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.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


I had all kinds of plans to avoid clearing into St. Vincent and the Grenadines via the harbour at Clifton but in the end I gritted my teeth and decided to endure the abominable boat boys and pay for a mooring ball that is probably secured to an old washing machine on the bottom.  We cleared in, had a smoothie, got some cash and went back to the boat for our short trip to Mayreau.  

Mmmmmmmm.  Smoothies!
I've mentioned before that Mayreau is one of my favorite islands and now it is among Steve and Stu's as well.  We trudged to the top of the hill so Stu could deliver his cargo of school supplies to the school.  Very cool.  No one had a coronary up the impossibly steep road.  Then walked over to the church so we could take in the view of the Tobago Cays, Carriacou, Petite St. Vincent, Petite Martinique and all the other cool places near here.

Stu's school supplies

Steve helped the kid out... now the teacher thinks he needs remediation
When we got back to the boat we were exhausted and hot... so what better antidote than a swim on the beautiful beach.  Pork stir-fry and a modicum of alcohol and then off to a deep slumber.  

Yesterday we got into the Tobago Cays, anchored and zipped over to swim with the turtles.  Even before we got the dinghy in the water one had surfaced near the boat so we knew they were there.  Saw tons of them.  They are so casual around humans.  They will swim right up to a person to have a look.  I'd include a picture of a turtle but I've lost my underwater camera.  PAM!  I need you here to find things.
Working on our synchronized routine

Calm, calm - hot, hot!
Back at the boat, we spent a lot of time in the water.  The wind is non-existent so you need the water to stay cool.  I've never seen it so calm.  

Steve didn't want leave.  He said that this has been his best swimming of his life.  Cool.

We had to motor all the way up to Bequia.  There is absolutely no breeze.  Crazy.
Easy making lunch today!

Picture Window
Got rid of garbage and did a tour of the town but it's Sunday so very quiet.  Picked up a bunch of fruit and veg at one of the vendors and came back to the boat.  Very hot so we went to shore in the dinghy for a swim.  

We had a slice of pizza ashore so we are looking at a light dinner.  Maybe a tuna sandwich.  I bought a soursop so the crew has had a chance to really branch out!  Check out soursop on google, Faithful Reader.  It's the ugliest thing you've ever seen.

So, the adventure continues!  We'll spend the next couple of days here and then head to Rodney Bay.  Woooo hoooooooo!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Leaving Grenada

Alright, we’re cruisers!
Steve's breakfast extravaganza
We had a good trip around the south coast of Grenada and parked out front of St. Georges for tours and provisions.  
Steve getting ready for the Grey Cup

Capturing rainwater

Swabby at the helm
Got all kinds of good stuff from Foodland.  We learned that the bananas we bought somewhere else are actually cooking bananas.  We could wait until next year and they still wouldn’t have been edible.

Toured the museum, the fort, had a beer overlooking the cruise ship dock and lunch (curried goat) at Dayna’s.  Bought some Sturgeron (sea sickness medication) for Stu and then headed back to the boat to get ready our trip up to Carriacou.  Because of our big lunch, we chowed down on a huge salad of lettuce, cucumber, tomato, christophene and onion.  Together with crackers, cheese and sardines, it hit the spot.
Visiting the Fort

Had a small nightcap (hah!) and stumbled off to bed.

I got a poke in the ribs at 6:30 and by 7:00 we had the anchor up were off to Carrriacou.  
The boys hard at work

Good sail up here… in by noon.  At 12:30 we were snugged and ready so we headed off to the Slipway Restaurant.  What to have???  The fresh seared tuna salad or the incredible burger.  Stu had the burger, Steve and I had the tuna.  Unbelievable.

Puttering and swimming in the afternoon - Simon came by to offer incredibly overpriced lobster… which we bought.  So tonight we are having lobster with stir fry vegetables and rice.  Either that or more sards!

No, I think that cloud looks like a rabbit smoking a cigar.
Head lobster chef at the Not So Ritzy Carlton

Monday, December 1, 2014

3-2-1 Blast Off

Hello Faithful Reader

We are as ready as we are going to be.  Blue Pearl is all back together... or at least I think she is.  We'll find out.  "If it's gonna happen it'll happen out there!"  (Do I need to provide a source?)

Also, we out of booze and need to get to a place where we can buy some more.

We must be in St. Lucia... 'cause we're out of booze!

We are going to leave Le Phare Bleu in the morning and head around to anchor outside of St. Georges.  From there we can do some more exploring and provision before leaving to Carriacou.  Pam has been doing some navigating from home and tells me that Thursday is our day to head north... so who are we to argue with Pam?

We've had a good stay here.  The work is so hot that the pool (and bar) becomes a lifesaver.  The staff are so helpful and friendly that it will be hard to leave.  Love Le Phare Bleu!!!

There was a Dinghy Concert on Sunday (yesterday) so we ran out to raft up with the rest of the dingys, ordered our beers and rum punches and settled back to enjoy the wonderful music.  Really worth doing.

Dinghy Concert #24?

Today we fixed up the things we could and abandoned the things that we can't.  Tidied up, washed things down, checked the systems.

We'll strike out tomorrow looking for plunder.  And BBQ ribs.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

In the water!

I get it now why Pam thought it was a good idea for Steve and Stu to help me splash the boat.  It is hot, dirty, ugly work and all you want to do is have another beer and go for a swim... and pay someone else to do the work!  Good play, Pammy!

The boat was particularly wet inside this year.  There is a leak somewhere and water collects inside during the summer rains, damaging the teak and leaving a mess.  I think it is coming in from the propane locker although we've looked and looked for the area of egress without success.  Need to fix that.

Anyway... WE'RE IN!!!  And parked in our favorite slip at Le Phare Bleu Marina.

I spent our first day here putzing around on the boat while the mangy crew abandoned me and went off on a tour of the island with Cutty.  They've returned with wonderful stories and two bottles of questionable rum thanks to our buddy, Cutty.  There might be a photo of a monkey sitting on Stu.

The monkey is the one on top
There are a million jobs involved in getting the boat ready so it is particularly frustrating when things that used to work just fine don't work anymore.  The last thing we need now is more jobs.

The water pump won't shut off until the breaker snaps so I'll have to swap the pump out for a new one.  The shower sump pump always acts up so we will continue to put up with that.  Having had the rigging replaced means that all of those things like flag halyard cleats, SSB antenna connections, wifi mounts which hung from the rigging have to be put back in place.

Got the main on... phew!
Anyway, enough whinging... I'm in lovely Grenada with good friends and things are great and soon Blue Pearl will be back in peak form and we will be off to invade other unsuspecting islands.

Look out!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Home for the Summer

Highlights from our time back in Canada...
  • had a spring visit from our daughter and grand daughter from Edmonton
  • bought a new car
  • cheered on our eldest daughter in her ultra-marathon (84 km over 3 days, ugh) near Calgary
  • visited Tyrell Museum (amazing dinosaurs, many millions or... wait a minute, really? only  6 thousand years old?) with son after seeing his apartment in Calgary for the first time
  • journey through our past visiting family and driving past our old houses and schools in Alberta and Saskatchewan in previously mentioned new car
  • visiting our youngest daughter and her daughter at their home near Edmonton
  • lots of golf
  • boat projects
  • house projects
  • vintage computer projects
  • sports car projects
  • lots of time with great old friends (I mean long-time friends... but some of them are quite old)
  • lunch with team mates and coach from high school football team
  • pig roast in our back yard with 80 wonderful friends and family
    Pig Roast
  • a visit for Glen to Germany to attend a family history seminar and visit WW I sites in Belgium
  • a quick family trip to Vancouver Island to see sister, brother-in-law and Mom
  • two weeks in Maui with daughters, son, son-in-law and 3 grandchildren
Our kids... so proud! 1993 and now.
Man... I'm bushed.  Looking for some respite from all the action.  Need to get back down to the boat!

I (Glen) am down with 2 friends, Stu and Steve, to put the boat in the water and get it ready for Admiral Pam.  We'll do a shakedown cruise up to St. Lucia and pick Pam up there.

So, here we go...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bye for now...

When we were planning our trip back home we looked for flights from Grenada to Vancouver… and surrounding airports.  So we got this interesting combo… Grenada to Miami to Las Vegas to Bellingham.  Now Bellingham is only 30 miles south of our home in Abbotsford, closer than Vancouver so it makes for an easy trip home… AND, we spend the night in Vegas.  Shows, casinos, hookers, booze, all-nighters, tattoos… probably not… but makes for an interesting return.

Amazing snow covered volcanos in the Pacific Northwest
Our old cruising grounds
Don and Pat scooped us up from BLI and delivered us home.  We were in the house by mid afternoon and... daughter Jen and kids were there to meet us so we had a very happy reunion and a busy evening!

What a season!!!  We got to show the Burnsies, the Keys, the Macdonalds, the Inmans and son, Brad around the areas we have been cruising.  We think they got a nice taste of the Eastern Caribbean.  We didn’t see much new territory but we met up with cruising buddies from previous years and enjoyed meeting new ones.  That is the charm of this lifestyle… meeting amazing people with similar interests and hearing their stories.

Hanna, Glen, Pam, Dana and Kai from Eventyr
Now we get to spend the next 7 or 8 months with loved ones and enjoy our terrific backyard (figuratively and literally).  And… in the backs of our minds… we will be developing plans for our sailing adventures next year.

Until then, Faithful Reader…

Saturday, April 26, 2014

On the hard

Well, Dear Reader…

We said good bye to Eric and Pat from Cutter Loose, a beautiful Island Packet 460 as they helped us cast off for our 45 minute roller coaster ride from Le Phare Bleu Marina to Grenada Marine in St. Davids.  We really enjoyed getting to know them a little bit and we are looking forward to stalking them next year.

The fearless crews of Cutter Loose and Blue Pearl - connoisseurs of fine boats!
Without any canvas to protect us we were drenched in minutes as Blue Pearl plunged into the huge waves that smacked us in the face every 2 or 3 seconds.  Note to selves... maybe next year we will take the dodger down AFTER we get to Grenada Marine!!!

It was ONLY 45 minutes so not too bad and we hooked up to a mooring ball to await our haulout.  Got a few more odd jobs done and then quick as a wink we were out.  It wasn't pretty backing Blue Pearl into the haulout slip but like the pilots say, "Any landing you can walk away from was a good one".

Got the boat out and into slings and then, what do you know... time for a meeting of all the boatyard crew and then lunch.  So after 3 hours sitting in the slings we finally put Blue Pearl down into her new spot.

In the slip, waiting for the big guy

OK - we're ready!

Careful... don't drop us

OK, that's going to need some work

Nothing else to do while we are waiting for the meeting to end
Yesterday we moved off Blue Pearl and into the Gems Beach Resort in Morne Rouge Bay.  Not your top of the line 5 star resort but it will do us just fine.  We have a little living room, kitchen, boudoir and bathroom.  We will be here until some nasty hour of the morning on Monday when we leave to catch our 7:30 AM flight to Miami.

Is it still rocking?
Got an email from Chris on Troubadour that they would be in Secret Harbour Marina for fish and chips so we roared off in our rental car, careering around traffic circles, past stopped buses, up hills, around crazy corners and potholes and with Navigator Pam barking out orders, we arrived in minutes at the Marina.  We had a nice evening with Chris and Linda from Troubadour and Patrick and Lucy from Illusions but we were so tired that we made it an early evening.  Good news... the beds at Gems Beach Resort are very comfortable.

We got up this morning and drove to Grenada Marine… about 5 miles from here but the roads are crazy and it turns into a rally in the country… and about half an hour.

Pam did some final fridge cleanup, moved crap around so the marine surveyor can find his way around the engine, transmission and prop shaft.  She puttered around with cable ties so everything is neat and tidy and bundled.  Glen cleaned the propeller, put on a new zinc, stowed lines, fenders and fiddled around with the dingy davits.

We had lunch at the marina to give us a little time to ponder whether we were done.  Went back and emptied the water from our water tank… did a final walk-through and a final-walk about… and then we left.

Ahh, that looks better

So naked!

Bye... see you soon!
Next year Glen might get some of his disreputable friends to help put the boat in the water in late November.  Not sure how well that will work without Pam to supervise and second guess Glen’s bad decisions.  Pam will come down a little later.

When we retired we had ambitions of spending 6 months down here avoiding Vancouver’s crappy winter weather but we are finding that we need to spend more time at home with our little grandchildren.  Didn’t factor that into the dream retirement, did we?  Did not see that coming.

So maybe a shortened year next year?  Even 3 or 4 months cruising in the Caribbean is sublime.  And who knows, maybe Glen and his fearless crew of miscreants might get as far north as Antigua before Pam joins the ride.

It’s a mystery!!! Fun to think about.

Excuse me... will you be using that parking spot much longer?