Blog Archives

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!!

DSC00415 (1)

Frank added those two upper windows.


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.


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.


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!


Sunset as we enter Great Cruz Bay, USVI


Our first nightfall away from TMM as “cruisers.” 

St. John, USVI

Sailor, Beware Your Route

Before I actually began to sail, I thought sailing would feel like that old Christopher Cross song “Sailing” sounded.

Well that was certainly not true these last three weeks in the BVI’s where we consistently saw winds above 20 knots and our route choice caused us to slog upwind as often as not.  Which meant that our sailing felt more like a ’70’s head banger than Christopher Cross!

The photo below was taken when we were flying only our spinnaker at 135 degrees port, heading to St. Thomas.  9.2 knots was not our highest speed, just the one I happened to get in a photo.


Apparent wind speed (13.1) + Boat speed (9.2) = 22.3 knots

While more seasoned sailors wouldn’t be phased by these winds and speeds, I am still pretty new to the sailing game.  Despite my lack of experience, I thought this sail was pretty awesome, though I do wonder if we were stretching the limits of our spinnaker!

We sailed to St. Thomas to await delivery of an autopilot part from Garmin; which never arrived (frustrated sigh).  So while cooling our heels, we toured the island and I got to spend a few days driving on the left side of the road.  I was concentrating too hard to catch the views while moving, but we did stop to soak in the beauty.  Here are a few of our favorite photos:


Megan’s Bay, St. Thomas, USVI


Charlotte Amalie – there were 5 cruise ships that day!


Lunch overlooking Red Hook

After 3 days in St. Thomas, we departed, sans the autopilot part, and returned to Tortola motoring directly into the 23 knot winds.  Still, at this stage of my experience, every journey includes a teaching moment. Motoring into the wind, jockeying the troughs and peaks of the waves increased my confidence in Let It Be and taught me a little more about her abilities and my own.

This trip made me realize that on land, schedules dictate many decisions and it is rather common to sort of adopt the US Mail motto when completing errands and meeting deadlines:  “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Herodotus, 503 B.C.

Well Herodotus, I believe in the future, when sailing is my transportation, snow, rain, wind, waves and gloom of day or night shall certainly determine wether I set sail much less complete my appointed rounds!  I have no desire to spend my future fighting wind and waves but prefer to accept their superior strength and work with them.  Let my schedule adapt for a change instead!

%d bloggers like this: