LeuCat Adventures

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30 June 2016
30 June 2016 | Bat Cave, Soufriere Town, St. Lucia
29 June 2016 | Bridgetown Yacht Club Mooring Field, Barbados
28 June 2016 | Barbados Yacht CLub Mooring Field, Barbados
27 June 2016 | Barbados Yacht CLub Mooring Field, Barbados
26 June 2016 | Barbados Yacht CLub Mooring Field, Barbados
25 June 2016 | Barbados Yacht CLub Mooring Field, Barbados
24 June 2016
24 June 2016
24 June 2016
24 June 2016
24 June 2016
24 June 2016
24 June 2016
24 June 2016
24 June 2016
24 June 2016
24 June 2016 | Barbados Yacht CLub Mooring Field, Barbados
23 June 2016 | Barbados Yacht CLub Mooring Field, Barbados
23 June 2016 | Barbados Yacht CLub Mooring Field, Barbados

The Storm!

30 June 2016
This was one kick-ass squall. You can see it as we are approaching the SE corner of St. Leu Cat. I had hoped to tuck in under the protection of the island's leeward side behind this nasty thing struck. Alas, it was not to be...

Year 9 Day 152 Soufriere Town, St. Lucia

30 June 2016 | Bat Cave, Soufriere Town, St. Lucia
Dave/ Mixed Sun With Rain

Through the dark early morning hours we continued our 100nm sail from Barbados to St. Lucia. We took turns with 3 hour watches. When I came on to start my 0500 hour watch, the dawn was breaking while the seas and the winds continued to behave themselves.

We sail our night watches with a reef in the main just in case a sneaky squall comes around in the middle of the night. It is a pain to properly throw in a reef in the dark so we just automatically put it in each evening. A reef in the main slows us down some but offers us peace of mind.

With first light, and the skies looking good, I shook out the reef in the main and raised it to the top of the mast. That upped our speed by about ¾ of knot and now we were making over 7 knots with 13 knots of apparent wind. Whoo Hoo!

By 0600 I noticed that the skies were thickening behind us. A quick check with the radar showed that a nasty squall was forming and running for us. Damn!

By now we were approaching the SE corner of St. Lucia. I was thinking that I could tuck in behind the island before we were hit by the squall. St. Lucia is a volcanic island and its mountains would offer us protection from the worst of the winds that typically come with a major squall. Thus, I was faced with a quandary: do I turn the boat into the winds to put a reef in the sails or do I keep the main up and race the squall to the backside of the island. I knew if I took the time and effort to put in the reef, we would surely be mauled by the squall. However, if I did not reef and the squall reached us, we would be over canvased and the higher winds would put a strain on the rigging. Ugh…what should I do?


A wise sailor would turn the boat and put in a reef. That was the safest (and smartest) thing to do. However, I was feeling a bit frisky this morning and decided to see if I could reach the shelter of the leeward side of St. Lucia before the storm hit.

That was a mistake!
Just as we were approaching the southern side of St. Lucia the storm struck with vengeance. It was like someone opened up a zipper in the clouds as buckets of water just poured out the skies all at once and the fierce winds stuck. This was one of the worst squalls I have seen. While we in been in many squalls with higher winds, none of them struck us like a fist in the face before.

With so much sail up and the strong force of the wind, which instantly went from 15 knots to 35 knots, I could not maintain our course. I had to just sail to where winds wanted to take us. Even when I turned on both engines and powered them up, I could not maintain our preferred westerly heading. Fortunately, we were still 4 nm to the south of the island, which gave us enough room to keep out of trouble. However, by the time I could turn the boat back to its westerly heading, we were only 1.25 miles from shore. I was about to turn the boat into the wind just to stop heading for the shoals that were just a mile ahead of us when I was able to get the boat back under control and sail in the direction I wanted to. Whew!

Now, in no time were we in any danger. There are a number of options I had to choose from to prevent anything dangerous from happening. These included heaving to, heading into the wind and putting some reefs in, waking up Mary Margaret and having her help control the boat, etc., etc., etc. However, I was nice and dry in our covered helm and wanted to stay that way. Plus, during the worst of the storm I wanted to sail to windward and, by doing so, keep the apparent wind speed to a minimum. Keeping the apparent wind speed down reduces the strain on the rigging. Thus, while we had 35 to 40 knots of true wind speed for about 15 minutes, we only had 25 to 30 knots of apparent wind since I was running with the wind and making 12 knots.

Therefore, I just let the storm take us to where she wanted to before blowing past us enough to allow me to steer back to the west. However, I must admit, it was one hell of a ride while it lasted!

As it turned out, there was a second squall behind the first one but we were able to tuck in behind St. Lucia before that one hit. Protected by the mountains, we mostly had just heavy rain.

By the time we were approaching Soufriere Town the skies were clearing and we were able to grab a mooring ball in the Marine Park next to the sheer walls of the plunging cliffs and where the bat cave is located. This should be a great place to explore for the next few days.

The scenery is spectacular with one of the Pitons rising straight out of the water. The water is crystal clear. The volcano and the mountains and cliffs are lush with a deep green jungle carpeting everything. I will post pictures so you can see for yourself.

Year 9 Day 151 And We’re Off

29 June 2016 | Bridgetown Yacht Club Mooring Field, Barbados
Dave/Mostly Sunny

Sometimes, it is just best to sit tight and not rush off. This was Mary Margaret’s suggestion yesterday evening when the starboard engine would not start right away. I had figured out that the reason was that the starter battery voltage was down and by switching starter batteries, the engine would turn off and start. Thus, if we wanted to, we could have left Barbados for St. Lucia but I would not have figured out what was causing the problem. Mary Margaret’s suggestion was a good one because we have a good electrician here in Barbados if we needed him. Her suggestion also gave me the night and early morning to think about what could be causing the problem.

Early this morning, armed with my multi-meter, I started testing the various electrical lines and connections and decided that the starboard battery was down in voltage because it was not charging well when the generator was on and charging my batteries. I believe the problem is with the isolation switch that I can turn on to isolate that battery. I believe it is faulty.

I also thought about the engine and am suspecting that I might have a corroded wire where the leads connect to the starter motor. That or the starter motor is starting to fail. I am no expert on starter motors so I will need to turn to a mechanic if the leads to connect the start motor look fine.

I have decided to deal with all of this when we do reach St. Lucia since there is an Island Water World chandlery in Rodney Bay and I can get most things readily there. Thus, this evening we tossed off the mooring lines and said goodbye to Barbados. We really enjoyed our stay here and met the warmest and kindest people here. It was hard to leave.

The winds were great, 15 to 20 knots blowing to the west. Since we were sailing in a westerly direction, we had a lovely downwind sail. The stars came out, the seas were moderate and we were making 6.5 knots with about 11 knots of apparent wind.

We expect to arrive in Soufriere Town, St. Lucia around mid to late morning if this keeps up.

Year 9 Day 150 Oh, So Close!

28 June 2016 | Barbados Yacht CLub Mooring Field, Barbados
Dave/Mostly Sunny

This morning I took the dinghy and motored across Carlisle Bay and over to the Deep Water Harbor. This is where the big cargo ships and passenger cruise ships come into to port and dock. It is also where the Harbor Master, Customs and Immigrations are located. I went there to clear out of Barbados so we could start our sail to St. Lucia this evening. The clearing out process took a couple of hours with the bulk of the time spend waiting for the various officials to show up.

By 1100 I was back on board Leu Cat with our clearance papers. Mary Margaret and I spend the rest of the day resting up for our overnight sail. When we sail overnight passages, we take turns manning the helm and watch while the other rests or sleeps. One night passages, such as this one, are the worst because it takes us a couple of nights to get into the routine of manning a 3 or 4 hour watch then going down to our suite to get some sleep while the other does the next watch. Since it takes us a few days to get into this rather different sleep pattern, we tend not to get much rest on 1 night passages.

By 1700 we started getting the boat ready to leave. It usually takes about an hour to get things all squared away. We have to lift the dinghy engine and mount it on the transom, raise and tie up the dinghy so the swells that tickle its bottom don’t cause any problems, remove and stow the shade tarp and hammock, open up the helm and warm up the electronics, stow stuff in the salon, close the various thru-hulls that will not be used, etc. etc., etc. By 1800 we were all set to drop the mooring lines and start our passage.

Unfortunately, Leu Cat decided that she liked it here too much and just did not want to leave. We could not start the starboard engine! It would not turn over. We had recently replaced all three of the starter batteries while in Grenada and it was appearing that the starboard starter battery was not turning the starter motor over. Armed with my rusty, trusty multi-meter I checked its voltage and found it to be only 12.4 volts. I switched the port starter battery to the starboard side and it started up the starboard battery. Damn, something is screwy with the one battery.

Mary Margaret, in her infinite wisdom, suggested that we just spend another night here in Barbados, which would give me tomorrow to figure out what the problem is and, if needed, buy a new battery. My mind set was to just leave and deal with the battery once we got in St Lucia. However, after kicking around her suggestion for a few seconds, I saw the wisdom of her idea. We will have much better support here with Richard Rudder (if I need him) and can easily buy a new battery here if I need one versus trying to figure out where to go and who to see in Soufriere Town in St. Lucia.

Thus, while we were “oh, so close” to leaving, we will be spending one more day here in Barbados while I try to sort things out and determine what the root of the problem is.

Year 9 Day 149 We’re So Lucky

27 June 2016 | Barbados Yacht CLub Mooring Field, Barbados
Dave/Mostly Sunny

We were thinking that this evening we would say goodbye to Barbados and sail through the night to St. Lucia. However, this morning a quick look at the weather indicated very light winds for that passage so we decided to spend one more day here in Carlisle Bay. The prediction for a Tuesday night passage is for winds in the 15 to 20 knot range and seas to 5 ft. That is just about as perfect sailing conditions that one can get. We have our fingers crossed.

We will be making a night passage since the southeastern tip of St. Lucia is only about 90 nm away. That will take us about 12 to 13 hours to sail there. Because we like to arrive at an anchorage in daylight, we will need to leave Barbados in the evening to arrive in the morning. We were thinking that we would anchor in Vieux Fort to clear into the country. It is the first port of call that we would be sailing by once we arrive in St. Lucia. However, the cruising guiding indicates that it is not a very nice place so now we are thinking we would just continue on the western side of the island and clear in at Soufriere Town. It is only about 10 nm further.

Thus, we spent the day resting, playing cards and reflecting on how lucky we are. After all, here we are, living on a beautiful boat, anchoring in front of specular, beautiful settings, meeting wonderful people, eating great foods and swimming and snorkeling in crystal clear waters….day, after day, after day. It is just hard to find things better than this!

Year 9 Day 148 The Party’s Over

26 June 2016 | Barbados Yacht CLub Mooring Field, Barbados
Dave/Mostly Sunny

The time Heather was with us was just like a party. We played cards and dominos, we explored at bit, we dove on sunken ships, we ate at nice restaurants and slurped down some mighty fine wines and even Champaign. Yep, it was party time!

However, reality is always lurking in the background, just waiting to reappear and take over. Now that Heather is safe and sound, back in San Francisco, reality reared its ugly head today. I had put off installing the new windlass chain counter sensor that Heather brought with her until she had left. Now it was time to get back to work and get the darn thing installed.

Since we have a new windlass that was just installed in January and it is a newer model than our old one, I was not familiar with taking it apart. Thus, it took me a while to figure the darn thing out, even with the help of the installation manual. After a couple of hours of removing nuts and bolts, removing numerous parts that all wanted to jump off the boat and enjoy the sparkling water, whacking the windlass body with a hammer and swearing a bit, I was finally able to remove the old sensor and install the new one.

We have had this sensor problem a number of times before and each time to fix it I just had to replace the sensor. Thus, I was a happy camper when the new sensor was installed and the windlass was remounted and put back together. I quickly ran up to the helm to start the port engine (its needs to be running to supply electricity to the windlass). With that done I returned to the windlass and grabbed the control pad. I pushed the down button and the windlass started turning…for all of five seconds. It then shut off. Damn! The control pad stated the fault error of “No Sensor”. Double Damn!!!

After throwing a mental fit, I started to troubleshoot the wiring, looking for the problem. In about 5 minutes I discovered that a neutral line had corroded at a connector upstream from the windlass and the line had broken off. If I had only inspected the line before installing the new sensor I would have saved myself a few hours of sweaty work. Oh well, what can one do?

In no time the line was repaired with a new connector and after restarting the port engine, the windlass and its chain counter sensor worked like a charm. Yea!

We have decided to postpone our departure from Barbados until Tuesday evening. The night winds are supposed to be light until then and we really do not want to motor the 100 or so miles over to St. Lucia. Tuesday night the winds are supposed to return to 15 to 20 knots so it should be good sailing then.

Year 9 Day 147 Parting Is such Sweet Sorrow

25 June 2016 | Barbados Yacht CLub Mooring Field, Barbados
Dave/Mostly Sunny

We took Heather into shore this morning so she could get a few trinkets to remember her stay with us by and then hugged and kissed her goodbye as she made her way to the airport via a taxi. Her stay with us was wonderful but just too short. We felt very lucky to have her come to Barbados and spend some time with us. Given the busy schedule she keeps, finding time to fly down to see us was just so special.

Shortly after Heather was off to the airport, Michael, our friend from the Hilton, drove up in his car. We had made arraignments for him to take us back to PriceSmart so we could get some more delicious beef and a few odds and ends before we sail over to St. Lucia. We have some friends coming to visit us there in three weeks and we wanted to stock up before we left Barbados.

Our friends are one of my former partners, Dwight and his wife Kati. I have known Dwight since 1984 when we both were brought into the State of California to revamp its hazardous waste program. I joined an environmental engineering firm 5 years later and shortly after that, convinced Dwight to join us. And as they say, “…the rest is history.”

After shopping we treated Michael to lunch. He took us to a little hole in the wall place that specialize in what Michael called souse. The souse we are used to is a jelled concoction made from boiling pig’s head and seasoned with spices and vinegar. It is a Pennsylvania Dutch treat. However, here it is boiled pig’s feet with spicy veggies. I get a kick out of eating truly local food and the Barbados souse was delicious.

After lunch Michael returned us to Independence Square, where our dinghy was waiting for us. By now the square was filling up with people and performers dressed in colorful costumes and walking on stilts. There was going to be some type of hoopla affiliated with the end of harvest festival. This is a festival that lasts about 2 months which celebrates the end of the sugar cane harvest. Sugar cane is no longer an important crop here in Barbados but the end of harvest celebration continues on…

Tomorrow we will start to look for weather windows to sail over to St. Lucia. Right now, it looks like Monday night may be a good time. We shall see…
Vessel Name: Leu Cat
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 440
Hailing Port: Dana Point, CA
Crew: Mary Margaret and Dave Leu
About: Our goals are to spend the next 10 to 15 years cruising around the world and sharing this adventure with family and friends.
Extra: S/V Leu Cat is Lagoon 440 rigged for blue water sailing. It is 44 feet long with a 25 foot beam
Leu Cat's Photos - Leu Cat
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Galley with Cabinets: Once you leave the owner
Galley with Cabinets: Once you leave the owner's suite, you reenter the salon. This shows the gourmet galley portion of the salon. Notice all of the wonderful cabinets. Leu Cat has so much storage space, we feel right at home!
Added 14 October 2007