The Voyages of s/v Lucky Bird

20 May 2019 | Antlantic Yacht Basin
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

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, 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.


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
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 - South to the Western Caribbean
Photos 1 to 206 of 206 | Main
Yup, no wind, using the iron jennie
Look at the Atlantic Ocean - flat
Captain checking in over the SSB
Jeeping track of our progress
First Mate in Her Office
St. Anne Chapel
The Iconic Foxy
The Smiths and the Flynns: Together on LB in the Bight at Normans island
Life Is Good On LB
The Plaque
Millennium Monument: One th eastern end of St. Croix
Green Island Heaven: LB
Kite Boarding: This fellow was exciting to watch, jumping 30+ feet into the air
LB at Rest: That
The Captain contemplates
Modern architecture in Guayaquil
Back in Guayaquil, quite a beautiful city on the water
Up close and personal with a local resident
One happy camper
The prettiest lady on the cruise and she is with ME!!
The Darwin, our home for 5 fantastic days
This is like a hostel for seals
Oh so tired!
This was one of many similar beach hauls outs for the seal lions
We were the intruders
More of the San Jeronimo Ruins
San Jeronimo from the entrance: It
Parade floats in Antigua
The Captain Tries to Hold It Together: We were really amazed by the amount of distruction caused by earthquakers.  Bob did his best to no avail to try and put it back together.
The market in Antigua, Guatemala: Alice and I were blow away by the shear size of this market, it went on and on and on
Another shot of the market: Alice gets into the picture showing all the fruits and vegetables
San Jeronimo Ruins: The San Jeronimo School was built in the first half of the 18th century by the Order of La Merced. The building was used for Royal Income of Sales Tax and Royal Custom, the city
A very special post office in the islands
A timless artifac
Our hostel at Sumec Champey
Mountain hiking, swimming in the pools, climbing through a cave and tubing on the river, not too shabby
The pools of Sumec Champey: This picture is from the observation platform hign above the pools.  Alice and I hiked it.  Then went swimming in the pools, way cool!!
Captain reloads : It seems I spend too much time in fron of ATMs
Belive it or not there is a fast moving river underneath the pools.
Captain my Captain what are you thinking
My lady on the tour
We bought enough that they wanted to dress us up.  The Captain looks silly.
Kids looking to have their pictures taken for a few $
Golapogus Island Catcus
San Hermano Pedro Cathedral: The church is named in the memory of the most beloved of sons in Guatemala - Hermano Pedro. The building first opened its doors as a hospital in 1663, but eventually transformed into a church. Today, the temple is being used as a social work center and continues to host religious service
The pools of Sumec Champey
One of the largest & most beautiful kite
Two hours out from Jamaica: Mother Nature pulled the wind plug
The Captain checking out our Galopagus trawler.
On our way to Machu Picchu
Breathtaking mountains of Peru
Yup, we climbed all those stairs
Hey,  make room for me
Skip the Captain, look at the precision of the wall construction, amazing
At the top of our climb
The deck is painted!!
Tower of Shaman at HaciendaTijax
Canopy Bridgwe at Tijax
The captain observing
Working on our hatch covers
Spraying the final primer coat
The final fairing
Panama Canal: Cruising boats passing through the lock
Panama Canal: Watching a container ship enter the lock
In Flores, Easter celebration preparations: The bus pickup was next to this home with a stations of the cross display.
Alice makes A Friend: While waiting for the bus from Hades, Alice befriended this gentleman.  He was so greatful for the attention, when he got off the bus he came over and hugged Alice.
Alice gets the front seat: This starts what turned out to be a 5 mile paddle
Captain Bob pauses to take in the grandeur of Tikalof T
Temple #1: Amazing
Wedged: This is looking forward on the bus.  We were standing wedged between other travelers with no room to turn around. 2.5 hours, argg!
Quite steep, super view from the top
Bob and Alice take a minute for a selfy on top of the Temple of the Dragons: There was a long stairway to the top, no climbing on the temple itself.  Once at the top, the panarama was awesome
Alice hooks up for a ride on the zip line: One hand on the top the other on the ropes.  The hand over the top controls your swinging left, right or all around.
3...2..1..Launch: Alice gets a gentle shove off the platform for her zip ride
after first coat
after sanding
Does anyone have a wiring diagram?
A Family Day at Dolphin Discovery, Isla Mujeres
Jake and Dylan at the Turtle Farm
Waiting for the taxi: At the turtle farm
Sunset dinner
The whole clan of kids: Waiting for a taxi
My two ladies, Brooke & Brianna: Just hanging out at the marina
The Bothwells: Lunch break on the swings
Sand castles with grandpa
A popular photo op: Grandpa with his girls
Sand Castles on Christmas Day
The Bothwells
Santa Made It to LB
Christmas on LB
One More Boat Project Off the To-Do List: This is a long thought about project, putting down Isiteek in the cockpit.  I worked on it here in Isla Mujeres for the past three days.  I pleased with the outcome and only have a little cleanup remaining.  This was a big effort.
Mother Nature turns on the wind: This is our first western Caribbean cold front passage experience.  Winds to 30 with gusts into the 40ties.  Awake much of the night.
Greg & Susie
Jeff & Cathy
Jay & Dena
Bob and the Ladies of "E" dock
Alice and the Guys
Tom & Jane
Final Toast to "E" dockers
Wow, I
The Captain Loading UP
Tennessee River View
The cliffs along the Ten-Tom
The cliffs along the Ten-Tom
Clark of Louis and Clark with first mate Alice in Paducha
Slow Hand heading south to Florida
Nellie Mae, South Dakota
Alice and the Lock Wall
Our first cotton field
the real deal
Bob at MLK
The captain contemplating
Bob goes to the  AL senate
Bob & Alice at MLB
Alice at the stove in the AL senate
The marshes before Mobile
New Orleans Cathredal, pretty spectactular
New Orleans architecture, looks fabulous
The very famous Cafe Du Mond serving beignets.
You live on stilts south of New Orleans in the bayous
Living south of New Orleans, high in the air
LB once out of the water waiting for us humans to make her look beautiful
First mate Alice making LB look pretty
Hey Alice do I have enough protection?
The captain giving love to his boat LB
Getting ready to splash
LB got special attention from James: We were the only boat launched while we were at Turners with paper on the straps protecting our hull and bottom paint.  Yes we complemented the crew and tipped well.  It pays to take care of the people taking care of LB.
Grease always makes it easier, so says the rigger
Love that mast: Turner Marine gave lots of love to LB.  This fellow made certain LB
Putting LB back together: Lets see, does this line go here or there?
Captain hard at work: How is all this SSB and Sailmail stuff supposed to work?
First Mate composing her stories: Alice hard at work writing her stories for her book
Bill and Marcia in Turners Marine, from southern Illinois, good friends
Good by to Turner Marine in Mobile. AL
Longer Days: This couple have two young boys on board.  They have traveled from Michigan to the Gulf and this is on our joint passage to Clearwater, Florida
Best buddies Bill and Linda Morgan from the Villages
Bill and Linda Morgan with us in Clearwater
The Buch
Jessie Buch, a movie star on her Dads boat
Our host at Marco Island - The Buch family and Rita the dog  at Thanksgiving
First Mate and Elaine Buch - Marco island
The Captain with host Jim Buch - Marco Island