Tuesday, May 2, 2017

North Sound. Virgin Gorda, BVI

Well here we are almost done with the cruising life but it's still an adventure.
We left Martinique about 12 days ago after our haulout. The bottom paint and wax job went well despite a day of rain. The Amel crew did the maintenance on the autoprop (more about this later) and the wear out bearing, all the anodes were replaced and the Spurs rope cutter was replaced.
We went back to the Marina le Marin to do our provisioning, clear out and pick up our guest, cousin Daniel.
We had an easy first day to St Pierre and anchored up for the night. Next day on to Prince Rupert Bay in Domenica, where we saw the most spectacular rainbow.
From there, to the gorgeous Ile des Saintes where we picked up a mooring and spent a few days.
The weather was fair to St. Maarten so off we went and did an overnighter and arrived an hour early for the bridge opening into the lagoon. We took a berth at the Simpson Bay Marina as there was not much room in the anchorage and it was very shoal.
While maneuvering in the marina I felt a strong vibration in the transmission and could get minimal thrust in forward or reverse but managed to get onto and end tie as quickly as possible. The dockmaster was not happy but needs must.
We were fortunate to get a diver to inspect the prop and despite recent bearing replacement and service one of the blades had come off the prop. The diver miraculously found the missing blade and retrieved it, so now we have to find out what happened to it and assess responsibility.
I have a fixed prop and the diver was able to take the autoprop off and replace it with the fixed prop.
As far as St Maarten is concerned, we were not too impressed. Everything was very expensive and more like Orange county than the West Indies. The blustery, rainy weather didn't help.
The marina was well run but also very dear. They charged for water at the rate of 20 cents/gallon in addition to $2/foot / day. And for electricity and garbage whether you had any or not.
Daniel took off for Miami after a week afloat and we left on the last bridge opening and waited for a few hours and left for the BVI's at about 10 pm. We sailed overnight for 80 miles to arrive in Virgin Gorda in the morning. It was another dark and squally night and I had to get the foul weather gear on for part of the time.
The north sound in Virgin Gorda has been very nice. We are anchored in about 17 metres next to three resorts and as it was the Admiral's birthday on May 1 we have visited them all to celebrate.
The first was the YCCS which is the newest. It is an Italian yacht club and is a very beautiful and stylish facility and in season they host many megayachts and organize races in the sound.
Lunch there, however, was pretty poor and outrageously overpriced. We were not made particularly welcome there.
The Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock were much better. We had a nice dinner at the BEYC last night and drinks in the bar. Lunch today at Saba Rock was the best of the three.
So much for Virgin Gorda, tomorrow we go to Tortola.

unfortunate situation with the autoprop. Could have been much worse

View from Saba Rock

Amazing rainbow over Domenica. The photo doesn't do it justice

Saba Rock. Best resort of the three

the view from YCCS

Ile des Saintes

The Admiral, Daniel and I at Fort Napoleon, Ile des Saintes

the view from up the hill. Ile des Saintes

Village Square Ile des Saintes

Monday, April 17, 2017

Le Marin, Martinique

So much for my good intentions to post more often. I'll try to fill in as much as I can. We are now back in Le Marin, Martinique after spending three weeks enjoying all that San Diego has to offer and then off to the east coast to celebrate our oldest son James' wedding.
It was great to have all of our children and grandchildren in one place for more than a few hours. The wedding was on the eastern Chesapeake Bay in an attractive small town called St Michael, where allegedly the locals fooled my former countrymen to expend vast amounts of ammunition by placing lanterns in the hills above the town in 1814. But I digress.
The pre wedding crab fest extravaganza went well as did the nuptials themselves. We think that a good time was had by all.
On Sunday we spent the evening on the Jersey shore and discovered the rather strange town of Ocean Grove, New Jersey and then on to Long Island to spend the evening with some old friends of ours from my residency days.
We flew out of JFK direct to Martinique on Tuesday and found Callisto to be in excellent condition, having slaved away to get her very clean and tidy prior to our departure.
We are awating a haul out tomorrow as unfortunately this could not be done over the Easter holiday.
We hope that the weather will comply and that we can do all of our bottom painting without too much rain. Unfortunately, the forecast is not too good.
The prop, bowthruster and wear out bearings will be serviced and a new Spurs rope cutter replaced.
If all goes well, we should get splashed again on Friday and we will continue north to Puerto Rico and then Ft. Lauderdale.
The Groom

James, Denny and Jeff

crabs, major operation

Sydney, Mabry and Ben

our house rental at St Michael

The Inn at Perry Cabin

The Admiral and daughters

The bride and groom

All of us in one spot. a rare event

Annapolis Naval College

Katie and bridesmaids Sydney and Mabry

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Marina le Marin, Martinique

Now sitting in a bar watching the sun go down enjoying a small beer with the Admiral.
Our trip across the Atlantic was quite uneventful and that is a good thing. We did not start the engine from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands to Martinique as we had strong trade winds the entire cruise. We had to dip far south to get into the trades and on occasion they were stronger than I would have liked but we had a very good sail under the Amel twin poles and jib and ballooner.
Lagos to Las Palmas was a little slower and we did have to motor a bit to get there but diesel is cheap there. My battery bank failed on the first leg and we had to get new ones in Las Palmas. There was a little delay but I installed them without problem.
The 2900 miles to Martinique took us just under 17 days for an average speed of 7.1 kts.
The boat and crew are all cleaned up and rested and we are enjoying the balmy weather.
Many thanks to David and Marian, my crew for this crossing. All went well with nary a cross word.
Callisto is now listed for sale with Joel F. Potter in Fort Lauderdale and we are looking forward  passing her to new owners.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Las Palmas, Canary Islands

We are now in Las Palmas, Canary Islands. and plan to leave for Martinique tomorrow. I put a new battery bank in today as the batteries were looking very weak after the run from Lagos.
We are fueled up and the weather looks good for the next week as long as we can get south to pick up the trades.
We had an easy cruise from Lagos but did have to motor for about 24 hours. We hope the next two weeks will bring good breeze.
Other news includes our daughter Jennifer's engagement to Ed today. Nuptial date to be announced.
Next post from Martinique but the Admiral may post a position report from time to time

Monday, January 9, 2017

San Diego, California, USA

I know that this post is a long time coming and I note that the last time I entered anything here was November 6, 2016! Mea Culpa.
Much has happened since then.
As were most people, we were extremely surprised to wake up to the unexpected news on November 8, of Mr. Trump's victory in the presidential election. No political comments from me, favouring either side but these certainly are going to be interesting times.
We have moved apartments! From one down town condo to another about 300 metres down the road. We now have much nicer views and about 30% more living space but it's been a lot of work, moving and getting the new place habitable. Considerable progress has been made but there is still much to do.
On a positive note, I can still sit here typing this note with glorious 180 degree views of San Diego Bay, Pt. Loma, Coronado Island and the airport and we hope that this will remain so, for many years to come.
The increased living space has allowed us to have lots of guests over the holidays and a gigantic tree.
Four of the five offspring have graced us with their presence and a fun time was had by all.
The weather has been mostly good, especially compared to the rest of the country and northern Europe.
The Admiral and I have decided that we are going to swallow the hook and quit our long term cruising plans. Our health is good, and the boat is fine and we thought we might have wanted to spend another 2 seasons cruising the Med and the Adriatic Seas but the decision has been made to sell Callisto and get back to living on dirt on a full time basis.
Our son James is getting married in April on the east coast  and we look forward to that.
Tomorrow, I leave for Portugal to get Callisto in shape for her final trans-Atlantic crossing with me at the helm. There isn't much to do, other than put the head sails back on, check out the systems and get the sat phone working, so if the weather looks favourable we may be off to the Caribbean via the Canaries as early as the weekend.
The Admiral flies to London on Thursday to be with her ailing Dad and the rest of the family, while I make the trip across the Atlantic.
I promise to be more forthcoming with posts of the upcoming cruise.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Dupont Circle, Washington, DC. USA

We are now visiting James and Katie in Washington, DC on our way home. I put Callisto to bed at the Marina de Lagos in Portugal and left for London on October 24. We did have a good time there and I would strongly recommend this marina a s a very safe place to leave a boat over the winter season. the weather there is excellent for most of the year and there are many excellent bars and restaurants to choose from.
London was rainy and cold as usual and I got to visit with my sister and new grand niece and then on the Amersham, Bucks. to see the Admiral, who has been hard at work looking after her ailing Dad.
We left the UK on November 1st. for Iceland where we spent a few days in Reykjavik, Iceland is a fascinating place and despite some terribly gloomy and cold weather we got to see quite a bit of the southwestern corner of the country.
We did a tour of the golden circle and saw the Gundfoss waterfall, the Bingvellir National Park where the American and European tectonic plates are moving apart at a few centimeters per year. Also, the incredible horticultural endevours where they grow vegetables year round in illuminated, heated  greenhouses powered by geothermal and hydro power.
On the next day we went to the famous Blue Lagoon. It was a bit touristy but an amazing place with a huge outdoor naturally heated seawater pool which had a luminous blue colour due to minerals in the water.
Very cold and dark in November and also seriously expensive but I think well worth anther visit in the summer to see the rest of the island.
We arrived in DC on November 3rd. and we have been running around ever since. It's very good to be back in the US of A.
We did a monument tour on Friday and met with our prospective in-laws yesterday. We had a very enjoyable lunch together and look forward to seeing them again at James and Katie's wedding next April.
We wandered around Georgetown all day today and tomorrow we hit the museums.
We have a flight back to sunny California on Election Day and will get to work immediately on our move to our new apartment.
Bingvellir National Park

The Blue Lagoon. It really was blue

A view of the Jefferson Memorial across the tidal basin

The happy couple contemplating the reflecting pool and the Lincoln Memorial

Outside the Dunbarton House in George Town

The Vietnam Memorial and glorious, fall foliage

James and Katie

The Korean War Memorial

George Town across the Potomac

Jefferson Memorial

James and Katie again

Freezing in Iceland. Foul weather gear was very handy

Iceland's famous geysers. Just getting ready to spout

The amazing greenhouses in Iceland growing tomatoes year round

The Gundfoss waterfall

The American tectonic plate rising up due to seismic activity

The blue lagoon

Relaxing after the blue lagoon experience

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lagos, Portugal

The Admiral and I are at our final European destination for the sailing season. Callisto left La Rochelle in France after a fairly extensive refit, including replacing all standing rigging.
I was impressed with how much better the boat sailed, especially going to weather in both light and heavier air. Who knew? I'm very glad that the recommendation to do the re-rig was made and that the work was done without problem. The run across Biscay and around Finisterre was uneventful from a sailing point of view but we did have a significant problem south of Porto that I will get into ina moment.
My crew were Ian and Matt and we left in a northerly F4-5 breeze and we made good progress all night. The wind lightened considerably on the next day and we had to motor sail for a while until the breeze filled in again. We progressed nicely under sail past Finisterre until the wind failed once again..
We motored and motor sailed down the Portuguese coast in very calm conditions, surrounded by dolphins until the motor stopped dead. It would run in neutral but I could not engage forward or reverse without massive vibration. I thought we had hit something and damaged the prop. We got on the radio and fortunately a British boat about 5 miles away agreed to give us a tow to the nearest port which was a place called Peniche, about 15 miles away. Fortunately, conditions were calm and clear and we picked up the tow without problem. Slow progress down the coast and it was very dark when we were picked up by the local maritime police and towed the last mile into the small town of Peniche. We tied up to a concrete wall in the fishing port and by this time it was already midnight, so not much to do.
On the following morning, the local authorities and there were a lot of them told me that it was forbidden to dive on the boat myself, even though we had the equipment. I had no choice but to employ a local dive company who fixed the problem in about 10 minutes. It would appear that we had picked up a huge piece of heavy duty fishing net. So, just bad luck but no  damage to the prop or transmission.
After a lot of paperwork and some bills to pay we were again on our way around midday down to Cascais. We berthed at a very nice but seriously expensive marina and had a nice dinner in this very pretty Portuguese town next to Lisbon.
We anchored out in the bay next day and by this time the Portuguese trades had resumed and we had some great sailing the past 120 miles to Lagos with following wind at F5-6 all night. Lots of fishing boats but fortunately no more nets.
Lagos is just as I remember it. A bit touristy and some drunken Brits and Germans but very pleasant with excellent restaurants and amenities.
We have done some road trips to Sagres and Silves and other areas of interest in the Algarve.
The climate is outstanding and there are some beautiful and remote spots to visit.
The Admiral will stay until next week and I remain to put the boat to bed by the end of the month.
Then it's back to California, via London, Iceland and Washington DC.

The fishing net we picked up south of Porto. Apparently, there is a lot of this stuff floating just below the surface. There is no way to see it or avoid it. Day or night.

climbing up the street to the cathedral and fort in Silves

Callisto at the Marina de Lagos

The western Algarve coast. Remote and beautiful. Much different from the concrete jungle further west


A stork nesting in Silves. Lots of migratory bird here

the beach at Lagos

Atlantic coast of southern Portuga lremote beaches north of Cape St. Vincent

Callisto tied up to the sea wall in Peniche

downtown Lagos and the marina