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Cruising – the Definition
June 27th, 2011 @ 10:05 PM EST by admin

Ongoing adventures of Don, Heather, and S/V Asseance

When one decides to depart on an extended cruising trip there is ‘an ideal’ that one has in mind regarding what cruising and the cruising lifestyle will be. Lots of sailing, great weather and great winds, visiting great places and meeting many people both cruisers and the locals at the many areas in which one will drop anchor. All of these things are true. But, we soon learned that the real definition of cruising is “fixing and repairing things in warm exotic locations”

This “fixing and repairing” things has defined our past seven months of cruising.

Last November, we returned to the boat in Trinidad following our sojourn to Toronto. Our concerns before we left the boat held true and further investigation proved that our batteries were not holding a charge. We had to replace the total house bank. This takes time to source them and then get the right ones shipped to Trinidad. Go figure! Once they arrived, the exchange of these 100 pound suckers was a challenge. But we were happy and ready to be on our way mid December for points north..namely Grenada.

We arrived in Grenada and now the SSB (Single Sideband radio) was not working. We had knowledgeable cruiser friends check ours and the radio had to go back to the manufacturer as it could NOT be repaired in Grenada. The manufacturer wanted all the parts – the radio, the control head and the tuner. So off it goes to the north west coast of the United States. The repairs were made and the radio returned. The return shipping costs were almost twice as much to ship the radio back as it cost to send it to them. But after a great expense for both the repair and shipping, we reinstalled it and all seemed to be well. Our signal was good – but it was not to last !

Also, while we were in Grenada, we discovered that one of our credit cards had been compromised and our use of one bank card was being restricted. While not strictly a boat problem, it is a big cruising issue that needs to be resolved. The banks were very accommodating and both items got replaced by the respective banks on a timely basis but, of course, our departure was delayed.

With the SSB working and new cards in hand, we headed North to Carriacou for a couple of days before heading off to St Lucia. We had planned to be in St Lucia for Christmas, with friends on s/v Tranquillity but we did not make it to St Lucia till Feb 3.

However, the trip to St Lucia was not without its issue. On the way there, just North of St Vincent we broke the boom in half! You got it..the BOOM!!! We had just come through a rain squall and were trimming the sails to get back on course. ..and we heard a “bang”. The last 4 feet of the boom had broken off. You would think we knew what we were doing, because we got it under control with no injuries and no other damages. In short order, we had the back half safely stowed in the cockpit and got ourselves back on course. The wind and seas were now on our nose and rather boisterous, so the trip to Rodney Bay was extremely slow – with just the use of the one sail – the Genoa – and the engine. This incident happened at 09:00 and we did not arrive until 22:30 that night. Under normal conditions we should have arrived at about 17:00.

So now to get this fixed..in a warm exotic location!! The manufacturer in the USA who made the original spar is still in business although no longer making the booms for Caliber. No matter; this company could make a replacement boom for us. It was to take a couple of weeks; however, some of the required pieces were on back-order delaying an extra week. 3 weeks..not too bad!! Well that time estimate turned out to very optimistic. So, to shorten the story, it took 6 weeks for the boom to reach us in St Lucia. The good news was that it was ‘plug and play’ and the new boom was installed in short order. The bad news was that we now had 3 days to get 235 miles North to Antigua for Heather to make her plane to Toronto to see her mother. Naturally, we had made the air travel plans based on a 3 week time frame!!! But the winds were kind to us and we were able to sail straight to Antigua arriving with a day spare before the flight.

And having spent so long in St Lucia, we were able to redo all the exterior wood ( from bare wood as H had the time!!!) Heather also got into the swing of island life and participated in a weekly ladies’ luncheon.. and as a result we met some very wonderful people. It was a very good 6 weeks.

Back to the challenges at hand.. Shortly after Heather left Antigua, our small 2 hp outboard motor decided it would not run any more. So now we had to replace the motor – just another costly “fix” in a warm and exotic location!!

H returned and we took some time off from the repairs to enjoy the 2011 Classic Yacht Regatta as we had so much fun last year. But this year, Don wanted to race. So he got himself on a Classic 37 foot wooden sloop named Guiding Light. When we get time, we shall post some of these pics for you to enjoy, but suffice to say, it was a good adventure for Don.. And H managed to find a local lady who makes great rotis and provided daily lunches for the guys for the four days. Heather also filled in her time and worked as a volunteer with the Antigua Yacht Club which sponsors and organizes the regatta.

Fun was short lived..and we added insult to injury, Don’s computer crashed and would not start. As we were heading off to St Martin, a duty free island, we held off on the repair.

We enjoyed a quick trip to Barbuda to see the frigate birds and enjoy a local meal of stewed land tortoise with some of the cruising friends we have met. And no, tortoise does not taste like chicken!

..but on to St Martin. We took the computer to two different techies and it could not be repaired and the data could not be saved. So, a new computer and the reloading of all the programs was in our future! Fortunately, Don had subscribed to a full backup of the data on an offsite Internet provider and the data is slowly being recovered. Our computer is used for emails, finances, boat documents and many things related to the boat and cruising. So, as much as we would like to get rid of it, we are stuck. The old adage of computers is very true “We cannot live with them and we cannot live without them”.

In St Martin, we caught up with some good cruising friends and enjoyed a couple nights out listening to open mike – or the great talents of local cruisers. On the way home, our prop on our 15 hp outboard spun out and it had to be replaced. OOHHH for the days of shear pins and cotter pins !

And now back to the SSB. We were having issues being heard as we travelled up the islands. These became more noticeable as Don is a Net Controller (moderator) for the Coconut Telegraph (communication amongst cruisers) one day a week and others were having problems hearing him. And we thought our SSB troubles were behind us when all the equipment want back to the Manufacturer! It appeared to be the tuner that needed replacement. So, we ordered a new tuner from the United States. It arrived in 2 days – one the quickest deliveries we ever experienced – and was quickly installed. However, the problem is NOT solved, so the SSB radio continues to be a challenge as we write this note.

All of these “cruising” activities have taken time and lots of the dollars we had hoped to use for some diving. So we are heading to Bonaire this June to get in our diving fix.

We finally left St Martin after an enjoyable 3 weeks and headed to Saba to see the island and enjoy the beautiful water and a bit of snorkelling. After a quick stay we made a couple of short day passages to Statia, St Kitt’s and now we are in Montserrat.

We plan to stay a few days in Montserrat to see the island and get a better understanding of how things are a number of years after the volcano almost destroyed the island. Then we will head to St Lucia to meet up with cruisers to travel to Bonaire and Curacao.

As you can see, it has been a challenging year for us with repairs and fixing things but we have also had time to enjoy the islands and the people as we travel. Cruising is truly more than just fun and sailing and at times the definition we noted at the outset really does apply. It sure did to us this year!!!!!!!!

We want to extend our best wishes to all for a great Summer and a great sailing season for all sailors. Write to us and let us know what you have been up to!