Day 26, Ascension Island to Grenada - ARRIVAL

1330Z 17JUN22, Day 26, Ascension Island to Grenada. We made it! We flew the last 12 or so hours and we could have gone faster, but we kept things at a nice clip to arrive in the early morning. 

Current Position: 12 03N / 061 45W - tied up in the Port Louis Marina

22.5 hour progress: 132nm, 5.9kts avg SOG, about 1 hour on the engine. 

3264 nautical miles sailed

25 days 22.5 hours (622.5 hours)

5.24 knots average speed over ground

45.9 hours of engine time

2 dorado, caught, landed and eaten

2 ¿amberjack?, (1 medium and 1 small) caught, landed and eaten

6-8 other small fish caught and released back to the sea

Major Casualties: blown asymmetric spinnaker

9693nm sailed between 7 January - 17 June!!!

Yesterday's weather was hazy, but we still managed to get good solar power. We sailed deep down wind on a starboard tack. (Most of our sail to Grenada was on a starboard tack.) By late afternoon the course was a bit high and we wanted to go around the south end of Grenada so we considered our options. We decided to gybe the main sail and leave the genoa poled out on the port side. This increased our speed nicely and was quite comfortable with the calmer seas - rolly, but not too much. 

As we were aiming for a morning arrival, we left the 3 reefs in the main. We could easily have added speed by shaking out some reefs. As the kids did their last watches we gave them night orders not to go too fast. They disobeyed (it's a joke, as they had no way to control speed) as the current picked up adding almost 2kts of boat speed. It must be a law of good ol' Murphy that the easiest time to effortlessly go fast is when you don't need or want to.

By Megan's mid-watch it was approaching time to put a little north back in our westerly course. We decided to wait a bit from the turnover and Megan was going to wake Jon for the maneuver. However, Daxton popped up to see how things were going and Megan quickly recruited his assistance. They gybed the main back across and were able to turn up pretty well soon to a broad reach which kept us moving well towards Grenada, along with the current. 

Jon had the sunrise watch and both kids joined him - just a little excited about our arrival! They were able to secure the pole and turn north around the west side of Grenada while Megan continued to try to get in a little nap. It is quite nice to have the boys help with sails. It makes a difference. 

We sailed north and had morning coffee. Then, when we were a few miles out and were no longer making headway to St George's by sailing close hauled, we secured the genoa and turned on the engine. We headed in and did all the normal boat clean up and preparations to anchor. As the cats were still not sorted we thought we would anchor out to try to figure out what was going on before we headed into the marina. 

As we approached the anchorage we realized there were mooring buoys. We grabbed one and secured ourselves. We were able to find a free internet broadcast and start some research. Jon called the government office that was supposed to do our permit to try to see what was going on. Soon thereafter a dinghy came by from a neighboring boat. They welcomed us and we chatted for a minute. We mentioned our issue with the cats and they said they had the exact same issue (they have 1 cat) and their friend that has 2 cats also had the same issue! They assured us that it would be no problem to enter. They had declared the cat on the paperwork and nobody from customs asked for the permit which would show up later. This was all quite a relief that we weren't the only ones that this happened to and that it wasn't a big deal on check-in. 

With this new knowledge we prepared to come in to the marina. Jon called the marina on the radio and they told us on which side to have fenders and promised to help us to our berth. So after about an hour on the mooring we were on our way into the marina. They guided us to our spot, but we decided it was a bit tight (marinas are tricky for us with no bow thruster and a short rudder, plus we were all tired after our passage!) and we negotiated for an easier spot. We were soon tied up and given a friendly welcome to Grenada. 

Jon was then off for check in arrangements. They were indeed easy and Megan received the pet permits around the same time. We plan to stay in the marina for a week and to get some things done. Then we will cruise Grenada a little bit and finally head down to Trinidad for our boat work. There is a nice restaurant and a pool at the marina. Internet at the boat is a bit spotty, but it is good and fast at the restaurant and pool. 

Thank you for following along. We will largely move posts back to Facebook and Instagram, with more pictures, which can also be viewed through this blog on our social media page. We appreciate all the love and support!

Day 25, Ascension Island to Grenada

1300Z 16JUN22, Day 25, Ascension Island to Grenada. Another good progress day, more or less direct to Grenada, with help from the current. The Strawberry Supermoon continued to keep us company.

Current Position: 11 57N / 059 48W
24 hour progress: 139nm, 5.8kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 3132nm, approximately 116nm to Grenada. We continued sailing deep downwind with the poled out genoa, 3 reefs in the main and a nice push from the current.

Yesterday was largely sunny weather. Most of the rain clouds and storm cells dissipated. The winds largely stabilized around 20kts with only the occasional gusts stronger or holes with lighter winds. We continued to make better than expected progress as the current continued to boost our speeds over ground. As we are pointed nearly directly downwind, it has been very rolly aboard.

The sea is still green. We still haven't caught another fish, just lots of weed. The sargassum weed has diminished (maybe?) so we are trying the fishing line again. We made pizza last night so we are definitely not suffering without fish right now.

We saw some different bird life yesterday. There was a masked booby that was fishing near the boat. Daxton decided that indicated that he should be fishing. He put the line in and got a bite, but no fish. One of these days he will probably hook something big by the boat and lose the whole fishing rig. We also had a noddy hanging out on our solar panels for awhile overnight. As it was just the one, (s)he was quiet, but there was still a mess to clean up this morning.

Spirits aboard are high as we continue to look good for a Friday morning arrival. Still lingering is a pending import permit for the cats which could keep us from being able to check in and be ashore tomorrow. (We have spent the last week trying to complete final coordination for the permit that is only valid for 10 days. We expected this would be relatively simple and straightforward. However, there seems to have been a miscommunication or lost documents and since last night we have been trying to resend large file documents that we sent back in St Helena when we had internet - all in an attempt to avoid this exact situation. Iridium GO! and big emails do not mix or make for happy crew and they take down email, delaying blog posts.) We are trying to temper the mood just in case things don't go smoothly. Fingers crossed we can work it out and be checked in tomorrow and enjoying a meal and a drink ashore.

Day 24, Ascension Island to Grenada

1300Z 15JUN22, Day 24, Ascension Island to Grenada. A solid progress day, direct to Grenada, with a devastating loss of a favorite sail. The Strawberry Supermoon was impressive last night, lighting our way and keeping us company.

Current Position: 11 36N / 057 29W
24 hour progress: 138nm, 5.75kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 2993nm, approximately 252nm to Grenada. We destroyed our asymmetric spinnaker and have been sailing deep downwind with the poled out genoa, 3 reefs in the main and a nice current assist.

The day started off with sunny weather and a few storm clouds. We whisked along nicely with the red, white and blue asymmetric chute flying and enjoyed a quick 33333 celebration as the boat odometer rolled over this milestone. The first cell hit us after the 24 hour log entry was made and suddenly pummeled us with 30+kt winds and 25+kts of apparent wind (wind over the deck and through the sail). We tried to head straight downwind and let out the sheet for the chute, but she ripped in two and shredded. It was a very sad (and likely expensive) moment. At that point we weren't paying much attention to the anemometer anymore, so we don't know what the peak gust registered.

The boys were quick to the cockpit and we all set to work in the freshly pouring rain to secure the sail. Thankfully the luff (the leading edge of the sail that holds the torsion line that goes from the bow to the top of the mast) remained intact. This allowed us to furl in the sail. It was a mess, but it all eventually wrapped in to a coil and we were able to get the full sail back on deck and secured. The sail will likely be repairable, but it will need some time with a good sail loft / sailmaker which should be possible in Trinidad. We aren't sure if we ripped panels or just seams. At any rate it will need new edging and possibly some new panels. It was a sad, sad moment. Spinnakers are made of light weight fabric and if you sail them enough, eventually one will tear (or dramatically disintegrate) and you have a very sad day.

Apparently this was all a sign that the weather was no longer stable enough for the asymmetric anyway and we needed to be on the poled out genoa. This is slower, of course, but very safe and stable in gusting winds.

The rest of the day was filled with sun and occasional storm clouds. The storms cells didn't have any lightning, but they did have a lot of energy. Packing 35-40kt winds for 10-20min as they rolled over us, often with a good shower. Definitely not weather for us and an asymmetric. The rest of the time the winds were largely steady around 20kts, and so they remain.

There was a lot of disappointment throughout the boat as we all knew that we needed to make around a 5.5kt avg to arrive in Grenada Friday morning. The boat goal has been to try to make Friday in time to check in and have a celebratory meal out. Of course, arriving Friday night or Saturday morning would also be totally fine, but we like goals and working together towards them. Being on the genoa in <20kt winds made a 5.5kt avg unlikely and we all knew it. However, we have all been pleasantly surprised that we have beat this target with the help of a good current in our favor! Help from the current has largely eluded us this trip. So while the weather forecast suggested we should have favorable current, we weren't counting on it, as it has very rarely been helpful for us this passage.

In a good news story for the day, Jon worked on the inverter again as the laptop was nearly out of power. He found the problem! Ok, he found *a* problem, it may or may not be *the* (only) problem as these aren't exactly simple systems. After more switch flipping was unsuccessful, off went the box covers and out came the multimeter and then the networking tools. It seems that one of the male terminals on the Ethernet cable connecting the inverter with its remote control panel was not seating securely in the socket on the inverter card and slight movements/vibrations of the cable were resulting in all kinds of random signals. (Who expects that there will be movement and vibrations on a rocking and rolling boat???)

The sea has remained green in color and so far no fish for us. The line is back in as we continue downwind, rolling from side to side. One more fish meal would be nice, but we can figure out two more dinner meals or even three (or more), if need be without going too deep in the cans. Almost there.

Day 23, Ascension Island to Grenada

1300Z 14JUN22, Day 23, Ascension Island to Grenada. Yet another slower progress day direct to Grenada. The weather has been mixed.

Current Position: 11 20N / 055 11W
24 hour progress: 107nm, 4.5kts avg SOG, about 2 hours motor sailing. Overall progress for the passage is 2855nm, approximately 390nm to Grenada. We sailed the asymmetric and played with angles and reefs in the main to try to get some speed.

The day started off with decent speeds and a deep broad reach. By afternoon the clouds had returned and winds were dying down. This time the lower winds were expected. We shook out all but one reef in the main and sailed a deep broad reach so as to try to take advantage of the main. It kind of worked. Speeds were low, but so was the wind speed.

In the late afternoon we tried to get our inverter on again. It really didn't want to come on this time. We decided to turn on the engine to see if that helped boost power enough to coax it to come on. It did not. As speeds were low anyway, we used the engine to assist for a short while and make a little water.

Before sunset we went back to 3 reefs in the main, secured the engine and returned to slow deep downwind sailing. We crept along. 2 forecasts suggested the wind would return in the evening and another suggested it would be the early morning hours. Unfortunately it was the early morning hours forecast that was correct. Since the winds filled back in, we have been moving well again.

The early morning also came with some rain cells that we maneuvered through. Those clouds remain scattered around and will likely mean some variable winds today. But for now we are back in strong sun. The weather forecasts suggest we will have 20+kt winds for the rest of the trip. We are hopeful that will be true.

Daxton entertained himself yesterday by trying to actively fish the sargassum patches again. He caught 2 fish in quick succession. One was deemed big enough for 2 nice fillets so was kept and filleted by him. The other was too small and returned to the sea. The hope was that a second small (but not tiny) fish would be caught, but Daxton tired of the active fishing game and we went back to trolling which ended up being the collection of weed and not fish, unsurprisingly.

Daxton spotted a couple of dolphins in the evening. They didn't stay with us very long, but they are always nice company. We were thankful for their short visit. It seems a sign that land is approaching, even if our ETA is swinging across 3 days (still). This sail has seemed to be either 3-4kts or 6+kts, not much just right, comfortable, middle ground sailing.

The sea this morning is a decidedly green color and a bit harder to see through. It is a stark contrast to the clear blue waters we have been sailing across. On the plus side, there is not nearly as much sargassum weed around this morning. The trolling line is back in, so we'll see if we can coax a fish out of the deep green.

Day 22, Ascension Island to Grenada

1300Z 13JUN22, Day 22, Ascension Island to Grenada. The sun has returned! We had a slower progress day direct to Grenada.

Current Position: 11 09N / 053 24W
24 hour progress: 117nm, 4.9kts avg SOG, almost 2.5 hours motor sailing. Overall progress for the passage is 2748nm, approximately 495nm to Grenada. We swapped over to the asymmetric and added a reef to the main. We are back to sailing downwind. (Apparently the usual double checks on yesterday's data were skipped - oops. The overall was incorrect, it should have been 2631nm which then led to an incorrect week 3 stat, which should have been 952nm actually sailed in the week.)

The winds yesterday afternoon continued to be inconsistent and the weather cloudy and gray. We gave the weather some time to see what we would get. Apparently we were going to get winds far less than forecasted. While there were still gray clouds all around, the rain and gusty winds were gone.

While Megan was napping, the rest of the crew furled up the genoa, brought in the pole, added a reef to the main (to reduce blocking of the asymmetric), raised the asymmetric and launched the chute. The evolution even went smoothly. It was great teamwork and good for the boys to have successfully helped Jon. They have learned a lot and have become decent crew.

With the chute up, the wind speeds dropped even further to about 10kts and boat speeds were quite low. It was a bit of a morale sink as everyone has really started looking forward to landfall. The boys are making calculations every few hours on minimum speeds needed for different arrival times. Boat speeds of only 3-4kts significantly extend the time left!

Daxton decided to entertain himself yesterday afternoon by trying to actively fish the sargassum patches. This meant he watched and waited for a big patch to come by, then he launched a short fishing line alongside. He caught 3 small fish in 1.5 hours this way! They were all deemed too small and thrown back, but around fish 3, we were questioning this decision. Certainly 2 of them would have been a meal for the 4 of us. At any rate, even without providing a meal, it kept him entertained for a couple hours.

Later, Megan and Daxton baked up a batch of biscuits. These were a nice afternoon snack, and delightful for breakfast this morning as well. They were enjoyed with some special Uruguayan honey, homemade Tierra del Fuego Calafate jam, and a little English clotted cream we found in the Falklands.

By dinner time it was more than clear that we weren't going to get any more power out of the sun (or wind or water) and we turned on the engine. We kept it at enough rpms to keep our boat speeds between 5-6kts while we charged up the batteries a bit. Sometimes that wasn't much, other times it was a bit more. Clearly we should have motor sailed earlier in the day when we had boat speeds of 3-4kts and 10kts of wind, but we had been hopeful that the sun might come out and boost power just enough that we wouldn't need the engine. But alas that just didn't happen and battery charge was quite low.

By sunset, the winds had re-stabilized around 15-20kts and the skies began to clear. The boat speeds were back up to a more respectable 5kts. The waves also became a bit more organized and a bit smaller, though the odd large roller still tosses us around a little. The sun is out today, so we should be able to further boost our power back up with solar and hydro.

We are back to fishing. There is no more fresh meat in the fridge, just some sausages and bacon. We have some canned meats, so we will not be without proteins and Megan is creative enough in the kitchen. However, another fish meal or two would be well received. Remarkably, we still have a few fresh apples left. Less remarkably we still have potatoes. There are also a few butternut squashes, a bit of red cabbage, a couple of onions and lemons. We roasted the last of Derek's delicious zucchini gourds last night—which Daxton devoured. The rest of our fruits and veggies are otherwise down to cans and Tetra-paks.

Day 21, Ascension Island to Grenada

1300Z 12JUN22, Day 21, Ascension Island to Grenada. 3 weeks at sea! And less than a week left to go. Another good progress day, more or less on rhumb line. The weather has featured rain clouds and highly variable winds.

Current Position: 10 57N / 051 27W
24 hour progress: 136nm, 5.7kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 2731nm, approximately 611nm to Grenada. We continued sailing a broad reach to downwind with 2 reefs in the main and the genoa poled out. We still haven't touched the sails. Week 3 stats: 1052nm actually sailed in the week which knocked off about 929nm of the great circle course. We ran the engine for 2.9h. (And we never posted week 2 stats: 827nm actually sailed in the week which knocked off about 711nm of the great circle course. We ran the engine for 20.3h.)

The winds started off steady and constant between 20-25kts, but have now gone quite variable again. Yesterday afternoon we started going through rain clouds and that brought the usually associated large variations to the winds. Low winds to high winds and back. The direction also shifted, moving 20-30 degrees and back.

Today's weather is gray, dreary and hazy, again. The sun occasionally peeks out for a short while and we saw the moon for a bit overnight. It helps that it is getting close to being a full moon that shines through cloud cover. The boat has gotten a few light rinses in all the rain. A good wash down is still needed.

Boat speeds are currently down. We are looking for the weather to stabilize a bit and deciding if / when we should put out the asymmetric. We're still rolling about quite a bit in the mixed waves.

The fishing line has been in the water and has come back onto the boat. We caught a little fish and let him go. We are constantly hooking more weed, and if someone doesn't want to actively tend to the line and clean off the weed, then it doesn't make sense to keep it in the water all day.

All else is pretty quiet. We are all starting to look forward to land fall and refining our guesses as to when it will occur.

Day 20, Ascension Island to Grenada

1300Z 11JUN22, Day 20, Ascension Island to Grenada. Another good progress day, more or less on rhumb line. The weather remains overcast and gray. Today feels largely the same as yesterday.

Current Position: 10 34N / 049 12W
24 hour progress: 147nm, 6.1kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 2495nm, approximately 746nm to Grenada. We continued sailing a broad reach with 2 reefs in the main and the genoa poled out. We haven't touched the sails.

The winds have remained steady and constant between 20-25kts with slightly higher gusts at times. The winds haven't really changed direction. We tweaked our course here and there, but we remained on a broad reach headed directly to Grenada. The ride has improved a bit with the waves slightly more aft (or we have gotten used to the motion since it has been more or less this way for days).

Today's weather is gray, dreary and hazy, just like yesterday. The sun never really burned through yesterday which does keep the temperatures a bit cooler. The haze has included more Saharan dust, but it isn't accumulating as quickly as before. Another good wash down will be welcomed in the coming days.

The sargassum weed thickness comes and goes. Last night we passed through massive patches of it for several hours. Jon gave up trying to keep a dagger board down as it was almost impossible to pull it back up after even 5 minutes down due to the heavy weed accumulation. Eventually the weed spread out to the familiar lines and the dagger board went back down improving our course holding and reducing our energy use for steering. The board still requires regular cleaning along with Watt&Sea.

Jon spent the morning getting our inverter to turn back on. It had been working fine since we worked on it back in the Falklands and started treating it a certain way (switches lined up a bit differently than we had sometimes done prior to that point). Yesterday, it again decided not to turn on. That meant Jon flipped numerous switches in different parts of the boat at first to no avail, then generating incremental progress after an hour or so, and finally in a sequence/pattern that made it all work normally again. No idea why it decides to work again or not, but it behaves like there is a capacitor that discharges when we've been off shore power for a long time that then needs to be recharged so the control boards respond as they should. If only it was a documented issue with a documented solution. But how many people install this big of a charger/inverter, stay unplugged from shore power for months at a time without running an AC generator, and only exercise their inverter once every few days? Boats.

The fishing line has remained stowed on board. Conditions remain a bit sporty with large waves. We will wait for calmer seas to put the line back in. We still have some leftover fish that will make a nice curry for dinner.