Saturday, November 30, 2013

Rain Rain Go Away

The wind and rain have been hounding us for a few days and it looks like we will finally get a break in the weather tomorrow.  We are taking the opportunity to head to Anegada, the northeastern most island in the BVI, with SV Skylark and SV Georgia   From what I understand, a lot of cruisers don't take the time to visit Anegada since it is a bit out of the way.  We are always excited to take the road less travelled!

Can someone turn the rain off please? 
Wind and rain for three days in a row

Tomorrow's agenda…route to Anegada

Friday, November 29, 2013

Cruiser Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is about family and friends and we had the opportunity to celebrate and be thankful for new friends. We had drinks and appetizers aboard S/V Skylark and a wonderful dinner aboard S/V Tivoli. 

Here are a few funny photos and we hope your thanksgiving was a great as ours!

Dinner on S/V Tivoli

Molly and Judy

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Life Aboard Does Not Suck.

As Thanksgiving approaches and it seems the entire U.S. East Coast is miserably cold and windy, we are here in the BVI adjusting to our new house and current neighborhood.

We love living aboard Terrapin, but there is some adjustment required...

Our laundry is now usually down out of a bucket and dried on the life lines.

Our mornings are reserved for getting in a workout - whether it be paddle boarding, pilates, or swimming.  No gym required.

Of course, we also take Kala to shore about 4 times per day - no more doggie door.  She can run on the beach, play with coconuts, maybe have a party with her buddies.  The shore trip includes going as fast as possible in the dinghy (it's better than a car ride with the windows down.)

There are ALWAYS boat projects - something to be fixed, something to be cleaned, something to be maintained…it is never-ending.  When we were on the passage from Hampton, I made a full page list of just things that came up on those twelve days.  I have not had the ambition to even look at it.  Procrastination is my good friend at the moment but I guess, inevitably, we need to embrace the project list because nothing is going to fix itself.

Our SIRIUS Satellite radio doesn't get a signal here but we have Caribbean Radio (92.3) which they say has the islands only "rum powered transmitter". Hummmmm...

The afternoons pose the quandary of what fun will we partake in today….kiteboarding, scuba diving, snorkeling, or hiking.  If there is another fun attraction specific only to our current location, of course, we would like to check that out as well.

However, there are things you have to worry about that never come up on land.  How much wind does that squall coming this way pack?  Will this mooring ball/anchor hold?  Are the hatches closed?  Is that charter boat near us secure?  How are our batteries - do we have electricity?  Do we have enough water?  When will we need propane to cook with?

Since we've had a boat for years, we understand the challenges, accept them and are committed to make this lifestyle work… not like it's that hard!  Adjusting to it doesn't take long and is a welcome change.

Our dryer
Rig Inspection

Daily exercise

Dinghy Driver

Hiking Virgin Gorda

The view is worth the climb

Nasty bugs

Yes, we did go for a dip in that pool!

Kala's current bestir
Our sweet girl.  She owns me!
Nothing but fun about to happen!

Kala would not trade her dinghy for anything in the world!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dive, dive, dive!

Tanks?  Check.

Dinghy?  Check.

Proximity to Reef?  Within Dinghy Distance…

What a great way to spend a morning.

The dinghy, locked and loaded with SCUBA gear

Molly's best mermaid imitation

Coral heads ahoy!

Good hiding spot for this fishy.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Land Ho!

At about 24 degrees latitude, on Friday, we finally found our perfect day on the passage!  We sailed along on a broad reach at about 8 kts almost the entire day.  The seas were about 5-7ft and Terrapin loved surfing the swell that rolled along and gave us a push.  We even saw a playful juvenile humpback!  He would come along the bow on the starboard side, take a big breath, dive down under the keel, swim away behind us and then come back and repeat.  It was so fun to watch him play.  You could see his striped white underbelly in the clear turquoise water.  It was such a fun ride and after the weather we had endured for ten days, we were so excited to just sit back and enjoy. 

On Saturday, the winds were predicted to die off and we would be probably end up motoring.  We kept waiting for that to happen, when instead, we started getting 20-25kts with 6-8ft seas.  We were only 100 miles out so this would be our last night of the passage.  

As the sun came up on Sunday, the winds died down to about 10-15, we could see the islands and suddenly around 25 dolphins started jumping off the bow.  It was amazing!! Luis took advantage of this perfect moment to propose to Katie.  He could not have planned it any better.  The dolphins, the sunrise, the sailing conditions - were simply the perfect stage.

This passage was such an incredible experience.  There was such a variety of conditions.  As a sailor, this is what life is about.  You endure the hardships and hard work to be rewarded with views and experiences that are not easily achieved.  Modern conveniences are not affordable or practical but everyday life is far removed from the norm.  Someone asked me after we arrived  "Was this everything I thought it would be?" and words cannot describe or impart how it is so much more!!
I think this still counts as being clipped in - better than nothing.  Notice the swell over Baxter's shoulder.
One of the best cups of coffee EVER

A Beautiful Sunrise To Celebrate New Beginnings

Welcoming Us to The Caribbean
Big Grins!!

We have worked very very hard for this moment!
The proposal
Celebrating!  She said "Yes!"

We're always up for celebrating love!
Yellow flag ("Q") indicates under "Q"uarantine until we are cleared into the country. 

Replacing "Q" flag with BVI flag.  We're staying for a while.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Black Blobs; Week 2 of Hampton-BVI Passage

A week into our passage, we were south of Bermuda and happily committed to the BVI.  We still had over 450 miles to go.  The threatening front (which now looks like what spawned TS Melissa) was looming and our weather forecaster advised that we needed to be south of 28 degrees north by Tuesday pm and definitely south of 26 north by Wednesday at sunrise.  Well, we had accomplished the 28 degrees and felt good about that - but 26 degrees -  would take lots of active sailing and energy.

While Katie and I were on watch sometime after midnight on Monday pm, we would watch a black blob of a cloud slowly creep closer and closer to us until it enveloped us.  The weather patterns that were converging in the Atlantic were creating nasty squally conditions.  By time Baxter and Luis came up for their watch shifts, we were surrounded by lightning and we even saw two water spouts fairly close.  We quickly cranked the engine and motored a-w-a-y.  Our direction didn’t matter, we just did not want to deal with electrical issues or holes in the side of the boat by being struck by lightning.  

After looking at our track on the chart plotter, Baxter said he pulled a “Crazy Ivan”.  I called it getting the hell out of dodge.  For the next four days, we had squally conditions every night.  Lots and lots of rain with gusty winds and choppy seas.  Where was the beautiful blue water sailing I had seen on You Tube?  I was starting to wonder if the British Virgin Islands actually existed or if I would be stuck in an endless squall.

As soon as we had a good distance from the black blobs, we continued to chase the latitudes and watched our position change like paint drying. We sailed through 26 degrees, the line of huge cumulus clouds painted a clear picture of where we did not want to be.  The night continued to bring squally weather which were probably spin offs from the front.  By this time, we were used to it and knew the drill.  The storms would have to pass and within 4-5 days, we would be sailing in the Caribbean Sea!

The squalls are making us slightly crazy! 
Notice our position.  We are out of the 30's (29 59' is one mile south of 30 degrees)
Black blobs in the daytime….imagine how they loom in the distance at night.
Squall bearing down on us.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Salty Dog

I have to take a moment out from talking about the passage to focus on something that often does not get enough credit….more on the passage details tomorrow.

Truth be known, the truest salty sailor aboard Terrapin is Kala.  She was down below from Tuesday evening until about noon on Friday.  She had to overcome so many preconceived ideas – she had to potty down below (in her house) and she wasn’t able to run and play.  As far as she knew, it was WWIII and people were trying to blow us up (being down below in a boat that is pounding into waves sounds like bombs going off in every direction while items on one side of the boat fly across the room to the other and no one is able to stand upright.)  I did give her some medicine to help ease any anxiety she might be feeling (I probably should have popped a couple of those for myself) and it seemed to help.

When she finally came up to the cockpit Friday afternoon, she was as happy as the day we left.  She is so resilient and sweet.  She makes difficult times for us so much better and there is no place the three of us would rather be than next to each other. 

Don’t get me wrong, she will not let us back out on our promise for lots of dinghy rides, sandy beaches, and coconuts to shred when she gets to the Caribbean.  She just holds on steady and trusts that we will comply.

She changes our lives and we want her with us every step of the way. 

Welcome aboard kisses.

This sailing stuff is hard work.

Watching over the mooring field.

Wanna play?

Best friends

One Giant Swimming Pool

Conditions from the previous week continued to improve as we made our way south on Sunday along longitude 66 degrees west.  We knew the new front was arriving Tuesday, but on Sunday, 150 west of Bermuda, the North Atlantic Ocean looked like a giant swimming pool.  How could we pass up the opportunity to stop the boat, put our bathing suits on and go for a dip?  I will confess that the research OCEARCH has been doing unfortunately makes me wonder if Lydia or Mary Lee were enroute to Bermuda, a couple thousand feet below me, but what the heck, Luis had his Wilderness EMT kit and Baxter could punch a shark in the nose if they took too big of a bite, right??

After drying off, it was back to work.  Baxter wanted to clean the fuel filters that caused the engine to stall Thursday and possibly get some of the fuel from the port tank over to starboard.  We would need more than the 50 gallons of diesel the starboard tank holds to make it to the BVI but the fuel in the port tank seemed contaminated (by water and sediment that was shaken up when we pounded into waves the week before.)  So Baxter cleaned the racors (primary fuel filter) and we siphoned fuel from the port tank so we could filter it twice and use it in the starboard tank.  It was either going to work, or put us in a bad position by dirtying the fuel in the starboard tank.  We cranked the engine and it was back on course heading south past 28N.
Since the sun finally made an appearance, we had to dry all of the bedding that had been soaked for the last 5 days.

Katie excited about jumping in!
Can I jump in with you next time, Dad?  Unfortunately, Kala, your Mom said "NO!"
Luis & Baxter fueling while it was relatively calm.  It's difficult to balance pouring 40 lb jerry jug while waves are rolling you around.
The cockpit was a disaster during fueling while everything had to come out of the lazarettes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bermuda Anyone?

The storm on Thursday lasted for about 5 hours.  It was so strong that at one point, when Baxter was at the helm, a wave crashed over the hard dodger and hit him so hard that it knocked him down.  He looked at Luis, who was under the dodger and saw a flashing light being reflected.  As it turns out, the wave that hit Baxter was so big that it activated his light strobe on his life jacket.  Those strobes are set to a psi that will only be triggered once you are submerged in water.

Ahem….anyway - By midnight, the winds subsided to a mere 25kts gusting to 30kts.  Seas were about 18 feet and we were relieved.  That lasted through most of the morning Friday and continued to slowly dissipate.  It was a nice break and we could finally begin to relax, until we read the next forecast which indicated a new LO predicted between the Bahamas and Bermuda by Tuesday.  In order to avoid the storm, we would need to be south of 28 degrees north latitude.  Our current latitude was 34 degrees so that was about 360 miles in 4 days – not impossible, but what was the margin of error?  What if we were only 300 miles?  One option was to stop in Bermuda.  We were 200 miles northwest and it was very tempting.  In fact, I emailed the customs office to determine if Kala would be allowed, just in case.  I contacted our weather forecaster to get more specific details about the new storm and as a crew, we decided to press on to the BVI.  About eight other boats, including Stella Blue who had lost their autopilot during the passage, did divert to Bermuda and they are having a great time!  Bermuda apparently is an awesome little country and we will definitely put that on our list of possibilities.

Baxter reviewing the charts to see if our position allows us to avoid the front or if Bermuda is a better option.  Notice the big swell behind him.

We had a line in the water and Katie was super excited to see what we landed

Cute little mahi maui but too small really for us to filet.  We threw him back and gave him a second chance - we thought it might help score us points in the Karma bank.

In her element.  Chillaxin' in the sun.

Baxter and Luis fixing a bolt that came loose on the goose neck (the place where the boom attaches to the mast.)  If the boom broke, that would be a very very bad day!