History Log: Season 2005
Amida travels from Trinidad to St Martin and back.
I spent a few days diagnosing the problem with the KISS having sent emails
to the outfit that had recommended, and installed for a hefty fee, a change in
the KISS' Regulator wiring (from Load Control to Charge Control), as well as
to the manufacturer of the KISS (a Canadian engineer now resident in
Trinidad) and also to Hotwire, a Florida based outfit that is the distributor of
the KISS for North America. Of the three, John Gambill of Hotwire, was the
most responsive and helpful. In fact, he was great. His advice was NOT to
connect the regulator in Charge Control mode as it needed to work in Load
Control mode, ie the exact opposite of what the installer had recommended!
The KISS folks said they'd responded to my email, but it never got through
to us. The installer was very, very slow in sending an answer and said what
he'd done was OK, so it must be another problem. Taking John's advice, I
tested the diodes that rectify the AC output of the generator to DC and found
a fault and requested KISS to send me a new control box. When it finally
arrived (in St Lucia) it fixed the problem. In the meantime, I had sent an
email to the manufacturer of the Regulator asking for their advice on how to
connect it to a wind generator and their answer was that it HAD to be Load
Control, else the warranty was void. So, the Trinidad outfit was full of @#$%
and I told them I would expect a refund for the Regulator and three hours of
installation time when we returned in June… fat chance of me seeing that
money! For those of you still reading this paragraph rather than skipping to
the next, I decided ultimately to remove the regulator completely, which is
what KISS recommends. It works well this way but I need to be careful if I
turn on the KISS in winds above 12 kn, if the batteries are already fully
charged as, under those conditions, it will continue to pump amps into a full
house bank at 14.5 to 15.0v.

Saltwhistle Bay, on Mayreau, is a spectacularly beautiful anchorage but a
little rolly at times and fly-ridden. The flies are the little household ones that
sit on your sandwich just as you are about to take a bite. They are harmless,
apart from their role in proliferating germs M tells me, but beaucoup
annoying. Their numbers seemingly depend on how far the local dump is
from the anchorage. We purchased several anti-fly weapons during the off
season and have to report that none of them, except the trusty fly-swat
really work. Remember the old-fashioned spirals of sticky paper that were
hung from kitchen ceilings? They don't work as well on a boat which has a
6'3" ceiling. M was not too pleased when she discovered just how sticky the
spirals were on her hair… The other weapon I'd had high hopes for was a jar
into which the flies were supposed to fly to get at a scrap of fly-bait, but not
be able to escape… a fly version of a lobster trap, but a little more
convenient for the interior of a small boat. It supposedly also works for
wasps, albeit when baited with something to which they are attracted. Well,
either the bait we used was not effective or the flies down here have figured
out how to fly out of such a jar as not even one of them ended up upside
down in the jar and a mere two got stuck to the spiral, while dozens got
squished by the swat back to which we had resorted. Despite its many flies,
Saltwhistle is very popular, so it tends to be too crowded. Crowded is a
relative term as here, 15 boats seems a lot while in the Tobago Cays, I
counted over 70, and there was room for plenty more. There are lots and
lots of French flagged boats down here, eg 12 of the 15 in Saltwhistle. Among
our cruising community, many do not view the French very positively,
perhaps due to a rather cavalier approach to anchoring or that often, they
are in large groups and therefore quite loud and boisterous. We, personally,
have not seen either of these traits but the language difference precludes
much socializing.

We have been able to test the efficacy of our "reverse scoop". The layout of
the forward cabin on Amida has the hatch too far aft for it to provide any
airflow over sleeping bodies, which as a result get a tad too hot and sweaty,
and unable to sleep, even when the wind is reasonably strong. In Trinidad,
we had a piece of canvas made up that attaches to the lip of the hatch and
the edge of the v-berth and forces the air forward over said bodies instead of
letting it flow aft. It works very well, a patent is pending, and a brand new
Gozzard will soon be placed on order, so confident am I this idea will bring in
millions and millions…

Mayreau has a second anchorage in Saline Bay, which is visited by cruise
ships… the big ones… as it has a nice long beach. This time of year sees the
visits of ships with "fake" sails (ie they are cosmetic rather than working),
such as the ones from Club Med, as well as recently built, or refurbished,
square riggers that can actually sail without using their engines, such as the
Star Clippers. There are also humongously large numbers of large sailboats,
really monster sized ones. Amida had previously been one of the smaller
vessels around but compared to these, she's a dinghy! A measure of size, we
decided, was number of spreaders. We have one set, the majority of cruisers
have doubles, while some have three. These monsters had four, five, and in
a couple of cases, even six! Of course, to flaunt their size, the masts and
spreaders where lit up at night, giving an eerie Christmas tree effect. There
are far too many rich people in the world… and we are not part of that group!
One vessel of note was the Athena, a seemingly newly built three masted,
maybe 250ft long, ship that was out on a charter. This kind of boat costs
between $250,000 and $300,000, US $s of course, for a week… plus the cost
of the food, alcohol, tips etc. I repeat, there are far too many rich…

A pleasant experience for me was that we came upon a twin master square
rigger from Poland, the Fryderyk Chopin. We swung by in our dinghy and
were invited aboard to talk to the Polish Captain. We alternated between his
excellent English and my halting Polish. She was under charter for a few
weeks, taking diving parties around the islands, then took on a classful of
high school kids. Her normal crew was quite meager, maybe 5 or 6, who got
to work quite hard because nothing was electrified, unlike the more modern
vessels.

Bad news, bad news, bad news… we found our first cockroach on Amida.
Apparently, they are pretty much inevitable, no matter how careful you are
at avoiding bringing on-board any cardboard packaging (eg that around
beer), and especially if you have spent hurricane season on the hard. They
can fly, climb, and probably even swim… Mind you, I don't really understand
why they have such a bad name as they look like beetles, and you don't see
them often. They aren't as pesky as flies or mosquitoes. The roaches down
here are, I understand, the "German" variety, which are quite small and
VERY, VERY, fast. The bad news is that is you see one, then there are
probably 99 of his brothers and sisters whose acquaintance you have yet to
make. We have two weapons against them, a can of bug spray whose effect
is very rewarding to watch as the little critters go into spasms, flip up side
down and then fall still (perhaps I could use the spray on a lobster???) and
boric acid powder which, if they scurry over it as they wander around, it get
on their legs, causes them to dry up, shrivel, and die! Yes!

In Tobago Cays, we met a delightful young couple from England who had
come across from the UK on their "older" Proust 37-38ft catamaran, just for
the one season. The cat's name was Grace May, easy to remember as they
were going to call their dinghy "Or May Not". The problem with the age
demographics of cruisers is that most of them are retired old farts (like me),
or older. Only occasionally do you come across those who took a sabbatical
while in their 30's or early 40's, such as these guys. Of course, I've nothing
against the old fart crowd, but the younger ones are just so much easier on
the eyes. One of the pleasant aspects of cruising is that you get to know
various boats and come across them here, there, and everywhere. We met
Grace May again in Bequia, and shared a few bottles of wine together. They
had an unfortunate accident one night as a water taxi, driven by a local, hit
the stern of one of their pontoons and damaged the rudder. Tim managed to
get into his dinghy and roared off in hot pursuit as the taxi got back to its
dock and the driver was seen running away. The next day, the owner
claimed someone had the taxi without his permission but eventually agreed
to pay for the damage which was, thankfully, not extensive.



Saltwhistle Bay - a little busy sometimes
and then not!
Tobago Cays from the top of Mayreau - worth
the hike
Club Med comes to Mayreau
Tobago Cays a beautiful as ever!