Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bermuda to St. Martin FWI

Gonzalo just passing Bermuda

When we left Chantey V on the mooring in Hamilton Harbour in early October the consensus was that an exceptionally mild hurricane season was almost over. Still, we stripped all canvass and stowed everything we could below.Well, along came Faye and Gonzalo to reconfirm that Hurricanes are unpredictable.
Mooring field during Hurricane Faye
When the eye of Gonzalo passed directly overhead it was reduced to a mere Cat 2 with wind-speeds of 110 MPH - it took an hour to pass before resuming from the west whipping up huge waves in the mooring field. By grace of God next morning Chantey V was the sole survivor behind White Island -many thanks to the folks at Tam Marina for their diligence in taking care of the lines. Damage to the boat was light - contents tumbled all over but no water got in.The most significant was the steering cables stretched to the point of falling off the quadrant - this was quickly fixed by David Turenne and myself when we arrived November 23rd.
Bare poles for the storm


Day 3 grib files over our route to St Martin

D and D Divers Inc.

After a quick dive to check thru-hulls and clean some new barnacle growth, we moved to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club where we received a warm welcome from dock manager Reggie.
Then there were 3
John Duggan arrived next day from Portugal  and we got busy with provisioning and last minute boat prep chores. Strong southerly winds persisted and prevented us from leaving. We repositioned the boat to St Georges and did a little touring to pass the time. Finally on Saturday Nov 29th we hoisted sail in the harbour and set out into the boisterous remnants of the cold front with NE winds of 20 gusting 25.We maximized our easting while sailing downwind at 120 degrees. We noticed Pacific Seacraft 40 -Eli Blue on the same course and we contacted Gene and Jo-Ann daily for the duration of the trip. The SSB radio is now working great with the rebuilt antenna tuner and we were getting our weather and grib files easily all along the way. Sailing was fast but rough seas made it pretty uncomfortable for the first few days.
Belvederian chuckles
Helga the Hydrovane
A highlight was 2 days of steering by the Hydrovane which saved quite a bit of power. We were well fed thanks to pre-cooked meals by John which required a minimum of preparation - just as well in the rough seas. (See Johns menus next paragraph). The winds eased the last few days and we had to motor the last 150 miles into Marigot, St Martin.
Sewing Bee
A small water drip from the exhaust line had us worried - but it lasted all the in without getting any worse.  Dave tried his hand at hand lining but the constant seaweed fouling the lure prevented us getting a bite. Solar damage to the Bimini stitching has been a problem and resulted in a sewing bee one of the afternoons to fix it! Finally - six days and six hours later we arrived at the Fort Louis Marina in Marigot and were delighted to be assigned a slip next to Eli Blue! Its a great marina and real close to the markets and activities in this lively French town. Joe-Ann - who hails from Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia turns out to be a great singer so jam sessions ensued at night on Chanty V. We also met Darcy and Isobel - Ideal 1 - fellow Royal Victoria members who have just sailed in from Venezuela and will be here for a few weeks.
Spinnaker run home

Not all play however and I am so grateful to John for overhauling my main winches and David for rebuilding the exhaust elbow. Getting the part from Perkins USA in 2 days was amazing - St Martin sure is a hassel free place to get work done.
Alas all good things come to an end with John returning to Lisbon, David to Victoria and Eli Blue departing to gunk hole around the Island in the present calm weather. A welcome couple of days alone to make the boat shipshape in readiness for the Admiral and her sister Teresa who arrive in St Martin on Tuesday.
Marigot Bay


The forecast told of North Easterly winds, Force 5-6 and seas up to 11 feet, so preparing, consuming and keeping down food was going to be a challenge, during the 7 days or so that it would take Chantey V to sail from Bermuda to St Martin in the Caribbean.
Dinghy ride to Ideal 1 in the Lagoon
As with much in life, preparation is the key to an easier life in the galley at sea, so the week’s menu was built around previously cooked meals, frozen or chilled. The workhorse of our dinner menus was a general purpose Bolognese type sauce, made in large quantities, which could be adapted and flavored to provide variety during the week. Minced meat, tinned tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, olive oil and beef stock are enough to put together a basic sauce but this can be modified with other herbs, and a tin of anchovies provides additional flavor and texture (it really works and there is no trace of a fishy taste in the sauce). Frying up some mince and chucking in a jar of proprietary tomato sauce also works pretty well, if you haven’t the time or inclination to do it from scratch.
Waterfront diner Simpson Lagoon
In the course of the week, our sauce accompanied pasta, with a tomato salad; got dosed with chili powder, kidney beans and tabasco, to become a chili con carne, served with rice; and finally got baked in the oven with beans, corn chips, chili and grated cheese, with salsa on the side. All were very tasty but the trials of keeping pasta or rice in the saucepan were such that, after the first two days, we resorted to cooking as much as possible in the oven, rather than on the stove top.
Breakfast is now being served on the upper deck.
Additional variety for the evening meals was provided by a simple beef stew, again made up in advance and enough for several meals, accompanied by baked potatoes; by tasty pork sausages, baked in the oven with diced potatoes and coarsely chopped onion, olive oil and seasoning; and by an old favorite of mine, baked pork chops covered in a simple but tasty sauce of orange juice, orange zest, sugar and seeded French mustard, served with rice and a green salad.
Our shopping list, in Bermuda’s outrageously expensive supermarkets, included lots of good quality breakfast cereals and porridge, mixed nuts and raisins, loads of fresh fruit, cheese, lots of eggs (they don’t really need to be refrigerated, if you are short of fridge space), bacon, biscuits, crackers, fresh bread and milk, loads of butter, tomatoes, salad and snacks such as hummus, to be eaten with corn chips or sliced raw vegetables. Dave made up an excellent lunch based around tortilla wraps but if we had had some lessons in folding these things we would have saved a lot of cleaning up afterwards! No description of dining aboard would be complete without mention of Daragh’s kick-ass full Irish breakfast on the last day, a far cry from the hard boiled eggs or plain cereal which were all we could manage for breakfast early on in the trip.
Dining out with Gene And Jo-Ann from  Eli Blue
Alcohol consumption at sea was modest and depended on conditions.
Mutinous crew
A bottle of red wine with dinner (between us!) helped to maintain harmony and well-being among the crew while our morning pot of fresh coffee, served with a small measure of Baileys, was a welcome start to each new day.
In short, three proper meals a day were prepared and eaten, we all lost a little bit of weight but we didn’t suffer from hunger either.  Mission accomplished.
John D 

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