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Sharks Ahoy!

Just down the dock from where we tied up our dingy was a fisherman cleaning his days catch. As he gutted each fish he tossed the waste to the schooling nurse sharks. Some of which were nearly six feet in length. These sharks moved with grace and caution around each other showing none of the feeding frenzy we so often hear about. Stevie and Ben were very much interested in these animals. We were able to get quite close to the sharks without getting into the water with them. Yes, fortunately the kids did manage to come home with all their limbs still attached. It really was a great experience even if the familiar music from Jaws played in the back of my mind the rest of the afternoon.

Poisonous Jellyfish!
03/29/2008, Union Island

We discovered Portuguese Man of War Jelly fish on the beach. These posses powerful stinging cells called nematocysts in their tentacles and a gas filled chamber that the Jelly uses to propel itself across the water just like the sails of the Omarsea.
For those of you who have not yet heard the story. Stephen and the other kids were playing in shallow surf a few weeks ago and he was stung by the Man O War on his legs. There was only a single tentacle about eight inches long. It caused red welts on his leg and upper thigh. Fortunately a neighbor came down with rubbing alcohol that relieved much of Stevies pain. He was a real trouper going back into the water a while later. I too have been stung by these floating time bombs and can tell you that the only thing I have heard it compared to is being doused in gas and set on fire. Not having had that experience I can only say that it hurts like the Dickens and Stevie handled himself well.

Physical Education Omarsea style
03/29/2008, Bequia

Often our field trips involve snorkeling the corals reefs here. We carry fish ID field guides with us that show most of the species of reef fish we are seeing. The children have their own mask fins and snorkel sets. We often call out to one another that we have found a new fish. Everyone swims over and watches the behavior of that fish for a while and after the dive we use the field ID cards to learn the name of that particular species. Just three days ago Julianna sighted a large octopus moving along the reef like a brown ghostly figure. Normally quite shy this animal allowed the kids and I to get right up to it and even touch it gently. Ben was fascinated by its siphon. Used as a water jet to move quickly when frightened, the octopus is truly a diaphanous chameleon.

Kids and Cruising
03/29/2008, Bequia

One of the wonderful changes I have witnessed in the kids is their expanding sense of wonder at the life in the ocean. Their courage has grown when swimming with marine life. Where once they avoided shallow waters full of sea urchins and fire coral they now swim right up to the reef. If there is a cave or arch under water the swim through it. Both Ben and Juli are capable of free diving to nearly 18 feet. This puts them in the range of seeing most of the wonderful life on the reefs.

Notes on Beneteau 510 Ownership
03/29/2008, Bequia

Beneteau 510/505

We are beginning to receive email from people around the world who are looking at extended cruising and are interested in the Beneteau series of boats. In response to their questions I have decided to provide as much information as possible about the Omarsea and the many modifications we have made. We looked at four criteria when we purchased the Omarsea.

First: The boat had to have the basic accommodations we needed. Not everyone is going to be sailing with three kids onboard. We needed four staterooms and both the 505 & 510 series have 4 queen staterooms. Other boats that we looked at included Dufour 46's , Beneteau 46's and Jeaneau 51's. The 46's were nice but we chose a larger craft because of the large crews quarters forward we use for storage. Additionally the vessel had to have space for all the items we would need to cruise with a modest level of comfort. This included, not only storage compartments, of which there is an abundance, but the ability to easily run cabling, hoses plus install electronics both in the electrical panel and in the cockpit.
We installed a small diesel genset with water maker and engine driven refrigeration. The engine and its associated components fit well within a nicely designed space under the companionway stairs. We elected to build this unit from plans available from Ebay to reduce costs but I would highly recommend the Aquagen product from Seattle, WA. It took so much time and effort to collect all the needed components that at one point all I was doing was surfing the Internet looking for the finer electronic components that come standard with the professionally made product. Besides, Aquagen owners rave about their efficiency and the great service they receive. Http:// . Sorry if this is beginning to sound like an infomercial but after 5 years of in depth research, having spent many hours speaking with the owners of these companies on the phone, I am very comfortable referring them to you.
We also wanted a large cockpit with easy access to the water. The stern of the Beneteau 510 makes for extremely easy water entry even if you only like to swim. Other features we liked were that all lines lead back into the large cockpit so that in heavy weather no one was going forward to handles sails. We do have a spinnaker but we only rig it in lighter wind with the ATN sleeve and Tacker combination. If you are looking for a great way to fly your spinnaker but are short handed see the following link. HTTP:// Randy had the best price on the internet and their service was extremely fast. Please tell them Scott sent you if you place an order.

Second: The boat had to sail well. Many roomy yachts today just do not go to weather. The vessel we wanted had to cruise at 6 knots and not bash ourselves to pieces doing it During sea trials the speedo registered 3.5 knots in 20 knots of wind and I was surprised given the very nice hull shape, 44.5' of waterline. It turned out that the Raymarine instrument needed calibration and after that we were seeing 7-8 knots close-hauled to windward. It needed a beefy rig were made by a reputable manufacturer. The spars are all top notch Z-spar with 1x19 wire, double spreader with oversized shrouds and split backstay. One of the features that drew me to the Omarsea is that she already had the SSB antenna, tuner and cabling installed. We simply purchased an Icom M700 pro SSB and plugged it in. Our choice of the M700 over the newer M800 series was strictly a function of cost. The M800 is much more friendly in its installation and has richer features. We were fortunate in that we located a radio on ebay that was a demo and effectively new for less than half the cost of new.

Third: The boat had to be ultimately repairable. By that I mean that every facet of the vessel had to be accessible for inspection and service without tearing the boat apart. These Beneteau are built for the charter trade where fast turnarounds make or break the bottom line. Each pump is located where it can be easily serviced/replaced. The engine is centered amidships under the Galley island and has fantastic 360 degree access. The Moorings even specked a manual oil pump be mounted on the engine for rapid clean oil changes.
Steering is a consideration with these boats. The Maintenance manager of the company I purchased the Omarsea from said that the cabling had to be serviced regularly. This involves lubricating the twin steering cables and the associated sheaves. I have had to adjust the cables for proper tension once so far and will be replacing the cables in Grenada next month.

Lastly: Because this was to be a cruise with a well defined timeframe the boat we selected had to maintain its resale value and be of such demand that it would sell very quickly when the time came to put it on the market. At the time we purchase the Omarsea there were several 510's on the market all fetching strong prices.

Sharks up close and personal
03/16/2008, Union Island

Getting a good look at Nurse sharks. Just down the dock was a fisherman cleaning his days catch. The waste he tossed to the schooling nurse sharks some of which were nearly six feet in length. The sharks moved with grace and caution around each other with none of the feeding frenzy we so often hear about. STephen in particular was facinated by the creatures and leaned over the edge a little too far for Mom and Dad's comfort. Fortunately we were able to keep him from being eaten. All the kids talk about this day as though it were something very special. It was of course!

Dominica Portsmouth to Ruseau

Dominica was our next stop. The city of Portsmouth drew my interest as it's the place I was born. Portsmouth, NH that is. It turned out to be a wide open bay. A local named Lawrence came 3 miles offshore to greet us . He was arranging island tours. We chatted with several locals that afternoon as they came out to greet us. Dominicans are an extremely friendly people. Their zeal to ear a better income has won our admiration and we found them to be polite and respectful of each others clients. Portsmouth turned out to be very rolly so we moved south to Roseau the capitol city. Customs was handled at the cruise ship dock and we made a great adventure of walking the back streets buying oranges and eating them as we strolled through the busy narrow streets.


We were having thoughts about getting refrigeration installed on the Omarsea so we decided to head for Martinique. After a late departure we headed out of Roseau and located several whale watching vessels on station. From a distance we saw several whales blowing and moving about. They dove and we lost track of the pod. Thinking it might be some time before they surfaced we headed south again and it was Jean that spotted this loan sperm whale just off the southern tip of Martinique. We sailed along at about 2 knots and the animal began to swim toward us very slowly blowing repeatedly. Then just as we were 30 feet away it suddenly sounded and disappeared. We all stood in awe at the wonderful luck which had befallen us.

Martinique and the volcano

Our first sighting of Martinique was St. Pierre bay. This is the location of the 1902 eruption of Mt Pele.
History says that the settlers killed the last of the indigenous Caribe Indians. During the last battle the Indians prayed to their mountain Gods and cursed the settlers. True to West Indian fashion it took its sweet time in coming but vengeance was swift. On accession Sunday at 8:00 Mt Pele erupted with a glowing cloud of gas and steam. Family coming from nearby villages saw the eruption as it engulfed St Pierre describing the cloud as glowing with an eerie light. 29,800 people were killed buried by ash and rock. A convict survived in his heavily constructed cell. A cobbler lived hiding in his basement and a ships captain managed to get his burning boat away from the melee. The newer buildings are constructed in and surround the ruins of the city.
Being a French Island we initially felt we were at a complete loss for language. But with a lot of smiles and determination we managed quite well about town.
From St Pierre we sailed to Fort Du France the capitol city. It rained like we have not seen here in the islands before. On arriving at the fort we found no room in the anchorage so we sailed over to the tres islets. In desperate need of ice and food we arose early and went in to town. Fort Du France is a very modern city with many of the cosmopolitan shops and stores you might expect to find in any large city in Europe. We discovered the farmers market and learned just how far the US $ would go here. Scary! Still we had fun looking about the town and finding the bakery and change shop where we could exchange dollars for Euros.

The search for cold beer
02/15/2008, Martinique to St Lucia

Not speaking the language well we decided to continue our search for refrigeration to St Lucia and Rodney bay. Heading offshore that morning was hard as we had little sleep the previous two nights. The sail proved to be and easy one. Some 30 miles south we made an average of 6.5 knots and soon were docked at Rodney Bay Marina. I walked up to the boating chandlery here and they had the very refrigeration unit we so desperately needed. After 4 hours of installation we discovered the unit would not start. Three days later after having a local professional check the system we discovered that the manual translated from German had gotten the wiring diagram wrong. After I switched two wires around and recharging the system(134A) we had cold food in the Fridge/freezer again.
Photo-Refrige Compressor
This photo shows the Danfoss DB50 wall mount unit inside the Electrical Panel compartment. It is connected to a 400 liter capacity evaporator mounted in the freezer with a hole cut b/w the fridge & freezer to cool the fridge space

Solutions to new problem
02/15/2008, ST Lucia

Sometimes fixing one problem only creates another. With the 12v fridge we now found that the 5 Amps/hr we pulled to cool our food would force us to run our engine nearly 5 hours a day to keep batteries charged. Diesel fuel here is 6$ a gallon and it didn't take a rocket scientist to see that it was going to cost a small fortune to keep our fridge running. So back to the chandlery & 30 minutes later I came away with a brand new wind generator. As with all boat projects the estimated 3 hours to install it became an all day affair. Friends dropped by to check on our progress and offer help and advice. By the end of the day after much grunting and a few cold beers the amps were flowing back into our batteries and we had ice forming in the freezer. I know "Big Deal!" but believe you me it is a big deal when getting ice can take two hours down here and food shopping easily occupies half a day.

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S/V OmarSea
Who: Scott, Jean, Ben, Julianna & Stephen
Port: Oregon
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