Boat Life in the Caribbean

A Week Aboard S/V Sabado: 12/11/2022 – 12/18/2022

Hi! Long time, no chat!

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Last week, I took a break from filming and writing as we’ve been enjoying and adjusting to life in the Caribbean. We’ve spent our days relaxing and our evenings having cocktails with friends. It feels like a dream! At least once a day, we both say out loud, “I love it here.” 😂 We get a little boat maintenance done here and there, but Sabado has been well-behaved since we arrived, so it’s mostly just been cleaning. Life has been good. 🏝

Last Sunday, we got a text from our friends anchored nearby, who we were supposed to take to the airport later that day. They woke up to their batteries at 7%. Their generator had shut down at some point that night, so they’d unknowingly been draining their power supply for hours! Ray dinghied over and helped them get it started back up. We took them to the airport and camped out on their boat while their generator recharged their batteries. While we were there, we took care of a few things they hadn’t gotten to chance to do before they left amongst the chaos of the generator debacle: we emptied and turned off their ice maker, scrubbed a few coffee mugs, zipped up their enclosure to protect their freshly varnished cockpit table, brought their produce that would’ve otherwise gone bad in their absence over to Sabado, and locked up once we had turned off the generator. We spent the rest of the day on Sabado, polishing stainless, scrubbing the hulls, and watching the cruise ships come by.

Monday morning, we dinghied to shore to check our mailbox. That’s right; we have a mailbox here! It’s been nice to order what we need without paying for a spot at a marina, and at ~$25 per month, Island Mail is the way to go. We grabbed our packages and headed home.

That afternoon we headed out with some friends to hunt for lobster. We’re not too familiar with the area, but we’ve got a few recommendations for where to look. We started in a protected cove near our anchorage, but it was too smooth and deep. Lobsters tend to hide under ledges or in holes, and we were free diving, so we needed to consider our depth limitations. 

We headed over to a second spot. There wasn’t a good area to anchor the dinghies, so the guys stayed in while the gals scoped it out. It was dark, deep, and murky. Third spot’s a charm, though, right?

We jumped in and were instantly impressed with the reef. Toes to the bottom, I’d be up to my eyeballs in coral! The deep trenches were loaded with potential lobster hiding places, so we kept an eye out for antennas while we snorkeled around. 

Just before we admitted defeat, we came upon two spotted eagle rays! They swam right up to check us out before diving back down and swimming away.

We were giddy after the encounter and excitedly chatted it over while we signaled for the boys to come get us in the dinghies. 

We returned to our respective boats for a quick rinse and to change into dry clothes. Then Ray and I headed over to their boat for sundowners

The next day I decided to start the chore I’d been procrastinating… cleaning the bottom of the boat. Sabado had grown a bit of a beard since her last cleaning in the Bahamas, and I wanted to scrub it off before anything more permanent started to grow. 

I jumped in and got to work, starting at the waterline and working my way down in small sections. The wind and current came to a standstill an hour in, so I called it quits for the day. I like to work when the water’s got some movement to it so that whatever I scrub off the hull moves away quickly enough for me to maintain my visibility. 

I took a shower, and Ray and I headed to shore for dinner. 

Wednesday morning, we sipped our coffee while sitting in the beanbag chairs on the bow, something I’ll never take for granted after the months we spent up North in the cold! After breakfast, we went to shore to track down some cleaning supplies for a few spots we found on our teak. We got lucky at ACE Hardware but took a wrong turn on the way home, leading us on an unintentional tour of the island… But, with a view like this, who could complain?! 

Thursday morning, we decided to run our generator for a few hours since we’ve been struggling to get a full charge on our batteries… we think it might be time for a solar upgrade, but in the meantime, we’ll use what we’ve got! We took the opportunity to start up another one of our refrigerators so we could defrost the other and charge all our electronics. Once the genny had done its job, we shut it down and headed to shore to recheck our mail. We’d been patiently waiting for a package from my mom, who graciously allows us to ship random bits and bobs to her house for months at a time and sends it to us whenever we have an address. If you’re reading this, mom- thank you!! We love you!!❤️ 

We picked up our packages and headed home. This collection of mail included a new handset for our VHF radio. A couple of years ago, we switched over to the Vesper Cortex, and truthfully… we’ve had nothing but problems with the thing. ☹️ We noticed the latest issue when we were in the Bahamas. Someone hailed us on the radio, and when we tried to respond using the handset we keep inside (rather than the one we usually use at the helm), the transmit button didn’t work. Ray took it apart, and sure enough, the switch they used for the button had fallen off. Ray tried his best to repair it, but those tiny, delicate pieces were difficult to handle.

We looked into getting a replacement sent to us for free, but there was no way we could get it in time and make the required exchange (for it to be free) before our departure to the Virgin Islands. So, we paid for a new one to be sent to my mom’s house and sailed on with one working handset. 

We’d now finally gotten the new one, and right out of the box, the touch screen didn’t work. With shipping, we had paid $700 for the thing, and it was already busted. Without the touchscreen feature, we couldn’t even do the initial setup! Knowing we’d be hanging around St. Thomas for a while, we decided to go through the free exchange process because there was no way we were going to spend another $700 on this. We called customer service, and they were very helpful. They understood our frustration, tried to do some troubleshooting with us, and ultimately agreed to send us a replacement as long as we paid a deposit that they would refund upon receiving the broken unit. We weighed our options and decided we’d get it quicker if it were sent to my mom for her to bring along on her upcoming trip to visit us (sorry, mom!!). The man we spoke to got it processed and shipped out that night. So, let’s all keep our fingers crossed this one works! 🤞🏼

We dulled our frustrations with a gin & tonic and another beautiful Caribbean sunset. 

Friday morning, we heard a couple of our former crew members would be back on the island Saturday night. We’ve been borrowing their car since we arrived, so we headed to shore to get it washed and filled up with gas. We stopped at a new (to us) grocery store on the way home and picked up some fruit, eggs, and bread to hold us over for the week. 

That evening we turned the inverter on for a few hours. Despite only having one refrigerator and Starlink running, our batteries were nearly dead when we switched it off. We knew then that something was, in fact, wrong. 

We ran the generator the following day and could hear it quivering like it was about to die. We quickly shut it down to prevent any potential damage. Ray did an inspection but couldn’t find any obvious issues. We landed on it being a fuel problem. We hadn’t filled up Sabado since we got here, so we knew we were low on diesel, and the generator pulls from those tanks. 

Ray took the dinghy to the fuel dock nearest our anchorage to see if there was a spot for us, only to be told that they had shut their fuel dock down for the remainder of the year to free up dock space for super yachts! So, we called over to a fuel dock that was a smidge farther away to confirm they were open before pulling up our anchor and heading over. We filled up our tanks, returned to our anchorage, and crossed our fingers while we started the generator back up. It ran smoothly for a couple of hours, getting us back up to a comfortable power supply. We’ll revisit the underlying power supply problem later, but realistically it’s a combination of things that will require dock time (or maybe even a haul out) to fix. 

I spent the afternoon tidying up the boat. Then we headed to the airport to pick up our friends. We went straight to Oceana for dinner and maybe a few too many martinis…🍸 

They spent the night on Sabado and took the ferry this morning back to where they’re keeping their boat. 

I’d tell you our plan for today, but we don’t have one😂, so check back next week! 

I hope you had a great week. ❤️

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