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

26 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
25 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
24 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
22 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
21 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
20 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
18 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
17 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
16 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
15 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
13 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
12 June 2017
12 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
11 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
10 June 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten

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
Dave/Mostly Sunny

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
Dave/Mostly Sunny
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
Dave/Mostly Sunny
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.
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