The departure date for our next trip is fast approaching! This time we’ll be heading to Caribbean, sailing with Caribbean 1500 rally from Portsmouth, VA. The scheduled departure date is November 8 (subject to weather conditions) and planned arrival in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI) is about 8 to 10 days after departure. The plan is to then cruise the Leeward Islands (Anguilla through Dominica) and Windward Islands (Martinique to Grenada). As we learned from our time in the Bahamas, plans are great, but we also need to be flexible.
But to catch you up to date on our prep work … Pete has spent a great deal of time working on the engines. Both engines were given plenty of TLC, new pumps, new hoses and belts, overhauled alternators, and new injectors. Pete removed rust spots and repainted both engines. Now they look like new! Here’s hoping they’ll operate like new also.
We took a short trip to Cape Charles Yacht Club to haul out Delphinus for a bottom cleaning, new zincs and to change the lubricants in the sail drives. The next morning we motored back to our marina (wind on the nose of course). After arriving we learned that Tropical Storm Joaquin had turned into a Category 4 Hurricane and was aiming for the Norfolk area. By now, we know that didn’t happen, but in anticipation we stayed busy getting the house and boat prepped just in case. In the end we did have extreme high tides and Pete spent a good bit of time checking on conditions in the marina. In the picture below, the water had risen over the seawall.
The following weekend we drove to the Annapolis Sailboat Show. We always enjoy this show to check out all the boat stuff and boats. Colleen and her boyfriend Brendan joined us this year and we all enjoyed our traditional lunch of roast beef sandwiches at the Fleet Reserve Club. While walking through the show we happened upon the booth for the Cape Charles Yacht Center and saw a poster with an image of Delphinus in the travel lift – very cool! We also caught up with friends at the show and at the Caribbean 1500 Happy Hour.
Back to boat prep … Work on the generator turned into a major overhaul that was finished only a week ago as it was reinstalled. The overhaul included new pistons and rings, deglazing the piston walls, fuel injection pump overhaul, and new injectors, heat exchanger overhaul, new water pumps (fresh and seawater), and much more. In the end the generator looks brand new.
We had also ordered new sails (mainsail, genoa and gennaker) for Delphinus which were recently installed . We’ve taken her out a few times since to check out the sails and can definitely feel the difference in the power from the sails which translates into increased speed for Delphinus. This should shave some time off the trip to the Caribbean. We also had the boom raised a bit to increase visibility from the cockpit and to be above Pete’s head if the boom should swing by.
I’ve been busy with a few projects of my own. I completed new cushions for the cockpit. The old ones were showing their age and were not very comfortable. The new ones have thicker, softer foam. During the process, my seamripper became my best friend. I think I took each one of them apart at least twice to get them right. Hopefully, I don’t have to do that again anytime soon! I also made some flat fenders for use in marinas when we are up against pylons. I sprained a finger wrestling the foam into the fenders. Who knew sewing could be harmful to your health? Pete also asked for a collision mat to be used in case we run into a foreign object and need an emergency patch on the exterior of the boat. That was the easiest project by far. The investment in the Sailrite sewing machine has been officially recovered!
As the departure date for the Caribbean 1500 gets closer, we are focused on final preparations. Pete completed a review and refresh of all safety gear onboard, completed refilling and documenting our spare parts inventory, prepared written procedures for many boat operations. We’ve been shopping for and stowing the non-perishable food items we may not be able to easily find in the islands. I’ve also started preparing and freezing several meals to make meal prep simpler while underway. We’ll stock up on the perishables this week.
Our crew members for this trip are: Ron Fox (he crewed with us to the Bahamas last year), Bob Alexander (Pete sailed with him 5 years ago on Kia Orana), and James Dylewski (new crew, but with lots of bluewater experience). All are fine sailors and we look foward to a pleasant and quick trip.
I’ve decided to skip the ocean journey this time. Around the rally, I’ll join the group of FIFO wives (fly in & fly out). Pete will get Delphinus settled in the US Virgin Islands and fly home for Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving, we’ll both fly to Delphinus and begin our Caribbean cruising adventure.
Right now, we’re closely watching the long term weather forecast and following a couple of weather systems that may affect the departure date … safety first!