Caribbean Days

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Norm has been in the Caribbean since early December. He files this report.  Haha. I have been in the USVI, BVI, and Antigua. It is interesting to see the effects of two Cat 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, on the USVI and BVI. Widespread destruction hardly describes the scene. In boat yards, my normal venues, boats tipped over and flipped over. The recovery is interesting to compare. The USVI allow mainland workers and their equipment in immediately and FEMA covers most expenses. Or so they say. 

In the BVI. There are few workers from outside and much less money. The place is still beat up, depressing. The recovery is being undertaken by the population of 25-30,000 people. Not enough workers. Not enough money.

Some images from around the areas. The sailing remains excellent. The boats that are up and running are sailing and the sailors are excited.

USVI images 2018

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Wrecked boats lifted from beaches and placed on barges destined for a scrap yard somewhere. hundreds and hundreds of sailboats are junk. The USVI cleaned up pretty quickly. 

Cowpet Bay off the yacht club on a very pretty day. Great St James Is in the background.

View from St Thomas YC looking East into a coming squall. Some days in this winter the squall obscured St john Island in the distance.

Dave franzel, formerly of Boston Sailing now of St Thomas Sailing Center showed some images of his IC24 fleet after the hurricanes. All those boats are flaotsin and sailing now. thanks, Dave.

Now here is a story. I saw this boat when over in Crowne Bay Marina arranging a slip space for when Laura and Boys came down. It is an Ohlson 38 with a little CLC Boats nesting dinghy on deck. Follow Debi and Jack at:

BVI Images 2018

What a mess. Spainish Town Marina on Virgin Gorda.

So.. what pick s up a 20,000 plus pound catamaran and flips it up onto a seawall as if it were a pancake? It took all day to lift it off the seawall almost five months after the storms.

Nanny Cay Marina. Empty. Boats still under water. This scene was once a hundred plus yacht marina with concrete piers and bustling life. 

A beautiful Dutch yacht in Village Cay Marina, Tortola. Mooring Base is behind. Find the monohull? Sadly sunk and wrecked yachts litter the shoreline.

Antigua 2018

Falmouth Harbour is always able to show off some of the finest in yacht design. Anchored out are small sailing vessels of every description from all over the world.

A Hood 50, Caradow, anchored behind the reef at Green Island on Antigua's East Coast. The family has a bunch of kids and they sail around in a little Dyer Dhow sloop visiting their friends on other yachts. those kids are paddleboarding and sailing around the harbor. I only thought about how much our grands would fit in to this life.

A pretty Swan 48 and two ugly catamarans anchored off Jolly Harbour. Cats are taking over and power-only cats are surging in popularity. The Swan is what a boat should look like. Averisera is from the same designera and just as pretty. Seaworthy, too.

In 2006, Elizabeth went snorkeling for the first time off this beach at Five Sisters Islands off Jolly Harbour, Antigua. Back in the Three Harkoms days. We sailed for two weeks from Antigua to Guadeloupe to Dominica to Barbados. It was wonderful. Thanks Elizabeth! xo

It was one of those gifts of a day in late February! Today, sun was shining, wind was no more than 10 kts, tide was low at mid-day in Chatham, and the grandkids were on Cape for a visit at the end of school vacation week.
We took the long walk to Morris Island, the trail that starts at the National Wildlife Refuge at Quitnesset. Our first look over the body of water behind south beach revealed 5 Long-tailed Ducks among some eiders. The eiders have completely demolished most of the mussel beds that had been thriving along the shore in late January. Now hardly any mussels and few eiders.

We took the woodland trail to the start of the dune path, and began the walk along Hardings Beach Point. I had seen a Snowy Owl there two weeks ago, and wanted to see if it was still around, so the grandkids could see it. Our group split up, with dune walkers and beach walkers. As we got closer to the midpoint of the point, we spotted the owl. We spent the next half hour, trying to see how close we could get to the owl without spooking him/her. Pretty close it turns out. Not close enough for a good picture, but close enough for the children to appreciate the beauty and size of this owl.

I'll post some pics, though the owl is very small, barely a dot.

Valanta: Virgin Islands Charter Prep

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The Hanse 400, Valanta, needed a good cleaning and rearranging. Hot work in a rolling anchorage. The results are OK.
View of the harbor from "up the hill" and the USVI have hills. Valanta not visible though off to the left. Great St James Island in background. Christmas Cove anchorage in lee of island.

For some reason, this computer will not publish a portrait image as anything but landscaape. Maybe operator error??

Dishes are clean, lockers are tidy, floor is wiped and the boat is ready for the next sailors to step aboard and sail, sail, sail.

The "rubber ducky" leaks and Norm had some repair materials in his kit for just such an event. The little quick patch from West Marine is OK. The major leaking is stopped. The problem is that the patches do not overlap well so the air weeps in a few places. Much improved, though.

The problem to solve is one of reinforcing the Hypalon at the verry afdt end bottom of the pontoons. No matter how diligent we are, the boat gets dragged up the shore and the tube gets a slice or puncture. "Captain" Norm recommends a sacrifical layer of Hypalon laid onto the exposed areas of the pontoons.

The other idea is to have a nice rowing dinghy in plywood with an epoxy/glass bottom layer.

.The damaged area is repaired with a clear plastic patch, adhesive on one side. There are three of the three inch rounds arranged to cover offending slices. The slices were discovered using a soapy water solution. Bubbles mean leaks. As luck had it, the slices revealed themselves one at a time.

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About nine feet long, tows like a dream, strong as a horse and carries a big load. A bit difficult to stow on deck. Difficult but not impossible.

tag: Valanta.  Also see Valanta Bermuda to St Thomas

USVI Scenes

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Mid-January 2018, Norm sailed in a US Sailing Assoc Bareboat Instructor Qualification Course and snapped a couple of images of the local scene. Yes, he passed the qualification.

A big British catamaran is loading charter guests at American Yacht Harbour in Red Hook, St Thomas. The white shirts and green shorts are a nice livery for the crew.

The view from the water at Secret Harbour resort. We did anchor practice and had lunch here.

A beautiful home with an impressive stone foundation adjacent to the resort. Nice anchorage.

Hurricane destruction. Boats loaded off the beaches in St John onto a barge and carried to Red Hook for demolition. Each boat has a number. We saw numbers in the 60s and there is still a lot more work to do. Some boats a very nice looking. Others appear to be old derelicts finally being removed.

Another view of the same pile of old boats being demolished.

A couple of beach bars at Lindberg Bay which is near the airport. This area got hit hard by Irma and Maria losing a lot of beach sand. A beautiful anchorage.

Fearless Leader?
Cowpet Bay, East End of St Thomas

January Thaw

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After the record breaking cold temperatures of a week or so ago, things are much warmer now... just above freezing. Balmy. The Bay and the Sound are thick with ice. Cape Cod Bay has floes piled up on the Brewster and Orleans beaches. In some places the chunks of ice are six to eight feet above the ground. A "strong breeze" will do that.  Over on Nantucket Sound, the ice sheet runs all the way down to Monomoy Point. A couple of pictures taken at Paine's Creek Landing of Cape Cod Bay and from Harwichport Boatyard of the Sound.


Winter Storm One

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A big cyclonic winter storm is here. Wind and rain soon to turn to snow. Went to boat and removed Mainsail which Elizabeth reminded me we should have done a month ago. I agree. It did not take too long to accomplish. However, we were frozen by the time it was safely below.

Averisera is heeling about 5 degrees in the strongest gusts from the NE. This is from 1100 on the 4th.

Picked up E at her work at noon and went to see the sights at Chatham Lighthouse. Very stormy winds, the USCG station was flying the "storm" flag, a square flag, red with a black square. Then off to the Squire for lunch. Very jolly. Finished our tour with a look at the beach at Battlefield Road Landing. The tide is high in Stage Harbor. Some access roads are closed. At Harwichport Boatyard, the water is almost into the buildings.

The beach is covered with water and there is surf. Wind against tide makes for a big chop. When the current begins to run the other way a lot of water is going to flow into the sea. We expect a new shape to the Chatham Inlet.

Can't see much. That's where the Fool's Cut is/was. 

Snow started at 1400, temps down and we're hunkered down. 

After the Storm pictures:

The next day, sun, cold, and wind. A view of the Atlantic from Chatham Lighthouse. Compare to the same view during the storm. Seawater was washing up to the base of the cliff. Lighthouse Beach in Chatham survived intact. Nauset Beach in Orleans is almost gone.

The inlet seems very much as it was before the North Easter. Just north of the main inlet is the so-called North Break which seems to have moved south to just opposite of Tern Island off the Chatham Fish Pier.

A friend took this photo of the catamaran I had plans to deliver to the USVI this Fall.


Chilly at Year End

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Winter arrived. Temps in the single digits Fahrenheit and lots of ice. 
Not much snow. A couple of snaps from a drive around on January 1st.

Harwich Village Center

View of Little Sipson Island from bluff overlooking Eastward Ho Golf Course. The island is a favorite summer sailing destination in our skerry.
We probably should have gotten the mainsail off when the weather was warmer. One always hopes for one more sailing day. Maybe...
Google-eyed, smurf hat crested birdwatcher sighted.

It is a cold snap.

Our House

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As I drove up to the house recently, at the end of December, I couldn't help but think about just how cozy it is.


St Thomas Sailing Center at STYC, USVI

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The St Thomas Yacht Club has a sailing center that manages some of the fleet for residents and visitors who want to sail, learn to sail, race, and take cruising courses. Norm is working for the Center. The delivery down was part of the plan to have a cruising sailboat on site that can be used for courses. 

Shortly before we delivered the Hanse 400, Valanta, to STYC/STSC a couple of category five hurricanes made a "mash up" of the islands. (Mash up is a Caribbean expression) There was a lot of damage. During the two weeks that followed Valanta's arrival, Norm worked on boats helping to put things right.

The people have strong wills to make the island a vacation destination. Their spirit is strong. STYC after the hurricanes of 2017

Some words and pictures from the area of St Thomas Yacht Club and Sailing Center

Patio looking towards Great St James Island. The flagpole blew down and is, as yet, not renewed or replaced. One evening, we wondered how many of us are needed to pick up the mast and walk it to the dump? Keg placement was a consideration.

View from condos, STYC on left, kids sailing Opti Prams off the beach.

A lot of beach was washed away. Mangroves to the right, not visible, help hold things together. This bird fished successfully.

The nearby town of Red Hook has everything we need, restaurants, food stores, and a waterfront bar.

Three Harkoms from Norm's past. In 2005 and 2006 he helped rebuild her from slow charter boat to wicked fast trophy collector. During the hurricanse the 200 mph winds whipped her around enough to break up her interior furniture. Some say she is a total loss now. Very sad.

IC24 getting a new coat of deck paint. And that's just the half of it. Make them pretty above and below. The IC24 is a J24 hull with a new deck from the head/galley bulkhead aft. 

One evening we went over to a nearby resort, Secret Harbor, and had a delightful meal. I believe Averisera would look beautiful anchored off this place.

Empty container and build storage shelving. 

Some of what was inside.

Making progress.

These kids are the most enthusiastic sailors and are in boats five days a week.

More kids sailing.

tag: STYC after the hurricanes of 2017

Ocean Delivery: Hanse 400 Bermuda to St Thomas

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Valanta, leg two, from St Georges, Bermuda to Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, USVI. The leg is about 900 nautical miles due South from St Georges, BDA. We departed on the 2nd of December and arrived in STT on the 8th. The average speed was about 130 nm a day largely because there was not a lot of wind. We burned through about 50 gallons of diesel fuel with a burn rate of about half to three quarters a gallon per hour.

So many times, sailors are asked about storms at sea. there certainly are storms but most cruisers sail in areas and times of calms. The risk in calms is "slatting" where there is insufficient pressure on the sails to prevent their banging around. That's when stuff breaks. We didn't have much breakage. A few yachts we met in Bermuda had suffered damage. One yacht departed during a stormy cycle and blew apart its laminated headsails. Poor equipment choice writes this sailor. Another had trouble with the engine due to fuel contamination. 

Valanta is a privately owned Hanse 400 managed by Martin van Breems of Sound Sailing Center of Norwalk, CT. Is will be used for club member charters and sailing/cruising instruction this winter from a base at the St Thomas Yacht Club and St Thomas Sailing Center

Some words and pictures from the ocean delivery.

The skipper and his wife after the first leg. Martin van Breems owns the Sound Sailing Center. This was also the occasion of an anniversary for the couple. Aren't they cute? Norm took over as skipper for the final leg of the delivery.

The new skipper, not cute at all. St Georges Harbor near the Customs Dock.

The small ketch cleared into Bermuda just before we did on the early morning of the 1st. Norm wanted to talk with the solo sailor but was chased away by the customs officer. A tidy little steel vessel from England.

We had to take Valanta over to the duty free fuel dock at the old naval dockyard. Oracle's AC cat was nearby and we all went in for a look. 

Sort of Christmasy. The bird atop the marker makes the image all the more whimsical.

A view of the Customs Dock from the harbor. Pretty place, some small ocean going yachts anchored out nearby. The big schooner is getting a new coat of varnish before heading to Antigua. In 1971, Norm was crew on the 80 foot motor sailer, Sorrento, when she was refitted at the nearby shipyard. That was six weeks of hard work in a very nice place. Maybe we should do a refit of Averisera there some year?

On the first weekend of December, the town's historic homes and buildings are open for inspection. Some sort of pre-Christmas town stroll. Rum punch may have been served everywhere! I like the decorations of this bicycle.

Did I mention the trip was mostly sailed in benighn conditions? Well, it was.

Captain Norm at rest in the restaurant above the customs office in Charlotte Amalie. Clearing into the island was simple. The complication was that the printed instructions were wrong. Oh well...  Here is what the Customs Guy said to me: "dock your boat at a marina and take a cab or walk over to clear in here." Pretty simple. The printed rules suggest anchoring in the no-anchoring zone and dinghying to the no-dinghies-allowed wharf. you get the idea. Next time, I will know.

Crowne Bay Marina, STT. We tied up overnight to wash the boat and crew. Dinner ashore at the Tickles Bar was good mostly because we didn't cook it or do the dishes.

A kid being coached from a RIB with the coach sitting under the shade umbrella. STYC in the background.

More of the St Thomas Yacht Club and the far beach with condos, etc. The area survived the two hurricanes better than other areas. It will take years for the islands to get back to normal. The folks are pretty hard working and seem to be rebuilding with vigor.

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