Monthly Archives: May 2024

Historic Chesapeake City: A trip down memory lane.

As I write this, I am on passage from Baltimore to Essex, helping to bring a friend’s, new to him, 36′ Nordic tug. Oddly, as a boat owner for decades, this is the first time that I have helped someone else move a boat any distance and my first time on a powerboat.

I could get used to this. Lots of room.

My friend, and often crew member, George and I drove down to Baltimore on Wednesday evening and, after a bit of provisioning this morning, headed off to Chesapeake City, one of my favorite spots. George has helped me on the Caribbean run a number of times and has been a longtime sailor.

This week was a big one for him as the day before he closed on the sale of his old boat and now we are bringing his new boat up to CT.

He seems pretty happy to be at the helm although some of the systems are still a bit of a mystery to him. We won’t dwell on our runup on a mudbank shortly after leaving the slip. No, we won’t talk about that. Spoiler: We got off and George is still smiling.

Chesapeake City, located on the C&D canal, connects the upper Chesapeake with the Delaware River, it is a great staging place for a run down the river, up the NJ coast to NYC and then down the Sound to Essex.

As the weather isn’t looking all that for another day, we decided to spend two nights in Chesapeake City before heading down the river. The run down the River and up the NJ coast will be an overnight. It has been years since I have been up past NYC, through the East River so that will be fun.

In fact, the last time I was through there was with Brenda on our first run south in 2012. It was quite an experience knowing that we were heading away from home for many months and that our trip would take us all the way south to FL and the Bahamas.

Our son Chris was a grad student at Columbia at the time and raced us down the East River, all the way to the Battery.

We beat him and waved to him as we pointed the bow to the lower harbor and a bit bitter-sweet to head toward Sandy Hook and begin a new chapter afloat. I wrote about the experience in this post, Brenda’s tears and all.

At the time I had no idea how far our travels would take us. Neither did Brenda… But that’s another story as we gear up to head to the Mediterranean next spring.

Anyway, I have now been to Chesapeake City a number of times over the years and it is nice to be here again, this time with George. However, nothing will quite compare to that first visit with Brenda so many years ago. Since you asked about that visit, here is a link to a post about that first visit in this post.

Last night we anchored in the basin, newly dredged by the Army Corps. Last time I was here I ran Pandora aground when we rounded the point to enter the basin with our 6’6″ draft. It’s a lot deeper now as the entire basin has been dredged this year.

This morning we pulled up to the free dock. Pretty nice spot.

The town was originally formed to support the canal, which was much more primitive at that time, only a few feet deep and the boats had to be towed through by mules who walked along on a path alongside the canal. It is much improved now. The downtown streets are lined with tiny homes, many with beautiful gardens.

I’ll bet that the owners of these homes had mixed emotions about the addition of this bridge that now looms over the canal. The good news is that the bridge opened up the town to many more visitors but it can’t be fun to have a huge bridge tower over your quaint little home, I’d think.

Tomorrow we will head out early and make our way, sadly against a foul tide, to the Delaware river for what will be our first overnight on George’s new boat. Our run will take us up to NYC and his first up the East River. George has crewed for me to the Caribbean a few times but always directly from Montauk south.

We visited the Canal Museum that tells the story of what is one of only two sea level canals, those without locks, in the US.

The most amazing thing about the canal is that it was originally dug by raw human labor including the most major work that was done during the depression when it was enlarged from a modest waterway to one that can handle many of the largest ships in the world today.

Before it was dug deep enough to avoid the need for locks, it required a way to pump in water to feed the locks and allow boats to be raised and lowered. The pump was steam powered and moved 1,000,000 gallons of water per hour. That’s amazing as the engines were only 125hp and each scoop of the wheel moved 20,000 gallons, enough to fill a swimming pool. A remarkable feat of Victorian engineering.

The pump no longer functions but is preserved in the museum.

The two engines and water wheel combined take up three rooms. This small model shows the two steam engines that power the water wheel. The photo above is the left pump.

Some of the specs for the engines that ran for over 80 years with only a single breakdown.

As you can imagine, it took a lot of people to service the canal, including dining and lodging, workers and visitors that were transiting the canal.

Many of the modest homes, Inns and shops are still here, lining the streets of the tiny downtown area.

One cuter than the next.

So, tomorrow at 06:00 we head out for our 65 mile run down to the mouth of the Delaware and the 110 miles up to the lower harbor of New York, at Sandy Hook.

That will be the first big trip for George and his new boat but this visit has been more of a trip down memory lane for me.

I like being here. A lot has happened since that visit…

Starlink: Two seasons in.

I still remember being docked in Nelson’s Dockyard two years ago when, for the first time, I saw a Starlink mobile antenna. A fellow Salty Dawg member had ordered a unit and had someone bring it down to Antigua where he set it up. He offered for me to use his password to see how well it worked. I fired up my computer and was hooked. I knew immediately that this would transform communications for the cruising set,. It was blazingly fast and I had to have one.

And I did, about two weeks later when a fellow Dawg agreed to take delivery and bring it down to Antigua from their home in Vermont.

After years of chasing dodgy wifi and slow cellular services while cruising, having speeds afloat of more than 100mbs was, and still is, astounding. To be fair, speeds over the last season winter did vary from 50mbs to a high of over 150mbs but it was always pretty fast. Fast is great and even the slowest speeds were faster than most cellular Wi-Fi plans. Here is is what my phone registered as speeds on the network when Pandora was on the hard in Trinidad before I flew home, leaving her for the summer and some big jobs. I won’t go into all that now but will cover the progress in future posts.

Speeds like that have never been possible afloat, especially for cruisers. To give context, our Comcast home cable service gave us speeds in the neighborhood of 90mbs and for that we paid nearly $100/month and it wasn’t all that stable. We now have T-mobile home internet service and while it is somewhat slower, at around 70mbs, is it more stable than Comcast, and a lot less expensive. For two cell plans, with unlimited international and domestic access, along with home wifi, costs about $130/month.

I wrote about the installation of Starlink in a post when I received my unit in Antigua. The setup was amazingly easy.

In those early months I just set the unit on deck and ran the cord down below. I was hesitant to install it permanently as I feared that Elon was going to do something to change the rules and make it unaffordable for the general cruising population. And true to his form, he did change the rules several times in the first year. Raising the price for mobile land use as well as instituting a mobile maritime plan at a much higher price and other destabilizing moves to make all of us think twice about how long this “great deal” would remain great. It is safe to say that “stable” isn’t something that may ever be the norm for Starlink but I hope that recent rumored changes won’t make the service uneconomical.

After a few months, feeling more confident that Elon was not going to cut us off from the service, or change his mind about the details of maritime use, I did a somewhat more permanent installation on the radar arch. But not without more than a bit of blood letting on my part. I wrote about the installation process. Two years in, I still haven’t run the antenna cable inside the arch as that would be a pretty big deal.

The verdict, 18 months later, two 1,500nm ocean passages, time at many different islands in the eastern Caribbean as well as use between islands, all the way south south to 10 degrees north, in Trinidad, my one word for how it works is “wow”.

The details of service in those early months was very confusing and it was particularly hard to understand what plan was needed to use the unit offshore. Until last spring, a year ago, you could use Starlink mobile anywhere without restriction, onshore or on passage.

As of last spring, they added a maritime plan for an additional $100/month, $250/month but that came with a catch as you only got 50gb/month and then had to pay $2/gb after that. That’s not a lot of data and the costs really add up. During those early months I needed clarity on all that and when I put in a number of service tickets with questions about what do to on the open ocean, I was told that the unit, my RV mobile dish, was designed to be used on land, as well as “lakes and rivers”. Unclear or not, it was clearly working in the harbors but it was unclear what would happen when I left the harbor. And, was a harbor in the Caribbean, a “lake or river?”

When I asked customer support for clarity on this point, for example, “when does the Hudson River become the ocean?” The answer, time and time again, was that my unit could be used “on lakes and rivers”. Huh?

On that first run north to CT in 2023, the dish seemed to take forever to connect to a satellite when we were moving, and while it still works better when we are sitting still, the connection seems to happen a lot faster now, although slower than at anchor. On that first run north last spring, we went for about 36 hours without being able to connect to the network. The wife of one of my crew members freaked out, wondering what had happened to us when we “went dark”. Were we dead, and would Brenda call Chris Parker to see if he’d heard from us?

Fortunately, Chris Parker, who we had talked to via SSB, said that we were alive and well. Eventually, we were able to long on, but it was challenging but at least we weren’t dead.

At that time, Starlink was releasing a new “high performance” dish, and offered to reimburse me for nearly the full cost of our first dish if we upgraded. It was tempting but the power consumption for the new dish was fully double that of our RV dish, and that’s bad enough, using as much or more power than our refrigeration. In spite of having over 1,000 watts of solar and a wind generator, the loads from Starlink, in addition to everything else, is nearly too much. To use the high performance dish you really have to have a house generator, which I don’t. I know others, like me, that have had to add more solar just because of Starlink.

For years now, there has been a sort of “arms race” of adding solar as electrical loads grow. It wasn’t that long ago when 500-600 watts of solar was adequate for most modest cruising boats. No more, in large part, as a result of Starlink. Nowadays, I’d say that upwards of 1,000 watts is probably needed to support a typical cruising boat. And that amount of solar is tough to cram onto a monohull and nearly impossible on a ketch.

I was back and forth about upgrading to the high performance dish, in spite of the large power requirements. However, I decided to keep using the old one, connectivity issues and all, with the hope that the service would improve as more satellites were launched. That decision turned out to be correct, as the service was much better on the way south last fall and was great for the runs between islands over the winter. Do I fully trust it now? No, but it is good enough and for the foreseeable future, I will be backing up Starlink with the Iridium Go, on long passages as that unit is much less energy intensive and works well, albeit at very slow data speeds.

In retrospect, I am very glad that I did not opt for the maritime dish. I am told that it works really well but at upwards of 200AH/in 24 hours, that is not sustainable without heavy reliance on a house generator. Even with 1,050 watts of solar, we turn Starlink off when we are not aboard and always overnight.

Another issue for all Starlink models is that they run on 110v. And that doesn’t take into account the draw of a house inverter, even without a load, which can be sizable. For use on a boat, Starlink recommends a small 500w portable inverter as adequate. In my case, I opted for 600w as that would give me additional support to plug in a laptop at the same time. I detailed that arrangement in this post, along with a discussion about upgrading our solar. Note that you will probably need to upgrade the wiring to that portable inverter as the draw will likely be more than your current wiring is capable of sustaining.

There is an option of converting Starlink to 12v but that involves purchasing some sort of converter setup from a third party and I haven’t done that yet. I understand that a 12v conversion will save about 25% of the energy needed to run the unit, a savings of about 1.5A at 12v. Not a lot but every little bit helps.

So, back to the question of “how far offshore does Starlink consider land becoming ocean?” answer to that question appears to be somewhere between 10-12 miles out and I have tested that thesis between a number of islands this winter. While Starlink will remain on-line, I get a message in the app saying that the unit being in an “unexpected location” and with the exception of the, you will be blocked.

So, once you are too far from land you have to use “mobile priority” data which you can purchase for $2GB. At first, it seemed that the only way to get offshore data was to subscribe to the $250/month maritime mobile plan which includes 50GB and then you pay $2GB for usage after that. However, that’s not true as I learned that you can be on their “mobile regional” plan, the one I am on, at $150/month, which covers North America as well as the Caribbean. Go farther afield, but I am not clear on exactly what that means, and the cost goes up to $200/month. Once I go to the Med, I expect that I will have to change service areas, or go to the worldwide plan, but that’s not clear to me at this time. It may also be possible to change regions and still pay the $150/month, but that’s not clear to me.

When you are more than 10 miles offshore and must opt-in to maritime “priority data”. I found it difficult to find the “button” to get the offshore data but finally stumbled on it in my profile.

First you go to the home page in the app and click on the profile section in the upper right.

Then, adjust the slider to turn on mobile priority when you loose coverage and the app says “unexpected location”. Keep that toggled on until you are back within about 10 miles from shore and toggle it to the off position again. It takes about 15 minutes to activate “priority data” or turn it off.

Beware though, that if you have drop box or another cloud storage program on any of your devices the syncing of those devices while offshore can get pricy.

But, don’t worry if you use a ton of data while the priority data is turned off and you are “near shore” as you are allowed at least a terabyte each month, or unlimited data for practical purposes. Supposedly, a home with lots of online use and gaming is unlikely to use more than 3/4 of a terabyte in a month anyway.

This is where you can see how much you have used on both “mobile data”, the primary unlimited date that the plan allows, as well as the $2GB mobile priority plan. In this case, the prior month and my two offshore single night runs when I was heading to Trinidad.

I know a few crusiers that have opted for the high performance dish but from my perspective, the double digit power draw is just too much to sustain so I have stuck with my RV articulating antenna. Starlink no longer offers the articulating antennas and have transitioned to a fixed mount flat version. I am told that they will be introducing a “factory refurbished” option for older hardware but I have not seen a formal announcement. As of now, almost all of the units that I saw deployed in the Caribbean were the older version, RV one just like mine, even on many larger boats as they now work so well and draw half the power of the high performance dish.

I understand that they will be coming out with a new mini dish, ostensibly a smaller high performance dish, that will be perhaps a bit smaller than mine but that’s not official. I am not clear about how that will compare with their new smaller fixed dish and perhaps that one will be worth upgrading to.

So, how do we like Starlink? We love it even if it is a bit pricey. However, given the blazing speeds and the fact that it is so much better than anything else out there, I have to day that I LOVE it.

What will the future hold? It’s hard to say but with other competing services coming online in the next few years, I expect that Starlink monthly fees will drop, but only time will tell. Having said that, there are rumblings of price increases and with Elon, anything is possible and he does have a monopoly for the moment.

The uptake curve for Starlink in the cruising community has been breathtaking and I expect that it will be a rare cruiser, even those that mostly go out on weekends, that do not have this service aboard. The fact that only two boats in the Salty Dawg Caribbean rally fleet, 120 strong, in 2022, had Starlink and nearly all had it in 2023, speaks to how rapidly this is being adopted by the cruising community.

What will the future hold? Who knows but I’d say that you should not miss an opportunity to upgrade that solar. You will need it.

Of course, I am sure that there are some of you out there that know more than I do so fire away…

Getting to know Trinidad and it’s HOT!

It’s been less than a week since I arrived here in Trinidad and I have done a lot to get Pandora ready to stay on the hard until next October. She won’t be alone as there will be plenty of work being done to make her ready for another season of cruising next winter. I will admit that the idea of leaving Pandora here for 6 months at least, some 2,000 miles from home is a bit daunting, I’ll admit.

However, the attentiveness of the folks in the marina and the folks that will be working on various aspects of the boat makes me feel like it’s going to progress fairy well. Wish me luck…

On Sunday I spent the morning with Amos, who will be doing a good deal of work on Pandora. He was nice enough to take me on a bit of an island tour and it was nice to get to know him a bit.

And, with regards to the work that is planned, Amos and his partner Tony stopped by today to review the list, both “need to have” and “like to have”. We will see what sort of prices come back and if I’ll be able to do it all. The biggest part of the work needed is deck work where the laminate has failed and water has gotten into the core. I will also have a bit of varnish work down below done and some painting in the cockpit, along with a number of chips in the hull. And, I may have the bottom stripped as there is a bit of a buildup from all the years of paint and it’s now pealing in some areas. And, some of the windows in the dodger need to be re-bedded too.

Of course, there’s plenty more to do as some of the canvas work needs freshening and a bit of metal fabrication too.

Yikes, when I list it all, I am beginning to get a feel for the depth of the pool I have jumped into.

Before Steve flew out a few days ago, we rented a car to do some exploration of the island. One or our destinations is called the Bamboo Cathedral. The bamboo was impressive, draping over the path up the hill.

Above the path was a family of howler monkeys. I think that they howl in part, because it’s so hot during the day. Did I say that it’s hot? Unfortunately, I forgot my camera and had to use my phone so they are hard to see.

To give you a feel for the scale of the bamboo, upwards of 80′ tall, my friend Steve.

On the way to the airport with Steve, we stopped in the capital, Port of Spain. The national performing art center was amazing. Bummer that we could not go inside. Forgive the fingers…

A remarkable building, designed by John Gillespie, a prominent architect in Trinidad.

This photo of the center gives context to the scale of the building.

I mentioned that I was also taken on a tour of the island by Amos, who is working on Pandora this summer. He picked me up at 5:45AM at the boat and we headed up into the mountains. We left so early as it is a lot cooler during the early morning. Did I mention that it is hot?

He wanted to take me on a hike near the Bamboo forest but there was something going on and the police had blocked off the access.

Instead we went to the north side of the island. With the sun still low in the sky, it wasn’t nearly as hot as it gets mid day. What a view.

One view better than the last.

We then descended to the coast where we visited a beautiful beach. Even though it was still early, there were some impressive crowds forming for the day’s activities. It doesn’t show but there were a lot of people milling around, preparing for some sort of swimming race. I am told that this is one of the premier beaches in the country and that it is jammed on weekends.

At the far end of the beach, a small fishing village.

Walking ahead of me…Amos. After the beach we went out for a traditional Caribbean breakfast. It included a few different fish dishes, pickled herring, salt cod, blood pudding and some bread.. Not my preference but I was happy to try it. I think that I like croissants better, actually.

A few days before Steve left, we took the dink out for a harbor tour. We had heard that there was a ship graveyard nearby that seemed interesting. It was.

This is what happens to tugboats and smaller ships when they are no longer useful.

This one had particularly nice lines. It looks US Navy like. I am told that this port is under a long term lease to the US and I’ll have to learn more but by the looks of this boat, it makes sense.

Still life with rust…

There is a small fishing village at the head of the harbor. Probably not a great spot to walk through late at night. I did pass through in the morning and I’ll say that there were some boats that looked like they had been there for years. And, more than a few very mangy dogs.

In the midst of such a “mixed” area, Powerboats Marina has very tight security. When I returned from driving Steve to the airport, I had to pass the security guard at the gate and then was stopped again inside the yard to confirm who I was and were I was going. That made me feel good about keeping Pandora safe.

Directly across the street from the marina is forest, complete with parrots.

Not sure exactly what sort they are. They are certainly green parrots! And they are very noisy when they return to their roosts in the evening. Green and very noisy. Yes, I am 100% confident of that.

I was able to change my flight to leave on Thursday and am working to get details in place for all the work that needs to be done before I depart. I have been systematically going through everything and cleaning out lockers, tossing stuff that won’t survive till fall.

There has been a parade of folks visiting the boat. Outboard in for service and storage. Sails to be cleaned and canvas work. Varnish and, well, lots of stuff to be done.

I even cleaned the bottom of the dink that had gotten quite nasty and brown. Not now.

I understand that they photograph all the boats each day to make sure that all is still right. Pandora’s dink is beside the boat and not locked yet.

At night the yard is well lit.

Today the sails were removed and the boat will soon get covered to keep out the rain while the decks are redone. For sure, when I return in October she will look as good as new. However, I expect that our checkbook will be a little worse for wear 🙁

With the hope of keeping things on track, the plan is to have weekly video calls to review all aspects of the work and how it’s progressing. I hope that I won’t have to make a trip mid-summer but we will see how it goes.

So far, so good and I do feel that everyone is paying attention.

It’s been an interesting time and I feel like I am getting to know a bit more about Trinidad.

Did I mention that it’s hot?

Trinidad, finally here, after all these years.

For years friends have sung the praises of keeping their boats in Trinidad for the summer season. Trinidad is the most accessible spot to the Eastern Caribbean that is outside of the hurricane belt at 10 degrees north of the Equator. And, nowadays that’s an even bigger deal with the coming hurricane season looking like it will be one of the busiest on record. While Grenada is also popular, technically, and even though it’s only about 80 miles farther north, many insurance companied do not recognize it as a safe place for the summer season and won’t cover boats there without all sorts of restrictions.

My late friend and fellow SDSA board member, Rick Palm, once told me that most cruisers do the north-south run from the US for a limited number of years, perhaps three, and then decide to keep the boat south, skip the Caribbean altogether or head elsewhere. With Pandora, I have been making the run south in the fall and back north in the spring for over a decade and I have to say that I am tired of it. While moving Pandora to Trinidad cost time, the north-south run adds something like three months aboard each year just moving around. That’s a huge commitment of time and doesn’t even address the wear and tear on boat and me for more than 3,000 miles of arduous ocean sailing.

So now, with all that and the need to have important work done on Pandora makes the decision to keep her here in Trinidad this summer an easy one.

As of yesterday morning Pandora was on a mooring in Chaguaramus, Trinidad, after an overnight sail from Bequia, one of the islands of St Vincent. As is often the case, I underestimated Pandora’s speed and we realized, shortly after departing Bequia for the 150 mile run, that we would make landfall well before dawn. The authorities in Trinidad do not like boats entering the country in the dark. And to come into a port where I had no personal experience was not a good idea. I filed a float plan prior to departure and to deviate from that wasn’t a good idea so we had to do something to slow down. I put two reefs in the mainsail and rolled up the jib most of the way. It didn’t slow us down much but finally, with the wind dying as we approached Trinidad, we only had to loaf around for about two hours waiting for daylight.

Before we headed out to Trinidad, Steve and I had a number of meals ashore in Bequia. It is a very pretty place with clear water and plenty of dining options. This view of the sunset the night before our departure was memorable.

The run was a total of 150 miles and we headed down the windward side of all the islands which made for more consistent wind, avoiding the “shadow” that you get when heading down in the lee of these mountainous islands.

As we hovered offshore waiting for sunrise, we were treated to a particularly memorable sunrise, making it worth waiting for to see the new day dawn.

The “cut” from the ocean, less than 2/10 of a mile wide, looked pretty daunting on the chart and to try it for the first time at night seemed like a bad idea.

However, in “the light of day”. Not so bad and it was over 100′ deep.

We had heard that the Trinidad Coast Guard was pretty touchy about arrivals and that our friends had been boarded a few days earlier in that same cut. However, nothing happened.

The cut, with it’s near vertical sides, looked like something out of Jurassic Park or Avitar, with trees clinging to sheer cliffs.

In the cut some homes that reminded me of our time in Cuba.

And a few that defied understanding. A home? Resort?

And one that looked like it would fit right into a high end Brooklyn neighborhood.

And, of course, the Trinidad Coast Guard. These cutters don’t look like they mess around.

Lots of evidence that the local economy is driven by petro-dollars.

Heavy hardware everywhere catering to oil and gas. This rig looks like it came from the set of “There will be blood”.

How about these piles of anchor chain? Each link is surely hundreds, more likely thousands, of pounds. I guess that they are used to anchor the oil rigs offshore as it is way to deep to have them sit on the ocean floor.

The harbor water is not clean, with a light light sheen of oil on it and the air has a faint smell of petrochemicals. I was told that in past years the pollution was much worse. However, I don’t want to paint a bad picture of all this as the people are incredibly friendly and eager to help and the landscape is quite dramatic. I am told that we can take an excursion to the rainforest and see an amazing array of wildlife. Perhaps I can fit something in like that before I depart.

I was struck by these boats and there are a lot of them moving around. It seems that they are fishing boats from Venezuela and that they come over to Trinidad to sell their wares. The reminded me of some of the government fishing boats that we saw in Cuba, but much nicer.

I guess that there is a fairly large middle class here if the number of small private fishing boats is any indication. And, there are a good number of quite nice late model cars in the lot.

This sort of rack storage is common in the US but not in most areas of the Caribbean.

I had no idea what our arrival was going to be like except that I had been told that clearing in was a lengthily process with lots of carbon paper. The experience did not disappoint, taking about two hours.

One of the required forms required six copies and as I interlayered carbon paper with the pre-printed forms, I felt like I was making a “clearance sandwich”. And, in spite of bearing down on my pen like a preschooler learning to print, the three lowest copies were mere smudges of blue.

The process was not particularly unpleasant and in each case, Immigration and Customs, the many forms were dutifully check and rechecked by officers that carefully recorded information on their computers. I have no idea what they were doing for all that time but it seemed very serious. As each sheet of paper was declared “done” an official stamp was applied with a loud, surely satisfying and very official “thump”. In Customs alone, our passports were checked three times, by two different people. Perhaps all that was to ensure that each carbon copy sheet was legible. Many surely were not but none were rejected. I guess the official count, the right number of pieces of paper, was the key.

In addition to all the forms, I had to testify that there was no disease aboard Pandora, or stowaways or dead bodies. Other than that, same old…

Oddly, after all that, more than two hours of shuffling papers, no fees of any sort.

Oh yeah, I was told that the process was much smoother because of the copies that were made for me in the Marina office and as a result of advance work by a guy, Jesse James, who acts as an informal liaison between cruisers and the government. More about the nuts and bolts of working with marinas and Jesse in future posts.

All and all, our arrival in Trinidad has been very interesting and I will surely write more about it in the coming days.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Having no idea what to expect when I arrived, I had pushed out my haul date for several days, assuming that getting Pandora ready would take time. However, once I got here and saw how hot it was out in the harbor, which is sheltered from the prevailing winds by high hills, I decided that I wanted to be hauled AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Amazingly, the office fit me in at the end of the day and now Pandora is on the hard.

And, the air-conditioner is installed and pumping cold air down below. So much for “island time” so far. I arrived in the morning, checked in, arranged to have Pandora hauled with AC was installed before the end of the day. Setting aside the clearance process, this place is pretty efficient.

The AC unit is quite creatively designed with a unique, clearly custom made, fiberglass plenum that fits over an open hatch.

After that a widow AC unit is slid into place and a LOT of duct tape is applied to make it weatherproof. It doesn’t look particularly pretty but is very functional. Down below, a remote control gets things going. And go it does…

Today I will begin my meetings with some of the vendors who will be working on Pandora in the coming months. Some of the big jobs have already been quoted so I am hopeful that I won’t have any surprises. As far as getting the work done, let’s hope that their view of “island time” is like the boat yard and not like the clearing in process as I plan to move Pandora back to Antigua in early November to greet the Salty Dawg Caribbean Rally fleet when they arrive.

Today Steve and I will begin the process of getting Pandora cleaned up and then pull down the sails so they can be cleaned and stored. The dink motor will also go out for service. For now, I decided to keep it in the water for a few more days so I can explore the harbor a bit. That will be fun as I am here for another week before flying home.

Now that I am here I realize that I could have booked an earlier flight but until now I had no idea that I was going to be able to get things done so fast. Sadly, to change the flight now would be quite expensive so I will make the best of it. At least I have Starlink to talk to Brenda any time I want. Not quite the same as being there but surely better than email.

So, here I am, in Trinidad, after more than a decade thinking, “perhaps I should leave Pandora in Trinidad.” Now she is here…

We will see how it goes. So far, I’m optimistic.