Author Archives: Ryan

EXUMA CAYS LAND SEA PARK, BAHAMAS – by Ryan

After stopping at Big Majors Spot, we headed north to Warderick Wells (the Exumas Cays Land and Sea Park). We spent a couple nights on a mooring ball and went hiking and kayaking during our stay. We hiked the main trail to Boo Boo Hill where we looked through the large pile of drift wood for boat names that we recognized. We kayaked past the park ranger’s station and hugged the coast until we got to the isolated Lucky Spot Beach. One morning while we were in the park, a nurse shark was hanging out behind our boat all morning. Click on the video below to check out our adventures at Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.

Our next stop was Allan Cay …

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

LONG ISLAND, BAHAMAS (May 2018) – by Ryan

From South Side Marina, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, we traveled three days in a row, stopping at Mayaguana Island, Acklins Island, and finally Clarence Town, Long Island (Flying Fish Marina). The seas were relatively small and following, which was nice. The Customs and Immigration person arrived at our boat an hour after we arrived in Clarence Town, and checked us in quickly.

CLARENCE TOWN, LONG ISLAND (May 2018)

Ryan washing the salt off the boat, Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan washing the salt off the boat, Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas (Father Jerome’s Church in the background)

Flying fish marina is a very convenient spot for sport fishermen, with deep water just a few miles off the coast. Every day we were there the sport fishing boats would go out and come back with plenty of large fish, including Mahi Mahi and Tuna. Around dusk everyday the crew cleaned the fish and a lot of sharks came. Nurse sharks, Lemon sharks, and even a couple of Bull sharks, showed up everyday for the huge fish carcasses. Surprisingly the “docile” nurse sharks were also jumping two feet out of the water for the fish! We took amazing videos and pictures of the sharks feeding at the fish station

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Shark feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Shark feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

In 2014, when were last at Flying Fish Marina, they were working on a new building, a pool, and a restaurant. While we were cruising down south, we heard that their construction work was blown away with one of the many hurricanes. During our most recent visit, we were glad to see the work was finished and the result was excellent. The restaurant was great, and the store/marine chandlery was well stocked with boating essentials. Overall, the marina has great facilities and is a great place to stop in the Southern Bahamas.

Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Randy at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Randy at upper deck Outer Edge Grill, Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Clarence Town (marina building on the left), Long Island, Bahamas

Clarence Town (marina building on the left), Long Island, Bahamas

One day, while we were on Long Island, we rented a car and went out exploring.

CAPE SANTA MARIA RESORT

 After driving North, nearly the full length of the island, we stopped at the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort for Lunch. The view was excellent and so was the food.

Ryan, Randy & Ronan, Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan, Randy & Ronan, Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island, Bahamas

Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island, Bahamas

Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island, Bahamas

Cape Santa Maria  Resor sits overlooking Calabash Bay. It looked like such a great spot, we decided to take our boat there to spend a night at anchor.

Cape Santa Maria, Long Island, Bahamas

Cape Santa Maria, Long Island, Bahamas

COLUMBUS MONUMENT

After lunch at Cape Santa Maria, we drove further north to the Christopher Columbus Monument. Allegedly, the monument is overlooking the spot that Columbus first anchored in the New World. The allegedly comes from a lack of hard evidence, and San Salvador (just north of Long Island) has also laid claim to being the first place Columbus anchored.

The drive to the monument was three miles through, let’s say, less than favorable terrain. The rental car was a compact and not exactly fit for that terrain. About halfway there we passed a pickup truck (presumably with four-wheel drive) turning around. We still, unbelievably, made it to the monument.

Dirt road to the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

Dirt road to the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

It was a very short hike up a small hill. We took some pictures and then went back down Rocky/Muddy/Bush Whack Ave. It was fun, and a good live history lesson.

Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

Ronan & Ryan at the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

Ronan & Ryan at the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

View from the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

View from the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

View from the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

View from the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

HAMILTON’S CAVE

The next day, on Mother’s Day, we drove to Hamiliton’s Cave where the Lucayan Indians were thought to have once lived. The cave was full of many different types of bugs, bats, carvings, stalactites and stalagmites. Mom was very brave! Our guide, Leonard, told us that, in the past, the cave has been used as a hurricane shelter.

Ryan & Ronan entering the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan entering the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan exploring the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan exploring the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan exploring the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan exploring the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Carving in the stones in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Carving in the stones in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Theresa, Ronan & Leonard (guide) observing the bats in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Theresa, Ronan & Leonard (guide) observing the bats in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Theresa in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Theresa in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Stalactite in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Stalactite in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan, Ronan, Leonard (our guide) and Theresa, Cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan, Ronan, Leonard (our guide) and Theresa, Cave, Long Island, Bahamas

DEANS BLUE HOLE

After visiting Hamilton’s Cave, we took a quick visit to the infamous Dean’s Blue Hole. Dean’s Blue Hole is the second deepest saltwater blue hole in the world and the deepest one in the Bahamas. It is also the site of a few popular diving, and free-diving competitions. Unfortunately,  we did not go in, and just walked around the edge. I hope to go back and scuba dive Dean’s Blue Hole some day in the future!

Road to Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Another long bumpy dirt road to Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan at Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan at Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan at Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan at Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

We spent our last night on Long Island anchored in Calabash Bay, just off Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort.

Anchored just off Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island Bahams

Anchored just off Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island Bahamas

Randy & Ryan pulling up the anchojust off Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island Bahams

Randy & Ryan pulling up the anchor in Calabash Bay, just off Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island Bahamas

Our next stop in the Bahamas on our north bound journey was George Town, Great Exuma . . .

Bahamas Map

Southern Bahamas Map

Westerbeak Marine Generator

How to Change the Oil in a Marine Generator in a Vessel With an Electric Oil Change System – by Ryan

On a vessel, everybody needs to know how to do everything. If one member of the crew is not there to take care of something, another person must be able to complete the task. On most boats, electricity comes from the generator and it runs on fuel. To keep running the generator requires its oil to be changed every one hundred running hours. This process is not as easy as just buying some oil and filling a tank, but needs an assortment of supplies and it takes many steps to complete this job. First, you must gather the appropriate supplies. This includes:

  • Motor oil of proper viscosity,
  • 5 gallon bucket,
  • Funnel,
  • New generator filter,
  • Garden hose,
  • Paper towels; and
  • 1 ½″ thick 3′ long rubber hose.

Before you start, it is a good idea to have paper towels, or special oil absorbent cloths, set aside to wipe down spilled oil or to clean the area that you are working in.

Once in the engine room, open the generator selector valve and attach the rubber hose to the pump discharge fitting. Place the 5 gallon bucket at the end of the rubber hose that is not being used. Flip the pump switch to drain position and pump the dirty oil into the bucket.

Ryan pumping the old fuel out of the generator

Ryan pumping the old oil out of the generator.

Next, disconnect the oil hose pump, wipe off any residual oil, and stow it away.

Ryan disconnecting the oil pump hose

Ryan disconnecting the oil pump hose

Coil the hose, wipe it clean & put stow it away

Coil the hose, wipe it clean & stow it away

Stowing the hose away

Stowing the hose away

Next, locate and unscrew the old oil filter. Clean the threads of the oil filter with paper towels, and securely dispose of any residual oil in the old oil filter.

Ryan pointing to the old oil filter

Ryan pointing to the old oil filter

Remove the old oil filter

Remove the old oil filter

Drain oil out of old oil filter into secure receptacle

Drain oil out of old oil filter into secure receptacle

Securely dispose of old oil filter

Securely dispose of old oil filter

Before installing the new oil filter wipe clean oil on the O-ring of it.

Dip finger in oil to lube ring of new oil filter

Dip finger in oil to lube ring of new oil filter

Lube outer ring of new filter with clean oil

Lube outer ring of new filter with clean oil

After wiping clean oil on the new filter, screw it in where the old oil filter was and hand tighten.

Secure new oil filter. Tighten with hand grip.

Secure new oil filter. Tighten with hand grip.

Next, disconnect the rubber hose from the pump discharge fitting. Pop the cap off where the oil is to be inserted into the generator and insert a funnel.

With funnel securely in oil input valve, pour in new diesel oil

With funnel securely in oil input valve, pour in new diesel oil

Carefully, pick up the five quart container with clean oil and pour approximately 4 quarts through the funnel. Be sure to pour it slowly or it will overflow over the funnel making a mess.

With funnel secure in oil input valve, add Diesel Oil

With funnel secure in oil input valve, add Diesel Oil

After adding approximately four (4) quarts of oil, take out the dip stick to check its level.

Ryan checking the dip stick oil level

Ryan checking the dip stick oil level

If the dip stick does not reflect the amount of oil inserted into the generator, you should probably check for a leak or other malfunction that could cause this. If the dip stick indicates it needs more oil, then  poor one more quart of oil through funnel before placing the cap back on.

Add another quart of oil

Add another quart of oil

Since this is a messy job, now would be the time to wipe down any spilled oil with paper towels, or oil absorbent cloths and to securely dispose of all of the garbage from this project.

Use oil absorbent cloth to clean any drips and spills

Use oil absorbent cloth to clean any drips and spills

Cleaning the engine room bilge

Cleaning the engine room bilge

It is also helpful to spray down the engine room with a garden hose to further clean up the mess. Once everything is closed back up, you should run the generator with no load to check for leaks. If there are not any leaks seal up the generator cover.

Close up and secure sound shield covering on generator

Close up and secure sound shield covering on generator

Secure sound and fire proof generator shield

Secure sound and fire proof generator shield

Finally, so you know when to change the oil next, log the generator’s hours in your captain’s log.

Ryan and Theresa in the shadow of the Pitons, diving in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

ADVANCED OPEN WATER SCUBA CERTIFICATION – by Ryan

For my birthday, my parents gave me a certificate to get PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certified with Dive St. Lucia. To get Advanced Open Water Diver certified you first need to complete the online, or in classroom, training and then pass the final exam. Next, you have to successfully complete five (5) “adventure dives,” two (2) of which are mandatory. The mandatory dives are “Deep Dive” and “Underwater Navigation.” For our optional dives, we chose “Wreck Diving,”  “Peak Performance Buoyancy” and “Underwater Photography.” Throughout the course, my mom was my diving “buddy.” We dove twice a day, three days in row, to complete the 5 adventure dives, plus one bonus “fun dive.” Our very competent and knowledgeable instructor for the course was Wendy.Theresa, Wendy (dive instructor) & Ryan in front of the Pitons, St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Theresa, Wendy (dive instructor) & Ryan in front of the Pitons, St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

DAY ONE – DEEP DIVE & UNDERWATER NAVIGATION

Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

Marigot Bay, St. Lucia

We arrived at Dive St. Lucia at 8:15 a.m. and picked out and prepared the gear we would use for the course. At 9:00 a.m. the dive boat shoved off and headed south towards the Pitons. It took us about an hour to get down to Marigot Bay where we picked up more divers.

Wendy then went over the dive plan for our first dive and we geared up. The first dive site was called “Superman’s Flight,” because of the strong current, and was located  below the St. Lucia’s famed Gros Piton.Gros Piton, St. Lucia

Gros Piton, St. Lucia

Superman’s Flight was our Deep Dive. For the Deep Dive, you have to dive down 60-100 feet below the surface. Since I was only twelve at the time, our deep dive was limited to only 70 feet (you have to be 14 to dive down to 100 feet). Our dive instructor brought an egg down with us and cracked it 70 feet below the surface to show us the effect that pressure has that deep. (Click photo below to see what happens to an egg when you crack it 70 feet under water.)

The yolk and the fluid surrounding it stayed in tact. It kind of resembled a ping pong ball. After ascending approximately 10 feet, to 60 feet, due to decreased pressure, the yolk started to fall apart. That was my science class for the day. Afterwards, we drifted along the colorful reef in a super man pose. As the current pulled us along we saw tons of cool coral and sea life. After 40 minutes, and a three minute safety stop at 15 feet, we concluded the dive. The dive boat came over and picked us up for lunch.Marty and Suzanne (M/V Alizann) enjoying lunch lunch between dives in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Friends, Captains Marty and Suzanne (M/V Alizann), enjoying lunch lunch between dives in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Ryan getting ready to dive in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Ryan getting ready to dive in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

After lunch we traveled north to the next dive site “Fantasia.” On that dive we had to complete our mandatory Underwater Navigation skills. Wendy gave us compasses and briefed us on the drills we would be required to do under the water. After gearing up we took a giant stride into the water and descended. The first drill was measuring how many kick cycles it took Mom and I to go 100 feet (horizontally). Next we had to go 30 kick cycles on one compass heading then return to the same spot on the reciprocal heading. Once we both completed that we had to go 30 kick cycles in a different direction and use natural navigation to get back. Wendy told us not to use fish, crabs, etc. (or anything else that moves)  as markers to help us navigate back.Ryan scuba diving in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Ryan scuba diving in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Finally, we had to navigate a square. To navigate a square we had to go ten kick cycles in one direction, then, using our compasses, turn 90 degrees right. After two more 90 degree turns we ended up back where we initially started.Ryan scuba diving in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Ryan scuba diving in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

After completing all of the “hard work” we enjoyed diving the reef in Fantasia. Like most Caribbean dives, the dive was colorful and full of sea life.

DAY 2 – FUN DIVE & PEAK PERFORMANCE BUOYANCY (PBB)

Since we already had all our gear set up from the day before, on day 2 we arrived at Dive St. Lucia later than the day before. For our third dive, Dive St. Lucia Capt. Dwight escorted us to Turtle Reef and Anse Conchon South, down by the Pitons.Theresa, Dive St. Lucia Capt. Dwight & Ryan (Jan. 2018)Theresa, Dive St. Lucia Capt. Dwight & Ryan (Jan. 2018)

On the boat we learned that we would have another diver joining us for the day – Alfie – who was on vacation from England. Ryan, Theresa & fellow diver Alfie getting ready to dive Turtle Reef in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Ryan, Theresa & fellow diver Alfie getting ready to dive Turtle Reef in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

We picked up more divers and snorkelers in Marigot Bay, again, then continued heading South until we got to Turtle Reef. Our first dive was our fun dive so we did not have any skills to perform. We descended 60 feet and then started out over the reef. Strangely enough, that was the second time I went to Turtle Reef and did not see any turtles.

Turtle Reef in St. Lucia

Turtle Reef in St. Lucia

I did see moray eels, fish and a lot of colorful coral. I just did not see a turtle. For now, I will just have to take it at the word of the person who named the reef that there are turtles there. Wendy pointed out all of the cool creatures we might have missed otherwise. Along a wall on the dive in a little crack I saw a huge lion fish, which was the biggest one any of us had ever seen. We also saw large crabs and even a octopus.

Like day one, the boat picked us up and we had a great lunch.  We then traveled North to our second dive site “Anse Cochon South.” Our fourth dive was our Peak Performance Buoyancy or “PPB.” Some of our cruising friends said that PPB was the most beneficial of all the adventure dives because it teaches you how to best maintain neutral buoyancy. After completing the dive, I agree.

DAY 3 – WRECK DIVING & UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY

Out of all three days, day three was probably the best. We started heading South from Rodney Bay around 9:00 a.m., and like every other day, we picked people up in Marigot Bay. Our first dive site was the Lesleen M. Wreck. The Lesleen M. was purposely sunk in 1985 to create an artificial reef. We descended 60 feet and started the dive at the bow of the wreck. On the wreck dive we brought the cameras we would be using for our underwater photography dive and got pictures and videos of the wreck. Inside the cracks and portholes of the wreck there was sealife and creatures like moray eels. We swam towards the stern (back) and saw the prop and rudder. There were sea spiders and lots of coral encrusting the wreck. After circling the entire wreck we ascended to the top deck (of the wreck) and swam above it. We could see the part of the wreck that was damaged by Hurricane Irma. Due to the damage we were not able to penetrate the wreck. We were underwater for 60 minute on our first dive before ascending to the surface. (Click photo below for video and photos of the Lesleen M wreck and Anse Conchon dives.)

Lesley M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Ryan photographing the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Ryan photographing the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia – 65 feet below sea level (Jan. 2018)

The bridge of the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

The bridge of the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

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Ryan exploring the rudder of the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Ryan exploring the rudder of the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia, 65 feet below sea level (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia - 65 ft below sea level looking up (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia – 65 ft below sea level looking up (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia - 65 ft below sea level - looking towards the bow (Jan. 2018)Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia – 65 ft below sea level – looking towards the bow (Jan. 2018)

Ryan diving the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia - 65 ft below sea level (Jan. 2018)

Ryan diving the Lesleen M Wreck in St. Lucia – 65 ft below sea level (Jan. 2018)

After lunch, the boat dropped us off at Anse Cochon South. The skill we practiced on our second dive of the day was underwater photography and videography. There was lots of cool sea life to take pictures of along the reef. While taking pictures on top of the reef, sometimes moray eels would go right underneath us. We used the neutral buoyancy skills that we learned in PPB  to get up close and steady to our “subjects.” Photography was definitely one of my favorites (out of five the dives) because it memorialized and allowed us to share our dive experiences. After 45 minutes, and a 3 minute safety stop at 15 feet, we ascended as newly PADI advanced certified divers! The boat picked us up and we traveled back to the dive shop.

Anse Cochon North, St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Anse Cochon North, St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Sea Urchins & Tubular Coral, Anse Cochon North, St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Sea Urchins & Tubular Coral, Anse Cochon North, St. Lucia (Jan. 2018)

Out of all the PADI specialty courses I would recommend the PPB as the most beneficial and Wreck/Photography as the most fun. I think the Advanced Open Water Diver certification course helped us a lot as divers and certainly expanded our horizons in the world of PADI.

Ryan, Randy, Ronan & Theresa, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, USA

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – by Ryan

Nana & GrandpaSir, 12-17

Nana & GrandpaSir, 12-17

Recently our family took a trip to Cape Canaveral, Florida to visit the Kennedy Space Center. On the last day visiting our grandparents, Ronan and I got the feeling everybody knew something that we did not. That was because they did. They told us that, “The plan for tomorrow has certainly changed; it will be a surprise.” Before the day was over we were told we were heading to the Kennedy Space Center, and we were all very excited!

Welcome to NASA - Get ready to explore!

Welcome to NASA – Get ready to explore!

The next day we drove across the state to Cape Canaveral. We went to a hotel and waited until the next day to visit the Kennedy Space Center. After arriving the next day we walked through the rocket garden (very cool) and through the whole space center to where the bus tour originated. The 2.5 hour bus tour provides a great introduction and overview of the Kennedy Space Center.

 

Rocket Garden, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL

Rocket Garden, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL

Our bus driver was a very knowledgeable guide.  He pointed out every alligator we saw until we got to the Vehicle Assembly Building. After pointing out each alligator, he would say, “5,999 to go, 5998 to go, 5997 to go,” and so on. First, we came upon the Vehicle Assembly Building (“VAB”). It was HUGE!

VVAB

Vehicle Assembly Building (“VAB”), Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral. FL

Our guide informed us that it is the largest (by volume) building in the world. He said the American flag on the side of the building was six stories tall. NASA uses this building to assemble the space craft, in the past including the shuttle, the exterior fuel tank, and the solid rocket booster.

Shortly after driving by the VAB we saw the massive crawler used for carrying different kinds of spacecraft to the launch pad. To transport the spacecraft from the VAB to the launch pad NASA opens up one side of the VAB and puts the spacecraft on the crawler.

“The Crawler” (only captured part of it, but this massive piece of machinery transported the shuttle)

“The Crawler” (only captured part of it, but this massive piece of machinery transported the shuttle)

The crawler travels on the three mile crawlerway to the launch pad. An interesting fact the guide told us about the crawlerway was that it was made of Tennessee River rocks. NASA used Tennessee River rocks because they do not contain iron and therefore would not produce sparks. We also learned that the crawlers travel at a speed of approximately one mile per hour (hence its name “Crawler”). Next, we traveled the three miles out to the different launch pads.

Crawler Space Shuttle (1 mi/hr) track, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, 12-17

Crawler Space Shuttle (1 mi/hr) track, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, 12-17

Mission Control, Kennedy Space Center, 12-17

Mission Control, Kennedy Space Center, 12-17

There are a great deal of things that could go wrong during a launch and the spacecraft has the explosive capability of an atomic bomb. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to know (and want) to be far away from the launch pad when a launch occurs. That is why mission control and the VAB are a little over three miles away from the launch pad.

We were told about how going to space was a challenge that has been recently taken on by private industries in addition to NASA. A couple of these companies are Space X and Blue Origin. We passed Space X’s equivalent of the VAB. Their building was not nearly as tall but this is because they assemble their spacecraft horizontally. When bringing the spacecraft out to the launch pad they  rotate it into a vertical position. Space X has their own launch pad.

“Crawler Space Shuttle Route” passsing in front of Elan Musk’s Space X’s launch pad

“Crawler Space Shuttle Route” passing in front of Elon Musk’s Space X’s launch pad

On the way back towards the space center we stopped in the Apollo/Saturn V Center. It houses The Apollo and Saturn V rockets as well as part of the first mission control.

Saturn V, Cape Canaveral, FL 12-17

Saturn V, Cape Canaveral, FL 12-17

Mission Control

Mission Control

After a short movie we entered into a large room with part of the original mission control. While in mission control it was like being there during the first launch. The room was rigged to play the timer, the checklist, and even the people’s voices just as it was during the first launch. After that experience, we got a new guide that showed us the real Saturn V rocket. It was gigantic!! The rocket ran the length of the whole building and was divided into three parts.

When the bus tour got back to the Space Center we went into the Atlantis building.

External Fuel Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters for Space Shuttle, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, 12-17

External Fuel Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters for Space Shuttle, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, 12-17

Ryan, Randy, & Ronan at the feet fo the Atlantis Rocket, Cape Canaveral, 12/17

Ryan, Randy, & Ronan at the feet of the Atlantis Solid Rocket Boosters, Cape Canaveral, 12/17

There were tons of cool presentations and the real Atlantis Space Shuttle. We could see the dents and marks on the shuttle where small meteorites hit it.

Space Shuttle Atlantis in its permanent museum home, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, 12-17

Space Shuttle Atlantis in its permanent museum home, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL, 12-17

We then went into a realistic shuttle takeoff simulator and even tried a shuttle landing simulator. We did not leave until we all were able to successfully land the shuttle in the simulator. We spent a lot of time in the Atlantis building before going to the IMAX movie. We saw the movie “A Beautiful planet.” It was a great movie that gave us a different perspective of Earth. After that we took off back to the hotel.

Day two of our mission we got to the space center early. We started the day off with the astronaut encounter. NASA astronaut Brian Duffy gave us a personal presentation and shared his experiences in outer space.

Astronaut encounter with Brian Duffy

Astronaut encounter with Brian Duffy

His presentation, unlike most other things in the Space Center, was like a personal journal. He explained what life was like for him, and his fellow astronauts, from an astronaut’s prospective.

Astronaut encounter with Brian Duffy

Astronaut encounter with Brian Duffy

After the astronaut encounter we went to see the second IMAX movie, “Journey to Space.” The movie was about going to space past, present, and future. When the movie was over we went back through the Rocket Garden and the on to the Heroes and Legends exhibit.

Ronan & Ryan in a capsule in the Rocket Garden, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL

Ronan & Ryan in a capsule in the Rocket Garden, Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL

After watching a short 3d movie, we walked through the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. The astronaut Brian Duffy, whom we met earlier, was one of the most recent inductees being inducted just last year.

After going through the Astronaut Hall of Fame it was time for us to go. We all had fun being astronauts for the day (two) and overall the experience was out of this world! I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas and will have a happy New Year.

 

Ronan, Theresa, Roland, and Ryan, Segway in St. Lucia

This is How We Roll – Lucian Style! – by Ryan

Capt. Randy on the bow, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Capt. Randy, arm in a sling,  on the bow, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Two weeks post-rotator cuff surgery and the Captain seems to be recovering nicely. Tethered to an ice machine, watching the sun set over Rodney Bay in St. Lucia, is not a terrible way to navigate the post-op rehabilitation process. The hardest part has been keeping the arm immobilized. Anyone with a boat knows that there is always some project that needs to be attended to. Luckily, we have a capable crew willing to take care of, or assist with those never-ending projects. Mom, Ronan and I are becoming ever more familiar with the engine room and various boat systems!

SEGWAY

Roland and Ryan, Segway training in St. Lucia

Roland and Ryan, Segway training in St. Lucia

In the meantime, with the Captain resting and recovering on the boat, Mom, Ronan, and I decided to take a field trip to explore more of the beauty that St. Lucia has to offer. Friends of ours, Rita and Ralph off S/V Calypso, suggested a Segway Tour that sets out from Rodney Bay (http://lucianstyle.com/featured-tours). Just a short walk from the marina, we mounted the Segways and received initial maneuverability instructions. Having never ridden a Segway before, the motion control was initially unfamiliar. After a few minutes of practice, circling around the practice track, we all seemed to get the hang of it and set off!

Roland, Ronan and Ryan, Segway in St. Lucia

Roland, Ronan and Ryan, Segway in St. Lucia

We rode along the well-maintained nature trails on Mount Pimard until we arrived at our first stop where our guide, Roland, let us smell the spice of Bay leaf off of a local tree. He also put flowers in all the ladies’ helmets. Next, we stopped at Pebble’s Point looking across Rodney Bay. Roland explained some of the island’s history while his assistant took our Segways out of beginner’s mode and switched them into advanced mode.

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Rita, Ryan, Roland, Ronan and Ralph, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

In advance mode, at a top speed of 14 mph, we kept gliding along the trails (built by the U.S. military during WWII) and stopped to check out a WWII bunker 30 feet underground.

We then proceeded to fly on a straight away dirt trail at about a 40o angle as fast as the Segways could go! We got to an opening with spectacular views!

 

Rita, Ralph, Ryan, Ronan, Theresa and Roland, Segway in St. Lucia

Rita, Ralph, Ryan, Ronan, Theresa and Roland, Segway in St. Lucia

Ronan, Ryan, Theresa, Ralph and Rita, Segway in St. Lucia

Ronan, Ryan, Theresa, Ralph and Rita, Segway in St. Lucia

Ronan and Ryan, St. Lucia

Ronan and Ryan, St. Lucia

Although not mentioned in the Segway tour brochure, we took a small hike up to a pond. We fed bread to the fish and then came back for Roland’s surprise! Just in case anyone reading this decides to do the tour I will not tell you the surprise. You will just have to find out for yourself! Hint: it came out of a WWII bunker and it was not dust. After that we flew back down the hill and visited yet another spectacular view point. It overlooked Rodney bay and you could see Pigeon island in the background.

It was literally all downhill (the trails) after that. We next visited the South end of Reduit Beach and got sodas at a beach front restaurant.

In the end, we did a victory lap and then returned to the track. We all got official Gliders Licenses for mastering the skill of gliding on a Segway X2. With the license if (probably when) you decide to do this 5-star tour again they put you in advanced mode from the beginning. By far this is the best tour I have taken in the Caribbean! We are hoping to do this tour again, but with the Captain when his arm is better, so he can enjoy this excellent tour as well!

VIDEOS

Click image below for GoPro video of our Segway adventures.

Ronan, Theresa, Ryan and Patton, Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia

Hiking to Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island National Park, St. Lucia – by Ryan

After viewing Pigeon Island from the sea, by both boat and kayak, and by land from our marina, last week we decided to take a hike over there to check it out.

Ronan and Ryan, Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Ronan and Ryan, Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Theresa, Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Theresa, Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Taking a left out of the marina gate, it is approximately a 40-minute hike to the island. We had so much fun over there that when our Uncle Jim came to visit, we took him to the fort to explore too.

Ronan, James and Ryan departing Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia

Ronan, Uncle  Jim, and Ryan departing Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia

Pigeon island is actually connected to mainland St. Lucia (i.e. it’s more like a peninsula). Wondering why they call it an island, I looked it up and learned that “once isolated from mainland, St. Lucia, in the Caribbean Sea, the island was artificially joined to the western coast of the mainland in 1972 by a man-made causeway built from dirt excavated to form the Rodney Bay Marina. “Pigeon Island (Saint Lucia).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2017.

Pigeon Island land bridge (red roof tops are Sandals Resort), St. Lucia

Pigeon Island land bridge (red roof tops are Sandals Resort), St. Lucia

After arriving at the Pigeon Island National Park, we paid the admission fee and started up the first hill to Fort Rodney.

Patton and James, hiking to Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Patton and Uncle Jim, hiking to Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Fort Rodney is named after a renowned British Admiral. Admiral Rodney is most famous for defeating the French at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782. The French originally settled St. Lucia but they fought the British for it three years after signing their peace treaty with the Caribs in 1660. Control of the island switched back and forth 14 times, seven times to the French and seven times to the British. The British won control the fourteenth time and they had control of the island until St. Lucia gained their independence on February 22, 1979.

We first arrived at a platform overlooking Rodney Bay (also named after the Admiral). The views were spectacular!

Theresa, Ryan, Ronan, James and Patton, Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Theresa, Ryan, Ronan, Uncle Jim, and Patton, Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

On a clear day looking north you can see the island of Martinique, approximately nineteen (19) nautical miles across the Martinique/St. Lucia channel.

Looking north from Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia (Martinique on the horizon)

Looking north from Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia (Martinique on the horizon)

When it was initially built in 1778, one of Fort Rodney’s purposes was to spy on French ships up in Martinique. The lower fort had a couple cannons and more great views. We even got to climb down a ladder into the gun powder room.

There was a sign explaining the system they used to bring cannons off of Admiral Rodney’s ships up to the fort. Using a pulley system, they hoisted the cannons off the deck to the top of the mast and then over to the fort.

Patton and James, hiking Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Patton and Uncle Jim, hiking Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

We went back down half way and then scaled the next hill. The trail up to Signal Peak was a little steeper than up to Fort Rodney. The signaling peak was used by the United States during WWII as a naval communications signal station until 1947. Flags were hoisted up a large pole to send signals to vessels at sea.

The views at the signaling station were just as good if not better than the views from the lower fort.  

U.S. Signal Station (1941), Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

U.S. Signal Station (1941-1947), Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

 

 

 

Ronan, James and Ryan (Martinique on the horizon), Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

Ronan, James and Ryan (Martinique on the horizon), Fort Rodney, St. Lucia

 

The hike down from the upper peak would be difficult for people afraid of heights. On our way down we saw a strategic fort on the side of the hill for armed soldiers to fire down on the enemy while being protected by the stone wall.

Ryan, James and Ronan, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia

Ryan, Uncle Jim and Ronan, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia

We really enjoyed hiking around Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island with our Uncle Jim. I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone on St. Lucia. If you are staying at a nearby marina or anchorage, and you do not like hiking, there is a dinghy dock right on Pigeon Island.

VIDEO

Click image below for additional pictures and video of Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, St. Lucia hiking adventure.