29 Nov 2018

29th November 2018: Final day, Prickly Bay!

Yes we're finally heading north today for St Lucia after three and a half weeks at anchor in Prickly Bay getting things sorted on board. After a frantic scramble yesterday we're ready (we think!) or at least as ready as we can be. Despite a last minute failure of a battery charger on Sunday evening, a great Trinidadian marine electrician worked miracles yesterday fitting it and the ampmeter. So now we can charge the batteries and see how full they are as well.

Our neighbours from home cruised into Grenada for the day on Tuesday and we had a fun few hours on board, showing them Tumi and our lifestyle and catching up on the news from home. We're meeting up with Mum in St Lucia for the day on Sunday and will be collecting the things we either forgot or couldn't fit into our bags from her. Hence the push to sail up there.

I'm pleased to report my toe is making a good recovery and I'm going for a walk this morning before we sail. It's been very frustrating!!

We're both looking forward to actually sailing today, our first time since March. Hope we can remember how!

24 Nov 2018

24th November 2018 Prickly Bay

Well, what a week! We have finally got the better of the power anomaly by scrapping the dodgy MPPT controller and getting our money back, and replacing it with a different one that we can manage via Bluetooth, and can see at any time how much energy is being pushed into the batteries. The spiking on the circuit has disappeared so we are much happier with that.

The Thanksgiving lunch on Thursday was great fun, a potluck affair where everyone made a side dish and the venue roasted the turkeys ... in a pizza oven! There were competitions for trimming boats with extra flags and we won a prize!

We both are too much and followed that up yesterday with lunch and dinner out! So much for any weight loss!!

Yesterday afternoon Debra damaged a toe getting into the dinghy when the painter (that's the rope we use to tie the dinghy to the boat or a dock) got in between her toes and bent one sideways. Her foot is now black and blue and swollen and in need of some reiki treatment to ease the pain. We won't be doing too much walking in the next few days.

Actually, today is the first day in ages that we don't need to do anything, and so that's exactly what we are going to do, nothing!

Our neighbours from Chagford are arriving in Grenada on Tuesday, so we will spend the day with them, then on Wednesday or Thursday we will have the last two bits of equipment fitted, and then we are out of here sailing!

We will head up to Carriacou and clear customs and immigration there, take advantage of the duty free fuel once we clear out and fill up the Jerry cans and fuel tank. From there we will head north, maybe stop into Bequia for the night, flying the quarantine flag, then continue up to St Lucia.

21 Nov 2018

21st November 2018 Prickly Bay

It's been a frustrating few days. We fitted two new solar panels on Saturday, U-bolted onto the existing frame. All went apparently well. I did the wiring from the isolator backwards to the solar panels. We have a controller to govern the charge to the batteries to stop them overcharging, the works. It should all have gone smoothly but unfortunately, it appears that something in the extra load of energy running through the electrical system has disrupted a circuit. The result of this is that our stand-alone battery bank in the bow has a power anomaly and the voltage has been fluctuating abnormally. This has triggered the power alarm on many occasions. Not good. The panels look nice though, as far as solar panels can look nice!

Anyway, three days later with input from fellow cruisers, lots of rewiring and insertion of two in-line fuses as isolators, and the charge going directly to the batteries, we seem to have settled the fluctuation down a bit. We are monitoring the situation but a local solar panel expert seems to think it should be okay.

On a good note, we needed to have an AIS transceiver for the world ARC instead of just the receiver we currently have. I fitted the new wiring yesterday, including a separate switch to be able to run silent without transmission in areas where we don't want to be seen. We needed a cross-over cable (120 eastern Caribbean dollars) to tmake a link to our existing network, but once installed, it was bingo! I scooted across to a neighbouring boat in the anchorage to find out whether they could see us and yes, a tick in the box. Something went well for once.

Tomorrow is US Thanksgiving lunch at the local hostelry, we are making brownies and roasted vegetables as our contribution. It will be nice to do nothing for a day.
Another good note is that we are nearly there with the canvas work and it's looking great. We have a dry cockpit area now which will be a real treat!

Somehow it feels that we are finally getting sorted. We still need a couple more things fitted and we are good to go sailing!!!

16 Nov 2018

16/11/2018: Grenada

We had a late night last night, well by cruising standards that is. 11.30pm, the cruising equivalent of 2.30am given nine o'clock is known as the cruisers' midnight. Several G&Ts and glasses of wine being enjoyed with new Canadian friends, a fun evening was had by all.

Today should be the final day we have the riggers on board, a nice crew of local men led by Wayne, a rigger with over fifteen years experience of climbing up masts. So we now have a working furler for the genoa, a replacement steel lower for the one that was coming unwound and three halyards (lines) dropped inside the mast. When Wayne removed another of the steel cables holding the mast upright (they have to do this one at a time so the mast doesn't fall down) we asked to inspect it before he took it away to make a replacement. His boss, the chap who had surveyed the rigging for us, had said the fittings were badly rusted and pitted and we were interested to see how bad they were. They didn't look too bad to our untrained eye (and off the record Wayne agreed with us too) so we asked him to clean them up first so we could have a proper look at them. Lo and behold, an hour later they were shining like new with no evidence of any pitting at all. So we got the surveyor to have a look at them again with his magnifying glass and he agreed they didn't need replacing after all! We made the decision to have Wayne clean up and inspect all the other fittings first to decide which, if any needed replacing. The answer: none. Obviously we're pleased not to have the additional expense of replacing half of the standing rigging, but not so impressed with the initial assessment of the rigging surveyor.

We're into our third day of predominantly cloudy weather with a few showers thrown in. It's still very warm and it's a shame our cockpit enclosure isn't complete as otherwise we'd be able to sit outside. Instead we have to stay inside during the showers with the hatches closed and it soon gets very hot indeed.

We're using our time on board waiting for the various marine tradesmen to work on 'Survival', the sequel to 'Meltdown', our first literary endeavour, and it's flowing very well.  We've written over 15,000 words now and are enjoying developing the characters brought forward from the prequel. We're aiming to have it finished before we set sail for the Pacific so have about 8 weeks left. At the current output, that shouldn't be too much of a problem!

All being well the new solar panels should arrive today and we'll get them fitted this weekend. It will be nice to know the batteries are being kept topped up more efficiently without us having to run the generator as long each day. It will be a big advantage for the Pacific where the availability of diesel may be more limited.

So all in all, things are heading in the right direction and we may even be able to sail before too much longer.

14 Nov 2018

13th November 2018 - Grenada

Today has been a real trial. Yesterday our water pump decided to ignore its pressure switch and it over pressurised the system, causing the pressure relief valve to open yet again. It just shows that the relief valve was doing what it should, but it was not what we needed.

Anyway, we have a spare pump and I burrowed into the garden shed (the sail locker) beneath the false floor where I keep my spares and got the replacement out. The old pump worked through a relay which involved more wires than the new model had. We traced everything through the relay to work out which wire does what, and we still didn't have enough connections. Anyway, we split a wire and finally came up with a solution that worked and now the water system works properly again. I have ordered a replacement pressure switch which I will substitute at a later date onto the old pump to make it into a new spare. I know the pump worked, so with a new pressure switch it should be hunky dory.

That done, we expected to have a relaxed evening. Not so. We put the watermaker on and having filled our drinking water bottles, we switched over to fill the tanks. Unfortunately when I was doing the pump repair this morning I turned off the inlet valve to the tanks and forgot to open it again. The pressure from the watermaker built sufficiently to burst a joint behind the control panel which in turn flooded the bilge. Two hours of tracing the source of the leak and repairing the damaged joint we put the boat back together again.

In addition to this, the riggers have taken one of the shrouds down to make two new ones. They will be back tomorrow morning early to continue replacing the rigging bit by bit.

We also had the refrigerator man back to take another look at the freezer compressor. He re-gassed the system a little, and touch wood, it has settled down a bit now. He also reduced the rpms for the motor and that should make it run smoother and more efficiently.

One good thing from today is that we have some smart new canvas to keep the cockpit dry when it rains. We feel that we are getting there.

We have reserved two solar panels and a regulator to fit on Tumi. This will boost the battery bank and keep them topped up. We will be fitting them next week.

 A couple more weeks of hard work and who knows, we might be able to go sailing again!

10 Nov 2018

10 November 2018: Prickly Bay, Grenada

One week in and it definitely feels as though we've turned a corner and things are getting back on track. After the success of Thursday (well done Paul for fixing various problems!) we awoke yesterday to find the bilge still dry and got up bright and early to fit the recently returned mainsail before the daytime winds built. It's always a fiddly job, trying to attach the top and bottom of the sail to the cars that run up the track inside the mast, especially when the hole in the mast provided to achieve this task is barely big enough for a child's hand. Once again Paul's determination won through and we now have the mainsail back on and, importantly, have stopped the spindle clanging inside the mast. Silent nights now a realistic option!

We're having a cockpit enclosure made over this and next week which will keep the cockpit dry when it rains, or if we're sailing into choppy seas. We probably should have done it when we got Tumi but better late than never. The new side panels will offer us good visibility, while the mesh sun screen at the rear will help keep us cool. It will be brilliant to be able to leave things out in the cockpit 24/7 without the worry of them getting soaked every time it rains.

The couple on the boat anchored next to us invited us over for morning coffee yesterday, a lovely couple of hours getting to know them and exchanging boating experiences. They were very admiring of Tumi, twice offering to swap yachts with us! Not a chance!! Our socialising continued last night when we joined five other couples for dinner. A fun evening.

The week ahead should see the rigging being fixed (nothing heard from Jeanneau as yet), the cockpit enclosure finished and hopefully us gaining more insight into the whole battery charging scenario on board. But today we're off to one of our favourite restaurants on the beach for lunch. There's definitely a light at the end of the re-launch tunnel!!

8 Nov 2018

8th November 2018 Prickly Bay

Prickly Bay is an apt place to be right now, prickly because we are experiencing several glitches as we get to use more facilities on board which is rather frustrating to say the least.

Yesterday we found that the water maker would only work on 12v and not on 220v - it's an essential part of our life aboard so needed to be fixed soonest.  I looked for my multimeter to check the power supply only to find someone had stolen it over the summer. I'm lost without one, so many jobs need it, but I investigated the electrical circuit for it and discovered the fuse had blown. Not just any old fuse of course, life is never that simple, so I knew I would have problems sourcing a replacement.

Anyway, we went shopping yesterday for some food essentials having been scratching around for foodstuff since we got here. There is a hardware store next door to the supermarket and that was our first port of call after we got off the bus. Debra headed for the soft furnishings department and I got the tools section. I know, boys and their toys, but this was essential to me and I got my multimeter. It was exactly like my old one that I got from Lidl, except this one was double the price. Welcome to the Caribbean!

So, this morning we noticed that the bilge pump kept kicking in to drain water from the bottom of the boat, never a good sign. I tasted the water to see if it was salty (sign of a leak in the hull fittings). Nope, fresh water. I realised it must be a weak joint in the pressurised water system. Not good. We traced it to the pressure release valve on the hot water cylinder and typically it isn't in a very accessible place (nothing is on boats!). Several cuts and scrapes later, I managed to remove the valve for inspection. At this point we had to stem the flow of water coming from the hot water tank which was hot, and Debra suggested bunging the outlet up to save my burning fingers. It worked and off I went to try and find a spare.

Unfortunately, we're in the Caribbean. Get real! No such valve exists on the island so we have had to order a replacement from the UK. We thought the existing valve might have some calcification causing the unit to stay open so we dunked it in some kettle descaler and it seems to have done the trick. We reassembled everything (more scrapes) and so far so good.

The next task was to get the water maker going. I sourced a 50amp circuit breaker to replace the faulty fuse as no fuse was to be had. Who uses fuses these days anyway? It's so antiquated. Anyway, I fitted the new breaker and the water maker is doing its thing. Two successes so far.

The next task was to repair the air fan on Debra's side of the cabin. It had decided to give up the ghost and refused to turn. Back to the trusty multimeter and I could see that there was plenty of power there but no turning fan. I stripped it down and cleaned the contacts. Hey presto! Another successful job.

In between all this activity, we had the canvas people round wanting the bimini on to see how it fitted and to determine where they will stitch zippers to add our new side panels (and hopefully keep the cockpit dry when it rains) then once they knew that, the bimini needed taking off again. We're exhausted! A couple of G&Ts and an early night beckons!

7 Nov 2018

7/11/2018 : Back afloat, Grenada

We arrived back on Saturday evening and after a pretty manic Sunday of preparation, Tumi was launched on Monday morning and we were able to move back on board. That's about where the good news stops!

Little of the work we had asked to be done while we were at home has been completed and as I type at 1.30am, unable to sleep because of the slamming spindle inside the mast, I could quite merrily swing for the sail loft who in seven months failed to find a few hours to restitch the seams on our main sail. Hence the disturbed night's sleep: without the mainsail wrapped around the spindle, thereby cushioning it from hitting the mast, the spindle slams from side to side inside the mast, metal on metal, and reverberates through the entire boat as Tumi rocks from side to side with the small swell. We've been promised the sail back by Friday ... fingers crossed.

We also returned to find that the mousing line we bought in March wasn't UV resilient and had perished over the summer. So as soon as Paul tried to pull all the lines (halyards, sheets etc) back through the mast using the mousing lines he so carefully left in situ, they collapsed like tissue paper. So we need a rigger to go to the top of the mast to drop three halyards (ropes) down inside it and hopefully be able to hook them out at the bottom.

The electrical work we had requested also hasn't been done by the but conversations on Monday and Tuesday with a different marine engineer may bear fruit ... in about 3 or 4 weeks time. Looks like we'll be in Grenada for a while!

And finally, to cap it all, the rig survey we requested before embarking on our Pacific crossing yielded a lot of problems with rusted and pitted cabling and swages bringing the integrity of the standing rigging (the bit that holds the mast up) into question. We are not very impressed: most rigs last into double figures years, indeed insurers only demand a survey once a rig is 10 years old. Ours is 4.5 years old! We have taken it up with Jeanneau but aren't holding our breath.

So all in all not a great start but nothing that time and throwing money at it can't solve. Welcome to the world of yacht maintenance in the Caribbean!! On the upside, it's sunny and warm ☀