Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Trinidad Update from Grenada - Part 2

Just to finish off the work done on Larus, welcome to the galley.  :)

Exciting for me was upgrading our battered and lifting Formica counter top with the a white granite coloured Corian work surface.  We replaced our two bowl sink with a single deeper under counter hung sink.  We have a beautiful new stainless steel tap with a hose for filling the laundry bucket in the cockpit.  The new tap fits between the tap for the freshwater foot pump (left) and the saltwater foot pump (left).


We have a small low wattage kettle, which we use on a good charging day - sunny for the 4 solar panels, windy for the wind generator or when there is neither, running the engine or diesel generator.

On super duper charging days we should be able to use our new induction hotplate. So far we have only used it on the hard or in the marina where we were plugged into shore power, and we haven't tried it using only the battery via the inverter.

Another of the perks of a lithium battery is that, 'the battery voltage remains constant regardless of how much we are drawing from it', said Tim. This means we can use appliances that would have damaged our lead acid batteries.

To go with our induction hotplate, we needed to replaced our old pots and pans. We had first used in our flat before moving them onto Larus in 1998 when we first bought her.  With their mismatched/damaged lids and wobbly handles, I was very excited to get a set of Magma  induction cookware with Ceramica non-stick interior.

I had used the stainless steel version of Magma pots working a charter on another yacht, and was really impressed with them.  I had no experience of the Ceramica interior and was a little apprehensive, but not anymore.  I love it and this is despite having to buy, or be gifted, in the case of the potato masher from Leslie on Ocean Blue, non-scratch utensils.

Even the cheese from my faux Ruben Sandwich  (pastrami, sauerkraut, the mild cheddar that is often all you can get down here, mustard, bread buttered on the outside and fried until the cheese oozes out) did not stick to the pan.  Omelettes just slide out and I find that the frying pan and smallest pot meet most of my needs.

The pots are very heavy, which is great for retaining heat and cooking evenly.  The pan surfaces heats uniformly using induction or propane.  The removable handles allow them to be used in the oven.


My first try with it was making my breakfast of steel cut oats, sliced almonds, pumpkin, flax and sunflower seeds, raisins, cinnamon, turmeric and a grate of black pepper as that is reputed to increase turmeric's anti-inflammatory properties.  Yum.  Its good cold too.

We think we have worked out a method of using the pots with the induction hob while underway in reasonable conditions thanks to plastic trays I bought from a fruit and veg vendor in Gibraltar way back in 2012.  The tray would keep the hob on the cooker but there was still a danger of the heavy pots to sliding around on the glass surface.  We hadn't figured that one out until Derek and Leslie told us they used silicon matts.  I use them for making galley surfaces non-slip, but the induction hob heats straight through my silicon baking sheet and the pot doesn't budge at all.

We hope to have the right conditions eventually to see how our setup works.

Maybe it will be over the next three days as we are heading to Curacao tomorrow.  We will leave about noon tomorrow and arrive on Sunday.  We have a good forecast and are raring to go.  We will meet up with the Suzy 2 Rally which starts mid November and which starts in Curacao and visits Aruba, Columbia, the San Blas Islands, Panama and Belize.  A number of boats, of which we are one, will leave the rally in Panama to head through the canal into the Pacific.

So its all go here and we'll keep you posted.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Trinidad Update from Grenada - Part 1

Greetings All!

Tim and I are now both back on Larus and in the water.  We have finally moved on from Trinidad and arrived in Prickly Bay, Grenada on Thursday the 25th of October.  We had a wonderful first sail - light winds, flat sea, and a full moon - after being out of the water for nearly 5 months. We also caught and passed another sailing yacht that had had a 5 mile head start.  Very satisfying. :)

While in Trinidad, Tim orchestrated a huge amount of work on Larus. I have helped of course, but the lion’s share of the boat and system upgrades and maintenance will always be down to Tim. 

Just to put you in the picture, here is a list of the big items that have been accomplished:

  • New spray hood for the cockpit (though this was made in Bequia in the spring).
  • Replaced the standing and running rigging on the main. Standing is the wire that holds the mast upright and the running is the rope used to haul things up and down.
  • Craned out the engine to change the timing belt.
  • Replaced bank of golf cart batteries with one beautiful lithium battery and all the systems needed to use it, which are many.
  • Replaced the windlass, which drops and raises the anchor.
  • A new work surface and sink in the galley.
  • New cushions for the cockpit (and  for Tim's poor bony bum).

The new sprayhood is a great success but there were a few surprises.  We had looked at getting the sprayhood replaced in a number of places and it was always going to be expensive, but Avell at Grenadine Sails, Bequia was a little less so.

We were impressed by Avell's appreciate of quality of our old sprayhood which had been made in the UK by guy in Southampton.  Tm can't remember the gentleman's name now, (it was a long time ago), but when he came to make the paper templates, it was such a windy day that he had to resort to 'doing it the old-fashioned way' by taking the measurements by hand.  A good sprayhood is tight as a drum.  All the fabric and plastic windows should be smooth and ours was, although the fabric leaked like a sieve due to age and sun damage.

Avell mentioned wistfully that he wished that he could have learned from the UK cover maker as the quality was obvious. When he asked to take the sprayhood away and use it as a template, we were more than happy to accommodate him.  

We specified the colour we wanted, silver grey, to match the bimini (cockpit sunshade) and asked him to make up an additional piece that zipped between the two to keep the cockpit drier in wet weather and heavy seas.  Certain points of sail can result in a wave catching the bow just so, with the resulting spray leaping over the sprayhood and drenching the person on the leeward side of the cockpit. You might have gotten wet anywhere in the cockpit but sitting on the leeward side was special.

The first thing we noticed when the new cover arrived was that it wasn't silver grey, it was 'linen', and there was not a lot that we could do about it. Avell had told us that he had the silver grey in stock. I've spent a lot of time thinking about how we ended up with a 'linen' cockpit cover, because it was a big risk for Avell. We could have said, this is not good enough, take it away and do it again, but we didn't for a number of reasons.  The sprayhood fit really well after a little tweaking by Avell, the additional piece we ordered was exactly what we wanted, he might not have had the right colour and no way of getting in in a reasonable time and it would have been a financial disaster for Avell's small business.  We actually prefer the new colour and have cockpit cushions made in the same colour here in Trinidad, by Kay Upholstery, a two sister team who did a very good job.   


And here they are, doing a great job of keeping us and the cockpit dry as a tropical wave passes over Trinidad.  There are a few things that I would like to change.  The side panels that are rolled up in the new section that zips in (and out) between the sprayhood and the bimini are tied with some light webbing.  In a perfect world, I would replace them with parachute clips if I could find the in the right size and colour. You can get black clips by the bushel but the white ones are harder to find and much more expensive even on Amazon.  I have bought press studs in Canada but once down here, I found I'd have to replace the webbing with something a little wider and that is harder than it sounds.  I will just be patient and see what comes up.

Changing the standing rigging - the wires that hold up the mast - on the main and lifting out the engine were the two big jobs that the planning of had kept Tim awake at night.  Some of the pressure was taken off him by Jonas from …..Rigging who we contracted to replace the standing rigging.  This meant that Jonas hired the crane and did all the work lifting off, replacing the wire rigging and then putting it all back together again.


On the same day, we also made use of the crane (and all the extra hands) to lift out the engine so that Tim could change the timing belt.  This was a job that had been earmarked for last August in Deltaville, Virginia, but despite completing numerous work orders, the yard never got around to it.


Lifting out the engine took a lot of preparation.  First the cockpit floor and steering pedestal had to be removed.  Then the generator which sits aft of the engine was then removed and the engine detached from the engine mounts, which keep the engine in place and have shock absorbers to reduce the noise and vibration when the engine is running.  The trickiest part, and where we sorely missed the expertise of our friend Paul in Southampton, was arranging the ropes that would be used to lift the engine so that the engine came out level.  'Level' is important because the engine only just goes through the opening in the cockpit floor and if the engine is tilted at all from port to starboard it will catch on the sides of the opening and that would be bad.  It also needs to be level fore and aft so that the engine will lift cleanly off the 4 vertical bolts on the 4 engine mounts.


You don't often get a chance to have to all of the engine within reach and Tim took the opportunity to give it a good clean and change the timing belt, which would have been completely impossible into the boat, but as easy as taking the old one off and putting the new one on.

Once the rigging was ready to go back up, the engine was craned back in and Jonas got the mast and rigging back in place.

Another big job that Tim accomplished on his own was installing the new lithium ion battery as well as the management system that controls and monitors all aspects of charging and discharging.


Lithium-ion batteries have many advantages. They weigh less than a bank of lead acid batteries, but the most importantly for us is that they charge in 1/4 of the time of lead acid batteries.  They also provide more usable energy. Lead acid batteries should not be discharged below 50% while lithium batteries can safely provide energy down to 20% of their capacity.

I will leave it to Tim to tell you how it is working out for us.

The new battery gives us higher power usage, which has added another option than propane of cooking.  More about that and a tour of our refurbished galley and tools in the next blog.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Better Late Than Never - Barbuda


Barbuda took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma in 2017.  Tim and I spent a number of weeks on charter there in early 2018 and this is what we found.

There was a lot of concern that following the destruction of hurricane Irma, the frigate birds might not have returned to Barbuda. Tim and I took a dinghy ride around the north coast of the island to go and see for ourselves.  From a long what off you, could see hundreds of them riding the air currents over the mangroves. From what we could see, the frigate colony birds seem to have recovered far better than the human habitation on the rest of the island.

Pre Hurricane Irma the lagoon used to be a body of water open only from the sea on the northern side of the island via mangroves and the frigate bird colony.


Post Irma, the strip of sand, formerly Barbuda's 13 mile pink sand beach, was breached in two places.  The current coming out through the largest gap is about 2 knots and the standing wave you see is caused by swell passing over a shallow point as it heads into the bay against the current and wind.  We took the photo from the dinghy in the relative calm of the now currently navigable channel. The breach has made the Lighthouse Resort accessible only by boat.

So when workmen using a blow torch accidently set fire to a building to the right of the resort, it was a matter of getting people from Codrington on the far side of the lagoon by boat to fight the fire.  We got a call from Devon, our guest's water taxi driver who we used, when it was too rough for Tim to take them through the cut into Codrington, asking, 'what's burning?'  The plume of smoke would have been visible from much of 'flat as a pancake' Barbuda.  Tim and our guests went ashore and helped to extinguish the fire with a garden hose and buckets of saltwater before it could damage nearby plant and equipment.

Codrington, Barbuda

The World Food Program in Codrington, which supplies the basic necessities to the 200 or so of the Barbudans currently living on the island.  It is a strange state of affairs.  While we were in Barbuda, the seas between were up and the ferry was not able to make its regular deliveries to Barbuda from Antigua.  This resulted in gas and diesel rationing.  Not only where fishing boats unable to go out, but cars were parked and bicycles used instead.  Just behind the white tarp building is the Fisheries building.  If you click on the photo you can see a person sitting at a table. This is where the people of Codrington charge their phones.  They don't have electricity, unless they have access to a generator, or running water, but depending who you were speak to, this is not so different from pre-Hurricane Irma.

The damage to the homes and buildings was a different story.  Months on people were still living in tents and getting supplies and fresh water from Aid agencies.

Cocoa Point was a high end resort on the southern most tip of Barbuda and is very exposed.  It would have been evacuated at the time of the hurricane.


Palm trees wrapped in corrugated iron roofing; Inside on of the holiday units; palm trees with their tops snapped off - we didn't see that anywhere else on the island; Damaged but still standing buildings; Tinned and canned food were scattered across the sand, many intact but now badly sun damaged.

It really is hard to see how they will get Barbuda up and running again.  All the islands devastated by Hurricanes Irma or Maria will continue repairing and rebuilding, and hope that the next hurricane season is kinder.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Fort de France, Martinique

Hello All!

We are well and on our way down to Bequia.  We (I) have been finding keeping up with the blogging very difficult. Between being busy and not always having good WiFi for uploading the photos or even simply opening, we are rather behind.

We do keep in touch with friends and family via email whenever we make a move and when small things of interest happen.  If you would like to be included in these emails please email me at Nancy.e.martiniuk @ or any email you have for us. I will make a group where everyone is BCC’d so no ones email is visible to anyone else on the list. I hope this sounds good to you and we will carry on blogging the bigger events.

So here are the three lastest emails and you should have a reasonable idea of what we’ve been up to.

On The Move Again - 21st April Hello!
 Tim and I finished our last charter in Antigua and are working our way south. Early this morning we upped anchor in Falmouth Harbour and headed out into the wind and waves for Deshaies, Guadeloupe. We arrived in good time and were planning on going ashore for some fruit, baguettes and cheese, but thanks to the wind not lessening appreciably despite the forecast for the afternoon and the windscoop affect of the terrain, we decided to shop another time. We still have 4 apples left! Instead we worked at fixing the leaks that we created around the windows when we removed the silicon to paint the coach roof. We are leaving tomorrow morning for St Pierre, Martinique. It will be an over night sail of about 20 hours and we’ll get our bread, fruit and cheese there. We’ll be in Martinique for a few days before heading further south to meet up with our friend Skipper Tim in Bequia. So all is good with us and though we’re trying to get back into cruising mode, we still seem to be doing a lot of rushing around.

Anchored Off Fort De France - 23rd April Hello!
 It took three tough sails to get here and we spent last night in Portsmouth, Dominica. There is a mild tropical front passing over which brought squalls and uncomfortable seas, particularly around headlands. We were 7 miles off Dominica when a squall arrived yesterday afternoon. We had one reef in the main and when Tim went to put in the second reef, the wind really picked up, the sail batons fouled the lazy jacks as he tried to pull up the main and we ended up dropping it completely. Although we’d been planning on passing Dominica, the wind shift that came with the squall had us charging due East to Portsmouth under mizzen and jib alone, rather than south to Martinique. With Tim thoroughly doused in salt water and with the chance to anchor in daylight and have a good nights sleep, it seemed like we were meant to stop in Dominica. So we did! We are now looking forward to going ashore tomorrow to shop and stretch our legs. I thinks it quite funny that we finished the charter in Antigua and left so quickly, that I keep finding things I didn’t remember buying in the supermarket the day the charter finished. I thought we ate the last two apples yesterday, but while looking for something else in the fridge I found a whole new bag that I can barely remember buying. There are things I haven’t been able to find onboard even though I know we left the catamaran empty. They will turn up in time, I just hope I didn’t stow them somewhere too cleverly. Tonight for dinner, we’re having leftover steak cooked during the charter in fajitas. It is such a luxury to have a charter boat with freezers so we don’t have to waste perfectly good, though rather tough if I remember correctly, food. You don’t visit Antigua for the beef. So all good here and it looks like we might even see the sun tomorrow.

Fort de France, Martinique - 25th April Hello!
 We went ashore early this morning to do some shopping. We stocked up on sliced ham, bacon lardons and frozen green beans and peas. It’s nice knowing what we can and can’t get easily in Bequia, and nicer still to have a freezer so we can shop accordingly. We went in early and discovered that very little is open at 0700 in the morning, so I spent an hour walking around the city wishing I’d brought my camera. Martinique has a very different flavour to Guadeloupe. Some is a little grubby and seedy looking but there are wonderful public spaces that surprise you. The cathedral has been refurbished and the sun glints off the black metal work spire, which was inspired by the Eiffel Tower. It’s so sharp and clear that it makes the surrounding buildings appear to be in soft focus. At one point, turned a corner and I was marvelling at the different patterns and colours on the second story of a brick building, and almost didn’t notice the five large paintings displayed below it. They were in muted colours like the bricks and fit in so well. Soon we’ll be putting the dinghy away and heading to an anchorage called Petite Anse, which is right next to a much bigger anchorage called Grande Anse. There seems to be an ‘anse’ pattern developing, and suspect it means Bay. WiFi v slow so can’t be bothered checking. We’ll over night in Petite Anse and head out at first light for Bequia. We’ll bypass St Lucia and St Vincent and hope to arrive around 2200 tomorrow evening. We often have currents against us and little wind behind the islands so a little after midnight is probably a more realistic arrival time. Port Elizabeth Bequia is in a huge bay (or anse, lol) and is great for an night arrival. We’re looking forward to being back in Bequia. Along with Antigua it is one of our favourite islands. Bequia is laid back and relaxed and we expect to be there for around a month. Tim is feeling much better and tomorrow is his last day of antibiotics.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Antigua - General Update

Since we arrived in Antigua in early December last year, we've had quite a busy time.  Tim worked a charter over Christmas and I have my friend Susan from Ottawa out for a visit, so I wouldn't be lonely.

Susan keeping cool: Tim's charter catamaran leaving English Harbour; Susan keeping cool against the Ammunition Store for Nelson's Dockyard.  We actually got up early and were off the boat by 0700 to do our walk when it was reasonably cool.  It was particularly hot that week and we did all our walking and shopping very early when ever possible.  Late afternoon is okay, but all the roads and buildings have been soaking up the sun all day so it can be hotter because of that.  The days were spent swimming to the beach and catching up on The Crown. It was great!

On our own again, we headed around to Five Islands Bay for New Years Day.  Five Island Bay which is the next bay north of Jolly Harbour.  We come here often and were introduced to it by our friend Skipper Tim on Stormbird. Even as we are as I type we are here, because we can get very good wifi from the resort whose beach we are anchored off and there is very little boat traffic, which makes it quiet and good for swimming..  The downside of this anchorage is that if can be quite rolly in a northerly swell as it is now.  There is a small superyacht that has re-anchored half a dozen times, probably at the guests request, trying to find a spot less rolly.  We are however happy to suffer for our blog. ;) 

The New Year's Day Super Moon and sunset in Five Islands Bay.  These photos where taken within minutes of each other - the moon rising to the East and the sun setting to the West.

Before our a charter we worked in Barbuda, we hopped over to Guadalupe to investigate the purchase of new chain and the possibility of getting some work done on my knee.  Neither of these things worked out, but I have at least had a recommendation from a Deshaies doctor that I need an arthroscopy to see what is causing the inner knee pain and swelling, though thanks to the thousands (only a slight exaggeration) of people who have suffered the same symptoms, I have a good idea of what the problem is. We weren't able to overcome the travel or language barriers to see the consultant in Pointe a Pitre.  I hope to fare better in Trinidad when we are there later in the year.

For any of you who have watched Death In Paradise, you might be interested to know that it is film in Deshaies, lthought the location is the fictitious island of Saint Marie.

Saint Marie sounds very like the Guadeloupean island of Marie Gallant which lies to the south east of Guadeloupe.

The beach house where the British police officer is staying, is on a beautiful long white beach (with a large rock that we sail past every time we come to Guadeloupe from Antigua), the beach to the resort where we picked put our hire car to look for chain and visit doctors.

So if any of this has interested you, there is a 48 hour screening of all 48 episodes in July this year.  Yoo hoo, anyone?

This little critter is one of many that stowed away on board Larus somewhere on the US Eastern Seaboard.

They have a grip like you wouldn't believe. For a long time I thought that the bug I kept seeing had just blown back on board or that it's little hooked toes had clung on to the tissue I had trapped it in and shaken it out of. But with so many reappearances, I became more careful and made sure I saw it hit the water.

I kept finding them randomly, walking walking, inside the cockpit lockers from North Carolina to Bermuda and finally Antigua.  I found one while eating dinner, watching either the Crown or Victoria with the lights dimmed.  We were having salad and after a bite I felt something on my knuckle.  I very nearly stuck out my tongue to lick off what I assumed was a random piece of lettuce, but instead I flicked on the light.  I'm glad I did.  It was not a bit of lettuce; it was one of those bugs. 

That was the first one we found inside so it must have been very hungry, which makes me rather sad.  I wish we could have kept them, but I did not want to be responsible for bringing a foreign species into another island. It went over the side too, but as it was dark I'm not completely sure that the next one I found, in the aft head clinging to my hair clip container, wasn't it.

It's been a month since then so we might well be bug free. *fingers crossed*

We had a charter on Barbuda at the beginning of January.  The Christmas winds had definitely arrives with lots of wind and squalls.


The kite surfers who sail over to Barbuda and stay for long periods of time seemed to enjoy that weather.

These photos give you an idea of some of the damage caused by Hurricane Irma.  The beach in the first photograph used to separate a salt water lagoon (behind the beach) and open water on the west coast of the island (in front of the beach).  In the photo with the kite surfer, will try to get a photo next time with the kite in it, the rough area behind him is where the spit of land separating the lagoon from the open water is breached.   The breached beaches are silting up, but it will take time before the beach is as it was before the hurricane.

A long shot of the remains of a resort, which is now cut off from the rest of Barbuda by where the beach has been breached.  This also shows one of the many squalls that passed over in the week we were there.


With no road access to it, it will be a long time before any of the damage is dealt with.  On Barbuda itself, only about 200 of the 2000 inhabitants have returned.  All water and fuel is brought in by ferry and what power there is supplied by generator.  They are working at getting the services up and running but to talk to the locals, the post-hurricane situation is not all that different from the pre-hurricane situation.

Another thing that Barbuda is famous for is the Frigate Bird Colony in the mangroves on the north west corner of the lagoon.  There was much concern about where the frigate birds would return.  Tim took the dinghy and circled the island created by the breach and found the mangroves full of nesting frigate birds

We have another charter to Barbuda starting on Tuesday next week and we will be there for three weeks.  Hopefully the winds and seas will be calmer and I can have a look around too.  I'm not that fond of bouncing dinghy rides and being soaked with salt water.

Meanwhile, back in Antigua, we saw the Super Blue Moon on the second of February.

Tim has been trying out the different settings on our new camera and took this photo in Falmouth Harbour. The clouds you see are appearing from behind the hills around Falmouth and English Harbours.  The photo with the superyacht has Monserrat in the distance and was taken from Carlisle Bay.  It isn't very often when we have this clear a view of it and the peak is almost always shrouded in cloud.  In the last photo you can see the smoke rising from the mouth of the volcano.  When down wind of Monserrat, you can smell sulphur in the air.


An action shot of Tim; he is altering course to starboard one could say, 'to avoid the superyacht regatta that had just started out of Falmouth Harbour', or one could tell the truth and say, 'to head East to Carlisle Bay.'  Actually the most exciting thing about the first photo is our brand new 8 hp Yamaha Enduros two stroke outboard engine. It is a great improvement to the 5 hp we had before and Tim is currently taking steps to run in the engine by taking the dinghy allllllll the way around to Jolly Harbour to get rid of the rubbish. He is very pleased with it.

So thus ends another blog.  I do have more to write about the previous year's travels it will have to wait.  We only have a few days before our next charter starts, I'd best finish off the menu planning and a provisioning list.