Friday, April 12, 2013

High Seas Adventure

You might ask what I recall of the passage to Turks and Caicos.  It’s kind of kaleidoscoped together, but here are my lasting impressions.  Firstly, a passage is a time of contrast:  Incredible highs and frightening lows.  Action and boredom.  Uncertainty and confidence…. All these things juxtaposed.

The passage weather was not ideal.  At times we returned to the washing machine, and once you’ve started, you’ve few options but to get through it.  On occasions, no wind at all, and all was calm.  No ships or other vessels in sight during the day, then at night all hell seems to break loose and every possible ship in the known world seems to be vectoring in to your current position, creating all kinds of angst.  Let me tell you, AIS is the answer.  We named ours "Herald", as it announced imminent calamity with precision and a frequency we would rather have done without.  On the subject of names, let me tell you about "Hercules".  Hercules is our autopilot, as he does all the heavy lifting.  Life without Hercules is impossible.  Every day, we need to talk lovingly to Hercules and tell him how important he is ion our lives – something we can do without exaggerating one bit!
Viv on passage, preparing to cook said Mahi-Mahi

Two other incidents worth mentioning.  Firstly, spy out this lovely Mahi-Mahi, or Dorado as he may be known.  I can personally attest to his bulky weight of around 30 lbs, as I landed said sucker myself.  What a meal that evening.  Freshly cooked, large filets, yum!!

...Must have weighed 30 - no wait!  60 pounds!
The second incident is less encouraging.  We made fairly good time on our passage, and as luck would have it, arrived at our destination around 10:00pm.  This area is tricky, and you do not want to be negotiating these reefs is the dark.  Did I mention there was no moon?  Perhaps I should also mention the wind was HOWLING.  Well in excess of 25 knots.  We tried to shelter by motoring up and down close to a windward reef, but the shelter we received was marginal at best.  The boat was bucking everywhere, and all crew started to turn green and mutiny.  Now, mutiny is a serious thing.  One needs serious measures to get one’s mind off the mutiny, so to oblige, the engine died.  That did the trick – no more thoughts of mutiny, rather more sheer terror, with the classic Kingon thought (star Trek, anyone?) “Today is a good day to die!”  OK.  Did I mention there was a reef?  And it was pitch black?  And that the wind was howling?  And that the waves were confused and objectionable?

Well, as this epistle testifies, we survived in, but with a new respect for the sea and those that brave it’s wrath.  Ultimately managed to get Thor back on line (Yes, Thor is our engine, and he was very demanding:  he demanded a change of RACOR diesel filters before he would work again, no easy feat in bucking seas at 0-so Dark and Early) and as the day broke we could finally access the shallow water channel from West Caicos in to the marina.

The Passage Starts

At Crown Bay Marina Feul Dock....

The Brodrick’s joined us in St Thomas and after provisioning, we started the most epic journey to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.  We exited the Crown Bay with alacrity; straight into a massive washing machine.  First passage to Cullebra (Spanish Virgin Island) was unbelievably rough.  The prevailing South Easterly waves periodically intersected with residual Northerly waves, and if that occurred under our veritable keel, which it did with monotonous regularity, we were pitched around like an amusement park ride.  Except it wasn’t amusing.  And I have Cathy to back me up on this one.

Views of theCullebra Anchorage

Cullebra was Kewl!  Spent a couple of days there before heading over to Puerto Rico (Fajardo).  Here was stayed at a massive but friendly marine, Marina Puerto del Ray.  Fantastic, protected, nice.  Visited West Marine for the last few passage essentials, provisioned, and headed out en route for Provo non stop.

Spring Break Arrives....

A couple of weeks later, and Michelle, Kevin and Chris arrive for their respective college spring breaks.  Intriguing experience, we sailed in to Trellis Bay, and walked to the airstrip at the end of the bay.  Everyone arrived safely, although delayed 12 hours due to cancelled flights, and we headed out.  Packed itinerary - Monkey point, the Baths, Manchioneel Bay, Norman Island and then Sopher’s hole to check out.  Shot across to St. John, check in to the US Vis and on to Crown Bay Marina via Christmas cove.

On left - the Cat whisperer strikes again, and on Right, Moonrise at Norman Island.

A Norther’ had been blowing, and many anchorages were very uncomfortable.  Not the best for sleeping, but everyone had a great time.  Checking in to Cruz Bay was a fascinating ordeal.  First had to find a place to anchor, then shoot in via the dingy, present our passports and dash back to the boat.  Ya, right.  Step 1 – Anchoring:  Not at all clear where or how; which sardine can has the least sardines packed into it?  Then into the dingy without throwing all the passports and documents into the drink.  Yupp.  Almost lost everything.  Dash ashore keeping dry – in the rain….  And then find the immigration building….  Well, we did manage, but BP probably a bit high all round.
The time with family was fantastic.  Many games of spikeball required, and I claim to be all around champion which may or may not be contested by others!!!

Spikeball on the beach at Manchioneel Bay

The approach to Crown Bay Marina was difficult – the wind started to blow hard, and in the confusion I managed to ground the boat on a poorly marked reef.  Got the fright of my life.  What a crash, but we did establish all is OK except for some bruised fiberglass and ego, and some lost paint.

Lunch for the victors of Spikeball...

At the end of the break, family departed back to college (another story there:  Michelle took about 3 days to get back to Davis due to a long and unholy succession of cancelled flights.

All Aboard!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted; so much to be done.  Strange how one has no time at all when one is no longer working in the corporate world!

So, Cathy and I moved aboard finally on Saturday March 02.  We were in for a surprise or two.  Nanny Cay Marina is fantastic, but costly!  During our absence a few things developed; Refrigeration system had been replaced, several smaller things had to be done, but a big ticket item caused a headache:  We needed a new heat exchanger, which had to be ordered from Japan.  So, time that should have been offshore getting to know the boat was spent chillaxing waiting for the spare.  In the meantime, we realized the voltage regulator was not functioning, the head was leaking, and we needed to commission the watermaker.  Frustrating, but part of boating.  This is where we truly understood what the term Boat means:  Break Out Another Thousand.  At last, many, many BOATs later, we were ready to do a test run, and the picture sort of say it all.

Rainbow at Nanny Cay Marina soon after moving aboard

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

About Pajarito

S/V Pajarito was commissioned in 1999. "Little Bird" (English translation of the Spanish word "Pajarito") is aptly named, as she flies through the sea. Built by Cabo Rico, who are renowned for their quality craftsmanship and offshore capable vessels, Pajarito is a graceful 40 foot, full keeled, custom built cutter, displacing some 26000lbs and truly set up as an offshore cruiser. She has large capacity water and fuel tanks, together with a substantial AGM house bank with genset and wind generator for efficient energy production. A watermaker completes the ensemble, allowing flexibility to spend extended periods away from land if needed. Below deck, she's comfortable set out, with everything the admiral could want! Aesthetically, it's the attention to detail in the cabinetry and woodwork that sets her apart.
Beautiful Woodwork of the companionway sets the tone for a comfortabe salon!

Galley opposite the Nav station; forward V berth below.

Pajarito at Nanny Cay marina in her slip; picture on right, Haul out on right.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The adventure starts...

Where to start?  Over the last few years, Cathy and I have been feeling the call of the sea, and 2012 was the year we decided to make our dreams reality.  So we threw caution to the wind, and bought S/V Pajarito, our 40 foot Cabo Rico cutter rigged sail boat.  She's born for the ocean, and we hope to create many new memories in far flung lands as we explore our nautical world.

This picture is our very first sail on her.  We took delivery of Pajarito in Nanny Cay Marina, British Virgin Islands, and after a whirlwind 10 days setting her up and learning the very complicated systems, we took her for a spin.  Conditions were boisterous, with 25 to 30 know winds.  The sail was exhilarating, and we quickly fell in love with the Cabo's graceful movement through the waves.  She took it in her stride, and we returned to the marina excited by the opportunities that lie ahead.

God willing, we move on board on Saturday March 2nd, and start our new adventure!  For the next 6 months, hopefully our biggest decision will be just which sunset to chase as we visit new places.