04/28/2016, St. David's Bay, Grenada
It has taken us 3 long months but the extensive retrofit is finally complete...almost. I still a few little odds and ends to finish but for all intent and purpose, it is now behind us. Yea! Leu Cat is once again a fully functioning cruising sailboat, fully self-sufficient and fully sea worthy. What a great feeling it is.
This morning I left La Sagesse Hotel for the last time. I wanted to get to the boat before Mary Margaret so I could clean things up a bit. In doing the various jobs that I had worked on for the last two weeks I made quite a mess inside and out of Leu Cat and I did not wish for Mary Margaret to have to deal with my messes. By noon things were picked up, most of the dust and debris that had accumulated on board Leu Cat during our two weeks on the hard had been cleaned up and the boat was a bit more presentable. When Mary Margaret arrived, we both had big smiles on our faces and the first thing she said really captured our feelings: "It is so nice to be home again!"
After paying our bill (more on that in a later post) we were lifted up by the travel lift and carried to the water's edge. Before easing us back into the sea, the painters add a primer and then a couple quick coats of paint to the bottom of the two keels. The boat had been resting on her keels on top of two beams of wood during her stay on the hard so the keel bottoms could not be painted until now.
After waiting a couple of hours, watching paint dry, we were finally returned to the water. Once in the water both the engine mechanic and I thoroughly inspected all the thru-hulls that were worked on to make sure that they were water tight. Once we determined that everything was water tight, we were launched and motored the short distance to a mooring ball. We will be staying tonight and tomorrow on a mooring here while I re-test the various systems we replaced or repaired. I don't want to leave Grenada Marine without knowing that everything is working as it should.
We are now looking forward to "playing" and exploring the various islands here in the West Indies for the next 6 months. We wish to give everything on the boat a good test before we cross the North Atlantic next May on our way to the Atlantic side of Spain and Portugal and then into the Mediterranean.
This should also make for a much more interesting blog. I am sure anyone who has been reading my diatribe is very tired of the moaning, groaning and details of a major retrofit. I promise in the next week or so, when we start heading north, the blog will be much more adventuresome!
04/27/2016, La Sagesse Hotel, Near Grenada Marine, Grenada
It was another sauna day on board Leu Cat. I was not a very pretty sight, dripping with sweat, while working hard to get the boat ready to launch tomorrow. Yesterday, the extended cable to our remote which controls the battery charger/inverter was delivered. I had been pestering the electricians to have them make this cable for almost two weeks now. Each time I would talk to them, they would tell me that they would make it and deliver it "that day". Apparently, "that day" was yesterday. Now armed with the cable, I spent this morning snaking the cable from the little area that runs under the stern transom, through the port engine room, through a bulkhead, under the guest suite bed, through the upper reaches of the bilge, up a tight space next to the stairs that climb up into the salon, and finally into the control panel area where the new remote is now located. In addition to running the cable, I had to use cable ties to secure the line and keep it from chafing while we sail. I swear I lost 10 pounds just from the sweat I lost. It was not fun.
Once that was done, I finished the touchup painting of our port side windows and stuck on the flag stickers of the five countries we have lately sailed to (Namibia, St. Helens and Ascension Island, Brazil, Grenada and Trinidad & Tobago. I included Brazil even though we did not officially clear in during our crossing of the South Atlantic last November. We had stopped in the shallows off a Fernando de Noronha, an island that is part of Brazil, to replace a lazy jack line that had failed. I had to go up the mast a bit to do that and we sat behind the island to get protection from the swells. Ok, I know that it is a stretch to include Brazil because we never walked on shore but we were so close and were definitely in Brazilian waters...
When I was picked up at the boatyard to return back to La Sagesse Hotel this afternoon, the boatyard workers were touching up the last of the bottom paint. There is only one item that is questionable regarding being ready by launch time tomorrow afternoon. The engine mechanic who worked on resealing a water seal to our dinghy's outboard engine had disappeared and the lower housing of the engine was not with the welders to be fixed. No one at the boatyard knew where the mechanic was nor could they find the part. Even if the part is not fixed by launching time, we will go ahead and launch without the dinghy and its engine. We will be staying in the bay in front of the boatyard until Saturday so this gives them time to finish the engine repair and motor the dinghy and its repaired outboard engine out to us.
When I returned to La Sagesse Hotel, Mary Margaret and I took our computer to the hotel's beach bar area and fired up Skype. We then called the Medicare hotline to get help in having Mary Margaret apply for Medicare. Their online application process was not recognizing her. After waiting 30 minutes on hold, we were finally told that she would have to come into a Social Security Administration office to get things straightened out. Since we live on our boat and there is no local SSA office here, we will have to sail over to Barbados and go the US Embassy there. We have always wanted to sail to Barbados and explore that historic island so now we have another reason to do so.
We ended our long day but having dinner with two couples that Mary Margaret has been swimming with. Daniel and Sondra are a young couple from Frankfurt, Germany and Lorenzo and Julia, with their cute baby girl, Mia are Italian but have been living in the London area for the last 6 years.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time with them and over dinner they each shared information regarding places to visit while in the Med and villas to stay at while in Italy. We are very excited and appreciative to have this information.
After a wonderful dinner which ended with a bowl of banana flambé, we said our goodnights and I said goodbye. Mary Margaret will be coming to the boatyard after her morning bay swim with them tomorrow so she will say goodbye to them at that time.
04/26/2016, La Sagesse Hotel, Near Grenada Marine, Grenada
By the end of this afternoon I had to make a decision regarding returning Leu Cat to the water. After reviewing the progress on the last critical items which were the removal of the rudders and the repair of their respective lower bushings, I decided to wait until Thursday. I shallowed my ego (which can be very large at times), admitted defeat in meeting our two week haul out schedule and added one more day to be on the hard. While, in all likelihood, we may be have been to able get Leu Cat back into the water late tomorrow afternoon, that would leave no room for any hiccups that may have happened tomorrow. If one occurred, then we would have to spend the night on Leu Cat still on the hard.
While many cruisers spend their entire haul out time on their boats, it is not our cup of tea. We enjoy the comforts of our offsite housing each time we haul out. By delaying our end of the haul out period by a day, I take off the pressure to force the contractors to rush through their remaining chores and risk sloppy work that could come back and bite us.
Today, Mike took me into St George's and dropped me off at the FedEx store. Here I was able to receive the new Visa card that was sent. I then took one of the local jitneys back to the boatyard. The cost of the jitney was only $3.5 EC or about $1.30 US. This is compared to about $50 EC for a taxi.
While I was at the boatyard, Mary Margaret once again enjoyed her group swim and afterwards, was able to say goodbye to Laird, who returned to New York City. Before she left, she told Mary Margaret that she checked out our blog by Googling "Mary Margaret sail blog". How cool is that!
Mary Margaret also got to know Lorenzo and Julia who arrived at La Sagesse Hotel a couple of days ago from Britain. They have a little eleven month old baby, Mia. In fact, shortly after I returned from the boatyard, they stopped by and dropped Mia off at our room. Mary Margaret had offered to babysit to allow them some precious time together on the beach. Mia was a very well-mannered baby and the time she spent with us gave Mary Margaret her "grandma" fix for the next few months. They both loved it!
We will be having dinner with Lorenzo, Julia and Mia tomorrow night so I will have a better chance to get to know them.
04/25/2016, La Sagesse Hotel, Near Grenada Marine, Grenada
The progress on the retrofit continues, albeit slowly. The port saildrive work is done, as is that engines annual maintenance. The starboard saildrive is out and its work should be completed tomorrow. The primer paint on the hulls is on and tomorrow the two coats of new paint should be applied. The mechanical guys finally showed up and inspected the rudder cable and determined that it was fine. They will grease the sockets behind the steering wheel but suspect the squealing noise we hear is tied in with the loss bushings of the two rudders. They also inspected the bushings on the rudders and found them to both be loose. Of course they need to drop both rudders to fix the bushing and this could be a slight issue. The rudders are too close to the ground to be removed so either a hole needs to be dug under each rudder or the boat needs to be lifted to remove them. I have been told the owner of the yard does not like holes being dug so I am anticipating that we will need to lift the boat. Ugh!
I worked on prepping the port windows which need to be repainted. This required sanding off the old paint, taping around each window and then applying the first coat. Tomorrow I will lightly sand the first coat and apply a second one.
It was another scorcher of a day and by the time I was through with the various things that I worked on, I was again sopping wet and exhausted. A cool shower when I returned to the hotel felt so nice.
Mary Margaret and I had dinner with Laird, who will be leaving to return to New York City, tomorrow. Mike, the owner of the hotel joined us, as did an old friend of his, Ian. Ian is also a sailor and has returned to Grenada, where his boat is on the hard. We enjoyed our dinner and conversations with everyone. Mike had shared with me that FedEx had called to say that my package from our Visa company had arrived. He offered to drive me into St. George's tomorrow since he has a number of errands to run before he returns to the States on Wednesday. I will take a jitney back to the boatyard once I pick up my permanent Visa Card at FedEx.
On a downside, when on the boat, I discovered that the contractor, who worked on our watermaker last week, knocked the electrical plug to our portable freezer out while testing the watermaker. The various meats we had frozen were all thawed and partially warm. It was a total loss. Grrrr! Not much we can do about it except to grin and bear it. Mary Margaret (along with me) was not a happy camper. We will now have to restock with chicken breasts, steaks and ribs before we leave Grenada. There is an IGA in St George's that stocks good meats and we are not sure when we will reach another good Supermarket once we leaving Grenada.
04/24/2016, La Sagesse Hotel, Near Grenada Marine, Grenada
All good things must come to an end and tonight was our farewell dinner to our group swimming friends. Five of them are leaving tomorrow. While they do not leave until tomorrow afternoon and will be able to get one more group swim in together, I will miss it because I leave before the daily swim to work on Leu Cat. Thus, tonight was to be the last opportunity for me to say goodbye.
The picture attached to this blog captures the group with (starting from the left) Steve and Lou (from near Brighton, England), Laird (from New York City), Joe and Marian (from Toronto, Canada) and, of course, Mary Margaret. The photo is missing Ed, Laird's husband, who had to return to New York City this morning to play in a gig on Tuesday. He is a well know jazz guitarist that many of you may be familiar with (Ed Cherry). He played with Dizzy Gillespie from 1978 to shortly before Gillespie's death in 1993.
Laird has been coming to La Sagesse Hotel each year since around 1990 and has watched it changed to what it is now. Joe and Marian also have a long history with this hotel and have returned 8 and 7 times respectively.
We had a wonderful time over dinner and desert, discussing a wide range of topics from this group with such a diverse set of backgrounds. It was most enjoyable listening to everyone's views and experiences and sharing our own. We will miss them all.
While this group will be breaking up after tomorrow's swim, a new group is already forming with the addition of new guests that arrive. A young couple, whose names I do not yet know, will be joining the swim tomorrow and along with Mary Margaret. They will continue the swimming legacy that Mike, the owner of the hotel, directs. It is a unique and great way for the guests to mingle and get to know one and other.
04/23/2016, La Sagesse Hotel, Near Grenada Marine, Grenada
Each morning Mary Margaret and many of the other guests staying at the La Sagesse Hotel join its owner, Mike, in swimming around La Sagesse Bay. I usually miss this activity because the swim is between 0900 and 1000 and I leave for the boatyard around 0830. However, with it being Saturday and the boatyard being closed for the weekend, I got to join in today.
It is a leisurely swim with many just doing a casual breaststroke, backstroke or sidestroke. Sometimes someone powers up and does the crawl for a while but if they do that for too long, they are way out in front of the group and usually they then tread water, waiting for the group to catch up.
As you can imagine, the group travels slow, enjoying the many conversions that takes place. It is a unique, but great way to get to meet and know the other guests as well as the owner.
The swim is rather short, being only about a mile in length and in a little over a half of an hour, we are back at the beach, in front of the hotel. It is a nice way to start the day.
04/22/2016, La Sagesse Hotel, Near Grenada Marine, Grenada
As today's blog title suggests today was a slow day in regarding to work being done on Leu Cat. You could tell today was Friday as it seemed like the all of boatyard workers were slowing down in anticipation of the upcoming weekend. The boatyard closes down for the weekend and it seemed to me that the various workers were saving their energy for their time off.
Only a couple of contractors came to the boat, despite my best efforts to keep the remaining project moving along. However, I really cannot complain as there has been a lot of work done in just the short time we have been on the hard. We are so lucky that we came to Grenada Marine to have our retrofit completed. Having all of the contractors onsite makes it so much easier to manage to all of them and to get them to the boat.
Retrofitting a boat is like remodeling a house. It is a complex endeavor which takes a bit of planning and scheduling and whip cracking to keeps things moving along. Some of the work cannot begin until one or more of the contractors are finished. Thus, if one contractor is delayed in coming, the tasks that follow are also delayed.
Right now we are sitting on a razor's edge regarding meeting our schedule to be returned to the water by this coming Wednesday. While the engine mechanic is working on the saildrives and the engines, we are still waiting on the mechanical people to return to Leu Cat to complete their tasks. Specifically, we need them to drop the starboard rudder and inspect and most like replace a bushing on that rudder's stock. They also need to inspect our steering cable and address whatever is giving us a little squeaking noise at the steering wheel. Plus, they need to install the new grounding shoe that is on the outside of the port hull. These are now the critical path projects and this work will not begin until Monday, if we are lucky.
Our paint for the hull has arrived and we are scheduled to start the bottom painting on Monday. If the rudder is not addressed on Monday morning, this may delay the start of the painting because it too needs to be painted. We shall see... Keep your fingers crossed for us.