Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Windward’s II

August 19th 2013

Position 12° 27.301’ N
             61° 29.283’ W

Tyrell Bay, Carriacou, Granada

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Gus, our Day Tank project manager.
The view from being on the hard
Birds just 'chillin'
The constant rocking and rolling as well as the fore aft pitching tends to find muscles in ones midriff which have not, at least in my case, received regular exercise during my land based life in the States. Now at this point you are all probably thinking that I am referring to the boats motion...well you’re wrong! I have just described what I was feeling during a bus ride today from Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou into Hillsborough the capital. The island has roads, quite nice ones but in patches; the newer stretches are all concrete but then suddenly the concrete ends and an unmade track lays before you. It is these stretches that emulate a rough seaway and cause the girth muscles to work overtime to keep ones balance and avoid falling out of one’s seat on the bus! During our roller coaster ride around the island we saw views of the coastline which were spectacular; having a little elevation and being able to look down at the water one could see the coral reefs and all the different colours, absolutely incredible.

The techno for this posting is twofold, amp and day tank related. I am not and don’t pretend to be an electrician but I do understand amp usage. I know that an LED bulb uses fewer amps than an incandescent bulb. I also understand that our house bank of batteries that supply the amps have a limit to their capacity. We have five batteries altogether two for engine starting, the main and generator, and they also supply power for the electric bowthruster. The other three make up the house bank and provide amps for running the refrigerator and freezer, all lights, navigation electronics and the inverter, which in turn powers the various 110v appliances. The total amperes amount to 1,000, 600 of which is the capacity of the house bank. The batteries we have onboard are AGM gel filled maintenance free. The total of 600 amps allows one to use no more than 50% of that and preferably less than that before charging should commence. We have an 8kw generator onboard which supplies 110v to all appliances including the battery chargers, we have two, one is incorporated in the inverter, a Xantrex freedom 20, and the other is a powerful Balmar stand alone charger. We would normally use the Xantrex charger to replenish the batteries and only have the Balmar charger as redundancy should the inverter fail. What comes out must go other words the amps that are taken must, somehow, be given back.
There are several ways to ‘give back’, a battery charger, an alternator, solar panels, trailing generators and wind generators. All methods are used by different boats. Sailing boats often use a combination of wind generation and solar some also trail a propeller driven alternator and most also have their main engine which powers an alternator for battery charging. ‘Partners’ is a little on the power hungry side and is equipped more like a home. She has a domestic style refrigerator and freezer, domestic appliances such as microwave oven. Toaster oven, electric kettle, water heater etc., we also have computers, a printer and multiple power tools and available 110v lighting too. Our daily amp usage is approximately 480 so you can see from simple maths that with a capacity of 300 maximum usable amps we have a problem! Unless we run the generator twice a day the electrical system would fail. Our generator burns ½ gallon of diesel an hour and it takes a total of approximately 7 – 8 hours of generator time per day to maintain the batteries. The downside of this is twofold, first, one of us is anchored to the boat while the generator is running and second the cost of fuel to run the generator and of course the frequent maintenance of the generator. We looked into the question of how we could reduce the number of hours that the generator needed to run each day. We decided that in our case solar panels would be the answer; we have a large roof expanse on top of our pilothouse which could accommodate two large panels. We consulted with an electrical engineer here in Tyrrel Bay, Alan Reynolds. He educated us on the workings of, free amps! Of course anyone likes to hear, free! What Alan meant was that when installed the panels would automatically, providing they were exposed to sunlight, produce amps to the batteries. We decided to install two large 215 watt Kyocera panels which on average would give us about 160 amps per day back into the batteries and save us just less than half the generator hours per day. Appealing, we would be freer to do more activities off the boat not to mention the fuel saving and the cutting down on the servicing intervals for the generator, a huge saving. In fact we calculated that the cost of installing the two panels and the regulator would be paid for in 7 months! Yesterday was the installation day and all went smoothly. It was such a thrill to see the amp meter counting the number of amps as they were being produced by the sun! The time of day (altitude of the sun), shadows on the panels and of course clouds cause variations in the charge rate; all these factors manifest themselves as a fluctuation on the meter. I am sitting here writing this waiting for the sun to come up so we can really see the effect of the panels, today is our first full day with them, exciting!

The second techno item is the day tank. Gus, our project manager on this task, has almost completed the installation, by this evening it should be done. What we will end up with is a 40 gallon capacity additional fuel tank installed in the lazerette which will gravity feed the main engine as well as having the ability to supply fuel to the generator. The day tank effectively reduces the four other main tanks to fuel storage tanks. An electric transfer pump will draw fuel through the main racor filters to the day tank at the rate of 6 gallons per minute so it will take less than 7 minutes to fill the day tank. The tank is installed with a valve system so that the original fuel system supplying fuel from the four main tanks to a manifold and from there to the main and generator can be selected during times of any maintenance of the day tank such as cleaning or fuel hose replacement etc. The day tank also has a sight gauge and an overflow line returning to the main tanks. Not only will the day tank supply gravity fed fuel but it will give us a much more accurate reading on our fuel consumption through the visual sight gauge.

We have been so pleased with the services we have received here in Tyrrel Bay that we have decided to be hauled out here too. We will have new bottom paint, zincs and boot stripe touch up, not to mention the addition of a few minor preventative maintenance jobs such as some hose and hose clamp replacements. Tyrrel Bay is quiet by comparison to Granada and Trinidad and is just easy to deal with. The prices are very reasonable and the people here are just so friendly and accommodating.

The anchorage here in Tyrrel Bay is mostly calm but at night when the trade winds drop the boat settles more with the tide flow and seems to sit across the low swell which creeps into the bay from around the NW headland. Although we have been here a month now we have only had a couple of nights where the roll has stopped us sleeping.

Hillsborough, high street
Last weekend and Monday the island was consumed with the annual Carriacou Regatta. We took a bus into Hillsborough on Monday for the final day and watched races including the youngsters in there sailing dinghies and then the locally built boats. There was loud music and festivities up and down the main street, a real celebration; a great time was had by all. It is now Wednesday and the three days of festivities associated with the annual regatta have now passed and most of our friends and fellow cruisers have headed south, the route tends to be Granada for carnival which goes on through the middle of August and then on to Tobago for the rest of the hurricane season. Fewer boats are going all the way down to Trinidad now as the crime rate seems to have increased and continues to escalate. Most is blamed on the present poor economy, gangs and drugs. From what we can gather the majority of robberies and petty thefts are in Port of Spain and the security has been stepped up in the Chaguaramas area and its marinas so we are hopeful that we will be safe. The advantage of Chaguaramas over most other hurricane destinations is that it is possible to get almost any type of marine work done and at very reasonable prices. Granada however is promoting the same services nowadays and in a more friendly and safe environment. We are going to consider changing our insurance company to one who will allow us to spend next hurricane season in Granada instead of insisting on Trinidad.

We have had so much fun in Carriacou and will be sad to leave, what with the barbeques on shore,
Overlooking Hillsborough
the group walks and the Mexican domino get-togethers at the different local bars we have had a very social time here. We have had several cocktail hours with friends either on our boat or theirs and three dinner parties on ‘Partners’. The area is great for snorkelling too and there are so many reefs to choose from, all a short swim or dinghy ride from our anchorage. The big thing though has been the people, so friendly, full of warmth and willing to talk and to offer help if needed. We were told earlier in our travels that the further south we travelled the friendlier the people would become...true so far.

We are being hauled out next Wednesday the 14th so we are getting prepared for that. During our time on the hard we will be staying in the marina apartment with air-conditioning and a ‘big’! The apartment has cooking facilities and is spacious with two beds enabling accommodation of four if necessary. Our decision to move off the boat is because in the marina it is sheltered and we will not get the benefit of the constant breeze we receive out in the bay on anchor; it makes a tremendous difference to being able to tolerate the heat. The sun is virtually overhead now and without the trade winds blowing the temps would be in the 90’s but the ‘chilling’ effect of the breeze is amazing and makes such a difference to our comfort keeping the temps in the mid 80’s. We will be in the marina for 5-6 days so are hoping to be afloat again around the 20thor 21st which will give us time to find a weather window to make our trip down to Granada and on to Trinidad where we will meet our eldest son Anthony who is coming for a week’s vacation on the 30th. He will be our first visitor since leaving Florida last February so we are excited! He is a cycling enthusiast and specializes in riding off road trails. He is bringing his bicycle with him and has contacted several cycling groups in Trinidad so he will have riding companions during his stay. We have not been to Chaguaramas before so we are looking forward to finding out about the activities offered in the area...every place we go is different and unlike America where every town and city has the same stores and restaurant chains, there are no ‘chains’ in the islands, not quite true but almost, we did find a Dominos pizza in Basseterre, St. Kitts, so it is fun exploring both the urban areas as well as discovering what the hinterland has to offer.

Aug. 14th haul out day...Edwin the marina yard manager visited us in his skiff while we were still on anchor out in the bay and looked around ‘Partners’ to make sure he knew where the straps on the Travelift should be positioned to avoid the two appendages we have sticking out of the hull, namely our stabilizers. Another boat a catamaran was at the haul out dock taking on water so we made ready to move to the dock by shortening our anchor chain ready to weigh anchor and move. We received the go-ahead and off we went towards the dock. This was the first time that we had used the boat running from our new day tank and there were no worries Stonewall Jackson ran without a hiccup. Once in the slipway the travel lift moved over us, the straps were positioned and the lifting process began. In no time we were up and moving towards the pad where we would have a pressure wash before going to what would be ‘Partners’ parking space for the next 5-6 days. The sanding and scraping began immediately, cleaning and preparing the hull for the two coats of blue Sea Hawk 44 Plus antifouling paint we would be receiving. The previous paint we had was Petit Trinidad and Edwin advised a primer coat as we were changing the brand, I agreed. We are also renewing the dark blue boot stripe which has a few blemishes and installing all new sacrificial anodes (zincs). While on the hard I will be re-marking the anchor chain, the measurement markings are just painted on the galvanized chain and barely last a year. We loaded the 400 feet of chain on board 10 months ago and the marks we painted on then are almost gone. I mark at 50’ to start with and then every 25’; rarely if never would we lay out less than 75’ of chain. I am a believer that if you have it one should use it. In other words if we are in 20’ of water I would send out 150’ of chain, a 7:1 scope plus 10 ft for the height of the bow above the water. We have two heavy anchor snubbers too. In a crowded anchorage where swinging room is limited I will reduce the scope to 5:1 but only if it is absolutely essential. While here we will be replacing the sound proofing material on the panels around our generator as the old foam has perished and no longer performs well. I will also be fitting a new heat exchanger to the generator and the old one has a pinhole leak which has been causing us to lose coolant. In other words any job that being on the hard makes easier we will be doing.

During our stay ashore cooking has been put on the back burner and Lavinia and I have been sampling the local cuisine, surprisingly good I might add. We have sampled BBQ, pizza and very good Italian so far. My favourite has been the Lazy Turtle, owned by a Frenchman who cooks great pizza and several great pasta dishes, his red wine hits the spot too! The music is that type which reminds one of dining in a small bistro restaurant on a fashionable back street in Paris. The moon is waxing so our view here is straight over the calm bay with beautiful shimmering moonbeams. Great live music provided by a well renowned local Grenadian band was a highlight on Wednesday nights. For a small quiet village, which is Tyrrel Bay, the cruiser has a big choice of eateries. Gus our friend, mechanic and project manager on the day tank installation drove us, along with his significant other Joe, to another pizza restaurant at Windward a small village on the NE coast of Carriacou famous for its boat building. We had great company, a great evening and learned more about Carriacou.

To divert from the boring stuff of boat work it is time to remind ourselves of what has become our daily bread so to speak...the islands. No matter where you are one becomes familiar with your surroundings and usually one ends up taking them for granted. We now have become used to our cruising life and have, at least to us, an added benefit which is that we move frequently and change our surroundings. The beautiful scenes and vistas which present themselves to us as we cruise these islands is almost unreal. I, for one, have spent many years yearning to get back to sea and to be free to move my location at will. It is hard to put into words this need, I guess it is just the life of a sailor. One learns to become a ‘local’ very quickly and then as quickly say ‘goodbye’ and move on. There is always a’ call’, the excitement of a passage, a different island to see, another tranquil anchorage to gaze and wonder at. What a life, pinch me is this real? There is no way that our cruising life could be taken for granted the variance and changing of our surroundings not to mention the challenges of constantly having to familiarize oneself with new places sees to is a big affair sometimes just to find and buy an egg, fresh milk, by the way, is a treasure we have yet to find!

Parts arrived on the ferry yesterday from Grenada (Aug. 17th), a heat exchanger to replace the leaking one on ‘Faraday’ our generator and the correct 6 gallon per minute fuel transfer pump for our day tank installation. Today will be a work day and a day in the engine room fitting the heat exchanger and re-assembling the sound shield that we dismantled yesterday in order to replace all the sound proofing material. While visiting Jim and Tammy, other cruisers we have met here in Tyrrel Bay, onboard s/v ‘Sweet Chariot’, we were talking about our job list for while we are in the marina on the hard, Jim mentioned he had a roll of R15 insulation sound proofing material, he used to be in construction, which he didn’t need so was kind enough to donate it to our cause. It was ideal and the fitting was easy, simply cut to shape and glue with 3M heat proof spray-on glue, we accomplished the task in an afternoon. Gus will be coming on Tuesday to install the fuel transfer pump and the three brackets for the selection valves used for the day tank and generally tidy up all the fuel hoses which
will finish off the project.                                                                  

The last coat of antifouling paint will be applied on Monday and the
 boot stripe and zincs will be done on Tuesday. Hurrah! We will be launched on Wednesday (Aug. 21st) if all is well. I have already been watching the weather patterns and consulting Chris Parker our weather guru to try and plan our trip down to Granada and beyond to Trinidad. The passage to Granada is relatively short and much of the trip is in the lee of the island of Granada itself. Our destination will be Prickly Bay or Hog Island, we’re not sure yet. We can clear out in Prickly bay but it is only a short dinghy ride to Customs and Immigration from Hog Island too; Hog Island is known for its calm anchorage whereas Prickly is known to be rolly; choices!

Last night we met our friend Les and his son Daniel from s/v ‘Golightly’ and enjoyed a drink at Twilight, a local waterfront bar, before walking the mile to Lucky’s for, what has become a regular pilgrimage on a Saturday, her Barbequed pork ribs, chicken and potato wedges, yum! The usual suspects were there too, Gordon, Judy, Jim and Tammy etc. Food, beer and great conversation...we all had a good time and on our walk back stopped at the Lambi Queen, another bar and restaurant on the waterfront, for a nightcap. Oh, the cruising life...!

Tuesday, our last day in the marina apartment. In the afternoon while two coats of the bootstripe were being applied and Gus was putting the finishing touches to the day tank installation HT and I went to say goodbye to Tammy and Jim aboard 'Sweet Chariot' and also stopped at 'Golightly' to liaise with Les and Daniel about going over to Petite Martinique together for fuel and rum before we headed to Grenada and they to Tobago. After that we headed to the beach in order to clean the bottom of our dinghy ready to bring aboard in the morning once we were launched. As a treat to ourselves I made a reservation for the Slipway restaurant and at 19:30 we had the most superb dinner, HT order the Tuna steak and I the beef steak, both dishes were accompanied by perfect roast potatoes, carrots and haricot vert and a remarkably pleasant south African red wine. We lingered over coffee talking about our six week stay in Tyrrel Bay agreeing how much we had both enjoyed this gem of a destination; the lights flickering over the bay and the sound of the water lapping at the beach only 15 feet away really gave a great ambiance. We had a good last night.

In summary of our haul out experience I can recommend Carriacou Marine Ltd and the whole crew here, they were accommodating, extremely polite and very professional. Trevor the owner of the Yacht Club and the marina yard could not have been more helpful and we will definitely return to his facility again, it was just plain easy.

More when we have cruised a little further south...

Super yacht visitor towing his sport boat

The Carriacou Marine boat yard
The boat yard from our anchorage

Union Island
Petit Martinique

Petit St. Vincent (PSV)
A favourite beach
Another beach!
and another!

Leaving Prickly Bay Grenada
Rounding the SW tip of Grenada