Saturday, January 17, 2015

Yan Diesel is Healthy Again

A heat exchanger is the boat equivalent of a car radiator.  The coolant flows through the heat exchanger and in a separate but overlapping path, the raw sea water is pumped through just like the air that flows through your radiator.  Yan Diesel had a leak at a sea water joint and the salt and heat ate up the metal so there was an irreparable leak.

Oh Bother!
I had three options - get a complete used one from a Yanmar dealer that had been “reconditioned” or get a brand new case and use the bits from the old exchanger in the new case or pay the equivalent of a year's tuition at a nice university for a brand new, complete unit with all the bits.  I decided to go with the first option that I could implement… and it turned out to be the new case with the old bits.  Ian, the manager of the local Island Water World has been outstanding in helping to expedite the acquisition and shipping from Georgia, through Florida.  It arrived yesterday - after 4 days - and today it is in the boat.

Wow... brand, spanking new!!!

Out with the old... in with the new
Local mechanic, Roger whipped through some problems that would have caused me a world of problems, like stripped threads and getting the end caps on the right way.

Come on, Roger... smile!
We ran it for an hour to let it heat up and build up pressure under the brand new “radiator” cap and it appears to be perfect.


This hasn’t really kept us from cruising… the weather has been challenging and we wouldn’t have gone anyway.  It just costs way more staying in a marina as opposed to anchoring for free out in the bay.  

Happier and poorer.  Oh well, just a little less for the kids' inheritance.

We are headed over to Martinique on Tuesday or Wednesday.  Hoping to run into CASA, Tyrant and some of the other boats we've come to know over the past couple of weeks.  Also hoping that we meet up with folks we met back in Luperon 3 years ago.

Talking about stopping at Montserrat on our way back from Antigua.  Should be great fun!!!

Here we go!
Negotiating with the Fruit Guy

Pam says I got ripped off!

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Ok, not actually marooned but stuck.

While we were at the dock, waiting for the weather to die down and for Pam to acclimatize, we were doing odd jobs.

Pam spent a bunch of her time on Murphy the Dinghy's chaps.  She started this project 3 years ago but stalled when it came to fitting some of the curves and cutting around the various lumps and bumps.  Last year we hired a local in Bequia who made an absolute hash of things.  Poor Pam looked in horror at the work when we got it back.  So she has been stewing all summer long on the best way to recover.  Talked it over with Cathy from Dreammaker and dove into the job.  And voila... what a huge difference!

Really Ugly

Picking out Ugly

Beautiful with Ugly up top

We can hardly wait to try them on.

One of my jobs was to fix a salt water leak on the engine heat exchanger.  When I took it apart it was WAY worse than I thought.  The salt water has eaten away at the metal and it's never going to seal properly now.
And this is a part we've already replaced once

Now this thing is a beast and new ones are not readily available.  I might have found one in Wisconsin, of all places, but getting it down here is going to be a lesson in logistics.

Once the part gets in we will have an engine and we can get out into the bay and watch for weather to help us head north.  But we are here for awhile.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


I met Martin and Johannes on board CASA shortly after they arrived in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia after crossing the Atlantic from Kiel, Germany via Cape Verde.

What an amazing trip.  They are from landlocked Bavaria... way in the south of Germany.  They had no prior experience (with no ocean nearby) but were at a point in their lives (finishing Masters degrees in Engineering) where they could put aside the time to take on an adventure.  Their families were supportive but worried at the task that these two accomplished but inexperienced young men were taking on.  Moms were greatly relieved when they knew the boys had arrived safely.

They left from Kiel, which is to the right of Denmark - so if you want to avoid the trip up and over Denmark, you take the Kiel Canal across to Western Germany and then on to Holland.  From there they learned to sail… as they sailed down to the English Channel and then south past France, Spain, Portugal and down to Cape Verde off Africa.  

That's just the Europe part
After more than 20 days from Cape Verde they arrived in Rodney Bay, right next door to Blue Pearl.  I met Johannes and Sabrina and later Martin and Caroline - Caroline and Sabrina are the namesakes of the boat - CASA.
Not a lot of room!
Their plan was to take 3 months to sail south to Grenada and then up to Florida where they would sell the boat and get on with their lives in Germany.  I enjoyed some time with them before they headed off to go south.  A few days later, I headed home for Christmas and to collect Pam for our return to the Caribbean.

When we arrived back I was surprised to meet Martin and Caroline at the dock.  It turns out that Johannes has been offered a dream job in Germany and their Caribbean adventures have come to a crashing halt.  Instead of 3 months of exploring the islands here and north they are faced with selling the boat now and heading home.  They are heading 20 miles north to Martinique hoping to get a quick sale in an expanded market.
Adventure Seekers

They are disappointed that they will miss the islands.  But really - what an adventure.  To sail all the way from northern Germany to Cape Verdes and then across the Atlantic.  What an epic journey.  They’ve done something that will shape the rest of their lives.  

I guess that they will return to explore here someday … but in the meantime… they have achieved something that very few of us will ever do.

That is the beauty of this cruising lifestyle.  You get to meet the most amazing folks.  
Sabrina and Johannes

Caroline and Martin

Cheers to you - Martin, Johannes, Caroline and Sabrina!!!

Off they go to Martinique

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy New Year!

As the clock chimed in 2015 we were checking in at the beautiful Airport Hampton Inn and Suites in Charlotte, North Carolina.  After a raucous party (a glass of wine before bed) we woke to take the final leg of our trip back to Saint Lucia.

We had made arrangements to have a taxi meet us and after a little confusion we jumped in the taxi with Didi for the hour and a half trip back to Rodney Bay.
Really?  Green Diamond
It took a moment to realize that he was holding a sign that had a colour and a gemstone so it was probably us.  And who would name their boat Green Diamond?

Back on the boat we are beginning to settle in.  Pam has been enjoying Vancouver weather so it will likely take a few days before she is truly comfortable in the heat.  

Dinner out, first night back!
We are slowly moving aboard, getting groceries and doing little jobs.  The crew quarters has become our garage as we chuck things around to make it more livable.  As I said in a previous blog, I was hoping for a B but Pam has been spending her time between naps cleaning things... so I guess it's a C+ after all.


Driving home with groceries
I used my new Loos gauge to check the tension on all the stays.  When the standing rigging was replaced this summer, the riggers checked the tensions "by feel" saying that they didn't need (or have?) a gauge.  They were remarkably close on the shrouds but off by a mile on the backstays.  Had to tighten them way up.

Lunch at the Marina
The winds are predicted to be quite high over the next week so we will acclimatize, get a few chores done and enjoy Rodney Bay before pushing on for points north.  We have 8 weeks to get to Antigua for our next trip home to family.  Lots of time for more adventures on Green Diamond  Blue Pearl.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Home for Christmas

Today is my last day on Blue Pearl before I head home to see what Pam got me for Christmas.  I hope it is better than what I got her (a couple of cleaned pumps, a new water system pump and a new propane solenoid!)

Met a couple of guys on 32 foot OKSO next slip over who just sailed across in the ARC.  They look 16 but I'm guessing they are in their 20s.  What an achievement! These guys actually went to Barbados and then backtracked to St. Lucia so I'm not sure if they are real ARC or ARC tag-alongs. Took them 16 days from Cape Verde, wow!  They are headed for Sidney.  Just because it's there!

Off to Sydney next - whew!
I've been puttering and problem sort-of-solving.  I think our solar panels are shot.  They are supposed to give us great quantities of free energy but they can barely keep our beer cold.  Of course, they can't keep our beer cold at night... only when the sun is shining... but even then they can't keep up.  According to my valuable source and bff, Google, they are supposed to blast out about 20 volts when you measure them without any wires connected, right at the panels.  Ours are close to that, around 16.  BUT, they are also supposed to show 8.5 amps when you measure the "short circuit" amperage - by connecting your ammeter directly to the panels in amps mode, no wires connected.  Ours show about 4 or 5.  Bottom line, we aren't keeping the beer cold.  Checking into replacements.

They look lovely... but don't work.
 I have continued with the plumbing.  Fixed the shower sump so all of my soapy shower water goes into the shower sump and overboard... instead of into the bilge.  Not sure that anyone really cares about that but it is the way it is supposed to work.

Surprised myself and walked into a sushi restaurant at lunch Saturday.  I didn't intend on doing that.  I was out around noon looking at new multi-meters (mine broke... what's new) and fully intended to walk past the restaurant back to the boat but my feet took me into the air conditioned restaurant and pretty soon I was sitting in front of a bento box with miso soup, tuna poki, california roll, crab roll and crunchy(?) roll.  It was awesome.

Great food, great service - Rituals Sushi, Rodney Bay Marina!
So now it is time to pack, tidy up, shut down the electrical, close off seacocks, check the lines, secure the dinghy and generally get ready to leave Blue Pearl for a short visit home.  I'm going to try to think of all the things that Pam would do to get the boat ready to leave.  I'm sure I can get a C+ but would love to get a B.

My view when reading or doing sudukos

G Dock

Blue Pearl, waiting for Pam 
Merry Christmas, Faithful Reader!!!  See you in the New Year.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Time to Get Some Work Done

Our shakedown cruise up to St. Lucia revealed some issues that need to be addressed.  These include our pressure water system, bilge pumps and rigging.
Sailing past the Pitons on the way up to Rodney Bay
Before they left, and while they were at the pool drinking piña coladas I went to Island Water World and picked up an outrageously priced water system pump and installed it.  Took about 15 minutes.  Bingo.  Problem solved.  Wouldn't it be great if all of the stuff on a boat could be fixed so fast?

After I stopped crying when the scurvy crew drove away in their taxi I had a look at the bilge.  Sometime in the past we ended up with oil in the bilge.  I can't figure out how that might have happened.  Our engine is separated from the bilge with its own engine pan.  There were significant quantities of oil there but the Yanmar mechanic at Le Phare Bleu (Palm Tree Marine) was unable to find any leak issues around the engine.  Also, we have never had any losing-oil issues so it is a real mystery.  But there it is.

On the way up here the shower sump pump and the main bilge pump failed.  The manual one was working and we rarely have water in the bilge but it is a concern when your two main pumps have failed and you have to rely on the manual hand pump.

So to assuage my grief at losing my crew I tackled the pumps.  Ughhh.  What a mess.  I learned new ways to use old curse words and put a hex on whomever implemented designer Bob Johnston's design.  Surely he couldn't have invented this bilge hell-on-earth.  Compound that with dealing with sludgy oil everywhere, it took all day Sunday and most of Monday.  Thank goodness Pam had left her pillow cases nearby so I was able to wipe my hands once in a while.

We always put screen door material in the holes in the boat (scuppers, through-hulls, etc) when we leave her on the hard so critters can't make their nests and plug up lines.  I don't know if that is what happened but I spent a couple of hours on Sunday and from 8 'til 1 on Monday before I finally won.  At one stage I considered firing a flare from our new flare gun down the hose.  But... after pumping with water, poking with some 14-3 wiring cable, poking with a piece of old 3/8 standing rigging, pouring in muriatic acid and pumping air with the dinghy pump it finally came free.  I don't know which technique won the war.  I was getting ready to pull the hose out from the boat when I decided to try one more time and it worked!  Yay!!!  Glen 1- plugged hose 0 in overtime.  Did not involve a shoot-out.

So the boat is a disaster.  There is grease and oil everywhere but I can get Pam to clean that.  Just kidding Pam.  I'll get 'er done.
More or less back in one piece.
Steve's not here to make dinner so I've put my considerable culinary skills to work.  Bought a chicken and had it with lettuce, cucumber and tomato salad.  Very tricky getting this eye catching dish to the table without spoiling it by overcooking.

I know, I know - red with beef, white with poultry.  But this cornish game hen was the size of a cow!
Got a minute to do the final install of the new fridge door Stu helped me make - actually, Stu pretty much made it for me.  Nice, huh!?
Pam has already pointed out that red wine stains!
Need to do some work on the insulation.  Freezer on the right has two extra panels of insulation.
Off to the market tomorrow to get a little grub and a few sundries.

What's next on the fix-it list?  Rigging?

I'm sitting in the cockpit putting the final touches on this and listening to bad Karaoke on shore.  What could be better?  "Margaritaville", "Cheater cheater" and "I still like balogna" off key.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Safe and Sound in Saint Lucia with Stu and Steve

Bequia was beautiful (this is the alliteration special).  Because… alright… that’s enough of that.

Showed the scurvy crew around the town, stopped at Doris’ mostly because of the great air conditioning.  We found the bank, got a few supplies and then headed back to the boat for a cooling dip at the beach.

Tried to kill Stu with a walk to the Turtle Sanctuary.  He’s surprisingly tough, though and we made it there in just over an hour.  We took a taxi back and stopped at Doris’ again for supplies.  
Riding back in the taxi
We headed back to the boat to clean up and put on our dining-out clothing for a night out at the Whaleboners.  Great place for dinner.  Owner, Ruthie served us personally - Steve had the lobster, Stu had the fish and there was enough left in the Grande Heffe’s wallet for me to have the peanut butter and jam sandwich. 
Whaleboner Bar

Great Grub at the Whaleboner

Miranda taking away our dirty laundry
Winfield did our teak last year - wants more work!
Great sleep back on the boat and next morning we went back into town to check out.  We picked up a few things, checked out and left after a lunch of turkey and cheese croissant (and beer, of course.)  

Pam and I have made the run between Bequia and Rodney Bay a number of times and it is a slog.  It is long and there are a couple of rough spots.  We saw Chris Doyle (Cruising Guide author) in the harbour and asked his advice.  Good move!  He suggested cutting a couple of hours off by stopping in Buccament Bay - outrageously strong free internet and a pretty decent hook.  We were the only ones there.

So Wednesday we sailed and motor sailed up here in amazing time.  Had a couple of hours of really decent sailing - even though I managed to mangle a block in the reefing system.  The washing-machine north of St. Vincent was uncomfortable but only for a few hours.
Kingston, St. Vincent
Sailin' to St.  Lucia

Swab 1 and Swab 2 sailing us up to St. Lucia

So here we are, checked in, legal and full of Piton beer.

Steve whipped up rotini avec turkey bolognese and an amazing salad… mmmmmmmmm! Great dinner and a great night.

Today we have moved into the marina for a final cleanup before the crew leaves for home.  We've got lots of little jobs to do and it's fun being at the marina.  This (Rodney Bay Marina) is the terminus for the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) which started in the Canary Islands.  These folks have really done an amazing thing.  Very humbling.