Friday, December 13, 2019

Home For the Holidays!!!

I got down to the boat at North Sound in Antigua on November 10 and I've been working ever since trying to get it all ready. Warren helped me a ton with all kinds of launching boat jobs when he arrived a few days later. Then Mike and George arrived and helped with some last minute stuff before we set out. And then we set out. I've described our successful and eventful delivery to Fajardo, PR in previous posts.

Pam got here on December 1 and things really began to take shape, because she knows where stuff belongs. We have done lots of little jobs ourselves and we've had contractors in to do some things that need special skills. 

So the boat is in great shape... and now we're going home. We've:

installed the new Victron 12/3000 inverter/charger
installed a new Victron battery monitor
finished up the windlass install
fixed the toilet I broke from standing on it to fix the windlass
repaired the wind direction indicator
destroyed and then repaired the autopilot
put in the new sink
repaired rigging parts on the bobstay
repaired our internet connection
installed a new shower sump pump
2 coats of varnish on the teak
polished all the stainless

And now, 16 hours later... we're home!

Otto's guts. Can you see the problem?

Mmmmm. Penne with Italian sausage!
Break Out Another Thousand

Measuring boat blanket to cover fenders

Need longer arms
Ready to cruising... when we get back!

Monday, December 9, 2019

El Yunque

Hello There!

In between boat jobs we are attempting to be tourists as well. So with that state of mind, we set out for the el Yunque National Forest. It's a big chunk of the eastern middle of the island. It's a huge rain forest - the biggest in all of the US?

It's not a big drive but all along the 15 km route there are spots to stop for hikes, swims, viewpoints. Very cool. We did the drive... short hike... and came away very impressed.

Mountain pool - constructed around 1942 

Dam pool - or pool dam

Construction up in the jungle

Studly waterfall

More of the dam pool

el Yonque down to the sea
There are lots of very challenging hikes and cool places to swim in mountain pools. That's not currently on our list of things to do.

But this is...
Unfortunately we made the mistake of ordering lunch - which ended up being far more than we would ever eat for dinner, let alone lunch. We've got to start ordering one meal and sharing it.

But, back to boat jobs...

Pam is the Queen of Varnish. So right away she's talking about getting 3 coats over the entire boat. (I'd be happy with two.) And, off we go. We have to dodge the rain showers that happen all the time, out of the blue. "These squalls come on you fast and leave you fast, Boss!" (A quote from Captain Ron.) So we've been lucky so far but some of our fresh varnish has pretty rain drops over it.

The Varnish Queen

Love the way rain beads on new varnish
We're hoping to get a little more done before we fly home Thursday.

We took Otto's ram into a hydraulic shop for new seals and fluid. They filled the reservoir with fluid but not the ram. So I have to bleed the fluid in. But, not to worry, they've given me lots of fluid in a seriously scientific container.

Otto and a Coke bottle of hydraulic fluid

Using the pump to introduce the fluid and bleed the lines.

Post script to this fun little activity. They put it together backwards. So the pusher end is on the wrong side. Great fun! I took it in first thing Monday and they fixed it while I waited. It's back in place but I'm struggling to get it to behave. Grrrr.

Almost back together

We've been looking forward to a new sink. This stainless steel sink is rusted through and from underneath looks like a rust monster. So, new sink, new faucets. Sounds lovely, right?

I decided to pay to have it done 'cause under the sink is a bitch and I'm not agile enough to clamber around in there. I thought I'd pay someone who does this all the time and they will do it right and they know the tricks of the trade. Well, at $100 US per hour he ran into trouble and can't figure out how to stop a leak. I'm perfectly capable of not being able to fix something and I can do it (or not) for nothing. So that's a bother. Grrrrr.

But it sure looks nice!

Old Sink - see the rust in the left sink?


Lots of rust

Cleaning up for new parts

Almost in and done!
RiggingThe riggers identified 3 or 4 issues that should be tended to. So we are going to go ahead with those things in the time we've got left here. Maybe. I've been waiting to pay them for the previous work but I can 't get them to respond to my texts. Grrrr.

We are looking forward to finding closure on some of these big items and getting a few more little things done. Only a couple more days and we are on our way home to spend the holidays with our family and friends. How great is that???!!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Fixing things on Blue Pearl in Fajardo

OK!!! Now that the Admiral is here, things are starting to take shape.

Pam has a degree in fridge management and so I'm sure that we'll soon be able to find things in there. Also, she knows where stuff goes in general, so I'm getting around to putting things in their proper place. 

Getting after the rust on the stainless steel
The shower sump has been giving us problems. Comes on for no good reason and we have to turn the breaker on and off to reset it. Now it just runs for no reason at all.

So, out with the old and in with the new. Except Bob Johnson designed this boat for someone like Mark Spitz with freakishly long arms to grab things down in the bilge. Not for someone like me. So we've got a new pump in there but it is definitely a temporary install. Need to find a better way.

We've dumped all the rain water that has collected around the mail sail and flaked the sail onto the boom. Pam has repaired part of the sail cover so it captures the sail properly.

Fixing things.
Our new best friend is Quino the rigger. He can fix anything and if there is something he can't fix, he knows the person who can.

I've been waiting for the opportunity to get someone to help me thread a new masthead wind instrument cable. So Quino came to look at the boat yesterday. He said he would send crew to do the deed this morning... and as he was walking away from the boat he looked at the thing-a-ma-jig connector at the top of the bobstay and said that I should deal with that.
Even when he pointed it out to me I couldn't see the problem... but I said go ahead and fix it.

Not good

Glad that didn't go during a night crossing
Oooooh ,shiny!

Can you imagine if that had failed, especially going to wind. Ackkk.

Installed new cable, taking photos of areas of interest

What's going on up there?
So that's fixed, and so is my masthead wind instrument. And soon Quino's guys will have fixed the other things they found... the frayed spinnaker halyard, the frayed spinnaker boom halyard, the chafe guard on the staysail stay and the chafe guard on the mainsail outhaul.

Otto, the autopilot has suffered some damage.  I've managed to get it back together, for the most part but the hydraulic ram needs to go to a machine shop to have the seals checked and to have the hydraulic fluid replaced. Pam brought a replacement navigation computer down in her carry-on luggage which I installed yesterday. So we are seeing progress on that front.

Down in the office fixing Otto
I've done the final bits on the windlass install and in the process found the broken wire from the forward running lights. Soon I can fix the toilet lids that I broke by standing on them while trying to finish the windlass install.

Quite comfortable

Aha... that's why the running lights were out!

Done in the locker... now fix the turlet
So things are getting done. Marc from France is going to help us install a new kitchen sink. The old one has rusted through. I'll show photos when we pull it out.

That's it for now. 

Fixing things on Blue Pearl in Fajardo

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Single Handed

I thought I would get a ton of things done when I got back to the boat after dropping the crusty crew off at the airport.

I bought a grease gun and gave a half hearted attempt at fixing Otto's rudder-reference-unit. That didn't solve the problem so I put a few things away, tidied up a little and napped until dinner - a leftover pork chop, of course. Read a little after dinner and was asleep by 8:30.

Next morning was another matter. I repositioned the boat at the dock a little as it was bumping the anchor against a shore locker.

Set about putting more things away to allow for a good interior scrubbing. The 3 able seamen who are home out of the heat arranged for a cleaning lady to come in. How nice.

Now that the aft cabin is no longer George's bedroom it becomes the garage in which to store all our stuff that has been cluttering the rest of the boat.

Installed the temperature sensor on the new Victron inverter/charger and put a check mark against that job. DONE!

Had to do this with photos and by feel. Hard to get in there
Put the panel back on the AC electrical box so that's another job completed.

Spent a couple of hours trouble shooting Otto but that didn't yield any thing positive.

Next day I returned the car and wasted time while Juanita cleaned the boat. Had a chicken quesadilla at the snack shop. 

Lunch - yum
Did a little more investigative work on Otto with disappointing results. Put away more stuff, did some trouble shooting on the fridge. Installed a new starter relay. Arranged for a rental car for Pam's visit.

New starter relay
Shower sump pump has given up the ghost. Time to dive back down into the bilge.

Lots of things to fix... but I'm a machine! And I'm on the boat in a place with services and easy access to parts. 

Yay Fajardo!!!

Friday, November 29, 2019


So here we are! We traveled from North Sound Marina in Antigua to Sun Bay Marina, PR... a total of 233 nautical miles.

The trip from Culebra was quite short... only 18 miles. We did it with one fewer crew member... Otto the autopilot kicked out. That's going to hurt.

Carmen from Sun Bay was very helpful with directions and soon we were tying up at the dock.

We knew we were near Fajardo 'cause we had just enough food to reach Fajardo... and we were out of food.

So we marched up the hill to a nearby hotel and enjoyed a display of billiards and a dinner with beer.

Next morning we made arrangements for a car and headed into Old San Juan. It's a great place and really needs more time than we had... but pretty cool nonetheless.

Hardware/Cafe at Sun Bay

Floating boats and stacks of boats

Cruise ships in OSJ

Pigeon Park

Sea faring men 


Sheep statue?

Morro Fort

Salty Crew

So that's the end of the epic voyage. We came back to the boat at Sun Bay. Ate our last pork chop dinner on board. Had a good sleep, a great breakfast and shower in the morning.

I dropped them at SJU, looked the other way... looked back and they were gone like Captain Rons.

Drove back to a quiet and roomy Blue Pearl.

Great adventures.


The sail to Culebra was nice... at first. Got a little lumpy a couple of miles out as a result of some huge rollers roaring in from the Atlantic. We arrived in the daylight, which is always nice and navigated the bouys in behind the protective reef. Took a couple of tries to anchor... not sure why... but we were finally able to settle in.


Clearing Customs is interesting. Even though we had cleared into the USVI, PR makes you clear in again. And Culebra is considered part of PR. So we used the new CBP Roam app which has all our information pre-loaded and after a time we were able to phone in and talk to an agent. Despite the fact that we are all NEXUS "Trusted Travellers" we were required to go into the CBP office in the airport.

But we were cleared in... just no Cruising Permit. So we cruised into the Dinghy Dock and had a light supper.

Ensenada Honda

Dinghy Dock Bar Restaurant

I wish I had ordered the ribs

Nothing left but bones

The next morning we had breakfast at the Pancakedeli and then rented a golf cart to get around. The Cruising Permit took forever. The agent had to fill out multiple forms by hand, which makes you wonder about the level of integration of the new Roam app.

Took the obligatory trip to Flamenco Beach. Then had a pleasant drive around the island looking for places to watch football. There was none so we retired to the boat for the evening.

Breakfast at PancakeDeli

Cruising Permit

Flamenco Beach

Ensenada Honda vista

Boat Penne - yum
Next morning saw us up anchor and head around to the Canal de Luis Peña Marine Preserve. The last time we were there we saw hundreds of turtles. Sadly, this time we only saw one big one, along with some fish and a stingray.

So that's Culebra... onto Sunbay Marine in Fajardo, PR!

Onto Fajardo