Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A little more news

Skip spent several days in the BVI last month and brought back photos and news of Saralane. First though, a big thank you goes to Ted and Claudia in Nanny Cay who offered Skip a comfy place to stay and gave him rides to and from the ferry and the laundromat, and when schedules conflicted, they gave him the use of their hurricane battered car. Thanks T & C - we owe you. Hope Demeter is ship shape and back in the water soon.

To start with, he had difficulty getting into the boat because the compression on the starboard side of the hull  caused the slides to jam in the companionway. Once he got that sorted out and got a look below he first saw a a pile of things that had been thrown from the port side cupboards, that opened when Saralane fell over, onto the starboard side by the foot of the stove. Then he realized the pile of things was sitting in water that had collected under the stove and inside the stove as well.

Pile of stuff.... doesn't look too bad. Stove sure is at a funny angle.
Pile of stuff sitting in water that shouldn't be there.
Though we did lose one inverter to water, most electronics are on the port side, which is the high side since she’s starboard down. The problem is that she’s also bow down which doesn’t allow the rain water that collected in the cockpit to drain aft out the cockpit drains as it normally would. Water must have filled the cockpit several times over during the two storms and then a few more torrential rains they had in the weeks following. It flowed over the low rise between the cockpit and the companionway through the cracks in the slides (which aren’t meant to be water tight) and filled whatever compartments it reached on the starboard side. Our clothes are all stored there and the lower shelf of each storage area was completely under water.

Starboard side cupboards. The lower corners of the cushions were also soaking in water.
Skip's soggy clothes
My soggy clothes
Ditto galley things. Filthy, rusty floating galley things. 

This was after Skip drained the water. Yuk
Incredibly our batteries were working and Skip was able to connect them to a pump and remove most of the water. What he couldn't get that way, he mopped out with sponges and rags. It was slow going not just because of the awkward angle of the boat but he'd also pulled up floorboards to access various things. He tossed ruined things over the side and cleaned as much as he could, trying to get rid the mold before he has to lock her up and leave. He was also photographing as he went, both for us and for insurance purposes so that’s added to the slow pace. 

This was how it looked after he started to make some progress with the pump. That's all food and galley storage in the lower spaces below the clothing cupboards.

After a bit more progress you can see the water level dropping. You can also see the black residue left behind inside the clothes cupboards and on the wood on the settee. Still some water visible in the food storage area.
He was able to get all our soggy clothing to a laundromat and back on board which was a big plus.

The salon cushions were propped up on this surface and corners of several of them were in water too. Skip did his best to wash off the worst of the moldy water and let them dry in the sun while he worked below.

He’d also cleverly stowed the computer we use for navigation (and for watching movies) in a cupboard on the starboard side that he never even thought of putting it in before so we lost that too.

Pile of things to discard keeps growing
Our folder of original boat information, including detailed specs and drawings, was stored on the starboard side and was completely filled with water and turned to mush. Same goes for some of my business stuff in another container.

He made quite a bit of headway in the cleanup; this photo shows the same area with all the water drained and  an initial cleanup done.

As for the exterior... the solar panels are still attached and still working. (Thank you Steve for helping attach them, very securely as it turns out, back in the Bahamas in 2011.) The stern rails are bent and twisted and since they support the steel framework for the bimini and solar panels, that whole structure has been affected.

That giant mast belongs to the giant boat on our port side. You can see the broken outboard mount under the line on the far left.
John H's outboard was locked onto the port side stern rail on a wooden support but when the boat hit the ground, the wooden support broke. The outboard, which was still connected to it’s hoist, went swinging across to the starboard side and crashed into something, and is bashed up pretty badly. 

Our neighbor's giant mast, as seen from our cockpit.
Top of our mast with bent and/or missing equipment

Skip took a tarp with him to lash down over the cockpit in an attempt to divert water and keep things dry. It's rained pretty hard since then but a friend who's working on his boat in the yard checked on it and told us it's holding up just fine.

He also cut away whatever rigging he could to make the eventual righting of the boat easier. It's a real mess  with rigging and masts everywhere. 

Conversation continues slowly with our insurance company and even more slowly with the yard. Again, in the absence of any real information, there are still lots of conflicting stories and rumors flying about the yard and management; it's still not a conversation in which I want to publicly participate. We'll do whatever we can to help out and to support their efforts, and hopefully, eventually we'll all make some progress. 

Skip feels fairly confident that Saralane is still structurally sound, though it seems like a good idea to actually see her starboard side once she's righted before giving her the thumbs up. After seeing all the moldy interior shots we were trying to decide if she looked worse now or when we first bought her.  I think she was much worse then!

I'm sure I'm leaving some things out, but that's probably enough for now. We still feel optimistic about getting Saralane righted, but it's too soon to know how and when that might happen. We also don't know what our insurance company will think about our optimism (!) but it's too early for that conversation too.

Skip is on a delivery to Antigua and is planning to head back to Saralane afterwards to have another look at things. (If you happen to be in English Harbour early next week, say hi to Skip.... he's on the Outbound 46 Wynot.) Whenever there's anything to report, I'll put up another post. Thanks for hanging in there with us!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A little news

Apologies for taking so long to post again, but we didn't have any news for quite a while and when we did get information it came in bits and pieces and not all was verifiable. In an effort to not pass along misinformation, I thought it best to wait.

Skip has been in Virgin Gorda for most of the week, assessing things on Saralane and cleaning up the mess the best he can. When he gets home we'll sort through his photos and try to figure out what's next.

A few weeks ago we had a brief conversation with Maurice in the yard who said even though Saralane was on her side and her mast broken, she looked like she might be OK. A few weeks later, our friend Ted, who was still on Tortola, rode out to Virgin Gorda to check on Saralane for us. He looked her over and took some photos which more or less confirmed what Maurice said and left us feeling optimistic. No big gashes anywhere. The rudder and prop both look OK. No holes in the deck.

The stainless rails around the stern are bent and twisted, but the solar panels are still attached. The outboard came off it's wooden rail mount on the port side and in the first photo you see it hanging from it's hoist over the starboard side of the transom. There are some big rigs from neighboring boats lying across us, but they don't seem to have caused much damage.

Here are some of Ted's photos that show a bit more detail than anything we'd seen so far. They don't really need much explanation.

One big concern, after seeing the extreme angle of her position on the ground, was how much water made it's way below through cracks in the companionway closure. Any water than gets into the cockpit normally drains aft, but in this position it'll just keep filling the cockpit until it spills over the companionway lip and down into the boat. Two category 5 hurricanes and several torrential rains since then add up to a lot of water. Not to get too far ahead of photos that show the interior, but that's just what Skip found when he finally got on board. Lots of water filling up cupboards, seat backs and the galley space on the starboard side.

In addition to concerns about Saralane, we have some growing concerns about the yard management and what may or may not be happening there. They've been avoiding communication with boat owners and have not offered any information about conditions there or potential plans for untangling things in the yard. We are anxious for information and willing to help in whatever ways we can but at this point it seems there's not much we can do. Very frustrating.

I'm aware that this post is all about Saralane, but please don't take the narrow focus of my post as disinterest in or lack of consideration for the far greater issues in the islands. I find that if I stray too far from just what's happening with Saralane, there's just way too much to cover and I get lost in it. Saralane is just our little piece of a much bigger story. 

I'll leave things here for now, but when I have more photos I'll do another post and I won't let another month go by before I update again. Thanks for all the emails... it really is good to hear from everyone.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Irma & Maria

Virgin Gorda in Irma's eye
I've been trying to write this post for days. If there are words to describe what I'm feeling, I don't seem to be able to find them and string them together without sounding a little crazy. So I'll stick with the facts, which you surely know already.

Two weeks ago Hurricane Irma made landfall on Barbuda as a Category 5 storm and went on to decimate parts of the northeast Caribbean and southwest Florida. Earlier this week Hurricane Maria made landfall on Dominica as a Category 5 storm, just two years after Tropical Storm Erika devastated the island. The first reports are of terrible destruction as would be expected. Likewise the destruction on Puerto Rico. Not much news yet from the islands in between.

Most of the northeast Caribbean, many islands and many countries, were affected by the storms. 'Affected' isn't quite the right word, but again I'm at a loss for words. The damage has been catastrophic. Photos coming from the islands show apocalyptic scenes. Friends on Tortola say the island is unrecognizable. The sheer scope of destruction across the islands is hard to comprehend and it's difficult not to feel a sense of despair seeing the photos and hearing about the enormous losses people have experienced. But there is plenty of optimism and a healthy dose of dark humor on the islands and in the sailing community and I will keep my focus on that.

Firstly, our island friends are accounted for. We don't know what their situations on each island are but we know they are OK. There is precious little communication from the islands which is frustrating beyond belief. We are starved for information and getting only the smallest bits. There was a bit of contact after Irma, but Maria seems to have knocked out the fragile recovery of communications at least for now. This is very much the case for Virgin Gorda, which is especially difficult for us, because that's where we left Saralane.

I find I want to focus on each island that's been devastated by the storm - Barbuda, of course, which we love so much. And Dominica, which we love equally for her breathtaking beauty. St Martin where we spent so much time in the company of friends. The whole of the BVI and also St John in the USVI where we spent our last month before hauling out in Virgin Gorda. But for now, I mean only to update you on Saralane. The long and short of it is that we don't know anything other than she's been knocked onto her starboard side and her mast has snapped.

This comes from the few photos we've been able to find online after Hurricane Irma, as there's been no communication from anyone at the yard in Virgin Gorda. They haven't been allowing anyone onto the island except for relief purposes and we don't know if Hurricane Maria caused additional damage. There are plenty of rumors and plenty of speculation about what's happening on the ground there, but none of it bears repeating.

Here's the last shot we have of Saralane in her spot in the yard pre-Irma. We hadn't yet taken off her canvas but otherwise we were almost finished prepping her for a few months on land. Skip took this shot because we were amused by the size difference between Saralane's narrow stern and the super wide stern on Baxter to our right. The Beneteau being moved in to our left had an equally wide stern and watching the yard guys back her in next to Saralane was impressive.

The small but mighty Saralane between two big boats.
After Irma I spent days scouring the internet for information or images and this was the first photo we saw of her. She's barely visible beneath the fender hanging off a boat behind her that is miraculously still upright, and you can see Baxter just to her right. Plus, having climbed on and off that stern a million times, it's easy for us to recognize.

Boats in a bad way
This next photo is an aerial shot taken by Caribbean Buzz Helicopters, who've been working overtime doing evacuations, delivering aid and supplying images to assess the aftermath of the storm. For years we've seen their bright yellow helicopter flying overhead looking like a happy little piece of the sun that went off on it's own. Without their efforts we would all know much less than we do. We don't know you guys, but thank you! 

 John H, covered with a blue tarp, is still (partly) on deck. Beneteau with the wide stern is on SL's port side
Also Dive BVI, based in Virgin Gorda has been front and center getting relief supplies moving to the BVI and getting information in and out of the islands. If you are inclined to participate in relief efforts, and there are countless ways to do so, definitely check them out. They are getting things done

Kudos too to the affectionately named "Puerto Rican Navy", the many sportfishing boats that blast over from PR to the Virgins on long weekends with no fewer than three generations of family per boat, great pool toys and lots of laughter. In the early days after Irma, when no aid was getting to Virgin Gorda, they loaded up their boats with supplies and once more blasted over to the island to help. Don't know whose photo this is, so I can't give credit, but I love it.

Puerto Rican Navy to the rescue in Virgin Gorda

One side note: all of our log books from the past seven years and most of the boat cards we've collected from those we've met along the way are on the boat, so if you don't hear from us or want to be in touch, please send us an email at the EMAIL US link on the right side of the page. 

Best case scenario is that Saralane is salvageable and we can float her and stay on board when the time is right to go there and help in the recovery effort. Worst case scenario is that she's sailed her last sail. Until we know more there's nothing we can do except think of our island friends and hope that each day gets better for them. That's all I have for now. Thanks so much to everyone checking in with us - it's been good to hear from you all. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Long overdue wrap up

"If we tear ourselves away from Francis Bay I'll have something to write about...."

I may as well start with the final sentence of my previous post. Full disclosure.... we spent a full month in Francis Bay, wandering off only once for a few days to Culebra in a vain attempt to convince ourselves that we hadn't completely lost our ability to get up and go. It wasn't pure laziness; we got into a comfortable routine of working in the mornings and walking, swimming and socializing in the afternoons and evenings. Before we knew it, a month had gone by.

Lots of lovely changes in the sky while we stayed in one spot
Plenty of time for baking... granola bars hot out of the oven.
Me, coming back from some chore or other.
Another chore
There are a few new flora/fauna photos in the mix here, though admittedly, none of the fauna were moving too quickly. Wildlife photos are not my forte, as we all know by now.

Gulls and terns in the evening sky
Stilts in the mangrove lined pond near the shoreline
Clockwise from top left: flamboyant in bloom, white pintail ducks, vine covered ruins, fawn
New tsunami warning system was installed during our month here

Seen along the trail
Curtain of rain clears the hill
It was about here that we headed off to Culebra for a few days. We split our time between the anchorage in Dakity and the one in Almodovar, a mangrove-ish anchorage we hadn't been in before. It was a great spot just behind a reef but open to the breeze. More gorgeous skies, the full moon on a clear night, a fly-by visit with our friends on Demeter (sadly, no photos) and a flamingo sighting were some of the highlights.

Named 'Miss Dakity' by the liveaboards in (you guessed it) Dakity, this lone flamingo has been in residence for a few months
Clockwise from top left: dramatic skies to the east, GIANT sea egg from Almodovar anchorage, evening sky, sandbar in Dakity
The GIANT sea egg was seriously big - here it is compared to a bunch of smaller ones I've collected.

"Hector el Protector", a sculpture made from old pallet wood, sits on the rocks at Culebra's western harbor.

Full moon rising... our neighbors on s/v Orion view it from their deck
We'd intended to anchor a night or two in Culebrita which we loved on previous visits, but this time the wind and seas were from the northeast and the anchorage was untenable. How do we know this? Because against our better judgement, we sailed over anyway "just to see" and ended up turning around as soon as we got into the harbor and saw the waves crashing into the otherwise peaceful shore. Duh.

On our way back to St John we put a line in the water, as is our habit, and actually caught a fish! Having not been on the move much we'd sort of forgotten how much fun it is to catch a fish. This guy was a bit on the small side and Skip tried to get the hook out of his mouth and toss him back but he put up such a fuss (the fish, not Skip) that he ended up tangled in the line and wasn't in any shape to swim again. We apologized to him, and then we ate him with a little wasabi, ginger and soy sauce. A few other little sea creatures sacrificed themselves in a misplaced leap out of the water and into the dinghy, not to be found until the next day.

Clockwise from top left: teeny tiny filefish (?), small tuna, self sacrificed squid, super tiny crabs in the muddy mangroves
As luck would have it, one of my cousins was going to be in St John while we were there and we made plans to meet. Andrea and I are actually second cousins and hadn't seen each other in probably 30 years so this was a real treat. She's a composer, playwright and music therapist for children and was traveling to St John to work with kids at the St John School of the Arts to produce one of her musicals. We got together a few times while she was on island and even had a chance to take her out on Saralane. Her friend Sharon, a fellow performer who'd come to St John to work with Andrea and the kids, joined us and took some baby steps in overcoming her dislike of the water. Andrea and I got to talk about family (aka: the people who are forced to read this blog) and Sharon, who's an actress and comedian kept us laughing the whole time.

Andrea floats with me while Sharon (not a fan of the water) keeps a firm grip on the swim ladder
Andrea was pretty happy out here...
Sharon was pretty happy connected to the boat. Very funny!
Andrea and Sharon soaking up the salt water and sunshine
Not long after we returned these two to dry land, we made our way back to the BVI to get ready to haul Saralane. Plan A was to haul again in Antigua, but we lazed around St John waiting for comfortable conditions to make the passage and they just never materialized so we went with Plan B which was to haul in Virgin Gorda. We left Saralane here our first two years and we like the yard guys, but it did mean missing out on a last visit to Barbuda this season.

Squall takes over the sky in Francis Bay. Notice all the empty mooring balls.... it was pretty much just us here for weeks.
Pretty gato in Trellis Bay - had to make one more stop at the killer laundry there before hauling out
Saralane was the first haul out of the day and we were in the slipway just after 7 AM. Me - not a morning person. Skip - up and making coffee and ready to go.

Maurice and Skip exchange hellos
The captain has coffee while the guys lower the slings in the water
She's out

Spectra sling is still working fabulously!
Skip takes a look at the bottom
We ended up staying on the boat on the hard in the sweltering heat and realized just how fond we'd become of the whole rent-a-villa-while-we-haul-out scenario in Antigua. Ah well. Things went smoothly and Saralane is safely tucked away between some really big boats. We've been back on land for a few weeks now, traveling to visit family and friends we haven't seen for too long. Plans for the fall are under discussion  - so check back with us in a few months!

Saralane's out-of-the-water spot