Monday, May 15, 2017

Sailing Nights

Well this was a short season wasn't it? One more overnight hop and we will get hauled into a hot sweaty yard and perform two weeks of boat cleanup and storage work. I feel like we just did this. We did and it sucks to have to do it again so soon but life is weird sometimes.

As readers know we are not fond of overnight sailing. Weird shit happens at night.

Before we had autopilot we were doing an overnight down the east coast of the US. I commented to Deb about the high speed powerboats zipping around. Damn those are fast! We near a Navy base or something because those are definitely military. Wow! Deb says, "Those lights are stationary. You are turning the boat." Huh? I looked down at the compass and sure as shit I was turning. Good thing it was dark so my glowing red face didn't show too bad.

One night off the coast of the DR we lost all GPS systems. All of them. Even the handheld. The autopilot went nuts and so did I. What the hell is going on! I called over to SV Odin and they were like, "What the hell are you doing up there?" They never had the problem. Weird. I'm sure they looked at each other and said, Have another beer Paul!

There was a night I was on watch and downed a bag of Reese's Peanut butter cups. The whole bag. I was not right. I think I started hallucinating. To this day I can't even think of them without my stomach getting queasy.

Deb was on watch heading for Grenada and I come up and she has a strange look on her face. I ask her if there is anything I need to know. She gets up to go below and says, "A UFO and that big ship is heading for us". I ignored the sky for the UFO but saw the ship coming at us. Geezuz!! She went to bed.

Deb comes up to relieve me on our sail from Trini to Grenada. What's up? Nothing going on except that bird will not leave the Bimini. You can see it's tail sticking out over it right there. I point to it. It will not leave. I tried punching the canvas to get it to fly away but it just moves to another spot. Deb just blinked at me and I thought maybe punching the bird was bad so I explained that it shit all over the Bimini and I think it peed on my arm. Stupid shitty bird. I went below. Deb let the bird ride without trying to punch it and it hopped off within site of Grenada.

Deb was asleep in the cockpit while I was on watch. It was a little stormy so all the canvas was up and I was sitting up off the seat and next to the canvas. I had on a headlamp in case I needed light. I was just sitting there thinking of the usual weird stuff and a large something smacked into the canvas right next to my head. I damn near jumped out of my skin! I flicked the light on and unzipped the canvas to take a peek. As the rain and sea hit my face I could see a large flying fish flipping around on the deck. Holy shit that thing damn near hit me in the face! I went over to Deb and shook her awake to tell her and show her the fish but I forgot the light and she woke up to blazing LED's hitting her in her eyeballs. She thrashed a bit shielding her eyes and then told me I was an asshole and some other things I could not quite make out. I went back to save the fish but it was toast.

Off the US coast Deb says, "Damn that ship is big." I look back and see it's all lit up so it must be a cruise ship. It's heading towards us and moving fast. Nothing on AIS. Let's keep an eye on it. Minutes later. That damn thing is closer than I thought. I might have to call them to let them know we are out in front of them. Then as we are watching this "ship" the clouds part to reveal the moon rising behind us. There was laughter.

One lonely night of boring droning diesel motoring in flat seas I thought I would put the headlamp on and in the red light write a little bit. So I wrote something. I basically wrote a porn story about a sailor who has sex with a Mermaid on the deck of a sailboat while underway. I read it in the morning and I thought, what in the hell was all this about? Wow. It was a comedy of sorts but naughty as hell. I still have it but it will never be posted.

Deb was sleeping and I am sailing down Martinique. The wind is getting light. We had just enough to keep us moving at about two knots. Wait. Two knots going backwards! What the hell is going on here? I am pointing south but the GPS has me tracking north. Huh? My tired, sleep deprived brain could not get a grip on this. Before I started losing it I realized there is a current pushing north. We had just enough wind to keep the boat pointed south but the current was carrying us north. We started the diesel and continued...south!

I will try to sail in any wind before starting the diesel and Deb refuses to say, "Start the motor". No one wants to run under power but I am too stubborn to give up on sailing and Deb has this weird thing about not being the one to decide to power up. It can get strange as we drift along at 3 knots. Eventually I give in and then Deb frowns like she wanted to sail at 3 knots all day but Mr. Motorhead has to burn some dinosaur juice.

Don't sail with us. It's maddening. Ask our kids :D

We have another overnight in store for us as we head further south. I am hoping for a normal voyage but just once I would like to see the UFO.


"Sailing Nights"

Like the wind that carried ahab
To a far, more distant shore,
To a shipwreck that was certain
Long before.
I can see there's no use sailing
Among ships i've known before.
It will only bring me more,
And more and more
Lonely sailing nights, more,
Racing, dimming lights.
Lonely nights, and all too
Familiar sights.

Just as water seeks its level,
So i only seek to live;
Hoping somehow i can find
A way to give.
And the sea, it softly beckons,
"come and go where you've not been."
With the dawning of a new day,
I'm gone, again.
Lonely sailing nights, ... gone,
Racing, dimming lights,
Lonely nights,
And all too
Familiar sights.

By Bob Seger
posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sparks will fly

Cruising is full of surprises. Some are good, like meeting people in a bar and becoming friends. Some are bad, like an early morning start to sailing to your next island and smelling something electrical burning.

We were in Bequia and leaving before sunrise to head up the chain to St Lucia. Way too early for us two. We were like zombies getting the boat prepped for voyage and it was time to start the engine and let her warm up. We are not 'start and go' people when it comes to systems. We like them to run up a bit and then we check to make sure everything is hunky dory. Hell we are not start and go with anything especially getting an early start, as our old "buddy boat" knows.

Something smelled wrong. We had not showered in a few days but this was something unrelated to the body.

Our engine room blower exits at deck level and if something is burning in there we will know it quickly and we sure did that morning. I thought it smelled electrical and Deb thought it smelled like a belt burning. I went below to find the alternator smoking and when the engine room door opened the smoke alarm went off and I yelled for Deb to shut the engine down. We went from peaceful easy morning to WTF IS HAPPENING! in just a few minutes and I am not sure our early morning zombie brains could really get a handle on it.

After a quick inspection for anything obvious we started back up and I checked the current from the alternator to the batteries. Damn, not much there for trying to restore a bank at 85%. We shut her down again and I gave Debra the bad news that the alternator was probably shot. I came to this conclusion when molten stuff was flying out of the vents accompanied by smoke and the distinct smell of electrical components burning. Deb just put her head in her hands realizing we are staying for a while and then said we are heading back. "Too many failures. This season is jinxed and I am not going any further risking a disabled boat." I understood.

This engine has always had a high output alternator. I didn't want one so I removed the old 135 amp beast and tried to put an 80 amp in it's place but everyone talked me into at least a 100 amp unit. Our Yanmar 4jh does not like anything that size even with a 1/2 inch belt but I listened to the experts and went with the Balmar 100 amp super expensive alternator with the ARS-5 super deluxe regulator. Wow. I felt superior. Superior and poor. That shit was expensive.

One year into cruising and the ARS-5 lit up like a roman candle and ate itself in the Abacos. Two years later the Alternator did the same thing. Son of a ...

Everyone online thought we were doomed. No way will you find an alternator in Bequia. Out of sheer luck we did. There was a Hitachi internally regulated 80 amp alternator in a box on a shelf in some obscure little shop behind a hairdresser and under some palm trees run by a sleepy guy who really wanted to help and knew his gear. The only thing he didn't know was if the thing was internally or externally regulated. There were no model numbers anywhere. The box it came in was not the original. It was a sketchy deal but we were desperate sailors.

We found this guy by stopping at the local chandlery where a young Aussie fellow said he knows a guy who can help and to go to the petrol station and cross the street to a field with a bodega/shop. Go behind the shop and follow the path to a gate. Go through the gate and ask for Cary. We found Cary and he said we need to go see Piper. Take the back road towards the church and he is on the right by the hair cutters but don't go past the church.

We bought the alternator from Piper after verifying through Wifi that we had the right style. Unfortunately there were no wiring diagrams and the wifi on the boat is extremely poor but what the hell, there are only three termination points to deal with. I should be good.

It didn't work. The alternator case was only marked with 'Batt' nothing else. I assumed the negative batt cable went to the terminal in contact with the case. Wrong. I assumed the blue wire coming out the side of the case was the field wire. Wrong. I assumed the alternator was externally regulated. Wrong. I suck at this. Correct!

To make a rather long story short (not short enough you say) I found some patience and waited for Debra to search for a schematic. We found one from some forum and some random dude bitching about his Hitachi alternator wiring. He sketched the correct wiring with explanation of the terminals. Awesome!

Our internally regulated alternator (damn) had the negative batt cable relocated to the correct terminal (not grounded) and there is no field wire (internal regulator) and the vertical blade on the T-connector is the ignition wire. Let's go make some amps! Nope. The random dude had the wrong terminal on the T-connector. Now let's go make some amps! Ta Da!

This morning we will start the engine while the batts are down about 70 amp hrs and we should see the alternator kick in with a full load. Hoping not to see smoke or burning belts or smelling anything burning except the spliff from the lobster guy.


Paradise. More like Pair a Dice. Every voyage is a roll of the dice. You feeling lucky?

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Ah, this poor neglected blog. I was on a roll there for a while and now I slacked off again. I blame the internet. For some stupid reason we have been blessed with good wifi since we got back. We have no cell phone contract or prepaid minutes. This is just pure luck with a wifi booster antenna. I know this will end sooner or later so I have been taking advantage of it and basically binging on Youtube guitar lessons and watching Adult Swim on the cartoon network. Yes, I watch that. I find it hilarious especially Robot Chicken which apparently no one else around me enjoys.

Deb and I have some common ground on humor but then I tend to branch off into what she calls weird shit. Kind of like the blog sometimes. After she reads this blog she will just shake her head and not say anything. I'm like, What? What's wrong with it? Is it too weird? Offensive? She doesn't say anything and she know's it bothers the shit out of me. I bet she snickers on her way to the aft cabin knowing I am re-reading the blog post.

By the way, I will only watch youtube or any vids late at night so I do not soak up the bandwidth for others. The guitar lessons I set for download after midnight. About the only people I am bothering at that point are the pervs watching porn :D

Without getting too much into politics, I have been zoomed in on the latest crapola coming out of DC because the ACA is near and dear to our survival out here. I refuse to call it by it's other name. It is the Affodable Care Act and it helps people like us (no income and retired) and our grandson who has kidney disease. Without New York State's free child health care I feel our kids would be very challenged financially right now. You get the picture. The ACA is not perfect but for us it is a blessing. Hoping it will morph into single payer for all.

So enough of that. What else have we been doing besides zombified internet browsing?
Mostly we are just lounging around the boat like seals sunning on a rock. I do find time for projects when the mood strikes me. I have some gelcoat repairs to make and some wiring fix ups. The engine could use some cleaning/rust removal in some spots. The boat is kind of grundgy after the mechanics spent several days onboard spreading grease everywhere. They made a sad effort to clean it up and I was thinking if this was a new Hinckley they would be sending a crew back out to make it shine, but because we are just an old Morgan they made a wipe or two and left. One of these days we will find the time to re-paint the interior and re-varnish the wood. I know, get off the rock and get to work right? Yeah well we have almost written off this season because it is so short so we are just focused on sailing and island hopping until we have to get back to Trini to fly home.

We are experienced now in hauling and yard work in Trini and we know who and how to get things done quickly. We will be prepared and are actually going to get some interior carpentry work done. We will also make sure the hull and deck are cleaned and waxed properly this time. No major projects are planned other than adding more solar. Another 200 watts will be perfect. We will add these to the top of the Bimini. The current 400 ah battery bank appears to be the proper size. We lose about 50 ah overnight and by 2pm we are fully charged. Another 200 watts should get us to float by noon I would think.

That's all I have to say right now I guess. Fairly normal blog post from what I can see. Might have to weird it up a little next time. Maybe once we got to a more crowded anchorage I will have some ideas. This place is pretty mellow. We have South Africans and Brits all round us and they are pretty boring (normal). We had some Norwegians nearby that were interesting. The ladies went to shore in thongs. Yes, thongs. I was in the dinghy waiting to get the groceries handed to me by Deb and I froze as two tall blonde ladies in thongs stood up in their dinghy and smiled at my slack jaw and frozen outstretched arm waiting for Deb to hand me a bag. I can't help it. It's my American upbringing. I had to stare. Deb was not amused but she had the Norwegian guys in Trini to look at.

So today I will do a few chores and then get back on that rock for a nap in the Sun. Looks like Carriacou next week for more fun times.


posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Magic Peas

Last week Deb bought me some Channa which is dried and roasted chickpeas with just the right salt and pepper. A very tasty snack. I couldn't eat enough of them. In fact I ate the whole jar in 2 nights. What I didn't know was they are magic peas! Yep, super high in fiber and I am talking very. high. fiber. No fiber pills for me. I'm eating Channa! Deb, buy some more!

This week Deb bought another bottle of Channa. I grabbed a handful and munched away with a happy face. My happy Channa face soon turned red because the channa was 3rd degree burning my mouth! HOT HOT! What the hell? There is nothing on the label that says hot. Deb said it's the same one she bought last time. Damn. I had major hiccups. Damn that's fking hot Channa!

I ate them anyway. Sure they were hot but I liked it. I ate half the bottle. You kind of get used to the flame after a bit. Then bed time came around. I read for a while then closed my eyes. Burning. My stomach is burning. Oh god. My eyes sprung open and I went for some water. I drank a half gallon and it still burned. It burned all damn night and I swear I could feel that chickpea lava work it's way all down the pipe while I lay under a hatch in the salon swearing at myself for eating those god damn things. Oh the pain.

After sweating it out for hours I finally went back to bed. I think I nodded off after a half hour and then - Oh no. The chickpeas want to leave. But, but it's 3 am!

[insert imagined TMI]

After wiping...the tears from my eyes I was ready to finally get some sleep. Ahh, sleep.

BEEP BEEP BEEP!! The alarm went off at 5 am so I can get ready to make the bus to the farmers market in Port of Spain. Ah crap. I got up and made some tea and got dressed. I sipped my tea with half open eyes and after fifteen minutes of  I went to the stern to lower the dinghy. Uh Oh. Oh no. Channa Lava! I ran back to the head.

Screw the farmers market. Saturday was a long day. I kept falling asleep and waking up with a burning lower half. It was better laying down than sitting. It didn't help that Friday was St Patty's day and I may have tipped a few extra brews. Deb reminded me that I only ate Channa for dinner so my stomach was filled with flaming hot chickpeas in a beer stew. Not too smart.

I'm better now. Today was good and healthy. I took Deb in to get laundry done while I put water in the tanks. On the way to get Deb I found the old crushed jar of the 1st purchase of Singh's Whole Channa laying in the dinghy. The label was green though. The last one Deb bought is red. Same brand. AH HA! Red means hot!? WTF. It should say HOT on the label! I don't know. I'm gonna buy a green label tomorrow and see.

On a historical note: Channa was the go to snack at movie theaters in Trinidad up until recently. You would buy it from carts outside and bring it in to munch on while watching a movie. I would love to munch on Channa instead of popcorn at the movies though I would have been the one with the hiccups down in front saying, "Shit, these are the hot ones!" while I slurped all my drink and crunched the ice to cool off. Shhh! Quiet please - they would have whispered. "Some people are such flaming assholes."

Eat, drink and be regular.

There is good magic and there is bad. Look for the green label.

Looks harmless

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, February 24, 2017

Relax. Be merry.

The boatyard blues were playing for most of the last month weren't they? It seemed like we made progress towards 'launch and leave' but then got knocked back to 'stay and fix' status. After a while it got tiring. Some people handle this well. I used to do it every day and handle it with a smile and sarcasm. I tried that this time and for the most part it worked. Despite the yard setbacks I continued my merry ways, whistling and living in my head where life is good.

Debra on the other hand got real quiet. But how is that possible you say, because Debra is already so quiet. Well, Debra is in charge of money monitoring. When you see money flowing in one direction for a very long time you get concerned. When Debra gets concerned she gets quiet. Sometimes I have to purposefully look to see if she is still there. Yep, there she is.

When I was single and had a good paycheck I would go my merry way (today's word is merry) doing this and that until I realized I had no money until the next paycheck. Oh, damn. I guess it's spaghetti and Genesee Beer week again. Genny was the cheap local brew. Debra was not like this at all. Debra would live on beer and spaghetti on purpose to save money. She was merry when she wanted to be.

Normally I am the paranoid pessimist onboard this vessel. I will fret over stuff I can not control and talk myself into worrying about things that I have done thousands of times before with no problems. It's who I have been all my life. I like the what if's a lot. When it comes to money I act differently. For some reason I do not freak out about it like I should. It's not like I am a big spender either. When we owned a home I had tools and yard gear that was 15 yrs old and it was not premium stuff. My cars were company cast offs and when we needed a new car I took Debra's old one. We didn't have dining or living room furniture for almost ten years after we built the house. Frugal to say the least. It's how we always roll.

This could be the reason I do not freak out about it that much. We are so frugal in many ways that I know we will be all right. I do not need a spreadsheet to know this. I have a number in my head and the number is good. I have an idea how the markets are doing and they are doing OK right now. I have a few people I trust watching these things. Now, being markets they can explode at any time. This I will talk my way into worrying about. I will hypothesize about our latest invitees into the white house will start a war we can't handle and the world economy will collapse and we will starve to death in a remote anchorage or killed by mobs of people angry at Americans. Debra may think about this scenario (maybe not) but does not let it get to her. Probably because she is so focused on the money flow. Deb does not like to spend money. Never has. It physically hurts her I think. The only time Debra liked spending money is on the kids and Grandkids. Then it pours. Then I get quiet. "You know they will out grow these outfits in 2 months right?" But they're so cute!

For now, I will merrily go about this cruising life while we are here making repairs. I will chat with the mechanics and ask dumb questions. I will laugh at something funny on the internet while eating lunch. I will have a beer and talk about the neighbors. I will cook something not so delicious and then put hot sauce on it to make it better. I will whistle while I work on odd jobs around the boat. I will annoy Debra in many ways.

Deb will sit quietly and ponder the many ways I could be silenced while she keeps track of our spending. It's a depressing job but someone has to do it...I suppose.

Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you may die.

posted from Bloggeroid