Monthly Archives: October 2022

Looks like Monday is the day for departure.

It’s Sunday morning and Pandora is in Hampton with the rest of the fleet for the Salty Dawg Rally to the Caribbean, in my case, to Antigua.

I can’t believe that I am finally here and almost ready to go.  It’s been a wild summer beginning when I left Pandora in Deltaville, culminating with all the work that was done on Pandora in Annapolis.

It’s been a few crazy days here in Hampton after arriving on Wednesday with meetings every day with skippers and crew, departure dinners and other events keeping us busy.   The marina is filled to capacity and we had over 250 skippers and crew at our departure dinner on Thursday.

With an expected departure tomorrow, I wish that I was confident that the trip will be an easy one.  Normally, our goal is to get as far east as possible before turning south to catch the trade winds for Antigua.  however, this year it is very different with a system expected to develop to the east that will have strong south winds, basically on the nose that will make it impossible to head to Antigua for the second half of the trip.

Our strategy for the first half of the trip will be to head basically south toward the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, much farther west than normal, and continue on that course to see what develops later in the week.

The hope is that conditions will improve to allow us to head farther east but at this point it’s not looking great.   This means that we may be forced to either stop in the DR or to continue upwind from there to Antigua, an unappealing option to be sure.

It’s a bit too soon to really know what the wind will be as the weather patterns this year are very different than anything we have encountered in past passages so I guess we will just have to get out there and see what happens.

Brenda and Jane, wife of Peter, one of my crew, plan on flying to Antigua on November 17th and that now seems like it might be good timing as we really don’t know what our passage will be like and given all of the uncertainty, it is very hard to know when we will end up in Antigua and if we will have to stop somewhere else along the way.

We have another weather briefing later today from Chris Parker and I am hoping that things will become clearer.  For now, I guess that’s all I can report.

As in the past you can follow along on my Garmin page at this link.

There is also a fleet tracking page that shows the track for every boat in the fleet that you can see here.

For now, here’s Pandora in her slip in Hampton.   All systems are pretty much ready to go, provisioning is mostly done and we are anxiously waiting more information, hopefully good, on what to expect when we depart.








My boat is calling and I must go.

In less than a week Pandora will go back in the water to head to Hampton and the Salty Dawg Rally to Antigua.  I’ll admit that I am pretty excited about hanging out with what will be a capacity crowd including nearly 125 boats heading for points south.

Pandora is currently on the hard in Annapolis with a number of techs swarming over her dealing with paint issues, electrical and rigging details that need addressing.

Last weekend I headed down there for about 4 days to work on the many things that needed doing before she goes back in the water.  I am hoping that her splash date will be Monday October 24th but if weather is not looking good for the run to Hampton, I’ll have to stick with an earlier date.

One of the issues that I had to address was the instillation of the replacement for my corroded aluminum tank that sprung a leak last winter, dumping all 35 gallons of precious fuel into the bilge. I was able to save about 10 gallons but the rest went away.    I had the new tank constructed at Luther’s Welding in RI.   I have to say that they do really great work.

I picked up the new tank at their shop.  The new one looks a lot better, that’s for sure. I have now learned a lot about corrosion and what can happen when aluminum lays in the bilge.  In such a dank area salt sitting on the metal will raise hell with it over time.  The “new” leak was pretty apparent.   No wonder that it didn’t take long for all that fuel to leak out.  Nasty… The replacement tank was constructed to be about 1/8″ smaller, in each direction, than the old one, just to be sure that it would fit, and it does. 

In order to avoid another failure down the road, it was recommended that I support the new tank with some 2″ square plastic spacers bedded with 3M 5200 to keep the tank from being in direct contact with the hull and any salt that might accumulate under it.   Sadly, I neglected to purchase “fast cure” so the glue stayed wet and the spacers slipped and slid all over the place while I tried to put the tank in place.  After a few false starts, I was able to secure it and get the floor joists installed as well. I was also having difficulty with the boom gooseneck that was working the fittings loose and needed some love.  It is generally a bad thing if the boom works itself loose while underway.  They removed the boom, did some surgery, and now it’s back in place.  It was a pretty big job in spite of there being only a few new screws showing for their efforts.  Better now. I also had small but persistent leak around the deck joint for the mast.  I had no idea how they would address it but they did.  It looks pretty elegant.  So much, I hope for the SLOB, Slow Leak Over Bunk.  And under the “so simple, even a child, or Bob, can do it”, I installed two new faucets in the heads.  The old ones were pretty corroded.  I don’t expect that these will last decades but then, nothing does in the marine environment.  I am also having the underside of the hard dodger repainted as the old finish was peeling and looked terrible.  It’s turning out to be a very difficult job with some adhesion issues that have come up and I am anxious about what the bill will be like and how it will turn out.

For that matter I am DOUBLY ANXIOUS about how big the bill will be overall.  It was certainly a good plan on my part to also focus on the kitchen and guest bath so I can say to Brenda, “well, we spent a LOT on BOTH the house and boat.” I cling to the belief that this gives approach will give me at least a bit of cover.  Probably not, but I am sticking to my story.

Oh yeah, remember that nasty cold that I caught from my adorable little granddaughter?  It turns out that when I headed to Annapolis for four days of work on Pandora, well I had bronchial pneumonia.    Fortunately, I was on a heavy duty antibiotic which helped, well helped a little as I hacked my way through three days of work on Pandora.

I can tell you that sanding the bottom of Pandora, all 47′ of her while, suffering from pneumonia is no fun, but at least that’s done.  Really glad that I had a brand new full face respirator.    After sanding the entire boat, I can now see that it’s time for to get the bottom soda blasted to remove years of too much bottom paint off and begin anew.

Well, Pandora is getting closer to launching and she sure has gotten her pound of flesh, and phlegm, out of me this year.   I am beginning to think that I may be getting too old to do all of this stuff myself.

However, I am getting excited about heading to Antigua.  Lots of fun to come.

Perhaps I’ll close with this photo of Brenda.  Truer words were never put on a pillow.

Getting close to liftoff

It’s hard to believe that Pandora is nearly ready to go head south to Antigua with the Salty Dawg Rally, leaving from Hampton VA on or about November 1st.  With a capacity crowd of 125 boats, it’s going to be a blast.  And, with 100 heading to Antigua, I can say that everyone I know in Antigua are thrilled to be on the receiving end of the rally.

It’s always a struggle to get Pandora, or any boat for that matter, ready with so many issues that need addressing, new or updated equipment and any projects that I have in the works to make Pandora a better home on the water.

Much of my time has been consumed this summer by remodeling the kitchen and the third of our bathrooms.  While I did only parts of the kitchen, it was still a big job and that combined with doing the full bath remodel, it was a very busy summer.

Add to that the interminable delays with Pandora in Deltaville and the frustration of working with a completely non-communicative project manager.  To say that this was frustrating and expensive doesn’t begin to do justice to the details of what made the whole process so repugnant.

I was successful in moving Pandora to yet another spot where an electrician finished up the work and installed the wind generator.

After a few weeks with the new tech,  I was able to move Pandora up to Annapolis where she is now having a number of rigging issues addressed including some new running rigging and other important upgrades needed to make her safe to make passage on to Antigua.

Here she is about to be hauled at Jabin’s yard in Annapolis.  They pulled her out a day early and by early the next morning M Yachts was aboard beginning the work they needed to get done in the few short weeks available.  That’s the sort of support you expect from a quality vendor, so different than the first few months this summer.  I also installed some new solar panels, four 150 watt units replacing the 80 watt panels that were in the boat when I purchased her.  This increase in wattage, combined with the fact that the old panels had lost a lot of efficiency has nearly doubled my output.  I am not enough of an expert to wire them up and put in the new regulator so M Yachts is doing that.   They do look pretty impressive. And contrast that to the old panels in the photo below.  The new ones do not hang over to the sides of the supports at all and only overhang the front of the supports from the old panels by about 6″.    Of course, a big change is that they are each 150 watt, more fully utilize the space available and at $150 each, were a mere “rounding error” in the grand scope of the job. And the wind generator.   I have no idea how that’s going to work out but based on what I have heard from others that have the same unit, I am optimistic.  This photo shows the unit with a slight port list but I will be adding some plastic shims under the mount to deal with that.   It’s because the arch itself is sloped outboard and the installer didn’t have shims on hand.  Combine the upgraded solar, the wind generator and a lithium bank and we have more than doubled our charging ability, I hope, and usable power storage for Pandora.

I don’t want to even think about the cost of making all of this happen.  All I can say is that next year better be a light one for “boat dollars” as this year has broken a number of records on that front.  If not, I’ll be facing serious marital distress from Brenda and we don’t want that to happen, do we?  Good thing that we did the house upgrades this summer and didn’t put those off as it balances things a bit, if not completely.   Fair is fair?  Oh boy, I guess you’ll have to ask Brenda on that font.   

Anyway. even though I have to drive half a day to get to her, at least Pandora is nearing completion and I should be able to have her mostly ready to go after a few more days of work.     With Brenda away visiting some friends on The Cape this weekend, I’m planning to head to Annapolis with all my stuff to begin a dash to get ready for the run south.

Perhaps along the way I’ll be able to stop and see our son Rob and our three adorable grandchildren.

This one, Emme, is one of the two younger twins.  Here I am “Tipi”, what they call me, walking with her to the bus stop to meet her older sister.  Scary as it is, tell me you don’t see an 18 year old trapped in that little girl.  I am so glad that I am not her father.  Scary stuff to come. It seems that alive and well in that adorable little body is a tremendous selection of cold viruses, something that she gives me and I bring home with me after nearly every visit.  As I write this I am hacking away more than a week since my last visit.

With only a few weeks till “lift off” time for taking Pandora to Antigua is flying by.  Wish me luck.  Now, if I can only get over this cold.  Thanks Emme!