Bahamas Boat Project Recap!

“Go, go!  To the Bahamas you must!” said our good friend Pam.  As she went on and on about their fresh Bahamian bread and jam.  So “go, go!” we decided: “To the Bahamas or bust!”  But first Phillip and I had to break out the boat projects list and blow off the dust.

Hello followers!  I hope you like green eggs and ham.  I like it on a boat with a side of Spam.  I also like, nay love, Dr. Seuss, which is why I’ve written a few ditties here in true Seuss-style, and I thought a recap of the many, many projects Phillip and I have been knocking out this summer to prepare our boat for some more extensive cruising in the Bahamas and beyond this winter would be more fun with a Seuss spruce.

So, do you want to know how many projects we were able to squeeze in?  Kick back, grab a snack and let the project roll begin!

A leaking starboard water tank simply won’t do.  When we found the crack, Phillip said, “Out with you!”  But wrestling that tank out was a monstrous feat.  One I’m sure we won’t want to soon repeat.  As Phillip scratched his head and went about ordering anew, we thought the re-install would definitely go smoother if we spared an inch or two.

  

Once the water tank was out, the diesel tank was as accessible as could be, so we thought why not pop it out, too, and have a look-see.  We knew we’d had a wee leak that Phillip had previously clogged with JB Weld and we wanted to see if it had held.  An air compression test by a local welder told us it was no good, so have the tank professionally patch-welded we decided we should.

 

If you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll want a glass of milk.  And it seemed our diesel tank was of the same ilk.  Because not only did she demand a professional weld repair, once out and exposed she also wanted some Rhino-liner as protective wear.

Our cookie theme continued as we kept saying “While we’re in there,” and promptly decided, with both tanks under the starboard settee out, to glass it up and Bilge-kote down there.

  

With Westie nearby saying he wanted some love too, we decided to go ahead and dump the  old engine oil and pour in new quarts, just a few.

 

Some of you may recall the movement we noticed on the way to Cuba in our rudder post cap.  We reinforced the bolts with big thick custom washers to stop the wobble and called it a wrap.

  

Work, work, work.  Now you get the gist.  Clicking off projects left and right.  What’s next on our list?  Old flaky varnish?  That simply won’t do.  Not for our gal, she deserves every percent of our work, one-hundred-and-two.  Time to strip, clean, sand, and coat anew!

 

The brightwork was about a three-week job, a sweaty one for sure, but rewarding too!

So, tell us are you liking this spin on green eggs and ham?  Do you like it as much as a new Garhauer Cunningham?

While we were on the rigging, Phillip and I knew there was something else that needed our touch.  No one likes a clutch that won’t clutch.  We had a few on the coachhouse that were losing their grip, so we swapped them out for new Spinlocks with no slip!

  

Are you tired yet?  Perk up!  We’ve much more to do!  Time to knock out and re-bed some port lights that were letting rain water through.

Phillip asked of Annie: “Speaking of water, how’s that original 1985 pump in the head sound?”  “Like a wailing rat that’s about to drown!”  We’d had trouble with this guy not holding pressure and sucking our power, so we decided to replace him and save our amp hours.

And if we ever, God forbid, took on water out there, we’d want to pump it out quick.  Better get a few bilge pumps to spare.  “Stick your head down there Swab,” Phillip teased.  “Try to read the model number upside down, without bumping your head!”

A solar panel, sitting useless, scratched and giving no power?  Unacceptable!  When you can rip the old one off and pop on a new, in under an hour.

A dirty toe rail all scraped and scuffed?  Nuh-uh, no way, not when we’ve got Acetone and time to polish that stuff!

It seems almost every inch of the boat needs some unique form of care.  Some Iso-shield here and Armor-all there.  On-and-off went the mustache as we cleaned and polished everywhere.

And nothing shines like stainless steel.  Bust out the Colinite and polish that shit for real!

Man, look at those ratty old shifters, all wax-dipped and peeling.  I conspired with Brandon to surprise Phillip with shiny new ones, it just took a few free beers and secret dealings.  But I think we’re both going to enjoy driving the boat more with these on there, I’ve just got a feeling!

 

Speaking of driving, that’s been our great goal of the summer!  Get this gal behind the wheel more, so she won’t think docking is such a bummer.  And, it’s a good thing those shifters make it clear how fast you go, because I’ve been getting better and better following Brandon’s rule: “Go slow, hit slow.”

 

Enough with the plumbing and steering and everything else that so often fails, let’s talk about the one thing that you can always rely on, the sails!  Phillip and I knew we wanted a much broader sail plan this year to allow us to sail comfortably no matter the wind or weather, so we finally busted out our spinnaker to see if we could sail in winds light as a feather.

And when the winds, as they often do in the Gulf, want to stay above fifteen, we had a 90% working jib made so we can sail more comfortably out there and reduce our lean.

 

And, while we never want to find ourselves in blue water when it really starts to wail, if we do, we’ve got the 35% storm jib we had made this year in case we find ourselves in a gale.

And what’s that you say, Phillip?  Our whisker pole is in a funk?  With a dent that prevented it from sliding we were considering throwing it out as junk.  But, in a pinch, I decided to ask an auto body shop if it was something they could fix and Coastal Body Works here in Pensacola did it for this little gal just for kicks!

Chore after chore, have you yet grown weary?  That’s right when Mother Nature will throw you something frightful and eerie.  Twice we braced for hurricanes this season, Nate forcing us out of the water and up on the hard without reason. While we were incredibly grateful to come through unharmed, it was a great lesson in storm boat prep so next time we’ll be more practiced and less alarmed.

Once we were out of the water, the cookies continued to fall.  Because you know the first thing you’re going to want to do, if you have to haul.

A bottom job, that’s right!  If her hull is out of the water it’s what you must and should do! And, our pretty gal is so lucky she got a full-boat buff too!

But with our boat safe from the storms and ready to be floating again, that didn’t mean our boat chores would end.  Once she was splashed back, the reassembly began.  To retrieve the halyards, First Mate Annie (I wasn’t a Captain yet ; ) had to climb the mast again!

But it was a fortuitous hoist as it gave me a chance to inspect and give our new 5/16 wire rigging a polish.  It’s terrible to think of what simple sun and salt can quickly demolish.

Too many projects?  Is your head spinning yet?  We just got word, the new water tank came in!  We must go get!

Boy, was she pretty and sturdy and our eyes she sure lit.  We were quickly disheartened to find, however, she simply did not fit.

We wrestled and struggled and scraped knuckles and cursed.  And soon we were starting to fear the worst.  Perhaps we would have to order another new tank, this one even more slim.  Thankfully, before we made that decision, our buddy Brandon found another way to slip her in.

With a snip by the Dremel and some more cursing and prayer, we got the new water tank in (finally) with just inches to spare.  As with every minor refit, there is always one particular project that stresses you to the max, and this water tank, being the most costly and irritating, was definitely that.  But, despite our tired state and our water woes that we thought were through, our boat whispered: “I’ve got something else for you.”  Just when we were crawling out of a boat project slump, we discovered we had a leak from our raw water pump.

So Phillip and I rolled up our sleeves and decided to replace that too.  We might as well do everything here at the dock that we can possibly do.  While a summer spent on projects is definitely not what we’d call great fun, it’s better to knock them out now than trying to handle them during an offshore run.  So, little Sherwood, we’ll fix you too.  In fact, we’ll put in what we learned is a better pump, a Johnson that leaks less and is new.

While the water tank still holds the gold as the most frustrating project of the summer, the injuries Phillip and I received during this water pump replacement were quite the bummer.  A nasty burn from the heat gun to my right calf that thankfully resembled a heart, and a huge ripped blister on Phillip’s hand sure did smart.

Okay, I believe that covers the biggies.  Here’s our completed list!  Although I can already see there are some that we missed.

But, in comparison the remainder are minor and probably qualify more as routine care.  If you ever think you’ll get “finished” with a boat, trust me, you’ll never get there.  There will always be more polishing and whipping and cleaning and fixing to be done.  If you don’t think you’ll like that, then I’d say, a boat, you maybe shouldn’t get one.

For Phillip and I, while we enjoy much of the work that we do: lawyering, writing, marketing and all the rest.  It’s really the work we do on the boat that we like the best.

Hope you enjoyed the hammy recap – ha!  We’re Bahamas bound now!  Shove-off date is a little flexible (as it should be, right?)  But, it will be sometime in the next 3-4 weeks.  In the meantime, we’re poring over our Explorer charts and Steve Dodge Abacos guide (thanks again for the recommendation Pam Wall!) and planning our possible stops and routes.  We can’t wait to share this next adventure with you all!

#84: How to Rig Your Boat for Heavy Weather Sailing

Even after crossing the Atlantic, I still believe some of the worst wind and sea state I have faced has been in the Gulf of Mexico.  As Phillip and I prepare to sail across it to Cuba this winter, we want to be ready for whatever the Gulf may dish out.  That means heavy weather sail planning in the form of a strong, small storm sail, a third reef in the main, a back-up genoa, and a convertible inner forestay.  Follow along as we rig our Niagara out for heavy weather offshore sailing.  Only 28 days to go!

April 17-23, 2013 – The Crossing: Chapter Four – Good, Quality People

I would like to say we woke Saturday morning to the peaceful sounds of birds and water gently lapping the hull, but that’s just not how it happened. Phillip and I had the pleasure of waking to his Dad hovering over us in the V-berth snapping photos at 6:00 a.m. like the paparazzi proclaiming, “Awww … your first night in the little bed. How was it?”   Was? … We’re still kind of sleeping in it. So …

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He had the best of intentions, but we were really waking up to a photo shoot at the crack of dawn. Thankfully, Phillip knew just how to handle him:

Phillip: Yeah, Dad, it’s great back here. Let me show you. Take that door, there. Yeah, unlatch it.

Paul (with excitement): Oh, neat. Here?

Phillip: Yep, right there. Now pull it toward you.

Paul: Like this?

Phillip (with patience): Mmm-hmmm. Just like that. Now step back behind it.

Paul: Okay.

Phillip: Keep pulling it until it shuts.

Paul (muffled from the other side of the door): Oh, I see what you’re doing …

Phillip: Yep. We’ll see you in a bit Dad.

I swear I could hear Paul’s shoulders slump like he was the last kid picked in P.E. class. (Which by the way – never happened to me – you never get picked last with a name like this):

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BOOM!

But, Paul did the right thing waking us up. Whether we were going to head out that day or stay and ready the boat for the passage, we had a lot to do. We got up, made some coffee and enjoyed the sunrise while we checked the weather.

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Around that time, we ran into a fellow docked there in Clearwater who, like us, had just bought a boat down in Punta Gorda and was sailing it back to Pensacola. His was a 32-foot Seaward Unlimited. A beautiful boat:

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The Bottom Line. And, it just so happened Phillip knew one of his crew. They were former neighbors in Pensacola. So we chatted them up and talked about our plans for crossing the Gulf. They were interested in buddying up and making the passage together. Having another boat make a passage with you (especially one like this) is always a good idea. So, we agreed to stay and wait out the worst of the storm in Clearwater on Saturday and head out with them first thing Sunday morning to cross the Gulf.

We started readying the boat for the expected 20 knot winds and 4-6 foot seas. Phillip got Jack, the former owner, on the phone and asked him about the storm sail (a smaller sail that is used in heavy winds) and the dinghy, which was held up by davits on the back of the boat with the outboard engine attached to it. Jack told us how to rig the storm sail and told us he had strapped the outboard securely to the dinghy so we shouldn’t have a problem with it. We decided to spend the afternoon rigging up the storm sail.

Storm sail

Although it was the right thing to do, it was a futile endeavor because just as we were pulling the halyard to connect the storm sail, the line snapped and the sail fell in a loose heap on the deck. The halyard for the storm sail (which is a fancy way of saying, the rope) was so old and dry-rotted that it just broke right in two. So, we decided to forego the storm sail and just secure everything else as best we could for rough seas.

After a day of hard labor, we made our first sit-down gourmet dinner in the galley. Remember the shrimp feta pasta I told you about? (http://havewindwilltravel.com/2013/06/04/april-17-23-2013-the-crossing-chapter-two-sailors-delight/). And, when I say “we” made it, I actually mean Phillip,

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and I’m just taking full credit because that’s the kind of person I am. But, it was a grand meal, laden with heavy glasses of wine and tall tales at sea.

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Full of liquid courage, we decided to hit the town and see what good quality people were roaming the streets of Clearwater. And, let me just tell you, my friends, the streets were littered with performers and peddlers of every kind of “ware” (and “wear”) you could imagine. Words will never do it justice. No, only a cheesy, finely-narrated slideshow will do.

There was a man on stilts making balloon animals (at least I think it was a man):

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And please take note of the classy clientele in this photo, because unlike others, these ladies at least dressed for the occasion:

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There was a woman getting an ass tattoo right there in the open:

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And I normally wouldn’t say anything if Thelma here wanted to ink herself in front of a crowd.  More power to you! That is IF she were getting something cool tattooed on.  But no.  This chick was getting some rainbow kittens permanently impressed on her derriere.  Like, fifth grade, Lisa Frank, Trapper-Keeper kittens:

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Real classy.

There were just crazy people everywhere. Some were talking to themselves.  Some were imitating the statues:

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I’d watch out for this one. I’m pretty sure she’s beyond help.

Some were apparently even dropping their panties.

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Yep. It was a wild night in Clearwater. But, the finale performance for the night was a really cool one. This guy sets up a couple five-gallon drums and beats the hell out of them.

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Drummer

He wowed us all with his self-proclaimed (although I think it’s worthy) “world-famous” one-handed drum roll. Check it: http://youtu.be/a3IsqXpztnA. Phillip was definitely impressed:

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Even Mitch was mesmerized.

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Although I’m not sure you can see him in that pic. He looks just like another character we all know and love who likes to blend into the crowd:

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Minus the hat I guess.  Otherwise … a spittin’ image.

In all, we had a great time checking out the town and watching all the “crazies” that came out FOR the show but who, in actuality, WERE the show. We got back to the boat around 9:30 p.m. and crashed. We woke the next morning all business. The boat was buttoned down and ready.  All we needed was a good breakfast before we got under sail. We hit up the local greasy spoon for one last rendezvous with our sail groupies and, unexpectedly, one last crazy!  Our waitress.  What a sight?!? This woman (again, I presume she was a woman) weighed about 89.4 pounds soaking wet and looked like a pile of toothpicks glued together.  There were all kinds of tacky t-shirts and things hanging on the wall and she repeatedly told us:

Waitress 1

“Now all of this crap …

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is for sale!”

And, for her, “sale” had two syllables, and a “y.”  I, naturally, bought a tacky t-shirt to memorialize the occasion. Who wouldn’t? Phillip and I now lovingly call it my “big boobs shirt” because it’s graced with their infamous logo:

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Phillip and I checked the sea state one more time,

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then it was back to the boat and time to get under way. We checked in with the Bottom Line guys and they were ready to pull out too. We picked a haling channel to go to if we needed to talk via radio, decided our next stop would be Apalachicola, an approximate 28-hour passage (138 nautical miles) from Clearwater, and set off.  We had a great morning sail.

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The sun was peeking through the clouds, we had some strong, but steady, northeast winds, and we could see Bottom Line in the distance.

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That was, until, the squalls began . . .