BV16: Leaving our Boat Behind: In Another Country, In Another’s Hands

Pffhhhhh … I have to let out a long huff even as I read that.  It was so hard to leave our boat behind.  I feel like I’m still apologizing to her, but I also feel like (or hope at least) that she understands.  Somehow we have to pay for all this Bahamas fun, and more importantly, pay for all the work and maintenance she requires.  B.O.A.T. right?  You all know what that stands for.  So, we had to leave our baby behind for a bit (January 21st – March 10th) during our Bahamas trip and fly back home to Pensacola so Phillip could handle some things at the office.  While my job, thankfully, goes wherever we go (HaveWorkWillTravel! : ), his does not, although he is able to do a good bit of work remotely via emails and phone calls.  Although it may not appear from our photos and posts, we do spend about 30-40% of our time while cruising working remotely.  We are incredibly thankful for our phones and laptops and the internet which allows us to do that.

While we were planning our trip to the Bahamas, Phillip and I knew that we were going to have to leave the boat there for some stretch of time to fly home for a bit, so we chose Marsh Harbour because it is a pretty protected harbor with a marina where we could keep the boat tied up secure for a month or more and it also has an airport for flying to/from the states.  While Marsh Harbour was a solid choice and proved a good decision, we did not know at the time (back in November when we were making plans) there was another good option in the Abacos: Treasure Cay.  It’s amazing the things you learn when you actually go somewhere and start talking to the locals.  While at Treasure Cay, we learned from some other cruisers who were staying there that they offer a November-through-February special, offering cruisers a monthly rate at the marina for only $500.  Five.  Hundred.  I know.  Don’t ask me what we paid at Marsh Harbour.  But, we didn’t know about the Treasure Cay option, and we had to make a decision ahead of time.  But next time … Treasure Cay is a fabulous (safe, protected) place to make “home base” while cruising the Abacos.  Several cruisers we met booked a month or two there while they sailed around and gunk-holed all the wonderful islands in the Abacos, knowing they always had a safe place reserved for them at Treasure Cay so they could duck in and hide when the northern fronts came fast and fierce.  The next time we do the Abacos, if that deal is still running at Treasure Cay, we will likely do that.

But, we were very pleased with the staff and amenities at Harbourview Marina.  The dock master, Ron, and owner, Troy, were exceptional.  They are very hands-on and they make sure every cruiser feels welcomed and has everything they need for a comfortable stay at the marina.  Ron helped us dock up to the fuel dock and move to our permanent slip in some pretty heavy winds and he was very calm and competent and made sure our boat never suffered a scratch.  He also checked on us every day as he walked the docks to make sure we had power, water, wifi and knew how to find groceries, restaurants, a cab, etc.  We learned when we returned to Marsh Harbour in March that Ron had also boarded our boat many times while we were gone to adjust the lines to make sure our boat was always floating safely right in the middle of the slip and that none of the lines suffered any chafe.  That’s service.  Troy was also a pleasure to work with and the minute we told him we were planning on leaving the boat for a month at the marina, he immediately asked how to get access inside in case he needed to check the batteries or bilge or move her in an emergency.  You could tell these were “boat people” who truly cared about boats the way we do.  Troy, Ron, and the entire staff at Harbourview, we can’t thank you enough!

Here is a pretty cool video, with some great drone footage, showcasing the marina at Harbourview:

We got a very good slip, too, at the marina that was seated back away from the T-dock (where the winds cause the boats to romp around a bit) and was wedged in between some monster yachts, which also helped to block her from wind.

Phillip and I were also happy to find we were surrounded by several long-time Marsh Harbour liveaboards who would be living aboard their boats while we were gone, walking the docks every day, and who said they would keep an eye out for our baby while we were gone.  To Dave on Southern Heat, if you’re reading this (you and Rocket Man!), thank you!  Dave is actually a fellow writer and wrote a rather harrowing account of his own passage across the Gulf Stream in his book Summer Heat.  But, I must share a story with you all that showcases how generous and compassionate cruisers really are.

Our last day aboard the boat (January 21, 2018) we were doing all of our final checks, cleaning things, packing, etc.  My last chore was to empty the fridge, and I hate to see food go to waste.  So I shoved all of our very enticing fridge food (think half-empty jars of salsa, mayo, and other condiments, some cheese, butter, milk, sodas, etc., I think there was even some salad stuff, carrots, cucumbers, etc.) into a trash bag (making it even more enticing) and began knocking on nearby boats to see who wanted to be the winner of my food charity for the day.  While I tried, first, the several boat owners we had already met (so I wouldn’t seem like such a crazy person), for whatever reason, that morning they were all off and away, their boats locked and empty.  So, I started knocking on new boats!  And, the first boat-owner to heed my call was the infamous Bob aboard he and his wife’s beautiful trawler, Islandia.

I had never met Bob before but he is a cruiser through and through.  “A trash bag full of half-eaten food?  Sure!  We love food!” was his immediate response.  He was a lot of fun to chat with and had actually raced years ago on a Niagara up on Lake Ontario so we gave him a fun little tour of our baby, exchanged boat cards, and asked if he wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on our Niagara while we were gone.  Bob said he’d be happy to and he graciously accepted our food and helped us get off the dock.  Bob’s wife, Diane, was not on the boat that morning but, after returning later that day and finding the food we had left her, she took it upon herself to start sending me pictures and updates on our boat.  These are the kinds of people that await you out there: cruisers who will open their hearts, their hands, their fridges, and their boats to you, for the simple reason that you are a cruiser, too, and we all “get it.”  There are no distinguishing titles, no type of boat that is seen as better or greater than another (not in earnest anyway, only in jest), no importance placed on what we do for a living (or don’t do) or how much money we make (or don’t make) or the types of clothes we wear (or don’t wear!).  We are all just cruisers, owners of boats that cause us lots of angst, cost us lots of money, and afford us the tallest tales and sweetest memories.  Boats equalize people in a way I have never found any other common thread to do.

And this amazing stranger, a fellow boat-owner who knew Phillip and I were anxious to leave our boat behind unattended took it upon herself to send me these numerous email updates and keep a watchful eye on our boat the entire time we were gone.  Mind you, this is a woman I had never met, and these are the actual emails and photos she took the time to send me while we were back in Pensacola and our beautiful baby was staying all by herself in Marsh Harbour.  Not at my request, just of her own accord.  I was shocked and thrilled when I received an email, out of the blue, from Diane just a few days after we left.  And the photos and updates continued to roll in.

Diane, this tribute is for you!

Jan 24th:

Hi Annie, took this picture a few minutes ago.  All is well.  We are expecting quite a blow for the next 4 to 5 days, so we will check your boat every day.  Diane and Bob

 

Jan 26th:

Hi Annie, you guys did a superb job of tying off your boat.  [We subsequently learned this was also mostly due to Ron, who continued to board our boat and adjust lines accordingly.]  The wind has shifted 45° and it’s pretty much been blowing a steady 15 to 20 and sometimes 25 kn.  And yet your boat is right in the middle of the slip looking great!  Bob and Diane

 

Jan. 27th:

Good morning Annie and Phillip, Thanks in advance for the dinner invite.  That will be fun!  Today a rainbow landed on your boat!  Cheers!  Bob-Diane

Later that same day:  Yes, that was so cool that the rainbow landed on your boat. We are in the middle of a power outage on the dock, don’t know how long it will last. Any special instructions for your boat once the power gets turned back on?

 

Jan. 31st:

Hi Annie, so your boat is doing well in strong winds and extreme tides.  Most of the sailboats are aground here.  Once the super moon passes the tides shouldn’t be so extreme.  We are leaving the marina for a week, so I’ll send you another update next Wednesday.  Cheers!  Diane and Bob

  

 

Feb. 7th:

Hi Annie, we are back at the dock.  Your boat is still looking pretty darn good!  Cheers!  Bob and Diane

 

Feb. 8th:

Hi Annie, That’s crazy about 60 mph winds!  Fortunately it’s becoming calmer here.  Winds are slated to hover here around 10 to 15 for most of the week.  I was out on my paddleboard today, so I thought I would snap a shot from a different perspective.  Diane

 

Feb. 9th:

Subject: “Waving at You!”

Hi Annie, you’re too funny, going out to dinner will more than suffice.  We are headed out of the marina for 4 or 5 days, taking advantage of the nice weather coming up.  I’ll be sure to send you an update as soon as we return.  Fair winds!  Diane and Bob

 

Feb. 17th:

Here is your boat on Wednesday and again today.  She continues to look great!  We are headed out for a week so I’ll send you an update on the 24th.  Cheers!  Diane

  

 

Feb. 24th:

Hi Annie, These photos were taken a week apart.  She’s looking fabulous.  We fly home on Feb 27 and return March 7.  I’ll send you another photo on Tuesday before we depart.  Cheers, Diane

  

 

Feb. 26th:

Subject: “Sunset at the Marina”

 

March 9th (the day before we flew back!)

Hi Annie, we were delayed a day getting back due to the snow.  Got in yesterday to very strong northwest winds complete with whitecaps at the dock.  But again you [meaning, Ron] have tied the boat so perfectly it never touched the pier.  Had a gorgeous sunset last night and now the winds are finally abating.  One of our guests may not make it in today so it’s possible we will still be on the dock when you arrive tomorrow.  You must be getting excited to return to the Bahamas!  Diane

  

 

March 10th

Finally it was time for Phillip and I to fly back to the Bahamas and reunite with our beloved boat and I got to wrap my arms around this amazing woman (whom I had never met) who gave me such peace of mind and comfort the entire time we were away from our beloved boat.  (Who did fabulous on her own by the way!  She was charged up, dry, not moldy, thanks to our Kanberra, and ready to crank right up and go!  Way to go little boat!)

Thank you Diane!  You were a God-send.  Phillip and I (and our boat!) will forever sing your praises!  One cruiser to another, we can’t thank you enough!  

Posted in Bahamas Bound, Boat Stuff | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

BV15: Maintenance in Marsh Harbour – How We Change the Oil on the Boat

Have any of you ever wondered this?  “How do they change their oil when they’re sailing around the world?”  I’ll be honest, when we were first boat-shopping, I wasn’t even entirely aware the boat had an engine, much less one that had oil that needed changing, or that we (Phillip and I) would be the folks to do it.  I was so clueless in the beginning!  When I finally did start to ponder it, I thought we would just pull into one of those 10-minute oil change places, like you do with your car, and have it done.  Yeah, ‘cause those exist on the water.  It’s amazing Phillip has put up with me all these years.  The blonde is real people.  

After our beloved boat, primarily under the power of our engine, a Westerbeke 27A whom we lovingly call “Westie,” took us to fourteen stunning Abaco cays, it was time to change out his oil.  A few years back, we found this nifty manual oil pump that allows us to do it ourselves right in the saloon.  I put together a detailed, informative video for you all here from our “Maintenance in Marsh Harbour” and some photos below showing you how we change the oil on our boat, as well as the primary fuel filter and zinc.  I also included one way, in particular, how NOT to do change the oil on a boat.  You’re welcome!  Watch and learn and we’ll hope an oil spill on board never happens to you.  “Better get some towels,” the captain said.  *gulp*

Ahoy followers!  I hope you love boat maintenance as much as we do!  While we’re not the best at it, we certainly strive to keep our beautiful baby ship-shape and in top Bristol fashion.  Mainly, we feel very lucky to have purchased our boat from a previous owner who loved her just as much as we do and took exceptional care of her for twenty-eight years.  WWJD: What Would Jack Do? is a running joke on our boat.  We just try not to mess up what he started.  One of the upgrades Jack made to our Niagara 35 was an ingenuous shift of the oil filter from a horizontal position (which forced the dirty oil to spill out of it during an oil change) to a vertical one, where it at least gives us a chance to catch the oil that will spill out when we swap the old with the new by placing a bag underneath.  Thanks Jack!

We also found this great plastic oil pump kit (with a pump bin, hoses and fittings) a few years back in St. Pete (from a very interesting marine vendor, fun story for you here) that we stow on board in a big Rubbermaid bin that fits in our hanging locker.  I’m not certain of our particular brand, but West Marine seems to have a comparable version of it here.  We previously had a dirty old metal one, but the plastic one is much lighter and cleaner.  Thank You Backdoor Marine Supply Guy!

Old:

New:

 

We also feel very fortunate to have great engine access on our Niagara.  The galley sink and cabinets simply pull back (we prop them on the table with a pillow) and we have instant access to all the major checkpoints on the engine.  We can also remove the stairs for more access and I can crawl into the hatch in the aft berth and get behind the engine too, if need be.  So, we can accomplish 360-degree access for major projects.  Westie isn’t safe from our grimy hands anywhere!  Ha!

    

Jack also installed a tube drain from the oil reservoir in the engine with a hose attachment that has a shut-off valve.  The tube (currently capped and sealed off) is laying on the engine floor to the right of the transmission in this photo.

We connect this hose Jack put together for us (you will see the red shut-off valve) to that fitting by the transmission and then place the other end of the hose in the oil pump to literally suck the oil out of the engine and into our plastic oil pump.

Before we change the oil, we always crank the engine and let Westie run for about ten minutes to let the oil warm up and get viscous.  Then we shut him down and rig up this pump and hose set-up.  Once connected, we give the oil pump 15-or-so pumps to create the vacuum suction, then Phillip or I turn the red valve to the open position and you can literally see the black oil coming up through the hose into the oil pump.  We can also hear it (a whooshing sound) and feel the heat of the oil going into the pump.  We repeat this pump-and-release process about three times until there is barely any oil that comes through the hose upon release (meaning the oil reservoir in the engine is mostly empty).

In this photo, you can actually see the oil about halfway up the hose, about to come up over the bend and down into the pump near my hands.  Phillip is watching that to make sure the oil is draining.

Once Westie is drained, we set to taking off the old filter (which Phillip is doing here with multiple Ziplock bags beneath), and I begin filling the new filter with oil.  We put about a quart into the new filter and lube the gasket with it before putting it on the engine.  We have also learned to wipe where the old filter was mounted and check to make sure the old gasket did not stick to the engine.

Once the new filter is on, we set to filling Westie back up with fresh, new oil.  He loves that!  We usually put about 2 – 2.5 quarts into the engine (plus the quart in the filter which equates to about 3- 3.5 quarts total.  We have over-filled it before so we try not to do that.  Our goal is to shoot a little low (plenty of oil for Westie to run and stay lubed, but definitely under the “full” mark on the dipstick) as we have found the new oil tends to expand a bit when we first run the engine after an oil change.

“While you’re down there,” I can just hear our buddy Mitch saying now.  He was the friend who helped us deliver our Niagara when we first bought her back in 2013 from Punta Gorda up to her home port in Pensacola and all 6’3” of him didn’t seem to enjoy the process of climbing up and down our “little toy stairs,” which meant every time I went down to grab something, it would be immediately followed by a request from Mitch that started with “While you’re down there … ”  So, while we were down there, with the engine all opened up and in our grease suits, we decided to also check on the sacrificial zinc in our heat exchanger and the primary fuel filter.

The zinc actually looked pretty good.  We’ve pulled this guy out before to find just a little grey nub.  We also try to occasionally (I’d say once a season) drain the heat exchanger and clean out all the little leftover zinc bits in there.  It usually looks like a zinc graveyard, and those guys all tumbling around can restrict water flow.  So, a little bit of maintenance in that regard can go a long way.

The fuel filter did not look near as good.  All that black grime around the bottom means it’s time to change it out.

Thankfully, that’s a rather easy job on our boat, just pop the lid off of the globe, pull this piece out, dump the old filter, and put a new one on.  The only tricky part is making sure the two (2) spaghetti size o-rings on the globe wiggle back into place before you tighten the lid down.

We are also lucky in that our engine is self-priming.  When we turn the key, it starts to bleed the air in the system (that we allowed in by opening the globe).  We wait about thirty seconds for it to do that (and you can see the globe filling while it does) before engaging the glow plugs then turning him over.  He cranked like a champ.  Way to go Westie!

Now … about this oil spill.  I share here because I hope this never happens to one of you.  While we are definitely pleased with our plastic oil pump, it does have one drawback.  One we were not in any way aware of when we bought it.  Apparently, when dumping the old oil out, if you tip the pump more than 90 degrees, oil will fill the pump chamber and it ruins the pump.  Not only will it no longer be able to suck oil in, the awesome side effect of doing this causes the pump to actually shoot oil out of the handle when you engage it.  You’ll see at the end of the video above this is what happened to us.  Not knowing this “90 degree dump” issue, I had taken the pump to an Auto Zone for proper disposal of the oil and the guy behind the counter dumped it for me.  I saw him, and he definitely tipped it completely upside down, I just didn’t know that would cause any kind of a problem.  But, the next time we had to change the oil and we set the pump up, oil shot out of the handle on both sides when I pulled the handle up.  Fantastic.  “Get some towels,” Phillip said.

You can see now why we lay so many sheets and towels down when we change the oil on the boat.  If any of you use one of these  types of pumps to change your oil on the boat, I hope this tip helps an oil spill aboard from never happening to you!

Best of luck out there grease monkeys!  Keep those diesels purring!

Posted in Bahamas Bound, Boat Projects, Engine Issues, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Post-Bahamas Boat Projects (We’re Dropping the Rudder!)

Schadenfreude.  I know it’s German, but I have no idea how to say it.  A good friend of ours taught it to us when he was telling us what great pleasure he took in seeing Phillip and I knee-deep in boat projects instead of wading in crystal green waters, cocktail in hand.  “Somehow I like the idea of you two working hard instead of playing in the Bahamas.  That must be the German side in me coming out.  And, did you know that Germans are the only culture that has a word to express joy in another’s discomfort or pain?  Schadenfreude.  Says a lot about the culture doesn’t it?”  He’s a funny guy, that one.  So, for Conrad and all the other brutal Germans out there who would take great schadenfreude in our boat project phase, this one is for you. Misery loves company!  Although I wouldn’t say Phillip and I are anything near miserable when we’re doing boat projects.  Seriously!  We’re usually smiling most of the time.  I know.  We’re those people.  Don’t you just hate those people?

We don’t!  We are those people!

Ahoy followers!  Following our awesome voyage to the Bahamas this past season, Phillip and I definitely (as we always do) racked up a pretty extensive list of boat projects to tackle when we got home.  Some were necessary repairs that we had been watching for a while and knew we finally needed to get serious about (think hauling out and dropping the rudder).  Joy.  Others are just for cosmetic or comfort reasons—some inspired by our cruising this past season—but we’re eager to get on those just the same.

And, if you’re starting to think we might just have a bit of a falling-apart boat because we sure spend a lot of time every year doing boat projects and maintenance, we’ll I’d have to say you’re just crazy.  Plumb cRaZy.  Boats require a ton of maintenance and upkeep.  Even ones (well, I should say especially ones) in great condition.  It took a lot of work, time, and sweat to prepare our boat this past year to take us comfortably to the Bahamas, but it was all totally worth it.  Phillip and I feel privileged and lucky to own such a fantastic, old blue-water boat that we’re honored to get to work on her.  At least that’s the word we use when we’re stinking, hot, sweaty, and cramped into some ridiculously-uncomfortable places while working on her.  “I’m sure honored to be here pretty gal,” I will whisper.  But our Niagara has definitely earned all of our spare time and money each time she cranks right up, pops out her sails, and whisks us away to another fabulous distant shore, usually steering the entire time all by herself.

With plans this coming season to likely head back to the Bahamas to truly enjoy the Exumas, which we did not have time to explore this past winter, Phillip and I are eager to dig our teeth into this summer’s list and get it knocked out so we can start the long and arduous process of provisioning and packing for our next adventure.  Hooray!  Who’s on board?  Let’s get this party started already!  Here is the actual (always growing) list:

Project No. 1: The Rudder

That’s a pretty important part of the boat, right?  Next to hull integrity, a sturdy keel, along with solid rigging and sails, the rudder is one of the only things that, without it, the boat simply cannot go.  In fact, without it, the boat might easily sink.  I have to admit that’s one of the things I really dislike about the rudder.  Its cruciality to both the ability of the boat to both navigate and remain bouyant makes it almost too connected and powerful.  Like a frenemy.

If you recall, we first noticed an issue with our rudder during our voyage to Cuba.

Yeah, that passage.  Bashing our way to windward for five days.  That was fun.  (Okay, it was, actually, but it was exhausting, too, and very hard on the boat.)  That much heel and that much wind puts a lot of pressure on the rudder and, after a few days of it, we started to notice some athwartship movement in our rudder.  I know what you’re thinking.  That’s not a part you want to see movement in.  It makes me think of the keel and how gut-wrenching it might be to watch it bend, even just slightly, from starboard to port as we heel over.  Uggh.  That seriously gives me goosebumps.  Unfortunately, that’s what we were noticing.  Each time the boat would heel with a gust of wind and climb to weather, the top of the rudder post in the cockpit would move about a quarter to a half inch from port to starboard.  We had a Rudder on the Loose!

Phillip and I both spent a good part of that voyage hanging upside down in each of the lazarettos adding extra nuts to the three bolts that hold our rudder cap in place on the cockpit floor.

For this reason, one of the projects on our list last summer while we were preparing to travel to the Bahamas was an interim reinforcement of our rudder by fitting some extra wide fender washers on the three bolts that hold our rudder cap in place.

  

We knew this would be a temporary fix for the season, though, and that, when we hauled out the following year, we wanted to drop the rudder and really do this project right.  After doing some research (which we are always thankful for the helpful and insightful fellow Niagara 35 owners on the Niagara 35 Owners Facebook Group who share lessons learned from projects like this) we found other owners head dealt with this play in the rudder as well and decided to reinforce the backing for the rudder cap on the cockpit floor.  It really is a sh&*-ton of pressure to all culminate at one very small round hole on the cockpit floor, secured by three small bolts.  For this reason, you will see in the photo below, one Niagara owner decided to add a very substantial backing plate around the top of the rudder post to help reinforce and secure it.

Meet Larry Dickie!  Ironically named after my own people, the infamous Alabama Dickeys (albeit a slightly different spelling).  After Larry posted this photo and a brief write-up about the project, we reached out to him and he proved to be a treasure-trove of information for this particular project and many, many others.  Here is what Larry had to say:

Larry Dickie‎ Niagara 35 Owners Group

January 26 near Horta, Portugal ·

“A couple of days ago I posted pics from the N35 rudder rebuild I did. I neglected to add this critical piece, applicable to all versions of Niagara (IMHO).  The area in the cockpit flooring is, where the top of the rudder post exits, simply not strong enough to take the very severe and continual torque associated with long passages (or possibly even much shorter passages). I had been warned about this by another N35 owner, years ago. But this repair/upgrade somehow fell off the hundred-job list before we departed. Even though I had placed straight thickened epoxy for several inches around the area when I recored the sole, it was still not strong enough. A few days off Horta, during a dismal night watch, I noticed the top of the rudder post moving slightly as we came off each wave – boy, not a good feeling in the pit of my stomach there.

Now, let me be the first to admit this is not the prettiest fix. But in the Azores, you can only really get good boat work assistance in Horta (Mid-Atlantic Yacht Services). They made this plate for me, as per my napkin drawing; it was based on the fact that there was limited space undernearth to place thru-bolts. Yes, those hex-bolts are not the prettiest, but all that was available. If back in Canada, I would most likely have buried this whole plate within the sole and epoxied over it. All things considered, I’m more than happy with the end result – top end of the rudder now does move at all, even in heavy seas.
All this to say to other N35 owners who are, or contemplating heading off: shore-up the rudder post at the top end (assuming many of you already have).”


Did you note Larry’s location when he posted that?  Horta, Portugal!  That’s right.  The Azores.  Those magic islands Phillip and I were exceedingly lucky enough to be able to visit and enjoy during our Atlantic-crossing with Yannick.  There is something special about that place, I tell you.  Something indescribable.

We certainly plan to sail our boat across the Atlantic someday, stopping at both Bermuda and the Azores again, so it was nice to see another Niagara 35 making the trip.  Larry was very generous to share his experience with this issue with us and his extensive upgrade.  When we haul-out this summer, we plan to drop the rudder and install a similar wide backing plate in the cockpit floor, likely glassed in, to reinforce and further support the rudder post, particularly at the potential pivot point here where it is secured at the cockpit floor.  Our buddy Brandon with Perdido Sailor, Inc. also advised us he has seen this issue before where the rudder post also actually becomes worn down from use and is not as tight in the bushing, allowing for play.  If he finds that is the case with our rudder, he recommended we add a thin layer of epoxy along the post to literally “widen” it back up so that it is a snug fit in the bushing preventing movement.  This will be an extensive project. Likely our most complicated and costly of the summer.  But we never want to see movement in the rudder post again.  That is a very frightening thought when your boat is pitching and tossing, trying to hold course in heavy seas.  Stay tuned.

Project No. 2: Prop Shaft Key

This is key.  We’ve been battling this guy for a while.  And, I have to laugh because at times I have to really feel sorry for our boat.  It’s like she tries and tries to gently show us there’s a problem.  She wiggle a nut loose, squeeze out a few drops of fluid, or let out a repetitive thud, thud, thud which should translate to “look here,” “hey, check this out,” or “I need tightening here,” and what do we do?  Wipe the drips and turn up the radio!   Not really.  Honestly, Phillip and I are pretty diligent boat owners, but it still surprises me at times even when we were looking and listening, as we always try to do, that we still miss the very obvious cues.  So, this key.  It is kind of hard to see in this photo, but it is about a three-inch long square rod, basically, that slides into a slot along the prop shaft.

In our boat, we have a v-drive transmission where the engine sits in backwards and the transmission is actually in front of the engine.  When we pull the hatch back (which is actually our entire galley sink and countertop (it’s pretty freaking badass if you ask me, one of my favorite design elements of our boat for sure!), the transmission, coupling, and end of the prop shaft are immediately visible.

And, at the end, we have a key that fits in a slot on the prop shaft and helps the shaft grab and turn the coupling (in addition to a set screw and two bolts on the coupling that tighten down onto the prop shaft.  All fascinating stuff, I can assure you.  But, this stupid little key.

My God, the hours Phillip and I have spent dicking around with this key.  The thing would not stay in.  I can’t tell you how many times we have spent watching it wiggle out, sometimes halfway, other times entirely and we would have to fish around in our super clean bilge to find it, all to then hammer it back in with some Loc-tite and hope for the best.  It seems like such a terrible design.  Eventually we watched as the prop shaft itself began to—much like the key had—inch forward toward the bow of the boat and actually protrude a quarter-to-half inch in front of the coupling.  Those were good times.  And, I’m saving for you the story of what happened when the shaft creeped too far forward.  My point in all of this is to hopefully get you chuckling as much as we were when we finally realized what our amazing boat was trying to tell us with all of this key business.  “My coupling is loose!” she was screaming.  Poor boat.  She’s such a trooper when it comes to us, I tell you.  While the two bolts that tighten the coupling down onto the shaft had seizing wire on them, which is why we did not suspect they could loosen, we have learned anything that rattles on a boat can loosen (and wire can stretch!).  After we finally tightened the bolts on the coupling back down, the key hasn’t given us any further trouble.  But!  We’re thinking about having a new key machined that has a hole for a seizing wire so we can prevent any further “rattle out” issues in the future.  Rattle is real, people.  We’re taking measures!

Project No. 3: Some Westie Love!

Boy does he deserve it.  “Westie” our 27A Westerbeke engine in the boat.  He’s been performing like a champ.

While we try to take very good care of him, always looking for leaks, tightening screws and bolts that rattle loose, keeping a very close eye on his coolant system, and changing the oil every 50-75 hours, Westie is getting up there.  He is the original 1985 engine on the boat with about 3,600 engine hours on him.  Plenty of life left for sure, but we do need to replace the exhaust elbow that goes to the manifold and the manifold gasket, give him a super scrub down (knocking off the flaking rust) and perhaps re-paint him and reinforce his stringers as they have spread and deteriorated a bit with water leaks (particularly on the starboard side under the water pump).

We will probably also drain the coolant system and change out the coolant and replace the gaskets around the thermostat as those tend to leak often.

Project No. 4: Forestay Maintenance

As many of you are aware, we replaced our original rod rigging with universal 5/16 wire rigging when we spent three months in the shipyard back in 2016 re-building our stringers (and doing a hundred other things).  Those were good times.  Videos for you here if you haven’t seen them (Raising the New Rig, Part One and Two).

 

Brandon said we deserved a “Boat Yard 101” training certificate when we splashed back because that was an absolute hard-core crash-course in boat maintenance and repair.  But, while it definitely sucked finding out the very important stringers under our mast were rotten and that it was going to cost several thousands to fix, those three months (and all the money) we spent in the yard in 2016 was the absolute best thing we could have done as boat owners.  There is no way we could have learned as much as we did from dedicated, knowledgeable boat repairman, craftsmen, experts, had we not spent that time side-by-side with Brandon and his crew at the shipyard.  So, we don’t regret it.  Ever.  And, it was time to replace the rigging anyway, so the timing actually worked out.

But, although our rigging is new (or, better yet, because it is new) during the course of our sailing the past two years, it has stretched.  Phillip and I noticed a little looseness in our forestay that caused it to (for lack of a better word) “warble” while we are furling the headstay, particularly our larger 135 genny, and particularly during the last 5-6 rolls of the drum.  So, we contacted Rick over at Zern Rigging and his guys came out to check our forestay tension.  While one of his main guys, DJ (we love you!) inspected it and said our forestay was actually tighter than most, he found we could afford a bit more tension so he and his guys tightened it up for us.

He also noticed immediately the grinding and difficulty in turning our furling drum (something Phillip and I have noticed for a while but figured it might have to do with the looseness of the stay).  DJ, however, explained that it would be easy for us, and quite prudent, to re-build the furling drum and replace the bearings inside as they just age and wear over time with salt and dirt build-up in there.  So, Phillip and I will plan a day while we’re in the shipyard to do that as well and I know that will work wonders when we’re furling in heavy (or any, really) winds.

Project No. 5: Swap to a Composting Head?

We’re hoping to.  At least I’m hoping to.  We are definitely keen on the idea of gaining the additional storage space where our 25-gallon “turd tank” currently resides under the v-berth and the theoretical convenience of no longer having to pump out or worry about holding tank leaks (been there, done that, gross!).

Phillip, however, is a little skeptical about the size and fit of a composting head in our rather small (and awkwardly-shaped) head compartment, as well as the comfort of sitting on and using a head so tall.  We’ve done a lot of research and talked to many boat owners who have switched to a composting head and have heard really awesome pros (like the ones I mentioned above) and the ease of dumping and cleaning the unit, no smell, etc. with just a few cons: the inability for urine to drain when on a particular heel, overflowing of the urine bin (if you don’t monitor it closely enough) and, to reinforce Phillip’s fear, the size and “comfort” of it.  Overall, we are on board if a composting head will comfortably fit, but our floor space in the head is very small and triangular-shaped.  I have been going back and forth with the Airhead guys (we believe they offer the right balance of look and fit that we want) and they actually drew a pretty to-scale CAD drawing for me showing how the head might fit (cocked slightly at an angle) and we will likely have to build a small shelf to support the urine bin.

  

A friend of ours (you recall Phil who bought his first live aboard sailboat, a 1992 Catalina 28 which we helped him deliver last year) recently switched to a composting head so we’ve been learning a lot from him (always good to have a boat buddy make all the disgusting mistakes first, right? ; ) and he let us borrow his head to get a feel for whether it is going to fit in our boat.

It’s going to be a game of Tetris for sure, but I would really like to make this change this summer so I hope it works out.  Phillip has put this item exclusively on my list.  We’ll see how Boat Project Annie does.  Things might get shitty … : )

Project No. 6: The AC Inlet

The “AC Power” on the list.  We honestly had so many projects piling up, I forgot what this one was and had to ask Phillip.  I was worried we were going to have to re-wire our AC power system on the boat or something equally major that Boat Project Annie had decided to selectively forget because she knew it was going to be financially and physically painful.  Thankfully, it’s not too bad.  On our boat, we are always chasing leaks.  All.  Ways.  And, we believe we’re getting some water in from behind the AC power inlet on the outside of the cockpit on the starboard side.

Phillip tells me it looks like a “mangled rat’s nest” in the back all gooped up with silicone and other adhesives.  So, we’ll be popping that out and re-bedding it anew with butyl.

Project No. 7: Re-Bedding Stanchion Posts

While we’re on re-bedding (which it seems we are always doing).  We’ve got a few stanchion posts that are looking a little red around the bed.  Once we start to see rust streaks leaking out around the base, that’s a sure sign that puppy is leaking.  We’ve re-bed approximately six of the ten on the boat, so this will be another 2-3 and will hopefully seal those up for the next 2-3 years.  I can’t stand having unknown leak sources on the boat!  We’ll keep hunting and re-bedding till we have a dry bilge darnit!  Boat Project Annie is no quitter!

Project No. 8: Jib Sheet Turning Blocks 

Our previous owner (Jack, you fantastic boat-owner you!) re-routed the sheets for the headsail to come through a set of blocks mounted on a stainless steel plate to improve his ability to trim and tack the sail single-handed.  If you recall, our previous owner used to single-hand our boat in the Mackinac race.  Pretty awesome, right?  Our boat has such a cool history.  We are very pleased with the upgrades he made, this being one, but over time the bearings in the blocks for the genny sheets have failed and we need to have these blocks and their brake levers re-built.

We’ve been very pleased with the products we have ordered previously from Garhauer so we will probably send them a photo or the block itself to allow them to rebuild blocks for us.

Project No. 9: The Fridge??

Hmmpffh.  What to say here.  Honestly, we’re not quite sure yet what we’re going to do here, if anything.  Bottom line is our fridge is original to the boat, which means it’s now thirty-three years old and operates on an antiquated Freon system with inadequate insulation.

We’ve had the Freon refilled and we’ve spent some awesome Saturdays wiggling ourselves into that torture chamber squirting Great Stuff around the seams to try and improve the fridge’s insulation and ability to hold temp.

The fridge, particularly in the hot summer season, is easily our biggest power suck while on anchor.  We’re going to debate dropping in a new Freon fridge this summer or upgrading to a more efficient, more modern model that fits in our boat.  Stay tuned.

Project No. 10: Switching to LEDs

 This has been an on-going project, but one we want to continue pursuing until we have converted all of the lights on the boat to LED.  We swapped out a few of our reading lamps and fluorescent lights to LED before we left for the Bahamas and we were thrilled with the minimal output.

Think 0.1 amps an hour to light the boat.  Ummm … yes please?  So, we’ll be ordering and installing LED lights throughout and adding more red options where we can for better lighting options during night passages.

Project No. 11: Canvas Work!

If our time in the Bahamas during December and January taught us one thing, it’s we do not like to be wet, drizzly, and cold on our boat.  Thankfully, we were not, mostly because we spent those wet, chilly, super-windy days toasty warm in our wetsuits kite-surfing!  Heck yeah!

But, it did show us that the more comfortable cruisers were the ones who still had a warm, dry “living room” they could enjoy despite the wet bitter weather.  They just had to zip up their enclosures in the cockpit and *bam* it was a toasty day on the boat.  While we may not use them often, Phillip and I decided when you need them, you really need them, so we’re going to get a quote and consider having a full enclosure for our cockpit made so, on those occasional cold, wet days either on the hook or especially on passage, we can zip up our cockpit and stay toasty!  We’ve already put in a request for a quote from our trusty local canvas guy, Tony with Coastal Canvas, for a complete enclosure (which we are sure will run us a couple thousand, if not more …. but it is what it is) as well as having him fix some of the snaps on our hatch covers that have ripped off.

Project No. 12: BOTTOM JOB!

And, of course, what do you always do when you haul out?  That’s right, you got it!  Unfortunately we had to scramble and pull of a bit of an emergency haul-out last October for Nate, we feel incredibly fortunate, however, that Nate was just a tropical storm.  Do NOT ask me how I’m feeling about this coming season.  Makes my stomach turn … But, it was a very good hurricane prep drill for us (thankfully just a drill) and also a chance to scrub the bottom, scrape off a few obstinate barnacles, and slap a few coats of bottom paint on for the cruising season, and we plan to do the same when we haul out this summer.  A bottom job has to be my absolute favorite job on the boat, you?  ; )

We may throw in a little buff job, too, while we’re there.  She always looks so pretty when she’s all shined up!

Let’s see … what else.  That’s quite a bit.  You guys are going to have a mighty fine Schadenfreude feeling watching us work our tails off this summer making our beautiful boat even more comfortable and getting her ready for more cruising this coming season.  While all plans are written in sand at low tide, the vague plan is to go back to the Bahamas and spend our time really enjoying the Exumas and then maybe heading south toward Grenada to keep the boat there next season.  We will see.  Either way, you know we’ll find a dozen other boat projects to add to the list once we get in there and that we will share with you and conquer.

  

It’s a boat, right?!  Broke Or About To.  But that’s why we love her!

Posted in Bahamas Bound, Boat Projects, Boat Stuff, Equipment Failures, Sail Skills | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Post-Bahamas Podcast – Shooting the Breeze Sailing Podcast

“Man, y’all are terrible at this!” I distinctly recall saying while talking to Jeffrey in this podcast interview about how our sail skills have improved the more offshore voyages we’ve done.  On the way to Cuba, our friends back home were right: we were terrible.  But on our way to the Bahamas, Phillip and I were much better thanks to our new offshore jib and a newly-anointed Captain Annie!  Ahoy followers!  My first post-Bahamas interview here for you, sharing a few of our fun Bahamas stories and misadventures.  Many thanks to Jeffrey Wetting with Shooting the Breeze Sailing Podcast at The Escape Pods for reaching out to me and putting this piece together.  Enjoy!

STBSP ep. 88: Annie Dike, Part Three, Bahamas!

Posted in Bahamas Bound, Podcast Interviews, Sail Skills | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BV14: 3 Kinds of Wind – Sailing, Kiting & Silking – at Treasure Cay

What’s that old saying?  There are only three types of wind: too much, too little, or in the wrong direction.  While that is fairly true, thankfully, for us, no matter what speed or direction, we can usually bust out one of our many “wind toys” and do something with it, either go sailing, kiting, or silking! We had wind for all three during our stay at Treasure Cay, a beautiful resort-type island in the Abacos with our favorite stretch (three miles!) of stunning white beach on the north shore. Fun video, story, and photos for you all below from our colorful stay at Treasure Cay!

It really is a treasure!  Treasure Cay was one of our favorite stops in the Bahamas.  It had a very secure, protected marina (they pull a chain across the entrance and lock the harbor at night to make it extra safe) and the staff at the marina were all very attentive and helpful.  Plus, that beach on the north shore is just jaw-dropping.  We saw many locals who walk it every day, one end to the other, which would be six miles total, and which also comprised their complete workout for the day.  Can you imaging your daily exercise routine being so relaxing and beautiful?  Life on the islands is really a breath of fresh air compared to life here in the states.

We also had a fantastic time kiting on the north shore.  Because it curves around on either side, it offered us kiteable (that’s a word in Annie Land) wind from so many directions.  Anything from the north, east, or south was do-able there, which is why we got so much kiting time in.  I literally thought I was too exhausted to give it another go by day three.  I was suffering from “T-rex” syndrome, where your forearms are so tired from steering the kite that you they’re practically useless … much like that of a T-Rex.  And, memes like these always bring me a big T-rex smile.  : )

   

And my personal favorite.  This one always makes me feel better!  You’re welcome!

But, aside from the magnificently-exhausting kiting we did at Treasure Cay, we also had one common theme that seemed to run through every memory.  It’s this little pint-sized ball of cruising energy who originally inspired Phillip and I to travel to the Bahamas in the first place when we heard her talk about her beloved Abacos at the Miami Boat Show as far back as 2015.  Do you know who I’m talking about?

That’s right.  This wonderfully-inspiring woman: Pam Wall.  She had a huge impact on us from the start because I could literally see and hear her passion for cruising each time she spoke about places she has been and her gallant boat, Kandarik.  It amazed me when I learned Pam’s full story some of the horrendous heartbreaking things she has had to endure yet, despite it, she still brings others joy and inspiration and shares her passion for cruising.  And, apparently, I’m not the only who feels this way because we met, independently, three separate cruisers at Treasure Cay who had a connection with, and fond memory of, Pam Wall.  Turns out, she, is the real treasure.

Meet John and Gayle!

This trashy couple.  Ha!  This was a fun moment where we all shared a laugh at what “dirtbags” cruisers are.  The minute we dock at a new place, the first thing we bring with us off the boat is our trash.  We’re real stand-up folks like that.  The minute I sprang on John and Gayle, I caught them in this treacherous act and decided to help!  So, how did we meet John and Gayle and make the Pam Wall connection?  Ironically, not in the way Pam Wall thought we would.  Both while Phillip and I were in the Bahamas-planning stages and when we were actually out cruising in the Bahamas, Pam and I exchanged many emails where we would share with her how much we were enjoying her “Beloved Bahamas!” just as she said we would and she would always, always (if any of you know Pam, you will agree with this) share her many connections and tips on places to go, things to do, good stuff to eat, and people to hug for her.  When I told her we were thinking about going to Man-o-War cay, this was the short list of suggestions she sent me:

I know.  A lot of people to find and hug, right?  That Pammy.  She is so cute.  The funny thing was, we did not end up stopping at Man-o-War Cay but as we were walking the docks (who doesn’t love to do that?) in Treasure Cay, Phillip actually spotted, on his own, a beautiful boat he wanted to point out to me.

“Man, look at that Hinckley!” he said and pointed.  I turned my attention to where he was pointing and it was, sure enough, a magnificent, beautiful boat, but something else stuck out for me.  The name, Ciro.  That’s a pretty unique boat name and I felt like I had heard it before.  My mind started rattling and I thought maybe it had been one Pam mentioned in one of her many Bahamas emails.  I searched around in my Gmail and, sure enough, found that one.  Notice her mention of a Hinckley named Ciro and a lovely couple on it named John and Gayle.  While she had recommended I do that “Gee it’s great to see you again” bit to a different couple, I decided to do it to John.  Phillip and I meandered around and waited for them to step off the boat (carrying their trash of course, cruisers after my own heart!) and I walked up to John, whom I’ve never met before, and said “Hey John!  It’s so good to see you again!  We had such a great time the last time we were together.”  Both John and Gayle gave me a priceless stumped look, and Gayle actually started to give John an even funkier look, and that’s when I cracked and told them my good friend Pam Wall told me to hunt them out and do that.

We instantly connected.  They are lifelong sailors, part-time live-aboards, and John has extensive knowledge in Hinckley boat building and repair.  They were delivering this particularly Hinckley, Ciro, to the Bahamas for the owner and had actually stayed at Pam’s dock in Ft. Lauderdale before making the jump to the Bahamas.  We all had so many wonderful Pam stories to share.  And, we ended up doing “pizza night” with John and Gayle at the Treasure Cay Marina the following night (absolutely delicious) and had them and another fellow cruiser over the next night for happy hour goodies.

Tim is single-handing the Bahamas on his Endeavor.  He had actually saw Phillip and I as we were walking toward Ciro and shouted out: “Hey, I know you guys from YouTube!”  Ha!  Small world.  He’s been a long-time HaveWind follower, so it was fun for him to get to meet us and join the party.  It’s always a party on Plaintiff’s Rest!

So, is this where the Pam Wall connections end?  Heck no!  Meet Steve and Anike!

They had just walked up the beach while we were kiting (it often draws a few curious folks) to ask us about our kite gear and how it all worked and this, of course, lead to a conversation about “What brings you to the Bahamas?”  We found Steve and Anike were actually long-time cruisers.  They used to cruise with their children aboard in the Caribbean on a Tayana 37 and are now on a beautiful Shannon.  When they asked us the same question, “What brings you to the Bahamas?” my answer often starts with Pam Wall, because she is the person who first lit our fire about cruising to the Bahamas and Steve immediately said, “Oh, Pam, isn’t she great?  She helped us get our Tayana ready for the Caribbean.  She may not remember us.  It was back when she was working at West Marine, but please tell her how helpful she was.”

Won’t remember you … Pam doesn’t forget a thing.  Seriously, I can’t remember half the places we’ve been and I’ve only been cruising part-time for five years.  Pam can still tell you every single stop she and Andy made on their many Atlantic circles back in the 80s-90s.  And, she remembered Steve and Anike.  It was starting to get comical sending her texts from Treasure Cay saying “Found another cruising couple who knows you!” But it did not stop there.  The last one was really a surprise.

I was in the shower room at the marina getting spruced up for a hot date on the town with my Phillip (we ate at the Treasure Sands Club that night …. just fabulous, I gained five treasure pounds that night alone that I am still proud of! ; ).  As I was wrapping up in the restroom, Anike came in.  We started chatting again about her past travels and other women who have cruised too.  And I was telling her a little bit more of Pam’s story when another woman came around the corner to wash her hands and asked: “Are you talking about Pam Wall?”

“Yes!” I squeaked, surprised she knew who I was talking about with such little information, and the woman responded: “Oh yeah, we heard about her through the SailLoot podcast.” (Little shout-out to my buddy, TeddyJ, at SailLoot!)  “And I heard your interview on SailLoot, too!”

Turns out it was Kristen from Life in the Key of Sea, another cruising couple I had been following on Facebook for some time.  Mutual followers I guess you could call us.  I did not know it was Kristen at the time because it was a very brief pass-by in the bathroom and we did not bump into one another again in Treasure Cay, but we did in Eleuthera!  And, we got to spend a day dining and hiking with her and Brett.  We then found out Brett was one of the sailors who helped TeddyJ deliver his boat (which was Windtraveler’s previous boat, s/v Asante), from St. Thomas to Florida this past summer.  Fun podcast Teddy put together talking about that passage here.  It is such a small cruising world out there I swear!  Here are some fun photos of Kristen and Brett on s/v Life in the Key of Sea!

I actually took this one of the two of them when we were hiking at Harbour Island:

And Kristen took this one of me and Phillip:

I forgot to get a group shot (we were having too much fun) but this is Phillip, Kristen and Brett looking out at our anchorage where they had dropped the hook right next to us at Harbour Island!

So, you ready to go cruising yet?  Want to meet all kinds of new friends, old friends, re-found friends in all sorts of beautiful little islands scattered out in the sea?  If you’re struggling with how to start, Pam Wall Cruising Consultant, might be a good one!  Love you Pammy!  You’ve influenced and inspired so many!

Some very fun photos for you all from our beautiful stay at Treasure Cay.  Hope you all have been enjoying our Bahamas posts!  Do you feel like you’re there with us?  We do!

        

Posted in Aerial Silks, Bahamas Bound, Kite-Surfing, Landlubber Outings, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

10,000 Bluewater Miles

Ten.  Thousand.  I almost can’t believe it myself, but that’s my number.  10,025 to be exact.  I’ve been keeping track and when Phillip and I sailed our gallant Niagara 35 back into the Pensacola Pass on our recent return from the Bahamas, it was not only a fantastic feat successfully completing another offshore voyage, it was also a pretty cool milestone for this little sailor, who began sailing only five short years ago.  

Headed off on my very first offshore voyage: April, 2013

Captain Annie at the helm, returning from the Bahamas: April, 2018

Ten thousand … This calls for a ditty, no?

Five years, 5oo HaveWind posts, and one captain’s license later, and I dare say I just might call this little gal a bluewater sailor.

When Phillip first planted the seed, “I’m going to buy a boat and cruise around the world,” I immediately, without hesitation, heartily agreed!  “Not without me!” was my creed.

Our very first photo at the cockpit together during our first voyage.

So, we started boat-shopping and, little did I know, the many, many new, exotic places I would go!  In the bilge, in the fridge, “Get down in the engine room,” he said.

     

So down I went, bumping my knees, my knuckles, my head.  On that boat, I’ve cursed, and sweated, and bled.  There are so many, many things, you see, that have to be fixed, cleaned, fixed again, and re-bed.

 

But the good news is, as long as her hull, keel, and rigging are sound, you can work on her while you sail her anywhere, as long as you don’t run aground!  Because the worst, absolute worst, thing you can do to a boat, is to leave her sitting stagnant, unkept and going nowhere, just sitting afloat.

Not our boat, oh no!  Our beautiful Niagara, with her magnificent thirty-five feet.  She’s often cast-off, sailing away, on a gentleman’s (or perhaps not-so-gentle) beat.

That wise, seasoned boat has taught Phillip and I so much about both her and the sea.  Because out there, and you may not believe me, but she feels really rather small to me.  The time that she grows, seems unwieldy and impossible to stop, is only when we are approaching a treacherous dock.

But out there, in bluewater, while romping and running, she seems so agile and nimble.  Like a horse at the derby, impossibly stunning.

That’s where she and her crew love most to be — moving, gliding, slipping under sunsets at sea.

 

My heart and courage exposed, this amazing man and boat have challenged me, to push myself, try harder, learn more, travel further, set myself free!

So I did.  I changed my career, my address, my focus, all so I could head out to sea.  And the rewards have been limitless: Cuba, the Bahamas, Mexico, France, the Florida Keys!

 

All connected by big, brimming, bodies of blue, just waiting to challenge and test you, too.  Each passage, each mile, will teach you something new.

Forty-six hundred of them took Phillip and I all the way across the Atlantic, with a hearty, hilarious French Captain named Yannick.

But the Gulf of Mexico, never to be out-done, over and above the Atlantic, has, thus far, won.  The Gulf has handed us our most trying times, tossing and bashing us to windward, threatening to snap lines.

Thankfully the storms and rough seas generally do not last.  You just have to ride it out, get the boat comfortable, and usually in twenty-four hours or less, it will pass.

And soon you’ll find yourself motoring without a lick of wind, albeit across the most beautiful glass you’ve ever seen.

And you’ll make the mistake of asking Mother Nature to blow.  Just a little.  Like ten to fifteen.

Or seven and a quarter, perhaps, just enough so we can be #spinning!

While a perfect passage (in our world, a nice downwind run), from shore to shore is admittedly rare, the toying, tempting promise of it is what makes us accept the dare.

Because when you get there, no matter how near or far your “dream there” might be, it’s an incredibly cool feeling to have the honor to say: “We sailed here, you see.”

And for Phillip and I, I believe one of our most memorable offshore voyages will forever be: Cuba.  Because it was a trying, eye-opening, exceedingly-thrilling passage where we bypassed the Keys.  And Phillip and I both felt great pride in telling people: “We sailed six hundred nautical miles, here to be.”

Hope you all have enjoyed this little sailor’s first 10,000 nautical miles here at HaveWind.  Here’s to the next ten!  Cheers!

Posted in Atlantic Crossing, Bahamas Bound, Cruise to the Keys 2014, Sail Skills, Voyage to Cuba | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

BV13: Great Kiting at Great Guana Cay

Winds of 25 plus!  Crazy moments with party-people all 25 and under!  Eddie the nipping Nippers cat.  Bucketlusters, kite-surfers, Vladimir Platypus (my winter, wet-suit alter-kite ego) and “Bahamas Boys” looking for some cheebah?  Or bitcoin crypto … I believe they’re the same.  If anyone knows what those are, feel free to chime in below.  We’ve got it all for you guys in this very fun video from the stunning island of Great Guana Cay, along with my favorite photos below.  It was so hard to choose any, though, they were all so beautiful. Guana Cay offered us great kiting on the Atlantic shore, never-ending entertainment at Nippers, a chance to star-gaze at the many stars who allegedly own houses on Baker’s Bay (think Cher, Beyonce, Sting, etc.), a beautiful sunset anchorage, and fantastic fine-dining dinners at Sunsetters at Orchid Bay Marina.  We loved it!  Hope you all enjoy the video!

Photos from our sail through Whale Cay passage.  It was, according to one of the fellow captains we talked to who did it that day as well, “not peachy, but passable.”  It was a bit lumpy out there (4-6 rollers) but with winds of only 10-12 out of the NW.  Doable, not daunting, and, to be honest, a very fun day sailing on the Atlantic!  That is the furthest east Plaintiff’s Rest has ever been!  It was a big day for her, and she nailed it!

Making our way toward the cut.  We followed very strictly along the lat-and-lon points in the Explorer Charts.  Boy, are those things life-savers.

Ironically, the cRaZy Bucketlusters who bombarded us at Green Turtle Cay decided to make the Whale Cay passage that day as well (after they terrorized the piggies at No Name Cay, that is).  We could see all of the catamarans anchored at No Name at the same time and I can only imagine what the Bucketlusters were doing to those pigs … riding them, spanking them, trying to kiss them.  Who knows.  Poor pigs!  But it was awesome for us to be able to make the passage surrounded by thirty catamarans.  It’s like we had our own rather-large tenders out carrying us through.  I just stayed in the middle of them, on course, hoping if anyone hit the reefs, it would be the party-people on the outside – ha!  And boy did they party through the entire passage.  Up on the decks dancing, singing, drinking.  Those guys are non-stop.

I was really excited about Guana Cay.  Clearly …

I will say, whoever does the marketing for Nippers is genius.  There was a sign about every five feet telling you how to get to Nippers, guys running around in golf carts all over the island willing to take you, at any time, to Nippers, and most of the people that live and work on the island are wearing shirts just about every day that say … Nippers.  And boy was it a fun beach bar place.  Great food.  Fantastic setting overlooking the Atlantic with a staircase straight down to the beach and great goombay smashes.  Yes, please!

 

The view from our cockpit.  It was a beautiful anchorage.

This was wild.  So, Phillip and I were getting into the dinghy with all of our kite gear about to head to shore to make the trek over to kite behind Nippers on morning, and Phillip saw something just randomly floating by in the water.  He cocked his head to the side and eyed it suspiciously, then found out it was the black “anchor gate” that goes on our Mantus.  (Mantus came out with this supplemental gate that snaps over the chain to make sure, even with Mantus’ pretty savvy chain-lock system, the chain does not come out of the hook.)  And here ours was, just floating by in the water at the VERY time we were getting into the dinghy.  Phillip went down to check the Mantus and found, sure enough, it had somehow wiggled and vibrated enough (it was very windy those days we spent at Guana Cay) to loosen the pin in the shackle that holds the Mantus hook onto the snubber.  Thankfully the water was so clear, Phillip could literally see from the top our Mantus hook sitting on the bottom.  And, when he dove down he was also able to find our pin and shackle.  Whew!  And, all because of timing when the gate was floating by.  Our boat always tries her best to let us know something is wrong at the exact right time where we can fix it.  Way to go boat.  A note to fellow Mantus-users, we decided to throw a zip-tie (seizing wire would also work) in the shackle pin to prevent this from happening again.  All lessons are free today!

Anchor fixed.  Disaster averted.  Time to get back on the kiting!

That Eddie.  The “wild” cat that lives at Nippers.  Careful not to pet or pick him up.  He’ll nip ya!

ROWR!

This is the view at Sunsetters on the other side at Orchid Bay Marina.  Just stunning!

Kite hair!  Don’t care!

Bombarded again by the Bucketlusters!

   

Posted in Bahamas Bound, Boat Projects, Kite-Surfing, Landlubber Outings, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment