Showing posts with label antigua. Show all posts
Showing posts with label antigua. Show all posts

29 January 2020

Boat Projects in Paradise

Living on a boat, especially in the Caribbean, can be heavenly. Every day I am grateful for this lifestyle. There is, however, far less lounging on the beach with a mojito than one may assume. The adventure and relaxing segments are necessarily heavily intermingled with constant attention to the inner and outer workings of the vessel to keep her looking spiffy, functioning well, and sailing safely.

Captain Linda Perry Riera

Quite a few boat projects were tackled back in November in the immediate weeks after Argon was  launched in Grenada. Most days since then include at least a sprinkling of boat chores or logistics. Some days are consumed by projects. Here is a sampling of fairly routine boat maintenance and repairs we have tackled recently during a couple of weeks in Antigua - often at anchor, sometimes tied up at Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbor.

Electrical:  Solar Panel Performance

We have four flexible panels mounted on the bimini and dodger with a total rated capacity of 385 watts. We should be able to depend on around 100AH (Amp-Hours) of energy from these on a typical Caribbean sunny day but the generated energy has been somewhat sub par. Step one was to clean all of the connectors and terminals between the panels and the controllers with alcohol. The good news is that our primary panel (the 135w on the bimini) is now doing great, as is the port side 100w panel.  The not so good news is that we're still getting a little less energy than we should and it's clearly because the starboard side 100w panel is just not performing. We've cleaned everything we can on that panel and we sadly conclude that the panel is failing.

All of the connectors for the solar panels were cleaned with alcohol.

Amperage readings in collected over the course of a day showing peak of about 17 amps midday - less than what it should be if all solar panels were functioning well.

Being the nerds we are, we plotted the net income of Amps from the panels for each daylight hour (over several days).  If that starboard panel was performing, the peak would be well over 20A. Seventeen is the highest we record. The main power consumers are the fridge and our work laptops. The fridge is probably using about 60-70 A-H per day (depending on how many ice cubes we can have in our drinks). Our work laptops have 130w power bricks and they need to be plugged in quite a few hours a day. The end result is unless we can get ashore for powering the laptops part of the day, more is going out than is coming in and we still need to run the engine periodically to make up the deficit.

Electrical:  New Windlass Switches (again!)

When at anchor in Maine, USA a few years ago, we learned that the up and down switches for the windlass are woefully unreliable when our windlass suddenly started paying out chain - potentially very dangerous. Now, as a precaution, we now always keep the breaker for the windlass off except when preparing to set or weigh anchor. And, despite replacing the switches with better quality ones, they continue to eventually start to fail after some time. It's not surprising really considering the location way up front on the bow where they are regularly being blasted by salt water waves while sailing. While in Antigua recently, Bob replaced the pair yet again (and purchased another set of spares for when these fail).

Crouching in the bow locker replacing the windlass switches (again).

IT Support:  Flaky WiFi Router

Starting around Martinique, we noticed that our trusty Bullet Wifi Router was starting to not work reliably (even when we could find some wifi to hijack). Bob was down in to a locker again (this time the transom locker) to get access to the network connection to the Bullet. He put a PoE (Power Over Ethernet) tester inline to see if the Bullet was getting power. It was. And... it was also working now.

Bob squeezing in to the transom locker to access the wifi network cabling.

The PoE tester inline with the Bullet. Plenty of power going through.

The diagnosis: Just interrupting and reconnecting the bullet "fixed" it - meaning we have a flaky connection. Bob cleaned the connectors with alcohol and it's been fine... until today. As we edit this blog and get ready to upload, the Bullet is wigging out again. It may be time to just cut the wires and re-crimp new connectors. In the meantime, we will clean the connectors again and cross our fingers. Mobile data has been our front line strategy for connectivity anyway as it has been rare that we can use the Bullet to slurp up some free wifi.

Cleaning:  Polishing and Waxing

The continual salt and intense sun are formidable opponents to a clean and well functioning boat. Salt spray while sailing gets everywhere and given our need to conserve water, we welcome the occasional heavy downpour for a good rinsing. In addition, it is necessary to rid the surfaces of salt before tackling the polishing and waxing. 

Quite a bit time is spent addressing rust spots on the stainless steel and keeping it shiny with extra attention needed in small crevices, around screws, at the base of stanchions and inside turnbuckles. As with waxing the gelcoat in the cockpit and on deck, this is normally done in the morning and late afternoon hours to avoid the intense heat of midday.

This pic is taken shortly after a welcome rainstorm. We sometimes get out on the deck with sponges during heavy rain to clean off the baked on salt. The cool freshwater rinse of our sweaty bodies is a bonus.

Cleaning off the extra stubborn rust spots and polishing the bow roller.

Shiny bow roller. (I wish I took a before picture too.)

Some of the tools and products for waxing and polishing. Flintz for routine stainless steel polishing; OsPho for the more difficult rusty spots; ScotchGuard wax and 3M light compound-wax combination for the gelcoat.

Bilge and Sump Cleaning

Ah, that important albeit dirty, stinky gully beneath the floorboards... We finally made ourselves pull up the flooring, get on hands and knees, and scrub out the bilge, rinse, repeat. And, while we're down there, there is the sump receptacle that catches the grimy shower and sink water. Cleaning the pumps carefully with a toothbrush to get out all the crude accumulated in every corner restores faith in their reliability. We also used this opportunity to test the manual bilge pump - check!

Cleaning of the sump and bilge.

Thorough cleaning of the Rule 1100gph bilge pump.

Cleaning:  Corroded Propane Tanks 

We have two small (10 pound) propane tanks for our stove/oven. When one empties, we arrange for a refill asap to be sure we never run out completely. With regular use one tank lasts 2 to 3 months. The base of the tanks have corroded severely (but luckily the integrity of the tanks remain) causing some damage to the locker as well as lots of noise as they bounce around while sailing. We searched for fiberglass replacements in Antigua but no luck. In the meantime, the locker was cleaned out and we were able to secure a makeshift new base for the tanks out of cut up pool noodles. (One day I'll do a blog on all the various uses of pool noodles on a boat.)

The base of both propane tanks have corroded.

Cleaning: The Bottom

Argon started off the season in November with a smooth, freshly painted bottom. Despite the effective anti-fouling paint, regular scrapping of barnacles and algae growth is needed to prevent growth from getting out of hand. A dirty bottom can dramatically negatively effect a boat's speed also.

Regular snorkling with a scraper or brush to keep the bottom clean.


Inspecting:  Air Conditioner and Steering Mechanism

As we were docked at Nelson's Dockyard for several days, were were able to plug in to shore power - yeah! In addition to not having to monitor and ration electrical usage continually, we could even turn on the air conditioner! But since this would be the first time running it since April, we did an inspection first.

Argon's air conditioning unit is below the forward V berth thus requires the bed to be cleared and mattress to be pulled out.

Inspecting the air conditioning unit - all working well!

At the opposite end of the boat.... we cleared out the aft cabin. The aft cabin functions as our storage closet on board holding all sorts of things including water and diesel jugs, side panels for the cockpit, 2 guitars and other music gear, deflated paddle board and paddle, charts, storm sail, fishing poles, pool noodles and cockpit cushions. We have not used this space for its intended sleeping berth for several years.

Once cleared, the back access panel is removed to allow inspection of the steering mechanism and the vented loop for the sump.

Steering mechanism looks mostly good except for...

Collar seal around the rudder bearing is torn. Luckily no water is seeping in and although not urgent, its replacement is important. Add to the list.

New Dock Lines and Eye Splicing

Ninety feet of 3 strand dock line was purchased to make 2 new 45 foot dock lines. Bob has gotten quite proficient with various types of splicing.

Making eye splices for the new dock lines.

Re-attaching the Jib Furling Drum

Furling in the jib had been oddly difficult and upon examination, we realized the furling drum was not attached properly since Grenada. The pin which sets the height of the drum was not going through the hole it was supposed to. It was going through a larger opening in the rigging toggles allowing the drum to wobble and turn very hard when the line had a heavy load. On a low wind morning while docked we took down the jib to enable lifting of the mechanism and re-attaching it properly. Then the jib was re-hoisted and furled before the winds kicked in.

Adjusting the jib furling drum on a low wind morning while docked at Nelson's Dockyard.

Oh, And Still On the To Do List...

We have since finished our time in Antigua and have started a new boat chore list including: cleaning the bottom of the dinghy, addressing issues with the toping lift, lazy jack refit, rudder collar seal replacement, more stainless polishing and gel coat waxing, cockpit teak cleaning, water tank sanitation, pad eye retrieval and fabrication, sail track car/bearing inspection, vented loop replacement, etc... Ah, the luxurious cruising life!

The dinghy desperately needs a good bottom cleaning. The algae growth is very stubborn and not easily scrubbed off the hypalon surface. The outboard needs to come off and the dinghy brought on land or on a dock with an assortment of chemicals and elbow grease.

We need to retrieve a broken pad eye out of the boom which will entail removing the main sail and tilting the boom forward (hopefully).
The topping lift will be a whole project blog to come. But the short version is that since getting the new main sail in Grenada last November, we're having a lot of trouble with the topping lift getting fouled on batten pockets and reefing rings on the leech of the main sail due to the increase in roach. More than once, the fouled topping lift prevented the mainsail from being swiftly dropped - one time while we were approaching some dangerous reefs. After much consideration of options, we have decided to remove the topping lift and make some other modifications. Stay tuned for a forthcoming blog on how we will manage sans topping lift.

The topping lift hanging up on one of the frictionless Antal rings for the reefing line.

And Now for that Mojito...

In between boat projects, day jobs, and sailing, there is much to enjoy! This is a unique and eclectic lifestyle indeed. Consistent attention to maintenance, repairs and inspections is just part of the cruising lifestyle and enables us to appreciate the more relaxing aspects of island life.

It is not all work! (But perhaps while we are in the water, we should scrub the rudder and water line...)

10 October 2019

Aquatic Snowbirds (Again)

Just as the weather is starting to turn colder, we are preparing to migrate southward for our third winter cruising the Caribbean. This time, however, we are able to start off by skipping the difficult, lengthy off shore passages and just hop on a plane.

Captain Linda Perry Riera

We left Argon in Grenada this past April for the summer hauled out, strapped down in a hurricane cradle, and with a punch list of projects to be handled locally on the island. Oddly, we have been boat-less for a summer in New England. Our only association with Argon for five months has been through forced e mails, an occasional reluctant photo, or an eager invoice from the shipyard or a contractor in Grenada. More on the learnings and challenges related to these boat projects in a later post.

Our lives have been strangely normal and exceptionally satisfying spending time in our home in Newport, Rhode Island (USA) as well as lots of traveling to Boston, Massachusetts  for work (including renting an apartment in nearby Lexington for several months - thank you, Helene!).

When not working, Bob has his studio up and running with some sexy new gear. And he has enjoyed starting to record some great local talent. There have been a fair number of brown boxes with new equipment arriving and he has enjoyed setting everything up on this cool studio console that he built in the garage.

Bob's man cave.

Fasnet Pub Session Band.

I am loving my career shift as an independent consultant and despite slightly over-committed myself to work this summer, have managed to schedule in lots of wonderful visits with family and friends.

Great to have the three boys (and two of their three SO's) with us in Newport in June!

My only sail of the entire summer.... Rhodes 19 with Lori and Todd.

Fun weekend in DC with Kelly and the little ones!

My woman cave is coming along quite nicely. I have enjoyed tending to my flowers and shrubs, luring a myriad of birds, and killing invasive voles (well, I have not enjoyed the killing).

Linda's woman cave... Patio completed, new plants in, flowers eventually bloomed!

I have also loved getting in to an invigorating rhythm of ocean swimming. The water temp requires a wet suit at this time of year thus I may have only a few more swims in me before I cave in to the cold. Soon the warm turquoise waters of the Caribbean will be part of my regular winter routine.

Recent cold water swim in Jamestown, RI (USA).

Typical swim track. This one was 2000 yards in 63F (burr!).
Morning swim in Freeman's Bay English Harbor, Antigua last winter.

Now we focus our attention on tending to various life logistics as we prepare to be away for 7 or 8 months. 

Both Bob and I will again work while we cruise. Reliable internet connection has been a learning process - check out past blogs on our trials and tribulations to feed our data needs. This winter we will be trying Google-Fi. We will be sure to provide an update on a future post.

One of my remote office settings last winter. This gives WFH a new meaning (Anse La Roche, Carriacou).
But sometimes our WFH set up is more mundane (Antigua outside a local market).

I am committing myself to resume sailing related writing during this coming trip as last winter I was woefully remiss. Most writing will be in the form of reigniting this blog. I have an objective to create frequent short blogs... let's see how this goes.

Bob will fly to Grenada in just two and a half weeks. I will follow a week later. And we will both happily transition once again to life aboard s/v Argon!!


21 July 2019

The Sandwich Cruise: Caribbean 2018-2019

Our Caribbean cruise in 2018-2019 was very sandwich shaped. Delicious in the middle but with some not so fresh bread on the outsides. This cruise definitely reminded us that this lifestyle is not all fun and games and this time in particular had some very difficult bits.

Capt. Bob

Long time, no Blog

The blogging machine has been grinding very slowly since we took off. There are a few reasons for that. Mainly, the primary blogger (Linda) made the foolish decision to work about ten hours per week for one of her consulting clients. Coincidentally, ten hours a week is about what she used to spend on the blog. Secondly, I worked more hours per week this time than last time. So we were both pretty starved for time to spend blogging.  We did manage to produce a few videos during this time however. Lastly, the tough situation at the end of the cruise - the other moldy piece of bread in this sandwich (see below), pretty much wiped me out from doing anything (besides my day job) and so Linda ended up with a huge logistics workload - just as we were preparing to get the boat settled into Grenada.  So this one will be a bit long, but with lots of pictures!

Anyway, the tough piece of bread at the front end of the cruise involved us having a rig failure on the way to Bermuda.The root cause was a failed weld, causing our outer head stay to detach from the mast during the passage. That cascaded into finding that our inner stay also had a broken wire on it. With boats, the closer you look, the more broken stuff you will find.

After Consulting rigging Professionals in Bermuda and Antigua as well as the awesome guys from Tartan, we ended up re-engineering the attachment points for the stays (with drawings provided by Tartan). This led to quite a bit of delay and expense in Bermuda and Antigua.

Worse Places To Be Trapped

Fortunately, we were able to make partial repairs in Bermuda and get Argon in shape to make the thousand nautical mile passage south to Antigua. Most of the repair time was therefore spent in Antigua - which is not a bad thing.

No doubt, we love Antigua. Overall, it is probably our favorite place in the Caribbean. For some reason, we didn't mind being stranded there for seven weeks, and we kept ourselves occupied exploring, hiking and... working our day jobs.

Everyone takes this shot from Shirley Heights. Argon is anchored down there in Freeman Bay
We mostly sat anchored in the same spot in Freeman Bay at English Harbor. For weeks, the hook never moved from the spot we dropped it after arriving from Bermuda. We did manage to make a trip around to Jolly Harbor (meh) and Five Islands Bay (thumbs up!) while we were waiting for Antigua Rigging to get to us.
Silhouette of Linda enjoying an adult beverage at Five Islands

And that sunset over Montserrat never got old

Team Argon synchronized diving team

Canvas Work

As long as we were sitting in Antigua waiting for our rig to be repaired, we got a few projects done. Our sail cover was getting a little long in the tooth. So we visited our old friends at A&F Sails and asked them to make a nice new cover. (They did some nice work for us in 2016 also.)
Franklin, from A&F Sails posing proudly with his work

Family Visits

Sailors can say when or where, but not both. Still, we managed to get Linda's son and his girlfriend Britney to come and visit while we were in Antigua. They had joined us last time in Antigua, and enjoyed it enough to come again.

Christian and Britney getting a lift from Manix out to the anchorage

And more visitors

Linda's bestest friend in the whole wide world, Lori flew down to spend a few days with us.  Lori and her husband Todd are budding sailors themselves and were looking after our house back home in Newport. It was the least we could do.
Taxi service to Argon

Eventually, the substantial repairs to our rig were started and completed and we were free to go (after paying for it all of course)
From Top

To Bottom

The Yummy Middle Part

On 17 Jan 2019, we finally left Antigua after seven weeks. We were more confident than ever in Argon and had some of the best sailing we've ever experienced all through the Eastern Caribbean ahead of us. We covered the Leeward Islands, but unlike last time, we continued down-island through the Windwards too. We covered a lot of ground that we did in 2016-17, but we also went to some new places and found some new favorites (and some new not-so favorites). We'll go through the various destinations next in words and photos.

Our last morning in Antigua after being there for seven weeks
And we're off - sailing (at last) on a reach south to Guadeloupe

The Leewards (again)

In the 2016-17 cruise, we made it only as far south as Dominica before returning north. This time, we really wanted to make it further and sail all the way south to Grenada.  We also didn't want to have to rush though it, but here we faced a decision.  Because of all the time lost with the repairs, we were very pressed for time if we were going to continue south. Over dinner one night, we made the call to continue south and just leave the boat in Grenada for the summer and resume the trip home in 2019-20.

Passing Montserrat's windward side as we head south to Guadeloupe


The first french island south of Antigua. Here, you can clear into customs for Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante and Les Saintes.  We managed to do a bit of video about this leg of the trip.

Deshaies, Guadeloupe

Continued kid visit in Guadeloupe

At Anchor in Réserve Cousteau, Guadeloupe

One of my frustrating experiences buying a SIM card in the French Islands.


A (very) French enclave of Guadeloupe. This flat island is a bit off the beaten path and is very traditional Caribbean (by which I mean, connectivity is very difficult here). This is also where we had the most difficulty with the language barrier. Neither of us took any french, so we're hopeless with pronunciation. We quickly learned that we would annoy them more by trying to speak French than just giving up. We made heavy use of the google Translate app here.

Our big mistake was buying a Digicel SIM in Guadeloupe instead of an Orange Sim. In hindsight, Orange has WAY more coverage in the french islands than digi (also much cheaper). I was very busy with the day job during this time, so the data situation sort of overshadowed everything else for me.

Street celebration/parade down the main street

Finding a trickle of data behind a restaurant before they opened. The owners lived upstairs and knew we were doing it but didn't seem to mind.

We would often point the google translate app at signs to figure out what to do.

The gorgeous windward coast of Marie-Galante
Life is good!  Finally an ORANGE Mobile store in Marie-Galante. From here on out, we were sitting pretty with data in the french islands. We bought two of these and put one in each of our travel phones.
Never thought I would see "LTE" again.
This lovely woman ran a really cool art gallery - and spoke pretty good English.

In the car rental office on Marie-Galante. Between google translate and these two helpful french tourists, we managed to get some wheels.
Drag-racing a Beneteau down the west coast of Marie-Galante.  We made sure they could read "Boston" on our stern

Les Saintes (again)

I love Les Saintes. Of anywhere in Guadeloupe, this little group of islands is by far my favorite. The people are friendly and more tolerant of us non-french speakers. The moorings are great (and inexpensive). Spectacular hiking and biking (on some very cool electric bikes) round it all out.  Oh, and the food...

Downtown Terre-de-Haut

Terre-de-Haut from a couple thousand feet up on a hike (Argon is on one of those moorings)

Hiking on Terre-de-Haut. Some friendly folks took our picture.  Marie-Galante can barely be seen in the distance

Topo map of our hike up Terre-de-Haut

These electric bikes are really cool. And they're called E-BOBs. How could I say no?

Dominica (again)

Dominica is amazing. It's not full of foo-foo resorts and spas. It is full of adventure. Some of the most spectacular rain forests and waterfalls are here. The country was still recovering (Slowly) from Maria and there was still a lot of devastation all around. Dominica also received a one-two punch economically. They were already not a wealthy country and not only did Maria clobber them, but then the Medical School (huge source of foreign investment and revenue) pulled up stakes and relocated to Barbados. The people in Dominica are incredibly proud of their country and natural beauty, but you could see a lot of sadness and desperation in the faces about the conditions there.

In Portsmouth, Dominica, there is an organization called Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services (PAYS). These guys are great. You give them some money and they will help you with anything you need - including security. Because of PAYS, Portsmouth is now one of the safest harbors in the Caribbean (says me).

Roaring south toward Dominica

Picked a mooring in Portsmouth. The guy helping is one of the P.A.Y.S. associates

Portsmouth Street scene

My first gig in the Caribbean. 

One of the great hikes we went on. Here we are actually above the rain forest in elevation hiking around a fresh water lake way up in the mountains. The lake provides water for two hydro plants lower down and the water flows through large pipes made of wood.

Daily, nearly permanent rainbow in Roseau, Dominica (a double on this day)

Taxi ride from the mooring in Roseau for a day of hiking and touring

Leaving Dominica with our next country, Martinique, in the distance

Martinique... Back to France and entry to The Windwards

We didn't stop at the capital Fort-de-France, and instead just headed to an anchorage on the southern end of the island called Anse D'arlet.  We went ashore a couple times but really didn't do much. Anse D'arlet is the first anchorage I've been in that had wifi buoys scattered around the anchorage which you could connect to - for a price.  We've learned that multiple redundancy is the key to being able to work reliably remotely so we bought in.
Linda got her fresh seafood fix here.

Coming ashore in Anse D'arlet Martinique

St Lucia - and another kid visit

To get to St Lucia, we were actually able to "put a little west in" for the first time in a long time while sailing south from Martinique. We were truly in the "windward" experience now. We settled into Rodney Bay marina for most of the time, and decided to take advantage of the marine service prices and get our brightwork stripped to bare wood and re-varnished. This worked out because my son Jon and his girlfriend Nichole visited us there and we did mostly land excursions (even rented an Airbnb for a few days) while the boat was worked on in the Marina. Driving on St. Lucia like many of the vulcanic mountainous Caribbean Islands is an adventure.  The one non-land excursion was a lovely day-sail from Rodney Bay to the famous Pitons and back.

The dark side of St Lucia (apart from criminalizing LGBT people) is the amount of crime. Until now, we had gotten in the habit of locking our dinghy with a stainless cable. That was a joke in St Lucia (and south), so we bought 12 feet of heavy Stainless chain (at $24/foot) and had a stainless ring welded to one end.  From here on out, we were always locking with the chain and locking the dinghy to Argon overnight.

Again, we managed to do a video of this leg.

Jon actually enjoying a rigorous sail to the Pitons

Approaching the Pitons. Note the masking tape still on the genoa track from the varnishing work

Posing in front of a Piton

Group selfie while sailing back from the Pitons

Another view of the Pitons - from land this time

Typical "S" and Hairpin Turns driving on the mountain roads

Me and the boy

Met this guy along the side of the road (shot from in the car)


Jon and Linda enjoying some fresh fruit
Winston working on his art in his tiny studio.  We visited him twice and bought some beautiful pieces both times

Jon and Nichole overlooking Rodney Bay from the fort on Pigeon Island

Jeramiah and Friend (both real names) working on the varnish. These guys are GOOD!

St. Vincent & The Grenadines (SVG)...

We ended up skipping over St. Vincent and sailed overnight from Rodney Bay all the way to Bequia in the Grenadines.  We loved the Grenadines and Bequia was a favorite. On approach to Bequia, a "boat boy" started approaching us at high speed, but instead of the usual hustle, he stopped about 200 yards from us and pulled out a camera with an enormous telephoto lens and started snapping photos of us. We were in robust conditions and tired from our overnight sail but we tried to look our best. After settling in at anchor in Admiralty Bay, the photographer Kenmore, came over with a proof and his price sheet.  Normally, I wouldn't have bought into this, but the shots were so good and the conditions so perfect, I had to have them.  I asked if I could purchase the RAW images instead of JPEGs and he agreed.

Here are a few of the many shots he took...

Bequia was a nice mixture of authentic Caribbean, and touristy comfort. It sort of reminded me of the BVIs but with a much more authentic vibe. We rented a car here and toured the island on our own as well as taking some nice hikes.

Sleepy and chilly skipper after sailing overnight

On the hook in Admiralty Bay. This was our second spot as we dragged a bit on our first attempt

View from one of our hikes or drives

Visit from the water barge. The skipper is fishing over the side while we fill our tanks

We anchored right behind the floating bar

The rest of the chain - Canouan, Mayreau, Union, Tobago Cays ...

Each of these islands is unique and incredible in its own way.  There were some we liked more than others but overall, I could spend a lot more time here.

Street scene on Canouan

Looking south to islands still to come

Normal configuration for sailing here - double-reefed main close haul or close reach

Linda looking particularly patriotic
Breakfast in Mayreau with hot sauce from my home town

Anchored in Mayreau. Note the kite boarder in the distance

Tobago Cays Marine Sanctuary

Argon on a mooring in Tobago Cays

Such a monotonous temperature range

Laundry services are scant here.  Doing some emergency laundry in the sink

More chores...  Water run

With Richard and Glenda who we met in Canoua and again in Union island and later in Grenada. They were in the Caribbean after sailing Elemiah across the Atlantic.

The anchorage on the windward side of Union Island behind the reefs

Is there another kind?

Kiteboarding is huge here because of the reefs on the windward side of the islands. You get flat water and high winds

Rented this golf cart from our friend Twig who we first met in Bermuda. He has a house here in Union Island and charters his boat here during the winter and then in Maine in the summer.

Customs office on Union Island

That water

Grenada... the final destination (and the start of the bad stuff)

Upon landing in Carriacou, we officially cleared into customs in Grenada. We enjoyed Carriacou very much - in fact it turned out that we enjoyed it more than Grenada itself.  In particular, we found Anse LaRoche, a tiny bay on the north-west part of the island with room for just a couple of boats. We sat there for a total of five days (on two different visits) and were normally the only ones there.

We have arrived.  Clearing in to Customs in Carriacou Is., Grenada
Putting up the Grenada Flag
One of my local island buddies
Having dinner/drinks onboard our Friends' John and Victoria's boat Jovini
Anse LaRoche from a hiking trail
Anse LaRoche

The Mainland

Grenada itself, is a bit difficult.  The one bay on the Leeward side of the island worth staying in is the Capital of St George.  The holding in this bay is not great and it's normally quite windy there so we were never very comfortable leaving the boat for long.  We did go into Port Louis Marina in St Georges for a few days. Like many places in the Caribbean, the marinas are med-moor style. In this one, you normally tie to mooring balls instead of using your anchor. It was tricky getting in there (especally since they changed their minds at the last second about where they wanted us). While there, someone cut one of the lines holding us forward to the mooring - probably by hitting it with a prop. Not a great marina experience.

Approaching Grenada Mainland on a stormy day. An omen?

Artsy sunset shot from St, Georges Bay

Tied up in busy Port Louis Marina. A/C is on

And another Family Visit

Linda's cousin Jason, wife Trish and daughter Sarafina decided to do a vacation in Carriacou and Grenada in April while we were there so we had a chance to connect with them several times. Our day sail outing consisted of visiting the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park for some interesting snorkeling.

Sarafina taking her first turn at the helm

Post-sail group selfie with the Fam

There are several inlets for anchoring on the south cost of the Island but you need to sail straight upwind into big seas and strong winds to get to them. And since these big seas roll past the inlet openings, they tend to be a bit rolly inside.  Grenada had more of interest on land than on water for us.  We did manage to get one tour in together, but my ability to get ashore to do anything was getting very limited...

The Bad Stuff

This is where things were starting to get bad - the other moldy slice of our sandwich.  It started with a little twinge in my leg a few weeks earlier, but now was full blown, agonizing sciatica. I've had it a few times in my life and usually a few weeks of ibuprofen and stretching and rest and I'm better.  Not this time. The pain was such that I had to adjust my concept of "10" pain upward a bit.  And unlike previous times that I have gotten this, standing and walking didn't relieve it - it only made it worse.  The only thing I could do was lay flat. The few times I managed to get off the boat, I had a pocket full of ibuprofen (and stronger stuff left over from my broken collar bone in 2017).  I was still working the day job but nearly 100% while laying down with my laptop on a pillow on my belly. I was flat on my back for 20+ hours a day. This was particularly not fun because it was 95F inside the boat with a really hot laptop sitting on me.
Linda had to take over everything. And there was getting to be a lot more to do as we were arranging to get Argon hauled out and settled in for the summer. This was the lowest point of the whole journey by far. A great sadness decended over the boat for those last two months with very little relief and my pain was showing no signs of letting up.

I finally reached out to fellow sailor, John Murphy of Core Physical Therapy via skype. He was on vacation himself at the time but did some distance diagnosis over video skype and gave me some homework to do.  At this time, Argon was on the hard and we were living in a rented room at Spice Island Marine Services. My goal was to just get well enough to handle the 6 hour flight home the following week. I did get a little better, but that flight was a pretty miserable experience.

The photos became more sparce becuse I was not really able to get out to shoot much and Linda was in no mood to.  Yes, we were technically in "paradise", but we would have both given anything to be home and comfortable then.

I managed to do one land tour in Grenada (with a pocket full of Ibuprofen).
From the hill above St. Georges.  That's David Geffen's Yacht "Rising Sun" out there

During the invasion, the white government building had an anti-aircraft gun. US forces intended to bomb it, but instead destroyed the building in the distance - a mental hospital. This accounted for most of the fatalities in the invasion.

Our tour guide giving Linda a Real Cocao Pod

Wild but very tame monkeys

Can we keep him?

Near the Chocolate Factory - this is how the slave owners used to live

And this is how the slaves used to live

Linda did one Leatherback Turtle tour without me. They managed to see this "small" one.

Open air market in St Georges
Defunct Cuban aircraft at the old airstrip. It was the building of the new modern airstrip in the south that helped convinnce Reagan that Grenada was going to become a Russian air presence in the Eastern Caribbean.

Pizza night at Secret Cove Marina

Tucked away for the... Summer?

That seems like a strange thing to say for a New England Sailor.  Normally, we're enjoying the wonderful sailing around Boston during our too-short season. Argon is on the hard at Spice Island Marine Services in Grenada - sitting in a Hurricane Cradle. We also charter Argon in Boston and Newport and this year, it's been frustrating to say "no" to so many chartering inquiries.

Haul-out day

Work in Progress

A number of big (and expensive) projects are happening on Argon during the summer:
  • New Bimini and Dinghy Chaps (Tropical Canvas)
  • New Main Sail (Turbulence)
  • Replacing Main Sail track with a Harken Track (Turbulence)
  • Custom Carbon Gooseneck Attachment (Driftwood Yacht Services / Turbulence)
  • Modifying the forward chocks to have a slot opening on the top (Spice Island)
In addition to the above there are several maintenance projects on the docket: bottom painting, varnishing, and outboard servicing.

Getting work done so far away is turning out to be a bit stressful. The folks in Grenada are not the most communicative. As of July, we know that the Main Sail is done, but we've had a terrible time getting status on anything else.  If I'm feeling well enough, I will probably fly back down in August or September to do a little in-person Project Management.

The Stick is down

Closeup of the cosmetic Carbon Damage when the headstay detached

Close up of the Re-Engineered Primary Headstay Attachment Tang

We left one 50w Solar Panel wired in to keep the batteries topped up.

Foil over the port lights

Enough Desiccant to get started.

New canvas Hatch Covers made by Tropical

All Tied down to a Hurricane Cradle

With any luck, my leg and Argon will be ready to resume the trip home starting in November. We really want that trip to be more delicious center and less crusty/moldy bread!

To be continued...