12/08/2012, Red Hook, St. Thomas, USVI
(Alaunt in St. Bart's)
After leaving Antigua we stopped in St. Bart's - one of our favorite islands. We enjoyed a Cheeseburger in Paradise at Le Select and motored around from Gustavia the next day to pick up a mooring in Colombier. Thanksgiving dinner was spaghetti, but we didn't care as the snorkeling was superb and the bay calm and beautiful.
St. Martin was only a day sail away as we topped off our diesel and listened to the weather report. Wouldn't you know it! The wind died and eventually switched to the northwest - right on our nose for the Anegada Passage! We were looking forward to a downwind sail. Oh well. We motor sailed all night and ended up at Soper's Hole, Tortola the following night. Harry wanted to go to Foxy's so we made a side trip to Jost Van Dyke and spent some time with Tessa, Foxy's wife (Foxy was in Anguilla). After clearing customs and immigration in St. John, we sailed into Red Hook the afternoon of November 25. We took Harry on a harbor tour and ended up at Latitude 18 for drinks. The new Latitude 18 (Jillian and Megan) is great with a new kitchen, paint and furniture.
It's good to be home! We are enjoying the company of our friends and are looking forward to the next adventure. We're taking a break from chartering and will let you know when we will be posting new blogs.
11/22/2012, English Harbour, Antigua
(Carol standing next to the pillars that used to hold up the old sail loft)
As Antigua was to weather (against the wind) on our sail down island, we were happy that we could sail there on our return trip. Falmouth and English Harbours are rich in history and the grounds of Nelson's Dockyard, now managed by the National Parks Authority, are absolutely gorgeous and meticulously kept. Here is an excerpt from the "Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands" by Chris Doyle:
"In the old days it was hard to find secure ports that were easily defensible, with immediate access to the trade winds, yet protected enough to careen a ship and be safe in a hurricane. Falmouth Harbour and English Harbour sit side by side, almost touching at the closest point, and they meet all these requirements. Their potential was recognized as early as 1723 and work was begun on the English Harbour Dockyard. It was completed much as it stands today in around 1745 and was Britain's main naval station in the Lesser Antilles. Nelson was stationed here in 1784 under Sir Richard Hughes, who had recently blinded himself in one eye while chasing a cockroach with a fork. Nelson eventually took over as naval commander. He did not enjoy Antigua and did not get on well with Governor General Shirley or the plantocracy, who resented the boring way in which Nelson insisted on enforcing the Navigation Act. This meant he kept the port closed to trade for all but British ships. Nonetheless, the dockyard is now generally known as Nelson's dockyard in deference to Britain's favorite hero."
We're in St. Barts for Thanksgiving and plan on sailing back to St. Thomas by the weekend. Have a great Thanksgiving!
(Harry and his first tuna)
Denney was a hard act to follow, but Harry hooked up his first tuna of the trip between Carriacou and Union Island. It was about 6 pounds and we had tuna for lunch and dinner. Then as we were sailing from Bequia to St. Lucia, a huge fish took the lure. Harry was reeling in a 30 pound tuna when we saw another fish following it. By the time the tuna got to the boat, there was only his head left. A shark had eaten the rest of the fish! That's OK, as Harry brought in a small mahi mahi and another tuna for dinner. We took a mooring right next to Petite Piton, St. Lucia, and enjoyed a tasty dinner and another gorgeous sunset.
(Ron, Carol and Harry at the Grenada Yacht Club)
Our good friend Harry Eggert arrived on November 4 from Canada to sail back with us to St. Thomas. After his arrival party, we began provisioning and preparing Alaunt for our trip. We spent a two more days in Mount Hartman, including a dinghy tour of Clarkes Court Bay, Le Phare Blue Marina and a couple of swims at Hog Island.
The same locals who sold us the lobsters before came by and we bought two huge lobsters for Harry. What a feast!
On November 7 we brought Alaunt to the fuel dock at Secret Harbour and topped off our water and gasoline. We motor sailed around to St. Georges where we spent two very rolly nights on a mooring off town. We went to the Spice Market, Open Market, Fish Market, marine store and our last grocery provisioning and we're ready to go sailing. On Thursday we caught up to Mike and Mandi Block of "Parrot Tales" for lunch at the Grenada Yacht Club. They had a mooring next to us in Red Hook and were preparing their boat to sail to St. Martin for the season.
I'll try to post blogs along the way, but don't know how reliable the WIFI connections will be.
(Alaunt in the Travel Lift - note gold waterline stripe)
We motored around the point from Mount Hartman to Prickly Bay a couple of days before so we could prepare Alaunt for the haul out. It was so weird to be under way as we haven't been sailing or motoring since August 20th! I needed my sea legs back. The excellent staff of Spice Island Marine Services lifted Alaunt out of the water with their Travel Lift and then transferred us to a hydraulic sled so they could back us into a very tight spot only three feet from the next boat.
(Ron in the bilge)
Ron describes the haul out: "It was an intense and grueling week in the yard. I paid the yard to prep and paint the bottom but I had to do the repairs to the stuffing box, replace a couple of through hulls, prep and paint the boot stripe (waterline) myself. I had to be at the yard at 7:00 am while it was still a bit cool. In order to work on the stuffing box, I had to remove all the batteries, the battery box, all floor boards, the propeller, the main and intermediate drive shafts and the stuffing box itself. Most of the work is upside down with my head in the bilge...I had to make a wrench extension with duct tape and a dowel for Carol to hold a nut for me...no way we both would fit down there. Anyway, it all worked and now it is rewarding.
The gold waterline stripe was scratched and beat up. I couldn't get any gold Awlgrip paint or other good marine paint (all I could find was gold hobby paint), so I decided to use the same off white we use on the decks and cabin tops. I think it looks great...may have to clean it more often, but we did the paint and prep for $200 to $250 US less. We had to set up (and move three times) scaffolding all around the boat, tape the boot stripe, scrub with cleanser, rinse, clean with solvent, sand all around, remove tape (now all beat up) and re-tape, paint with first coat, sand, wipe down with solvent, and paint second coat, remove tape, and unfortunately in some areas where the tape left sticky residue, clean with more solvent. Twelve times around the boat @ 53 feet = 636 feet."
In the middle of all this, Carol had to go to town for an extension of our Passports and another month's Cruising Permit as they had expired. When the mechanic brought the stuffing box back, Ron asked him what to use to seal the bronze threads between the stuffing box and shaft log. The mechanic suggested 5200 (a permanent sealant). Ron hesitated and observed that he would never be able to take it apart again. The mechanic said, "Do you think you're ever going to do this again in your life time?" Ron used the 5200.
After Ron finished the waterline, we had to put the shaft, propeller, stuffing box, battery box, batteries, etc. etc. back into the bilge of the boat. We had power! I cleaned up and made up beds and put cushions back. We're almost done!!!