USVI is Home for March Möbius Update 6-12 March 2023

USVI is Home for March Möbius Update 6-12 March 2023

IMG_2561Thanks to Christine’s forecasting with PredictWind we had a super smooth ride all the way from where we left you last week in St. Martin to the US Virgin Islands. 
St Marting Mobius tracksWe left SXM out the drawbridge on the northern French side (Green on the map) for its 17:00 opening and then anchored in the outside bay to enjoy dinner and the sunset. 
SXM to St ThomasWe got underway about 20:00 for our overnight 103NM passage timed so that we would arrive in USVI after sunrise.
IMG_2557Mother Nature not only gifted us with calm flat seas but also a near full moon to light our way.
IMG_2559As you can see it was a very exciting white knuckle ride for the crew!
PXL_20230308_104050678Our timing worked out just right as we arrived at the southern coast of St. John Island just after sunrise.
usvi-1We headed for Cruz Bay (Red on map below) to check in at the US Customs & Immigration office and anchored just off shore and launched the Tender to go ashore and do all the checking in formalities.  That all went well so we headed back to Möbius to go find a nice spot to anchor for a few days.
Route map Cruz Bay to Charlotte AmeliaFound a great little spot in a small protected harbor on the West side of Great St. James Island (Green on map).  Crystal clear water, not too many neighbors and the Pizza Pi boat anchored nearby.  We stayed there till this morning (Sunday) and then headed over to Yacht Haven marina (dark Blue on map) on the East end of Charlotte Amalie to fill up our water tanks (more on that later).
IMG_2568We blend right in with the other boats on the dock don’t you think??!!
IMG_2572The dock hand was super helpful and we enjoyed chatting with him as we whiled away the few hours it took to fill up two of our water tanks.
Charlotte Amalie Bay aerial

After filling up with fresh water, we motored over to the south end of Hassle Island, which was NO hassle at all, and we we are currently anchored here as I write. (dark Blue on map above)
PXL_20230311_195901275This is the reason we had to go fill up with water today; our watermaker high pressure pump is broken.  Both the Low and High pressure pumps were not wanting to work when I went to start using the watermaker after many months sitting dormant but I was able to get the Low Pressure pump working with just a good cleaning. 
PXL_20230311_210527407However I wasn’t so lucky with the HP pump as one of the ceramic pistons was broken and so I’ll need to find a way to get some replacement parts sent over.  With a water tank capacity of 7300 L/1900 USG and only Christine and I onboard we can go about six months but with family and guests arriving soon and now ability to make our own water, we needed to head over to the marina to get some fresh water and took on about 2500L/660 USG which should be more than enough till I can get the watermaker working in the next month or two.
charlotte-amalie-st-thomas-usvi-susan-e-deggingerCharlotte Amalie is the “Big City” here on St. Thomas and the airport is not too far away so we will be checking out this area for a good spot to anchor when our Grandson Liam and parents fly in on the 22nd.  May head over to check out anchoring spots off of Water Island which Christine has fond memories of in her days chartering on her boat Sunrise when son Tim was just a young boy so fun for him to revisit this and share with his son Liam.

So that brings you up to date with the Good Ship Möbius and thanks so much for taking time to join us on this latest leg of the adventure.  Hope you’ll be back for the next update and in the meantime please leave your comments and questions in the Join the Discussion box below.

Thanks!

-Wayne
 



The Stars have lin(k)ed up in SXM  Möbius Update Feb 20-March 5 2023

The Stars have lin(k)ed up in SXM Möbius Update Feb 20-March 5 2023

St Marting Mobius tracksWhen we left off in the last update, we had arrived in SXM aka Saint Martin (France) or Sint Marteen (Netherlands) on Valentine’s Day.  We anchored for the night on the south side in Simpson Bay (Red on map) and then headed inside to the large “Great Pond” lagoon through the Bridge on the Dutch side, then over through the Causeway Bridge to where we have been anchored ever since. 
Saint_Martin_travel_map

  We are anchored about equidistant from the dinghy docks on the French side to the North and the Dutch side to the south so our location has worked out well and we’ve spent time eXploring SXM by foot and pretty much circumnavigating this fascinating island by rental car.
Cost U Less SXMSXM is home to many super yachts as well as being a popular tourist destination so we have been enjoying the largest supply of groceries, marine supplies, postal services we’ve had since arriving on this side of the Atlantic.  There is even a Costco-like Cost U Less which was a bit overwhelming for us but we recovered long enough to stock up on wine, meat and groceries. 
Carrefour market shotAnd as if that wasn’t enough, next door was a very large French based Carrefour store as well so Möbius is now very well stocked up.
IMG_2527On our drive around the island we eXplored some of the smaller town that dot most of the coastal roads.
IMG_2523Up on the North side we found this spot right on the water and
IMG_2524enjoyed a good BBQ lunch in the soft trade wind breezes while watching the boats anchored out in front.

Starlink Internet has arrived on Möbius!

PXL_20230227_204912732As you can see from the smile, the BIG news aboard Möbius is that we have now joined the Starlink community!  Christine spent a LOT of time figuring out the rather complex logistics of just how and where to get this satellite based internet solution registered and sent to us and SXM was her choice and it arrived without too much complication on Friday. 
starlink-nedir_5375859682_-1x-1_false_falseFor those who may not know, Starlink is a relatively new way of getting a pretty fast internet connection via a constellation of Low Earth Orbit LEO satellites launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.  This enables us to now have a solid internet connection from pretty much anywhere we wander and anchor in this awemazing world of ours.  For nomadic people like us, this is an eXtremely BIG deal!
image2_53009871-599f-4ed5-9efa-af7a5d0300ecYou might think that such an advanced new solution would be very complex, but you’d be wrong.  There are really just two parts, the dish itself, apparently officially called “Dishy”, that goes outside on the supplied mounting stand and then a wireless router which goes inside. 
PXL_20230227_210540962Only two wires required to complete the setup, one being the power to the router which for now we are using 240V AC but will change to 24V DC in the future.  And then a second cable to connect Dishy to the router.
PXL_20230227_220322102Dishy has a set of motors which automatically move the rectangular dish for the best direction to capture the most satellites streaming in the sky above which is mostly North in our current location.  The aluminium stand nicely jammed itself between the handrail and the triangular walls of the front of the Salon roof so I have set Dishy up there for now.
PXL_20230227_220232367We will bring him inside when we are on passages until I decide how and where to mount him more permanently.  Given that Möbius will sometimes be at all 360 degrees of the compass, I will be doing a “hack” that will remove or disconnect the alignment motors and allow me to mount the dish flat and solid most likely up on the front of the SkyBridge roof.  This solid flat mount should be much more robust mount and long lasting.
Starlink flat mountIt turns out that with more and more satellites being launched and with so many nomads like us in RV’s and boats, some bright minds have figured out that because the phase array antennae inside Dishy can pick up satellites in about a 100 degree wide cone above, the dish will work very well when permanently mounted flat.  Seems too good to be true but there are enough other nomadic Starlink users who have done this and kindly shared their setup on blogs and YouTube videos, I’m quite sure this will work fine for us.
Starlink Test screenStarlink has also done an eXcellent job of creating an app that allows you to setup your system in a matter of minutes which was also very impressive.  Once I had Dishy mounted and temporarily ran the cable back inside the boat to the router, it took less than 5 minutes to have it all working and record this quick speed test that is built into the app.  We’ve now been using this new internet connection for the past three days and so far we are both very pleased.  The app also has a full set of stats that it records and we can see that there have been some brief outages but so far nothing that we have notices performance wise when using the connection for streaming, Email, web searching, etc.  I will track and update our performance, use and modifications to our new Starlink setup and share them in future posts so stay tuned for more.

Meanwhile, back in Wayne’s World….

PXL_20230302_133403525Much less exciting update is that I continue to make progress on getting Möbius more and more seaworthy and working my way through the always growing job list.  Our Bosch washing machine stopped working part way through its latest cycle and I spent several hours trying to figure out why without much success so far. Unfortunately and like most modern washing machines it seems, they are all now “smart appliances” with everything run by LED touch screens and automated sensors that shut things down as soon as they detect a problem.

All well and good except that once they turn off they won’t turn on again until the problem has been corrected so you can’t do anymore diagnosis.  Real smart!  Grrrrrrrrrrrr  

I’ll take another run at it by removing it from the cabinet which takes time but I suspect this will need to wait till we get to a larger country where I can have better choices and options for assistance.

I spent time this past two weeks working on getting our Maretron N2K View monitoring system reporting more and more info on our main monitors at each helm as well as on our phones and tablets.
Maretron screenThis past week I was finally able to get some of the key engine data from Mr. Gee converted and sent to our N2K View Maretron system so that we can have things like engine RPM, loads, EGT, oil & water temperature, oil pressure, etc. now configured as new virtual gauges on any screen on the boat.  This screen is from another boat but will give you an idea of the kinds of gauges I am creating with the N2K View program.
IMG_0859It is slow and tedious work, in part because I’m needing to figure out how this process all works and getting all the senders and gauges in synch and talking nicely to each other so I spend a LOT of time staring at fun screens like this, but I am making progress however slowly and should have all of Mr. Gee’s data on these screens by next week.

Solar Panel Roof Update

PXL_20230305_194435025As many of you know we mounted 8 of our 14 320Wh solar panels on top of the aluminium frame of the SkyBridge roof which has worked out very well.  This shot a few minutes ago in the late afternoon so there is some shading on the rear panels from the overhead arch with the Radar and other antennae on it which reduces the output, but we have much more solar power production than we need so very happy with the overall performance.
Solar performance March 2023Here is the graph of solar performance for the past 7 days.  The solar output is regulated by the MPPT charge controllers as the batteries charge and tapers off till they are fully charged and then stops charging so there is much more solar capacity than we use each 24 hour day and typically our batteries are back to 100% by noon.
PXL_20230305_194246781Looking up from inside the SkyBridge you can see how the solar panels have been attached directly to the AL frames using adhesive/sealant to form the roof itself.  The white undersides with a bit of light coming through keeps things very bright but shaded.
PXL_20230305_143037877Unfortunately the sealant/adhesive that was used was not the correct UV resistant required along the ridge line which is fully exposed to the sun and was starting to break down and we had two small leaks inside the SkyBridge in heavy rains.  The ridge is the only point of attachment that is exposed to UV as all the other surfaces are between the bottom of the AL frames of each solar panel and the 200mm wide AL roof frames underneath so the majority of the seal was fine.
PXL_20230305_142944820Using a putty knife and box cutter blade I was able to remove all the old sealant along the ridge line joints, clean them all with acetone and then mask them off.
PXL_20230305_142730397I purchased some 3M 5200 which has eXcellent UV resistance in my past experience with it and was able to inject it deep into the crevice running along the ridge where the two solar panel frames butted at a slight angle.  Just for added insurance, I masked off the glass about 5mm past the AL frames to add an extra layer of sealant so I think this should now be fully sealed for many years to come.

St. Thomas here we come!

St Marting Mobius tracksMy Weather Wonderwoman aka Captain Christine tells me that there is an eXcellent weather window on Tuesday March 7th and so if the forecasts hold we will pull up the anchor and head out through the French side bridge to the north of us, Green on the map here.
SXM to St ThomasThis should be a relatively short passage of about 110 nautical miles, 200km/125 miles, and we’ll make this a night passage so that we arrive in St. Thomas with good light the next morning for navigating and anchoring.
Caribbean route map Martinique to USVIAs you can see from this larger scale map of the whole Caribbean, we will now be turning Westward for the next few passages as we make our way over to the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and then likely continue NW to eXplore the Bahama islands.

Kling a ling a ling

Kling familyMost excitingly though, we are heading for St. Thomas because our 7 year old Grandson Liam is flying there along with his Mom & Dad aka Tim & Ashley on March 22nd for their first time aboard Möbius! 
We will have a few weeks to get well setup probably around the East end of St. Thomas and figure out how everything works there so we can maximize the precious time we have with our family. 

I will bring you the details of our passage over to St. Thomas in the next update and thanks so much for taking the time to join us once again here as our adventures continue.

-Wayne


Holiday Happiness Möbius Update Feb 6-19, 2023

Holiday Happiness Möbius Update Feb 6-19, 2023

We don’t set out to do so on purpose, but it seems to just regularly happen that our passages coincide with holidays.  This has been the case for many years now and has continued to be the case this year with some of our most recent passages which have included:

  • Halloween Kalymnos Greece to Sicily
  • Remembrance Day Bezerte Tunisia to Saida Morocco
  • Our “First Kiss” anniversary (Dec 21)  Tangier Morocco to Las Palmas Canary Islands
  • Xmas Eve  Tangier Morocco to Las Palmas Canary Islands
  • New Years Day  First day of Atlantic Crossing from Canary Islands to Martinique Caribbean
  • Groundhog Day  Martinique to Dominica
  • Valentine’s Day  Dominica to St. Martin

No particular significance to this, just a bit of synchronicity we find interesting.

However we have been on several non holiday passages the past two weeks and wanted to provide you with an update on those so here goes.

Dominica

Dominica mapWhen I left off in the last blog Update we had just anchored in a small bay off Portsmouth on the NW cost of Dominica.  Dominica was a particular highlight for Christine as she had sailed into Dominica back in 1994 with her husband Jim and son Tim (9 years old at the time) aboard their 54′ sailboat “Sunrise” so it was great fun to travel around this small formerly British island and revisit some of the same sights she had seen back then. 
PXL_20230206_153858371Dominica is quite different from most other Caribbean islands as it is one of the youngest to be volcanically formed and so it is much more mountainous and covered in verdant jungle.  It is also one of the least populated with a population of about 74k and mostly underdeveloped island but this is a plus for us as we prefer these kinds of locations, cultures and people.  We drove down parts of both coasts and through the capital city of Roseau.


PXL_20230207_173548547 If you look closely (click to enlarge any photo) I think you won’t have any problem spotting Möbius anchored amongst the other sailboats in Portsmouth Bay.

IMG_2439We soon befriended the local “character” who goes by the name of Cobra and we hired him to take care of our whole check In/Out paperwork and then spent two other days having him show us around the home he was so proud of.  One of the trips we took was on a relatively small rowboat that took us up the small river estuary that empties into Portsmouth Bay.  This was something that Christine & Tim had done when they were here.

PXL_20230206_162050772We also spent a very full day with Cobra driving through much of the island of Dominica and one of the stops was for a swim to some water falls inside a very narrow fissure in the cliffs.  Can you spot Christine swimming back through the narrow inlet?  Hint, her lifevest is red.
PXL_20230206_162029508Here is a bit more zoomed in as she was just entering the shot.
IMG_2480What makes this area particularly interesting is that there are geo thermal hot springs everywhere.  Some small little boiling mud pots like this and others creating whole heated streams and pools.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park is home to the volcanically heated, steam-covered Boiling Lake. The park also encompasses sulphur vents, the 65m-tall Trafalgar Falls and narrow Titou Gorge so we made stops in all of these.
PXL_20230206_175005641.MPApparently we aren’t the only ones how like these mineral rich waters.
PXL_20230206_175810643.MPThe younger topology and abundant rainfall also creates some spectacular waterfalls.  This beauty was particularly fetching to me and the the double waterfalls were pretty great to see as well.
PXL_20230206_180910685Dominica benefits from the abundant sources of hydro electric power generation. 
PXL_20230206_180926201No dams required when you have a vertical drop of water from the top like this example.  Most of the pipes they use for this are created of wood strips held in a cylinder like a wooden barrel with large steel clamps to hold them all together.  Amazing to see up close.

Guadalupe

Map Martinique to BarbudaAfter a week in Dominica we took the next weather window to make the relatively short 40nm hop North to the Guadalupe.  These French Caribbean islands all use an automated DIY check In/Out system which consists of a PC setup in a marina office where you fill in the fields in a form and is then printed out.  You show your passports to the person at the store, give them 2 Euros and they stamp and sign the printed form and you’re done!  So we stopped first at the SW end of Guadalupe and anchored out in front of the marina to check in .  Unfortunately their computer system was down so I took a taxi into the main town a few kilometers north and went through the process at the Government office there.
source-geothermie-bouillanteThat only took less than two hours and we weighted anchor and went up to a lovely little anchorage off the small town of Bouillante. 
IMG_2496Not to be outdone by their neighboring island to the South, the Bay here at Bouillante has a large inflow of geo thermally heated water that creates a large section of the rocky beach that heats the seawater to hot tub temperatures up to 45C/115F and a big hit with the tourists as you can see.
KATABATIC-WIND_107076112_208753401As with many of the other Bays in this part of the Caribbean, there are frequent Karibatic winds that funnel strong gusts down the Western lee side of the mountains ashore and usually bring a lot gusty winds throughout the day and night and bringing a lot of the wet mist and rain with them.  So after enjoying the big little Festival parade in Bouillante, we decided to move on and took the next good looking weather window to make the larger jump up North.
This next passage would be a bit longer as we started to turn on the arc Westward to take us to the island of Saint Martin.  This would be about 150 nautical miles and weather wise it was best to do this as an overnight passage so on the Lucky 13th, we left blustery Bouillante in the morning and took a short 10nm jump to a much quieter anchorage on the NW end of Guadalupe and enjoyed a very peaceful day at anchor there.   Anchor up about 22:00 and we were off to St. Martin.

Caribbean_general_mapTo help put this all in perspective, here is a map of the overall Caribbean on the Right. 
Google maps Guadalupe to USVIWe wove our way through the islands of Montserrat, Antigua, St. Kitts & Nevis and Barbuda and completed the 150nm trip at an net average speed of just under 8 knots.

** NOTE: I’ve received a few questions letting me know I have caused some confusion about these boat speeds I’ve been posting.  To clarify, these speeds are calculated by taking the total distance travelled anchor to anchor and dividing it by the number of hours from departure to arrival.  Therefore this is what I refer to as our “net average speed”.  With stops along the way to clear sargasso weed or dodging other ships, our typical boat speed at any given time is usually a good bit faster in order to produce this net average speed over the whole distance.  For those wondering, our typical cruising speed is usually between 8.5 to 9 knots which we are think is the sweet  or Goldilocks just right combination of speed and fuel economy.  We continue to consume an overall average of 1.8 to 1.9 Liters/NM.  As we make more passages we will continue to try out different engine RPM, propeller pitch and boat speeds to see how these affect the fuel economy and I’ll continue to update you here as we gather those data points.

Saint/Sint Martin aka SXM

We have both been to SXM several times before on different boats so this was somewhat familiar territory for both of us for a change. 

Saint_Martin_travel_mapThis is another quite unique island as the southern half is Dutch and the Northern half is French. SXM is also unique for the large bay captured inside the island with two entrances, one on the SW corner at Simpson Bay for the Dutch end near the large airport and then another entrance over on the North side of the Lagoon by Marigot Bay for the French side.  There is a draw bridge over each of these narrow entrances and so there are set times each day for 2 to 3 openings for inbound and then another set for outbound ships.  We arrived on the South coast of St. Martin in Simpson Bay but were just a few minutes too late for the last inbound opening of the bridge at 15:00 so we anchored for the night outside. 
Airplane landing at SXMWorked out just great as we had a lovely view from our chairs on the front deck watching the planes take off and land literally right beside us as
champagne-glasses-valentines-day-clink-901572Best of all, we popped a bottle of Champagne, (well OK, Prosecco) to celebrate Valentine’s Day 2023 and remind ourselves just how fortunate we are to have found each other and be sharing this life of love, laughter and learning.  Our latest Holiday Happiness at sea!

IMG_2509First inbound bridge opening the next morning was at 09:30 so we picked up the anchor a few minutes before and joined the lineup of boats waiting to enter into the lagoon.
IMG_2510Here is a quick look back at the boat behind us just as we were approaching the bridge.
IMG_2515It can look a bit narrow at first but we have been through before and our narrow beam (5m / 16.5ft) gave us plenty of room to spare.
IMG_2520Just to put that in perspective, here is a shot as we entered into the lagoon and all these other “little” boats/ships had come through before us so there was LOTS of room for us!
PXL_20230220_164644927After entering we needed to go through one more bridge where the causeway from the Dutch side to the French side crosses the lagoon.  We preferred the quick and easy check in/out process the French have compared to the Dutch.  This is a newer bridge that is a causeway that goes across the lagoon and it was supposed to open at 11am but after holding position for over an hour they informed us that the bridge wasn’t working and would hopefully be fixed by later in the afternoon.  So we anchored just off to the side of the bridge and waited and fortunately they got it working and we were able to cross over to the French side just after 14:00.

PXL_20230220_164633995There is lots of room to anchor all over the lagoon and we found a good spot in about 5m/14ft of water with good holding sand below for our trusty Rocna anchor.


PXL_20230220_164656204.MPThe gusty winds seem to have followed us throughout this trip and continues here in St. Martin along with short bouts of rain mostly at night. 
But we are very comfy onboard and have taken the Tender into both the French and Dutch sides to refamiliarize ourselves with this unique spot in the Caribbean.  Christine has several sailing friends she knows here and we’ll get in some visits with them as well as some larger shopping expeditions for groceries in the well stocked Carrefour store as well as boat parts in the large marine stores here in this popular spot for all the super yachts so there are lots of amenities for us to take advantage of.

We will probably stay here for another week or so before we make our next jump over to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands so stay tuned for that in the next update in a few weeks.

-Wayne