Monthly Archives: December 2015

St. Matin/Sint Maarten

It is hard to believe it has been 2 weeks since our last post. So much and so little has happened….

I think we are beginning to feel like we are really living this lifestyle and not simply on vacation.

We had a reasonably good passage from the BVIs to St. Martin, but we were both happy to arrive and have that passage finished before the Christmas winds kicked in. 

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Our arrival port in St. Martin

The wind eased a bit so we left The North Sound, BVI on December 15th around 1 pm.  The wind was mostly on our nose, but we managed to motor sail for the first 5 hours. Around 4:30 pm we reefed our sails as we saw a rain storm heading our way. Sure enough the wind kicked up to a brusque pace and the rain absolutely dumped on LIB.  But only for about 10 minutes.  Boy were we happy to have the helm enclosure we added back in September!

The rain storm brought a temporary change of wind direction and we were able to actually sail directly toward St. Martin for about 45 minutes. That was nice, but short lived. As night was falling, the wind turned again and hit us head on. I voted to drop sails and motor through the night rather than sail at such a tight wind angle.

Frank kindly agreed. We probably would have had better boat motion if we had continued to sail.  By falling off the wind and tacking a time or two the passage would have taken longer, but may have been a more pleasant ride.  Still, we arrived safely in SXM around 9:30 am and I appreciated Frank’s lowering of the sails.

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Last June we spent time on the French side of St. Martin, so this time we went over to the Dutch side, that is Sint Maarten.  We had our first bridge crossing into the lagoon. I was at the helm and at first I was nervous about the width of the boat versus the bridge, but we had plenty of clearance.

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The bridge into the lagoon in Sint Maarten

We had plenty of clearance, but not so much that I could take a picture while passing through.

I don’t know why, but Sint Maarten draws a large number of h-u-g-e yachts.  We enjoyed dinghy-ing around the marina and seeing the mega-yachts. 

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Minimum length – about 180 feet

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Pretty sure this tender is larger than our ski boat was!

I especially liked watching the big yachts enter and leave through the bridge.

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Fun to watch and celebrate NOT being at the helm!

We had an opportunity to meet up with David and Amy of Starry Horizons again, which is a big treat for us. 

We also reconnected with Shane and Sara of Dream Chaser, whom we had met last spring in the BVIs.

Dream Chase, Starry Horizon and LIB are all Helias, so the six of us got together and had another episode of, “What changes/additions have you made to your boat?” and “How did you fix this Helia issue?”

Who knew I would become so fascinated with how others store provisions, plates, spices etc.,  much less want to know how they arranged their water maker or forepeak compartments.  Life aboard has caused changes in me already!

We have shared sundowners with a few other cruisers and enjoy hearing about their adventures and learning from their experience. 

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Breakfast at Serafina, St. Martina

Since LIB is a boat, there are always things to be considered or addressed. Recently Frank went up the mast and diagnosed the problem with our anchor light (white light at the very top of the mast) and our deck light (about 1/3 way up the mast and shines on the foredeck). Luckily the only issue was two burned out light bulbs which we were able to buy at Island Water World. Now LIB is visible at night with her anchor light shining brighter than ever before.

The view from the top of the mast is too pretty not to photograph….

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Looking outward toward the mega yachts.

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Looking down on LIB and Day Tripper.

St. Martin/Sint Maarten is popular with tourists which is evidenced by the tours we saw daily. The two most popular tours on the water appear to be kayaking and mini- dinghy parading.

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Captain kept a close eye on every dinghy parade!

After spending almost a week in the Lagoon, we exited and moved to Grand Case, a French bay on the western side of St. Martin.  Grand Case is quaint and full of restaurants, but the dinghy dock stinks! 

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The water is so blue!

We spent Christmas Eve with Shane and Sara of Dream Chaser including a leisurely dinner at La Villa. The food was delicious, the service was excellent and the company terrific!  A very nice treat.

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Thanks Sara and Shane

Christmas Day was a quite different this year and we missed being with our sons.  We had a chance to talk with family which helped make the day much happier. We toured St. Martin by car and enjoyed the views looking out from land instead of in toward land. And even though we missed our kids, we consider ourselves truly blessed to have this adventure on LIB.

Lest some readers be concerned, Frank has had a chance to kite a couple of times while in St. Martin as the wind has been “nuking.”  Frank took me with him to kite one day and sadly I am still not proficient.  However, I am determined to succeed and I am confident I will conquer the sport very soon!

Friends, Christmas Cove and the BVI.

We were so happy to reach Christmas Cove, USVI and meet up with our friends Amy and David of Starry Horizons.  We first met them just after we had taken deliver of LIB and Starry Horizons was still in production in France.

While we have met Amy and David a few times on land, this is the first time we have been able to meet on our boats and compare our Helias.

We had a great time sharing dinner a few times, including a delicious dinner of tuna that Amy and David had caught on passage! Very fun to share time and their yummy catch!

We were able to share our “catch” of fresh coconut water, which is quickly becoming Frank’s specialty as he searches out low hanging coconuts anywhere we go!

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David, Amy and Frank share coconut water.  David likes his straight from the nut.

We spent two days snorkeling, sharing Pizza Pi, comparing post factory changes to our boats, paddle boarding and just generally enjoying time with these two awesome friends.  Then we had to say goodbye as we needed to report to TMM for some warranty work.

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Double rainbow in Christmas Cove

It was great to be back in the familiar and beautiful BVIs. Our first evening was spent anchored off Peter Island, one of our favorite spots!

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I love the water colors here and the lush hillside.

There were soooo many butterflies! I bet we saw 500 in a 24 hour period.

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Frank and Mark loosen the shroud.

A big thank you to Mark, of TMM,  for helping us replace our roller furler drum which had some issues with metals seizing.  Thankfully Facnor replaced this under warranty so we only had the cost of labor.  Again, a big thank you to TMM for helping us even after we were out of charter with them!!

After TMM we sailed around Tortola and spend a day or two anchored off Sandy Spit and Frank was able to kiteboard ~ a much needed play session for him!

We have not spent any time in Cane Garden Bay and decided to zip over there. It is a lovely bay and we enjoyed it’s beauty and the access to the white, sandy beaches.

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Cane Garden Bay at sunset

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My cute dog and very handsome husband out paddling.

An unexpected and fabulous event was meeting Frank’s cousins who happened to have chartered a boat in the BVIs. Unfortunately I failed to bring a camera, so I don’t have any pictures.  We spent a wonderful evening on their boat and had a great time catching up on each others kids and lives.  I really hope we are able to meet up with them all again sometime.

After Cane Garden Bay we spent a two nights on Norman Island just relaxing.  Then we went back to TMM where we picked up a wind scoop modification from the Doyle Sail Loft and worked with our favorite BVI electrician, Dave Gibson.  You will hear more about Dave and his greatness in another post.

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Sunset off Norman Island.

Now we are settled in at North Sound waiting on a weather window to skip over to St. Martin.  We know this will be a motor rather than a sail as we will be heading into the winds.  We hope to have winds less than 10 knots… but we shall see.

For now we will spend a few days enjoying Saba Rock, Bitter End Yacht Club and all the other great things North Sound has to offer.  Hopefully we will be lucky and have a nice light wind day to go to St. Martin this week.  In the mean time, this isn’t a difficult place to wait.

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Our “back yard” while we wait in North Sound, BVI.

From Charter to Liveaboard – Scheduled to Change – Part III

Well it has been weeks since I have posted, but between projects and a lack of internet, I have a valid excuse.

After almost three months of work, we are calling a truce on projects aboard LIB. We have completed a long list of items and now it is time to put some FUN back into the Meter!
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I thought some folks might be interested in what we have spent our time and effort on, so I will recap those things we have not covered in parts one or two.

Light Project – Done

I am very happy to say that this project went much better than expected! It took us two days, but we replaced the existing LED lights in the salon, we added LED lights to the salon especially the galley and we added a few lights to my “closet.”

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The galley is much brighter!

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So bright it looks like a department store!

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A lamp from Texas

In addition, Frank rewired a lamp from home and added a 12V plug so we can create a more “homey” feel on LIB.

Fuel Filter for Day Tripper – Done

We really like our engines to run well and bad diesel or gas is a quick way to cause problems. Last year we added a fuel polishing system to LIB and now we have added a fuel filter to Day Tripper. The last thing we want is our dinghy engine to fail us…. after all that is our “car” here on LIB.

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Organize the Forepeaks – Done

This project was very time consuming. We had a few (read 4) mis-hits on getting the boards properly attached which means Frank had to do and redo this project several times. Since drilling holes in the side of the boat is not an option, Frank had to find a way to attach the boards he used to organize everything in the forepeaks. He was trying to avoid using 5200 (think superglue on steroids) but in the end it was necessary. I commend Frank’s perseverance and the finished organization is fabulous!

 

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From big mess to very organized!

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The other one…

Water Heater – Done

Originally we thought the element on the water heater needed to be replaced, but after delving into this project we had to replace the whole water heater.  There was a leak between the heat exchanger on the water heater and the engine. Because the fresh water is pressurized, the fresh water was getting into the engine heat exchange and causing us to loose coolant from the engine into the engine compartment.
Not a good situation and one that required a whole new water heater.
In addition we changed the wiring on the water heater and removed it from the inverter. Now we can heat water using the engine or the generator.

Booster Wifi Antenna – Done

In an effort to improve our ability to obtain wifi signal, we installed a BadBoy Xtreme antenna. Our hope is that this antenna will improve our wifi signal and allow us to have more consistent communication while traveling. Obviously we have not mastered this or I would have been able to post more blogs. 😉

After a phone call today and excellent customer support from BitStorm, we have some internet at the moment!

White Stern Navigation Light – Done

When sailing at night, the stern nav light spewed a lot of white light into the cockpit effectively ruining our night vision. Following the example of Starry Horizons, we moved our light to the end of our starboard davit arm.

Evaluate Bilge Pumps – Done
We spent several hours washing out the port and starboard hulls with fresh water and checking how well our bilge pumps work. While not an exciting job, a necessary one and we are really glad we did since the impellers on both pumps on the starboard side were clogged by hair and debris!
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In addition to being gross, these hairballs could cause serious problems!

Commodorizer – Done
Frank added a commodorizer to each of our head seawater intake lines and they have made a very positive difference. Into each of these little devices we add a chlorine tablet which slowly dissolves and is added to our head lines. These eliminate odor and staining! We are very happy with this addition.

EPIRB – Done
We ordered, registered and mounted our EPIRB. And we pray we never need to use it!

Labeled  Electrical Boxes – Done

Labeled the outside of the electrical distribution boxes so we don’t have to open them to know which fuses are inside.

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Special thank to Frank’s Mom for doing this for us!

These little descriptions could go on and on, so I am just going to list other things we have accomplished!

~Changed inverter/charger from 2000 watt/80A to 3000 watt/120A.

~Bought and assembled a high capacity, portable bilge pump.

~Evaluated the main traveller and replaced both of the end stops and foot blocks.

~Removed the old caulk around the aft steps and put in fresh caulk.

~Added 12V plug to helm for charging tablet, phone, etc

~Added remote VHS to helm station.

~Changed fan on galley freezer.

~Placed DriDeck on the floor of the anchor compartment and the cockpit storage compartments.

~Added carpet to the paddle boards to make them less slippery for Captain.

~Added carpet to the bow hatch of the dinghy so Captain can grip better.

~Bought a small anchor for our dinghy, Day Tripper.

~Replaced our outdoor grill with a new one.

~Disassembled, inspected and lubricated our davits. This is an ongoing item as we do not think the shives are in good shape and we may need to replace those and the lines.

~Bought and installed a Lifesling II – used if someone falls overboard.

~Replaced one end of the shore power cord.

~Stripped the plastic coating off the lifelines and cleaned the stainless steel lines.

~Added clam cleats to the mast to make adjusting the lazy jacks easier.

~Added cleats on the mast for the flag halyard.

~Replaced non-working outdoor stereo speakers.

~Re-glued all door and cabinet veneer that was loose.

~Touched up scrapes and scratches incurred during LIB’s charter life using a painter’s marker.

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