LeuCat Adventures

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30 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
29 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
28 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
27 September 2016
27 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
26 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
25 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
24 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
22 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
20 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
19 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
18 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
17 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
16 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
15 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
13 September 2016
13 September 2016
13 September 2016
13 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
12 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten

Year 9 Day 243 More On Hurricane Matthew

30 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
Dave/Mostly Sunny And Windy

We seemed to have dodged a major bullet with what is now Hurricane Matthew. It passed to the south of us while we sat “snug as a bug in a rug” here in Sint Maarten. As I have previously written, the low pressure cell that spawned Hurricane Matthew passed over the southern Windward Islands as a tropical depression then quickly turned into a tropical storm. As it did so, it battered Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Martinique; with Martinique getting the worst of it with one reported gust of up to 80 mph.

Within about 12 hours of it turning into a tropical storm, Matthew then slowed down and strengthened into a Category 1 Hurricane. It passed a bit to the north of Bonaire, with just tropical storm strength winds reaching down onto that island. Whew!

It then continued to grow in size and strength, quickly passing through the stages of Category II, III and IV hurricanes and is now a monster Category V hurricane with winds roaring up to 160 mph. OMG!! It has turned north and is slowly moving toward Jamaica at just 7 mph. Along with the deadly winds, Matthew is also bringing lots of rain with 15 inches per day reported and with the possibility of up to 25 inches per day in isolated locations. Poor Jamaica is going to be pounded by both deadly winds and massive rain and runoff.

We are keeping our eyes peeled on the weather here in Sint Maarten. Another tropical wave is heading our way with another storm. However, it is projected to move to well to the north of us and does not appear to have the right conditions to strengthen into something of real concern. Nevertheless, we are watching it carefully.

Today, we have two visitors to Leu Cat. First was Bruce, an Aussie we have met who is getting ready to sail to Australia with his girlfriend, who is from South Africa. They are planning on leaving here in October with hopes of spending a year or so in French Polynesia before arriving in Australia. We are so envious of them as we enjoyed the South Pacific two years there (2010 and 2011) and believe it is the best sailing venue in the world. Bruce was interested in buying a few of our Garmin e-charts. However, the data stick that we use in our old 276C handheld chart plotter is not compatible to his much newer chart plotter. Darn!

Next, we were visited by Deni of S/V Pau Hana. She and her husband, Mike, just started their cruising adventure this past May. Deni was interested in looking at our shade tarp to see how it connects to Leu Cat and how the various lines hold it up. She was very smart in buying a very nice shade tarp while back in the US recently and is anxious to install it. We so enjoyed her visit that we ended up spending much of the afternoon chatting and getting to know each other. It is so neat to listen to her talk about their getting ready to cruise and some of their early experiences as it reminded us of what we went through when we first started. They are about the same age us we were when we started this adventuresome lifestyle 9 years ago. We hope to get together again this Sunday evening for diner at an Indian restaurant that they have discovered. We are looking forward to meeting Mike and learning more about their plans.

Year 9 Day 242 The Storm Slowly Passes

29 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
Dave/Overcast With Wind

The winds stayed strong and steady through night and remained so this early morning. They were blowing a steady 30 to 35 knots. Tropical Storm Matthew surprised everyone by strengthening overnight and by this morning it was upgraded to a hurricane. Not only did it quickly intensify but it slowed down its forward progress and expanded its area of influence, which was the reason we had such stiff winds for so long. Instead of being just outside the fringe of the storm, we were inside its outer edge. NOAA has recently predicted that Matthew will be upgraded again soon into a Major Hurricane with winds predicted to be well above 110 mph. It should stay at that rating until after it passes over Jamaica early next week.

Through the afternoon we knew the worst was behind us as the winds started to diminish, with just fits of gusts up to 35 knots. The continuous wind was only about 20 knots. Finally, this evening, even the fits of gusts stopped and things started to return to its normal quiet calm. I put our shade tarp back up, hopped in the hammock and enjoyed my nightly Cuban without the wind blowing me away.

We are so happy we stayed put here in Simpson Bay and did not run over to Ile Fourchue. We would have been safe there but would have also been another 15 miles toward the center of the storm. I am sure we would have rocked and rolled with the seas wrapping around the corners of that small little island, making our life a bit uncomfortable. Instead, we were snugged down in the marina with all of the comforts of home with the A/C running, the Internet humming, enjoying a bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce and all of the other conveniences of a marina. In fact, with the gusts still blowing, we ventured forth and walked down the main road a bit to go grocery shopping. We remember Sint Maarten as having great baby back ribs so we went to stock up for our last 6 weeks of our cruising season. Along the way to the grocery store, Mary Margaret stopped at a hair dresser and made an appointment for tomorrow morning to get her hair cut.

As Mary Margaret wrote in her blog the other day, while we love being in remote anchorages, we are appreciating the conveniences that this nice marina offers us here in Sint Maarten…

Year 9 Day 241 The Wind, She Be A Blow’n

28 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten

As the nasty low pressure cell pushed her way across the Southern Windward Islands today, it intensified and quickly turned into a Tropical Depression and then a Tropical Storm. It is now called Tropical Storm Matthew. Along with intensifying, it also spread its wings and grew in its area of impact. Here, tucked away safely in Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten, we were expecting winds in the 20 to 25 knot range with gusts up another 10 or so knots. However, we have been getting continuous winds in the 30 to 35 knot range. It has been awhile since we have had continuous winds that strong. When we spent the winter in Simonstown, South Africa we had continuous winds of 40 to 45 knot for days and even weeks at a stretch. Thus, the winds we are getting now are not really a big deal to us. But they sure are noisy as they howl and howl.

We are so glad we decided to just hunker down in Sint Maarten and let this storm pass by. As you can see from the photo posted with this blog, it ended up traveling a bit further north of its projected track than expected. Originally, it was thought to pass over Grenada but, instead, it passed over the Windwards Islands closer to St. Lucia with Martinique (which is immediately to the north of St. Lucia) getting the worst of it. A wind gust of 80 knots was reported there. Matthew is expected to grow into a hurricane Friday as it turns north and heads for Jamaica.

To while the time away as the winds strengthened here, I decided to don the hookah and dive around Leu Cat to clean the barnacles from some of the thru-hulls. The two thru-hulls that provide cooling water for our heat pumps on the port and starboard side were becoming fouled. This decreased the flow of cooling water and prevented our salon and bedroom heat pumps from working as well as they should. Using the hookah instead of just skin diving made the job a snap as I could stay underwater and focus on getting the job done instead of poking my head up to the surface to get breaths of air. I was done in just 10 minutes.

Weather Watch Continues

27 September 2016
This is the projection of where the system we are monitoring will be and how it will have developed by Friday. By then it should be of tropical storm strength. During the weekend it is projected to turn north and as it reaches Jamaica, it may be of hurricane strength.

Year 9 Day 240 Weather Watch Continues

27 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
Dave/ Most Sunny And WIndy

It looks to me that the storm brewing to the south of us is taking a bit longer to develop. This is good news for the southern Windward Islands and for the ABC islands. However, this means that the stronger winds will be spread out a bit more also. This has a little bit bigger impact on us since we are on the pole side of the low pressure system, where the winds tend to be the strongest. With low pressure systems in the northern hemisphere, the winds are stronger on the pole side as compared to the equator side. This is because the winds circulate in a counter-clockwise fashion around a low pressure system and are aided by the naturally blowing westerly winds of the trades. On the equator side of a low, the winds are blowing to the east, which are diminished some by the trades. In other words, the wind around a low are reinforced on the pole side and are diminished on the equator side due to the westerly flow of the trades. The graphic I have taken from Windytv.com shows this very well with the stronger winds colored in the deeper red tones.

I will post a graphic above this post which projects what this system will do in a few days. As you can see, it will be much better organized with a well-defined center and much more strength to it. Further analysis of this system indicated that it may form into a hurricane as it deflects north and approaches Jamaica.

Year 9 Day 239 The Big Debate

26 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
Dave/Mostly Sunny

One of the reasons we have decided to extend our stay here in Sint Maarten was to watch the first of the 2016 Presidential Debates. Being cruisers, who rise with the sun and go to bed with the sun, I thought we would have a hard time staying up to watch it. It started at 2100 our time which is a bit past our usually bedtime. However, neither one of us yawned as we sat and watched it live on our computer. It was most interesting and was really the first chance for us to catch a live viewing of the two candidates. We found it to be most interesting as each candidate spewed forth their differences in ideology and repeatedly attacked each other. We try not to get into our political persuasions in our blog. Political beliefs and preferences are a personal matter and we all come from different backgrounds that influence our perspectives. We feel that everyone is entitled to their position, and their position should be respected. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have strong positions on this election, we just do not believe this should be the forum to discuss them.

While we waited for the debate, Mary Margaret spent the afternoon making her great meatballs and for dinner we enjoyed hearty and sloppy meatball sandwiches. Oh, were they yummy! Meanwhile, I kept a sharp lookout on the weather as the nasty tropical wave is getting closer and closer to the southern part of the West Indies. It certainly looks to me that the system will turn into a tropical storm and once it passes the Windward Islands, should turn into a hurricane. It should track right over the ABC islands as it intensifies. The last hurricane to attack Bonaire was just weeks after we left it in August, 2008. Here we are again in the Caribbean and it looks like it may be hit again. That would be a shame as Bonaire has some of the most remarkable coral formations we have seen anywhere in the world and hurricanes can do a lot of permanent damage to reefs.

Year 9 Day 238 Thoughts About Old Cruiser Friends

25 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
Mary Margaret/Mostly Sunny

This is Mary Margaret! Yes, I know I have not written the blog in a lonnggggg time but I did not have much to say! (in the blog!!!!) However, being here in the marina, I once again discovered an A-HAH moment and thought it was worth sharing with you.

When we first started cruising, just about everyone we met had sailed longer than we did! Easily accomplished! But we noticed that most really liked to stay in marinas. We could not understand why. Some said they found it easier to accomplish their goals of living on the boat. Others could not tell us why, they just did. Well, now being older, and having accomplished our dream of circumnavigating the world, I think I understand better. Living in a quite marina is just EASIER!!!!!! This marina is basically empty and so it is quiet. It is near the center of town, so we can do our shopping very simply. The food is good. The internet is GREAT! Also, we just enjoy for now kicking back and relaxing! Quite and simple works right now for us. Next year I will want to explore and sail to the Mediterranean but just being settled and comfortable is perfect!

Yesterday, we spoke with all of our children and grandchildren. It was great seeing and hearing everyone. There is nothing more comforting to a parent than seeing all of their children doing well. That took care of 4 hours, the rest of the time we watched the Michigan play on U-Tube and watched the MSU game on U-Tube as well.

It looks like we may end up spending another week here. The US presidential debate is tonight and a nasty storm is brewing its way toward the Windward Islands part of the West Indies. That is to the south of us so it makes no sense to sail toward a nasty storm until it is well past us. This will not be until the latter part of this week. By then, the next Michigan football game will be whispering in our ears to stay a day or two longer to watch it. Michigan, who is No. 4 in the country will be playing Wisconsin, who is No. 8 in the country. It should be an epoch showdown between two great teams. How can we even think of missing that????

Year 9 Days 236 and 237 More On The Weather, Saildrive and Football

24 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
Dave/Mostly Sunny

We are still looking to leave Sint Maarten next week and start our return passages back to Grenada. We will be parking good ol’ Leu Cat there in mid-November to return to the States for the holiday season. However, as we start looking forward to moving on, the weather may actually delay our departure. Up until now, there really has not been any nasty weather impacting the Lesser Antilles this summer. But, as we look at the weather picture for next week, it looks like a tropical depression may be heading toward the Antilles and arriving mid-next week. The graphic that I have posted to this blog shows the expected track that this storm should take. The weather projections that I am tracking indicate that the worse part of the storm will be passing over Grenada by mid next week. That is well to the south of us but we could get 25 to 30 knots winds as we start our passage making. We will be watch this system closely to determine if we just sit here to wait until it passes by or make the short run to Ile Fourchue, a little island that lies between us and St. Barts. It would be an upwind passage of just 10 or 15 miles but those miles would not be much fun as we would be bashing into the wind and waves most of the way. A smarter move would be to just sit tight in our protected lagoon here in Sint Maarten, enjoying the great Internet until the storm passes us by.

The last two days have been spent getting the shift lever back into the port side saildrive. When I took it out to replace its oil seal and O-ring, I discovered that I needed to knock out a spring pin to get to the seal and O-ring. I did not have the proper tool to do that so I ran it over to Peter of the Engineering & Marine Service Center who removed the pin and slipped on the seal and O-ring for $40 US. Not a bad deal.

I then took the shift lever back to Leu Cat and re-inserted it and tested it. It did not leak any oil but, instead, the saildrive kept slipping out of gear. Grrrrr. As it turned out, the shifter, which is a metal piece that presses into the gearbox to shift the saildrive to forward, neutral or reverse is slightly worn and would now slip when I shifted gears. To adjust for this wear, I had to now move the cylinder pin forward. This, again, took a special tool to measure the needed tolerance so Peter returned to work his magic. The result is everything is working now, even though this simple job took two days and some special tools and more help than I would like to admit.

Today, Mary Margaret and I listened to two football games. In the first game MSU lost to Wisconsin and in the second game our alma mater, Michigan, beat Penn State to stay unbeaten. Yea! We had hoped that MSU would have won so both MSU and Michigan could have been unbeaten when they play each other next month. However, that is not to be.

Year 9 Days 234 and 235 Keeping The Weather Watch

22 September 2016 | Simpson Bay Marina Sint Maarten
Dave/ Mixed Sun With Rain
We are still watching the weather closely even though nothing is too threatening. There are a couple of storms battering the North Atlantic right now. The first is Tropical Storm Karl, which is projected to turn into a hurricane within the next 72 hours, after it passes Bermuda. The other is Tropical Storm Lisa, which is supposed to downgrade to just a Tropical Depression within the next 36 hours as it heads north. A new tropical wave is forming off of Africa and is supposed to move quickly across the Atlantic to impact the Lesser Antilles by next week. However, it is not supposed to be much of a storm, just a bunch of rain and some wind in the 25 to 30 knot range.

Before we started our passages north from Grenada at the start of this year, I had read one prediction that the Lesser Antilles should not have any hurricanes this years as it was predicting that they would all head to the north. So far, that prediction has been spot on. We still have a couple of months left into this season so anything can still happen. However, since we will be heading south next week, the concerns I had regarding being in the way of a hurricane or tropical storm will be decreasing with each mile we move south.

Besides keeping a close eye on the weather, not much is happening right now as we putter on some minor boat projects to help pass the time until Monday, when the first US Presidential Debate will be. We have opted to stay put until then so we can watch the debate on YouTube. We have such great high speed Internet here at the marina that we wish to utilize it to the max while we have it.

Right now I am puttering along making a number of anchor chain makers. These are short lengths of 10 mm blue line that I am cutting and then inserting into the chain links. They will mark every 25 feet of chain. These will be my visible markers of how much chain we let out each time we anchor. We do have a meter readout on our handheld chain counter but it tends to go blank at times: thus, the need for the visible chain markers. The old chain markers I have been using for the last so many years are finally wearing out and need replacing.

I am also puttering with our port saildrive. The gear shifter is slowing leaking some saildrive oil. I have bought a new oil seal and O-ring to replace the ones that are worn. It is my hope that replacing these will stop the slow leak.
Vessel Name: Leu Cat
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 440
Hailing Port: Dana Point, CA
Crew: Mary Margaret and Dave Leu
About: Our goals are to spend the next 10 to 15 years cruising around the world and sharing this adventure with family and friends.
Extra: S/V Leu Cat is Lagoon 440 rigged for blue water sailing. It is 44 feet long with a 25 foot beam
Leu Cat's Photos - Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI January 2008
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Houses overlooking Nanny Cay, Tortorla, B.V.I.
Houses overlooking Nanny Cay, Tortorla, B.V.I.
Added 11 January 2008

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