14 May 2016

Since Carrie returned from her family mission of mercy last Saturday we have been working feverishly to leave St. Thomas for the relative sanctuary of the southern Caribbean islands as the summer months and Hurricane season approaches.  It has not been without its challenges.

The first of many Tropical Waves moved into the Caribbean basin this past week and is forecast to bring high winds and heavy seas in the open waters over the next two weeks, not conditions conducive to an offshore passage to jump several islands down the chain.  Not good news.

Then some of the equipment onboard saw fit to not do the things they were supposed to do, with failures coming in quick succession.

I’ve been working on the Water Maker since before Carrie left, and while she was in Florida I found a necessary part in an unlikely place and had it shipped to her Son’s house to make sure we could get it on board in a timely manner.  That repair went well but remounting the unit presented some additional challenges that took most of this week.

Our Refrigerator system has worked quite well over recent months, and as we moved south into the tropics we expected some degraded performance due to the warmer temperatures around us, however over the previous several days we noticed the temperature was continuing to inch higher.  We opted to open it up and try to figure the issues out while here in a place with resources available.  Our good friend and personal angel Jaime on Kookabura is also, among her many other fine talents, a certified refrigeration technician and she eagerly jumped in to help us diagnose the problem.  The short version of the story led to replacing the thermostat, but not after several rounds of troubleshooting that included replacing old worn connections and a diagnostic light that wasn’t doing it’s diagnostic duties.

Finally during one of several trips into to the marine parts store the dinghy’s outboard transmission decided to lock up, only allowing neutral or reverse.  The prospect of backing the dinghy across the bay to Brilliant is not a pretty one to contemplate, but with some grease and a few “kind” words of encouragement I was able to get the shifter shifting properly again.

By the end of a week’s work and hustling around, our plans evolved from waiting in St. Thomas for better weather into making numerous short day hops through the US and British Virgin Islands, sticking our nose out into the lively Trade Winds for just an hour or two at a time.  All we can do is hope that the weather will calm a bit over next week or so to give us a more favorable window to make a direct jump south.

But every trip begins with the first step out the door and that first step was not coming easily.  This morning as we awoke we were still not sure of the refrigerator’s health, and as a final move we replaced the thermostat again believing that the first replacement was defective, which seemed to do the trick.  We topped our tanks of fuel and fresh water and then headed out to Buck Island for a lunch stop and some well-deserved snorkeling with the Sea Turtles that hang out there.

While on our way to Buck Island I heard a familiar voice on the VHF radio and was able to contact Dave and Renee on S/V Alegria.  We were tickled to find that they were heading towards St. John from the BVI and we agreed to meet them at the end of the day in Maho Bay, a wonderful spot on the north side of St. John that we had planned to stay for a night or two.  Carrie wasn’t able to see them in St. Thomas while she was off helping family and we were tickled to find them waving to us from a mooring as we pulled up and grabbed the mooring next to them in the late afternoon.  The evening included good stories and a great deal of laughing as we caught up on our adventures together.

Today we snorkeled, rode kayaks and paddleboards, walked the beach, and had a wonderful dinner together aboard Brilliant.

Enjoying the company of good friends in a beautiful, well protected anchorage with a beach and snorkeling close by.  This is what makes the trials that our lifestyle sometimes presents us with worthwhile.

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Brilliant and Alegria in Maho Bay

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