Sunday 31 May to Friday 5 June: 6 days to packup’n’go.
I write this on 6-June as we sit in Amsterdam airport, about to board our final flight: a repatriation flight to Bucharest, our land home.
It’s been a very busy week for Cloudy and crew. We arrived to Herring Bay on Saturday 30-May after a 2 day leg from Cape Lookout, and ultimately from Grand Cayman 2 weeks previous. On Sunday we sat on anchor cleaning up after the passage from Cayman and started to look at travel possibilities to get back home, to Bucharest. While airlines and Skyscanner show available flights, the individual airport websites show a different story. Very few actual arrivals and departures. On top of that, Romania officially still has its borders firmly closed until mid June. But it does seem there are occasional flights arriving from Sweden, Lisbon and Pague. But no where else. Oana is a bit disappointed. Now that we are here, ready to fly, to wait for the borders to (potentially) re-open on 16-June seems an age away for her.
On Monday, we remove and fold the cutter and genoa. Always easiest to do this on anchor, while the boat can swing with the wind, but it’s never our favorite job. The cutter is not too evil but the 140% genoa is another story. Its heavy laminate material is close to impossible to manhandle. And it’s very tough to make the first few flakes because the foot of the sail is longer than the deck length. After an hour of hard workout, both sails are finally tamed, folded and stowed below, taking up 1/2 the saloon floor.
We then lift anchor and motor into Herrington South Marina for diesel. We want to be full of diesel to ensure no chance of condensation forming inside the tanks during the summer. Like Herrington North, the South Marina channel is dredged to only 7ft. We sneak in with our 8ft draft on the meager 1ft of high tide. We take on 160gallons at the amazing price of just $1.48 per gallon. That’s only 36cents per liter! A record low price for us, like ever.
From our fuel re-fill, we motor the 3 miles to Herrington North to check in and get ready to haul. As usual, the only place we can moor, due to our draft, is right next to the haul-out slip and also as usual, it takes a bit of negotiation to be allowed to moor there. It feels both good and a bit odd to be back here again. When we left in November we were certain our next time here would be in few years time, after we complete the circumnavigation and are ready to sell the boat.
Pending getting our travel booked, we arrange to haul out towards the end of the week. So starts several days of intensive work. The list is long but here are the highlights: service the generator. Replace all the running rigging with sacrificial lines. Bird poo protection: remove all mast head bits and cover with large bin bags, then add garden wire across the top of all 3 spreaders and jumper bar. Dinghy lifted and tied on deck and covered. Outboard flushed with fresh water, solar panels stowed and bimini removed. Aft lockers cleaned out after the decks got flooded. Volvo, generator, aircon, watermaker, seawater toilet and deck wash all flushed with fresh water.
Meanwhile, inside, Oana is going crazy in the aft cabin. As she takes clothes out to sort or pack, she discovers yet more of our internal enemy: mildew. Lots of her clothes are ruined, particularly whites. She’s not a happy camper and there is a lot of mutterings around the subject of her not wanting to return to Cloudy, like ever 🙁 On the subject of mold and mildew, one of our readers suggested using an Ozone generator.
Midweek we get a visit from Roger, the owner of the Hallberg Rassy dealership here. Not only does he mention the same, but he also offers to loan us his O-Zone generator. So we’ll put it inside while we are away, along with a dehumidifier, and hope it does kill our problem once and for all (until we next visit foggy damp Maine again!). We’ll just need Ray, our very good friend here, to re-plug the extension cord back in every time the yard guys pull it out. It’s an on-going tussle that needs someone to regularly check on. The good news is: on the days you are plugged in, the power is free!
Another task, now that we are back to a firm address, is receiving and sending packages. We made some Ebay and Amazon orders. We now have a new still-shot camera, a new GoPro Hero 8 video camera and new batteries for the drone. The original batteries seem to have a design issue. After a period they start expanding and “pop” themselves out of place mid flight. Hence our drone crash in the Bahamas (no, thank you, that wasn’t pilot error!). To send off, we have the crashed drone going to DJI for repair and the GoPro 7 to return.
We have a love-hate relationship with Go-Pro. We love their cameras … when they work. But so far we have a 100% track record for sending them back to get replacements. They are more fickle than any boat electronics! This particular GoPro7 eats battery power, randomly freezes and occasionally heats up like a little oven 🙁 We did think about switching to buying the new DJI action camera, but similar to iPhone, we seem to be fairly locked into GoPro.
By Tuesday Oana has secured our travel back to Bucharest. Good news. But bad news is that we need to fly from New York on Friday! A 5 hour drive to New York will mean we have to leave Cloudy early morning. A little too soon to get everything done. But it’s pretty much the only option we have: a flight to Amsterdam then a special repatriation flight to Bucharest by the Romanian national airline, Tarom. So our hard working days now go into overdrive.
With the departure schedule now firm, we requested to haul on Wednesday, when the tide levels are highest for the week. But unfortunately, the yard doesn’t manage to fit us into their schedule. They only opened up 2 weeks ago and now everybody wants to launch for the season, all at once. So we start preparing for the possibility Cloudy will haul alone, after we depart. Luckily, we have our very good friend here, Ray, whom we can entrust to oversee his favorite girl (Cloudy Bay).
But, with a lot of lobbying to the office and yard crews, we do manage to get hauled the next day, Thursday. I had dived and cleaned the hull before leaving Cayman and it’s still spotlessly clean as she exits the water. And the keel bulb looks like it’s been professionally sanded ready for paint. So here is a tip for sailors: if you run aground on coral, repeat the process several times in coarse, medium then fine sand, and all the pre-paint preparation will already be done for you!
Our last evening we finally get to bed at 1am with an alarm for 06:30. It’s been a grueling few days in 33degC weather. And this evening very heavy thunderstorms. (Funny how forked lightening doesn’t seem half so bad when on land). Inside the boat looks like a bomb went off. All our wardrobe cloths are hanging in the saloon. Every cupboard door is open and lots of the floor is up too. We want to ensure maximum air circulation around the boat and our things. We feel sorry for Ray to have to come down into this mess when he checks on the boat.
Friday morning and last checks and preparations. For the mildew: O-zone generator on, dehumidifier on, and cabin fans on. And for the bugs: one of Oana’s old stockings stretched over each vent to stop new bugs entering. And lastly, as we depart, we set off 2 fumigation bombs. To all invaders and potential invaders of Cloudy Bay: we take no prisoners!
Then last goodbyes and we are off on the first leg of our journey, in our little rental car. It’s been an interesting season. Who would have thought, eh? We were supposed to be mid-Pacific by now, where we would have been very much stuck! But luckily, a combination of slow getting south and enjoying a lot longer time in the Bahamas than planned, put us only in Jamaica when Covid became a real global problem.
With concerns about Jamaican health system (and other general fears of that country), we managed to squeeze into Grand Cayman just one day before they shut their borders and locked down.
Our 2 months in Cayman were at first quite relaxing. For once we didn’t have an agenda, and managed to get lots of boat projects done. But by the end, it was getting uncomfortably hot and the hurricane season loomed. We had to make a decision. Sail to Panama, haul out and try to get back home, or haul in Cayman, or passage 1500nm back to (boat) safety and security in the Chesapeake, just as US was at its worst point in the Corona virus cycle. No option was ideal. We chose the latter.
Summer at home will also be interesting. After 2 weeks of mandatory home isolation we do hope to be able to get out a little. If not, it will be Netflix, flat maintenance, and lots of video editing.
We’ll be back to writing the blog in the fall/autumn. Thanks to all our avid readers. We hoped you’ve enjoyed our posts. It’s certainly been fun to write them and they will capture all the details, warts-and-all, for us to look back on from our rocking chairs.
Take care and be safe.