The Voyages of s/v Lucky Bird

21 June 2019 | Wickford Cove Marina
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

Along the Way from the Chesapeake

21 June 2019 | Wickford Cove Marina
Robert & Alice Smith | Rainy, Uckky!!
We are in Wickford, Rhode Island, a town where we lived so many years ago. We are at Wickford Cove Marina on the hard to repaint LB's bottom and do some other small projects.

So let me tell you a bit about our trip from the Sassafras River, Chesapeake Bay non-stop to Wickford, R.I., I guess about some 300 or so kms.

We left the Sassafras River at about 0630 on Tuesday morning, June 18. We powered through the C & D Canal with the current into the Delaware Bay. No wind so we powered all the way to the mouth of the Bay. By now it was about 1830 the same day. We decided to push on to Rhode Island some 230 miles to the north. The winds were light and we started sailing. We had to sail due east out to sea due to the wind direction, not towards R.I. After a couple of hours I thought we could jibe and head toward R.I.

Nope, the winds shifted and we were sailing north but only along the New Jersey coast. After a couple more hours the wind quit, so on with the engine, once again. We left the main up to sort of help with our speed over the bottom, all-the-while we could see lightening to the south.

We powered onward toward on our desired course and the lightening got more frequent and brighter. Again, the main was still up helping us power sail so we decided to reef it in case the winds picked up and BAM!!! we were hit with a wind gust in excess of 35 maybe 40 knots. And then another BAM, as the wind drove Lucky Bird around almost out of control the mail sail out-haul blew apart and now the main-sail was flogging uncontrollably. We couldn't furl it because we could no long tension the out haul. I hollered as best I could to Alice to drop the sail to the deck. Fortunately when she release the halyard jam it dropped, but unfortunately the wind blew it into the water. I immediately put the engine into neutral and went outside to pull the sail aboard. Alice went and got some line so I could secure the sail to the boat. Wow, have you ever had to pull a full sail from the water in the dark with 30+ winds and rain? Not so easy dont'cha know.

Once the main was secured we moved on to the next task, securing the wildly flapping enclosure side panels. Pull them in, zip and snap each side and only then we started to feel more in control. Fortunately we were some thirty miles offshore and there were no boats around us, we turned on the running lights, the streaming light, the auto pilot, the radar and the AIS. We got LB settled down onto a reasonable course to Narraganset Bay and we rested.

We power/sailed in total fog using the two hours on, two off schedule for that night, the next day and our final night into Narragansett Bay. We saw lots of boats and ships on the radar and AIS but visually saw nothing. Visibility was less than a couple of hundred yards all the way. I've never used the radar as much as on this trip. We turned it on a couple of times each out at a range of 6 miles just to be sure there was nothing to put us in harms way. As we rounded Montauk Point, the radar was on continuously until Wickford.

Things happen on LB. Stuff ears out, breaks and simply stops working. It's to be expected when you work something as hard as we have for these 4,000+ miles of powering, and some pretty rough sailing.

For comparison, think about your home; water heaters give up, air conditioners stop working, toilets need repair, furnaces need cleaning and replacement. Windows need to be replaced, driveways need seal-coating, outside surfaces need painting, decks need staining and the list goes on and on, right? So the issues we face on LB are somewhat similar and I personally enjoy the mental challenges of figuring out stubborn electrical problems, or a fresh water leak, or the need to change the engine oil and filters, or when the auto-pilot failed or most recently when the main-sail got stuck and would not unfurl. This list on and we accept it as part of the cruising life.

We are blessed with a fabulous boat, I am blessed with a life partner who is truly my soul mate and with a family who supports us from ashore.

So What Else Can Happen?

09 June 2019
Robert & Alice Smith
We are cruising the Chesapeake Bay, it's June 7th.

First the western side in Virginia and now the eastern side in Maryland. So many places to anchor, so many creeks and bays. We are though on a mission to be at St. Michaels on June 9th to meet up with the Ocean Cruising Club rally.

So let me back up a bit. The topic is in-mast-furling.

We have a Seldon mast with in-mast-furling. So far over the course of some 11 years we have probably unfurled and furled our main a hundred or so times with few problemos. We have, though, had some problems, that's an arg!! We roll it in thinking all is good and then when it's time to roll it out, guess's stuck and won't come out.

We were in Deltaville on our way to Smith's Creek. I decided to give the Admiral a break furling the main. Alice, the Admiral, usually does the furling while I steer and give commands. (It's not a good idea to give commands to an Admiral). I rolled up the sail thinking all was good and we anchored in Smith's creek for the night.

The next day we went to go sailing, started pulling out the main and it was stuck about half way out. So we ended up sailing with jib alone to Solomons. It was my fault the sail was rolled improperly and I learned a very valuable lesson. Let the Admiral furl the main.

Now we are anchored in Solomons with a main that won't unfurl. We had invited folks from two cruising boats to join us for cocktails and story telling that evening. One of the couple was from New Zealand and they filled our evening with stories of their journeys half way around the world. Later I asked the two guys if they would help me up the mast to try and fix our problem. “Of course”, were their answers.

At 0800 they showed up, and it was time for this old guy to go up the mast, uck!! I've done this before so I had an idea what to expect. Pulling up and out on the leach where it exits the mast usually frees the sail a bit at a time. This time I only had to go up almost to the first spreaders when the sail popped free, hurray!!. I asked the guys below to pull the sail down but it was stuck. It unfurled but would not come down. Now what? Hoist me up higher was my command.

I got to the top of the sail and discovered it had pulled out of the luff grove in the furling extrusion. With both hands around the mast trying to force the luff tape into the grove while having the guys below slowly release the halyard, voila, the sail dropped. I was a hero...., so I thought.

Now this story could go on further, but to save your eyes, we were not out of the woods. Alice and I tried to re-hoist the main only to find that it would go about ½ way up and stop. Now this is a triple arg!! It wouldn't go up nor would it come down. Now we were screwed with a main sail stuck half way up.

Alice and I were able to hoist me back up the main high enough for me to start wrapping a line around the sail to keep it from flogging.

We got into the dinghy and went to the marina office to talk to a rigger.

Now a long story even shorter, they gave us a space at their work dock, two riggers came on board, called the US rep of Seldon, presented me with a solution and within two hours and a couple of hundred US dollars later we were good to go. And since then we have unfurled and furled the main at least two times with no problemos.

We are in Don Creek with one of the couples from Solomons. Cocktails tonight, and tomorrow we head to St, Michaels to start out next OCC event.


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.
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
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Laura shot this view of the sunset while we were anchored at Anegada.  She was hoping to catch that elusive Green Flash
Laura shot this view of the sunset while we were anchored at Anegada. She was hoping to catch that elusive Green Flash
Added 25 December 2009