Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Feeling pressure from my "friends" to get an update out, so here it is...

Picking up from Debs last post...  The final week with Deb on the boat went by toooooo fast and pesky work still got in the way of some of our fun.  She had to take off on the 15th of May, our final stop was Trellis bay on Tortola.  It is a very convenient spot to pick up and drop off people at the airport, it is a 5 minute walk to the airport from the dinghy dock.

My college roommate came to visit on the 25th and stayed for a week.  We had a good time, hit all of the hotspots in the BVIs including Anegada which is a very flat island a bit out of the way from the rest of the BVIs.  The downside of Kevin's visit... it rained every single day he was there and was overcast when it wasn't raining.  The upside was some great snorkeling we did at the Caves and Monkey Point.

After Kevin left my plan was to put the boat on the hard at Nanny Cay on Tortola but I changed my mind. I am selling my boat so that I can buy a 4 cabin charter boat and work down in the Virgins.  I decided that it would be easier to sell back in the US.

So, on the 29th of May I did a fast but mostly easy sail back to the Domincan Republic.  Crossing the Mona passage from East to West is much easier than West to East.  I took the boat to Luperon and caught up with my frineds on Storyville and Pipe muh Bligh, with their help the check in process was easy.  My only advice is bring exact change, make sure you can break a $100 bill because you won't get any change.  I spent a few fun days catching up with these friends, I hadn't seen them in several months. On June 4th I flew back to Austin to hang out with Deb for 10 days before flying down to St. Lucia to pick up a Gemini 104 catamaran that my business partner and I bought and bring it back to Florida to sell.  It will be posted on soon.  Check it out as well as my boat.

If you would like to follow our progress as we bring this boat back follow this link:
If the link doesn't work, try copying and pasting it to your browser's address bar.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

St. John, USVI

We've been here 2 weeks & now the vacation part can begin!!  Steve has been a patient, supportive Captain as I've been trying to keep my current stateside boss happy as well as stoke the potential for my own business down here in the islands.  We finally have a day to be nothin' but lazy.  It's been so nice to be back on the island that I called home 15 years ago & to see my great pals from back then, Mean Jean, Cid & Mary Pat!  MP is originally from Kentucky & started the Kentucky Derby celebration at my very favorite bar/grill, Skinny Leg's, 30-odd years ago.  All the crusty pirates & hippie locals don some kind of hat & fill 'em with the bougainvilleas, hibiscus & other flora that is found all over down here.  One lady even glued a plastic horse to the top of her hat.  Below is Steve joining in the tradition.  I'm happy to say that all of my ol' pals are now big fans of Steve.

We'll most likely leave the US waters in a bit & head for Jost Van Dyke for a day or 2.  It is blissful to not know where we will head after that - I relinquish my need to have a plan, hard as that may be to believe.  I've only got a week left to soak up the Caribbean - will have to make my tan last until December when we'll come back.  We're seriously looking at some charter boats/businesses, dreaming that we'll offer week long charters to 2-3 couples or a family here in the USVI/BVI.  We looked at a beautiful 45' cat yesterday & spent a few hours with the owners.  Fingers are crossed that something will work out!!  Might be another year or so before it comes to fruition, but the dream lives on.  

In the meantime, if any of y'all cruisers happen to pass through the USVI, I highly recommend St John as a place to land for a few days.  There are tons of moorings in Francis Bay and a very gentle swell much unlike our previous spot, roly-poly Hull Bay.  Right up the big staircase from the beach in the middle is the little store at Maho Bay Campgrounds that I used to run & found my natural foods calling (they don't have much in the way of natural foods anymore & I mean to fix that!).  They also have a shuttle to town if you need & a very decent restaurant.  The beaches here are pristine, as it's all smack dab in the middle of the National Park that covers most of St. John.  Good trails to hike, the Annaburg plantation ruins just up the road to visit & quiet, quiet, quiet!!  The east end of the island is where you can find Coral Bay, a very cool little sleepy village that is home to Skinny Leg's, an awesome bar & grill with yummy cheeseburgers & local beer.  Their motto is "same day service" and the dress code only requires 2 teeth.  Nice folks all over the place!!

We're sending out a big round of hugs for all y'all!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A few pictures

Pictures are courtesy of Deb.

 Ol San Juan is filled with sculpture

Sunshine trees 

Joy on the Paseo de la Princessa 

Forest of Spires 

Just cool 

My favorite captain contemplating Ol' San Juan 

Me in a previous life, that would be Deb 

Leaving Fajardo - clouds over rainforest 

Captain Smiley 

Arriving in St. Thomas

Sunset at surfer point 

I love Hull Bay 

Captain in the sunset 

Stand up Warriors at play 

 Get up, Stand up!

 Proud American Boat

My home in the Caribbean

Monday, May 2, 2011

I am waaaaaaay behind...

Time to catch up...

I spent a few days at Marina Pescadaria in Puerto Real, Puerto Rico.  The owner of the marina, Jose, is very friendly.  Next to the marina office is a small convenience store owned and run by Fernando Mantilla.  He drove me to customs to check back in to the US.  He grew up in the Salinas area and has been sailing his whole life.  He has raced throughout the Caribbean, we hit it off right away, except he smokes like a chimney.  I ended up hiring him and his friend Manuel Portela to move my boat from Puerto Real to Fajardo while I flew home to Austin.

Yes, I am planning on moving to Austin, my girlfriend Deb lives there in an awesome house on top of Cat Mountain.  I loaded up as much stuff as I could carry and flew in to Austin on the 7th of April.  I got settled in the new house, actually had to buy a dresser for my clothes.  It kinda feels like I am going in the opposite direction from where I want to be but Deb is not ready to move the the Caribbean yet, close but not yet.

On the 25th Deb and I flew to San Juan Puerto Rico, she has business down there, both for her "real" job and for the food brokerage she is starting in the Caribbean.  We spent 4 days between San Juan and Fajardo.  Fernando and Manuel left the boat in great shape.  We left Marina Del Rey on Saturday the 30th and sailed to Culebra.  It was a rough trip, motor sailed the whole way, emphasis on motor.  Straight in to the wind(15-20 knots) and waves and current.  If we didn't need to be in St. Thomas on Monday we would not have left, plus Deb only has so much vacation time.  Sunday's sail from Culebra to Hull Bay in St. Thomas was much the same as the day before.  We were greeted by two of Deb's friends on paddle boards as we cam in to the anchorage.  They have lived here 15 plus years and showed us the best place to anchor.  There were 2 other boats in this small bay but we still have plenty of room.  The downside is that we are getting a cross swell here, it make sleeping and everything else more difficult.  We may move to the next bay over(Megan's Bay) later today.  Deb had to pick up her business partner at the airport this morning, he flew in from PR, she will be working most of the day, so I am just goofing off.  Might go for a run and the bottom of the boat needs a good scrubbing, at least on the waterline.

We are under a flood watch until tomorrow morning, it was sunny this morning but the clouds are starting to roll in.

Hopefully I can get Deb to do some guest posts, I am sure she will be better and doing them more frequently than me

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Mona Passage

I left the Marina on Thursday night, March 30th. The plan was to sail at night over to a small anchorage called Escondido, sleep during the day and then take off on the evening of the 31st to cross the Mona Passage. That was the plan anyway, as I often do when sailing, once I get going I am more likely to keep going. Especially since my solo anchoring act on Mayaguana, see prior blog post.

The first night was actually really nice, I made better than expected time, I had about 12-15 knots of apparent wind, from a direction that allowed me to sail most of the time, AND the waves were small, 2-4 feet. As dawn approached Friday morning I decided to skip Escondido and push on through, like I said, sailing conditions were good and I was making better than expected time.

As I was crossing Bahia Escocea the wind and waves began to get worse. I had gone about 60 miles and still had 150 to go. It was time to crank up the engine so that I could continue to make good time and point a little higher into the wind so that I could make it around two capes that were about 20 & 25 miles ahead. With the engine running I was still making about 5 knots and figured I would be around the capes around noon.   My estimate was pretty close.

Two hours later I still hadn't made it around the second Cape and I was in 20 knots of breeze about 30 degrees off my bow and in 6-8ft confused seas, there was no wave pattern.

By now I was getting really tired of bashing in to the wind and waves. I was concerned about my leaking water pump. I was on a lee shore with an iffy engine getting the crap kicked out of me. Then like magic everything got better. The night Lee kicked in, the seas got better, the wind dropped to around 15 knots and I tacked to cross the Mona Passage. The rest of the trip was REALLY very good.

There is a book called "The Gentleman's Guide to Passages South" written by Van Sant. He knows what he is talking about. If I had followed my original plan I probably would have avoided the 12-14 hours of bashing into the wind and waves. To anybody that is planning on crossing the Mona Passage I highly recommend reading this book.

I set up a spot adventure, check it out.
Spot Adventures Link


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Made it to the DR

Well I made it to the DR yesterday.

Over all it was a long but generally good trip from Georgetown, Bahamas.
The last 24 hours or so were tougher than the rest.

I was having trouble picking up the weather guru, Chris Parker, but I
was able to pull down some grib files before making my decision to cross
from the Turks & Caicos to the DR. It showed wind less than 15 from the
East. Not exactly correct. I had wind from the Southeast, the
direction I wanted to go, at 20-25 knots. The waves were larger than I
had experienced in a while, probably since my trip from Galveston the
Louisiana. They didn't have much rhythm to them either. So far on this
trip I have been able to get lots of "cat naps" of 20-30 minutes during
the night, not during this crossing.
Regardless, I made it safely. I decided to treat myself and am staying
in a marina. They have a waterpark and everything. I doubt I will go.
The marina made the check in process really simple, all the people I
needed to see are here at the marina. I was able to get fuel here as
well. I used 63 gallons since leaving Georgetown on the 25th, as you
can probably guess, I did a lot of motor sailing.

I slept for 12 hours straight last night, I guess I was tired.

I actually plugged in to shore power today(my AC still works!!), first
time since Venice LA. I think I heard my boat sigh. I figure I will
try to top everything off before heading out of here in a few days. I
think the boat will get a really good wash inside and out.
Need to change the oil in the engine and genset, take a look at the
water pump and do some other small maintenance projects.

Tammy, just wanted to let you know that your canvas covers are still on
the boat but I lost some snaps on this last crossing.

Take care.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tough Day

It has been a trying day today on Anchor Management.

I don't mean to bitch but some days just aren't as good as others.

I sailed through the night last night, my plan was to get to Mayaguana
in the Bahamas, anchor, sleep for 6 hours or so and then head over to
the Turks & Caicos. I think I have good weather until Wednesday night
or Thursday and this would allow me to get down to the Domincian Republic.

When I arrived at Mayaguana this morning I snuggled up to the place I
planed on anchoring, I was in a bit over 20 feet of water. The bottom
looked like sand and grass. I had the wind on my nose and slow rollers
coming in from behind me that were breaking about 200-300 feet away.

Since I am by myself I usually drop the anchor until it hits bottom,
leave the flywheel open so that chain will free flow out. I then run to
the back of the boat to put the boat in reverse a bit so that chain will
come out. Since I could see and here the breakers I gave it a bit more
reverse than normal. As I ran back to the front of the boat I noticed
the flywheel tightening up as chain went out. In not time flat the
flywheel stopped spinning, the chain tightened up and then pulled down
on the anchor platform. The anchor was stuck, something had to give...
It was the anchor platform. The wood broke just aft of the stainless
platform I had built in an attempt to "beef up" the whole anchoring
system. It is not ruined but it sure doesn't look right anymore. To
add insult to injury my anchor was stuck on coral. I tried to wiggle
around it with the boat but finally gave up. I grabbed the snorkel
gear. On the first attempt I couldn't get down deep enough but I did
notice that it looked like it was free. I climbed back on the boat and
tried to pull up the anchor, no luck. The second time I dove I was able
to free the anchor but I cam up with REALLY sore ears and a bloody nose.
I am sure I have shortened my life somehow.

I motored around looking for another place to anchor but was now a bit
gun shy, the bottom looked the same as what I just had problems in.

Time to re-evaluate... I decided to motor sail into the wind slowly and
catch a few winks, then head South so that I hit the banks at sun up

This evening when I checked the oil I noticed I have a pretty good leak
coming from my raw water pump. About a drip per second. I still have
good water flow but it is something to keep a close eye on.

Tomorrow is a new day! Although they are starting to blend together
since I left Rum Cay yesterday morning around 5am.

Somebody count some sheep for me.

Until later.


This e-mail was delivered via satellite phone using GMN's
XGate software. Please be kind and keep your replies short.