Saturday, December 27, 2014

British Virgin Islands

We chartered a sailboat in the BVI in December from the 17th through the 27th (our last time down here was in 2008). Here's an abbreviated account from our Facebook page:

 Didn't want to drop my phone in the ocean, so it spent a lot of time in a plastic bag below on the navigation station (and free wifi was pretty rare everywhere we went, anyways). Terri took a lot of photos with her waterproof camera, and may share them on her page. A brief run down on where we went: Flew to St. Thomas on the 17th, spent that night, and the next in a small family owned hotel near downtown Charlotte Amalie, took the Ferry across to Road Town, Tortola on Friday, spent the night aboard our charter boat 'Lil Moon', a 38 ft Beneteau, got our orientation Saturday morning and sailed across to Norman Island for our first night (one of three of our best sails of the week, getting up to 6.5 knots). Snorkeled the caves on the west side of the island, and did some hiking up into the interior in the late afternoon. Day two, we sailed/motored over to Salt Island and snorkeled over a shipwreck for an hour or so, then tucked in to the harbor on Cooper Island for the night (taking a dinghy trip to the southern part of the island for some beach combing). Day three, we snorkeled for a while around Cooper (saw our first barracudas here), then headed north with Keenan at the helm (nearing our speeds of the first day), then motor-sailed east to a marina in Spanish Town (showers and grocery stores and internet!), where we were told by the young man who helped us tie up, that we were only a few boats away from Morgan Freeman's boat (never saw Morgan, however). Took a taxi down to the south end of the island for some exploring at 'The Baths' for the remainder of the day. Day four, we headed west on a run with just the headsail (still making good speed, averaging about 5 knots), listening to Caribbean christmas music on the radio, stopping at Guana Island (specifically, Monkey Point) for some more afternoon snorkeling (saw a stingray here, and a small shark), and then continued west to Cane Garden Bay for the evening mooring. Day Five (Christmas Eve) we headed northwest to Little Jost Van Dyke (biggest waves and our top speed of the week, hitting 7 knots at one point), explored the area with a hike north to the 'Bubbly Pools', then took the dinghy over to Sandy Spit for some more snorkeling and beach combing. Saw our first sea turtles here (well, everybody but Terri, who kept turning to look at them just as they ducked underwater again). Day Six (Christmas Day) we headed over to Sandy Cay (a small island preserve just southeast of Jost Van Dyke), more snorkeling, beach combing and hiking the interior (multitudes of hermit crabs of all sizes, plus lizards and fiddler crabs). Then a short motor over to Little Harbor on Jost Van Dyke, a two mile hike over to Great Harbor, then back again for Christmas Dinner at a small beachside restaurant (Caribbean Lobster). Day Seven we motored south around the west end of Tortola and tucked into Soper's Hole for lunch and provisioning (Keenan spotted a 6 ft shark near the dinghy dock - much nicer than running into one while snorkeling), then motored east into the wind and against the current to Peter Island for our final night. Last sail on Saturday morning was a short jaunt across the channel back to Road Town with just the main sail at a leisurely 4 knots. Home again, and back to the grindstone.

I was especially pleased and proud to see how Keenan hadn't lost any of his sailing skills even though he really hasn't done any significant sailing since he left for college in 2008. We managed to get through the experience this time without any significant 'boo boos' or 'mishaps' (although having to back the boat into a slip on Virgin Gorda was a little embarrassing). Hoping to do more chartering in the future. Starting to get more and more disenchanted with sailboat ownership and upkeep.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tucked Away for the Winter

Got out to cover the boat a little too late this year, and ended up having to shovel a bunch of snow off the deck. We had an unusual early snowfall in November, but we managed to get the boat covered before the big November blizzard hit (by about two days). Still hoping to sell the boat in 2015, and perhaps put the marina/haul out/etc fees towards more chartering vacations.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday Sail

Tim Terri and Lady went out for an extended afternoon sail on Saturday. Got to the marina around 1 and finished up around 6. Winds were fairly steady from the SE around 9-12 mph, and Terri handled the boat from our exit out of the marina until we got out on Lake Michigan (mostly on a run with just the mainsail, and we managed to sail all the way out the channel), at which point we set up the auto helm (or what we call "robosailor") and headed approximately 3 miles out to the southwest, eating our picnic lunch and enjoying the light waves and pleasant breezes. Turned around and kept the robosailor at the helm for most of the return trip, and then raised the headsail for part of the return trip, getting up to probably our top speeds of the day around 5 knots. We were only able to sail halfway down the channel before the wind died on us, and then we had a slightly embarrassing moment when the boat did a 360 on us when the wind backfilled our headsail and the engine we had just turned on couldn't compensate for it, and then Tim took over the helm for the return trip, doing several tacks across Lake Muskegon before we hove to, flaked the main and sailed for a while on just the headsail, then furled that and motored back to our slip. A pleasant afternoon with very little diesel motoring, and mostly competent sailing. Had a few discussions again about selling the boat, and the concept of perhaps chartering up north a couple times a year instead of owning/paying marina fees/upkeep.

To be honest, not sure what we can get for our boat, it has several cosmetic issues (brightwork has not been kept up, starboard winch is functional, but probably needs some maintenance as it is a bit loud), a few deck leaks and cracks (mostly over the aft bunk), but on the other hand, it is a good vintage 'old plastic' that has the original sails, a newer diesel in good shape with few miles on it,and a brand of which there aren't a lot of on the water anymore. 1967, hull #10 Chris Craft Cherokee sailboat in Muskegon Michigan for sale. Make us an offer.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Afternoon with Bud

Finally made it out to the big lake this year. Me and Bud went out for a Friday afternoon sail. Winds were projected to be steady and around 10 mph all day (at least earlier in the week), but the morning projections were looking like 7 decreasing to 5 by the late afternoon, but we decided to risk it anyway. We packed a lunch and left the marina around 1pm. Winds on Lake Muskegon were light to nearly nonexistent with occasional small breezes and we slowly puttered our way across the pond, watching a sunfish regatta over on the west side. Eventually we gave up sailing and put on the motor to head out to check out the conditions on the big lake. Much better once we left the channel, with a steady breeze out of the north and we got our best sailing in on a trip about due west, getting up to about 5 and a half knots, and eventually ending up about 4 miles offshore. We broke out the 'robo sailor' for much of this trip, and ate our lunch. Once we were virtually the furthest boat out there, we turned around and headed back on a similar reverse tack. Sometime around halfway back to the channel, the winds started picking up, and we reached our probable top speed of around 6-7 knots, at which point I was starting to get a little nervous that we were overcanvased (the sails were straining and we were doing a pretty good heel on a beam reach). We doused the headsail and continued for the last mile or so on just the main. We ended up seeing the ferry boat pass us on both the return to Muskegon and then again as it exited the channel for Milwaukee. We were able to sail about halfway down the channel with both sails back up, but then again, it switched to too much wind, and then just as quickly changed direction so it was straight at our noses, so we hauled in the headsail once again and motored the remainder of the channel. Winds were once again very flukey on Lake Muskegon and in just the wrong direction to head back to the marina so we tried a few tacks back and forth, but it was very difficult sailing, and eventually put all the sails away and headed back to the marina via the motor. Got tied up and tidied up the boat around 7:30. We both got a fair amount of sun this afternoon, and I slept like a baby once we got home.

We had left the battery on since the last time we were here (on 1), so I started the engine on battery 2, and then switched over to one while we were motoring to charge it back up again. Made sure to turn everything off this time before we left.

Using my mapping software on my phone, I took a screen shot of our location just before we turned around (pictured below). The GPS wasn't working (batteries were dead) so most of our speeds were estimates. I may have to look into some GPS apps and maybe some charting apps for my phone for future reference.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Short Thursday Sail

Got out on the last day of July for a short sail around Lake Muskegon. Had better luck with 'heaving to' today, and our tacking and 'coming about' maneuvers were pretty smooth. A little bumpy coming in and out of the slip though.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Monday Cleaning and Short Sail

Probably should have come out on Sunday, the weather was beautiful, but we ended up going to Muskegon on Monday afternoon. We spend a good hour or so cleaning out the interior of the boat (walls were rather mildewed), and she smells so much better inside now. Took the boat out for a short hour and a half sail on Lake Muskegon. The wind was manageable, but it had a spooky feeling to it, like it was going to blow up a storm at any time. Terri once again took the boat out of the slip (and she's going to continue doing it until she gets comfortable at it), and once past the Clipper we raised the sails and did a short jaunt across the lake and back. Got up to about 5 knots for most of the sail, winds were around 10-15 and a little gusty at times. On the return trip I thought I'd try 'heaving to' again, since it went so well last week, but couldn't quite make it work. Ended up just dousing the sails and flaking them and sailed back to the marina on the headsail. Used the motor to enter the slip this time (and gave the boat's nose a slight ding on the docks in the process). Looking forward to coming out and spending an overnight aboard sometime soon. This coming weekend isn't looking promising thought. The Van Otterens may be coming out for a sail the week after next. (battery 1)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

At Long Last

Finally got out for our first official 'sail' of the season on July 7. Sunny and nearly cloudless and a steady 9 mph wind out of the SW. We had Terri take us out of the slip today, and we raised the main just outside of the marina entrance (doing the usual 'first sail adjustments' to the reefing lines and topping lift), and our headsail furling mechanism was a bit fouled up, but it was still functional, so we fixed it when we returned to the marina. We tooled back and forth across Lake Muskegon a couple times practicing our 'coming about' maneuvers and assuring ourselves that we haven't completely forgotten how to do this stuff. Got even more ambitious as we were returning to the marina, and did a 'heave to' maneuver so we could furl the main, and we then sailed back into our slip 'just for fun' using only the headsail. (kind of a 'canadian girlfriend' situation, since there was no one around to marvel at how smoothly we did it). Then took Lady down to the dog beach for a dip, and then to the 'frosty oasis' for a few ice cream dips. Beautiful afternoon. (battery 2)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


On a whim Friday afternoon, I rode my bike out to Muskegon. Spent the night on the boat. Terri rode out via car to take me to dinner across the street at one of the local grub pubs. Filled and flushed the water tanks and made a small start on cleaning out the mildew on the walls. A pleasant night rocking to sleep, and then up at 5:30 am for the long 5 hour bike ride home. Total distance biked 83 miles round trip. Not sure when we can get back here to actually sail for the first time this season (not counting our headsail trip to Torreson for the halyard repair). Weather has been either stormy or dead calm the past week.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Got over to the boat last Saturday. Put the main sail on, and the 'repaired' sail cover. Made sure the boat was tied up correctly after the sail repairmen returned it. Took a look at the engine repairs and the new halyard. Kind of overcast and chilly, so we didn't take her out this time. Hoping to get out at least once in June.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spring Launch 2014

A hard winter, with record snowfalls, and Dad passing away on New Years Day, and the funeral and estate to deal with in the aftermath. However, spring is finally here, and we managed to get the boat launched before Memorial Day this year. We barely had time to get her ready this year, with a single visit to take the boat cover off and tidy up her lines (Bud helped with this task, as Terri was busy working). Somehow over the winter, the halyard worked itself loose and got both very chaffed against the neighboring boat, and lodged the halyard shackle up at the top of the mast. Couldn't get the shackle down on our own, and debated buying a bosun's chair to try and dislodge it ourselves, but decided to let Torreson's take care of it instead.

We got launched the week before Memorial Day, and we managed to get down on Friday to put up the headsail and check the mooring lines. Rather cold and no wind, so decided against taking her out for a test sail. On Wednesday morning after the holiday, Tim and Terri drove down early to take the boat over to Torreson's. Had trouble starting the engine, and asked the marina for a jump, but found out that it was just a matter of the kill switch being stuck that was keeping the engine from turning over. We started motoring across to the other marina, but then the engine started overheating, and we had to shut down and sail with the headsail over to Torreson's. (at least with all this engine trouble, we are getting pretty good at sailing into the dock). Our original plan was to hang around while they replaced the halyard and rescued our shackle, but with the engine problem added to the mix, we asked them to take a look at it and deliver it back to Great Lakes Marina when they were finished.