Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sucks to leave

Maybe some year we will get to spend more than a couple weeks at a time on the Shack.

The good people of St Lucia will take care of the boat in our absence, Rodney bay Marina has always treated us very well. From the pizza guy to Egbert our volvo mechanic, and Edwin who is now managing the whole place took time out to come see us and see what work we have scheduled while we are away. The teak, has seen better days, its time for a bellows replacement on the sail drive, the solar charger and zincs are some of the things on the lists, and there are lots of lists.

The daily lime, we limed the time away in St Lucia, and skipped quite a few days of activities, not for lack of internet, just for some real relaxation.

We spent 2 nights between the Pitons, pretty much rained and howled most of the time we were there, after finally getting a ‘super yacht’ mooring ball the first night. We had waited most of the day on anchor close to shore while the divers repetitively went down and tried to re-attach the ball to the mooring. When we got attached, we tested it with a good 2000 rpm to make sure it would hold, all good so we slept pretty well on that ball.

We had been running low on beer, so when I cleared customs earlier that day, I found a store that was open and lugged a case of beer and some water back to the boat, good thing too as we never left the boat during the rain, while watching the 300footers come and go, see the footage of the helicopter taking off, amazing.

Pretty peaceful evening, since we left so early tho, everyone wanted pasta on board, but were asleep before sunset so we skipped dinner. Our second day the boat boys came by and said they had a super yacht coming in so we would need to vacate the mooring. We had paid for 3 days and the park ranger remembered me from last time we were there, luckily when they told us to vacate there was another ball open so we just fired up and picked up another ball, this time without the help of the boat boys. Makes ya wonder how much they really help? Sometimes without a painter it can be more of a challenge but.. Oh okay, its their lively hood, seems so much better than sitting in front of a computer some times… well except at the end of the week.

Christine made pancakes in the morning and added some delightful bananas to the mix, superb. I took the opportunity to clean one of the engine rooms, the port side. Some of our insulation is deteriorating, so cleaned up a lot that before it clogged the bilge. Christine cleaned and organized while Wayne and I futzed with the engines. Around lunch we were about to go to shore as we needed to get off the boat, and our boat boys offered a ride to Souferie around the corner as the close resort was expensive. We opted for the close one, and probably spent more than our boat boys would have charged for the ride around the Pitons, sa’ll good the pizza and sammich hit the spot. We saw some of the mega yacht guests show up, and basically everyone cleared the way when they walked down the dock. Try as we might, we didn’t recognize them, some skinny girls and some some soccer fans based on the attire.

We timed our departure back to the boat, just as the rain stared again, but decided a detour was in order. Swung by a different dock, dropped the anchor off the dingy and climbed up the concrete dock. And our boat boy was there too, welcomed us ashore and pointed to where his house was. Its 1/2 way up the Pitons, there was a nice road that went past the workers lounge for the resort and then straight up to the sky. We all walked to the top, of the hill/road, which ended up only being about 1/2 up the small Piton. I have wanted to hike to the top of one or the other, the small one, has ropes to make it to the top, where the larger one has a trail and should take about 2hrs each direction. We made it to the saddle between the two, and found a couple of killer villas that people rent between the Piton’s.

Back down to the boat, out of water, hot and sweaty. Docked the dingy and jumped off the dagger boards and splashed good for a cool off, followed by a cold cold beer, or few of them. Made some dinner and we were rewarded with a killer sunset and a great game of dominos.

Our destination in the morning was Marrigot, we knew it was only about 10 miles up the coast so took our time getting going. We drug the lines, but no bites, motored the entire way charging the batteries and just checking in and out of the coast line along the way. We found our friend ACE and Garcon along the way and some other huge yacht as well. Must be the season to be here, I can only imagine what the St Barts bucket race looks like when they race those super yachts around the island or even the Antigua race. Maybe some year we’ll be down there to watch that spectacle.

Pulled into Marrigot, around midday, went all the way up into the lagoon and a boat boy hooked us up with a ball right next to where we were the last time we were there. Lots of 200 footers in this bay, its always fun to watch them dock an leave. Its also a moorings base and has alot of sea side activities/bars to patronize. And most importantly a grocery store for yet another case of beer. Now these beers are not the american sized beers and most of them are defective. They all have these holes at the top of them where the beer just evaporates when you tilt them back. We grabbed a some snacks and water too, we were going to make some pasta onboard but changed plans when we learned of the jump up on Friday night. The last time we were here, we went to sleep before making the friday night jump up so I became determined to make it this time.

A couple of beer at the bar in the very back of the lagoon and a chat with a bartender to hook us up with a boat ride over to the jump up, 2 bays over. Sounded like a GREAT plan. They came out to the Shack to pick us up, and they wanted 300EC, er $100 US to take us over there, Christine worked her magic and got them down to 200EC but thats till highway robbery so we passed on the boat ride and decided to go find a taxi over there. We got hooked up with a local for much more reasonable 75EC round trip.

We made the party, it was way more ‘touristy’ than the one in Gross Islet that we normally go to next to Rodney bay, but we made the best of it, trying some fish pocket and a deep fried fish and vegetable pastry thing that hit the spot. Couple of beer, and dancing in the street. Okay, yes I had been patronizing the saint of Piton, before dancing with the rasta man in front of some 16 foot speakers. He even looked at me with a cross eyes and said I had no rhythm, and supposedly Christine got video and surely hope it never surfaces. Twas quite fun tho, we had told our taxi we only needed 2 hrs there, so we went to the agreed meeting spot, and waited.. and waited.. and waited. No sign. I asked Christine to chat up the tall guy in a stripped shirt that looked like he might be a taxi driver, she scored us a ride back to the bay, and for even cheaper than our original guy.

Now its a down hill ride. We have 5 miles to go to Rodney bay. Needed to be there by noonish to meet our folks and get all checked it, as its saturday and all the workers stop at noon. We trolled the lines for a while, but no bites. Hit the fuel dock, one boat was there about to leave, so I boxed em in with the shack, the crew had all the right fenders out and we slide in without an issue in 20 knots of wind, course the direction and dock and lined up just right. We took on 240 liters of diesel, and added some bio clean, so that we would leave the boat full for when we return. 240 liters is about 1/3 or our 800 we could take on board. The last time we fueled up was when we left St Lucia last May. So yeah, we motor a lot and make electricity more than we should but we are just on vacation and not trying to squeeze every dollar.

Christine called the marina on the VHF radio, and got our slip assignment. Cool its into the wind, but where the heck is ‘D’ dock? That ‘E’ and there is ‘F’ that we have been too before, oh there it is, damn it looks tight, oh wait, they want us near the end. No problem. D23 it is, right next to a monohull, no problem, I can hook this up. Let the crab walk begin. Lining up nice, no problem wind is in my favor. The dock had arrives and points to D19? Sh*t, thats not what I’m set up for. Oh well, we’ll crab walk it for another finger. I guess when I get comfortable, I’ll use more throttle, but I just slowly walk it on over sideways and we slide in, with no new marks on the boat. Two times against 2 hard things and no damage, its a great day. Tied up and we are in St Lucia on Saturday before lunch. Cold beers for everyone when the engines are off, and a Shandy for Christine.

Its hot, but we have a water hose and its time for cleaning. Course its island time, so we just do a little, have a beer, do a little more, have another beer and then head ashore for lunch.

Now the real fun begins. Christine gets the laundry done by Suds, much cheaper then Sparkle, and more responsive if you ever end up there, they also do the propane when you need a refill. Drop the jib, throw out some stuff that we haven’t used in 2 years that came with the boat, made lots of room for snorkel gear. Consolidate the 5 propane tanks on board and the empty gasoline tanks, etc. Lots of work and pizza for dinner. The normal crew normally just splits 2 items between the 3 of us, but this time we devoured 2 pizzas and an appetizer. Might have been the rum, or the all day work, or the beer, either way it was yummy.

Finally got fed up with the hose we had on board, and sent Wayne to find Christine at Island Waterworld, and get a good scrub brush and decent hose. So much happier now, no leaks and plenty of pressure, that was till everyone else started cleaning boats too and the pressure dropped. Christine tackled the inside, Wayne and I the outside and engine rooms.

CorrosionX, my new favorite tool. I sprayed everything that looked like it was rusting or had some corrosion going on. Engine rooms back to sparkling. Only the port engine had any water in the back bilge, think its from the water maker and the couple of times I put the levers in the wrong spot while trying to flush or make water, there are 19 steps when making water and at least 5 valves to push. They make an automated version now, but that requires yet more electricity to and a possibility to repair a circuit board some where in the middle of nowhere.

Most everything is completed on Sunday, one last quick trip to the laundry to get the sheets and towels clean on monday and a visit from the Customs Agent who wanted too verify our documents and items list that are onboard for the temporary import of the Shack for 6 months.

Rained off and on on Sunday, made it hard to get all the cushions dried and the boat towels dry. Good thing on Monday it was HOT HOT HOT, dried everything and we stacked and packed the boat for storage.

Had the taxi lined up for 12:30 so by 11 we were at the bar for some cold beverages and had said our good byes to the Shack. It sits in D19 till the yard has time to pull it out, and start the work. I need to get a good email explaining the electronic things that need to be addressed as they were too busy to come by the boat for a verbal conversation, this scares me a bit, but Regis did a great job on the water maker repair last time so I have no reason to believe that John and Shawn will have any issues. With the freezer and MPPT solar charger.

Long ride to the airport on the south side of the island, they said 1.5 hrs, and it was that or more. The road has been restored since last May, but still a long windy way. Christine again came through with the negotiations and taxi ride, last time it was $100 US to go to the airport, she found another local no sponsored by the marina and we got a bargain, and if you call him and say the Sugar Shack sent you, we’ll even get a better rate when we come back in April/May/June this year.

Or even better yet, call American and have them return to SLU instead of UVF, its only a 10 min taxi ride!!

Bout to land in Miami, clear customs with the masses and catch a flight to Dallas. We could get lucky and make a connection home to Austin tonight out of Dallas, but we’ll need a miracle of not over sold flight and an early arrival as its a 15 min connection, if we don’t make it we’ll be spending the night in Dallas and getting back to Austin in the morning. Its 30 degrees in Dallas, the tan that we have will be gone in no time, the cold dry weather will flake this beautiful brown stuff right back to pasty white, sigh.

Somewhere almost back to reality

Ugh. Going home sucks. Oh well back to work till the next mini retirement or vacation if you will. Looking ahead to the next trip.

We have lots of options and not a lot of vacation. We could pay more for insurance and leave the boat in the hurricane zone or do the same south trip to Grenada or Trinidad again. We could run to the ABC islands as there is a lift in Curacao that can handle our 25 foot beam and is out of the zone.

I’m wanting to get back north to Antigua and Barbuda as we haven’t been there in a couple years and would love to spend New Years in St Bart’s or some place north.

So many options.

Travel fun

Clearing customs is always fun. Grab yer bags and recheck everything. We are all traveling in first/business class and have platinum status this year. That means we get on first and the bags show up on the carousel first. On top of that we all are part of the trusted traveler program and can go through special fast pass lines. It’s worked great for me and all my trips to China last year. Christine and I breeze through. We turn around and Wayne is no where to be found and we get told to keep moving and not look for him. We grab all the bags and continue our search as carousel 9 was all the way at the other end. Eventually we spot him coming down the stairs. So much for fast pass. Now our layover was down to 30 minutes so we found a quick beer before getting on the completely full flight. The same spoiled crying child is still in the seats ahead of us. A jellybean if you sit still and of course we are delayed so no chance we will catch that last flight to Austin this eve.

Time to ring the call button.

Too top it off we are so past sailors midnight in the wrong time zone must be time to go to sleep. Completed with full on turbulence the motion sickness has no chance to subside. Don’t expect the movement to stop till Wednesday at the earliest.

I did change into jeans in the Miami airport as Dallas is going to be quite the shock with flip flops.

One cool thing, with all this Internet/social media stuff. One of the blogs zerotocruising that I follow found our twitter page and returned the follow. Every blog is different theirs is very cool about starting out with no sailing experience and taking off and the lessened learned among the way. We crossed paths last year inadmiralty bay bequia. I dingyed over in the morning and they were in the midst of their morning work out so I didn’t bother em and we were on our way south that morning. Next time I’ll have to stop on by.