LeuCat Adventures

Join us in sharing our adventures as we sail around the world. NEW!!************************************************************************* GET A COPY OF OUR TECHNO-TIPS DOCUMENTS--JUST CLICK ON THEM UNDER THE "FAVORITES" HEADING ON THE RIGHT

29 April 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
28 April 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
27 April 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
25 April 2017 | Salt Pond Bay, St. Johns, USVI
24 April 2017 | Hassel Island, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
23 April 2017 | Hassel Island, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
22 April 2017 | Hassel Island, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
21 April 2017 | Hassel Island, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
20 April 2017 | Hassel Island, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
19 April 2017 | Hassel Island, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
18 April 2017 | Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI
17 April 2017 | Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI
17 April 2017 | Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI
16 April 2017 | Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI
16 April 2017
16 April 2017
16 April 2017
16 April 2017
16 April 2017

Big Bad Low Pressure Cell Bullies Our Sweet N A High

29 April 2017
This photo shows what the North Atlantic should look like in a couple of days. A massive low and its affiliated nasty weather punches into our sweet NA High and bullies its way across the path we hope to take to reach the Azores. While large storms can form any time in the North Atlantic, they usually are a bit more mild during the early summer when we hope to do our passage.

Year 10 Day 92 Goodbye To Dear Friends

29 April 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten

Today we said our goodbyes to our dear friends, Joe and Valerie. Their short stay with us is over. We drove them to the airport around noon where they will start their journey back to their home in Las Vegas. It was great to see them again and to sail from St. Thomas in the USVI, up to St Johns, through the BVIs and then over to Sint Maarten. While the passage from BVI to Sint Maarten was not ideal, we made it safe and sound, which is the objective of each of our passages.

This was their third visit to Leu Cat over the 9 plus years we have taken to sail around the world. The first time was in Panama, the second time was in New Zealand and now in the Northern Antilles. That is pretty impressive and speaks volumes of our friendship and our love of getting together.

Now comes a brief period of forced rest since Sint Maarten is in holiday mode with most places closed through Tuesday. Monday is Labor Day and Tuesday is Carnival Day and we are told most places will be closed until Wednesday. Thus, our desire to contact various services to work on Leu Cat cannot start until Wednesday. The big issue is our track on our mast. I am hoping that it will not take stepping down the mast, as that is a big deal which would take a crane.

I have a list of 18 things that I wish to complete before we start our passage across the North Atlantic to the Azores and then Spain. Most are pretty minor such as adjusting the 2 x 4s we have mounted to the stanchions that we use to secure our 10 5-gallon jerry jugs of deck fuel when we do major crossings, replace our stern US flag holder, replace the dinghy’s anchor and line, gel coat a couple of dings on the deck, polish the stainless steel, re-attach a few cushion straps and few other easy peasy, minor items.

However, there are a few items that are more troublesome and which could take some time. Besides the mast track issue, we now have a minor, slow leak of motor oil in the starboard engine that I am concerned about, our brand-new washer drier is giving us an error code that the drain pump is not working that must be addressed, and the outboard engine that in March I had fixed is leaking gear oil again. These all must be fixed before we are start our passage.

Plus, we need to have this done in the soonest possible manner so that we are ready to start our passage when the North Atlantic High has established itself but before the hurricane season gets too advanced. Right now, I am watching the North Atlantic High forming and becoming more stable. This is important as it need to be strong enough to deflect to the north the low-pressure cells (storms) that spin off of the North American continent. Right now, this major high pressure cell, which forms each summer and sits over the center of the North Atlantic, is still too much in its infancy and is still getting pushed around by the big, bad low pressure systems. However, usually by the end of May it is pretty established and when it is, we need to be ready to leave. If we wait here too long, we then run the risk of tropical storms and possibly hurricanes running into the North Atlantic which form off the coast of Africa and march across to the Caribbean and, at times, deflect into the path of our upcoming passage.

This is the reason I am anxious to get our projects started and completed. Unfortunately, we have to wait for these two holidays to pass before I can start lining up the contractors to work on those projects that I cannot do myself.

I have attached to this blog a picture which shows what the North Atlantic High looks like today. It is pretty impressive. However, the picture which I will post above this blog, show how a massive storm coming from Greenland is projected to beat up the High because the low pressure cell which is causing the storm is much stronger than the High. The storm cuts right across the path we are planning on taking to reach the Azores.

Year 10 Day 91 The Butterfly Farm

28 April 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten

Valerie is a real get up and go type of gal. She was anxious to get going this morning and explore the island. Since they will be leaving us tomorrow, I could understand her drive. We first enjoyed our morning coffee and the French pastries that she and Joe brought back to Leu Cat yesterday from the boulangerie. Ooooh, they were so good! The French just have a certain magic that goes into the various pastries and breads they make.

Mary Margaret was still a bit tired from her two overnight watches (she takes two while I have only one), so she decided to just stay on Leu Cat and catch up on her rest. Thus, Joe, Valerie and I hopped into the rental car and off we went.

The Butterfly Farm is on the far side of the island but by taking the Dutch side route that first took us from Simpson Bay down to Philipsburg and then over to Oyster Bay and then into the French side which is a longer route but so much quicker. Taking the more direct route which is mostly through the French side but is so much slower due to the traffic.

Joe and Valerie thoroughly enjoyed all of the butterflies and we had as our guide the daughter of the owners. She was very informative and a joy to listen to. Each time I come here I learn so much more about butterflies.

Afterwards, we returned to Philipsburg for lunch. I introduced Joe and Valerie to one of our favorite restaurants here in Sint Maarten: The Green House. We all had their wonderful French onion soup to start. We were all smiles when our various entries arrived. It was a leisurely meal and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. I ordered a French onion soup to go for Mary Margaret and then we were off.

By the time, we made it back to Leu Cat we were all ready for some rest and relaxation. We finished our day by playing some cards where Joe was the winner. A perfect ending to a most enjoyable day.

Year 10 Days 89 and 90 Passage to Sint Maarten

27 April 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/Mixed Weather

This was supposed to be a nice, relaxing sail. The winds, which had been blowing from the ESE at 25 to 30 knots a few days ago had eased down a bit. They were now projected to be 10 to 15 knots from the ESE and then sifting to the E around early evening. If that were the case, it would make our passage to Sint Maarten an easy sail.

Our thoughts were to first slip between Norman Island, the first of the BVIs coming from the SW, and St. Johns. This would place us in the western part of the Sir Francis Drake Channel and then we would sail up between the various islands that make up the BVIs, heading to the NE. This would yield a wonderful sail with the winds off our port bow and the islands preventing any significant swells from entering the channel. The views of this part of the passage would be wonderful as we sail past each of the very scenic islands.

Once we get to the end of the channel we would approach the along reef that extends off of Anegada Island and trends to the SW. We would tack to the SE and, with luck, keep sailing, as by then the winds should now be from the E. Once we cleared the reef and the end of Virgin Gorda island, we would now be back in the open Caribbean Sea. We would then tack to the NE keeping the easterly winds off our starboard bow. Once we got east enough, we would tack back to the SE and our long run down to Sint Maarten.

Well, the first part of the sail plan worked great. Our sail up Drakes Channel was magnificent with the winds behaving, the seas knocked down by the wall of islands to our starboard, and the islands in all their glory. We did have to deal with a number of charter boats, however. Many people who charter sailboats just do not understand how to sail and what the rules of the road are. As it turned out, even though we had the right of way, we ended up changing course a number of times to avoid a collision with some fool who as determined not to change course, even thought that would his responsibility. Sigh.

When we were approaching the end of our first leg, that being the run up Drakes Channel, the winds had not sifted so we ended up having to drop sails and just motor out of the channel and through the long cut in the Anegada reef. We were now just 80 nm from Sint Maarten and with the winds not cooperating, we decided to bag the idea of tacking since it would take us too far off the route. Thus, we just turned toward Sint Maarten and continued motoring through the night.

The seas were bouncy as we bashed through 3 to 5 foot swells coming from a few directions. Spray was flying up over the bows as we marched toward our destination. The winds slowly moved to the ENE which allowed us to raise the headsail and keep it full. This added 1.5 knots to our speed and allowed us to reach Sint Maarten by 0930, giving us plenty of time to clear in and then catch the 1130 bridge opening.

Once through the bridge, we then proceeded to Simpson Bay Marina, where we fight the 25 knots winds, to slip in between two tight concrete fingers. It was ugly but we made it. Yea!

Year 10 Day 88 Passage To St. Johns

25 April 2017 | Salt Pond Bay, St. Johns, USVI
Dave/ Blustery and Overcast

We have been watching the weather very carefully these last few days since we plan on sailing from the USVIs to Sint Maarten. It will be an overnight sail with the passage being about 150 nm. The winds have been up (20 to 30 knots) which, in turn, build up the seas (up to eight foot swells. Both the winds and the seas have been coming from the Southeast which is the general direction we need to sail to reach Sint Maarten. All of the above would make for a very uncomfortable passage.

Mary Margaret and I have sailed such conditions many time before so we know that such winds and seas would make for a most uncomfortable sail. That is not what we want for our friends, Joe and Valerie to experience. It is just not fun.

Fortunately, today the winds and seas start diminishing and will continue to do so for the next few days. Thus, after checking the weather this morning we decided that conditions would be reasonable to slog to windward for the 15 nm passage to St. Johns and it beautiful Salt Pond Bay.

With that decision made, Joe and I took the dinghy over to Customs in Charlotte Amelie to get our clearance papers. They appeared to be a bit understaffed but after about 30 minutes we were cleared out of St. Thomas with a departure date from the USVI for tomorrow. Once back on Leu Cat we readied the boat, weighed anchor and were off!

Since our passage was so short, we just motored through the 25 knot winds and 6 foot seas. Joe and Valerie handled the bouncy ride just fine and around 1500 we had made Salt Pond Bay and were tied up to one of the 5 mooring balls there. There was just one other boat in the bay which made it very nice.

I was anxious to go up the mast to fix our mast track problem so soon after arriving, Mary Margaret hauled me up. The waters in the bay were very calm which made using the grinding tool on my Dremel easy, even while dangling 30 feet up in the air.

Once it was done, I tried raising and lowering the main. It went up and down just fine, so I believe we will be able to use the mainsail on our passage to Sint Maarten tomorrow.

Afterwards, Valerie and I went to shore to pay for the mooring ball and upon our return, Joe donned the snorkeling gear and went into the water. The clarity of the water was not the best because of the heavy seas these last few days so that was a bit disappointing.

Mary Margaret made a great dinner of grilled chicken over a big salad, all topped with her homemade blue cheese. Afterwards, she and Joe retired to discuss the political state of the US and its questionable future under President Trump. What a mess!

Tomorrow the winds are supposed to diminish further so it looks like we will be leaving around 1100. It should be a beautiful sail up Drake’s Channel through the BVIs.

Year 10 Day 87 Joe And Valerie Arrive

24 April 2017 | Hassel Island, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

After a grueling 11 hours, Joe and Valerie finally arrived, safe and sound, in St. Thomas. They started their long trip at midnight, leaving Las Vegas for Philadelphia. After just a 50 minute stop to change planes, they were then forced to sit on the tarmac as they waited for problems with the pilot’s emergency hatch to be fixed. Thus, they arrived here in St. Thomas a couple of hours late, pretty exhausted, but in fine spirits. Joe just celebrated his 72nd birthday but he is used to such grueling travel because he drives and flies across the Southwest US a lot.

The dinghy ride from the marina to Leu Cat, across Crown Bay was not the best. The winds were blowing about 20 knots, covering the bay with white caps. Even going very, very slow, to minimize the swells from splashing over the bow of the dinghy, we arrived at Leu Cat a bit soggy. Fortunately, I had Valerie put on some rain gear which helped keep her dry. To keep most of the weight in the rear of the dinghy which helped raised the bow a bit so to yield less splash, I had Valerie sit in the front sit of the dinghy by herself. Thus, she was the first to face the splash as it occasional sprayed over the bow. Joe and I did not have to wear any protective gear since Valerie acted as our screen. Not very chivalrous on my part but truly it was the most practical way to keep the splash to a minimum.

Once on Leu Cat, Mary Margaret had her chance for warm hugs and kisses and the four of us got to settle down for 5 days of life onboard Leu Cat. After our wet and bouncy dinghy ride, poor Valerie was looking a little green but one Stugeron pill quickly put an end to that issue. Stugeron is the only sea sickness medicine we know that one can take after getting queasy to relieve the symptoms of sea sickness. Soon, Valerie and I were toasting to each other’s health and wellbeing with a nice bottle of Italian red wine.

During a wonderful dinner of grilled steaks, rice and salad with Mary Margaret’s homemade blue cheese dressing, we discussed our sailing options. It is my hope that the winds and the seas calm down a bit tomorrow so we can sail up to St John’s Island and its Salt Pond Bay. I am anxious to share my favorite most anchorage in the Caribbean with Joe and Valerie with its crystal clear turquois water, sugar white beach and two beautiful reefs that are still so full of life that they are worth snorkeling on. Plus, the bay is very protected so that Mary Margaret will be able to take me up the mast so I can fix our sail track issue.

However, if the winds and seas are not favorable for the 15 nm passage, we will then move about a mile from where we are now, going into Lindberg Bay. While noisy with the airplanes landing and taking off at the airport that is right next door, the bay is well protected from swells. Thus, Mary Margaret will be able to pull me up the mast to fix the track issue there. The track needs to be fixed tomorrow because we will be doing an all day and all night passage on Wednesday and Thursday to Sint Maarten.

We have a nice weather window for that passage starting Wednesday with predicted winds from the East to Southeast at 10 to 15 knots and the seas just in the 3 to 5 foot range. Since we will be sailing to windward, we will have to tack a few times to make the passage. However, I am planning of sailing up Drake’s Channel in the British Virgin Islands for the first leg of the passage. This sail should be ideal as the wind should be from the Southeast as we head to the Northeast up Drake’s Channel with the islands of Norman, Peter, Salt, Cooper and Virgin Gorda protecting us from the swells. Mary Margaret and I have made this passage many, many times and the 30 or so nautical mile run is one the best in the world in regards to enjoyable sailing and scenic beauty.

Once we are through that channel, we will need to tack to the South to avoid the treacherous reefs that come off of Anegada Island, the easternmost significant island of the BVI’s. Once around that reef system we will tack back to the northeast heading on a course that would take us directly to the Straits of Gibraltar if we were to go so far. However, the idea for us is to get far enough to windward to tack onto a course that would take us to Sint Maarten, which by then should lie to the South of us. The trip from St. Johns to Sint Maarten is estimated to be about 150 nm. If we average 6.5 knots, it should take us about 23 hours.

Year 10 Day 86 Opps, Wrong Day

23 April 2017 | Hassel Island, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Dave/Increasing Clouds
Late this morning I took the dinghy over to Crown Bay Marina, threw out the garbage, got a taxi and went over to the airport to meet our friends, Joe and Valerie, who were coming to spend this week with us on Leu Cat. Their plane was schedule to be on time.

As I waited, I discovered why we were hearing music at night, coming from Charlotte Amelie that is on the other side of Hassel Island from us. As it turns out, it is Carnival! I discovered this by talking to the two lovely young girls that you see on each side of me in the photo posted to this blog. They were there to greet each passenger that was arriving in St. Thomas and welcoming them to Carnival. I had learned that between noon and 1PM, nine planes were arriving: each loaded with passengers. That is a lot of greeting.

In addition to the barely clad girls, there was a steel drummer and a bar area set up behind me offered free shots of Cruzan rum. It certainly was party time!

However, that is where the party ended for me. As I waited for Joe and Valerie, their plane arrived, people deboarded and then filed past me. No Joe and Valerie. Another plane came and the same thing happened. A third and then a fourth plane came and still no Joe and Valerie.

I walked over to a group of people in baggage claim and asked if they were on the American flight which Joe and Valerie were supposed to be on. They said they were. Still no Joe and Valerie.

After waiting a while longer and trying to use my smart phone to research the situation, I gave up and returned to the marina, hopped in the dinghy and returned to Leu Cat. Hmmmm.

Now armed with my computer, I could really do my research. Alas, I finally discovered that I had blown the arrival date for Joe and Valerie. They are coming tomorrow, not today. Opps!

Sounds to me that I will get to do this all over again tomorrow…

Year 10 Day 85 A Dirty Day

22 April 2017 | Hassel Island, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Dave/Mostly Sunny

The day did not start out well on Leu Cat. We are in the process of getting her ready for the arrival of our friends, Valerie and Joe, tomorrow. The first thing Mary Margaret did was continue her efforts of washing the laundry we accumulated during the two week stay of our friends, Portia and Steve, who just left us. Mary Margaret was on her third day of working her way through 5 loads of laundry. It all came to an abrupt halt today. Our brand new Splendide washer/drier stopped working and was flashing an error code that said the drain pump was not working. Grrrrr! After pulling out the training/repair manual we have and trying various easy fixes that did not work, we threw up our hands in disgust. Double Grrrrr.

Fortunately, Mary Margaret was on her last load so we are in good shape regarding the upcoming visit from our friends. However, this means that I have a major project to work on once we get to Sint Maarten. I will need to call the service hotline and discuss the problem and get guidance on what to do. Then, it will take me all day to deconstruct the cabinetry that the washer sits in just to get to the electronics and motor. It will not be fun.

With the failure of the washing machine, Mary Margaret turned her attention to cleaning the inside of the boat. The dust was flying but Leu Cat is now spic and span clean.

While she worked on the inside, I stayed out of her way and worked on cleaning up the engine rooms and working on a couple of exterior boat projects. I am watching our starboard engine carefully as it is leaking a little oil now. I cannot find the leak and will have it carefully checked out once we are in Sint Maarten.

These projects kept us busy on the boat all day. I have hoped to take the dinghy over to Lindberg Bay to visit with our friends, Bill and Tracy, of SV Zephyr. However, it was not to be.

Tomorrow Valerie and Joe arrive and I am looking forward to greeting them at the airport while Mary Margaret is looking forward to their arrival here on Leu Cat.

Year 10 Day 84 A Surprise Passing

21 April 2017 | Hassel Island, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Dave/Mostly Sunny

Mary Margaret and I worked today, trying to get Leu Cat ready for our next visitors, our good friends from Las Vegas, Joe and Valerie. Mary Margaret did two loads of wash while I worked on a few small boat projects, including the mast batten car track issue. To address the problem with the track snagging the batten cars as they pulled up and dropped down the sail, I asked Mary Margaret to haul me up the mast. The problem area of the track is located just past the first spreader bar, about half way up the mast.

Inspection of that area immediately identified the problem. It was at a section where there is a joint between two pieces of abutting pieces of track. To join the two pieces of track, there is a slug which helps keep the two tracks aligned. A slug is just a short, flat piece of a thin metal bar this fits in a groove in each track. It prevents the tracks from moving sideways as the batten cars pass over the joint between the two abutting tracks.

The problem is that the bottom bolt that holds the slug in place had come loose and its head sheared off when we last raised the mainsail. A part of the bolt’s shaft was still protruding above the track and this is what was catching the batten cars as we lowered the mainsail.

The seas in our anchorage here in behind Hassel Islands are ephemeral. When Mary Margaret took me up the mast the first time, they were not too bad. However, when I went up the second time, armed with my Dremmel tool and pulling up 30 feet of electrical cord, the seas had gotten a bit worse and now the boat was rocking a bit. This made grinding the remaining stem of the bolt back to be under the edge of the track just too hard and a bit dangerous. Thus, I stopped after a while and had Mary Margaret lower me back down to the deck.

If the seas quiet down some tomorrow, I may try again. Our fallback position is to make this repair when we motor up to Salt Pond Bay in St John’s on Monday. The bay is well protected and the seas there should be still.

After inspecting the track the first time but before deciding how to attack the problem, I was inside the salon researching how our sail track was constructed. While doing this research, we were hailed by a sailboat drifting by. Intrigued by who was calling out “Leu Cat, Leu Cat”, I ran out onto the deck. To my surprised, there was SV/ Zephyr with Bill and Tracy waving to me. What a surprise! I had received an email from Bill a few days ago which said he was in CA to provision. The only place that I know that uses the initials CA was California so his email did not make a lot of since to me. As it turns out, he was using CA to refer to Charlotte Amelie, here in St. Thomas. Thus, they had been anchored only a ½ mile away, just on the other side of Hassel Island from us!

They were going by us on their way to Lindborg Bay, next to the airport. They said that Charlotte Amelie was going to be having very loud music the next few nights and they wanted to get away from it. Lindberg Bay is a couple of miles from us so I am hoping I can find the time tomorrow to take the dinghy and see them. However, tomorrow will be a busy day for us so I am not sure that will happen.
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 - (Main)
1 Photo
Created 27 February 2017
Wedding and Reception photos April 18, 2015, Yosemite, CA
49 Photos
Created 30 April 2015
Here are some pics that I took while visiting w/ my parents in the Galapagos Islands
22 Photos
Created 29 March 2010
Our Photos of this very magically place
94 Photos
Created 21 September 2009
1 Photo | 7 Sub-Albums
Created 1 April 2009
A tour of St. Kitts that Mary Margaret and I did
75 Photos
Created 7 May 2008
1 Photo
Created 25 March 2008
Pictures of the sea life in the cut between Little Jost Van Dyke and Green Cay, BVI
30 Photos
Created 17 March 2008
Here are a number of pictures of St. Maarten and the places we visited
36 Photos
Created 21 January 2008
Photos of Nanny Cay
6 Photos
Created 11 January 2008
Here what the idoit charter did to Leu Cat
11 Photos
Created 9 January 2008
Join us as we explore the Spanish, American, and British Virgin Ilsands.
15 Photos
Created 20 October 2007
To help get you ready to go sailing with us, we wish to introduce you to Leu Cat so you will know what to expect when you get here! Just click on the first photo and then use the "next" button to advance through this slide show.
19 Photos
Created 19 October 2007
This is a collection of photos documenting our sail through the Windward Islands during May/June 2006 with our son, David Paul.
62 Photos
Created 14 October 2007

Who: Mary Margaret and Dave Leu
Port: Dana Point, CA