Breathe. (I put that in for Gabi – who is here! Loyal and long-time readers may remember the yoga lessons we took our first year in Grenada. Near the end of that season, Gabi and her husband Sven sold their mono-hull, JuCa, and flew back to New Zealand. They and their two children, arrived back in the Caribbean about two weeks ago, having purchased a catamaran, Cool Change, and will head back to Grenada when the boat and provisions are ready. It was terrific to see Gabi and she mentioned how much she loves “seeing” me “Breathe” in various blog posts.)
Breathe. Hand-steering for three days totally reinforced our decision to return to Sint Maarten. Sometimes you just get it right. An engine/fuel filter/solenoid problem also raised its ugly head before we made it to Simpson Bay, so this week is a week of boat mess and repairs. (Below, is the master stateroom. Clearly we are not sleeping there.) Fortunately, we had met Brad and Shana from S/V Quartette right before we left here. In fact both couples expressed regret that we wouldn’t have more time together. On the one hand: Be careful what you wish for. On the other hand: Brad is a diesel mechanic – a really, really good diesel mechanic. We anchored near them upon our return and Brad spent the better part of two days aboard La Luna working and directing EW. EW has a high regard for Brad’s knowledge. We are very fortunate. I have a list of things to accomplish, about half of which are on board. None of those can be done while EW and Brad are in repair mode. The engine/fuel/solenoid problem is fixed and the engine has been thoroughly examined. EW is changing out some hoses that are tied in to both the engine and the engine driven fridge compressor, at which point “Pinetop” Perkins will be good to go.
While Shana and I were shopping for boat parts and a few groceries, the guys tackled the autopilot. We met them underway in dinghies as they were taking the hydraulic pump into FKG. We had hoped for hose issues, so when I saw large metal parts in garbage bags my heart sunk. This auto pilot was top of the line over 20 years ago, but the Australian company is no longer in business, having been absorbed by someone else. Shana and I headed back to the anchorage while the guys took the part to have the seals rebuilt (or whatever that is called) – if possible.
FKG is an outstanding company. EW says it’s one of the best marine companies he has ever experienced – and that’s a lot of experience to consider. The guy took a look at it and said, “Yep. We have to parts kit for this.” It will be ready at 11:30 on Friday.
We are planning a Saturday or Sunday departure – depending on when I can get my stuff done. Of course there will be some re-provisioning as we’ve had two weeks of using food and water and gotten no-where. For those of you concerned that we are leaving too late – as I had been. I’ve talked with a number of sailors who make this trip frequently. As one charming Italian fellow said, “Oh. Is good time. All June is good time.”. He is planning on leaving in 5 days because it will take that long to get his boat ready. Mike, our friend/mentor on Quinn will head out about when we do. His boat is smaller and slower than ours so we won’t see him until we all get to Horta.
Our friends from Maine on Koukla are still in Bermuda, waiting for the weather to clear. They had left a week ahead of us and run into no wind about 400 miles north of Sint Maarten. They motored a lot, finally making it to Bermuda between a Low and a Cold Front. Once the front passes they will make for Rockland.
So, here are some things I learned during my longest passage at sea (thus far).
- I like it. I wasn’t seasick. I slept well. I was easy on my watches. As long as we can avoid the big storms, I’m good.
- My provisioning worked. I still use Cruising Cuisine, by Kay Pastorious, as my food bible. She had good tips on storing fruits and veggies that seemed to work. I incorporated fresh, hard to store veggies during the first week, making eggplant parmigiano a la Julia Child while underway. I was EW’s hero for that. I posted a print-out listing the twenty some meals on the menu. Some are designated for “early in trip”, others are for “bad weather”. I have enough to provide three meals for two for each of these – some by making enough for two three times, others – like the eggplant – by eating left-overs. I also put up a post-it every few days, reminding EW what is available for snacks, and pushing whatever fruit is ripe now. He takes direction well and we had a good system going.
- The sea bunk didn’t work. As we were getting ready to leave, EW took over the sea bunk project, telling me that I didn’t need to sew a length of fabric to the lee-cloth. That fabric is designed to attach to the outside bulkhead under the cushion, so that the lee cloth holds both us and the cushions when under way. EW fastened the lee cloth to the ends of the bunk, but various body parts and cushions kept slipping out the bottom when we heeled to port. As soon as the guys clear out, I’m fixing that.
- EW shouldn’t promise me we’ll be “on a reach” all the way, and I shouldn’t believe him. We had northeast winds for the 377 miles we made good, and southeast winds eight hours after we turned back. We heeled for 6 of the 7 days, and motored for one. I’m OK with that, but it wasn’t what was promised.
That’s about it. Thank you all for the messages via Sailmail. I love Sailmail. We’ll let you know when we set off again. Life is very good here in Sint Maarten, but we are sure it will be just as good in the Azores and look forward to experienced them.
For those of you wondering about our travel “schedule” I include the following notes about our itinerary. Since we are about three weeks late in getting out of here, we have tentatively shortened our goals for Portugal, and after hearing from other cruisers about the costs charged sailors in Senegal, we have omitted that country. This is a rough outline. If you plan to visit, know that you will be picking a date or a location, not both. We cannot guarantee to be someplace on a particular date.
- July – The Azores. We plan to visit all of the islands.
- August – Mainland Portugal. Hopefully Lisbon, then more extensively along the south coast of Portugal and Spain, including one or two rivers, with a side trip via land to Seville.
- September – Morocco and the Canaries
- October – Gambia
- November – Cape Verdes
This actually gives us 4 extra weeks, some of which will be spent in the Cape Verdes preparing to leave for Brazil. We hope to do that by the end of December. We could certainly spend more time in the Azores, Portugal/Spain, and Canaries, if the boat and we are doing well. I expect we will take our time sailing from Recife, Brazil down to Uruguay and Argentina, and would arrive in that region around April. We have to take Tango lessons and do some exploring via bus in South America, so we have not put a time-frame on leaving there. Sailing and adventurous types are invited to visit aboard. Others may want to stay ashore where we are based for a bit.
We are relaxing a bit – and EW participated in an open mike night. More on that later. In the meantime, he thoroughly enjoyed reading Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. He didn’t enjoy my interruptions with the camera.
I leave you with how EW expressed displeasure. Good day!