Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sailing into Fort Lauderdale

It just feels weird sailing into Ft. Lauderdale from Seattle. I grew up just south of here, Kinda like coming home, but when you really didn’t want to. We motored overnight from Key West till about S. Miami. Then caught a strong southerly for a good sail into Port Everglades at Ft. Lauderdale. We sailed into the port with 18kts of wind. Went to start the new engine and drop the sails when it became obvious that the transmission lever was not connected to anything interesting. Took a quick look below, but it appears that the link is broken in the binnacle (wheel). There was a cruise ship exiting the port with 4 or 5 Coast Guard and police boats shooing the Memorial day crowd boats away. There was a Seatow boat right next him, so we hailed him and had him tow us into the anchorage at Lake Sylvia. 30 years of boating and never having been towed, and now it is just a regular thing. Definitely worth the $165 yearly insurance.
Its dumping down rain now, so won’t start the repair till tomorrow.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A New Baby Arrives

The new Yanmar 3YM30 dropping through the dodger frame getting ready to slide down  the companionway while hanging from a forklift.
kwIMG_0255 Philippe cleaning the hole where the old Volvo lived a long and eventful life.
KWIMG_0260Jeorgia’s new engine makes into the cabin without incident. Kenny and Philippe wiping the sweat off their brows. We’ve had 90 degrees plus in Key West this week!
kwIMG_0265 Custom mounts to overcome the Volvo’s 8* downward transmission vs. the Yanmar’s straight transmission.
KWIMG_0264 Some almost private bonding time. It’s important to get off to a good start with a new family member.
Marine Diesel of the Florida Keys, owned by Mark de Jong, did a great job. The install was a little tougher than expected, requiring two or three custom brackets. Mark got the engine in on schedule with about 2 1/2 days of his guys working on it. Mark is an ex-Seattle boy who escaped to the Keys and small boat owners here are better off as a result.
We’re headed out of Key West this morning. The original plan was to head straight for Jacksonville, but it looks like there’s another tropical storm brewing up near the Carolinas. The NWS service says the area of disturbance has 100% chance of forming into tropical storm and start heading SW. That puts it heading toward Georgia or Jacksonville area, so we’ll watch it on our way up and duck in if we need to slow down and let it pass over us. Good to know we’ve got a reliable engine now if we need to take evasive action.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Proof-of-Attendance Coupons, Key West

These poses are required by anyone claiming to have been in Key West. We are getting laminated copies for our wallets. Plus, I plan to use this one for my next passport picture.
KWIMG_2542 Here’s our trusty crew, Bill, finally getting in touch with his feminine side. I think either a boob job or some head shrinking is in order to balance things out. But it is a good start.
We are in Key West with a big hole in the boat where the Green Grief Volvo engine used to be. A brand new Yanmar is supposed to arrive on a truck today from St. Petersburg. The local mechanic shop, Mark di Jong, has really been on top of things so far.
While waiting on a new engine, we rented a car and drove up the Florida Keys to Fort Lauderdale to catch up with family.
FLAIMG_0160 Here’s my Dad, as feisty as ever at 86, with my new niece Mia and proud dad Jon. I spent my time with Mia trying to teach a 1 year old to say ‘uncle’.
On the way back to Key West we drove out to the Everglades National Park. Got there just in time for the gator parade.
FLAIMG_0199  “I got my eye on you'”
You have to click on this picture to get a feel for how primeval thus guy is.
This is Cuff and Link trying to stay clear of the big gators.
Check the cloud reflection in the swamp

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Back in the USS A - What a Slog

We finally made Key West. A slog of trip. Must have been payback for the nice Panama to Cayman passage. We did an easy and pleasant checkout of the Caymans (pronounced Kay-Mon) in Georgetown. Bill ran off to find new sunglasses, as Neptune ate his sunglasses, and my prescription sunglasses, on the last passage.  The Caymans is an easy cruising destination, great diving, free moorings, good food shopping and easy and free check-in check-out.
After the Caymans, it was light winds and took us two slow days to make the first 120 miles. This is when we found out that our intermittent engine overheating issue was not so intermittent. It overheated and we had to sail… even in very light winds, think doldrums. The next day and a bit was nice downwind sailing to the western tip of Cuba. We rounded it about 6 miles off in the big ship traffic separation lanes. It was clearly rush hour when we exited the lanes and in the end we had to call a small container ship, Expandsa, and make sure they actually saw us, before running us over.
After this it was close hauled the entire 200 miles to Dry Torutgas (located 60 miles from Key West). As the evening closed in the wind picked up. It was now 25 kts on the nose. We double reefed the main and rolled up most of the headsail for a bouncy, laid over on our side, a hull slamming night ride.  It lightened up again the next day a bit and we pushed on toward the Dry Tortugas, slowly. Fort Jefferson is the Civil War era fort located in the national park in the Dry Tortugas. As a kid growing up in Florida I always wanted to take my own boat and visit here. It just had an allure for my teenage eye. After throwing in a few extra tacks as we approached the entrance to the Dry Tortugas we sailed past the markers to the park in the dark. The plan was to drop the dinghy in the water and side tie to Jeorgia. Then to push us into a location among the reefs that we could  anchor for the night, to hopefully get the engine running the next day. The winds were up, the seas were bouncy and the tidal current was just too strong for us to move the boat with the dinghy. So back up on deck with the outboard and the dink. Its now midnight and there were signs of potential crew mutiny. To put a stop to this, I ordered the rum rations cut to zero till morale improved.
We sailed overnight to near the entrance to the main shipping channel in Key West. Where, without hesitation the wind began to not cooperate. By about 4pm we had worked our way up the SW Channel entrance. We dropped the dink back in the water and started pushing us down the channel at 2.3kts. We had about 9 miles to go.  By about 7:30pm the tide looked like it was starting to turn on us and the mutiny was looking more evident. The local SeaTow was engaged and we got a tow into the marina, Nice place, ONLY $130 a night. Highest priced marina I’ve ever been in.
Got Mark, the diesel mechanic down this morning. What a treat. He really knows these Volvo 2003 engines – the good, the bad and the ugly. In about an hour he figured out what had been causing the deteriorating cooling issue. We will test the theory this afternoon or tomorrow and then hopefully report glowing and cool success.
Looks like my childhood bucket-list trip to Fort Jefferson is just going to have to wait.
To Jim on Sound Effect: If this sounds eerily familiar, let me point out that I have not been offered a job yet.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cayman Island Passage

CaymanDSCN9270 Chris headed to the deep blue on Grand Cayman
We crossed the Caribbean Sea in just under 4 1/2 days. We had a couple of days of bouncy stuff near the start that left everyone feeling a little on the rough side. After we all settled into passage mode, things got better. From there on we had nice, light air, close reaching sailing with small seas. All in all, a really pleasant crossing. We stopped mid day twice to swim in the dark blue Caribbean in almost 4,000 feet of water. The trip was tough on sunglasses with two pairs lost, one prescription.
The Caymans are an easy and pleasant check_in, with free moorings. The scuba diving is supposed to be fantastic here. We only did a few snorkels. Nice reef and clear, clear blue water.
We’re off today after we check out to sail past the west end of Cuba, through the Yucatan Passage, over the top side of Cuba and then onto the Dry Tortugas. These are the islands furthest out in the chain of the Florida Keys. We’ll spend a day or so at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, the old Civil War era fort. Then off to Key West to enjoy the US check_in procedure. And then continue on to Ft Lauderdale.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Almost Out of Panama

We’d planned to checkout of Panama on Monday and sail on Tuesday, but ran into a little snag. Sometime mid-last week the Panamanian government decided to move the May 1st holiday to April 30th, so there’d be a 3 day weekend. That left the Port Captains office closed on Monday. This morning we jumped through all the correct hoops at just the right heights and for $13.70 we got our Zarpe (clearance document) for Cayman Islands. Should be a 4 or 5 day sail to Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Right now the weather seems like light easterly winds with 5 foot seas. Not too bad.
sbIMG_9899 Here’s a confirmed sighting of a seahorse grazing just off the dock wall in Shelter Bay.
I will try to update our position each evening on the ‘where’s Jeorgia map’