Sunday, April 19, 2015

Home for the summer

We are sitting in Dallas-Fort Worth airport, waiting for our flight.  Had a glitch in Miami so we didn’t get to our hotel until 4:15 this morning.  Up at 6:30 for the shuttle back to DFW.  Didn’t get our moneys worth for that bed.

Shutting the boat down is hot, dirty, hard work.  Better now that we are at North Sound but still…

Pam is a Trojan.  She works like a dog, does more than her share, even after almost knocking herself out on the bimini frame.  She keeps on sewing up protective covers for things… weird shapes and connectors.

I’d like for her to go home 2 weeks before me so she doesn’t have to go through the gruelling “shut down checklist”… but it wouldn’t get done properly.

So she’s stuck here with me…. thankfully.

Time to come out


Murphy the Dinghy gets a ride

Watching Pam work

Hauling Odie up the mast 

... to get the broken wind instrument

Happy smile... before the disaster

One of the big boys in Falmouth for the Classic Yachts Regatta

Before she walloped her head on the bimini

Ready to go home
Last look

Roadside lunch on the way to ANU

So we are done for the year, Dear Reader.  Home to Abbotsord for a summer of family and friends.  What a life!

Cheers for now.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Blue Pearl Bootstripe

Our bootstripe was in terrible condition.  So it was on our list of things to do once we hauled.  Looking forward to it.  A friend (with significant practical skills and accomplishments) told me about an inexpensive fix.  Mask it, scuff it up with sandpaper and paint it from a can.  Easy, peasy… and cheap.  How much is a can of paint?

I should have known, though.  I have a way of screwing up the simplest tasks.  And I have the artistic intuition of a five year old.  

I know, I know… not fair to five-year-olds.  Many five year olds have very good skills and parents and grandparents love their work.

Papa on his sailboat - by Jack! (5 years old)
But people with the skills of a five year old shouldn't paint their expensive sailboat.

The spray paint went on in a great mess, leaving gaps and puddles everywhere.  There were bare patches and sags right next to each other.  As Pam grew more and more critical, I grew more stoic.  Finally, the can ran out just before I was going to throw it at a dog that was wandering by, looking judgementally at my work.

I ran for the thinner and wiped off as much as I could.  Sulked the rest of the night.  Didn’t sleep well at all.  Horrible paint job and the Canucks lost.  Next day, after it hardened I sanded off as much as I could.  As a second shot, I decided to use the “roll and tip” method with some topsides paint I found in our spares locker.  Got that out and put it down on the only flat spot on the boat… Pam’s suitcase.  

I was standing outside looking at the job in front of me, having nightmarish visions of how I might screw up "roll and tip," when a painter working on a nearby boat came over to commiserate… and maybe get a cash job.  Turns out, he doesn’t speak English… as least not the version I’m familiar with.  However, we were able to agree that for a reasonable sum (Pam’s not in complete agreement on this part) he would fix it.  I gave him half down as a deposit and then he said something in his language and I said goodnight.

We spent a more cheerful night in our boat… on the hard… until Pam found that the old, old, old paint cans were leaking on her suitcase.  I was thinking how much easier it will be to spot it on the luggage carousel but she didn’t share my enthusiasm.  She’s not happy about her new, unique suitcase.

So another quiet evening… in the boat… on the hard.

Next day… no painter and the day is wearing on.  We're wondering where he is... and where our deposit is.  Then he arrived but didn’t seem too interested.  Finally he came over and spoke in his language… then all hell broke loose.

And this is what he did…

Leroy, the Magician

Head supervisor

Leroy's assistant
Team Leroy

Oooooooo, shiny!

Caught Pam cleaning up

Over the through-hull

Who's taking the photo? Nice shirt!

Nice boot stripe

Great camera!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Back in Jumby Bay

After Scott and Tina left, the plan was to head over to Montserrat.  Now Montserrat is known to be rolly so the conditions have to be just so.  And then there is the matter of getting back to Antigua.  When we had originally planned to haul out south that wasn’t an issue but now… to get back to Antigua we either need a really low wind day or we need to tack as close to the wind as we can.  Given that the winds have been really huge and the seas are up, it wasn’t a hard decision to leave Montserrat for next year on our way south.

So, instead of hanging around here enlarging our livers, we decided to cut our time short and head home to our cute little children and grandchildren.
We are anchored about a mile from the haul-out
Now, our main salon floor has really taken a beating lately and it makes me crazy every time I look at it.  So as a pre-haul-out project I stripped the old varnish, sanded and put on new varnish.  It is making me crazy.  I can’t seem to get the perfect finish that Winfield got when he did our exterior teak last year.
Ugly salon floor


More stripping before sanding

Sanded, cleaned with oxalic acid, teak cleaner, TSP


Test coat

First coat
So I continue to sand, re-apply with different consistencies and fret and hate the whole look.  Tomorrow will be the 3rd coat and I’m desperate for it to come up sparkling.

Along with varnish, tomorrow we will drop and fold the jib and staysail, clean and seal off the forward head and generally tidy up.  

Murphy will get stripped of his new chaps and motor and we will clean out the little anchor locker prior to his storage INSIDE a building near where we haul.  Wooooopeeeeee!  Luxury accommodations for Murphy.

We haul Tuesday morning and then we treat ourselves to living on the boat on the hard for 4 nights.  We have a list of things to get done but we’ve given ourselves plenty of time to fit it all in.

We’re anchored off beautiful Jumby Bay - blazing internet.  Thought we might bring the kids down and rent one.  There are some cheaper ones for about $6000 per night.  We’d likely need two.

Perhaps out of our range?
Just around the corner... should spend the day there tomorrow.
Or maybe here!

We’ll let you know about boatyard life in a couple of days.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Scott and Tina in Antigua

Scott and Tina are our first guests to visit us in Antigua.

We've been thinking that Antigua would be good for guests since there are lots of interesting places close by so we don't have to endure any long distance slogs.  There are a series of lovely anchorages and the history in Falmouth and English Harbours is great.

We loaded them up and got them settled in - the boys eagerly anticipating shellacking the girls at team crib.  Over the course of the week the boys did manage to eke out a 1 game victory but both Pam and Tina had some astounding hands.  I can't figure out how Pam continues to get such great cuts.  I'm pretty sure she cheats... I just can't figure out her system.

New crew!
After a morning trip to the market in St. John's for a week's worth of delicious grapefruits, bananas and other delights, we headed up to Deep Bay, less than an hour from Jolly Harbour.  Deep Bay has a shallow wreck on which you can snorkel and a good hoof up to an old gun battery at Fort Barrington.  The trek up to the fort was good but the snorkelling was disappointing.  The water was way too murky.  (As an aside, fellow Packeteer, Hayden just posted to his blog with snorkelling pictures from the Bahamas.  Now that's good snorkelling!!!)  In fact, the water in most places we tried was cloudy with the powdery white sand we see on the beaches.

Ran into Harry and Maryke from Aurora - an IP 380.  We've cruised with them in the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands and now down here!

Blue Pearl and Aurora

Harry and Maryke get some of Oma's zudekoek (sp?)

Master and Commander
We attempted to go north and east up to Great Bird Island but we were motoring into a steady 25 knots of wind with gusts to 35 so we decided that Great Bird will have to wait for another time and headed back to Five Islands Bay.

The sail around to Falmouth was good... until we had to motor the last 5 miles heading into the east wind.  Got the batteries all charged up, though.

Falmouth is amazing with it's gargantuan mega yachts... boy, some people have a lot of money.

Big boy with toys

Heading off to hike Middle Ground - between Falmouth and English Harbours

Breeze break

Rude cactus - happy to see us?

Yachts in English Harbour

Another breeze break

Cool roof in the church in Parham

Devil's Bridge

Sadly for us, Scott and Tina left yesterday to continue on their odyssey with kids and grandkids in Mexico.

What a great visit!   Dumped them off at this place... the Hermitage Bay Resort in Five Islands Bay and they walked through the grounds to connect with a taxi.  Very fancy.  About $1300 per night.  We won't be staying there.


And we are left to contemplate the final bit of our 2014/2015 season.  On with the adventures!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jabsco Junk

Grrrr.  Not happy, Jabsco.

This has been a bad pump year.  In a previous post I mentioned that our variable speed pump - about 4 years old - gave up the ghost but, smart me, I had a spare.  Installed the spare and it didn’t work as well.  According to them, the Sensor Max 17 technology was prone to failure.  And since my unused-out-of-the-box spare was dated… no warranty.

Fast forward a couple of months and I’m fiddling with through-hulls to exercise them and the Jabsco Macerator Waste Pump fell apart.  The 4 bolts that hold it together rotted and, even though the components seem to be in good order, the pump needs to be replaced.  This time, our spare worked so we are good with poop.  Last replaced the macerator 5 years ago.

Bolts at lower left are all supposed to be the same length

Now, cleaning the boat after a passage with our Jabsco Par Max 4 Washdown Pump, the breaker started clicking… had a look and the pump has fallen apart.  This time it appears that the plastic that secures the bolt that holds it together has broken.  This one is three years old.

The components inside look brand new... brushes not even broken in yet.
So that’s 4 Jabsco pump failures this year.  And they don’t come cheap.  I’ve supported Jabsco to the tune of well over a $1000 very recently and I’m having to replace it all.

Is pump replacement supposed to be a 3 to 5 year cycle?

Or, time to give a competitor a try?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bermuda, Bahamas, Barbados - NO... BARBUDA!

We’ve been in Barbuda about a week now.  The sail up was good, we put a reef in the main when the winds went over 20 and then shook it out when they dropped down to 12.  We followed Cranstackie (Alister and Esther,) Kaisosi (Annette and Terry, ) and Silk Pajamas (Kristen and Terry).  We left after them… and could see them at first but soon they disappeared out of sight.  Too fast for Blue Pearl.  We arrived about 40 minutes after them and settled in.
Blue Pearl lying off Barbuda

Fancy Lighthouse Bay 
Helping Cool Change with their dinghy
Barbuda is the most Bahamian looking island we’ve seen down here.  It is flat, flat, flat.  The highest point is about 200 feet above sea level with salt ponds and mangrove lagoons.

After a day of bobbing around we took off for a beach walk past the fancy, exclusive “Lighthouse Bay” resort.  They have placed a beach shack nearby to sell beer and cheap hamburgers to the riffraff cruisers to keep us out of their hair.

Lovely beach, lovely walk… nice to get to know our new cruising buddies.

Beach Walk

11 Mile Beach

Pam's picture window

Huge rollers

We made arrangements to go in to see the Frigate Bird Sanctuary with our guide, George.  The surge was huge and our beach landing was quite a mess.  People, propellers, cameras and other bits went whirling around when the massive waves flipped one of the dinghies right at the beach.  These waves are “Big Beach” waves… for those of you who have visited that beach south of Kihei, Maui.

Anyway, we all survived, dried off and had a great tour.  George told us to keep our fingers away from between the boat and the dock when we boarded.  Pam kept her fingers clear but not her big toe.

That looks painful!

Frigate Birds

George Jeffries
poling through the mangroves

Hey girls... check out my big red balloony thing

Enjoying the ride
The day after our tour we moved to the south anchorage at Gravenor Bay for some respite from the swell.  Lots of coral heads and reefs.  You wouldn’t want to enter here in bad light.

Great dinner on Cranstackie -wow, Esther can cook.  Followed the next night by Sundowners on Blue Pearl.  Drinks led to more drinks - guitars and bad singing.  I got much better as the night went on and, as usual Pam got meaner and meaner.
Kristen and Alister

In fine voice

Great tour on Sunday of the old Codrington Estate, the Sink Hole and the Caves at Two Foot Beach.  We can endorse our driver, Dilly (Dolmar) Desuza and our guide, Elvis - or Heron - or William - just don’t call him late for dinner.  Great sights, great company and super folks to take us around.

Codrington leased the whole island of Barbuda in the early 1700s at a rate of "one fat sheep" per year.  He used the island as a sporting lodge to hunt, fish and for growing some root vegetables and other crops to feed the locals and slaves on his cane-plantations elsewhere.  Because the island was not suitable for sugar cane, the slaves here were involved in farming and fishing and taking care of Codrington.  He was away a lot and so the slaves weren't supervised (and exploited) to the extent they were on the cane-growing islands.  The folks here now are mostly decendents of the original slaves and own the island communally.

Rubble from the Codrington Estate - circa 1750
Elvis found the sinkhole when he was 14 years old while he was out hunting.  He had heard stories from his elders but it hadn't been explored so it became his passion.  It's a hundred foot straight drop if you come at it from the wrong direction and there are the bones of a boar and a cow who did just that.  There is a scrambly path to get down that allows you to arrive at the bottom gently - and not with a thud.

Darby Sinkhole

Down in the sinkhole

Elvis/Heron/William with the stalagmite

More sinkhole

View from plateau you get to via cave

Indian Caves

Terry careful with his head

Coming out of the cave

One of many, many donkeys - a real jackass

Lunch with LOTS of beers to rehydrate

Snorkelling today on the Spanish Point reef and then heading back to Antigua on Tuesday to get the boat all prepped for our visit from Scott and Tina on Thursday.  Very excited to see them!