Taking a new direction in life we share our travels S/V Lost Loon
Author: Nancy Magnine
We are empty-nesters with the desire to see a different part of the world by sailboat.
We have started our journey by acquiring Lost Loon the Summer of 2015. We currently sail the Caribbean winters and live in northern Minnesota during hurricane season in the summer.
The latest addition to the Lake Vermilion fleet is a 1981 15 ft Sparkman Stephens designed fractional sloop Designers Choice. (For those of you who are not aware, S and S are top of the line designers for so many boats. They have designed early on masthead yawl rig sailboats, naval marine units like the ones they used for D-Day, power boats and bluewater sailboats like Hylas, Morris, Tartan, Palmer Johnson,Nautor Swan…and others. ). Not the most elegant or creative of boat names, but our DC is apparently one of nearly 8000 produced we are number 680 built between 1968 and 1985. The THS (theoretic hull speed) is a whopping 4.78! But her sail area/displacement ratio or performance index is 41.52!!! A good racer is at least 18-20.
We were looking for a something a bit more challenging than the sunfish that I have had so much fun with over the last 15 years.
She has a few gel coat cracks, and some hull blisters, but we’ve had her out on the lake twice now and in moderate winds she is a blast. The mast goes up easy with 2 people, but light enough for 1. And she is rated for 900 pounds of passengers and gear!! There is even a boom vang to manage the mainsail shape and a spinnaker pole to use with a bright yellow symmetrical chute.
The day we brought her to the cabin last week we had 15-20 knot winds and towed her alongside the Lund fishing boat. We were mistaken when we thought that a 300 pound boat would easily be dragged ashore given an improvised ramp. (Granted it was a 3 foot rise from the lake to shore land) WRONG! We spent nearly 2 hours pulling her up on a couple of heavy beams we rescued from the boat house we just took apart. The following day we headed for L and M Supply in Virginia and bought 4 – 10 ft, 3 inch PVC pipes and screwed those to the wood and she came up like a charm.
We probably need a bigger winch, but we switched to a nylon strap, and bought a improvised bridle. Now we can at least get it out of the water with fewer explicatives! Getting the boat out of the water prevents her from banging on the dock and getting caught in a wind storm there or worry about a coming loose from a mooring during a midnight storm.
The first sail was fantastic. Winds were 8-10 and the lake was quiet, so no dodging skiers or tubers, like on the weekends. We had gunnels in the water and a few times needed a hiking strap in some of the heavier gusts. It’s nice to have 2 people comfortable in the cockpit, sharing the enjoyment. We spent a few hours just tacking upwind and then used the spinnaker on the return. We also rigged the spinnaker pole with the jib and came back downwind wing on wing…something we have yet to perform on Lost Loon.
Will be working on getting some of the larger spider cracks repaired and adding a few blocks for the spinnaker halyard and sheets, otherwise this 15 ft darling will be enough to keep me sailing year ‘round!
Last sail… since this time in early September, she’s been covered secured for the winter, and apparently ready seen the first snows of the season. Left to watch things as we head South to start our 5th sailing season in the Caribbean.
A post from February that seemed to miss the Internet upload??? Anyway, enjoy while I get work on what we are up to this summer!
One of the most beautiful spots in the southeast Caribbean, the Tobago Cays. It is a destination for charter and long term cruisers as well. The reason is the crystal clear water, sand beaches, an abundance of turtle life all protected by a huge reef. That makes it special because we are usually anchored or moored behind an island in waters protected from the Atlantic waves and swells, but here we have full view of the great ocean. This morning’s sunrise was then extra special as it was beautifully clear. And because it is such a desirable location, there are many boats here! They start coming shortly after noon and continue up to sunset.
During the day we see turtles pop up for a breath and a peek around. We watch snorklers follow the sea life around the anchorage. There are turtles everywhere, just a quick snorkel around the boat and they are feeding on the grass below. One afternoon I counted 6 during a 10 minute swim. There is a cut through the surrounding reef to deeper waters for snorkeling and diving when the seas are calm. Here we see bigger pelagic fish, sometimes sharks and rays.
We are lucky to have our friends Rick and Mimi aboard again. We picked them up at the ferry dock in Carriacou, ( after a cancelled flight to Houston, made Charlotte, then Miami to Grenada where then spent the night so they could get the one ferry to Carriacou!)
Carriacou is part of Grenada which is celebrating independence Feb 6th. They are already decked out for the affair!
We have sailed as far north as Bequia with a stop in Mayreau and now, on the way back south, we stop here in the Tobago Cays a small archipelago of islands that are part of St Vincent called the Grenadines.
Last night we enjoyed a fun lobster beach barbecue with so many other cruisers. We saw piles of lobster being served and wonder how this is sustained day to day month to month , year after year. But this didn’t spoil the delicious taste of the crustacean served with local provisions of plantains, rice pilaf and grilled potatoes. We were enlightened by other cruisers who brought appetizers and bottles of rum, wine and even a couple with champagne!
We snorkeled, hiked a couple small islands close by and people -watched… an activity that comes naturally as boats come and go in the anchorage. We play ‘what flag is that?’ as well as ‘where will they try to anchor ‘ guessing games. After being on the water long enough down here it’s pretty easy to predict. Our week took us to the islands of Palm, Mayreau and Sandy.
Our last day was a perfect bright snorkeling stop just off Hillsborough of Carriacou. We swam for over an hour seeing 2 octopus, numerous sergeant majors, angelfish, lobster den, and porcupine fish to name a few. This area is also a protected marine area and despite reports of declining coral reefs in the Caribbean this one was beautiful. There were huge stag horn coral, fans, purple tubes, and fire coral .
Best breakfast recipe!!
According to our guest Rick, this Men’s Journal recipe is good for hangovers. We just love it when our guests like cooking.( recipe is our version)
1 bag of plain tortilla chips
1 jar of picante/ salsa
1-2 cups Shredded cheddar
Combine the chips and most of the picante/ salsa stirring so most of the chips are coated. Let sit while shredding the cheese.
Preheat oven to 375.
Pour the coated chips into 13 x 9 pan. Sprinkle cheese on the chips evenly. Break eggs atop the chips, evenly in pan.
Bake for 10- 15 min, then raise the oven shelf and turn on the broiler to cook the eggs as well done as preferred. Watch constantly to prevent burning.
Serve each person with egg. May use additional picante/ salsa.
We think sour cream would be great but don’t usually keep on the boat.
Best Restaurants this week:
Tobago Cays Beach Barbeque- lobster!!!!!
Laura’s in Bequia – excellent tuna and mahi
Tainty Mavis in Carriacou- fresh wahoo and nice provisions ( sides)
Best Beach bar:
The Ranch Escapade- this is a kick off your shoes, enjoy the beach deck and swing, walk the sand, endless ocean view beach bar!! It is on the windward side of Mayreau, a short walk to near paradise for a cold beer and awesome view of paradise!
Thanks for stopping . Leave us a message or comment.
Three years ago when we sailed within the US and British Virgin Islands, shortly after Hurricane Irma released her powerful fury, we were witness to the incredible destruction of homes, resorts, cars, and boats. We saw the carnage in Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, Nanny Cay, Tortola, and boats strewn ashore in St John and St. Thomas. Today, much of that has been cleaned up, but there are still derelict vessels in the mangroves and other de-masted sailboats on moorings that remain as a warning and reminder of how life is so easily disrupted and the power of nature. We spent about a month between the countries there at that time and mentioned as we left, we were glad to have secured a place nearly as far south as we could for the hurricane season in Grenada. We were still cognizant that storms could occur there, but with far less frequency.
It is now mid May and we have done something that has surprised even us….left our boat in the Virgin Islands!! Scary huh? We think so too, but like I mentioned in the previous blog we were not in favor of making a non-stop trip back to the US from the Virgin Islands and Grenada was closed down tight from our perspective. So it’s done. And we pray for all hurricanes go North of these islands!
We spent several days in the water, cleaning and polishing and getting ready for the haul-out. We were actually contacted 3 days before the BIG day and told that the boatyard would be closed because of a holiday on May 1st (our intended date) and that we would now be hauled on April 30. Come to find out, the holiday was Carnival, but Carnival was cancelled due to the Covid virus precautions and restrictions. Wow! Cancel Carnival? That’s crazy parades, bands, food, drink, and parties !!! But as a resilient people, they decided they would still take the holiday. We have definitely learned to live day by day out here in this life on the water.
We had made a last sail around to Charlotte Amalie a few days previous where we would take off the sails and get a few other things done in what we thought would be a settled location. Little did we know that for 3 days we would have 15-18 kn winds and from where we anchored a bit of a chop and swell. We made the best of it and got the work done.
So at 1:30 on that Thursday we were sitting in the lagoon waiting for a signal. We made a phone call as we saw no one manning the lift and found out there was a boat ahead of us. Kind of disappointing, but they did move quickly to get that boat in the lift and put us on the staging dock. By 4:30 we were out and the sailing season for Lost Loon was over. Always a bittersweet moment. I will admit that I love this life so much, I did shed a couple of tears.
After procuring water and electric sources we were back to work in the cooler part of the day..late afternoon. We still had 3 days of work ahead before we flew back to the US.
We were fortunate to find someone willing to rent their AirBNB at a very reasonable price for us during this time. Our host even picked us up at the end of the day and returned us in the morning! Superhost! And a beautiful location above Red Hook with the best hot shower and comfortable bed.
From here we could see most of St John, St James and parts of the BVI.
We even had a nightly visitor that would conveniently show up as we were cooking dinner
We spent 3 long days working away at our list of tasks, crossing them off and adding new ones each night. Sunday,Departure day, arrived with a gorgeous our sunrise and we were off by 730 AM to finish the laundry we needed to leave on the boat.
By 1030 we had made it back to the boat to take one final look and turn the lock for the last time this season. She was as ready as she would ever be.
With our bags packed, masks and alcohol gel in hand we headed for the St Thomas airport that afternoon. It was a breeze through customs and security that afternoon, as there were only about 25 people on our flight back to Miami.
Thanks Pia for the masks!
We spent 16 days in Punta Gorda, FL as part of our self quarantine ( thank you Jeff Bellairs!) We spent these days walking in the early morning, biking, and kayaking, fishing, swimming. ( not a bad quarantine!) We feel great, our exposure was likely very minimal once we got off the boat through the airport, but enroute to see family, it’s what you do, right? Protect whom we can!
Next up the journey north….there are walleyes to catch on Lake Vermilion!!!
The sun peeks through the overhead hatch as the watch on my wrist vibrates signaling the beginning of another day as the music comes up… click here
I am sure many of you feel just as Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, does in The movie Groundhog Day that we are spinning in perpetual motion day after day as these days of the Covid-19 quarantine , self-isolation, “stay-at-home’ drone on.
Meanwhile, Lost Loon is sitting safe in the US Virgin Islands. We are surrounded by like cruisers who have either come here with plans to head back to the US or like us waiting to see if Grenada opens their doors.
We arrived in US waters on March 14 after an uneventful overnight motorsail from St Maarten. It was our plan to stage here before leaving for the ABC Islands. Shortly after our arrival we became well aware that a minuscule microscopic menace would effect a huge change to our plans. And little did we know that things would change nearly daily on a worldwide as well as local level. More about that in a few….
For a period of time, shortly after arrival here, we were literally between a rock and a hard place, with no where to go. Our insurance policy on the boat says we need to be north of the Florida GA state line or south of 12 degrees latitude … that’s Grenada. Explicitly out of the typical hurricane zone. It would have been our choice to head for Grenada ( only 350 mikes) but we see boats in quarantine, limited haul-outs and very random flights leaving the country for the US. So our second option was to head back to the US (1220miles!!). And… to our disappointment Bahamas waters are closed! ( meaning transit outside their territorial waters …no stopping for an overnight rest!) This would also mean a whole Fall season of trying to get East against the trades to just get right back here in the VIs.
Well we found out last week that just about anything is negotiable for $$$$$. We have tentatively arranged to haul the boat out here in St Thomas for a sizable additional fee on our policy and get one of the scheduled flights back to Miami. I know, it’s very obvious to us that this IS A HURRICANE ZONE, but so is most of the East coats of the US! At this point with options closing off for us we needed to make a decision.
Doing this we give up our option for Grenada. And if things don’t look good here or we have a change of mind, we will end up with our last plan and head to the continental US.
If we were making a return to the US doing the 1200 nm, and that’s 10-12 non-stop days. We have been told that there will be no anchoring in any islands; we would need to make a straight shot north – NW from here. AND they have invoked a $10,000 fine with possible imprisonment if caught anchoring or even in the waters!!
Presently we sit at anchor waiting for our haul-out at Independent Boatyard on St Thomas on May 1st. Week #4.
So what’s a day like in the Virgin Islands when you are not sailing and visiting anchorages?? It’s like having a floating condo… a very small condo. We are living in 250 square feet.
The day starts with the morning radio net on the VHF . We find out the latest local changes ( if we haven’t read Facebook), get weather, discuss options to get food, laundry done, and order pizza! Yep, there is a local pizza place that actually served 40 some boats some 50-60 pizzas today by boat!
We have a list of duties/ tasks to complete before we haul out and a list of jobs for after haul out. So everyday we get 1-2 things done …the stainless is polished, the heads are lubricated, the diesel fuel is treated, the food and medicine inventory has been completed. We have reorganized lockers, and started taking equipment off the rails.
The weather is good, sunny most days 80 degrees and light breezes at night. We can be dropped off at a closed beach just to cross to the road for a walk. ( Trails and beaches just opened yesterday again!!)
We spend time checking in on the HAM network of boats, email and messages, reading, and watching news clips from home in the morning.
Afternoons we may swim, SCUBA
do yoga aboard ( oh yeah that’s a challenge!), cut each other’s hair 🤣
and read. We have had excellent cellular service to make calls to the kids and grandkids, mothers, sisters, and brothers.
So here is a list of Lost Loon’s recent reads:
Cape Horn The Logical Route, Bernard Motissier
Dreamland, San Quinones
Land of Dreams, Vidal Sundstol
The Ravens, Vidal Sundstol
Only the Dead, Vidal Sundstol
Chasing My Cure, David Fajgenbaum
Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown
We are making the best of the situation in our little floating home. We feel we are some of the lucky ones to be located in a US territory. Some of our sailing friends are in foreign islands and either cannot leave or are stuck on their boats until the government says they can haul their boats out…. and then hope for a flight back to the US!!
We pray for our friends and family they they stay safe and protect each other. We are doing the same. And wake up each morning hoping this crazy dream is just that!!!
Hey folks! This is just images…no words from our latest stop at St Barthelemy. Enjoy!
No words this blog.. ok just explanation. Spent 2 days in beautiful St Barthelemy on our way up the Leeward chain as we head to BVIs, and US Virgins…St Thomas. Thought it was quite worthy of a silent pictorial.
It’s a beautiful and very French place here in the Caribbean! We’re off to Sint Maarten 🇸🇽! Au revoke!
We have taken some sailing courses along prior to setting off in 2016, but one important trip in particular with John Kretschmer (www.yayblues.com) really solidified our desire and confidence in buying a boat and heading out on our own to sea. He offers a variety of sailing experiences around the world and I bet our 9 hour trip yesterday from Chateaubelair St Vincent to Rodney Bay, St Lucia in some pretty “salty” conditions would qualify as a day in the life of one of his heavy weather courses! Another thanks John, for your wisdom and on-going advice to give us the confidence to make this journey.
Our day started long before we had anticipated for such a weather-filled trip. With frequent showers and very little wind overnight in Chateaubelair it was mostly quiet. We had swam over the anchor to assure it was held in sand and some grass near the idyllic Caribbean backdrop on the north part of the bay. The numerous heavy downpours would be a foreshadowing for things to come the next day.We had not anticipated that the 50 ft Amel that dropped ( operative word- not backed down on) anchor 100 ft or more from us at 1800 would bump into us at 0400 the next morning.
Mike and I awoke immediately at the sound of metal knocking on metal, like the alarm going off at the firehouse, to sailors. Its an ominous sound. In the dark, we raced out to the cockpit to find the bow pulpit of the Amel peaking over the railing of our port stern. It’s truly a sleeping sailors nightmare to see another (huge) boat encroaching in on our space. Our brains attempting to clearly think …what to do? You dont just give her a shove, however we tried instinctively. Fifty foot boats dont just move when pushed by hand. We immediately started the engine and pulled several feet away from it. We know the lay-out of the boat and the owners cabin is in the stern of the boat, so likely they didn’t hear the noise until the engine started and we were talking and calling somewhat for them. The other option would have been an air horn, but we figured that would wake everyone in the anchorage. there was no use in that, yet.
Moments went by and she was creeping closer to us again as the sleepy captain and first mate of the Amel came on deck. Most cruisers can tell me what their first words were……… yep, “oh it looks like you have dragged anchor, ” as they calmly went about retrieving fenders from somewhere and placing on the port side of their boat as we watched. Mike was the perfect gentleman. I have seen him more riled up at catamarans anchoring in “our space”, but he just as calmly said, “well I’m not sure but I think WE are right where we have been all night in reference to other boats.” There was no accusation, no laying blame on anyone. They lit up their deck lights and examined the bow pulpit for damage, which we assured them didn’t exist and how lucky we both were. And again she creeped close enough for us to restart the engine and pull forward. In the calm of the windless night, there was a current, a strong one to pull them toward us. Our anchor we figured was already strung out as far as it would go, as were the other boats anchored near us we figured. The Amel’s approach was relentless. Despite the fact that they indicated they put out a good 160 feet of anchor chain, they were sure she was still set. Yet, they were reluctant to start pulling anchor as they silently realized that it may not be where they “placed” it the evening before. So we all sat patiently, as the current propelled her again closer, enough for a third start of the engine. It was now 0545 and there was a very little bit of light discernible in the East. We were all waiting for daylight in order to locate the position of our anchors, and for the Amel to make a move out of our space.
What is the best thing to do at a time like this? Well, make coffee of course. We knew we would not be going back to sleep and should get on with the caffeine fix for the day. As daylight proceeded to filter through the clouds, a few rain drops fell. We went about prepping the boat to sail. As I came out of PJs, I noticed the boat of the other crew had done the same and were collecting fenders. They were still only 10 feet to our stern. They asked if we were leaving and we indicated “at some point, but not immediately.” They told us they would begin moving and needed to anchor closer to shore to check into the immigration office there.
Now mind you, 160 feet of chain, right? Well, if they had put that much out and WE had dragged, we would see him moving quickly away from us as they collected chain to where he was “anchored” ( the previous night) nearly 100 feet away, but no. As they retrieved the anchor they pulled it up right there next to our boat and not anywhere near 160, or 130, or even 100 ft of chain retrieved. They had clearly dragged anchor on us. We bid them a good day as they motored away. No foul, no harm, thankfully.
With a hot cup of java already taking its affect on our senses, we waited out another shower, double checked that everything in the cabin was secure, readied the mainsail, and weighed our anchor. We had motored 10 minutes out of the anchorage before we began to feel the wind, swell and waves. We raised the main with 2 reefs, and put out just a “bikini bottom” of a genoa and set a course north. We tried to stay close to the shore thinking our heading across the St Lucia channel would be a better angle, but found that the waves and swell were actually playing off that shoreline slowing our progress as they continued to build on the nose. We turned just a bit more downwind and were able to turn off the motor. Despite the 5-9 ft waves at 6 second intervals, the 22-25 knots of wind was taking us at an acceptable 6.5 knots per hour.
The waves continued to build as we headed into the channel between the islands, as it usually does and we were occasionally hit by some huge ones breaking over the bow, and onto the boat. We counted four that soaked the cockpit, thankfully we had the companionway closed off. Winds were steady from the East, putting us at a good 25- 30 degree heel, which puts the downwind rails underwater and makes getting a good stance challenging while manning the sails. It meant being ready to let out sail if the winds were overpowering our set up. If the sea salt soaking wasn’t enough, we contended with 3 squalls with winds up to 27 knots, ……but of course its fresh water we say, cleaning the salty sails!
As we approached the southern tip of St Lucia, near the Pitons, we were greeted by a huge school of dolphin. They seemed energized by the crazy sea and weather. They followed only for a few minutes, cresting and jumping across the bow and alongside the boat. With all that we were doing to keep on course, I couldn’t get my camera fast enough for any photos, sorry. It was a great distraction from the constant watch for the sea state changes.
The sun came and went, drying us off for another approaching squall, the last one, really a mere shower. We learned our lesson on previous trips here where the winds tend to scream around the pitons surprising us on even very settled days. So we sailed off shore a couple of miles giving the dear wind plenty of berth. With the protection of the island now, the seas settled and we found more comfortable sailing conditions. We had passed our refresher in heavy weather sailing.
We pulled into the huge anchorage at Rodney Bay by 4 pm, nearly 12 hours after wrestling with a wayward Amel. With the anchor safely set in sand, a bit of fresh water to rinse the cockpit, the stainless and windshield, we were finished for the day. The Lost Loon had performed well , seeming to say thank you for keeping her safe from harm that morning.
Peace and Love ❤️
Crew from Lost Loon wish you Happy Valentines Day!!!
As I write from Chatham Bay on Union Island we watch others coming into the anchorage trying to find the perfect sandy spot to drop the hook. We made a 11 mile sail from Carriacou this morning under a hot sun, bright skies and 12-17 knot winds.
We have been in Carriacou for a few days enjoying the hiking, swimming and, and traveling around on island buses to see parts of the island. We celebrated last night with some known and some new cruiser friends..Star Shot and Aphrodite. After a nice dinner at Tanty Mavis restaurant, we took a few drinks at a new French bar above the Frog Dive Shop. We were greeted with local hospitality and a few appetizers while we shagged to some American favorite music hits!
We ended the night , well past cruisers bedtime, at Aphrodite’s Boat.We chatted, as we usually, do about people we have in common, places we’ve been, and places we want to go. No fireworks here this year we were told by the bus driver earlier in the day, just a few random flares and horns went off along with cheering from boats welcoming in 2020.
Random kindness in the new year
In this brand new year I need to share 2 random acts of kindness that have happened in the last 24 hours.
During our travels around Carriacou yesterday we were on a couple of different busses to get to our destination on the windward side of the island to see a local boat building site and remote beach. The busses are just large vans equipped to carry about 10-15 people… depending on the size of the people. And like any bus they will stop at predetermined stops, but also will stop for anyone walking in the same direction if they have room and are hailed.
We had seen the boat building and found the bird sanctuary and Carenage beach.
Afterward, we were picked up in Windward by a bus with only a few people aboard. A young man, a middle aged woman and a young boy about 10.
We picked up a young woman and her about 4 year old daughter along the way. Now the ride is about 25 minutes over bumpy and sometimes gravel roads, over hills that give us a gorgeous view of surrounding turquoise water and other islands of the Grenadines. As we are traveling, this young boy opens his backpack and takes out a new bag of chocolate chip cookies. Before he takes one, he offers them to each of the passengers and the driver. We watched his eyes grow big when the little girl took 2, but he continued to offer more cookies to everyone. He took a couple then put them away. Our friends paid for his bus trip when we made our transfer in the next town. We find the people of the Caribbean islands are so kind and helpful, and it’s also evident in what they teach their children.
Today, we had anchored and one of us usually dons snorkel gear to check the anchor status. Mike was first in the water and gave me the thumbs up that we had a good hold. We had noticed a couple working on the bow of their boat with the anchor chain. He swam over to offer assistance. He was welcomed aboard and quickly went to look at the problem. Finding that their windlass wasn’t working, began to help them pull the chain and anchor in by hand. The owner was driving the Boat foot by foot closer to the anchor while Mike pulled in the heavy chain and the owners wife hand cranked the windlass to get the chain into the forward locker. It took them 30 minutes or so and they were off. Mike jumped back in the water with a huge thank you from the 54 ft boat’s owners and family. Mike told them both that we have been in some situations where a helpful hand was usually there, it what you do!!
So blessed to witness much kindness in such a small part of the world 2 days in a row.
In this new year I would challenge you to pass it on!! Maybe you have a great story to share here?? Please send for a posting!!
The rear airplane door opens and there is a rush of hot moist air that is typical of Grenada. We are back and anxious to claim our bags of US goods to move back onto Lost Loon. There is that time we must wait getting through immigration and then the potential for getting stopped at customs ( it has happened before) . But Luck is with us as we manage to exit the airport in about an hour with just a nod.
We are only 10 min from the boat, but it’s rush hour in Grenada and our driver takes a short cut through dirt and water rutted roads. However efficient we think he is, his real intent is to get back to the airport for one more fare. He drops us at the Spice Island Marine hate and we collect our apartment key and unload our bags there. Despite the setting sun, we are anxious to see how Lost Loon has fared over the last 7 months!!! Yes, it’s been that long. We decided to stay for the birth of a grandson in Minneapolis and so happy we did!!! But truly the longest stretch we have been away from our second home in the last 4 years.
We find her sitting in a different location, nestled between 2 other lonely monohulls. With a ladder we make our way aboard. We know what to expect now… yes she’s a bit grimy and dusty , but the insides look fine and the whiff test meets with approval. You see, a boat tends to become moldy or mildewy when closed up in hot humid weather for so long. We do our best to isolate the insides from the harsh outside weather, but find occasional problems. Little did we know that the ants are a problem in this marina. They found me first in the grass and them I found a few in the boat the next day. And aside from a few pieces of clothing that might have been left damp, we were in great shape.Dinner is at a restaurant at the marina.. expensive but delicious coconut carrot soup and salad as we make our mental list of the next day’s work. . We also discuss better dinner plans for the following day. We do t have a place to cook, aside from the boat, but that’s so crammed with equipment it would be nearly impossible.
Day 1 …we put away the boat cover we had spent time rinsing off the night before, sanded the boat bottom and did a good rinse of the topsides. I spent time de-anting a few spots and throwing out some food items that looked invaded as well as re arrange the plethora of sails and equipment that we store inside for the summer. We did most of the work through rain showers all day..lunch : simple local made ham and cheese sandwiches from the pharmacy mart. Dinner is at Dodgy Dock resort for a smorgasbord of local foods.. pork, chicken, fish, conch, lasagne, ham, etc. Local restaurants bring their food and patrons can pick up a variety of meals . We had whole snapper baked and local vegetables, and chicken curry. Half way through dinner the skies opened up and it poured. And kept pouring for 2 hours. Lucky again some friends of a couple we had walked there with gave us a lift back to the marina.
Painting day. This is an important part of keeping our hull clean during the season. We apply 1 good coat of heavy copper paint to resist grow of all kinds of critters. Mike does most of the work in a paint suit in 85 degree heat and I get some of the details. We were blessed with clear weather until 1 hour after we finished and had a downpour! Lunch : Grenada National fish Oil Down. Usually chicken or pork and starch veggies in a Tumeric broth. Dinner oasis for lamb,
We did a thorough scrubbing of the topsides, moved equipment on the deck and started waxing the fiberglass part of the boats’s hull. I spend 3 hours prepping and patching huge areas of wear on the dinghy. Laundry and more re- arranging. All again between rain showers. Lunch is Roti we buy from the vendor at the ACE Hardware store where we walk looking for a few parts.
By evening we had begun to see the sole of the boat’s inside. Dinner was at the container park near the university. There are restaurants converted from transport trailers and they serve everything. We opted for lamb wrap and lamb dinner. The container park is usually mobbed but we found with medical students leaving for break it was pretty quiet.
Mike is in the bosuns chair 3 hours replacing the stainless mount for the radar. I am at the deck Manning the halyard that keeps him suspended up there. Repair of the anchor windlass. The dinghy is now inflated and scrubbed. Mainsail and staysail get put on and all sail parts inspected and greased.More re arranging and preparation to move aboard Day 5 and splash. We think maybe we need to get more done and can put this off another day, but we so want to be in the water. Lunch is the 2nd chicken roti warmed up from yesterday and a bag of microwave popcorn. Dinner: popcorn and well the pizza and wing place doesn’t look inviting and there is nothing much open on a Sunday …..and we are soooo tired we go back to the apartment and crash after 4 days of sun up to sun down work. By now I have made countless trips up and down a 20 ft ladder, mike has spent more time in the bosuns chair that he has since we bought the boat, our backs and feet are beat!!!
The plan is to reschedule for launch on Day 6, but day 6 is full, so at 0830 we decide we can be ready by 2.. really? Mike quickly finishes putting up part of the dodger, mounts the solar panels, puts on the wind generator. I meanwhile schlep 5 bags of clothes and supplies we have brought from the US in 4 trips from the apartment to the boat and try to make some semblance of order of it all. We move the dinghy from the ground to the davits on the back of the boat and secure it. By 1230 things are as good as they will get. We shower have more popcorn and get a quick meal from a local vendor at the marina.
While Mike meets the crew, I settle our finances with the office. As I’m getting done I see Lost Loon in the slings waiting to be launched.
It’s a great moment when she’s hanging over the water and they move the ladder close enough to step aboard!!!
Engine all full once we are set into the water. With a bit of forward motion the crew throws us the lines and we are once again sea-born!!!
Five full days of nothing but work, and all for the love of sailing.
We are grateful for family and friends! We are fortunate for some great life experiences this last year!
While we await the arrival of a new little family member, as we spend time traveling between Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois to be with family and good friends. Yes, we are living out of a 4 wheeled vehicle until we can get back on the water and to Lost Loon.
We are thankful for all the friends and family that have given us a warm bed for a night or more along the way since we closed the Lake Vermilion place in late September.
We see our sailing friends head offshore via text and social media making their way to warm locations in the Caribbean……envious? Yes, a bit. But we will get there. Still trying to get all the boat parts and stuff together to schlep to Grenada. Until then we pack a duffle and unpack every few days, hoping we have enough warm clothes to battle whatever Winter throws at us until we leave.
So we hope this finds you surrounded with friendship and love .. as we move into the downhill run to Christmas.
With Lost Loon out of the water and meticulously stored for the Summer, we travel back to the US in mid-May to see family, enjoy the cooler climate, and yes, avoid hurricane season in the Caribbean. After a hot and busy week organizing on Lost Loon at Prickly Bay Marina in the south part of Grenada, we are ready to close the hatch and board our plane for US mainland. Its pretty strange to get in a car and drive 1300 miles (after spending 6 months sailing…not driving at all!) from Florida to North Carolina, to Illinois and finally Minnesota, our summer destination. We are thankful again that the weather has turned nice for our return to Lake Vermilion. As I write, we sit comfortable from our lake home in Minnesota and see that Hurricane Dorian has literally demolished the Abacos, and we monitor a few other tropical disturbances in the Caribbean.
In a matter of 2 weeks, we are back to work on land this time, putting in the dock, starting up the sand point well, taking off the winter shutters, picking up sticks, cleaning gutters, raking the leaves left over from the Fall before, and settling in for a few months to what we call our summer home. The water is chilly as the days have just warmed into the 60s. We are welcomed back in the evening by the call of the Loon. Most days are quiet as there are few residents that stay around on the lake all week. Coffee in the morning on the deck is highlighted by watching a mama duck bring her little ducklings around, eagles soaring high looking for breakfast, or listening to distant motor boats revving up for a morning fishing expedition.
We have owned this place since 1998 and being here full time in the summer we have finally had the opportunity to make some major renovations. Its truly nice to come back to more of a home than a 60’s vintage cabin.
So, in effort to continue the improvements we embarked on a project this year to renovate the lakeside boathouse. This structure has been home to a small aluminum boat, all the fishing equipment, water pump, lake toys, woodworking materials and outdoor implements. Literally, a catch-all, but this functioned as Mike’s workshop the last 2 years of the cabin re-do. It needs a facelift as well as repositioning. It happens to sit right in front of our sauna\fish cleaning building, and also blocks a lot of the lake view to the west. Built of sturdy rough sawn 2x4s, beams, and covered in corrugated gray steel, its a beast!
The first project at hand is to move the STUFF out, but we don’t have anywhere to move the STUFF. Enter project 1A…a new storage building. For 6 weeks this summer we (I use that pronoun loosely, because Mike did 99% of the work) cut trees, burned brush, fashioned useable timbers, and put up a storage shed.
Again this summer, we took many trips across the water and drove to our local Menards for the building materials. We were lucky to have Dave and Nate (Mike’s brother and nephew) here to help with walls one weekend! I was able assistant when things needed positioned, measured or held in place. We are finally ready to move equipment out of the boathouse, so we can start on that. Summer has segued into early Fall and were not sure we have time for that now. Of course, we will return next Spring and get that underway. Just as it is on boats..we always have a project!
On to weather and hurricanes… I find the subject quite interesting. Being on the boat full time and relying on the weather so much to move us from point A to point B, we have to have the information on wind, waves, and precipitation. We are lucky to have several resources we utilize to make the decision on if we are sailing to a location or staying put. I listen to Chris Parker and associates on Marine Weather Center nearly daily. Usually tuning in at 0700 for his forecast of the Eastern Caribbean, we hear a 4 day compilation of his interpretation of the grib and surface analysis maps. This gives us a good indication of the conditions we can expect in our location. If I have decent cellular signal I can look at a few apps we use to confirm the information. Marine Weather Center had a website with all the information.
We use Windy (free app to download and obtain GRIB information) Predictwind( there is a free version, but for $99. /3 months we can get 3 weather models, destination planning and weather routing) and windguru. The disclaimer is that these sites ( except for Marine Weather Center) present you with computer generated information and there is no human interpretation of the data. That’s our job. And honestly the models are pretty ‘spot-on’, however we do find that there are errors…mostly not as much wind or different wave patterns than predicted.
If I don’t have any cellular service and on a passage offshore, I can use my Ham radio modem and connect to email services from NOAA and not only get text version of the weather in a particular lat/long region, but I can download surface analysis maps. Reading surface analysis maps isn’t difficult, but learning how to read them is vital, along with understanding how the current, 24,48, 72, and 96 hour interval reports give further information on developing weather systems. So, in order to keep up my skills in the off season, it is very cool to watch local weather or the development of tropical storms and how they die out or progress to full blown hurricanes.
The other resource I use is monitoring cloud formations. I learned a lot of this from an ASA Sailing course on weather I took in 2016. There are so many different formations day and night to watch. It is get so caught up in the formations I forget that I’m watching clouds. There are two basic resources at Weather works and Instructables, but the ASA course is worth the time if you need to learn weather for cruising purposes.
Best Summer Recipe Find
Carrot Hummus!!!!! Sounds crazy? Well it is!!! Delicious roasted carrots combined into a great hummus recipe. And its good for you!! First introduced to this by my daughter, who is great whole foods cook.
6-8 peeled whole carrots
3-4 Tablespoons Olive oil
3-4 peeled cloves of garlic (a few more if you love garlic)
1/4 cup tahini
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
15 oz can chickpeas (drained, but reserve the liquid)
Table salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Set oven at 400. Coat the carrots and garlic with 1-2 T olive oil and place on cookie sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes. Add the garlic about 10 min after starting the carrots, until soft when pierced with a fork. Allow to cool. Place the carrots, garlic, tahini, chickpeas, 1/2 tsp of salt and lemon juice in blender or food processor. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Begin blending and add the reserve liquid from the chickpeas slowly until the right consistency is achieved. Taste and add salt if needed. Cover and put on refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.
This is a great recipe to have with veggies or pita chips. It is also a great substitute for mayo on a sandwich! Enjoy.
Thanks again for stopping….up next Fall happenings as we await a precious arrival before we set off sailing!