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BSSA ~ Sailing with the Expert Kids

Bonaire has an active youth sailing group and we invited them to join us on Let It Be for an afternoon of sailing.

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Fifteen kids and two adults from the Bonaire Sailing School Association boarded LIB around 2 pm.  After covering a few guidelines, we released the mooring lines and took off.

BSSA-9 LIB was in the hands of some very good sailors! It only took a few minutes to cover basic differences between the small boats the kids sail and the particulars of this catamaran, then the kids were completely ready to take the sheets, lines and throttles!

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I was truly impressed with how well these sailors worked together and shared responsibilities. As is always true with a group, some children were very interested in sailing and others preferred to romp around the boat.

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BSSA-2Once away from the mooring ball, we raised the main, unfurled the jib and sailed south toward Pink Beach. The auto winch and chart plotter were big hits. But once our sailors learned how to engage and work the autopilot, it was much more interesting to helm manually.

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BSSA-10Any child who wanted the helm had a chance and the more experienced kids stayed right there to guide those who needed a little help.

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BSSA-8After about an hour of sailing, we dropped the sails and grabbed a mooring ball at Pink Beach on the southern side of Bonaire.  We broke out the snacks, lowered the ladder and unleashed the energy. We had already thought these kids were exuberant, but adding the snacks and allowing them to jump from nearly every surface of LIB caused the energy level to increase another watt or ten!

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BSSA-11After a refreshing swim and plenty of sustenance, it was time to pop the chute.  LIB’s spinnaker is slightly larger than the sails the kids are accustomed to and they loved letting her fly.

BSSA-6Our cat cruised down wind quickly and the kids monkeyed around on this smooth point of sail. Very soon it was time to drop the spin and raise the main and jib once again. Second time around for the main/jib and the kids were all over the job with little help.

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I loved watching the kids access the sails, turn to Frank or me and say, “I think that main needs to come in a bit.” Then proceed to make the necessary adjustment. It is easy to see that some of these kids really have caught the sailing bug and they like their sails to be well adjusted.

Several of our sailors have folks who are expert fishermen and that knowledge has been passed along.  We brought out the fishing poles and the kids worked the lines hard, but alas, we were not in prime fishing spots.  Catching a fish would have been icing on a sweet day, but I’m not sure we needed the additional activity anyway!

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Our awesome helmsmen and sheet handlers managed to sail around Klein Bonaire and, with only one tack, they sailed LIB on a perfect line to catch our mooring ball.

BSSAWe absolutely loved having a chance to share LIB with the BSSA and having the opportunity to get to know these young people. I was incredibly impressed with so much about these kids; they were polite, they were appreciative, they were avid about learning and passionate about sailing, they cared for and watch out for one another, the older ones gently reined in the younger ones if things became unsafe or too wild, they worked well as a team, they were engaging and just plain fun! I could go on and on!

LIB has never housed as much energy as she did for those few hours with the BSSA kids on board and we loved every minute of it.  (I would love to hear how other boaters have reached out to get to know the communities they visit. Please tell us in the comments.)

Thank you to the kids who participated and to Anneke and Thijs who took their afternoon to chaperone.

To the parents of this very fun group of sailors, we appreciate your trusting us with your precious children and allowing us to get to know them!

A special thank you to Anneke who took so many great pictures and videos while Frank and I were busy. We are so glad to have these photos!  Also, thank you to Charles of Tusen Takk II for the group photo.

~HH55~

The construction of our new catamaran is moving along nicely and we continue to spend a lot of time working with the staff at HH to refine and define our future boat. It has been super fun to receive updates and a few photos from the builder showing us the progress of our boat.

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She was just the bare hull when we visited in China.

Since our first visit in August, Frank has returned once to China and was able to be on board for the sea trial of an HH55 with the aft steering.  That sea trial further solidified our choice for an aft helm arrangement.

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Vacuum infusion of the bulkheads. (Exciting, I know)

While touring the factory, we were able to see vacuum infusion in process for another boat.  Per the HH brochure, “the hull, deck and structure are all 100% carbon fiber composite foam sandwich and use post cured epoxy resin for super light, super strong structures.”  It is fun to see this processing happening for our own cat.

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Those partitions may be confusing to you, but to us they look like our future home.

She doesn’t look like a boat yet, but there is definitely progress being made. We worked with HH and Morrelli and Melvin to arrange the salon and galley to meet our needs and it is fun to see the one dimensional lines and boxes on paper become a reality.

Since this boat is being built in China we obviously can’t just drop by to see how things are going, so we really appreciate the progress reports generated by HH.

Thanks so much for visiting our blog.  We love hearing from our readers. If you would like to see what we are up to more often, please visit our FB page.

 

Adventures Moving South and East on Guadeloupe

Having enjoyed Deshaies several times, we thought we should visit a few other towns in Guadeloupe.

After leaving Deshaies, we sailed to Point a Pitre which is the largest city on Guadeloupe. We found it an excellent place to stock up on items necessary for “boat projects,” especially at UShip where we found all sorts of French items for our French catamaran. I even found the cute little blue “courtesy” lights that gently illuminate the cockpit at night. Finding these little lights was difficult, but getting into the spots I need to replace them will be even more challenging!

Point a Pitre was a little too big city for our tastes, though taking the bus, walking the city and seeing high rise buildings was an interesting change from everywhere we have been since leaving Puerto Rico in November 2015.  

I did enjoy seeing the kids learning to sail. This is a common activity in the larger Caribbean cities and it always makes me smile when I see them.

St. Fra-3Look how they weave through anchored boats!
St. Fra-4A line is attached to all the boats if the kids need to be “rounded up.”

We ended up staying in Point a Pitre for five nights because we spent so much time planning projects, buying the items for up-coming projects and getting two pressing projects finished. We replaced our lost antenna (vital for VHF and AIS communication) and installed Iridium Go! which will allow us to access weather information while off shore as well as text with family when in the middle of the Atlantic.

St. Fra-2The white dome is our Iridium Go! and the antenna is waaaay at the top.

St. Fra-1Eye-spliced the Dyneema lifelines ourselves. 🙂

We also replaced our top lifeline wire with Dyneema line.  It has excellent strength and it won’t make rust spots when drying our clothing!

The highlight of our time in PaP was meeting up with Sail Pending and Escape Claws again. We shared sundowners one evening and Kristie made delicious homemade cinnamon rolls the morning the guys worked on fixing Sail Pending’s davit. YUM! I hope Kristie will share her recipe…

St. FraFrank, Tyler and Rich working on Sail Pending’s davit.

Once we left PaP, we went to St. Anne which is a darling town. We felt like we were in a small part of France and enjoyed walking the streets and browsing the patisseries.  However, the anchorage was very rocky from the incoming swell, so we only stayed one night. The boat was moving too much to even take pictures!

St. Fra-5Entering the marina in St. Francois

Our next stop was St. Francois. This seldom mentioned anchorage was fabulous. It has a very nice marina with many shops, restaurants and a grocery, a fishing dock where you can buy fresh fish and a beautiful anchorage that is very popular with local people. 

St. Francis-3Frank is out there too.

The folks at St. Francois know how to enjoy the water and this area was a mecca of activity without being overwhelming.  We saw kite boarders, windsurfers, skydivers, jet skiers and plenty of boaters.

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Six parachuters in this picture.

We loved St. Francios and stayed three nights soaking up the clear shallow water and excellent scenery.  We were entertained by the three boats near us where a bachelor party weekend occurred.  These guys had a great time with lots of laughter and silliness and we enjoyed watching their antics.

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Three boats full of Frenchmen for a long weekend. Sounds like Dr. Sues!

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The groom perhaps?

Among other activities, these guys rented water jet shoes and everyone took a turn.  Some were quick learners and others provided some pretty funny falls. I don’t know the significance of the shark costume, but it was hysterical to watch!

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We decided that St. Francis has the original “Reef Bar!” 

You can see in this picture that a boat comes out and sets up tables, umbrellas, music, food and drink. Initially we thought this was just a one time event for the bachelor party, but apparently this company is quite busy as they set up private parties three times while we were there.

Sail Pending arrived and anchored right behind us, so we “had” to go out to dinner with them. We had a great time at dinner in one of the restaurants in the marina.  Good food and excellent company!

Next we set sail for Iles de la Petite-Terre; two uninhabited islands a mere 9 nm southeast of St. Francois. These beautiful little islands are a marine park where the only building is a light house first built in 1840. Marine biologists live in a tent near the light house while studying the habitat.

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I think the French sign said this was the first lighthouse in Guadeloupe

About a mile prior to the entrance to Iles de la Petite-Terre, we saw a whale! We hadn’t even thought about seeing a whale and were delighted by the sight. Unfortunately, the only picture I got is so bad it reminds me of one of the grainy “Nessy” the Loch Ness Monster pictures so I’m not posting it.

Walking on Petite Terre we saw a variety of terrane in a short period including dramatic cliffs, flat beaches and lush vegetation.

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A pretty tidal pool.

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My studly hubby under a canopy of leaves.

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This iguana thinks he is all that!

Petite Terre had some of the best snorkeling we have seen. Frank pulled Captain in the floating chair and we snorkeled for about 90 minutes.  Then we were hailed by a park ranger…. apparently we had entered a protected, no swimming area. OOOPPPPS!  No wonder the snorkeling was SO good.

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“Orange” you glad I showed you this one? 

This is the brightest crab I have seen, though I admit I know next to nothing about crabs. I don’t even eat them.

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Dory might be in there, but I didn’t see Nemo.

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The lobster were huge and plentiful.

The lobster were so big I thought they might eat us! Seriously, some of them were so big that the foreleg before the first joint was about eight inches alone! I was afraid to get very close as I had no idea how far the their pinchers would reach.

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This lobster was waiting for me to come close and he was going to drag me into his rock cave.

Frank and I both would have like to stay in Petite Terre several nights, but weather dictated that we depart for Martinique before the winds turned south.  After just one night and two days we had to pull up anchor and leave these stunning islands. I sincerely hope we get to come back.

Captain was happy to leave though because dogs are not allowed on the island and she much prefers grass or sand to the boat deck for her business!

Trick or Treat! In March???

Yes, I know it is March and I am months from Halloween, but it struck me the other day that provisioning (buying food) feels a lot like going trick or treating.

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Entering Clifton after docking the dinghy.

I do not dress up, but I do bring my own bags to carry my “loot” back to the boat and I do go from place to place to see what goodies are available.

So far my favorite place to find groceries has been Clifton on Union Island. The main street is sometimes sleepy and almost deserted. Other days it is teeming with locals and visitors alike. Now, when I say teeming, please don’t think New York! But do imagine a good number of people walking the streets, perusing shelves in various shops and enjoying beverages in shady cafes along a dusty road.

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A quiet day on main street in Clifton.

We have provisioned in Clifton three different times and a pattern has developed. First I make a bee-line to Captain Gourmet. This tiny (by US standards) shop is a combination cafe and grocery that caters to the foreigners. I stop in here and scan the refrigerated area for hard to find treats. The last two visits, the freezer has been broken so I chat with the lady at the counter to determine what gems she has hidden in the storeroom freezer. We have scored unusual things here like pork tenderloin and turkey sausage and aerosol whipped cream!

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Love this lilac color!

The folks at Captain Gourmet are super helpful and after I pay for my items, they let me leave them in the refrigeration until I have completed my other shopping.

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It looks small by US standards, but Captain Gourmet has a lot to offer. Isn’t it cute?

Next we visit ALL of the groceries along the main street, which is about six different places. While items on the shelves at each grocery are often the same, each store has it’s own vibe and a few unique items. One place might be very clean and open, but has relatively few items. Still, I enjoy the clean environment and always buy something in the clean stores when possible.

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Kash & Kerry is clean and the proprietor is very sweet.

Another place is dark and very dusty. They have a bit of everything, from used clothing and appliances to canned goods and children’s games. I feel a bit claustrophobic in here, but sometimes it has some unusual dry good that I really want.

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You have to look up, down and all around!

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This same store also sells “home goods.”

The grocery stores are where we buy canned goods, boxed goods, dry goods and occasionally some cheese or dried fruit, like raisins. But we never buy produce in these stores. Fresh produce is bought from the stands, which are our final stop.

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Produce stands in Clifton.

Here in Clifton there is a dirt square with about eight different vendors.  Initially I was uncomfortable with this area because as I approached people would try to steer me to one vendor or the other. I didn’t like feeling pressured to buy from just one stand. Even if one stand has everything we want, I always try to buy a little from each person so we spread around our support.

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An artist’s palate of color.

On days when they have restocked the produce, the stalls are an artist’s palate of greens, reds and yellows hanging in flimsy mesh bags.

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This feels like a step back in time.

With the produce vendors, just like in Captain Gourmet, it is often the secret, hidden areas that offer treasures. We have learned to ask for what we are hoping to find because not everything is displayed. Fresh green beans are a rare and wonderful find and we have been lucky to buy them a couple of times here in Clifton. They were never in sight but when we asked, like magic, a bag of fresh beans was pulled up from the back of the stand.

We have also learned that if we ask one vendor if she has a particular item and she doesn’t have it, she is likely to tell us nobody has those here.  I asked for green limes and was told, “They are out of season. No place you can find those here.”  But as we made our rounds and asked each vendor, low and behold we found them just two stalls away.

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Score on the limes!

Green limes are especially difficult to find and often you have to negotiate to buy just green ones and not have yellow ones included.

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Star Fruit

The veggies and fruit we buy are certainly different than back in Texas but we are learning to appreciate some new flavors. One really pretty fruit that I had not seen back home is Star Fruit. It is a bit sweet with a texture that is a cross between an apple and a banana. When sliced, star fruit makes a beautiful presentation.

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These beauties dress up any plate.

So, next time you pop into Tom Thumb or Kroger and find everything you want clearly displayed, regardless of the season, think of us “trick or treating” our way through several stores and stalls.

Happy shopping!

 

“Bark, bark!” This is Your Captain Speaking

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I like mom’s Mac better than dad’s PC

So today mom and dad, aka Mary Grace and Frank, took off in the dinghy and mom left her computer open. I was a little bored so I thought I would write about what things are like for me on this boat.

It’s been five months since I have lived with a yard! That might sound great if you are a fish or a bird, but as a dog ~ well I sure miss my grass sometimes. This life on a boat is pretty interesting, but really nothing feels quite as good as a nice roll and scratch in the grass! So far I have refused to give up my daily excursions to the grassy patches, but I think that is really good for my people.  They complain sometimes about taking me to land at least twice a day  but it gets them off the boat and talking to other people and stuff. Plus I get to sniff some really great new places. I don’t know many of the dogs that live here, but they have done a great job of getting rid of the squirrels. I have not seen a single squirrel since we left Texas! Boy I would like to know their secret because I never could get them to stay out of my yard back home.

Anyway, things here aren’t too bad. I spend a lot more time with MG and Frank and they let me prewash the dinner plates! They say it’s to save on water, but I think they just realize I do a really good job of licking them clean before the final wash.

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With just sails, it’s really nice!

So living on a boat is quite an adjustment. I don’t like the engines very much so I like it when we can sail without using them. But sometimes my people must sail the wrong way because we are like bashing into waves. Those days I stay really close to them. Sometimes I have to actually sit on MG’s lap, not because I’m afraid or anything, just to make sure she doesn’t fall off of the boat or something. But she is getting better and I don’t have to stay as close to her as I used to.

Anyway, now that we are on the boat, my people are with me all the time and I really like it. Living in the house I used to spend most of the day sleeping but here on the boat we are too busy for that. I found some great pictures of myself (mom is always taking my picture!) so I’ll show you some of the things I do.

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I’m making sure the stuff stays in the dinghy and keeping an eye out for other dinghies.

Usually when we ride in the dinghy, I hang onto the front and bark to make sure everyone knows we are coming.  I love going anywhere in the dinghy and if friends ride with us and think they should be on the bow, I just scoot right in front of them until they realize that is my spot and I need to bark.

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My special dinghy spot.

I want mom and dad to stay healthy, so we take a lot of walks. Here is a view from our walk this week at Chatham Bay on Union Island.

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This was some really nice grass!

 We usually see goats and I love to chase them. At first this really worried mom and dad because I would take off and disappear. But I come back to the exact same spot on the trail every time, so now they don’t worry so much.  On this walk, we saw cows! That was a big surprise.

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This little cow wasn’t as interesting as the big ones.

Mom would not let me chase the cows so I just stared really hard at one. The one in this picture is just a little one. I was watching a BIG one.

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They didn’t name me “Captain” for nothin’

When we are sailing, I really think I should be at the helm. I prefer to drive, but if we have guests on board, I sit back and socialize and let someone else have a chance.

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Chillin’ with mom and dad and giving someone else a chance to drive.

Some days we swim to shore. I am a really good swimmer and my people have to wear fins to keep up with me. But I’m usually pretty excited to get there so I go really fast. On the way back I’m not as energetic, so mom or dad give me a ride back to LIB.

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Here’s a pic of me on a boogie board. Looks fun, right?

Paddle boarding is great exercise for my humans. They added this blue stuff to the ends and I can really hold on now. I stand as far forward as I can and as soon as they tell me I can go swim, I jump off the board and swim to land. It’s really fun!

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Hey, who’s up for a paddle?

I usually ride on dad’s board because he’s faster. (Don’t tell mom!)

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Dad and I checking to see if mom is coming along.

I really like to help with everything, so when dad is looking for stuff, I do too. Dad is pretty hooked on finding coconuts lately. That’s fine with me though because it’s just one more reason to go to shore.

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No squirrels, may as well help find coconuts.

One day we took the dinghy out to a tiny, deserted island called Mopion. It’s near Petit Saint Vincent if you want to find it. Anyway, it was kinda late in the day and everyone else had left so we had this great place all to ourselves. I could run around the whole island in like 10 seconds, but I’m pretty fast so don’t expect your dog to do it that quickly.

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Mom and me sharing a laugh on Mopion.

Dad doesn’t do anymore of his old job, but mom still has some of those bill things to do, so she spends time on the computer doing that and posting blogs and stuff. I like to snuggle up with her when she sits still to do her stuff.

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Mom doesn’t realize I know her blog password!

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I’ll sit in the float!

Finally an action shot! Ha, this is dad holding the float and me jumping in. I didn’t know why he had on his mask and fins but when he offered the floating chair, I was like, heck yeah! But it got even better ~ mom jumped in the water too and they pulled me along while they snorkeled.

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They snorkeled and I floated.

Wow, that lounge chair is great isn’t it? I actually fell asleep while they were busy looking at the fish. But who can blame me? My fur was a little wet, the sun was nice and warm and the water was gently rocking the chair. Come on, you know your would have slept too.

Mom and dad don’t always take me with them when they swim and snorkel. Sometimes we all go to the beach, then they go snorkel. When they do, I dig a little hole under the dinghy, just deep enough to reach the cooler sand. Then I take a nap and wait for them to come back to shore.

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Napping under the dinghy is really comfy.

As you can see, my days are so busy I don’t get to nap like I used to in the house.  And night time is busy too because I sleep outside and keep watch over mom and dad. I used to like to sleep inside near them, but now I like to be outside and up as high as I can so I can see really well. If anyone comes our way, I bark really loud so mom and dad know about it. I think they are glad I am keeping watch over them.

I could tell you some more stuff, but mom and dad will probably be back soon so I’m gonna finish.  If you like hearing about things I do, tell mom about it in the comments and maybe she’ll let me write again some time.

Keep barkin’ y’all.  This is Captain, out.  (I’ve picked up some radio speak too.)

 

One Fine Trip

Written by: Ltjg. An Young, USNR ret

In the spring of 2015, Frank invited a few of us to come to the Caribbean on a kiting trip on Let It Be. That was their first mistake. Mary Grace then asked me to write a guest blog of the trip. That was their second mistake. So here we go.

I joined Captain Frank, Executive Officer Mary Grace and the Hunter and Captain, Let it Be’s crew, in Vieux Fort, St. Lucia on February 3rd, 2016. After unpacking, we went paddle boarding at sunset. This was the start of something special.

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The next morning we got underway for a leisurely sail down to St. Vincent. We had the main and jib full and Frank put up the big red spinnaker. I am sure we looked like a post card for the first few hours with winds in the 20+ range.

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Frank and I were laying on the tramp and saw a storm in the distance. I proceeded to explain bearing drift to Frank that we used in the Navy and how the storm will roll down the port side. Fifteen minutes later we were in 28 knot winds and Frank and Hunter were furiously taking the spinnaker down. The winds went to 30 and in went a reef and the jib came down. Eventually the winds went to 35+ and we were rocking and rolling. So much for my Navy experience.

We arrived in Blue Lagoon in St. Vincent and Frank registered us with immigration. Hunter, Mary Grace and I went to town for some cash and to see what it looked like. Walking home we uncovered a jewel of a restaurant called the Driftwood. The views were wonderful and the food, drink and atmosphere were great. We would highly recommend it.

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We departed Blue Lagoon  and spent the next two weeks going around the Grenadines kiting and exploring.

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The first week was the Stich’s and myself. Blaine and Jeff joined after a week. We kited in Frigate Bay (Ashton) and Clifton on Union Island and Salt Whistle Bay in Mayreau. The wind blew like stink (a technical  kiting term). I kited 12 of 14 days and Jeff and Blaine seven of seven. Each place was spectacular with different water.

Frigate Bay

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Frigate was flat water behind an isthmus that stuck out from Ashton. The anchorage was calm and the water smooth for Hunter to show off his magic. 

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While I tried to show up Hunter, he was just a tad better than I.

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Ashton was pretty and the water was beautiful. Not all was kiting believe it or not. We went to town and took a hike up the hills.

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Clifton

Next was on to Clifton and the JT Pro Kite Center. Again the wind blew and conditions were great with flat water and Blaine and Jeff took advantage.

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Jeff

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Blaine

But Frank won the prize. He did a 1 1/2 back roll. We are unable to show the whole thing because back rolls are supposed to be one or two revolutions, and because he was our host we didn’t want to embarrass him. Great try Frank!!!

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Clifton was fun. It had a great kite scene with the JT Pro Kite center and a cute town. Frank, Mary Grace and I had a great time provisioning  there with the little stores and the people were extremely friendly and helpful. We looked and looked but couldn’t find the Kroger or Walmart. We had dinner at the Yatch Club and it was really nice. But as you can see from the above, the water color was spectacular and flat. It got crowded and was a tight alley between the reef and the boats so if you fell you could get drug into the boats so it was a bit hairy. All in all a great place, but third on the Young scale of kiting we did. And who can forget Happy Island, a bar out in the middle of the anchorage.

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Mayreau

And then there was Salt Whistle Bay! Without a doubt number 1 on the Young scale and I think most of us would agree. It was beautiful. There were almost no other kiter’s. It was great ocean riding with 1 – 2 foot waves to play in. I think all of our ocean riding improved. it is an isthmus on the north side of Mayreau with a protected anchorage on one side and the small waves on the other. You landed the dingy and walk 100 feet to the ocean. Really cool and what a great place. It was unbelievable. See for yourself.

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We had a beach Bar – B – Que one night which was good food and fun. Mary Grace and I took a walk halfway to town when we encountered some French people who said it was Sunday and all the shops were closed. Who knew it was Sunday? We did encounter a classic Catholic church which was really fun. I snorkeled a bit and Captain had some great swims to shore. For me, it was the highlight of the trip and if you ever get a chance to go there , don’t pass it up. Salt Whistle Bay was wonderful!

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Underway was as much fun as kiting. Just sailing in open water with no noise and great friends was really the coolest thing about the trip. I can’t say enough about  sailing and how much fun it was. Everything about the trip was a great and fun experience. Here is just some of the experiences.

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Sadly we had to leave. There was no getting around it. Frank and Mary Grace said they were sad, but I doubt it. We were running out of Gin and Coconut Rum and so we had to say our good bye’s.

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It has been almost 50 years since I cruised the Caribbean. The first time was on a World War II destroyer, the USS Dyess. The second time was on Let It Be.

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I think I prefer Let It Be. I can’t thank Frank and Mary Grace enough for the opportunity to do this. Along with everything else it was such a pleasure to meet Hunter and Captain. I have been home now for three days and am just now starting to get rested. I have never kited so much in my life nor kept quite as busy.

I suspect this is way too long, but be sure I shortened it considerably from expressing the gratitude I feel to the Stich’s for their hospitality.

Thanks again!!

Ltjg. Al Young USNR ret.

AL – thank you so much for this guest post! It is great to see the trip from your perspective. We so enjoyed having you aboard and look forward to your next visit. A special thank you for being our first guest to agree to write a blog.  I am sure it is a nice change for readers to see a different writing style. And I love the collage of photos!

mgs

Zipping Down the Leeward Islands

The last couple of weeks we have focused on two things: looking for kiting wind and getting down to St. Lucia where we were picking up our friend, Al.

The result is that we have spent a good amount of time making southern progress but I don’t have a lot of photos to show.

We managed to have a couple of great kiting days off Green Island in Antigua before the winds slacked off a bit and we began sailing south.

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Hunter does a melon 180

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Frank looking casual as he rides.

From Antigua we sailed to Guadeloupe where we stopped overnight in Deshaies.  We first visited this quaint fishing village in June but this time we only stayed one night. It was fun to share it with Hunter and have him experience a bit of French culture.

Next we scooted down the coast to visit Vieux Habitants, Guadeloupe where we had heard of a beautiful hike that started near a coffee plantation and ended at a waterfall.  Unfortunately, between our unspecific knowledge and our poor French, we wandered most of the day and never found the hike. 

Still, we enjoyed the day as I had a chance to practice butchering my high school French and we had a picnic on the lawn of a pretty bed and breakfast on the edge of the river.

Sailing south on the western coast of Guadeloupe took us past the Pitons. I would have loved to stop, but it wasn’t part of our plan this trip.

The area looks absolutely beautiful, but I must say that the aggressiveness of the ‘boat boys’ makes me much less interested in going to The Pitons.

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As we were sailing past the area, two boats zoomed toward us and tried to convince us to follow them to their mooring balls inside the anchorage. Neither accepted our “no” and they brought their boats way too close to LIB for my tastes!  This was less than pleasant and is making me reconsider stopping on our way north. I will have to do some reading before I decide if I will stop when we work our way north again.

Anyone want to offer advice or opinions and/or experiences at The Pitons?

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Regardless of that experience, you can see the area looks fabulous!

Iles des Saintes was the next stop. We had a very pleasant sail to Bourg des Saints on Terre D’en Haut.

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Guadeloupe is easy to see on a clear day.

The anchorage was very pretty and on clear days Guadeloupe looked close enough to be just a long swim away…. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but it did look close!

Bourg des Saintes

The anchorage itself was charming and the dinghy dock one of the best we have seen in the Caribbean.

Frank and Hunter tried to kite, but the wind was too light. So we spent a day tooling around Terre D’en Haut in an electric car/golf cart.

The views from so many places were so pretty it’s tempting to post too many photos…

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LIB in the foreground.

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A prettier picture of Bourg des Saintes.

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Cappy loved being free among the trees.

This stand of trees right by the ocean was shady and peaceful and I could have stayed here for hours just absorbing the serenity of it. 

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A colorful local.

We also visited Fort Napoleon which was built in 1867. The fort is well restored and held an eclectic assortment of displays. We began our tour too close to the lunch hour as the closing bells rang not long into our visit.  I especially enjoyed the models of old wooden ships and seeing the interior cross sections of what the ships held and how things were stored to balance the ship.

I’ll stick with Let It Be, her modern equipment and two engines, thank you!

We barely touched Iles des Saintes and I really hope we will stop for a week or so on our return north, but this trip we wanted to skip on down to St. Lucia so we could accomplish a few boat projects, re-provision and prepare for some guests to arrive.

Arrival in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia marked our first Windward Island as opposed to one of the Leeward Islands. Once again we experienced only a fragment of St. Lucia as we only afforded ourselves of the conveniences offered such as laundry, groceries, chandleries and restaurants. This stop was more of an opportunity to repair and prepare than explore.

Hunter continued to spend a good portion of each day programming, since that is his job. Frank and I set to work cleaning, crossing off maintenance items and generally preparing LIB for visitors.

The best part of our stay in St. Lucia was meeting up with David and Amy of Starry Horizons. You may have already seen the beautiful pictures David and Amy took for us as we left?! Kind of makes us want a drone too.

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LIB heading south to Vieux Fort, St. Lucia.

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LIB on the left and Starry Horizons on the right.

A rare photo of Frank, me and Hunter.

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David and Amy, these excellent pictures are much appreciated.

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Starry Horizon and crew.

We had a chance to have dinner and catch up with Amy and David because of their incredible willingness to accommodate our schedule!  Our time with them went much too quickly and Amy and I have since exchanged texts saying, “wait, I forgot to ask ….” or “Oh, I wanted to look at this on your boat…”   

I just cannot tell you how much I enjoy the company of the two people and how hard it is to know that from here forward our Helias will take us in opposite directions! 

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SH looks pretty in the fresh morning light.

I have every confidence that Amy and David will have an amazing journey on Starry Horizons and we will follow their blog, FB and videos faithfully!  Happy, safe and fabulous journey you guys. Our love and prayers go with you!!!

Next stop Vieux Fort where we pick up Al Young, the first of our 3 kiters to arrive.

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Sunset in Iles des Saintes

As always, thanks for reading our blog…. sorry the s-l-o-w internet has delayed my posts!

Playtime in Antigua

It’s hard to believe that our son, Hunter, has already been with us for 10 days! We have had a great time so far, though I admit every day, at least once, someone says, “Wow, I wish Clayton was with us.” We are very thankful that Hunter has a job that allows him to visit and get his work completed.  We are extremely proud of Clayton’s dedication to his job and realize he would be with us if he had that flexibility.  Miss you C!

One of the first things we did when Hunter arrived was cut his hair! I have little to no experience cutting hair, so I was flattered and nervous when Hunter asked me to cut it for him. Here is the before haircut photo. You’ll have to look at the later pics to see the results.

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It was close, but my hair is still longer than his was.

Our days have been spent in a variety of ways, but the main focus is the wind and if kite boarding can be on the agenda.  Fortunately we have had four really great kiting days and there are plenty of other “toys” on LIB to keep us occupied if the wind doesn’t cooperate.

Last week we rode our bikes to Shirley Heights overlooking English Harbour but this week we hiked a trail that took us up a steep trail, past Shirley Heights, then out to the cliffs and back down to Freeman’s Bay where LIB was anchored.

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It is hard to capture the magnitude of the cliffs.

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LIB nestled in Freeman’s Bay

The paddle boards act as platforms to transport Captain to shore and explore a variety of places while getting a bit of exercise.

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Hunter and Cap about to go explore. How do you like the haircut?

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Frank usually has to balance Cap, but this time Hunter was chauffeur. 

All good boat tools have several purposes and our SUPs have lived up to that requirement. One afternoon when the waves were b-i-g, and the wind was light, Frank and Hunter headed out on the paddle boards for some SUP surfing.

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Best shot I could get from so far away.

Maybe you can get an idea of just how big those waves were if you look at the one building a bit further out. We are guessing some waves were 7 feet. The guys say they managed to catch a few waves and lots of laughs.

Lest you think Hunter’s arrival has crushed our coconut safaris, let me reassure you. Instead of abandoning our coconut searches, we have pressed Hunter into climbing duty.

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Why do I keep thinking of Mowgli from The Jungle Book?

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Frank displays the bounty.

But what about the kite boarding? Here are a few pictures to satisfy those dreaming of beautiful water and favorable kite winds.

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Hunter’s first launch from LIB – see that hair?

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Frank follows suit.

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Hunter makes a grab while Frank heads the other way.

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Hunter has already launched from the beach and Frank is on the way.

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Hunter demos another grab.

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Captain is on alert.

Captain gets her “shepherd” on and keeps a close eye on Frank and Hunter while they kite. I will admit she gets a little noisy and I wish she would be a bit quieter as she runs around the boat keeping tabs on her people.

Lest you think I just sit on the boat, I too have been kite boarding. I think I have finally gotten a better handle on this sport. My board skills already existed from wakeboarding, but flying/controlling the kite has given me some grief. Just yesterday I had a really great set, but Frank was there as dinghy support since I couldn’t ride up wind well enough to return to the starting point…. okay, that is an issue I need to overcome.  But I am definitely improving!

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Kites drying on the front deck as the sun sets.

Day’s end brings a gentle beauty that incorporates relief from the powerful sun, satisfaction of a day well spent and a bit of fatigue from a variety of play.

Sunset’s anchored in Nonsuch Bay are just stunning and differ greatly. Here are two; which do you prefer?

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Fire reds and ominous clouds.

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A mellow repose.

By the end of the day we are all pretty tired. Once the sun sets, we make dinner and when we finish, we are just about ready to roll into bed.

Next we set sail for Barbuda and hope the winds ramp back up to the kiting zone.

Sailboat Guideline – Only Multiple Use Items Allowed

Since space is a premium when living on a boat, sailors try to find multiple use items to save precious storage. This mantra can lead to some fairly creative multi-purposing of standard items.

Case in point; the ice chest.

As part of her standard charter packaging, LIB was outfitted with a large ice chest which hangs out in the cockpit.  When it is only two of us on board, the ice chest is rarely used for cold storage. But it serves many purposes such as holding fresh water to rinse scuba or snorkeling gear. It can act as a dry container in the dinghy when transporting laundered clothing from shore or perhaps provisions from the local grocery. It is an extra place to sit or a place to store gallons of water.

Sometimes we use the ice chest as a large container to wash clothes because we do not have a washer/dryer on LIB, nor do we have plans to add one.

Now that we will be living on LIB and will use our ice chest more often to wash clothes, Frank decided to modify it to try to make it a bit more self agitating and hopefully create less human agitation. IMG_0596

Plastic cut-outs ready to glue inside the ice chest.

The hope is that when we put clothing, water and soap in the modified ice chest, the plastic edges will act as bumpers and increase the movement of the clothing inside the ice chest thus allowing the clothing to agitate/clean itself while we sail.

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Here is a picture of the inserts actually glued into the ice chest.

The modifications to the ice chest are fairly small and will not significantly affect our ability to use the ice chest for other purposes, so this could be an excellent way to improve the washing machine function of our ice chest while retaining its other functionality.

I have some concerns that since our boat is a catamaran and does not heel like a monohull, the agitation inside the ice chest/washer will be insufficient to clean the clothing.  However, if we find that is the case, we could put the ice chest in the dinghy and tow the dinghy for a while when we are sailing.

Surely the bumping and movement of the dinghy, combined with the modifications Frank has made, will be sufficient to bump and clean the clothing….

This may not be the perfect solution to our laundry needs, but in this case, my laziness is the mother of Frank’s invention.

Thanks, honey, for working on making laundry on LIB easier. I sure hope it works!

The Results Are In…. and We Won!

Okay, so we weren’t actually entered in any contests, but we feel like we won anyway.

Why? What did we win?

Well, we just completed an in water and out of water survey on LIB to see how she is doing now that her charter life is completed.

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LIB, the day she arrived at TMM from France

I am thrilled to report that the “Deficiency” list did not have any big items!  TMM has done a fantastic job of keeping up with the maintenance of LIB and making sure any problems were addressed properly.

As a result of their admirable care and good judgement on who could or could not captain the boat, LIB remains in excellent condition.

Now that isn’t to say we don’t have any issues to address, but thankfully they are minor and mostly related to maintenance that is expected after two plus years of charter.

The list included 31 items, so initially I sort of gasped thinking there were problems. However the report was very detailed and several items are cosmetic or were already on our list.

Seven points were superficial like “Emergency fire extinguisher ports in both aft cabins should be marked.” “Topside Gelcoat shows scrapes and scuffs and should be buffed.”   “The scuffs and scrapes at the galley surfaces are consistent with regular use and would benefit from a clean and polish.” These are to be expected.

I was surprised to read that a few items were not up to “ABYC H 27 standards” since they pertained to factory installed parts. But I didn’t really know what ABYC H 27 standards were, so I had to do a tad bit of research. (Some of you must be shaking your head at me and others are probably saying you don’t know either.)

ABYC is the American Boat and Yacht Council. The link will take you to their mission statement, but in essence they are “the essential source of technical information for the international marine industry.”

At first I thought, “oh, well this is the American standard” and LIB was built in France.  But then I read that ABYC considers themselves the international standard…. I guess Fountaine Pajot either doesn’t agree with the ABYC standards or perhaps many boats don’t quite meet up to the “standard” when built.

SO, having said all of that, what didn’t meet up?

Well some of our factory installed through hulls, made by Randex, are molded plastic.  Our surveyor recommends we replace any below the waterline through hulls with marine grade bronze or Marelon.

The fuel tank hoses are type B1 and the surveyor recommends changing those to A1 or A2 to meet the ABYC standard. Ditto for the related fittings and connections.

Apparently our 110V AC outlets are not fitted with GFCIs, and I think we should probably add those.  Shocking right?! – OKAY, I know that was a really poor pun.

Some items the surveyor listed were already on our list:  anchor chair needs to be cleaned and proven, zinc anodes at the prop hubs need to be replaced, sliding door into salon needs attention (again) and the bottom could use a scrubbing and fresh antifouling.

There were two items I did not expect though. One was that the air conditioning duct in the generator has heavy condensation above the generator battery. A drip pan is suggested to protect the batteries. That seems pretty sensible to me.

The bigger of the two concerned the exhaust system for the generator. While the generator has worked great and we have had no issues with harmful fumes in the boat, apparently the exhaust flows toward the bridgedeck and has made a sooty mark. The surveyor does not see damage from this but suggested we alter the exhaust so concentrated heat from the exhaust doesn’t harm the gelcoat or the hull.  Glad to know about this before it is a problem.

General maintenance items include gasket washers on the gooseneck that show compression, the saildrives show minor movement and need to be serviced and the bearings on the rudder stocks need to be serviced.

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Spinnaker flying on LIB

An issue caught by the surveyor and a known problem on LIB concerns the spinnaker halyard. Here is the verbatim remark: “The Spinnaker halyard is chafed, and the block at deck level is cracked. Both should be replaced or the line retained as spare gash line only. There is distinct chafe and abrasion at the line below the mast cap sheave adjacent to the main halyard that should be end-for-ended and trimmed, or replaced. The cause of the abrasion is unknown, and the line reportedly replaced recently. We recommend the cause be should be sourced by a rigger and measures taken to prevent future chafe, and all lines replaced as needed per the currently maintenance schedule.”

This has been a bit of an ongoing problem and is a focus of our energy. We definitely need to determine why we are having the chafe problem and fix it. Believe me, we will figure it out!

That about sums up the survey report.  We are pleased our Helia has held up so well to the myriad of skippers she has had over this 30 months of charter.

We are especially grateful to TMM for taking care of LIB and us.  It is with sadness and excitement that we leave the safe haven of TMM.  We will certainly look back with fondness and gratitude to everyone there who has made our experience so positive as well as helped us improve as sailors.

Let me know if you have any questions about the survey for LIB.  I don’t have enough experience to know how most surveys go, but I am pleased with the results of this one.

From Charter to Live Aboard – Scheduled to Change – Part I

Now that LIB is finished with her charter life, we are implementing some changes to make her a bit more specific for our use.  Some of the changes will be made immediately while still at TMM and others will be made when we are in Puerto Del Ray Marina in Puerto Rico.

My sailing friends can probably imagine several of the items on the list.  My land loving friends will probably shake their heads at the items needed. But anyone who knows Frank can imagine the detail and thought put into the list…. Would you wager it is well organized?

I am fortunate to have such a capable captain; and no, I don’t mean the dog!

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PDR is a very large marina.

Frank has put together a spreadsheet of changes that includes everything from important functions to pure luxuries. The list includes 66 items that range from maintenance to extravagance; from a one hour DIY to a 3 week contractor job. We will not complete all of the items on our list because we are not sure we truly want all of them and the costs would be prohibitive. Below are some we know we will complete before we leave PR.

Steering on the Helia:

Let It Be is Helia hull #4 and was built with the original specifications. On later hulls, some changes were made to improve the Helia. One major revision was to the steering system which was underrated for the early Helias. We have already had to replace the steering cable on LIB twice. Fountaine Pajot has changed the steering on later Helia models from a teleflex push pull rod system to a hydraulic one.   We have reviewed a couple of steering options and decided to install the warrantied system FP is now using. Some people dislike the lack of feedback on hydraulic steering, but we are willing to loose some “feel” in our steering to insure it will hold up to the weight and size of the boat.

Anchor Windless:

Our windless has been extremely reliable and the size is sufficient.  However,  the whole windless was installed a little too close to the starboard side of the anchor compartment.  We cannot fit the manual lever handle onto the gypsy cogs because the handle hits the fiberglass frame of the compartment. This means that if our windless failed, we would have to pull the anchor chain up by hand.

The plan is to move the windless slightly to port so the lever handle can fit onto the gypsy in case we have to use it manually.  When we adjust the windless, we will also reinforce the platform of the windless to make it a bit more substantial. While the platform is adequate, we think it would be better if it was stronger.

Finally, we will install a windless remote at the helm station which will deploy and retrieve the anchor as well as count the amount of chain released.

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We anticipate using this Lofrans Remote

Water Maker:

We found that the most limiting factor in our six week trip this summer was water.  It is very possible to live without a water maker, but I found water was a focus of my thoughts whenever we ran low. In other words, running low on fresh water made me nervous. In my opinion, there are many things that require attention while sailing and I don’t want water to be one of them on Let It Be.

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RO 30 GPH Watermaker Pre-filter.

Dive Compressor:

We have decided to add a Coltri MCH6 110V compressor to LIB. The convenience of refilling tanks on board and avoiding transporting them in the dinghy every time we need to refill is worth it to us. Plus this allows us to have a total of only 4 tanks on board which reduces the weight on LIB and means we need to find a storage place for fewer tanks.

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Coltri MCH6 Dive Compressor

Cushions:

The cushions on LIB have always been an issue with me. They were ordered in a neutral color for a charter situation, but they are BLAND and hard. We will replace all of the outdoor cushions while in Puerto Rico. This is a major investment, but it is also the best way to make the boat unique to us and add some color. I have been wrestling with the cushion material for months now and I am so tired of thinking about it that I am ready to just pull the trigger and order the fabric. I just pray that I like the final product because the cushions will need to last a loooooong time to get our money’s worth!

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A combination of this stripe and the solid blue will be used for our new cushions.

These are the big ticket items on our spreadsheet that we know we will install.  Other expensive additions we are considering are an enclosure for the helm, a sun shade for the aft side of the cockpit, additional solar panels and new sails. But we are not sure what we want or if these items are necessary, so we will probably put them off until the end of our first full season aboard.

We do have plans to upgrade our communications options, but I will cover that after we have fleshed out our decisions a bit better.

Tortola Marine Management has done an excellent job of maintaining Let It Be, but we want to be sure she is in tiptop shape when we depart.  To that end, we have a very long list of maintenance items on the spreadsheet.  Frank has done a tremendous job of listing each task along with the supplies, parts and tools required for each one.  He has also assigned particular jobs to each of us.

I see a good amount of learning in my near future as I tackle some jobs I never imagined myself taking on.  I both look forward to and dread the challenge. I am sure I will have some embarrassing  interesting stories to share. It’s a little daunting to know I will be doing the maintenance on parts we will rely on every single day!

Care to share any tasks you have taken on that you never expected to tackle?  I could use the encouragement!

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