Category Archives: Kool Kat Maintenance

Waiting, waiting, waiting…

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Kool Kat in her slip at Palmas del Mar Marina

OK, our last post had us arriving at Palmas del Mar Marina on the east coast of Puerto Rico where we planned to hire a car to provision in preparation for The Bahamas.  All our cruising friends had told us that you need to be well-provisioned before visiting this incredible archipelago of islands. According to Wikipedia, it encompasses more than 470,000 sq kms!

So much to see….

From what we understand there is very little agriculture so most foodstuffs are brought in, often by mail boat once a week and, when that food has gone, it’s gone until the next boat arrives. Because it is imported, food can also be expensive. Cruising guides have stressed that boaters need to be independent as there may be little or no services available. So, with all this advice in mind, we got busy!

Inventories were taken in the pantry, laundry and workshop! Use-by dates were checked and some stuff was tossed! We then set about trying to estimate how many meals x how many days we might need and exactly which boat spares we should buy, just in case!

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We stocked up at Walmart, Econo and West Marine. Oh, and Gwen and I stocked up at JC Penney’s and Marshall’s too as we didn’t have anything warm to wear in the cold Bahamas, LOL! New goods were added to the inventory and excess packaging was removed, not only minimising opportunities for little beasties to stowaway on our boat, but also to reduce the amount of rubbish we’d create in The Bahamas.

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I hope we’ve got enough……
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Definitely got enough tea bags!

In the midst of all this activity we celebrated Australia Day with the Inaugural Australia Day Film Festival on Kool Kat! Banyan (Alex and Dave) and Slow Waltz (Gwen and Guillaume) joined us to watch Aussie movies Red Dog and Gettin’ Square, which is only fair as we helped celebrate Canada Day last 1st July. We had a little Vegemite overload with Banyan and Slow Waltz bringing Vegemite popcorn yes, you read that correctly, Vegemite popcorn, which accompanied our Vegemite on salada-like biscuits and Vegemite and cheese scrolls. Thank goodness I also made Anzacs and mini banana muffins! I should add Mal showed a short Youtube video called ‘Straya’ which is quite a hoot!

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Yep, that’s the Vegemite popcorn in the green bowl! It was scrummy!
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They tasted better than they looked!

So, back to our planning for The Bahamas. Guillaume and Mal had been checking the weather watching for a good window where we could bypass the Dominican Republic and sail straight to either Great Inagua (bottom of The Bahamas) or The Turks and Caicos, a small country next to The Bahamas. The window needs to be 3-4 days of good sailing weather and there was one coming up which looked perfect.

Kool Kat leaving Puerto del Mar Marina. Thanks Banyan for the image.
Kool Kat leaving Puerto del Mar Marina. Thanks Banyan for the image.

We said our goodbyes to Alex and Dave and headed off with Slow Waltz to the southwest corner of Puerto Rico, where we would stop for the night before commencing our journey across the Mona Passage and into the great beyond! But before long Slow Waltz had trouble with the autohelm and an autohelm is not what you want to have out of action when doing a big passage, well, any passage really! So, we both pulled into Salinas on the south coast of Puerto Rico to see what was what. Luckily for us, our hot water service gave up  the ghost whilst there. We’re lucky because if this had happened elsewhere further into our trip we would have been having cold showers for a very long time! Everyone tells us that The Bahamas is a lot cooler than we’ve been used to in the Eastern Caribbean so we wanted a working hot water service! We were able to order a new one, along with some other items and, because Puerto Rico is a US territory, delivery was estimated as three days and not hellishly expensive.

We moved to Guilligan’s Island and then on to Puerto Real on the west coast to wait for the goods and so we would be ready to go as soon as the next window opens up. Our trip was beautiful with dolphins and interesting terrain to keep us occupied.

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Dolphins playing off Kool Kat’s bow
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They love to jump and surf the waves
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The stunning lighthouse, Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo, on southwest corner of Puerto Rico
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Sunrise over the sleepy port of Puerto Real
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Homes in the fishing village of Puerto Real

The goods arrived true to their word in three days and Mal successfully installed it. Slow Waltz have also got their autohelm working and we’re all ready to go!

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One new fully-installed hot water service!

So now, we’re waiting, waiting, waiting. The winds are very light and there doesn’t seem to be a big enough weather window for The Bahamas so, we think we will do one overnight hop across the Mona Passage to the Dominican Republic where, once again, we’ll be waiting, waiting, waiting.

Until next time, Sue and Mal xx

Postscript: We’ve woken this morning (Sunday 7th February) to 20-30kn winds so we’re off! Woohoo!


Kool Kat’s Makeover

It’s been awhile since our last blog post and much has happened in that time; we sailed back to Grenada for hurricane season, we celebrated carnival, we prepped the boat for our 6-week trip home to Oz and we hauled out at the new (not quite finished) Clarke’s Court Boatyard. We then spent six glorious weeks in Melbourne satisfying homesickness by visiting family and friends. Oh, and we also bought a land-home whilst in Oz, but more about that another time. Now, to focus on Kool Kat’s makeover……

On return to Grenada we set ourselves up in an apartment on the road to Clarke’s Court Bay. We have air-conditioning, a huge oven, a large washing machine and even a bath! I know our cruiser friends are drooling right now! We hightailed it down to the boatyard asap and it was so satisfying to see Kool Kat safe and sound and that all our prep work had paid off: no mould or mildew developed during our absence. 🙂

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Kool Kat weathered the humidity well and is now ready for her full spa treatment package! Note the old hull stripes.

Mal has dodged the rain squalls and taken the 15-20 minute walk down to the boatyard every day, sometimes twice, to discuss, liaise, oversee and, basically, project manage Kool Kat’s ‘treatments’. Of course, we had a list we knew she’d love but, as is often the case, other jobs just happen to appear.

Wayne and Maverick from Turbulence came to replace the diamonds part of her rigging, the boom bails, bearings in the furler and pins in the traveller.

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When it came to replacing the pins it was obvious the wear and tear on the traveller meant a new traveller car was needed.

Meanwhile, I’ve been toing and froing to town either to the dentist for some scheduled work or for food shopping. There’s alot to buy when you return to the boat because you give away lots of fridge goodies and other perishables when you leave. Glenda from Black Butterfly showed me the easiest way to get to the no.2 bus route and where to hop off to catch the no.1 bus, which would take me to the dentist.  I love bus trips on the islands – they’re hot, noisy and often reckless, but they’re always interesting and I usually have a laugh!

OK, back to Kool Kat’s treatments. Martin did a great job polishing her hull and top-sides. Mal met Martin years ago at Grenada Marine and remembered what an excellent job he’d done boat polishing. So, when he met him again during Carnival at Port Louis Marina, Mal arranged with have him to give Kool Kat a lift.

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Martin applying tape in preparation for anti-foul but check out the shine on her hull where he’d finished polishing the port side.
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Martin tackling the starboard hull.

Martin brought along Robert who’s experience applying bottom paint was quickly evident and we are very happy with his work.

Robert applying barrier coat.
Robert finishing her barrier coat and discussing the next coats with Mal.
Robert applying anti-foul.
Robert applying the first coat of anti-foul.

X-Marine did some nipping and tucking:

Robert cleaned her props with Mal replacing the anodes:

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Larry at Nabela re-stitched her cockpit awnings and helm seat cushion, created a new helm seat backrest, and made a rain awning and throw cushions from the Sunbrella fabric generously given to us by Wendy on Nahanni River. Thanks so much guys, it looks great. Photos not available yet but will include in future post. 🙂

And, Qualitek gave her a facelift with new black hull-stripes, larger KOOL KAT font and a brand new super-cool logo.

The new-look Kool Kat!
The new-look Kool Kat! Whaddyathink?

We want to thank everyone who has worked on her as we’re very appreciative of a great job and a big thanks to Clarke’s Court Boatyard for their friendly, can-do attitude. We’re just waiting on some of the nip and tucks to be finished and are scheduled to splash on Tuesday.

Woohoo, she feels like a new cat and we can’t wait to get her back in the water! Hope to see you out there sometime 🙂

Martinique – Marin to Anse d’Arlets

Martinique is a “department” of France so it is just like being in France, albeit with a creole flavour! When we first visited supermarkets Leader Price and Carrefour in Marin, I felt like a child in a candy shop! The cheeses and wines are excellent, cheap and there is so much variety. We stayed in Marin for a couple of nights which is home to a huge marina with hundreds of yachts. Eight chartering companies have their home here and, as a result, the marine industry is thriving.

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Yachts and more yachts

We had a problem with our generator so Mal tried a few things but unfortunately it wouldn’t behave so we went ashore and spoke to some marine engineers who informed us it would be two weeks before they could even look at the problem. 😦 We came back to the boat and Mal decided to check a connection he hadn’t previously and hey presto, that was it! A new buz(?) bar and a couple of new lugs and we were on our way. Sure enough MacGyver solved it again!

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 We then motored over to the quaint little town of Ste Anne. On the way we passed a huge ship delivering some super yachts.

Delivery of super yachts with Marin marina in background
Delivery of super yachts with Marin marina in background

No sooner had we arrived in Ste Anne than a local “yole” race commenced and we had ringside seats! If you’d like to find out more about traditional yole racing, click here. A quick summary is that each vessel flies brightly colored rectangular sails over rounded canoe-like wooden hulls made from local pear trees. Sailing a Yole Boat actually requires all hands to be overboard, balancing on long poles while riding astride the vessel in an effort to keep it upright… and tame the wind. It was an amazing spectacle!

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We caught up with friends Jo & Greg (Serenade), Gwen & Guillaume (Slow Waltz), Diana & Gil (Serenada), Mary & Ralph (Nightwatch) and Alex & Dave (Banyan). We hiked to the most beautiful beach and did some snorkelling off one of the channel markers.

Fun aboard Kool Kat.
Fun aboard Kool Kat.
Waiting for us girls.
Waiting for us girls.
Grande Anse Des Salines beach
Grande Anse Des Salines beach
Amazing water at Grande Anse Des Salines
Amazing water at Grande Anse Des Salines

Mal & I then moved around to Anse d’Arlets which we remembered very fondly from three years ago when sailing on Bruce & Gina’s boat Wyuna. It is a tiny village that isn’t that much interested in tourism. Life just plods along for the locals. We anchored in Anse Chaudiere and snorkelled off the back of the boat in crystal clear water.

Fishing boat in Anse d'Arlets
Fishing boat in Anse d’Arlets
Massive school of round scads
Massive school of round scads

Martinique is such a gorgeous island that I’ll need to continue the journey in our next post.

Hoping you come back for more, a bientot, Sue & Mal xx.

Bequia and Black Box Deposits

Whilst we are waiting for the winds to drop and we can be underway for our next leg north, we find ourselves in Bequia for at least 10+ days. This isn’t all that bad as this is a gorgeous little island (7 sq miles) with a population of about 5,000 in St Vincent and the Grenadines. It is our fourth visit and we always enjoy it. The island has everything we need; some nice restaurants, a good anchorage, great fruit and veg from nearby St Vincent, friendly people and picturesque scenery.

The first few days we caught up with other cruisers we knew and general stuff like provisioning after a few days at Tobago Cays where there are no shops. Sunday it rained on and off all day and we didn’t go ashore once so by Monday we were ready for some exercise. So we joined up with 4 Coconuts (Toutou, David, Maya and Tyler) and Notrie Vie (Sunny and John) plus two of Sunny & John’s friends, Angela and Neil and took a gorgeous walk to the Hawksbill Turtle Sanctuary on the north-east coast of the island. It was a sunny day but the walk was along the main road which had good tree coverage providing some much appreciated shade. As we left the main town of Port Elizabeth, a stray dog decided to tag along much to Tyler and Maya’s delight. They quickly named him Potato and he spent the whole day with us. Tyler asked him if he’d like to become the 5th coconut! He was a lovely dog and waited for us outside everytime we went in anywhere. Mal subsequently named him Red Dog after the dog in the Australian film of the same name. On our way back to town we stopped at The Firefly Plantation for lunch and a swim. There didn’t appear to be any guests so we had the beautiful grounds to ourselves. Originally a volcanic island, the soil is very fertile and this hotel uses much of the fruit and veg grown here.

Whilst we’re waiting for the weather-window, we can do some jobs and make some significant Black Box deposits! A friend of ours, Mike Sweeney from One Love Catamaran Charters, refers to Black Box deposits as jobs to do before they actually need doing. Our job list has been getting longer and longer so we decided we could probably do one a day for the next few days and put a seriously big hole in the list. Mal has been polishing, checking fuel levels, cleaning windows, etc, whilst I’ve been replenishing the damp-rid, which we place in each berth during the summer months, and cleaning the odd mildew spots that crop up with the humidity.

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Any more jobs to do?
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Damp Rid replenishment

On Friday I joined Jo from Serenade, Diana from Serenada and Mary from Night Watch, for a girls’ day out! We had a most successful day enjoying a spot of lunch and visiting every boutique, gallery and hair salon that Port Elizabeth had to offer.

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The high-end, New York fashion boutique in Bequia

We’re very excited to use the new boardwalk (almost finished) linking Tony Gibbons Beach (aka Princess Margaret Beach) to the main beach at Port Elizabeth. It’s a pretty walk and quite convenient for us.

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Today Mal and I joined the abovementioned girls and their partners, Greg, Gill and Ralph, for a good walk across the hill to Friendship Bay to visit the Whaling Museum. Bequia has a strong history of whaling and they have an Agreement from the IWC that they can take four whales per year. The whaling season is from February to April and the Agreement is that they must hunt in a traditional manner. This involves using a hand-thrown harpoon from an open sailing boat and, we understand, there are fewer and fewer people available with these skills, resulting in no whales caught during 2013.

The walk was pleasant enough along the roads but the Whaling Museum was closed so we continued on and came across a lobster co-operative. As we stood there, boat after boat arrived with their catch of very large lobsters which were transferred into floating holding crates. They informed us that they provide the local market and restaurants on the island and export to Trinidad and as far away as Japan. A local was making a lobster trap and was charging 5EC ($2.50AU) per trap.

We then continued on down the road to the airport when a tropical downpour arrived. We hailed a local bus and got a ride back to town. We then had a much-needed lunch and beer at the Whaleboner Restaurant before hiking back to our dinghies and heading home.

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Whalebone stools at The Whaleboner!

Looking at it looks like Thursday 27th is our window of opportunity and, at this stage, Plan A is a very long day-sail straight to Marin on Martinique, approximately 90nm. This means bypassing St Vincent and St Lucia. We are then looking forward to some playtime on a French island whilst waiting for my sister, Annie, to join us. Very exciting 🙂

Until next time, keep well, Sue & Mal xx