06 December 2022
They say when your keel drags through the mound of coffee grounds under your boat, you have been there too long.
Lisa and I launched Uproar on November 15. We motored ¼ mile and put the anchor down. For three weeks, that’s where we sat. There are a few reasons we didn’t move for those three weeks. Number one, we just love Carriacou. We have a lot of friends here from previous seasons, both cruisers and locals. We made new friends. And we just love Carriacou!
Boat projects took up a lot of those three weeks. I replaced the forward head, shower pump three times before I got one to work. Imagine spending $1000 on pumps to just empty the floor after taking a shower!!! I am getting reimbursed for two of them which will take a lot of the sting out of this project.
Another reason for staying in the sticky harbor is Pearl. She is getting her sea legs. OK, here is where the sausage is made. She peed twice in our bed!!!! Since, we have come to an understanding and her potty manners have been impeccable
Last week, both Lisa and I became rather lethargic. We would get up in the morning, take Pearl ashore, do some boat projects, read and nap in the afternoon. We enjoyed having friends over for dinner and cocktails but that usually ended before 9:00, cruiser’s midnight.
A malaise was setting in. We weren’t motivated to do much. But this is such a great place, what did we need to accomplish? Boat projects were mostly done. As Captain Ron famously said, “If it is going to happen, it is going to happen out there!”
We just had to pull up anchor and go sailing. It took some effort. We have to be in Carriacou on December 19 when Caroline joins us for a few weeks. It would have been so easy to just hang out for a few more weeks.
But that didn’t seem right. We cleared out with customs and immigration, pulled up anchor and sailed to Martinique. In the Eastern Caribbean, we normally only make a short hop between islands. But clearing Pearl in and out is a real chore. We sailed through the night for 120 miles, past St. Vincent and St. Lucia to Martinique.
I wish I could report an idyllic night passage. It was almost that. There was a strange, west to north-west wind. That is rare in the Caribbean. We knew it would mean flat seas but not great sailing. OK, we burned diesel the whole way. With a bright moon, it was a very pleasant passage. Sailing would have been better. I can’t easily describe how the malaise just melted away. It is so good to be at sea again. Uproar got us here with no fuss. Pearl learned to potty on the aft deck! Life is good.
Viva la France! I had the best steak tartare and Lisa a crispy, goat cheese salad for lunch. This evening, we walked Pearl ashore. Lisa had a ½ bottle of rose and I had a strong, Ti punch (strong rum, squeeze of lime and raw sugar). Pearl dug in the sand while we enjoyed the evening. Surprisingly, the sand just fell off her.
There is a saying about boats meant to be at sea, not in harbors. I don’t remember it, but Uproar sure does and she showed us the joy of being at sea.
30 November 2022
“Attention cruisers, Paradise Beach Restaurant will be serving an American Thanksgiving meal at 2:00 on Thursday. We will send a bus to the Tyrrel Bay anchorage at 1:45. Please make reservations.”
We made reservations with three other American boats for a table of eight. Sure enough, it rained like crazy as we dinghied to shore and boarded the bus….soaking wet. No problem, living on a boat entails water. We are used to it and it is not cold.
About 25 American cruisers attended the dinner. Food was delicious! Of course turkey was served but best was special pumpkin/roasted onion appetizer and the best cinnamon/ nutmeg little pie for dessert. Local beer and rum drinks were in abundance.
Here we are, voyagers from a foreign land. We are missing family and friends, much like I can imagine the original pilgrims were when they ventured across the sea to the new world. We are not struggling for survival. Our boats are not quite as comfortable as our dirt dwellings, but we are comfortable enough in our floating homes.
The local people of Carriacou are as welcoming as can be to their homeland. How much like the American Indians portrayed in the first Thanksgiving they are. Not just today but everywhere, they greet us, call us by name and welcome us. Today, they went so far to give us a celebration for which we give thanks.
Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks. Let’s not forget this as a celebration between visitor and host. That was clear to us today. Thank you Carriacou! For you and our close relationship we give thanks.
Bielle cinquante-neuf to the rescue
21 November 2022
The whining is over. Yes, I’m done whining about stuff not working on Uproar. I’ve fixed almost all the problems. We have working instruments, freezer, anchor windlass, alternator, water maker, etc. Best of all, I was able to accomplish these repairs with parts and tools I have on Uproar. Didn’t have to buy anything new.
There is still plenty to do. The stove/oven seems not to have the propane pressure it used to have. No problem, I have a new pressure regulator on hand. I’ll install it soon. The sound insulation around the engine compartment is crumbling. I’ll buy new and install. Anchor windlass still seems weak. We may be looking for a replacement in Martinique in a few weeks. The freezer seems to be taking too much power to freeze. I’ll keep adjusting the refrigerant until it seems right.
Ah, now Uproar feels like our proper, floating home. Pearl has adjusted well too. She loves running on the beach, occasionally with other dogs. She sure is fast!
We first set anchor in Carriacou in 2016. The next morning we joined the 9:00 am noodling class. This is water aerobics with swim noodles. One of the exercises is to sit on your noodle, office-chair-scoot around, high five everyone in the class and exchange names. What a great way to get to know fellow cruisers. We attended a birthday party at the end of the week and knew all 40 attending the party.
Friday, we joined the noodle class. Andrea, head noodlestress said, “I remember you, you are the one with the big noodle!” So I’ve got that going for me. Long story, not what you think!
We had cocktails on Makarios with Deb and Benj last night. Deb and Benj are from Wyoming. They had just launched their boat and sailed from Grenada to Carriacou. It was great to re-connect with them. We saw our first green flash of the year.
Back on uproar, duck fat fried potatoes and duck confit. Add to that Bielle, cinquante-neuf, 59% strong rum from Marie Galant, Guadeloupe. The cool, evening breeze became a Carriacou caress. All is good again on Uproar.
17 November 2022 | Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou
Russ Whitford | Not bad.
Uproar has launched. More importantly, she if floating! While all boats float, there is always that question when launching, especially after a long stay “on the hard.”
Nolan painted the scratched up, dark gray boot stripe a muted teal to match the rest of Uproar’s color scheme. Looks great. We were both amazed how clean Uproar looked inside and out from being in the dusty Carriacou Marine Yard.
There were butterflies in both my and Lisa’s stomachs. We were about to end our five months as dirt dwellers and join the ranks of floating homeless. Would we and our puppy, Pearl adapt?
Uproar’s diesel engine fired right up and cooling water was exiting the exhaust as it should. I checked the anchor windlass, dead! OK, we will have to drop the anchor manually and see to fixing the windlass. We anchored in a safe spot after a bit of hassle getting the chain out of the locker. Unlocking the windlass refused to just let the anchor fall. Looks like bigger problems.
We had a quiet evening and a light meal, we launched right before five and it is pretty dark by six. Next day would be getting Uproar’s systems operating.
Solar panels were working well. I put them back up the first day we worked on the boat. After three days, batteries were fully charged. But the alternator was not charging the batteries. OK, I brought two rebuilt alternators back with me, no problem.
Installing the rebuilt alternator is not that difficult but cramped spaces and 80+ heat made it more of a chore. The fact that it was till not charging the batteries, even after a few tries with different wiring and voltage regulators added to the sweat.
I decided to get the freezer/fridge running. Well, it was making noise but not cooling. Add refrigerant, remove refrigerant, twiddle, still not working! Oh, instruments tripped the breaker off when turned on too. We anchored without any instruments such as depth. No problem, we know Tyrrel Bay pretty well.
A walk on shore with a coke break helped break my building tension. Several rums and dinner had me in bed by Seven. Then came mosquitos! OK, not a good start to life afloat!
I have written before that one of the most difficult aspects of cruising is keeping all the delicate systems working. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get this right. Lisa does not put pressure on me about this. She knows the stress it causes me. I didn’t sleep that well.
This morning, I got the alternator working! It was a few stupid mistakes on my part that caused it not to work. The freezer is still wheezing away. The machinery is working properly. I just need to get the refrigerant charge right. There is another cruiser in the anchorage who is an expert. I may ask for his help or to borrow his gauges. We fired up the watermaker, working fine. Things are looking up.
Living on a boat full time, our systems are always in use. But sitting on the hard, in a salt environment takes its toll. I’ll continue to work at it and eventually we will have success. Just wish I could not let it get to me so much. As promised, I’ll tell the good and the bad about cruising.
I’m feeling better now, I even shaved.
14 November 2022
Tears rolling down my cheek compel me to write. Lisa and I used to live full time on Uproar. It was fairly easy. We knew where home was and lived it and loved it.
I was a bit wary about being a “snow bird.” Summers in WI and winters in the Caribbean. It involved turning our lives upside down, once and again every year. But summer in WI was such a delight.
Moto friend Mark asked, “Russ, you have sailed and traveled much of the world. What do you still feel about Wisconsin?” The answer came easily. Wisconsin is one of the most beautiful places I have lived. Add to that family and friends, it is home. Such a pat answer. But really, Wisconsin has one of the most beautiful landscapes, parks and countrysides. What’s not to like. OK, winter! Even winter was fun when I raced my old Ducati on the ice. But long, wet, cold springs……
Tonight, is our third night in Carriacou. Carriacou is a small island north of Grenada, part of Grenada. Lisa and I landed her in 2016. Within a week, we knew 40 cruisers in the anchorage and many became life-long friends. We sailed here in May, 2022. Pulled Uproar into the Carriacou Boat Yard and headed back to our WI, River Retreat.
Now again, we have a transition from familiar life, friends and family, back to the floating homeless. It is a bit daunting. We hauled 200 pounds of boat parts, supplies and a new puppy back to Uproar. I’m happy to report Uproar looks in fine shape after our absence. OK, the bilge pump quit. I’ll fix up something.
What really hits me is how much this too is home. People here in Tyrrel Bay still remember us and call us by name. The tropical heat is a bit daunting but after three days, we are sure we can adapt once again. Just take it slow and easy.
This evening, Lisa and I decided to prolong our evening a bit and go to Iguana’s for a cocktail. I asked Kaylin for a pirate strength rum punch. I’ve got the pirate look but insist, “pas dangerous.” Not dangerous! She gave me a wink and understood. Lisa started out with water, then graduated to a Cosmo.
They had country music playing on the screen. OK, on Uproar, we are quite new to that genre. In fact, on our play list, we resist country. Instead, we have a play list, “rural.”
Kaylin put on reggae for us. Started out with “Three Little Birds.” We all sang along. Then came “Redemption Song.” That’s when my tears started to flow. I have left Babylon and am now in Zion. Life is different here. The transition that I thought would be so difficult has now become a true part of me. Kaylin was taken aback by my tears. Lisa said, “We should go.”
“He who feels it knows it.” Bob Marley
My Zen master, John told me, “ Don’t try, just feel.” He so delighted in the difficulty I would have transitioning from my engineer brain to my true self.
Carraicou, thank you for tipping me back to my true self.
06 October 2022
One vintage, Glastron Jetflight speedboat + one Seadoo GTX jet ski = Jetflight jet boat
What could be more simple? Well instead of simple math, it is turning into long division. But I expected that.
The idea came when cousin Ken and I went on a road trip last summer. The mission was to find and buy a James Bond boat. In the movie, “Live and Let Die” James Bond jumped over a spit of land in his GT 150 speedboat. He (stunt double of course) even flew over a cop car. This scene made the GT 150 an icon. And I wanted one!
We drove through Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania and found the boat I purchased in Grand Haven, MI. It is a gaudy, gold metal flake finish, named Goldfinger of course.
During our search we ran across an older model of Glastron the Jetflight. The lines of the Jetflight appealed to both of us but the one we saw was too beat up for our purposes.
Goldfinger serves well as a river runner. She lives in the boat slip at the River Retreat, our home on the Milwaukee River. The Milwaukee River is quite shallow in places. A jetboat might be more versatile and who doesn’t like that rooster tail of spray from a screaming jet drive?
I found a nice, original Jetflight in Minnesota. Another road trip and it followed me home. I cautiously told Darren, who sold it to me, of my plans to cut it up and convert to jet power. Instead of being insulted, he heartily approved of the plan.
Two Seadoo jet skis for the price of one also followed me home from Illinois. I’ll sell the leftover one and trailer next spring. Hopefully, I’ll recoup most of the cost of the other.
The Jetflight is rated for a 65 HP outboard motor. I’m installing 110 HP with the jet drive. What could possibly go wrong? Whatever happens will happen at high speed!
Lots of noisy, power tools and violence produced a pile of jet ski parts and a Jetflight with a big hole in the bottom. Hours of cutting and fitting and the jet ski bottom looked like it belonged on the Jetflight.
Multiple layers of fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin and the Frankenboat was taking shape.
With the help of some river friends, the engine is now installed. I have started to assemble the jet ski parts back in the Jetflight hull. But that presents some challenges. I have to fabricate metal brackets to mount components and somehow link the steering wheel to the steering nozzle on the jet drive. Throttle linkage and reverse linkage will require some more McGivver work.
Here’s what I have so far. Stay tuned for the test run. My hope is that the Seadoo jet drive will not even know it has been installed in a vintage speed boat and runs like it should.