Monday, January 31, 2011

It's so Eerie

Well, we did it, headed for St Maarten again that is. My first overnight passage and it was a little disorienting at first to be travelling along in the pitch dark with absolutely nothing in sight. We left leverick Bay at 6pm and the plan was to arrive in St Maarten just after the sun came up.

With an empty cockpit, just Rayme charting our course and Auto steering for us, we sat back, listened to the mp3, read and popped up once in a while to keep an eye out for traffic.

Although we spelled eachother at 3 hr intervals, so we could each grab shut eye, I found sleeping impossible. The boat would surge up the oncoming wave, then it would crash down the other side, creaking, groaning, pitching and slamming, with huge thundering  thuds and sounds of waves washing over the bow. Like a roller coaster ride that lifts you up out of your seat, I would lift up out of bed like I was being levitated, only to drop back down to wait for the next one.  Not, real sleep inducing!

As the sun came up on the horizon we were just coming into St Maarten on the horizon.
With dawn breaking it was wonderful to finally stretch and move around. Then suddenly off our starboard side 3 dolphins were jumping along side the boat as if in morning greeting. What a great way to signal the end of our journey.
My first overnighter was over and successful. We got there with no problems and no one was seasick.  That's huge sucess in the boating world.

lookin' Spiffy

Thanks Mom, for doing such a wonderful job on our logo'd stuff.  heads look great with their "Ocean Wings" towels

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Boot

We think he's following us, this stealth looking  Private yacht that's 390 ft long and owned by a 30 yr old Russian billionaire. apparently pirate proof, bullet proof and friendly proof. It's called simply A , and I don't mean that canadian Eh!
Quite following us!

It's a Boat

We followed the Plan and we're creeping out thru the reef and circling the island by 3am with high hopes of reaching St Maarten before dark.

"It's a boat" is the most common expression down here. Used to explain the high cost of repairs, the rust related injuries and the inexplicable failure and breakdown of things that we're poorly built to start. And it began, as we drank our morning coffee in the wee hours and secured EVERYTHING that could toss around on the open ocean. Our anchor winch failed. We flicked the button , we cursed, we flicked the button again to see if it had been listening and then of course we cursed again. No joy. 100 ft of stainless chain and a 60 lb anchor was lying on the bottom preventing us from goin anywhere.   Capt Gord to the rescue. Gloves and muscle power and we're ready for takeoff.  Then of course I had to hear, that's why he had done all those workouts.

Regardless, we're on our way. we'll fix it in St Maarten, it's probably just rust.

We're feelin pretty good, following the new expensive chart plotter.. this is why we bought it and peering at the reef off our starboard side thru the night scope.
 Now it's Excalibur's turn.  Crack, and Francois sees that his dinghy davit is giving way. We slow down and wait, he tries to secure it while the dinghy swings, the waves wash over it and the wind spins us in circles.  We're on our way again. Crack, there go the davits again, We slow down and wait, he tries to secure it. We're on our way again. Crack, there they go again.
While we're waiting, first mate Suzy says to capt Gord... There's something big and round in the water beside us, just under the surface, could it be a deflated, abandoned dinghy.  NO, it's spouting water. I've had my first Whale sighting, making the whole trip worthwhile.
Towing the dinghy in the choppy swells is just not a good option , but must be done. But can't be done all the way to St Maarten.
The Plan is scrap and we head back for North Sound vowing to try again another day soon.
What can I say......... IT"S A BOAT!

The sail to Anegada



Was awesome, we literally sailed! Doing 10.1 kts of speed in 15 kts of wind.


            Absolutely incredible in a large, solid boat.  Ocean Wings we love you



10.1 Kts of Speed with 15.5 kts of wind

First Sighting of Anegada " The Drowned Island"

 

Ocean Wings and Excalibur- ready for 3 am takeoff

We're Off


Look What washed Up
On my first overnight passage that is.

True to form Capt Gord has been on the beach chatting up everyone he meets. We're thinking of doing an overnighter to St Maarten.  He's admitting defeat when it comes to my boat wish list and figures duty free St Maarten with it's tons of shopping is the place to fill that list, ( list- new rochna anchor, cockpit table and add on sugar scoop)  though he qualifies everything as the next 6 years worth of birthday and Christmas gifts.  I've got him where I want him  AAARRR!

So... Francois, Marie and their 3 kids Frederic (11), Oliver (8) and Marylou (6) aboard their 38' Catamaran " Excalbur"  from Montreal are wanting to go for the first time as well.  So Buddy Boating is a great way to get their without feeling all alone on the high seas.

The Girls from "Excalibur"                                    "Excalibur"
So a plan is born.    Again, we talk to everyone on the beach, in the bar and even the laudromat and get as many plans as their are islands here.   St Maarten is east so the wind is usually on the nose, so it means motoring and not sailing, or so everyone at the beach, bar & laundromat says.

The plan is hatched. We'll head north to Anegada and jump off from there about 3am  in the hopes that we're far enough north that we can get the right degree to up the sails and save that $ 4.00 gal diesel fuel, hopefully arriving about 4-5 pm the next evening.

Anegada here we come!  It's beautiful, flat, only 27 ' above sea level and totally surrounded by a thick reef  full of protruding coral heads with only a couple of tricky narrow entrances into the Island.  Oh Yah! and we're leaving at 3am in the pitch dark.  What a plan!  Let's do it.   
The population here is only a few hundred people, but everyone enjoys the beach, including the livestock

The New Cottages are always new
as they keep getting wiped out by
Hurricanes

Anagada Inhabitants


Celebration

Birthday Time

Capt Gord needed to see if I could pass muster as  a Jumbie
in case the cruising kitty dwindles too quickly, then we have options.

                         Micheal Bean - That modern day Leverick Bay Pirate
                                                    AAAARRRRRR!!!

I'm right where I wanna be...
in the Ocean at North Sound, hunting for shells & *fish

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gettin to the "Painkillers"

Now this is more like my idea of sailing. Forget the scrubbing , scrapping, sanding, cleaning , fixing and installing, not to mention those bug bites on the butt. Just give me a "Painkiller" on Carl and Judy's cat anytime.

                                    Carl & Judy on Aquarius
                                        with their "Painkillers"

Saturday, January 22, 2011

We're Launching

I'm doing the happy dance ****** We're off the Hard and going in the water.  I'm singing .....no more scrapping, no more sanding , no more bug bites on my butt.Yah!!!   



She's afloat.



Captain Gord's at it again .... and once again it starts with Sue

Does it ever end





VGYH Gang

Meeting Great people is one of the fun things about cruising.  Although we all worked hard on our boats to get to the point of  Floatin' around the Caribbean, Livin' the Good Life  we did take time to meet and make new friends.

Dinner at the "Bath and Turtle"
left to right:   Sue,  Marion and Bill on "Seminole Wind", then Judy and Carl on "Aquarius"

Friday, January 21, 2011

Work is a Four Letter Word

Summed up to four letters.... HARD  and that's why they call it "On the Hard"  Captain Gord is already givin orders and most of them start with Sue.........so there I am patching  and painting 110 ft of flakey hull. That's sanding, filling, sanding again and then painting, twice. The permanent crick in my neck means I'm doomed to be forever looking up. Oh well I guess that means I'll see that seagull #&^*>  before it hits me on head.Oh No! and there I am again, only this time I'm what's up. Up the mast that is!  No one mentioned that the lightest crew member is the one that gets hoisted instead of being the hoister. Terrific view from up here if you're into making lemonade from lemons. Might as well enjoy.
Now, Guess who's "Workin on the Chain Gang", not me this time. That rusty old pointy thing that holds us to the bottom of the Ocean when we want to party or sleep is attached to no less than 300' of chain that must be inspected and cleaned if we want to keep partying and sleepin. But only if you want the boat to stay in the same spot.  

Otherwise just skip it and be ready to discover new shorelines.
                                                                                                          
The end of a "Hard" day, means a trek across the boat yard, duck under the hole in the fence, dance over the rocks with the surf lapping at your feet, while dodging the tree branches that seem to come alive just as you pass, then across the beach and up to our little luxury room ...... ours is the bottom pink one on the right.   Ah Home Sweet Home!
    TREKIN' HOME                                                                       HOME

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We're Backkkk!

We’ve arrived finally.



The drive away car down to Florida was smooth and uneventful. I have to say I just love their serius radio. Unfortunately there is no coverage for the Caribbean yet, so we’ll just have to make do with the stereo and mp3 player.

Flew Spirit Air into St Thomas, us and our 8 bags. I’m promising myself less luggage next year.

We arrived to pouring rain and like most airports in this sunny south, you deplane down the stairs and walk across the tarmac ( No shelter) However the warm Caribban rain was actually welcome after the cold and snow back home. What the heck! It’s just water.

A quick hello to Joe at Crown Bay and then my first dip in the pool…….Decadence

Met a nice couple holidaying on Virgin Gorda on the ferry going over. Once again breezed thru customs and then arrived at our “luxury $100+ a night accommodation” where we sprayed and taped the gaps in the windows and doors in an attempt to keep out the No-Seeums. First 2 nights without air conditioning and no water pressure, but now we are enjoying the coolest of cool in our new “luxury Room” where we repeat the above mentioned No-Seeum and mosquito preventative measures.

”Ocean Wings” she held up pretty good considering a hurricane passed right overhead. May need some work on the cockpit cover next year , it had sagged and rain had pooled in several spots causing some damp air to seep into the Aft cabin, so there was a little film of mold on a few of the walls. So the Sun Pac Mildecide ( only good for 6 months) did a really good job considering we left her alone for 8 months. There was no sign of bugs or critters, again that mildecide at work. There were no leaks anywhere and that is amazing for any boat much less a 1987. There was no damage anywhere on the boat so we are counting our blessings.

OUR POOR COVER
Whoops 1 little snag, our spare dinghy motor was repaired by the marine and was supposed to be locked on the back railing, but it’s nowhere to be found. Apparently there were 3 motors stolen and 6 boats broken into last summer and guess who’s motor disappeared, Good news is that the local police did find one , same make and model as ours but it’s so dirty and bashed we honestly can’t tell if its ours or not. Gord’s getting pretty buddy buddy with the local constabulary , which is definitely not a bad thing and we’re hoping they’ll turn it over to us in the next few days.

For now we’re ”on the hard”working, and now I know why they call it hard. 90 degrees inside and blazing unrelentless sun outside, not to mention those pesky No-Seeums

Then everything hauled up a 16 rung ladder and hoisted aboard, including any water to wash and scrub the boat.

The hair is tangled from the constance wind, the fingernails are dirty, my skin looks like I’ve been pepper sprayed with No-Seeum bites and then I get to go back and take a trickle shower.
                                                      God! Boating don’t you wish you were here? 

Summers Over

The summer at home has gone by fast. We definitely had a great time at the cottage with the grand kids on the beach and visiting with our friends and family.









           
And of course we got to spend Christmas with our little Christmas Angel and watch the fun as she realized that Santa came!












GGWM Is parked for the winter and I’m sure she’s feeling abandoned in the snow.



GGWM in the Snow

But we’re off again on our winter adventure.



Sailboat owners Gord and Sue aboard their 55' Whitby Ketch "Ocean Wings" share their adventures and travels as they start their retirement, living their dream of seeing the world from oceanside.
Ocean Wings is a recent purchase and our first foray into the Sailing Lifestyle. We're excited and a little scared. Join us in our adventure.