Time to Go! Last Minute Things

Last minute things….

Check on Boat Insurance (Check).  Get provisions (Working). Do oil change (Scheduled). Check on SeaTow membership (until 11 November good).  Add Water.  Add fuel if needed. Wonder what we forgot.

That’s just a small list there.  A lot of other things have happened in the past two weeks since returning to the ship.  Those things included putting sails back up, and unstrapping the in-mast sails from the mast (hurricane preps before we left of course).  Cleaning out items we really don’t need on the boat.

Speaking of that, I was at the storage locker yesterday. Holy cow.  Where did ALL that crap come from?  Why do we have all that crap?  This isn’t a house, it’s a boat.  I don’t have a garage.  I did pay for a storage locker for a full year.  That will give us time to get rid of everything in that locker we decided we truly didn’t need, or at least the big, bulky, heavy items and things that won’t fix or repair the boat.

We ordered a few things too and await their arrival (today or tomorrow I believe).  New bathing suit for JoAnne, some scrabble pieces (as we’re missing a few in our ancient set) and some other items for the boat.  I decided to have someone else do this oil change for me, so I can be sure it’s right this time.  Turns out we were given bad advice about certain oils to use, by a certain mechanic.  The weight of the oil is apparently too high for this engine and causes significant blow by.

I found that the proper oil will NOT make it smoke as much.  We will find that out later today.  I’m not a mechanic, but I do understand the physics of engines like this, and I gather that we’ve had the wrong oil in here since we had the first oil change accomplished.  The other reason for letting someone else do it, is that I do not have the container/pump assembly I need to pull it out, and no real storage space for one if I did.  So, we’ve filled most of our areas with important things like spare parts, some tools, the clothing we need and food.  We should be self-sufficient for roughly three months once we depart, needing only occasional watering.

We will try to do rain catchment and see how that goes.  I’ve tested it at the docks and in theory, and practice it works well.  However, doing so under sail might be a bit problematic.  We will see.

Today I saw on Facebook that it has been exactly Two Years ago since we found ourselves somewhat “stuck” in Norfolk, VA, in a place that we didn’t want to be, and nothing but bad things happened there.  We made friends, and somehow managed to upset some of them over one of my postings on the blog.  I’m not going to reopen wounds, other than to say, two years later, I stand by my original posts on the blog here.  Friends or no friends, one person’s experience may be different from another’s, and my purpose here is not to blow rainbows and BS up people’s butts, but to tell what we personally go through.

Everyone’s mileage WILL vary.  That said, onward.

We’ve set a tentative date of 1 November to pull out, but of course, that will be based on the weather.

We’ve also NOT set our exact course, or chosen the path to take us to the Bahamas.  I did originally plan to sail out of Cape Fear, cross the Gulf Stream and head south to Marsh Harbor, but there is some trepidation on both our parts for doing this.  We’ve not done a multiday crossing yet, and perhaps this is too much until we get in the swing of things.

So, instead, we will probably take a tack southward and stay well off shore for a few days, but close enough to run back in if we get too tired, or have issues.  Boat issues are the one thing that constantly have plagued us, and while we can abandon ship in an emergency and have an EPIRB, radios, emergency ditch bag, and things to keep us alive while rescued, this is NOT how anyone wants to spend their evening, morning, or night.  Instead, we want a lazy sail to the Bahamas, and therefore we’re going to endeavor to do so.  This means we WILL still do a multi-day crossing, but not too far away from being able to get to land if required.  I trust the boat and most of the systems, but I don’t trust the sea and the magic it works on everything.  Like breaking things when you least expect it.

Things break even if you inspect them.  Even if they are brand new.  Sometimes things you expect to break never break.  I’ve come to the conclusion that you can engineer the perfect vessel, at whatever the cost, and eventually, something is going to fail when it ought to have lived a full, healthy life of sixty more years.  Therefore, I trust the boat to float, and me to keep checking on things.  And to be prudent.

Once we get our minds wrapped around multi-day travel off shore, we’ll change the way we do things, but small, baby steps I guess are best.

The best part?  I do NOT have to RUSH myself in a straight line, against the wind on the nose to attempt to beat darkness to drop an anchor to be safe.  I can be safe right on my own vessel, moving however slowly in the general direction I wish to go, without running a motor, creating smelly fumes, heating up everything, and spending money on fuel.

I’m rather looking forward to a successful, stress-less, sailing excursion.

We have wracked our brains on how to keep dry good, well, dry.  Salt, sugar, flour, corn meal.  Plastic baggies work mostly, but salt is still killing us.  Our friend Mike, in Missouri showed us a handheld device from Walmart that sucks the air out of bags (special bags) and I just got a brilliant idea to try it with containers.  We need something to hold the amount of sugar, flour and such we use on a daily basis so we’re not constantly unpacking everything, taking what we need, resealing everything away under seats and in compartments.

So, we might try that. I’m sure others have come up with methods for combating humidity, but we’re still figuring things out.  Remember, we lived at elevation and in very dry, desert climates for the past quarter century.  Colorado rarely has issues with salt chunking up in the shaker.  Not so, on the coast.

JoAnne will be starting her “provisioning run” in the next day or so.  Everything else is pretty much done (except of course, the Vee Berth is full of loose items again, as I have been working on the boat here and there, have tools out again, and cushions, etc)

Last week, Friday, I removed all of the enclosure from the cockpit, except the dodger, and the upper Isenglas. I want to be able to climb in and out more easily, and of course, there’s that vision thing – being able to see all the way around me at night is helpful, if not critical.  The old Isenglas is in dire need of replacement but I can’t really justify the cost of it.    There are a lot of things that should be “replaced” but none are critical to the operation of the boat.  Except one.  The furling line on the mains’l.  That, I will replace when it needs repair.  I have the line to do it, but I’m not going to pull the sail out, drop the main, unroll everything, reroll everything, and put it all back the way it was before I started. It’s about a ten hour job.

At some point, the furling line will need replacing, and that’s when I will finally drop the main (like a regular main sail, instead of furling) and replace the halyard, the furler and do a few other minor jobs all at once.  Even at sea.  Shouldn’t be much of an issue.  Except storms.  I have no plans to have battles with Mother Nature.  She will win.  I have two other sails I can have up anyway.  So, I’ll leave it at that.

We have gone over things verbally, and on our various lists and I believe now we’re ready.  After the oil change, I’m considering taking the boat out. There’s a race this weekend.  I’m not much a racer, but it’s the Stede Bonnet Race.  I don’t believe we will win anything, and I seriously doubt we will be able to move the boat in the light winds being predicted, but what the heck?  It’s a ketch named Adventure, so why not?

Not sure we want to mess with it though.  We will see.

Today is the 24th of October.  The first is 7 days hence.  Winds are predicted to be (at this time) light, variable, out of the North and Northwest (1-8 knots) and swell from the SW at less than 3′.  A very CALM day for moving, but probably too light to move US.  If we choose that day to depart, we might make more headway in the ICW and head for Little River.

Final decision will be made much closer to the day of departure and when weather predictions are more accurate.

 

Until next entry, Fair Winds to All!

 

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Rick’s Thoughts on Pirates

This is not about the sailor that hoists the Jolly Roger at the local raftup, or the Parrot Head Pirate.  This is about real, modern-day pirates.

A sailor I know (cruiser and actual “Sailor”, former Navy SEAL) posted a link to Facebook a couple of days ago and I just got around to reading about it.  The article was about a pirate attack.  Not off the coast of Aden, not East Africa, not by Somalian Pirates; but by pirates of the Caribbean.

Andy Wasinger and Loretta Reinholdt relax on the beach at Jeanette Kawas National Park shortly after being rescued from the jungle following an attack by pirates in Honduras.

Andy Wasinger and Loretta Reinholdt relax on the beach at Jeanette Kawas National Park shortly after being rescued from the jungle following an attack by pirates in Honduras. (Ciro Vladimir Navarro Umana)

A couple from Canada recently were learning to sail with a hired skipper off the coast of Honduras.  Two weeks ago, retired nurse Loretta Reinholdt, 54, and former computer programmer Andy Wasinger, 46, set off in a 17-metre hired boat with a captain, heading from Belize to the Honduran island of Roatan.  Their purpose for being there was to learn to sail.  Instead they wound up being attacked by four armed men who boarded the boat and took them hostage, threatening to kill them for money.

https://i2.wp.com/travel.state.gov/content/dam/tsg-global/country-maps/ho-map.gif

“They were yelling,” said Reinholdt. “They were demanding more money. They didn’t believe we only had that amount. And the more angry they got, the more scary it was.”

“And,” she stated, “they actually had me, pulling my hair and a knife on my throat, demanding more money from the captain.”

Wasinger added: “I knew we had to comply with the pirates and not be heroes.”

The pirates then rammed the stolen boat into the shoreline of a remote beach in Jeanette Kawas National Park.

They cut the line to the main sail and tore out the engine wiring. They took the gasoline, the radio and the drinking water, leaving Reinholdt, Wasinger and the captain stranded in the jungle.

map of pirate ordeal

A map showing where the pirates grounded the couple’s sailboat in the Escondido Bay, and where the victims left SOS signals while they hid from the pirates in the jungle. (Google Earth )

The Canadian Government has put out substantial warnings about visiting Honduras.  The United States Department of State has at least one warning listed I could locate on the site:  http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/honduras-travel-warning.html

In 2014 a Canadian from Calgary was killed for his iPhone during a night on the town, bar hopping with a couple of local women.   While this did not happen on the water, the murderers are still “pirates” after a fashion.  Every country, including the US and Canada has it’s pirates.  Pirates are real.  They have no remorse or compunction about taking something from someone else, especially if they have this “perception” the victim is weaker, has money, is Rich, is Norte Americano.  Honduras, indeed many small countries in Central America, and islands in the Caribbean do not have vast sums of money to go around, and iPhones are like gold.  Many of these countries count on tourism and believe me, many of us have spent large sums on vacations in the region in the past.

Canadian Tim Vallee was shot and killed while on vacation in Honduras, October 2014.

The last time I was personally in Honduras, I was getting shot at from bad guys across the border of Nicaragua.  I seriously have no intention of revisiting that sort of environment in my life time – at least not with any deliberate consideration of doing so.  My thinking is that Americans, Canadians – and really anyone who ventures out on a sailboat into areas which have issued warnings about them are taking their lives into the hands.

The other thinking that many cruisers have is that “The world be damned, I’ll go where I wish….” and I can respect that.  I tend to think along similar lines.  But, when there are stories of “pirates” who actually attack people, your best bet is to be forewarned.  Praemonitus, praemunitus. Forewarned is forearmed.  Knowledge of the preexistence of danger in an area gives one the ability to logically determine if they wish to place themselves into a dangerous situation.

In general, most sailors I’ve met are relatively cautious individuals.  Absolutely so, the cruisers I’ve met.  They study the weather, fix broken things, watch the skies, the tides, reef before they should and so forth.  But many pooh pooh the dangers of the human animal believing that human beings are, at the heart all good people.

In my travels, not sailing, but flying from place to place, I’ve visited 50 countries.  I’ve encountered good, bad, evil and angelic people throughout the world.  No country in particular has any more of it’s bad share of people than any other.  There are concerns for places in the Middle East these days; and though I have been there in the past I won’t visit in the future.  The Caribbean has a long, storied history of Pirates.  Some countries, in particular those of a third world nature tend at having desperate people who take desperate measures, whether to feed themselves, or their children is irrelevant to me.   But, desperation at times drives good people to do bad things.

Cruisers should be wary.  They should not advertise “wealth”.  They should not wear expensive rings, and jewelry and in fact don’t even bring it to the boat with you if you can avoid it.  Leave it to your children if you’re traveling for extended periods of time, or leave it home if you’re going back soon.  Don’t flash your phone.  Wear cheap sunglasses.  Dress down, unless visiting the Port Captain of course….  separate your money.  Keep a small amount of spending cash in a pocket, anything extra hidden or plan better and don’t bring extra at all on the islands or into town.

Do common sense things; avoid people who look like they are trying to scope you out.

Finally, if you hear of, or know of attacks inform the local authorities if you can and warn other cruisers away if you can. However, don’t pass rumors, only get the facts, dates, times and exactly what you know or saw, or experienced.  Don’t repeat others’ stories as “sea stories” because they get blown out of proportion, the truth gets lost and eventually people discount what was told because it sounds just too outlandish.

For those who absolutely believe in the good in humans I wish you luck and hope and pray your beliefs hold true.

For the rest of us, there are other measures to fend off “pirates”.

Whether we have to use those methods… or die trying, is obviously, ultimately up to each of us to decide.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-couple-survives-pirate-attack-on-sailing-trip-in-honduras-1.3027545

http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2015/04/articles/crime/canadian-couple-attacked-sailing-to-roatan/

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/b-c-man-killed-in-honduras-over-iphone-1.1003267

Update:

There was one other blog entry on this subject on 6 April 2014.  This does not only affect people who are cruising sailboats, a crew member from a large cruise ship was also killed, for his iPhone as well.

http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2014/04/articles/crime/ncl-crew-member-shot-killed-in-roatan-honduras/