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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Dinner by the Bay
07/19/2007, Marigot Bay

If the Moorings base packed up, and there were no crowds (which there aren't off season), and there were no boat boys, Marigot Bay would be one of the most perfect anchorages in the Caribbean. I mean, hey, they filmed Doctor Dolittle here! It is a really beautiful place. Before we knew it three days had gone by.

We were set to leave tomorrow with a good weather window for Saint Vincent. We cleared out without any problems at the Marigot customs office right next to the Marina Village.

We went to dinner at a very nice restaurant nestled up in the northwest corner of the mangroves. It is the fine dining restaurant for the Discovery Resort and had just reopened. Fred and Cindy joined us for cocktails and I enjoyed a great Cuban cigar. Dinner was splendid and the ambiance was extraordinary.

Saint Lucia
07/18/2007, Marigot Bay

It has been rainy and overcast the past few days. There is a kind of neat low cloud covering the bay with little fog patches about. The water is still.

Hideko and I went for a dive with the local dive shop to see the southern reefs. It was a nice time but it rained a lot. The dive shop was good and they served a full buffet lunch between dives.

We got home from the dive and dried off then regrouped to go to the bakery. Just about then Roq fell in the bay. He was trying to jump into the dinghy. I jumped in and fished him out. I don't mind impromptu swims but I prefer to stay out of murky mangrove water.

Saint Lucia
Marigot Take II
07/17/2007, Marigot Bay

After a long lovely stay in beautiful Saint Lucia we are finally on our way south. Today we sailed down to Marigot Bay to spend a day or two. It was nice to visit again because last time through I never went ashore except for dinner at Mygo.

We walked all through the Discovery Resort today and it was an impressive setup. Good food and a gorgeous setting with two nice pools and a small marina. The Marina Village, where the Moorings base is, has a nice bakery/cafe, a grocery store and lots of other essentials.

Saint Lucia
Genset Reset
07/15/2007, Rodney Bay Marina

So Hideko and I were enjoying the air conditioning, I was working on the computer, the stereo was going, and then, zap! Everything just shut off. The DC side of the house was still operating but everything AC was dead. This is a rare occurrence, usually caused by an over current condition popping the main breaker. This time an eerie silence accompanied the outage.

The genset was actually shut down. I walked around to look at the coolant temperature and saw that it read 210 degrees Fahrenheit, not good since water boils at 212. Normal operating temperature was 160, luckily the Westerbeke has an over temperature shutdown. We always check the water flow when we start up any of the diesels, so I couldn't imagine the impellor was broken, yet that was the only heat related thing I knew how to fix, so I was hoping it wasn't something else requiring arcane Genset knowledge.

I opened up the engine room and took off the sound shield and heat filled the room. I closed the raw water seacock and checked the impeller. Mangled would be a fair description. I used some needle nose pliers to rip a couple of impeller vanes out of the hose leading to the heat exchanger.

Our Westerbeke has been flawless in every way except this one. It provides 220v to the dive compressor, powers the 110 house on two legs with a 100 amp charger, computers, Home Theater, two large AirCons, a hot water heater, ice maker, washer dryer, all concurrently. You can even fire up the microwave if you're careful, though this is the one device that might require us to shut off an AirCon for a few minutes.

Some engines just go through impellers I guess. Both of our Yanmars have more hours than the Genset and neither has ever needed a new impeller. This is the fourth one the Westerbeke has needed. Fortunately I restocked in Saint Martin.

I recorded the engine hours in my maintenance log and noted that the meter read 505.3 hours. Five point three hours overdue for the second 250 hour service. The Diesel Maintenance god has no sense of humor. Seeing as how a 250 service is probably wise after overheating your engine anyway, I set about it. Aside from some really tough to fit on and get off fuel filter bits the 8BTDA is easy to service if you have an oil pump. I have a little Jabsco pump that comes with its own reservoir that I bought in Saint Martin. It works well and allows you to pump the oil out where the dip stick goes. It is also the only way to change the sail drive gear oil without hauling the boat.

The Westerbeke (official Westerbeke) replacement impellers fit into the housing fine. However, the impellor has a screw that goes through the center of the rubber bit, which fits into a slot in the pump's drive shaft, ultimately turning the impeller. The replacement impeller screw is threaded all the way through. The installed screw is only threaded on the ends, having a thinner bar in the middle. Thus the replacement impellers don't fit into the drive shaft slot. Reusing the old screw is working so far but I am concerned that one day it will go down for the count as well. I have inquired about this matter via messages on the Westerbeke web site several times but I get no response.

The coolant overflow tank hose melted through in a spot so I had to find a replacement. Fortunately there's an Island Water World right here in Rodney Bay. I purchased a much sturdier fuel line hose for the job. While connecting the new, higher heat rated hose the reservoir cracked. Lovely. I searched for a part at various places but nothing fit the bill. Finally, on Fred's advice, I just coated the bottom of the old tank with silicone. Magic.

Well that was an unexpected ordeal. We will be keeping a much closer eye on the genset temperature gauge. Although my Yanmars have never let me down in this or any other way, the experience has made me wish that I had the C Type control panels with coolant temperature and oil pressure readouts for the Yanmars. We have the B Type panels which only have idiot lights (applicable or not).

Saint Lucia
Boat Cleanup
07/12/2007, Saint Lucia

We spent the last two days cleaning up the boat. Our guests were not overly messy or anything, it is just that a boat has two configurations, one for when guests are aboard and one for when they're not. For instance, some things are more handy if they're in a locker in a guest stateroom rather than the bottom of a cockpit locker. On the other hand, you want your guests to have full access to their stateroom's lockers while they're aboard so some things get stowed elsewhere.

We had Vision and his assistant polish the outside of the boat while we worked on the inside. Vision does good work at reasonable prices. He brought over some Ital (Rasta Food) fried eggplant today. Yum!

We were thinking about heading south soon but Cindy is sick today. I hope it is not the inimical Saint Kitts Flu.

Saint Lucia
The Mac Kenzies Fly Home
07/09/2007, Saint Lucia

It was another sad day in the cruising log. It seems like the sailors plight to say goodbye so very often. After helping the MacKenzies get their gear on the dock and ready to go we waved goodbye as they drove of to Castries airport. Their journey was not enviable as they were bound for Barbados, then to an intermediate US city, then to LA.

Hideko, Roq and I moped around the boat hoping they would return soon.

Saint Lucia
Touring the Interior
07/08/2007, Saint Lucia

Fred and Cindy were enjoying the Marina for a couple of days before we arrived. Unfortunately they had seen Jill off to her home in San Francisco before we had a chance to say goodbye. Goodbye Jill!

Fred had met a Rasta Saint Lucian on the docks named Vision who had done a great job waxing their boat. Vision was also in the business of doing island tours, so we signed up. Fred, Cindy the five MacKenzies along with Hideko and I piled into the van with our driver Ital and Vision, and we set off to explore.

If you just consider an island's interior I would have to say Dominica is the most beautiful island in the Caribbean. If you consider the whole island, coastline/beaches/harbors and interior, then Saint Lucia is the hands down champ. Saint Lucia is covered in rain forest with fruit, nut and spice trees growing everywhere. There are dramatic mountains and waterfalls, botanical gardens, steaming volcano cauldrons and quaint villages. The coastline is remarkable as well with Rodney Bay and the lagoon, Castries Bay, Marigot Bay, Soufriere and the Pitons. This does not account for the doubtless hundreds of beautiful sights we did not see. I'm sure the Atlantic side of the island is full of rugged beauty.

Our day trip back into the mountains to visit a waterfall. Compared to what we had seen in Dominica, it was a cute waterfall. The hike back to the waterfall was quite nice and gave the kids a chance to see all of the natural bounty of the rain forest. Vision picked us some mango, coconut and sour orange to eat along the trail. As we arrived at the water fall we ran across another group that was preparing to repel down the waterfall. Sounded like fun.

We had lunch at the Ladera Resort's restaurant overlooking the Pitons. The restaurant is named Dasheen after the root of a local plant who's leaves are called Callaloo and used like spinach. It was a Sunday buffet and not bad for the islands but not up to the expectations set by the references we had received for the place. Perhaps ordering off of the menu would provide a different perspective. The view was another story. You have to visit this place if even just for a beer. The restaurant overlooks the bar which over looks the pool which overlooks the entire Piton anchorage. You are up in the clouds.

We visited the Soufriere Volcano and hot springs after lunch. What a smell. Everyone was in nose holding mode and Maddy protested entering the area with some fervor. It was amazing to see the steaming, hissing, bubbling vats of sulfur all over such a huge area. The rangers give you a little tour and there is apparently no concern for any activity other than the standard caldron heating going on presently. After Montserrat where we had to stand off in the distance to look at the volcano it was interesting to see one up close.

Back on the road we stopped at various vista points and some road side stands for tastes of local cuisine. We also took a private walk through the botanical gardens. They were closed but Vision talked the guard into letting us see the place. There is another "cute" waterfall in the gardens and a wonderful variety of indigenous and imported flora. It is really a huge place; you could easily spend an entire day there.

Most of the E ticket attractions on our tour were on the south end of the island, and we of course were staying in the north. It had rained on and off, like it is supposed to do in a rain forest, but on the way home it really started coming down. Boxed up in a van on the winding mountain roads took its toll on some of the tourists and a few stops for lunch dispersal were called for.

We arrived back at Rodney Bay late in the day. It was a spectacular run about Saint Lucia and about as much touring as one could safely pack into a day. Everyone was pretty beat so we let Scuttlebutts cook dinner. Shortly thereafter the group was sleeping the sleep of the just, or at least the really tired.

Saint Lucia

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