18 December 2019 | prickly bay
Greg Seebart | windy, windy, windy
“Oh the Times they are a Changing, ” a song made popular by Bob Dylan is all I can think about since my last blog. What started out as a wonderful sail and anchorage quickly turned into the opposite the next day.
Rounding the north end of Grenada on our 24 mile sail to Carriacou the wind and waves exploded. The predicted 15 knots of wind quickly changed to 25. Seas are crashing over the bow of Mile High Dream.
“Im going to have a wet bed tonight,” I say to Diane. “With waves like that the front berth is sure to get wet.”
“Is the hatch closed?”
“Yes but with these seas the water comes in through the anchor locker and soaks it from underneath.”
Diane looks in bewilderment at me. One of the design flaws on this boat rears its ugly head in heavy seas.
The Dolphins don’t seem to mind the big water. A large pods swims next to us and we soon leave them behind when something of more interest catches their attention.
We slog through for 6 hours until we finally reach Sandy Island, our destination for the night. The wind is still high and It will be difficult to catch a mooring ball.
“Reach over the side with the Mooring hooker and grab the line on top. Pull it up and get the dock line through the loop. It is going to be very difficult in this wind. The last time I was here it took three tries to finally catch the ball.”
“Ok, Ill give it a try.”
We miss on the first try and swing around for the second. Diane hooks the rope and tries to get the line high enough out of the water to run the dock line through it. I put the engine in reverse and nothing happens. I put it in forward and nothing. Diane has to let go of the line and we are drifting on a collision course with a big Catamaran. Scrambling to get to the head sail and get some sail out for some power, Mile High Dream smashes sideways into the bow of the catamaran. We untangle from the other boat and get enough sail up to move the boat away from the reef. As soon as possible we drop the anchor.
“Wow, that sucked. It is also going to windy tonight. Guess I won’t need to worry about sleeping in a wet bed. I’ll be sleeping on deck tonight.”
Going below, I find out the coupling to the propeller shaft has wobbled out and no longer holds the shaft in place.
“That was brand new last March,” I think to myself.
We make it through the night with some sleep and in the morning I pull off the coupling to find a replacement. No luck in that department so I email a mechanic in Grenada. He does some checking and cannot find one so he orders one in for me.
“Its a good thing we are a sailboat so we can sail back to Grenada.”
We stay four nights until the winds and seas calm down. One highlight was one fo the best lobster dinners I’ve ever had. Even with heavy rains we enjoyed it immensely.
The sail back to Grenada was beautiful. We are graced by two different whale sightings, and a very large turtle.
Mile High Dream is safe on a ball in Prickley bay after being helped by other cruisers to get securely attached to the ball.
Where is my Part? It’s Grenada Maybe time. The part is on the island but stuck in customs.
Island time, what can a sailor do? Just roll with the waves.
09 December 2019 | Halifax bay
Gently rocking back and forth, Mile High Dream sits lazily on anchor. The sun is trying to peak through the clouds without much success. My morning mug of tea is almost cool enough to drink.
“Should we go for a swim this morning,” My crew mate asks.
“Or is it time for a nap already?”
“Its not called a nap anymore. It’s called non doing in action,” I reply.
Mile High Dream finally got splashed after I found a broken motor mount. This broken critical piece might have been why the engine was bouncing around like a bowl of jello whenever I put it in gear. Getting anything done on the islands is always an adventure. This one went pretty smooth compared to other projects. That fixed we are able to get off the mooring ball and start heading north towards Bequia.
The time getting Mile High Dream ready for this years sailing season was filled with beach time, live music, Christmas concerts, dock parties, catching with old cruising friends, meeting new cruising friends, holiday light shows and enjoying island life. Yes I did get a lot of projects done on the boat and created some new ones also.
We are in the GMT time zone here. I really stands for Grenada maybe time. Yesterday was no exception. I went to customs to clear out of the county for our sail north. The hours were clearly marked 9-2 on Weekends and holidays. 10:00 comes around and no one is there. Time to go to plan B, we’ll just check out when we get to Cariacou, two islands north.
While sailing around the west side of Grenada, Diane asks, “Can I go up front for a look?”
“Sure, the seas are fairly calm. Go for it.”
Just as she sits down I yell out. “Look off the starboard side. (actually I said right because I’m not quite into the correct nautical terminology just yet.) Dolphins .”
A pod of ten dolphins swim by and around the boat. A group of three keep coming back to play in the waves created by the bow of the boat.
Its a great way to start the season and a little Champagne never hurts either.
16 November 2019 | Prickley Bay, Grenada
The cruise ship the I can see from my balcony window overlooking the bay, is vomiting its cargo like a line of ants piling down the gangplank onto the dock of St. George, Grenada. Right now there is only one ship but there may be more on the way. Forty sailboats are anchored between Grand Anse beach and the town. Mile High Dream is still on the hard waiting for some repairs before it will get to join these lucky sailors already on the water.
I arrived on Tuesday after a too short summer with many changes. Snow was still falling when I arrived back to Colorado in May and started again in October. The short season in between was filed with Bicycling, hiking, camping, sailing, knee surgery and other medical procedures along with me selling my condo. I felt it was time for some changes in my life and some letting go. The original plan was to sell my condo and buy something else with a garage. The first part happened and my condo sold in early October. The second part of finding something to purchase did not so my home is now the boat. Next summer I will review my options and see what I want to do.
Mile High Dream is high and dry on the hard in Spice Island Marina. Well pretty dry. I have someone look after the boat when I’m not here and they always seem to leave a few windows open. It might be to just air out the boat before I get here, I’m not quite sure but it always results with extra water on the floors and other places in the the boat. It just adds a few extra projects for me to tackle before putting the boat in the water. As if I didn’t arrive with a long list already.
There are many happy reunions with old friends and fellow cruisers once I got back and my week has been filled with fun times in addition to the boat prep. Today I’ll work on the boat and then head out to the local “hash” which is a run or walk (definitely a walk for me) out in a remote area of Grenada. I’ve been doing these every Saturday that I can while Im here on the island. Great fun, good exercise, lots of beer, food, and camaraderie. A wonderful reward after boat work.
20 April 2019 | Antigua
Race week in Antigua is fast approaching and here I am in Antigua. Throughout the season I timed my travels to be here for the classic sailboat series of racing even thinking I might want to crew on one of the classic designed sailboats. A friend of mine had done this two years ago and really enjoyed it. Giving this a little bit of thought I came up with:
I have never been in a sailboat race.
Once you commit to crewing you spend the next 5 days racing no matter what the weather is or high the seas are.
I do not think I am really the racing type.
So giving up on this idea I invited people aboard to experience sailing. It is their spring break so we will not have a lot of time but enough to enjoy various aspects of sailing. He is a history teacher so my first adventure was to go to the Nelson Dockyard on the south end of Antigua. Nelson’s dockyard is a cultural heritage site and part of Nelson’s Dockyard national park. A Unesco World Heritage site. When England Acquired British Antigua and Barbuda in 1632, it became a focal point for the establishment of the British navel base in the Caribbean. Very interesting history and very well restored.
I ask my guests “Do want to get a taxi to travel to the dockyard or would you like an adventure?”
They give me the what are we getting into look and decide,”We’re always up for an adventure.”
“Ok then the local bus ride is our ticket.”
The local bus system consists of various types of private vans with the capacity of seating 14 or more people. Some are quite new while others look like they could barely make it up a slight incline and may rust out half way up. There is no schedule for when they will arrive so we just walked to the nearest “Bus Stop” usually a wide spot on the road with some shade where you wave at the driver and hopes he might stop. He may be off duty or taking some friends to the local rum shop so you are never quite sure if he is looking for a fare or not. The fare, yes, it’s exorbitant cost 2.5 $EC which is less than one dollar US. It can take you from one bus station to the next, that might be 15 miles or more or you may only go two blocks. The fare is always the same.
We get on the bus and it is all locals except for us. A beautiful little girl of about 5 gets on the bus with her dad. Her white top is sparkling clean, her corn rolled hair is braided and closely cut, her 1000 watt bright white teeth smile explodes from her smooth flawless chocolate skin.
“Good Morning,” She yells at the top of her lungs.
Everyone on the bus smiles and returns the greeting. The innocence and exuberance is contagious on the entire bus.
When we finally get to the national park after another bus change I ask “How did you like that adventure.”
“It was amazing.”
13 April 2019 | Jolly Harbor, Antigua
To go places you have never been before, to experience new adventures, to break the chains of normal everyday living, to do something different just because you can are all reason for entering the cruising community.
The experiences are usually good but sometimes offer challenges you never expected. How you rise to the occasion to solve these trials determines if you want to stay with this lifestyle.
I have not been to St. Martin in over four years. In that time period many of the buildings on the island were destroyed by hurricanes. They are rebuilding but it is a slow process. The beaches are still beautiful, restaurants that have been able to reopen are still delicious, and the people are friendly. One of the best patisseries on the Island opened again while I was here. I wasn’t the first in line but pretty close. The simple pleasures in life.
The marina and working boat yards are in full work operation. When I left Grenada I had to have a survey or inspection done on Mile High Dream before I could get insurance for her. There were some definite concerns about the standing rigging that holds up the mast. I did some emergency repairs while in Grenada so I could start my sailing season. Once I arrived in /St. Martin I was able to have all of my standing rigging replaced while the boat was here.
After my wonderful snow break to Colorado I came back to be able to share the joys of sailing with a couple from Boulder and some of their friends. We explored new anchorages and visited some I had experienced before. They got to experience a part of this special cruising life.
My family (my brother and sister and their spouses) joined me in St. Martin and we explored countries new to all of us. Saba was our first new country. A volcano rising straight out of the water leads to difficult challenges for the legs as we walk up the 23% grade to the first town.
St Kitts is our next stop. I have spent one day on this island before and now we are anchored here for a few nights to allow for exploring. My sister’s friend had been here on a cruise and said one of the highlights of her trip was the train ride around the Island. We traveled on the narrow gauge railroad that was built to transport sugar cane from the farms to the factories. It did not disappoint us.
The last leg was a long sail with family through rough seas from St. Kitts to Antigua. The 40 mile 12 hour slog ended with dropping anchor after dark into the bay at Jolly harbor. The week was magical with laughs and new experiences sharing as a family. What a wonderful gift it is.
Antigua brings back many memories spent with lots of cruisers. Some if my closest cruising friends I met here for the first time. Over the years our paths have crossed many times and some have have sailed to far away islands and other I will look forward to sailing with again. Others have left this sailing world hopefully to be sailing in another dimension. It is the people you meet creating new bonds and family that you get to share this with that is truly the magic of this sailing lifestyle.
This blog is dedicated to those I’ve sailed with that are no longer physical with us but will always be part of our lives. My wife Mary, my friend Cherry and a good friend Mark who died earlier this week. I cherish the time I’ve shared with them.
01 March 2019 | St. Martin
I have been remiss in my blogging journal. The goal I had set at the beginning of the season was every two weeks I would enter a new blog. OK, well island time caught up with me or maybe the rum punches and I have failed miserably on the every two week writing.
I am still here on the boat and have had some very wonderful experiences the last two months.
Mile High Dream left the Marina in Guadeloupe and started her long passage north to St. Martin. We had a happy reunion with John, Chris, and Colleen. They have all sailed with me before and John has probably spent the most time outside of me on Mile High Dream. It was great to be with them again and they were more than happy to escape the frigid snow and cold of Wisconsin. We have 200 nautical miles to go to reach St. Martin. The first short leg brought us to the small national park area of Pigeon Island on the west side of Guadeloupe. The snorkeling here was amazing in the past and did not let us down this time either. From there we did a long 10 hour day sail to Antigua where we recharged for a couple of days at the marina.
“ Chris you dong ok,” John asks?
“What ? I don’t know.”
We are in the slip in the marina and I am up in the office checking in which sometimes takes a little time. Fortunately we had cleared customs before reaching the dock which is an hour long process at best. Why can you just breeze through the airport and I have to go through pages of forms to fill out whenever I take my boat into a different country and then have to do it all over again to check out. (short rant here). Back to Chris.
When I return to the boat, John has helped Chris get off the boat. This is somewhat a balancing act in Jolly Harbor marina. It entails climbing off the front end of the boat, over the anchor and then hopefully landing with both feet firmly planted on the dock.
“Whats going on,” I ask.
“Something is wrong with Chris. He is light headed and not thinking very straight. His heart is racing so I am having him sit down. I thought it was good to get him off the boat while he still had some motor functions,” replied John.
Colleen is on the boat and I go down below. I ask Colleen what is happening and she is not sure but has gone through this with Chris a few times before and it usually passes. When we go up to look for Chris and John, there are no where to be found. We checked the restaurants around the marina and finally find a security guard that told us he arranged a taxi to get them to the hospital.
Long story short, Chris does have some heart issues which he is taking medications for and had a severe cold while on the boat. He had been taking my 12 hour sudafeds thinking they were four hour time capsules. After taking 4 of them his blood pressure and heart rate were way above normal. By 1:00 am they had returned to normal and they sent him back to the boat. A little excitement we could have done without.
The sail from Antigua to St. Barts is 75 miles or 15 hours. I throw out the idea of sailing over night since there are four of us and we can take turns being on watch or sleeping. Everyone thinks that is a great idea so off we go. The seas were sailable and the wind a constant 20-24 knots. All went well and we arrived in St. Barts early the next morning.
It was then a short sail to St. Martin where the Heineken Regatta was going to start the next day. We had fun watching the race boats train and we tried to stay out of their way.
The Regatta is one of the largest in the Caribbean with lots of different boats and late night parties. A few fun nights were had by all.
I flew out of St. Martin the next day on my way back to Colorado to some tax prep, medicare prep and of course skiing and spending time with friends.