The Voyages of s/v Lucky Bird

13 May 2019 | Homer Smith Marina, final Salty Dawg Destination
21 April 2019 | Frenchtown, St. Thomas V.I. Easter Celebration
20 April 2019 | Brewers Bay, St. Thomas VI
11 April 2019 | Nanny Cay Marine, Tortola, BVI
28 March 2019 | Green Cay Marina, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
25 March 2019
24 February 2019 | Jolly Harbor Marina, Antigua
21 December 2018 | Jolly Harbor Marina, Antigua, W.I.
20 December 2018
13 December 2018
25 November 2018

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.

Yet another change in plans

28 March 2019 | Green Cay Marina, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
Robert & Alice Smith
In my last blog update I said we would be sailing across the Anegada Passage from Sint Maarten to Virgin Gorda. Well that changed when first mate Alice said let's check out St. Croix; a simple 92 mile sail west from Stint Maarten.

We decided to leave the anchorage around 2100 to arrive at St. Croix about midday. Anchor up at 2100 and off we went leaving the island lights slowly behind. The wind was ESE about 100 degrees magnetic at 15 -17 and we were sailing at about 120 degrees apparent wind. So all was good, yet another head sail only down wind jaunt.

Somewhere in the middle of the night while I was off watch taking a nap, Alice got spooked. With the AIS on, she could see three boats converging on us from three different directions. "Bob. wake up, I need your help". "What's up?" "There's a big boat behind us and first I saw the red light and now the green". I looked behind us and Wow!, a ghost ship of tremendous size. It turned out to be the s/v Q one of the Bucket Regatta competitors with full black sails cruising along at 11.5 knots to our 7. She had altered course to pass behind us thus the change in running lights. To see such a huge boat pass silently behind us I my opinion was way-cool. Next a boat from our port quarter closing with a green a running light. AIS told us the size and COG so I figured they would pass in front of us. But, the wind picked up as did our speed and the possible intersect started to look pretty close. So I called the boat on the VHF and asked how they intended to cross us. They acknowledged my call but gave no inkling of their crossing plans. At night, everything looks closer, their green light loomed closer and closer still maintaining their closing course. Again I called but no answer. It was a 60+ foot catamaran under power heading across our bow at no more than 100 yards. I couldn't believe how any sailor could be so discourteous especially at night with another boat under sail. Alice wouldn't look.

The third was a commercial vessel going only nine knots and overtook us slowly and passed behind our starboard side heading in the direction of the Virgin Islands. Other than that bizarre happening of four boats converging at one spot between Sint Maarten and St. Croix we saw nothing other than a cruise ship heading for St. Kitts.

I kind of look forward to seeing other boats on the open water. It gives me chance to us my electronics and do some thinking 'what if'. Alice on the other hand prefers other boats keep their distance.

So here we are in Green Cay Marina on the north east side of the island. Tomorrow we start touring and doing some boat projects.

One final comment about our passage. All went well until we got close enough to warrant rolling up our head sail. a procedure we've done so many many times. This time though was different, it would not roll up. I went forward, tried to turn the furler, no go, I then thought to drop the sail on the deck but the halyard clutch would not release. Oh crap, now what do we do? We hadn't touched the jib since November of 2017 and here it was March of 2019.

I recalled a situation one of my J/105 buddies had on his boat when the furler wouldn't turn. The furling fitting at the top has to allow the sail to roll around the head stay without rolling the halyard. I looked up and sure enough as Alice tried to winch in the furling line I could see the halyard getting wrapped, not good especially as we were sailing back out to sea with the jib making life difficult. So I was able to pull some halyard out of the clutch, enough to unload the roller fitting at the top and had Alice take in a bit at a time while I watched the halyard. When it looked like it was going to start to wrap I had Alice let out a bit of the furling line, then try again. It worked and slowly the sail furled successfully. Just another day in the life of cruisers.

This morning we dropped the sail and greased the upper furler fitting and the lower as well. We'll check the sail for chafe, replace a few tell tales and put it back up in the morning.

Lesson learned.

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 - Back to Paradise
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