Happy Holihamas!  Experience a Holiday Vacay in the Abacos

With as many winters—Christmases and New Years’ included—that Phillip and I have spent in the Bahamas, including this past holiday season in 2022, I figured it was time for a little Bahamas tribute, a rhythmic ditty, if you’ll indulge me, an Annie Seuss treat, as we wish you “Happy Holihamas!” and share with you what it is like to shirk the cold, ditch the snow shovel, and trade your egg nogs for Goombay smashes with a holiday season in the Abacos.  

December 22, 2022

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 5:03 a.m.

We weigh Ubi’s anchor and point her bow towards West End.

Just a 10-hour voyage before us, we don’t care we have to motor-sail,

Any day spent in bikinis in a calm Atlantic makes us feel rather swell,  

Particularly knowing we would arrive in West End mid-afternoon in full daylight 

With a wide, easy entrance, a spacious fuel dock, and a slip that would suit us just right.

As we secure our happy yacht in Bahamian waters, a blinding crystal green

I find myself mesmerized—again, every time!—by the clarity I am seeing.

The colorful scales on each fish, I feel I can count.

The jewel tone of the water, I feel I can reach in and scoop out.

Walking the docks I’m reminded of equally happy days coming here on Plaintiff’s Rest

When we checked into the Bahamas for the first time in 2017 as virgin guests!

Walking over to the beach on the north shore, the view looks too perfect to be real

A white beach, bending palm trees, Bahamian waters, it’s surreal!

Feeling drunk already on simply the sights, to the tiki bar we claim it’s time to dash

Egg nog be damned, we want their famous Bahamian drink, a Goombay Smash!

We trade turkey and canned cranberry dressing in for fresh, tangy conch salad

And savor the tiki bar’s reggae style Bob Marley version of holiday ballads 

Christmas Eve still brings us dazzling lights, a mesmerizing purple, yellow, orange, blue

And I fall asleep in Ubi’s comfy vberth thinking Papa Noel might just find me here, too.

Christmas Day brings us a gift: a cool northwest wind that we sail right to Mangrove Cay

Phillip cracks his usual: “Someone’s spending today shoveling snow in Milwaukee”

It’s another serene night spent at Great Sale Cay before we set our sights on Green Turtle

Keeping Ubi scrubbed and clean during our travels remains my constant but rewarding hurdle.

No sleigh or reindeer at Green Turtle we choose our holiday chariot, a ramshackle golf cart

With the way it carries all our picnic, beach, and kite gear, we find it quite smart!  

Spending the languid days between Christmas and New Years kitesurfing in the ocean

Makes it feel like we put the stress of holiday flights and last-minute shopping in slow motion.

We don’t have any of the traditional holiday décor aboard, no tall tree, on top a shining star, 

But a stately mast we do boast, and when I’m sent up to check the windex it appears quite far!

As December 31st approaches, our excitement grows for the celebration of the year anew,

However in the Bahamas they do it rather differently, with a lively tradition called Junkanoo!

Locals dress in bright, homemade garments and elaborate costumes, paint on their faces

They beat steel drums in rhythm, their enthusiasm and joy rallies every onlooker, all races.

I’m always in awe of their sheer pleasure, Bahamians sharing their beautiful homeland

In ways they appear to have so little, but when I look around and appreciate it all I understand. 

One thing Phillip and I had been really looking forward to, in addition to the Junkanoo glitter

Was the hope that locals would fry up many batches of their savory island gem, conch fritters!

After Junkanoo, we take to the Atlantic again, our sights next set on the Town of Hope

Whose dazzling flora and fauna and neon colored buildings we find supremely dope!

On the way, we dropped a lunch hook at Johnny’s Cay to take in the jawdropping water

Happily reminded that some locations you can still choose by sight, no need for a chartplotter

After grabbing a ball in the harbor, we were thrilled to get a special Hope Town invite from Muffin and Bill

To their weekly game of Bingo: “At Cap’n Jacks, ‘round happy hour, grab a table, it’s a big deal!”

In Hope Town we got news some long-time friends would enter the Bahamas within a week

We turned around to head back through the Abacos to meet them, Annie giving a squeak.

We stopped in Munjack Cay, not wanting to miss a stroll along the trail of recycled art

Delighted to find it had grown extensively since our last visit, many more cruisers playing a part.

Making our way into the anchorage at Great Sale Cay, we took in a wondrous sight

Our sistership, another Outbound, s/v Serendipitous, looking ship shape and right.

With our amazing Annapolis friends, Peter and Patty aboard, waving brightly from their bow

As well as Spandana and Dev on their Cal 40, Turtle, making us grateful for the hear and now.

As it had been months since we’d seen these hearty sailors, each with many stories to share with everyone,

The last time the six of us had been together on Ubi was Fourth of July, 2021.

We spent hours laughing and talking the evening away, sharing news, lessons, and crazy tales

The next day bidding our friends adieu as they headed happily into the Abacos, raised sails.

As Phillip and Ubi and I, satiated with our island trip, made our way back to West End

For other duties called and our glorious time this year in the Bahamas had come to an end.

But the crystal green memories remain, the sun and the rum and the incredible fun

Headed back to Florida we felt grateful and content, our 2023 east coast adventures having just begun. 

BBQ to Bikinis – Cruising Down the East Coast 2022

Esteemed HaveWind fans, where did we last leave you?  Ahhh … Portsmouth, VA where we spent an unanticipated month (nearly) having some serious work done on our Fischer Panda DC generator, where he earned the title “Rocky” for stepping back in the ring and conquering all odds.  With a fully functioning generator at last, and an approaching winter, it was time for Phillip, me (and Ubi makes three!) to get headed south as quick as safely possible in the fall of 2022.  Ironically, the right weather window came to us, once again, around Halloween (the same time we rounded Hatteras headed south in 2021).  We happily dubbed it “Happy Hattereen” ( … again! : ) and started our journey south for the winter, making four memorable, mentionable stops along the way.  Off we go Ubi crew—BBQ to Bikinis: Cruising Down the East Coast 2022.  

BBQ

We made the sail from Norfolk to Charleston (about a 400 nm run) in roughly 62 hours.  The wind was light at first allowing us to motor-sail around Hatteras—a significant obstacle to put in our rearview mirror.  I am totally okay with motoring around that treacherous patch of the Atlantic.  We can sail later, you know … where the depths and shoals are actually charted.  It was a little unnerving watching some thunderstorms off the port bow during our voyage but they, thankfully, never approached us.  

We rigged up the whisker pole for the last 24 hours and, overall, had a nice downwind run into Charleston, even coming in at night (not a problem in such a big inlet).  

We dropped the hook in the anchorage by the Yorktown, where we had spent a little over a week in 2021.  

We like that anchorage as it’s a fairly short dinghy ride in across the Cooper River—although it can get a bit wild with massive cargo ships coming through and a little wet in wind and chop—but then you’re right in the heart of downtown Charleston.  That’s worth a wet dinghy butt any day.  And, while Phillip and I thought we had really gotten the lay of the land in Charleston in 2021, there was one HUGE culinary piece we found this year we had been missing.

If it hasn’t yet been clear here on this blog, we’re pretty big foodies.  We like to eat. We like to drink. And, we LOVE to eat and drink at the same time.

Phillip, our Chief Trip Planner and Restaurant Sommelier (yes, that is a thing) has a pretty meticulously culled “travel list” for each city we’ve been to—or plan to go to—of restaurants to check out (or hit up again), cool bars, neat theatres, landmarks, sights, tours, or just cool things, in general, to do and see there.  And, we’d spent several weeks total in Charleston during our voyages up and down the East Coast in 2021 and thought we had a pretty good handle on things.  Turns out we were wrong.  It took a feisty little grandma Uber driver to prove it to us.  

When we get a rideshare driver who is a local and gives us a good “I’ll bet he/she knows some good spots” vibes, we’ll ask for a recommendation.  This has often taken us to little-known places, typically off the tourist path, that have afforded us a supremely “locals” experience.  This day in November, this Uber driver did not disappoint.  “Do you like BBQ?” Uber Granny asked.  Do we?  “Ahh … well, then.  You need to go to Lewis.  There’ll be a line out the door.  Don’t let it deter you.  There’s a bar where you can get a drink while you wait because you’re going to have to make some tough decisions about what to order.  Personally, I like the brisket.  It’s the best I’ve ever had.”  This coming from a 30-year Charleston veteran.  That’s saying something.  “All the sides are incredible, too.  They have a limited menu for a reason.  Every single thing has been perfected.”  Uber Granny caught my eye in the rearview mirror.  “Perfected,” she reiterated.

That’s all we needed to hear.  Lewis BBQ for lunch it shall be, Phillip and I determined that day.  Uber Granny was right.  There was a line out the door.  But we did not let it deter us.  Phillip and I got a beer and a coke at the bar and promptly got in line.  We knew we were going to get the brisket, but I also wanted to try their pulled pork with the three different BBQ sauces.  Phillip wanted to give their ribs a shake.  And, I remembered what Granny said about the sides—we decided on the collards (obviously), coleslaw (I love veggies), and their fries. 

What we didn’t expect, though, was the freebie.  When we got to the front of the line, a professional “carver” said hello and promptly handed us a piece of meat.  Just handed it over.  Like it was a totally normal thing.  “It’s the brisket,” she said.  “You won’t be disappointed.”  What other response is there?  Phillip and I put it in our mouths.  Jesus, it was good.  Fatty, salty, flavorful meat filled our palettes.  We were definitely getting the brisket.  We ordered up – by the pound: quarter, half, and (for Annie) upwards.  The cashier dude asked me how many “plates” I would need.  Turns out, at Lewis, a “plate” is a strip of butcher paper.  Nice.  I could really get used to a place like this.  

Once our tray was put together, Phillip and I could barely stop long enough to snap a couple photos before we dug in and demolished that beautiful spread.  The pulled pork was exceptionally tasty.  Almost didn’t need any BBQ sauce at all, and that’s saying something.  The collards had this meaty backbone to them.  Phillip’s rib sandwich was incredible.  Everything was incredible.  Lewis is hands-down the best BBQ we’ve ever had.  

I don’t know how we had never heard of this before, but add it to your Charleston list.  Charleston, Lewis, we’ll be back.

Beatdown

Our next sail was a much shorter leg from Charleston to Fernandina Beach, FL, roughly 150 nm.  We were expecting a nice 10-13 knots of wind to push us down the coast.  

Unfortunately, we got battered.  The wind was a steady 17 knots through the night, very close to our stern forcing us to sail a tight line to avoid being pushed to shore.  At one point in the night—during my shift, of course—the wind shifted fiercely, throwing the auto pilot off.  By the time I got back to the helm to clear the auto and take over, we had gybed.  Thankfully, we were under a reefed main and we had our preventers on, so it wasn’t too violent, but I had to gybe us again to get back on course.  By the time Phillip came up (after all that clanging, banging ruckus) we were secure, but my nerves and confidence were shattered.  It was not a fun night, followed by not a fun morning.

The wind picked up to a steady 20+ over the course of the morning.  It was also right behind our beam.  Probably about the best place for it at that speed so it wouldn’t accidentally gybe us again, nor was it in our face.  But, with a 3-4 foot swell pushing us, too, we were really moving, making 7.5 to 9 knots pretty steady.  

Thankfully, Ubi is strong as hell and she was handling it very well.  It was unnerving, however, hearing clatter on the radio of other boats taking on water or having run aground in those conditions.  It made us incredibly grateful for our powerful, capable boat and her competent captain guiding us in.  

But, the wind would not let up.  We had to slice into 24 knots of wind when coming into the channel to Fernandina Beach.  When we finally anchored in the Amelia River, we were thrilled to get the sails down and tuck Ubi in for a well-deserved rest.  Whew.  

It was our first time to Fernandina, though, and we found rewards in store for our intense passage in the form of a quaint, clean eight-block radius of really cool shops, restaurants, and bars.  We were kind of wishing we had planned to spend more time there, but the weather was affording us a nice window the following day down to St. Augustine.  But, on a recommendation from a fellow cruiser, we split a tasty and beautiful paella at Espana that was worth the salty passage.  

We would like to spend more time in Fernandina Beach during our next transit up or down the coast.  Just … minus the wind next time.  

Bottom Job

While we had cranked “Rocky” (our newly anointed generator) several times to charge the batteries while we had been underway, we hadn’t yet used him to accomplish the goal we had set out to do when we first found he wouldn’t crank (back in Coney Island).  That is, use our brand new Brownies Third Lung unit to clean our own bottom.  When we finally settled in West Palm Beach (warmer water), we were excited to fire Rocky up to give Ubi a well-deserved bottom scrub.  I wouldn’t want to think how fast she would have rocketed into Fernandina Beach if she’d had a slick bottom.  9 knots is plenty fast for me.  

In West Palm, we performed our generator checklist and sang our now iconic song to get Rocky fired up. “Duh-uh-uh, duh-uh-uh!  (Gonna Fly Now/Bill Conti)  Let’s go Rock-OH!” we shouted.  With that intro, Rocky turned over like the champion he is and we were very pleased with the easy setup and user-friendly use of the Brownies.  Just turn on the inverter, set the unit up on deck, plug it in and turn it on, and *voila* we were able to jump over with our respirators and breathe underwater.  Phillip and I took turns going down and scrubbing each side, able to give Ubi’s bottom the attention and time she deserves.  We were comforted to know our time, money, and efforts spent in Portsmouth, VA back in October had not been in vain.  

Bahamas Bound

After West Palm Beach, it was a quick hop to Ft. Lauderdale where we planned to rent a dock and set up a “home base” for Ubi for the winter.  I highly recommend, if you’re even in Ft. Lauderdale, take this seasoned sailor to lunch! We got to meet up with Pam Wall while we were there and show her Ubi for the first time! I think her face says “Quite posh!” don’t you? : ) Having Pam aboard … what a treat!

While we’ve raved about Ft. Lauderdale and all it has to offer before (which includes the amazing Pam Wall), one of our favorite things about Ft. Lauderdale is that it’s just a short day hop from the Bahamas.  In the right conditions, it’s only a quick 10-hours or less trip from the States to the Islands.  Leave at daylight; dock in time for a goombay smash.  Can’t beat that.  It was time to trade in our beef for conch, big winds for Bahamas breezes, and our stinky, fat foulies for bikinis!  Who else has spent Christmas in the Abacos?  

Turns out Papa Noel likes goombay smashes, too.  Next up on the blog: Holiday in Tropical Heaven.  Stay tuned!

Meet Rocky: Generator Valve Replacement and Repair in Portsmouth, VA

Where did we last leave you?  That’s right.  Brooklyn NYC!  Boy was that a posh stay at the new One-15 Marina there in Brooklyn.  

It was super cool to step foot off the boat right onto the waterfront piers and parks of Brooklyn.  Not to mention either taking a quick sub ride—or even walking across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge!—right into NYC.  We spent an incredible couple of weeks there in September-October last year while Hurricane Ian unfortunately rolled over south Florida.  Once the remnants of Ian cleared and allowed us to get back offshore, we were planning a two-day offshore trip from Coney Island, NY to Norfolk, VA.  

What we did not plan on, however, was our generator going kaput right before we were set to head offshore.  

October 2022:

The last chore we were going to undertake before we headed offshore NY to VA was going to be a bottom scrub (you know, to get that extra knot of speed!).  Phillip and I had invested in a Brownie’s Third Lung air compressor dive unit to allow us to scrub Ubi’s bottom (more meticulously than by free-diving, which I am not good at … at all … add it to my bucketlist), as well as perform prop and shaft maintenance and/or other bottom repairs, as needed, or perhaps dive deeper reefs when we find them.  We found the Brownie’s was a solid investment for the promise of regular DIY bottom jobs.  Simply crank the generator, turn on the inverter, plug the Brownie’s (110V) unit in and *BAM* you can breathe underwater and take all the time you need to make sure your boat’s bottom is safe, smooth, and pristine.  Only there was no *BAM.*  No nothing.  When we tried to turn our Fischer Panda 4000 DC generator over in Coney Island to do the bottom, it would not crank.  

My hmmpfh face after getting Brownies all rigged up and suiting up, ready to dive overboard with my Scotch Brite and get to it!

Full disclosure, we’d had some difficulty with our generator from the beginning.  He wasn’t a 100% consistent cranker, which earned him the name “Gremlin” (courtesy of me).  Other times when he had given us trouble, we had thought we’d tracked it down to low voltage and a loose connection on the starting battery (which we use to crank him).  He had refused to jettison exhaust water one time when I was manning Ubi alone, and I found he had chewed through his own impeller.  A relatively easy fix, but it definitely instilled his “Gremlin” nickname in my book.  

Meet Gremlin: Our Fischer Panda AGT 4000 DC Generator

On Ubiquitous, we have a Fischer Panda AGT 4000 DC generator, installed in the “workroom” (Annie’s shop) on our Outbound in the starboard lazarette.  Ubi’s former owner selected the DC generator—over an AC generator—to provide a quicker, far more efficient charge to Ubi’s 12V lithium battery bank, as needed, to supplement power she receives from her 200 watts of solar, the wind generator, and our Yanmar 80hp engine. I’ll be honest.  I wasn’t a huge Gremlin fan at first.  On the old boat, our 1985 Niagara 35, we never had a generator, and I wasn’t initially a fan of this second (teeny tiny) engine that required our attention, maintenance, time, and trust.  I like simplicity.  

But with the comfort that Ubi’s many gallant systems provides, an occasional super-charge of her batteries via the DC generator is a must.  Phillip and I are fans of the DC generator (over an AC generator) because we don’t typically need AC power.  We’re not air-conditioning people.  We don’t have or typically use a microwave, toaster, hair dryer, etc. on the boat.  As elegant as Ubiquitous is, at heart, Phillip and I are still simple sailors.  Elegant campers, you might say.  Which means we liked the idea of a quick 45-50 minute run of the generator every 4 or so days as needed.  When the water maker is commissioned, we need to make water (or freshwater flush the system) every 4 or so days.  Making water requires we run the generator, so it times well.  That is, when the generator is running well.  

On this day in Coney Island, our hopes that Gremlin’s occasional crank problem was a low voltage issue (that we thought we had fixed) were quashed.  Our generator had plenty of voltage, yet he was not able to get the necessary combustion, for some reason, to turn over.  With winter encroaching, we knew we needed to get somewhere further south, where we had more resources and time to troubleshoot our generator issue.  While heading out on an offshore passage, with such a critical component of our power generation system on Ubi impaired, was not ideal.  We knew we had plenty of fuel to motor the entire way (or at least enough of the way to keep the batteries charged if needed), so our plan was to get to Norfolk and then—#1 priority—get Gremlin figured out.  

Our Voyage, New York to Norfolk

In all, we had a chilly but exciting sail from Coney Island, NY to Norfolk, VA—an approximate 300 nm run—that we made in about 50 hours.  Thankfully, we sailed a good bit of the way, making good time, with minimal power needs.  

We anchored off of Hospital Point, where we stayed for a bit in 2021 while preparing to round Hatteras the first time.  

Our first day on the hook, we got the Fischer Panda folks on the phone to begin troubleshooting.  Their initial thought was a problem getting fuel to the cylinder.  We checked the fuel lines, cleaned the injector, and ensured we had a bright pink stream of diesel pumping in.  It didn’t seem fuel was the problem, although it’s an important first place to start.

While Phillip was on the phone with the Fischer Panda guy, I had Googled around the Norfolk area, looking for a small engine repair guy and came across this Lafayette Marine shop that was highly rated in the area.  I called.  Got a guy named Charlie on the line, who could hear Phillip and the Fischer Panda guy running down fuel issues while I was talking to him on speaker.  From overhearing their conversation and from what I’d told him about the generator not turning over, Charlie told us “you’re probably waterlocked.” 

Water what?

The Diagnosis: Seawater in the Cylinder

I’m sure my blonde was showing.  But, once Charlie explained that we likely had seawater that had come back into the generator somehow and had started to corrode the valve and cylinder, preventing it from creating the combustion necessary to turn the generator over.  Charlie even told me he’d seen the exact same problem on another Outbound 46 about a year prior and he fixed that one.  While I had no idea who I was calling at the time, it seemed like I had reached the dude around those parts for the type of repair we needed on our generator. 

Once Charlie mentioned the other Outbound owner, Phillip and I jumped on the Outbound forum and—sure enough—found a fellow outbound owner who’d faced this same problem with his generator and had stopped in Norfolk to have this guy, Charlie, repair it.  That was enough to tell Phillip and I we were in good hands.  One problem with cruising (i.e., repairing your boat in exotic places) is it’s sometimes hard to find trusted marine vendors in ports you’ve never visited and where you don’t know anyone.  So, having a fellow Outbound owner vouch for Charlie meant a lot to us.  Tentatively, we asked Charlie if he could meet us somewhere near Hospital Point to come aboard Ubi and assess our generator.  

“It would be best if you could get a slip at a marina so I can come and go as needed.  Do you know Tidewater Marina?” Charlie asked.  

I Googled.  500 feet.  I looked out our portlight.  “Yep.  I can see it from the boat.”  

Phillip and I weighed anchor and got settled into a slip at Tidewater that day with Charlie scheduled to come the following morning to assess the generator.  As soon as he got Gremlin torn apart and a vice grip on it that he could use to manually turn it, Phillip and I both could hear it.  A distinctive slosh when Charlie turned it.  That sealed it.  We were definitely waterlocked.  

How Did This Happen? 

Charlie saw it all quite clearly the minute he looked at our install, saying it was very similar to the other Outbound he had repaired the year prior.  The muffler for the generator wasn’t installed low enough to prevent seawater from traveling back up the exhaust hose and into the generator, particularly in a sea state where the boat is pitching.  We had definitely been in some sea states since we started sailing Ubi one year prior.  Heck, Brooklyn alone had enough wake in the marina (despite their wake-dampening attenuators) to have rocked Ubi back and forth to allow the water backup.  Charlie showed us the diagram in the Fischer Panda manual showing the requisite height that should be allowed between the muffler and the generator to prevent the ability for seawater to travel back into the generator.  For whatever reason, our generator had not been installed to these specs.  

Charlie was sure he would see corrosion in the cylinder and valve when he took it apart, telling him the valve was likely unable to create the necessary seal for combustion. However, he was hopeful he could replace the valve and clean up the cylinder and walls enough to create a seal and get our generator up and running again.  Otherwise, we were looking at installing a new generator—which sparked a whole chain of research and questions on our end that had our heads spinning.  To avoid all that research, decision-making, and expense, Phillip and I were equally as hopeful Charlie could get Gremlin back to fighting condition.  

How Charlie Fixed It

Even if we could repair Gremlin, we still had the faulty install to deal with.  How were we going to prevent the same thing from happening—raw exhaust water traveling back into the generator—the next time we got in a sea state (or even a big wake in a channel)?  Thankfully, Charlie had a fix.  His plan was to cut a hole in the floor under the generator (that was about 15” above the hull in the bilge) where he could install, essentially, a second, lower muffler, that would prevent seawater from being able to make the journey up that high to get back into our generator.  While cutting more holes in the boat is never ideal, we didn’t see another option for Gremlin, assuming he recovered from his surgery.  

Charlie dismantled Gremlin and took his cylinder off.  When he removed the cylinder, Phillip and I both could easily see the corrosion.  

Charlie took the cylinder to his shop for cleaning and replacement of the valve which we all hoped would revive our generator.  In the meantime, Phillip and I made good use of our time in Portsmouth and Norfolk, VA.  

Making the Most of Our Time in Norfolk

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Wine festivals tend to find their way to us.  Turns out, there was one that very weekend in Norfolk—the annual Town Point Virginia Wine Festival.  Ummm … yes please?  Charlie actually recommended it to us.  Likely because he sensed we like wine and also (we suspect) he, wisely, wanted us nice and distracted while he worked diligently on our generator, because our stint with Charlie actually left us stuck in Norfolk, at a marina which we had not originally planned for, and additional two weeks.  The Wine Festival was a much-welcomed distraction.  

Another bonus?  Our friends and fellow Outbound owners, Peter and Patty (first introduced on the blog here) were also in the Norfolk area.  So, we used the time wisely to spend a few very fun nights with them, including one right around Halloween where we all dressed up for the occasion.  Phillip and I pilfered this awesome thrift store in Portsmouth and were actually able to put together a pretty spiffy Genie costume and Firefighter getup for a total of $12.00.  

Peter and Patty, however, won the costume prize with their original Operation rendition.  Very clever.  That night, we also found an outdoor concert headed up by a Talking Heads cover band that was pretty out of this world.  Now, whenever Phillip and I hear “Psycho killer, Qu’est-ce que c’est?” we think of Peter and Patty and our fun Halloween in Norfolk.  

Make the most of it, right?  That’s pretty much what cruising is all about.  We did see some pretty sunsets and rainbows while in Portsmouth.

MEET ROCKY

After a few unexpected, pricey (but fun!) weeks in Portsmouth, VA, Charlie came back with some exceptional news.  The newly repaired cylinder head (complete with a new valve) was ready.  Charlie brought it to the boat and the visual was telling.  It looked super clean.  

We all were very hopeful Charlie’s fix, including the second muffler installed under the generator floor, would allow our generator to turn over and run smoothly, without water every flowing back into the cylinder.  

After a good bit of priming and initial attempts, our Fischer Panda finally turned over!  I whooped so loud when the generator finally cranked, it spooked Charlie.  Poor guy, he spent so many hours, uncomfortable, on his knees down in our workroom.  Charlie was a dedicated professional who was honest with us and approached our generator problem very pragmatically and kept us informed the entire time. We can’t recommend Lafayette Marine and Charlie in Norfolk, VA enough. Thank you again, Charlie!

I’m sure Charlie was just as thrilled to hear our generator turn over as we were.  And, after some fun banter with cruising friends about the issues we’d been having with Gremlin and how his recovery was going, my Bestie, Rachel, said if he recovered and got back in the ring, he deserved a new name.  

Meet our repaired and recovered generator.  No longer Gremlin.  Now, he’s Rocky.  Balboa. 

And you better believe Phillip and I sing this song every time we go to crank Rocky.  He deserves it.  He’s a champion. 

Next up on the blog, we round Hatteras again (another Happy Hattereen!) and head south to warmer temps and island times.  Stay tuned!

Podcast Interview on The Two Authors’ Chat Show

This was such a fun experience, chatting with two “Caribbean Thriller” authors, Douglas Pratt and Nicholas Harvey, about sailing, writing, working as a lawyer remotely, a potential idea for my next book plot, forgetting to wear pants in Cuba, and … OH! … my least favorite singer. A lot of fun stuff packed in here. Many thanks to Doug and Nick for having me on their podcast among many other talented and interesting characters. I think I had a little too much fun with this one (if there is such a thing!). Give it a click and a listen. Enjoy!

https://thetwoauthorschatshow.podbean.com/e/following-passions/

Summary of episode: Nick and Doug get derailed answering an hilarious listener question, then interview a very entertaining lady by the name of Annie Dike. She’s a lawyer, sailor, author, and blogger who has followed her passions to live an island hopping existence.

You can check more of Doug and Nick’s The Two Authors’ Chat Show at https://thetwoauthorschatshow.podbean.com.

Brooklyn One° 15 Marina – The (Soon-to-Be Poor Man’s) Way to Do NYC

While we certainly loved (and would prefer) taking in NYC via a train ride from Port Washington leaving our boat to sit gently on a protected mooring ball while we whoop it up in the Big City, there’s something to be said about stepping off the boat right onto Brooklyn’s Peir 1 waterfront Park.  As we’ve mentioned before, while NYC is surrounded by water, there’s not really any good places to come into NYC by sailboat – not many docks, marinas, or anchorages to speak of.  So, when Phillip and I heard from fellow cruisers while making our way north up the east coast last year that a new marina was opening up in Brooklyn, we were intrigued!  There was also talk of state-of-the-art attenuators the marina and its design team engineered to tame the aggressive wake and waters of New York Harbor.  Phillip and I decided mid-summer last year that we had to give this fascinating new marina—Brooklyn ONE 15—a try, so we booked a week in late September October for our Big Brooklyn Splurge! 

September-October 2022

Traveling through Hell’s Gate from the Long Island Sound to New York Harbor, we’ve heard, can be treacherous if not timed right with the tide as there are wicked swift currents that rip through that narrow channel.  Thankfully, Phillip (our chief navigator … I’m chief dishwasher) has planned it perfectly for us both times and we enjoyed a fun, sunny, sightseeing motor over from Port Washington, NY to the ONE 15 Marina in Brooklyn.  

We were excited to see the effects of their groundbreaking attenuators for ourselves in the marina. Interestingly, we learned their system is comprised of custom-made floating barriers, anchored with precisely located pilings which cushion the marina against unwanted wave action while still allowing for the natural flow of tidal waves to reduce any environmental impact.  You can read more about ONE 15’s high-tech attenuator system here.  

Once docked, Phillip and I were thrilled to find ourselves right on Brooklyn’s Pier 1 Park with incredible walking/jogging grounds just a step off the boat.  Not to mention rows of amazing restaurants, an exceptional wine store, coffee shop, laundromat, even a Trader Joe’s—all within a radius of just a few blocks from the marina!  And, can we just talk about this evening view? 

The ability to step out of Ubi’s cockpit and stretch our legs on a dinner outing or just an afternoon or evening walk and take in the entire skyline of NYC was just mesmerizing.  What a treat for cruisers living on their sailboat, huh?  

Phillip and I even got the benefit of a free fireworks show one night over NYC that we could view from Ubi’s cockpit!!  I mean … really?  The occasion?  We had no clue and—frankly—could care less.  For all we knew, those fireworks were just for us!  

Sometimes the coolest part about living the seemingly flexible (albeit married to the weather) life of a cruiser taking the world in by boat are the random shows you get to see that you didn’t even have to buy tickets for.  In our travels, Phillip and I have stumbled into: wine festivals, interpretive dance performances, local production plays, art exhibits, concerts, comedy shows, beach volleyball championships, weightlifting competitions, you name it.  It’s amazing what you can find just walking around in new cities, reading flyers on windows, and talking to the locals.  That’s honestly one of my favorite aspects of cruising.  And, in that regard, Brooklyn did not disappoint.  Here’s what we enjoyed during our stay in Brooklyn:

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (which is now only open to foot traffic, not bike traffic on the main thoroughfare, a nice upgrade) to New York City.  Such a feet treat!  

Brushing off our flat-skates-skills at Flippers Skating Rink at the Rockefeller Center.  I was surprised I can still skate backwards … sort of.

Picking up some incredibly unique middle eastern spices, breads, and vegetables (while enjoying several decadent deli lunches) at Sahadi’s just a short walk from ONE 15 Marina: 

Discovering New York City’s favorite cookies (for real) at Levain Bakery.  After a day perusing Central Park, this intoxicating chocolate and dough smell pulled us down 74th Street where we discovered a bakery tucked three steps down from the street.  Got a cookie.  I thought Phillip was going to die from flavor pleasure.

Taking in a really unique and cool view of east New York City and the East River taking a gondola, better known as the “East River Skyway,” back from NYC to Brooklyn.  

Feeling like true Brooklyn Heights “locals” dining on the bench looking out the huge picture windows of River Deli onto Joralemon Street.  We also found the most exceptional Sardinian wine while we were there.  We’re still looking to find this gem again … 

Taking what I believe is one of the best photos I have ever captured at the Washington Square Park Arch in NYC.  I’ve considered having this printed to canvas to display on the boat.  I couldn’t stop smiling and singing along to this exuberant drummer “Go Alan Go” who regaled us with his singing talents, his exuberant curly hair, and his infectious joy, while we were there.  I adore street performers.  

Pillaging through Trader Joe’s in the heart of downtown Brooklyn on Atlantic Avenue, an incredible gem for cruisers with all of its unique nuts, trail mixes, snacks, and more.

Taking the ferry over to NYC and biking around the Hudson River Park, a wildly expansive green space perfect for walking, jogging, strolling, and flash dancing.

Strolling through China Town and indulging on the most exceptional dim sum and dumplings we have ever put in our mouths at Nom Wah Tea Parlor (a recommendation from our fellow Outbound owners and cruising friends, Peter and Patty on s/v Serendipitous, with whom we spent our first 4th of July aboard Ubi in 2021).  P&P, you did not disappoint.  

Meanwhile in Florida … 

Sadly, while Phillip and I were having all this fun in Brooklyn/NYC, Hurricane Ian was ripping a swath through Port Charlotte/Ft. Myers.  While you never want to wish hurricanes on anyone, living on the coast with so many friends, family members, and fellow boaters in your community, it’s impossible to not wish it away from you.  We had been watching Ian form and move over the Gulf and were hoping it did not set its sights directly on our home port of Pensacola like Hurricane Sally did in 2020.  Our hearts and thoughts go out to those, however, who suffered damage from Ian in southern Florida last year.  The storm was so big it brought its wrath all the way up the U.S. to Phillip and me and Ubiquitous in NY, thankfully only as a tropical storm/depression by then.  

Even in its diminished capacity, Ian still kept us rained in on the boat in Brooklyn for days and extending our stay unexpectedly at ONE 15.  Thankfully, no boats were coming and going in the heavy winds, rain, and sea state, so they had slips available to just let Ubiquitous stay safe and secure in her slip while Ian finally blew himself out.  We were incredibly grateful.  It wasn’t a cheap two-week stay, but it was a necessary one as there was no way we were going to take Ubi out in that gnarly mess.  Although we did venture out to wash a few loads of clothes.  Laundry day on Ubi be like … 

For those of you curious about the attenuator and the wave action in ONE 15 Marina, Phillip and I found it was pretty rolly in the marina (albeit less than it would have been without the attenuator) and we did have to take into consideration that we had a pretty gnarly tropical storm roll through and sit on us for days while we were there which contributed to the wave action.  But, for the view and convenience of the city—where we understandably spent more of our time as opposed to aboard Ubi—the tolerable motion was well worth it.

Once the weather cleared, Phillip and I got Ubi provisioned up (thank you Trader Joe’s!) and moved over to an anchorage near Coney Island to stage up for an offshore run from NY down to Norfolk, VA.  It was fun to run into our friends, Jamie and Sheryl on s/v Pacific High—with whom we have spent time on many east coast anchorages: Beaufort, NC, Wrightsville Beach, NC, Charleston, SC, and (as featured in a not-so-long-ago blog) Martha’s Vineyard—in Coney Island and spend a fun afternoon on the hook together.  

Check out Phillip in his “business up top, board shorts on the bottom” Cruising Lawyer getup.  All evidence (on this blog) to the contrary, Phillip and I do work—often and a lot—while cruising.  It’s all about the balance.  

The last chore we were going to undertake before we headed offshore was going to be a bottom scrub (you know, to get that extra knot of speed!).  Phillip and I had invested in a Brownie’s Third Lung air compressor dive unit to allow us to scrub Ubi’s bottom (more meticulously than by free-diving, which I am not good at … add it to my bucketlist), perform prop and shaft maintenance, and/or other bottom repairs, as well as dive deeper reefs when we find them.  We found it was a solid investment for the performance.  Simply crank the generator, turn on the inverter, plug the Brownie’s (110V) unit in and *BAM* you can breathe underwater and take all the time you need to make sure your boat’s bottom is safe, smooth, and pristine.  

Just like that … except for Phillip and I, there was no Bam.  There was no bottom job that day.  Our generator would not crank.  Hmmppfh.  While we would always prefer to have one of our more critical power generation systems working smoothly before heading offshore, it wasn’t worth it to lose the weather window we had.  We decided to leave our generator mystery for another day, head out into the Atlantic, and set our sights on Virginia.  

In all, our stay in Brooklyn was convenient, exciting, and exceptionally memorable.  It was not cheap, but it was worth it.  If any of you venture through, let us know what you think.  Next up on the blog, we’ll start our trek south last year and share with you our generator woes and a major fix we underwent in Virginia last fall.  Stay tuned!

Port Washington, NY – The Poor Man’s (Cruisers Preferred) Way to Do NYC

What better city to round out our summer in New England than the city – New York City.  I love that city.  She and I developed a bit of a bond this past summer.  With her deepening fall colors in September.  Her shorts and tank top-warm days.  Her unfurling Central Park.  Her bustling streets teeming with bustling people.  And, the food … spending our “food points” was almost depressing because you had to choose one type of food, and then the meal was over, but my God were the choices diverse and stunning: Peruvian, Ethiopian, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Italian, Korean.  I just needed more time, and more stomachs!  But, the downside to NYC for cruisers?  There are very few places where you can anchor or dock and just stroll into the city.