Successful Lithium Conversion & Return to Boat Life

Hi! Happy Sunday!

Long time no chat! Let’s catch up-

We spent the past two and a half weeks on the dock in St. Thomas while Sabado underwent a few major upgrades. Living on the boat while the work was going on was… stressful. There were a couple of days when we had no power, and the boat looked like a construction zone.

So, we spent a few nights living out of a grocery bag (our backpacks were buried in the rubble) in hotels and on friends’ boats.

We were able to sleep in our own bed for the first time last Tuesday, and we left the dock on Wednesday. We spent the rest of the week on anchor nearby, testing everything out. We used our new air fryer, induction burner, and electric kettle. We kept Starlink on all day, did our laundry, heated water for showers, and watched movies on the big TV. Our batteries and new solar panels handled it all with ease. 🙏🏼

Once we were confident everything was working as it should be, we decided to take Sabado on a weekend trip to St. John! The wind was on our nose, and the seas were choppy, so we motored the entire way Friday morning. Despite the suboptimal conditions, we were excited to be moving again! 

As we were approaching the mooring field, we came across an empty vessel, adrift. It was a small inflatable with an outboard engine. Given the sea state, it looked like the passengers were ejected from the boat, and they were nowhere to be found. We grabbed our binoculars, called it in on the radio, and worked with several other boats to search for people in the water. Without divulging too much about these people’s awful day, I’m happy to say they were located and rescued. 

We grabbed a mooring ball in Caneel Bay and jumped off the stern for a swim to cool down. Shortly after, our friends picked us up in their dinghy, and together we headed to shore for Jam Fest, a local live music event held at The Windmill Bar. We spent the evening drinking and dancing with our friends, and had a gorgeous view!

That brings us to this week: On Sunday, we sailed back to St. Thomas. It was a beautiful day, with ~15kn of wind and calm seas. We used our main and pulled the jib out onto a barber hauler. It felt so good to sail again after spending so much time on the dock! 

Monday morning, the guys that installed our batteries (STT Marine Services) came aboard for a final systems check. They turned everything on, ran a few tests, and walked around with a temperature gun to ensure all the new equipment had adequate ventilation. They made a few minor adjustments, then gifted us a very nice bottle of tequila to celebrate the end of the project! Since we already had the ice maker on… we poured everyone a glass and spent the rest of the day emptying our liquor cabinet and chatting with them in the cockpit. 😂 

We’re thrilled with the work they did and the equipment they installed. If you’re curious about the details, we documented it all on YouTube:

Jesse, Patrick, and Tom- if you’re reading this, thank you for everything!! 

We left St. Thomas Wednesday morning and headed toward St. Maarten. Because of the trade winds, going East in the Caribbean can be rough, so we chose a weather window with no wind- it seems a little counterintuitive for sailors, right?😂 We motored all day through flat seas and blue skies. 

We had an uneventful overnight (the way we like it) and arrived just before sunrise. We slowed down and waited for first light before dropping our anchor. 

The island is divided into two parts: the French side (Saint-Martin) and the Dutch side (Sint Maarten). Although the division is roughly 60:40, the Dutch side is more populated than the larger French side. We have a survey scheduled for our insurance company on the Dutch side, but after a quick Google search, we learned that the Dutch side requires exit documents from your last port to check in. Since we were coming from the US Virgin Islands as US citizens, we didn’t have exit documents. So, we decided to check in on the French side, spend a day exploring, then check out to obtain exit documents for our appointment on the Dutch side. 

Customs and Immigration on the French side was a desktop computer inside a random store filled with barefoot men speaking french and stray cats, where you fill out a form, print it out, and give the store’s cashier $1. 🤷🏼‍♀️ While we were ashore, we decided to grab a very authentic French breakfast of espresso, carbs, and carbs, then stopped into the grocery store to buy- you guessed it- more carbs. 😂 

I also scored the most indulgent treat… wafer bread sticks filled with Nutella?! 😍 

I’d rate them a 10/10. 🤌🏼

As you can imagine, after motoring through the night and then eating all that bread, we fell asleep the second we returned to Sabado. We woke up the following day to the most obnoxious swell in the anchorage. It became unbearable, so we left and headed to the Dutch side. We found a much calmer anchorage and settled between a handful of stunning yachts. This 350ft sailing yacht named Black Pearl takes the cake, in my opinion.

Here’s a photo I found online of her underway: 

She has a sail area of 31,215 sq ft!!😍 The yacht is owned by a Russian billionaire’s family, as the billionaire himself is recently deceased (though there seems to be a bit of drama surrounding his death…). It’s been built to prioritize regenerative technologies and is estimated to be able to cross the Atlantic with only 20 liters of fuel! How cool! 

Anyway, we dinghied to shore and checked in at a proper Customs and Immigration office, then decided to walk around town. We found the flagship stores for Island Water World and Budget Marine, so we killed a couple of hours walking up and down every aisle, playing eye spy with parts we’ve been trying to track down for ages that were sitting on the shelves in abundance here! It was like Disneyland for boat owners! 😂

We headed home and spent the rest of the day cleaning in anticipation of our in-water survey. We picked up the surveyor Saturday afternoon. He poked around Sabado for a while, took tons of pictures, and asked us a bunch of questions. It was painless, but it’s not over. He’ll return next week to take a look while Sabado is out of the water. Since she’s five years old now, we’re going to do a few recommended maintenance tasks while she’s out, too. We haul out tomorrow morning and plan on being out of the water for five days- everyone, cross your fingers that the plan holds true! 

I hope you had a great week! ❤️

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