23 December 2017 | St Anne, Martinique
20 March 2017 | St Martin
23 February 2017 | St Martin, French Lagoon
06 February 2017 | Brewer's Bay, St Thomas, USVI
22 January 2017 | Culebra, Puerto Rico
02 May 2016 | Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, USVI
05 April 2016 | Charlotte Amalie, USVI
04 April 2016 | Charlotte Amalie, USVI
09 March 2016 | Simpson's Bay, Sint Maarten
26 February 2016 | Grande Anse D'Arlet, Martinique
14 February 2016 | Fort de France, Martinique
31 January 2016 | Prickly Bay, Grenada
21 January 2016 | Prickly Bay, Grenada
17 January 2016 | Prickly Bay, Genada
01 April 2015 | Port Elizabeth, Bequia
11 March 2015 | Jolly Harbour, Antigua
20 February 2015 | Jolly Harbour, Antigua
05 February 2015 | Jolly Harbour, Antigua
22 January 2015 | Jolly Harbour, Antigua
11 January 2015 | Sint Maarten

SeaSparrow Season Five - Hello Again and Merry Christmas

23 December 2017 | St Anne, Martinique
Jeff/ Night 81F
Hello Folks,

It's been awhile, or so I've heard. The ole blog engine has suffered a serious problem on SeaSparrow for some time now but let's see if we can get her fired up again. Not to make excuses but last year the blog sort of fell off the radar due to lots of visits from great friends as well as a rather robust unplanned maintenance program during Season Four. It seemed I just couldn't get on top of things and when time gets tight the blog is a bit lower on the priority list compared to enjoying time onboard with guests and keeping things in working order. I've also learned when it comes to getting the boat out of the water at the end of the season, or putting her back in the water at the start of a new season, we are completely consumed by boat stuff to even think about blogging. Now there are others that are much more proficient than I at managing all these things but that's not me and f*&% those people that can do everything, they're full of s*%!, as no one is perfect. So let's start off Season Five with nothing but good will to all men and women (it is 2017 after all - thanks Justin, when's the next vacation to the Bahamas?) and a Merry Christmas to all from SeaSparrow.

Before we get to the Christmas discussion I should first update you on what has happened to date this season. As some may be aware we hauled and stored SeaSparrow in North Sound Marina, Antigua at the end of last season. Excellent yard with great people running the place but there was a smallish issue related to hurricanes that came a little too close for comfort to North Sound. The night before Irma made landfall the projections had her going straight into the north end of Antigua which is exactly where SeaSparrow was stored. For those that may not remember Irma was a Category 5 + hurricane and was only limited in number because the scale doesn't go above five. Irma packed winds approaching 300 mph near the eye, I'll say that again 300 f&*!ing miles per hour, which is unlike anything seen before in this part of the world. Now SeaSparrow was ashore strapped down in a concrete yard, which is as good a precaution that can be taken, but if Irma continued on her projected path there would be no SeaSparrow, at least the current incarnation. Fortunately for SeaSparrow and Antigua, Irma moved about forty miles north in the last couple of hours before impact and passed directly over Barbuda, devastating that island. People have lived on Barbuda for over 300 years; nobody lives there now. Total destruction, nothing left, unimaginable. Antigua was doubly lucky in that as the hurricane passed by, the lower part of the eye wall that passed Antigua collapsed as it went over the island further limiting the potential damage. That said, the marina where SeaSparrow was stored still experienced winds in excess of 100 mph but it is built to withstand this type of wind. Weather can suck in Nova Scotia but as bad as it may get sometimes, fog doesn't destroy your home or kill your family. Count your blessings and, if your so inclined, say a pray or two for the fine folks of Barbuda (don't forget the people of Puerto Rico, Dominica, the BVI's, the USVI's, and Anguilla who are also still struggling).

After being just happy our boat was still intact Debbie and I returned on the 3rd of December to start the process of getting everything ready for another season. We were very pleased at the condition of the boat upon our return as she suffered no damage and due to the fact North Sound Marina has a concrete yard, SeaSparrow was cleaner than any other time we have returned after storage. North Sound is a boatyard and not a marina and those who sail will understand the difference. This is a place to work on boats and not pamper those that own them. While prepping the boat we rented a car and stayed at an Air BnB about 10 minutes away which allowed us a method of keeping our sanity and not kill each other by days' end. The Air BnB was nothing fancy but had a shower and bed which is all that was required after working in the boatyard all day. It is a guest house next to an older lady's main home that is perfect for what we were doing. Picture below of our Air BnB in Antigua.

The lead picture shows SeaSparrow after we did a lot of work to spruce her for the season. We polished the hulls, added a new boot topping grey stripe just above the water line, another grey stripe above the yellow one near window level, and painted the hulls at the waterline, sail drives and touch ups as required. We also did some gelcoat repairs due to normal stress cracking in some areas of the boat. Gelcoat work is a bit of mechanical execution as well as art to get it to look right and Leon did the gelcoat work for us as I would make a mess of this and end up paying Leon double to fix what I screwed up. Leon is awesome at what he does and is an even better guy.

Due to repair work on a bunch of hurricane damaged boats Leon has more work then he can handle for the next couple of years but always managed to fit us in and get everything done on time - even though he finished his work on SeaSparrow as she was being lifted to be put back in the water. Crazy busy week but SeaSparrow has never looked better since we owned her. Just like all the ballplayers that come to Spring training in February "Best shape of my life" (way inside sports reference, sorry to those that don't get it).

Speaking of hurricane damaged boats North Sound Marina has received quite a few boats for repair as all yards are full. The boats in the pics below are from the Moorings Charter fleet and were shipped to North Sound from St Martin and the BVI's. Believe it or not many of these boats will be repaired and returned to service. I think I have mentioned before the hazards of buying boats out of the charter fleets, i.e. don't do it, but in my humble opinion you would have to be crazy to buy a charter boat now as there is a real risk of buying something that was underwater for god knows how long. They'll clean them up and get them working but can you imagine the electrical issues awaiting these boats down the road.

Below is the inside, upside down view of the salon of a boat that pre Irma was worth about $700K. Not so much now.

We left North Sound Marina on the 12th of December to immediately sail around the island of Antigua to get to Jolly Harbour in time to clear customs before they closed. This served two purposes, the first to clear customs and secondly to check the boat out with a three-hour sail/ motor. SeaSparrow worked great so we decided to leave at the crack of dawn on 13th and sail directly to Martinique. This was no small undertaking as for the first time we were starting the season with a 32-hour sail in order to get to Martinique in one jump. This schedule was driven by the fact the weather looked good and we wanted to meet up with friends from other boats that were spending Christmas and New Years in St Anne, Martinique. We made it to St Anne and are now anchored in a large bay here with about a hundred other boats. This is a beautiful place with great French food and even better wine. I must mention on the way down we caught a black fin tuna and this was the best fight I have ever had from a fish and also the best tasting.

Now we are here in Martinique getting ready for Christmas but to be honest it really doesn't feel like Christmas at all. This is our third Christmas onboard SeaSparrow but it is tough as this is our first without are boys - ever. Jordan is deployed with the HMCS CHARLOTTETOWN attached to the NATO fleet doing his part to allow us to enjoy the lives we live and Dustin is now in his third year of otolaryngology (look it up, I did) residency and will be working over the holidays. Here's an earlier Christmas pic with the boys on SeaSparrow.

Due to the fact we weren't going to be able to share Christmas with the boys and that this may be our last year onboard (what?), we decided to come to the boat early this year compared to recent seasons. We are thrilled to be here and enjoying ourselves but Christmas just isn't the same without all the stuff from home and having the family nearby. We will be fine as we have lots planned with our friends which is why we hustled ourselves down to Martinique from Antigua. Don't feel too bad for us as while I am writing this blog at 9pm it is 81F, the pic below was tonight's' sunset, and we have a mostly full box of French Bordeaux to keep working on.

Take Care and Merry Christmas


SeaSparrow Blog Musical Selection - Magnolia Wind - Emmy Lou Harris and John Prine

Heineken Regatta and Marina Life

20 March 2017 | St Martin
Jeff / Sunny 85F
Hello Folks,

We're still alive (barely) having survived another Heineken Regatta event, the 37th annual, here in Sint Maarten. This year's event was particularly special in that we saw the return of guests cousin Sean and Carla as well as good friends Bev and Shane. This group visited last season in the BVI's and it was a great time with lots of sailing and even more partying, which took a toll on the system. This year things would be different we vowed and it was - no sailing whatsoever; the rest of it however seemed vaguely familiar from one year to the next.

Our guests were kind enough to reserve one night in Fort Louis Marina for their arrival to ease the logistics of getting everyone onboard as well as do some provisioning before heading out. Here's a shot of the marina from above with the marina behind the circular looking breakwater and Marigot Bay anchorage beyond. This marina is on the French side of the island.

Debbie and I moved SeaSparrow to the marina on Sunday the 25th to meet our guests and after some confusion on the marina's behalf with respect to the reservation we managed to get secured no problem. It was a good thing too as the winds in St Martin at this time were howling and trying to get to and from the boat on our dinghy would not have been fun. With six people, every time we would have wanted to go somewhere would have meant two trips and everyone would have gotten soaked. The marina was a blessing as the winds and waves in Marigot Bay were brutal. Here's a shot of a rather large boat getting hit side on with a wave in the bay which I think illustrates the point.

The problem we now had was our reservation was for only one day and the marina stated they were fully booked it being Heineken Race Week. Fortunately, we managed to plead and beg to get our stay extended one night, then two, then three such that by the time we left we could then proceed to the next marina, which our guests had booked for the regatta - Simpson Bay Marina.

With the marina situation resolved the sails remained safely stowed and it was time to get down to the real business of our guest's trip - sun and fun. Since we were staying in Fort Louis Marina it was only right we should visit Fort Louis itself. This was a nice hike up a big hill to visit the fort used to repel the British which, according to the plaques at the site, the French did quite successfully. Nowadays the fort is peaceful and serves as an excellent place to take in some great views. Here's a few pics:

Just in case there wasn't enough reason to enjoy/ abuse ourselves during this visit, the Tuesday of Regatta Week also happened to be Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras in this part of the world, like many others, is kind of a big thing which of course means lots of partying and a parade. The Mardi Gras parade in Marigot was impressive as it started in the morning and went to the evening including floats, girls in amazing costumes and LOUD LOUD music. Here's a couple of pics of the parade going by just outside the marina.

During the evening of Mardi Gras our guests reserved dinner for us all in an amazing restaurant located the next town over, Grand-Case. Grand-Case is a beautiful spot with a great beach, local arts and crafts, and awesome restaurants. The neat thing is that Grand-Case does a mini Mardi Gras every Tuesday which is a big tourist attraction, so to be there during the actual Mardi Gras was very cool. Needless to say the place was hopping but thankfully Sean booked our restaurant a couple of months in advance so we had a primo table overlooking the beach and anchorage. The French side of St Martin is truly French which means amongst other things, the food is awesome and our meal at Ocean 82 on Mardi Gras night did not disappoint. Great setting, great friends and great food adds up to one hell of an evening.

Sean was particularly impressed with the little spoons at this fancy French restaurant.

By Thursday of Regatta Week it was time to leave our safe haven in Fort Louis Marina and head to the belly of the beast, the Dutch Side and Simpson Bay Marina. With the winds blowing 25kts + we managed to proceed through two bridges and, after another hiccup with our new marina, finally get alongside right in the center of the action for Heineken Regatta 2017. This is SeaSparrow's third time at the Heineken Regatta in the four seasons we have been doing this sailing thing and it is still a blast. We weren't in the race but there is probably even more fun to be had as a spectator. A special treat this year was a race entrant from Nova Scotia in a real sailboat built to race in regatta's such as the Heineken. This boat was Captained by a lady and had our full support from the Simpson Bay Yacht Club each time they proceeded through the bridge. Here's a shot of the boat heading out.

No trip would be complete to Sint Maarten without a trip to Maho Beach to see the planes take off and land seemingly on your head. This year's trip was extra special as while watching the planes we were also treated to the boats racing in the regatta just offshore. Very cool day at the beach.

Here it comes:

On top:


From the bar:

Regatta as well:

I will admit not all details are crystal clear from this Regatta week with Sean, Carla, Bev and Shane which seemed to pass by in a blur. Even though the sails never felt the wind this was still a jammed packed week that once again saw Debbie and I anchor the boat and take a couple of recovery days after our guests departed. Good times my friends, good times. Thanks for everything. Oh yeah, Cheers Shane!

SeaSparrow Blog Musical Selection - Ain't Much of Me Left - Blackberry Smoke

Guests, Repairs, and Dog Blog

23 February 2017 | St Martin, French Lagoon
Jeff/ Cloudy 85F
Hello Folks,

No play on words or smart ass meaning in this title as what you read is pretty much what you get in this blog. This is not to say it hasn't been a busy and hectic period since the last blog because it certainly has so let's cover SeaSparrow's goings on.

Our first planned guests of the season (Tina was first but her visit was an unplanned dog delivery mission) have come and gone and I think all involved had a great time - I know Debbie and I enjoyed the company of our friends Doug and Fran Wright. I also think Doug and Fran were pleased with their timing as they managed to visit during Nova Scotia's "Snowmaggedon" event although it caught up with them on the return trip. This visit provided a great illustration of why we say to our guests that flexibility may be required when planning a visit to a boat like ours as the condition of the boat and weather can change things in a hurry. We had planned to meet Doug and Fran in Charlotte Amalie but due to our windlass problems we were stuck a couple of bays over in Brewer's Bay until we could repair/ replace our windlass. This was not a problem as we met our guests on the beach with our dinghy after they took a cab from the airport to the beach (change 1). We had planned to sail from the USVI's to the north of the BVI's and drop Doug and Fran off where they would take a ferry back to fly home. We changed this plan as things would be too rushed and clearing pets into the BVI's now has become a big hassle with people being ripped off by corrupt customs officials and veterinarians. Our new plan would be to stay in the USVI's then do a straight shot from the USVI's to St Martin after Doug and Fran left (change 2). Based upon the winds it looked like we would have to drop our guests ashore a day early so that we could hit the window for St Martin (change 3). Fortunately, the winds changed again and Doug and Fran were able to stay the full time of their visit onboard SeaSparrow without scrambling to get a room ashore for the night (change 4). All worked out in the end but as I said you got to be flexible.

We did manage to fit in a bit of fun for Fran and Doug as we now have experience in the USVI's after a visit here last year with Peggy and Seb. We hit some of the same spots and perhaps you may recognize some of the places as well. No trip to St Thomas can really begin until you hit the Rum Shack tiki bar set up in a parking lot with swings for chairs.

Of course the fun couldn't start until the boat repairs were completed. After working several days trying to fix/ repair our windlass we came to the conclusion that we needed to replace the whole damn thing. After a day or so of running around trying to find a new windlass somewhere in the USVI's I also came to the conclusion this was impossible. The great thing about the USVI's is they are tax free and it is relatively easy to order items from the US and get them sent to the islands. As mentioned in the last blog, we ordered a new windlass on a Friday afternoon, paying extra for expedited shipping. The windlass didn't leave the company store until Monday morning but I had it in my hands by Tuesday at 2pm. I picked it up as Doug and Fran arrived and I put Doug to work the next morning helping me with the install. All went well and here is a pic of our beautiful new windlass installed in her new home.

With the boat now properly repaired it was time to get moving so we went to a nearby island/park called Buck Island. We went there last year as well and loved it as this time around no cruise ships were in port so we had the place pretty much to ourselves. This is a great spot for turtle watching and snorkelling in general.

Old gun carriage?

It was also time to get our bean bag pic in with the twist now being Piper feels she needs to insert herself into the pic.

Piper has now cottoned on to the idea of sundowners and bean bag chairs.

Following our visit at Buck Island we headed over to Water Island and Flamingo Bay which is a quiet little spot that permits a walk over a hill to the much busier Honeymoon Bay. The lead pic for the blog is seaSparrow anchored in Flamingo Bay. Here's a few pics of our stop in Flamingo.

After a few more days of hanging out in Flamingo Bay it was time to go back to Charlotte Amalie and drop Doug and Fran off for the much anticipated return trip to the lovely weather awaiting them back home. Doug and I did manage to find the husband daycare sign although we didn't really get left to their excellent care.

After watching the weather and changing our plans one last time it was time to say goodbye and get ready for the next big schedule driver - getting to St Martin.

Thinking all was in order we were looking forward to getting our first long trip of the season underway. The day before we planned to leave we decided to head into town to get some final provisioning done. On the way in the outboard motor on the dinghy went to maximum revs but the boat was barely moving. Fortunately, my good buddy and repairman to all, Michael on Nautidog, was nearby when the outboard started acting up so we managed to limp to Nautidog. It took Mike about 30 seconds to figure out the problem which was that the propeller on the outboard "Slipped its hub". Apparently this is a fairly common problem that can be easily fixed if you have a new propeller.

Prop with spun hub. The inner rubber piece rotates when it should be stationary.

This was a real problem as our weather window was the next morning and I didn't want to miss it as we needed to get to St Martin in time to meet our next visitors. On the other hand, having a working dinghy is critical so it needed to be repaired right away. After a few phone calls and about an hour or two of riding the buses, we managed to find an outboard marine shop who unbelievably had the exact prop for my outboard - even had it in white or black. My luck was changing as I was able to get a new prop and the dinghy fully operational in time to meet our sailing plans.

We left Charlotte Amalie at 8:20am on Thursday the 16th and got to Virgin Gorda, BVI's around 2pm. We did not clear into the BVI's but left again at about 3:30am heading for St Martin. The winds and waves were down so it was a good opportunity to make headway going east, which is never easy in the Caribbean. We motor sailed the entire way across but once again experienced a problem with the boat. In this case the throttle cable for the port engine broke meaning I had to shut this engine down and sail with just the starboard. This is not a problem while motor sailing as the boat has enough forward momentum to allow the rudders to steer the boat. The problem comes when you are stopped or going very slowly as controlling the boat becomes very difficult. We arrived in St Martin just in time to make the last bridge opening of the day at 5pm. At this point we were very tired but we wanted to proceed through two bridges and anchor on the French side of the island. The first bridge was no problem as I was able to get the boat moving without having to stop. The second bridge, not so much. We arrived at the second bridge but had to stop as it wasn't ready to be opened and the bridge operator was not responding to calls on VHF. The bridge was supposed to open at 5:15pm and when that time came and went with no answer I decided to back up and anchor on the Dutch side. With no momentum the boat basically did a circle until I could get some control. Of course as I am completing my first perfect donut in the water the guy from the bridge calls and says he is now opening the damn thing. I say thanks and now have to figure out how to get the boat going forward vice a backwards circle. I finally was able to get some control but I couldn't get the boat lined up for the inbound side of the bridge without colliding with the sides of the opening. I could however get lined up sufficiently well to enter in the outbound side of the bridge so that's where I aimed. I was committed at this point but called the bridge operator anyway to let him know what I was doing. After a rather long pause he gave a skeptical "OK" ... but be careful Captain". Fortunately I knew no traffic was coming the other way so we proceeded into France via the out door, dropped the anchor, drank several drinks and went to bed. Never a dull moment onboard SeaSparrow folks.

Here's a pic of our broken port engine throttle cable that has now been repaired by Debbie and I. Can you seen the broken bit?

Control station inside of which is where break in cable occurred.

The cable is about 28 feet long and had to be routed through the boat and attached at the engine on one end and the control station at the other. Again a bit of luck as the local shops here in St Martin had multiple such cables exactly 28 feet long in stock. We have had multiple failures of items so far this year that have kept us reactive vice proactive with respect to our maintenance, which is not the place from where you want to be operating. Hopefully now we have turned the corner and can focus on preventative items instead of corrective. This is life on a boat and these things happen, however the difference this year for us is the problems we have experienced are schedule stoppers as we had to get them fixed before proceeding. So far, so good as we have managed to meet everyone's schedule and now are in St Martin for the next month or so.

I promised a dog update and I am glad to report Piper continues to do outstanding on the boat. She has adapted to everything we have thrown at her and due to her easy going nature she seems to take it all in stride. As noted above she has found the joys of the bean bag chairs such that now it's a fight to get a seat - 3 occupants, 2 chairs. She has also really taken to swimming and will now jump into the water, only when called, and more importantly has figured out how to climb the vertical ladder to get back onboard. She seems happy which is great news as you never know how a pet will react to life on a boat.

Getting ready to jump.

In flight.

Doing her favourite thing.

As mentioned above we are now in St Martin anchored in the Lagoon on the French side. We are expecting our next guests, Cousin Sean and Carla, along with friends Bev and Shane. They have been here before so they should fit right in. I mean they will only be here during Heineken Regatta time so what could go wrong ... gulp.

SeaSparrow Musical Selection - So Glad To Be Here - Boz Scaggs

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

06 February 2017 | Brewer's Bay, St Thomas, USVI
Jeff/ Sunny 87F
Hello Folks,

Sailing a catamaran throughout the Caribbean sounds like an idyllic way to whittle away the winter months and so far this has largely been the case for SeaSparrow. But things aren't always clear blue water/ postcard perfect when living this lifestyle. The last couple of weeks for us illustrate this point quite well, I think.

The Good

After getting away from the Puerto Del Rey marina we set course east to really begin this year's sailing season. After spending several nights in one of our favourite spots, Culebra, it was time to move on to the smaller island of Culebrita. This is a deserted island that has a beautiful beach, crystal clear water with great snorkeling on reefs you can swim to from the boat. This is the type of stuff one sees in travel magazines and you dream of when thinking about sailing the Caribbean.

We left Culebrita and headed for the USVI's. It was a beautiful sunny warm day with winds that were perfect for sailing. Shortly after leaving the shores of Culebrita we were able to turn off the engines and sail for the first time this season. It is hard to describe the feeling when you shut off the engine noise and listen to the sounds of the boat being powered by the wind alone. That particular moment may be the time I enjoy the most out of everything we do on SeaSparrow and that is saying something as I enjoy a lot of what we do here.

SeaSparrow With Wind In Her Sails

The only thing that makes the sailing better on days like we had sailing to the USVIs is to catch our dinner for the evening. Almost right on cue one of the rods started to sing with the "fish on" song and minutes later dinner was in hand. This is a Kingfish or King Mackerel and it is far better then the mackerel from home as this is an excellent white fish that always tastes better when you catch it yourself.

Once we arrived in the USVI's we anchored in a beautiful area known as Brewer's Bay where we still sit today. There is great swimming around the boat as well a beautiful beach a 30 second dinghy ride away. The best part of this bay for us has been hooking up with friends we have met in previous years as well as making new friends. The friends you make in the boating world are almost without fail good people that are fun to be around and make your time on the water better. In addition to the above qualities, cruisers will go out of their way to help one another as you know someday you too will need help. We had the opportunity to do some "Water Buffalo'ing" here in Brewers Bay which entailed taking the dinghies to the beach and spending time in the water while having a beverage. It was also a great chance to let the dogs play.

After the beach fun it was time to break in our newest flag or pennant - The Gin Pennant. During my Navy days the Gin Pennant was hoisted when an individual or group was hosting a party and basically it served as an invite to anyone was saw it flying. My friend Bruce, who owns the Flagg Shop on Main St, Dartmouth made SeaSparrow a special Gin Pennant and I am glad to report it has been broken in nicely with our fellow cruiser friends pleased to participate.

Now that we managed to get Piper onboard I have to add her to the Good section of this blog. Piper has adapted amazingly well to life onboard. She is an awesome dog that loves to swim but won't leave the boat without our permission. She has found a favourite place to hangout while we are sailing which serves as a great footrest for me although she does make it a bit more difficult to do things when at the helm.

Piper also likes the dinghy and now is pissed when we leave her behind.

I think Piper is happy onboard as she seemed to smile at me the other day as we watched dolphins swim near the boat. It doesn't get much better than that.

The Bad

This will be a short section as things generally are pretty good living on the water but this life style is also a lot of work that can wear you down sometimes. We really don't mind the work and the only time I consider things Bad is if I can't fix something that is broken. Maintenance on a boat like ours is a given and requires attention on most if not all days. We currently find ourselves in that situation as our windlass, the thingy that raises and lowers the anchor, has been acting funny all season. After days of working on the windlass with the help of Michael from Nautidog we finally came to the conclusion that the motor was shot and needed replacement. After several additional days of work trying to find a spare motor and disassemble the windlass to replace said motor I also raised the white flag on that effort. Getting a spare here in St Thomas in a reasonable timeframe proved impossible as the earliest we could get something was three to four weeks. We have too much scheduled to be happening between now and then for that option to work. In the end I went online to a marine supply store and ordered a whole new windlass which is due to arrive in the next 2-5 days. Hopefully sooner and not later. I won't tell you the cost of this little repair but it required several G&T's to get over the bill.

The Ugly

Again, this is a very short section but in the last week or so we experienced one of those ugly moments that can shake you up a bit. I consider Ugly in the sense that we risk injury to ourselves or significant damage to our boat or another. Normally ugly things occur when the weather is bad or in the middle of the night but in this case is was a beautiful sunny day. Our ugly story began when we decided to leave Brewer's Bay and motor around the corner to Charlotte Amalie in order to check in with customs and do some provisioning. This is a short 5 mile drive that was planned to take less than an hour. As we were travelling around the point (airport runway actually) our starboard propeller caught the line from a crab pot and started to make a loud banging noise. I immediately shutdown the engine and it was easy to see what had happened. We decided to continue on with the port engine and anchor in Charlotte Amalie as planned. Along the way we decided to hook onto a mooring ball and clear our starboard propeller before getting to the anchorage. This was a reasonable plan except this is where things got ugly. The ball we tried to tied up to wasn't a mooring ball but just a bouy in the water. As I tried to back away from the bouy the line that was still wrapped around our starboard shaft got tangled in our port shaft as well. At this point the engines would start but would stall as soon as they were put into gear. So now we were in a mooring field with many boats nearby and no engines. We were also in 45 feet of water which is very deep to anchor in for our boat which has 200 feet of chain. Don't forget we also had a windlass that was at this point working kind of funny but still operational (We hadn't determined it was toast yet). Anyway, the windlass worked well enough for us to get out 175 feet of chain and very fortunately got it to stop the boat before hitting anyone. Once we got stopped things were relatively stable so Debbie went into the water to start cutting the line away from the props. The starboard prop cleared very easily but it took Debbie and I taking turns in the water for about an hour to clear the port prop well enough to carry on. My now dead windlass worked well enough that day to allow us to retrieve our 175' of chain as well as anchor two more times after this incident before dying for good. Although I am not happy having to replace the windlass the old one managed to hang in there when we needed it the most so in my eyes it has died a hero despite costing us a small fortune to replace.

As mentioned, thankfully the ugly stuff doesn't happen very often but things can go bad quickly at anytime when on the water. SeaSparrow won't be moving again until the windlass is replaced as this piece of kit is too important for safety to not be working reliably.

There is too much to describe the good and bad parts of this cruising lifestyle in one short blog but hopefully these events over the last ten days or so onboard SeaSparrow can provide a sense of how we now live. Now we prepare for our next guests, Doug and Francine, as we will all chill for a bit longer in Brewer's Bay until the new windlass arrives. There are worst places to wait for a delivery.


SeaSparrow Musical Selection - Alcohol and Pills - Fred Eaglesmith

SeaSparrow Season Four - The Year of the Dog

22 January 2017 | Culebra, Puerto Rico
Jeff/ Sunny 85F
Hello Folks,

It's been a while since we communicated via the ole blog but better late then never as they say, whoever "they" are. According the the Chinese zodiac 2017 is the year of the Rooster but not here in SeaSparrow as we are definitely operating under the year of the dog as the lead pic of our newest crew member, Piper, indicates. Those of you that have followed us throughout our previous seasons will remember our first dog crew member was Stella who began this sailing odyssey with us from day one but unfortunately passed away in the Bahamas due to cancer despite only being 2 years old. After that difficult blow we are now ready to try the dog on the boat thing again, which isn't something that should be taken lightly as a dog does add another level of complexity to boat life. Despite the potential difficulties we know Piper will add, we feel the benefits of having our beloved dog with us far outweigh the negatives. So far so good, well sort of.

To illustrate that having Piper with us this season will require some extra consideration we begin on the way to the airport in Halifax. Of course the day we want to leave, Sunday January 8th, just happened to coincide with Halifax's first real blizzard of the season. Being proactive we called Westjet on Saturday morning to check on the situation but were assured that since our flight was the first out on Sunday we would be fine. Despite that info and with the snow scheduled to really start Saturday evening, we decided to book a room at the airport hotel to eliminate the potential of bad roads screwing us up so all was good. On the way to the airport, as brother in law Mike was so graciously driving us, I decided to check the flights one more time and lo and behold Westjet had cancelled our Sunday morning flight. After the seemingly endless period on hold we finally got through to Westjet's customer service and were informed that yes the flight was cancelled and they would be sending out an email shortly telling me thus. The guy on the other end of the line seemed to think this would suffice however, unfortunately for him I didn't quite have the same view of the situation. After a very frank discussion mister customer service came around to my view of the situation and began doing his job, like you know Customer fu$#%ing Service.

The big problem in our case was that if we missed our connection out of Toronto to Puerto Rico on Sunday we would have to wait another 6 days for their next flight to PR. This was not good as many other plans were already in place for rental cars, Air BnB, the marina, etc. The thing that really pissed me off was Westjet didn't bother sending their planes down to Halifax from Toronto and that was the reason for the flight cancellation despite the fact at this point all other airlines were still flying. After about an hour of now more civilized talk with Mr. Customer Service, the impossible became possible and we got rebooked on an Air Canada flight on Saturday night. The drawback was the dog couldn't come with us and we would have to spend the night in Toronto in order to catch our flight to Puerto Rico on Sunday. After a short discussion Debbie and I decided to leave Piper behind and go on our own and figure out how to get the dog to Puerto Rico later. Mike thinking that one trip to the airport would rid himself the extra burden our sailing life put on him was not free and clear yet, as Piper went back to Mike and Wendy's until we sorted out our first doggie complication of the season.

Fortunately for us Debbie's friend Tina is a great sport and volunteered to transport Piper down to us in Puerto Rico the following Saturday. Due to airline regulation we couldn't just put Piper on the plane and send her to us, but rather someone had to accompany her on the flight. Tina was SeaSparrow's first guest in Season One. At that time I was still working and had to leave the boat to go to a meeting in Washington, so Tina came to keep Debbie company while the boat was tied up in Marineland, Florida. Once again Tina was coming to visit while the boat was tied up in a marina, this time Puerto Del Rey, Puerto Rico.

Puerto Del Rey is where we stored the boat at the end of last season and it is a mammoth operation with over a thousand wet slips and countless storage space for sail and power boats. Below is a panorama of the wet slip area as it is too big to fit into one normal picture.

In the end, the fact the dog was delayed in coming to the boat was a blessing in disguise as it eliminated one factor in trying to get the boat ready for the water. The inside of the boat survived very well again this year as there was minimal mold and no bad smells. The exterior was a different story to say the least. It seems our boat was the choice party spot of the birds around the boat storage area as can be seen in the pic below.

That is our normally clean cockpit and helm area after the birds partied on SeaSparrow for 7 months. If you are observant you will notice the little white thing which is the eggshell remnants of a hatching that took place God knows when. Although the boat was disgustingly dirty on the outside this is minor stuff that was rectified with a couple of days of heavy cleaning.

Dirt is an easy problem to solve, the real question that worries us when we return to the boat after an extended layup is which of our systems are still working? Boats are a funny thing in that although everything was working properly when you were last onboard things break even though no one has touched anything. After a week of hard labour I am pleased to say we were able to get everything onboard back up and running with minimal major issues. The biggest issue was the steering cable for our dinghy was seized and had to be replaced. After about a day of running around we managed to find a replacement and cable and get it installed correctly first time - a bit of a record whenever we do something for the first time.

The only other major issue that had to be dealt with related to our standing rigging. For those that don't know there are two types of rigging on a boat - running and standing. Running rigging are the halyards, line and sheets that are used to manage sails and need to be replaced on a fairly regular basis. Standing rigging consists of a series of steel cables that hold your mast up. A failure of this cabling system is catastrophic as the result is your mast falls over. Not a good scenario at anytime but when boats' demast it is usually at the worst time in rough seas and high winds. This event obviously creates major damage to the boat and can easily become life threatening. SeaSparrow is now over ten years old and that is the timeframe when a boat's standing rigging should be inspected to ensure a problem isn't lurking. People can be reluctant to have their rig fully inspected as this stuff is expensive - very expensive. In SeaSparrow's case, if the worst case result of the inspection occurred you are looking at around $12K to replace the entire standing rig. The problem comes when unscrupulous riggers tell boat owners that the entire rig needs to be replaced when in fact it doesn't. There are many stories of this occurring so as with any type of contractor work you need to get someone good and trustworthy. In our case we found just such a person in the form of "Quino" Sanchez. In the end we needed to replace two cables and add a couple of terminal extenders that permitted us to properly "tune" the rigging, which is a fancy way to say tighten. The rest of our rigging was deemed in good shape and we can now proceed with a much higher degree of confidence that SeaSparrow can handle what is thrown at her.

This is a pic of Quino and his apprentice Daniel working on our rigging. Appropriate picture of Quino as his phone rarely stops ringing which is a testament to the quality of his work and reputation. Quino and I got along very well during his work onboard as he is a big Patriots fan so we spent a long night together at the bar last weekend watching the football games. Quino may even make it to St Maarten this year and we have discussed putting SeaSparrow into the Heineken Regatta if he promises to sail with us as my right hand man - i.e. Quino whispers into my ear what to do as besides being a first class rigger, his real passion is racing and he has been flown around the world to race on other boats. Stayed tuned as the Heineken could be real interesting this year.

As always on SeaSparrow it is not all work and no play. Puerto Del Rey throws an annual party for boat owners and this isn't just a small get together. There are invites for about 1200 people and if you don't have one you don't get in. They construct something more than a tent and just less than a barn to hold the party complete with a pig roast, live bands and free drinks. Awesome party that must have cost a crazy amount of money but I guess that explains the high price of storage.

Following the party it was time to get down to business once again as we were back in the water on Friday, January 13th. Friday the 13th I know but all went well. We had final cleanup and system checks before we could leave the marina and one of those jobs was a rather dirty one of cleaning the bilges in each engine compartment. Normally this is one of my tasks but this year Debbie was keen to tackle this one so fully believing in equal rights for all I supported her in this endeavour by taking her picture. Save this one as I'm not sure she will be quite so keen next time.

We were able finish up with Quino on Wednesday the 25th and headed out of Puerto Del Rey on the 26th. After spending one night at Isla Palominos we made our way to Culebra where we are now anchored. This is one of our favourite spots and the weather has been beautiful - blue skies, light breeze, 85-90F. We managed to actually move the boat while Tina was onboard however, she has returned to the mainland via ferry today and will return home to Halifax on Tuesday morning. Tina was a great help in getting our "Year of the Dog" underway and of course she experienced the beanbag drink and photo before departing.

It has been a busy couple of weeks since we left so it is hard to capture everything in one blog. Piper has been doing great and has adapted well to the boat so far. She's been in for a swim most days and is losing the "What the Hell Are You Doing to Me" look that was very evident in the beginning. We plan to spend a few more days in Culebra then on to the USVI's, BVI's, St Maarten for Heineken Race Week, and Antigua for their Race Week and the Classic Race Week. We have many guests planned as we head east so it will be a busy Year of the Dog in SeaSparrow.

A final shot of the dog's life as it now exists.


SeaSparrow Musical Selection - Brave L'il Fighter - JJ Grey and the Mofro
Vessel Name: SeaSparrow
Vessel Make/Model: Leopard 40 Catamaran
Hailing Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Crew: Jeff and Debbie
SeaSparrow's Photos - Main
Photos 1 to 29 of 29
9 Photos
Created 23 December 2017
16 Photos
Created 20 March 2017
36 Photos
Created 6 February 2017
14 Photos
Created 22 January 2017
15 Photos
Created 2 May 2016
41 Photos
Created 4 April 2016
20 Photos
Created 9 March 2016
22 Photos
Created 14 February 2016
32 Photos
Created 17 January 2016
23 Photos
Created 11 March 2015
38 Photos
Created 5 February 2015
27 Photos
Created 11 January 2015
24 Photos
Created 2 December 2014
31 Photos
Created 11 November 2014
48 Photos
Created 22 March 2014
61 Photos
Created 19 February 2014
43 Photos
Created 6 February 2014
25 Photos
Created 20 January 2014
14 Photos
Created 11 January 2014
55 Photos
Created 31 December 2013
19 Photos
Created 12 December 2013
8 Photos
Created 22 November 2013
8 Photos
Created 9 November 2013