We got through this 14 Day Quarantine and made it to the Bas du Fort Marina to begin repairs.  We tied up along side of the travel lift dock in the boatyard where we would stay until repairs were completed. I thought that the days there were free and just part of the repairs but I was mistaken. What was I thinking?

Our first project was to begin the cleaning of our fuel tank and to polish the 35 gallons that was currently in our tank. At $5.00 per gallon, to just get rid of the current fuel and refill our 50 gallon tank would be quite expensive. First step was to drain the tank and store the fuel in a barrel to be polished later. It was sent through a filter on the way out to catch the big stuff before going into the barrel. The first picture below gives you an idea just how bad it was. All that black is junk that came out with the fuel. Then the tank was filled with a solution and a small pump to circulate the cleaner throughout the tank. This continued for a couple of hours and then the tank was flushed with fresh water a couple of times and allowed to dry overnight.

The next morning our primary Racor fuel filter canister was removed, taken apart and throughly cleaned. You would not believe the amount of growth that was packed in there. It looked as if somebody had jammed chewing tobacco in there. It’s a wonder any fuel was getting through at all. Our original fuel was then sent through two additional filters before going back into our tank. Both the primary and secondary filters were also changed. Thanks to Fred Marine, I hope we will not have anymore fuel issues. Their workers Pipo and Anthony are both very professional and know their stuff. First project done!

The next project was to figure out why our Jib Halyard keeps chafing? It has happened for the past four years and four separate riggers had a go at it. Hope that the fifth time is a charm.

For this task, I scheduled with Jean Paul who is both the rigger and owner of the North Face Loft here in the marina. I always prefer that the owner is the person actually doing the work and not just one of his workers. Sometimes (not always) the workers do not give the project the extra attention to detail and we wind up having to have it done over. The owners have a little more Skin In The Game!

Jean Paul went up the mast and inspected the standing rigging along the way. He determined that the shrouds (cables holding the mast up) could use some tightening. He also determined that the mast sheave (roller where halyard enters the mast) was installed upside down. This almost seemed impossible unless it was wrong from the factory or replaced prior to us buying 5KNOTS and then installed incorrectly. Jean Paul said being installed upside down as shown in the middle picture would result in the halyard rubbing as it exited the sheave down the inside of the mast. The third picture shows the proper positioning of the sheave. It makes sense but I am still not 100% convinced this is our problem because it looks to me like the spot where the halyard is chaffed is not long enough to actually make it over the sheave and into the mast. However, we really do not know if the sail has been pulled up to the exact position it was previously. At this time we will go with this as being the issue and examine the halyard frequently to verify. Just as an extra precaution, he sewed a kevlar sleeve over the halyard in case it was to get chaffed again. So at this time, we will keep our fingers crossed.

Right about now we are starting to feel pretty confident about our new repairs and are looking forward to getting on our way to Grenada again. It is roughly 156nm from St. Martin to Guadeloupe so we are almost halfway. Since spending two weeks in quarantine, we ate most of the stores that Renée had packed for us for when we get to Grenada. We decided that we had a couple of days before the weather was good enough to continue, so we moved to a permanent spot on the dock. This way it would be easier to resupply, get fuel & water and make our two-week laundry run. We also decided that there is nothing else we can do so just relax and try and enjoy ourselves.

I was able to obtain certificates from the Guadeloupe Health Ministry stating that we just completed a 14 day quarantine. The Grenada Health Minister said they would accept these and immediately test us without having to spend yet another 14 days at quarantine. Finally, we are getting somewhere.

Resupplied, we move to the anchorage and get ready for a 5:00am departure the following day.

We left in the morning at 05:00am as planned. Our house batteries (batteries used to run lights, refrigerator, electronics, etc) are over four years old and are showing that they are becoming long in the tooth. During the day when the sun is out our solar panels keep everything charging. In the evenings, our wind generator attempts to make up some of the power. We had a couple of wind less nights which caused our batteries to become low during the night, so we had to turn off the refrigerator. I decided that we would at least leave the engine in idle while sailing for a day and see if it would compensate and bring the batteries back to life. Since the engine was on, then why not engage it and motor sail to make things easier in case the wind died.

We started with just 15-17 knots of wind and by the time we rounded Dominica it was blowing 23-25 with gusts over 30 with 8 foot seas. We were not expecting quite so much wind but it is always worse at the ends of the islands due to a funneling affect. Once at the southern end of Dominica, I had to disengage the auto pilot and just hand steer for over an hour. The wind and waves were too much for the auto-pilot to handle.

We were flying at 7.0 – 8.3 knots most of the day and through the night and were way ahead of schedule. We reached the northern tip of St Lucia around 4:00am and once behind the island we were protected from the big waves and strong wind. Happy to finally get a rest from the elements we were content with motoring the length of the island. Renée pointed out that we had a following sea (waves coming from behind us) but we were only doing 3.9 knots when we should have been traveling over 6. I thought that perhaps we were heading directly into a current.

We reached the Pitons when were stopped by the St. Lucia Coast Guard wanting to know if where we were heading and wanted to make sure that we were not going to stop in their waters. We assured them we were on the way to Grenada and that we did not plan on stopping. They wished us a safe passage and took off. Since we were having issues with our motoring speed, Renée grabbed her mask, snorkel and fins and jumped in to see if anything was around our prop that could account for the lack of speed. We had a patch of Sargussam Grass on it but Renée was able to clear it. Figuring this must have been the issue we attempted to continue using the engine.

Not going to happen! I put the engine in forward and nothing happened, we could only go in reverse. How could this be happening considering we just had the transmission rebuilt in November and had less than 120 hours on the rebuilt transmission? Fortunately we were directly in front of Soufriere Bay and the Petit Piton and not 30-50 miles off shore. I radioed for help and Peter the Park Ranger came out and towed us into the bay where we tied to one of his moorings. We checked in with customs and the Health Department to make sure we had permission to seek help with more repairs. Peter arranged for a couple of the locals to tow us to the IGY Rodney Bay Marina where we had access to certified Yanmar mechanics. We left the next morning at 05:00am in order to get a head start on the wind and waves that start between 8:00 and 09:00am. We started out going pretty good for the 17nm journey when about 1/3rd of the way we were stopped by the Coast Guard wanting to know what was going on. We explained and they allowed us to continue. We were stopped again and the Coast Guard spoke to our tow boat. We once again were allowed to continue. By now the wind and waves were starting to crank up making the job of towing us more difficult. A third time, the Coast Guard radioed to us saying they were going to escort us in. I thought that is nice of them just in case our guys had trouble. About five miles from Rodney Bay, the Coast Guard made our friends tow us up into Castries which is not where we needed to go. The Coast Guard told us to ready our anchor because they wanted us to anchor in the bay. I told them that I did not have transmission so I would be unable to set the anchor and felt anchoring was not a safe option. They had us tie to a mooring out in the bay.

They explained that the boat towing us did not have a license to tow and that we did an illegal move and were not suppose to leave Soufriere. I explained that we were unaware of this and that we needed assistance that I already arranged at Rodney Bay. We were told that we had to stay at our current location until the Health Department came to visit us even though they already did that yesterday. After spending the day tied to the mooring not knowing what was going to happen I phoned the number one of the Coast Guardsman gave us. He said somebody from the Coast Guard would be coming to tow us the remainder of the way.

We finally arrived at the marina around 05:30pm after leaving from Soufriere at 05:00am and only 17 miles away. Another long day.

In the morning we were visited by Gregory who for the past 40 years works the marina and anchorages selling fruits and vegetables. He is a nice guy and it is convenient, especially when anchored in the bay. Our mechanic arrived around 09:30 and removed the transmission. Upon inspection, he determined that it wasn’t put back correctly when it was rebuilt back in November and that caused all the internals to become loose and breakup. He recommends a new transmission which will come with a one year warranty. So we ordered a transmission which comes from St. Petersburg, Florida and will be here in 3 days thanks to FedEx. So we wait some more……. With any luck we will be back together in a couple of days in time to take advantage of the weather window starting Sunday.

You know what BOAT stands for? Break Out Another Thousand!