Portlight Lens Replacement / Rennovation

I’ve been on hundreds of older boats and a common problem is the portlights (windows to landlubbers) have fogged up from many years of wear and sunlight damage.

Zia, our Morgan 38 (built in 1983) also had this problem.  All of our portlights are opening (versus fixed in place), none of them were leaking, but you couldn’t really see out of them.  The window material is a kind of plastic (Lexan), not glass.

Having clear (not clouded) portlights makes a huge difference with the amount of light that gets into the interior, and also makes the boat seem a lot less ‘worn out’.

The view from portlights before they were rehabilitated.  Good for privacy, but bad for viewing.
The view from portlights before they were rehabilitated. Good for privacy, but bad for viewing.

If they were leaky or had major issues, I would have considered replacing the entire portlight with something like Newfound Metals very nice stainless steel & glass portlights.  I have fondled them at boat shows and know some folks who installed them and love them.

In my case that probably would have been overkill and there were plenty of other places I needed to spend my limited boat refit funds (like new sails & radar).  So Zia will need to wait a few years for the nice stainless portlights.

I tried a couple of products which claimed to clear up cloudy Lexan windows, but wasn’t happy with the end results.  So I opted to replace the lens.

The same portlight after the lens had been replaced. BIG difference, and it looked pretty much new.
The same portlight after the lens had been replaced. BIG difference, and it looked pretty much new.

Zia has:

  • Two larger cast aluminum portlights (about 24-3/4″ wide) made by Bomar
  • Five smaller plastic portlights (about 14-7/8″ wide) made by Beckson

It was nice that even though they were 30 years old, both of these manufacturers still exist.  Had they not, I could have fabricated/cut the lenses from Lexan but this was easier.

The Bomar Portlights

I ordered replacements, and they were shipped with these instructions:

TOOLS:      replacement lens         
                        tube of silicone (GE Ultra Glaze)
                        old spoon
                        old butter knife or hanger
                        masking tape
                        blunt tool        

  1.  Cut away old silicone and remove old lens.
  2.  Place a two inch strip of masking tape around the top/outside of hatch lid in order to make the removal of excess silicone less difficult.If you have a cast hatch disregard this step.
  3. If you have an extruded hatch and wish to replace your gasket, do so now, making sure to place lip of the gasket on top of the flange (the underside of the lens will sit on this portion of the gasket).
  4. Peel off the paper on the underside of the lens.
  5. Place a moderate bead of silicone on the flange and any crossbars where the lens will set.
  6. Float the lens into the silicone bead.  If your replacement lens has holes in it for your latch dogs, place the holes away from the hinge.  Allow a 1/8” space between the front edge of lens and the frame so your handles will be properly aligned.  If  your replacement lens does not have holes in it simply center the lens in the silicone.)
  7. After the lens is floated, apply a generous bead of silicone in the gap between the edge of the lens and the frame.
  8. Using the back side of an old spoon, place the tip in the silicone at 45 degrees and trowel off any excess silicone.
  9. Check for air bubbles (swelling in the silicone).  To remove air bubbles; drag an old butter knife through the swollen area three inches before and after the swollen area.  Apply a new bead of silicone to the disturbed area and trowel off excess silicone with your spoon.
  10. Allow the hatch to sit for two days.
  11. Peel off the masking tape and lens paper carefully use a blunt tool to remove any silicone, being careful not to scratch the lens or the hatch frame.
  12. The silicone will be totally cured in 7 days.
To get the portlights off of the frame, I used a Bostitch 1/8" (3mm) punch to drive the hinge pin out.
To get the portlights off of the frame, I used a Bostitch 1/8″ (3mm) punch to drive the hinge pin out.

I took the portlights home and did most of the work there.  Getting the old gasket material out of the frame was probably the most time consuming part, and it only took about 30 minutes per portlight.

I used Goo Gone caulk remover and this scrapper to get all of the gasket material removed from the grooves you see here facing up.
I used Goo Gone caulk remover and this scrapper to get all of the gasket material removed from the grooves you see here facing up.
This is the frame all taped up with painter's tape and ready for the GE Ultra Glaze
This is the frame all taped up with blue painter’s tape and ready for the GE Ultra Glaze

GE Ultra Glaze is a silicon that comes in a caulking tube.  It’s specialized for window glazing, and while there are cheaper general-use silicon caulks available, I would not use those in this application.

GE Ultra Glaze (black stuff) in place and then the Lexan window material is smooshed into place. This all cleans up well for a tidy finish.
GE Ultra Glaze (black stuff) in place and then the Lexan window is smooshed into place. There is also a protective plastic sheet on the Lexan. This all cleans up well for a tidy finish.


Servicing Winches

Starboard jib sheet winch on Zia, a Lewmar 44ST self-tailing winch

Winches are quite important on sailboats, but they seem to be often neglected. <sniff>

When I ask around my sailing buddies & boat owners,  winch maintenance seems to be a mixed bag.  I had a couple of long-time boat owners tell me they didn’t realize they were supposed to service their winches, and at the other end of the spectrum there are OCD sailboat racers who do it before every race.

After taking our winches apart, I’m pretty sure Zia’s last previous owner fell into the former category.  I think it’s been at least 8 years since they were serviced.

There was either no lubrication or a thick, gritty, black goo that had no resemblance to the light grease recommended by Lewmar.  There were also two broken ‘prawls’, which are the little teeth that stop a winch from spinning in the wrong direction.

We’ve decided that we’ll be servicing the winches on Zia annually, probably in the winter.

On the Lewmar 44 ST, after removing the 4 hex bolts, you need to remove these circlips, then the outter drum lifts off
The only tricky part of taking apart  the Lewmar 44 ST:  after removing the 4 hex bolts on top, you need to remove these Colletts, then the outter drum lifts off

On Zia (Morgan 384) we have the following winches, all circa 1982:

  • 2 each, Lewmar 44ST for jib sheets
  • 1 each, Lewmar 16ST for main sheet
  • 1 each, Lewmar 8C single speed on starboard side of mast for halyards
  • 1 each, Lewmar 16C single speed on port side of mast for halyards
Lewmar 44ST partially disassembled. You can start to see the goo. After those hex bolts are removed the entire unit lifts off, leaving only the bottom plate with the big slotted screws.
Lewmar 44ST partially disassembled. You can start to see the goo. After those hex bolts are removed the entire unit lifts off, leaving only the bottom plate with the big slotted screws.


When the 44ST is fully disassembled, only the base plate remains.
When the 44ST is fully disassembled, only the base plate remains.
When the #8 and #16 winches are fully disassembled, the post is still on the plate.
When the #8 and #16 winches are fully disassembled, the post is still on the plate.

 It is pretty chilly out, so I put each of the disassembled winches in a bucket and brought them home to clean.

There was a thick black, gritty goo coating everything.  To remove it, I poured minieral spirits (from Lowes) in the bucket and let things soak to soften them up.

Then I used a nylon brush (from Lowes) and mineral spirits, and lots of those tough blue paper towels (from Lowes) to clean each part individually.


I bought Lewmar Gear Grease and RaceLube (oil).  In a nutshell,  after cleaning everything, you are supposed to lightly brush Gear Grease on the bearings and gears, and use only oil on the prawls.  No grease on the pawls.

Our port jib winch had two broken prawls, which I replaced with new ones.  I also replaced all of the springs on all of the prawls.  There appeared to be some old grease on the prawls, and I reckon this might have been a factor in the breaking of the prawls.

Here are some excellent videos about servicing winches made by Lewmar featuring the talented and fascinating Lia Ditton.   Oh yeah, Roland is probably fascinating too.

[youtube id=WZr_NuCmB64 width=”560″ height=”315″]

[youtube id= r3Co76KqF-4 ]


Rudder Post Stuffing Box R&R

We have noticed that since we got Zia (our Morgan 38) about a year ago, when we motor at or near hull speed, we get a couple gallons per hour of water in the bilge.

After reading up on the awesome Morgan 38 owners site (www.morgan38.org), we started suspecting the rudder stuffing box was leaking.  Going near hull speed, a wave is formed that goes above the normal waterline near the bow and at the stern.

The rudder post is at the stern and the stuffing box (which keeps water out of the boat) is barely above water line.  So when the wave is formed, if the stuffing box is leaking a little, water will flow into the bilge.  The stuffing box is located in the locker just abaft the wheel.

Below is a picture peering straight down into the locker.  The big aluminum circular thing (A) is the steering quadrant. Actually, I think it might technically be a ‘radial drive’, but everyone calls it a ‘quadrant’ so that’s what I’ll call it too.  Cables (C) coming from the steering wheel  go around this wheel, which provides leverage to turn the rudder post (B), which is the small circle in the center.

Steering Quadrant

The copper/bronze colored arm (E) attached to the top of the rudder post is the auto helm/auto pilot.

The steering gear is made by Edson and here is a picture from their manual on how the quadrant interacts with the wheel using cables.


The rudder stuffing box is beneath this equipment, so it all has to be removed.  I read on Morgan38.org that one of the owners managed to change the packing with this quadrant in place, by reaching through those two holes.  This is quite amazing to me since this locker is very small, the holes are very small, you can’t see the stuffing box through the holes and they must have been hanging upside down while doing it.  I wasn’t designed for these kinds of contortions, so I removed the equipment, which only took about 30 minutes.

  • Be sure to mark/measure how far down the rudder post the assembly is bolted.  It slides up/down the post when loose.
  • 9/16″ socket wrench to remove 4 bolts on copper/bronze colored autopilot arm
  • 9/16″ socket wrench to remove 4 bolts holding the quadrant together near the collar on the rudder post
  • 1/2″ socket wrench to remove nuts on two bolts which tension the wires. These exit the top of the quadrant and are visible in the photo.
  • Quadrant then comes into two pieces and slides off the post

If you do this, be sure to mark (or measure) on the rudder post the location of this equipment because is slides up and down on the post when loosened and  you’ll probably want to replace it at the same location.

Here’s another photo of the assembly from an angle (oblique).

Oblique View of Steering Quadrant

Below is a picture of the rudder post after the quadrant and autopilot arms have been removed.  The packing nut (the object of our pursuit) is visible at the base, next to the blue paper towel.  That nut is about 4″ diameter and we used some monster sized channel grips to get it off.

Rudder Post with Packing Nut Attached

I have read rave reviews about Gore GFO packing.  It apparently lasts for many years without needing any service.  I also read that Morgan 38s typically use 3 rings of 1/2″ material.  So I ordered 30 inch length of 1/2″ packing from an online store called eMarine.  It cost around $54 with free shipping.

Next, with the help of my nimble and limber son Wyatt, we cut the 3 rings using the rudder post just above the nut as a guide.  The post is not tapered and since the boat is in the water I was afraid of taking the nut off and having water flowing into the locker.  I therefore wanted to minimize the time with the nut off by having the packing pre-cut.

We took off the packing nut … flow or no? to be continued ….


How to Bleed Fuel Line on a Perkins 4-108 Diesel Engine

Okay, in scouring the internet I couldn’t find a good reference on how to prime (bleed) the fuel line on a Perkins 4.108 diesel, which is the 50 HP diesel engine on Zia (our Morgan 38 sailboat).

In fact, I found in some forums that owners admitted to being so afraid of bleeding the system that they have never changed their fuel filters (!).

I didn’t want to live in fear, nor did I want a dirty or plugged fuel filter, so here is how I bled the system.  The Perkins manual is pretty good, but I had problems finding the gizmos they mentioned because the pictures didn’t look like my engine and some of the gizmos were hidden on the back (port) side of the engine which I couldn’t see.  This was also the first diesel engine I’ve become intimate with, so my ignorance cannot be overstated.

If you are going to bleed the system anyway, you might as well change all of the fuel filters.  In my case, I have a primary Racor filter under the galley sink.  I changed that, then I also changed the secondary fuel filter, which is mounted on the starboard side of my engine.

The photo below is of the starboard side of our engine, via the access panel from the starboard quarter berth.  The secondary fuel filter is the white cylinder under the bolt marked with (A).

I used a 5/8″ box wrench to loosen the bolt on top of the fuel filter (A), then use the manual lift pump lever (B) to pump until clean fuel with no bubbles comes out from under the bolt.  You just raise the little lever up and down until something happens.

Then tighten bolt (A).

Next, using the forward access for the engine (removing the stairs), reach around to the port side of the engine, where the injector pump is located.  The photo below shows a red box with the location of the detailed photo that follows.


Detailed area on engine port side. This is the area shown by the red box in the previous photo.Referring to the photo above, loosen small bolt (5/16″ box wrench) on side of injector pump (A).  Facing the engine, with left hand, reach around to the starboard side of the engine and pump the manual lever on the fuel lift pump (that you pumped in previous step) until fuel with no bubbles comes out from around the bolt, then tighten bolt (A).

Next, loosen bleed bolt on top of the governor (B) with 5/16″ box wrench and again manually pump the lift pump until fuel with no bubbles issues from bolt.  I think it was draining down the back of the bolt, so I applied a little pressure to the bolt from the front to tilt it a little so I could see the fuel coming out the front.  Then tighten bolt (B).

I then cranked the engine a few times to see if it would start.  It wouldn’t start.  I’m cautious about cranking the engine for more than 10 seconds because it can pull water into the cylinders (don’t ask why I know that, it’s a little embarrassing).

Then I loosened one of the injector compression fittings (C) and cranked the engine. After a few seconds it started up and ran fine after that.  Be sure to tighten the injector compression fitting back up.

I didn’t have to loosen the other injector compression fittings, although some of the instructions I’ve seen say you might need to do that.

Note also that our engine seems to be sensitive to the cold. If it’s below 45 degrees F air temperature, I need to spray a small amount of starter fluid into the air intake.


Propeller Replacement

Left is old propeller with crack to the left of the (A), Right is the new propeller

One of the things the surveyor noticed when we purchased Zia (our Morgan 38) was a crack on the hub of the propeller.  It looked like it had been there a long time and the previous owner said he was unaware of it.

While she was hauled out at Schooner Creek, we ordered and installed a new propeller.

Above is a photo of the old propeller (left) with a crack (A).  We were told by the propeller shop that if the previous installer lubricated the propeller shaft and tightened the nut too tight, you could see this kind of cracking.   Lesson: don’t lubricate the shaft and don’t over tighten.

We also replaced the old Zinc, which was in good shape still, with the newer style of Zinc (B) which is mounted at the end of the shaft.  The old Zinc is the collar-like thing bolted to the shaft just to the right of (A) in the photo above.

We were very happy with the propeller shop Sheffield Marine Propeller.  They know their stuff and were reasonably priced compared to the super cheap internet shops.  We wanted to use a local shop for support since we had near zero experience with propellers.

The new prop, like the old, was a bronze 3 blade fixed propeller, 16X11 RH, for a 1-1/4″ shaft.  It cost $583 and we picked it up at their shop in Portland.

If you are new to propellers, the ’16’ is the propellers overall diameter.  The ’11’ is the ‘pitch’ of the propeller.  Pitch is “the distance a propeller would move in one revolution if it were moving through a soft solid like a screw through wood”.


Graphical representation of propeller pitch



Finally, the ‘RH’ means it’s right handed, which has to do with the direction the shaft turns to go forward.

The optimal value for all of these factors can be determined by the boat’s hull shape, the engine, and the transmission.  Mix these variables in with a some voodoo, formulas and a bunch of experience and out pops a propeller specification.

In my case, I got on the excellent Morgan 38 owner’s site (morgan38.org) and found out that for my engine and transmission, this was the originally recommended propeller.

Our Engine:  Perkins 4-108

Our Transmission: Hurth HBW150-1.9R

Propeller sizes are usually stamped on the hub of the propeller.

Old Propeller with '16 RH 11' stamped onto the hub.  Notice crack under the lettering.
Old Propeller with ’16 RH 11′ stamped onto the hub. Notice crack under the lettering.


Day 15 – Back to Civilization

Practice for the Carnival, Martinique
Practice for the Carnival, Martinique

Up around sunrise, we pack our gear and salty, weathered clothes.

When Pierre comes by to check us out, we give him the list of things that should be fixed. Being a new boat, from what I can tell ours was the first longer (multi-week) charter she has been on. We tell him that Ginger was quite comfortable but the reefing was anything other than ‘automatic’ as they called it. It took three of us and much winching to properly reef.

We also talked about how she didn’t sail upwind so well. Pierre said in french they have a saying that Lagoons sail “upwind like the fog”.  This had us chuckling for a while.

The day we pulled out of Le Marin, we were still tied up getting ready and another cat rented from Regis came motoring up the fairway towards us at higher speed than normal. He reached the end of the fairway where we and another cat were tied off perpendicular to the fairway. He then did a quick somewhat spastic turn, hit the boat in front of us with a big crunch then motored back out the fairway without stopping.

We were a little stunned, then gave our contact info to the man whose boat was clobbered in case they needed a witness. We chuckled and noted to ourselves to beware this kind of skipper on our trip.

Given the rough sailing conditions, tricky harbors and reefs we had seen on this trip, I was curious and asked Pierre how often people crashed their boats. He said “every week”. He said in fact that the boat we saw perform the hit and run then promptly motored into Marin harbor and ran hard aground on one of the marked reef. Someone saw it and told Regis, however the skipper never did. He returned the boat and said everything was fine. It was bad enough they had to haul the boat and repair the hulls.

I’m very impressed with Regis Guillemot, both as a charter company and a person. The staff seem very competent, honest, hardworking and friendly. On both nights we were on the boat in Marin, Regis (the owner) was there working late, attending to details long after his staff had gone home.

As we are waiting to check out, we have some time to walk around and look at boats. there are more cats here than I’ve seen anywhere else. Tons of Lagoons and Fountaine Pajots. Some Catanas, Outremers, Nauticats, Privilege. I was expecting to see some of the newer Leopards, but didn’t see any. I reckon it’s because the Leopards are made in South Africa and we are surrounded mostly by french cats. Would like to try an Outremer or Catana next time. They are more performance oriented and have daggerboards which improve upwind sailing.

We (Kelley, Loren, Susan and I) take a taxi from Marin to Fort de France. Same nice driver (Max) who had taken us to Marin on the first night.

We find a hotel down by the waterfront, it’s a rather quaint and disorganized place. The first pair of rooms we get are already occupied. Since we don’t speak French, it was interesting to pantomime that concept to the puzzled clerk.

We set out in search of food, but it is Sunday and almost everything is closed. There is one restaurant but it’s totally full of people from a cruise ship that is in port. We wander the shuttered streets getting more and more hungry, cranky and hot. We round one corner and there is a huge, gleaming McDonalds which is open and appears to be quite busy.

None of us are McDonalds fans, and it seems so perverse to be in an exotic place like this and go to McDonalds. Then again, having eaten foreign foods for a couple of weeks, there is a tiny voice in my head saying how wonderful a burger & fries would taste, eaten in air conditioned comfort.

We resist temptation, then wander the streets getting more hungry, cranky and hot.

In a moment of weakness, we decide to go to McDonalds. It’s too much for Loren and he bolts. Once inside we see that it’s swarming with local folks and it will take 20-30 minutes to get served. Considering the wait time and the stigma, we decide to search some more.

We find a nice little food kiosk over by the cruise ship dock and have a very French-looking grilled ham sandwich.

Back at the room we enjoy the first gushing hot water showers (aka Hollywood showers) that we’ve had in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people are starting to gather along the street below our hotel. We find out that it’s nearing Martiniques Carnival time and there will be a parade. We sit on Kelley & Loren’s deck directly above the festivities.

That's Kelley & Loren up on the balcony
That’s Kelley & Loren up on the balcony

It’s quite the spectacle. Groups of colorful dancers, musicians, drummers, and drag queens parade down the street to the cheers of the crowds. I’ve never been to Mardi Gras, but I imagine it to be similar. I’ll post some video.


We found out the next day from Max that what we saw was really the practice rounds for the real carnival. It’s hard to imagine any more energy or people in the streets than what we saw. The real Carnival starts in a couple of weeks.


It was a wonderful thing to accidentally stumble upon, though, almost like when we sailed into Ensenada, Mexico and stumbled upon the Baja 1000 race.

Day 14 – Back to Marin, Martinique

Customs opens at 8am, so Kelley, Sheven and I dingy over to shore when they should be open. They aren’t open. We go pay The Moorings for our mooring rental, then wait around for Customs to open. A taxi driver that Sheven has recruited says that it’s Saturday and sometimes the Customs guys drink too much on Friday nights.

Waiting for customs
Waiting for customs

Finally at about 9, a guy shows up. He gives me the big form to fill out, which I do and then try to give him. He waves we off, pointing to the empty desk next to his. He is Immigration, and the empty desk is Customs, which needs to process my form first.

We wait around for another hour or so, wondering if we’ve missed our chance to make it all the way back to Martinique today.

Finally, Mr. Customs show up. He’s a bit of a bully (or hung over?) and is shouting things in Creole at everyone. He takes my form, looks at it, then tells me I need to fill another form out so that the one clearing into St. Lucia shows Sheven and the one clearing out does not have Sheven.

So, I fill out another form without Sheven and give him both forms. He starts processing them, gives them back to me. Turns out the second form I filled out was missing the carbon paper for the copies, so I need to fill it out again. Finally, after the third form and lots of stamping and signatures we were done.

Ginger waiting patiently to go home to Martinique
Ginger waiting patiently to go home to Martinique

We are a little flustered about being so late to depart so we say a rapid goodbye to Sheven. She hops in her taxi and takes off, Kelley and I dingy back to Ginger. Loren and Susan have been wondering what was taking us so long. They had tried to reach us via radio, but Mr. Customs had made me turn our radio off. We get everything ready for departure, drop lines and start motoring.

The Moorings base at Marigot Bay
The Moorings base at Marigot Bay

The boat boy/man comes rushing up in his skiff. I assume he wanted to help with our mooring lines, but we are already free. He shouts that we still have the passport of the lady who recently left via Taxi. Oops! In our rush to get moving, Sheven’s passport was still in my dry bag. She had been gone for about 20 minutes and fortunately her driver called back to send word.

It’s a good thing – we were about 1 minute from being out of Marigot bay and out of touch. We give the boat man her passport in a ziplock bag. He runs it to shore. I think we were on autopilot, and from our dealings with the boat man last night, he seemed like a good, honest person. In hindsight, we should have waited for Sheven to come back, even if it meant not getting boat back to Marin tonight. [Postscript: as it happens, the boat man *was* honest and Sheven got her passport. We worried for a couple of days, though, until we talked to her and she was safely home. We were lucky. It would have been a real mess if her passport had gone missing.]

We motor out of Marigot keeping as close as possible to the western shore of St. Lucia, trying to stay upwind as much as possible. We pass Castries, where we had picked Sheven up 10 days ago, then Rodney Bay where we spent our first night on St. Lucia. After we pass Pigeon Rock the winds seem more consistent and we hoist sail.


We are pointed straight for Marin, but we’ve learned from experience that there is an approximate 2 knt current going west, and we seem to blow/slip about 1 knt when heading up in a heavy wind. Thus we know we’ll probably be 8-10 NM west of Marin when we reach Martinique. We decide to take this approach though, since we will be able to sail the passage (faster), then motor about 2 hrs to Marin rather than motoring the whole way.

The winds are quite lively and gusting to 32 knts, we are double reefed and bouncing along at 8-9 knots. Pretty good for upwind.

Sure enough, as we get closer to Martinique, we can see that we’ve been swept quite a ways west and almost down to Fort De France. As we blow by south and west of the landmark Diamond Rock, we drop the sails and start motoring for Marin. It takes a couple hours of motoring, but soon we are at the entrance to Marin. Watching the charts and markers carefully, we make our way around the reefs and to our docking area.

Susan driving us back to Martinique
Susan driving us back to Martinique

It is approaching 6pm and we assume Regis Guillemot is probably closed, so we plan to check out the docking area. If there is space, we will tie up for the night and hopefully get some water. We are out of water again because it turns out we only got approximately 40 gallons at Willilabou. If there isn’t space, we’ll head back out and anchor someplace nearby.

As we approach the dock area, Regis himself comes motoring by in a Zodiac. Since he speaks only French and our French is not at all good, he pantomines that he is going out to bring another boat back, then he’ll be back for us. At this point we also realize that we’re supposed to have filled up the tank with fuel before we return.

So, we spin around and head for the fuel dock. Turns out that’s where Regis is also getting on the other boat to bring it in. The fuel dock manager waves us off and says they are closed (twice) while we are idlying nearby. Apparently Regis had some words with him, because suddenly he is open again and waves us into a dock area.

After tanking up we head over to our dock area. Soon, Regis motors over in the Zodiac and jumps on board, takes the helm and backs us up into a tiny/awkward spot, where his men grab lines and tie us off very nicely. I don’t think I would have attempted to get Ginger into such a tiny spot and I’m thankful Regis works late.

We get a water hose and for the first time in 2 weeks, shore power. We start washing all of the salt off of Ginger (she is quite encrusted). There is a big DJ party of some kind on the shore near our dock with many hundreds of people and blaring caribbean rap music. After about an hour it ends, and peace settles into our dock area.

The carcass of an unfortunate boat in the Cul De Sac at Marin
The carcass of an unfortunate boat in the Cul De Sac at Marin

This has been quite the trip and I’m thankful that it’s ended without any significant mishaps. We’ve sailed hundreds of miles through some fairly heavy wind and seas, and we’ve visited some incredible places.

Tomorrow we’ll finish packing, clean the boat up and head for a day of hanging out in Fort De France before getting our flight early Monday morning.

Day 13 – To Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

We have a lot of miles to cover today making our way north, so we drop the lines and head out early. It is quite gusty and we see at least 38 knots of wind a the northern tip of St. Vincent – an area known for wind as the trade winds wrap around the tip of the island.

Heading back north to Martinique, St. Vincent in the background

Lots of launching off of waves and spraying.

I re-learn the fact that parts of my face start flapping in winds over 34 knots. Seems to me that the number used to be 38 knots and I wonder if that’s a symptom of aging? Someday, will my face flap at 20 knots?

Some of the spray hitting me at the helm is like getting hit by a salty fire hose jet. I’m pretty sure about 2 gallons of salt water has been jetted up my nose. This would please my mother. She’s into those Netay pots where you snort salt water to ward off colds and infections. I’ve surely snorted enough to make me invincible for a few months.

The salt spray is also quite hard on the eyes, even with sunglasses on. I’ve had to put on my diving mask before, but today we get by with periodically washing our eyes with fresh water.

We seem to make good progress in the right direction, but as we approach St. Lucia it becomes apparent that we are almost 10 miles west of where we want to be. I think this is because of an east-west current of 2 knots and the fact that Ginger has a lot of windage and probably is being blown sideways at at least 1 knot. Combined, that’s around 3 knts per hour of westerly movement.

At any rate, when we are west of St. Lucia, we start the engine and motor the rest of the way to Marigot Bay. I’m keen to get there before dark, since it’s a narrow bay and I’ve never anchored there before.

Moorings at St. Lucia
Moorings cat at Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

We make it in the nick of time, right at sunset. This is a big base for The Moorings, which is a big charter boat company (we used them in Greece). A boat boy tells us we can rent one of their vacant moorings, so we grab one rather than straining our brains to develop an anchoring strategy.

Marigot Bay is known as one of the best protected “hurricane holes” in the caribbean. The reason is that it’s a very narrow and long slot that is cut into the island with steep/protected sides.

The place is loaded with nice boats, especially cats and I’d love to spend a day or two just staring at boats.

This is where we drop Sheven for her trip home. She’ll take a taxi on the narrow winding roads to the airport at the south end of the island. We decide we had better do things properly, so we’ll need to wait for Customs to open in the morning to clear the boat into and out of St. Lucia.

Sunset Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
Sunset Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

Day 12 – Mustique To Willilabou, St. Vincent

This morning we dingy to shore for provisioning. Again we are searched for cameras. This time, we overhear some other french yachties complaining about it and the security guys say that the restrictions are only in effect this week. They imply that it’s because a VIP is “on-island”. The frenchman asks who the VIP is, and the security folks say that information is “on a need to know basis, and you don’t need to know”.

When we got back to the boat, we poach some Wifi and google “mustique security” and find out that Princess Kate is vacationing there and they don’t want any paparazzi to sneak in and get photos.

They have the best grocery store on Mustique that we’ve seen for a couple of weeks. It’s probably only 40 FT square, but loaded with very nice foods and drinks of all types. Outside by the beach, a man also has the best fruit stand we’ve seen on the trip.


We batten the hatches and start our serious northerly travel back toward Martinique.

The trade winds blow mostly from the east and northeast. We need to go back northeast, so we will be sailing close hauled to get back. Because this boat doesn’t tack into the wind very well,  in cases where we would normally tack upwind, we’ll probably motor straight into the wind because we don’t have time for tacking.


We decide to shoot for midway up St. Vincent – a harbor called Willilabou.

We sailed close hauled as high into the wind as possible, attempting to clear the northern tip of Bequia. We don’t make it around the corner, and because we are limited by time, we start the motor, drop the sails and motor (cheat) around the tip of Bequia. As soon as we clear the island, we raise the sails again.

It’s quite gusty – we see at least 34 knts, and we are double reefed. Between Bequia and St Vincent we get Atlantic swells in the 8-10 FT range. Lots of launching off of swells and waves spraying the helm.

When we get near Willilabou, we motor into the harbor. Quite aggressive boat boys here, and (as stated in the guidebook) they come out a couple of miles and try to flag us down. This is in contrast to Mustique, where they control all the waters around the island and there are no boat boys.

Sheven is at the helm, and we let the boat boys assist us grab a mooring and tie our stern to a piling. We are totally covered in salt crystals, so everyone jumps in the water for a swim. The water is about 50 FT deep, but we can see the bottom.

We discover we are out of water on the boat. The gauge is faulty and almost instantly drops from a reading of half full to empty.

There is a “senior” boat boy (really a 50ish year old man) who seems to be calling the shots here. He is in a skiff with no motor – only oars, but he is rowing around telling the other boat boys and everyone else what to do.

The Dock at Willilabou. Photo by Sheven
The Dock at Willilabou. Photo by Sheven

There is a water hose at the end of the dock, but we can’t reach it. With Sheven at the helm again, the senior boat man starts giving us instructions and we tie two of our dock lines (the only available lines we have on Ginger) together to the stern and we back up until the line barely reaches the dock. The hose barely reaches us. Water just barely trickles out of the hose, but it makes us happy to have water to wash the salt off our bodies.

Loren was the only one of us who made it to shore at Willilabou.  He bravely held the hose while drinking a beer. Photo by Sheven.
Loren was the only one of us who made it to shore at Willilabou. He bravely held the hose while drinking a beer. Photo by Sheven.

We met the most polite boat boy here. They are so nice, the ladies buy some jewelry.

Photo by Sheven
Photo by Sheven

Willilabou is where parts of Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed. They have kept parts of the set and other momentos from the film. Unfortunately, we got into the harbor late and were too tired to go ashore for sightseeing. Loren was the only person who made it ashore during water negotiations.

Awesome sunset, and we’re starting to get sad that our trip is reaching it’s end.