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

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
16 April 2017
15 April 2017 | Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI
14 April 2017 | Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI

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
Dave/Overcast

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.

Year 10 Day 83 How Quite It Seems

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

Portia and Steve left Leu Cat today to return to the US and their very busy schedule. They are in the middle of selling a number of commercial properties and building new house in Hawaii. While they were with us, poor Portia was on her IPad or IPhone working on closing deals and getting things squared away with the plans on the new house. Nevertheless, she still made plenty of time to go snorkeling with us, sailing with us, exploring with us, cooking with us and playing Mexican Train dominoes with us. In fact, she ended up winning the last game which we played last night.

Their visit was very nice since they are a very loving and giving couple. Plus, as former cruisers, they understand what it takes to live on a sailboat. We had such a wonderful time with them, making it hard to say good bye. We are looking forward to when they can come and visit again, hopefully in the Med.

After our sad farewells and dropping them off at the Crown Bay Marina, where the taxi to take them to the airport was waiting, Leu Cat seemed unusually quiet to me. Not that Portia or Steve were very noisy. In fact, they were not. They are very quiet and serene people. It just seemed to me to be unusually quiet. Throughout the afternoon, I mentioned to Mary Margaret at least 2 or 3 times how quiet the boat seemed. Maybe it was because we so enjoyed having Portia and Steve with us that their departure left a void. Go figure.

We will be spending the next few days taking it easy and, in a relaxed manner, getting Leu Cat ready for our next visitors. Our very good friends, Joe and Valerie from Las Vegas, will be flying in to spend 6 days with us. They will help us sail Leu Cat back to Sint Maarten, where we will finish our efforts to get her ready to cross the North Atlantic on our way to the Med. They have come to Leu Cat twice before: once when we were in Panama and once when we were in New Zealand. It will be a treat to have them with us once again, even though it will only be for 6 short days.


Year 10 Day 82 Return To St. Thomas

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

Our two weeks with Portia and Steve are quickly winding down. The time has passed so quickly but this is what happens when you are with good friends in a wonderful venue.

We weighed anchor around 1000 and motors around the reefs of Christiansted and into the open ocean. We then turned into the wind to put the sails up. As Mary Margaret hauled on the mainsail halyard, the sail went up the mast. However, around halfway up she encountered resistance and then heard a "pop". Inspection of the sail and its lines did not discover any problem so she continued to raise the sail. It went up the rest of the way fine but something was not right and we could not figure it out.

We ended up just setting the sail, opening the headsail and then continuing on our course to St Thomas. Since we could not determine the problem now, we decided that we would sail to St. Thomas and once there, work on trying to figure out the problem when we were anchored and the boat was not rocking.

Our sail was wonderful with 15 to 20 knot winds from the east. The seas were up a bit, with heights in the 6 to 8 foot range, periods in the 7 to 8 second range and from the NE. This made the ride a bit bouncy but it was not too bad.

The sun was out which topped off this great sail. We made the 38 nm passage in a little over 4 hours, averaging about 9 knots. This more than made up for the 6 hours of motoring we had to do to make our passage last week from St. Johns to St. Croix.

When we were approaching our anchorage just off Hassel Island in St. Thomas, we turned into the wind to drop the mainsail. This is when we discovered the cause of our problem in raising the main. As Mary Margaret lowered the mainsail, she discovered that one of the batten cars (this is what travels up and down the mast and to which the sail is attached to), was sticking to where one piece of the batten car track abuts against the start of another piece of track. Apparently, one of the track's bolts has fallen out and the two ends of the track are not smooth against each other.

By playing with the halyard and the downhaul lines, we were able to move the batten cars across this problem area and the sail finally came down. Whew! Tomorrow, I will go up the mast and do a close inspection and, hopefully, fix the problem by replacing the missing bolt.

Once again we are sharing this anchorage at Hassel Island with three other boats. But the anchorage is large enough to handle us all comfortably. We have nice winds to keep the wind generator happy and the swells are very mild, so with the sun shining, conditions are ideal.

Oh, by the way, I received an email from the administrator of Sailblogs telling me that the linkage between Sailblogs and Facebook is now back in place. Thus, I am hoping that you will see this blog just by me postinging directly to Sailblogs. My fingers are crossed!

Year 10 Day 81 The Best Laid Plans

18 April 2017 | Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI
Dave/Overcast

We had planned on sailing over to Buck Island National Monument today to spend the day snorkeling and then spend the night in preparations of sailing back to St. Thomas tomorrow. However, it was not to be. The weather and seas were just too ugly to make the short trip and stay worthwhile.

Once again, the skies were dark and grey with brief periods of passing showers, making the thought of the trip and the idea of snorkeling in big seas not too appealing. Rick had said that the best place to snorkel is on the north side of the island. While still protected by a reef, we were having 8 foot swells today so they would break on the reef and surge over it, disturbing the water and reducing visibility.

After carefully weighing our options and after a detailed discussion of each option, we decided to just stay put here in the protected anchorage of the lagoon in front of Christiansted. Portia and Steve, anxious to cram as much diving into their stay with us, opted to take the dinghy over to the edge of Round Reef and snorkel there during one of the periods when the overcast lightened a bit. However, on their return, they said it was a not a good dive as the waves were breaking on the fringing reef and carrying over into that part of the lagoon. Visibility was not the best and where the better snorkeling area was, they could not get to because the water was just too rough. Based on their experience, we were all glad that we stayed in the relative protection of our anchorage.

While they were diving, Mary Margaret and I played some cards which we had not done during Portia and Steve’s visit. There simply has not been time to play our card game of Hand and Foot as we have been having too much fun with Portia and Steve. We played some more after they returned from their dive because they were so exhausted from fighting through the swells that they both took long, restful naps.

For dinner, Portia and Steve made tacos with Steve frying the corn tortillas. They were delicious. Afterwards, we resorted to our nightly game of Mexican Train Dominoes, with Steve winning again. None of us can figure out how he wins so much!

While we played, I ran the generator to charge the batteries. With days and days of limited sunlight, the solar panels have not be doing much so we have had to rely mostly on our wind generator and our diesel genset. However, after about an hour of charging, it died due to the loss of impellor blades. Thus, I had to spend about an hour changing the impellor. It is a simple thing to do but given the location of the water pump, it takes a long time to get at the darn thing to change the impellor. Afterwards, we fired up the genset for s short time just to make sure it would work and that there was no water leaking.

Tomorrow we will be sailing back to St. Thomas. The winds should be ideal being in the 15 to 20 knot range from the east. It may be a bit bouncy with swells in the 6 to 8 foot range, from the NE, with 8 second periods. 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
Social:
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