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Passage – Hampton, VA to Jolly Harbour, Antigua

We arrived in Antigua on Friday, November 17th at 5:30pm – sunset and just as we set the anchor in Jolly Harbour, witnessed a spectacular Green Flash! What a welcome – what an auspicious arrival!

It was quite the passage – our second longest to date at 1,757 miles (planned passage was just 1,593 NM. We covered that distance in 11 days, 13 hours and ended up with more engine use than we had hoped – at 53.80 hours (19.4%) – largely because the last couple of days we were facing winds on the nose (very unusual to have southerly winds) and we finally gave in and turned her on when our VMG (Velocity Made Good towards our destination) fell to below 1.5 knots! After 10 days at sea and with land close to hand, the idea of tacking back and forth was simply not appealing!

We had some interesting events along the way!

The Start: It started with a pod of Dolphins to send us on our way, followed by a pod of Humpback Whales feeding just outside the Chesapeake – breaching and flapping fins all over the place. THEN… we got buzzed by a Navy jet – he was about 50ft off the deck, 300 ft off our starboard side, doing about 500 knots. As soon as he roared past us he climbed vertically and did a couple of rolls! Later on, he and another jet were practicing dogfights right above us!! What a show!

Gail: Our Monitor Windvane ‘Gail,’ with whom we have had very limited success to date turned out to be the champion of the passage, steering us the whole way from the Chesapeake, silently, without using any electrical power and completely reliably. So much nicer than using the autopilot that consumes amps like they are going out of style, and makes a completely annoying noise! Not to say that Otto doesn’t have his very valuable place aboard Toodle-oo! too!

The Head 1: Unfortunately, our holding tank, which drains to the ocean (when allowed – 3 miles + offshore) didn’t. It was blocked. We tried everything to free the blockage (shaking pipes vigorously, etc.,) all to no avail. As the tank filled, the boat got a little wiffy, so Laurie doused the thing in Head Sanitizer – adding the pungent blue fluid both via the toilet bowl and directly in through the deck fitting. We were now at least wiff free! We’ll work on getting the blockage sorted later, or start practicing use of the bucket system!

De-Wiffing Liquid

De-Wiffing Liquid

Fish On!!: Fish number one was a small Mahi-Mahi. The last time we caught one was on passage last year from the BVI’s to St. Maarten, but lost the slippery sucker while cleaning it! This time, I wasn’t about to lose the damn thing, so ended up filleting the thing within the confines of my large fishing tuppaware. It was also my first time filleting a fish – in the past I’ve simply ‘Steaked’ them. It’s quite an effort – especially peeling back the skin – but came out well and tasted good. Laurie has been experimenting with recipes…  Cleaning up the mess afterwards was quite the chore and I used lots of Dawn dishwashing soap – rather too much it seemed since I had a Devil of a time getting the blue hue out of the tuppaware! Still, we ended up clean – and Gail appreciated a bath in soapy water to boot!

Fish 1 - Small Mahi Mahi - Good for 2 meals!

Fish 1 – Small Mahi Mahi – Good for 2 meals!

The Head 2: After enjoying our fist Mahi Mahi meal, Laurie was cleaning up and found it equally difficult to rinse out the Dawn washing liquid – and then it ‘dawned’ on her… She must have put the head Sanitizer into the WAter deck fill instead of the WAste deck fill. A quick read of the label showed it to be highly toxic, so we had to empty the entire tank of water! Fortunately, we have 2 tanks so we wouldn’t die of thirst.

Sun and Moon rising together

Sun and Moon rising together

Watermaker: With water supplies somewhat compromised, we set to making more water (our RO – Reverse Osmosis – system is big and will make 40 gallons per hour) but unfortunately, to run that requires running the generator – which apparently does not like to run when the boat is heeled over. I could get it to run for maybe 20 or 30 minutes before stalling out… Still, even though not optimal, we were able to get water when we needed it – but were very glad when we reached Jolly to be able to fill up from land!

The Head 3: The holding tank was now at over 75% full. We needed a remedy. A blockage like this had happened up in Newfoundland last year and the cure was to come alongside in the dinghy and using a plunger on the exit hole in the hull, work the pipe until goop started to flow. That’s reasonably easy to do when at anchor with dinghy available (yes, sorry, we did this inshore – but had little option at the time). Here we are mid ocean, dinghy packed away, rocking and rolling. We rigged up the Bosun’s Chair, me wearing a life preserver and with a couple of additional lines so that I could position myself at the right spot along the hull – and then Laurie lowered me down to the water.

Bill the Plumber

Bill the Plumber

There wasn’t much wind, so we’d left the sails up – but even that speed was too much, I couldn’t control my position, so I came back aboard and we dropped all sail. Back in again – but now the boat was not stabilized and we were rolling like crazy and I was alternately getting thrown off the hull and then slammed back onto it! This was not going to work. Even though the seas weren’t bad, they were not calm enough…

Fish On!: Another Mahi-Mahi succumbed to the new lure – this one goes in the freezer!

The Head 4: The following morning there was about the same amount of wind, but the seas were calmer. To we did something really clever! We hove to. Essentially, one tacks the boat, but leaves the sails set as they were – this ‘backs’ the jib, and essentially the whole boat stops. What’s more, it tends to stop with a significant list – so the hole in the hull would not be as deep in the water!  I’ve never managed to get Toodle-oo! to heave to in the past – I’ve always fore-reached (similar but different) – so another trick enters Toodle-oo!’s arsenal!   Over I go again, plunger and snake in hand… Success!!! Laurie quickly hauled me out as soon as the ooze began – and a good shower outside cleaned me up nicely! We’re back in business with a working toilet! (Just in time!)

We had a few days of really nice sailing, but our weather forecaster, Chris Parker had by now identified a problem for the likes of Toodle-oo! in that we would be facing unusual southerly winds at the end of our trip. His recommendation was therefore to proceed south and then turn to the east when the southerly winds took hold. This would get us south and then east to a position just north of Antigua – from which we would be able to tack down to Antigua or motor directly into the wind. Well, while it sounded like good advice, as the wind veered, we found ourselves not making progress towards Antigua. Laurie does not do well in these circumstances – so rather than get ear ache, I decided to tack much earlier and against all advice. Even a blind squirrel finds the occasional nut – and we found one this time! As the wind continued to veer, our easterly path which took us well beyond the longitude of Antigua, became progressively more southerly and we arced towards the island. We continued like this until our VMG fell to about 2 knots, then tacked to the south west, gaining southerly distance. I was able to keep this up until once again the VMG fell – at which point the winds had become light so we ended up motoring the rest of the way in…

FISH ON!!! On our final south westerly tack, we had a fish hit the lure and broke our 80# test line! Bloody glad that one didn’t come aboard! We then hooked a small Barracuda – and decided that in spite of warnings, we could safely eat this one which was caught about 200 miles off shore – so probably not susceptible to ciguatera poisoning (a real problem with Barracudas feeding on reef fish). Another one goes in the freezer. THEN… we got bold and deployed George’s fishing tackle, with its monster lure. FISH ON!!!

Fish 3 - Lil' Barracuda

Fish 3 – Lil’ Barracuda

We’d hooked a monster Mahi Mahi! I reeled it in on the Yoyo and brought him (clearly a bull with its massive head) alongside Toodle-oo! Now what? I managed to gaff him and hauled him up the side of the boat struggling like crazy and Laurie liberally sprayed rum into his mouth and gills. That quieted him nicely and allowed me to bring him aboard and do the necessary. Filleting this thing was quite the process and I had to use all my strength! 2 days later I’m still sore from the effort! Laurie put 20 large portions of Mahi-Mahi into the freezer!

FISH ON!!!

FISH ON!!!

Alongside - Fenders??

Alongside – Fenders??

Up you come!!

Up you come!!

One BIG Fish!

One BIG Fish!

Nearly the length of the seat!

Nearly the length of the seat!

So, we arrived in Jolly Harbour, enjoyed some cocktails and dinner off the barbecue (all land stuff – I got a steak, Laurie a chicken breast) and collapsed into bed. The following morning we got up stupidly early and sat in the cockpit drinking coffee and smelling like a fishing boat! It took us hours (days!) of scrubbing and cleaning to rid Toodle-oo! of the fish guts and smell!!!

Overall, the passage was good – no serious breakages that we couldn’t fix ourselves, no dreadful weather other than a couple of squalls that did a wonderful job of cleaning down the deck, our choice of delaying departure until November 6th paid off – such that we were able to sail so much more than the other boats in the Salty Dawg Fleet BUT, we certainly could have used some trade winds instead of the southerly’s for the last few days – that would have made the trip perfect instead of it become a somewhat tedious affair… This was certainly the longest up-wind passage we’ve made.

We are now safe and sound on a slip in Jolly Harbor enjoying water and electricity. We will move around to Falmouth tomorrow to join the rest of the Salty Dawg fleet.

 

A Little Relief for Dominica

The Salty Dawg Rally has started! 70+ boats with the majority heading to Antigua – but Toodle-oo! is still in Hampton, VA with about a dozen other rally boats – waiting on weather. The majority of the fleet left on Thursday (November 2nd), but with a very light air forecast and lots of motoring in their future… Toodle-oo! and the others have decided to wait a little bit in the hopes that the wind will cooperate and take us down to the Caribbean with a little less noise!

Meanwhile, we’ve been busy! The Centenary United Methodist Church have sponsored Toodle-oo! with a great donation – such that we were able to go out and buy some much needed items for the folks on Dominica. George and Francis Sadler on Kittiwake, cruisers we met last year on the Salty Dawg, also sponsored us and we’ve amassed some products that I think will be very much appreciated in Dominica.

Relief Supplies for Dominica

Relief Supplies for Dominica

Relief Supplies begin the trip to Dominica

Relief Supplies begin the trip to Dominica

Items we’re bringing: Tarps, nails, hammers and crow bar, solar lights, water treatment pills, cans of Tuna (in case I fail!), Band-Aids, bug spray, lots of extra tools from Toodle-oo! and lots of rope out of the boat’s collection. They’ll be getting quite a haul.

George also drove us around the various shops to buy the items – and also helped me spend some money on Fishing gear – ‘cos you just know the islanders must surely be in need of some fresh Tuna!!! He also threw in one of his own lures – with the biggest fish hook I’ve seen – I think he wants me to land a Great White!!!

Whoa!! That's a big lure!!! Thanks George!!

Whoa!! That’s a big lure!!!
Thanks George!!

We plan to depart Hampton now on Monday morning and if the weather forecast holds, it looks like we’ll be able to sail nearly the whole way down! 10 – 14 days to cover the 1,700NM or so.

Chesapeake

We’ve been in the Chesapeake for most of October – but unfortunately not seen much of it – it’s been too busy!

First off we were at the OCC dinner in Annapolis – great event and we met loads of old friends – we no longer feel like we’re the newbies in the cruising world! Fantastic how many great people we’ve met in our travels – and how we keep crossing paths.

Then it was the boat show – and we had several things on our minds to get fixed – the number one item was getting the Freezer sorted out. While it worked, it would only bring the temperature down to 16F – not quite enough to keep stuff frozen. Working with Frigoboat’s dealer in Annapolis, Coastal Climate Control, we finally got the whole thing working! We also had a problem with Monitor Windvane – the self steering mechanism that hangs off the back of Toodle-oo! – it’s never really worked very well (even though we have a new unit hanging there now). The Monitor folk were rather stumped but offered Matt Rutherford as a resource to fix it – Matt sailed his 27ft sailboat around the Americas (yes, North-West Passage AND Cape Horn!) using a Monitor to steer the whole way. While he didn’t make it aboard Toodle-oo!, he did have a couple of pointers which appear to have paid off… A minor kink in our downtube was affecting performance. We’ll see if we can get it working as we head south to the Caribbean. Then we had the engine alternator reveal that it wasn’t doing anything useful! With help from Bob on Baloo, we’ve managed to sort that one out and it’s working again! Unfortunately Bob sustained a nasty bang on his big toe (dropped the engine cover on it!) and looks like he’ll lose the nail – sorry Bob!

We spent a lot of time with great friends Peter and Patty on Serendipitous, who’ve temporarily suspended cruising while they fill the kitty and make improvements to the boat. They hosted a great party and helped out several OCC members, fetching and carrying and trying to fix various systems aboard various boats!

We finally managed to get away from Annapolis to discover the Chesapeake – it’s nice, though the shallow water is somewhat unnerving. A highlight was arriving at Mathews Yacht Club for another OCC event – with a whole load more friends to socialize with. We also got to spend 2 nights in the Commodore’s slip – able to charge the boat and fill with water.

Gwynn Island

Gwynn Island

We’re now approaching Hampton for the start of the Salty Dawg Rally to Antigua, hanging out in a small creek near Yorktown while a front passes through with it’s associated winds. We took an Uber ride into Yorktown yesterday so I could see where Cornwallis got thoroughly beaten by the Americans and French in the decisive battle of the revolution. Yorktown is a very small but very pretty little town – could be a village in the Cotswolds!

Yorktown Monument

Yorktown Monument

This could be an English village...

This could be an English village…

Main Street Yorktown

Main Street Yorktown

Will try to post again before we head offshore – but in case I don’t remember you can track our progress here:  https://share.delorme.com/Toodleoo

In the Chesapeake

Toodle-oo! is on the move! We departed Bristol, RI right after the installation of a new Autopilot ram on Monday September 25th and made our way to Block Island, picking up Perigee as we passed by Newport. We had a very pleasant sail even though fog was threatening and engulfed us at times.

After a night in Block and with hurricane Maria heading up the east coast, we had to take the inland route down Long Island Sound – but which gave us an opportunity to visit New York for a day and then we sailed down the East River – playing tag with Perigee as we photographed each other’s boats against the dramatic backdrop.

Toodle-oo! in front of the Financial District - Courtesy David Vogel

Toodle-oo! in front of the Financial District – Courtesy David Vogel

Toodle-oo! and Liberty - Courtesy David Vogel

Toodle-oo! and Liberty – Courtesy David Vogel

Liberty and Perigee

Liberty and Perigee

Perigee in the East River

Perigee in the East River

Our best sail of the trip was a rollicking good sail in which we averaged – yes averaged! – 7.95 knots between lifting the anchor in Sandy Hook, NJ and arriving at Cape May. However we then turned to go up the Delaware, right into the wind and after an hour of bashing and crashing into the chop, we called a halt at just past midnight and headed to the Harbor of Refuge at Cape Henlopen, where we waited until conditions moderated the following morning. Since then we’ve motored the entire way to Annapolis where we managed to shoe-horn our way into Spa Creek, right beside the boat show location where we’re anchored for the next few days.

From here we plan to cruise slowly south through the Chesapeake (our first visit here) to Norfolk, the start of the Salty Dawg Rally in November.

Jose and Maria

So with Jose doing more damage to the Leewards and now Maria wiping out Dominica and headed for Puerto Rico, it looks like our upcoming winter is going to be very different from last year!

With Dominica being one of our favorite islands, we’re going to plan our relief efforts such as they are, aimed at Dominica, which is so reliant on the cruising community. In an effort to best coordinate our efforts, we’ve joined up with the IRG (International Rescue Group) http://members.internationalrescuegroup.org/ – a Public Benefit Non-profit Corporation. Apparently they can source needed supplies for a given disaster area and can supply them to Toodle-oo! for transport south… We’re interested to see how well this all works out.

Meanwhile, Jose is at our doorstep so we are hunkered down in Bristol, but fortunately looks like we’ll only have moderate winds with gusts to 40 knots perhaps. However, Maria is a lot stronger and the forecasters are having a difficult time predicting her path. Right now the particular GRIB files I look at, show her headed smack at us mid next week! While this forecast persists, we will remain where we are, but are anxious to get going south towards Annapolis where we’re hoping to attend an OCC event on October 4th… We’ll see if we can get there!

Fortunately, we’re amongst friends – Perigee, Camomile and Allegro, all OCC boats, are also hunkered down in Bristol…

Hurricane Irma

We were planning to begin moving south in the next week or two. First came Lola, and now Irma is conspiring to change our plans…

Lola (mother-in-law) is in process of selling her house and moving to a new spot where she’ll be surrounded by numerous other senior folk. Trouble is, the schedule is a bit up in the air. If it happens real soon, we’ll hang around and help with the move but if it’s a few weeks from now, we’ll begin our plod southward and fly or drive back at the appropriate time to assist.

Then came Irma… What a storm! The damage in the northern Leeward islands has to be seen to be believed! Our plans to sail with the Salty Dawg rally in early November to the BVI’s are somewhat in flux right now as the BVI’s have basically been decimated by the storm. The rally organizers are trying to regroup to allow some sort of rally go on, but a bunch of the participants are either looking to abort this year’s rally or go down as relief merchants, bringing whatever useful they can with them – including themselves to assist the rebuilding efforts.

Toodle-oo!’s plans are up in the air in terms of where to go to be the most useful. We’d like to head straight to Barbuda which took the heaviest hit of all – and to which we attach great memories from last year, but the anchorage situation there is limited at best making the prospect difficult.

Alternatively we might head to Anguilla, which at least has a relatively secure and secluded anchorage in which we could base ourselves for a couple of months while helping out in whatever way possible.

All this means we have to treat the trip south somewhat differently this year – bringing everything we need with us so as not to be a burden – so 3 months worth of food, fuel, etc., as well as relief supplies. We’ll leave the decision as to what specific supplies to bring until we are closer to our departure date so that we can make sure we bring sensible stuff…

I’ll post more details of our plans as we develop them – there are many things to consider – including how to manage with all the debris that will likely be in the water following a disaster of this magnitude…

If anyone reading this would like to contribute to Toodle-oo!’s efforts, by donating cash (best done through the non-profit Salty Dawg organization) or supplies – or by convoying down with us to assist, please email me directly at bill@toodleoo.com.

 

 

J Class Racing

Yesterday we sailed down passed Newport to watch the impressive J Class boats (6 of the 11) racing. What a sight!

Click on a photo to make it bigger…

At the Start Line

At the Start Line

Spinnaker Run

Spinnaker Run

Lionhart

Lionhart

The Crew - 35 people

The Crew – 35 people

How Sleek are They?

How Sleek are They?

Owners? Could use a diet!

Owners? Could use a diet!

The Fleet

The Fleet

Lionhart Beats Hanuman

Lionhart Beats Hanuman

Another Plan…

So, it’s always been a silly thing to do – but here I go doing it again – publishing our sailing plans for the coming year or so. Since we’re supposed to be in Patagonia right now but are in fact in New England, take this with a HUGE pinch of salt… Plans on Toodle-oo! set in the sand at low tide…

We’re up in New England enjoying the closeness to Laurie’s family and trying to make good on some previous pledges to take various folk out sailing aboard Toodle-oo! We’ve also had a good haul-out which allowed us to do some much-needed maintenance.

We plan to leave New England in mid-September after the Newport Boat Show and basically follow last year’s schedule – down Long Island – and we would like to spend some time in New York City this time – perhaps staying at 79th Street Boat basin as we did back in 2012.

From there we’ll head down to the Delaware and cross over to the Chesapeake by way of the C&D Canal, hopefully arriving in Annapolis in time for the Ocean Cruising Club’s meet, prior to the Annapolis Boat Show in early October.

We’ll head on down to Norfolk at the base of the Chesapeake, ready for the Salty Dawg Rally to the BVI’s at the beginning of November. It all gets a little hazy from here – we might divert to finish the rally in the Spanish Virgins (Puerto Rico, etc.) or carry on to the BVI’s. Either way, we’ll do much as we did last year, heading on down the island chain to Grenada – and hope to stop at some islands we missed out on last winter.

Then… we’re planning to participate in the Ocean Cruising Club’s Azores Pursuit Rally. An interesting concept whereby boats will set off from anywhere in the world (more than 500 miles from the Azores) at a time of their choosing, with the one to arrive closest to 12 noon on June 18th, with the least amount of engine use, to be declared the most seaman-like – or some such accolade. We certainly don’t expect to be very competitive on this – our goal is to go to the Azores again (one of our favorite destinations so far), and the date works great as it’ll give us plenty of time to try again at cruising Scotland! We’ll probably end the year by overwintering in St. Katherine’s Dock in the middle of London!

2019? Hopefully up to Norway’s Lofoten Islands in the Arctic Circle…

 

Exciting stuff aboard Toodle-oo! and you can follow it right here!!! Do we get any prizes for actually following a plan?

Cruising is not all Fun and Games

So, we just spent 15 days at the top of a ladder in the parking lot where we gave Toodle-oo! some much needed TLC…

We arrived at New England Boatworks and immediately had Norm, their new Engine specialist, aboard Toodle-oo! to check out the state of the engine. He pulled all the injectors and they look good, ran a compression test – good, a leak test – found a small leak and fixed it – the engine passed it’s physical – we’re good to go.

The next day we were hauled out and the state of the bottom was to be expected… Toodle-oo! has been sluggish to say the least and not surprising since we haven’t even tried to clean the bottom since we were in Bermuda – and that was a half-hearted attempt at best. We were parked in the lot, just two boats away from sister ship Big Frisky – just one year younger than Toodle-oo! and also out for some general TLC. The difference was that they were paying to get their work done, we were here to do it all ourselves… It didn’t take me long to question our sanity!

Doesn't look too bad...

Doesn’t look too bad…

Until you get close!!

Until you get close!!

First job: Sand the bottom. It took three back breaking days to get the bottom looking like this – all the old layers of paint, some of which were showing a tendency to flake, were removed and I got her back down to very close to the barrier coat, ready for a fresh paint job which we did just before launching. This was going to take 4 gallons to do two coats – at $270/gallon, one wanted to make sure the prep job was good… After sanding the bottom, the next thing was to compound and wax the Topsides (which is a silly name because the Topsides are on the side of the boat – the hull from waterline up to coachroof – why did the nautical folk of yore decide there had to be a separate language for mariners?) – this was another awful job – especially since I’m incapable of using a buffer, so had to do the whole thing by hand, constantly reminded of Daniel – Wax on, Wax off…The end result has been quite satisfying however – and she’s now restored to her former glory.

Three days worth of sanding...

Three days worth of sanding…

All done!

All done!

Attention turned back to the engine – which has had sea water dripping down onto the turbo – so it looks like hell. Laurie went at it trying to remove as much of the rust by scraping, prying and sanding. I followed up with a chemical treatment and then set to with a Dremel tool – the tree approaches managing restore solid metal – which we then coated with Yanmar Grey – she looks like new! After that, I set to adjusting valve clearances – which brought me back to my Mini days – seemed I was always tinkering with those silly engines and this one looks remarkably similar!!

We also replaced our traveler system (here we go again – sure the whole boat is a traveler, but in this case, it refers to a movable point on which one can set the boom’s angle to the wind – it’s all about sail shape don’t you know) – the old one was pretty knackered – such that every now and again, a worn component would slip from one side of it’s housing to the other with a loud bang that from down below sounded like a shotgun going off. Of course, our traveler is obsolete, making replacement less than straightforward. However, with help of Phip from Rig Pro and John from Lewmar, we managed to get all the components so that once again we can be declared fit and well – at least as far as sail shape is concerned…

We got to end-for end the anchor chain. One tends to use the same 100ft or so, so after a while, it looks pretty naff and rusty while the other 2/3rds looks pristine. We have 275 ft of chain followed by another 250 ft of rope. This rope is really nice rope, but has been used perhaps twice when we were anchored in really deep stuff. It also happens to be the type of rope I’d like to use for our dock lines – so that we can get rid of the silly ones we have currently which are way way too thick and bulky… So, opportunity presents – we cut the good rope off and replaced it with a not so nice, but equally strong rope we had sitting around doing nowt. OK it doesn’t go into the rope well quite as nicely and when we finally need to use it I’ll be curing up a storm, but at least I’ll get to enjoy the nice rope as my new docklines. Back to the anchor chain… having freed the good line, we spliced the 3 strand nylon to the chain and full anchor rode is restored… Last thing we did was to repaint the chain – every 25ft there’s a colored section so that we know how much we’re letting out as we deploy the anchor.

Talking of deploying the anchor… you might remember some idiot leaving the sail locker hatch open and filling the darn thing with sea water as we approached Martinique… Well, it did a number on the Windlass. A windlass is not an out of breath girl from Yorkshire but is in fact another nautical term for the winch system used to deploy and retrieve the anchor and it’s ‘rode’ (there has to be a reason…). Anyway, said windlass was kaput. I had managed to botch it together to allow us to retrieve the anchor, but it was unable to deploy it – so instead I basically resorted to letting out the clutch and letting the anchor free fall… Since I do that fairly regularly anyway it worked fine as an interim solution, but getting the rebuilt unit back and installing a maze of spaghetti wiring will allow us to use the windlass once again with rather more finesse!

Our boat has a rub rail – finally a sensible nautical term – a rub rail is a rail that stands proud of the topsides and allows you rub up to a dock (god forbid someone else’s boat) without creaming the topsides… Ours has a nice stainless steel cap screwed on to give it extra flash – except several screws had rusted badly and were leaving streaks down the topsides. Others were broken entirely. We decided to remove the whole cap and replace all the screws (150!). Low and behold, when we got the sections of caps off it turned out they were all badly rusted themselves. Laurie gave them the whole metal polish treatment and then we remounted them – all looks in tip top shape!

We also got some other repairs done – to sails, cushions, sun screens, etc…

I also managed to service the winches – well actually 5 of the 6 winches we have – which reminds me I’ve one left to do – so I’d better get going and do it!

It’s great to be back in the water! I’m exhausted after this intense 2-week maintenance bash and really looking forward to getting back into relax mode!

More Dinghy Woes

On Monday, we dinghied in to Bristol Town dock and headed off to do some errands in a car we borrowed from Kat, followed by an interesting cup of coffee with Laurie’s cousin Valerie – which turned out to be a bottle of wine and some hors d’oeuvre instead! Unfortunately, when we returned to Bristol, there was no sight of our dinghy.

The dinghy is like our car – an essential piece of kit – and, as some may have read previously, in the last 12 months or so we’ve made a real saga out of it! We originally had a 10ft Rib with 15HP Yamaha engine which we decided was not the correct vehicle for our chosen cruising itinerary. We sold it and purchased instead, a rigid sailing dinghy which lasted one weekend! It was way too small and unstable so we sold it and bought instead a non-sailing rigid dinghy with an outboard. This was nearly as bad, with very little carrying capacity and a very wet ride. We got rid of that and purchased a fully inflatable 8 ft dinghy – stability at last! Although the 2.5HP engine meant it was no rocket ship – which when we got down to the Caribbean we discovered to be rather a hindrance… so when we got to St. Maarten, we purchased a 10ft Rib with a 15HP Yamaha engine. Yep – full circle and back to the beginning with basically what we’d originally had – but after a whole heap of money had passed through our fingers. To then find the dinghy gone on Mondays was almost too much to bear.

I couldn’t believe the dinghy had been stolen so on Tuesday morning I pumped up our backup inflatable dinghy (yeah, we couldn’t bring ourselves to buy high sell low yet another dinghy – so now we had 2!) and rowed across Bristol Harbor. I went walkabout around the town dock… and there she was. Stuffed under a pier in Bristol Harbor. It was high tide and the engine was just poking out one side of the pier and the tip of the boat was poking out the other side. She was full of water. There was no way to move her until the tide went down some.

I rowed back to Toodle-oo! and waited for the tide to drop. Then I rowed back (at least I’m getting some exercise out of this!), with a few tools in case the engine was compromised. The harbormaster had extricated her from the pier and it looked like damage was minimal. I pumped the boat dry and then tried the engine. Nada! Rats! I removed plugs, sprayed WD40 liberally, but couldn’t get her going…

I rowed back again (this was getting silly!) just to use the phone and arrange to get a ride to a local repair shop. I then rowed back again(!), got the engine off the dinghy and awaited Neal’s arrival. We took the engine to Don’s Marine and fortunately, within about 30 minutes of tinkering with her, the engine came to life! We decided to leave the engine there overnight while Don continued his magic, so Neal brought me back to the dock where I rowed yet again – this time towing the big dinghy across the harbor against a foul current!

It’s great to have the dinghy back and today we’ll probably have the engine back too – life without a car is miserable – just ask my shoulders!