Saturday, November 18, 2006

Batteries installed and we are sailing north

November 18, 2006  Saturday

Our batteries and both FedEx shipments finally arrived yesterday and were delivered to the marina fuel dock at 4:45 p.m.  We had to clear out with Customs prior to being allowed to receive this delivery in order to get out of paying the duty fees, and were supposed to leave Bonaire by 3:00 a.m. this morning.  We knew that wouldn’t happen.  But we also knew from talking to long term residents that no one would be checking to verify that we had left the country by 3:00 a.m.

We removed 1000 pounds of old batteries and then brought onboard and downstairs the 1078 pounds of new batteries.  Bill would remove an old battery and put it on the companionway step.  Then Judy would get it into the cockpit, up onto the cockpit seat, out of the cockpit onto the deck, and then go over the liferail and pick it up and move it to the spot on the fuel dock where the harbormaster told us to leave them.  People from Venezuela come here and pick up old batteries.  The delivery man handed each new battery over the liferail to Bill and Bill stacked them on the cockpit seat.  Then Judy would remove all the packaging and put them at the top of the companionway steps.  Bill would pick them up from there and man-handle them into the battery compartment in the hallway.  Our backs were both feeling this unusual exercise by the time we finished.

Everything went smoothly except that there was a middle support on the top of the battery compartment (which is the bottom of the passage berth bed).  This middle support would not clear the new batteries in two places.  These batteries were supposed to be the same size as our old batteries, including the terminal posts.  Not true.  The new ones were slightly taller at the terminal posts and this created a problem because the battery compartment top door would not close correctly, which meant that we would not be able to use that passage berth just when we are leaving on a 3-4 day passage.  Bill came up with a solution of simply cutting off part of the two spots of the middle support that was preventing the top to close correctly.  Thank goodness he has that reciprocating saw.  Worked like a charm.

Man!!! Are we glad to be finished with that job!

We aren’t really totally finished, but Bill can do the rest after we are in the Virgin Islands.  He still must disconnect the built-in regulator on the 175-amp alternator, reverse the polarity of the alternator, and install the new Balmar SmartCharger and temperature sensors.  Changing to the AGM batteries is a PITA.

Yesterday we realized that we did not have the decal/sticker that is required by Homeland Security to reenter US waters.  So we applied online.  The decal will be sent to Trey’s house and we will contact him via SSB email (Sailmail) to get that number when we approach the US waters.  We hope to make it to the BVI but the current, waves and winds might push us farther west to the USVI or to Puerto Rico.  So we may or may not need that decal number when we arrive.

This will be our first multiple day passage.   Judy grilled chicken breasts and made sure that we have plenty of easy to prepare and easy to eat meals and snacks.  Laundry is all done; boat is clean and everything picked up.  The dinghy is back in its sea home on the mizzen deck.  Bill has checked the engine and generator and everything else he could think of.  Jacklines are in place.  PFDs are hanging in the cockpit.  Route is entered into the computer and backed up on jump drive in case the main computer fails; then we can quickly have the laptop running the same route.  We will be checking in via SSB at 7:30 a.m. each day with S/V Sealoon and a few other cruisers that we know – sort of our own little cruiser safety net.

Here’s hoping that the weather holds until we reach the Virgins.  Predictions are favorable but there are also two cold fronts already approaching from the north – one near Dominican Republic and one near Bahamas.  And every day the trade winds are picking up a bit.  For those who don’t know the pattern, the trade winds change from E-ESE in the summer to N-ENE in the winter and blow much stronger.  We want the winds from the E-ESE to make this passage.  It will be most unpleasant if the winds switch to N-ENE, which could happen any day now.

So, we are all set to leave at 1:00 a.m. tonight.  Since it is already almost 8:00 p.m., it is time for us to try to get a few hours sleep before heading out of Bonaire.  Have positive thoughts for us to have a pleasant 3-4 day passage. 

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