Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Peaceful Nevis

Since we missed Nevis on earlier trips we decided to spend a few days exploring the island this time around.  Columbus in 1493 named Nevis after Las Nieves (the snowy ones) because of the clouds looking like snow peaks that often crown Nevis Peak.  In the 18th century the island became known as the Queen of the Caribbean as it was covered with prosperous sugar plantations and fine estates.  Nevis also became well known for its hot sulphur springs.

Nevis, as well as St. Kitts, are British influenced Islands rich with English and American history.  Horatio Nelson while Admiral in the British Navy on Antigua married the young widow Frances Nisbet from Nevis. Also, Alexander Hamilton was born in Charlestown, Nevis and later became one of the founding fathers of the United States and was the first Secretary of Treasury under President George Washington.

In 1983 Nevis. along with its sister island St. Kitts. reached full independence as a Federated State. Today Nevis relies on tourism and many old plantation mansions have been restored into charming hotels. It is still a small and peaceful island with very friendly people. Nevis is unlike many other Caribbean islands in that it doesn't have a lot of mega resorts lining the shore, giving it a more authentic Caribbean flavor.

After clearing customs, we caught a public bus from the town square and headed up to the Nevis Botanical Gardens. Bus fare would normally be $2.60 for us both to get us within walking distance, but for an additional dollar we were dropped off right at the entrance to the Gardens. Love privately run transportation!  We spent a couple hours wandering around the lovely grounds all run and maintained by a Philippine family.  We had heard their Thai restaurant was very good so we enjoyed some Pad Thai and a Sweet and Sour dish.

Fountain at Nevis Botanical Gardens. They actually ran and turned on the fountain when they saw us coming.

Lipstick or Wax Palm
Hedgehog or Indian Beech Plant
Lunch at the Thai Restaurant at the gardens.
From the gardens we walked a short distance up to Montpelier Estate where Horatio Nelson and Fanny Nisbit’s wedding took place in 1787.  Still a beautiful sight with a huge Banyan Tree in the center of the circular drive.  It’s now a beautiful inn with luxury accommodations, swimming pool, and gardens.  It was very empty due to the slow season, but its always fun to see how the "other half " live.

The next morning we planned to go up to the Golden Rock Estate and hike up to The Source (water spring source for the area).  As we were getting off our dinghy at the dock we met a friendly couple, Claudia from Switzerland and Bertril from Sweden.  They were also heading up to the Golden Rock so we shared a bus ride and got acquainted as we walked up to the Estate together.  They were going to walk along a trail to the Hermitage Estate and then to the Botanical Gardens. They decided to have a coffee first and as it turned out it was a smart decision as it started pouring rain for the next 25 minutes.

We, of course, wanting to get going on our “rainforest hike,” were soon hiding under an umbrella and some trees trying to keep from getting soaking wet.  Thank goodness the Estate provides hikers with a tall stick and a map which was most helpful in finding our way.  We were just about ready to give up when another couple came hiking down just as the sun started to break through. They told us it was about an hour on up so we stopped whimping-out and continued on up the muddy slippery trail to a nice look-out point.

Meanwhile, Claudia & Bertril were sure we were going to come back down and join them for another coffee and a more tame walk with them.  Probably should have as we were very tired hikers by the time we returned to Golden Rock.

No walk in the park!
Taking a much needed ice tea break at The Golden Rock Inn
Back at the boat we chatted with Claudia & Bertril on s/v Ruth and since they were leaving for Montserrat in the morning.  We made plans to meet up with them at Rendevous Bay once we arrived on Sunday. 

Friday we took it easy in the morning and then went into town for some supplies.  Found a nice produce stand just outside the market with a friendly guy named Michael and bought most of our fresh produce.  A fresh pineapple, papaya, butternut squash, fresh turmeric, a jar of his mango chutney, and other salad makings.  I was going to make a chicken curry for dinner that night but we passed by a square with music and liming going on.  On the corner a young man had some delicious chicken on the barbecue with lots of BBQ sauce.  I took Walter’s advice to buy some ready made and we had that for dinner instead.  Glad we did.

Excellent BBQ chicken
Saturday we cleared out of customs for an early departure the following morning.  Walter really enjoys talking with the Customs officials and likes to learn more about them and the country.  The are usually dour at the beginning, but quickly warm up when you show a genuine interest in their country.

We still hadn’t seen the historical sites in Charlestown so we went to Hamilton House Museum and enjoyed reading about the history of the island.  An interesting book was mentioned, Rivers of Time by June Goodfield. It's about the Europeans first settling in Nevis in 1628 and tells the story of a woman’s travels across the Atlantic Ocean and arriving as a single woman on an island of predominately men and adjusting to a new life.

Alexander Hamilton House is now the House of Assembly for Nevis.
The ship carrying the first settlers of America at Jamestown stopped in Nevis to resupply.
The museum had a large section about slavery on the island.  Since Nevis was the sugar plantation center they received most of the slave shipments.  At one point the slave population was ten times larger than the white plantation owners.  Fortunately, slavery was abolished in the Caribbean islands in 1834.

This road led up to the site of the slave market on Nevis.
There also were a number of Sephardic Jews that fled from the Spanish Inquisition to settle in Nevis. They made up 25% of the population of Charlestown in the 1720’s.  They thrived and came to be the accountants and bureaucrats of the sugar industry.  We visited the Jewish cemetery and at one time a synagogue was located nearby.

All the graves are oriented east/west as is the custom in Judaism. The small stones a Jewish custom to let the spirits know you were here.

We had our lunch at a nearby old Caribbean house called Riviere House which I would highly recommend.  We had a delicious fish dish and the staff was very friendly.  From there we wandered over to the Bath Hotel which is no longer open.  The Spring House is still standing but a new area has been constructed for soaking in 109 degree water.  The temperature was at least 85 degrees that day so we passed.

Locals love to visit the hot springs to soak their tired feet.
One of the most beautiful sunsets yet!
Looking back at our visit of Nevis we really enjoyed the feeling here of an uncrowded, non-tourtisty Caribbean island with wonderful welcoming people hopeful you will visit again.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

One More Island Off the Bucket List

There’s a wonderful book called 50 Places to Sail Before You Die. Now I’m not to enamored by the “before you die” part, but I do like adventurous places to sail. When we had sailed in the British Virgin Islands in the 1980's, the holy grail of sailing destinations was a bleak, wind-swept island called Anegada, about 11 miles north of Virgin Gorda Sound.  The problem was the charter companies would not let you sail there, as the low slung island is surrounded by very nasty reefs (over a 100 wrecks on the northeast side alone). Anegada isn’t in the book, but it should be.

With accurate GPS-based navigation, all that has changed, but it still is a little intimidating to sail to an island you can’t see until you almost hit it.  On May 22 we sailed from Monkey Point, where we’d stopped to do some snorkeling, to Anegada. We had near perfect conditions with about 12 knots of wind on a close reach. The waves were only two to three feet so it was a very pleasant morning just enjoying the sailing.

The low slung island of Anegada doesn't show up until you just a few miles from the entrance.
 From reading other’s experiences sailing to Anegada and reviewing the charts, the entrance looks very intimidating. But under the benign conditions we were sailing in it was a piece of cake. The entrance is well marked, and as long as you resist cutting the final red buoy too soon, you’re suddenly in about 7 to 8 feet of water in the small anchoring area off Setting Point.  We were shocked to see over 36 (mostly charter cats) anchored in the small area that had sufficient depth for boats. With our six-foot draft we had only a 1 to 1 1/2 feet of water under our keel, but that was enough.

Charterers come to Anegada for the lobster, which is in abundance on the offshore reefs.
This is about how crowded the bars were at Happy Hour (during off season).

We took the dingy in to find a good bar for Happy Hour, but were amazed to find almost every bar completely empty. After a spirited discussion of where to go, we ended up walking down the beach to the Whispering Pines, which we were told had a Happy Hour, only to find ourselves the only people at the bar.  The bartender told us that “in season” they would be turning people away.  Turns out that big groups on the charter cats book a restaurant for their group, and then show up at about 7 to 8 pm for dinner, hence the empty Happy Hour bars.

Lots of scooters to rent for $40/day.
The next day I wanted to rent scooters, but Meryl was more inclined to rent a car (another spirited discussion). We ended up finding a “Rent-A-Wreck” Jeep for $50/day, which worked just fine. The island is only 11 miles long so there’s not too much trouble you can get into. 

Big crowds at Cow Wreck Beach Resort.
Beach at the Anegada Beach Club Resort.
We first headed along the western loop road, not seeing one other car for the first hour. We visited Cow Wreck Beach, where in the 1800s a ship full of cow bones when aground, and visited a near empty small resort with an open air bar and several out cabins. Next we headed around the north side to the new Anegada Beach Club, a newly built club with a nice pool and incredible beach, also empty. Doubling back on the road to avoid a section of rough road, we drove down through the Settlement, where many of the local people live, then headed out to a beach called Flash of Beauty that the bartender had recommended for snorkeling. It looked great but the 20-knot easterly wind would have made the swimming a little strenuous.

The Big Bambo under the shade of the Sea Grape trees.
Finally headed back a little northwest to a restaurant called The Big Bambo at Loblolly Beach.  As the Three Little Bears said, this one’s just right.  Loblolly Beach is a little more protected and looked like it would be OK for snorkeling.  We decided to first have lunch.  Everyone who goes to Anegada goes for the famous lobster, but at $45 to $70 a piece we figured we could hold off for a while. Had a nice traditional lunch with crab cakes and rice and beans, then retired to the hammocks strung nearby under large Sea Grape trees. The Big Bambo is obviously set up for tourists, but it had a nice feel and seemed like a good place to just hang out for the day. It also had a few patrons, so we didn’t feel as lonely as at the other restaurants.

After an hour siesta we suited up and went out into the azure blue water to try the snorkeling. Reading Trip Advisor, there is quite the debate as to whether Anegada has the world-class snorkeling some say it does.  Some people thought it was terrible. My take was with the persistent wind and current, it’s not an area for inexperienced snorkels to be cruising about, especially when you get out by the barrier reef. As someone mentions, if you get in trouble, there’s no one to come and get you. 

As for me, I have a hard enough time standing in the water on one foot (my complete lack of flexibility prevents me from siting in the water like everyone else) trying to get my tight-fitting fins over my feet. I need Meryl to help steady me, an activity she holds with great disdain for some reason. Once I get everything on, I’m hell on wheels in the water, it’s just the suit-up that’s problematic.

Meryl has been having problems with her mask fogging that we don’t seem to be able to resolve, so she didn’t last too long. Most of the inshore water was only about 4 feet deep, and only 2 ft deep when you snorkel over the actual reef, so I was interested in finding a break in the reef that allowed access to the ocean side. The problem was with the wind still ripping, the waves and current were a little intimidating.  I kept heading down current, trying little side channels through the reef until all of a sudden the bottom dropped out and I was in a wonderland of deep blue water grottos everywhere. It’s hard to describe, but it was like diving through huge pieces of Swiss Cheese with shafts of light coming every which way.  It was absolutely gorgeous.   I came around a blind corner and stopped dead in my tracks as I saw a surreal sight, almost like a hippie girl's hair in multiple colors streaming out from a rock at the surface. Turns out the over the years this little rock nubbin had collected strands of multi-color rope which streamed out in the current. An amazing sight as it undulated in the current. I was quickly brought back to reality when two 5-foot-long barracudas cruised by giving me the eye. Time to head in.

I could see Meryl pacing back and forth on the beach, obviously pissed. Apparently I had gotten so far out that she couldn’t see me in the waves. Nice to know you’re wanted.

We followed the bright blue sidewalks back to The Big Bambo and each got a cup of ice cream, always a treat after a strenuous snorkel.  The bar is covered with pieces of driftwood that people have engraved their names and boat names using a magnifying glass as a wood burner. 

We headed back into town and turned in the Jeep, basically just throwing her the keys. It was so banged up that there was no way you could have damaged it anymore. Anegada was very much unlike the other British Virgin Islands, or other Caribbean Islands for that matter, in that it is still like most of the islands were 20 to 30 years ago. Very laid back, uninhabited, and peaceful. A little hard to get used to after all the hustle and bustle of Virgin Gorda Sound.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

An Expensive Day in Paradise

With the new AIS working I just wanted to sail around and have Flying Cloud show up on other boat's navigation systems, but Meryl had other ideas. She had her own challenge trying to sew new side panels that would hang down from the bimini to block the sun. But I’ll let her tell that tale.

With a couple of major projects under our belt it was time for a little R & R. On May 18th (34 years ago on this day I was about to travel down to Vancouver to work for FEMA following the eruption of Mt. St. Helens) we motor sailed over to Norman Island to check out a new neighborhood. Compared to Little Harbor, The Bight was like a Walmart parking lot the day after Thanksgiving. Gunnel to gunnel with charter cats everywhere.

We decided to dingy over to the famous “Treasure Island Caves” and snorkel around. Three are three sea caves carved out of the limestone cliffs and one of them goes back quite a ways. It's always a little scary diving in the dark caves, but these were so full of people you could just follow the bikini bottoms. And despite the crowds, it was actually fairly good snorkeling, with the occasional huge tarpon doing a drive-by under our legs.
Newly remodeled Pirates Bight restaurant at The Bight.
Enjoying a well-deserved beer at the Pirates Bight.

We went into the newly remodeled Pirates Bight restaurant for a sundowner during Happy Hour. I have to say it's not the same with crowds of charterers compared to the cruiser crowd we’re used to hanging around. You feel like you're in a Fort Lauderdale beach bar right after the convention hit town.  The restaurant was fabulous, however, and the service excellent. For a small appetizer and two beers we dropped $28. That’s why we don’t do this often.

We did take advantage of a delivery service called Deliverance, a black speedboat full of ice, bakery goods, and other food items. Since we had about two weeks of garbage on board, we were very lucky to have these guys take it off our hands. To show how desperate we were for fresh food items, when he was grabbing the last homemade brownie and it fell to the floor of the boat, we just said “We’ll take it anyway.” Desperate men do desperate things.

The next morning we sailed south to Soper’s Hole for fuel and water.  We also discovered we were three days overdue on our cruising permit and there was a Custom’s Office just across from the fuel dock.  I thought we’d just get a quick reprimand and pay $30 for an additional month, but the senior Customs guy got involved and declared we’d have to “import” our boat to the BVIs and the fee was $202. Since we were only going to be there for another week that really, really hurt. Trying to keep up on all the rules and ever-changing regulations of the various Caribbean islands is a full time job for a very responsible person. We don't have any of those on board.

Another gorgeous white sand beach, this time at Cane Garden Bay.
Myett's on the Beach.
While this nice soft focus looks dreamy, it's because I forgot to clean the camera lens.
Continued through Thatcher Pass at Soper’s Hole to the backside (north) of Tortola Island and motor sailed (wind on the nose) an hour up to Cane Garden Bay. It’s a beautiful little bay with a fun village, some good restaurants, and about three small grocery stores.  Even though we didn’t seem to be out of anything big, we managed to rack up a $150 grocery bill in about an hour of shopping.  Had sundowners and dinner at Myett’s, sort of an institution in Cane Garden Bay, and sat and watched the sun set while Candyman played a medley of Caribbean and Jimmy Buffet songs. Perfect end to a very expensive day.

Having been without Internet for about a week, we  decided to stay an extra day in Cane Garden just to get caught up on email and other chores.  When I cranked up the computer and finally got Quicken running I was shocked to see that someone had stolen our Charles Schwab ATM card number (not the physical card which was still in my wallet) and emptied out our Schwab cash account to the tune of $1500.  I had just transferred that amount on May 7th and on the 10th someone in the Philippines made seven withdrawals totaling that amount. Schwab eventually figured it out and blocked the card, so that when I tried to get cash at Cane Garden Bay the ATM machine wouldn’t give me any.  Got a hold of Schwab’s Fraud department and they were great to deal with. We use this card rarely, and the best I can figure is maybe when we were in Hong Kong getting a foot massage someone got into my wallet and electronically copied the card with a reader device, then used that to make an identical card. The security guy told me that the number embossed on the card face is different from the number used on the mag stripe, so that’s the only way they could get it. I still don’t understand how they could have gotten the PIN since it’s not written down anywhere.  Moral of the story is don’t keep much cash in your ATM account and guard the card with your life.

Friday, May 16, 2014

New Bimini Sun Shades -- Privacy Please!

Once we returned back home from an emotional and stressful week in Seattle for my mom’s memorial service,  I was ready to do the 3R’s, Rest, Relax, Read and not much else.  Fortunately, the first couple days back in the BVI’s were windy and rainy and we spent much needed time unpacking, reorganizing, getting caught up on emails and blogs. 

One way some of us deal with emotional loss is to try and get your life back in order again.  Somethings you have some control over, but even simple things can be a challenge on a boat.  You can’t just put things away just any old place.  Everything must have a place. Also, you must remember where that place is for future retrieval.  I mention that only because you would think it would be easy to remember with so much less physical space (we are only 44’ long & 13.8” beam at the mid point) but even with the help of Walter’s computerized layout system we lose track of things on occasion and while looking for one thing, we find other stuff we forgot we had on board!  And so it goes…

Once the weather cleared we were ready to move to a quiet spot to relax and get a few boat projects out of the way.  We found Little Harbor on Peter Island to be the perfect spot with the occasional catamaran captain moored and getting ready for the next charter.  Walter was eager to get the AIS installed which soon became an all encompassing project with cushions here and there and difficult wiring runs from the cockpit to the navigation station.  I'm sure Walter covered that ad nauseam in an earlier blog post!! 
Nice peaceful Little Harbor, Peter Island Note the paddle-boarder on the left
Walter is at it again!
I helped when needed and postponed my sun shade sewing project as that would have been much too much going on.  I did manage to get all the metal zipper pulls replaced with plastic pulls and functioning on the bimini.  Every metal zipper had seized up requiring lots of vinegar, Zipper-Lube, and patience.  Never use metal zippers or pulls on a boat including zippers inside your cabin as sooner or later they will deteriorate and seize up.

Once all the zippers were functional we would be able to remove the Bimini from the metal supports and I could attach the new Sun Shades to the Bimini with zippers. Once Walt had completed the AIS project I got out my Sail-rite sewing machine and went to work measuring, cutting, and sewing the new panels.  The panels are pretty basic with bungee cord to the life-lines.  We made them extend  forward and aft of the zipper attachments to provide more protection from the sun.  When the sun shades are up they look a little like butterfly wings on each side. 

Finally, on day four with all the projects behind us we sat out in the cockpit in the lovely shade and some privacy after a swim  thinking….why didn’t we do this years ago?  So many epiphanies while cruising.  One for sure, you can't do everything at once and you will always have a never ending list of projects.  Just keep work & relaxing in balance....that's our goal.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How Installing an AIS Unit and Conestoga Wagons are Similar

The trip to Seattle was bittersweet. We were there to hold a memorial service for Meryl’s mother, Joan, who had passed away at the age of 89 following a long illness. We knew this day would come, but you are never prepared for it. Meryl and her sister Durlyn spent a tearful day going over family mementos and preparing a display for the memorial service and making other arrangements. Jim and Chris Berry were kind enough to share their house with us, and they were the right people to be with during those difficult days.

Meryl, her brother Kim, and sister Durlyn at the memorial service.
Our son Brad, grandson Bennett, wife Ashley, and our daughter Christa.
The service was held at Mountain View Cemetery, where all of Walter’s family is buried. So sad to see the graves of your loved ones all in a row. During the service, the minister seemed to key on various evocations from Bennett, our almost one-year old grandson who was seated in the front row, and the interchange between the two went a long way to raising the spirits of everyone in attendance. Along with our immediate family, it was wonderful to see our cousins whom we hadn’t talked with in quite awhile, and the many friends who came to support Meryl.

Meryl with Brody and Bennett.
Following the service we tried to decompress. We did get some quality time with the grandsons, Brody and Bennett, including a fun swim at a local YMCA. Always amazed at how much the grand kids change in between visits.

The rest of the week was the typical circuit of getting boat supplies at Fisheries and West Marine, a surreptitious trip to Dicks, and food items at Costco and QFC.  Since we were flying back on a smaller Cessna 410 from Puerto Rico to Tortola, we couldn’t bring our normal two 70-lb. boxes full of supplies, but we did manage to fill one box to ½ lb. under the 50 lb. limit.

Checking out our boat anchored in Fat Hog Bay.
We took a night flight to Newark and caught the next flight to San Juan, but then decided instead of standing-by all day, to just get a hotel in San Juan since the flights looked better the following day. Hotel rooms are such a treat for us: unlimited hot showers, live TV, ice machines, and a comfy bed. The next morning we caught the 10:30 am flight to Tortola and could feel the tension easing from our bodies as the the tropical islands came into view through the clouds. Were back on the boat by noon and got most our stuff packed away before dinner time.

The next few days were spent reprovisioning and doing laundry. After the huge American grocery stores, the small local groceries require some readjustment. Since the weather was very squally, including one day where it rained a record 10 inches, we decided to just stay on the mooring ball and get our lives sorted out. Zipping around the world on airplanes may sound exciting, but in truth, it just wears you out.

Stern tie to the shore kept our boat from swinging into nearby boats.
It had been raining cats and dogs, so we put up our rain catcher. Didn't rain again for 10 days.
On May 10 we had a wonderful short sail over to neighboring Peter Island, where we anchored in Little Harbor, a hidden gem not yet discovered by the hoards (and I do mean hoards) of charter catamarans. Since it’s a small bay, we emulated the other boats and ran a shore line around a rock ashore to keep the boat from swinging with the wind and tide (lets you get more boats in a smaller space). Haven’t anchored like that since our last trip to British Columbia.

Fifty-foot charter cats with professional crews waiting for their next charter.
Talked a short bit with a young South African couple on a 50 ft. Voyage catamaran who both looked like they could be professional models. Meryl and I had been having a long debate about whether they were millionaires, South African gold mine heirs, or cocaine smugglers. Turns out they were professional skippers, along with most of the other big cats around us, waiting for their next charter to start. Great work if you can get it!

I had just finished cleaning the hull with my SCUBA tank when this monster came cruising by.  Turned out to be a harmless 5 ft. long tarpon, but it still gets your attention.
While the original idea of going to tranquil Little Harbor was for some well deserved R&R, I decided it would be a good time to install the new Vesper XB8000 AIS unit we had purchased back in the States.  AIS is a system similar to that used on airplanes that identifies other ships/boats in the vicinity and displays these ships on our computer navigation system. If you click on the little boat symbol it shows the ship name, speed, direction, and a calculation (called CPA … closest point of approach) of when they will be closest to you, or God forbid, if you are on a collision course. It’s a very accurate system and in some ways is much easier to use than radar. With the ship name, you can easily call them on the VHF radio to make sure they see you. We’ve had passive AIS on the boat for over six years; the Vesper now gives us the ability to transmit our position so other ships/boats can see us on their AIS system. It’s a huge advantage in the crowded shipping lanes of many ports.

Like many other projects on the boat, I had laid in bed every night for a week thinking about all the potential issues involved with the installation. In theory it should be easy:  1) mount the black box, hook up power, install a splitter so we can tap into the existing VHF antennae on the masthead, run power to the splitter, and run a small diameter wire from an external GPS to the black box. So simple in theory. The devil is in the details, as they say.

Like every boat project, about one-half of the boat had to be torn apart to get at tools, electrical connections, multimeter, and various chunks of wire, shrink wrap and wire ties.  I have come to accept this disarray as a necessary evil. Meryl has not.

The first step was taking apart the face plates of teak upon which all our radios, meters, displays, etc. are mounted to access the area behind where the black box will be installed. Do this runs the risk of dinging any one of the hundreds of wires running from these devices, or electrocuting your bare stomach as you lean across the live electrical connections on the back of the panel (don’t ask me how I know this).

Mounting the black box was fairly simple. Finding a piece of one-inch thick wood to mount it to meant tearing apart the only area of the boat not currently torn apart. The wood scraps are stored at the very bottom of the deepest vertical storage space under the guest berth, naturally.  Then finding the jig saw that I’ve used twice in the last two years, well you can image what that entailed.  After all that I managed to cut the piece about one inch too short (only discovered after jig saw put away).

Running power to the black box and antenna splitter was relatively simple, with the exception of trying to solder very thin 22-gauge wire without melting everything.

I saved the best part for last, running the 30 ft. of antenna cable from the GPS unit to the black box. The cable has a factory-installed metal connector on the end. For a connector, it is relatively small. This is good, you would think. The problem was the wiring runs (or races as they are sometimes called) on our boat are absolutely, totally full. Not a micron-sized hair would fit through.  The last electrician I had on the boat to install the 8-gauge wire from the new solar panels to the controllers, continually muttered “I’ve got to get out of this business” as we tried to force those relatively large wires through the same races. I remember him saying something about “that’s the last wire that goes into this boat.”  Well, not quite.

All this is what I thought about every night for a week before the project. By now I have learned the boat well enough to know roughly where the wire would have to run. And I also knew it wouldn’t fit through several of the locations on the route. Like a downhill skier the night before the big race, I continually “ran the course” in my head, trying to think of a path through the innards of our boat that might work.

The GPS unit was mounting on the outside tubing that makes up our dodger. It was a little unorthodox location, but the only one that had a chance in hell of the wiring route to work. We followed the route of the solar panel power cables (the original pair mounted on the bimini). Like a WWI land battle, every inch of ground was furiously fought for. A cheer would go up as we found a way through the first two feet, a difficult dogleg left, only to be stymied at the next turn. I even used my new “video on a cable” tool to took at the route, but it was depressing what I saw. After an hour of putting my body into contortionist positions that only Houdini could accomplish, did I find an alternate route around the obstacle. Another cheer!

We were now in the engine room, supposed easy going like a Conestoga wagon across the Great Plains. The obvious wiring runs/races were jammed full of other wires. With Meryl pushing and me pulling, we somehow had to get the wire through a 1 ¼ inch hole in the stringer by the engine. As you might image, this hole was solid with wires. To tease me, there was a thin messenger string to help me guide the new wire through.  Remember the little factory installed connector on the end to the cable, well it was about a smidgen too wide for the hole. There was no other place to drill a new hole, so for an hour I tried every trick I’d learned from the various electricians. The winner turned out to be placing a very long, thin screwdriver behind the little connector and gently using this to force the wire through the hole, while Meryl gently pulled on the messenger line. After that hole, my body soaked in sweat, a feeble cheer was uttered with the success.

But like those confident Conestoga wagons ambling across the Great Plains, my wire knew nothing about the great Rocky Mountains it had to cross shortly.  I quit for the day, a mere five feet from the promise land, and fell asleep convinced that after all pushing and prodding I done that I’d probably damaged the propriety cable and it wouldn’t work anyway.

I don’t seem to have the ability to keep these technical descriptions short, but I will try. With a fresh, but somewhat battle weary attitude the next morning, I resumed the battle at the next hole through a stringer. Again, absolutely jammed with wires. An hour later a minor victory, but too tired for the cheer.  Two hours later, and four feet of wire feed through, I came out of the mountains and could see the fertile valleys of Oregon in my Conestoga wagon. Only one foot to go. I won’t bore you, but even the last foot fought us for 20 minutes before the wire popped through. Not even a feeble cheer for this one, too exhausted.

I hooked the cable up and got a green status light on the black box. A victory? Not sure yet. I cleaned myself up as best as possible and rowed over to Ken and Barbie on the Voyage 50 to ask if they could see an AIS signal from Flying Cloud on their navigation system.  “Ken” fired up the system and said, “Well I see Courageous, and there’s Antares, and Sally Anne, but no Flying Cloud. With my head hung low, I slowly rowed back to our boat wondering what I would do now. Then, across the water came Ken’s voice:  “Hey, Flying Cloud just popped up on our system.”  I was too tired to cheer, but I did have the courtesy to say “Thanks.”

I can’t say Meryl was thankful that it was working, she just wanted her boat so you could walk around without injuring yourself. It took us two days just to get things somewhat put back together. I sat and played with my new AIS like a ten-year-old with new chemistry set at Christmas. I still had some adventures getting the AIS interface to work properly with the navigation computer, but that’s for another time and another 10,000 words.

A Special Thank You...

Thank you friends and family for all your heart rendering blessings, love, and support during my Mom’s passing and Memorial Service.  It was so wonderful to see so many of you at the Memorial Service, all your emails, and facebook condolences.  I will always appreciate what wonderful family and friends I have. 

The Memorial was just what we all needed as a family to honor our Mother, start the healing process, and have some closure.  We plan to follow through on her wish to have a “Clam Bake” this summer when our family is all together.  My Mom loved anything to do with American Indians and found their culture interesting as she traveled through the Southwestern States and Mexico.

Wonderful Memories of Mom will always be with us and for that I am truly grateful.

I thought I would share a few photo’s from the Memorial.
Our Beautiful Mom will be dearly missed
Meryl, brother Kim, and sister Durlyn
My daughter Christa flew all the way from Hong Kong to be with the family.
Brad (son), little Bennett, (almost a year), Ashley (daughter-in-law), and Christa (daughter)