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THE GRANDKID IS APPON US March 28, 2016

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Caribbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Counting the days till Sunday. Then they get here in the afternoon. Sunday and Monday is supposed to be good weather days. Then we are to have a string of cold fronts like one has during the winter. One of the weather services even talks about tropical lows. My main man does not…, so far. That would really be a bummer if the weather turns that bad. It is hard and very wet getting across the bay. Depending on the wind direction, we may move over to town. Then all we have to do is get to the resort. We will figure it out.

In the mean time this past few days I have put the last coat of varnish on the hull/deck cap rail. Today I started putting on Bristol. I have 2.5 coats on and tomorrow will finish the Bristol I have in stock. With some luck I will have completed 3 full coats. That will last me till the fall when I can put on another coat or 2. I will also put a coat on the other cap rails.

The mate wants to be at a pier during the summer and have electricity and A/C. That will be different. If we re at a pier I can wood out the rub rail and refinish them. They are small and go pretty easy. I use a different coating on them and it is cheap and easy to apply. I put on 3 coats of the undercoat and 3 coats of the top gloss. Looks good for about 6 months.

I scrubbed the water line of the growth last week. There are areas around the stern and the rudder I can not get. I have an idea to attach my scrapper to a boat hook and try that. Probably loose another scrapper.

Beside my making the outside shine, the mate is doing a super cleaning job on the inside. You know how it is when your kids come. Got to show them up. Like Mom has not lost here touch. Now we are both neat freaks, so the boat does not need all that much cleaning. Just getting those corners that may not get a good job done during normal cleaning.

One of the problem with the Bahamas is that it is made up of a lot of little islands. That makes finding a marine store difficult, Other than Nassau, you are left with small stores attached to a marina. They do not carry all the brand products I use for cleaning and polishing. Remember the problem I had with getting Bristol. That will have to wait till we get back to Florida. There are other brand products that we have found do a good job while minimizing the elbow grease. I like them.

The other problem with the Bahamas is costs. Everything is really, really expensive. Groceries, paper products, marine supplies. Everything. They also have added a VAT tax this past year. It replaces their income tax. It is easer to collect. Just add it to the receipt and hit the tourists. Yes the people also pay the VAT when they buy stuff. I just do not like paying taxes, let alone someone else’s.

Six days and counting. That means there could be a week or two delays in the next spirited writing of this blog.

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GEORGETOWN, ANOTHER WINDY SESSION March 21, 2016

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Caribbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing.
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Let’s see. The first week here it blew gusting 30 kts. Last week it settled down to light and variable and pretty warm, except the water. It is about 75 degrees. You get your feet in the water up to your knees, landing the dinghy on the beach. The few steps going ashore and your feet are numb. I am afraid to get my whole body in it. I need to. Our waterline is getting scummy. That means the boat bottom is getting strange creatures growing on it. The scum on the water line is growing black patches. This is animal stuff. It is wormy and some have baby shrimp in it you can also find barnacles in it. All very small and living in this black patch that can be the size o a dime or bigger then your hand. You use a 4 inch sheetrock mud blade and gently scrape the bottom. The stuff falls apart. I wish it would fall apart when the boat is going through the water. The scrapper also works on the barnacles. Now the wormy things. They go looking for a new home. I am a very hairy person. They think they went to heaven. I where a long sleeve spandex type tee shirt. It keeps those critters at bay and keep the sun from cooking me .

If you recall, I said it was time to work on the boat. Back in late October and early November I wooded out the boat and finished with several coats of varnish. I then started coating all that with Bristol. A two part acrylic varnish. It is miserable stuff to work with. I ended up with all the Bristol there was in the Windwards and Leewards. For real.   Therefore I never finished any of the wood all the way. I got 4 coats of Bristol on the cockpit cap rail, 3 coats on the taft rail and none on the hull/deck cap rail. I was told to wait till I got to St Martin. They will have some for me. They did. The regional manager had them with my name on them. Now that is service.

I know have 8 coats on both the cockpit cap rail and the taft rail. I need to put a coat or two more varnish on the hull/deck cap rail before I apply the Bristol. Oh, and I do not have enough Bristol to put 8 coats on the rail. That’s OK. My knees,, hips and back will not last through 10 coats. It can wait till we get back to Florida.

Right know I am in a holding pattern this week. They get weather fronts like in the States. They come every 6-7 days. A little rain, maybe a thunderstorm and then 5 days of wind. Back to gusting 30 kts. There is one positive point. The windmill makes more electricity then we can use. We use the Vacuum cleaner, power tools, play the stereo all day and I am still looking for a place to tie into the local grid. They need it. You can be in a store and the power goes out for maybe 10 minutes of so. Hey, shop some more. The stores are all small and have lots of windows. No lights, no problem mon, no AC, you dream of course. Just no computer with the bar code reader and credit card reader. Now the marine stores, the most expensive places on the island, have backup power. No problem mon, just step this way and you can check out when your ready.

During the wind, I guess I might have to work on my electrical gremlins. I might get really motivated and attack them. Maybe.

The wind is howling away outside. The bay looks like the inside of a wash machine. It makes the inside of the boat bounce around. Walking from point a to b is funny to watch, scary for you to do. It is suppose to lay down on Thursday. The weather is on Island time also…, that means mayby Friday.

OLD CRUISING BUDDIES March 14, 2016

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Caribbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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We are back in Georgetown Bahamas. This is a place we stopped for a short period as we all chased the clock going east a couple years ago. There are at least 3 major stopping areas for the cruisers going east. The first is Marathon in the Florida Keys. The second is Georgetown in the Bahamas and the last is Grenada. Many cruisers go to the Bahamas every year. The water is unbelievable. The country is English speaking and feels like home. There is a large cruising community that goes their every year and has for years. You have 1-month-old newbie’s and cruisers who are heading home to the States of Canada. Then there is the community that comes here year after year. All three areas have there own feel that is totally different from the others.

This time we met up with two of our boat buddies from Canada that are heading home. One of the couples we met in the Turks and Caicos 2 years ago and have traveled with them on and off as we visited the Eastern Caribbean. Tonight we had what may have been the good buy dinner if we do not run across one another in the next 2 months. We did not travel a lot together, but ended up in the same places a lot of times. Facebook is nice that we will be able to follow each other in the next chapters of our lives. They are in there middle 40’s and are already planning on there return trip. We hope they can meet there dream of returning in 5 years, It is a wonderful spot in the world.

Alright, back to geology 201. Hope you kept up. The Bahamas are basically coral on limestone that was pushed up by continental drift. If you look at my Facebook you will see pictures of layers of coral on top of layers of limestone. Limestone is the settlement of the stuff in the sea that as it get stacked on itself gets pressed into limestone. The islands are not very high, in fact there are many island one can stand on the bowsprit and see over the island. It is a beautiful country of thousands of islands set in the most beautiful water there is. If the water was 10 degrees warmer, it would be perfect. My opinion.

The pictures show the coral and the limestone. The beaches are almost as white as Pensacola’s sand and somewhat softer. It is a lime sand and not a quarts sand. A little finer between the toes.

Two and a half weeks till the grandkid gets here. We are getting excited. Even old Grandpa. We are straight across the bay from the resort they are going to stay at. It is less then a mile across. That will make it an easy trip back and forth. This past weekend we did two hikes to the Atlantic ocean. One was very easy the other we did with a clime to the Monument atop Monument Hill.

The rest of this week and the next we must work on the boat. It needs it.

FINALLY A WEATHER WINDOW March 7, 2016

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Caribbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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Not that staying in fancy marinas isn’t nice, but they are expensive. Besides the slip, you pay for water and electricity and the garbage when they catch you. This was only the 6th time we have stayed at a marina in 2 plus years. The boat is self sufficient for power and water. This marina is about 90 percent weekenders and day fishing boats. The water is very clean so making water is not a problem. The wind generator makes most of the electricity during the weather fronts with winds in the 20’s. Even with these wind events, there is very little clouds and rain. Therefore the solar panels are shutting down by noon because we are full up on electricity. Therefore the marina does not get to sell us there expensive water and electricity. The place is still ridicules.

So we were off again to the Turks and Caicos. The goal is to get to Georgetown for the grandkid by April 3rd. The T&C are about half way from the DR. That is one overnight. The weather looks like a dream come true for the mate. No wind, no seas. I have only seen really flat seas and no wind 2-3 times in my life, then they do not last long. The mate dreams of days of flat seas and no wind we can link together. Sure.

6 A.M. we are off. No wind and some 2-3 foot left over swells. As the day go on they die away. The night is beautiful with to many stars it is hard to figure out where the constellations are. We make good time and our fuel consumption is good. We get to the T&C about 2-3 hours early. Plan “B” was to continue on to Mayaguana Island in the Bahamas. Still no wind or seas and we arrive at Mayaguana about another hour early in the mid afternoon Friday. Plan “B+” was to go on to Long Island and hide in the Marina at Clarencetown. The weather window was to turn very windy Sunday. If we could get there we would be only 70 miles from Georgetown. We did have to stop at the marina to get fuel. 2 hours later we are off to Georgetown.

This is our 3rd overnight in a row. My mind is turning to mush from lack of a good full night sleep. Oh, my electrical gremlins are back. They come and they go. They have taken up residency in my oil pressure and water temp gages. They occasionally move them in unison. That really makes you wonder about there accuracy. Well more then wonder. When they do that, I check the engine with my laser temp gage. Engine is running below normal. That is OK, so am I at this point.

Sunday morning we can see Georgetown. The wind is starting to pick up to about 15 knots and a wind chop is starting to build…, 1-2 feet. We are running back and forth because it is 4 A.M. and one does not enter strange ports in the dark. Therefore, we go very slow and take in the little sail I have out. We start heading into the entrance about 7 A.M. and anchored by 8:30. 72.5 hours of engine time. Now I am here 3 weeks early and I can try to find my gremlins. First I have to service my poor old engine. It is past due on oil change, fuel filters, impeller and zinc. That will be a good start. Then I can clean the boat. Get back to my varnishing. If the 25-30 knot winds ever stop. In the mean time, the mate has died and gone to heaven because she got to Georgetown and will be here to see the grandkid. It will be a good time. Even I am getting excited.

ON TO THE TURKS AND CAICOS…, STOP. MAKE THAT THE DR March 1, 2016

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Caribbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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We started across the Mona at first light. Pleasant SE breeze. You have to travel about 2-3 miles to clear the reefs of western Puerto Rico. The plan was to sail past the Dominican Republic and on to the T & C. The wind was to light to sail so we motor till about 0900. I then added sail and finally shut down the engine and sailed. It is amazing how little pure sailing we have done on this trip. Either to much or to little weather or being in a hurry and just run the rum line. The wind and seas fell directly astern of us and it was very nice for motor sailing. One gets across the Mona as fast as you can. It has a reputation for getting stormy very fast. We were lucky and the pleasant weather lasted all night and with a full moon. Can’t beat that.

The next morning found the wind and seas directly astern of us. We were off the east coast of the DR. Then the wind started to build. And the seas. I tied a preventer on the main boom and led it through a very heavy chock to a cleat. That lasted till about noon when the bolt holding in the one end of the chock broke. That chock took most of the strain during hurricane Ivan. So much strain that it was bent. But never broke loose. Time to shorten sail. Maybe past time. As the day moved on the seas and wind continue to build. Winds got into the mid 20’s and the seas averaged 4-5 with some 6 footers thrown in the mix. Our weatherman said things were only going to get worse through the upcoming night. He advised that seeking an alternative destination may be a good idea. I had already come to that conclusion. So we headed towards Ocean World Marina on the north coast of the DR. It is a nice marina but on the expensive side, especially if you do not know how long your will be pined in there. So here we are.

The plan is to leave tomorrow if possible. We have to check out and that is an ordeal. Can be very time consuming. You get to visit Customs, Immigration and a visit from the Navy. Then you get your dispatchio. There are fees to go with that also. If all went well we might get out by noon. We should have made the decision earlier in the day, cleared today and left at sun up. That is because we were planning on leaving either Wednesday of Thursday. We had all the time in the world, but let some nice days slip by as we moved towards the Bahamas. April 1 is Grandkid day in Georgetown. Houses rented, plane tickets bought. Money spent. We will give it our best without risking life and limb.

My work list grew a little and some of the items have been removed. The depth sounder that lasted after the near lightening strike, did not wake up after we turned it off. It does not put out a signal. That means you have no depth. The Bahamas are one of the last places you want to go and not have a good feel for where the bottom is. Sometimes the bottom is on top of the water. New depth sounder is on order.

Hopefully we can complete our trip to the T & C and move on to the Bahamas. The Navigator just told me Tuesday does not look that good anymore. She has never liked Wednesday, so it is back to Thursday.