Cruising with Vida Dulce

19 June 2016
16 June 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
15 June 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
08 June 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
04 June 2016
03 June 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
02 June 2016 | Cabo Tres Puntas, Guatemala
30 May 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mx
28 May 2016 | isla Mujeres, Mx
26 May 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mx
22 May 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mx
20 May 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mx
18 May 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mx
02 May 2016 | Isla Mujeres, Mx
01 May 2016
30 April 2016
28 April 2016
25 April 2016

Bus To Guatemala City

19 June 2016
Susan / another hot & humid day
For Q80 (~ US $10) per person we ride a first class bus to Guatemala City. With assigned seats! One stop after 2-1/2 hours for quick 15 min break. Litegua is changing things up; what was a 5 hour or so trip in, today it’s 6 hours after departure due to road construction and they stop at at a new mini-terminal on the outskirts of town. Those traveling farther on (us and 1/2 the bus) are told to get into a mini-bus for the rest of the journey to the Zona 1 terminal we’re used to using. However this is without our luggage. Luggage arrives on a separate bus at least 1/2 hour later. Honestly this second bus is large enough to have taken all of the passengers and our luggage in one trip. They are clearly still working out the operational issues of having new Guatemala City area terminals. Then a taxi ride (Q100 plus Q20 with tip since w have 5 large suitcases with us) to Crowne Plaza where we always stay since we get a preferred USD cash rate thru the marina plus they have a fantastic breakfast buffet included in the rate and a free shuttle to / from the airport. Sadly we’ll miss breakfast tomorrow due to our early flight out.

It was a early morning doing last day Vida Dulce secured tasks, and an extra long day on the bus trip (arrive Rio D bus terminal 9am, arrive hotel 5pm), plus it’ll be an early morning to the airport so we make it an early evening. We’re looking forward to cooler, less humid temps and visits with our States-side friends & family - see you soon!

Quick Haul Results

16 June 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / partly cloudy, hot & humid 90 degrees F
The haul-out and power wash takes us to 12:30p, which is when the insurance adjustor / surveyor arrives at Abels. Excellent timing. He throughly inspects the hulls and finds no signs of lightening related damage such as exit holes. Very good news. By 2:15 we’re back in our marina slip.

One additional item for the dead list is the speed indicator. No speed readout at the chart plotter.

There’s still the claim paperwork to be done, and then of course the sourcing & purchasing & transport & installation & testing of the new equipment… As of today, it looks like we’ll be able to depart the Rio for the Seattle area as planned.

Lightening Strike Damage Test Results

15 June 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / mostly sunny, hot & humid 97 degrees F
Jerry has completed his rounds of inspections and testing. A few items were resuscitated with new fuses, LEDs and/or a power cycle. Others pronounced dead for sure. Still others need to be replaced based on expert advise / experience.

VHF antenna (blown away) & cable
Garmin VHF & remote including remote charging stations (2)
Garmin AIS
Garmin wind transducer
Garmin autopilot control head, heading sensor, course computer
iCom 802 SSB
Pioneer AM/FM radio
Xantrex Inverter / Charger
Balmar Centerfielder
Mintaka Duo barograph
Sump pumps on starboard side heads (2)
Starboard engine - starter sometimes doesn't kick over, when it starts it charges ok but a warning buzzer won't go off (no idiot lights though).
Starboard fuel gauge

Resuscitated however still questionable:
Garmin Radar (blown fuse)
Blue Sky solar charge controller (power cycled)
Raymarine autopilot (reset)
Navigation lights, steaming light (LEDs failed / replaced)

No way to stress test:
House battery bank - replace based on expert advise & words of wisdom from other sailors whose boats were hit by lightening.
Inside & Outside speakers (6) - AM/FM radio dead

Still to test:
Mooring light

While a long list, and I've probably missed a few items, there's lots of other equipment that tests out fine. In no particular order: Garmin chart plotters (2), NIMEA network, Garmin fish finder / sonar, Onan generator, interior lights (LED), washer / dryer, fridges & freezer (too bad since we'd love to replace them...), AC units, satellite phone / antenna, watermaker, solar panels, 3-D printer & other office equipment, laptops, Jerry's lab equipment, manual bilge pumps,.... plus no fires, no water intrusion (that we've found), and we were not personally zapped. We've heard worse stories; amazing the stories people tell of their own and their friends experiences, others they've heard about when one gets struck by lightning. We personally know of two or three boats that were struck, one a Lagoon 440 like ours and they were much worse off damage-wise. So small blessings if the insurance company & our policy is reasonable. Speaking of which,

Quick Haul: We moved it from Monday / Tuesday to Wednesday, then rescheduled it again to tomorrow (Thursday) so that the insurance adjustor / surveyor can be on site. He finally booked a flight to land in San Pedro Sula for this afternoon. This is not a fly-in, rent a car, drive a bit kind of location. There are two options for airports, San Pedro Sula (Honduras) and Guatemala City. The bus from Guatemala City takes 5 hours more or less. A car / driver can be hired for the 3 hour drive from San Pedro Sula. Funny thing though, the Guatemala / Honduras border closes 6pm. It's two hours from the airport to the border and he won't make it in time so he's stuck in Honduras for the night. We've arranged for a car / driver to pick him up at the hotel but he can only get across the border when it opens up and then it's 2 hours to the hotel, 2 hours back to the border and another hour here plus lancha time to our marina or Abels if we choose to go ahead and get the haul-out underway. Bottom line we're really not sure when he'll arrive on-site tomorrow. He's not been here before - he didn't even know where the Rio Dulce is - so it's sure to be an adventure. I hope this doesn't affect his mood in a negative way....

Day 1: Lightening Damage Inspection & Stop Gap Measures

09 June 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / mostly cloudy, hot & humid 95 degrees F
Side note: This is day 3 without power at the marina due to a large thunderstorm that toppled trees and power lines knocking out power to the entire area a few nights ago. No internet and no shore power at most marinas. Here marina generators keep their offices, restaurants, and hotel rooms minimally powered.

Today we continue inspections and testing for lightening strike damage. A look up the mast reveals the VHF radio antenna is gone. Also up the mast, we already know the wind instrument is dead. Further tests show the AIS & radar both dead. We took a direct lightening hit to the top of the mast.

Visual checks of the base of the mast, port & starboard shrouds, show no obvious exit point. All that energy has to go somewhere… The insurance company wants a “quick haul” to inspect the hulls for exit hole(s) and related damage. There is only one place here that can haul-out Vida Dulce, Abel’s, a very busy commercial shipyard. Jerry contacts them and lets them know our situation, Abel says they can take us Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Other inspections and testing:
Both Raymarine & Garmin autopilots are dead. We had the Raymarine one still working as our primary and Garmin as secondary; now we have none. Man am I glad we’re already at the marina. Moving Vida Dulce much of a distance without an autopilot would be difficult; she’s a heavy beamy boat to hand-steer.

The NIMA 2000 network fails to show the still operational instruments.

Solar charge controller is damaged; voltage comes in however the batteries are not being charged. This is very bad. We rely on the solar panels to keep the batteries full while we’re away. This will also need to be taken back to the States to be bench-tested.

Dead inverter/charger stop gap measure: W&L thankfully has one battery charger in stock that will work as a stop gap measure; a 12 volt 40 amp model. Jerry wanted a minimum of 50 amps however you have to be happy with whatever you can find here that’ll reasonable work. Jerry wires the new battery charger to circumvent the inverter charger. Until shore power is restored, we’ll run the genset to supply power to the charger. In addition to charging the house batteries, this gives us hot water and one interior outlet for laptops.

I’ll take Jerry up the mast sometime today or tomorrow for pictures and additional inspections. This will also test one of the main electric winches.

Good news: genset powers on; both engines start, manual bilge pumps work, and the salon helm station Garmin chart plotter works: depth sounder ok, GPS also appears to be working.

Lightening Strike

08 June 2016 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Susan / evening thunderstorms, 78 degrees F
6:15pm. The nightly thunderstorms start to roll thru. This time the lightening is all around us and at times right on top of us. One strike is a crackly SPARK POP! with a bright flash of light. Immediately after something smells like it's burning; turns out to be the Mintaka Duo barograph we have plunged into the 12 volt batter charger at the electrical panel. Fried. And the sump punp in the aft guest bathroom is chugging away. Jerry has to disconnect the wiring to get it to stop. Neither VHF nor SSB radio works. Same for the AM-FM radio. Wind instrument dead. Freezer monitor dead. Inverter/charger dead. OK, some good news: Jerry disconnected and uninstalled all helm instruments this afternoon and brought them inside for storage. We were inside and sitting on non-conductive chairs when it hit. Laptop computers were disconnected from outlets so they're ok. Backup storage disk is ok. Interior lights work. Nothing obvious is burning. The boat is not taking on water.

NOAA Info: Invest93

04 June 2016
Susan / sunny, hot & humid 88 degrees F
This is the weather we were running hard South to avoid - Invest93 - currently in the area of Banco Chinchorro and moving North to NNW. NOAA prediction is high that it'll turn into Tropical Storm Colin within the next several days. It's a stormy squally mess where we were just days ago.
Vessel Name: Vida Dulce
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 440
Hailing Port: Seattle, WA
Crew: Jerry and Susan Barber
About: Jerry and Susan moved aboard Vida Dulce in late October of 2010. We are currently in the Caribbean.
Vida Dulce's Photos - Iles des Saints
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