The 2019/2020 Caribbean sailing pre-season!

We leave behind snowy Ontario for two weeks of boat work on the yard.

Dear friends and family,

We are so touched that so many of you have inquired when the next blog post is set to be published. For the past 12 days, we have been working hard to get the boat ready to launch, so it’s certainly not the most luxurious part of our season. But sometimes we forget that the objective of this blog is not only to document our travels and let others live vicariously through our stories and pictures, but also to show the hard work involved in the sailing life.

As is the case every year, the past month has been hectic: first at home, trying to get our affairs in order in preparation for an extended absence, packing up all our personal belongings and hiding them away, making sure our AirBnbs continue to run smoothly, readying the house for winter, evicting the delinquent squirrels who were behind on rent and had planned to stay in the roof all winter, etc.

Then it was time for all the difficult goodbyes with friends and family (and Gomez!) – the hardest part of the cruising life. Thank goodness for technology, which allows us to keep in touch with loved ones.

Noah models his new Ar Sgrail t-shirt

The day before we flew out, Ontario was hit with a huge snowstorm, which grounded several flights and had Ontarians buckling in for a long winter (i.e. scrambling to get their winter coats and boots out of storage and their winter tires on, and mentally striking out all non-essential activities from the calendar that require leaving the house – no? Is Mel the only one who did that?).

Meanwhile, we not-so-quietly congratulated ourselves on our timing for getting outta dodge, and thanked our lucky stars that our flight was unaffected and departed as planned and only slightly behind schedule due to the line-up for de-icing.

Weary travelers

Leaving the land of ice and snow…in November…

…and arriving in SXM!

We had booked an AirBnb for the first week, to give us time to get the boat in order before adding all our stuff from home to the chaos. This year’s packing job wasn’t as challenging as in Year 1 (which involved packing an outboard motor and a generator). But we still managed to have a duffel bag full of various fuel pumps, filters and other bits and pieces that are cheaper back home.

Then Mel received a full week’s worth of translation work, so she hunkered down at the AirBnb and translated all day long (in the sweet, sweet air conditioning) while David toiled over at the yard and got started on boat projects, coming back at lunch to cool down after working in the intense sun and 30+ degree temperatures.

On the 20th, we very reluctantly left the AirBnb and moved onto the boat, and it’s been non-stop boat work since then. This year we are replacing some standing rigging, as well as all the hose clamps on the through-hulls (very important to ensure the boat stays on top of the water) and David has been piecing together a fuel filter pump system (translation by David: a diesel scrubber) to clean out our diesel tank, since we don’t think diesel is supposed to be jet black with chunks at the bottom. Mel will also be suiting again up to apply a coat of anti-fouling to the rudder and waterline, so critters don’t stick to the hull and slow us down. We like to go fast! Or at least as fast as you can go on a 12-tonne sailboat. We had planned to remove and re-bed all our deck hardware to eliminate a pesky leak when it rains, but we decided that we probably had enough on our plates before launch and that it would wait until we were out on the water.

So many lists!

You may remember that living on the boat yard is a difficult time, particularly for Mel, who attracts mosquitoes like it’s going out of style.

So in these difficult moments, it’s important to find joy in the little things.

Like this bright-green baby iguana


Or French toast for breakfast, with Canadian Maple Syrup (thanks, John & Eleanor!)

It’s also important to get off the yard occasionally, so we were thrilled when our friend Colin invited us to the beach on Sunday.

Relaxing Sunday at the beach


Everyone’s excited for the beach!
The beautiful beach at Grand Case

The next few days are going to be intense as we get ready to splash, then hopefully the next post will be from out on the water! Maybe by then we’ll even have a plan for the season. Wish us luck!

Sunset on the hard

4 thoughts on “The 2019/2020 Caribbean sailing pre-season!

  1. Ah, I was thinking of you tonight Mel, and I was about to send you an email!

    On s’est manqué cette saison, je suis désolée. Entre nos voyages respectifs en France et le travail, le temps est passé trop vite… et c’est en voyant notre amie commune la semaine dernière (premier café depuis le nôtre en septembre!) que je me suis dit que merde, tu avais dû partir.

    Good timing, though. It was a hellish week! It’s a bit warmer now, almost acceptable. Still, I’d rather be a mosquito bait somewhere hot…

    Liked by 1 person

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