Thursday, February 27, 2014

I don't think we are in Kansas anymore

Hello, this is Barbara and her Big Dog, Reggie, here in the Land of Bahama. We have traveled for many days in hopes of speaking to the Great Customs Officer and ask him to allow us to travel and play in this amazing land and sea.  We arrived in the Lank of Bahama as the sun set. Our first travel here was done with a blindfold over our eyes, so we had to trust our guiding GPS. (It was extremely dark with no moon and no lights, just water.) As you know it is difficult to just relax and trust your guide completely, so I pushed some buttons, thinking that I could help GPS out just a little bit. GPS did not appreciate my interference. I could not get back to the right screen. Without the help of our Guide, I was lost. “Reggie, Reggie, I don’t know where I’m going!” He sweet talked GPS into going back to the correct screen. On my own I had turned 180 degrees and headed back to Memory rock. Reggie then dimmed the light on GPS and gently suggested that I not punch any more buttons and let GPS do the guiding. Humbled, I did just that and all was fine for the rest of my shift. Around 10 or 10:30 GPS had led us to an area protected and shallow enough to drop anchor.

In the morning we headed to Great Sale Cay, as Green Turtle Cay was still too far away. We met the Good Witch of the Wind. She was gentle and warm. In late morning we noticed some clouds building, but they were of no concern. However, we were soon to meet the Wicked Witch of the Wind. She introduced herself by throwing some lightning bolts, but her thundering roar was more disconcerting. By around noon we were becoming well acquainted. She had been just teasing us with the first several bolts of lightning. Now she was directing them right at us and the wind was fierce, the rain did not come down. The rain was horizontal. “Reggie, Reggie,” I shouted from inside the cabin, “please come inside! I’m afraid we are going to get hit by lightning. One of those bolts threw up sparks when it hit the water! Come here, Reggie.” The lion inside of me was praying for courage. The wind was finally too much for him and he shut of the engine and came inside. I had already put our electronics in the oven, so they wouldn’t fry. We turned off all of the breakers and held on. “Please leave us alone, Wicked Witch of the Wind!” After she had her fun, she laughed and rolled away. The rest of the trip to Great Sale Cay was uneventful, but we were happy to drop anchor and rest. Tomorrow we expect to arrive at Green Turtle Cay and meet with the Great Customs Officer.

There was only a little wind, so we motored out of the anchorage. Two other sailboats had departed just ahead of us. The Big Dog was at the helm. I was below doing dishes, when he barked, “Looks like a small boat with a couple people on board are in trouble. One of them is waving a large white flag.” Reggie radioed one of the other boats, but they had not noticed the distress flag. We headed towards the small boat and the other sailboats stood by in case they could be of assistance. “Are you in trouble?”

“Yes, our battery blew up. We stuck here.” We have met our very own ‘tin men’.


“Our battery blew up. See it have a big hole.”

“Do you have another one?”

“Yes, but when dis one blew up, it keel da udder one.”

“Can you start it by hand?”

“No, sir, I tried, but it not start.”

“OK, I’ll come along side and give you a battery for you to use to start your engine, and then you can get your battery charged.”

“Thank you, sir. Yes.”

We eased up beside them and passed over the battery.

“Do you like stone crab claws?”

“We don’t know. We’ve never had them, but I bet we would. We don’t know what to do with them, though.”

They handed over 3 large claws out of a large barrel. “Just boil dem ‘til dey turn red.”

Their motor started. They returned our battery. We waved good bye with “Thank you and Good Luck” in both directions.

Besides the stone crab claws, we were rewarded for our good deed by the Good Witch of the Wind. We were soon motor sailing, then sailing with jib only, then with slightly furled jib. I’m loving the Land of Bahama.

One of the sailboats that left Great Sale Cay with us reported that there were expected thunder storms and showers starting later this afternoon and through the next day or two. The clouds are building again. They do not look as ominous as they did yesterday, but we need to keep our speed up to get to Green Turtle Cay before they hit and before dark. We need to furl in the jib a little further as the wind picks up. The Wicked Witch of the Wind as retuned. She is teasing us. “Ha, Ha, Ha, Do you remember yesterday, my little pretties?”

We do and take steps to be better prepared. The Bimini, which we were sure we were going to lose yesterday, came down. Sail completely furled.  “Bring it on,” says our lion. “We’re not afraid. We’ll take you with one hand tied behind our back.” She would blow a little harder for a while and then back off. As we were approaching the narrow channel, the Wicked Witch of the Wind boiled up her cauldron of brew, just enough to remind us she is watching us.

We are now on a mooring ball and quite secure. She is throwing a temper tantrum, blowing and raining, but we don’t care. We are eating stone crab claw salad and drinking wine. Tomorrow, the Big Dog will meet with the Great Customs Officer.

This morning there is much to do to prepare for the meeting with the Great Customs Officer. Official papers to present with our request for entry must be gathered.  (Only the Big Dog is allowed to leave the boat to see the Great Customs Officer.)  The dingy must be unleashed from the bow and cast overboard. It must be loaded with safety gear and loaded with motor and battery and loaded with oars and boy do you need a lot of stuff to go 100 yards!

The Wicked Witch of the Wind is having her fun. Every time Reggie would climb into the dingy to load something or hook up the battery to our electric dinghy motor, or whatever, she would send another downpour and he would return to the cabin. “A-ha,” whispered his Scarecrow, “I’ll just get cleaned up in your shower!” He washed his hair, too. All dressed up and no rain, he is off.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

She survived

She survived.

We get a slow start to the morning.  Sunshine, blue sky, aquamarine waters, a speck of an island.  No other living souls in sight.  Coffee from the old fashioned percolating coffee pot on the stove, in bed of course.  Barbara has declared us to be on island time!

After the morning checkout routine, done each day just as it was in the previous post, I try to solve the electrical mystery.  Everything I check looks ok.  Barbara mentioned last night that it might fix itself by morning.  Evidently it did.  Everything worked the way it should at startup.

Anchor is hoisted a little after 10.  After we clear the end of the island, the genoa is unfurled and the engine shut off.  We hoist the mainsail for the first time this trip.  It is a soft air day, so we are sailing only about 3 miles per hour, but, hey, we are in “no hurry, mon”.  A soft air day is perfect for me to inspect the result of changes I’ve made to our boom and rigging and contemplate additional adjustments. 

We aren’t headed far, just about 25 miles to Great Sale Cay, a very easy day.  Barbara noted far off thunder as we were rounding the island but its distance from us and our bright sunny day gave us no worries.

After about an hour of sailing and adjusting, we notice the sun is disappearing.  We look around and see rain storms north, west and south of us.  It is a good thing we are headed east and they appear not to be coming at us.

In another hour or so, the wind has died.  We decide to furl the genoa and motorsail with the mainsail up.  The storms have actually gotten closer and we are seeing occasional lightning and hearing thunder.

We have a tasty lunch and decide to drop the mainsail and secure it. The west and north storm have combined. 

Lightning is showing more frequently, some visibly striking the sea.  One thousand one, one thousand two, ….one thousand thirteen, soft thunder.  Lightning about 2.5 miles away.  A small open fishing skiff can be seen racing the storm part way between us and the lightning.

More lightning, closer now, perhaps a mile away.  One ponders many things while riding a 50 ft tall lightning rod, feet next to a spare battery, holding a metal steering wheel, leaning against a steel backstay, with a steadying hand on the steel pushpit, next to the steel wind generator tower braces and steel bimini frame, while sitting on two propane tanks. 

An intense bolt of lightning strikes.  One thou..BOOM!  That’s close!  Barbara sees sparks fly from the sea as lightning strikes again not far away.  I wonder, as you are counting the seconds from lightning flash to thunder, does your counting speed up or slow down as the lightning gets closer?

We tried to veer away from the storm but it was too fast for us.  We’ve stowed spare electronics in the oven as a Faraday cage.  The storm catches us and is building and there is more lightning.  I decide to shut down the engine and turn off the remaining electronics.  There is nothing more to do for now except to join a wide eyed, pale Barbara below and let the boat fend for itself and take care of us during what we hope is a short storm.  Barbara wants to know if I am planning to drop anchor since we are only in 13 ft of water.  I decide I do not want to attach us to earth with a long piece of steel chain while thunder bolts are being hurled around.  The charts show us having navigable depths for several miles in all directions.

The storm intensifies with a vengeance.  Thunder, lightning, sky as dark as twilight, torrential rain and above gale force winds.  We did not think to take down the bimini and now it is too late.  It flaps violently.  The boat heals over 20 degrees just from the force of the wind.  Barbara had asked earlier for the storms to give us a little sailing wind.  Now she regrets it.  Apparently storms do not know moderation.

 The portlights are obscured by rain.  I peek out the companionway doors but can only see about 20 feet of horizontal rain and frothing seas.  I return to holding the doors closed.  Through one small portlight can be seen the upside down dinghy straining at its lashings on the foredeck.

These storms don’t last long, perhaps 30 minutes.  The sky begins to get lighter, the wind drops to perhaps 30 miles per hour and easing, the rain still coming down hard but slowly letting up.  I head to the cockpit to survey the damage and retake command of my vessel.  Drifting at the whims of mother nature is not to my liking.  What if there is a skinny water spot the charts missed

Amazingly the bimini is still up, probably thanks to Gerry’s stitching.  There appears to be no damage.  Nothing is lost overboard that I can tell.

The engine is revived and we get back on course.  We’ve only drifted about a mile and partially in the right direction.  We wonder about the two fellows in the skiff.

Earlier, as the storm approached, I called for my fouly jacket.  Now, as I stand at the helm in the rain, I am reminded it does not keep me dry, just slows the water down these days.  Our West Marine Explorer Breathable foul weather gear has not held up as expected.  Now, what used to be waterproof is a windbreaker only.

The rain ends.  We are left with probably 20 MPH winds and storm waves.  Things begin to dry out.  The air is cool.   I notice my legs are dry and warmer than the rest of me.  I’m wearing shorts and no damp cloth covers my legs.  I am reminded of the canvas desert water bags hanging from Dad’s car on summer trips.  My own wet clothing evaporative chilling process is making me cold and keeping me damp.  I remove jacket, shirt, shorts, etc. and immediately begin to feel warmer.  Barbara looks out to find me in only my sunglasses and exclaims she did not realize the wind had been strong enough to blow my clothes off!

Around 2:30 the sun comes out.  If my son, Ben, was with us and perhaps some sailing friends from Montana, we would change foresail, reef the main and sail all night long, spray flying across the bow.  It would be a special time sharing that with Ben.  I can see Tim’s beard blowing back, his wild-eyed grin reflecting how happy he is not to be pursued by “Knot Ready”.  Ray would be living large and in the moment.  Ace would be telling me I am doing it wrong.  Guy would think I’m doing it wrong and wonder why it is working so well.  Tony would think we were racing to Hawaii in the Transpac but be confused that we were on this poor old boat and not his speedy “Vento”.  Kathy would be laughing with glee and Shawn would have a quiet smile of satisfaction.  And on the list could go.

It is just Barbara and me.  By about 4pm, we have the anchor down at Great Sale Cay.  Barbara makes us a “sundowner” of Old Nassau dark rum and guava juice.  We sit in the sun in the cockpit, enjoying our reward and the scenery of the island, the anchorage and six other boats.  We’re on island time.

The crossing, Reggie's view

The crossing, Reggie’s view.

It is now 10:00 am, 2-24-2014.  We had a quiet night at anchor in Lake Worth.  A couple times in the night I could see lightning storms to the east but they were too far away to hear the thunder.  By this morning, they were gone.  I arose a little after 7 to start the coffee so Barbara could be served in bed.  Checking the weather showed no significant change from last night’s prognostications.  We decide to go.

After breakfast, the morning prestart checkout begins.  First check is the through hull and strainer where the sea water enters the boat to cool the V-drive, transmission and engine.  It is referred to as raw water.  Roll back marine carpet on sole of lower salon.  Remove access lid.  Close the seacock.  Remove the cap from the strainer.  Pull the screen basket and inspect.  No sea grass or jellyfish this time.  Open seacock briefly to confirm good water flow and nothing obstructing the inlet.  Replace screen and cap, open seacock and announce out loud “Raw water check”.  Close compartment.

Next stop, floorboard in the upper salon/dinette/galley.  Removing this panel give access to the V-drive, the fuel sight gauge, fuel crossover valves, a view of the deep bilge and the packing gland.  Eyeball the bilge.  Deep and dark.  No surprises.  Open fuel sight gauge valve.  No buble showing means we still have over a half tank of fuel.  Close valve.  Open fuel crossover valves to allow fuel to cross from the port tank to the starboard tank, from which the engine draws.  Close crossover valves.  Check oil in V-drive.  Look for slow drip of sea water from the propeller shaft packing gland.  It was dripping too fast last night at shutdown so I tightened the packing gland.  Too fast is too much water running into the boat.  Too slow and the propeller shaft gets overheated.

Next stop, remove the companionway steps.  This gives access to the transmission and the rear of the engine.  The oilsorb pad below the transmission has become soaked with transmission fluid due to the leak.  The leak has gotten worse.  It usually takes several days of leaking to fill the oilsorb pad.  This is just one day since changing the last pad when we refueled.  We had to push hard for a while yesterday and I’m hoping the leak slows down as we ease up.  Add transmission fluid.  Check engine oil.  Check engine “fresh” water(the water and antifreeze in the enclosed portion of the engine cooling system).  Eyeball anything you can see.  Replace the stairs.

Turn off wind generator.  Turn on GPS.  Confirm VHF radio is on.  Normally we would also turn on the wheel autopilot but it is broken.  Anyone have a spare?  Turn on start battery.  Go to cockpit and confirm everything is OK and no lines are hanging over to foul the propeller when we begin motoring.  Confirm transmission is in neutral.  Set fuel control at 1/3.  Preheat engine for 10 seconds.  Press start and smile as engine actually complies.  It is a treat every time.

Take the windlass remote to the bow and retrieve enough chain to unhook the snubber.  Begin retrieving anchor chain, stopping if you see mud on the chain so you can wash it off and not fill the anchor locker with mud.  Finish retrieving and secure anchor.  Return to cockpit and motor away.

We traveled about 6 miles from the anchorage to the ocean.  Nothing exciting has happened since then.  After clearing the channel marker bouys, we set the foresail to help steady the boat and perhaps gain a little speed.  Wind is light.  Sky is baby blue with skiffs of clouds.  As we enter the ocean, the water changes to a glorious blue.  This sure beats the brown of the ICW farther north.  The depth sounder gives up trying to measure depth after the depth exceeds about 650 feet. 

We are sailing into the sun on a heading of 100 degrees true.  Our first destination, some 55 miles east, is a spot on the charts about 2 miles south of Memory Rock, a rock on the edge of the Little Bahama bank, so small hardly anyone has ever seen it.  We head south of it because north of it the water is too skinny(shallow) for us.  The direct straight line heading to the rock is 81 degrees true.  We are headed somewhat farther south because the gulf stream will carry us north as we cross it.   We are averaging about 5.5 miles per hour.

The coast guard hails the motor vessel “Done Deal”.  What was your last port of call and what will be your next port of call?  “Bimini, Lake Worth”.  What was the purpose of your trip?  “Pleasure”.  How many souls on board?  “5”.  Please change to channel 22A.  “Roger”.

I look south, east and north and see nothing but the sea stretching to the horizon.  Tall motels are slowly shrinking behind us.  My watch ends.  I send out the SPOT notification that all is OK and our current location.  I enter our location on the chart and in the logbook along with speed, direction, and any notes about our vessel.  I write this post to here and lay down to rest, still wearing my inflatable life vest, harness and tether in case Barbara needs me instantly for an emergency. 

Back at the helm at noon, the buildings behind us can barely be seen.  By the time we finish lunch they are gone.  Nothing can be seen in any direction but sky and gorgeous blue sea.

 Barbara makes us a tasty sandwich of lunch meat on marble rye bread with fresh spinach.   I also have a hard boiled egg, low sodium V8(bought it ‘cause it is supposed to be better for us.  Doesn’t taste as good) and a red delicious apple.  There had been concerns about being able or wanting to make lunch, hence the snack box.  Either or both of us could have been suffering from motion sickness but neither was.  The rocking and rolling of the boat is not too bad, but it never stops, thanks to the combination of swells from far away and small waves from local breeze.

Now comes hours of motoring in two hour shifts.  Not much else happens.  Man the helm.  Rest when off watch.  The rocking and rolling is worse now without any sails up.  The wind died and the genoa was furled after lunch.  The helm requires almost constant attention as each wave tries to knock us off course. 

Our boat was designed for use as more of a coastal cruiser, not a  long distance ocean craft.  It has a fin keel and separate spade rudder.  You can tell its racing heritage because it is so responsive to the helm and it is comparatively light for its size.  If I turn the wheel a quarter of an inch it begins a slow turn.  This arrangement is not so great for long crossings.  Cruising sailboats of comparable size might weigh twice as much and have keel running much of the length of the hull.  A full length keel is best for holding a course.  Did I say I’m missing my autopilot?  Did I ask if anyone has a spare?

A sailboat is visible several miles south of us, no sails up, heading back to where we just left.  A couple large cargo ships appear on the horizon, cross miles behind us and disappear on the opposite horizon.  Near sunset a fishing boat crosses our bow about a mile away, probably headed home to West End, Grand Bahama Island, with the days catch. 

We arrive at Memory Rock at 6PM and change course for Mangrove Cay where we hope to anchor in another 5 hours or so.  Depths change from those measured in thousands of feet to 14 ft very quickly as we cross onto the Little Bahama bank.  We hoped the rocking and rolling would disappear but it just diminishes.

An electrical problem has developed.  It doesn’t stop us but is a worry and will need troubleshooting in the morning.

It gets dark and the world disappears.  It is even easier to get disoriented than in the day time.  We can see stars but not easily since the bimini cockpit cover was installed in the afternoon to try to provide some shade from the Caribbean sun.

We arrive at the anchorage, we think, in total dark.  We cannot see the little island which is about as flat and as large as a big front lawn.   In the morning we’ll see it is nearby, a few shrubs, no trees.

We feel our way along with the depth sounder and the electronic chart, thanking the inventors and hoping all is accurate.  Anchor is dropped at about 11PM.  We will have no shelter from wind, and not much shelter from waves from most directions but the waves are smaller here and it is acceptable for getting some rest.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Across to the Abacos tomorrow?

Across tomorrow?

We went as far as Stuart, FL, last night.  We splurged and took a slip at Mariner’s Cay Marina.  The shower was great!  The marina is in Manatee Pocket, hence the following from Ray:

We're in Manatee Pocket near I-95

From Green Cove Springs, just a four hour drive.

We could'a come quicker by car.  

But chose to bypass radar

I Submit, it's the best way to arrive


6 days by Submit is a whole different way to travel!  And, given we have no wheels, it was nice of Kirk and his dad to take us grocery shopping and then to their favorite restaurant for dinner.

We topped up on fuel, a total of 38.5 gallons.  Barbara’s math tells us that is 0.57 gallons per hour, pretty parsimonious for about 14,000 lbs of sailboat and gear.

Well, the saga of the transmission continues.  It had a brief inspection and 4 bolts tightened, and was declared OK.  However, it still leaks.  For this trip, we’ll continue to sop it up and top it up.

A small child in a small boat with his parents noticed us today and became excited, shouting and waving.  It reminded me of our youngest grandchildren back home.  Not many grandchild hugs around here.  But, a minute later we had dolphins rising by the boat!

Passing through the Jupiter, FL, area today was not fun.  At least 5 bascule bridges are spread out about a half hour apart, but if you are not there at the hour or half hour for a regular opening, you have to wait.   We were late at one and had to sit for 28 minutes, and just barely made others. 
And there were hundreds of boats:  little slow boats, big slow boats, sailboats motoring, small fast boats, big 1200 horsepower 4 engine speed boats, and on it went for miles.  Most of the fast boats seem to have no idea of courtesy, nor the amount of havoc their huge wake creates as they pass.  We couldn’t wait to leave that area.

We are anchored in north Lake Worth tonight.  The forecast looks favorable for a crossing of the gulf stream tomorrow.  No elephants.  We will head to Memory Rock on the Bahamas bank.  It will take about 10 hours if all goes well.  We expect to motor sail to make time during the crossing.  We can slow down to sail at more modest speeds after we are across.

This evening saw us inflating the dinghy and stowing it on the foredeck.  In the rare event we needed it for an emergency departure of Submit, having to pump it up could be an inconvenience!

Other stuff is stowed away to keep it from falling around and to get it out of our way for travel.  Boneless pork country “spare ribs” with barbecue sauce was the tasty lead for dinner tonight.  Barbara has a snack box packed for us to nibble on during the crossing.  We’ll poke our bow out into the sea and if it looks OK, off we go. If not, we’ll head back in and try again Tuesday.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Thunder and lightning


We are at mile 943 on the ICW tonight, at anchor. It was a long day heade into the wind of 10-25 miles per hour plus our boat speed of a little over 6 miles per hour.   We were running ahead of thunder storms this afternoon.  They caught up with us about 15 minutes after we anchored.

We had a chance to witness a missile launch last night at anchor from our boat.  We missed it.  Couldn’t stay awake til 9pm!  How sad it is to have reached this condition.

Total distance traveled today was 58 miles.  We started at 8AM and anchored at about 4:45 pm.  After a  while, sitting out in the wind watching a previously seen(3 times) world go SLOWLY by gets a little tedious.   We’ve talked about trying to find a marina farther south for leaving “Submit”.  It takes us a minimum of 6 days each way from Green Cove Springs to the first real jumping off spot for the Bahamas, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth Inlet.  That is two weeks of vacation almost guaranteed to be spent motoring in restricted channels with little or no sailing.  Granted, it is good for a shakedown prior to departure, but we hope by now she doesn’t need that much shaking!  This will be an ongoing topic.

I tried to hail the Melbourne Yacht Club as we passed but received no response.  I wanted to thank them again for their generous hospitality last year when we had a breakdown.  Al Washka and the club were great.

We are attempting to decide where we will fuel and provision before heading across the Gulf Stream.  It may be in Stuart tomorrow or near Lake Worth the next day.  Then, we decide where and when to cross based on weather.

Almost 8:30 PM.  Yawn!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Rock House Creek

We are anchored tonight at Rock House Creek, just inside Ponce Inlet, Fl.  When we were here about a year ago, it was to witness the wreck of the “Primrose”.  She was a fine lady.  We are glad we are just passing through this time.  We intend to avoid the same fate while passing through the same area of shifting shoals.

Resident limericktitionist Ray had the following comment about our “git-away”:

Git means Disaway, stead of Dat,

Been here long 'nuff, time to skat,

Set sails when we have to,

An' check yer Honey Do

Bahamas NOW, Reggie, that's that!


Today saw a late start.  We decided to forego a good, safe, deep anchorage at Fort Matanzas, where we had anchored 3 times before, to make a few extra miles last night.  Then we found ourselves with limited choices, none good.  We awoke to a boat sitting in the mud, listing 30 degrees to port and 10 degrees bow down, with the tide not quite done falling.  There was nothing to do but gimbal the stove to make morning coffee, have a light breakfast, enjoy the scenery and do a couple little jobs while waiting for the tide to come back in.  A nice gentleman in a fishing skiff came by to chat and offered to carry our anchor out to deeper water to help us kedge off.  It was a help to us, but he may have regretted it as the 45lb anchor plus yards of 5/16 chain lowered to his boat.

The rest of the day saw sunshine and blue skies.  The temperature was just right until the wind came up in the afternoon, on the nose, of course.  We dropped anchor at about 5pm after about 45 miles travel for the day.  Barbara whipped up a tasty dinner which went down well with a glass (or two) of cabernet.

Tomorrow we pass through “Mosquito Lagoon” on our way south.  A good run south would have us nearing Eau Gallie and Melbourne where we dealt with a 10 day delay for repairs last year.  It was a nice area, but we hope not to spend as much time there this trip!

We are about 170 miles from Lake Worth in West Palm Beach, FL, which would be our first opportunity to cross over to the Bahamas.  Weather becomes the big deal at that point.  If good crossing weather will present itself within 2 or 3 days, we’ll cross over to the Abacos.  If not, we may head farther south to Fort Lauderdale or Miami and cross over to Bimini.  Who knows?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Finally headed ... North!

Finally headed … North!

After the engine started and ran fine, Barbara said it was “time to git!”  And when she says git, I git to gittin! (lapsing into southern redneck vernacular.  Sorry.) 

We seem to have boat confusion.  “Submit’ is “Knot Ready” to go.  We have no sails on yet.  Many other projects wait to be completed.  However, here we are, casting off lines under sunlit windless skies, and heading NORTH!

Well, to head south from here, you first have to head north to Jacksonville, then turn east  to the ocean (or close to it) before you can head south.  We decided to get going and work on projects along the way.  A few minor projects have been done and we are currently at anchor, our second night out, near Marineland on the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway).  We are not sinking, are gradually getting over our colds, and enjoyed some time without jackets today.  All is good.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Submit's Lament

Submit’s Lament

"They" leave for Montana, I don't like it a bit.
They fondle Knot Ready, and I just sit!
Now they return to have their fun.
Get me wet, expect me to run.
A hissy fit, some TLC, I'll be over it. 

Thank you, Ray Verlage!  You’ve summed it up nicely.  For those of you who don't know, Ray is a Canadian friend, fellow sailor and resident limerick creator.  When he emailed me this one, his subject read "Dance with the Cal you came with"

Barbara said I should sleep on the engine no-start problem.  So, I did.  Inspiration at dawn.   Many people, including me, drive vehicles with diesel engines these days.  What is the first thing that happens when you attempt to start a cold diesel?  “Wait to Start” while the system preheats the engine intake to make it easier for the engine to start.  By now you’ve all guessed it.  Our little engine has a manual preheat, not automatic.  Operator error again.  I forgot to preheat for first startup after letting it sit for 9 10 months and nights below freezing.  I hope nobody was watching our boat this early morning or they might not have been able to keep down their breakfast as I headed to the helm in my BVD’s.  Start battery on.  1/3 throttle.  Fuel on.  Preheat for 10 seconds.  Cross fingers.  Push start button.  “Fire in the hole!”  Instant startup!  Purrs like a kitten.

Morning coffee tastes better today.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Plunge

Yesterday was a little windy, but a lot warmer, so Submit decided to get into the water. She bravely strolled to the dock and gingerly dipped her keel into the blue (well, not really blue more like brown, but you get the idea). There was some hesitation and then she slowly eased down to her bottom. She was afloat. She hung on to the straps for quite awhile and then with sputter and a gasp, was pulled further out the pier and secured for the night. It just seems right to look out and see water.

We are thankful the excellent crew which encouraged and assisted her to take the plunge. Here are a couple of pictures of the event.

Here is Tracy resting in preparation for the task, but then you can see that she is up for the job.

We won’t be heading out today, as Reggie needs to ‘bleed’ the engine. Bleeding an engine is not anything like attaching leaches, but he is looking forward to it about as much. The engine battery is also an issue. No clue. “Whas up wid dat?” It reads fully charged and ready to go, but stays quietly sleeping. We may have to make a stop a West Marine today when we go to pick up fresh produce and protein. That will be the last run with wheels. We did laundry last night and while it was drying had BBQ with our friend Steve.  I’ve been spoiled because we have been eating out so much. We are usually quite tired and there is always tons of stuff to move in order to get into the refrigerator, then move it again to get to the stove, and again to clear the table so we can sit down to eat. Playing house is much more fun for me when everything is in its place. Ah, the trials and tribulations, the joys and jocularity.

While Reggie does those ‘blue’ things, I’ll be ‘pink’, ie. cleaning and stowing. The rest of the jobs can be done in route, so “The Lord willing and the creek don’t rise” we will push off in the morning.

And now a word from Reggie.
My contribution started  with making sure the mast and rigging were tuned after installing the new chainplates and disconnecting the forestay with furler for launch.
Next was the battery mystery.  There was nothing wrong with the battery.  I missed one of the cables when re-connecting after 9 months of storage.

Well, the blood letting did not help.   Our “new” diesel engine turns over fine but refuses to start.  I’m beginning to suspect the fuel lift pump.  I have one or two things I can try before flying the white flag.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

update 2/12/14

Just sitting here with a glass of wine after dinner. It is raining, but the heater is keeping us warm. I know we haven’t done an update for awhile, but not much has been happening. We have been waiting for parts (mostly the chain plates), so we have messed around with non essential projects and eating out and shopping. I actually cooked dinner tonight and I don’t know when I last did that. So, life is pretty good for me J.

We worked on the companion way hatch doors—progress, but not done. We installed the easier water fill for the batteries! That was a job that I’m happy to have simplified.

The lower chain plates arrived yesterday afternoon. After my two cups of coffee, delivered to me in bed, I told Reggie to get cracking on those chain plates! I think his ‘bum’ is a littler tonight, as he worked it right off today! Three of the four lowers are completely installed and the uppers have been removed and taken to the machine shop as a pattern for the two new ones. They may be ready tomorrow and, if the weather isn’t too bad, he will be able to start that installation process.  (technical input:  new lowers 1.5” x ¼” versus old 1.25” x3/16” and of 316 stainless versus old 304 stainless and 5/16” bolts versus ¼” old bolts.  New uppers 2” x ¼” versus 1.5” x ¼” and upgraded to 316 and upgraded to the larger bolts.  All much beefier and more corrosion resistant.  Through deck holes increased in size then backfilled with thickened epoxy to prevent any leak from reaching wood core material.)

A set of crows feet were purchased to help remove the transmission.  They didn't work.  Reggie modified one of his wrenches and was able to do the extraction. There is a chance that someone will be here tomorrow to look at the transmission. The leak is sort of a mystery.

I mostly cleaned up messes and was finally able to put some things away, like our clothes! So glad that I don’t have to move them from the bed to the closet, to the v-berth, to the… well, you get the idea.

Two nights ago, we walked to the ‘Pond’ with Brian and Dawn Ann to eat a late dinner, only to discover it was closed. We had no car and there was nothing else within walking distance. Try to finding some place that would deliver or cook? Started asking about delivery, as we were all tired. Pizza seemed to be the only option, which didn’t light us up. However, Susan and Gordon saved the day by offering their car. We had a very nice Italian dinner and no cooking or dishes. Last night Rose and Tom asked if we would like to go with them for Happy Hour beer and wings. Duuhh! They have been cruising for 7 or 8 years and are now thinking that it is time for something else. We had a great time. Meeting new people and sharing experiences is part of what this is all about.

Brian and Dawn Ann went in the water today and will leave tomorrow. We may go in on Tuesday, as Monday is a day off for the crew here. We will only be about a week behind, so that is pretty darn good.

Barbara neglected to mention that she was down sick for a couple days and is just now getting back up to speed.  Even while sick, however, she put on several of her new cushion slipcovers.  I think they look great.  They should feel nice for me as it seems I'm getting what she had.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wednesday, 02-05-2014

We had a nice drive and a great dinner at St. Augustine’s Mojo Barbecue last night with Brian and DawnAnne.  The big platter contained barbecued pulled pork, half a chicken, brisket, ribs and turkey breast.  Our sides were side salads, pit barbecue beans and a sweet potato mash which would be a great desert.  B&D had a platter just like it with different sides.  Delicious, and enough left over for lunch today!

The new “house” batteries were installed yesterday without serious injury.  No hoist systems, no overloaded and broken ladders, etc.  Turns out that is why God invented fork lifts!  Barbara and I each spent time in the lazarettes.  I did the disconnecting, then Barbara went below to guide the batteries to where I could reach them for the lift out, then guiding the new ones into place and then she did most of the re-connecting.  No, I did not have to use grease, but it was darn close!

HOWEVER!  Not all went well.  When trying to turn the breaker back on for the DC power in the boat, Barbara discovered the breaker was broken.  Oh no!  would everything in the freezer die?  Maybe we should cook it up right away, mussels, cod, hamburger and all so it wouldn't spoil.  But, no, the propane cannot be turned on without DC power, either, so, no cooking.
Brian and DawnAnne were kind enough to stop at West Marine for us in St. Augustine last night.  We picked up a new breaker of a different kind which will not fit our electrical panel and was able to McIver it in as a temporary solution.  After much research, I was able to locate and order the correct breaker, but it won’t be here for 7-10 days.  Actually, I ordered two, because, if I have a replacement for the one I install, it will never die!

I started work on pulling the transmission this afternoon during the rain storm.  I have to get an 11/16 crow’s foot wrench to get at two of the nuts (that will get some folks thinking).  Part of last year’s work paid off because the telescoping drive shaft actually telescoped.

We purchased a flat rolling hose last weekend at a marine flea market.  We used it for the first time today and to my dismay, it had a substantial leak…for a minute or two and then it healed itself!  It did its task without further leaks and back on its reel it went.

Our neighbors launched today.  They told us they had been trying to take off to the Bahamas since November.  Bon chance!

Barbara added some mushrooms and roast tomatoes to our take home spaghetti and meatballs entre from Maggiano’s and made us a great dinner, chased down with a little corrugated cabernet.  At Sunset.  On our old sailboat.  In the boatyard.  Where it wasn’t 10 degrees below zero like at home.  What a life!

Monday, February 3, 2014

not much to report today?

Not lots to report today. 

The rental car is turned in. 

When we arrived the temperature was 29.  Today we saw 86!  Did someone say something about a foot of new snow at home?

Provisioning is done.  Barbara found places for everything even with the inside of the boat in a shambles.  I, of course, haven’t a clue where anything is.

Water tanks are full. 

New foam has been added to the dinette cushions. 

The 4 old lower chainplates have gone to the machine shop for duplication.  I’m told 3-4 days at about $90 each.  The old lowers were 3/16” thick by 1 ¼” wide 304 stainless.  The new ones will be ¼” thick by 1 ½” wide 316 stainless, probably double the mass of the old ones.  We’ll never have to worry about them again.  Go big or stay home!?

The new Trojan T125 batteries arrived today.  Now I’m contemplating greasing up to slide down into the bowels of the boat through a hole which just barely fits when I am 5o lbs lighter.  Then, picture 370 lbs going up and down a 225 lb rated aluminum ladder at least 4 round trips to haul the old T105’s down and the new T125’s up!  Maybe I should install the boom and rig a block and tackle?  In case I cannot get out of that hole?

The Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) battery was two y ears past its replacement date.  It now has a new battery and certification and is supposed to be guaranteed to run for at least 48 hours if the boat sinks.  How comforting.

During our wanderings yesterday we stopped for a late lunch at Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant in Jacksonville.  It turned out to also be dinner.   And dinner tonight.  And tomorrow!  And tasty, too.

We found an additional job for Barbara to do when she goes up the mast.  She is delighted to know the trip will really be worthwhile!  They won’t let her go up while we are “on the hard”.  We’ll have to wait until “Submit” is launched.

Our friends Brian and DawnAnne arrived today to resurrect “Conchtown Lady” for another cruise.  We may get into an evening of trouble with them, and may travel in tandem for a while if Brian can wait for us to finish repairs. 

Friends Gordon and Susan may need chaperones for an evening of entertainment.

We hope to take Steve of Monkey Fist Marine/ to lunch or dinner to help fend off starvation!

Lending tools, borrowing tools.  Long conversations about repairing versus changing engines.  Discussions about the merits of composting heads and their operation.  Suggestions about where to go eat.  Waiting your turn for the shower.   Dropping off and picking up books and treasures at the exchange table.  Ah, the life of a cruiser stuck in the boatyard!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Lords of all we survey

The insurance and value survey of “Submit” was done yesterday.  We’ll have the formal results in a few days.  Over all, we think/hope she’ll get a passing grade, thanks to repairs and upgrades done in the past.  We appreciated comments and suggestions from our surveyor, Dylan Bailey of St. Augustine, FL.

 We have a few additional items on the To-Do list now.  For one, it has been recommended that we “pull the chainplates” for inspection.  For our non-sailing friends, our chainplates are steel plates which are about 18” long, 1.5” wide and 3/16” thick.  They are made of stainless steel.  They pass down through the deck and are bolted in place inside the boat.  The shrouds and stays which hold the mast up are attached to the chainplates.  If one of the chainplates breaks while sailing, particularly in bad weather, we would probably lose our mast at the very least.  Even stainless steel can crack and corrode over time, and ours are 45 years old and show signs of possible failure, a Major Danger Warning.  If the existing chainplates don’t pass inspection, new ones will have to be manufactured.  So much for being done with projects in two or three days!

Barbara is now looking forward (not) to going up the mast, to the very top, to install a halyard (line for hoisting and lowering a sail).  She gets to sit in her special bosun’s chair, tied to the end of a long rope and hoisted to the top.  We will do this while we are out of the water, so she will be almost 60 feet off the ground.  She has decided to wait until after the chainplates are reinstalled and all the shrouds are re-connected!  I would take pictures and videos but I’ll be at the other end of the line raising and lowering her and probably should use both hands.  I would go up myself, but it seems my weight control efforts failed miserably while away from the boat, and pictures of her petite person being vaulted into the sky as my 300+ pounds come hurtling down came to mind.

The new batteries did not arrive yesterday.  They are now supposed to arrive on Monday.  The new propeller did not arrive last week.  It is supposed to arrive on Monday.  The seals for the transmission will arrive soon.

Today will include a visit to a local marine flea market.  Why?  We really don’t need any more stuff, but it is always entertaining.  We will also start buying food for the next twelve weeks. And wine.  And a beer or two.

Weather for the next few days is predicted to have high

 temperatures somewhere between 54 and 81 degrees, lows

between 35 and 61 and probabilities of between 20% and 90% for

sunshine, intermittent showers and/or thunder storms.  We

predict they will be correct.  Where are you when we need you,