10-18 Update

It was like entering one of those storage lockers you see on Storage Wars. Stuff was everywhere; I struggled to find a place to sit. Fortunately, having had six months to think about things and prioritize, I had a plan. The first thing was to get those foot blocks remounted; a two person job. The amount of room between the hull and the inner bulwark is really, really tight, and in the Westsail, the footblocks are through bolted in a very difficult area to access. Drilling the holes into the new teak pad and down into that space has to be exact; if the hole is off 1/8”, it hits fiberglass; that’s no good as a washer and nut have to go on each of the three bolts. I hired John Francois, the local woodworker here as Peake’s to help me. His shop is fully equipped and the man knows his way around tools. As I expected, with his guidance, the holes were spot on, and then it was up to me to clear out both areas that I needed to squeeze into, reach up over my head with a socket extension (actually, two), and get those washers and nuts on. Mission accomplished, each block was bedded down and it was on to the next project. One of those things I had meant to do four years ago in Hawaii when I designed and installed the expanded PVC bimini was to put in an integral rain catcher. I decided on an eyebrow design, and the pieces, which I had cut and routed beforehand, needed to be held in place above while screw holes were drilled from the bottom, through the bimini, and into each piece. Again, a two person job; between John and I, it was short work. I had already taped off the top as the pieces are glued, then screwed from the bottom onto the bimini, a barbed through hull was placed into each corner, then the seams were sealed with bedding compound. It came out just as I had envisioned and looks great. The really good news is that after John left, I was able to start putting together the port quarter berth and move stuff from the salon back into that area. Now you see why those foot blocks had to be installed first off; everything else got stuffed onto that berth! Things were looking up. I had to manhandle the large mainsail out of the salon and up the companionway myself; another two person job that got done by one person, me! The staysail is much smaller, fenders and oars followed up to the deck, more "stuff" was moved onto that quarter berth and, voila, there was a lot more space in the salon. Even the V-berth has now been organized. The air-cooled refridge has been working well, and that cold beer was well deserved; not a bad pace for the first couple of days back.

10-13 Return to Trinidad

Unfortunately, from Tampa to Port of Spain, Trinidad on American Airlines there are only two flights daily, one in the early morning, which means you have to get up about 0300 to get ready and get to the airport, and the other in the early afternoon, which lands late enough to get to the boatyard near midnight. The connecting flight goes through Miami either way, and the only reason I mention this is that the layover between the early morning flights is about one hour. Yes, if the plane is delayed, or you sit towards the back of the plane and have to wait for everybody to get off, chances are good that you’re going to miss that flight to Trinidad. So…I found myself walking at a really fast clip, checking the flight board to make sure the gate hadn’t been changed (that’s happened before), and making it to the departure gate with less than 10 minutes to spare to boarding. Not too bad, especially dragging along one carry-on bag, a very full backpack, and a large laptop computer case. The $11 extra charge for that seat on the aisle toward the front of the plane was money well spent. The line through Immigration at Port of Spain is always long, but the very nice Official stamped 3 months in my passport, and I was off to luggage claim and Customs. Boat parts for Yachts in Transit aren’t taxed here, which is one reason to haul out in Trinidad. However, again there are long lines and wait times, and it’s necessary to go immediately from Customs at the airport to Customs at Crews Inn, Chagauramas (as an aside, this is where you check in when arriving by yacht into Chagauramas) to declare the boat parts you’ve brought in (you need a copy of original invoicing) and where your baggage is inspected; then you’re officially cleared in. It was late afternoon and we encountered the daily rush hour traffic back to Chagauramas but again, the Customs Official was very accommodating and in about 15 minutes I was all set to go to the boatyard. Infini was sitting where I left her in June and looked pretty good, but I forgot to ask the office to have a ladder waiting, so didn’t go aboard. I’m staying in the hotel at Peake’s for a few nights while I organize the boat to be habitable again, so I put all my bags in the room, went upstairs to the Zanzibar Restaurant to get a beer to go sit downstairs by the water, and called Sue to check in. It’s been a long day but it’s good to be back. Work starts tomorrow.

9-13 A few changes have occurred

Hi all! Our time back in the States is winding down and we're making preparations to return to Infini soon. We've had a few changes we'd like to share. First off, we no longer have a SailMail email address. To contact us, please use the svinfini email address found in the header to the left side or our other email addresses many of you have, as we expect to find internet wifi throughout our next cruising season. We may also be reached by email at our HAM call sign address: KJ4IHF at winlink dot org, but SSB radio connection issues occasionally do occur, so please be advised we may not be able to retrieve your emails as expeditiously at that address. Next, for the last 10 years, Sue has used Picasa web albums to share our pictures on this blog. Google+ has recently integrated the Picasa platform, and unfortunately, no common url was found to transfer those 200+ albums as they were. What that means is that Sue has had to transfer each album separately so that each may be viewed in this blog, but the sequence of the albums has been reversed...the oldest is now the first album viewed, and our most recent albums are found at the bottom after much scrolling. If any of you know how to change that on Google+, please let us know. As far as following us along by pressing the button to the left which activates Shiptrak, that function seems to work pretty well with one notable exception; our passage from Australia to Thailand. Some cloud based snafu resulted in all those positions being permanently deleted and they are unable to be retrieved; we'll just have to live with that one. Also, please note that we intentionally did not use Shiptrak regularly throughout various portions of our Indian Ocean transit due to security concerns present at that time. As usual, we'll continue to update this blog and wish you all safe travels wherever you are. Please keep in touch and let us know how you're coming along. Cheers!

6-8 Haul-out

We were the first boat hauled (0800) at Peake's this morning. They have a huge travel-lift, about 150T, so picking up Infini wasn't even a challenge. A diver goes into the water to set and tie the straps, then up you go. The pressure washer went to town, and the bottom didn't actually look too bad. The boat was then transferred to a large travel trailer type rig, which placed us in our spot. This is where we'll stay out of the water for hurricane season, doing routine maintenance chores and catching up to a few projects that have waited in queue. Otherwise, this may possibly be the last blog entry for a while, as we plan a visit back to the USA to see family and friends and will return here later in the year. Hope everyone has a great season and thanks so much for following Infini's Adventures!

6-4 Safe arrival in Chaguaramas, Trinidad

Pos: N10deg40.75min / W061deg38.15min. I'd been watching the weather for the last week and determined Friday would be the most optimal day for departure. Ordinarily, we don't leave on passage on a Friday, but we deemed the upcoming passage as a continuation from islands further north, so rationalized our departure day. The passage from Prickly Bay, Grenada to Chaguaramas, Trinidad is about 85nm, and entry into one of the Boca entrances has to be timed to not encounter too much adverse current. We chose to leave at 1600 hours, figuring on an AM arrival and favorable tide. There was a new moon, and still a bit of concern about Venezuelan (presumably) pirates operating near the Trinidad offshore oil platforms that are on the rhumb line from PB to Chag. We filed a Float Plan with the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, and also let Jesse James know of our plans. The 150' anchor chain started coming up at 1545. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying that close attention, the chain bunched up in the hawse instead of falling down into the locker, and when I pushed the remote to reverse, somehow the whole mess started running overboard a hundred miles an hour, under the windless wildcat! Don't try to grab that chain; you'll lose your hand. Fortunately, after about 250 feet of chain went to the bottom, it slowed down enough for me to grab it and toss it back onto the wildcat (that holds the chain). Wow, Ok, deep breath...let's try this whole thing again. This time, I did pay attention to where the chain was going, tapped it down like I was supposed to when we deploy 150' or more, and everything went fine. With a single reef in the main and staysail set, we got underway, avoiding the Porpoises Reef nearby the entrance to Prickly Bay and getting settled in for our first overnight sail in a while. With no moon, seeing the squalls was going to be more challenging, evidenced by getting hit with 32 knots and driving rain with the full jib out. I'd like to say "no drama," but that'd be somewhat of an exaggeration. We managed to get the sail in and took our second deep breath...Hmmm. The first third of the passage continued overcast and squally. We had wanted to head far east around the Poinsettia oil platform, but that proved impossible with the E-ESE winds. I should note that I didn't see any ESE winds in any of the weather forecasts I reviewed. Plan B - go directly between the Poinsettia and Hibiscus platforms, staying just shy of 5nm away from each. That worked pretty well. The wind stayed mostly E at 18-22; and our boat speed was good. As we got about 25nm away from Grenada, things smoothed out and we had a pleasant middle third of our passage. We were able to make out the darker clouds against a somewhat lighter sky with stars, so were able to reef further when the winds got up. Past the platforms, as expected, the wind fizzled and we had to motor. Or, at least we tried to. Our start battery hadn't been used all that much, so I used the combiner switch to connect the house and start batteries; it's used for exactly this kind of situation. I turned the key...no alarm, no Balmar reading, the engine did start but there was no alternator output....what the hell? Quick, shut down and start checking things over. In a few minutes I found that the 300 Amp fuse at the start battery for the combiner pathway had fried. What? Imagine the load that went to it! Changing to a new fuse, I told Sue we probably had one chance to get the engine going; we took it and held our breath. Yes...alarms, alternator output, propulsion...everything checked out properly. And that was actually a very good thing, as the current was so strong, and the wind so variable, that even with the engine going 1600 rpm's, we were only doing 3.5-4 knots or so! That made the third deep breath of this short passage...Yep, the last 20 miles were motoring...very slowly. We missed the flood tide by about an hour, but you don't wait outside the Boca for exacting conditions; you just have to take what you get. What we got was 2.5-3.5 knots of boat speed with that adverse current! Ho hum. Of course, going into the very crowded moorage and marina areas we had the flood tide and were making 6.5 knots and I had to go into neutral to slow down! We picked up a mooring directly between Power Boats and Peake's, launched the dinghy, and I went in to Officialdom while Sue stayed aboard to straighten up. We're here, checked in, all's good. It's been an interesting 85 nm but now it's time to relax...after all, it is my birthday!
Pic: The view from our mooring of the Power Boats complex.

6-2 Update

We've enjoyed a bit of running around these last few days. Of course, no visit to Prickly Bay is complete without going into Budget Marine. To put things in perspective, a tube of Life Caulk costs $33 USD! (I passed). We also walked over to Aziz's place for schwarma; good as always. We'd met two other cruising couples during our stay here: Pam and Andy of sv Grace and Bobbi and Craig of sv Mana Kai. Our small group has had fun playing bocce, walking to Secret Harbour Marina for their once-monthly Sunday garage sale, and enjoying several delicious happy hour and dinner gatherings. Pam & Andy are doing a lovely restoration of their Morgan OI 41, and Bobbi & Craig are absolute newbies - they've owned their catamaran for 4 weeks! So there you have it; meeting and having fun with new friends in great places!
Pic: Andy blowing the conch shell at sundown; M giving it a good try. More practice needed!

5-26 Prickly Bay, Grenada

Today's sail was another story...First off, the predicted E wind never materialized at all. It was ESE-SE the entire day, but the wind was so variable, going from 6-12 knots, then back and forth before you could make any adjustments. Furthermore, we had decided to go down the east (windward) side of Grenada to Prickly Bay, not the west (leeward) side. We had anticipated 10-15 knots E wind, so being on the lee shore of the island wasn't going to produce too much stress. Well, the entire day was a motor sail, which may have been a good thing, as the current was really strong, at least 2 knots trying to push us west (onto the island...) for most of the passage. We had no issues; waves were 4' or less, wind sucky as noted above, so for sure it would have been a motor trip on the west side of the island also. At least we got to see the entire east coast, which we hadn't seen before. The water does get a bit thin in spots, especially if you're looking for one of the other popular bays on the east coast, but most deep draft vessels probably wouldn't have too much trouble. We anchored in 26' and noted there seemed to be a lot more mooring buoys around from our previous visit here, thereby restricting the areas for anchoring. Officialdom wasn't in their office at 1500 hours (posted hours 0800-1600...), so we'll try again tomorrow. We're having a beer at the Prickly Bay Marina bar/restaurant, free wifi, good food.

5-25 Tyrell Bay, Carriacou

We had a delightful beam-reach sail to Tyrell Bay in ENE wind. We're going to anchor here overnight, not check in, and leave early morning for Grenada. Life's good.
Pic: Leaving Carriacou early am