14 September 2019 | To Barbados Day 4
Saturday 14 September 2019
Sneaked right past Friday the 13th during a full moon without mischief being wreaked upon us. Suspect some of you did too. How can that happen? What accounts for our incredible good fortune? We don't drink on passage so alcohol, our normal defence against evil, didn't keep us safe. Are we too far offshore for gremlins to find? Are nefarious forces completely absorbed with American politics? Are their hands full getting MPs to screw up Brexit? How about climate change?.. oh no, that's always catastrophic. Or perhaps it's just superstitious nonsense.
Normally on passage, especially with little else to do, post something every day if only to put a mark on the map, but yesterday just couldn't scrape up any inspiration or enthusiasm. Since sailing was nearly ideal, requiring little attention, and nothing went wrong (see above), brain didn't kick in the entire day. It just floated along basking in oneness with nature. Or perhaps it was just laziness.
Today is beginning languid as well. A lull in breeze has us gliding along at two to three knots on a calm sea with three full sails flying. Due wind backing east above the beam had to snuff spinnaker at 0400 slowing us. Anticipate slow, but continual improvement in velocity after noon to have us scampering into Carlisle Bay sometime before dawn tomorrow. Or if no improvement, sometime after that.
Jan is dragging a lure, but slow speed and significant sargassum bodes a shortfall in fresh fish for dinner. Began seeing the weed yesterday and it's now all around. Understand there has been a bloom of the stuff and, while providing excellent habitat in the open ocean, is a nuisance washing ashore. Except for a dearth of omega-3 not a problem for us as we don't hang out on seaweed strewn and UV saturated beaches collecting sand in bodily orifices, promoting a proliferation of carcinomata.
Although envisaged for just a few days, may stay in Barbados a week, departing next Sunday to arrive Calivigny Bay, Grenada, midday Monday. It's home to the Mount Gay Company, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with prolonging visit. However, because we haven't enjoyed good rum for an extended period, may have to assimilate a significant portion to get back into the Caribbean spirit(s). At the same time, can't ignore our duty to abuse gin, bourbon and wine lest they feel slighted and go bad. We take our responsibilities seriously.
Jack & Jan
Sooner or Later
12 September 2019 | To Barbados Day 2
Thursday 12 September 2019
Promised wind eventually began filling in around 1330 yesterday. Beautiful conditions have since prevailed. Due conveniently short memory, obvious conclusion is it's rainbows and lollipops from here on, forever. This is further assured by favorable forecast from GRIB (Gullible Response in spite of Incompetence Bias). Atlantic is a happy ocean.
Wee temporary battery bank barely able to get through a night underway on autopilot when topped in the evening. With 155 usable amp hours or only 110 if charged to 85%, it is well short of the 440 usable anticipated from prospective lithium, which will take a charge much quicker as well. Theoretically with 320 watts of solar on the rail, 400 watts of dead bimini-top flexibles replaced and wind generator in trade winds, Panda generator and our ears may enjoy a skosh more quietudenousness (not a real word) and, of course, with good wind (see above) running Yanmar auxiliary will never be necessary.
Barbados is the easternmost Windward island in the Lesser Antilles and is seldom visited by sailors from the others because it is upwind and requires at least a 90 nm beat. In case your friends ask, it was formed from both plate tectonics and volcanic activity and is less than a million years old. Who knew? The colony, now country, has had a roller coaster ride in both politics and economics (related?) since its settlement by the English in 1627 until mid-nineties, but was ranked by the UN several years ago as the most prosperous small state in the Caribbean and is now doing quite well. This will be our penultimate destination before finishing a circumnavigation of the globe in Grenada around the 23rd and taking delivery of bespoke lithium 555Ahr battery system that Lithionics is preparing for us.
Not to cast aspersions on faintly praised weather forecasting model above, but what we're now getting is a smidge different - lighter and further aft than suggested. No worries, it's comfortable (except being warm and humid) and spinnaker keeps us moving. At current pace will arrive Carlisle Bay small hours Sunday unless, of course, new forecast is as accurate as old in which case our many years of experience tell us it will then be either later or earlier.
Jack & Jan
11 September 2019 | To Barbados Day 1
Sunday 8 September 2019
For some recondite reason we again drove into Paramaribo to see... a fort. Had already visited the fresh market (Jan has a fetish), the largest wooden structure in the western hemisphere (a church) and side by side mosque and synagogue that share parking lots when the other has a big do. Suriname is a friendly place. Come for a visit and try some fusion kosher/halal cuisine.
We are officially no longer in Suriname. One stop, easy check out. Technically we're on the way to Barbados, but won't get shot if we hang around for an extra day. Probably more because nobody checks. They're pretty laid back here. It's too hot to get very excited.
Currently working on Plan W (for What the... *expletive of your choice*). Trinidad is out. Too late in season and several things to do, so after Barbados we go to Le Phare Bleu Marina, Grenada, and stay until heading north. Expect to install lithium batteries, have mast checked and accomplished various and sundry as are possible in the six weeks or so until hurricanes chill.
Had given up lithiums after checking Victron to discover cost would be around $25K USD. Yikes! Their other products are excellent and reasonable, but they seem inordinately proud of these new batteries. Looked like we would plod along again on AGMs for less than 1/10th that scalping. However, kept looking and discovered Lithionics, which are very well rated and should last forever or an sanguine facsimile thereof. Prices are not cheap, but within a range that won't require fish heads and rice for the duration, so bit the bullet and that's in the works. Now if we can only get them into Grenada without doubling the price in import tax.
We will see sunrise this morning because tidal flow requires we leave regrettably early. Nobody regrets this more than Jan. Sunsets, good. Sunrises, bad. If we get forecast winds (hey, it's vaguely possible) will have no trouble getting into Barbados too early Sunday. May have to either slow or renounce simpleminded optimism that events will unfold as planned. However, GRIB (Gargantuan Repudiation of Idiotic Brainwork) is giving us the perfect four day sail and we prefer, valuing hope over experience, to believe.
River current is a bit tricky because a sloshing effect causes the mouth to have high tide much sooner (hours) than where we began 25 nm up. We started out at slack high water, surfed the middle and will barely make it out before current switches to the bow. This can be quite bewildering and we're easily confused. Sadly, lacking adult supervision, there's really nothing to be done about it.
As we approach the open ocean, still kicking along due impressive speed earlier (see previous paragraph), wind, which should be in the fifteen knot range on our beam, is light and directly behind. Local effects are likely to blame and situation should correct as we depart land effects (see previous to previous paragraph).
Suriname was OK. Got what we needed, met some great folks and enjoyed the lion-like bellow of howlers, large New World monkeys about a meter tall not counting their prehensile tail, who are active at dawn when we might have preferred to sleep. They are widely considered the loudest land animal, but are otherwise harmless to us, their sometimes cleverer, but often even more raucous, relatives.
Jack & Jan
Plights Made Right Barring Buzzards
07 September 2019 | Waterland Marina
Thursday 5 September 2019
Climbed to top of mast to replace broken diverter for genoa halyard, which keeps it from wrapping around forestay and jamming the whole kit and caboodle. Good idea came a cropper when tap broke off in drilled hole. No more #12 taps aboard, but found 5 mm screws and 5 mm tap, so went back up (with cold chisel to break off jagged bit sticking out) and installed diverters for both genny halyard, which was shortened to remove chafing, and spare halyard. Also adjusted strobe that was shorting against tricolor light. Now we can again scream our presence to even the most inattentive mariner while sailing past in full regalia.
Diesel mechanic, Aad Smit (Dutch), came around after his normal work to look at our leaking injector. Couldn't find a copper ring/gasket in the injector well and guessed one not available in the county, but took injector away to check.
Friday 6 September 2019
In consultation with Yanmar expert in Netherlands discovered that Yanmar service manual was for an old version of 4JH2-TE engine that shows no gaskets (huh!?), but actual injector sealing system now includes two aluminum rings with a spacer and no copper. Suspect Yanmar dealer in Cape Town didn't replace old washers when rebuilding injectors. Couldn't get the old ones out because a special tool is required, which is not available here of course, and ditto properly sized copper washers. Aad used a drill to machine down too large washers and best result was installed in injector. That, contrary to what even the most optimistic dilettante might expect, worked like a whipped mule (this is an animal friendly site, we treasure mules and none were actually harmed), so we're ready to make like horse manure and hit the road (this is a figure of speech as we are in the ocean where horses seldom go, not even to mention the road aspect). He left us with other attempts that are a bit less symmetrical for potential leaks in other injectors. Perhaps Yanmar dealer in Grenada has special tools, can get parts and can fix all properly. Anything is possible.
Expect move to Domburg tomorrow at slack high tide, country clearance Monday or Tuesday and arrival in Barbados by next weekend after a beautiful four day reach. Given planning successes of last several months any bets on this would be ill-advised, however hope soars like a ravenous buzzard (because this is an animal friendly site, we do not feed buzzards with the murdered, rotting carcasses of dead animals even though buzzards may thereby suffer.. it's an ethical dilemma).
Jack & Jan
04 September 2019 | Waterland Marina
Saturday 31 August 2019
Actually performed work-like activities today by rebuilding Jabsco 36600 bilge pump. One may not assume this was done because maintenance crew is conscientious, but rather to end periodic physical pumping by a particular lazy individual. A smaller, quieter bilge pump, which normally prevents louder, more robust unit activating, has also gone lifeless, so fixing that or finding leak, probably through rudder post packing gland, will be next project. One or the other may even get attention tomorrow, but marina has midday buffet and priorities will be observed. It would take a miracle to accomplish both.
Bar-B-Q this afternoon was excellent and, since it ended at 1700, precluded extended work hours to encroach on happy hour, which anyway was thusly advanced an hour with meal. Maintenance crew tends to be somewhat worthless after virtually any amount of adult beverage.
Replaced dead bilge pump with spare, cleaned and relocated both float switches so they work properly, cleaned truly nasty bilge and rewired all as necessary. All leaks stanched for the moment. Maintenance crew feeling particularly conscientious and saintly this evening. Before laziness again overwhelms personal zeitgeist, concept of performing some additional productive activity is being batted about.
Took car into Paramaribo for easy clearance into Suriname. Found temporary batteries sufficient to last until Trinidad where lithium installation is anticipated. However, after trying numerous ATMs (even those advertising Plus and Cirrus systems, to which our cards belong), unable to get cash. Also, no business has been able to take our credit cards. All have been used everywhere in the world, but not here??? This incapability includes battery store. Fortunately, to keep us going for awhile, we have US cash stash until we dash. Thirty day visa will not be limiting factor in length of visit as prices are not especially cheap.
Although there emanated from this blog vociferous complaints about roads in Brazil and there is a much larger tax base to do something about them, nevertheless driving around Paramaribo (Parbo) is an enervating chore. Work is proceeding on the major highway south that is used to Domburg and Waterland and what little is finished is quite good, but the rest is horrible and roads to it are far worse than that. Google maps suggests average speed of less than 30 kph - it's not lying and that incorporates the faster bits. Also since there's little control at most intersections the trick is to push out into the flow and hope the traffic stops to let you cross. Ending a day of driving around positively requires crumpling into a heap with adult beverage in hand.
Nevertheless had a very nice breakfast in town, purchased batteries, bread flour and veggies and it only took seven hours. See above for hint on activity following return to boat.
New batteries in and charging their little heinies off, but securing last one and cleanup suspended until tomorrow to again run the gauntlet into Parbo for retrieval of two fishing rods left yesterday for repair (Jan's injured babies). Wishing to get the most from expedition also bought sealer and lpg bottles for barbie and had snack with beer at De Waag (The Dare... we won) restaurant before again bearding the beast.
Made it back alive for the requisite potation.
Jack & Jan
So Many Words, So Little Point
30 August 2019 | Near Waterland
Friday 29 August 2019
To everyone who sent comments since we left Brazil, thanks. No internet, ergo no replies until last night (and a few more to come), so don't think the silence means that I don't love each and every one of you like a brother or a sister. Given execrable memory of what was written several days ago, have only dim idea what you were referring to, but you may assume all responses are well meaning and only modestly effected by celebratory libations.
Lovely evening at the Harbor Resort with wine, dinner and, after two weeks without, internet. Took awhile to sort through 258 messages (really need to cut down on subscriptions), but extra wine helped ease the load. Jannie had her favorite: steak, chips and salad while wading through her own backlog. Balance of crew ate pasta. Nice folks here and we'll be back once boat problems have been beaten into submission - probably a week.
Previously downriver boat was inundated with flies, perhaps because of ubiquitous fishing villages, but none so far here. It's hot and humid during the day, comfortable at night. Virtually no rain so we've left hatches open. Also didn't noticed mosquitos last night. Hope that's a trend. If Waterland has good voltage, may even use AC during the day - luxurious living in it's ultimate manifestation. We may get spoiled.
Tide is roaring out, but probably snail our way the six nm upriver to dockage and shore power despite. Wish to get established early to scope out situation for proceeding with remediation efforts. Weekend is approaching during which productive opportunities will decrease dramatically.
Tide still sweeping through marina at two knots. Our dock space is in a tricky location toward downstream cat with an eddy just in front, so displaying admirable restraint after two attempts that were going horribly wrong, anchored off. Slack tide about 1400. Further reflection posits that we might have set up well away, reversing into current to stop all motion over ground to determine if able steerage for lateral control. Could then have reduced power to let current slowly ease us in and secured a spring. However, swirl just before might have made that come a cropper anyway. No worries, no hurries. Get there when we do.
Meantime half of crew gets to defrost freezer, which in high humidity has become so thickly iced that full power barely keeps it cool (battery eater), and rest of complement gets to bore the bejesus out of any poor benighted soul who is already so stultified and overwhelmed with ennui that he/she/it has no better option than to read this stuff. As a self-centered, only child, former military brat, loner I am devoid of empathy or sympathy. Harden up people.
Speaking of misanthropy, anybody out there read Dilbert? Great stuff. Dogbert is devious and evil. He's my favorite. Taking sloth to new and previously unreached heights makes Wally a creditable second. This reminds me to lie down and vegetate until time to proceed in.
Have no idea how time was found to write all this folderol, but it's getting to the point of stretching anyone's patience and time to dock, so will send it on and start anew tomorrow.
Jack & Jan
29 August 2019 | Near Domburg
Thursday 29 August 2019
Thirty one miles up a creek is a gracious long way, depending on which creek and whether one has a paddle. Not a worry at the moment, however, as ripping, five knot current has pulled Rocna anchor through the silt and us onto a large fishing stake that was not close or directly behind us last night. Secured ourselves to the pole using winches and tightened anchor chain (with lines and round hitches to relive pressure on windlass) to hold boat in position, stern to current, so dinghy won't be scraped off and whatever fishing nets, gear or new rudder won't be damaged, at least not further. Awaiting tide change in a couple of hours. Denouement of situation to be revealed in the fullness of time.
Seems like we've had more calamities this past year than previous ten combined: rudder, shrouds, engine and less severe others besides the self-induced ones. Six and a half years of hard sailing can do hard things. Major refit to come partly this year in Trinidad, then more next summer. There goes the kid's inheritance.
Well, time for breakfast. Jan just recovered from freezer what is referred to as "thin, streaky" bacon, the real stuff that she found in Cape Town and a rare find outside of N. America, so brekkie is particularly interesting this morning.
Time is topped, Coda complete. As tide eased we backed into the current, but because chain, which was wrapped, was holding us from further backing we swung around pole the wrong way and subsequently below it, bow forward. With power we moved up enough to throw chain over pole by standing atop pulpit, but were still held by smaller, shorter one that we had previously dragged over taking chain to its far side and helpfully removing any barnacles from bottom of keel. Motored up beside it to get chain over that, then free anchor and Bob's your uncle.
Unfortunately a late start, continuing outbound current and lower engine revs will not allow arrival Wallyland until after closing. No worries. We'll anchor off Domburg for the evening (with regrettably a dalliance in the night with generator for battery charging) to sample food and drink at the Harbor Resort, get Euro and/or Surinamese dollars at ATM and scope the place for future reference. Probably anchor or moor there for awhile before footing (perhaps not possible in a boat) to Bridgetown, Barbados.
Jack & Jan
Good and Sloshed
28 August 2019 | Visserskampen
Wednesday 28 August 2019
Another night and early morning of splendid sailing. We're now cruising along on a reach at one hundred knots, give or take ninety two and a half. Wind slowly increased to fifty - approximated as well, so could be off as much as thirty two. Comfortable sea may not be quite thirty feet. Slow sections, while enjoyable, would make necessary night arrival against current so expect to stop in river, perhaps at Visserskampen right after river mouth, and proceed to Waterland, Suriname's only marina, late tomorrow morning.
Expect restful night after a wee dram and dinner of artisan (that's a snooty way of saying homemade) pizza, then sleep-in tomorrow as tide doesn't change until 10:21.
Since land is flat tide goes upriver a long way, a pile of water must slosh in because it's screaming out where we are tonight - location as previously anticipated. Paramaribo, sixteen nm in, has over a two meter tide (that's more than six feet for Americans who should have gone metric fifty years ago... just sayin'). New more careful look at tide tables indicates low tide in the morning at 1059, so expect more later sleep-in and departure for marina. If current good, anticipate under five hours to reach Wallyland (due regrettable influence of movie "Vacation", this as well as Water World chandlery in Caribbean have been renamed). Staff disappears at 1600, but we don't want to run engine hard - a quandary revealed.
After three wee drams, can think of nothing snarky to say, so goodnight all. You should not necessarily expect more twaddle tomorrow, as we may remain busy negotiating channel and subsequently drinking to a wretched excess after arrival. Any overt cheering at this point would be unnecessary and rude.
Jack & Jan
28 August 2019 | Overnight to Suriname
Tuesday 27 August 2019
Underway at 0600 with less wind than forecast. Then it dropped. Prepared spinnaker for deployment with genoa still flying. Major faux pas as spin halyard was caught while furling genny and broke diverter that prevents headsail halyard from wrapping around forestay. It did. It jammed. Climbing mast to fix was just what I had in mind this morning as exercise regimen needs a boost. It's amazing how rapidly top of mast moves as boat rocks. Three hands would have been handy, but entertainment value would have suffered. Secured halyard to mast with a hank of line, furled genoa and flew spinnaker, which, much to entire crew's delighted surprise, went smoothly.
However, until wind fills in boat is still only moving at a bit shy of 2.5 knots, 4 SOG (speed over ground, which should be speed over bottom, but SOB is an inauspicious acronym) with, fortunately, better current than expected. Preparation underway for imminent velocity increase that GRIB (Get Ready to Initiate Boost) promises by bracing head to prevent whiplash. At present though we're slowly heading out to sea. The forecast model, which will not again be mentioned in this paragraph, also promises backing that will, he said with utmost confidence, take us not only faster, but more directly to destination. Necessary to run engine to move up river, but prefer not to do so until. If unable marina by nightfall tomorrow (31nm up), river is reported sufficiently well marked to negotiate in darkness, but may have to anchor overnight and continue on in Thursday. A wealth of lights and a goodly distance off channel are recommended as maneuvering of prevalent barges is said to be dubious.
Notwithstanding torpid pace plus high heat and humidity, today so far has been and is expected through tomorrow to remain rather agreeable. It's a lazy, hazy, crazy day of summer. Maybe I'll write a song. What? Damn, never mind.
Rereading a good book because with the memory of a three-year-old, don't remember what happened. "How then do you know it was good", you might ask - don't remember disliking it, of course. Thus is revealed a little appreciated advantage of CRAFT disease (if you don't know what that is, ask an old, as in long in the tooth, friend). A mere few books can last even a voracious reader damn near forever. Jan is reading a book that claims to be unsettling. Entertaining or enlightening is good. Unsettling? Not so much.
Notice second use of damn.. ummm, third use.. on self-imposed PG-13 rated blog. Repressing normal salty language is occasionally frustrating so a wee bit of naughty relieves some pressure - kids can handle it. By the way, do any young parents want to hear my attitude concerning offspring and what to do with them? No you don't.
As any reader out there, who is doggedly resistant to spending his (as the plural 'their' is becoming more accepted with a singular subject, may in time do so myself, but not this time) time wisely, and so has read more than a couple of these entries will surmise, they are virtually never written at one time, but in fits and starts as an aberrant thought strikes. Sometimes "- Later", "- More later" or "- Way more later" make this explicit, but regardless, expect some time to elapse between writing of many sentences and certainly quite often between paragraphs - not this time, however.
Previous paragraph was written as a general explanation, but more directly to inform, in tedious detail, that this paragraph is being produced some time after "No you don't". "- Later" would have been more efficiency, but not nearly as fun for someone with a diaper load of nothing to do and time on his hands. Anyway, it's not, as you may have erroneously guessed, about time, but rather about wind. The wind has steadily, if slowly, increased and shifted toward land, such that we are pressing along at 6.5 knots, parallel to shoreline. Expect continued improvement until snuffing spinnaker just before sunset.
Jack & Jan
Fun In The Sun
26 August 2019 | Iles du Salut
Monday 26 August 2019
*** Warning *** This is merely a recounting of our activities concerning batteries, engine, dinghy and movements for future reference. It is boring and should be skipped entirely. No kidding, it's dull.
Made excellent time to arrive on anchor at 1420 yesterday. With wind at sixteen knots and waves coming between and around Royale and Saint-Joseph it was lumpy, but up and down, not side to side so had decent sleep, not that anything could keep us awake.
Putting dink in the water and mounting outboard was an exercise in hanging on and not getting too wet, but everything worked. Return to boat last evening was so rough that after a few crashes into stern, dinghy was punctured. Patching hole today was just what was needed to take attention away from batteries & engine and keep maintenance crew from getting bored.
After accessing batteries under forward bunk, a major chore moving several tons of stored items (slight hyperbole), and attempting with scant success to check them, went to island-top bar for expensive glass of wine and information that ferry makes one trip a day to the island, in at 0930 to remain all day, then out again at 1800, so not much use.
Today, after using generator to charge, isolated each battery with house load and found one was really bad. My ignorance of battery chemistry knows no bounds, so will let this setup simmer without a charge input and check later.
- Very sort time later
Two batteries appear to be toast, so we may have 1/3 capacity minus major loss due age of less bad one. At least it stays above 12v for awhile with load. Returned every ton of crap to under and over bunk and put all tools away so boat is again neat and tidy.. as good as it gets.
Again removed injector to potentially rotate or reverse copper gasket, hoping that might help. It was stuck solid and since further damage was not optimum, spread on a bit of gasket sealer and reinstalled. After 30 minutes of bleeding air from fuel lines, move to night-only mooring on smoother side of bay to unship outboard from dink without punching another hole revealed that goo helped, but didn't completely stop leak.
Decided to depart early manana for Suriname. We can get batteries there and probably better engine help at a marina with shore power. Motor should be OK for 31nm run up river.
What a fun day. Must do this again sometime.
Jack & Jan