Year 10 Day 157 One Last Blog
07 July 2017
We said that there would not be any more blogs. Never say never!
First, we wish to thank all of you that have posted blog comments or sent us emails with such kind words on the blog and wishing us well for the future. It means a lot to us and we are very touched that you would take the time and share your feelings with us. Thank you very much!
Secondly, we have to report that unfortunately, the sale of Leu Cat did not go through. Sigh! When Brian and Linda arrived we knew that something was wrong but it wasn’t until after talking with them that we got the impression that they just were not ready to take on the cruiser’s lifestyle once faced with the reality that buying a boat is a commitment to it. “Living the dream” is a significant departure from living a “normal” life on the land. They seemed to be nice people but very inexperienced when it comes to sailing. Making a full leap from land to sea can be a big one if you are not truly ready.
Therefore, we have Leu Cat up for sale here in St. Martin. We still are retiring from sailing and moving on to land. So, if anyone would like to buy Leu Cat, please let us know and we will be happy to speak with you.
Never a dull moment is our motto!
Year 10 Day 152 The Last Blog
02 July 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave and Mary Margaret? Sunny With Passing Showers
Wow! I never thought about this last blog day until now. We have been living the dream for the last 10 years and had planned on continuing doing so as we were to sail across the North Atlantic this spring/summer and spend the next few years exploring the Med. However, the North Atlantic has been so hostile and continues to be so that it is no longer possible for us to safely make the long crossing. This is especially true now that we are so far into the hurricane season.
Then, last week we met with S/V Shift, another Lagoon 440 that came in and docked next to us. They had just sold their boat in only 1 week and got $15,000 above their asking price of $335,000. This really got us thinking and ended up firming up our thoughts on selling Leu Cat and "burying the hook" after 10 years of cruising.
We talked to Shift's broker and he offered to give us a market evaluation and suggested listing price in hopes of getting us to list with him. We told him that we had a blog reader who voiced an interest in buying our boat. We agreed to list Leu Cat with the broker if the interested blog reader decided not to buy directly from us.
The broker sent us the market analysis and suggested a listing price of $350,000 which we passed on to the blog reader. Then, bam, bong, buff, we and the blog reader agreed to a price and commitments were made. Now, the blog reader and his wife, Brian and Linda, are flying into Sint Maarten on Tuesday to finalize the sale and start following their dreams. Whew! Everything happened so fast that our heads are still spinning.
Mary Margaret and I, along with the help of a local, Kunta, are now scrambling to get Leu Cat ready to hand over to Brian and Linda. Thus, there really is not much more to write about in a daily blog that would be of interest to anyone. Therefore, this is the end of 10 years of cruising and blog writing.
We do wish to close this blog with words of heart felt appreciation to all of our blog readers who have stuck with us these many years and to those who have taken the time to leave blog comments and/or emails.
We especially would like to thank those that have helped us out during times when we were facing issues and could not solve them by ourselves.
Finally, we wish to thank all of the remarkably kind and generous blog readers who have met us all around the world, rushed down to our boat to greet us and then adopting us while we were in their respective home lands. You were so kind and each one of you have left a lasting memory with us that we will always cherish. You are such remarkable people and you made our time cruising so rewarding. We tell people we meet all about you and how kind and caring you were to us. You are remembered!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for following our blog and for all of you that enriched our lives by doing so.
Finally, a note to our children. Even though when we left to take on this adventure you were young adults, we know that you were concerned about our safety. However, you embraced our adventure and supported our dream. Thank you! We had no grandchildren when we started and now we have five! We were never there for their births but you did not make us feel bad about that - we just spoke often and laughed hard. Thank you!
Remember, always embrace each day, be kind to others and live your dream! We so appreciate that we were able to live one of ours.
Dave and Mary Margaret Leu (formerly of S/V Leu Cat)
Year 10 Day 151 Pending Sale – Whoo Hoo!
01 July 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Wow! Things sure can move fast. Thanks to this blog we have just sold Leu Cat in less than 3 days! Whoo Hoo!
Just a few days ago, last Thursday to be specific, the broker who sold S/V Shift (another 2006 Lagoon 440) emailed to us his market assessment and the listing price that we should consider for Leu Cat. He is based out of BVI and I had emailed him our boat details with a word of warning that we had a blog reader who was interested in buying our boat. I told him that we would pass his information on and if the blog reader decided to buy Leu Cat, then we would sell it directly ourselves. He was fine with that but was anxious to list our boat because the 3 or 4 other people who bid on Shift, were interested in Leu Cat also.
To make a very short story shorter, Brian and Linda, who are currently exploring the jungles and Andes of Columbia, just bought Leu Cat! They are buying Leu Cat as is, along with a bunch a stuff that is aboard her. To close the deal, Leu Cat will have to pass survey inspection (this is like a home inspection when you sell your house). However, knowing Leu Cat the way we do, we are confident that she should pass with only a few very minor notables. After all, the surveyor will have to justify his fee by finding something.
Right before we first moved on aboard Leu Cat, when she was just a one year old, we had her surveyed for insurance purposes. We had her in charter for the first year while we sold our house and closed down our company. We had requested that she charter out as last in the charter fleet to lessen any wear. She went out only 8 times during that year, but that paid for all of her maintenance and dockage fee and we were able to pocket some money to boot. At that time, I was surprised that the surveyor could find anything, since she was still new. However, he did find a few very minor issues. My guess is that the upcoming survey will find a few more issues this time but nothing significant.
Brian and Linda will be flying into Sint Maarten on July 4th. We are scrambling to get the boat up to "new" condition. We have hired Kunta, a local maintenance fellow to help up with that. Thus, for 10 hours today, Mary Margaret, Kunta and I worked, worked and worked some more. We are making great progress but it is taking a toll. Both Mary Margaret and I are stiff, sore and exhausted... and we still have three more days ahead of us. Ugh!
Year 10 Day 150 This Dust Is Flying
30 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/Overcast WIth Passing Rain
Mary Margaret and I have spent the last two days tearing Leu Cat apart. We have opened every cabinet, every drawer, every door, every floor board, pulled off the various mattresses and pulled up the boards they lie over, and opened up the two forward hold hatched and climbed into what I call "The Dungeons". We have done this will a pad of paper and a pencil in hand. The reason for doing all of this is to identify, inspect and then list every item on Leu Cat, creating an inventory of all of the spare parts and other goodies we have. Mary Margaret has gone a step further and has started filling boxes and bins of stuff we will be shipping back to the US or donating locally. We took three large bins of books to the office where they will be greatly expanding their free book exchange.
We also donating a couple large bags of clothes to the dock boys who work here. I also gave one about 100 cigars. Cigars can last forever and these cigars I brought on the boat when we first moved aboard. Since, then I have gotten spoiled and now only smoke Cuban which I buy duty free from a distributor in Hong Kong for a very reasonable price. The old cigars were not Cuban and I have been using them to give to local fishermen who come up to our boat, asking for beer, booze or smokes. I will not pass out beer or booze because you never know where that may lead to but I always give out a handful of cigars. That has worked very well and we get some fish or coconuts or whatever they may have in exchange.
We once were in the middle of the Indian Ocean, not too far south from Somalia, renowned for its pirate waters when a large fishing boat saw us a few miles away. They immediately turned and headed straight toward us. I did not know what to think. As it turned out, they had been out fishing for the last few weeks and were heading back to their village with their fish. They just wanted to trade. After a large bag of old cigars was passed over to them, they threw a number of water coconuts over to us and with lots of smiles and waves, we both went on our respective merry ways.
With every possible storage area inspected, we plan on spending the next few days packing things up and getting ready to ship them back to the US. Once that is done, we can then turn to cleaning and polishing Leu Cat and I can make a few very minor and cosmetic fixes. Leu Cat is in overall excellent condition as we had been expecting to be sailing across the North Atlantic this summer. Safety first is our motto and had just finished a major retrofit to get her in tip-top condition, before we gave up our hopes of cross the ocean and, instead, decided to sell her. Thus, only a few minor things need to be addressed.
Since we are so busy packing I have hired a local fellow to wash and polish Leu Cat. I have hired another fellow to come and scrape the hulls clean. Thus, as you can imagine, the next few days are all work, work, work. With that in mind, we hope most of you will be enjoying a relaxing and fun filled July 4th holiday celebration! Ahhh... the life of a cruiser!!!!!! 😉
Year 10 Day 149 Another Whiteout
29 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/Rainy And Windy
As the weather out in the North Atlantic continues to be plagued by storms and nasty seas, our weather here is Sint Maarten has been remarkably nice. Tropical breezes blow over the hills and peaks that are to the east of us, carry across the lagoon, to arrive at our marina, keeping us, for the most part, very comfortable. At times, the winds do diminish and during some afternoons we have had to run the A/C in the salon. However, even during those hot and humid days, the evening almost always cools down and make for very pleasant sleeping conditions with just the suite's hatches opened.
Today was a bit different. One of the tropical waves, which are born every 3 or 4 days off of the coast of Northern Africa, arrived and struck with vengeance. We had been watching this sucker for the last 4 or 5 days as it marched its way towards us. Most of the tropical waves have been moving well to the south of us but this one had our name on it.
The intensity was remarkable and we knew we would be in for a dozy of a storm when we got up and saw the dark skies to the east of us. When it did strike, a whiteout occurred as the rain was so heavy we could not see the end of our finger pier just 20 feet in front of us. Not only was the rain so dense such that it wiped out any visibility but it lasted for a couple of hours. Normally, when we get a whiteout it only lasts for 15 to 30 minutes as the center of the storm moves on. However, this storm must have been so large that, with winds blowing 30 knots and water pouring from the skies, it continued on and on and on. It really was very impressive.
Since we were snug as bugs in a rug within our wonderful Leu Cat, we did not mind the deluge nor the high winds. However, the lighting and thunder was another matter. Nothing ever came close to us but we could hear the repeated roll of the thunder a few miles away.
After 6 hours of wind and rain the storm finally passed us by and by evening we were getting a very nice sunset. The monster had moved on and now Sint Maarten could begin the lengthy process of drying out.
Year 10 Day 148 OMG! What Have I Done?
28 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
It never fails to surprise us how kind and generous people are. I think the number one thing that Mary Margaret and I will keep close to our hearts from 10 years of cruising is how kind and generous people are all around the world. While we do recognize that there is evil in the world, we have repeatedly met or received emails and blog comments showing how remarkably kind and generous people are.
We have repeatedly arrived in lands unknown to us where we have been invited and welcomed into blog readers hearts and homes. Others have taken much of their precious time to give us tours that introduced us to where they lived and exposed us to their respective cultures.
When we have been lost in a locale that we had never been before, so many times have we met strangers who have gone out of their way to take us to the obscure places we were looking for. Other blog readers (who were strangers to us) when we needed help, out in the middle of the ocean, stopped what they were doing and researched our problem, talking to experts, and then emailing to us the solution we needed to get by the problem we faced. Time and time again, we have discovered so many people who we did not know that were so friendly, so kind and so generous. It makes our hearts grow with much appreciation.
It appears that this is happening again right now but this time, we must decline the generosity that is being offered. A couple of days ago I wrote a blog that shared the cost of shipping Leu Cat from the Caribbean to Spain. It was not a trivial amount and something that would add about $35,000 to our annual cruising budget. I wrote about this just to share with people the cost of shipping a boat like ours across the North Atlantic so they would have a little bit of information for potential future use.
We try to use this blog to give people who share our dream of sailing around the world useful and realistic cruising information. We are strong believers of what is called “paying it forward”. This is where you give things to other without getting anything directly back for it. In the belief, that someday, when you really need something, people will step up and help you out. This is such a basic core value to the vast majority of cruisers and is what makes the cruising community so closely knit. It is wonderful to know that so many believe this concept so strongly.
Well, to our surprise, we have received a number of emails and blog comments with offers to help us find the money to ship Leu Cat across the sea to the Med. We are so touched by these acts of unselfishness and kindness. It really underscores how much kindness there is in a world that is currently rocked with episodes of violence and hatefulness. One such couple even offered to fund $10,000 of the shipping costing. OMG! We are just so overwhelmed!
However, we need to share some of our background and thought processes that we have not written about which helped lead to our decision to “bury the hook” and end our sailing life. We need to stop these acts of kindness and generosity because it would not be right for us to accept it.
Mary Margaret and I were both raised in the Midwest by parents of significantly different backgrounds but with the same core values. One of these core values is that we need to plan and save for the future while enjoying the present to the maximum extent possible. This basic premise led us to become very strong planners. We actually created and worked off of 5-year plans during our growing years when raising our kids and working. Each year we would review our goals and objectives for ourselves and our family and, at times, modify the 5-year plan if it looked like we would fail to successfully meet it.
This process worked wonderfully for us as we have led very successful and rewarding lives. This process resulted in us moving to various places to take new jobs when it was best for us to do so. It allowed us to raise our kids in environments that created three lovely, strong, and independent children who, as adults, have very deep core values that we are so proud of.
It also resulted in us learning how to create financial plans and budgets that would allow us to realize our dreams and quality of life that we so desired. We ended up becoming financially independent to such a manner that when Mary Margaret was 56 and I was 57 we could stop working, buy an expensive, new sailboat, and sail around the world for these last 10 years. We have stayed in and explored places that many people dream about. We have been so blessed and fortunate.
The key to this financial independence is making a realistic short and long term budget and then living within those means. At times, we have had to tighten our belts and do without those things we really wanted at that moment. However, it has taught us what is really important in life and how to succeed in enjoying those important things. And, as it turns out, the majority of those things are not expensive.
We have continued creating and modifying our 5-year plans and making our budgets during these cruising years. We will continue to do so even after we “bury the hook” and return to living a more conventional life.
With all of the above in mind, we have decided that due to age, other goals in life, a few minor health issues that need to be taken care of, and, yes, staying within our rather generous annual budget, it is time to move on to the next phase of our lives. This means giving up on our dream of sailing across the North Atlantic and spending the next few years exploring the Med and soaking up that culture.
While we are disappointed in not being able to do that, we will move on to other adventures but now they will be land based. We hope to buy an RV and explore North America again. We also hope to fly over to Europe and explore from the comfort of a car, train, plane or bus. This will allow us to meet new people and soak in their culture and history based on traveling over the land. It is a very appealing idea to us. Even though we will greatly miss the sea lifestyle we have had these last 10 years.
Thus, and in closing today’s rather lengthy blog, we are so grateful to have such kind and generous blog friends who would offer to support our sailing dream of going to the Med. Such acts of kindness and generosity truly brings tears to our eyes as it demonstrated to us that our core values are shared through this world, even in times of such meanness that the daily news tends to focus on. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Year 10 Day 147 Getting To Know Leu Cat
27 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
As bizarre as the title to this blog may seem, today it really rang true. As you may know, we are into our 10th year of cruising: living on Leu Cat, day in and day out for most of that time. I have worked on just about every system and equipment piece that is on Leu Cat. One would think that I know her inside and out by now. Well, you would be correct … almost. You see, today I had to sit down and list out every piece of equipment - its name, its manufacturer, its model number and its year of origin - that Leu Cat has. It took me all day and by the time I was through, I was very frustrated, very tired and very grumpy.
This past weekend, I had inventoried all of the equipment using a walk-thru technique which means that if I saw it, I listed it. With that list, I then went to our original purchase order form that we submitted to the Lagoon folks back in December 2005 and revised it by adding or subtracting items so that my inventory was up to date. Lagoon used that form to give us its purchase price ($586,520) and then spec out the boat to build it for us. Once we moved on board, we added another $75,000 worth of equipment to make her blue water safe and comfortable and over the last 10 years we replaced or upgraded (what I call retrofit) another approximately $75,000. Our latest major retrofit was just completed a few weeks ago when we replaced all of the standing rigging, which cost about $11,000. We did this believing that we would immediately begin our sail across the North Atlantic with intent on reaching the Med and spending another 3 to 4 years there before returning to the Caribbean in 2021 and selling Leu Cat at that time.
However, as we have discovered, the weather gods had a different idea and are still huffing and puffing across that ocean, making it untenable to us to achieve our goal. Thus, with Leu Cat in excellent mechanical and physical condition, we decided now is the best time to end our cruising lives and sell Leu Cat. In getting ready to do that, the broker that we are talking with required us to list not only every bit of equipment we have on her but, today he sent us a form that requires all of the additional information that I mentioned in the first paragraph.
Have you ever tried to retrieve and collate all of the registration forms, user manuals and invoices for all of the stuff you have in your house? It is a royal pain in the arse. Fortunately, I have kept all of the literature for everything we have ever bought in one location. I have also kept the vast majority of every invoice we received and stored that in a separate location. Thus, I spent hours and hours today, matching equipment item on my inventory list to its literature and then to its invoice to get the specific information the broker and his @%$#* form required. It was an ugly day and I am not sure how Mary Margaret could stand to be on Leu Cat with me. What was so bad was there were a few items where I could not locate the manual or invoice I needed and it made for a very frustrating day. Grrrrr!
However, it is now all done and I must say, I really now know Leu Cat, inside and out, topside and bottom and from very every angle imaginative.
I guess it is now time to sell her and forget all of those details as we move on to the next phase of our lives…
Year 10 Day 146 A Desperate Try
26 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/ Sunny With Passing Showers
As you know from reading our blog this last week, we have given up on our attempt to cross the North Atlantic and sail over to the Azores and then on to Spain and finally into the Med. This has been one of our dreams and with the North Atlantic so racked by storm after storm and with the hurricane season advancing rapidly with each passing day, we have thrown in the towel and called it quits. Furthermore, we have come to the sad conclusion that now is the time to put an end to our wonderful cruising lifestyle and return to being land-based. It was not an easy decision for us to make since we so love this radically alternative way of living. It is just so rewarding and adventuresome. It is very hard to stop.
We have received lots of suggestions regarding ways to sail across the North Atlantic and have given each and every one of them a close inspection. Unfortunately, the North Atlantic has become just too unstable for us to safely cross, no matter which route we would try.
In this vane, we also received a great suggestion from a blog reader (Ange) who currently is in Greece. He suggested that we do what he did last year and just ship Leu Cat over to the Med. He shared with us that it cost him $25,000 US to do so. While a bit steep, our ears perked up and I quickly rushed to the SevenStars web site. SevenStars ships boats all around the world and that includes from St. Thomas in the USVIs to Spain. After filling out their form with high hopes of possibly doing this, we waited anxiously to see what it would cost to ship Leu Cat this August. Alas, it is not to be. The quote we got came back at $33,700. Ouch! To add that to our sailing budget for this year is just not possible. We knew it was a desperate option and a remote chance but now we know it is not in the cards for us.
We also received a suggestion that we hire a captain and crew and they sail Leu Cat over while we just fly over. However, we are not interested in this simply because it still puts Leu Cat at risk. We are not afraid to sail in storms and heavy weather. We have done that many, many times while sailing around the world. The worst storm we have sailed in had 47 knots of apparent wind blowing behind us while we were making 15 knots continuous. Thus, that was sailing in true winds of 62 knots with gusts of a bit more and the seas were between 15 and 20 high! We and Leu Cat handled it all fine as Leu Cat is such a seaworthy vessel. Also, while sailing down the South African coast we were hit, on three separate occasions, by rouge waves and within 10 seconds picked complete up and turned almost 180 degrees around. Leu Cat has time and time again proven to be a remarkable safe and stable vessel.
However, the North Atlantic has been so unstable and with such large storms there is a real risk of not being successful in making the crossing. Already, two other sailboats have been sunk and four others were not able to complete their crossing due considerable damage incurred during the June 10th storm. We just do not wish to risk Leu Cat (or ourselves) to such an unstable ocean especially with the hurricane season advancing as it is and it being predicted to be more active than usual.
Thus, despite every desperate alternative we look into, we always end up where we are at now. It is just time to call it quits and be thankful that we have had such a wonderful 10 years of cruising.
Year 10 Day 146 A New Phase
25 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/ Sunny With Passing Showers
Mary Margaret started doing something today that I never thought I would see. She took a knife and started scrapping the rubberize glue off from beneath the many statutes and keep sakes that we mounted around the salon. They are mementos from the various exotic places we have sailed to. It was a bit surreal to watch. However, we do wish to keep them and take them with us when we move back on to land.
She also spent some time going through the wicker basket we have in the salon that we use as catch-all storage place for the various knick-knacks that we use all the time while sailing. It is nice to have a place where we know we can find a sundry of little things when you need them. These things include, lip balm, sun screen, flashlights, etc. It was overflowing with stuff but now it is holding only the barest of essentials.
While she was doing the above, I took a razor blade with me and worked on removing the safety netting the we had mounted on the lifelines around the boat. The netting has been up since 2009 when we had a fisherman in Cartagena, Columbia make it for us. It was getting a little worn and the last time we were in the US, we had bought 1500 feet of new line to make new netting. We were hoping to find a fisherman in Vigo, Spain who would make us a new one and then install it. The stainless steel lifelines that run around the edge of the deck are typical lifelines that have 15 or so inches between them. We are of the opinion that if green water comes across the desk and knocks you down, you could be washed overboard between them. Now, we are never on the deck in heavy weather without our PDF and harness and we run a deck safety line from the stern cleat to the cleat next to the anchor chain run up between the bows which we hook onto. However, the harness has a 6 foot length to it and there are places where you could still be washed off the deck of the boat while hooked on. You would be dangling over the side of the boat but not in the water. Nevertheless, it would be a dangerous situation with seas washing over the deck. Thus, we added the safety netting. Fortunately, in 10 years of sailing around the world, we have never needed it.
Once the safety netting was removed, Leu Cat just looked different to us.
What we are doing is basically what one does when one is getting ready to move. Everyone has been through this process so I do not need to go into any details about what a pain in the arse it is. It is a lot of work and, in the process of doing it, there are a lot of emotions that one goes through as the memories of each little knick-knack that you handle comes rushing back. We have been so fortunate to have had so many wonderful and unique experiences in such exotic places. It is actually nice to be able to think about each one of them as we start to go through the boat.
An Inspirational Couple And Family
24 June 2017
Here is a great picture of Anais that I have grabbed from Shift's blog.
Year 10 Days 144 and 145 An Inspirational Couple And Family
24 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/ Sunny With Passing Showers
Today, Mary Margaret and I went over to get to know Andres and Sophie a bit better. They are the owners of S/V Shift, which is the Lagoon 440 that just sold yesterday. They will be on board for a few weeks more while they pack up their stuff and move off the boat.
We brought with us a six pack of beer as a thank you for introducing their broker to us a couple of days ago. Since it was only 1000, we all agreed it as too early to start guzzling beer so they offered us some nice coffee instead. We also met their 12 year old son, Enzo, and their 11 year old daughter, Anais.
What makes Andres and Sophie so remarking is that they have been sailing for a year with their family but Anais is not able to care for herself. She is their miracle baby. She was not expected to survive long after birth but through some miracle did. She only has the mental capacity of a 6 month old and while she can fed herself, she is supplementally fed through a feeding tube. Nevertheless, she is very alert with sparkly eyes and enjoys having company. She also loves the extra motion one gets during sailing and her favorite spot on the boat is up at the helm when either Andres or Sophie have the watch.
Through such constant care hardships, Andres and Sophie sailed from Gibraltar, across the North Atlantic Ocean, to St. Lucia and then from St. Lucia up the Antilles to here. They felt so lucky to have this opportunity and to share it with their kids. They are both young and hope to return to the sea again someday. In the meantime, they plan on returning to Long Beach, California where they own a few apartment complexes. They specialize in buying and then renovating them.
We encourage you to check out their blog, which is at svshift.com. In their blog, they have posted some of Enzo’s remarkable drone videos. He is such a talented videographer and captures the thrill and adventure of sailing and exploring in them. They offer such a neat perspective!
I had forgotten to bring my camera with me when we went over to Shift so I have grabbed a photo of Andres, Sophie and their children from their blog and posted it to this blog.
Year 10 Day 143 Looking At Options
22 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/ Sunny With Passing Showers
With the sad realization that we will not be sailing across the North Atlantic this year and that the end of our cruising days is staring us in the face, we dust off our list of options of what to do next. Mary Margaret and I have talked about this the last few years as we watched our cruising friends, one after another, pack it in and call what is known in the cruiser world as "burying the hook".
At the top of our list of options is selling Leu Cat, moving back to the States and then buying an RV so we can tour North America. Our wanderlust is still so strong and this option seems to beckon our souls. Our thoughts are we could do this for a few years, delaying the day we need to rent or buy a house and return to being "normal" once again.
A second option is to rent or buy a house somewhere in the US and then spend a fair amount of time traveling, especially in Europe, since we were not able to sail there and explore from the comfort of Leu Cat.
A third option is just the more typical option: simply renting or buying a house and getting involved in the community we chose to live in. The problem with this option is making the decision as to where to settle down and establish roots. Right now, we are kicking around the thought of moving back to the Ann Arbor, Michigan area, where we met and both went to University. There are many nice features to that option as Ann Arbor is a great college town with lots of neat things to do such as sporting events (great football, basketball, girls softball, etc.), wonderful theater with lots of plays and musicals, great concerts, beautiful parks and woodlands, etc., etc. etc. The problem is the winter. Michigan can get very cold and snowy and we remember so well that for 6 weeks, from mid-January through February, you seldom see the sun. It can be a bit depressing. However, one potential solution is that we would take that time to travel out west to visit our three kids and their families in Arizona and California. As I write this, it sounds better and better.
The first decision we are facing is when to sell the boat. As it turns out, a couple of days ago another Lagoon 440, S/V Shift, docked right next to us. I briefly talked with Andros and his wife. They just put their boat up for sale last week and they received 4 offers almost immediately. Wow! The offer they accepted was for $350,000 which was $15,000 over their asking price. How lucky is that!
Their broker is from BVI but came over to Sint Maarten to make sure the inspection of the hull went well today. After they returned to the marina from that short haul-out and inspection, Andros brought his broker over to meet us. I had asked Andros if he would do that so we could get a better feeling for the market.
It seems there is a very healthy demand for Lagoon 440s and people are discovering that it has a number of advantages over the newer Lagoon 450. It was an encouraging meeting and we will be pursuing more discussions with this broker over the next couple of weeks.
Plus, a blog reader has also left us a comment suggesting the he and his wife may be interested in Leu Cat as they are getting ready to follow their dream of sailing the seven seas. We shall see.
Thus, over the next several weeks we will be pursuing different leads and options, trying to figure out what to do next and when to do it. Pretty exciting times!
Year 10 Day 142 The Dreaded Tropical Wave
21 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/ Sunny With Passing Showers
Well, it final happened. These past few weeks we have been waiting for it to happen as it does each summer. It was just a matter of time and it is the main reason we will not be sailing across the North Atlantic in July. The hurricane season really starts to ramp up in July as the summer temperatures rise and the ocean sucks up the heat as the sun focuses its energy on the water directly below it. It is the seasonal rise in the ocean’s surface temperature that spawns the seasonal hurricanes. Hurricanes are just nature’s way of releasing the built up temperature in the upper 10 to 15 feet of the ocean (i.e., that portion of the ocean which is above the thermocline). It is a reflection of the second law of thermodynamics which basically says that energy naturally tries to distribute itself equally. For example, if you heat up a metal rod at one end, the heat will naturally move away from that end, traveling down the rod until the temperature up and down that rod is the same.
Hurricanes are just nature’s reflection of this second law of thermodynamics as it applies to the surface of the ocean. If you have a very warm layer of water sitting on the surface, the heat will try to move from one fluid (the ocean), to the other fluid (the air that sits on top of the ocean). As it does, it rises (we have all learned that heat rises), the air expands due to its warming, winds form as a result of that expansion, the Coriolis effect due to the earth’s spinning takes over and soon you have cyclonic movement of the wind around the low pressure cell that formed due to the rising of the heat. As this phenomenon grows and strengthens, as more and more heat is released from the ocean, a tropical depression is formed that then grows into a tropical storm and grows even more into a full-fledged hurricane.
With the advent of global warming (yes, it is really happening), there is more and more heat being put into the oceans and the result is the formation of more powerful hurricanes. As I wrote above, it is just nature’s way of trying to distribute the heat the earth and its oceans are soaking up, year after year, into the atmosphere in an attempt to balance the amount of heat around the world. So basic in concept, so deadly as a result.
The reason for the above rambling about the second law of thermodynamics as it applies to the oceans and atmosphere is that the weather models Mary Margaret and I use to predict the weather across the North Atlantic are now showing the formation of the season’s first major tropical wave that is projected to track NW from the coast of Africa, right across the route we wish to follow to get from Sint Maarten to the Azores. Up until now, most of the storms that have forced us to stay put in our marina, have been coming from the continental US. While there have been a number of other storms that have moved across our intended route that have come from the east, they have been a direct response to the major low pressure systems that moved east from the US. The west moving storms have just reflected the impact these lows have had on the North Atlantic high pressure system that the lows have pounded. I know it is a bit complicated but trust me on this.
Anyway, the models are showing that a major tropical wave will form off the coast of Africa during the last week of June and will be moving NW into the center of the North Atlantic. I have posted a picture showing what one of the models is predicting for June 29th. As you can see, it is a very nasty storm as reflected by its intense blackness. Yikes! To make matters worse, you can also see the smattering of storms that are approaching Sint Maarten (where the boat symbol is) and the nasty long front that is predicted to have come off of the continental US.
All of this just makes for a very nasty, ugly situation across the North Atlantic. It also means that the likelihood of us sailing to the Azores is all but over. Sigh. The end of our cruising lives is now becoming clearer. While we will sit here in Sint Maarten a bit longer just to make sure that these model predictions are accurate, there is so much going on across the North Atlantic that we now see little chance of it being wrong. This dreaded tropical wave is making it a sad day on Leu Cat. Sigh…
Year 10 Days 140 and 141 Still Waiting
20 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
We sit here watching Tropical Storm Bret run over Trinidad and Grenada and slowly peter out before it reaches the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) islands. We have friends in Grenada and Bonaire and they report that the storm was not too bad with winds in the 30 to 40 knot range and lots of rain. Damage to the islands was minimal with a few roofs blown off but no one seriously hurt. This is all good news as this storm could have been so much worst.
The weather across the North Atlantic still looks dubious for our attempted crossing. A major storm is blowing our way and should hit us on the 25th. Another series of storms dance across our potential route to the Azores on the 28th, 29th and 30th. However, that is so far out that the model just is not worth relying on for that prediction. If it does turns out to be true, then that would signal the end of our hopes of sailing across the Atlantic for the Med.
We have received more suggestions from friends stating the we should consider sailing up to Bermuda and sit there until the weather to the Azores settles down. We have been studying that option daily for the last few weeks but since most of the storms have been coming from the continental US, poor Bermuda and its surroundings have had its share of very bad weather. Plus, when they aren’t having storms rip over them, a number of storms have popped up between us in Sint Maarten and Bermuda, barring our way to get there. If you watch the video of the slideshow that I posted within the last blog, you can see what I mean. While not marked on the graphics of the slideshow, Bermuda is located about 10 degrees or 600 hundred miles ESE of Cape Hatterus, North Carolina.
To cheer us up, we invited Angela and Gabriel over to sundowners this evening. We had a wonderful time with them as the picture to this blog shows. They are such interesting and nice people and we are envious that they will be sailing across the South Pacific next year. To us, and most blue water cruisers, that is the absolute best cruising grounds in the world. We wish them all of the best.
Year 10 Day 139 It’s Like An Emotional Roller Coaster Ride
18 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
These last few weeks have been like an emotional roller coaster ride. There have been almost daily ups and then downs as we sit here monitoring the various weather models as they attempt to predict the weather across the North Atlantic. The predictions 3 to 5 days out have been pretty accurate. However, the further out we look, the less accurate the models have been. Sometimes they show a nice quiet high pressure system dominating the Atlantic then the next day when we look of the extended forecast, it shows a mass of storms sweeping across the route we would be taking to reach the Azores. It has been this variation in predictions that have given us this roller coaster ride of emotions. One day we are all excited and hopeful, the next day those hopes and the excitement has been dashed. Sigh.
In actuality, the North Atlantic these last three weeks has been very turbulent with one major series of storms racing across the ocean followed by another. It has been almost non-stop. To show you what I mean, I have made a video of a slideshow that I have put together documenting the actual weather patterns between May 29 and today. May 29 was the very first day that we had completed our boat projects and Leu Cat was ready to set sail across the Atlantic. To view this video, just click .
In addition to these storms racing across the North Atlantic, things are starting to be compounded by the start of the hurricane season. The first major tropical wave formed off of Africa a few days ago and by tomorrow night, it should reach the southern end of the Antilles. NOAA is now predicted that it will track directly over Trinidad and will be a tropical storm as it passes over that island. It is predicted to also brush past Grenada as it enters the Caribbean Sea. It is predicted to remain a tropical storm until it reaches Bonaire very early on Wednesday morning. While NOAA is currently predicted this weather disturbance to just be at tropical storm strength, it is also predicting that it has a 90% chance of developing into a hurricane within the next 48 hours. Yikes!
I have posted to this blog a picture of NOAA's latest track of this storm.
Year 10 Day 138 An Amazing Couple
17 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
One of the many rewarding things about cruising is the fact that you end up meeting all kinds of neat people. Many times, they are the locals that live wherever you have sailed to. Other times, it is other cruisers that you have anchored or docked near. As you sail around the world, you realize that the world is filled with such people no matter their culture, religious beliefs or ethnicity.
Today was one of those days when I got a chance to meet another very nice couple, Angela and Gabriel on S/V Pilar. They are actually parked right in front of our boat and have been here for a little while. Up until recently, they had guests with them so I would only chat with Gabriel in passing. I do not like to intrude when there a lot of people on board a boat as they may have their hands full. However, for the last day or so, it has just been Gabriel and Angela so I guess their guests have left.
Like myself, Gabriel enjoys a good cigar. Unlike myself, who just smokes one or so a day, he smokes five or six a day. He really enjoys some fine leaf! We had previously traded cigars and have talked about getting together to enjoy our cigars. This afternoon I took him up on his nice invitation and went over to S/V Pilar armed with three of my Cuban Montecristo's No 1s to give him. Once on board, I discovered that Gabriel takes enjoying cigars to a new level. He was armed with boxes of Cohiba Behikes. I further discovered that Behikes sell for about $100 a stick. Wow! This is one of the most expensive cigars on the market and is one of the world's finest. I must admit, it was a very exceptional cigar.
As we puffed on our Behike's, I got to know Angela (who does not mind the cigar smoke) and Gabriel. They are from the Chicago area and have been sailing for about a year. They never really sailed before stepping onto their Island Packet 55. They are planning on sailing around the Caribbean this year and then striking out to cross the Pacific next year after exploring the west coast of Costa Rica. I shared with them that I was envious as the South Pacific in my mind is the absolute best cruising ground in the world.
Before cruising Gabriel was a chef, learning his trade in Europe. He ended up owning three restaurants before selling two of them. He shared with me that Angela is also a fine cook also and they enjoy cooking together.
Gabriel is into extreme sports and has climbed the highest peaks in the world, including Mount Everest. He also has swum the English Channel.
They both were extremely nice and down to earth and I enjoyed my time with them both. Mary Margaret hopes to have them over to Leu Cat for sundowners, even though they both do not drink. Sounds like a spread of hors d'oeuvres might be in order. Yum!
We are still keeping an eye out on the weather. With a series of storms to the north of us and the tropical wave to the south of us, we are staying put for now. The tropical wave's chance of turning into a hurricane over the next 5 days has been downgraded to 50% by NOAA and the models that I use to track such beasts are now showing it to move just to the north of Grenada, traveling over the St Vincent/St. Lucia area on the 20th as a tropical storm. Time will tell.
Year 10 Day 137 All Hope Is Not Lost
16 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
We have received a number of blog comments and emails regarding the dilemma we are facing regarding sailing across the Atlantic or returning to Grenada to sit the hurricane season out. And while it is true the odds of us sailing to the Azores do diminish with each passing day that we sit here in Sint Maarten waiting for a reasonable weather window to open up, we still have hope that we will be able to cross the North Atlantic.
Each morning, when Mary Margaret gets up, the first question she asks me is what does the weather look like across the North Atlantic. Neither Mary Margaret nor I are ready to face the possibility that the end of our cruising life may be coming up. We really love this remarkable lifestyle and there is so much more for us to explore and learn and so many more wonderful people to meet. It is just that we are in the process of mentally preparing ourselves for the end of this lifestyle as we gloomily sit here, frustrated by the unstable weather across the North Atlantic.
Some of the emails and blog comments we have received offer excellent suggestions of what to do in order to enhance our ability to cross the North Atlantic. We greatly appreciate each and every suggestion and we do analyze each one, using a risk/reward process that we have used throughout our lives when faced with a significant potential life changing event.
We have not yet made the decision to not cross the North Atlantic. That is the reason we are still sitting here, day after day, in Sint Maarten. It is just that we are rapidly running out of time to make the decision to threw off the dock lines and head across. If before the end of the month the predicted weather looks good, we will go. Since the weather models are more reliable the closer to the day you are looking at, I believe we have until June 25th to make our decision. If it looks good before or by then, we will go. If is does not, it will be time to make plans to head for Grenada and face the reality that the end of cruising is in sight. Sigh.
Meanwhile, we continue to watch the weather. The tropical wave that we have been watching continues to grow and NOAA is now giving it a 70% chance that it may turn into a hurricane. The models I use do show it growing into a tropic storm, with winds greater than 40 knots. However, it is not showing much more development than that. It also looks like it will pass over Trinidad and Grenada before moving NW into the Caribbean and petering out before it approaches Haiti. The photo that I have posted to this blog shows NOAA's current 5 day prediction. If you wish to view a Weather Channel video about this tropical wave and its development, just click HERE
Year 10 Days 135 and 136 Odds Are Tilting Against Us
15 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
With each passing day, the likelihood of us sailing across the North Atlantic diminishes. This is because of a number of reasons. First, the North Atlantic weather patterns continue to look marginal, at best, in supporting a “Go” decision. The atmosphere continues to look unstable with a number of storms predicted to roar across the route we would like to take. I have attached a picture of the weather patterns predicted for June 22th to show you what I mean.
Another reason is that the 2017 hurricane season is predicted by NOAA and others to be a bit more intense than normal. NOAA is predicting 11 to 17 named storms (winds 39 mph or higher) of which 5 to 9 of them could become hurricanes. An average year there are just 12 named storms and 5 hurricanes. While we just had three weeks of major storms sweeping across the North Atlantic, with one of them yielding winds of 60 mph, NOAA did not count these storms nor did it name them. I am not sure why this is the case but I guess it is because these storms were not tropical in origin. The tropics is defined as that part of the earth which falls between the Tropic of Cancer (a line located at 23°26′13.3″ north of the Equator and represents the northern extent of where the Sun can be directly overhead) and its southern equivalent, the Tropic of Capricorn. The Tropic of Cancer runs east and west and is located just north of Cuba. The storms that recently ran across the North Atlantic all originated in the Continental US, well above the Tropic of Cancer. Thus, and again I am guessing, they were not tropical in nature and may not have qualified to be named tropical storms.
The third reason deals with the lack of tropical storms and hurricanes so far, this year and the statistical fact that each day we delay our departure the odds of one or more forming during the three weeks it would take us to reach the Azores greatly increases.
If you look at the table I posted two days ago that listed the 2016 name storms and hurricanes, we had 3 in the early part of June and none in July. This year, with only 1 tropical storm through mid-June, there is an increase in odds of more storms and hurricanes in July. If we were to set sail for the Azores in late June, we would be exposed in the North Atlantic for about three weeks and would have an increased likelihood of running into a tropical storm or hurricane during that passage. With each passing day, we are getting more and more hesitant to take that increased risk on.
We Are In The Hurricane Season
13 June 2017
Here is the graphic that shows the location of the strong tropical wave that just formed off the coast of Africa and may turn into a tropical disturbance. It also shows the projected track it may take over the next 5 days. It is projected along a remarkably southern track. The coriolis force, which is the force that generates the spinning motion of the winds around a low pressure system that form a hurricane is very weak this close to the equator. Thus, it must be a very powerful tropical wave to even have any odds placed on it regarding its formation of a hurricane.
We Are In The Hurricane Season
13 June 2017
Here is the table that lists the various tropical disturbances of 2016 for the North Atlantic. It also shows their timing.