The Voyages of s/v Lucky Bird

13 February 2010 | Portsmouth, Dominica
11 February 2010 | Deshaise, Anse a' la Barque, Ilse Des saintes
11 February 2010 | Little Bay Harbor
03 February 2010 | Jumby Bay, Antigua
29 January 2010 | Falmouth Harbor, Antigua
22 January 2010 | Jolly Harbor, Antigua
21 January 2010 | Low Bay, Barbuda
20 January 2010 | Low Bay, Barbuda
17 January 2010 | Gustavia
11 January 2010 | Grand Case
06 January 2010 | Gorda Sound in Leverick Bay
28 December 2009 | Maho Bay and Nanny Cay
23 December 2009 | Trellis Bay, Tortola, BVI
11 December 2009 | Bouncing between Road Town and Benures Bay
06 December 2009 | Red Hook Bay, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
27 November 2009 | Gorda Sound in Leverick Bay
22 November 2009 | Tortola, BVI
17 November 2009 | The BVI's
13 November 2009 | Nanny Cay, Tortola BVI
11 November 2009 | Nanny Cay, Tortola BVI

In the ICW and Crossed 7,000 nms

20 May 2019 | Antlantic Yacht Basin
Robert & Alice Smith
We waited in Beaufort for a new mechanical linear drive to replace the old one that finally gave up on our passage to Beaufort from St. Thomas. Getting the old one out of the boat was NO EASY TASK!!. Everything out of the lazarette, that means: the Honda generator, four diesel jerry cans, the emergency tiller, all the dock lines, dinghy anchor, the bucket, the floor boards and finally access to the bottom of the boat's stern. Now find away to bend down and figure out how the unit is attached. I'm not a big guy but cramming me into the little space next to and behind the rudder post was, let's just say painful. Fortunately the bracket was held on by three bolts that I could reach with one arm and an extended socket wrench. Hurray, after an hour or more the bracket with the drive unit attached came free and was out of the boat. Yup it was frozen, kicked the bucket, dead!

That night I had bad dreams about installing the new unit; often removing is much easier that re-installing anything, especially in this case. The new unit arrived via UPS right around noon, so....it was crunch time. Back into the tiny space from hell.

Mounting the bracket turned out to be fairly easy, the bolts lined up with the holes, the washers and stay nuts went on and I was able with one extended arm get them well secured. Ah!! now for the drive, arg.

The drive is mounted to the bracket with a clevis type pin that slides through two holes at the back of the drive and through a corresponding rotating fitting in the bracket, much like the goose neck on the main sail boom. Lining up the back of the drive with the bracket fitting that flops left and right was a challenge warranting lots of verbal venting, which my lady Alice has learned to tolerate whenever I get into one of the "How am I going to do this", situations. One hand to prop up the drive, and the other to align the bracket fitting all-the-while hoping to be able to drop the clevis type pin through the aligned holes of the two pieces. Guess what, the pin was just long enough that I had to push it from the bottom, there was insufficient clearance from the top of the bracket to the hull, do I hear another arg?

The solution was to support the back of the drive with cardboard from the shipping box. I kept adding layers until the two pieces lined up and I could push the pin up from the bottom. The final step was to install a washer and secure the pin from dropping down with a cotter pin type piece through a hole in the clevis pin. How to find the hole when you can't see and can only feel with one arm fully extended and bent in a very awkward angle? More verbal venting, sorry Alice, it's just to get my adrenaline flowing.

Fortunately the holes top and bottom of the pin were aligned so by turning the cotter pin from the bottom I could determine about were to expect to find the top hole. Success, finish the electrical connections, attach the ram to the steering quadrant have Alice turn the wheel stop to stop only to discover the rudder alignment sender block of wood was loose where it had been epoxied to the quadrant. I chipped all the old epoxy away and sanded both the quadrant and the bottom of the wooden block with 60 grit paper I mixed up a new batch of West System epoxy, and reattached the block. Now let that go off and we are finished.

The new drive worked perfectly, in fact there is now less drag on the steering when to auto pilot is in stand-by or turned off, an extra benefit.

So, yesterday I looked at the chart plotter log and it read 7,003 miles. That's since leaving Kenosha in September 2107, not too shabby don'tcha say.

We will hook up with the OCC for a rally in the Chesapeake in a couple of weeks and the again in Southern New England before deciding our next steps in our planned return in September.

Cheers,

St. Thomas to Beaufort, NC Summary

15 May 2019
Robert & Alice Smith
Here are the statistics of our sail from St. Thomas to Beaufort, NC

Total distance sailed: 1320nm
Departure: May 4, 2019 0930
Arrival: May 12, 2019 0930
Elapsed time: 8 days
Average SOG: 165 nm/day
Maximum boat speed under sail: 9.2 knts
Time under power: 93 hrs
Fuel consumption: 65 gallons
Rate of fuel consumption: .7 gallons/hour
Fuel consumption per nm: 10 nm/gallon at an average speed under power of 7 knts

No whales spotted, no fish caught (didn't even try)

Watch schedule: Basically 2 hours on / 2 hours off at night, much more relaxed during the days. After loosing our auto pilot we went to 1 hour on, 1 hour off for the last 84 nm.

12 check-ins on the SDR SSB net
7 SSB weather reports from Chris Parker

Numerous Grib file downloads via the Iridium Go. That worked perfectly as long as I kept the file size reasonably small.

Only two annoyances as commented in previous blog.

On balance a very safe, comfortable and enjoyable voyage.

Life on LB:

My First Mate, My Lady, My Wife, My Best Friend doing her thing in her office.



The Captain keeping track on the paper charts as well as electronic chart plotter.



The Captain checking-in with the SDR net via SSB

Back In the USA

13 May 2019 | Homer Smith Marina, final Salty Dawg Destination
Robert & Alice Smith
Our trip from St. Thomas to Beaufort, NC was a mixture of fabulous sailing, seemingly endless powering and a few annoyances.

First the fabulous sailing. We have a Hydro Vane installed on our transom; we named it "Vivaldi" and for the first two and a half days Vivaldi gave us some really unforgettable sailing. Picture sailing on a just aft of beam reach, apparent winds ranging from 15 to 20 kts, true wind gusting to 25, and Lucky Bird cruising along at 8 - 9 kts. All-the-while Vivaldi keep the boat within 1 - 2 degrees of our targeted course. No wandering, just rock solid and trucking. We didn't make any adjustments for the first 50 - 60 hours. Unbelievable!! Then the wind went away.

We sailed into a very large high pressure ridge and as the two pictures below confirm the Atlantic went flat.





Next came a weather report from Chris Parker, Marine Weather Service, that was very disturbing to the Salty Dawg sailors. A low pressure trough with associated low pressure storm was to form near the mouth of the Chesapeake just about the time of our arrival. Chris suggested that if we couldn't make the Chesapeake by mid-day Saturday we should consider Beaufort, NC as an alternative land fall destination. After several hours of very careful and detailed eta projecting, I decided that Saturday was a best case possibility. Now sailors know that nothing happens as a best case scenario and worse case we might get caught with gale force winds near and in the gulf stream, no way Jose!!

So four of the eleven boats made course corrections to Beaufort. Of the others, one chose Bermuda, another chose Charleston and two decided to push on to Hampton. Two other boats were not participating in the SSB net so their location and destination was unknown.

In transit to Beaufort we had a little sailing, more powering, a little sailing, and finally the gulf stream and a three knot boost. Of the four boats now on track for Beaufort, Misto, a 44 cat was out in front, then Lucky Bird our Moody 425, Rum Truffle, a Moody 49, Adagio, an Amel 55. We caught up to Misto in the gulf stream and sailed within a mile of them the remainder of the passage; we call that buddy boating. We arrived safely at the mouth of the river about 0800 and we tucked into our slip by 0900.

Now for the annoyances. The main sail preventer block attached to the rail up forward broke off a small piece of the casing allowing the line to jump off the shive. This stopped us from adjusting the preventer tension, not too cool when sailing at 120-150 degree apparent conditions. I turned the block over and that solved the problem, no big deal.

Then about 85 miles from Beaufort, still in the gulf stream, our auto pilot stopped jamming the steering system. We were stuck in the gulf stream with no steering.

For many of you, who have read this blog, you are familiar with my referencing our sailing angels. In this case since we had caught up to Misto they were there standing by as I diagnosed and resolved the steering problem. Everything had to come out of the lazarette and my unbelievable first mate was there as my gofer bringing tools to me as I figured out what to do.

Long story shorten, the stream was fairly calm, it was mid afternoon and I was able to disconnect the liner drive arm freeing the steering quadrant. Off we went with Misto heading for Beaufort but now we were hand steering for final 85 km.

Happy Easter Everyone

21 April 2019 | Frenchtown, St. Thomas V.I. Easter Celebration
Robert & Alice Smith
I have a short story to tell about our Easter here on St. Thomas.

Some nine years around the time of Easter we found a small church, St. Annes, on a hill near Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas, all quite by accident. Alice and I make special efforts to find and explore older local churches as we sail from island to island.



We joined their Easter Mass, a congregation comprised of those with a Philippine heritage, native locals from St. Thomas, and some white folks, officiated by a priest from Cameroon in a village called Frenchtown; a real international event. After the service we were invited to join the congregation for brunch. We had a wonderful time meeting lots of people and learning the history of their church and village.

So now here we are back in St. Thomas in 2019 anchored in Brewers Bay which turns out to be a very short bus or taxi ride from the same little church on the hill. It's Easter, so we got up at 0700 and off we went. Again, a wonderful catholic service with incense, lots of singing, and they even went so far as to recognize us as traveling visitors and gave us applause.

After the service it was time for their traditional brunch and socializing. We sat with a fellow from the Dominican Republic and a couple celebrating their 53rd anniversary. The priest came by we talked and asked him how to find the cathedral; it turned out to be only a 10 minute walk.

With Google maps leading the way we arrived as the Easter Mass had just started. The church was full and we didn't want to create a disturbance so we took the stairs on the right leading to a balcony, or so I thought. We went up quickly learned this was where the choir and organist were located. We were graciously offered seats and sheets of music so we joined in singing. What an experience. This beautiful cathedral, full of people and we are singing with the choir.

Now I'm an emotional guy and the experience brought tears of emotion from the music, the passions evident in the faces and voices of the choir and the Easter Mass celebration. Whew and then.... the choir closed the service with Handel's Hallelujah from the Messiah. Wow!! we were singing this extraordinary music while being overwhelmed by the power of their voices. These people were truly inspired and very talented. The highest notes of the Hallelujah resounded throughout the building with the entire congregation having turned and look up at the choir in awe. There we were totally engaged in the emotion of the moment. When it was over, we applauded the choir and praised them for their exceptional performance. There were smiles of joy and appreciation as they collected their music and packed up to leave. It was an experience we won't ever forget; an Easter celebration on an island in the Caribbean that we lucked into because our cruising angels are looking out for us. We on Lucky Bird are truly blessed.

Virgin Islands Updates

20 April 2019 | Brewers Bay, St. Thomas VI
Robert & Alice Smith | Fantastic!!
First, we hooked up with the Flynns, our friends from "E" dock why back at Southport Matrina in Kenosha, WI. They were chartering a 50 foot catamaran from the Moorings and were in the Bight at Norman Island so we sailed there after checking in at West End.

St. Crois and On to The Virgin Islands

11 April 2019 | Nanny Cay Marine, Tortola, BVI
Robert & Alice Smith
We tied up at the Green Cay Marina and were very lucky in doing so. When we arrived in St. Croix at Christensted we called the St. Croix Marina asking for a slip for a few days. They replied letting us know they had nothing until April 1st, several days away. Next we called Green Cay Marina and they replied they had a slip for us. Making a long story shorter, we rented a car to tour the island and stopped by the St. Croix Marina. Wow were we lucky, it was a mess. It looked as though the hurricane had just come through. The docks were broken up, the boat yard was mostly gravel with parts of boats strewn around, not our cup of tea. The Green Cay Marina on the other hand was just what we needed. A clean, up-to-date facility with super WiFi. So once again we "lucked out".

Now a few comments about St. Croix which after driving the entire island turned out to be much different than we expected.

St. Croix is the "working man's" island. Fairly flat except the hills toward the western end where there is a rain forest that is quite beautiful. There's not a lot of touristy type attractions with the exception of Buck Island, Captain Morgan refinery and the two major towns. Farming and cattle herding at the principle sources of income other than the refinery that is being re-commissioned and it is huge.

We spent a day snorkeling at Buck Island inside the reef and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. There was considerable damage to the coral especially the Elkhorn from the hurricane. But the fish seemed happy, we were happy and it was a good day. On the eastern there is a prominent monument:







The monument is a continuum between all who have come before and all who have yet to come. The monument represents an abstraction of two crossing M's at 90 degrees to each other indicating north, south, east and west From the point we could look aout as see the beautiful reefs that encircle the island. As we drove west along the shore, the reef colors were magnificent.

Unlike other Caribbean Islands were cruise ships congregate by the two's, three's, fours and even five at a time, here only one and Alice and I wondered just what the tourists would do after shopping.

So we left St. Croix and headed north to St. John to do some exploring in places we hadn't visited before and to revisit some we had. It was a beautiful sail of some 40 miles with the wind behind our beam. My sense is St. Croix is off the cruisers beaten path. We had the winds behind us but leaving the Virgins to go to St. Croix often is a close reach to beating and that probably discourages quite a few especially those on charters. It was on our list and we probably won't be back.

We circumnavigated St. John stopping in harbors around the island before heading to the BVI's where we hoped to cross paths with our Kenosha "E" Dock" friends Tom and Jane Flynn. They were chartering a Mooring 50 foot Catamaran with Tom's brothers and their wives. We did find them in the Bight on Norman Island, had a short but nice visit and they were off. We sailed to Deadman's Bay, one of favorites on Peter Island only to be disappointed. No trespassing signs were posted along the beach and with the strong easterly trades, the anchorage was rolly. Our kids will remember this bay and the beautiful beach and calm waters from our visit years ago.

We find ourselves back at Nanny Cay where we landed after completing the Caribbean 1500 back in 2010. This is one of the most devastated marinas by hurricane Irma, it's also where our friends the Hagars lost their boat Options. New docks, restored buildings and very few remnants of the hurricane's damage.

I put up the picture below to show that Alice hasn't lost her food prep interests, we are living well on our LB.

Vessel Name: Lucky Bird
Vessel Make/Model: 1990 Moody 425 cc
Hailing Port: Kenosha, WI
Crew: Robert & Alice Smith
About:
Alice and I have spent considerable time together on the water; cruising and racing on the waters of New England, the Caribbean and Lake Michigan.

Sailing is our passion and together we've been fortunate to experience the thrills, the camaraderie and the enjoyment boating provides. [...]

We seek the freedom, excitement and challenges of voyaging.

Lucky Bird's Photos - Main
This is our second journey south to the Caribbean. This time we've chosen to exit Lake Michigan and proceed south through the in-land waterway system to Mobile. We'll start around Labor Day and take our time exploring the history of middle America.
206 Photos
Created 28 July 2017
30 Photos
Created 12 July 2013
101 Photos
Created 17 July 2012
Bob and Alice return to Lucky Bird after spending the summer in Addison.
31 Photos
Created 4 December 2010
Heading into the Windward Islands and further south
108 Photos
Created 22 February 2010
121 Photos
Created 11 June 2009