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 - Journey of s/v Lucky Bird
Photos 1 to 121 of 121 | Main
The ole captain of the sea resting in a Botanical garden, a beautiful rainforest of unbelievable species.
Oh, here
Ilse des Saintes for a brief pause.  Somehow the captain hogged all this photo ops.
The Soufriere Hills volcano as we approached from Antigua
Very active as you can see, we were about 12 miles out at this time
Our first sight of the volcano from the taxi, wow, it seemed like a picture of the moon.
Alice haming it up with the local fisherman, boys
This is just after we had finished out island tour, something very big is going on at the volcano, that is an ash plume aftere an eruption.
Wow, from daylight to darkness in a matter of moments.  We were concerned, you bet, that is ash from the eruption and with the wind from the south the ash is falling all over the island and Lucky Bird
The next morning, we were covered, the ash was everywhere, argg!!
Even t/t Lucky Bird got doused.
Red at night, sailors delight, notice the empty glass, Bob stop talking pictures and fix me a rum!!  Aye Aye matey
There it is, you can just barely see the plumes over the bow of the boat anchored behind us.  For several days while anchored in Falmouth we had this spectacular view of an active valcano.  Often it would send a blast of steam and ash so high as to dominate the clouds of the trades.  On a five step scale of activity it is currently at level four meaning a good portion of the island is restricted due to potential eruption and ash.
The largest sail boat and tallest mast in the world, right here for us to gwak at.  Wow
Just another boring picture of megaq yachts sitting at the dock growing foul stuff on thier bottoms.
Eleven miles of pink sand, calm waves and no people, how exquisite for us!!
Hey Solomon, thanks for a great ride to the Frigate colony, we almost skipped the rain.  If you sail to Low Bay Barbuda, you will find Solomon and his sidekick walking the beach encouraging you to take his water taxi to Cordington or to see the birds, Thanks Solomon
The second largest Frigate colony in the world.  Once we got out to their part of the mongroves they were everywhere, thousands and thousands of birds, wow!!
The mails are courting the females by showing their huge red breasts, the females are hovering, checking out the guys and the guys are sitting loking handsome.
Look at the ladies swooning over this guy
The rich and the famous a view down the dock at St. Barts, if your boat is only a 100 feet long don
Hey Jake we can still see you, look, look there
"GG" great grandma and her great grandson in the islands, not too shabby
Whay to go "GG"
Now here
Wow and 11 on a scale of 1 - 10.  I
Darn why did we pick the islands, we could be burried in snow in the mountains
One happy momma, soak
Two beautiful ladies on Cow Wreck beach just chill
Two beautiful ladies, oops, one beautiful lady and an old guy trying to snuggle
The sun, the sky, the water, the beach and the lady Laura, oh my how come I
More ahhh!!!...........
No green flash, darn!!
Laura shot this view of the sunset while we were anchored at Anegada.  She was hoping to catch that elusive Green Flash
All the Jumpies together after their show, quite an experience to watch, so much energy.
Hey who
Making the pattern for the dodger, the bimini is installed with its support bars.  You can see just how much space we
Making the pattern is a precise process, it amazes me though that these pros can take the pattern back with as few alignment marks as they make and return with a perfectly fitting dodger.
See our new step for getting into and out of the dinghy.  We were getting pretty tired of fighting the stern so we thought we
Carl pondering, he is the chief desinger and installer, quite a talented guy
Carl feeling pretty good out the project or was then when we offered him some muffins?
Just a little tighter over here, umm what about the winch handles, oops we have to be able to trim the sails ya know!!
Oh ya Bob don
The old folks on Smith Beach on St. Thomas, can you feel the love??
Oh my God are these two people beautiful or what???  Sarah and Luke, our hostess and host for this afternoon.  Thanks you guys we had a great time.
No it
John and Mary Driver say their thanks.
Rick and Julie Palm, world travelors and Caribbean 1500 leaders, really nice people.  We spent several nights in anchorages with them.  Super conversations.
Bob and Danny sorting out the worlds problems.  Most everybody knows I am to the right of Rush Limbaugh and Danny, a New Zealander, is to the right of me.  Can you hear the conversation?  We hit it off fantastically.  I rteally like that guy.
Caption Smithy on one of the nicest days of the passage.
Randy and Jeff thankful that the trip is almost oveer and the winds are much lighter
Heading for Nayy Cay, Randy is our look out, are we there yet Randy??
More of our Carib 1500 Thanksgiving
Lots of enginuity, patience and time invested by some eagle, osprey or hawk,  no eveidence of anyone at home as we passed
Lots of enginuity, patience, and time invested by some two footed creature looking to surprise some of the feathered kind.  My son-in-law and father-in-law might appreciate this blind.
This picture just doesn
It was busy at the dock as well.  Rafted three and four deep.  Just imagine you pay half a million or more for a power boat that has to be rafted four deep because you are the smallest.  

Oh darn I was a big shot back home!!
Power boaters have a tradition we thought was pretty cool.  They celebrate seasonal holidays during the summer.  This week end was Christmas and New Years.  Some boaters really dressed up and got in the spirit.  Good clean fun for all.
One of so many lonely lighthouses along the Nova Scotia coast.  If only these lighthouses could talk, just imagine the stories, the winds, the seas, the waves, the ships, the people.  These are all managed electronically now, in the past there were people living next to the lighttower maintaining the light.  Wow such dedication, such suffering, such commitment, such a different time.
Here it is folks your Atlantic.  Can you believe it looks just like Lake Michigan off Chicago just before a race day in August.  This is the Atlantic Ocean, it can happen.
Ok, so Alice likes to read here emails, her she is at the nav station chuckling over someones email.  We get a chance to check in once and a while when we can find internet access.  YTonight Alice is catching up on passed emails.
Dinner for two please!  Yup, wine, salad, a casserole and we were in heaven.  You see we really aren
I didn
A simple and for most a "why did you take this picture" photo.  Well this is the last of sixteen locks we
The day before the season opening in the Northumberland Straits and all the boats are lined up ready to head out at 06:00.
Captain Paul
Beautiful vistas around the cape at Perce
As we approach the rock from the north
There it is the most famous rock in the maritimes about 12 miles to the south as we leave Gaspe
Cap Gaspe and her magnificant clifts after we passed and turned into Gaspe Bay
Cap Gaspe as we approached from the north.  You can see the lighthouse 1,000 feet above the water.
Cap des Rosiers, the oldest lighthouse in Canada or so the story goes.  We felt pretty insignificant sailing by a structure that
Most northern point, worth celebrating even if it
A little redundancy here but you get the jist, we
This is from our trusty chartplotter showing the turn to the south around the top of the Gaspe
Dinner!!! Once again my chief mate, my only mate, my Alice pulls off a miracle in our little galley.

PS:  It
Tadoussac Hotel from the river, we
One whale and the excursion boats come flying
First mate Alice as we approach Prince Shoal Lighthouse.  Can you tell it
Laurentian Mountains right down to the river.
Alice holding up the fortress wall.  Winding cobble-stone street from the upper city to the lower.
Typical tourist shot taken by some folks from Toronto visiting Quebec City for the first time as well.  Lucky Bird is in the basin below.
The famous Chateau Frontenac, the icon of Quebec City.  Wandering through the lobby and the shops gave us a sense of the granduer of this very old and famous hotel.
Put these people in tradtional 1800 attire and you would think you had stepped back in time.
Look family my first cake, I
One of 15 locks between Buffalo and Montreal.  We caught up to these people two days later in Montreal.
After anchoring for the night just off the channel we awoke to meeting this lake freighter in a narrow portion of the river.