Tropical Storm Gonzalo headed this way – – -

It just reached designated TS status, but it looks mean…

Tropical Storm

And, it’s got several hundred miles of water to pull energy from before it arrives.   However, there are warnings it could develop to a hurricane by the time it hits here.

Tropical Storm Gonzalos

Not looking good, so I moved into the mangroves;

IMG_0132

And, later came John and Trudy from Oslo, Norway on their very fine Bavarian 47 ft sloop.

IMG_0136

IMG_0133

IMG_0134

IMG_0135

IMG_0134

Scrapes, scratches, aches and pains – hauling heavy mooring lines into the mangroves, dragging anchors and chain out into the narrow passages.  I’m probably aground, but the tide is not at the high point so when I need to get off I can just wait for the next high tide.  The storm (possibly hurricane) is expected Monday night through Tuesday night.

Entry made from the mangroves – my wifi antenna pulled in the PR service – maybe I can make entry while storm  blows overhead….  That is I hope it blows ‘overhead’ and not into me.

P.S.

The first post was early afternoon yesterday (Sunday) after I came into the mangroves.  It is now 6 pm Monday.

Hurricane Gonzalos

The bad news is the storm has been upgraded to a category 1 hurricane.  The good news is it has tracked north away from us.  The projections are for medium winds 30-40 mph.  If that holds true – and storms in the late part of the hurricane season are known to be very fickled – it will not be difficult, wet and windy, but not dangerous.

IMG_0137 IMG_0138 IMG_0139 IMG_0140

P.P.S. …

No worries… except for Bermudans . . .

Hurricane Gonzalos 2

In just a few hours before it was to hit us with hurricane strength it veered north.  BVI and USVI got hit pretty bad and Bermuda is facing it with category 3 strength.

But, all is back to normal.  Some residual winds 10-20 knots forecasted, but nothing to be concerned about.

Now, I have to gather up all that gear…. ugh.   But, this was a good hurricane preparedness exercise.

Bahia de Almodovar

IMG_0105

Monday, Sept 30th (looked it up)

A good day in Bahia de Almodovar . . . mostly

The weather has been so mild I thought I’d try this somewhat exposed bay a few miles east around Culebra island. The water is clearer. Much better than my anchorage in – the bay doesn’t have a name anyone can find, but a collection of government buildings is called San Ildefonso, so that’s what I’ll call the bay, or cove. Can there be a bay inside a bay? The large bay, almost the size of the whole island, is called Ensenada Honda, which basically means large bay.

Map

There were several moorings available in this bay, Almodovar, so i didn’t have to use my anchor, which needs a good cleaning. That is a good thing.

Rick and Sue are here on there Morgan sloop ‘Orion’. And, another Morgan, belonging to Chris and Aleta – same age group… Chris is French, I believe. He speaks with an accent that isn’t Spanish… I’m so cosmopolitan… can’t even tell an accent. He also was a commercial diver, among other things. Quite an experienced sailor as well.

Didn’t do much Monday. Started diving on Tuesday; snorkel and hookah (compressor). During my dives occasionally I would feel pools of cool water – quite refreshing. I suppose because it is exposed to the Caribbean. Directly south, between Vieques Island (about 10 miles southwest) and St. Croix (about 40 miles southeast) there is nothing until South America (about 500 miles).

While I was diving here I saw a Ray fish, about 2 feet across, and several Jacks and a couple of Puffer fish, and conch shells but nothing else – some ugly Sea Slugs. The last couple days. I’ve seen manatees, a turtle and a small shark (about 3 foot) chasing a school of sardine (I guess).

I worked on cleaning the boat some. But, when the growth comes off I have to swim away or one type of sponge can sting when it gets on you. So, I started wearing my light Lycra full-body swim suit. Better, but still had to rinse off well. Also, after several dives and hours I still haven’t got it completely clean.

But, there were a couple little problems. Yes, here we go, again. I have an underwater camera (or had), the second one, that I hadn’t yet tried. So, I brought it on the dive. I had it attached to a little bracket and belt around my neck. As I was in the water trying to figure out how to operate it – on hindsight I might better have done that before I got in the water – the camera popped off the bracket. Not able to re-attache it after trying to take some pictures and a video I put in the pocket of my swim trunks. I know.

I realize now it would have been wise to swim up to the boat and at least put it in the dingy. But, as I swam I would keep checking it hadn’t dropped out. check. Yup. check. All well and good. So, after exhausting myself once again I put my gear in the dingy and climbed up the swim ladder then climbed into the dingy. I then checked my pocket – nope, no camera. Somehow I wasn’t all that surprised. I looked about on the chance it might have just fallen in the boat. Nope. Not here. Yup. Down there – somewhere.

On the chance that it floats I untied the dingy and began a circling search pattern from where I was swimming. I suppose that may have looked a bit odd to the others moored in this bay, but I’m getting rather accustomed to that. And, that’s probably good preparation for further such occurrences as I age.

No success, of course. Tomorrow I shall have to start a diving search. I do keep busy with these events.

After a restless night I woke at about 5 am. At 6:30 or so i took the kayak out past the reef – swells and wind waves were slight. Back at the boat trying to get out of the slippery kayak I tumbled in the water – but I had bathing suit and diving gear so I just stayed in – I don’t think anyone even noticed, but just in case I sort of acted like I had just intended to go ahead and take a dive, even convinced myself – and went searching for the camera. I actually felt some confidence I’d find it. The bottom is very plain – little vegetation and no rocks or other distractions. But, after over an hour – nothing. Lost. Again. Sigh.

Another diving search and dingy search came up empty – there’s more money thrown into the sea…

Second ‘problem’. Lesson: Do not put air compressor that gives you the air you breathe by the gas generator that supplies it with electricity. Why? Carbon monoxide poisoning, that’s why. duh. Sometimes it isn’t that I don’t know what I’m doing – I just don’t seem to be giving it much thought. Really need to work on that.

Tuesday evening Sue invited me to dinner with them and Chris/Aleta. It was very nice. She makes a wonderful potato salad. As good as mother used to make. Maybe better. We also had some good conversation.  PS.  I forgot to mention the Lion Fish Rick shot (spear) and cleaned…. carefully (their spines are very poisonous).  Sue cooked it perfectly.  It was excellent – like Red Snapper.

LionFish

Wednesday; Rick/Sue and Chris/Aleta left in the morning. No one in the bay but me. Also, I see no activity in any of the million dollar mansions along the hillsides. Just vacation homes I guess…. the 1% are doing well.

Sometime in the morning – about 9 or 10 – I noticed a conch ‘gatherer’ at the west edge of the bay. He is wading chest deep towing a plastic kayak with a 10 gallon bucket in it. His head is down in the water – he’s using a mask and a snorkel to breath. He will suddenly disappear then come up with one every few minutes. At several hundred yards I can’t make out what, but it appears orangish and about 4 to 6 inches across, so probably conch. I’ve seen them around the bottom. He worked all the way around the bay, about a half mile, then around a small island and down the channel entrance east of the bay. He worked at least 8 hours before I saw him paddling back toward Ensenada Honda.

Thursday; Today is when the manatees showed up. Quite near the boat. I was tempted to swim around them, but it looked like it was either a mother and calf or bull and cow. Either way they could get a bit testy. And, one is very big..

A second ‘conch gatherer’ showed up. This was the guy who heard about the other guy – the one with the initiative and equipment. So this one is older, gray scraggy beard and apparently wearing his street clothes. No snorkel, no bucket, no kayak. Just him walking around for hours putting Conks in a plastic bag. Still, he may have made enough for some wine to go with his conch fritters.

I plan to go back to Ildefonso tomorrow morning (Friday). Rick says this bay fills up with Puerto Rican power boaters on the weekends.

IMG_0089

Larry & Sherry onboard Carousel

20140418_091001

Although I’ve been at this anchorage for several months – actually maybe many months, losing track, but why bother – I visited one of my four liveaboard neighbors here in this little bay off Ensenada Honda (big bay) in Culebra while I was paddling about in the kayak looking at a couple pretty little sloops (never seen their owners).

IMG_0312

He was working on his dingy when I was going by so I stopped and said hello. He is a young 74 yo named Larry with his wife Sherry. They live in the fine 45 ft trimaran pictured above. They built the boat themselves 30 plus years ago in Edmonds Washington (Puget Sound north of Seattle). They have been in this bay for most of that time although taking trips up and back from Venezuela where he still owns a home.

He’s been through a couple hurricanes and many storms in those years. The worst was Georges in 1998. From Wikipedia;

On making landfall, Georges brought a 10 foot storm surge, along with 20 foot waves on top of it. The hurricane spawned 2 F2 tornadoes on the island. Georges dropped immense precipitation in the mountain regions, amounting to a maximum of 30.51 inches and winds over 155 mph. It killed over 600 people in the 10 Caribbean islands and 6 US states it passed through.

He told me how his wife had gone ashore to a shelter and when winds got to 100 mph or so he got in his dingy to go ashore. His dingy was flipped and he was tossed into what must have been terrible storm waves even in this little bay. He got to shore and had to wait out the storm outside the shelter because they couldn’t dare open the doors until the eye of the storm came over and the air pressure equalized. He said it was the most terrifying day of his life. I wouldn’t doubt that a bit.

His trimaran has mast furling, as well as jib, or head stay, furling. And, he said the boat can do over 20 knots! He said he’s many times sailed near 15 knots. Most monohulls have maximum hull speeds of 6-9 knots.

On a side note…
It’s been strange weather, but pleasant.  Except for the occasional calms.  We do need some wind to cool and keep mosquitoes down.
Nights have actually gotten down to high 70’s.  Unheard of for this time of year.  Very unseasonable, which sounds pejorative, but here in this situation that is definately not the case.  Today it has been overcast – again, very unusual.

Right now it is drizzling rain.

Rain here normally comes in squalls with strong winds and driving rain that is gone in 1/2 an hour.

But, the drizzle and calm is a pleasant change.  More like a drizzling grey but warm summer day in Seattle.

I miss Seattle.  And, Puget Sound.

But, it is so cold there on the water for most of the year.

Perfection will have to wait for the return of the Garden of Eden.

Latest . . . but, probably not the greatest

Nothing really new or particularly interesting;  working on boat, doing a little snorkeling and scuba diving, but the one trip worth photos I forgot the camera – naturally.  No sailing or cruising.  Reluctant to go anywhere when threat of hurricane still possible.  Weather has been tame though.  I’ve thought of trying a few spots around this island, but keep losing the will power or motivation. I did buy a small plastic kayak today;  pic IMG_0074 It probably looks properly secured, eh?  Real ship-shape.  It wasn’t always so. I haven’t had any serious, or funny, snaffu’s lately, but this was close.  I bought the kayak from a couple on a pretty 47 ft Beneteau, Tom and Anne, on Caribbean Lady (see their website:  caribbeanladysailing.com their charter business).  They are up from Vieques, the other Spanish Virgin Island.  I towed it to the sailboat with the dingy and went for a quick paddle.  Except for feeling like I’m on wet ice trying to sit down in it all went fine.  So, now where do I put it?  First I thought up on cabin top (pic) IMG_0078 I struggled to get it up the 5 ft high topsides (pic) IMG_0079 But, after straining my back, paining my heart, and burning under this scorching Caribbean sun (high UV), I gave up.  Next it occurred to me I have some small tackle gear (pic) IMG_0080 This is actually the second one.  The first one was closer to the transom and I couldn’t get past the kayak to get in the dingy (pic) IMG_0075 Anyway, while I was doing all this the dingy was actually trailing back behind the sailboat with its painter draped over the ladder to the swim platform.  While I was wrestling with the kayak I somehow knocked the painter off the ladder and the dingy, now free to follow the wind wherever it may lead, took off.  I didn’t notice until I got the kayak up on the davits (metal frame) with the tackle.  While I was admiring my work with a bit more pride than was warranted considering the neglect I had shown the dingy, I noticed “a” dingy drifting some distance down the bay.  I thought some one on one of those sailboats had failed to secure it properly – with somewhat critical consternation I might add.  I went back to my admiration then a bit later noticed no one was going after the dingy.  Well, in a moment of societal responsibility I decided I would.  I looked over the swim platform for the dingy and low-and-behold!  No dingy.  You probably guessed… It was mine (no pic). I quickly realize it was too far to swim for it.  I was perplexed.  What can I do?  Then I called Rick on S/V Orion and asked for his aid.  While I was watching him go after it in his dingy I glanced up and again saw my new kayak.  A kayak is a boat.  It floats.  It rows and quite speedily I might add.  When Rick got back with my errant dingy ( I shall put the blame on the dingy)  I felt the fool and told Rick I gave up swimming but didn’t even think of rowing after the dingy in the kayak – such a dolt! Who said ‘messing about in boats’ is so wonderful?

Days come Days go . . .

Nothing new…nothing interesting…cruisers come and go, winds come and go, and I stay…

20140305-sunrise

 

You’ve heard of Robin Williams death – very sad.  You’ve probably seen some of his best movies; Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets’ Society, but get Bicentennial Man.  It was a box-office failure, but an excellent example of his work.  But, don’t watch any of his stand up routines other than from public TV.  I just watched part of one – full of gross vulgarity and foul language.  Too bad.   Maybe because he was so anxious to make people laugh he would stoop so low.

Tropical Storm Bertha

The National Weather Service shows it tracking just south of Culebra with winds from 25 to 45 knots.  But, it is still unknown.  Currently it has winds about 35, but they can’t tell whether it will gain power or lose it as it progresses through the Windward and Leeward islands.  Also, if it tracks as they say it will put it just south of Culebra so conditions here could be light.  We’ll see.

As a precaution I am going to get out the scuba gear this morning and dive down to try to locate some old mooring screws that I think are there.  If so, that will give me plenty of security against winds up to hurricane force.  Here’s hoping…

TS Bertha 2014