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Her Vital Statistics
January 2016 -- Website Update: DoodleBug has been "reloaded" and has made the transition from rental boat to cruising boat. I have moved all of the 2015 "blog" to "trip logs" which you can accessing by clicking the catamaran picture to the right. No pictures yet but I'll get to them eventually.
January 2016 -- Website Update: We have bid Australia a sad farewell for a while and our Toyota Coaster RV HAS BEEN SOLD!!! Thank You Ray at Koolah Kampers!! (see www.koolahkampers.com.au). I have re-ordered the daily entries into time order, moved the trip-logs to a new page and ADDED PICTURES!!. You will find the link to the right (click on the white bus picture).
The logs of our sailing circumnavigation were moved down a level and you will find the link to the right (click on the S/V DoodleBug picture to get to the "old" web-site).
We have also "cleaned up" the sailing logs and reformatted them into .epub files, so that they may be downloaded and read at your convenience on an iPad or Kindle reader as "e-books". Because there are about 6,000 embedded photos in the original website, I needed to split the log of the cruise into 18 "volumes". To date, I have tested these eBook files on both a "Kindle Fire" and an "iPad3". Click right on the "books" icon to access the files for download.
April 19 - 20, 2016
Just tidying and packing; we fly to Texas tomorrow but expect to return in a couple of weeks to begin the run south towards Grenada – outside of the “hurricane box”.
April 18, 2016
This morning we stowed the boat and set course for Great Cruz Bay, picking up the same mooring we had left ten days earlier. This location has much better cellular reception and we used the enhanced communications to catch up on reservations and the like for our upcoming return to Corpus Christi. There have been series of requests for documents in order to finalize the sale of our property there and we have been fortunate that we have been in digital possession of everything requested to date.
In late afternoon, our friends Cory and Billie, who have property on the nearby islet of Lovango Cay, motored over in their RIB dinghy to pick us up for a run into Cruz Bay for supper. Their neighbors Scott and Sharon were also visiting and it was a full dinghy load that cut through the ferry boat wakes bound for the dock. We rarely go ashore after dark, thus for us it was treat to wander and explore the Cruz Bay night life.
April 17, 2016
Nancy and Jerry were entertaining some number of grandchildren and friends with the result that we saw their dinghy approaching DoodleBug very gingerly, loaded to the gunwales as they were with six kids. Last night we had offered them the use of our kayaks and they had determined to take us up on the offer. As we launched each of our four kayaks, the occupant would take off paddling furiously towards open water but that still left two kids without their own craft. We assumed rightly that they would work it out. After this excitement I called the Customs and Immigration folks to say that we had “just arrived” back in the USA, although what I had declared on my on-line float plan was that we would arrive this afternoon. The office looked up my “float plan” number and stated that Annette wasn’t on it. I explained that I had made four attempts to add her and although the website accepted my input, the summary page steadfastly maintained that I was both the Captain and also the only passenger. I had waited until the following day to enter the system again, deleted myself as passenger leaving me as Captain of course and then re-entering Annette as a passenger. This time she did show up on the summary page but apparently that was just to make me go away, as it was never “saved” by the system. The officer said no problem, he would take care of it and we were now legally cleared in.
Of course the reason that we had called Customs and Immigration early was that the impromptu party aboard Doodlebug last night, had wiped out our beer stock and we were preparing an emergency run in the dinghy to Cruz Bay to restock. If the Customs folks had demanded our physical presence for check in we would have gone there first because their office is near the grocery store. The logistics of sailing!
Back once more aboard DoodleBug, Bob of S/V Discovery passed by in his dinghy and claimed he was off to hunt lobster. If he caught any, we were invited to Discovery to help eat his catch. About an hour later he returned empty handed, claiming that he had caught one but it was “too small”. Yeah right, Bob! He did invite us aboard Discovery that evening for sundowners however and I really don’t care that much for lobster.
April 16, 2016
At 1005 hours we let go the dock lines and motored out of Nanny Cay, bound for the island of Jost Van Dyke. The Nanny Cay boatyard, like all boat yards was a filthy place to be, with the inevitable paint and fiberglass dust coating our white gel-coat but the marina itself seems a pleasant place to stay and we can see why there are many long term residents. However, at $114 per day dock fee, we would prefer to be elsewhere. We picked up a mooring at Great Harbour at 1045 hours, cleared out of Customs and Immigration for the British Virgin Islands, dropped our mooring at 1155 hours and continued on to Maho Bay, St. John’s. Here we grabbed a mooring at 1235 hours at N 18 21.6’ W 064 44.7’. It is so nice to lay quietly on a mooring in a beautiful bay such as this and watch the pelicans and boobies fishing, turtles bobbing their heads up to look around, particularly after last week’s frenetic activity. That evening Nancy and Jerry of “Always Summer“ stopped by as well as Bob from a Hunter 45 on the next mooring (It’s pointing at me so I can’t see the name).
April 15, 2016
My first task this morning was to check the plumbing job that the air-conditioner technician had done yesterday evening. As expected, just about every fitting was leaking like a sieve. He had needed to cut a hose to remove it from the fitting and the trimmed section was now too short to reach properly and was “crimped”. I walked over to Budget Marine to buy a replacement section and spent the next hour listening to the salesman tell me how hung over he was. As I stood there chanting “low blood pressure” over and over to myself, I was finally able to buy the five foot length of plastic hose.
Back at DoodleBug the window seal installer had shown up and one window was done. He also offered to lend me a heat gun and with this I was able to fit the recalcitrant plastic pipe onto the respective fittings. The air-conditioner tech showed up to retrieve his cell phone and was also bearing my sea-water supply pump, which he had bench tested and declared fully operational. He left. I installed the pump and turned on the air-conditioner. Still no water supply. I then went to the forward locker where I had stored my custom diagnostic tool I had constructed last August – an extension cord with the plug cut off. I wired the pump to this and plugged it into a wall outlet. The pump ran normally proving that the control board is bad. Five hours wasted playing with non-existent plumbing issues but the good news was that at least we had new window seals on the two hatches over the stern bedrooms.
Back in Corpus Christi, Texas we have negotiated our way through the various inspections and it looks as though we will close on the sale of this property at the end of the month. I scoured the internet for flights from St. Thomas to the mainland and after discarding an offer that only took 27 hours travel time via Newark for $2,300 each, settled on a 6 hour flight via Houston for $650 apiece. Isn’t air-travel exciting?
April 14, 2016
Launch day! Another early morning start but the window installer never showed up. We paid our yard bill, receiving the coveted pink slip for the lift operator and then did the same with the hotel. I next asked the lady who is paid to be the “dock master” what our slip number is to be. “What is the name of your boat?” I repeated it for the fourth time and spelled it for the second time. “Do you have a reservation?” She stared at her computer screen for five minutes or so, perhaps willing the queen of diamonds to go onto the king of clubs, before abruptly stating, “Check back with me later”.
When we stopped in to check the window seal status we were told “tomorrow”. Not good. The launch will be unaffected however and we spent time re-stowing everything so that it wouldn’t fall over when we were lifted. Our lift time of one o’clock came and went. We walked over to the yard office to get un updated status and were told to check with the lift operators of whom there were none in evidence. Back to the boat. This is what you do in boat yards, hang around and wait. You can’t take off because they need you aboard at launch time to drive the boat away. We heard a voice yelling at us and discovered the missing lift operator resting in the shade below DoodleBug and presented him with the pink slip of paper, proving we had paid the necessary ransom.
Two hours later DoodleBug was floating again, we had checked below to confirm that we weren’t sinking, cast off and motored over to the slip, whose location we had determined by asking the “dock master’s” boss - which took him about three seconds to determine from his Blackberry when we intercepted him as he rode down the dock on his bicycle.
We called the air-conditioner technician to give him the slip location and discovered he was working on the adjacent boat, thus he arrived around five o’clock to take a “quick” look at the unit. This is a seawater cooled device requiring both power and a sea-water supply to operate and test. He immediately decided that the seawater supply was inadequate and began tearing out the plumbing and checking for blockage, one a pipe at a time. I acted as sorcerer’s apprentice by supplying him flashlights, screwdrivers, paper towels etc. By nine o’clock we were both exhausted and ready for him to go home. We knew he would return on the morrow, since he inadvertently left his cell-phone aboard DoodleBug. We plugged it in to charge it up. A long day.
April 13, 2016
Early this morning the hydraulic cylinder was re-installed and the propeller nut replaced with a version that can support an anode that is actually available for purchase somewhere on the planet. We are ready to launch! Unfortunately the marina claims there is no space for us at a dock and we have delayed our launch until tomorrow afternoon. We are still waiting on the window seal replacement, promised for this afternoon. Our big task for the day was to install the dinghy wheels on our dinghy. These allow a heavy dinghy to be pulled up the beach by using a pair of drop down wheels on the stern where it is usually heaviest. Of course several people stopped by to ask what we were doing and I solemnly explained that these wheels were in case we ran aground and they would then prevent damage to the hull.
Annette met the window seal installer and he assured her that the window seals would be delivered today and installed Thursday morning. We also had a problem with the port air-conditioner and the refrigeration technician promised to take a look on Friday noon. Progress everywhere.
April 12, 2016
The hydraulic repair guy is supposed to begin work this morning and after leaving the required seals where he could find them, we headed into the island capital of “Road Town”, to seek the missing propeller anode. In Corpus Christi the roof has been inspected and diagnosed as having windstorm damage. We have filed a claim with the insurer and await their inspection. We began our search at the Golden Hind Chandlery where the owner searched parts books and the internet before declaring that he had never encountered an anode of the type we needed. We next sought out Robert, the Moorings service manager and he found the man who had installed the propeller. “Yes”, the man said, “we can’t get those anodes. If you want to fit one you have to change out the retaining nut for another type.” OK, then. Back to the Golden Hind and we bought another propeller nut with anode. This all makes sense to someone.
By the time we reached the boatyard again, Doodlebug had been washed and waxed above the waterline and freshly painted below. She looks great and just needs her propeller anode installed so that she can be re-launched. We have delayed the re-launch until Thursday afternoon because in-water catamaran slips are in short supply at this marina and this is the earliest we can be accommodated. We will be delayed here until the hatch seals are replaced.
Meanwhile, we have been staying in a hotel room while all this has been going on and watched the television news this afternoon. We discovered that nothing in the world has changed of the past few weeks. We turned the TV off.
April 11, 2016
It began at 8 a.m. when we were lifted out of the water and moved to a nearby work area to be balanced precariously on stacked baulks of timber like a giant child’s building blocks. While a crew power washed the underside of the vessel, I discussed the painting job with the yard manager and arranged for the delivery of the paint that I purchased several months ago from nearby “Budget Marine”. The paint retailed at $300 per gallon and I had pre-paid the purchase of 8 gallons to buy it from Budget during their annual 20% discount sale.
We had a couple of other minor repairs to make and took advantage of our position on dry land to get the rear water-tight collision compartments re-sealed. The stern of the boat is protected by a teak rubbing board that protects the gel-coat from hitting against a dock. We had diagnosed a water-leak from beneath this board and sure enough, when removed, it exposed a dozen screw holes that had never been sealed. Another minor defect was a slight hydraulic oil leak from the port side steering ram. Again a small job to rebuild the unit with the new seals which we had on board. Finally we needed to replace the rubber seals around the rear cabin hatches. In a heavy rain they would leak slightly, dripping water onto our bed. Not good. I had purchased the replacement seals and read an internet admonition that this repair was not a job for an amateur. OK then, we will let the professionals do it!
While this was going on we were organizing our communications to make sure that our BVI cell-phone was working and were communicating with our real-estate broker in Corpus Christi regarding the roof repairs that the purchaser of our home there was now demanding. We were also getting e-mails from Santa Fe saying that one of the door locks on the property there was inoperable. Phew! Who thought retirement was easy?
By afternoon the hull had been sanded, acid washed, rinsed and was drying. I took the opportunity to replace the anodes on the propeller shafts and propellers. This was going to be simple but although the two propellers are identical, their retaining nuts are not and I was only able to obtain a replacement anode for the starboard propeller. To add to the entertainment, we were informed that the replacement seals for the hatches were the wrong thickness. Rats! Now we would be delayed and we now boast a large hole in the cabin roof, covered with a sheet of plastic against the rain. A typical boating day!
April 10, 2016
We dropped our mooring at 0820 hours and with the dinghy safely raised on the davits, set course for the island of Jost Van Dyke, a port of entry into the British Virgin Islands. This was not a particularly long voyage and at 0905 hours, we picked up a mooring in Great Harbour at N 18 26.5’ W 064 45.2’, re-launched the dinghy and motored ashore to the Customs and Immigration office just as they were opening. Although our final destination today is on the island of Tortola, we have discovered this particular office to be far less hassle with conveniently available moorings, plus laid-back officials. The immigration lady was singing in a high soprano as she arrived for work and settled into her office. A baritone voice joined hers from the customs official in the next office. You just don’t get this kind of reception at the DMV in Corpus Christi, Texas.
A short delay while I returned to DoodleBug to retrieve the wallet I had forgotten to bring and we were checked into the BVI’s. Next door to the Customs and immigration building is a beach bar / restaurant and we headed there for breakfast. The proprietor solemnly informed us that the girls were just leaving for church and couldn’t cook our breakfast. I asked him if there were any sinners on the island who could perform this task and he blinked before nodding in the direction further along the beach. It wasn’t too far to the next bar and there we enjoyed the traditional sailor’s breakfast of eggs, bacon, fried potatoes and beer.
Back aboard DoodleBug and she was straining at the mooring with the wind picking up. At 1220 hours we dropped our mooring and set course to the south again, passing by Soper’s Hole marina and then turning easterly into a rising wind, along the southern coast of Tortola to the marina at Nanny Cay. As we motored into the short, choppy sea, we could hear another vessel attempting to hail Nanny Cay on his VHF radio. There was no response and we assumed that there was minimal staffing there on a Sunday. He did eventually receive a call back and was requesting assistance in the form of a tow, as he had a failed engine. We passed the outbound marina dinghy as we turned into the entrance and rightly assumed that we would be docking without assistance. This might have been problematic since we needed to turn broadside to the wind direction before backing into the haulout slip. Fortunately the marina environs were almost completely sheltered from the wind and we made our maneuver without hitting anything, tying up at 1405 hours at position N 18 24.0’ W 064 38.1’. We are to be lifted tomorrow for renewal of the anti-foul paint.
April 9, 2016
Today we faced a crisis when we discovered that we had run out of beer! We were headed for Nanny Cay tomorrow but that was still 24 hours away. We fired up the dinghy and ran four miles back along the coast to Cruz Bay where we corrected the deficit.
That evening we shared sundowners plus BBQ’d hamburgers with Nancy and Jerry aboard S/V Always Summer and also enjoyed the company of Al and Helene from S/V island Girl.
April 8, 2016
This morning we tidied up the boat for heading out to sea, dropped our mooring at 0905 hours and set course for St. Francis Bay on the north side of St. Johns. We had decided to tow the dinghy instead of lifting it onto its davits and as soon as we exited the bay, we realized that this was a mistake. Each time we have done this we have regretted it, not because of any mishap but we finish up fretting as to whether we will dump the dinghy in the rough seas we were now encountering. These were caused by a combination of northerly swells and wind and current combinations as we passed the various headlands.
We arrived at Francis Bay at 1005 hours and took up a mooring at position N 8 21.96’ W 064 44.89’.
Francis Bay was calm enough and we launched our kayaks to explore the shoreline and then crossed over to Whistling Cay. The landing on a stony beach was challenging in that the northerly swells curved around both sides of the islet and then the two wave trains crashed together on the southern point where we were approaching. The technique used was to pick a quiet spot between waves and then paddle like hell for the shore, jumping out and dragging the kayak up the slope before the bigger waves hit. Annette wandered the beach looking for the perfect rock while I sat outside the ruins of the old Customs house, enjoying a beer and contemplating life and the fact that unlike Annette, I was barefoot.
Launching a kayak into waves can also be tricky and from a sandy beach we usually wade out a ways before trying to board our vessel. This beach was both stony and steep, plus I had seen sea urchins in the shallows with their long spines threatening the unshod. What worked was to sit in the kayak on the strand and wait for a big wave to lift the boat and then drive hard to get past the breakers. Exciting! On our return journey to DoodleBug the wind had picked up a little and was also a headwind providing more than adequate exercise for the day.
April 7, 2016
A week ago we had received a phone call from our real estate broker in Corpus Christi, that we have a contract to sell our house there which has been on the market for the past twelve months. Praying that this is not some elaborate April Fools prank, we have been making our plans on the assumption that this deal will close before the end of April and we will need to be back in Corpus Christi the week before, to clear out the furniture etc. While Annette was stowing away the goodies I had unpacked yesterday, I repaired the fresh water system with a new pressure accumulator, replaced the missing “hold open” strut on the anchor locker and checked and tested both engines. All good, we are ready to move. Annette had deployed her new “kites” earlier today, a man in a bathing suit with a cigar and a pirate with a wooden leg. I noticed that the kayakers from the nearby Westin hotel have been making orbits around DoodleBug. I smile and wave at the kayakers wearing bikinis.
Annette decided that we needed to replace the bucket that I had inadvertently dropped overboard a couple of months ago and we made the pilgrimage back to the port and walked over to the hardware store before stopping off again at the “Tap Room” for emergency rehydration. You would be amazed at how many comments you get when you walk into a bar carrying a bucket.
April 6, 2016
We flew into St. Thomas last night after a chilly departure from Santa Fe. This morning we awoke to the distant sounds of roosters crowing and doves cooing on the balcony outside of the hotel window. Blue skies, sunshine and glistening clear waters, we are back in the tropics!
DoodleBug is laying to a mooring at “Great Cruz Bay” in nearby St. John’s thus we began the day by hauling our luggage downhill to the ferry dock. The ferry trip was followed by a dinghy ride for the two mile journey between the bays and we finally got to unload our suitcases and bags aboard DoodleBug, looking just as we left her, perhaps a little dustier, some 36 hours after we had begun our journey. While Annette slopped buckets of seawater across the decks, I unpacked the bags that had been weighted down with boat parts and art supplies, the token garments being used as padding. Now we needed lunch and a few groceries, so back into the dinghy and we reversed our course to Cruz Bay, where we had arrived earlier. As we exited the Great Cruz Bay, there was a large (730 ton) black painted, work boat at anchor just outside. It hadn’t been there two hours earlier and I noticed the name as the “Iron Cat”. I recognized this name immediately as that of a Research / Survey vessel that my former business partner, Jerry had sold last year. He had mentioned to me that it had been reflagged with a hailing port of “Zanzibar” and sure enough, this was the name on the stern. We took several pictures and then headed over to the Tap Room at Mongoose Junction for a balanced lunch. I texted the Iron Cat picture to Jerry without comment, waited a few minutes and then called his wife Caroline to see if he had received it. Caroline answered the phone immediately and said she was at the hospital with Jerry who was having a pacemaker installed. Bad timing! I did get to talk to Jerry and he is to be released from the hospital tomorrow so crisis averted.