Thursday, December 31, 2015

Roam - Living A Song

Have you ever had one of those slap your forehead moments?  See below -

One of our favorite songs is "Roam" by the B-52.  Now we aren't "our song" type people but if we were, this would probably be it.  Yeah, I know.....not a typical "our song" type song.  Hello.... we aren't typical people!  While listening to the extended version the other night in the cockpit, we realized we are actually - living - this - song.  OMG - slap my forehead!  I will spare you the words to the whole song - although those fit too. 

Roam if you want to
Roam around the world
Roam if you want to
Without wings, without wheels
Roam if you want to
Roam around the world
Roam if you want to
Without anything but the love we feel

See - slap my head! 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Water in the Bilge - Trinidad to Grenada

Heard on our overnight passage...... "Why is the bilge pump running?"  "There it goes again."  "That can't be good." 

In all honestly, we had noticed it running a few times back at the dock in Trinidad but we checked it and chalked that up to pre-departure chores - cleaning strainer, changing the coolant, ect....

Anyway, we discovered "active water" in the bilge on our passage as part of our routine log entries.  It wasn't gushing or rushing in aka we weren't sinking but the pump was running way too much meaning water was coming in from somewhere.  But where?  Internal or external?  The million dollar question!

The first thing we did was shut off the automatic bilge pump.  WHAT?!!  Yes, we shut it off!  This would allow us to monitor the amount of flow.  Plus we wouldn't burn up the pump but mainly so we could know how much was coming in.  If you leave your automatic bilge pump on, you never know how much is coming in because it always pumps it hope.

Then we moved to hourly checks.  The flow did not warrant more frequent monitoring at this point.  The next thing was to check the obvious thru hulls, intakes, shaft....nothing.  Hum?  Ok.  Monitor and think.  Three hours later, still coming in.

The next thing was to check if it was fresh water or salt......except it wouldn't really be fresh water since we are talking about bilge water.  It's more GROSS water.  So before tasting, Tom did another check of the obvious culprits.  Nothing,  ugh!

I was on the helm thinking through other possibilities like a hose issue or breech in one of our water tanks.  Tom came up and said he might know the source.  Note -The thought of tasting bilge water can really kick your brain into high gear!  When our freezer quit working, Tom removed the bad part, disconnecting some hoses.  He grabbed a flashlight and hopped down into the cockpit locker aka The Hole to check.  Sure enough.  Water was flowing into the boat from that intake/hose.  He reconnected the broken part to the hoses and the leak stopped.  Whew!  We did continued to monitor just in case but soon we were able to go back to our regular monitoring schedule that goes with log entries.  

Friday, November 27, 2015

Caribbean Seasons

A couple of readers have asked about seasons down here in the Caribbean.  There are two seasons - rainy and dry.  We are currently in the rainy season.  It rains nearly every day but usually these are short and over quickly.  However, we do have days where it rains off and on all day, sometimes with heavy downpours.  For example - when were we just pulling in to the dirt (mud) lot from a big shopping trip to Price Mart (like Costco) and had multiple, multiple arm loads of groceries and supplies.  We looked like drowned rats by the time we got it all back to the boat. 

An important part of the morning net is the weather report not only for those trying to find a weather window to depart but also for those trying to complete weather sensitive boat projects like sanding/varnishing, bottom painting, waxing/buffing, rigging, etc....  But we all know this when we come down here and we adjust.  I simply do what the locals do and roll with my umbrella in my bag at all times.  Still beats snow, ice, coats, gloves and such.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Taste of Trini Tour - T3

The T3 gang - BA pic

T to the Power of Three is what our group nicknamed this famous tour.  It all started from a brief discussion with T3 veteran Bruce (s/v Wild Matilda) on what to take along on our tour.  He agreed a bottle of water was a must and also suggested that he was going to take a towel or small washcloth since we would basically be eating in the van the whole day.  I laughed and said "Too bad we don't have any of those bibs you get a seafood restaurants in the US."  Later Tom and I were talking and decided that bibs would be a great idea and T3 was born.  A few days passed, and I was in Port of Spain where I found a package of brightly colored wash clothes and some purple ribbon - instant bibs, no sewing needed.  I used a big Sharpie to apply the T3 and we were set for the big day.

Jesse James (Member's Only) in his T3 bib - BA pic
T3 is a world famous tour.  Local maxi and tour operator Jesse James hosts this tour himself, sharing his love and passion for his country by driving a van full of guests around the island all day tasting various foods and drinks.  Yes, you heard right.....this tour is basically cruising around the island for 12 hours eating, drinking and learning about Trinidad.  AWESOME!
Local stand selling rough skin lemons (rare) and other fresh fruits and veg - BA pic

But seriously, it's a terrific way to learn about the rich and diverse cultures that make up a country and specifically in this case, Trinidad.
Doubles stand for the doubles virgins

Our group consisted of 8 cruisers plus Jesse.  Bill and Sharon (s/v Casa Blanca - fellow Caliber 40 owners, woot woot), Chris and Margret (s/v Storm Bay - as Aussies, the international contingent), Steve (s/v Slow Flight), Bruce (s/v Wild Matilda -and as I mentioned before, veteran T3 having gone 4 times before on the tour on previous visits to Trinidad) and of course us. 
My T3 bib - BA pic

Jesse picked us up promptly at 9am and we surprised him and the other participants with the official T3 bibs.  Jesse loved it.  Inside disclosure - Jesse keeps his van immaculate and the thought of being the one to spill inside the van worried me.  The bibs were a form of self protection for me and the poor van!
Bhagi, smoked herring, fried aloo and roast bake - BA pic

So off we went.  But actually we drove 25 yards down the side of the road to a food stall outside Powerboat Boatyard for our first sampling.  Even though it was right in our backyard so to speak, none of us had ever been to this food stall.
Fancy food stand.  Most are a tent and card table - BA pic

And so the day went.  Jesse would pull over, dash out of the van and then bring back a sampling of whatever food/drink/fruit/sweet/etc....then he or Bruce would divide it up, giving us all a little sample.  We tried many, many, many, many unusual and yummy things.
Saheena and kachouri

Bruce played official photographer.  Thank you Bruce for all the wonderful pics.  Tom was our official scribe keeping track of all the things we sampled.
Bruce cutting up a custard apple

Which brings up another important factor.  I told you this tour is world famous as is Jesse.  He does this trip many times during the year.  Each time the tour is slightly different depending on where he goes, what is open and in season.  For whatever reason, a "challenge" has developed to see if each group can break the record for number of things tasted.  The current record stands at 99.  We did not break that.  However, we did darn good at 86.  We were "full as ticks" when we waddled back to our boats 12 hours later.   
Mauby drink - popular but many versions and not all taste alike

I am not going to bore you with detailed description of all 86 items and pics of all.  However, I will list them all out and of course give you plenty of pics to make you drool.  Big thanks again to Bruce for sharing his pics.  I got a few good ones but the bulk of what you see are his - labeled BA for credit.
Chris and Margaret s/v Storm Bay

We had a spectacular day.  Our group was fun and interactive, trying everything and peppering Jesse with a wide variety of questions.  A few in the group were.....ahem....doubles virgins when we departed but returned that evening virgins no more!  Ha!  We all agreed that what we learned about Trinidad food on this tour will and has helped us expand our knowledge on what we order when eating out at a restaurant or food stand and also in what we buy at the fresh market.       
Doubles virgins no more - BA pic

If you ever come to Trinidad, you simply MUST to this tour.  Hands down, one of the best tours we've ever taken anywhere.
Green curry mango (on plate), plums (in sack at bottom), sour cherries (in sack on right) - BA pic


Summary for Taste of Trinidad 11-12-2015 with Jesse James

1.Pick up at 9:00 sharp.  First stop is roadside stand outside Powerboats
·         Roast Bake – flat bread, not fried
·         Bhaji – greens
·         Smoked Herring
          Aloo (potato) fried
A hoppin place -BA pic
2.)  Westside Cuisine at Caranage
·         Cheese Pie
·         Meat Pie
·         Fried Bake
·         Saltfish Buljol
·         Pommecythere Chutney (golden apple)
Yummies from Frankies - BA pic

3.Frankies on Aripita Avenue in Woodbrook
·         Sada Roti (without split peas)
·         Baigan Choka (smoked eggplant puree)
·         Tomato Choka
·         Fried Okra
·         Bitter Melon (actually a vegetable)
Just what it says - Cow Heel Soup Centre

4.)  Cow Heel Soup Center on Aripita Avenue, Woodbrook
·         Cow Heel Soup with potato and dumpling
BA pic

5.)  Tasty Pies, a roadside stand in downtown Port of Spain – three pies:
·         Vegetable
·         Macaroni
·         Fish
Portugals - BA pic

6.Fruit stand outside of downtown Port of Spain
·         Portugals – similar to Clementine Oranges
Tom goes for the HOT peppa double

7.)  Doubles stand in corner parking lot outside of Port of Spain - Tom trying SUPER hot peppa sauce
·         Doubles
·         Saheena
·         Kachouri
·         Bighani Pie
Black and red sorrel
8.Roadside stand just past Doubles stand
·         Red and Black Sorrel
BBQ pigtail, macaroni pie and fried casava

9.)  Small cafe in town of Velencia
·         BBQ Pig Tail
·         Macaroni Pie
·         Fried Casava
·         Chicken Pelau Rice
·         Coleslaw
Chiki Toe banana

10.)  Small café in Sangre Grande
·         Callaloo Rice
·         Dahl Sauce
·         Green figs
·         Stewed Pork
·         Sweet Potato
·         Mauby drink
·         Bananas – Chiki Toe and Silk Fig
·         Soursop
·         Sugar Apple
Soursop fruit - BA pic
Me devouring the soursop

11.Roadside stand in Sangre Grande
·         Rambutan – small red spiky fruit
Rumbutan and peanut punch - BA pic

12.)  S and S Roti Shop in Sangre Grande
·         Potato and Chana Curry
·         Curry Pumpkin
·         Chicken Curry Gizzard
·         Fried Shark
·         Stewed Chicken
·         Roti Bread – Dahl Puri
·         Curry Mango
·         Sorrell Drink and Peanut Punch
All of the above from S and S minus the drinks - BA pic

Stopped at Manzanilla Beach for a picnic lunch where a stray dog ran off with a package of Dahl Puri.  The rain came and we ate in the van.
Hungry dahl puri theif

13.)  Watermelon stand on Manzanillo Beach Road
·         Watermelon 
I know they look like olives but they are Trinidad plums.  Similar texture to olives, different taste

14.Roadside stand just past Mayaro
·         Coconut candy – like a red sugar cake
·         Green Mango Candy
·         Plums (more like olives)
·         Sour Cherry
·         Tamarind Ball (brown sugar lump)
Tamarind balls, sour cherries, plums

15.)  Hoseins Bakery in Rio Claro
·         Coconut Ballerina – rolled red cake
·         Casava Pone (like a bread pudding)
·         Soursop Punch
·         Bread Pudding
·         Fruit Slice Bread
·         Coconut Turnover
·         Pommecythere Fruit
·         Coconut Drop
Pommecythere fruit - golden apple - BA pic

16.)  Bakery truck that passed by while we were stopped at a small lumberyard
·         Custard Pie
·         Red Cake
Coconut Ballerina - BA pic

17.Clieves Bar in Tabaquite
·         Roasted Port Cutters
·         Kurma (like cinnamon sticks)
·         Fruit Slice (heavy cake aka Bellyfull)
·         Coconut Bisquit
·         Phdouri (donut holes)
·         Tullum (Toolum – molasses and coconut balls)
Fence?  What fence?

18).  Stop to trespass on farmland to collect fruit (we later learn the land is owned by Jessie’s uncle)
·         Cocoa Beans
·         Grapefruit

19.)  An unknown café/bar on the way to Chaguanas
·         BBQ Chicken Cutters
·         Custard Apple
Busting open the "liberated" coco beans for a sample
20.El Pecos, Trinidadian fast food buffet on Aripita Avenue
·         Festive Rice
·         Baked Fish
·         Baked Lentils
·         BBQ Lamb
·         Macaroni Salad
·         Spicy Pickle Salad
·         Corn Pie
·         Jerk Pork
·         Portugal Juice
·         Passion Fruit Juice

$150 TT per 750 ml - $24 US
Total of 86 different items
Also purchased limes and honey (Seenath’s in Manzanilla (1084 Eastern Main Road)          

Sabrina's Sail Loft - Jerry Jug Covers

As long as I had Little Nellie (my sewing machine) and all the stuff out this week on the staysail conversion, I decided to do a few other projects.

I made covers to protect our jerry jugs from UV rays.  The sun beating down day after day on these jugs on the rail effects the petrol/water/diesel inside and breaks down the plastic jug over time. 

Thanks to Roberta off s/v Celilo and Sarah off s/v Cape for your pattern ideas.

Sabrina's Sail Loft - Mast Boot Cover

We got our mast boot repaired.  Actually, beefed up.  What is the mast boot?  Oh, sorry.  It's a wrap  around the bottom of the mast where it meets the deck.  This special "boot" helps keep water from running down along the mast into the cabin.  When Tom asked Gary our rigger about it and made mention of perhaps putting a new "mast boot kit on", Gary said "Nah.  Save the money.  We will just use an old inter tube."  Sure enough.  Gary showed up with an old inter tube off one of the boatyard travel lifts - think big farm machinery size tire and they fitted that over our existing mast boot, put on a new clamp, heat sealed it shut and boom - new mast boot.
Our new mast boot cover
I was sharing all that with dock neighbor Bruce, while sewing day 2 on the staysail conversion when he said "Of course being made of an old inter tube, you will want/need to make a cover to protect it from UV rays."  To which I said  "Shit Bruce.  Did you just create a new project for me to sew?"  He grinned, nodded and then dashed off to the laundry.

While a cover around the base of the mast might seem like an easy project to sew, I have found nothing on a boat is easy to sew.  There are usually no patterns and everything is irregular shaped.  Luckily, I was over on s/v Casa Blanca (Sister Caliber 40 ship) and they already had a mast boot cover.  Woo hoo - pattern.  I borrowed theirs, made adjustments in size for our new, beefy mast boot and sewed a new one up for us.  Thank you s/v Casa Blanca.

Sabrina's Sail Loft - Staysail Conversion

As part of a complete re-rig of sv Honey Ryder, we also decided to convert our hank-on staysail to a furling staysail.  The old hank-on set up meant that one of us had to leave the comfort and safety of the cockpit, and go forward on deck to raise and lower the sail.  This in turn meant that we didn't use it as much as we would have liked to.  Me = "Do you want to put up the staysail?"  Tom = "We could.  Do you want to go forward to do it or should I?"  Me = pause....."Nah.  Never mind."
Sabrina's Temporary Sail Loft

The current staysail is old but still has some life left.  Most people either order a new staysail or have a professional sail loft do the conversion.   To finish getting life out of that sail and save $$, I decided to take on the task of converting that sail from hank-on to a furling one.

Generally this is done by cutting off the entire luff edge of the sail and then sewing in "luff tape" that allows the sail to be feed into the slot on the furler (raising the sail) and then furl it (roll up).

Easy-peasy - NOT!  The head, tack and clew of  the sail (the corners) are very thick with hardware, webbing, luff, leech and foot lines.  These would all need to be re-sewn.  Even though I have a heavy duty Sailrite sewing machine, I would not have been able to get through thicknesses like that.

I also questioned my ability to sew luff tape in straight.

This summer Tom found an alternative on the internet.  Kiwi Slides.  I did some investigation then visited ear to ear with the USA distributor, Alfred Poor.  He was very helpful.  I also visited with the USA distributor for Profurl which is Wichard USA in Annapolis.  This seemed like the best solution for us given my sewing skills so I placed an order.  The slides arrived immediately with a personal thank you note inside the package from Alfred.  Not something you see these days.  Alfred also promptly responded to email questions I had once I got ready to start the project.    
The actual Kiwi Slide - I added the green chalk mark
This past week I officially started the project.  An internet comment gave me some concern about sail shape so we borrowed s/v Casa Blanca's (sister Caliber ship)  furling staysail to compare.  Their converted staysail and our hank-on staysail were exactly the same shape and size.  Whew!  And with that confirmed, I started the conversion.
Old hank on the staysail

The first task was to get the brass hanks off the staysail.  Tom did this for me.  Special note -  The tool below was given to Tom by his good friend Kevin Haefner.  It's a hybrid pipe wrench-channel lock-crescent wrench made by SnapOn, part #PWZ-1.  This tool is amazing and can generate incredible gripping power. 
Tom removing the hanks

I was concerned that the grommets would be tough on the sail when furled.   Tom offered to drill them out but then I would need to content with the loose luff line.  Instead I decided to simply cover them with seat belt webbing.  I borrowed a zipper foot from s/v Curare so I could sew as close as possible to the grommet.
Rough grommet

Covered grommet

The next step was to attach the Kiwi Slides.  Alfred suggested placing them just above or below the grommets.  I opted for above.  The size of Kiwi Slide and sail, determines how many, spacing and distance between sail edge and furler.  I stitched them in three horizontal places and then two vertical for extra strength.
Covered grommet and Kiwi Slide

Since this sail was a hank-on sail, it lived below deck or in a deck bag and out of the sun.  This meant it would need a sacrificial strip on the leech and foot to protect it from the UV rays when furled.  I just sort of guessed at how wide.  Actually, did a quick look at s/v Casa Blanca's staysail but accidentally reversed the leech and foot measurement.  D-Oh.  Luckily, we did a test furl after I got the Kiwi Slides on and made an adjustment to my measurements.  I had Tom triple check my calculations for fabric needed.  It doesn't seem to matter how many times I calculate fabric needed for a project, I always come up short and thus I buy extra.  Oh well.  I bought four yards and used most all of it.

Trinidad has fantastic fabric stores with all kinds of fabric at terrific prices.  This includes marine grade fabrics of all sort.  We decided to go with a fabric like Sunbrella - a knockoff, if you will.  It was $65 TT per 60 inch yard or $10.83 per yard.
Adding sacrificial UV protection material

60 inches wide is great but I found smaller panels were easier to sew into place.  When sewing on any sail, there is a lot of rolling of fabric this way and that to get it into the machine and into place so the sail can be sewn.  This project was no different.  The ultra thick corners of the sail made it tough as well.  I used double sided seamstick to help hold the panels in place but even then they wanted to move around 
Clew that will be covered when furled at anchor

Covering the thick corners with the hardware and webbing was a conundrum.  Tom and I discussed the three corners and decided that we would leave them open.  Normally these are resewn but again, my machine would not be able to do those thicknesses.  The tack will be covered when furled up.  When we are at anchor, it will be covered with a Velcro wrap that I make for the hank-on that is no longer used.  The tip top edge of the head will just be exposed.  We will keep an eye on all three areas as the season progresses.  Judge if you will but that is how we are going to roll.
Final Kiwi Slide attachment - hand stitched

Finally, I decided to hand stitch the area between the Kiwi Slide and sail edge to get right up next to the sail and add stability.

We will keep you in the loop as we start to use the new furling staysail.