Belated "And now for the rest of the story"
27 September 2010 | St. Davids, Grenada
Wow, having too much fun to blog. Where was I? Oh yeah, in Sint Maarten...
Over the next four years we were "commuter-cruisers", visiting our boat for three weeks at a time three or four times a year. These trips were half (or more) refit work, half play. We made it through the Leewards and Windwards twice, with a jaunt over to Barbuda, and meanwhile learned our way around the boat and the lifestyle. We kept spiffing up the boat until we felt she was ready for ocean passages and to be our home. It was amazing what we had to do - new sails, running rigging, standing rigging, chainplates, some thruhulls, new windvane, radio, chartplotter, SSB, VHF, batteries, alternator, starter, pumps... the list goes on and on.
In September 2004 she was at anchor in Hog Island Bay, Grenada, a "hurricane free" area, when Hurricane Ivan visited her. At Category 4 Ivan's eye passed directly overhead the anchorage, clocking 125 knot winds and 25 foot seas. Kamaloha was incredibly lucky - her bow platform was torn apart by the anchor rode, her gallows turned to toothpicks by the boom, and a gallon of bottom paint burst through a locker hatch below decks and coated the teak galley and aft cabin with red bottom paint. By comparison to the other yachts in Grenada, however, we were very lucky. Over 80% of all yachts in Grenada were a total loss after the storm.
In 2005 we brought the boat back up to Sint Maarten where Roger Smith and his crew at Maintec helped us repair all the damage. We did our best refit move yet by having "Terry the Englishman", a welder extraordinaire, replace all the railings and davits, and add a windgen tower and bimini. This totally changed the character of the cockpit for the better. At last she was ready for a passage!
In April we hopped over to the BVI where we added two friends as crew (Hauke Kite-Powell and Tim Hall), and on May 1 we joined the Atlantic Cup (reverse Caribbean 1500) to Bermuda. We were "tail-end Charlie" - every other boat had at least eleven feet on us - but we had a great beam reach the whole way, arriving in Bermuda at dawn in a half-gale.
We hung out in Bermuda for a week awaiting a decent weather window for Maine. Tim and Hauke had to leave us due to time constraints. We tried to find other crew from the group but no one could wait as long as we could, and after some soul-searching Maureen and I did a two-handed passage.
The goal was Portland Maine where Customs was easily had. The reality was our weather window was too good. Four hours after departing Bermuda the wind died away, and we were left to motor for the next three days. That is when we discovered that our fuel tank, claimed to be 120 gallons in the broker's sheet, was not nearly that large. We ran dry just after an uneventful Gulf Stream crossing. (We carefully measured the tank at 80 gallons afterwards.)
We then proceeded to drift in circles for a few days awaiting wind. When it finally came, it was the teeth of a nor'easter with a full gale breathing down our throat. After a quick pow-wow we changed course for Gloucester, MA, screaming into port once more at dawn in a half-gale. We were as prepared for the big blow as we could be - the storm jib and trysail were hanked and ready - but we made it to port in good form under all plain sail (two reefs of course) without hoisting the storm sails.
Gloucester was not a Customs port. We contacted them by phone and were told the officer would come from Boston. We were to stay in town and await his arrival. Naturally we sought the nearest watering-hole. It turned out to be the bar made famous as the center of action during "The Perfect Storm". In our foulies, bleached hair and suntans, we were asked how our catch went. I guess we fit right in! What a perfect finish to our first big passage. Let the storm come on! (It did, reaching 50+ kts in the harbor.)
How it all began...
19 September 2009 | Rockland, Maine
I grew up sailing a 17 ft. O'Day Day Sailer in San Francisco Bay. The boat was half the size of anything else found in the slot. My Dad was a little nuts. I spent a lot of time bailing. It was great.
When I went to college I taught sailing for four bucks an hour at the sailing pavilion, and got the chance to race a 32 footer in the summers with a skipper who really knew his stuff. I even got to keep some of the trophies.
A chance visit to the sailing pavilion twelve years later led to the opportunity for my wife and I to "cruise" for the first time along the Maine coast aboard a tired old Hinckley 38. We were hooked.
For our tenth anniversary she gave me a gift of a bareboat charter in the BVI. We were even more hooked. I never liked hot weather until this point. That would change!
Another chance visit to the BVI in the spring of 2001 led me to Kamaloha. She was owned by a former liveaboard and was up for sale in Nanny Cay. Perhaps because the previous owner still had all his stuff aboard, I could really visualize living aboard this boat. Cozy teak glowed from the walls. The bowsprit and full keel gave her a look of solidarity and blue-water capability. This was a boat built to go places.
On September 11, 2001 we were on board getting a pre-purchase survey when someone ran down the docks yelling "you gotta come see this!". We watched live from the TV in the dock bar as the second aircraft crashed into the WTC, turning our whole world view around. The chaos turned our two-day purchase trip into nearly two weeks of the unknown, eventually going broke and sleeping aboard a derelict sailboat in Trellis Bay for lack of funds (overseas credit card transactions all went through the WTC and thus the cards all stopped working).
While the previous owner had done a good job taking care of Kamaloha, the wear and tear of the liveaboard life and the effects of the tropical sun had taken their toll. Kamaloha had a good survey but had some problems and was in no way ready to cross the Atlantic back to New England. We managed to replace the standing rigging and sails, but discovered that doing any serious work on a boat in the BVI was nigh impossible for lack of well-stocked chandleries, and ended up sailing to Sint Maarten that first year. This proved to be the Mecca of refitting and we were able to accomplish what we needed. Soon she sported new chainplates, radar/chartplotter, wind generator, wind vane... and we decided that we really liked it down here and would leave her here for the time being, taking "vacations" to visit and see the Caribbean.