Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Hi Everyone,
A short post just to let you all know GL with me aboard got me back in one piece, and I am back in Coral Bay harbour in St John.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Repairs Required

This post today is a bit delayed and was supposed to be imparting good news all round, circumstances however have seriously modified the tone, and I have some sad bad news instead. I have even been a bit reluctant to even blog a post in the first place.
Well dear friends the story begins.
After a couple of really enjoyable weeks in Coral Bay, I finally got a good weather window for my planned next adventure. I have been gradually storing up the boat for an extended journey, and as the opertunity to cross the Atlantic this year has not arrived, and as I would still have to go a long way north before I could cross, I made the decision to go up to Block Island RI USA. There are many reasons for that but will talk about it in another post.
To this end then I have been sorting out the boat, mechanicaly, electricaly, maintanence, you name it I have been there.
So after letting all the very good friends here know of my impending departure, and with the intention of suprising everyone who reads the blog today, the last plans were put in place. I have borrowed all the charts I need from Chis aboard 'Principito' and on Saturday night a small party to say goodbye was impromptuly organised. I had a very good time, with a bit of sadness thrown in as well. I was all set to leave, all stored up and route planned.
So early yesterday morning, and after double checking nothing had changed in the forecast I left the mooring. I then went to Water Creek in Hurricane hole, this was to put the dingy aboard and make sure all was lashed down and safe. I then hoisted sail and sailed out of Coral Bay, passing the Shipwreck bar at about 1000hrs. I went south about St John past Cruz bay and out through the middle passage. It was good sailing and as I drew level with Jost Van Dyke I set the waypoint in, this showed 1404 Nm to go to Block Island.
Dajavue, the very same thing happened as I started to leave the Virgins as happened last year leaving Antigua. This time a little earlier at about 1400hrs, a big thunder storm cell bore down on me from the east, wind went from the forecasted 15knts to well over 26-27 with strong gusts, wind backing into the NE from East. It was over soon enough but then another one did the same thing.
The boat was under a lot of strain and even with all sheets eased out the boat was flying along at 8knts, not what I wanted and nothing of this had been forecasted. As dusk aproached I was over 55Nm from the Virgins and they had disapeared into the mists of distance. Then another TS bore down, huge, this one traveling very slow, it caught me about 2000hrs and stayed, not going away. Winds were not as fierce but well over 25knts, lots of lightning, with scary bolts of it hitting the sea all around. With GL on a beam reach she was creaming along, I was checking everything I could think of hoping nothing would fail. Well in steps the dreaded Murphy, and yes folks with the wind now a high F6, at 0300hrs the starboard rudder support struts aluminum casting snapped in half at deck level, it then dropped down into the sea. Hanging on the bottom fitting, 'Fred' with now only one support left, was climbing out of the water, pivoting on the bracket like an aries wind vane does. My home made frame was twisting alarmingly, the mountings stainless steel bending so much I didn't really want to watch. Stange thing was Fred was still steering the boat? Well I knew I had to stop that, but now the wooden cross braces had ripped out the screws of the frame, and I didn't fancy standing on it anymore. With the boat bouncing around like a spring lamb, and re-peating to myself two hands for you, two legs for you, two feet for you, teeth for Fred, I balaned on the bumpkin, I managed to get the locking pin in the vane, it took another 3 or 4 goes to get the pin in the rudder, and the same to remove the vane itself, I was of course heaved too during this irisponsible action. The twisting of the frame although not completly stopped, had reduced to the point were I felt I had time to concider what to do next, so I waited till dawn, with millions of possible solutions going through my head. I had a doze then as all my energy, mental as well had been used up.
Dawn arrived 0445hrs.
Whilst going through the options I realised the rudder had to come off, or, at least out of the water, I was still heaved too. The first of these was impossible as I couldn't reach the locking pin, second one seemed more plusable, so I jury rigged 2 rope purchases around the top of Fred, then I undid the port strut and pushed it down to be the same as the broken one, and after transfering the main sheets to the cleats, I used both winches and winched down Fred to the bumpkin. This has lifted the rudder clear of the sea and all strain on the hull fitting has stopped, also the twisting frame is now quiet again, time now 0630hrs. WHEW!. Of course Murphy hadn't finished with me yet. 0700hrs I went back on course to see if GL would sail herself, whilst I was furkling around doing that I noticed the battery voltage was down to only 9volts?? It didn't take me long to find the reason, the seam so recently repaired in Antigua had water pouring into the boat again? as of this minute I don't know why it is doing that, maybe I didn't do a good enough job on it. but all that aside I was and am faced with a difficult decision again. DO I GO BACK TO THE VIRGINS!
Well yes I do.
With only 150Nm completed with another 1320Nm to go, no self steering, water pouring in yet again, yes. So I have turned the boat round, then the leak stopped? I am close hauled in 20+Knts of wind doing only 3 to 4.5knts and getting chucked about like a cork. So it will take some time. Present Position: 19,27.89N , 65,10.14W. Speed: 4 knots, Course: 167 deg. Local Time: 27. June 2011 17:16. I am in no danger, boat is sailing fine, and hasn't really noticed these goings on at all.
Please read with the intended humour.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

St John, 21st June 2011

The weather since Saturday has been great so as I sipped coffee in the cockpit this morning, I was looking forward to the sailing today. I had spent Sun, Mon, finishing all the loose ends of my 'to do' list, and was all set to go. I went ashore in the dingy about 1000hrs and ate a fried egg bun, 'sunnyside up' at Skinny Legs, cooked to perfection by Rodney, and waited for my guests to arrive. Erin was first but had one little job to do, so would be a fraction late. Then Lindsey, Lisa and Sharon arrived, and I started ferrying them and their gear + supplies to the boat, Erin arrived in plenty of time and at approx 1130hrs we dropped the mooring and motored out of the harbour. Once out and with all sail hoisted in a really good wind, GL showed her ease at cutting through the swell as we tacked towards Laduck Island. We had a discussion on were to go, and all agreed a trip right round the Island of  St John would be the most popular choice. So four girls and myself set course and we had glorious sailing. GL showing her paces and everyone having a great time. Once inside Sir Francis Drake Channel with the East wind now behind us, the music was put on. Their choice was the 'Beatles'! They all love that music, and as I was singing along at top note they were tickled that I sang with the same accent. I had a running history lesson from Sharon as we passed various landmarks of St John north shore. We passed Little Thatch Isle and Great Thatch Isle, these are British Virgin isles, and then passing St Marys Point we went inside Whistling Cay and picked up a mooring in Maho Bay for lunch and a swim. After an hour or so of frolicking in the crystal clear waters we again set sail, and carried on round Johnson reef, going inside Ramgoat Cay and Henley Cay down the Durloe Channel. Then passing Caneel Bay and Lind Point we passed Cruz Bay the main town of the Island. Now going down the West and South West of St John inside Stevens Cay. On a reach we passed the submerged breaking reef with Mingo Rock. The wind was now heading us once more and after passing Great Cruz bay and Chocolate Hole the wind was on the nose. Sharon was foreward with the fishing rod, trying to catch dinner, and suceeded to catch enough Sargasso seaweed to make a nice soup (I think not). Then with darkness aproaching on the longest day of the year, it being 1930hrs I decided to lower the 2 jibs and motorsail with main only to Rams Head. This is a huge lump sticking a mile into the Atlantic swell were the waves crash against it with some violence, even in the lightest airs, the sea gets very confused with the rebounding waves. It was now pitch dark and there are no lights to mark the coast, so carefully we navigated round it and passing Laduck Isle on the inside this time, we started sailing again into Coral Bay heading for the harbour (very carefully). We got shelter from the wind by Hurricane Hole, lowerd the main and motored very slowly into the harbour channel, making sure not to hit any moored boats. After spotting the mooring, and as we manouvered towards it, Sara and Chis came over in their dingy, and Josh with the rib, and they all helped us tie up. They came aboard then and we all finished off the cooler beer with an impromptu de-briefing on our adventures.

What can I say but, a magic day was had by all!

This gets me up to date except for missing pictures. I am now studying the weather closely to choose, hopfully, the right moment to leave St John at the opertune time for the next part of Guiding Light's voyage, or, 'Magical Mystery Tour' of the North Atlantic Drift.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

16th cont.

After the concert Colin left Hurricane Hole, and Breath and comp. made our way back to the mooring, then with an invite to watch them play at Skinny Legs on Friday night 17th, the guests were dropped back ashore. Meanwhile Colin invited us back to Buxom II for a fresh lobster (he had caught 2) dinner. He and Lindsey were leaving for Alaska Friday morning so a little farewell party took place. The Lobster was truly tremendous with a fresh butter and garlic dip, yum yum.
Friday 17th saw me shopping for stocking up the boat, I met all the guests again on my way back to the dingy and we swopped contact details for the future. That night at 1900hrs I went to Skinny Legs and watched 'Damon and Jackson' perform on stage, a very good show, they don't take a break, and played for about 4 hours having started at 1800hrs. Everyone enjoying the great choice of songs they have in their rep. We chatted at the bar after they finished for awhile before they went, they were also leaving for Oaklahoma on Saturday morning so goodbyes were said.
Back to the boat very chilled out, a good night.
Saturday 18th
Today there was a 'Fundraising' to renew the dingy dock. It started at 1200hrs, so I had to go to that. There was a bar-b with lots of good grub, plenty of beer and the inevetable RUM, I joined in and spotted a scuba dive cylinder, I have been looking for one of these since arriving in the caribbean in 2009. I took all my diving kit on board before leaving UK and as up to yet have not used it!
I also accquired Peter Muilenburg's book, 'Adrift on a Sea of Blue Light', all about his adventures aboard the boat Breath that he had built on the beach.
During this I was talking to a local woman Megan, she was in the process of telling me how easy it was to get sucked into the social calender, and never finding the moment to contiue the journey. Sara chose that moment to touch my arm saying "come on Roy I'm taking you to another party!!! Megan and I looked at each other with that there I told you so look. And off we went in Billys big dingy to the east end of Coral Bay. Sara Billy Chris and myself ended up at a farewell party for Trish, a teacher here, who was going back to Calafornia to get more qualifications, I had met her at Lindsey's dinner party so didn't want to miss saying goodbye.
A magic beach party was had by all. We ended up on Billy's boat for a roady, or sundowner, then back to the boat.
Roy....still more coming

Coral bay 16th June

I awoke early today at about 0600hrs, it hasn't all been party's, I have been working hard on GL getting everything better organised and stowed. There has also been some improvements made here and there. Today I had designated a day off and I was looking forward to the day charter trip aboard 'Breath'. After going aboard Josh brought the guests from shore and they were welcomed aboard. We all introduced ourselves, and so I met Alex Damon and Dean Jackson, their partners and friends. Being an extra, I kept in the background as their gear was stowed aboard, and after a short time we dropped the mooring and proceeded out into the bay. Once passed the entrance bouys Josh hoisted the sails and with engine off  'Breath' Colin at the helm, in a good sailing wind, and in her element was sailing sweet. Colin had his plan, as the guests wanted to go snorkeling. He had told me before of the many good places around the area, but as yet I had not had the time to do any of that. Today it would depend on wind direction which of these we would visit. All went very well, Colin even let me helm for awhile, as he prepared a snack for the guests, and after a good sail Breath was anchored at the first spot, and with all guests in the water, me included, exploring the southern reefs of Flanagans Island began.
It was a good choice, we had all seen different and interesting fish, the guests a shark amongst them. I had spotted a large shoal of fish I couldn't identify, swimming close to the sandy bottom, quite some distance from the reef itself, but after consulting Colins book, they turned out to be a type of barracuda called 'Southern Sennet', not normaly seen in the caribbean.
After this the second spot Colin chose was Hurricane Hole in Coral Bay. As the name implies, it is a refuge for boats when hurricanes strike. As the guests again went exploring, this time the mangrove fish nursaries, Colin pointed out the various spots that were the best. At about 1530hrs and with all guests aboard, Alex and Dean took out their guitars they had brought with them. This is when I found out that Alex and Dean were the band called 'Damon and Jackson' from Oaklahoma! WoW. They then gave us all an impromptu open air concert, the acustics so close to the mangroves was perfect, and as their excllent music driffted out over the calm waters, we sat back and enjoyed the moment
More coming

Coral bay, St John

Well folks here I am in Coral bay again, much has happened since my last internet connection.
I have been making new friends handover fist since I moored in the harbour itself. I have to thank Sara and Chris for most of these introductions. Sara owns a Nicholsen sloop and lives aboard, Chris owns a 1931 gaff rigged yacht called 'Principito' which I raced against in Antigua and Foxy's, with Sara helming and Chris as crew on his own boat, both are experianced sailors. Lindsey and Colin had moved 'Buxom II' onto their mooring in the harbour also, they are going to Alaska were Colin comes from for a visit soon.
After the Karaoke night, Tuesday, as Sara and Chris passed my stern they told me I had a dinner party invite from a different Lindsey, (works in 'Skinny Legs') that evening, ? no more details than that, so we met up in 'Skinny Legs' a bar resturant close to the dingy dock. I was taken up the hills into the jungle, and there perched perilously on the side of the hill was this really nice house. The view was something magic, and I could see my boat below me in the near distance. There ensued a great party, tons of food, and loads of new people to meet, I re-met Erin who I met in 2010 and who has also become a very good friend, she was crew aboard 'Buxom II'. During that night I arranged a sailing trip on my boat on Tuesday 21st, this whilst talking with Lisa. Erin and Lindsey were invited too. We had a really good time at the party with a finish about 0200hrs!
I now had another invite on the 16th June by Colin, he has been charter Skipper of a famous boat here called 'Breath' owned by Peter Muilenburg, for 6 years+. Its a 40ft fibreglass Gaff Ketch, which Peter and his wife had built 'on the beach' at East End Coral Bay. This was to join Colin and Josh on this day's charter, there were going to be 6 guests aboard.
See next post

Thursday, June 16, 2011

prev continued

Hi Again,
To continue the story.
So there I am on the mooring, Saturday night, dingy is stowed away, and I have no intention of getting it ready for going ashore again. I'm sitting there wondering what will happen tomorrow, I tried for 2 hours underwater to get the shaft back into the coupling with no success, a complication to this is the fact that the new bearing fitted in Antigua had also popped out as the shaft is now smaller diameter and the shoulder pushed it out as well. I am sitting there thinking the boat will have to come out the water again with all that extra expense. So I thought I would be irresponsible and on my own get drunk! Which I did! Next day Sunday I was up and ready to have one last go before contacting the shipyard, having lined everything up on the inside I jumped in the water and very carefully gave the propeller a good shove, heavens to mergatroyds it went in just as smooth as you like!
I shot back on board and put a new bolt in as quick as I could, and heaved a big sigh of relief! Another hour later and everything was back to normal again, what a good result, you all may understand just how made up I was with that.
I was now able to head back to St John and Coral Bay, I needed to get there before Monday night as I had been invited to a Karaoke night at a bar called 'Island Blues' by Lindsey from Buxom II, to hear her sing. Lindsey and Colin aboard Buxom II were my rivals in Antigua Classic's 2010, and Foxy's Regatta this year.
The Simpson Bay Bridge opened at 1630hrs and I was first through, hoisted all sail and set course for St John, a good wind blowing I was soon doing 7-7.5 knts. new battery charger was on line and watermaker on, A magic nights sail and all the next day, and I made the 90 odd Nm arriving at 1630hrs with a full tank of fresh sea water. Lindsey came over about 1830hrs on her way to the bar and so I went along and enjoyed a really good night, I did sing a couple of songs too, we even did a duet!
That brings me up to date for the moment, I am chilling out here for a bit, this St John is a bit of a special Island, it was bought by Rockafella and he gave it to the American nation as a National Park, (on condition he could build a posh hotel complex) this has given it protection over the years, and the lifestyle and people who live here are quite something else.
More about my plans after this later.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Coral Bay St John US Virgin Islands

Hi everyone,
A quickie post, After the new charger blew up on my way to Jost Van Dyke, and after a couple of days in Round bay inside coral bay at anchor, I made the decision to go back to St Maarten to sort it out. This was accomplished and took 2 days arrived 9-06-11, after having breakfast and clearing customs and going to the shop I walked out 10 mins later with a new unit, great. On my way back to the boat my outboard packed in, only time I didnt take the oars! got a lift back then the anchor dragged, I was in the middle of connecting the new charger with all the electrics dissconnected S****T, got a tow from a Spanish cruising guy to a mooring. Next day Saturday 11-06 was all set to make the 11.30am bridge opening everything working AOK. got to the bridge and just as it opened whilst going astern I heard a snap sound and shaft came out of the coupling, in the middle of the channel with loads of boats coming and going, dropped anchor and ended up outside the customs dock at anchor with the coast guard cutter wanting to go alongside! it all happens to me. They towed me away eventually and put me back on the same mooring, now engineless.
More Later

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Foxy's Wooden Boat Regatta

Hi Everyone,
Well I was all set for the regatta in time, a lot of boats started to arrive during last Thursday and Friday.
Met a few people from this and last years Antigua regatta ashore, so a bit of catching up to do and stories to tell on both sides.
Registration started at 1830hrs Friday night, I chose to do the single handed Saturday and crewed race on Sunday, then we had the welcome party.......We all made new friends and partied hard. But most people went back to thier boats early including me.
Saturday morning went ashore for the skippers briefing at 0930hrs, we had gathered together on the moorings for a laugh, back to the boat and with a safety person on board 'Martha' crew aboard 'Principito' first days race the single handed for wooden boats would start at 1100hrs, which it did in light winds and a shortened course.
I had a particullaly good start and was off east to Sandy Cay round to starboard out to a mark and back across the line westerly...1ST!
Afterwards we all rafted up and started the party, then ashore for the party there in the evening. What a good time we had, such fun.
Sunday was the crewed race Josh who I met last year and his friend Sean, I couldn't find the others and went to the 'Picton Castle' (try finding it on the internet amazing boat) who were also at Antigua this year, they were Pass/crew aboard her but got told they were ashore.
We had a good race but got beaten on the downwind leg by a twin masted local boat and came second. We then heard on the radio that there was another race! this time a fun one. A lot of boats hadn't even finished the first one when the second one started so I didn't start till they got back 45mins later. During that time we went to the 100 foot three masted schooner commitee boat to ask if this was all true and got offered a bottle of Goslings rum if we could get it, this while waiting, a couple of manouvers later and we had the bottle! after that fun part we were all back at the anchorage with six boats rafted up having a party, lots of Rum flowing in good party syle. Then later ashore for the prize giving, more rum, more rum then for a change more rum! I recieved a first prize of $100 us against a new battery,with a handmade sailbag, second prize a scrimshaw engraved handled knife, needless to say the party carried on into the wee hours, lots of dancing tomfoolery and god knows what else, we all managed to get back to the boats and continued the party there.
As most of these boats come over from St John US Virgins, I was invited back there, Buxom II, had also invited me last year as well, so Monday saw a mass exodus to St John 'Coral Bay' every single one of us suffering a hangover!
So present Position: 18,20.10N , 064,40.64W in Round Bay East side of 'Coral Bay' St John. Customs gave me till November to escape.
If I get internet will post pics