November 2008

****The Caribbean 1500 has been delayed to to weather. We will now be leaving on Thursday, November 6, 2008.*****

***The Caribbean 1500 is delayed again with a planned departure for Friday, November 7, 2008.****

To check out the rally

Hampton, Virginia

On October 31st the organizers announced that the start would be delayed until November 6th at 1100, due to bad weather offshore. There are 50 boats participating in the rally this year. We have been having lots of fun meeting other people and comparing notes. There are several catamarans here. The rally seems especially well organized, we are getting weather briefings everyday and there are other briefings and social events planned everyday. There will be a daily SSB radio check in once we leave the dock. Our big dilemma right now is do we take crew or not? We were not planning to however I haven't met one boat yet that doesn't have extra crew which makes us think that maybe we should.

The kids meet up with their friends from s/v Imagine. We were all thrilled when we found another boat going in the rally that had kids aboard.

After we learn that the start has been delayed until the 6th of November, we are sort of relieved that we can get more stuff done on the boat and make sure that we have everything on the Cruising Rally Association required safety equipment. but at the same time sort of disappointed as we had this date in our head for so long and we were ready to go.

We have had quite the time trying to get our watermaker to co-operate, luckily the manufacturer of the water maker is close by and I'm starting to think of Mark of Village Marine as being one of the crew. Alas, he is not coming with us, but he fixed our watermaker and it is finally working great.

Everyone here has been so nice. One of the crew from s/v Nyanza offered to give the kids a bagpipe lesson so we set it all up in the tent and they paid rapt attention for about an hour. It was a lot of fun.

Trying to get the watermaker to work

Mark of Village Marine - our watermaker saviour! Thank you!

Bagpipe lessons to pass the time

Bagpipe lessons to pass the time

The kids had a great time working with Elizabeth (s/v Honeymoon) on a fashion show. They worked many hours on this, they decided it was such a good idea that they did up invitations and invited different boats to the event. Everyone wrote their name down on a little outfit for the draw. The made up key rings and bracelets for the winners of the draw. They ended up presenting it to quite a few people.

Fashion Show at Hampton, Virginia

Fashion Show at Hampton, Virginia

Fashion Show at Hampton, Virginia

Fashion Show at Hampton, Virginia

Because of the departure delay we had time to hire a diver to look under the boat, he found nothing structural, but did notice one of our zincs needed replacing. We also had a rigger come look at our setup and he showed Chris how to clean and regrease the winches. We had all the lines spliced for our sea anchor which we didn't recieve until late Thursday night, just in time.

We basically never stopped working, there was always something to do. I went to Costco, Walmart 3 times, the grocery store twice to provision. I took a cab a few times but other than that, someone always offered to give me a lift and drove me to the store. The rule is that if you are going to sea for 10 days you provision for double that. Luckily I didn't have too much trouble finding space in my galley for all these provisions. There is so much storage room, it is amazing.

Of course, a stop ashore wouldn't be complete without a trip to the local skateboard park

Diver checking out the bottom

Provisioning again

Local skateboard park

Local skateboard park

Caribbean 1500 Route

November 7, 2008 -Time to depart for sunnier climes (finally)

Well it is finally time to leave, we had one more weather meeting at 0830 then before I knew what was happening Chris was untying the dock lines, I had to make sure that all 3 kids were actually on board we took off so fast. However there were still boats ahead of us. We were not in the rally class so we did not have to head to the start line at 1100, which was nice. We motored with both engines at full throttle so we could get through the Gulf stream as fast as possible. We all took our bonine and gravol to prevent seasickness. The hurricane "Paloma" that was heading towards the Eastern Caribbean which caused our delay was suppose to be breaking up over Cuba but to be on the safe side they wanted us to head east towards Bermuda just in case we needed to go there.

Not exactly comforting news when your heading out into open ocean but we did hear from 3 different sources that it would not be an issue for us, so off we go!

We entered the Gulf Stream around 100 in the morning, (on my watch) it was very surreal, the air became very cloudy, the water became very warm. I couldn't see a thing. It actually woke Chris up from his deep slumber because he could hear the difference in the boat, when he came up the whole inside of the boat was wet with the condensation. It took us about 4 hours to cross. Then we thought we could slow down a bit.

Leaving Hampton, Virginia for our longest passage yet.

Day 1 of Caribbean 1500

Sailing into the unknown! Day 1 of Caribbean 1500

Day 1 of Caribbean 1500

Nov 8, 2008- Caribbean 1500 - Day 2

The winds pick up so we raise sails. We caught our first fish, a mahi mahi or dolphin fish which turned into a delicious dinner. By looking at the chart we still have a long, long way to go!


The wind and waves have been continually increasing, we put two reefs in the main sail and in the genoa as well. Unfortunately, our reef cringle did not hold and we ripped it, Chris thought he could jerry rig with a sail tie but that made it worse and ended up ripping our mainsail. One boat hasn't left yet and 2 boats are planning to divert to Bermuda because of problems. One lost their foresail and one had their mainsail car jammed.

I was wondering to myself "what the hell was I doing here with my children in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, what did possess me to agree to something like this?" The weather is progressively getting worse.

Is it going to get better?

We had not had the boat in conditions like this before so I did not know how it would handle it. The noises down below were something new to experience. Slamming , squeaking, wind noises, and on and on. it felt like I was in the car of a freight train, it felt like the boat was going to break apart into a million little pieces. Although it is always worse at night, by the morning when the sun comes up things seem to look better. The boat is still slogging her way to windward through the waves and seems to not have a problem with this weather at all. The wind died down a little so Chris decided to repair the mainsail. I went to start the starboard engine but it wouldn't go into gear, then we noticed that the fishing line was stuck under the boat so we cut it off. Just then it started raining, so we decided not to do anything and just wait. After an hour or so we tried the motor and it worked fine, the fishing line was gone and the sun was shining! What a difference an hour makes!

Water is dripping from the freezer like crazy, need to put 3 tupperware containers under it to catch all the water.

Caribbean 1500 Day 2-Still a LONG way to go...

Caribbean 1500 Day 2-mahi mahi on the fish hook

Caribbean 1500 Day 2-mahi mahi on the fish hook

Caribbean 1500 Day 2-sashimi for dinner tonight

Nov. 9, 2008-Caribbean 1500 - Day 3

Well we made it through the night. We survived the storm!!! We did it. Chris is fixing the mainsail now and thinks it should be easy to fix at least it will hold up till we get there and get to Tortola and get it repaired. I'm not sure how many yards of sailtape he has used but it seems to be working. It is sunny and warm, waves have drastically reduced. Life is back to normal.

Nov. 9, 2008 - Day 3

Nov. 9, 2008 - Day 3

Nov 10, 2008 - Caribbean 1500 - Day 4

The starboard engine is not cooling but Chris thinks that he can fix it. Today is very calm there is no wind and no waves, almost eerie-- could it be the calm before the storm? We added our extra 30 gallons of diesel to the tanks this morning and calculated that we have enough fuel to motor all the way there if we have to. We calculate that we should be in to Tortola by Saturday November 15, 2008. Chris fixes the starboard engine.

Caribbean 1500 - Day 4

Caribbean 1500 - Day 4 - Eerily calm and quiet

Caribbean 1500 - Day 4 - The calm before the storm?

Caribbean 1500 - Day 4 - Goodbye Day 4

Nov. 11, 2008 - Caribbean 1500- Day 5 - HALFWAY PARTY!!

We had a half way party today--at 510 miles. We bought some non-alcholic champagne for the event. We decided before we left that we would not drink any alcohol or caffeine on the trip . The kids from Crown Royale gave the kids a package to open. It was quite a celebration. Just as we popped the champagne both fishing lines were snagged at the same time so a flurry of activity ensued as we tried to get the lines in. We caught another dolphin fish, but this one was much larger - 8 pounds. The other fish got away. Chris made shashimi. Delicious. The seas are still calm, we are motorsailing but the seas are starting to become larger.

Nov. 11, 2008 - Day 5- Keeping busy during the day

Nov. 11, 2008 - Day 5 - Turn the radar on every so often to see what is happening

Nov. 11, 2008 - Day 5- Halfway!

Nov. 11, 2008 - Day 5 - Another mahi mahi

Nov. 11, 2008 - Day 5

Nov. 11, 2008 - Day 5

Nov. 11, 2008 - Day 5

Nov. 11, 2008 - Day 5

Nov. 12, 2008 - Caribbean 1500 - Day 6

The freezer is definitely not working. Everything is starting to defrost. I can't really cook anything because of the weather conditions. We are running under reefed genoa alone. Gone is the calm weather that we had been enjoying. The waves are huge, we just keep trying to slow the boat down so we are comfortable and so we don't break anything more. When your down below it feels like your going so fast, I keep waking up and going up to the cockpit to ask how fast are we going? Like I said before, you feel like you are in a freight train.

New weather forecast from Commanders Weather: squalls 20-24 N/63 67 W squalls moving west – more active over the next 24 hours; strongest trades into Thursday NE. 23-26 N – strongest winds will be with periods of 30-40 knots 25-35 knots with squalls 40-45 knots gusts increased rougher seas 10-14 feet because of wind.

Nov. 13, 2008 - Caribbean 1500 - Day 7 - WEATHER UPDATE - NOT GOOD NEWS

Being part of the Caribbean 1500, you take part in two radio check in's per day. The first one is at 0730 and the evening one is at 1930. These check-ins really help psychologically, just knowing where everyone else is and how everyone else is doing. You really aren't alone out here. Even though we have not seen one boat since we left Hampton, Virginia. During this mornings chat, we received an updated weather forecast which was 40-45 knot winds; 10-14 foot seas; and squally conditions. Not the forecast that I was hoping for. But what can we do? We are sailing down the rhumbline now. The waves start to grow and grow. They are breaking waves with foam spewing off of them. I've never seen anything like this before. But this is our first time offshore so we don't know -- is this normal? Should we not be bothered by this? Fortunately and thankfully, the boat is handling so well, one just must aclimatize to the fact that it is noisy down below and that is just the way it is.

We have been using the autopilot nonstop and have been very concerned that it may stop working. Chris checked and rechecked all the mounting bolts and we made sure there wasn't anything leaning against the steering rods. As we decided not to take crew with us, if the autopilot does decide to stop working, well we don't even want to think about that.

I think that we are both starting to get very tired at this stage of the passage. We were so obsessed about our autopilot breaking that in the middle of the night Chris broke it!!!!!!!!

He really did. I couldn't beleive it. He woke me up at 0200 in the morning to say that something was wrong with the autopilot, after all the love and care we showed for it, how can this happen?

He had switched it from track to auto but he thought he had switched it to standby. So he fought with our dear auto pilot it was a brave fight and he overpowered it and won and now it won't work at all. So at 2:00 in the morning, through huge waves I'm hand steering the boat praying that he will manage to fix it, after looking at the wiring diagram with a flashlight, and trying a few different things, he decided he had to replace the fuse. Fortunately before we left I just bought a 15 amp fuse from West Marine, even though the auto pilot takes 10 amp we put the 15 amp in and it started working again.

We don't believe our wind instruments are quite accurate, it is constantly showing 14-18 knots of wind but it can't be. I called on the VHF to see if anyone was in our immediate area and I was heard by sv Watercolours who reported winds of over 30 knots with gust up to 50 knots and sv Nana Maria who reported 33-38 knots with gust up to 55 knots!! sv Nana Maria informed me of a new weather report of squalls moving to the west, all day today, tonight and tomorrow. Okay so another day and night of terrible weather, what else is new?

There are some boats having problems (for example; ripped clew; electrical problems, hurt crew; broken motor; ripped sail; water coming in threw the sail drive - this boat actually had to call the Coast Guard and got their ditch bag ready but they ended up being one of the first boats in; and autopilot failures) . I guess this is all normal stuff when 50 boats cast off the dock and head into the open ocean for days on end. We are still making good time and are very happy with the boat.

Nov 14, 2008 - Caribbean 1500 - Day 8

150 more miles, we will make it in tomorrow!!! The weather has calmed some but there are several rainy squalls. We just want to get in at this point and out of this weather!!!!

Our starboard engine won't turn off. The ignition key hole got a thorough soaking so it must have rusted out. Chris disconnected the wires so we will have to reconnect before starting the engine.

Always lots of flying fish on board in the morning

Nov 15, 2008 - Caribbean 1500 - Day 8 - Land Ho!!

After 8 days without a coffee I'm dying for a strong cup. Chris started making it last night and has been drinking it through the night. Below is a picture of us crossing the finish line at 0833, and a pic of the girls in the pool at Village Cay Marina, in Road Town, Tortola, BVI. I'm off to find a rum punch (or two).

Caribbean 1500 - Day 8- Crossing the finish line

Caribbean 1500 - Day 8-Yeah almost there!

Caribbean 1500 - Day 8 - Not my best mothering moment, we did not brush hair for 8 days! Andrea

Caribbean 1500 - Day 8 - Not my best mothering moment, we did not brush hair for 8 days! Cari

Caribbean 1500 - Day 8 - Land HO


Caribbean 1500 - Day 8 - Done!

Village Cay Marina, in Road Town, Tortola, BVI.

Village Cay Marina, in Road Town, Tortola, BVI.

November 16 - November 19, 2008 - Village Cay Marina

Now we get to relax, welcome the rest of the fleet into the marina, swap sailing stories and regroup.

Everyone seems to be in a good mood #mountgayrum

Happy Hour on Stray Kitty

Kids are happy to be off boat too

Nov 17 - The Carribean 1500 (Village Cay Awards Party)

The Carribean 1500 (Village Cay Awards Party)

The Carribean 1500 (Village Cay Awards Party)

The Carribean 1500 (Village Cay Awards Party) - Barefoot Davis being a good sport

The Caribbean 1500 (Village Cay Awards Party) - Steve Black, Founder of the Caribbean 1500

New Friends

Sail Hard - Party Hard

Stray Kitty and Imagine (boat names only!)

kids having fun

November 20, 2008 - Tortola, BVI to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour, BVI’s

Stopped in Indians to snorkel. Left the Indians at 1245, tied to the dock at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour for the final Caribbean 1500 party. Wow, the Caribbean 1500 if finally over, I never thought it would end. This was the funnest party.

Relaxing sail motor to Virgin Gorda Yacht Club

Final C1500 party!

Final C1500 party!

November 21, 2008 - Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour, BVI’s to Tortola BVI - 13.98 nm

Had a nice sail to Tortola. We are here to pick up our friend Brian from the ferry dock. Discovered Road Town Bakery, yum, yum, yum. Brian didn’t show up. Must have got diverted. We picked him up the next morning.

November 22, 2008 - Got Brian!

Brian - Tortola, BVI

Tortola, BVI

Tortola, BVI

Tortola, BVI - found ice cream

November 23, 2008 - Tortola, BVI to The Bight, Norman Island - 22nm

We stopped at The Moorings fuel dock , as we were tied to the dock , a Moorings charter catamaran hit us !! The name of the boat was Sv Virgin Buoy, let’s try to find him and throw eggs. He never stopped, never said sorry, never even looked back. He wanted out of his slip, so he just barreled his way through, we couldn't believe it!

We stopped at The Indians to snorkel. Will anchor for the night at Norman Island. Went to the Pirate’s Bight then Chris took Brian over to the Pirate Boat for a night cap.

Norman Island is the first island of any size that, together with the islands of Peter, Salt, Cooper and Ginger, form the southern perimeter of the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Often referred to by the locals as Treasure Island, legends of Norman Island are resplendent with stories of buried pirate treasure.

Located in the Bight of Norman Island is the William Thornton, a floating restaurant named for William Thornton the architect for the US capital building.

Breakfast before getting going

The Indians

Everyone is off!

November 24, 2008 - The Bight, Norman Island to Marina Cay, BVI

Stopped at the caves to go snorkelling, I swam very quickly back to the boat because of the jelly fish, I am such a chicken.

Marina Cay, nestled behind a reef and lying between the islands of Camanoe and Scrub. Trellis Bay has become a haven for artists and local craftsmen. Aragorn’s Studio

Sailing to Marina Cay, BVI

De Loose Mongoose, Trellis Bay

Trellis Bay - known sometimes as the beach apple, or more accurately in Spanish-speaking countries as la manzanilla de la muerte, which translates to “the little apple of death,” or as arbol de la muerte, “tree of death.”

Brian taking a break from this hectic pace of life

November 26, 2008 - Marina Cay, BVI to Anegada, BVI - 21 nm

Anegada, The Drowned Island, Anegada is comprised of coral and limestone, and at is the highest point is 28 feet above sea level. Created by the movement between the Atlantic and Caribbean plates, which meet of the northeast of the island, Anegada is 11 miles long and fringed with mile after mile of sandy beaches.

The salt ponds in the center of the island are the habitat for many migrating birds and also the home of a flock to Caribbean flamingos, re-introduced to Anegada. Eighteen birds were brought from Bermuda zoo The flock now exceed 100 birds.

We biked across the island to Loblolly Bay to go snorkelling. Seven miles each way. Bike on the left!

Sailing to Anegada, BVI

Painkiller-A Painkiller is a rum cocktail trademarked by Pusser's Rum Ltd, their signature drink . 2 ounces rum (navy or dark) 4 ounces pineapple juice. 1 ounce cream of coconut. 1 ounce orange juice. Garnish: nutmeg.

Anegada, BVI

Anegada, BVI

Dingy ride #1 with all the bike & snorkelling gear

November 28, 2008 - Anegada, BVI to Cane Garden Bay, BVI - 23.95nm

A beautiful anchorage- a picture postcard with a white, palm fringed beach stretching the entire length of the bay. Cane Garden Bay is lined by several terrific beach bars for the choosing. Quito’s Gazebo - Quito performed along and we bought a CD.

Motoring into Cane Garden Bay

A day is not complete without play time on the Seadoo.

Cane Garden Bay, BVI

Cane Garden Bay, BVI

Playing in the surf, Cane Garden Bay, BVI

Happy Hour on shore, Cane Garden Bay, BVI

Found a place to sleep

Quite Rhymer, Cane Garden Bay, BVI

November 29, 2008 - Cane Garden Bay, BVI to White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, BVI - 5.77nm

White Bay is the western most harbour on the south side of the island. Aptly named for its beautiful stretch of white sandy beach, White Bay is an excellent anchorage under normal sea conditions. The Soggy Dollar Bar is a great spot to swim ashore for a Painkiller, a delicious but potent rum drink was originally invented at the Soggy Dollar Bar.

We anchored fine in White Bay, then decided to go for a mooring ball as one became available. However the windlass pin broke so we had to pull the anchor up by hand. Thankfully I had Brian do it!

We had a horrible night at the mooring ball, we were right behind the reef and it was extremely rolly, no one slept. Brian almost got sea sick. We left early the next morning and motored to the next bay over Great Bay

Teaching Brian how to use the conch - Happy Hour!

There always seems to be a hamock to be found in the BVI's!

Barefoot Beach bar, my favourite - Jost Van Dkye, BVI

Jost Van Dkye, BVI

November 30, 2008 - White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, BVI to Cruz Bay, St. John’s USVI - 18.04 nm

Terrible night on mooring all, left at 0630 to go to Great Harbour. Went for breakfast at Christine’s Bakery .

Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, BVI

Jost Van Dyke, BVI

Sailing to Cruz Bay, St. John's, USVI

Cruz Bay, St. John's, USVI