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 - The Journey Continues
Photos 1 to 108 of 108 | Main
The best seat in the house, on top of Black Point,  It was quite a hike everyday but certainly worth the views.
Rebecca overtaking one of the classic yachts, that classic is probably 80 feet or more in lenth but looks small compared to Rebecca.
This is the tender for one of the J-Boats, check out the wash from the bow thruster, quite an impressive operation docking this hugh yacht.
Ok, an old fort in Le Saintes with an old guy stsanding the doorway,  It
The captain pausing on the way back down, this was a cement path build to help transport soldiers and supples.
Two guys rowed this little thing from the Canary Islands, are they crazy or what.
More of the same very small dinghies that were raced from the Canaries to Antigua, I say raced by rowing!!
When we raced our J/105 I would ask my crew to hike out, this is what I meant.
Local boys doing really well in an around the island race in Bequia
Now this is really high-tech packaging.  One lady pours the rum into the bottle and hands it to this guy who caps it.  A little sipping going on all the time.  Lots of joking not much bottling
Now I know Alice is one of those on the patio, which one??
After the juice is squeezed what
Yup, that
Now in the US this wouldn
This is the mast being prepared for a boat they
Ok, my best and final offer is $......
This boat is quite different from traditional Carriacou sail boats.  She
using an electric plainer and grinder to smooth the planks, ouch and then they have to fill all hte seams, they use an epoxy rather than hemp or flax.
Alice kabitzin with one of the boat builders as he preps the transum for sanding.
This was as we climbed a hill behind Catham Bay, the only things growing were these funny looking cackus, they were everywhere
I just bought that beach.
Yup we really did make it out to the turtle hatchery, see?
The captain listening to the story and watching several dozen sea turtles buzzing around.
Nice little turtle don
These are about a couple of week old.  We werre told that one out of three thousand hatchlings makes it to adult life.  Bummer!!
The captain takes a time out on the way back from the tutle farm
Tobago Cays, unbelievable, unbelievable,
This is the lagoon on the back side of Canouan
Alice liked this shot of a Tobago Cay bird eating the fruit of a cactus.
T/T, that
Nothing was growing only these cactus.
Chapman Bay, Union Island on the beach next to this incredible almost perfectly square pice of volcanic rock.  How did it get there?
The captain, relaxing, reading, dreaming,
Gross Ption, height 2619 feet looking south from the left hand side of our dinning room aboard Lucky Bird.  There is a nature trail to the top.
Just another view of Gross Piton, as we dine
The camera just dosen
Petit Piton height 2460 feet from the right hand side of our dinning room.  It
Ok, so if you have an extra million US dollars, would you build a house like this right between the Pitons?
The winds howl down through this gap.  25 knots and more and then nothing.  I
We drove our rental car up a dirt road for about 2 miles just to find this!!...  Things are truly different here, this sign, leaning against a pile of cinder blocks was all there was to find Riverrock Falls.  if the sign was a disappointment, guess what.... so were the falls.  Oh well, ya win some and you loose some, we continued on.
This is the most famous falls in St. Lucia.  Water flow from upstream passes through the volcano and picks up many different types of minerals and the mix changes daily.  The walls behind the falls have been stained sevceral different colors by the minerals and gives the falls its special touristy flavor.
Hey Alice, arre you getting wet?
I couldn
Captain Bob is into these very exotic caribbean plant species.
This was for fun.  The trees all around the parking lot were mahogany and yes they do drop their seed pods, the sign kind of tells the level of sophistication.
Now we made it to the only drive-in volcano in the Caribbean.  These sulpur springs haevn
Our quide, Maryanna, and the captain.
Here we are, hey captain I think you need to cut back on the late afternoon cracker, cheese and rum, ha ha!
Gros Piton on the southwest side of the island.  This volcanic chamber and the Petit Piton, three miles south, comprise the most photographed moutains on the island, they are the icons of St. Lucia
Another shot of Gros Piton. These moutains are climable but we took a pass.
Fast food restaurant in St. Lucia, what would you like?  Barbequed chicken or chicken or would you like barbegued chicken?
Cocktail time and let the entertainment begin.  A bit of the past floated by, kind of fun to be a tourist on our boat watching other tourists on theirs.
A bit of the old and the new.  Look carefully in the distance is a 400 foot mega yacht that had just arrived and anchored a mile or so from us.  As I said, entertainment abounds.
First Lady Alice after hiking to the top of Pigeon island and on her way up to the fort, that
Ok so would you want to vacation here? Noway but the Bristish soldiers stayed here, the French soldiers stayed here and now we visit here.  Those guys had it really tough, no rental cars, no cold beers, no internet, wow how did they survive?
So this is just one of those we
A special prize to anyone who can spot Lucky Bird in this idealic harbor shot.
Some sailors finishing up the passage from Martinique as seen from the top of Pigeon Island
This guy is cool.  He speeds around the harbor at less than one knot, blowing a horn trying to see fruits and vegetables.  He
These asre local lobster fishing boats.  Compare to the rigs you might see in New England and elsewhere along the US coast.  These guys pull the traps by hand.
Here they are gettng ready to go out and fish, the locals have these boats with a dingle outboard engine and they venture out onto the Caribbean and Atlantic seas.
Can you imagine how old these Royal Palms must be?  I
Now lady, this is place is for sipping not tieing one on.  Come on now, your husband is heading for the floor and you
Alice took this picture of this German couple celebrating having just purchase a trainload of rhum, can you see the glimmer in his eye?  She looks a little uncertain what his plans are with all that rhum.  You
A typical spread aboard Lucky Bird.  We eat well thanks to first mate, chief chef and First Lady of the good ship Lucky Bird, my Alice.
View of St. Piere as we drove through the village.  This is where so many people were killed by the 1909 erruption of Pelee
You can just make out portions of Pelee
From St. Pierre, the town that was burried by Pelee in 1909.  Much of the old town is still visible
There she is setting off to challenge Pelee
Look at those stairs, up and up Pelee"
Captain Bob hiking up the volcano, one step, two steps three steps, four, argh only many thousdands more
Just another senic overlook and place to get out and stretch our legs.  This is looking out over the eastern side of the island
Oh so many bananas, they
Tons of surfers on a great surfing beach, Martinique!  Hey how did Bob
Lunch anyone??  Lobsters on the beach
This is my attempt to show you St. Lucia way off in the distance.  Squint, you just might see it.
Wow is this one strong and beautiful lady, she
Diamond Rock from the overview, tomorrow we
The south west coast of martinique, pretty arid and hilly, these are the remanants of volcanos of long ago.
If you look really hard you
Diamond Rock as we passed by Sunday morning.