Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Why, hello there. Thanks for staying with us through the season. We are on our way home to loved ones.

Finished up our preliminary "put-away" details at Stuart. Took the sails down, found places for everything, got rid of a few "treasures?" that we've been hauling around and generally tidied up.

Mainsail on the deck

Lunch in the park on our last day - Conch salad and conch fitters!

Then we travelled up the St. Lucie River, past the lock and into Indiantown. The weather has been interesting; lots of afternoon thunder and lightning storms that make for nervous glances at the sky. A couple of nights ago we watched a boat 2 over get struck by lightning... and we were sad for them but happy it wan't us!

Captain Chaos without Otto the autopilot

One of many bridges

Into the lock

Ready to float up 14 feet

Lots of company in the lock

Tied up, ready to haul

Worked with Captain Dennis to get Blue Pearl a new insurance survey and to source a hard-to-find part. Also connected us with some services that we will need to put Blue Pearl into pristeen condition for next year. 

Boat Whisperers Alex and Jesse guiding us in

And off to our perfect spot on the hard

So this has been a journey. Saying goodbye to the Caribbean and looking forward to... not sure what! The boat is secure and in a good place. Looking forward to whatever comes.

And we are so excited to get home tomorrow!

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Dear Follower!

Nice to connect again.

We've been at Stuart for a week now and our adrenaline levels have returned to normal. We were blitzed after our 24 hour over-nighter from Great Stirrup Cay to the St. Lucie Inlet, not knowing how it was going to work with the train bridge and whether there was room in the anchorage. Highly stressed and overtired. Not great.

Found a parking spot close to town

Happily, it all worked out and we are able to settle into normal boat problem solving and getting ready to put her on the hard. 

There is a shuttle bus that runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings to nearby stores and services and Sam the bus driver (before retirement he was the general manager) is fun to be with and doesn't mind going out of his way to make sure you get what you need!

Sam's Shuttle Bus!

Six pack of beer fits in the basket

Company while you wait for the laundry

Dinghys and the mooring field

We've been to Walmart, Boat Owners Warehouse, Mack Sails (that one was out of the way!) and Publix. When we're not with Sam we've used the loaner bicycles to zip up for more tonic or shrimp or whatever. And we've wandered into old town Stuart on the River Walk to enjoy ourselves at the many restaurants and stores. It's pretty great!

Cracked Conch at Lola's

Gimme oysters and beer, for dinner every day of the year...

One of the many little issues was a broken "bob-stay" that fastens under the deck to pull down where the stays'l stay pulls up. That little bit of boat bling cost $350... and it gets mounted in the chain locker where noone will ever see it. I might buy another one and hang it on the wall at home!

Beautiful new stays'l bobstay

We stay pretty active getting Blue Pearl ready for storage and it gets very hot in the afternoon to we try to be strategic about "when we do what." Also, trying to find ways to remember what goes where when we get back!

Great facilities...

Stay Classy!

This tree lights up every night after dusk as we are enjoying our rum and chocolate.

On Monday we will leave Sunset Bay Marina and head up the St. Lucie River. About 5 miles out we go through a lock that raises us by 10 or 12 feet. Then another 15 miles to Indiantown Marina where we will overnight and then haul on Tuesday. Overnight in Stuart's Quality Inn and then again in Fort Lauderdale's Holiday Inn Express. Thursday morning we fly direct to Seattle and then bus home to Vancouver.

Very excited to see family and friends!

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Highs and Lows and Highs

Oh My Goodness Faithful Reader, I’ve got so much to report!

After leaving Long Island with the newly Les-refurbished heat exchanger I was on a high, until I learned that it was still overheating and losing coolant. Never mind that Pam was coming to finish the trip. We were going to be stuck in GeorgeTown for months and miss the upcoming coronation of what’s-his-name. Oh no!

So in preparation for major engine surgery, I took out Les’ carefully repaired heat exchanger so I could order in a new one and WHAT IS THAT? a broken hose clamp in the most obscure part of this troublesome YanPart. So I finished putting it all back together a hour before Pam arrived and the next day we set out to finish Blue Pearl’s epic voyage from Antigua back to Florida. With Les’ amazingly rebuild heat exchanger.

Back together - going to last?

Fish cleaning - guts to the sharks!

The first day was uneventful. The engine purred and did not overheat. There was no wind so we fought with the sails but essentially motored all the way up to Black Point. Found a nice place to anchor and had an early night listening to fun music and yelling from the beach bars.

We left in the morning knowing that a nasty front was receding - but wouldn’t you know it, we preceded the receding. And got drenched and tossed about. And Otto (the Auto pilot) refused to work in those conditions. Any who could blame him? So we completed our second 40 nm leg hand steering to Pigeon Cay near Shroud Cay. 

Got up the next day after a rolly night, for another cold, messy, rainy day to West Bay in New Providence (where Nassau lives.) For the fourth day in a row we set out bright and early, this time for Great Stirrup Cay 50 nm away. If you’ve been on a Norwegian fun cruise in the Bahamas you will know it as “Fantasy Island” or “Cassius Cay” or any one of the wonderful promotional names for places like “Goat” and “Stirrup.”

I wonder if we could borrow that?

Enjoying the Bahamas

Our last day was a doozy. Great Harbour (on Great Stirrup) to the Saint Lucie inlet near Stuart, Florida - a 150 nm overnight run. The 70ish miles up to Grand Bahama is unremarkable but when it gets dark and you meet up with many cruise ships, tankers, freighters it becomes challenging. And doing it at night without an autopilot is really difficult. I got caught a couple of times going so far off course that I just did a 360.
Passing north of Stirrup - or Coco Bay

All those red arrows are cruise ships, freighters and tankers near us

Got to the inlet and then proceeded 5 miles against a tide to get to the dam bridge that is closing tomorrow for a month. So today was our last best chance of getting here and just as we approached it opened to let the last group of boaters in and out of the bay. So we circled once and proceed through. And Pam said, “Don’t let the bridge hit you on the ass on your way out!"


Will we fit?

Through the troublesom railway bridge

But here we are in Stuart, Florida - where it seems everybody has a boat that make ours look like a dinghy. Where does all this wealth come from?

Pam has been a trooper. Getting blasted by rain on a boat with a number of issues where sleep is a rare commodity she comes up with goofy jokes or ‘remember-whens’ to lighten the mood. What a girl!

So I’m going to ask her soon what kind of bigger boat she wants to buy and where she wants to sail next!!!

View from Sunset Bay Marina sailors lounge

Via con Perro

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Off the the Exumas

 Well Faithful Follower!

How things have changed!

Crew left April 5 - off to appointments and travel plans.

Off to George Town

With my spanking new heat exchanger I left Clarence Town and headed 40 miles to the top of Long Island. I was headed for Calibash Bay but I could see that many boats had the same idea so I opted for a little spot that I had all to myself. Watched the stars and the moon and had a lovely evening. 

Columbus Statue - sorry about the syphilus

I was a little unsettled in the morning when the engine coughed a little before starting. That is a sign the water is leaking into the cylinders while it is not running - a very bad thing. Maybe Les wasn't able to be a 5 star problem fixer this time? 

Got the engine running and headed out to George Town and motor-sailed into Monument Beach. There were almost 400 boats there last week and nearly 300 when I arrived. The morning radio net speaks to a myriad of activities going on and ways to find parts and fix your boat.

Lotsa boats!

I left for Emerald Bay Marina, 10 miles north to pick up veteran sailor and all-round great person to be with, Pam. The trip up was glitchful and horrible, making me think that we might be here for a long time, waiting for service and parts.

Just before Pam left to catch her flight I told her that this might be a bit of a challenge and she responded, "See you tomorrow!" So that's that. 

On her flight down she took some photos...

Sunrise in Toronto

Warderick Wells

In the marina, I've been able to solve some problems and this morning, before she arrived I might have rounded a corner. 

So sitting waiting for her to arrive for more than an hour in a rocking chair at the marina. Kinda fell asleep a bit. Then, she walked by me - had been on the boat for half an hour with a cold one. She could have said, "Hey sailor, Buy me a drink?" Instead she said, "Where the hell were you?"

So here we are - ready to head north to Stuart!

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Les is More!

 Thank you for tuning in again, Faithful Reader!

The universe is unfolding as it should. The crew has found safe passage home to loved ones and appointments. Blue Pearl's repairs are proceeding well and we should be operational tomorrow!

We left the lovely but expensive ($US 160) Flying Fish Marina yesterday and tied up at the functional ($US 8) government dock. We called Les Harding, who long time readers might remember from February 2011 to see if he was available to have a look at our problems and the next day he was at the boat. He poked here and there and snooped here and there and then said he was tied up with some important jobs but would be back in a couple of days. True to his word, he arrived back, diagnosed the problem and removed our troubled appendix/heat exchanger.

Perfect spot and only $8

Not again!

He said maybe today but probably tomorrow.

In Surgery

Post Op
This guy is a master!

So tomorrow we can start the engine again! Yay for Yanny Yanmar. I can't heap enough praise on Les. He is humble but brilliant and puts his customers' interests to the forefront. THANKS LES!!!

Getting the crew out has been challenging but we finally found a path from here to George Town and on to Seattle and Bellingham. We've had to charter a flight but that will give the guys a chance to see the scenery in a way that most people will never get. And after an hour wait they will be on their way home.

I am deeply indepted to them for crewing with me from Fajardo to here - the grunt work of this delivery. They unfortunately miss the Exumas and the Gulf Stream sleigh ride fun part - but can claim to have delivered a boat from Puerto Rico up to the Bahamas - not a small task.

We've been having some fun. Steve and Jane have been partners in the rental car and we look forward to another day with them. They are on their way to Bermuda, Great Britain and then maybe Iceland and Norway. Wow!

Date night for Jane and Steve off Alma
Who has a dinner jacket on a boat? Steve does, that's who.

Drinks with Sir Creeper and Alma (Creeper, I know, right?)

With a day off today and choosing not to go to church we set out for Gordon's Beach which, rumour has it has conch fritters and salad, cold Kaliks and a brilliant beach. And wow, what a nice way to spend a few hours.

Gordon's Beach Hut

A cool dip

Burnsie, somewhere in the distance

So here for another day and then the crew is on a plane. Once I'm back at the functional Blue Pearl and have wiped the tears from my eyes I will figure out how to finish this delivery. Fun, fun, fun!

And so it goes. Thanks for sailing along!