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Old 03-13-2014, 10:37 PM   #201
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail




Turtles!!! Green sea turtles to be exact.

It's tough to get a sense of scale from the photo, but these guys were enormous. Like 4-5ft long. The were a half dozen or so of them just bobbing along in the surf eating the vegetation growing on the rocks. I found them much more interesting than Queen's Bath itself.


Oh yeah, Queen's Bath. Here's another couple shots of it:









But really, who wants to look at that when there are TURTLES!





There are at least 3 turtles in that last photo. Besides the one giving you the beady eye, there are two more just down and to the left of him, both submerged. You can see their shells if you look for the color contrast against the rocks.

I got a kick out of watching these guys do their thing and hung out for an hour or so on the cliffs taking photos and enjoying their presence. Turtle watching, who knew?
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Old 03-16-2014, 12:21 AM   #202
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

I posted a real time trip report in the monthly LC thread during the Kauai Rice Festival aka Spamboree, so I'm not going to go into too much detail on that, but here was the schedule of events:





and here was an action shot of the contestants doing their thing in front of the crowd:





and finally, one of the samples handed out for voting purposes:




Check out the Sept 2013 LC thread if interested in the real time trip report.


Because Kauai is so small and has so few roads, there are a lot of one way bridges where you have to slow down and wait for oncoming traffic to stop. They have little signs up at some of them saying something like "local custom is 5-7 cars at a time" in order to encourage people to alternate and keep traffic moving in both directions. People were good about this for the most part. Here's a double one way bridge on the way to the northwest corner of the island:





One of the spots I was not overly impressed by was the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. I love wildlife refuges, and will go to pretty much any of them if I am near one. This one was focuses on birds. Lucky me, I had brought my National Parks pass with me for some reason, so I got in for free.





There are a bunch of birds, a lighthouse, and a huge cliff that some of the birds live on. There are a also a bunch of birds that live in little burrows in the ground:





This was a pretty sad sign:





I like how they made that sign with the display box. It shows the effect of leaving trash in a way that will hopefully be more meaningful to people than a simple warning not to litter.
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Old 03-16-2014, 01:07 AM   #203
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

After about 5-6 weeks in Kauai, I got an email from the guy that I sailed with from Miami to the Dominican Republic. He was getting ready to sail down to Venezuela and wanted to know if I was interested. This put a departure date on my Kauai stay, so I finally got off my read end and made plans to do what I'd been wanting to do for a while - hike the Kalalau Trail. The trail runs along the Na Pali Coast and the views are beautiful.

The trail is also serious business. I tend to think of most hikes as just walks, and lol at people calling things hikes when really they are just walks. The Kalalau Trail is not just a walk, it is a hike. It's 22 miles round trip, and most people spend the night at the end of the trail to break it into two 11 mile hikes.

I was running very low on time because I had already bought my plane ticket and only had a few days left, then the park service closed the trail due to severe flooding. This was pretty heart-wrenching, and I was kicking myself for not getting off my ass earlier. I managed to luck out in that they re-opened the trail the day before I was scheduled to fly out.

Because I was in terrible shape, I knew there was no way I was going to do 22 miles in a single day, and I also wanted to do this thing where you fly in a little experimental plane over the island on my actual last day. I decided I'd hike as far as the Hanakapi'ai Falls, about 4 miles in, or 8 miles total.






This is a very challenging trail, and while I normally discount warning signs, having now hiked the trail, I have to say that these signs are all accurate and the hike can be dangerous:





Here's a look at the start of the trail:





Not too bad, right? It got much worse later on. I don't have photos of the really bad parts because I was using both hands and all of my balance to stay upright. At some points in the trail, streams or creeks merge with the trail for short distances or cross it. I was glad I was wearing my sailing shoes. It also didn't help that since the trail had just reopened from flooding that much of the trail was simply mud. This part was dry, as were the parts that had exposure to direct sunlight, but there was a lot of walking through 8 inches of mud.

Here's a dry section on the high ground:





and here's another dry section on the highest ground that gives a good view of the Na Pali Coast:





At about the 2 mile mark in, you get to Hanakapi'ai beach. You cross a stream to do so:






Once you are at the beach, you can either continue on the main trail toward Hanakoa, or you can be a dumbass like me and take the unmaintained "trail" to Hanakapi'ai Falls. I suppose I shouldn't say unmaintained, as they do have little fluorescent pink ribbons tied to trees ever so often to give you an idea of where to go.

Not too far off the beach is this sweet little helicopter landing pad for emergencies:






The trail leg to the Falls was pretty crazy. I've never been on a trail where I lost the trail, but there's always a first time, and this was mine. Lucky for me, I was near the stream/river that is fed by the Falls, so it was pretty easy to find the trail again once I lost it, because I knew it would be somewhere near the water.

It was two miles of trudging through mud, stream, and rocks in the jungle, but eventually I made it to the Falls:





They are about 300ft tall, and impressive:





I was getting pretty tired at this point, as the terrain was far rougher than I had expected. Even better, the light was starting to fade and I had 4 miles to go for the return hike. I knew I didn't want to be doing it in the dark more than absolutely necessary so I started double timing it back down the trail. I definitely didn't want to be in the jungley part (the last two miles) in the dark due to the condition of the terrain. Of course, the inevitable happened due to rushing, and I took a tumble. Landed on a nice big rock right as it started getting dark and hit my thigh pretty hard. I was cursing myself for not arriving earlier and allow more daylight. There was pretty much no one else left on the trail at this point, since I was the only one stupid enough to be there at dark.

I was feeling pretty stupid and somewhat sorry for myself at that point. It was now almost dark, I had just over two miles to go, and my thigh was hurting from the fall. My calves and the backs of my thighs were also on fire due to not doing any kind of training and not being used to walking this much over this kind of terrain.

I made it back down to the beach, back over the stream, then most of the way up a one mile incline before my legs gave out. I just literally could not walk any further. I was past feeling sorry for myself at this point and just laughing at how dumb I was. It was now fully dark, but at least I was back on the maintained portion of the trail. I had also been smart enough to at least bring a little head lamp, and I had a small flashlight as well.

I figured I just needed to take a rest, so I sat down on a rock and was immediately overrun by ants crawling all over me. That was the salt in the wound, let me tell you. I tried to find different rocks, but every time I sat down, there would be dozens of ant on me pretty much instantly. I didn't want to get eaten by ants but I also couldn't really move, so I ended up just standing there.

When I figured I was rested enough, I started walking again, and made it all of about 20 feet before I had to stop again because my legs just literally would not move. At this point I was trying to figure out if I'd be spending the night on the trail, which seemed super lol considering I only had like 1.5 miles left to go, and most of that was going to be downhill.

Staying on the trail seemed like a bad idea, so I kept on moving. My progress was basically trudging 15-20 feet, then resting for 5 minutes. Rinse, repeat. I looked for walking sticks but couldn't find any, and silently chastised myself for smirking at the people I had seen earlier using them. I would have paid like $1000 for a walking stick at that point.

Eventually I made it to the highest point and started downhill. I had thought this would be much easier, but actually it was tougher. If I fell going uphill, no big deal. Just dust off and pick myself back up. If I feel going downhill, that would be bad. Much greater chance of sustaining an injury due to an uncontrolled tumble over rocks along the side of a cliff.

I did finally make it back down to the trailhead, mostly intact. I was really happy to just sit down in the car and sit there for 20 minutes. It took me about twice as long on the return trip as it had to get to the Falls.

I've forgotten a bunch of hikes I've taken in the past but I doubt I'll ever forget that one.

If you are in good shape, I highly recommend it.
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Old 03-17-2014, 01:57 AM   #204
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

The Kalalau Trail was the day before I was scheduled to fly out. I could barely walk the next day, and I had scheduled a flight in an experimental ultralight aircraft to see the island. There was no way in hell I was going to miss that flight, so I trudged my way to the car and headed to the tiny airstrip on the south side of the island near Hanapepe.

There are a couple of companies that operate ultralight trikes on Kauai and the other islands. I went with Birds In Paradise and I was happy with them.

The FAA does not allow pleasure flights in these ultralights as they are classified as experimental aircraft, so you instead sign up for a lesson on how to fly them, which is allowed. And they do let you fly them after you've been airborne a bit, it's super sweet when they hand over the controls.

I'm going to spam you now. I have 140 photos from this, but I managed to narrow it down. They mount a little go-pro on the wing that takes a photo every 30 seconds. The default camera position is pointed at the aircraft, but I was looking at the photos they have on their website and Youtube vids and this positioning seemed terrible to me, with the photos looking like this:





I didn't want photos of the craft with the scenery in the background. I wanted photos of what we were flying through. I asked if we could change the camera angle to point more forward and they were cool with it, so the trike is only partially shown and the focus of each photo is on what we flew over. Much better imo.

Here we are heading down the runway:





and taking off:





(that red/black triangle alternating thing behind the pilot is my left leg, to give you an idea of the seat positioning)


looping around to head north:





heading over the mountains in the middle of the island:





approaching the north end of the island:





and curving over to the northwest part of the island:





heading back inland from being out over the ocean to the northwest, went over some huge waterfalls:





heading south down the Na Pali Coast:





It was an incredible experience, and well worth the money. If you have a fear of flying, probably not a good idea for you as the cockpit is completely open. You're just sitting in a little frame, kind of like a flying dune buggy. If you drop something over the side, it's gone. It's an exhilarating feeling having the wind hit your face as you fly over the jungle, mountains, waterfalls, ocean, and beaches. I highly recommend this.


Right after the flight, I headed directly to the main airport, turned the car in, and went through three different agriculture inspection stations:





Had a pretty nice sunset on the way out:






Landed back in D.C., visited friends and family for a bit, then flew down to the Dominican Republic for the sail over to Puerto Rico and St Thomas. Not sure how much of that I should post as I already posted a bunch of it here earlier.
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Old 03-18-2014, 04:09 AM   #205
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Mahalo
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Old 03-18-2014, 01:38 PM   #206
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

That's ****ing sweet.
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Old 03-18-2014, 02:27 PM   #207
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

NhlNut - Mahalo, bud.

jjshabado - Can't recommend it highly enough. We covered probably 80% of the island in 90 minutes of flying. Flew over everything except the east/northeast sections. When we were out over the coast/ocean on the northwest side, there was a pod of about a dozen dolphins swimming around in the ocean that we flew over. It was sweet! Also saw a bunch of sea turtles swimming around over the east side. It was like riding a motorcycle in the sky.
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:31 PM   #208
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

OK so when we last left our hero, he was flying out of Kauai to meet up with the guy he had sailed Miami -> Dominican Republic with, for part two of that trip, taking the boat from Dominican Republic -> Venezuela.

I spent most of October hanging out in D.C. visiting friends and family, and flew down to the D.R. at the end of October. Met up with the owner and started hanging out on the boat in Bayahibe, which is on the southeast coast.

It was pretty sweet there:






and we basically just hung out in Bayahibe living on the boat and spearfishing for like 3 weeks before finally heading over to Puerto Rico. I put details of the transit and photos and stuff in earlier posts (#130 onward) so I won't repeat all that here. I will add a few more photos, though:














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Old 04-16-2014, 02:41 PM   #209
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Eventually we made it over to Boqueron, on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. It was weird to walk on land again, even if it was just this dock:





Sunsets in Boqueron were pretty sweet:








We took a cab up to Mayaguez, cleared customs, then headed east along the south coast.

We eventually sailed over to the Caja de Muertos island:




Where we pulled into the protected bay, complete with moorings:




It's a protected park, but there was absolutely no one there. I think they only run ferries over on the weekend, and we were there on like a Tuesday or something.

There is a pretty famous lighthouse (little white dot on top of the hill in the previous photo) there that we climbed up in. Here's a photo from the top, looking northeast. What you see in the distance is the southern coast of Puerto Rico:





Here is the boat anchored all by its lonely self in the bay:





which was right about here:





We didn't feel like going through the effort of unhooking the dinghy and raising/lowering it into the water, so we just swam to shore when we wanted to go to shore. We stayed for a few days until our drinking water:




ran out. Yeah, it's that jug in the sink with the pump on top of it. That area behind the dishwashing liquid was my bunk. That white/grey striped thing is my pillow. That little black fan was a lifesaver. Used very little electricity, and kept the mosquitoes off me while I slept. The shiny brass thing above the pillow attached to the wall measures the angle that the boat is currently tilting at. The arrow kept clanging against the frame, which is why I put a little piece of paper in there to tell it to stfu. Sweet digs, eh?
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:58 PM   #210
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

So after our water ran out, and more importantly, this:



ran out, we decided to head to Salinas for more water and provisions. That juice is absolutely bonkers. If you ever find it, immediately buy the entire stock and if you don't gulp it all down yourself, send your old pal chopstick a box or two.

We un-moored the boat and headed north. When I say un-moored, that means we untied the boat from a floating ball that is itself tied to a cement block buried in the ground. Here's a photo of the ball, with the boat still tied to it:




What you do is motor up to the ball, reach down and grab a loose piece of rope that is attached to the ball, and then tie your boat up to the rope with your own rope. Because the ball is attached via another rope to the cement block buried in the ground, your boat pretty much just floats next to the ball until you untie it when you are ready to sail away.


We got to Salinas and I saw something I had never seen before:





jamon serrano flavor!!


We stayed in Salinas just long enough to provision, then it was eastward again:





we rounded the southeast corner of the island, then started sailing north up the east side. The usual stuff:





Some dolphins showed up to say hello at one point near Monkey Island. Monkey Island is exactly what you think it is. An island full of monkeys. They run out to the shore and jump up and down screeching at you if you get too close. You aren't allowed to land on the island because the monkeys are there due to having escaped a testing facility that was on the island at some point, so they are all infected with who knows what. I took some photos but none came out well. Just imagine a bunch of monkeys jumping up and down and screeching at the top of their lungs at you. We stayed out of poo-flinging range.

Here are three of the dolphins chilling at the bow:




Eventually we made our way up to Fajardo, on the northeast coast. We went ashore and met up with some of my friends from San Juan a few times. One afternoon, they took me to Guavate for a pig roast. Guavate is up in the mountains and there are a bunch of little restaurants called lechoneras where they sell lechon. Lechon is pig that has been roasting on a spit all day:








You are probably wondering to yourself "can that possibly taste as good as it looks?" and the answer is "even better than that".


Here's a photo that captures a lot of what sailing means to me. This is at sunset off the coast of Puerto Rico one evening. I'm just out up on deck, doing my thing:




Moments like that, along with moments when you are well offshore with no land in sight and it's the middle of the night and you look up to see more stars than you could ever hope to count are what make this experience what it is. It's hard to explain or describe.
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Old 04-17-2014, 01:12 AM   #211
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

good stuff. Those views are amazing.
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Old 04-17-2014, 01:20 AM   #212
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Originally Posted by GoingBroke777 View Post
good stuff. Those views are amazing.
yep.

mostly subbing, but awesome thread so far..
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Old 04-17-2014, 01:45 AM   #213
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

As a long time resident of Kauai, I am glad that you had a good time here. I just wanted to give a little info about the ultralight ride you went on. The owner of the company you referenced recently had a fatal crash. This was the third fatal crash here involving one of these in the last three years.

So while they are exciting and offer beautiful views, I think people should be aware of the significant risk if they were to consider going on one.
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Old 04-17-2014, 11:43 AM   #214
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Hey guys, glad you are enjoying the thread. Let me know if you think the commentary to photo ratio should be different. I figure people would rather see photos than read me yammering on and on about how sweet stuff is, so I've been leaning toward being heavy on photos and light on commentary.


acromaniac,

I'm putting on my resume that I made a thread that brought a 10 year lurker out of hiding.

Also, thanks for mentioning this. I had no idea, that is really sad news. I read this article and this article. Looks like it was just a routine tourist flight that they were on. Gerry had been flying hang gliders since 1978 and started the company in 1993. He had 17k+ hours flying ultralights and the company had taken up 23k+ people for flights. Good reminder that there is significant risk with something like this, and you sign those liability waiver forms for a reason.



In other news, I have another sailing passage scheduled. This time, I'll be crossing an actual ocean. I'll be crewing on a 60 foot catamaran that is participating in the ARC Europe rally, which is from either Portsmouth or the BVI to Bermuda, then all vessels go from Bermuda to the Azores, then on to Portugal after that. We leave Annapolis next Sunday for Portsmouth, then on to Bermuda in early May. Should arrive in Portugal sometime in early/mid June.

No clue what I'm doing once I reach Portugal. Maybe stay on the boat a while and cruise the Med. Maybe do some backpacking in Europe. I'm not applying for a long-stay Schengen visa, so I'll be limited to 90 days in the EU.



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Old 04-17-2014, 12:13 PM   #215
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Chop, is it just you and the owner on the boat?
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Old 04-17-2014, 12:48 PM   #216
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Three of us so far. The owners are a retired couple.

The original plan was to find a 4th crew member, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. We will have 4 for the Annapolis -> Portsmouth leg, and may have 4 for the Portsmouth -> Bermuda leg. Looks like just the three of us for Bermuda onward.

If we weren't going as part of a rally, or if we were in a smaller vessel, I'd be a lot more uneasy about not having a 4th crew member. With a bunch of other vessels within close SSB and maybe even VHF range, and with the size of the cat, I'm OK going with three people. This is a very nice cat, and will be luxurious sailing compared to my previous experiences.
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Old 04-17-2014, 01:24 PM   #217
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I think the commentary to pic ratio is fine. It's nice to read what you went through, especially the details like the hike where your legs gave out. Feels like I was there.
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Old 04-17-2014, 01:29 PM   #218
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

I always thought it would be awkward to be with one person you didn't know that well out in the middle of the Ocean. 3 people seems better and 4 people seems perfect - although I guess this might depend on how much room you actually have.

Going as part of a rally would also make me feel way better.
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Old 04-17-2014, 03:41 PM   #219
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

The Clipper world yacht racers are in San Fran.

http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/

It sounds like almost anyone can sign on to be crew as long as you got 68 grand.
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Old 04-17-2014, 04:45 PM   #220
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Enjoying your thread,

I am not just a ten year lurker. I estimate I have probably spent 3000 hours reading 2+2 in those 10 years.

Did you fly with Gerry? I met him a few times, seemed like a nice guy.
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Old 04-17-2014, 09:57 PM   #221
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

GoingBroke777,

Thanks for the feedback, good to hear the balance is OK.


jjshabado,

When you are out in the ocean on a small boat, you get to know each other pretty quickly. From what I've read, 3 is probably the worst number from a group dynamic perspective. Even worse when 2 of the 3 are a couple. I've read or received a fair bit of advice that advised against being the 3rd person on a 3 person vessel when the other two are a couple, due to the way the group dynamics work out. That's another part of the reason I wanted a 4th person on board. We'll see what happens. I get along with pretty much anyone and everyone, so I'm not too concerned. I've sailed with totals of 2, 4, and 5 people so far. Time to give 3 a shot.


pig4bill,

Yeah, not so interested in an actual race. Even this rally, while technically a race, is more just a group cruising across the Atlantic than anything else. I like going nice and slow and enjoying the experience.


acromaniac,

I flew with a different guy. I forget his name but he works at the Kauai Costco as his day job. By "lurker", I just meant someone who hadn't made any posts yet. Glad you are enjoying the thread.
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Old 04-17-2014, 10:21 PM   #222
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

I understood what a lurker was. I was trying to say that I have been a hard core reader / lurker for that time without ever making a post. Didn't communicate very well there.

I can help with the hydrant too (firefighter here). They are called wet barrel hydrants and are used in areas where there is no chance of freezing. There are valves in the "barrel" part of the hydrant and each discharge can be controlled individually. The type that you are probably familiar with have the valve control on the top of the barrel. The actual valve is underground below the freezing level. Disadvantage is that after you open the valve you cannot open the second or third discharge port.
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Old 04-17-2014, 10:30 PM   #223
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

After hanging out in Fajardo for a week, we were ready to say goodbye to Puerto Rico and head over to St Thomas. We fueled up:





cleared customs:





and headed out for a (relatively) short sail over to St Thomas, a little over 40 miles due east of Fajardo. Standard sunset:





was standard.

We arrived in St Thomas in the evening:





and set anchor in Brewer's Bay, on the west side of the island:





Brewer's is spitting distance from the airport. That little jut of land is where the runway is located.

After spending the night in Brewer's, we motored over to the other side of the island (scraping the hull in the process due to not paying enough attention to the charts) and dropped anchor in Secret Harbour, which is on the southeast coast. It's a nice protected anchorage:





and is a great place to do some snorkeling, which we did. It's a protected area, so there are tons of fish there, and lots of good coral. It's a pretty popular resort for people visiting the island, and also has a restaurant with a killer sunset view.

The owner decided to haul the boat in order to take a look at some damage, so we went around the corner to an area called the lagoon, and pulled the boat up to this lift:





The way this works is that the life drives out over a small docking area, and lowers some straps into the water. The boat gets motored over the straps, then the lift raises the straps, and you get this:





Then the lift drives you over to an open space, and they put the boat up on stilts:






The damage to the prop shaft log was pretty bad:





The damaged area is the jagged cracked blue area where the prop shaft is entering the boat. It needed some fibreglass repair and to be looked at. The owner also wanted to get the hull checked out and have a coat of paint applied prior to sailing to Venezuela, which was the next stop. We ended up staying in the boatyard for a week, living on the boat as it is on the stilts above. Climbing this ladder every day:





got old pretty quick, as did not having water, and having our electricity constantly unplugged by people who wanted to plug their tools into our circuit to do work on their boat. The mosquitoes were also pretty bad.

Eventually the owner got tired of waiting for the fibreglass guy and decided to just leave without repairing the shaft log. I wasn't too keen on that plan. It was also getting very close to the holidays in December, and I wanted to make sure I was back in D.C. to be with family. To complicate matters further, it was almost impossible to find a flight out of Venezuela due to the currency scam thing that Venezuelans were doing which booked up almost all the flights for months in advance. That meant a flight out of either Aruba or Bonaire, and the destination kept changing each day I asked the owner where we were headed, which made booking a ticket frustrating.

After one last schedule delay due to a girl he had met in the DR deciding to show up for a few days with zero notice, I decided it wasn't worth risking missing the holidays in D.C. and decided to just fly back to D.C. from St Thomas the next day. I told the owner that I'd be happy to come back after the holidays and help him sail it down, preferably with the shaft log and the other safety issues fixed, but that the combination of safety and scheduling issues was just too much at that point. He wasn't happy, but I think he understood my position and didn't argue. I also had a marine surveyor friend come out and look at the shaft log damage earlier that week and he had told me not to sail on the boat until it was fixed, so I don't feel too bad about the decision.

I took off the next day on a flight back to D.C. Here is a sweet photo of some of the Bahamas:





Holidays in D.C. with family and friends were good, as was being back in the land of plenty. Eating fresh fish that you speared earlier that day is awesome, but there's also something nice about walking into a seemingly endless produce section in a major supermarket.

After a few weeks in D.C., it was time to move on to the next adventure:





spending a couple of months living in Las Vegas!
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Old 04-21-2014, 10:37 PM   #224
chopstick
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I'm living on the cat in Annapolis since Friday. We leave on this coming Sunday.

Pretty much nonstop work all week. Attached and bagged the main sail today. Also attached and rigged up the jib and genoa sails. Loosened tensioning on side shrouds as the last riggers over tightened them to the point of being unable to close doors belowdecks.

Did most of the diesel maintenance and prep yesterday.

Tomorrow is testing the spinnaker, cleaning and sorting the lazzerettes, lubing all the blocks, and a bunch of other stuff.

All of this work will be worth it when a half dozen dolphins are dancing between the hulls six feet under me when I'm laying on the nets out in open water.

Right now I'm just exhausted.
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Old 04-27-2014, 03:47 PM   #225
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Lines have been cast off, and we are away. Currently sailing out of the Annapolis, MD area down to Norfolk, VA. Then on to Bermuda, then the Azores, then Portugal.

I will attempt to stay alive and take lots of photos, preferably in that order.
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