Sunday, December 22, 2013

Rolling in Guadeloupe

Since leaving Antigua about two weeks ago we've anchored in windy rolly anchorages in Deshaies, Pigeon Point and now Iles des Saintes. It's been crazy windy here lately - in Deshaies we had over 40 knots of wind in the anchorage - so even traveling on the least windy days still means lots of wind. We had the same 40 plus knots on our way from Deshaies to Pigeon Point.

Wind swept clouds at sunset in Deshaies
The good news is that our now-functioning centerboard works incredibly amazingly well and I only wishing we'd had it working as we sailed upwind the past three years. We had one teensy little centerboard snafu but it happened after we were anchored. I'll do a centerboard-centric blog soon complete with photos so stand by for that. (Besides we're still shaking our heads over the whole how-could-we-possibly-screw-up-the-centerboard-while-we're-anchored thing.)

Rooster takes control of the road in Deshaies
I've admitted several times to being moving target challenged when it comes to photography so I took a LOT of photos of our sail over from Guadeloupe to Iles des Saintes hoping for one good one. Skip describes this attempt as the braillle method of photography - me tethered to the boat, camera strapped to my wrist, arm stretched out over the side. It's all about editing after that.
Sailing for Iles des Saintes - Saralane sails straight as an arrow with the centerboard down
Cruise ship Europa dwarfs the boats in the anchorage behind Pain de Sucre 
We'd been looking forward to catching up with our friends Nancy and Tim on s/v Larus after many months and it was great to see them. Nancy was off to work shortly after we arrived so we didn't see enough of her but Tim was on his own and we thoroughly enjoyed his company. 

The three of us planned to go to the open air produce market on Saturday and thought we'd quickly get some gas for our dinghies before going to the market. The only place to get fuel is around a windy point which is hardly even convenient for fishing boats, much less anyone else. We thought we might sweet talk one of the motor bike rental guys into selling us some gas so we didn't have to hoof it to the fuel dock, but no such luck so we headed off for the footpath to the dock. And what a footpath it was. (Note to self - arrive in Iles des Saintes with enough gas for the dinghy.)

... and downhill, and then more uphill and downhill.
We were half joking on the way that the fuel dock would probably be closed once we got there. It wasn't. What we didn't expect was that the wind had knocked over the gas pump so there was no gas to be had. I mentioned it had been windy didn't I?

Captains Tim and Skip contemplate the dead gas pump.
At least they tied down the diesel pump so it doesn't fall over in the wind.
Fortified with water and soda, and with sense of humor more or less intact, we made our way back, uphill and downhill, from the fuel dock. I think the guys were half relieved they didn't have to carry heavy jugs of fuel back up and down the hill. 

Tim coaxes a baby goat into the frame for a photo
Our wayward hike to the fuel dock and back put us behind in time to get to the market and we arrived as the vendors were nursing their first (or second?) beer, so no luck there either. With only a few minutes left before the regular markets closed we picked up a few meager things and are now dreaming of the fresh produce just a day or so away in Dominica.

Early morning fishermen collecting their traps near us behind Pain de Sucre. Guadeloupe off in the distance.
Rainbow over Pain de Sucre
There's a quiet little resort on the beach here and we dashed over around between rain squalls and walked around.
Keep out of the pool if you're not a guest!

We haven't seen these caterpillars for a while
Fishing off the dock... my favorite photo in the post.
Tim and Nancy were off to Bequia this morning and swung by Saralane for a "see you soon" on their way out.  

Tim and Nancy on lovely s/v Larus 
If the weather looks good tomorrow, we'll clear out in the morning and head for Dominica. Goodbye wonderful wifi.... hello wonderful Dominica!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In Antigua (still)

We're still hanging around Antigua, mostly seeing off friends who are moving on. A couple boats of nomadic Americans connected for a really nice Thanksgiving dinner put on by a local restaurant in Falmouth.... and a few non-Americans even snuck in for some turkey.

We said goodbye to Lee and Sharon on s/v Allegro (after copying a bunch of their movies to watch on some rainy day) and as they're a fixture out here, we know we'll see them again.

Lee & Sharon on s/v Allegro... thanks for the movies!
Swedes Johan and Birgitta on s/v Xavita were in the yard along with us and got launched just a few days before we did. They have grander plans than we do though and after a few days in the anchorage they stopped by to say goodbye before picking up their anchor and sailing straight for Venezuela.

Birgitta & Johan from s/v Xavita
Being this close to Barbuda with time on our hands meant we just had to go to Barbuda. We went straight to Spanish Point and anchored up behind the reef where the water was crystal clear.

Spanish Point isn't hard to get into on a bright day with the sun high overhead. The patches of coral appear as black splotches in the otherwise clear light blue water. You can more or less eyeball your way in here but we've found that the NV charts we use are pretty accurate and that helps. 

Small coral head out behind John
Larger patch of coral out a little farther
The snorkeling was great in the clear water and in addition to fish, rays and crabs, we found a giant conch shell which was occupied by a giant conch. Conch can be hard to spot since the side they show to the world is sand colored and usually covered in growth that resembles other growth on the sea floor.

The pretty side.
The flip side.
Killing conch here is a no-no and though it would have made a good meal, we set it back on the sea floor after it's fifteen minutes of fame. A first for us out here was the dolphin that kept us company as we made our way from Spanish point over to Coco Point!

We had some other nice company in Barbuda too - Tony and Judy, old acquaintances of Skip's from his early days in Newport, are down here on their boat s/v Lime'n. We gathered coconuts, as usual, and Tony and Skip had at them with machete and hatchet and we had a really nice impromptu dinner one night with rum and fresh coconut.

Take THAT!
It was also the last night of Hannukah and though the candles should be placed in a window for all to see, they were no match for the Caribbean breeze so they stayed below for just the four of us to see.

It's easy to get the dinghy up on the beach here and we took the opportunity to give the John H a little TLC. We tie the dinghy upside down on the foredeck for longer passages and though we put something between the dinghy and the deck, there have been a few times when the non-skid abrasive deck surface has still come in contact with the dinghy and rubbed some bare patches on the surface.

Scratch the surface and brush the super sticky adhesive on the dinghy...
....and on the patches
Then wait. Walk around and look at stuff while the sticky stuff dries. 

Stuff we looked at while the sticky stuff dried
Apply artfully trimmed patches and - voila! A new and improved John H.
With a forecast of several days of high winds and unsettled weather coming we decided to leave Barbuda and head back to Antigua. We needed to do some provisioning and since we're still mildly wifi addicted, it was just as well. 

Squall line between us and Antigua
The crummy weather came and stayed. Almost three solid days of hard rain more than filled our tanks and the dinghy, and unfortunately washed a whole lot of something off the land and into the water. 

The runoff from the land made its way toward the boats in the anchorage pretty quickly.
It's a little harder to see it from this angle, as it passes us.
Saralane and John H - both sitting in the not so sweet smelling water. 
The runoff crept all the way out to the boats at the far edge of the anchorage and stuck around for a few hours before dissipating. 

When the rain finally stopped we went ashore and did some errands. There's a new home store behind the grocery store in Jolly Harbor and it stocks a curious assortment of things. Some washers and dryers, some bath and kitchen things, some toys and lots and lots of buckets, brooms and fans.

Aisles full of buckets, brooms and fans. 
Still a little stir crazy from being cooped up during the rain we walked the beach at Jolly Harbor and just missed getting caught in another downpour. We ducked into a bar at the end of the beach where we met Sammy, who was also taking shelter from the rain. Sammy makes beautiful baskets from palm fronds and for just a few dollars we got one of his smaller baskets, which he graciously signed for us. I wish we had room for one of his bigger baskets - but alas, the boat is still only 40' long and 12.5' wide. 

Sammy proudly signed it "Made in Antigua by Sammy 12/9/2013" 
The winds are still up but it looks like tomorrow and Friday will be good days for sailing so our plan is to clear out  of Antigua tomorrow and sail around to Falmouth for the night. Friday we'll leave for Guadeloupe where we hope to meet up with our friends Tim and Nancy on s/v Larus who are making their way over from St. Martin. They're bringing along some of our things that hitched a ride to St. Martin from the states, and we brought a small electronic bit down from the states for them so we'll do a swap and spend some time together over the next few weeks.

Don't think I've forgotten about the rest of the centerboard fix! We may even try it out on the way to Guadeloupe. Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Round Trip

We're back. In Antigua - and now in the water as well. Saralane was launched on Tuesday and since I opted to leave the blog on lovely Barbuda back in August, this 'round trip' blog covers our haul and launch. It's cheating on the blog a bit, but then I'll consider us up to date!

First.... coming out of the water.

Skip on deck as the straps go under Saralane
Ray guides us in the slipway and watches as we come out; Danny gives Saralane's bottom a good powerwashing
The powerwasher at Jolly Harbor needs a little TLC

Skip cleans off the centerboard - which we were SURE we'd fix this time out
Ever since the centerboard pennant snapped back in the Bahamas we've been working on a fix for it. We really thought we had it figured out when we got hauled in August, but it turned out that the new swage fitting on the new wire that we brought with us from the states was too bulky to fit. Foiled again. 

Ray helps a sad captain Skip tuck the centerboard away until we come back and try again in November
There are lots of other jobs to do before leaving the boat though and Skip got help from some of the guys who work in the machine shop in the yard. We pulled the prop and replaced the cutlass bearing. Fixed the muffler and exhaust elbow. Cleaned, scraped, polished etc etc... 

Pulling the prop and replacing the cutlass bearing. Align part A with slot H.....
We give our extra fuel to a local fisherman before we leave
We hauled out late this year and were pretty much the only ones in the yard during our stay there at the end of August. Back here now in November there's more activity and we've connected with a few new people who are working on their boats and getting ready to go back in the water.

Fast forward through September and October... and our view from the deck hasn't changed yet! 

Boatyard living means climbing ladders. 
We dig out our respirators, gloves and protective gear and paint the bottom (no photos since we're both too hot and dirty to care much about taking pictures at this point). We tape off, sand and repaint the boot stripes too and Saralane is almost ready to go. 

New bottom paint and new stripes 
Almost ready to go. Almost. The centerboard pennant still needs to be replaced and we'll see if we have what we need.

We need THIS (out of focus) swage fitting on this new cable
New fitting on cable, fed into the opening at the top of the centerboard
After a few tense moments when the new fitting seemed too big for the opening (again!) Skip managed to get it in place and attached. Here's a shot from farther back for a little perspective. The rusty line is the messenger we fed down from on deck and taped onto the new cable in order to pull it up into position. The shiny cable is our new centerboard pennant!

The yard let us hang in the travel lift over lunch so we'd have time to fix the pennant and paint the board and the patches left unpainted where the stands were against the hull. 

Watching paint dry
Skip rigged a piece of Spectra that connects on either side of the keel and hangs on the ends of bolts he put in each side. This will help support the centerboard when it's in the up position and will take some of the pressure off the deck and hopefully alleviate some of the wear and tear on the new pennant.

Spectra loop hanging off one side of the keel
I know this photo could have been taken coming out of the water or going in.... so you'll have to take my word for it that we're being launched in this shot.

Going back in!
We motored over to the marina and took advantage of their complimentary slip for one night. We cleaned out our water tanks (those of you who slept through the centerboard fix can rejoin me now that we're back in the water) scrubbed the decks, pumped up John H and got him back in the water and called it a day. 

Before leaving the dock the next day, I went up the mast to reattach our running back stays and lazy jacks. We put the main back on, did some provisioning and a few other odds and ends and cleared out of the marina. 

Me, trying not to drop any tools from up here
Our first night anchored out was pretty nice... and we're glad to be back on board.

We're anchored just out in Jolly Harbor where we'll finish up a few things. The deck side of the centerboard fix is yet to be done so stayed tuned for that! I need to wean myself off the wifi too. Seems a few months of easy internet access has me hooked again. So, with that I'll leave it here. I'm going swimming...