This is a facinating place but a little to slow and laid back for me. We like to have a bit more going on. If one likes to be disconnected from the world this is one place to hang out. The internet is on about 1/2 the time. There are no restaurants. Monique on Aloha did purchase some fried seafood at a community gathering. However, that is not quite my style.
For the most part the anchorage is fine. For 5 days it was perfect, then the seas started building up and now we have some wrap around swell into the harbor. That swell causes the boat to roll from side to side. We’ve put out one flopper stopper to change the rhythm of the roll and slow it down making it more comfortable. Flopper Stoppers have made life aboard Elysium tolerable more than once.
And finally the frosting on the cake is Mother Nature. For the last 4-5 days a stationary front has been hanging over us. Winds 20-30 knots for 3 days, no Sun for 4 out of 5 days and rain for the last 24 hours.
I feel for the people on the cruise ship that visited Mystery Island. Rain puts me off but there were plenty of Aussies (the ship berths in Sydney this time of year) that braved the weather. As the most interesting thing we could hope for here was the cruise ship, we’re looking to head north. When the wx clears a bit we will motor or sail N to Tana where we can get up close to a volcano.
Oh, and lest I forget… it is cold here. I’ve been in the tropics so long that winter on the border is blanket time.
I don’t often do this. There is an excellent deal out there for someone looking to jump into cruising. Friends of mine have finished their dream, their circumnavigation and are selling their boat. It is a sistership to ours. While we were upgrading and refurbishing Elysium I always looked to their boat as the gold standard.
And yet that is not the good news for someone looking to “jump”. IMHO this boat price is where you would get the best bang for the dollar. Yes, as in any boat nothing is perfect and there will be issues needing to be addressed. You would find the same needs in a brand new million dollar boat. At one boat show I put my hand in a dorade and removed it with a cut. There was an errant piece of cured fiberglass that wasn’t trimmed off. And this was on a $1.2 million vessel.
However with Infini’s owners I can tell you they were and are meticulous yachties. The pictures on their page are accurate. The boat looks as the pictures show. It sails well; I know because I have the same hull and rig setup. It is sea kindly. Again I know cause we’ve several thousand miles of off shore work on ours. It is easily managed by a couple… again I know! 🙂 Best of all; dollars / lb you could begin cruising with most everything you need much sooner than you think. Good Luck in pursuing your dreams.
We’ve left Cartagena. Gone is the breeze filled with greasy dust, gone are the sounds of the city, gone is the constant boat traffic. We had a pleasant sail 15 nm S to Chalon.
We’re anchored here waiting on weather to head to the San Blas Islands, about 150 miles W of here.
So while we wait we play. Robert (an ex – pat) has a house and a converted Shrimp boat that we’ve spent a couple of evenings on telling tales.
We’ve met some more cruisers that are slowly moving to Cartagena or on to the San Blas. We’ve done a little laundry as well as a few of the constant maintenance items all boats require.
And we took a walk to the town of Baru Village (for more pics look at Valentina‘s site and scroll 1/2 way down). About 4 miles distant we went with Sonny and Kay
(sv Valentina) as our tour guides, and two other sets of cruisers. As we traversed the rutted rock hard road, best called a super wide path or trail; we stopped at all the establishments along the way, a small Tienda (store), two resorts (Sport Baru and Playa Scondida ), met a few of the Colombians that Sonny and Kay know, watched a dog fight (not planned), dodged all the motor cycles and eventually made it to town.
The motor cycles are the principal mode of transportation along this coast, that and boats. Chalon is really an island and to get from the island to the mainland one either takes the ferry or a water taxi. A few cars take the ferry as well as anyone with a great deal of supplies. The water taxi will take individuals for about $8 US one way and if you want to make a return trip from Cartagena you have about 2-3 hours to do your shopping or you stay overnight.
In Baru we had a palatable dinner for W and I along with drinks for approx 11 bucks US. Then we strolled some more till we found a house that sold ice cream for 50 cents US. We passed the school,
strolled by the new Chicken Fighting arena, observed that everyone does have a job in the community, and met another local who runs a large water taxi that moves goods from and to the Rosarios (a tourist island -park) , Cartagena, Chalon, and Baru. He’s having new planks put in his boat and expects to be up and running again this month.
We stroll back the same road, tell more tales, we travel a little slower and I actually ended up with a blister on my right foot! I’m not really use to wearing shoes, even tennis shoes for that long or that far.
We ended up at Jaime’s (Himey’s). He’s the caretaker of some property that a reputed drug (note: reputed) lord owned. The owner hasn’t been seen in almost a year and a half. How properties continue then to be cared for, taxes paid, and caretakers paid is beyond me. I’m guessing that the rent is free and what ever they earn off the property is theirs right now. But Jaime and his family are pleasant and cruiser friendly. They even do laundry for cruisers should one need that service. If we stay long enough we’ll have them do our towels and sheets.
Hopefully we’ll be heading to the San Blas in a day or so. Our internet connection will be no more when we leave so blog updates will not be as frequent as they’ve been. I know I can set up the blog to read an email act that I have, but I confess I’ve been too lazy to do that. For you and I, I’m thinking the break will be good. I’ll write next in the San Blas if all goes to plan.
Westsail is going through a site change and they’ve located, or rather Bud has located two old promotional videos that the corporation had made in the ’70’s . I found them such a hoot to watch, stepping back 30 years to see the boats, the places, and to hear the ideas narrated by the designer of the Westsail 42 and 43 – Bill Crealock.
For those interested, here are the two videos from whence my dream and consequently W/s dream found sustenance .
If you’ve watched them you found the title of this blog in the second video. There too was a comment that resonated with me: “while our living space has shrunk to 40 feet our horizons have expanded to the world”.
The day’s going smoothly, at least it was at first. I commented to W/ that this is “Rather Pleasant”. She likes to use that phrase and I like to joke with it. It was rather plesaant. We were moving well, ahead of our schedule and the seas were not too bad. About 2 – 3 meters. There was enough of a breeze out that the sail didn’t bang back and forth. We were able to get some small things done in keeping us alive and in keeping all things working well.
Somehow, although we’ve had some good passages, we’ve not yet had the “perfect” passage. When we needed to make a course correction I moved back to adjust the Sail o Mat and saw that the piece I had just installed had began to slide out. This time it would NOT have permanently entered Davie Jones’ Locker as we did have the safety line on. Time to fix. We disconnected the wind vane and W/ took the helm. I turned the windvane sail so the oar came up the way I could work on it, using the safety line, lifted it out of the water up to horizontal and then tied it off. There I went in search of the correct Allen Wrench and set about to put the oar back in the correct spot. Since it was horizontal it was easy to slide but lining up the hole in the oar tube with the hole for the set screw was going to be more problematic. As I had lubricated the opening the oar tube slides in, as the tube moved a little in and out the lubricant was now smeared about 3 cm up and down the tube. I couldn’t find the hole. Luckily to align the oar tube the first time I had marked on the bottom of the tube with permanent maker where the tube sat and the center. Finding that and placing it just so; all the while I was hanging out the stern of the boat with my harness clipped in, I was able to get the set screw snugged back down. In the manual for the sail o mat there is no mention of how much torque to apply to the set screw. Also in the manual they say to “lubricate” the set screw! IMHO this is part of the issue. Maybe someday I should remove the lubrication, clean the threads and use a thread locking sealant. Right now though I won’t try that. Get the screw tightened down and get the wind vane back steering the boat. I snugged the bolt down about as much as I could hanging over the stern of the boat. That done I lowered the oar back into the water and we set about connecting the lines again. W/ and I discussed now that it would be best if I checked the screw every 4 – 6 hours. Then I could tighten the screw if it needed to be. If it wouldn’t move after two checks then I had good confidence that it would be fine.
Back on course we’re truckin. Things are working well and we’re beginning to settle in for the night. Just as I retire we hear a “pop”. One of the safety doubling lines holding the block to the windvane let go. We use a smallish line and it’s set in the Sun all year so I figure “ok”, just replace it. The line is the small twisted nylon line you can buy in any hardware store. I cut some more line, weaved it around the block and the control line and hook it up. Viola! Again the Wind vane is steering. “Pop”! It breaks. Damn! Ok, do it again. “Pop”! DAMN! Investigate. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me! I discover the knots are sliding on the line and letting go. It’s hard to tie a good knot in this line. The third time I tied a square knot and immediately behind the square knot tied another square knot, hoping that if the line slid, one knot would back the other up and tighten the first. We reconnected the vane gear and the boat is sailing itself. 5 minute, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, good! Looks like I’ll be able to retire; sleep, again.
Overall the night went without further event. At midnight I turned on our aft nav light to light up the windvane and checked the set screw at our watch change. It hadn’t moved anymore. Great. W/ went below for some shut eye and I took over the deck. The worst thing about the wx now was that every so often we would get slapped up the side of the boat by a wave and the spray would cover a great part of the cockpit. All things outside were getting a salt water wash. This was by no means a good thing. Salt seems to encroach on anything near by and we endeavor to keep salt off our bodies and out of the boat as much as possible.
During our passage we had been keeping a SSB contact schedule with Passport and via the grapevine; Wind Whisperer and Kiaja’sSong, Mostly the signal has been best with Wind Whisperer and Kiaja’sSong as Aruba is open to the direction of our trip. Passport was in Santa Marta surrounded by mountains. Gary on Kaija’sSong had said we could expect some small showers and we did get a couple of fresh water rinses. Ironically they didn’t do much to remove the salt from the boat and they didn’t seem to flatten the seas. But with our foul weather gear on they didn’t do much to either of us. We just hid in the corner by the dodger and let the showers pass.
The following day I downloaded the new GRIBs. Each morning I download a new set of them. The forecasters are quite good at 24 hours and beyond that we’re probably better off throwing the dice. So far each days set of GRIB’s has shown us that we would have a good passage. This morning I downloaded them to see. Oh-Oh. The forecast for the rest of the day is 30 kts or what Meteorologist say is “Windy”. 35 mph and about 55 kph. We were in for quite a ride.
The day wore on. As the wind would push up to the 30 kts (Force 7 ) range the seas would built to about 5 meters
or 15 feet. Some would roll through quite large as different wave trains would combine. The wind and the seas and the green water from Río Magdalena are what sailors call hearabouts “Green Monsters”. Some would just be awesome to watch. And W/ would say some would be down right “scary”! The large ones would roll us first down the hill then up the back side we would go. We’d watch the water boil at the top of the waves. The wind was blowing hard enough that as the wavelets would break the wind would blow the water right off the wave. As exciting as it was it was wearing on us. The waves were closer together and the motion was a lot of work The only really good things were that the waves weren’t associated with the explosive wind gusts found in squalls and we would be making land fall tomorrow.
As we began to pull the anchor W/ said the engine sounded funny when she put the boat into gear. Up to this point she (Elysium) had purred like a kitten! We had added fuel about a week ago and when we moved her to the fuel dock and back she purred then too. How things on a boat can literally fall apart when not in use of beyond me.
Ok! I had only pulled up half of the chain and we had been stuck for 10 days with quite a breeze blowing through the anchorage. So; feeling that we would still be stuck for 30 minutes or so I left the bow and went to investigate. After listening to the drive train and W/ putting the engine in gear then back out of gear I discovered that the noise was from the Shaft Lok. I figured the set screws had worked their way loose. Find the right Allen Wrench and tighten them up (there are two) and we’ll be on our way.
“Elysium, Elysium, Elysium …. you’re moving” we heard on the VHF as Kaija’sSong called us. I stuck my head up the companionway and indeed we had moved 100 m downwind. I ran forward and let out some more chain till we stopped moving. Thanks for good cruising friends. Good, now back to the Shaft Lok.
I struggled to find the right size Allen Wrench. Although we put the lock in an accessable place that
doesn’t mean all parts of the unit are easy to get to. After 10 minutes of struggle I came to doubt that the set screws actually were in the holes. Holding a mirror there, it was next to impossible to twist and see so I did what any 21st century man would do; I took a picture of it. I held a camera over the spot and viola! I had the info I needed. Oh how lucky I was, the set screws were still in the hole. Now to find the correct Allen Wrench, then get the wrench to drop into the socket to set the screws, tighten and we’ll be on our way.
We ended up having to get the Shaft Lok manual out to find the correct size Allen Wrench. I couldn’t see the set screws and trying to feel upside down, reaching aft with one hand and trying to get the wrench to drop in was proving more difficult then ever. (Note to self: Write on the unit the size of the Allen Wrench needed).
With the manual out we found the correct size Allen Wrench and I proceeded to match the wrench to the hole, tighten for all my twisted up mite, then switch to the other screw. The manual says to tighten to 28 ft lbs. That will have to wait till Colombia. We started the engine, checked for the noise – gone – time to go.
An hour later then when we initially started the anchor is now up and we’re on our way out of the harbor. After saying goodbye to our friends in the anchorage we motored slowly offshore. When we hit deep water and lost our soundings we turned to about 290 degrees magnetic and rolled out the Yankee. The boat soon reached her stride and we went screaming away at about 8 – 9 kts. Finally the water and the wind will both be at with us for this trip.
First: as we leave Dominica for a 40 mile trip to Martinique; Dirk and Silvia aboard Lison Life just crossed the equator enroute to the Galapogos. Congrats to the new Shellbacks. Remember we came down from North Carolina with them a few months ago. They don’t let any grass grow under them; or in boat parlance, don’t let any barnacles get on their hull. 🙂
At Roseau (the capitol of Dominica) we were on a mooring and there was a local on the dock, yelling about the rich cruisers, the cruise ships and what ever else popped into his head. We didn’t like seeing him or hearing about it.
A couple of days before moving to Rosaeu and leaving Dominica we bought a support dinner at the “Big Pappas” restaurant. Alexis came by in his boat and offered tickets of 50 EC each for all you could eat and drink. Since we had planned on donating to the safety cause anyway we figured this would be better as we would get to eat and meet other cruisers too!
And I met two French couples that lived and worked in Guadeloupe. Their English was better then my French and they had a good time laughing at my pronunciations and helping me to correct them while I picked their brains about living and working in Guadeloupe. Maxi was a physical therapist, Blanche, an LD teacher, Ellen a hospice or oncology nurse (never was sure which), and (Sorry can’t remember his name and can’t find my notes) an electrician. They all moved from the European continent to live here and actually said the pay is higher here than in Europe. If only we would have met them as we were going to Guadeloupe! But some things aren’t to be.
After imbibing so much and eating too little we retired to the boat for a full day of recovery.
The following day we took our $30 US cart from K-Mart and the dinghy to the dock at the base of the river and walked up to their 7 – 11 like store next to Ross University where I proceeded to purchase all their Caffeine Free Diet Coke. (I’ve not had any aboard for a month and was getting tired of ice tea). So we hauled my cache (and some of W/ diet coke) and two bags of ice back to the dinghy and back to the boat where we hung out and spent the rest of the day playing Sudoku, chess, reading, and working on pictures for the blog.
That evening we struck the awnings and prepared to depart Portsmouth for the Capitol of Dominica, Roseau. We were met by a local from Sea Cat who helped us tie (we didn’t need it) to a mooring where we paid 10 US for the night. We had internet and a slight roll and a “Boat Boy” (That’s what boaters call them but mostly they’re men between 20 and 40) and this guy made sure to say “Remember to tip the one who helped you with a mooring). Generally I wouldn’t succumb to this kind of extortion, but in Roseua we hadn’t heard a lot of cruisers talking highly of it; actually none talked positive in any way so we tipped him 7 EC.
We discussed leaving the boat but since this was a rather open area, not many boats, weird people hanging around, we decided to stay aboard. An hour or so later we were treated to a rant by an adult male on the docks 100 meters from us. The restaurant we thought about going to didn’t look open, the dinghy dock didn’t look inviting and as we pondered this some divers took to doing a night dive under the boat and around the boat. Nervous from the history of the area, of things we’d heard, nervous from the rant on the dock, and tired of the rolling of the boat on the mooring we choose to stay aboard and leave early the next am.
We had the boat off the mooring by about 6 am and were motoring towards Martinique. In the passage between the two islands we checked into the Coconut Telegraph on 4060 USB on SSD at 8 am and reported our position, and wind and sea conditions.
We ended up sailing about 2/3 the way to Martinique. We motored for a bit having fallen into the lee of Mt. Pelee, then had a pleasant sail till a squall out of Fort de France bay hit us topping out at around 40 kts. We dropped sail before the squall struck and motored the last hour to Fort de France where we anchored in 30 feet of water in front of the town right off the old fort.