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May 25, 2016

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Caribbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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THE MOTHER OF ALL WEATHER WINDOWS AND A WEEK EARLY

So much for the weatherman. He said the bad weather would last another week. One of the first weather programs I ever used bases its forecasts on the US computer model. There is also a European version. I fine US model is pretty good, especially in the first 4 days. Our weatherman had things being bad all week. I saw the systems moving north and allowing a weather window. Who knew how big it was.

Wednesday was still squally. But we were ready. The weather guy said there may be a break on Thursday. He also said that the systems may not go north. We woke to partly cloudy skies with squalls to the north and moving northeast. We were off.

The first step is to the northwest channel. Yes one goes northwest to pass through it. Then you turn west for 15 miles and then west southwest for about 50 miles across the Bahamian Banks. We had planned to stop after the first 15 miles and anchor for the night. The weather guy said not to stop and just go. Good call. We got to South Riding Rock where the Bahamas end and the Florida Straights begin. That is where the Gulf Stream does its thing. It was midnight when we passed into the Straights. For those of you familiar with that part of Florida, we came into the Keys at Anglefish Cut. Then we headed south to Rodriquez Island. We got there around 4 PM Friday, had cocktails, dinner and crashed. Saturday it was up bright and early and motor down to Marathon for more rest, some shopping and laundry. We also borrowed a phone and checked in to the US.

I mentioned motoring. This weather window lasted from Thursday through today with little or no wind and flat seas. The answer to the Mates prayers. We have a couple more days of open ocean sailing before we can get into the ICW if need be. I think the Mate thinks there is a need.

Let see what died on this part of the trip. The fresh water pump that was on its last legs and gave it up. I had a spare. The next is the pop off valve for the hot water heater decided to leak, Not through its discharge hole, but through its valve testing handle. I do not have a spare Pop off valve. I do have a plug that fit. It happened while crossing the Gulf Stream. Emptied the water tank. No water for showers, cooking, cleaning or drinking. After driving for two days, most of those items can be done without. We cranked up the leaky water maker and it produced enough water for coffee, showers and a glass of water. We got to Marathon around 7 pm. Took showers, had a glass of water and had 5 gallons when we went into the marina to buy water. Life was almost good. While the Mate did laundry, I made it to a liquor store to replenish the wine celler, the liquor cabinet and beer locker. Life was really getting better. Wine is not a problem in the islands. In fact, it is cheaper and lots of great wines. Liquor is a hit and miss situation. The local beer usually sucks.

Today is Monday and time to be on the move. Marathon is like a floating trailer park. Not one of our favorite places. Our weatherman says the end of good weather is upon us. Today we moved up to Little Shark River. Tomorrow we want to make Marco Island before the weather closes in. As for the name of the river, I can not say anything about the sharks. The river is to muddy to see anything. But, its claim to fame are the bugs. About a half mile out the giant horse flies come to great you. They are huge. One could drag you over the side. The closer you get to land, the types and numbers of bugs grows. Set the anchor, shut down the engine and instruments, open the hatch, jump below and lock yourself in and turn on the air conditioner.

We will spend a couple days in Marco Island doing pome shopping, catching up on Wifi stuff. Then moving on to Tampa with a good half dozen stops on the way.

 

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FALLING APART May 16, 2016

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Caribbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW, South Florida.
1 comment so far

No not me…, well maybe me to. No, it is the boat. Do not know if I mentioned, we developed a leak in the water maker’s Clark Pump. I believe it is an “o” ring that blew. The Clark Pump is the high pressure pump that forces the water through a membrane that cleans the water. The pump develops over 1000 PSI. The pump is to put out about 8 gallons an hour under perfect conditions. That is in a laboratory. In reality on a great day it may do 7. 6+ is more the norm. It is now doing about 3+ with the rest going into the bilge. That is expensive bilge water. That is making us conserve water. Something we have not been known for. We do not even know how to conserve. We here what some of our friends do and we just can’t imagine. Needless to say, this is a critical problem. Buying anything in the Bahamas is ridiculously expensive. Labor is also very expensive. An “O” ring I probably have. It is the 2 special tools that I need to get to the “O” ring. Now is there a company that handles this type water maker, do they have the parts, do they have the tools or the expertise. It is suppose to have a lifetime warrantee. Sure would not want to jeopardies that deal.

Therefore with the other little pump problems, we are headed home. I am not happy at all, but the mate is well past ready. I to am ready. There are lots of projects that have to be done and the mate says she would be ready to go back to the Bahamas after Christmas. Hope so.

We are now in West Bay in New Providence, staged for the trip to Florida. As usual we are waiting a weather window. We would like to do it non-stop. That would take 3 perfect days. I am ready. Right know we seem to have a group of lows coming off of Cape Hatters that is enhancing the trade winds. It looks like this could last at least a week. That is a bit long, but I can work on the project list.

Tomorrow I need to work on one of my electrical gremlins. I hope it is a grounding problem on the main engine. If so that will be easy, just one of those boat problems you can not get to from here. That’s normal.

When we get to Florida, I want to slow down and see some of S Florida. The mate, not so much. She wants to see us tied up and plugged into the Air Conditioning. She has plans to visit her sisters and the grandkid. That sounds good. I have lots to do on the boat to get her ready to sail again. So we both have plans. It will be good to see the relatives again. After getting the boat mostly back together I must complete the loop and sail to Pensacola. I would like to do that as soon as possible.

IT NEVER CAME May 10, 2016

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Caribbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing, Sailing the ICW.
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The wait has been for new credit cards. They never came and therefore have been canceled. We need to be moving on. So, tomorrow we leave for Farmers Cay Cut. That will be about 40 miles and the wind should be light for the mates liking and the direction should be good for sailing. I hope so. We have not sailed, just sailed in so long, I probably do not know how to really sail anymore. We are going to get underway between 7 and 8 in the morning. We also might cut in about 8 miles short at another cut. It is easier to get in and has an anchorage close to the entrance. We want the sun to be high enough to have good visibility of the bottom. If the wind is light and the sailing slow, that could be problematic.

A week ago there was a regatta here in George Town. It is called the Family Regatta. It is three classes of Bahamian work boats from many of the island in the central Bahamas. The smallest are about 18 feet long. The middle class are about 22 feet and the largest are around 26 feet. There are 3 days of races, with a race for each class. Pictures can be seen on our Facebook page.

We watched one of the mid class races from a hotel while eating lunch. Very nice. The most fun was chasing the large boats around the course in the dinghy. It is crazy with the spectator fleet being made up from large power cruisers to small dinghies. To keep up with the sailboats we have to run about three quarter throttle. Very choppy, very wet. A lot of fun.

These boats are ballasted by how much the captain thinks is best each race. Bags of sand. Then he adds movable ballast. That is made up of about a dozen men who hike out on planks that hang about 8 feet out side the boat. The heavier the wind, the heavier the men, or women. They do trade paint. We saw one start in which about 4 boats got jammed up together. They finally got themselves separated and on there way. Boats coming unto a mark from different directions is also interesting. The captain’s are carrying their home island’s pride and do not give way very easily. There rules are not as tight as you would see in the America’s Cup races. There is a group of men that act as a committee deciding on major infractions. Most disagreements are argued out at a bars after the race. I believe the only person on the boat that is mandatory is a bowman. These boats have huge mainsails that drag is the water. The boom is about one and a half time the length of the boat. In tight maneuvering, these long booms can get tangled in a competitors boat. Sometimes they break the boom. We saw one incident in which 2 crewmen were knocked off one boat and one off another. The individual knocked off the one boat was the bowman. They continued on, not picking up their crewman, that usually gets you disqualified, but not here. They were disqualified for not having a bowman. Lots of fun.

With any luck we will be further north by next week.

OH MY, STILL HERE May 3, 2016

Posted by sailingnightwatch in Caribbean, Durbeck, FL, Florida, ICW, Pensacola, Repairs, Restoration, Sailing the ICW.
1 comment so far

Well here, but waiting for mail. Our Credit Card Co. decided to change from VISA to Master Card. So for the past week and a half, the card have been with the postal service…, someplace.

In the mean time, the weather has been perfect for moving north. Now the weather window maybe closing for the last half of the week and into the weekend. At least that is what out weather guru says. The other two services do not see it that way. Well until we get the cards, it is a mute subject. If the weather turns bad and gets better the first of next week, the cards will be canceled and we will go with plan “B”. We will be moving on. May is clicking away and here we sit. We found a place to go in Florida for the summer and we have a work list to do on the boat that will take a year. Remember, those lists never get done. They only grow.

We have about 4 places we want to visit charted out. There are another 5 that we have not plotted out yet. That is about 3 weeks of cruising. Then we have to beat feet to FL and start our way to Tampa. That will also take a couple weeks. That would put us into July. Getting into hurricane season. Need to be tied someplace by August.

Today I cleaned the prop and did some cleaning of the bottom. Did enough to know I am beyond doing the whole bottom. Tomorrow there is suppose to be a diver coming in the afternoon to do the job.

I have a couple big projects I would like to finish before we get serious about heading to the States. I have to rebuild the forward head and put the old pump back on the water maker. Then I can tear the new pump apart and find out why it does not pump like it should. I may have screwed it up when I set it up and put it together, like misalignment.