The past few weeks in the British Virgin Islands have been fantastic and we have actually taken a chance to unwind and enjoy cruising. The other day I was skimming through the collection of pictures I took and figured this would make for a good blog post, so here is a brief review of the steps we took in 2014 to realize our cruising dream.
If ever there was a winter to motivate one to go south on a boat, last winter was the one. I remember driving an entire week on a washboard surface of hardpack ice on the hwy 401 because it was too cold for the copious amounts of salt to melt it.
We had planned measuring for sails in the fall, but I got sent out to BC for work and we had to scramble to get the boat hauled and winterized early before I left. When I made it home in December the snow started and never stopped. So we went to the boat one fine day in February when it was 10 degrees below freezing to pull off the winter cover and take a lot of measurements. Good thing Chrissy was on board with going cruising because this would certainly have been a deal breaker.
The winter was busy as I took an advanced sail trim and rig tuning course at Humber, so I drove to Toronto after work on Tuesdays, and then on Wednesdays Chrissy and I went to Guelph for a Power Squadron weather course.
In our spare time, we cleaned out the house to get it ready to sell. Can you believe how much crap we buy in our society that we don’t need? It was liberating getting rid of it.
Would you believe there was a Hobie Cat trailer under all that snow on the front lawn?
The house sold within a couple weeks and it looks like the timing may have been perfect.
As winter persisted late into the spring, all the projects I had hoped to get a head start on kept getting postponed because there was too much snow. Then it became time to pack up and move out of the house, so it was nearly June before we really got going on the boat.
We stripped the old VC17 freshwater antifouling paint off the hull.
Applied 5 coats of epoxy barrier coat to bulk up the existing barrier coat from the factory.
Then a nice coat of smurf blue antifouling as a base layer.
And finally two black coats to finish it off.
Then came the saildrive gasket. Recommended to replace every 7 years, the original being 15 years old still had another 7 years left in my engineering judgement, but I couldn’t tell until it was out anyway, so it was replaced. Besides it is a big hole below the waterline to take a risk at not changing it. Good thing sailboats come with the hardware to lift the engine to separate the transmission.
The corrosion on the drive leg was both outside as well as a little internal on the water channels, so while the unit was out it got a face lift. Buffed to bare metal, primed with zinc chromate, several coats of epoxy and finally some aluminum friendly antifouling paint.
Then we launched the boat.
Then I replaced the propane regulator and brought the system up to current safety standards.
A new mast head tri-light so we can be seen at sea in the waves with an anchor light too. It uses almost no power too which is great on over night trips.
A bimini to give us some shade from the intense Caribbean sun with Solar panels to keep fridge going and the lights on.
Fuse hubs to keep the wiring neat, and measuring to figure out how to fit in more batteries. Here is before and after.
Navigation electronics upgrade including radar, AIS and a repeater at the Nav station.
Some sailing to the Parry Sound area.
Serviced the outboard motor and rebuilt the carb after it died on Magnus and I a few miles from the boat.
Got to repeat the saildrive gasket because an internal gasket didn’t seal due to the corrosion on the mating surfaces leading to water in transmission oil (At least it was fresh water and not salt). Problem cured with permatex gasket enhancer.
Then found the cracked propeller nut.
Decided to join the Salty Dawg Rally instead of going down the coast to the Bahamas, so we had to find a life raft, assemble an emergency ditch bag and figure out where to stow it. And we sold our hard bottom dinghy for a newer rollup one that we could store below while at sea.
Another sailing trip to the Massassauga Park including some rafting with our friends on Aeolian II and some seclusion in Shotgun Bay.
Sold my favourite car. I’m sure I questioned a few times in the following days why we didn’t get a bigger boat, when I tried to figure out how to pack all the spares and tools that had been in the trunk most of the summer. In the end it all fit or we decided we didn’t need it.
Then we set off one cool September day, racing north up Georgian Bay before the South West wind clocked to the North. We got there just in time to get pushed down Lake Huron in the cold.
And finally, a month and a half later we crossed the gulf stream and the toques and mitts came off, and I’m happy to report it has stayed that way.
12 days just like this (ok, we had a bit more and a bit less wind at times) and we made it to the BVIs
We wrapped up the year by celebrating the holidays with Second Wind (whom we had met our first summer at Bay Moorings) and Compass Rose X (who taught us along the way) in Little Harbour on Peter Island.
Happy New Year.
Hopefully 2015 will be even better.