towards the bridge.

Within minutes we were in trouble and, thanks to a tow by a small power boat, we managed to get into a position to power ourselves, grinding against the bridge span, to the bridge support and make fast to it. Just then a tow boat from Sea Tow arrived next to us and asked if we wanted a tow to the nearby derelict sea wall……..of course we said yes, but it’s a bit like the AA and the RAC………We belong to Tow Boat US, so accepting a tow from their competitors we knew would incur a fee, but with enough drama for the time being we threw him a line and cast ourselves off from the bridge. After about 200 metres he towed us close enough to the wall for Marcus to steer the bow against the wall and for me to scramble ashore and tie us up……….phew!

Trussed up like a Thanksgiving Turkey!

Trussed up like a Thanksgiving Turkey!

As you can see, it was quite a climb to get up onto the wall, but all those years of gymnastics and rock climbing came in handy!! I think we used almost every rope we have to run doubled up bow, aft, breast and spring lines. There was no way we were going anywhere!!

Against the condemned river wall.

Against the condemned river wall.

In the cool light of day, we were able to assess the damage.

Shroud no longer in the top port spreader.

Shroud no longer in the top port spreader.

Wonky mast, but hopefully it will bend straight again?!

Wonky mast, but hopefully it will bend straight again?!

Duelling scar on the rubbing strake after a riposte by the bridge.

Duelling scar on the rubbing strake after a riposte by the bridge.

As part of the cover we have with Tow Boat, we arranged for a diver to come the following morning to dive on the rudder. Marcus set off in the dinghy at 8.45 to pick him up from just beyond the bridge. It was then that the next episode of bad luck struck…….

The dinghy engine cut out and Marcus made a grab for the boat, however, the tide was running so fast that the dinghy got swept out from under him and he was left hanging for a brief moment, before he dropped into the water for an unscheduled early morning dip!!  Luckily, having had to rootle through all the lines we needed the day before, I knew exactly where I could lay my hands on a suitable rope and lept ashore to the rescue.

Marcus had managed to make his way to the sea wall and was clinging on by his finger tips to some mussels on one of the supports. I dropped him a noose that he put under his arms and then, with him on the end of a leash, we made our way down stream for about 400m to a low pontoon where we managed to haul him out, complete with shoes, hat and scarf. The only casualty was his phone, which despite several baggings in rice, sadly didn’t make it!!

Just as Marcus was slithering ‘walrus-like’ onto the pontoon, a policeman arrived. He had been parked close by and was halfway through his breakfast bagel, when a passer by told him there was someone in the water. He had scaled a chain link fence to get to us, after calling the incident in. I left Marcus in the safe hands of the policeman and set off jogging down the river side to let the diver know what was happening. I was just climbing round the construction fence, when three rescue men from a fire truck arrived and were peering over the wall into the river……..surely there couldn’t be two people who’d gone for an early Sunday morning dip!!? I stopped for a quick chat and they headed for the boat while I continued on my mission. Marcus was on board, warming up in the shower when one of the first responders surprised him by coming into the saloon to check that he was alright!

The following morning the Tow Boat diver, Chase, arrived by boat and dived on the rudder. He found that there was nothing caught on it, but there was a something amiss with the bottom of the rudder support and hinge.

Tow Boat U.S. with Chase in the water checking our ruddy rudder.

Tow Boat U.S. with Chase in the water checking our ruddy rudder.

We arranged for him to come back and tow us 5 miles to the Ortega river and to Sadler Point Marina…..a boat yard that could lift us out onto the hard, but we had to arrange the tow to fit in with the lifting of the bridge at 12noon or 4pm AND to coincide with high tide at the boat yard. So, we had two more nights on the wall before all the stars were aligned for a tow on Wednesday afternoon.

Needless to say we made the most of being in the city ………..

The Bastard Bridge

The Bastard Bridge

Benign, beautiful bridge at sunset.

Benign, beautiful bridge at sunset.

……….and made some new friends!

Bruce and Bob, on TWIGHLIGHT and EZPZ, were moored at the Landing and paid us several visits just to check that we were all right and to offer moral support. We spent one evening with Jim and Barb, from JIMMY’S JUNK, who were moored for a night on the pontoon that Marcus had clambered out on, before they headed south to St Augustine.

We made good use of the wifi at the Hyatt Hotel which was just to the left of the picture below. We had the whole river walk to ourselves, as it is fenced off and is apparently crumbling away!

Static exercise.....right up Marcus' street!

Static exercise…..right up Marcus’ street!

Wednesday arrived and we were glad to see Chase arrive with his colleague…..Marcus! They soon had us ‘on the hip’ and we moved gingerly out into the stream, just as the bridge was lifting. With some trepidation, we negotiated all three bridges in the pictures above, and then switched to a bridle tow. You can see how far off straight they had to tow us to negate the effect of our port lock!

Being towed down to the Ortega River and Sadler Point Marina.

Being towed down to the Ortega River and Sadler Point Marina.

We made it to the travel lift bay at Sadler Point just before high tide and after a little slithering over mud we tied up for the night, ready for a 6 o’clock lift on high tide in the morning. True to their word, Joe, David, David and RJ arrived at ‘crack of sparrow’s’ and got us lifted safely and chocked on the hard.

The rudder failure was quickly diagnosed and mended by early afternoon. We were so fortunate to have pulled into this friendly and extremely professional boat yard. They have the added attraction of having the Gandalf of all things nautical in residence! Chip has a lifetime’s experience of working on boats and it took him no time to remove the stubs of the four bolts, that had all failed on the bracket at the back of the rudder post fixing, and to bolt in four new ones.

One of the four recalcitrant bolts being replaced.

One of the four recalcitrant bolts being replaced.

The Boatyard Wizard in Chief.

The Boatyard Wizard in Chief.

Chip has found his own way to continue working into his seventies by traveling around the yard on a tricycle and towing his work bench and tools behind him. He also takes a siesta every afternoon, something that my 97yr old mum has done for years!! The boat yard now make sure there is an ‘apprentice’ at his elbow every time a new problem arrives, as his knowledge is priceless.

As we arrived the day before Thanksgiving everything stopped until Monday for the holidays, so we had time to get ourselves sorted out for living on land. Because we have water cooled compressors on the fidges, we can’t run them when we’re out of the water. We have to get ice and carry it up the ladder in boxes and put into the two fridges, to keep the food and beer cold!

On Thanksgiving Thursday, Jan and Norman came to collect us and take us to a restaurant for our Thanksgiving Feast before taking us off to the beach area in search of a Pool Hall bar.

Thanksgiving Turkey Feast with Jan and Norman.

Thanksgiving Turkey Feast with Jan and Norman.

We spent the weekend getting to know the area by bike and foot and arranging a berth at the Marina next door. Everything we need is within walking distance and Norman very generously lent us his car, so we can get around further afield.

On Saturday the rigger, Julian, arrived to work on another boat and came early to take a look at our mast. After just a couple of minutes, he hit us with the next blow………. the lower spreader had been pushed into the mast when we hit the bridge and staved in the mast, hence the kink! The upshot is that we have got to have a new mast……a very costly outcome of an easily remedied rudder failure :(

After swallowing the news, we decided to use our time out of the water cleaning and polishing the hull. After some early morning tuition from David, we spent a whole day using our buffing machine to get our battered boat clean and tidy.

Before.......

Before…….

......After!

……After!

After just a few passes with the buffer, it was clear that there was no way Marcus could operate the thing above his head for the whole boat, but where there’s a will there’s a way! We tied a rope and a bungee to the handle and I acted like a marionette puppeteer, shadowing Marcus’ movements taking the weight of the buffer. Again all those hockey player’s muscles came into their own and we both ended the day with surprisingly few aches and pains and having given the boat yard a new approach to polishing!

By Wednesday the tide was right for us to be lifted back into the water and motor the 50m to the T dock of The Ortega River Marina. We are now securely tied up and taking advantage of the monthly rates and enjoying having electricity, water, showers and a postal address for the next couple of months.

Things could be worse!!

24. November 2016 · Comments Off on Chesapeake to Florida · Categories: Sailing Blog

We spent a week anchored in the very sheltered waters of Spring Cove, Solomon Island, just a short dinghy hop from Claudia and Michael.

Our anchorage in Spring Cove, Solomons.

Our anchorage in Spring Cove, Solomons.

Michael used to be a baker, so he and Marcus worked their magic in the Galley,………

Cooking dinner aboard Kassiopia.

Cooking dinner aboard Kassiopia.

……….and by car to get freshly steamed crabs from the local fishmongers.

Steamed blue leg crabs for lunch.

Steamed blue leg crabs for lunch.

Needless to say the bar on IK came into its own in the evenings!

Claudia and I catching up with friends on the internet.....

Claudia and I catching up with friends on the internet…..

 

Marcus and Michl catching up with a bottle of Jameson's.

Marcus and Michl catching up with the bottom of a bottle of Jameson’s.

 

Good friends, who we will meet again.

Good friends, who we will meet again.

 

While we were so close to Washington, we decided to hire a car and do the tourist visits to the Smithsonian Museums and of course, the White House.

The Mall, that runs from Capitol Hill down to the Lincoln Memorial, is bordered by free museums. Mr Smith, whoever he was, must have left an enormous fortune invested for the upkeep and expansion of these fantastic ‘people’s’ museums. We couldn’t possibly ‘do’ them all, so we opted for the Space and Flight museum and the Native American People’s Museum on the first day and the newly opened African American Museum and a long walk down the Mall on the second day.

Our first stop was the Space and Flight Museum, as we were starving and it houses the biggest McDonald’s we’ve ever seen!!

Mac Donalds in a very big way!

Mac Donalds in a very big way!

Once refuelled we set off for the Wright brothers’ exhibit and then on through time to the Space gallery. We could have spent the whole day here!

The Wilbur and Orville's Wright's first success.

The Wilbur and Orville’s Wright’s first success.

 

Progress in flight......the scary thing is we have seen all these types of planes in our life time!!!

Progress in flight……the scary thing is we have seen all these types of planes in our life time!!!

 

 

Next stop was a short walk down the Mall.

The Native American museum.

The Native American museum.

The building of the Native American museum is a work of art in itself and houses artefacts from tribes who inhabited the entire country, from Alaska down to Peru and Chile. The treaties and deals that lead to the Indians being squeezed out of their homeland and onto reservations are evident, but the focus is not on blame, but on the culture, beliefs, philosophy and way of life of the ‘old people’ and of the relevance of their understanding of the balance of nature, which we so need today.

The canoe entrance hall to the Native American Museum.

The canoe entrance hall to the Native American Museum.

On our second day in Washington, we visited the Museum of America, hoping to find something about William Henry Seward, but to no avail. So the next stop was the African American. This is not only a record of the plight of slaves, but a fantastic celebration of their strength of will and the massive influence that African Americans have had on today’s America, from sport and entertainment to philosophy and politics.

The newlt opened African American museum.

The newly opened African American museum. Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman, an Australian,who suggested they share the pair of gloves that came to symbolise so much.

 

Mr Hendrix immortalised.

Mr Hendrix immortalised.

 

Totally museumed out, we walked the Mall and arrived at the west end just before sunset.

Capitol Hill from the War Memorial hill......quite a walk.

Capitol Hill from the War Memorial hill……quite a walk.

From the war memorial hill, we looked down over the ‘pool’ and the Lincoln Memorial. We recognised it from the Forrest Gump film!

The Lincoln Memorial.

The Lincoln Memorial.

Just north of the hill is the White House…..much smaller than I had imagined it to be!

The White House.

The White House.

 

Once again it was time to move on. We left just after dawn to be able to make it to Porstmouth, at the south end of the Chesapeake, in day light.

Farewell commitee.

Farewell committee.

After spending a night anchored at Hospital Point, where we know the holding is not good, we decided to move into the free town dock, as winds of 20 to 30 knots were predicted. The only worry we had with the town dock was our length, so we chalked an 0 over the faded 9 on the Taswell 49 that’s painted on the side of the hull!

Moored in the 40' max town dock in Portsmouth.we reckon no one knows what 40' looks like!

Moored in the 40′ max town dock in Portsmouth. We reckon no one knows what 40′ looks like!

We sat out the weather front here and apart from a load of leaves on the deck, it had no effect on us. Whilst here we took the ferry over to Norfolk and went to the cinema to get out of the rain. They only charge $6 for over 62s (£4.80), so it’s a great deal for us and we can relax in a comfy seat for and hour or two!!

Two more yachts pulled into the Town Dock and we met 4 new friends! Brian and Jackie on SOUL GYPSEY and Chris and Khara on DRAKKA. Both couples are just beginning their adventure of living aboard and had buddied up further up the coast. Chris and Khara have a great illustrated blog that Khara updates with beautiful paintings……if you’re interested in a good read, from a newbies boat’s point of view and a look at her other amazing artwork, go to www.kharaledonne

On Armistace day we were awoken by the sound check for the Veterans Day ceremony on the bandstand behind us and we went along later to hear the band and speeches.

Veterans day on the 11th of the 11th at 11.

Veterans day on the 11th of the 11th at 11.

With a three day weather window, we decided now was the time to venture out around Hatterass. It all went smoothly……..so smoothly in fact that we had to motor for all of the 34 hours it took us to get to Beaufort NC! With weather still set fair, we only stayed a night in Beaufort and headed off the following morning for Charleston SC.

Beautiful Beaufort for B&B.

Beautiful Beaufort for B&B.

 

Company at sea.

Company out on the briney sea.

We refuelled at the town Marina and then dropped anchor in the river. On our way into town, we dropped by our neighbour’s to say hello. SUSIE TOO was a British flagged boat and as we got chatting to Dave and Susie, Marcus realised that he had been on the same radio course with Dave back in 2013. What a small world!! Susie is organising the first Ocean Cruising Club rally to Cuba in February, so we will be meeting up again, as I think we are going to join the rally! After a quick bite to eat, we spent a very sociable evening aboard our third AT LAST, with Jackie and John, newly retired cruisers who are heading south on the ICW.

Charleston has a much more French feel about it. The houses are very grand and are set at right angles to the street. We spent our day walking her streets, finding the supermarket and socialising, before it was time to set ff again.

Charleston 'side on' houses.

Charleston ‘side on’ houses.

We were told to visit the Market if nothing else. This is a massive covered market that covers four blocks. It has a lot of artisan stalls and sea-grass basket weavers, weaving their wares at regular intervals along the way. When it was built, it was an agricultural market for animals and produce, but today, tourists are far more profitable!!

The Market that is Market Street.

The Market that is Market Street.

 

We are really getting south now and the water is much warmer. On our 36hr trip from South Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida, we were joined by a playful, plentiful pod of dolphins……..always a delight and wonder.

More company at sea!

More company out on the briney sea!

 

We arrived at the Jacksonville inlet right on the turn of the tide to take us up to Jacksonville, some 20 odd miles up river. All was going to plan until just after midday on Saturday November 19th when disaster struck!

…………to be continued!!

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