The Voyages of s/v Silverheels III

...a virtual ship's logbook, and some thoughtful (unabashed?) reflections on our sea-going experiences.

04 November 2017 | Somewhere in the Eastern Caribbean
18 October 2017 | Le Marin, Martinique in the French West Indies
25 January 2017 | Gosier, Guadeloupe
19 January 2017 | Le Gosier, Guadeloupe
19 January 2017 | Le Gosier, Guadeloupe
19 January 2017 | St Pierre, Martinique
06 January 2017
01 January 2017 | Fort Du France, Martinique
28 December 2016 | Grand Anse d'Arlet, Martinique
24 December 2016
14 November 2016 | St Anne, Martinique
06 October 2016 | St Anne, Martinique
04 October 2016
20 July 2016 | Rodney Bay, St Lucia
15 June 2016
15 June 2016
13 June 2016 | Grand Anse d'Arlets
13 June 2016 | Grand Anse d'Arlets
09 May 2016 | Deshaies, Guadeloupe

You Have Got to be %^$*#-ing Kidding Me!

12 February 2014 | Simpson Lagoon, St. Martin
(This is a shot of the suspension cables on the new St Martin swing bridge. The eight steel rigging cables on Silverheels perform a similar function.

With our new dinghy becoming more of a liability (the gel coat problems on the bottom are growing, as are the delamination problems in the tubes), we knew we had to get moving on getting it taken care of. We had bought it at Island Water World in St Lucia, but figured that going to the Flagship store in Sint Maarten would be more efficient, since they have the staff and the inventory to help us out. Besides, it is far closer to Antigua than St Lucia.
Ken and I decided that the easiest way to do this was just to do an overnighter for the 90-odd nautical mile trip. We waited for a decent weather window, and got going. We left at noon on Monday, figuring on about 4 or 5 knots, since we were sailing under double reefed main and number three sail (for the non-sailors, that means we didn't have "full sails" out). Well, we were averaging more like 6 knots, and flying along on almost a broad reach. At that speed we were going to get to St Maarten at about 3:00am, not something we really wanted to do. With that, we decided to take down the main at about 30 minutes before sunset.
Sailing under jib alone, we slowed down to closer to 4.5 to 5 knots, still a little quick, but better. Unfortunately, this was too much for our poor autopilot. With the unbalanced sail plan, and the waves pushing our stern diagonally, it didn't stand a chance. We would go 40 to 50 degrees off to starboard, then the autopilot would overcompensate and we'd go to port by as much. This was not going to be tolerable for the rest of the trip. What to do? Raising the main again would bring us back to our original problem (we really don't like coming into an anchorage at night if we don't know it well, and we haven't been in this area for 4 years). We decided to hand steer for the trip, in one hour shifts. This is not conducive to a good off-watch chance to sleep.
With sugar and carbs (thank goodness for the jujubes I had hoarded since the summer) and other treats, the person on-watch had enough sugar to keep them awake. However, another problem came to our attention just after sunset... the compass light that had burned out, and we were still trying to locate a replacement for was now a real issue. Normally, we use the autopilot, and monitor on the chartplotter, but the response time on the chartplotter is not suitable to hand steer by. We pulled out the red LED bike light we use in the dinghy, and that worked for a while. Then Ken thought of using one of the solar powered patio lights. When it, too, ran the battery down, we were close enough to St Martin to see the lights and use them to steer a good enough course.
The conditions in themselves weren't horrible, but Ken and I felt that it seemed pretty "lumpy". We thought we were just being wusses, but when I spoke to someone who is just finishing a circumnavigation, and HE commented on the uncomfortable passage, I felt like less of a wimp. Okay, so it wasn't just us.
Finally, we arrived outside of Phillipsburgh just a little before sunrise. We had three cruise ships bearing down on the harbour, and the 'Disney Fantasy' was heading at us at 20 knots. We were fine, but our tired minds didn't feel up to much more by this point. The Mickey Mouse ears on the funnels were very noticeable, but we weren't close enough to hear any of the Disney music that they sometimes pipe through those ships, or maybe it was too early for even Disney to inflict "Hakuma Mattata" on their passengers.
When it came time to furl the jib, the line wouldn't budge. Whaaaat??? I had to go forward and untangle the line that had slipped between the shield and the drum Thank goodness we didn't have to bring it in earlier, we could wait for daylight. But it was another problem that had to be rectified.
We arrived and anchored at Simpson Bay, close to the bridge channel, shortly after 7:00am. Thankfully, the windlass chose not to be snarky, and the anchor held well with no difficulty. We agreed that if we were awake for the 9:30 bridge opening to allow us into the Lagoon, we would take it, otherwise we could catch the 11:30 - we needed sleep pretty badly by this point.
The bright point of the day was when Bob of 'Mar Belle' swung by at 10:30 to ask where the Police Station was. "If you give me a second to get some decent clothes on, could I go with you?" Bob took me in with him, so we could both get our boats checked in. I admit it was a cheeky thing to do, but our dinghy was nowhere near ready to go. We got checked in and back to our boats in time to get through the 11:30 bridge opening.
Now, as we put the diesel into gear and throttled up a bit, there was an ominous shaking from the diesel. We persevered and pushed through the bridge, with the comment "if anything happens, drop the anchor"... I personally thought let the jib out, but nothing untoward happened. When Ken snorkeled on it after we anchored, he discovered that his suspicion was right, we had a line wrapped around the prop. Two minutes of knife work freed the 5 foot length of black rope. This is the first time this has happened to us.
Anchoring is normally something that we have a great deal of good fortune and luck with, but that was not to be this day. It took us FOUR attempts to finally anchor, whether the problem was being too close to another boat, or dragging. And the windlass also chose this time to be snarky, choosing to not always let the chain out when I pushed the "down" button. Normally, anchoring is a fairly non-verbal event with Ken and I, but I made up for it by swearing at the windlass.
Even the damned tortilla shells stuck when I was making lunch. Sheesh.
We got to Island Water World this morning to get the dinghy dealt with. We had already sent emails notifying them of the problem, complete with pictures, and that we would be seeing them this week. Too bad the person who corresponded with us neglected to tell us that he was going to be in Miami this week, and didn't pass the info on to the guy in charge of Customer Service and warranty concerns. So we were essentially starting from scratch. Roel, the guy helping us, we very nice, but he couldn't find an email address for Flexboat, and none of the three phone numbers that he tried in Brazil got through to a warm body. Wow, do we feel so confident in this. NOT.
And then Ken was investigating one of the lower stays that I had noticed was very loose. Ken tugged it and the stay came down on him. Our rigging is almost 9 years old ( the equivelant of 6 years actually up and holding the mast), so maybe we shouldn't be too surprised. So, we now have another thing to deal with while we are here. There is a lot of sighing going on when we think of the "when it rains, it pours" phenomenon that is hitting us.
At least we are somewhere that we can get things done, and can have things shipped to us with a minimum of cost and hassle. Not that we really wanted to have to do these kinds of things. {{{sigh}}} There is something about St. Martin that makes us part with our money.
Vessel Name: Silverheels III
Vessel Make/Model: Hinterhoeller, Niagara 35 Mk1 (1979)
Hailing Port: Toronto
Crew: Lynn Kaak and Ken Goodings
About: After five summers and winters living on our boat in Toronto Harbour, we've exchanged those cold Canadian winters for Caribbean sunshine. "Nowadays, we have ice in our drinks, not under the boat."
Silverheels III's Photos - Silverheels III (Main)
Photos 1 to 14 of 14
Looking for the next bouy enroute
Our whole life in 35 feet
Our peaceful lagoon in summer
Toronto skyline from Algonquin Island
QCYC Marine Railway: Lynn "workin
Lynn carefully heat-shrinks our winter cover with a propane torch
Jes loafin
Ken on deck
Island Christmas Party December 2007
Silverheels III at anchor, Humber Bay West
Niagara 35 Mk1
General pics of hikes in Grenada
6 Photos
Created 18 August 2013
Some pictures of our time in Grenada
9 Photos
Created 15 September 2010