Super U and French Bread

I went to a local Bistro for lunch today while walking back from Shrimpy's (Shrimpy's is the local cruiser's laundry, boat stuff, and source of local boating info (VHF 10)). I haven't had a baguette sandwich like that since Olde Time Grocery in Lafayette and I couldn't eat it all. In Virginia/Maryland all the grocery stores and bakeries have the same BAD recipe for baguettes. This was the real thing!
I also walked to the Super U market to get a few things since tomorrow is both Sunday and New Year's Day. Most things will be closed. This is a big super market that sell everything and the prices are far better than the BVI stores or the USA stores. The lady in line ahead of me purchased 12 whole fryers and two bags of oranges for 28 Euros! That's 2 Euros for each chicken. Try doing that in the USA. I know where I'll provision the boat (including frozen chicken for puppy food). I didn't check the price for wine, but it's got to be better than what I was paying in the Virgin Islands. I switched to beer cause the wine was so expensive. I picked up a 6-pack of DIET COKE while shopping! I haven't had a Diet Coke in almost a month and the first one went down fast. I guzzled it so fast that my nose was stinging from the fizz. The second one when down a bit slower.
The chandleries are all closed today and tomorrow. A South African couple have offered to take me up to Cole Bay on Monday in their dinghy to do some shopping for boat stuff.
I fixed the bow lights, again, (for the fourth time) but i still need to seal the bottoms to stop waves from forcing salt water into the fittings. I also fixed the bilge pump and the two forward small hatches (I hope they are fixed, we'll find out next time I take on green water). They were squirting water into the cabin when the big waves would hit and nobody wants sea water spraying inside their boat.
There is no Sunshine in paradise today. Cloudy with sporadic rain. Happy New Year to all!

The trip to St. Maarten

The past 36 hours have been and adventure!!! We left at 1:30PM from Soper's Hole for St. Maarten. This would give me the 20 hours I need, plus add a bunch of fudge to the numbers incase the current and winds were adverse. Good thing, It took use 25 hours to get here. At first we motored out of Soper's Hole then put up a reefed main to motor sail, once we were well south of Peter Island, we put up a head sail. This was working great but as we entered the eastern side the waves and chop increased. We sailed until we were 5 miles south of the rhumb line then did a tack.
We were getting a lot of "Spankers". Spankers is my term for waves the come 60 to 120 degrees off the main wave pattern. These are the waves that interface with the main wave swell to create these big peaks that "SPANK" the side of your hull with a load slap/vibration through the hull/heel over and then they dump a lot of green water onto the deck. By sunset we where getting spanked every 5 minutes are so and that was making life rough for me and the dogs. On the tack back to the rhumb line, the spankers got worse so after about an hour when we got back on the line, we pulled down the head sail and left up a reefed main and pushed the engine to 2000 RPM to get 4kts of speed. ("We" as in me and the dogs, lot of help they are, eh). The seas didn't let up. The waves were driven by 25kts of wind and we were being slowed down to 2kts of speed when the wave sets (usually 3 waves) would shut the speed down. Now for the fun parts :) At about 8:30 at night the engine starting making a sound I've never heard. I look and she had increased RPMs to 2200. The switch was in the off position to stop the secondary alternator from charging. I slowed down the RPMs and pulled the floor boards to see if the shaft was vibrating. Nothing… After a few minutes, all the power shut down on the boat! Motor sailing with the engine key in the off position in bad conditions and the power shuts off everything, this is not good.
I know what this is… the house bank computer is shutting down the power as it's only way to prevent the main bank from overcharging to a dangerous state. This is a safety mechanism for LifePO batteries. This happened once before on the return from Bermuda because I wasn't paying attention. This time was different, the alternator was shutdown by the engine key being in the "off" position…. But still something went really badly wrong.

I run down the hatch, join the batt banks and all is good, turn on the MFDs, Auto, etc and get the systems back up and get the Auto Pilot engaged. No problem, but What Caused This?
I then run back down and turn the main batt switch off so that it cannot be charged or discharged. I also turn the inverter on to suck power of the system.

Next I reset the house bank computer after disconnecting it from everything else and as soon as I do that, the Inverter starts to scream. OVER POWER 18.8V
Shit! It's night, I'm offshore, sweating like a big pig working with a headlamp in rough seas trying to figure this out. The engine key is off and that should stop any charing from the big alternator, but now with the engine key off and the computer that controls the field current relay reset, the system is seeing high voltage. What do you do? I can't run in this weather without the engine or charging. I debated down wind sailing back to the BVI. Instead, I throttled the engine down until I was seeing 15.2 volts. It worked, but Auto couldn't maintain course with such low power and it was shutting down and bitching. No Auto while single handed is not an option for doing boat repair in the ocean… Heave to… not yet. But still an option.

How to get the engine to run at speed and keep the big secondary alternator off… Hummm I though about a bunch of things and it was obvious - the field current is controlled by a relay that can be switch it off. Just pull the plug on the relay. Auto is bitching off course and the wave are hitting us broadside. Run up deal with auto and manually steer for a few second. Run down, rip out the settee and find a screw driver (cause safety regs say that this must require a special tool, ugh). Pull the panel and pull the field current wire of the regulator - big flash and spark… All is good 13.8 volts now - boat running on the secondary battery bank and the little Hitachi alternator, even better the engine back up to 2000 RPMs. House bank is still isolated but Okay. Can't get it back online safely while the engine is running cause if it is fully charged, even the little Hitachi alternator will cause problems.

So if that wasn't enough. As I said, the past 36 hours were and adventure!!! At 4:30 AM (I know that cause the watch commander is yelling at me every 30 min to make sure I'm not asleep) the biggest SPANKER I've ever experienced hits the boat while i'm sitting under the dodger. I think, "god that's big" as the entire boat shakes and shimmies. I close the companion way hatch and brace myself for a starboard SPANKER that hit mid-ship or just aft of mid-ship. As the boat begins to heel, I hear the water smashing down and running on the boat. Good thing I'm under the dogger or I would have taken several hundred gallons of ocean over my head. As I watch this wave hit the dodger it moves aft and poops the cockpit filling it with water and then as the boat is heeled over the wave washes over the pulpit and rips the outboard motor for the dingy off the pulpit leaving nothing behind, not even a fragment of the safety line that I use to the outboard to the pulpit. I had mounted the engine as usual, clamped it down on the board tightly and even installed the security bar and pad lock. This wave just lifted her right off the pulpit and sent her down over 2000ft to the bottom. So now my feet and legs are wet from the cockpit being pooped and my shirt is wet from the water that rushed up the dodger base and my outboard motor is gone. This is why we are always connect to a hard-point or the jackline at all time in the ocean. This thing came out of nowhere… I was starting to relax cause the winds were calming to under 20kts and the waves were easing…. (to many of you, this was not a rogue wave because it was less the 3X the prevailing wave height of 9 ft * if it were more than 27ft high it could be rogue - this wave just lucky or we where visited by "Murphy's law * either way it was a 14ft SPANKER). Guess Jupiter will be approving a new outboard :) Good news, we made it and the pulpit and all other gear is still attached. The dink was shifted off her tie-downs but still firmly attached!

Now for the crazy part. All night I kept hearing music (Country music mixed with Christmas Songs). I know for a fact the Stereo is turned off (no power to it). I'm beginning to suspect my dental work…. or event that I'm imagining this, but these are honky-tonk songs I've never heard before and the words are clear.. I start thinking that I'm Charlie on the return from Bermuda where he is saying that there is Mariachi music playing (he is on SCOPE) I'm not on SCOPE but I here this music. Finally when we get to port and the engine if off, the stereo is clearly planing some AM station on all the speakers while it is turned off and powered off… Like a big crystal radio it is still receiving some Mexican *opps no Caribbean* radio station.

Time for a Rum and Bed. It's been a long 36 hours. I hope it rains tonight to wash all the salt crust off the boat and rigging.

PS After all the mess to get puppy papers, I cleared into the French side of the island and showed them the St Maarten Health Cert and clearance for the dogs… the lady said, "Oh we don't do that here, we love dogs"

Sail to St Maarten

We will sail to St. Maarten tomorrow after we checkout. It is 106 miles from here to there and there is an adverse current of .5 to 1.0 kts. I'm estimating 5.5 kts of speed from here to there and then adding some fudge since the winds will likely require a 20 mile tack. Overall expecting it to take 20 hours to get there. So we'll be leaving at about 2:00 PM. Expecting a nice sail there. I've got a slip in Fort Louis on the french side of the island. I'll have to file my final paper work on Thursday via the Internet to enter. I expect we will be there for two or three weeks, then we head to Antigua for a couple of weeks, then Guadeloupe for another two or three weeks.
Engine serviced in case we need to user her to get to St. Maarten. The boat is provisioned for an other few weeks (including puppy food).
Rum is really good tonight - with lime.

We have papers to import pups to St Maarten

Papers are in and working on the formalities. Should be there on Friday.
The float plan, for now, is to depart Thursday late afternoon and sail into St Maarten by Noon on Friday. This float plan may vary by a few hours depending on the wind speed/direction and the current. I'm hoping for a NE wind instead of an E wind. If the wind is E I'll have to decide how close I will get to Saba before tacking. If the wind is NE, then we may a straight shot to St. Maarten.

Put up the Xmass Lights

Christmas lights installed and stocking hung. In Tortola and will stay here until after Boxing Day. Hopefully then I'll have the stuff from St Maarten. Also waiting for a reply from a marina in St Maarten. This move slow down here, especially over the holiday.
Merry Christmas to all "86 degrees in the Day and 74 degrees at night" Wow, this is Christmas (but Carib Xmas Music is not very good).

Anchor Locker projects done

But like most boat project, you open up one and three more show up. It appears that the house pipe for the chain allows water into the anchor locker. Not unexpected especially when taking green water over the deck. But the windless insulation for the power cables are mounted from the bottom of the unit. They are holding salt water and that is causing the connectors to rust. I cleaned them up and greased them to prevent further damage. Also cleaned the case of the windless and covered it with oil to prevent rust. Then I cut a small hole in each to the insulators to allow water to drain out of them. My project to replace the bow light wiring didn't work out at all as planned. I couldn't pull the old wiring out of the pulpit more than 1/4 inch even after spraying TFL into the tubes. So instead I stripped more wire of the existing wires and then remade the connection and sealed the connections with Anchor Heat Shrink tubing. That should last a couple of years. I'll have to deal with that next time I'm on the hard for a few weeks and can remove the pulpit.
I also had to clean the Anchor locker as it has lots of mold from being the cold spot in the boat for the last winter. Clorox and a few towels… But i should take a fresh water hose into the locker and soap it down completely.

Dogs and St. Maarten

Working to get the pups into St. Maarten. Planning on leaving after Xmass for St. Maarten, but still waiting for a reply from the import office. Things are going well. We are at Nanny Cay (KEY) and I'll provision the boat later today. Plan on spending more time at Peter Island before we check out and head to St. Maarten. Pup's love Nanny Cay, there are chickens for Cinco to bark at and pretend to chase. Jupiter is fine but he as to "mind the gap" on the floating docks (that means that daddy picks him up on each gap).
I spend most of yesterday getting export certification for the dogs.
Today, I dropped a flat head screw driver in the bilge!!! Ugh it was a pain getting it out!!! but I managed after about 20 min of time. Have a new engine blower now plus a spare. I have one more project to do in the anchor locker. The V-berth is half unpacked to give me access… Will do more on Thursday.

At Nanny Cay

Made it in today at about 2PM. The puppies have a vet appointment in the morning and I have already run to the chandlery to pick up some of the parts. I have to go to Road Town to get the rest.
Bitter End is a really nice place, but too many billionaires with mega yachts, helicopters, etc. But the resort is great and lots of hiking and swimming.
So far the snorkeling has been bad. The only healthy reefs have been on St. Johns. Most of the rest are nearly dead or extremely stressed.
Pups and I are going to walk at 5PM today and check out the grounds and docks at this marina.

No more vacation

As of today, Jupiter has claimed that the vacation is over. Now we have to get on to living this life. I guess its time to establish some routines and rules. Oh I'm going to miss the lazy mornings. According to Jupiter (the purser of SV Music) the vacation is over and now I have to get busy with all the boat repairs and we have to move on to St. Martins… So we have to go to Road Town this week to get parts and then to Nanny Cay to get the Vet document for the next country. Waiting for Nanny Cay to confirm my slip next week.

I've been listening to Xmass music today. Doesn't feel like Xmass here in the warm tropics. All the same, I'll have to pull out the decorations in the next day or two and get the Xmass feeling going.

VG is nice

We have been a the Bitter End for several days. This place is great and so is all the swimming, hiking and snorkeling.
I got a chandlery in Tortola that has the parts i need.

In VG!!!

We made it to BitterEnd Yacht Club today. Took 7 passes at a mooring ball (at 20+ kts) before I gave up and decided to anchor, it was getting dark.
The anchor dragged at 3X (at 30ft depth). I put out 5X and she still was dragging. Had to pull her up or be on shore. While pulling here up, the last 30ft, I was seeing billows of sand, and I was, so I was a bit confused as to why she was dragging until…. the anchor was just 10 ft down, there was clearly something fowled in the anchor. It was a huge mooring line with weed and barnacles growing on it. Once I got the anchor back on,sSomeone pulled up in a dink and offered to help me catch a mooring ball in the 20+kts of wind. I took them up on it.
Need Internet ACCESS!!!! NOW!!! I've been deprived for too long :)

Jupiter still goes to the V-berth to find trail mix

It's been a few weeks since the SDR crew left the boat, but Jupiter still goes up to the V-berth in search of Buck's spilled trail-mix.
Today was nice on Norman Island. Beach, swim, and a little snorkel time. Have to seriously consider my next steps. I'll be in VG soon and need to have a plan to move on.

Celebrity dogs

We went to shore today for normal shopping and the "cruise boat" must have been in Road Town cause the dock here at Sopers Hole was full of tourist taking picture of Cinco and Jupiter as we pulled up to the dinghy dock. The pups were a big hit in their little live vests. Must have been 50 cameras focused on them and they were very well behaved and not that barky.
Cinco has a Vet appointment on Tuesday at Nanny Cay to get his Rabies shot update and deal this is conjunctivitus. After that we will move to a new anchorage in BVI's.
Just made a new batch of puppy jambalaya… The pups were watching every step of the process in hopes that I would spill some on the floor.
Met the crew of Orion will hook up with the tonight and listen to a local blues players (puppies included).
Talked to Larry today. They may join us some day in the future.
Fired up the engine to charge the batts today… not much sunshine, lots of rain and mild winds at Sopers Hole.
Still have to pull out the go pro. Walked to Nanny Cay yesterday and that would have made for some nice photos, may bike there on Tuesday with the dogs in the bags.

Checked into the BVIs

Yeh, the puppies are "Expats." It took about 3 hours at customs and immigration to get this all done. That is expected here where everything is done on paper in triplicate.
So the dogs now have almost 2,000 ocean mile under their keels and are in a foreign country as visitors… Truly salty dogs!
I need to dig out the GoPro and start taking pictures.
I tried to catch a mooring ball by myself yesterday. That didn't work, the wind was blowing hard the the ball didn't have a pennant. So instead I dropped the hook. Once I got back from customs and immigration, a neighbor helped me move to a morning ball. Look like I'll stay here for a couple nights then move on.
The dink motor is making a lawnmower sound. I need to pop the top off and see what is going on.


A very good friend gave me a bottle of Stranahan's Whiskey. I opened the bottle this evening as the sun was setting. You have to have a big ice cube cause this stuff is 94 proof and has to be diluted or it will burn your mouth. Oh, but it is good and a great way to end a day.
Thanks Dave!!! It is a great gift and very well appreciated at sunset in the tropics.
For all my friends and fly that like whiskey, check it out and see if you can get a bottle of Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey. It's awesome.
Puppies still have to walk. but daddy will have a bit of Colorado swagger :)

I have not found indigenous food in St Thomas

St Thomas is a food desert! Everything here is American. They do have Roti, but there is no comparison to the Roti of the West Indies!!! The fish tacos are good, but nothing that I couldn't get in Annapolis, Phoenix, or Denver. There appears to be NO indigenous foods of St. Thomas that I can find. If anyone knows better, yell. I've looked for local marsupials on the menu but have not found them. Lots of fresh fish, and that is good, but no local dish for them.

Clark pump repaired

The Clark pump has been repaired and I managed to reassemble the water maker today. It is now running without leaks!!!! Cinco thinks that it makes scary noises, Jupiter doesn't care about the noises. Let's see how she works. It is reporting that it is making 15Gal per hour… Not sure how much is in the tanks right now cause I used a big storm to fill the tanks with rain water a few days ago.
Cinco and Jupiter are getting irritated with me. I don't think that they realized the retirement meant that daddy would be home full time and in their faces. They are being forced to go swimming and play on the beach twice a day (including chicken chasing). Jupiter has been groaning that he needs a lawyer to represent him as he doesn't like Daddy being home all the time and interfering with he can Cinco's day to day routine.