The Adventures of Smart Move

13 June 2015 | Tyrell Bay, Carriacou
24 May 2015 | Saints Anne, Martinique
24 March 2015 | Puerto del Rey Marina, Fajardo, Puerto Rico
01 February 2015 | Charlestown, Nevis
13 January 2015 | Prickly Bay, Grenada
03 December 2014 | Prickly Bay, Grenada
01 December 2014 | Somewhere in the Caribbean Sea
01 December 2014 | Somewhere In The Caribbean Sea
30 November 2014 | Fajardo, Puerto Rico
22 November 2014 | Puerto del Rey Marina, Fajardo, Puerto Rico
29 October 2014 | San Juan, Puerto Rico
26 August 2014 | Cheyenne, Wyoming
01 August 2014 | Highlands Ranch, Colorado
29 July 2014 | Cheyenne, Wyoming
16 May 2014 | Sunbay Marina, Fajardo, Puerto Rico
15 May 2014 | Sunbay Marina, Fajardo, Puerto Rico
14 May 2014 | Sunbay Marina, Fajardo, Puerto Rico
02 April 2014 | Terre D'en Haut, Iles des Saintes
31 March 2014 | Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica

Mr. Point A to Point B

13 June 2015 | Tyrell Bay, Carriacou
Tacking is not something that comes naturally to Barry, I guess it is kinda like being in rush hour traffic for him -- he just has no patience for it. I, on the other hand, have endless patience, in these kinds of circumstances, I just turn up the stereo and sing along. I do have to say, in all fairness, that Barry has developed GREAT patience (in general) since we started this adventure. For instance, at the grocery store (or any retail outlet) -- me (Miss Endless Patience) goes nearly bonkers while Barry is just chillin' (or limin' as it is known in the islands) waiting for the slo-mo cashier to get around to HIS turn. Anyway, tacking is not something we have done much of since arriving in the Caribbean nearly three years ago. Normally, we wait for the 'right' weather window which has the wind blowing in the right direction to get us from Point A to Point B. If, after we set off, the weather is not what was predicted (and that happens a lot!) we just turn on the engine and motor sail to our destination -- I guess we have gotten a bit lazy.

We have had the honor, this season, of buddy boating with sailors that have challenged us to become better sailors -- Donna and David on s/v Merlin (a Beneteau Oceanis 473)

and Jim and Sharna on s/v Second Spray (an Island Packet 40).

While traveling up island with David and Donna, tacking was not really an issue as the winds (for the most part) were working with us. What we learned, by the seat of our pants and the help of the crew on s/v Merlin was how to make it through (to us) heavy weather (30+ knots) sailing. I know this may be shocking to most of you, but we came into this adventure with A LOT of book learning in heavy weather sailing but not much practical experience. We have had a few years to figure out how much sail we need in different situations, but I think we may have scared Donna a bit when we carried our full main and huge (140%) genoa into some of these situations. David (a former sailboat racer) also tried to impress upon Barry the importance of taking charge of the helm while under sail. However, even with all of David's urging, Barry persisted to defer to our autopilot, Sonny. This can get a bit exciting, as Sonny is slow to respond, especially when the winds are over 30 knots!

Traveling down island with Jim and Sharna, both very talented sailors, has been a very humbling experience. On every level we should have just smoked Second Spray -- yeah, well not so much! The blame had to be taken by the crew of s/v Smart Move and not by the boat herself (she tried to tell us what we should do -- we just didn't listen). In our continuing effort to get from Point A to Point B we were slowing ourselves down by trying to sail too close into the wind, all the while I was working really hard to keep the unhappy sails trimmed but to no avail. Meanwhile, Jim and Sharna would just throw a tack into their course (adding more miles) and beat us into the anchorage nearly every time. The only exception were the rare days when we were sailing on beam or broad reach, with our extra length, fin keel and big sails we could carry 8.5-9+ knots of speed to Second Spray's 7.5-8 knots.

Coming down the lee of Martinique the wind was just straight on the nose -- our day of tacking reckoning was upon us. The only way to get where we wanted to go was either to motor the entire way or start adding tacks into our sailing plan. Not wanting to look totally inept we raised the sails and plotted a waypoint for our first tack. At this point, maybe motoring would have been the better part of valor -- at least we would still have our dignity! That first tack was not a pretty sight! It seemed as if everything that could go wrong did. Both of us (more than a bit rusty on the execution of this skill) mishandled our respective sheets, we managed to get the clew of the sail hung up on the baby stay which resulted in a tug of war between Barry and myself as we tried to free the sail, then Sonny (in auto-tack mode) went crazy turning us so that we back winded the sail before he swept us in a perfect 360-degree turn!

The first day, from Ste. Pierre to Fort de France, the wind was blowing 19-22 knots. Once we got ourselves sorted out after our first tack the rest of the day went quite well, we reached Fort de France in three tacks -- not too bad.

The second day, from Fort de France to Ste. Anne, the wind was still on the nose but was now blowing steadily in the 20s. It was really hard making any progress, for every mile toward our destination we sailed six miles in a less than optimum direction and our 11-mile trip turned into nearly 60 miles. As the day progressed the winds kept picking up, the low 20s, mid 20s, high 20s and we kept tacking. By the sixth tack the wind was blowing 30 knots, we were practically sailing on our ears we were heeled over so much, all the while gallantly dodging lobster pots, and we were EXHAUSTED -- we had been sailing for close to seven hours. With three miles still to go and the prospect of at least two more tacks, Mr. and Mrs. Point A to Point B threw in the towel, dropped the sails, started the engine and motored into Ste. Anne!

Saba Island, The Caribbean's Hidden Gem

24 May 2015 | Saints Anne, Martinique
This island was by far the biggest surprise of this season. A lot of cruisers give the island a pass because there really are no welcoming anchorages. This little island (approximately five square miles), literally, rises 3,000+ feet straight up from the sea. There are no pretty palm tree adorned white sand beaches to entice you near. In fact, the first thing you actually see (traveling up the leeward side) is a rather industrial looking harbor -- and I use the term harbor loosely. There are four mooring balls there, the depth is +/-100 feet in the Fort Bay Anchorage. Further up the coast to the north, at Ladder Bay, where there is a larger mooring field with about a dozen balls in 50+ feet of water. There are some places to anchor between here and Well's Bay, but they are really close to shore, and being new to the island we were not inclined to try anchoring so we took a (well maintained) ball.

The rolly reputation of this mooring field preceded it and when we pulled in late in the day after a very trying sail from Nevis, I was ready to give up and head to the BVIs early the next day. Luckily Barry vetoed that idea and the next morning we dropped the dinghy, loaded the outboard on it and headed to Fort Bay -- the island's only dinghy dock nearly two miles away. We arranged for a taxi tour of the island and met the driver at the harbor.

Nothing can prepare you for the ride from the harbor up to the village of Bottom (and then on to the village of Windward). The road is an engineering marvel, we climbed over 1,200 feet in less than a mile! Even more amazing (for this architect) is that the road was designed by Joseph Hassel who took a road building correspondence course in 1906, after Dutch and German engineers said it could not be built! It took them awhile, but under the guidance of Joseph Hassel, the hard working Sabans hand built the road that was completed in 1958.

Arriving in the village of Windward was like entering a fairy kingdom. If Prince Charming (aka, Barry) had not already been at my side, I could have imagined him galloping toward me on his white charger to sweep me into his sweet embrace! Everything here was just so picture perfect and oh so European. All of the buildings conformed to a design style that brought everything together into a very cohesive whole that added to the impression we had been transported to a fairytale land.

I'm sorry to say that we were not there long enough to enjoy the two main attraction of the island, hiking and diving. We had allotted only a day to visit this beautiful island, as we were on a mission to get to the USVI in time to pick up our dear friends Diane and Glenn for a much anticipated visit and their sailing vacation.

Saba boasts world class hiking, while we both love to hike I'm not sure we where up to the task (and TASK it would have been). Hiking to the top of Mount Scenery (at 3,084 feet) is the cherry on the sundae! This is the most notable trail and it begins in Windward, and includes a section of 1,064 (well maintained) steps -- I am out of breath just writing about it! In my younger days (read as more fit), the trek up the steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, was nearly the death of me (or it seemed so at the time) and it was only 284 steps!

I cannot confirm this personally, but I am told the snorkeling on Saba is fabulous and the diving is stupendous! At one time the diving here was considered the best in the Caribbean, but Saba has enacted laws forbidding independent diving and that has been a deterrent for many divers. Not so much for us though, we are definitely going to head back to this beautiful island and do some snorkeling and diving here -- but we will probably leave Smart Move in St. Martin and take the ferry over and stay on land.

Although, if Barry has his way, we will fly from St. Martin. Google 'flying into Saba' and you will find A LOT of videos of planes flying into Saba. The Saba airport was another project that engineers said could not be done. The ever enterprising Sabans, not to be dissuaded from this endeavor, called in Remy de Haenen (a pilot from St. Barts) to look over the site. He thought their only flat-topped rock had possibilities, so the industrious Sabans got to work flattening the area and filling in the holes as much as possible. Remy was, in fact, able to land and proved that an airport here was, in fact, very feasible. Looking down on the airport it reminded me more of an aircraft carrier than an airport!

How Do You Know When A Cruiser Is Having Fun?

24 March 2015 | Puerto del Rey Marina, Fajardo, Puerto Rico
They stop blogging! Seriously, I don't know where the time has gone. I guess that is what happens when you are having so much fun, the time just whizzes by. Originally, my intent for this blog was to follow our adventures in chronological order, but I have come to realize that is not as important as I once thought. I will always have time to fill in the gaps and writing about what moves me as I live this life is more important that detailing everything in the order in which they happen.

Since my last post we have covered some serious sea miles, 824 nautical miles to be exact. We have traveled most of the length of the Eastern Caribbean from Grenada to Puerto Rico, stopping where our hearts and the wind blew us and sometimes stopping where the wind would not blow us. In the process we visited 19 islands and made lots and lots of new friends (both of the cruiser and local persuasion). We have spent the last few months buddy boating up the island chain with David, Donna and their cat Cocoa on s/v Merlin and (most recently) sailing in PR, the USVI and BVI with friends and family.

What a big year (well really, season) it has been for us. It has been a lot of fun to look back over my past blogs and see how far we have come and how much we have learned - not to mention how much more self-sufficient we have become. In this time, we have passed some big cruising milestones (at least for us) and I thought it would be fun and interesting (hopefully) to list them. So, here they are in no particular order:

Sailing in over 30-35 knots of sustained winds and pretty big seas. I wouldn't say we enjoyed it, but we got the boat balanced and endured on more than one occasion. The bonus was not man nor woman nor cat got seasick!

Retrieving a sail that has gone overboard. The loop holding our 600+ square foot 140% genoa (head) sail to it's halyard failed and the entire sail slid gracefully into the Caribbean Sea 100-miles offshore. The big learning curve here was about the best way to bring a sail back on board! Flake, flake, flake ... We will do it differently, if it happens again - over 600 square feet is a lot of fabric to have in a haphazard jumble!

Staying calm when part of the running rigging snaps in 30 knots of wind and in rough seas. This is not an easy thing to do when your mainsail is flapping furiously and whipping around over your head after the outhaul line snaps - we learned the calm part when the genoa went overboard. We got the sail down and secured as best we could in the conditions without any drama (on our parts). There is not doubt that Smart Move wasn't looking pretty when she motored into the anchorage in Deshaies on Guadeloupe, but the main sail was no worse for the wear and we had a great story to tell over sundowners that evening with friends.

Trimming sails and balancing boat when suddenly beset by a squall with 8+ knot enhanced winds. You know, looking back, I don't know what we were thinking. We could see the squall when we hoisted the sails leaving Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke in the BVIs. We had the second reef in the main due to 25+ knot winds that day and set the genoa with it's first reef in. I was even heard to say "well here comes the 8+ enhanced wind" just before it hit. It didn't take long for me to get the main trimmed (flattened) and the boat balanced. The mistake I made was in asking Barry to take in the genoa sail down because we were quickly overtaking a sailboat in front of us in what (I perceived) a narrow channel. With extra hands on board (guests) I thought we could easily have pulled it in. Yeah, not so much, what a fiasco! If I had taken the time to look at the chartplotter and AIS (and I had the time) I would have seen we had plenty of room on the leeward side to pass the boat. Note to self, don't say "Shit Barry" when sailing with guests are on board, it makes them really uncomfortable.

Learning how to say no to guests when sailing conditions threaten their perfect sailing vacation. I have to say in all honesty, all of our guests were great about it - it was just hard to say "Gee, we can't go to all of those wonderful places we told you about". Unfortunately the sailing was about as crappy as it ever gets here and it lasted the entire time we had guests on board.

This one was a missed opportunity. We had a chance to practice a man overboard drill when a light-weight throw pillow went overboard. While I hope we never have to do one of these for real, realizing that we missed an opportunity for practice was a huge milestone - showing us how much more aware of safety we are. We are committed to this drill the next time something (that floats) goes overboard or maybe gets thrown overboard. Unfortunately my TWO pair of PRESCRIPTION sunglasses that have fallen overboard do not fall in this category, maybe that would be for a search and recovery drill!

Getting through, what I call the 'Sophomore Blues'. It is that time, when you realize that, everyday for the rest of your cruising life, you will be fixing something. So many things that were working when we left the boat last May were not working when we returned to the boat in November. None of them were big problems, just more things to fix. The day the chain broke off of the galley sink plug was my undoing - I just sat down and cried. It is also that time, where the push/pull of family and land life come front and center in your conscienceness, they honeymoon period is over and you are seeing the cruising lifestyle clearly now. I believe this part is not as big a deal for men as it is for women. When we left almost all of my male peers, colleagues and clients told me "Oh, my wife would never leave the children and grandchildren". I did have grown children but didn't have grandchildren when we left. I do have grandchildren now and had a child that was struggling last summer, so I get that sentiment now. I had a huge struggle with where was the right place for me to be - here or there. Life is, and always has been, a balancing act. I learned that there are many ways to 'be there' for your kids and grandkids without physically being there and that living my life in a way that enriches it is important too - so here I am.

Multi-day passages, our longest yet 3-1/2 days. They are not for everyone and many cruisers we have met in the Caribbean don't do them (at all) and they think we are crazy when we do. We really want to circumnavigate and see these passages as good training experiences. It is around the third day that you finally start adjusting to the rhythm of a multi-day passage and Barry and I have worked out a watch routine that works for us based on our habits and our individual circadian rhythms - no set times on this schedule. The way we work it both of us get 6-7 hours of uninterrupted sleep and at least one nap. Do not let me, however, romanticize this - passages are boring as hell! However, there are also wonderful moments too that will never be experienced except on a multi-day passage. It seems as though Barry and I have the temperament for it and look to be good candidates for a circumnavigation. However, the push/pull of the family thing again comes into play here. Then there is also the part about eating weird/different/disgusting food along the way - hmmm.

And then there are the things we have learned:

The best pic ops are when shit happens, yet we never seem to have the camera ready or even think about getting it!

Don't trust a rigger, maybe that is a bit harsh but there are so many things (even little things) in the rigging that when the 'shit hits the fan' could put your life at jeopardy. We were lucky to have, mostly, decent conditions to deal with our problems. However, in addressing the outhaul line that snapped we learned why our single-line reefing system was so hard to operate and discovered many things that needed attention because they were done wrong or needed repair. These were things we trusted the rigger to take care of or bring to our attention. Except for the standing rigging and major sail repair we will take care of all of our rigging from now on. It is very empowering to know you have a little bit more control of your universe - then again it could be very humbling too.

Don't let a rolly anchorage put you off. There were so many rolly achorages we were ready to be quit of and Saba Island was one. I really wanted to visit Saba (not many do because of the anchorage), but after having a trying passage from Nevis and a sleepless night I was ready to move on rather than spend another night there. Fortunately, Barry was insistent that we should go ashore and see the island - and oh, oh, oh what at gem! We will definitely visit this island again, but we will probably take the ferry from St. Martin, lol. The full story and pictures to follow.

Dolphins can brighten even the worst day and they always show up at exactly the right time. No more explanation needed. Actually all of the wildlife enhances an already wonderful life; whether it is the curious barracuda intent on following you around while you snorkel, the voracious remoras that frantically devour the beef scrapes thrown overboard while you strenuously insist they are not sharks to your guests, or watching the seabirds fish - my favorites are the pelicans.

Our friend Ann on s/v Spice of Life said nothing goes to windward like Liat (airlines) and I have discovered she is right. Good grief, this last month we have had friends and family visiting and all wanting to visit islands to windward of Puerto Rico and the USVI - this was not impossible but not realistic with sustained winds 25+ knots and seas 8-9+ feet, no one wants their family and friends to be seasick or have the shit scared out of them! It is truly shocking how much trust your friends and family will put into you just because you appear calm - oops, did I say that?!? NOT TO WORRY FRIENDS AND FAMILY, WE KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING ;)

Since November 30 we have sailed 1,276 nautical miles. To date, we have sailed over 3,000 nautical miles on Smart Move - we are taking baby steps compared to some, but we are loving life and very proud of our accomplishments!

Kickin' The New Year Off Right

01 February 2015 | Charlestown, Nevis
It has been so much fun being back I have lost track of time, so I am ushering in the new year a little late. I cannot think of a better way to start 2015 than being in Grenada among our cruising and Grenadian friends! Grenada is such a wonderful place, especially if you are a cruiser because they make it so easy to live here in our little boats. Grenada's location, specifically the first Caribbean island that is located outside of the 'hurricane box', makes it a desired location for many cruisers who want to stay on their boats from July 1st through November 1st (hurricane season). The country and it's people have welcomed the cruising community with open arms and hearts. Heck it is such a wonderful place, we have cruising friends who never leave the island anymore!

No sooner had we tied up to a mooring in Prickly Bay than Barry was on the phone to the True Blue Resort. Every year they have a Christmas Bazaar that features arts and crafts including local baked goods and sauces. Barry thought it would be a good time for me to start selling all the beaded jewelry I was busy making throughout the last year. I knew the deadline for the entries had past so I had no worries and knew I could drag my feet for another year - selling your stuff can be pretty intimidating. Well, lucky me, they accepted me - yikes! I had a week to get everything together and figure out how to display it. I was a nervous wreck the day of but it turned out well, I sold nearly 20% of what I brought more than covering my expenses. Unfortunately I didn't think about taking a picture at the beginning of the day, this was taken at the end of the day..

The Mount Airy Young Readers is a great program to help the local kids with their reading and math skills. Every year many cruisers devote their time to this program every Saturday, last year I spent every Saturday from September through most of January helping these kids. While I was unable to help tutor this year because of our late arrival I was still invited to the Christmas party. I felt guilty enjoying all of the fun without putting in the work!

Of course we can't forget the fantastic sunsets - probably the most photographed thing by cruisers, lol!

We managed to get all of our broken bits and pieces and sails repaired with the help of Turbulence located and Spice Island Marine and our friend Doug from s/v Hana. I haven't quite got up the nerve to go up the mast yet. I have been up the mast of our old 27-foot Catalina, but that seems like a miniature mast comparted to Smart Move's

It seemed that no sooner had we arrived than Christmas was upon us, it was time for our (now annual) lobster barbeque potluck. The wonderful Hope of s/v Star Shine is responsible for all of the lovely lobsters that all of us cruisers enjoy every year - Thank You Hope!

Umm, did we really eat all that?!? Can you say food coma!

This awesome team (of which I was a part) won Trivia Night three weeks in a row, that is quite a feat!

Here we all are enjoying the fruits of our Trivia labors. Barry must have been worried the beer would jump overboard because he kept holding on. Not a chance though, we were putting them away quick. The pizza was devoured so fast it didn't even make it into the picture, lol.

Lilly in her old age is doing amazingly well. She has completely gotten over any form of seasickness and is as spunky as ever. The one concession to her age (soon to be 19) is she lays
down to eat - it is a very messy process.

A project 2-1/2 years in the making was completed. Our new Garmin chartplotter tied all of the new electronics together in one interface - radar, AIS, speed and wind instruments. We got it in just in time to find out the AIS transponder was not working - no wonder that freighter didn't see me. A lot of stuff had to be moved to get access to the spaces that we needed to run wire through. All of the stuff was moved to the v-berth, here are a few pictures to show how much stuff our new cabinets will hold! Note, I have taken the sliding doors off for the pictures and the work. Also, I knocked off the light, Barry was not happy -- it was a easy repair though.

Finally, there is no better way to ring in the new year than at the Tiki Restaurant and Bar at Prickly Bay Marina. We enjoyed a very delicious buffet dinner of fish, turkey and pasta with all of the sides and an open bar for the night. How many (mostly) free drinks can a cruiser consume in one night? Apparently enough to fall out of a dinghy - I am bound to secrecy and cannot reveal the identity of this person, but I will say it was not anyone aboard Smart Move.

The cast of the New Year's Eve celebration.

My little snuggle bug, Barry -- he's gonna hate that!

Mirielle and Pierre-Yves s/v Umido, Pierre-Yves put down that phone -- we are suppose to be having fun!

Jan s/v Hana, you have no idea how hard it was to get that smile out of her -- love this woman, gotta watch out for the quiet ones!

Ted s/v Aurora, he is always fun and has some much sailing knowledge to pass on and great stories!

Gary s/v Inspiration, all of us women that love to dance love Gary -- he will dance all night but sometimes he loses his shoes!

Donna s/v Merlin, a great friend and sailing buddy -- lots of spunk and she snorts when she laughs, just like me!

David s/v Merlin, another great friend and sailing ninja -- taking Smart Move and her crew to school! Sorry for the grainy pic David, it was a pretty dark pic.

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!

In memorandum: this blog is dedicated to Keith, one of my two favorite taxi/bus drivers (the other is Paul, Best Cab). He was a kind and gentle person that helped me navigate my way around the island the first year I was there, I didn't always understand what he was saying - but he always got me where I needed to go. He passed away last summer of a brain tumor, you will be missed my friend.

Getting Back In The Groove

13 January 2015 | Prickly Bay, Grenada
December was a busy month for us as we slipped back into the cruising lifestyle and were once again immersed in the ‘Island Time’ way of life. Our smiles couldn’t have been any bigger that first morning back as we pulled up to the fuel dock, seeing the familiar landscape and faces. As I excitedly hopped off the boat very happy to see the Dock Master once again, I started rattling off the long list of services we would need during our stay in Grenada, all while wildly interjecting random questions about this that or the other. Smiling serenely at my best impression of the Tasmanian Devil cartoon character, the Dock Master calmly put his arm around me, gave me a gentle squeeze and said “Breathe, all will get done”. I have learned here in the Islands that ‘all will get done’ is synonymous with ‘manana’ in Puerto Rico – yes all will get done, just not today. I took a deep breath and smiling said “I can live with that!” I couldn’t help but hug him back when he said “Welcome home” because that is what it felt like, we were returning home.

We had many things to do upon arriving, first and foremost was to have our head sail repaired. We are very lucky to have really great friends like David and Donna on s/v Merlin. We had talked to them on the SSB radio the night before our arrival and they arranged to have a sailmaker meet us at the fuel dock the next morning. I never quite got the sailmaker’s name as he was really, really hard to understand. He had the most remarkable accent I have ever heard, it sounded like a hybrid mix of Indian (India) and the Caribbean Islands – our communications with him required a lot of pantomiming. It took the three of us to wrangle the sail from the port cabin onto the dock, where it was properly folded and carted off for repairs. Tick, the first item on my list was crossed off!

We were getting off to a good start! I went on to the next item on my list, diesel -- the Dock Master said, “Diesel done”. Well that was inconvenient, but OK. Moving down the list, gasoline for the dinghy and generator was next, the Dock Master’s response was “Gas done”. Oh?!? Having just arrived from the ‘Land of Plenty’ I was being forced to slow down in hyper-drive. Looking once again at my list, I said “Well, what about water? Do you have water?” The Dock Master broke out in a big smile and said “Of course, we always have water!” As I left to clear us in at the Customs and Immigration office Barry was valiantly trying to hose down Smart Move with a pathetic trickle of water. Over the next few weeks my mantra was ‘no worries’ as I desperately tried to decompress back into the languid lifestyle that is typified by ‘Island Time’. Given that I am writing this post a good month later, I think I have fully decompressed!

Boats, and your own boat in particular, can feel (at times) that they are a living breathing things with a mind of their own. You can hear her breath in the wind through her rigging and sails. She talks to you of her well-being (or lack there of) through a complex series of creaks, groans, squeaks and grumbles. Even the way she moves will tell you of her pleasure (or displeasure). Boats are needy mistresses, and like most mistresses, they definitely do not like being left alone for 5-6 months at a time and will show their displeasure in a number of ways.

Smart Move welcomed us back with a virtual smorgasbord of problems, correction, protests! Even though her batteries were charged she didn’t want to start. One of her solar panels was on strike. Only one of the stereo speakers was working – I bet I haven’t mentioned how much I like music! Both shower drains refused to drain, this was critical because one was in the cats bathroom where the litter box lives and it is part of the critical path in that system. The chart plotter, at the ripe old age of 8, was getting a bit crotchety and began freezing up on our trip down to Grenada. Sonny (short for SOB), the Wandering Autopilot, continued his wandering ways (although I think we have that worked out now). Bringing the watermaker back online resulted in the most horrendous wailing I have ever heard (well short of taking Chloe to the vet). Only one of Smart Move’s two heads (toilets) was working (thank you for your benevolence Smart Move!). I wish I understood why joker valves fail when they are just sitting around doing nothing. The genoa (head sail) obviously tested our mettle at sea and once we got to port, her halyard proved to be very stubborn to get down requiring three trips up the mast (65-feet is a long way up by the way). Oh, and yes, we were taking on water – but that wasn’t Smart Move’s doing. So as you can see, we have been quite busy getting Smart Move happy and purring again.

But wait! There is more! There have been all of our wonderful friends (already in Grenada) to reconnect with! Umm, umm, umm sundowners (cocktails for our landlubber friends), 2 for 1 pizza, movie night, trivia, dominos and shopping buses! As a person who spent her life working insane hours with few friends, I cannot describe my emotions at being among my cruising friends again! I never realized, while I was working, how much richer your life is with friends – it is good to be home!

What a Ride

03 December 2014 | Prickly Bay, Grenada
We have arrived in Grenada -- happy dance! We were trying to get out of Puerto Rico the day after Thanksgiving to take advantage of some unusually light east winds to make as much easting as possible before the winds built again. To keep things exciting, there was also a major frontal trough moving into the area and we wanted to put some serious miles between us and it. However ... I'm sure this will not come as a shock to anyone, but we had a few hiccups trying to get out of Dodge.

Our smiles could not have been any bigger as we watched the Puerto del Rey Marina shrink into the distance in our wake. Relaxing in the cockpit, we set a course that would take us along the south side of Culebra Island and we were happily motor sailing east. After a few hours, it occurred to us it might be prudent to take a look at our brand-new, drip-less shaft seal from Tides Marine and make sure everything was dry. Like everything else on a boat, first you have to the remove everything from the cupboard so you can remove the access boards into the compartment so you can get down on your belly and hang your head in. Drum roll please ... Our brand-new, drip-less Tides Marine shaft seal was dripping at a rate somewhat more than a drip per second ... Really?!? It is now after 4:00 PM on the Friday after Thanksgiving and no one is answering the phone at the boatyard, go figure! We decided to pull into Culebra for the night and give the boatyard a call the next morning. Meanwhile, the weather was being a bit contrary and not sticking to its predicted path -- over the next 36-hours we would formulate four different sail plans based on the latest weather. On Saturday we did a round trip between Culebra and Puerto del Rey, the consensus was "Yep, it's leaking, good thing it's a sailboat". For people who may not know, the shaft seal only leaks when the engine is running and the boat is in gear, but more on this story later.

We were finally able to set sail on Sunday morning around 8:00 from Culebra. I will save you the suspense, the sailing was fabulous, 3-1/2 days of clears skies, 3-4 foot seas, and a consistent 15 knots of wind mostly ENE -- it was just awesome sailing! We motor sailed east into light east winds until we got to the east end of St. Croix and then hung a right and turned off the engine.

As night fell the winds shifted to ENE and began picking up -- awesome! We put a reef in the main, set our course and settled in for the night. Throughout the night we maintained a speed of 7-71/2 knots. In the morning, we were still making 7-7-1/2 knots so we left the reef in to balance our speed with our arrival time. We continued sailing in this manner throughout the day on Monday and into Tuesday zipping along at 7-7-1/2 knots.

But nothing ever goes as planned, and the powers that be hate it when we get too sure of ourselves and have to put us in our place. Around noon on Tuesday (100 miles offshore) our head sail parted company with it's halyard and went for a swim. Our head sail is gigantic, a 140% genoa that is over 600 square feet in size. Getting the sail back on board was no easy feat and it took us about two hours to get the sail recovered and stowed. Both of us were soaked in so much seawater that it was amazing our PFDs didn't deploy. We had also managed to drag a fair amount of seawater throughout the interior of the boat. In our inexperience, we decided to stow the sail in the port cabin -- what a mess (I wish I had thought to take a few pictures). The sail wasn't even close to being folded and filled the entire cabin all the way to the ceiling. At one point, I feared I was going to be trapped at the back of the cabin. My overactive imagination was having a field day as it ran through many scenarios in which I would die in the back of that cabin, trapped by a huge, menacing wad of cloth!

We then continued on our way, now motor sailing again with our main fully up. While we were sitting there feeling quite glum a pod of dolphins came over to say hi and cheer us up, they hung with us for about half an hour. When I went below to make us our much overdue lunch, water was leaking out at the edges of the floor boards. I'm sorry to say that at times like these some not very lady-like words escape my lips, in this case it was "OH MY F^*K@$G GOD, WHAT NOW?!!!". Barry was up on deck anxiously saying "what, what?" Then the light came on 'oh yeah the shaft seal is leaking' ... sigh ... note to self, remember to run the bilge pump every hour ... sigh.

We pulled into Prickly Bay, Grenada around 8:30 in the morning on Wednesday. It is good to be back!
Vessel Name: Smart Move
Vessel Make/Model: Beneteau 473
Hailing Port: Salt Lake City, Utah
Crew: Barry, Robyn, Lilly and Chloe
Smart Move's Photos - Fun in Miami
Photos 1 to 3 of 3 | Main
Captain Barry at the helm of an Island Packet
Looking back at the waterfront from Biscayne Bay.
My friend Jean on the deck of our room at the Seagull Inn in South Beach.