Saturday, June 30, 2012

20 Steps on How to Store Your Boat

Earthling has been hauled out twice in the last three years and every time I have experienced certain challenges and mistakes that could have been prevented. Now I have a list on how to prepare my home unattended on land for a few months. In the cold climates I winterized her, in the Caribbean I call it “hurricanizing”. 

1. Mark the chain plates on the hull so you can tell the yard staff where to set the stands. Make sure your boat is leveled and not leaning more to one side than the other.  I have experienced the hull being pushed in from one of the stands in the past. Ideally you want to rest your boat on a cradle. Earthling’s cradle is in Chicago.

2. Fill water tanks to full, add a capful of bleach to every 30 gallon tank. Fill the fuel tank and add biocide. Keeping the tanks full prevents growth in the tanks and additionally makes the boat heavier so it doesn’t fly away in case of high winds.

3. Strap the boat down, also known as chocking. Four straps should be sufficient, two at the bow and two on the stern. Chain the screw jacks together. On the straps put upside down cones which makes it difficult for rodents to go up the strap.

4. Remove all the canvas; sails, bimini, and dodger. Also uninstall the wind generator blades and solar panels. Anything that can use windage and can become loose on deck such as stanchions or a horseshoe, grill, and solar lights should be removed.

5. Put all electronics away in sealed containers or zip lock bags. If any of the electronics have batteries, remove them and put them in a sealed box. Last year the cd player was damaged from humidity, and batteries in flash lights were corroded. I’ve learned it the hard way, It’s easier to prevent than clean it up!  Also put blankets, pillows, books, and anything that can mold in large sealed space bags. Apply a layer of oil on the vinyl cushions so they don’t crack.

6. Clean and dry the bilge. Put a spoon full of vegetable oil in the head, so it keeps the seals lubricated.

Running the outboard
7. Run the inboard and outboard with fresh water for a few minutes. On the inboard, stick the water hose into the raw water intake, start the engine and wait till the water comes out the exhaust. Then run it for a few minutes till it gets rid of all the salt water in the system, and shut it down. On the outboard, put the prop in a fresh water bucket, run it for a couple minutes, detach the fuel line and wait till the fuel in the system is used up and the engine shuts off. Ideally change the oil, fuel filter, and oil filter and move the impeller on the inboard. Last season the gas in the outboard dried in the carburetor and our Chrysler 6hp outboard didn’t work for a couple months. 

8. Spray protective anti corrosion wax (CRC SP400) on the engine parts such as hose clamps, battery terminals, and anything else that can corrode.

9. Turn battery switch off, but leave the bilge pump. Keep some kind of trickle charge so batteries are topped off! I kept one of the solar panels connected on deck.

Thru hulls covered
10. Tie down the boom. Tie and secure all the halyards and lines on deck. Be sure to have no loose lines on deck!

11. Get rid of any flammables, dinghy gas, lighter fluid and so forth.

12. Close all sea cocks and cover it from below. Don’t cover the cockpit drainage!

13. Cover hatches and windows with canvas. Put aluminum foil on the windows from inside to avoid UV damage and heat inside the cabin.

14. Spray all locks with anti corrosion. I have had to cut at least a few locks upon return to Earthling in the past.

15. Cover or apply a layer of varnish on the exterior wood trims. On the interior wood trims apply some kind of wood oil, we use WD40.

16. Seal places that might leak, such as stanchions, tow rail, hatches, anchor carrier, and so forth. You don’t want any water inside the boat, especially since there is no ventilation. Put some kind of moisture product, humidifier in the cabin to prevent mold.

17. Do not leave any food on the boat. Give away all food including flour, grains, cans, and so forth.
Foil in the windows 

18. Put rat poison in various hidden places. 

19. Right before you leave the boat put a bug bomb in the cabin. You can not return back for hours so that’s the last thing to do. We came back to the boat in Virgin Gorda and had visitors, a family of mice that ate grains through the plastic container, drank some of the fresh water in bottles, and had a party all over the boat. Their poop was evident everywhere. Mice can chew on and destroy boat wires which can be difficult to find in case of electric failure.

20. Earthing does not have a water maker but if you do have one, it should be pickled.
If you feel there is any other important point that is missed, please feel free to advice.

Right now we are unexpectedly in Barbados. This story will be updated within the next few days.

Love from Barbados

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


The last sail of the season was from Carriacou to Grenada. After an hour into the passage winds picked up to 20+ and suddenly the main sail snapped and teared apart at the reefing point. The sail had to come down and we continued only with the Genoa. Earthling’s sails are old and we have no spare sails. Hopefully by next season I can get a new main sail and patch the old one and keep it as a spare. If someone out there has an old main sail or Genoa for an Islander 36’ that is laying around with no use, Earthling would love to obtain it.      
St. Georges

Grenada is one prominent Island that offers a little bit of everything. This is a place where all cruisers come together. Many stay anchored in one of the quite few bays for the entire hurricane season, like our friends Mike and Rebecca that we have had the pleasure to cruise with since February. Moreover, you will not be bored here, there are tons of activities to participate in for everyday of the week. You name it, beach volleyball, dinghy concert, yoga seasons, jam seasons, hashes, fish Fridays, hamburger nights, pizza nights, trivia nights, and many many more. Since arriving in Grenada, we have united with couple dozens of cruisers that we met in various Islands since George Town in the Bahamas. Incidentally, the capital of Grenada is St. George, which I consider one of the prettiest cities in the West Indies, not only because we have the same name but St. George has a vintage charming look and feel to it. The city is build over several rolling hills, driving up and down the steep narrow streets could remind one of San Francisco.
St. Georges

 Cruisers reunite, Prickly bay
Unfortunately, we have not had the opportunity to explore the wild and unspoiled part of Grenada yet, but there are many water falls, rivers, and golden beaches. Mount St. Catherine is the highest point of the Island, which I would love to hike up to. There are several large and small marinas, marine stores, and haul out facilities as well as a variety of supermarkets, hardware stores and plenty of restaurants and hotels to choose from. The locals we have met are friendly and welcoming. We have been anchored off Hog Island, which is a delightful calm anchorage. Five to fifteen-minute dinghy ride with the outboard brings us to Clarkes Court Bay and Whisper Cove Marina to the East and Secret Harbor Marina and Prickly bay to the West. Grenada could be considered the friendliest developed big island of the West Indies.      
I'm quick, the captain named me Quickie
I'm Lizzy & looking for bugs
Recently insects like cockroaches have been spotted aboard. Most likely they have been brought on with the cardboard boxes that come with groceries. One common way to get rid of them is to mix boric acid with fresh water and set it around the boat. We have not been able to find boric acid but there are plenty of Lizards on land. Lizards eat bugs, roaches, and the eggs of them. We have been successful to catch a couple of these reptiles and bring them aboard to help us clean up cockroaches. Lizzie & Quickie will live on Earthling to keep the bugs off while we are gone.

The time for this leg of Earthling adventure is winding down. In two days Earthling will be hauled out for the hurricane season and in a week we are flying back to land-life in the U.S. Stay tuned for hurricane dry storage tips!

Thanks to everyone for following

Love from Grenada

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Happy Island

Happy Island
The last stop in the nation of St. Vincent and Grenadines was Union Island. One of the most interesting sites to visit here is the Happy Island. The proprietor, Janti, has created an Island out of Conch shells. He collected shells during an environmental clean up in Union Island by stacking the shells into a small Island. Happy Island is like a utopia. Janti catches rain water, he has installed solar panels, a wind generator, and everything is self made. He certainly has done a professional job and made a great business and home out of it. Everything on his drink menu is 10EC, even the local beer “Hairoun”, but don’t worry Janti will serve you at least one complimentary drink throughout the night. He was very generous to us!
Here is a video from Anthony Bourdain’s visit to Happy Island, click here.
Katherine, Janti, and Sven, Happy Island
I thought groceries would be cheaper in Union than the next Island, however that was not the case. Union Island is slightly more expensive than St. Vincent or even Mayreau. A dozen of eggs cost 12EC in Union, 10EC in Mayreau, and 8EC in the main Island St. Vincent. The difference is not significant but in the long run 3EC here and there adds up. Large mangos in Union cost 4-5EC each, which is crazy and none of them were as good as those picked from Gary’s farm in Cumberland. 

New Looks
The first Island in the Grenada Nation Southbound is Carriacou. The day we arrived, both Katherine and I decided to get a new look from the local barbers. I got a full cut and shave and Katherine got her entire head braided. The plan was to stay in Carriacou just for a couple of days, but you never know who you will meet and what your experience will turn out like. The first day, Earthling anchored in a relatively rolly anchorage in Hillsborough Bay, we met Annie. She was barbecuing for the Friday party in town. The chickens on the grill looked and smelled so good that our stomachs would not let us pass by without a taste. The stop at the grill turned into a great relationship with Annie.

The following day the Dahon folding bikes had to come out of their tote bags for a spin around the Island. Carriacou is a good island for biking,
most of the roads are not as hilly as many other Caribbean Islands. We were informed that the road around the Northern part of the Island is closed for through traffic. Later we realized the gravel road was blocked since big trees had fallen blocking the road. This didn’t stop us from continuing through.
Katherine flying over the tree
In Windward, our paths crossed again with Annie in front of her mother’s house. She was grilling for the locals this Saturday and a nice vibe was present. One conversation led to another and she invited us to her house by Tyrrel bay for dinner the next day. Long story short, Annie and her partner Nigel have served us excellent home made Caribbean dishes the last five days. Last night we invited them aboard and served dishes from the Earthling galley. Apparently today June 7th is a local planting holiday. Katherine and I are going for lunch to their home along with their family and will visit their farm to celebrate and plant for the occasion.
Nigel, Annie, Katherine, and I
Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, high point
Tyrrel Bay, low point

Now in Terryl Bay, it might look busy because of the 70 or so boats anchored here, but it’s very quiet, maybe less than half of the boats are live aboard. There are only a couple restaurants and markets. Nothing much is really going on here, but we have met some interesting people such as Paul Earling Johnson and Eddie. Paul is a legendary sailor, he has been sailing for 65+ years. He has done 39 Atlantic crossings, his first solo crossing on a 19 footer, he’s been a boat builder, and he has tons of never ending sailing stories. Paul and Eddie were talking about Earthling as we walked by. They noticed that the top starboard spreader was slightly upward and not even, that’s how Eddie lost his mast a few years ago! Scary, but good thing they spotted it. Eddie offered to help and went up the mast and evened the spreader out. Eddie is Dominican and he has been living aboard a 22 ft sailboat without an inboard or outboard for ten years. One thing we all have in common is that we row our dinghies to shore!  
Boat building, Winward
Carriacou is also known for it’s boat building. There is not as much boat building done here as in the past but most smaller boats and dinghies are still made here. In Tyrrel Bay, there are many unique looking sailboats as well as a small boat yard of which Earthling might be hauled out in for the Hurricane season. The original plan was to store her in Trinidad, since it’s cheap and below the hurricane belt. However, there are other risks involved of storing in Trinidad so a better deal might work out in Carriacou or Granada. In 20 days, this leg of Earthling adventure will come to an end and I have to fly back to Chicago to earn dinero for the next leg.     

Love from Carriacou

See the photo album of Grenada here!