Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Ship shape!

We haven’t had great internet so blogging has been a challenge.

After leaving the security of Jolly Harbour Marina we chugged around to Hermitage Bay with our new electrical system. Over the next few days we fiddled around with stuff, getting used to our new systems. Pam has managed to tidy the boat up so it is quite pleasant and the “garage” (the aft cabin) is becoming less cluttered. All the the parts and crap that were stored in there and the parts and crap that I brought down in my luggage have been installed, put away and generally getting to the spots where they belong.

Hermitage is quiet and that’s just what we needed to concentrate on our chores.

Ready to cast off

Party boat at Hermitage

Murphy with chaps

Back from the beach

After a couple of days, and realizing that we could exist off the dock we moved to Carlisle Bay, which has been another favourite place. Continued with getting things organized but had problems with their usually excellent internet.

Lots of turtles at Carlisle and Falmouth

So after a couple of quiet nights we decided to move to Falmouth Harbour with it’s wealth of services and shopping. Problem here is that there really is no good internet in the harbour so we have to go in somewhere and buy a beer to connect. Darn.

The Salty Dawg is a rally that starts on the east coast of the US and winds up here. The early boats have begun to arrive so there is plenty of activity as boats celebrate their 1500 mile journey. Lots of parties.

Columbia from Panama City Florida

One of the sides of the cockpit coaming was quite damaged by the Caribbean weather so we stripped the teak down to bare wood and are in the process of building back layers of varnish. We’ve managed to rig the sails the way we want for any upcoming passages and managed to test everything on our way to Falmouth. The nav computers are working well so we won’t get lost. “Captain Ron: If we get lost we’ll just pull in somewheres and ask directions.”

Time for Sodukos when the jobs are done

Mutton roti at Roti Sue's

So, the boat’s ready for a passage. But we’re not. We are excited about heading home next week to hug kids and grandkids. We’ll haul the boat so we don’t have to worry about whether it’s sinking in our absence and launch again when we get back. Not taking down any canvas or sails. Leaving some rum on board for libations when we return. 

After the New Year we’ll figure out what distant horizons are calling!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Pam Arrives! Woot, woot!!!

Hello Dear Readers,

I hope November has been good to you so far!

There has been progress on many fronts leading up to Pam's arrival on my 70th birthday, November 9th.

Left North Sound solo on Thursday, November 3.

Bye bye North Sound

Well hello Jolly Harbout

Landing at JH was fun. I radioed ahead that I was coming in solo and would need someone to help with the lines. The Dockmaster said he was working alone so good luck with that. Got in near the docks and dropped Murphy the Dinghy so he wasn't in the way to back into the dock. While I was doing that the Dockmaster found a yard worker and dropped him on the boat to throw lines. So we backed in, tied up and Bob's your uncle. Uncle Bob!

Headed over to the Epicurean Grocery Store and bought essentials for lunch.

Fried chicken, sauerkraut and beer!!! Mmmmmmm

Hooked up to power, turned on the AC and set about installing all the new parts to make Blue Pearl whole again!

Cleaned out the battery compartment and hooked in the new Victron Lynx power distributor. Don't even get me going on this lovely unit. Also, built a brilliant new battery box for the new starter battery near the engine.

Clean and shiny and most of these wires disappear

Lynx Power Distributor. This is a beast!

New starter battery box.

Got the propane repaired so I can make dinner!

Last year the propane system died and leaked away all our propane so I installed a new regulator and new hoses and we are back in business. Who wants spaghetti with sausage for dinner?! I do!!!

Got the new starter battery in place and checked it out. Engine starts like a dream and the alternator is charging it like a champ!

New starter battery in place

And then, when I didn't think it could get any better... Pam arrived at JH November 9th. In time to celebrate my 50th birthday! Whoop, whoop. What a great day! Did I say 50th? Will check the calendar.

My partner

Boat Scotch

My favorite sister, Donna, had Pam bring along a $2000 bottle of scotch for my 70th. Money well spent. I think that's what it cost.

Yachtie dinner at the Curry House

And then we had dinner with yachtie friends and they carried me around the restaurant on their shoulders 3 times singing Happy Birthday and He's a Jolly Good Roger. So I'm told.

Installed a new thingamajig to help charge the batteries while we are motoring. 

DC to DC Lithium Battery Charger

And I still need to connect the solar panels and dedicated windlass battery.  That'll happen tomorrow and Saturday. Getting help with putting the sails on in a few days and then a little last minute fiddling and tidying and we should be good to go for a little cruise. 

Heading out for the Panama Canal, whoot whoot! (Not happening says Pam!)

All the best!

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Back to Antigua

Hello Again Dear Reader,

First post in a long while. I'm back in Antigua working on Blue Pearl.

When we left her here last April she was bruised and broken. Two years of covid-induced neglect made her basically non-functional. The batteries were dead, the navigation system wasn't working properly, the house water system was broken, the teak was peeling, the propane system leaked and it was just generally dirty. So we cut our cruise short and came home early.

With months to plan, I have arrived back down here with fixes to all of our issues... so here's hoping things will be better this time.

My plan was to arrive at North Sound Marina on Sunday, work like the devil Monday, launch and transit to Jolly Harbour Tuesday where the real work on repairs would begin. However, Tuesday was Independence Day and Wednesday was too busy so now we launch Thursday first thing. We'll see what "first thing" looks like.

In the meantime I've started working on the batteries and propane system.

Meals have been fun. I thought the local burger place would be closed so I stopped at a little grocery on the way and picked up a can of "Chopped Ham" (aka Spam, ) some bread and a cucumber. As I drove past the burger joint I saw that it was open. Should have stopped. 

Breakfasts have been banana bread that Pam sent with me and coffee.

Went to the burger joint on Monday but it was closed so I had more Spam. Yum. Tuesday was Independence Day so the burger joint was closed. I found a roadside take-away place (they are all over) and had Pig Souse. Today was another roadside place for a big lunch and it will be sardines and crackers for dinner. Really looking forward to a burger.

Tomorrow I will do a 15-20 mile run around the island to Jolly Harbour and tie up at the marina to get the big stuff done before Pam gets here next Wednesday.

The new batteries are AGMs for the starter and windlass. The new house bank is 2 280 Ah LiFePO4 batteries for 560 Ahs. 

Optima battery for starter and windlass

This is one of the 2 280 Ah batteries I built that will form the house bank

The new bits that will create an improved battery system

The propane system gets a new regulator and some new gas lines. 

Last April we plugged the drain hole in the well so over time it
filled with rainwater and floated the tanks. Bad.

Cleaned up with new parts but not yet completely connected.

Also installed a new port-side boarding ladder. Always wondered how we could get someone on board if the dinghy was up and blocking the aft ladder. Now we know! But will take some research to figure out how to deploy and stow.

New Mystic SS Boarding ladder

Our Covid absence led to some serious issues with our teak.
Wonder if this protective material will make a difference?

New engine control panel cover. Now you can see the instruments.

Haven't done much with rigging. That's for later.

Murphy the Dinghy - ready to load for launch.

So that's us so far. Lots of work to do at Jolly. Will report out on my progress. Looking forward to have it all bright and shiny when Pam arrives on November 9, 2022!

Cheers for now.

Captain Chaos

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

We're done

So that's it. We are done.

Out of the water

And resting 'til November

Put a candle in the window, we're comin' home.

Monday, April 25, 2022

End of Our Blue Pearl Covid Rescue Trip

 Hello Dear Reader,

This is likely our last post for this trip. We've accomplished a lot, but there still more problems to solve before the beautiful Blue Pearl is ready for more travelling adventures.

We've added new anchor chain. Restored teak. And we are experimenting with caprail protective tape to try to avoid exposure to the sun. 

Protecting the teak?

We've replaced many teak plugs that cover screws that hold us together.  Received and installed repaired canvas from Just Canvas Janni. We installed a navigation computer that I did some repair work on at home. Seems to be working. We received our new boarding ladder but did not install yet - rust!!! 

We've removed the staysail boom. Will experiment sailing with a boomless rig. 

Where's the boom?

There it is!!!

Threw out years of accumulated broken bits and extra unnecessary spares/parts. The dinghy had a furious leak so we sent it out for repair to Seagull. Delivery to NS once we haul. We had the yard do our bottom paint. Tested but did not use Air Con. 

And importanty... clean, clean, clean. Thank you Pam.

Tom and Hannah on Artemis left yesterday. So glad we crossed paths with them. Looking forward to following them on their adventures south.

Table Grazing - Amazing!

Artemis' Continuing Adventure

Covid/Blue Pearl saved the best trick for last. We prepared for lunch on the day before our haul. Hot dogs for lunch and then Pam was going to cook up some meals to have during the last days - but we are out of propane. it has all leaked away. The propane system was partially repaired and we were full of propane. A fitting that could not be sourced locally had to be cleaned and used and we assumed that all was well. But it wasn't.

Turns out you can boil a hot dog in an electric kettle. 

No Cold HotDogs for You!!!

And then, we borrowed a tank from Brian on Pyxis, cooked up our last meals to have cold during and after the haulout. We are taking some gudgeons and pintels (look it up) back to Canada for machining so I didn't mind asking for a favour.

Delicious curry dinner. Thanks Brian!

So we will motor from here in the morning and haul at North Sound. Talked to the manager her, Jo Lucas who coincidentally used to live right next door to us in Abbotsford. The first dockmaster arrives at 7 AM so we should be on our way by 7:30. Hauling at 10:30 and flying home the next day. Just like that.
Solved a lot of problems. Met some really interesting folks and had some fun evenings. 

Looking forward to further adventures in the fall.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022


So, like a restorer of medieval paintings, Pam is slowly bringing back our teak to Blue Pearl standards. We get up every day, have our coffee, make our teak plans and get to work. 

Local fruit

Teak break at lunch with beer and then a solid nap.

4 coats

Replacing teak plugs

Various chores after lunch. Gin and tonics around 5. Reading, dinner and a sound sleep at 9 or 10 until 7 the next day. The boat is beginning to come back to life and take her proper shape after 2 and a half years of neglect.

Mmmmmm. Pork chops!!!

I learned today that the automotic switch for the bilge pump is not working the way it is supposed to. Uggggh. I hate the bilge pump. And I blame Bob Johnson, the designer of this boat. He designed wonderful boats with interesting weirdnesses that result in our love/hate relationship with him. Arghhhhhh.

Water pump is acting up. Won't stop running. I think it is drawing in air from a degraded pick-up tube in the tank. Need a metal fabricator for that... and he's too busy to fix it during our last few days down here.

Ailsa left the dock today. Graham and Julie are Canadian sailors with pretty incredible credentials. They've had several boats and sailed all over the world with them. Sold their Amel after sailing it from France to New Zealand. So now they are on their beautiful IP 465 getting ready to do another left after the Panama Canal. They have more energy and water than they need so I've suggested following them with a gardening hose and a charging cable. Hoping to see them at home this summer.


Julie and Graham

Had dinner with Brigitte, Richard and Andrew. Richard and Brigitte spend 3 months a year down here on Cloud 9. Family join them for short visits. Kinda like us!

Dinner at Miracles

And off to Guadeloupe they go

Switching gears...

We were interested in the boat next door, Artemis. Very quiet. No one aboard. Quite a different design. And then a day or so ago we saw some activity. 

So we googled the name. And this is what we learned. 

Dock neighbours were chatting with Tom so we wandered over and introduced ourselves. Mentioned Vancouver, then Abbotsford and noticed Hannah running out to the deck. Turns out, she's from the Wack - Chilliwack to the uninformed. 

We are urgenty searching for that common connection... doctors, teachers, but haven't found it yet. We will annoy them with our proximity over the next few days while we are here. I wonder if they've got any interesting beer? Good craft beer in the "Wack. Lovely for us to get to know them. Drinks tomorrow night.

Such a small world. So many great folks!

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Fixing Things and Socializing at Jolly Harbour

Hello Friends and Family,

So here we are at Jolly Harbour. As long as we don't unhook the yellow dockline (power cord) we are happy campers.

We (Pam mostly) have tackled the teak with a vengance. And we're pretty impressed with the results. So we won't strip it all back to bare wood but the repairs are blending in nicely.


...compared with this

Friends told us that the manager of Jolly Harbour was an Abbotsford lady and it turns out that Jo Lucas from Yarrow is, indeed the manager of JH. So we had a nice chat with her and hopefully she remembers her roots when she tallies our final invoice.

Jolly Harbour Office

Pam sent postcards off to the grandkids so hopefully they will get them before they graduate from school.

Antigua Postal

New friends Graham and Julie down the dock on a 47 foot Island Packet are working on their teak and hosted us for drinks the other night. They have all the latest bells and whistles and batteries so I'm pumping them for intel on how to repower Blue Pearl.

Next door, Richard, Brigitte and son Andrew are at the dock to send poor Andrew back to his teaching job in central London. Richard was in Vancouver back in the 70s with his London school on a rugby tour and speaks fondly of his time in the area.

And Dave and Willina just sold their float home in Maple Bay, BC. They got caught at the beginning of Covid in Grenada and decided to stay at the rental property of a friend. They ended up buying a sailboat and are starting their Caribbean adventure on "Against the Wind."

So there's lots of jobs to be done and nice folks to spend time with. 

Blue Pearl after our sunset walk to the beach

We'll talk soon!