(G) We left Benures Bay on Wednesday, April 9th to head to Soper’s Hole to pick up our mail from Soper’s Hole Yacht Services. We’d had our boat painted there in January and they were kind enough to allow us to use their address for a mail delivery.  We decided not to stay overnight, so it was a quick pick up of a mooring ball, Paul getting in the kayak and picking up the mail, and we were off to Jost van Dyke (pronounced Yost) Island.

We decided to anchor over near Sandy Spit (aptly named) next to Green Cay. We spent the next two days paddling between the island and our boat with Charlie who loved to run on the sandy beach. We were quite comfortable with the exception of the wasps that decided our boat was to become their new home. At least until I (G) noticed and put a stop to that. They discovered a small hole in the boat where our outdoor shower hose is inserted. Remember for my birthday in January, P bought me a bug zapper tennis racket thing. Well, I got a few and then I discovered about 20 hanging out around the hose. So out I went with my racket, and zapped away. After disposing of at least 20 wasps and delivering them to the fish below our boat (wish we could have got a picture), I filled the hole with an old rag to dissuade them further entry. This was the first night. Over the next two days wasps arrived with regularity to have me continue my rant with the racket. The fish under the boat were pleased. I believe I fed them at least 50 wasps, if not more. (P) Talk about hunter/killer, watching my step these days!

(G)After two days of battling wasps, I decided to take it as a sign to leave. We left it up to the winds to decide which direction we would head. Off we went to the east as the winds were east to south east. As we approached noon, while under sail with fickle winds, I suggested we stop at Monkey Bay-Guana Island for a break and a snorkel. We’d heard good things about this location for snorkeling, but knew it was not a likely overnight spot.  We were hungry upon arrival, so I suggest we eat first, then relax to digest, and then snorkel.

So I decided to make tomato soup with macaroni noodles. To my displeasure when I poured the macaroni noodles into the boiling water, suddenly up floated about 10 or 12 small black bugs.  Okay, so I thought I’d had my share of bugs with the wasps, but karma or whatever had other ideas.  I was about to discard the macaroni and try with another type of noodle, when P says, just rinse them off. Well, that won’t do, so I worked painstakingly to remove every bug from that water while the noodles cooked, then rinsed the noodles like no tomorrow before adding them to our soup bowls.  I know, you’re thinking, WTF. But we’re cruising and this is not the first time we’ve had to deal with such things.  We believe it’s due to the boxes that the noodles are stored in at the stores here. I bring them home and immediately restore everything into mason jars. I figure the bug larvae/eggs/or whatever are not hatched at this point, because there is no sign of anything when I remove the noodles from the boxes, then they somehow hatch before I use the noodles. Needless to say, I’ve had enough of bugs.

After lunch we snorkeled in Monkey Bay while Charlie was tied to the dinghy mooring on the paddle board.  He’s much quieter with us snorkeling if he can be near by. The fish were incredible and the water was so clear. We then departed and headed to Trellis Bay. That is where we are now. Next we’ll decide if we stay here until April 15th for the full moon party (what this bay is famous for). Tomorrow we’ll go ashore to explore.

Antigua to BVI passage

(P)We just made the decision to return to the States with the Salty Dawgs at the end of May. We were going to zip to the Bahamas next and work our way back but we dilly dallied too long in Antigua (enjoying it immensely) and have some other issues to resolve so yesterday we leaped from Jolly Harbor to West End Tortola. Forecast winds of 15-20 kts in 5-8 seas – thought it would be a walk in the park – Ha!. Let’s try winds 20-30 with two surprise sustained blows at 38 knots + gusts (no clouds or squalls, just bang from 25 to 38 under clear skies). We had a challenging gibe when the first one hit at about the same time as a ~14 foot wave hit that slewed us faster than the autopilot or duty watch could react. Continued under doubled reefed everything and were ready for the next one. Such is sailing. Nothing broken, no one hurt, except egos. So we got here in 27 hours (took us 47 hours to go the opposite way direct upwind), the whole way at 150 degrees apparent, always dicey in a cat (and slow, but not so slow this time in those winds) but more comfortable motion than our previous Catalina 380 in a following sea – so we were all fine. We will stay in the BVI, deal with business, relax, wander a bit, join the Salty Dawgs pre-trip event and try the big leap back to Hampton tentatively scheduled to launch May 17. Last year we went through the Bahamas then direct to Hampton and found that easy. Hoping the direct shot back will not be as challenging as the ride down last Nov! We can always hide out in Bermuda for a bit if the weather becomes too challenging. Now to do some work/snorkeling/learning/relaxing. Haven’t been in the hammock for a bit so need to get rid of these “taxing” stresses.

Leaving Antigua

Last night we joined Molly , Baxter, and Kala the dog on their boat Tarrapin. We kept looking at their boat anchored next to us saying, ‘that boat looks so familiar’. It turns out that they we’re in the rally to the BVI and we may be remembering the boat from the marina in Hampton. They invited us and a few others for drinks and appetizers.  We enjoyed great conversations and learned we are not the only vegan cruisers out here. What a delight.

Today we met with the vet to clear Charlie out of Antigua. He provided us with an updated health certificate for clearing Charlie in to our next destination. Next we cleared ourselves out with the Port Authority, Customs, and Immigration. So we are set to depart in the morning for the BVI.

You may be wondering why we are returning to BVI when our original plan was USVI and then the Bahamas. Well while we were sitting here in Antigua we signed ourselves up with the Salty Dawg Rally for the return trip to the USA. We tentatively leave from the BVI on May 15th and there are events beginning May 1st to organize the fleet. Besides we want to go back for the snorkling and hiking that we enjoy there, plus we need to get our mail and do our taxes (that doesn’t go away just because your cruising).

Antigua and Barbuda have so many sandy beaches and we’ve enjoyed it here. But it’s time for a change of scenery. So we’ll be offline for a few days while we make another passage.

Genset problem solved

It was indeed the oil pressure sensor. With a new one, the genset works like a charm – what a relief. If it hadn’t been the sensor then it might have been the control board – $1,200 or worse yet actual low oil pressure which could mean big bucks. So I don’t feel so bad spending $100 for the sensor and a manual oil pressure gauge (to confirm the sensor) and another $100 on brokerage and expediting fees. Unable to get a clear answer online or from Onan (buy our part number xxx), I took a chance on a generic from Budget Marine which they had to send from St. Martin. All has come up roses for now. So we are once again flush 🙁 with water.

Our 21 kw genset
Our 21 kw genset

The shiny new oil pressure sender
The shiny new oil pressure sender

Generator problem

The making of water on Blue Sky consists of running the generator while the water maker is running. We opted to save a few thousand dollars on the water maker and utilize the large generator on the boat rather than have it sit idol. So we’ve been running it every 4-5 days since December 24th when the water maker became fully functional. The generator has been good for the most part. It has had days when it would shut down after 25 minutes or so with an error code that states ‘low oil pressure’, but would always restart and run another 25 or more minutes following that. We could live with that. In fact, it even improved over time. Then just last week it ran the 25 minutes, stopped and would not restart for any length of time. This means no making water beyond 25 minutes. Problem solving is in order.

Paul got out his trusty meter reader and watched the generator closely. He changed the oil with no improvement. We can’t get a new oil filter, but the oil appears clean. So we’re down to figuring out if it’s a faulty sensor, a faulty control board, or a serious engine problem. So the next step was to order a new sensor. Paul did that two days ago and we are crossing our fingers that it will arrive later today.  So we wait here in Jolly Harbour, Antigua hoping for a quick resolve of the generator issue. If the sensor replacement doesn’t work it looks like we’ll be seeking an engine mechanic for help. We can’t go without making water or risk ruining a very expensive asset on the boat.

So I’m not washing clothes and we’re being water misers again.  We hope to depart Antigua at the end of the week, with luck that we can fix the generator before we leave. I’m ready for a change of scenery and ready for another passage. So I’m putting it out there to my angels to guide us in solving the generator problem so we can sail off to another destination.