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Sailing Gromit
Island of St. Maarten, Dutch Side
25//04/2015, Simpson Baai

We spent a week at Isle de Caprit in order to recover from our passage.

From there, we did a day-sail to the top of Guadeloupe. There we had lunch with a French family we met in Huahine. It was quick visit, but they will be travelling in Canada this summer, so have promised to come by and visit us at our home. It was lovely to see them again!

From Guadeloupe, we did another day hop, 40 miles to Jolly Harbour, Antigua. The Salty Gingers know the Caribbean really well and have taken us to the most amazing places. Jolly Harbour had the most beautiful blue-turquoise water. It was such a pleasure to be in such a fantastic anchorage.

The Gromits and Salty Ginger kids have been having a blast together. Laughter, giggles, dancing and singing.......Zoe, Maia, Liam, Alex and Amelia - age range - 12-18......a gaggle of teenagers. They are such a vibrant and fun group. Sadly, few days ago, Alex flew home to work for the summer before his first year of university. We are all sad, especially Liam - the two of them were great buds.
We had a great good-bye BBQ dinner at a lovely beach the night before he left. As usual, we ate like kings and queens!

Now, we are anchored in Simpson Baai, on the Dutch side of St. Maarten, after a 90 mile overnight passage from Antigua. We'll be here a few days until we get our defective battery charger figured out. It was only aobut 5 months old and it quit.

We are so fortunate to be sailing with Salty Ginger. They are a fantastic sailing family full of fun and sunshine! What a fantastic way to finish our circumnavigation! Now if we could also meet up with Peggy and David on s/v Rhythm and Jenny and Randy on s/v Mystic, that would be the icing on the cake! Both boats will be near the next stop we make in the British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands. We are crossing our fingers that our paths cross.
Check out the Salty Ginger blog at: saltyginger.blogspot.com

We have no internet on board so, Michael and I are at Pizza Hut using their wifi.
Still hoping to post some pictures........soon.......

26//04/2015 | MILLARD SMITH
Can't wait for you to return to the Chesapeake. We will have to come visit you. Liquid Therapy. And, yes I will bring the Huahine uke and play a tune.
Welcome
18//04/2015, Isle de Cabrit, Guadeloupe

Balloons, friends and a big welcome sign! What else could one wish for!!!!!

Arrived in the Caribbean!!!
18//04/2015, Isle de Cabrit, Guadeloupe

Graham, Julie, Alex, Amelia come to greet us as we enter the bay at Isle de Cabrit.


Well, we arrived at Isle de Cabrit, Isles des Saintes, Gudadeloupe, on the morning of Saturday, April 11, Day 31, at the beginning of Day 32. As we came around the top of the island, we saw a whale in the distance and then he made his way toward us and passed just behind Gromit. What excitement! How fortuitous! And that was just the beginning of the excitement! We were only minutes away from the anchorage and when we turned the corner of the island, out came the Salty Gingers (their boat is called Salty Ginger): Julie, Graham, Alex and Amelia!

As we approached the moorings, we saw that they had a huge sign (it was a shower curtain) with the words: WE LOVE YOU GROMIT,
TOUR DE MONDE written on it with duct tape and they had a gaggle of brightly coloured
balloons all bouncing happily on their front deck. We were so excited and thrilled!!!

They all came out to greet us in their dinghy, with the biggest
smiles and such excitement. We too were all smiles to see them and to be finished with this
epic passage: 4059 nautical miles.

As soon as we were secure on our mooring, our guys jumped into the water with their guys and there was boundless joy and energy emanating from the flotilla of kids, reunited after many, many years. When Graham and Julie stepped aboard Gromit the tears of release and joy flowed........

It is sooooo good to be here. No noise, no steering, no whooshing water, no flapping and no twapping of rigging, just gentle rocking, quiet and great nights of sleep!

We'll be here until Friday (Apr. 17) and then head north to the main island of Guadeloupe to meet friends, a French family, who we got to know in Huahine, French Polynesia, the year we lived there. Then to Antiqua, St. Maarten, British Virgin Islands and beyond; route unknown as of yet. We'll probably end up jumping off for the States from the top of the Bahamas, but that won't be until some time in June.

As soon as possible, ie good internet, I'll post some pictures.





Correction to my last post. Our steering went when we had about 700 miles to go, not 500 miles.

20//04/2015 | Catherine
Congratulations on reaching the Caribbean, have you crossed your outbound route yet? It is very special to have such good cruising friends with you to finish your trip. I have been following your blog (and that of Salty Ginger) since you were in Panama, and always enjoyed reading about your adventures. Enjoy your sail North.
The Epic Passage, Day 31
10//04/2015, Less than 100 miles from Guadeloupe

When the goal is within reach, time slows to a crawl. These last 250 miles have been painful. Not only are we hand steering still, on 1 hour shifts, but there have been squalls, high winds, 1.9m swells and confused seas. Yah, it's all in a days sail, but after 31 days, we are tired, really tired and just want some smooth sailing!

Here is some of what's been going on with us over the last two weeks at sea:

At about 500 miles from Guadeloupe, our wind vane (mechanical steering contraption that uses the wind to steer as opposed to power from our batteries like our auto-pilot does) go so clogged with sargasso seaweed that it was rendered it inoperable. Sargasso is a seaweed that floats in huge patches and long ribbons-like strips for thousands of miles. Daily, sometime twice, we would heave-to (take down sails to stop the forward our forward motion) to pull off the weeds, only to find that the clear blue sea has more weeds just down the next mile. We were then sailing using only our beloved and trusted autopilot. But Auto decided that he wasn't so happy about this as his workload went up, so he started groaning. We shut him of and began hand-steering and it is a pain in the......

Luckily, at that point, we had only about 5 more days to go, but even 5 days of hand steering could have driven us to distraction! All 5 of us were (and still are) taking turns steering so it shares the 'fun'! In the end, after all hope of using the vane again and accepting that the sargasso was with us until the end, we flipped our vane up out of the water. It was both frustrating and sad because if not for the sargasso, we could have used the vane and not been hand steering for all these days.

It amazes me though, how adaptable we are. At first, it seemed like our whole routine was thrown into a washing machine. Soon enough, we got in the groove of steering and it became almost normal - that is a bit of a stretch to say that, but it became our day-to-day, so not so awkward feeling. This certainly made us appreciate what we had and how easy we had it. A bit of a wakeup call I'd say. It's good to have the odd wakeup call now and again just to remind us that we should appreciate all the good things in our lives.

LIAM'S DISCO BOY

So many days of trailing lines with no success, drove Liam to build the ultimate lure. Here's the story, in his words:

We had traveled for 10 days and caught only 1 small Mahi Mahi. I was severely annoyed because I knew that there are lots of fish in the ocean and my lures taste great. When it had gotten to day 10 and I still hadn't caught another fish, I decided to make a super high-tech, indestructible lure. My lure is.........a Colgate toothpaste tube. Ha ha!!!

First, I took my Colgate tube and cut the body into thin tentacle like strips leaving the head and shoulders intact. Next, I took red potato chip bags, that had a silver, shiny lining and cut them into strips like tentacles. I put two giant sinkers inside, attached a juicy hook to my trusty 240 pound test line. "Hey, Liam, said Zoe, "that looks like a disco ball." Dad chimed in, "it's Dicso Boy!" and that's how this lure came to be named! I hurled this fine specimen overboard.

Not long after, we pulled in a 25 pound Mahi Mahi! Yum! Our favourite fish! In all, we caught 7 Mahi Mahi, 4 of which were on Disco Boy. I'll post a picture on the blog, when I have internet. The second half of this passage has been much better for fishing.

SQUALL

Remember the golden rule in sailing: REEF EARLY!!!!!

Michael saw it coming, but underestimated its force. I came fast and it came strong. I was in the v-berth (at the bow of the boat) when I heard a snap and was thrown sideways as Gromit lurched. I tore into the cockpit. Michael was at the wheel, Zoe had gone to the aft deck to lock out the windvave and I flew to the jib furling winch. Liam was ready at the main winch port side to release the jib sheet (nautical work for line/rope) and I winched as fast as I could to get that baby in! What a team! The squall raged for about 10 minutes and pelted us with rain that felt like pebbles. As the winds eased, we set up some buckets to collect water and ended up having spontaneous fresh water showers. We lathered Liam up in the cockpit and then he went to the aft to rinse where the mizzen sail cover was spilling buckets of water. Gotta love the lemonade from those lemons!!! :

Here is the continuation of Michael's 80 character 'fish bytes' - 'the second half':

2015/03/29 Day19AbundanceOfSargassoWeedHoveToToRemoveWeedFromWindVaneLiteCurrentAssist

2015/03/30 D20EncoreBushelsOfWeedinWindVaneMuchFamilyChatTodayReNearLandLifeOnly120DAway

2015/03/31 D21AnyoneSpent30DaysWithTheirFamilyInARolly500SqFtApartmentWithNoOptionToLeave?

2015/04/02 Day22TodayBeatsArePreviousRecordOfLngestTimeAtSeaOf21DaysBeamReachSinceEquator

2015/04/02 D23LastNightHadAnnoyingGustsTempCoolerAtNightAgainEveryoneStillTalking

2015/04/04 Day24BoatCoveredInFineRedDustOnWindwardSideWindsFromESESaharaDessert?

2015/04/04 D25ItOnlyTook4Days4ForAstonautsToTravel1WayToTheMoon860MilesToGo 1.5Kn+Current

2015/04/05 D26AutopilotElecHydraulicPumpNotWellWindVaneOutCuzOfWeedsHandSteering717Miles2Go

2015/04/06 D27Doing1HrHandSteeringShiftsRoundTheClockIslandsOfWeedRainLastNite598Miles2Go

2015/04/07 Day28WhileHandSteeringAt3amItWasDiscoveredThatYouCanBreathThroughAPretzelStick

2015/04/08 D29AvgOceanSwell1.6MeterAvgPeriod6SecTotalYoYoDistanceTravelledIn32DaysIs1475Km

2015/04/09 D30ThisMonthsCreditCardStatementAmountDue$0.00 Squalls2mSwell15-22KnotsHandSteer

So, that's where we're at!

Now less than 100 miles to go! ETA: early morning, Saturday, April 11, 2015. How excited are we!!!???? And, more excited because we are going to see our good friends aboard s/v Salty Ginger!

Way back when we started this whole idea of sailing away, Michael and I took a lot of courses through the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron. At one of these courses, we met a family; Graham, Julie, Alex and Amelia (Alex and Amelia are around the same age as Maia and Zoe) with the same dream as us. They had only a little sailing experience and no boat - just like us! We became fast friends. Whenever we could, we'd get together on weekends, either at their place in Toronto, or ours in Loretto and talk sailing. Our motto was: Sail the World Together!

We bought Gromit in North Carolina and brought him home. They bought their boat - Artemo - in the Caribbean. Eventually, we met in Panama in 2010, traversed the canal together and sailed the Pacific Ocean side by side to French Polynesia. We spent a year in French Polynesia, while Artemo continued on through the Pacific to New Zealand to wait out hurricane season. The plan was to meet in Fiji or near there and continue our: Sail the World Together. I didn't happen! The Artemo crew sold their boat in New Zealand and went home! We were shocked and felt sad that we wouldn't be sailing together any more. But that has changed!

A few years later, they bought a new boat in France, named it s/v Salty Ginger and sailed it to the Caribbean. They are in Guadeloupe now awaiting our arrival. We plan to sail to Chesapeake Bay in the United States together. We are so excited to see them again and to be sailing together as we finish our epic journey this June/July.

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