Blog Archives

Friends, Christmas Cove and the BVI.

We were so happy to reach Christmas Cove, USVI and meet up with our friends Amy and David of Starry Horizons.  We first met them just after we had taken deliver of LIB and Starry Horizons was still in production in France.

While we have met Amy and David a few times on land, this is the first time we have been able to meet on our boats and compare our Helias.

We had a great time sharing dinner a few times, including a delicious dinner of tuna that Amy and David had caught on passage! Very fun to share time and their yummy catch!

We were able to share our “catch” of fresh coconut water, which is quickly becoming Frank’s specialty as he searches out low hanging coconuts anywhere we go!

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David, Amy and Frank share coconut water.  David likes his straight from the nut.

We spent two days snorkeling, sharing Pizza Pi, comparing post factory changes to our boats, paddle boarding and just generally enjoying time with these two awesome friends.  Then we had to say goodbye as we needed to report to TMM for some warranty work.

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Double rainbow in Christmas Cove

It was great to be back in the familiar and beautiful BVIs. Our first evening was spent anchored off Peter Island, one of our favorite spots!

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I love the water colors here and the lush hillside.

There were soooo many butterflies! I bet we saw 500 in a 24 hour period.

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Frank and Mark loosen the shroud.

A big thank you to Mark, of TMM,  for helping us replace our roller furler drum which had some issues with metals seizing.  Thankfully Facnor replaced this under warranty so we only had the cost of labor.  Again, a big thank you to TMM for helping us even after we were out of charter with them!!

After TMM we sailed around Tortola and spend a day or two anchored off Sandy Spit and Frank was able to kiteboard ~ a much needed play session for him!

We have not spent any time in Cane Garden Bay and decided to zip over there. It is a lovely bay and we enjoyed it’s beauty and the access to the white, sandy beaches.

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Cane Garden Bay at sunset

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My cute dog and very handsome husband out paddling.

An unexpected and fabulous event was meeting Frank’s cousins who happened to have chartered a boat in the BVIs. Unfortunately I failed to bring a camera, so I don’t have any pictures.  We spent a wonderful evening on their boat and had a great time catching up on each others kids and lives.  I really hope we are able to meet up with them all again sometime.

After Cane Garden Bay we spent a two nights on Norman Island just relaxing.  Then we went back to TMM where we picked up a wind scoop modification from the Doyle Sail Loft and worked with our favorite BVI electrician, Dave Gibson.  You will hear more about Dave and his greatness in another post.

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Sunset off Norman Island.

Now we are settled in at North Sound waiting on a weather window to skip over to St. Martin.  We know this will be a motor rather than a sail as we will be heading into the winds.  We hope to have winds less than 10 knots… but we shall see.

For now we will spend a few days enjoying Saba Rock, Bitter End Yacht Club and all the other great things North Sound has to offer.  Hopefully we will be lucky and have a nice light wind day to go to St. Martin this week.  In the mean time, this isn’t a difficult place to wait.

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Our “back yard” while we wait in North Sound, BVI.

Frank Climbs: A LIB Storyboard

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One beautiful day LIB sailed to Vieques. Frank and Mary Grace saw many tall trees.

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The trees had coconuts.

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Frank wanted a coconut, so he decided to climb a tree and get one.

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Back on LIB, he cut off the top of the nut.

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He hammered in a special spike.

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And the coconut delivered nutrient rich water.

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Frank was happy!

Disclaimer: Frank wasn’t actually able to climb the coconut tree.

Mary Grace found that beautiful coconut while walking Captain and gave it to Frank as a present.

The End.

I hope this made you smile. Have a good day.

From Charter to Live Aboard ~ Part II

It is so hard to believe that in February of 2012, we took our first ASA classes and began talking about buying a sailboat. By the 2012 Annapolis Boat Show we were narrowing our choice of boats and in November we began working with Tortola Marine Management (TMM) to buy our Helia.

Fast forward to October 2015; LIB returned from her last charter trip in August; our house in Texas is for sale and we have moved aboard LIB!

Frank moved aboard September 6th and began working on several projects. I joined him on September 24th and the time has flown since I arrived. We have managed to complete several projects on our list and many others are in progress.  I will post and update on our first project list separately. Here are a few additional projects worth mentioning but this is not at all complete.

Eyebrow Hatches

A helpful sailor on Cruiser’s Forum who calls himself “Helia 44” wrote a great post about the hatches he added to his Helia. I fell in love with those hatches and Frank made them happen! It was a huge and messy job that took days and created a ton of fiberglass dust inside and outside of LIB. Even days after the project was completed and we had cleaned up, we would find pockets of fiberglass dust that would sprinkle itself about with the slightest breeze. But we prevailed. Now we have these hatches that we can leave open even if it is raining because they are protected by the overhang from the bridge deck. This one was a total pain, but I love them. Thank you, Frank!!

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Frank added those two upper windows.

Generator

We have been extremely pleased with our Northern Lights generator and we want to make sure it continues to run well and reliably. Frank completed the maintenance items; air filter, oil change, check heat exchanger, etc. I attacked the rust spots that had developed on the enclosure of the generator. After removing the rust, I primed and painted the rusty areas and now the generator is looking much prettier. But more importantly my efforts should reduce the spread of rust and preserve our enclosure which in turn will protect our generator.

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Goodbye rust. 

Winches/Dinghy Engine

While I was in Texas, Frank serviced all the winches on the boat. Trust me when I tell you I made certain he was spelling with an “i” and not an “e!” (Kidding!)  He also took care of the maintenance on the dinghy engine. Now all parts are properly cleaned, changed, oiled and greased.

Bottom Paint

The very uninteresting but hugely important and expensive job of scrubbing the hulls and repainting the bottom of LIB was completed at Nanny Cay. We paid a pretty penny for a paint with an outstanding reputation for withstanding growth and we hope it will last us a solid two years.  (For those who want to know, we used Island 44 by Sea Hawk.)

Helm Enclosure

We thought we would wait on the helm enclosure for LIB, but we decided it was a well needed addition. Frank worked with the Doyle sail loft in Road Town and by the time I arrived, it was already made and installed. I think we will find the back shade screen one of the most valuable aspects of it. Some enclosures that are more aesthetically pleasing than ours, but this one will do what it was designed to do.

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Fewer back sunburns are in our future because of this addition.

What is currently in progress?

Replacing the LED light strips in the salon and add additional lights in the galley. Only about 65 percent of our factory installed LED rope lights are working. Our favorite BVI electrician, Dave Gibson, tells me the probable cause is too much current going from the 12V switch directly to my lights. So, I now have new LED lights in hand, but I need some 3 amp diodes to add current resistance. I’ll have to add a diode between each strip of the lights and the switch. (Say what?) The diodes should arrive in the next couple of days.  Wish me luck on this project because we sure didn’t cover electricity in my English or journalism classes in college!IMG_1639

A = V/R  right??

Lest you think we are all work and no play, let me assure we are finding time to enjoy ourselves. And I have to admit, while I am challenged by these new tasks, there is great satisfaction in accomplishing the tasks once they are finished.  And a shower feels fabulous at the end of a sweaty work day.  But here is proof that we are still able to enjoy the beauty around us!

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Sunset as we enter Great Cruz Bay, USVI

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Our first nightfall away from TMM as “cruisers.” 

St. John, USVI

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.

Really? THAT Triggered a Spasm of Panic?

The countdown has really begun. In the next 30 days I will attempt to shut down our house and move to a boat.  Mental lists are being converted to paper (okay computer) so nothing is forgotten.

Many decisions have simply been a matter of research, like determining how to move our physical property to the boat:  compare companies, costs and timing, then choose a reputable company.  Determining what to bring and estimating how large a palate we need is more of a challenge, but it is do-able.

The odd thing is the little items that pop up and cause emotional upheaval. Some item or service that I take for granted in my house that will soon be lost.

The perfect example?   Internet.

Internet???  Yep.

Is it just me or does anyone else get blindsided by an unexpected emotional response?

Today on a little square of my calendar I wrote “terminate internet service” and suddenly my stomach clenched and my heart stuttered.

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Sitting in my house I have uninterrupted access to excellent, high speed internet. My computer automatically connects, the lights are on and I have information and communication at my fingertips – without thought, without fail.

Or I grab my trusty Iphone and everyone I care about is a few buttons away.

Thirty-one days from now that will no longer be the case! Internet and phone communication will become a variable instead of a given.

Now that proximity to my family and friends is being lost, I feel myself clinging to communication as though it were the oxygen I need to breathe.

People think the idea of living on a boat is a bit scary, what with hurricanes, storms, sharks, etc.  I won’t say I don’t think of those things, but right this minute, as I plan my disconnect from home, communication seems to be the lifeline I am most afraid of loosing.

Surely someone understands my slight panic?  Am I alone in this fear or have you suffered this somewhat illogical fear?

How did our forefathers leave home and country without knowing how they would remain in contact with family?

Thank God it is 2015 or I would never be able to sever the cord!

What To Do During Transition?

I have written a separate page about how our life is transitioning and you can read it here.  That link tells the big picture of what is happening with us. But what are we doing right now as our life is in the process of transitioning?

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Want to buy our home?

Anyone who has sold a home while living there knows how challenging it is to always keep it “show ready” and to be out of the way whenever someone comes to view it.  So we decided to take off and spend a little time in Durango, CO.

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Our darling two bedroom bungalow.

Instead of baking in the Texas heat while we wait for a buyer, we immersed ourselves in the plethora of activities available in Durango. We packed a lot into a few days (surprise!) and here are the pictures to prove it.

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Mountain biking is high on the activity list.

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Hiking along lush paths.

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Beautiful views by foot or bike.

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Visiting the Aztec Ruins (though Aztecs never lived here).

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Mary Grace has done some horseback riding.

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Fly fishing is all catch and release along the San Juan River.

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This was the smallest catch of the day.

It feels like we found the mecca of recreation here in Durango. Had we lived here prior to retirement, I’m not sure we would have found time to work with all the fun things there are to do. Combine that with the fabulous temperatures and this must be a little slice of heaven.

If Let It Be wasn’t calling our name, Durango might be a great place to live.

Around the North and West Coast of Antigua

The week following our stay in Jolly Harbour was remote and beautiful.  Our sails took us past and to some interesting places that aren’t captured in pictures, but I tried.  This entry is simply a photo essay of views or activities… Hopefully my photography skills will improve.

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This rock looks like a giant alligator on shore.

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Relaxing off Jumby Bay, Antigua.

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Rocky spits near Long Island and Rabbit Island, Antigua.

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These small flat islands were fun to walk.

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We found many fossilized shells…. are these fossils? What is the correct term?

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Kiteboarding was high on our activity list!

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Kiteboarding friends, Mike and Olga from Toocanoo.

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The front deck is the perfect place for drying a kite.

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GIANT plants on Green Island.

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LIB at rest behind Green Island – a perfect kiteboard spot even for beginners like Mary Grace.

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A nice place for Captain to explore.

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Captain went with us when we snorkeled!

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Sunset while on Toocanoo.

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Not many neighbors here.

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There is a powerful beauty to the crash of these waves.

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Sunset near Bird Island shows the dust some say comes all the way from Africa.

Next stop is English Harbour on the southern side of Antigua.

Jolly Harbour, Antigua

We left St. Barts about 5 pm and motor sailed about 15 hours to Jolly Harbour, Antigua. The sail was a bit bumpy as we had to go more into the wind and waves than we would have liked. But the crossing was safely completed and entering Jolly Harbour was like arriving in a post card.

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Entry to Jolly Harbour, Antigua

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Frank prepares the lines and bumpers.

We were concerned about getting Captain registered into Antigua, but the veterinarian was very nice. Happily her paperwork was in order and Cap was quickly accepted.

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Captain loves the dinghy!

Jolly Harbour was beautiful and unique in that the harbor included a marina but also had a residential feel to it as houses with (large) boat docks lined much of the waterway.

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See the houses behind LIB?

We took advantage of some local services available in Jolly Harbour including a haircut for Frank.

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Shamone and Frank, post haircut.

Antigua is 11 miles wide and 14 miles long; much larger than any other islands we have visited so far.  Because of our limited time frame, we will only stay in Antigua about a week and we won’t have time to explore the interior. Instead we will stick to the bays and inlets along the shoreline.

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Jolly Harbour was a pleasant, calm anchorage which I welcomed after our bumpy crossing. 

Trashy Tuesday

Okay, so Tuesdays aren’t really trashy, but I did warn you that I might revisit the whole trash and litter topic.

Today I thought I would share our plan to reduce paper on LIB and add a little touch of class and beauty by using cloth napkins.

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Okay, so we will not be this fancy!

We are on the lookout for cloth napkins that are pretty and easy to wash.  This will eliminate the need for paper napkins and reduce our use of paper towels.  Plus, cloth napkins are a little heavier and less likely to blow into the ocean.

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Cloth napkins can be used as an expression of the season or add a jaunty spark of color to the table.

For anyone who thinks reusing cloth napkins is a way to share germs between washings, we plan on using different designs or colors so we will know which napkin belongs to whom.

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Who knows, maybe napkin folding will become a hobby.

Do you use cloth napkins? If so we would love to know your favorite brand or fabric assuming they are easy to wash and quick to dry.

Any chance you might begin using cloth instead of paper?

Trading “Security” for Life on a Sailboat?

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In 1955, Hunter S. Thompson wrote an interesting piece entitled Security” asking at the outset, “… (security) means safety and freedom from worry. It is said to be the end that all men strive for; but is security a utopian goal or is it another word for rut?”
I will not say that I have found the security within our life a rut, but rather it has offered us the freedom to focus on family or seek out new interests; to pursue new hobbies or increase knowledge.
This freedom to learn and expose ourselves to new things led us to sailing.
Together, Frank and I earned a few sailing certifications and began to immerse ourselves in learning about sailing and the lifestyle of living on a boat full-time.
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Our forays have sparked a desire to live more simply, to be guided more directly by the rhythms of nature and to learn first hand about countries we have yet to see.
The decision to change our lifestyle is not designed to free ourselves from some “rut” but rather a desire to explore and learn new things by living a little differently.
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We look forward to the challenge of using the wind as our major form of propulsion.
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We anticipate buying foods from local markets and figuring out how to prepare them.
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We hope to snorkel and dive some beautiful and remote places.
But I admit, sometimes I fear the idea of navigating without references like “the McDonalds on the corner!”
Learning how to thrive in a sailing environment and working as a team to reach our destinations are goals Frank and I are equally exited about.
As we prepare to uproot ourselves, I admit there is some anxiety about leaving our familiar and secure lifestyle.  But there is also anticipation of learning a huge variety of new skills, expanding our knowledge base and discovering lesser known places.
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We foresee some amazing experiences, yet we sincerely hope family and friends will come to visit because our journey will be deeper and more beautiful by sharing it with those we love.
Thompson concluded Security” this way,  “…who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”
We are not UNhappy in our security, nor do we know if we will be happier when we leave the comforts of shore; but we definitely know we will be more greatly challenged!
Hunter S. Thomas (1937-2005) was an American journalist.
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