Thursday, March 27, 2008

short updates


We've been having loads of fun with our best friends, Kay, Gary and Sam as they are visiting St. Kitts! We toured the islands, gone to the beach, snorkled, sailed, sampled Caribe beer from various sources and just enjoyed being in each others' company. Meanwhile. . . .

* Mismo is fine. She is no longer wearing her 'cone head' and is her jiggy self. She's learned two new tricks: Jumping out of the aft cabin through the hatch (springing off of my rump!) to get on deck so no more locking her in at night by simply closing the companionway. Also, we are in the Port Zante marina while our friends are in town and Mismo has become curious about the boat next door. We had to lure her back with the little laser pointer last night so as to not go clumping around on someone else's boat! Reminds us of Gracie the cat who always felt the need to 'inspect the fleet' when we were in a harbor. This shouldn't be a real problem as we go to a marina about once a year!

* We're about to have another northerly swell event' here so we'll stay in the marina until probably Sunday or so. Then it will be off to Nevis, Montserat, Gaudeloupe, and Antigua in that order. Antigua is about due east of us now but that's a tough beat from here so the above way is the way to get to Antigua. Sail to the south of it and then back north.

* Overall I would highly recommend St. Kitts as a sailing or vacation destination. People are REAL friendly and fun. Lots of cabs and prices are not crazy...except diesel = $15/gallon. The goverment shut down the sugar cane industry here about 5 -10 years ago and put 5000 people out of work. They are still reeling a little trying to put people back to work. The only industry left is tourism.

* Still messing with my water pump. I now have access to marina water so I may open all the faucets and just let the pump run to get ALL the air out of the system. I suspect this is NOT the real problem but actually the checkvalves inside the pump but we'll see.

*Check out this site for some amazing art. Stats about US consumption are impressive as numbers but this guy turned those numbers into some really interesting and attention getting art. Enjoy.

* Some pics!

The Atlantic side! You can see why the first settlers sailed around to the leeward side of the island to, well, settle. Soon after the English and French got together to wipe out the Caribes who were already here. 2000 natives were slautered. There is a sign by a ravine where they say the blood ran for 3 days like a river. Nice.

Sometimes life is just a boar. This is the 'pet' named Wilbur at Turtle Beach bar. We had a great day there just laying on beach chairs, swimming and having Maria bring us buckets of Caribe.

A rare photo of Enee Marie under way. Thanks to our friend Gary who got the shot from their hotel as we sailed south to White House Bay. Good example of us sailing with both sails reefed. Plenty of speed (5+knots) and more comfort. New jib for us when we get to Antigua we hope!

No blog entry is complete without a sunset picture so. . . HERE!

Yeah...this is where we live....every day!

Finally. . . GO CUBS!
Opening day is Monday. I'm hoping that they go undefeated for the entire month of March! This is THE year. Really. Hey, I might not have religion but at least I have the Cubs!

Write or leave comments. We love both.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Almost Perfect Day and Cats in SPAAAAAAYYYYYYYs

After spending a couple of days anchored in Basseterre, St. Kitts we decided to sail south and explore the anchorages around the southern end of the island of which there are many. We set off fairly early and had a great sail to White House Bay where, strangely, there are no white houses. We reefed both sails just as an experiment and found that we still go 5+ knots in light air telling us that, yes, we are going to buy a smaller genoa when we get to Antigua. We are very tired of muscling around our 155% genny and we are often overpowered with it out. We’ll go for a 135% and be much happier albeit poorer. The sail was only about 4 miles but we made a few tacks and just enjoyed the perfect conditions. Only one boat in the anchorage which is devoid of any buildings and just surrounded by arid, almost desert like, hills.

With the hook down I made a nice big breakfast as we intend to explore the snorking options here. The guide book talks of a couple of wrecks here that you can see via snorking. We swam from Enee - no need to mess with dingy as everything is pretty close here. Great snorking! Plenty of fish and yes we could see a cannon from a troop ship from the seventeen hundreds as well as the mangled remains of a tugboat. Cool! Later we took dingy ashore and I went for a very short run (hot and hilly!) after which Sue and I both snorked again from the shore. Very nice.

Back on Enee I rig the Hammock and we enjoy our sundowners followed by a yummy dinner of chicken (canned of course) and noodles. A perfect day. . . so far...

Dum dum dum. .. . I turn on the water to do the dishes and nothing comes out. Not a drop. Pump is running but no water coming out. We switch to the other tank even though we are pretty sure the first one isn’t empty. Same deal. We open the tank (we have no gauges) and, yep, full to the very top. From this point until about midnight we did a variety of experiments: cleaning filters, blowing back down the intake line (“Do you hear bubbles? WHAT?), turning off the hot water at the tank (hey if you see a valve, turn it!). We went to bed at midnight with enough water collected to make coffee in the morning. We ALWAYS have 10 gallons in jerry cans on deck . . . except this time. I forgot to fill them before we left St. Maarten. Well, this is going to be exciting if we can’t fix this on our own. No major boat things in St. Kitts. I hardly sleep wondering what could be the problem. Oh yeah, as an exclamation point on the end of our almost perfect day, Mismo the cat goes into heat. Great. Meooooooooooowwwwww.

We’re up at 6 am to continue our experiments. At one point I had a hose from the top of the water tank, through the cabin,, into the engine room to the pump to see if it would draw water up that pipe. It would. .. sometimes. From here let me just say that I had the pump off the bulkhead (hoses and wires off) and on the table in the cockpit and disassembled about 7 times. I switched out some parts. We cleaned the little rubber gizmos in there. The 7th time we put it all back together it began to work again. What did I do? It’s “fixed” but I have no confidence in it. We decide to sail back to Basseterre so I can call the pump people and see if they can help. We can live without refrigeration but without water is a little too rough even for us! And, as long as we’re fixing the pump lets fix the cat as well!

Mismo is miserable.

Back in Basseterre I get no help on the phone from the pump people. Just transferred around to machines where I can leave a message. This is pointless since there is no way for anyone to call me back as I’m calling from the computer. I write them an e-mail and wait.

Good news for Mismo - There is a veterinary college on St. Kitts! Ross University. We made an appointment for 1 and went back to Enee to collect the cat. A cab ride later and we’re on the beautiful campus of Ross University. Great ocean view and a lot of very happy looking students. Who wouldn’t be? Living in the Caribbean and messing with critters. We were a little early for our 1 o’clock appointment (12:30) so we waited. They took Mismo in at 1. . .and gave her back at 2:30! This was just the checkup and to take blood! You see the students do it but then they have to run it all by their professor. Too late we found the student union with coffee and wifi. But when we go back on Thursday for the actual operation (god knows how long that will take!) we’ll post this blog, upload a podcast, write a novel, and maybe do our taxes on line.

The water pump is working as poorly as it used to. It has a problem with air in the lines and will sometimes just come on for no reason and run and run. We have to remember to turn off the master switch when we leave the boat or it will run down our batteries. I suspect that the whole system has been plumbed with too small hose. It looks like the whole boat was re-done at some point with that hard plastic line that is maybe 5/16 inch inside diameter. There are some long runs to the pump and then to the fore and aft heads and that size hose may be too narrow. The thought of running new hose to 3 sets of faucets does not please me. This is some of the joy of being the 7th owner of this boat!

On Wednesday, knowing that we want to be able to use the built in cooler in the cockpit we decide to try to clear the drain. It has been clogged and then the water from the melted ice drips into the galley. So, like any other boat project you start by completely disassembling the boat! There are 6 hoses going to a sump. Forward head shower, aft head shower, drain from the frig in the galley and drain from cooler in cockpit. Do the math. Yeah, there’s some mystery hoses too and no good way to tell which one is which. We finally isolated the hose and found it in the engine room. We decided to cut it in about half, pour water down the drain. If no water comes out then the clog is up hill from the cut and if it does come out it’s down hill. Then we can replace the appropriate hunk. Good news is the clog is uphill and that hunk is easier to get at. We accomplish this and put the whole boat back together. Time for breakfast!

In the meanwhile we’ve done some more leg work and think we are totally ready for the visit form our friends, Kay, Gary, and Sam, arriving this Friday! These intrepid travelers are flying to Tampa, staying the night, flying to San Juan, flying to Nevis, taxi to the ferry, ferry to St. Kitts and taxi to their hotel. They might be a little tired when they arrive!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Best Sail Ever!

But, before we talk sailing. . . . Let's talk sailing. We're working with my genius daugter to begin producing our own podcasts and put them up on iTunes. Our first one is a little rough but really just a test of how to do this. If you'd like to hear us ramble on for 30 minutes you can go here. This is a site my daughter is building for us and there is a link to the first podcast there. When you click on 'Listen' it will take a bit for a photo to load. Then (again after a littler bit) there is a little 'play' button under the picture to actually hear us talking. . .well, you can hear Scott but turn it way up and sit close to the speakers to hear Sue! It begins with a Springsteen number but fades out after about 20 seconds (Living on the Edge of the World. . . get it?).

Best Sail Ever!
OK, I may have used that title before but not recently! On Wednesday we made the 0900 bridge opening out of Simpson Bay, St. Maarten and pointed Enee south - FINALLY! After beating to windward all the way from the Dominican Republic we finally get to turn right and put the trade winds on our beam and head south. It was actually just a nice close reach. The seas were down to just a couple of feet and Enee happily plowed her way toward Statia 30 miles south of St. Maarten. After a bit we eased the sheets a little and fell off a few degrees to pick up some speed. Enee is not very fast close to the wind so we let her run a little farther off. Hell, who cares? Who wants to get there now...this is too fun!

We did then motor into the little bay on the west side of Statia around 1600. We knew that the marine park here puts out mooring balls and with our barely working windlass my back always appreciates a mooring ball. So we picked one up and tied on. We’re real happy to be on our first stop in truly sailing south. That’s when things started going to hell.

First off, water would barely come out the faucet. This happens sometimes when the line gets an air bubble in it. We have to let it run (into the coffee pot. . . no waste!) until it ‘farts’ out that air bubble and then all is well again. So I’m letting it run and run. And run. And run. Water is just dripping out and the pump is sounding louder than usual. So, I peek at the pump in the engine room. Holy CRAP! The pump is just shooting my valuable (20 cents a gallon) water right into the bilge. There’s a broken pipe fitting. Well, this was pretty easily repaired. Luckily who ever re-plumbed this boat left lots of spare connectors on board. The good news about this repair is that the fitting that failed must have been cracked all along causing the air to get into my lines so not only did I fix the big leak but also the nagging water pump problem. Sweet.

Now then. . . why isn’t the water flowing down hill into the bilge? Why is it staying in the engine room? Only one possible explanation. It’s not down hill from the engine room to the bilge. Why? Oh yeah! I have a new 18 horse outboard and new hard bottom dingy hanging on the stern. Well, that’s not good and I’ll have to think about this some more. I guess if I ride on the bow pulpit and Sue sails the boat we might be back to balanced.

We relax with our sundowners and, wow, this is a pretty rolly anchorage! Swell is coming in from the south while we point into the generally east wind. Yeah, that means the swell is striking the beam and really setting us to rolling. If we were on anchor I could set an anchor bridal and turn us into the swell. If I had ambition I’d launch the dingy the take out a stern anchor to turn us. But, we decide to just ride it. How bad can it be?

Oh my god what a long night. It’s not just the motion but also the noise of everything in every cabinet sliding back and forth as we roll 20-30 degrees each way. Not much sleep at all. In the morning we just leave and not bother checking in or going ashore at all. We’re anxious to get to St. Kitts anyway in preparation for friends visiting us in a little over a week!

The 10 mile sail to St. Kitts (17 17.00 63 01.00) was not so nice as the wind tends to follow the shore here so we were getting headed pretty badly. We had the main reefed as usual but put the front sail out all the way. This is really too much sail for us and is really difficult to trim when we’re close to the wind. Suddenly the pendant to the tack of the sail (the bottom part) came off and this piece of the front sail is flapping in the breeze. Now that ain’t good. Snappy quickly donned his jacket and leapt to the bow to re-attach the sail. Never a dull moment. We decided to haul this sail in then and continued on with motor and main.

There's more mountain up there in the cloud!

What beautiful islands though. Statia, St. Kitts and Nevis are all volcanic. St Kitts rises over 3500 feet out of the sea and is covered in rain forest (and monkeys! - the green kind!!) that we look forward to exploring a little.

With the wind a little south east we headed for the eastern shore of the big bay where lies the town of Basseterre. We just got the anchor set by the coast guard station where two other boats were at anchor when a coast guardsman came out hollering for us to beat it! Crap. Now I have to haul chain by hand. I don’t know why those other boats were ok but we had to move out about 300 yards. OK, anchor down, launch dingy and we’re off to clear customs which is over on this shore somewhere. Customs was no problem just the usual filling out of forms and giving money ($12). Very friendly and helpful. Still have to go to Immigration which is over by the marina about a half mile away.

The marina is new and next to it they are building that is called Port Zante. This is right at the base of the cruise ship dock. We walked through there and it is bizarre. This is like what we saw a smaller version of back in Samana Dominican Republic. The cruise ships pay for a little pretend town to be built near their dock. In this pretend town are all the souvenir shops, jewelry and of course duty free this and that which is all made in China and probably available at your hometown Walmart. As I understand it these pretend towns are owned and operated by the cruise ship lines themselves. So when you go to ‘foreign’ lands by cruise ship you could just be seeing an extension of the cruise ship itself. Like staying inside a big safe white people bubble. Interestingly among cruisers certain towns are of little interest to them as they’ve been ‘ruined’ by becoming a cruise ship port. Reminds me of the Yogi Berra saying, “No one goes there anymore because it’s too crowded”. The photo nearby is of the pretend part of town that leads to Port Zante and the big cruise ship - Queen Mary 2 is in port today.

If you walk a little further you come to the actual old town of Basseterre. The French and English settled here together and joined forces to completely wipe out the 2,000 Carib natives who were already living here. That accomplished they took to fighting with each other as the English and French inevitably do. The tradition here now is mainly english as Queen Elizabeth II is on all of their money (I guess they won). There’s a little traffic circle at the center of town that is called the ‘Circus’ as it is supposedly a smaller version of Piccadilly. The only thing left of the native Carib is the name for the caribbean beer.

Well, we have lots of more exploring to do so we can show our friends a great vacation here. Tomorrow we’ll sail to the south end of the island where there are several interesting looking anchorages and beaches to explore.

Ok. A flash back to St. Maarten. Here's a photo of Canadians we met in both Phillipsburg and Simpson Bay who were on vacation and following the regatta. This photo includes local guitar player and singer Lee. I call it - Sweet Lee and the Torontones!

And now Nova! Our favorite bartender at Shrimpy's. We don't know how we took the one on the left but we like it. Nova was a good teaser. . . she could take it AND dish it out!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Goodbye St. Maarten Hello Statia

Well, it’s been a great stay. Longer than I usually like but we got a lot done

*Haul out and painted the bottom
*Went into debt for new dingy and motor but it HAD to be done
*Had a great visit with daughter Leah - Come back soon!
*Made new friends in Mark and Lee from some crazy place called England or something
*Hooked up with old friends Larry and Debby on Debonaire - See you guys on down island.
*Hooked up with old friends Llyod and Val on Puddle Jumper - Same to you guys!
*Had lots of fun with the drunken sailors and the Heineken regatta. All of you racing sailors out there - put a team together and come down next year, charter a boat and enter the bareboat division. Looked like this whole group had a great time.
*Made a eye splice in double braid line (I’m as proud of this as I am of my participation trophy from chess camp!)

Sunday afternoon after all the racing was over sailors were anxiously checking their race results.

I worked as ‘dockmaster’ Sunday night at the yacht club for the final night of festivities for the regatta. At five to 1 AM though I needed to help take one last boat load of drunken Dutchmen out to their boat. This was one happy group. I asked them what the Dutch national anthem was and they instantly broke into song! 8 really drunk and loud Dutchmen singing (actually when you sing in dutch it sounds more like you are trying to hark up a chicken bone caught in your throat which explains why there are no dutch operas). It must have been an interesting sight and sound to see us pass by in full voice!

So Wednesday we go through the bridge at 0900 and head nearly due south for Statia (also called St. Eustatius - the little know saint of rusted anchor chains). This is the first in the string of Statia, St. Kitts, and Nevis. It is 30 miles to Statia and I’ll try not to turn it into 70! Should be one nice reach. We’ll see. Probably only spend a night or 2 there and then make the final 10 miles to St. Kitts and Nevis where we await the arrival of our best friends, Kay, Gary, and Sam from frigid Brookfield Illinois. Hurry down guys!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

What do you do with a Drunken Sailor?

Friday night I did my first shift helping drive dinghies between shore and the racing fleet. This one was a little tricky as the fleet was in Phillipsburg which is about a half hour bus ride from Simpson Bay. That’s no big deal for getting started at 1730 but my shift went to 1 AM and no bus service. No matter. . . something will work out.

In the picture some of the racers asked about some of the finer points of flying a spinnaker...I told them not to forget to attach the halyard!

The dinghy I was assigned to was about a 12 foot RIB partially inflated but with a nice new Tohatsu outboard. I was actually the assistant on board working with my driver, Riemer, a giant Dutch guy who works road construction here. By the look of him I’d guess he was in charge of carrying in new sections of road and laying them in place . . . by hand. First order of business was to go out to the ‘mother ship’, a 50 foot Beneteau anchored out on which they keep the t-shirts, food and extra equipment for the dinghy fleet. I had brought a small bag with me because at the meeting they mentioned that one solution to being stranded in Phillipsburg at 1 in the morning would be to rack out on the mother ship and then get a bus in the morning. That works for me so I asked if that would be alright. No of course not. No space left. Oh well. . .something will work out.

I had a sandwich and hooked up with Riemer and off we went to begin our dinghy duties. It’s all simple in theory. Each night of the regatta there is a large party at the place where the race ended for that day. On this day the fleet raced all the way around the island (about 50 miles of racing in heavy seas) and ended in Phillipsburg. Saturday they start from just outside Phillipsburg and race half way around the island to Marigot on the north shore and that’s where the party is Saturday night and so on. Early on you are mostly taking people from their boats to shore so they can eat and enjoy the music and party atmosphere (drink like an Irishman on St. Paddy’s Day). To signal that they need a ride each boat was given a yellow pendant and some glow sticks on a tether. The flag is for daytime and the glow sticks for at night. When they swing these is a circle it makes a very good signal.

So, from 1730 to about 2000 that’s mostly what we did. As assistant my job was to get the bow line attached to the boat and help people in and then help them out at shore side. In the whole evening I only dropped one guy into the water to which I’m rather proud of. He was a big, tall angular guy and he just tried to take giant steps off of the partially inflated dinghy and, well, he lost it and went straight down doing a very nice pencil. With his backpack on. We hauled him out and offered to take him straight back to his boat but he decided to just marshall on and hit the bars. . . soaking wet. Hope he wasn’t giving hugs.

As much fun as this was it was way MORE fun to start taking the happy sailors back to their boats. These guys raced their butts off all day (25 knot winds and 11 foot seas on the east side of the island), anchored their boats in a place where they’ve never been before in the daytime, got a snootfull and then we ask them, “Do you know where your boat is”? Well of course they all do! VERY definitely: “It’s right out there. It’s the white one with the blue sailcover”. “It’s a 38 foot Beneteau” (95% of the fleet is Beneteaus). I felt bad for some of the guys who we drove around the harbor for maybe 20 minutes looking for their boat. Once you are disoriented it all starts to look the same and any landmarks you had in the daytime are gone or washed out by all the bright spot lights on shore for the party.

Around midnight we returned to the dinghy dock and saw one sad sack sitting on the brick wall. The dock master said to us, “just take him...TAKE HIM”. I guess he was rambling and really in that beyond drunk place but needed to get back to his boat. So we poured him into the dinghy and off we went in search of bow number 245 (all the race boats have large numbers on the bow to identify them to the race committee). Well, he thought it was right by this big blue power yacht and we searched up and down and around that boat checking bow numbers. Of course we’re looking for a white Beneteau with blue sail cover! After about 20 minutes we were being hailed via glow stick. Someone wants to go in? Yeah, a woman who lives ashore and just needed to get back. So we picked her up, kept the drunken sailor in the dinghy and took her to shore. We then picked up a couple more guys and headed back to the fleet to deliver them and then resume our search for bow number 245. We kept asking him if he was close to shore or farther out, what other boats were near, any flags up and finally he says, “I have no F------- idea where the boat is” which we had already figured out! So we just check every bow number. Understand there about 200 boats in the anchorage! For all we know this guy is on a wooden, gaff rigged, ketch. At about 5 to 1 we finally spotted it (no where near the big blue power yacht). I really thought he was going to go into the water trying to get aboard his sailboat but I managed to pour him into the cockpit and warned him to stay away from the rail. . . just use a bucket!

From there to the mother ship where I hooked a ride from another dinghy driver with a car who was heading back to Simpson Bay. Yea! That’s the good news the small bit of bad news (it is now about 2 am) is that the car is parked about 2 miles from where we are. Nice. But I made it back to Simpson Bay in short order and hailed Sue on the VHF (I had taken our hand held for just this eventuality). What a trooper. She gets ENEE MARIE, ENEE MARIE, ENEE MARIE -ed out of bed at 2:30 and has to get dressed, unlock dinghy and come into town in the dark. Yea Sue! I’m tired but it was kind of fun. A bunch of sailors on vacation is a pretty happy bunch to hang with. Tomorrow is the same except longer! I work from 2 in the afternoon to 1 in the morning but will be able to take my own dinghy to work and back to Enee as the anchorage is just up in Marigot. More fun will then be Sunday when I report at 0645 after finishing up at 1 the night before! Good thing I’m raking in that big $5/hour!

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And now it's Sunday where the race starts in Marigot. Water taxi shift started at 6:45 so Sue decided to ride along and take some photos. This picture is of the warm up before the race taken from Fort St. Louis in Marigot. Great place to watch from.

Can you find the water taxi dinghy in this photo? It's the small blurr amongst the fleet. And by the way: who knew there was an h in the word dingHy. So disregard all those dingy spellings from the past 2 1/2 years!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Pics from Leah's week in paradise

Hi to all...below are some of our favorite pictures taken by Leah during her week's stay with us in St. Maarten. To see ALL of the pictures go here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Leah’s GONE :-(

What a fun week. Daughter Leah spent a week with us aboard Enee and that really livened things up around here. We ran, we swam, we took long hikes, we took aspirin (I did!) Good work out! The hike consisted of climbing up the hill in Marigot to the old fort. This is worth the effort as the view from up there is breath taking...well, the climb is breath taking as well!

This photo shows Leah and Scott 'chatting' with each other via laptop. Even in person they have to get a 'chat' in. Sue sits by with her Presidente and camera enjoying the silliness.

On Sunday we all went to a very nice beach on the outside in Simpson Bay. The Buccaneer Bar is there and they have free beach chairs (as long as you have a drink or something to eat). We spent a good part of the morning and into the afternoon there. Good swimming, reading and, just hanging out. Fun.

By the way, this is one great kid. After complaining about our lack of iPod over the last several weeks she bought us a brand new one! What fun to have music back. Thanks again Leah. . . you’re the BEST!

Of course Mismo was happy to have another playmate as well.

MEOW...HOW....HOW.....HOW to all my feline blues brothers!

Leah took many pictures with her fancy Cannon 40D SLR camera and I’ll be putting links to those pics soon.

Leah also infected us with the idea of producing a Podcast. This looks to be lots of fun and we’re learning how to use Garageband on our Mac to make recordings and researching how to then post the podcast. Stand by for this...should be lots of wacky fun.

We have decided to stay in St. Maarten through the weekend as this weekend is the Heineken Cup Regatta - the biggest sailing race weekend in the Caribbean. As such I’ve volunteered to drive a dingy to shuttle sailors to and from boats and bars. That should be fun. But that’s the weekend. Tomorrow we hope to pop down to St. Barts and hook up with Bulldog Garza our lawyer and good friend. He and his wife are on their yearly get-away in a villa on St. Barts. We’ll shoot straight back to St. Maarten then on Thursday and be ready for the regatta on Fri, Sat, and Sun. Besides the sailing there is much going on in terms of parties and live music.

So, today is get ready day - get water, gas, do some laundry, and check out of customs. Stand by for reports from the Heineken Regatta.