Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ft Shirley and Loss of a great Schooner


Fort Shirley was a nice hike and the people friendly. I took this picture of these little girls playing while there on a school outing they were all running around with Flamboyant tree seed pods like swords since they are over a foot long. Their mother asks if I could send her a copy as she had no pictures of her girls.  No one there had an email address I could send it to so I have an actual mailing address to send her a few copies to, she thanked me profusely. Today I bought grapefruits from Christian in his old metal boat which he rows around all day from boat to boat drinking his box of wine. Not a bad deal, product for free, old boat, drunk all day……hmmm. Anyhow these grapefruits are so good, so sweet you just eat them no sugar needed, I have to stop or I’ll get sick.  

On another note I was saddened to hear of Raindancer’s name sake hitting a reef off of Phare Bleu on the South end of Grenada, as you can see in the chart picture there are a lot of reefs in this area.  You can see Clarks Court Bay is only a few miles from there which is where we were staying in Grenada. For those of you who don’t know I had sailed in the Caribbean 1500 with Ron and Joanne Lipscombe the former owners of a big wooden schooner named Raindancer in 2002 and again in the BVI. She was hit by hurricane Ivan in Grenada in 2005 and severely damaged.   I had just purchased the Mason 43, and Ron and Joanne were devastated and sold her pretty much as a salvage. Not knowing if she would ever sail again I ask them if I could name the Mason after her to honor her.  But the new owner undertook a reconstruction of her which took years and hundreds of thousands of dollars and brought her back to her former glory.  It’s such a sad end to come back yet again just miles from where Ivan did his best only to be lost on the reef last week.  Here is a link to an article about the sinking, 

Now Raindancer has to live up to her legacy for sure and sail the seas with a her great name with pride.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Hanging out

I spent the day cleaning and consolidating all kinds of things on board. I started at the pointy end known as the bow and started working my back. I didn’t know I have 14 fuel filters an 5 oil filters and so it went all over the boat. I even found 7 brand new Yanmar belts, I guess every time I was out I was afraid I might need one.  I threw out 4 bags of trash when I was half way done to amidships, the work continues today. I started the generator only to smell a strange hot odor. After checking the temp it was at 220F, not good, so I shut it down to investigate.  I saw some antifreeze was all around the front end and decided to start with the thermostat.  Of course it’s like everything on a boat you soak it in PB blaster and wait.  After disassembly I could see where it was leaking from the bottom part of the casting where the gasket failed.  Having just organized all the parts I knew just where to find a new thermostat. The problem was the new one was bigger around and had a lip on it.  After using my Dremel Tool and a cut off wheel for an hour I was able to modify it to fit perfectly. The Dremel is the number one most used tool on board and I have two with tons of accessories.  Not having any gaskets is no problem as I have all kinds of gasket material in bulk and made two new gaskets with a box knife, this means I never have to wait on the exact gasket to fix things. I put things all back together and fired it up, she came up to 165F and just stayed there, so problem solved. Well not completely, after 30 minutes or so it was again leaking slightly and I could see it was coming from the weep hole on the water pump.  Possibly the overheating and pressure caused the seal to give it up, not sure.  At least it only uses about a pint for a one hour run which I can live with till I get a replacement.  I have spare Alternators, Starters, Impellors, and Sensors, you name I may have it but I got cheap on the water pump and didn’t stock one, you can’t have too many spares. Today after a little more boat work I am hiking up to the old fort here in St Ruperts Bay, they have restored it into a museum and should be a great trip and good exercise.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Everyone calls it Portsmouth but technically it is Prince Rupert Bay.
As I motored up the west coast I was visited by a pod of bottle nose dolphins, of course as fate would have it as I grabbed my I phone to take pictures the memory was full so I spent a few minutes deleting a things, meanwhile the dolphins are jumping and playing in my bow wave.  If you look real hard you can see a dolphin just off the bow as that was the only parting shot I was able to get. Gerome my new boat boy is from Cobra services and is also a tour guide and like most grew up here.  I took a tour with him up the Indian River.  The river is a protected marine park and only allows rowing no motors.  Pirates of the Caribbean one and two had parts of them filmed here.  All kinds of birds, fish, crabs and other wild life depend on the river.  The picture of the strange trees is of a species called the blood tree in which the sap is red.  It was a wonderful trip along with meeting some new sailors from Germany. I finished off the evening at Blue Bay restaurant and met an old salt named Vern. Vern has been sailing all his life and is now 88 years young and is still out here.  I snapped a sunset that was just incredible and bummed a dingy ride back to the Raindancer as I was too lazy to launch my own.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Raindancer the vessel


Raindancer is a 1985 Mason 43 Ketch.

I have owned and sailed her for eight years. During that time I have worked on her constantly and upgraded all systems, safety, appearance and comfort items.  For those of you who really want to know all the details here is a list of her equipment:

Boat Specifications:
LOA 43’8″
LWL 31’3″
Beam 12’4″
Sail Area (cutter)899 sq. ft.
Ketch 916 sq. ft.
Displacement 23,860 lbs
Ballast 9,400 lbs.


Comfort Systems:
Main Cabin-20,000 BTU Marine Air AC/Heatpump
Aft Cabin-16,000 BTU Marine Air AC
Lavac Vacuum head (2008)
Standup Shower
6 Gallon Seaward hot water heater, electric or heat exchanger from main engine.
Freezer Fridge-Stonecold 12V system (2007)
Trace 2500 Watt inverter charger
LED cabin lighting
6 Trojan golfcart batteries-660 Amp hrs (2012), with de sulfating electronic battery minder
Jenson MP3/CD stereo with cockpit speakers
6 Hella 12V fans
Skymate Satellite communications system with email/weather anywhere
14 Hood stainless opening ports with screens (2009)
3 Opening hatches
Force 10 three burner stove with oven and broiler (2009)
Sharp Microwave
Salt water foot pump in galley
Custom wine glass/spice rack
5 Dorade boxes for ventilation
Sound proofing for engine room
Marine carbon monoxide detector
Marine smoke detector
RayJeff fume alert
Aqua high water alarm
Voltage meter
Jabsco Parmax 3 shower pump
Jabsco belt drive 40 PSI fresh water pump
Magma Propane grill and hose
2 marine propane tanks vented overboard
Custom teak cockpit table

Custom Sunbrella Sun Shades
Sails, Anchors & Equipment:
Maxwell V1000 windless
1 Forty five lb CQR anchor with stainless swivel and 260 ft of 10-28 chain (2012)
1 Forty five lb Bruce anchor with stainless swivel 50 feet of 3/8 chain and 200 feet of rope.
2 Dinghy anchors
1 Asymmetrical Spinnaker with ATN sock
1 Hundred forty percent Genoa, on Harkin furling
1 Staysail, on Harkin furling
1 Mainsail fully battened with Doyle stack pack
1 Mizzen, on Harkin furling
1 Storm Tri sail on separate mast track
10 Lewmar winches up to size 48’s
Life sling MOB system
Custom cockpit cushions by C cushions
Custom spray shields in cockpit
Custom stainless Bimini top with truck tarp awning
Danforth compass
Emergency tiller
Mast steps
1 Eight HP outboard mount
1 Twenty Five HP outboard mount
6 Type I PFD’s
3 PFD Harness self inflating with tethers
Zodiak 6 man life raft (repacked 2013)
ACR 406 MHZ GPS EPRIB (2013)
Stainless cable jack lines on deck
Standard Horizon CP1000 Chartplotter with Cmax Wide chip set for Halifax, East Coast, to Trinidad
Standard Horizon GSX 2150 AIS (interfaced to CP1000) VHF radio (2012) REM in cockpit
Anritsu 24 Mile radar
Robertson Auto pilot
St 50 wind/speed/depth
SSB Icom 700
Backup VHF Icom 302 
2 Fuel 135 gallons total
4 Fresh water 180 gallons total
1 Holding 20 gallons
1 Hot water 6 gallons 
Bilge Pumps: 
1 Rule 3700 with auto switch (2012)
1 Rule 2000 with auto switch (2012)
1 Whale Gulper 220 with electronic auto switch (2012)
1 Manual Whale gusher cockpit mounted 
1 Fifty Six HP Yanmar 4JH3E 1410 hrs (1999)
18 Inch Max feathering three blade prop
PSS drip less stuffing box (2012)
Engine room blower Vetus (2009)
Racor 500 filter
Built in oil change pump and manifold
Filterboss 60 gallon per hr fuel cleaning/transfer system
Halon fire suppression in engine room 
1 Westerbeke Model 21 7.7 KW generator
Racor filter 
1 Achilles 8.8 rollup hypalon with wood floor (2013)
1 Mercury 3.3 outboard (2012)
1 Carib RIB 11 ft (2007)
1 Johnson 15 outboard (2007)

Click any image to see large view



Monday, March 4, 2013

Sailing on

This morning is go time to move to Portsmouth.  I have totally enjoyed Roseau, it's people and all the sights.  I wanted to hike to the boiling lake but eight miles in and eight miles out just seemed like a lot for me to do and sail the next day. I will update after getting settled. Some of you may wonder how I am accessing the Internet out here. I have a USB WIFI antenna booster which I put up in the  rigging and I also subscribed to a harbor wide service that covers many islands, so as I sail I keep the same service. It's all pretty cool when it works.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Victoria Falls Dominica

Wow, is all I can say about this trip, this country and all its beauty.  The people here are so very friendly, hard working and I can truly say I feel I have new Dominican friends.  Poncho my boat boy (he’s really not a boy) arranged for me to go to Victoria Falls with some other cruisers here in the harbor.  He picked me up at the boat and we collected the other participants, Iain and his wife Ruth from Scotland but have be living in Turkey for five years, then Renee and his wife Jeanette from Switzerland.  We met up with our tour guide Miguel and driver Silencer.  We then drove across the island up very steep roads and as we ascended the jungle became denser. The interesting thing here is the drop offs on the side of the roads in some cases is thousands of feet.  The government planted bamboo all along the sides which grow to 40 feet and higher so that if you run off the road you just spring back on the bamboo, pretty cool and way more attractive than metal railing. Miguel stopped all along the way to point out different plants and trees.  Bay leaf trees are abundant and the crushed leaves smell wonderful, they have a factory which presses bay leaf oil. Along the way we did have a blown tire in which Silencer and Miguel had changed in two minutes flat, I think this happens all the time.  We saw trees I have never seen like fern trees and flamboyant trees with their bright red canopy blooms.  Banana trees heavy with fruit everywhere, coco trees(chocolate) , coconut and ground ferns abound. One of the most beautiful I thought were the ginger lilies (see Pic), papayas, and bread fruit along with orange trees with fruit as big as softballs.  They also grow coffee and have a processing plant here within walking distance to me, I will check it out and buy some if I can.  After a considerable ride we came to a dirt road to Victoria Falls. These falls are one of the largest on the island. Moses a famous Rasta owns much of the land here and lives off the land. Moses has a simple wood and bamboo house and cooks and eats from wooden bowls and cups and has a Rastarant that he serves Rasta veggie soup on occasion. He’s all about living from nature, renewable resources and causing no harm to the land. We met Moses briefly then Miguel guided us to the river and our hike to the falls.  We had to climb rocks and wade through the river crossing from side to side about a dozen times, waste deep on some crossings hanging on to roots and rocks. It was for sure not a trip for cruise shippers or the out of shape. After arriving at the falls it was an incredible site, the wind and mist blowing in your face felt nice an cool. The water has a milky color due to so much sulfur and iron coming out of the boiling lake mixing with the river; nothing lives in the river due to this.   Miguel grew up here and has only been to Martinique in his entire life, he said he would like to visit the US but smokes to much gaunga daily to do that.  Miguel has two children and works hard to provide for them.  After hiking back down we visited with Moses for a while and he gave me his Rasta birthday blessing, he is a wise man (see pic).  We then drove to Trafalgar the highest city in Dominica for lunch at a cafĂ© on stilts over another river ravine. I had fish with salad, bread fruit, rice, plantains and sweet potato and it was to die for good.  Of course I washed this down with three or four Kubulis just to rehydrate.  Miguel and Silencer then took us to his father’s place called Wotten Waven where he has hot mud pools, cool springs baths and hot baths.  They also have a small zoo with tortoises, peacocks, rabbits, possums and such.  Miguel explained he bathes there every day and how he catches freshwater shrimps from his stream for dinner. They use large bamboo pipes to duct the cool spring water or the hot volcano vent water to various tubs and ponds. He showed us a plant that grows everywhere here they make tea from called “man make man” the leaves are green but the tea turns red.  It’s a natural Viagra and Renee told him he would like to buy a kilo now please……ha.  I went into the hot pool and wow it felt so good as the water is full of sulfur and iron, Miguel said it will make me ten years younger! I didn’t want leave but by now it was 4 o’clock and the trip was ending, so they brought us back to the dock and I was tired and my feet hurt but could not of had a better birthday!  


55 looking back

I guess I have always done my own thing so to speak my whole life.  When I was about eight I was obsessed with flying and being eight I made cardboard wings and strapped them on.  I’m not sure where mom was, but then again I pretty much was outside playing every second of everyday.  My friends said it’s not a good idea to jump off the house with cardboard wings! Did I listen, nope, but I did make a big pile of leaves just in case things went bad.  I learned that day cardboard wings won’t make you fly and limped away with nothing broken, but I did it my way.  I have always been an entrepreneur at an early age, selling True Grit, a national news paper door to door, tadpole sales, candle making, house painting, addresses on curbs, sign making and the list goes on and on, some made a profit and some didn’t.  After going to two years of electronics training I went to work for big corporate. I got a real dose of reality during those times, I will never forget working so hard trying to please the company and wanting to advance.  I took their psychology test for management and was disappointed to hear, you will never make it in management and you just need to be happy carrying a tool box the rest of your life. I left that company and went to work for a small business in which I seem to fit better until they sold out to big corporate and they were getting ready to give me the boot because I didn’t fit their mold. That’s when I looked for another way by starting my own business despite the fact I had no supporters except my partner Kent, even my wife was completely against me. I put everything I had on the line and worked hard as failure was not an option. I must have done something right cause in just ten years I had 22 employees working for me and over four million in annual sales. When I sold that company and called my employees in one at a time most shed tears as did I. In spite of big corporate telling me I couldn’t be a manager I guess I did something right.  The famous Zig Zigler told a story in one of his books I have always remembered about the fleas. He said if you put fleas in a jar and put a book over it the fleas will jump up and hit the book for a day, but if you remove the book after a day they will still just jump as high as the top of the jar not realizing they have the ability jump out because they have been trained that’s as high as they can go. He ask the question are you a trained flea? I will never forget this simple illustration.  We all get complacent like a trained flea and start believing we can’t go any higher. I guess all this rambling leads to me making a point. I f you wait for someone, anyone to validate what you are doing or waiting on them to go with you, Stop! Have the courage to move ahead by yourself and forget the naysayers and follow your heart, your desires, and your dreams. Very few people get it and never experience what they truly want out of life. Life is a gift everyday and I have been blessed with 55 X 365 of them.  I have so many things to be thankful for, my children, grandchildren, brother, father, my partner Miss Dee and her family along with countless good friends, many whom have shared good times onboard Raindancer.  People have told me single handing a 43 foot sailboat around the Caribbean is crazy to, but it’s my dream and I’m doing it my way!  I think I’ll go have a coldy and sit on the deck and gaze at this beautiful island paradise and celebrate the next 55 X 365, it’s going to be a blast!