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The Sailboat Cruiser ~ Your Monthly Newsletter, Issue #58 for June 2020
June 14, 2020

The Sailboat Cruiser

The Sailboat Cruiser is the free monthly (OK, monthly-ish) newsletter of and sets out to bring you the news, views and general musings of, well, me - Dick McClary, a sailboat cruiser and creator/owner of

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Newsletter #57 - May 2020

What's in This Issue:

Cruising Around the Virus, Part 3

To recap, for those of you new to 'The Sailboat Cruiser' - welcome aboard, by the way - we'd planned to haul out 'Alacazam' in Grenada, West Indies, at the end of April for the hurricane season and fly back to the UK.

The Coronavirus pandemic had other plans for us however. Grenada had its first cases of Covid-19, brought in by visitors on flights arriving from the UK and the USA in mid-March.

The Grenadian Government wisely took early action in imposing a State of Emergency including a total lockdown and closure of the International Airport for incoming commercial flights.

Unsurprisingly our British Airways flight on 29th May had been cancelled as had a series of subsequent flights. In the light of this, we'd decided not to haul out, but continued to live aboard 'Alacazam' on a mooring in Prickly Bay until we knew for certain that we had a confirmed flight home.

Eventual easing of the restrictions allowed us to collect provisions delivered to the dock at the north of the bay, and eventually essential forays to local grocery stores - none of the stranded cruisers were going to go hungry.

As a result, we'd been confined aboard 'Alacazam' on a mooring in Prickly Bay, Grenada for nearly two months awaiting a flight home on 1st July - if previous performance was anything to go by, we had little confidence that this flight, now booked, would go ahead.

So when the UK Government announced that a repatriation flight for British citizens would be arranged for some time in June, Mary and I put our names on the list. When these flights actually happen they do so with little notice - we'd have to be ready for it.

Consequently, with the boatyard lockdown partially lifted, we had 'Alacazam' hauled out at Spice Island Marine and layed-up securely in her hurricane cradle and bit the financial bullet and relocated to rented accommodation ashore. With the hurricane season looming, it wasn't a difficult decision to make.

Impressive growth on sailboat hull after long period on mooring
Fig 1 - The growth on Alacazam's hull after a long period on the Prickly Bay mooring was impressive.

And a good decision it turned out to be, as the repatriation flight took place a couple of weeks later on 4th June. We're now re-united with our home in Plymouth, UK - and once again self-isolating for 14 days!

Reflecting on the situation in Grenada, it's clear that the Grenadian Government acted with a great deal of wisdom and pragmatism in protecting the population - some 112,000 people - from the horror of Covid-19. When we left, a total of 23 people had caught the virus. 22 of them had recovered and the other was on the road to recovery - no-one had died.

Back in England it's a different story. We were safer in Grenada undoubtedly, but we are taking a great deal of care to stay safe.

ps - Our lack of confidence in British Airways was fully justified - we've just learned that the 1st July flight has been cancelled!

Most Useful Onboard Devices During Lockdown

During the period of enforced living aboard, it soon became clear to us which onboard devices were most useful:

Mobile phone with a local chip - This enabled us to communicate with local suppliers ashore and arrange deliveries of groceries for collection at the dock. With a data package enabled we could also communicate with similarly stranded cruisers, either individually or collectively, through the Grenada Cruisers Group on WhatsApp.

A laptop computer - Vital for accessing the internet, keeping in touch with far-away friends and family - and creating and publishing The Sailboat Cruiser!

FM Radio - For listening to the regular live updates by the Grenadian Goverment on the virus situation, together with the changes to the local restrictions enforced under the State of Emergency.

220v Inverter - This enabled us to simultaneously keep the various AC devices fully charged.

Solar panels and the wind charger - It was surprising just how much additional power was being drawn from our 315aH domestic battery bank by the two laptops and a phone on charge, but our 170w array of solar panels and the windcharger got the job done without us having to run the engine.

Those of you who have downloaded our Daily Current Draw Calculator will have probably already calculated just what our daily current draw probably was.

Wifi enhancer - Without our 'BadBoy' wifi enhancer the shore-based signal would have been unuseable.

VHF Radio - Although the mobile phone seems to have taken over from the VHF Radio for many cruisers, the VHF cruiser net broadcast on Ch68 every morning was invaluable.

Our Kindles - Mary and I each have a Kindle eBook readerand spent many relaxing hours reading in the cockpit.

Needless to say, the fridge was invaluable but, surprisingly, not the watermaker. We were on a mooring close to the dock where there wasn't much depth beneath the keel and considerable sediment was present in the water.

Tie-Downs: The Good & Not So Good

It was reassuring to see 'Alacazam' securely strapped down in a one-piece cradle in the Spice Island Marine Boatyard.

The wide base of the four ground anchors provides maximum resistance to wind loads - absolutely vital if the boat is to stand a chance of staying the right way up in a hurricane.

The owner of the boat in Fig 3 shouldn't be feeling quite so smug.

Sailboat in storage cradle secured by tensioned webbing tie-downs to ground anchors
Fig 2 - Tie-downs to widely-spaced ground anchors as shown here provide maximum resistance to hurricane-force wind loads.

Sailboat in storage cradle secured by tensioned webbing tie-downs to concrete blocks
Fig 3 - Vertical tie-downs to concrete blocks will provide little resistance to hurricane-force wind loads.

The vertical straps aren't providing any lateral restraint whatsoever. OK, there will be some gravitational resistance from the mass of the block, but with such a short moment arm it won't be much.

Coupled with the use of tripod stands rather than a one-piece cradle, the odds of this boat surviving a hurricane are much less than that of the boat in Fig 2 - and we all know whose that is!

Something You can't Do with a Rod Kicker

One of the main benefits of a rod kicker is that you can't drop the boom on someone's head; one of the disadvantages is that you can't drop the boom on deck when you've got storm canvas set. Maybe one cancels out the other.

Be that as it may, we don't have one on 'Alacazam', having chosen the simplicity of a topping lift to support the boom. Some people will contest that last statement, saying that it was just because rope is cheaper than a mechanical strut. I know where they live.

Earlier this year I was very happy that we'd taken the 'cheap' approach...

We had weighed anchor in Saline Bay, Mayreau and were motoring out of the bay. I was at the mast, raising the mainsail and Mary was on the helm.

"Look at the halyard!" she shouted.

When Mary shouts at me I either do as I'm told or run.

Running isn't really an option on a 38ft boat, so I did as instructed and stopped winding.

Why hadn't I seen that the outer braid covering on the Spectra main halyard had parted leaving the inner core exposed?

Had I carried on winding the sail up the mast, that damaged portion would have gone through the sheeve box at the masthead. Hidden inside the mast it would have waited until it was time to drop or reef the main before revealing its malicious intent.

The odds are it would have bunched-up and jammed at the sheeve, making it impossible to drop the main.

A trip up the mast with a sharp knife would have been required, a prospect that would have done little to brighten my day.

But the solution turned out to be quick and easy - I swapped over the damaged halyard and the identical Spectra topping lift. Problem solved!

Now, if 'Alacazam' had been fitted with a rod kicker...

'Oceans Tamed My Ego' by Julie Bradley

It seems that some talented authors have found!

Last month we had a fascinating article, 'Healthy Boating & Sailing', by Dr Michael Martin Cohen.

This month the well-known sailor and author Julie Bradley writes about a frightening experience while sailing in the Torres Strait, the narrow band of ocean between Australia and Papua New Guinea...

'Oceans Tamed My Ego', by Julie Bradley

Julie sails with husband Glen aboard It’s Enough, an Amel Super Maramu.

This Month's Mystery Boat

There were many suggestions for last month's Mystery Boat, including the Crealock 37, Hans Christian, Baba 30, Cabot 36 and Westsails of various sizes.

But the most popular by far was for the Tayana 37 and that's what she proved to be. Many thanks to you all for your input.

But here's this month's Mystery Boat...

This impressive cutter was anchored outside us in Chatham Bay, Union Island earlier this year in pre-virus days. That seems a long time ago...

Any ideas anyone?

If so, please let me know by clicking here...

Take a Look at Our eBooks!

Cruising Boats for Sale

Once again there's been very little activity from boat sellers or buyers over the last month or so for obvious reasons.

Just the one in fact, 'Berkana', a Valiant 40 for Sale.

Don't forget...

If you're thinking of looking at a secondhand sailboat, or just want to be aware of what to look for - and when to walk away no matter what - then you really ought to take a look at my eBook 'How to Avoid Buying the Wrong Sailboat'

Used Sailing Gear & Equipment

It's always worth taking a look at what visitors to are getting rid of. Remember that one man's junk is another man's gold!

Among other items this month, we have:

  • Jabsco Sireno Remote Control Searchlight;
  • Walker Bay 10 Sailing Dinghy;
  • Boarding ladder frame & eye fittings;
  • Ocean Safety Liferaft;
  • MarCELL Pro Cellular Boat Alarm;
  • Delta 70lb Anchor & Chain;
  • Cozy Cabin Propane Heater;
  • Simrad AP22 Autopilot;
  • Lewmar Delta Plow Anchor;
  • Raytheon AutoPilot 2000ST+;
  • Simrad Chart Plotter System;
Take a look at these and all the other stuff at used cruising gear for sale...

And finally...

If you know anyone who might be interested in the contents of this newsletter, please forward it to them. It's not secret!

And this newsletter can be a two-way thing. If you've read anything you'd like to comment on, or perhaps there's an event you'd like to see announced in a future newsletter, then please let me know.

See you next month!

Dick McClary

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