Thursday, July 30, 2015

Geography Lessons

I have found out that, for me , the best way to learn geography is to travel. Before coming to the Virgin Islands I really did not have a good sense of where they lie, or where other islands lie in conjunction to them. I learned that the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands (the BVI not the BVIs, that is considered redundant, like an ATM machine) are so close that you can sail back and forth between them easily. Sailing is line of sight and you are never out if sight of land. Someone once described cruising in the BVI is like cruising on training wheels. That suits me fine!

One of our objectives this summer was to sail from the USVI to Puerto Rico. It was not until I looked at a map that I realized how close together they are. I had a little trepidation in planning this leg of our trip, thinking that this would be the first time that we had had Rhapsody out of sight of land. We sailed across the north shore of USVI, and as we headed out, there was Culebra, the closest of the Puerto Rican Islands to USVI. We would not be out of sight of land after all!
Geography lesson: Puerto Rico and USVI are within eyesight of each other.
I like learning geography this way.

We are now in Culebra. Back in the US which is good for phone calling and texting. No roaming or foreign charges!

Monday, July 27, 2015

MOB practice

MOB or Man overboard is something that you really don't want to experience while at sea (or really anytime) so they teach you in sailing school how to deal with it. While practicing it is ideal to have 3 people, each with specific roles . One person steers the boat, one person watches the MOB at ALL TIMES, and continues to point at them to guide the captain, and the third person (and others if avaliable ) assist the MOB aboard when they are rescued.

When you only have 2 people on board, and one of them is the MOB, then you have a very difficult situation.

Yesterday we had an unintentional MOB drill when my hat went flying off my head. It was floating nicely,so we decided to attempt to rescue it. I played the role of the pointer while Bob drove the boat in figure 8's around the hat, trying to position the boat close enough that I could reach it with the boat hook. (You remember our boat hook?)

After several close attempts I decided to get in the dinghy (Melody) which we tow behind Rhapsody. 
We pulled Melody in closer and Bob slowed down.This allowed me to be closer to the water and a better chance to grab the hat as it floated by. Even this took several attempts,each time having to reposition Rhapsody for another run at the hat. In the end we were successful,  and the hat was no worse for the wear, but it really drove home the point of how difficult it is to rescue a MOB, and we had two people to carry out the procedure. It would have been easier if we were rescuing a conscious swimmer who could assist in their own rescue (the hat was not very cooperative ), but if there was only one person on board and the person in the water was not able to assist...

This is why we have a very strict rule aboard Rhapsody.  Under no circumstances are either of us allowed to be a MOB!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Baby steps

Yesterday we motored out of the Yacht Harbor and down the Sir Francis Drake Channel to Peter Island. We didn't sail because the lines to the mainsail were sticking, and we had not yet put the jib on the forestay because there was too much wind at the harbor. So motor it was.

We have decided to take baby steps in everything we do with the boat. Because of this we chose to take a mooring ball the first night as opposed to attempting anchoring. We are confident in our ability to pick up a mooring ball and be safely secured for the night, less so with anchoring. We have anchored fewer nights than we have picked up mooring balls, so sticking with the baby steps theme, we opted for the easier way for us.

The way you pick up a mooring ball is to motor the boat very close to the ball, grab the line extending from the ball and loop a line from the boat through the loop on the ball.

The problem we had... About 1/2 way to Peter Island we realized that we had not seen our boat hook, essential to picking up the mooring ball. We searched in all the nooks and crannies to no avail. Wracking our brains we tried to think of alternatives. We finally came up with a solution. We have a paddle for the dinghy and we wrapped a pair of pliers, in the open position to fashion a crude boat hook.

It looked funny, but it worked. Safely moored in Great Harbor, Peter Island, British Virgin Islands. Ready for the next baby steps.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rhapsody is on the blue

Actually she is on the murky green of the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor,  but she is in the water.

 We have had several days trying rather unsuccessfully to avoid Mr. Murphy. Starting with our house batteries, they were working when we got to the boat, and we were so pleased because the wind generator and the solar panels had kept them charged. We left our refrigerator on overnight, came back to Rhapsody in the morning and there was no power. We spent 24 hours on Sunday afraid  that we might have to of replace all the batteries. $$$ :(. However, on Monday we got an electrician to trace the problem, and it was just a fuse. We were quite relieved and watched very carefully as the electrician traced the problem and at least next time we will have a better idea how to begin searching for a solution ourselves and we will have a spare fuse.

We had an appointment to have the boat launched at 10:30 AM. In December when Bob was having Rhapsody hauled,  the same boatyard also gave him a 10:30 timeslot, and he was not hauled out until 2:30, thus we figured we had some time in the morning to prepare. We were at Rhapsody at 7AM. At 7:20 the yard men asked if we were ready to launch! Not wanting to wait any longer we agreed. It was fascinating watching the big crane apparatus drive over Rhapsody, have her strapped in, driven to the water and lowered in.
A day spent readying Rhapsody, motoring to the dock, pumping up Melody,  our dinghy,  and getting her in the water, washing off all of the Saharan dust that blows across the ocean and lands in the Virgin Islands, and on Rhapsody, and generally preparing to go sailing.

Pictures may be limited in the future. It took over an hour to upload that picture!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Trains planes and automobiles, and ferries

4 days after leaving home we finally arrive at Rhapsody. Florence to Portland to Dallas (and to Miami for Bob) to Puerto Rico,

to US Virgin Islands, to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, and finally to Virgin Gorda where she is sitting on the hard in Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor
We have to wait until Monday morning before she can be launched.  We did get to see her,  although we will not be staying on her until Sunday night. We had a lot of worries having left her for almost 7 months, boats do not like to be out of the water, however, she looks really good so far. Bob and I both felt very strongly that we were returning to OUR boat, not a boat that we were chartering, not someone else's boat, OUR boat. And we both smiled.
Yes, we know, the bottom is not so pretty, but that will be dealt with at a later date.