LeuCat Adventures

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25 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
24 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
23 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
22 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
21 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
20 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
19 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
18 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
16 May 2017 | FKG Rigging, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
15 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
14 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
13 May 2017
13 May 2017
13 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
12 May 2017
12 May 2017
12 May 2017
12 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
11 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
10 May 2017 | FGK COle Bay, Sint Maarten

Year 10 Day 118 Looking For Projects

25 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/Mostly Sunny
Today is a local holiday and many stores and all services are closed. With the fleet here in Sint Maarten dwindling due to the approaching hurricane season, an atmosphere of being more laid back by the locals is become more prevalent. This runs in the face of our being anxious to start our passage across the North Atlantic. The weather files that I analyze each day supports leaving as the North Atlantic high has become established and appears to be strong enough to keep the lows that spin off of the North American continent mostly to the north. Leaving between now and the end of the month looks to be ideal with the first 350 nm having 15 knots from the east. After that, one gets into the North Atlantic High and would need to motor for a few days to get to the northern edge of it. Once there, it looks like one would be able to ride the more steady winds all the way to the Azores. Of course, reality is always different than what one plans but it is looking much better now than even just a few weeks ago.

I have posted to this blog a photo showing what our potential course, daily distance and general wind patterns are projected to look like. If it were to bear true, our distance to the Azores would only be about 2300 nm and would just take 15 days. Let's see how reality will compare to this projection.

As we sit here in the marina during this holiday, both Mary Margaret and I searched the boat for projects to keep us busy. Mary Margaret decided the owner's hull needed cleaning so she repaired to our side of the boat armed with soap and scrub brush. She not only made everything spic and span but also scrubbed the ceiling to remove any mold that was trying to find a home.

While she did that, I opened up a can of white paint and went around the outside of the boat, touching up the edging paint around our hulls' windows. This area of the boat gets lots of swells washing up against it and, over time, some of the trim paint flakes off. After three coats, each window looked nice and trim.

We have our fingers crossed that the diesel mechanic comes tomorrow to install the pinion gear shaft and the riggers come to tweak the tension of the side shrouds. If they do, we may be able to move from the marina and get out of the lagoon. We would anchor in Simpson Bay so we could spend a couple of days at anchor, cleaning the bottom of the boat before we head out for the Azores. We shall see....

Year 10 Day 117 Provisioning

24 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/Mostly Sunny
This morning we rented a little car and did some errands. First, we dropped our 15 pound propane tank off at the fill station. We have 5 propane tanks which hold a total of 90 pounds of propane. This usually lasts us a year. This particular tank was the one that had been feeding our oven and stove and with all of the cooking Mary Margaret has been doing, we wanted to top it up. Since our propane tanks will be useless in Europe (we have read that they use Camping Gaz that are supplied in much smaller containers) we wanted to leave with as much propane as we can carry. We will need to switch to Camping Gaz once we arrive in Europe and run out of propane.

When we dropped the propane bottle off, we were told to come back on Friday since tomorrow is a holiday. In fact, we later learned that both the diesel tech and the riggers will not return to Leu Cat until Friday because of the holiday. Furthermore, it is iffy on the diesel tech because of how backed up he is. At least our engine part is here and, if we keep our fingers tightly crossed for good luck, we may have it installed on Friday. We will just have to wait and see.

After dropping the propane bottle off we headed over to Philipsburg where Le Grande Marche is located. $350 later, our little car was packed with goodies that will keep us happy until we cross the Atlantic and reach Spain.

After returning to Leu Cat and putting away the goodies, I then ran a few more errands with the car. Recently, we watched some YouTube videos on Med mooring techniques. We have been told this is the predominant way boats tie up in the marinas in the Med. We have only done Med mooring a few times in the 10 years of sailing so we wanted to watch and learn more on perfecting this technique. As with all docking, when the wind is not blowing, it looks to be easy-peasy. However, one video showed a boat Med Mooring in 20 knots of cross wind and it is very ugly. Fortunately, the captain was smart as he had lots and lots of fenders on both side of his boat. This helped him avoid some serious damage to both his boat and the other boat the wind kept blowing him in to. This video convinced us that we needed some more fenders. Thus, off I went to Island Water World.

We had 7 fenders on Leu Cat so I bought 3 more to allow us to have 5 per side. Hopefully, this will be enough to help protect Leu Cat from any significant damage if we have to Med moor in high winds.

While was I gone, Mary Margaret got another urge to cook. Thus, I was rewarded with a snack of her delicious Baba ghanoush. Scooped using her homemade seed crackers, I was in seventh heaven!

Year 10 Day 116 Cooking Frenzy

23 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/Mostly Sunny
Mary Margaret continued her cooking frenzy today. With the A/C going full force to swap out the heat from the oven for the cool refreshing air it produces, she blazed away making her killer lasagna and then followed that up with a double batch of meatloaf. With a portion of the delicious lasagna set aside for dinner tonight, the rest of the lasagna and all of the meat loaf went into the two freezers. After she was done, she declared a well-deserved victory and called an end to all of her cooking. She has calculated that we now have enough meals available for the next 30 days. Wow!

While she was cooking, I chose to defrost the salon freezer and refrigerator. By doing this, I was also able to inventory all of the food that we have in those two appliances. Yesterday, I had inventoried the food that is frozen in our portable freezer which is currently sitting in our forward guest side bathroom. It is in the bathroom that we really do not use and it is out of the way there. Armed with this inventory, we decided that we really do not need any more food besides some fresh veggies and some staples such as nuts, juice, Kleenex and coffee. This will make shopping at the Grand Mache a snap tomorrow.

I also spent the day working on restoring our AIS to working order. AIS stands for Automatic Identification System and it is a device that sends out VHS radio signals from our boat and also receives such signals from other vessels in our area. It allows us and them to track each other for collision avoidance purposes. It is a major part of our safety program while we are passage making. Yesterday, I inadvertently knocked our system offline.

One of the problems I face due to the "itchy butt" syndrome I wrote about yesterday is that while sitting in a location for too long, I start to look for projects to work on to keep me busy. Yesterday, I decided to tune up our AIS. Every now and again, Raymarine makes a software update available for its equipment. I noticed that our AIS software was dated 2012 and Raymarine had an update from 2015 available. Naturally, I just had to go in and try to update our AIS with this newer software. As it turned out, this was a mistake since our AIS was working just fine and by the time I had uploaded and installed the new software, it stopped working. Mary Margaret was not too pleased with me, especially after I called the Raymarine tech support group and the technician suggested that I package the unit up and send it to them to work on. Oh, oh, this was not good, especially since we plan on starting our passage in less than a week.

Before he and I could go through all of the troubleshooting procedures, our internet based call was dropped and before I could reconnect, it was 1700 and they were now closed. Thus, I spent the rest of the evening and part of this morning, Googling for solutions. Before the support group's office opened this morning, I found a possible solution that looked promising (if you are interested to see it, go to: http://raymarine.ning.com/forum/topics/ais-software-update?xg_source=activity). Thus, I spend this morning following the steps that solution suggested. By the time I was done, the AIS unit was back on line and I felt a wave of relief. Whew! Mary Margaret, while pleased with the result, was not happy that I had knocked the unit off-line to begin with but she is used to me doing such stupid things. It seems that I have a history of taking a step backwards before taking two steps forward and this is just too anxiety providing for her. I cannot say that I blame her as I too was sweating bullets until the darn thing was back on-line.

Year 10 Day 115 Its Hot And Muggy

22 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/Hot And Muggy

Thank goodness Mary Margaret spent another day cooking away. Not only will we be rewarded by her efforts during our passage to the Azores, but it also gave us an excuse to run the A/C all day. It was hot, hot, hot and muggy, muggy, muggy. Each time I went outside I was blasted by the hot sun and was soon dripping wet due to the humidity. This made returning into the cool salon so pleasant.

Mary Margaret made lots of chili, chocolate chip bar cookies, a type of cracker made with different types of seeds (a recipe she got from some friends of ours while we were in South Africa) and chicken paprikash, which is a Hungarian dish that she learned from her grandmother. Oooooh! It is soooo good. We ended up having a portion of it for dinner with the rest destined for the freezer.

Between bouts of slaving at the stove, she and I grabbed our shopping bags and returned to the nice supermarket that is just up the road from us. We are buying the various ingredients there that Mary Margaret needs for the dishes that she has been making. However, we are thinking that we will rent a car later in the week and drive down to Philipsburg where the Grand Marche is located. Their fruits and veggies are a bit fresher and we need the freshest we can get for our passage. They would last longer during our two plus week passage.

Year 10 Day 114 Anxious To Make The Jump

21 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/Hot And Muggy

The longer we stay in one place, the more anxious I am to leave. It is a mental state that I call “itchy butt”. The itch is now getting stronger with every day we are here in Simpson Bay Marina.

Each day I analyze the weather patterns of the North Atlantic and things seem to be in the process of settling down. Right now, it looks like the end of the month will be an ideal time to make to jump over to the Azores. Now, all we have to do is to have the pinion gear arrive and then inserted back into our starboard engine this week. I have my fingers crossed that will happen so we will be ready.

Mary Margaret continued her cooking quest today as she made numerous batches of cookies and then a big pot of chili. All are destined for the freezer so they can be taken out and enjoyed during the passage. It was so hot and humid today that with the oven and stove top blazing away, we had to run the air conditioner in the salon. It was the first time we ran it in quite a while. Since I was doing a few little projects out on the deck, it was wonderful to return to the salon and enjoy the coolness. Of course, in the middle of Mary’s cooking, the island had a power outage. Fortunately, it was between finishing the cookies and starting the chili so Mary Margaret opened up the windows and just waited until the late afternoon to start her chili. By then the power had been restored so the A/C was fired up again.

Year 10 Day 113 Break Break

20 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/Mostly Sunny

One of the items on our check list for passage making is seeing if our SSB radio is working. With the advent and expansion of the Iridium satellite network and the more reasonable cost options they offer, the need for an SSB radio on board a cruising boat is diminishing. We now have the Iridium Go, which pairs with our smart phone so we have 24/7 communication worldwide. It also allows us to post our daily blog, send and receive emails and request and download weather reports and GRIB files. Thus, it basically replaces the function of the SSB radio. It also has the advantage of not having to figure out which frequencies one should use depending on the time of day and solar interferences.

Nevertheless, we still have our 10-year-old SSB and I was anxious see if it was still working. Ally, of S/V Blue Heeler, has set up a radio net for those boats that are sailing to the Azores. A number of boats left last week and she has been conducting the net each morning at 0700. She has not been able to reach many of them as the atmospheric conditions and the condition of their respective radios are variable. However, she has been in contact with a few of the boats and they pass on information about those boats that she cannot reach.

This morning at 0700 I fired up the ol’ Icom 802 SSB and could hear Ally just fine. However, I was not surprised since she was just sitting about a half mile from us out in Simpson Bay. I was just picking up the ground wave that she was propagating. Fortunately, I was also able to pick up the one other boat that Ally was able to receive. This boat, whose name was garbled, was located at 31 33’N:55 25’N or almost a 1000 nm to the NNE of us. The signal was weak but I could hear most of what she was reporting. Ally moves through a set of 4, 6, 8 and 12 Megahertz frequencies in hopes of making contact and it was on the 8297.0 MHz frequency that she and I were able to hear this other boat.

I was able to test our calling signal to Ally and she heard us just fine. I did not try hailing the other boat as I did not wish to interfere with Ally’s established net.

Based on this test, I have concluded that our radio is receiving just fine and it is sending out a signal. In the next few days, I will try hailing Ally again since they started their passage making today for the Azores to see how strong our sending signal is.

Mary Margaret has started cooking up a storm as she prepares the various dinners we will be having during our passage. Today, she made eggplant parmesan. She will be making dinners each day between now and when we leave (hopeful in about a week) and then she freezes them. While underway, she just whips out a tasty meal and zips it in the microwave. This assures us of a yummy dinner each night, regardless of the conditions of the seas. You would be surprised how important it is to morale to have a great meal each evening.

Year 10 Day 112 Bon Voyage

19 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/Mostly Sunny

Today Tyrell finished hooking up our electrical wires that run up the mast to the boat. His worker must not have done a very good job yesterday because it took Tyrell a couple of hours to finish things off and when he was completed, he told me his was not going to bill for an hour of the time he spent. Fortunately, everything is working now.

Thus, we are now down to our last significant project, which is not really all that significant. However, it is something that I cannot do. For that project to be completed, we first need to have a new pinion gear be sent to the island so it can be installed. Once installed, the saildrive oil seal and then the pulley seal can be installed on our starboard engine. We are hoping that will be done by mid next week.

This evening, we got together with Wayne and Ally of S/V Blue Heeler, Brian and Emma of S/V Coruisk, and Jim, Kathy and Alex of SV Inishnee. Blue Heeler and Inishnee will be leaving for the Azores tomorrow morning, while Coruisk is waiting for Emma’s husband to come up from Grenada before the three of them start on their passage to the Azores. We have been bumping into Blue Heeler and Coruisk since our days in the Indian Ocean and the Java Sea. It will be great to see them again up in the Azores!

We first all got together at the Simpson Bay Yacht Club, a local hangout right next to the bridge that leads out to Simpson Bay. We met for happy hour where my gin and tonic was only $3. The picture that I posted to this blog is of our motley group.

After a few drinks and a couple of hours we next headed off to Little Jerusalem, a restaurant that Kathy highly recommended for their shawarmas. Since Mary Margaret and I love shawarmas, we seconded Kathy’s recommendation and off we all went.

The portions were large and the shawarmas were great, as was the company. As it got later and later it was time to call it a night. It was hard to say goodbye but we all knew that we would see each other in a few weeks up in Horta, the capital of the Azores.

Bon Voyage, guys! We hope you all have a great sail and we look forward to getting together again soon.

Year 10 Days 110 and 111 Moving Along…Slowly

18 May 2017 | Simpson Bay Marina, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/Mostly Sunny

Yesterday morning, in a most leisurely fashion, FKG finally buttoned up their work on our rigging and sent us on our way. I had to gently crack the whip since they had sent their workers to other boats instead of working on ours. I was not too pleased but things finally got done and we motored over to Simpson Bay Marina.

Today, we had the engine tech come over to work on our starboard engine. After raising it and turning it sideways so he could get access to the seals that he needed to replace, he pulled the saildrive’s pinion shaft and discovered that it was scoured. This scouring was the chief reason the seal was leaking, even though the seal only had about 30 hours on it. He immediately recommended that he stop work and order a new pinion shaft before replacing its seal. This seemed most logical to me so I agreed. Thus, the engine work is on hold as we wait for the part to be ordered and sent to Sint Maarten. Sigh.

Tyrell, our local electrician also came today to rewire our various wires that run up the mast back to the leads that run throughout the boat. Since he is heavily impacted, he set up his helper to do this work but his help was a bit overwhelmed and did not finish the task. Thus, we are waiting for Tyrell to return to finish the work.

Meanwhile, we are putzing along, working on our respective little projects to get ourselves ready to sail over to the Azores in 10 days or so.

Year 10 Day 109 Slowly She Goes Up

16 May 2017 | FKG Rigging, Cole Bay, Sint Maarten
Dave/Mostly Sunny

We got a call around 0745 this morning from FKG telling up that they had cleared the quay and, if we were ready, we could come over at any time. They said the crane should arrive around 0930 and they could have us in and out by early afternoon.

With that welcomed news, we put aside our cups of coffee, prepped the boat, fired up the engines, tossed off the dock lines and motored into the wind to cross the bay. The winds were piping up between 15 and 20 knots but they were blowing off of the quay so coming into FKG, scrapping by the various boats that were in the way, was not too much of a challenge. Soon Mary Margaret was tossing the dock lines like a pro and we were snugged up close to the quay, waiting for the crane to arrive.

And then we waited, waited, and waited some more. 0930 ran by, 1100 ran by and 1230 ran by; all without any sight of the crane. Lunchtime for the FKG workers is between 1230 and 1330 but we were told that the crane was to come over during the lunch period and they would be all set up to start at 1330.

With that information, Mary Margaret and I got off the boat and walked the few feet to Lagoonies, the local cruiser hangout and restaurant to have lunch and a drink. When we returned to Leu Cat it was 1330 and we were expecting to see the crane sitting in front of Leu Cat. It was not to be.

Finally, at 1400, the crane lumbered into FKG’s yard and edged up to the quay in front of Leu Cat. It took another 30 minutes for the various workers to finish whatever they had been working on and come over to hook up our mast. Within 30 minutes after that, our mast was refitted back onto our boat and the crane lumbered away. The rest of the very hot and humid day was spent tightening and tuning the shrouds and head stay, remounting the boom and threading the running rigging. By 1700 we were told they would need another hour or so to finish so they would return tomorrow morning to finish the work.

Island time reins and there just is not much one can do but grin and bear it. We get to spend another night on this side of the island, making friends with the very friendly mosquitos, listening to the wonderful bar music that Lagoonies play and the clinking of glassware when beers and booze are refilled and spilled. If I sound a might put out, you are right. I am sitting, sweating like a pig, as I write this as in the evenings, this side of the lagoon does not get much wind, unlike our nice little spot back over at Simpson Bay Marina, with its cooling breezes. Ahhh, such is the glorious and exciting life of a world cruiser…

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
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Added 21 September 2009

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