Boat Repairs (again) and thoughts on others’ misfortunes

A few weeks ago we experienced first (on a Monday) being told we’d have to move out of our nice slip to somewhere else, second, (on a Tuesday) a fire (in the inverter/charging system), and third, (on a Wednesday) a runaway engine.

Over the course of the last few weeks with the help of a local mechanic, we figured out the engine issue – a crack in a gasket which sucked in some oil and cause the engine to go nuts and speed up.  Also the fuel pump required (after that) a rebuild of the thing, replacing an diaphragm.

I removed and rewired the boat so I had AC applied back to the systems where I needed it, and have installed a new charger for the system.  It is not yet “permatized”.  I need to mount it to the bulkhead, and hardwire it into the system through a breaker.  Right now it’s plugged into a wall socket on a temporary basis.

The slip issue was something we couldn’t fix.  The slip was privately owned and the owner decided, without notice to sell it, requiring us to move.  The problem is, now I’m in a supposedly 50′ slip and sticking out into the fairway.  Not cool.

We’re also riding in the mud again.  Again, not cool.

So this has prompted me to request that the marina find us another long-dock slip and get us into ASAP.  That is moving slowly.  Or perhaps not at all.  I don’t know.

Now, I am rethinking remaining here.  We are in a tenuous position on this dock, having had to back into it to even be able to get off the boat safely… the finger pier is only 25′ long and bow sprit-to-gangway is 33′.  Thus, we can’t get off the boat safely if we pull into the dock.  Backing in has placed our cabin against the dock, where people walk past all evening, make noises and so on.

I have been calling around in the south to locate a marina that might be a little better for us, but they are all vastly more expensive, sometimes double and triple the cost of this one.  Many don’t allow people to live aboard their boats either.  Some do for an excessive fee.  Others don’t care one way or the other (and it is dependent upon the state, county and local rules).

I have several good places and we will examine them individually soon.  The marina manager doesn’t want to lose me as an employee though.  Perhaps something will be worked out soon.

In the mean time we’re examining our options to just go to a mooring ball, live on the hook awhile, or find another marina to “call home”.  We want to be further south anyway, and be able to access the ocean so, it’s going to cost a bit more no matter what we do I think.

We have a storage locker with a few things in it, which will have to come to the boat, a boat box on the dock (for things we move in and out of the boat) that I’ll need to get rid of, a car, which might have to go into storage for a time until we find a place to bring it.   We need the car to get back and forth across country (flying is not for me any more and is significantly more expensive than travel by car; renting a car is out of the question for long trips, also too expensive).  Everyone wants your money, don’t they?

Over the course of the past few weeks, we went south to Charleston (Twice now) taking our friend Kevin down to retrieve his truck after he brought a boat back up from there and delivered it here.  We went this past weekend to hang out with our friends Alison and Daniel aboard Equus, for a couple of evenings.  We had a good time talking and hearing about their trip to the Bahamas.

I went sailing with Norm from the marina when he took his 94 year old Grandfather out and helped out on the boat.  His grandpa has been sailing since he was about 4 or 5 years old.  He took the tiller and had a grand time.  I stuck to running the jib sheets while Norm handled the main.  We might go out this Friday for awhile too (Norm, myself and one other).

This brings me to the last thing I want to write about here… the Couple from Colorado, who hit something in the water a few months back, lost their keel and sank their boat.

(See: http://www.tampabay.com/news/Couple-whose-dream-boat-sank-finally-set-sail-on-new-adventure-_168471537)

(See also: http://www.tampabay.com/sold-everything-to-sail-the-world-boat-sank-next-day)

The Facebook groups and forums are all over these people.  Some folks in the groups are so judgmental of the couple over this accident.  Yes, it was an accident.  Yes, people have accidents all the time.  People make mistakes, all the time.  Sailors are prone to accidents – though we all strive not to be the cause of one, they still happen.

Articles written about these folks cast them in a bad light, give others a chance to say how “stupid” they are, or “inexperienced” or just nasty things.

What I have come to learn about most of these forums is that 90% or better of the people in the groups have very little “cruising” experience.  A few do, sure, but most are day time, fair weather sailors who spend the majority of their time polishing the gelcoat on their boats.  Some of them brag about having had to “spend time paying their dues” on boats as crew, or under the tutelage of “masters”, and yet, still put down the people who are simply trying to live their dreams.

Granted, not everyone jumps in feet first without knowing how to swim, but a few do.  And they WILL learn the hard way how to do things.  We took sailing courses and spent a few years gaining experience before moving aboard our cruising vessel, Adventure.  And neither of us had crossed “oceans” before – nor have we yet.  We’ve spent extensive time in the Chesapeake, and in the Atlantic coming down the coast, sailing offshore near Cape Fear and a lot of time motoring the ICW in this boat.  Every day, you learn something new. Every time you make a mistake, you learn NOT to do that again, or what to watch for next time.

Life is a journey, not a destination.  Cruising too, is a journey, not a destination.  We don’t expect to set a schedule any more.  We don’t try to beat the weather now, or the night, we deal with it.  No one should be dissuaded about pursuing their dreams because a few nay-sayers are angry over circumstances beyond the control of the dreamers.  No one could have predicted their keel would fall off, they’d hit something, or lose all their property.

On the other hand, Common Sense says one must be prepared for every contingency.  Like, not sailing with a fin keel that is bolted to your boat.  Or taking all your cash with you.  Or any one of a dozen other little things that happened to that couple.  Common Sense, however, isn’t common  I suppose and  I can only hope that this couple learned from their mistakes, and they do not make them again.

We wish them well on their journey, fair winds and following seas–and hope they accomplish what they’ve set out to do.

And I sincerely hope that Facebook Groups begin weeding out the negative ninnies and nay-sayers that “know it all”, because of all the unhelpful things and people out there, they are the worst of the worst.

The other blog

As some of you know, I have a second blog I started in conjunction with a group I run on Facebook.

It’s called “Sailing and Cruising: Preppers”.

Rather than reiterate or copy what I wrote over there, here’s the link to the latest entry today:

https://sailingcruisingpreppers.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/hurricane-irmajose/

I would urge folks to go read it.  Agree or disagree with my opinion, it’s important to me that people learn from history, they learn from mistakes, and they learn skills before they need them.

I wrote a book called “Basic Survival and Communication in the Aftermath”.  The “Aftermath” is that thing that exists when it’s all over.  Disaster, zombie apocolypse, hurricane, asteroid strike.  You name it.  Any sort of thing that befalls some portion or all of the human race, putting them into survival mode.

Maybe people pooh pooh such things as science fiction.  The truth is that disasters DO happen. We know for instance dinosaurs once walked this planet.  Giants who ate one another, and whole trees in one sitting existed.  We have found their bones.  We have found their skulls.  We know they were….

We also believe they were eventually killed off in a rapid extinction, perhaps by as asteroid hitting the planet.  That is, of course, the belief of science today, and while not 100% certain, it definitely has a good following, even from me.

The point though, is that these mega critters had all they could eat, and lived the “good life” as critters go.  And suddenly over a few decades, simply ceased to exist.  Human beings aren’t very large.  We’re not very powerful.  We’re not all that tough as creatures go.  We do have civilization, technology, good (and bad) eating habits.  We live in a world of other humans.  We mostly get along.  We mostly don’t kill each other for lunch (though there are a few times it’s happened).

But we, like the dinosaurs, populate this planet in abundance and dependence on the planet’s resources.  The two recent hurricanes prove that we’re stronger than we look and resilient, yet, dangerously dumb at times.

Many of my prepper friends ask me about my book, mentioned above.  They ask why it’s not in a paper format, because, you know Rick, when the EMP comes Kindles and digital media will be no more!

Here is why.  It kills trees to make a book.  Books wind up in garbage cans or burned as a fire starter when the end comes.  It isn’t the BOOK that is important, it’s the KNOWLEDGE inside said book.

Reading and knowing information is all we as a race have.  Understanding things.  Knowing HOW to do things in both a technological manner and a primitive manner are what keep us alive.

That you can take a computer, get the weather from it and know where the hurricane is, where it’s headed (with in a reasonable guess anyway) and know which way to go to get out of the way is one thing.  Gazing at the sky and seeing after noon clouds building and knowing a thunderstorm is in the making is more important in the hear and now, than the hurricane five days out though.

Knowing how to pick up a few things in the woods, and start a fire that night to keep you warm, in the shelter you made with your own hands – it’s THOSE things you should know.  Sure, you might have a cell phone to call for rescue.  Sure, you MIGHT be able to get a chopper to come pick you up from the mountain with one.  If they battery isn’t dead, if you’re in cell service range, if the phone isn’t wet, and and and…. etc.

The fact is, sometimes, one must stop, drop and roll to put out a fire on their body, or duck and cover from a nuke attack.  Sure, those things are few and far between, but it could happen.

So can hurricanes.  Category V hurricanes.  And denuded Islands happen.  And flooded land in Texas could happen.  Earthquakes in California could happen.  Typhoons in the Pacific can happen.  And knowledge is forever in your head when your book blows away in the rain.

Final thoughts here, do yourselves a favor.  Do not be normal.  Don’t follow the masses.  Don’t believe everything you see on TV, hear on the radio or read on the Internet.  Believe instead, in yourselves.  Believe you can be better than you are, that you can do things no one else can do.  Because, friends, you can.

Read.  Learn.  Understand.  And then Teach.

Travel Planning

We’re planning our first major trip right now.

I’m a world traveler, and always have had to do trip planning, logistics, coordination with others, set up hotels, rental cars, quantities of equipment and many other things for entire teams of personnel traveling to other cities, states and countries.

Somehow it seems that the devil is in the details though when it comes to boats.

Safety is the very first, most important, and critical priority so most things have to be considered there first.  But there are so many other things to take into account for a trip involving multiple days at sea – something we’ve not yet done – that I’m getting lost in the planning. (Not really, but it is certainly different when you’re doing all the planning and a lot of the physical labor involved too.)

We are still working on the interior of the boat, to include removing all the extraneous things we THOUGHT we needed, but haven’t used in a year (or two, in some cases).  I never wanted to have to be able to store anything in a storage locker and yet, we rented one for a full year a few days ago.

I’m starting to move things over to it (a car load of larger items that have absolutely no use on the boat under way were moved yesterday).  Today, I’ll be removing everything from the V-berth and beginning a paint job inside.  I want to clean and paint the forward cabin for visitors who may come to stay with us along the trip in the Bahamas.  It will also afford me the opportunity to put my hands on each and every item in the forward cabin and call out “Yep, nope, throw it out”.  lol – to myself anyway.

I do need to go through the through-hulls again, look each one over, and ensure they are good to go, no danger of anything breaking, sticking or being no use when you need it most.  I’ll start in the front.  The paint is to make things “cleaner” and easy to wipe down inside.  Some areas have never had a coat of paint, and some have only a simple primer coat.  Some have nothing (down inside the bow for instance).  Not sure how well I can paint in there, but we shall see.

I have one more fan to install in the forward cabin if I can.  It only takes a few moments, but, it’s a pain with all the stuff in there right now, so it’s not been done.

Once the area is painted and dried, I can move the cushions back, and we can store a few things in there like our extra beer and soda we’re going to provision, paper products (paper towels, toilet paper) and a few small items (a tool bag).

JoAnne hopes to pare down our clothing to necessities and a few nice things, a couple of items for cold weather (*we hope to be leaving before it gets horribly cold in January!) and she’s going to be collecting and going through our clothing, removing unserviceable items and we’re replace as required.  There are two lockers in the middle cabin that bug me.  I have some electronic parts in them which I probably don’t need on the boat for the trip but do not wish to throw out or give away.  I’ll be collecting things together and storing them ashore.  That SHOULD give me a couple of places to store more food for this trip. (Canned food for veggies and things that spoil easily).

I have already looked at our trip and planned a course or two for Abacos.  We have a couple of contingency plans, so that if something goes wrong, we can turn and head back to the States and get into a bay someplace to do repairs or whatever.  But, basically, this should be a pretty straight shot right to the Bahamas from Cape Fear.  About 415 nm from here, straight line distance of course, without tacking much.  If the weather window is right, we ought to be on a pretty good tack anyway all the way down.  I’m still trying to work out the weather patterns for October though.

We are starting to make sure all our required paperwork is in order, I have to renew my insurance about October time frame, I need to make sure we have no outstanding bills, our slip is taken care of for us, and our car is ok to be left alone for a few months.

This is, if all works out, a six month trip to the Bahamas and perhaps the Florida Keys and then back here.  This will be our first major multiday trip.  Neither of us have done it before, but we think we’re mostly ready.  Time will tell.

 

 

Cabin Top Painting and other projects

Since we’ve owned Adventure she has needed a paint job.  We had the bottom done in NY when we got her, and she’s probably in need of a true bottom job soon, but we’ll wait until next year to do it.

But the top… the deck, the sides of the cabin walls, bow sprit and a few other areas have been in desperate need of help.  I cleaned the boat about once every two weeks, and she was dull, the white ‘wiping off’ on my hands, feet, legs or knees as I’d touch or crawl around her.

Last year, the bow sprit was in evil shape, messy with a mildew that ran the length of the sprit, some areas of wood showing through.  After testing the sprit for integrity (and after hearing one of the sister ships had a rotten sprit) I decided to clean and paint the bow sprit.  I did a bunch of research on paint and found everyone recommending this or that, at the cost of hundreds of dollars a gallon.  I lived in a house I owned for 25 years and successfully used all sorts of paints on the outside of the house, and interior as well.

Certainly, something in these magical marine paints must be made of gold I thought.

Turns out many are a type of oil based paint, and some are epoxy based.  The two part paints usually go on the bottom.  Thus, I will reserve judgement on those for now.

After a year the paint I used on the bow sprit still looks great.  It was simply an oil based exterior house paint and it has held up well to smashing waves, a few dozen rain storms and the sun beating down on it day in and day out, cold and heat as well as ice a few times have assaulted it.  Yet, it still looks great.

Now, the top side of this boat is wooden, with a very thin coating of fiberglass and gelcoat.  Which, as I pointed out, was well gone from a wax job.  I thought to wax the boat, but there are some extremely thin areas along one side where something has rubbed it down to wood.  I decided to try the same oil based exterior house paint on the cabintop.  Instead of going with a messy mixing job, I opted for a simple, oil based, gloss white.

After thoroughly washing the boat’s top, and cleaning off some mildew that was laying in wait on the dark side of the boat (North side as we sit in our slip) and making sure it was very clean, I found no spots that needed sanding, because, frankly the boat is weather worn on top.

Next I taped off my grab rails, rigging parts mounted to the deck top, hatches, portlights and the edges of the non-skid (which is a light tan color).

I thinned the paint slightly and rolled it on in all the large surface areas, and went back over with a brush in the difficult-to-reach places, around hardware, wooden grab rails and mast steps.

The boat… looks amazing now, compared to what she did look like.  I’m considering a second coat, but a single cover should be sufficient.  I will now wait and see how well this wears.

I need to do a couple of repairs along the port side in the non-skid deck surface and one large chunk of “missing” fiberglass on the starboard side.  There’s a divot about an inch by inch-and-a-half that was dug out of the deck by something (not sure what, when or how it happened) and I need to fill that again.  Been hesitant to do so with the rain, heat and humidity though.  Once I get that figured out, I’ll likely do the deck surface in some new, non-skid.  Not sure when I will do it though.

Other Projects:

After looking at a lot of options, I’ve done some power calculations and decided we can get by for this cruising season to the Bahamas with two solar panels.  But, I want four to give us the right amount of power.  Unfortunately, there is no place to mount them.

I contacted a local “tower builder” here in town.  He has a good reputation and has been recommend by more than one person.  Unfortunately, we’re running out of time to get it accomplished this year.  It won’t be cheap work either, I don’t think.  But, perhaps I can put something together.

The idea is to move my two solar panels to a rig on the davits and add two more, for a total of 640 watts of solar power, as well as put a mounting post for a wind generator off the back of the rig, out of the way of the mizzen boom.  After speaking to him, he said he could accomplish anything.  But, he’s going through some medical issues.  This week, he had a stroke.  So, I am not sure he will be able to do any work this year now.   If he can, great.  If not, I will hunt for someone else, or I will work out some kind of temporary rig to move the panels off the bimini.

Bimini:

It is really, really old and needs replacement.  Plus, I’ve punctured it with holes for the brackets for the solar panels.  Which means I either repair or replace it if I move the panels.  I’d really like a new one up there to be honest.  Maybe a white one to keep the sun off our heads.

Wind Generator:

It’s on the list.  A 550 Watt generator will, along with 640 watts of solar be plenty to keep the batteries topped off, and we could even add a few things after that, like a….

Water Maker:  

We’re looking at the Rainman Water Maker, the DC version.  They sell three versions, all portable, don’t have to be mounted anywhere, and perfect for what we want to do.  They produce enough water to keep our tanks topped off in most areas, as long as we have the energy available to run it.

Butterfly Hatch:

The big, butterfly hatch in the center of the main cabin is a beautiful thing.  We can set up an air scoop to bring air down below, open it up for air, uncover it for light.  But, it’s ugly in another way.  It is now, except for some grab rails, the only piece I have not worked on and varnished.  I need to take it apart to do the work though, removing the metal, the hinges, doors and sanding it down first.  It is dire need of a makeover.  That might happen in the next week if I can find a few nice days to get the sanding accomplished.

Last words:

I have to go through the engine, and I need to order some spare parts (for a toilet for instance) and a few minor things, but otherwise we’re ready to “go” soon.

We have too much stuff though on the boat.  We’ve been slowing removing extra junk from the boat, but I sincerely do not want to get rid of it. There are spare nuts, bolts, screws, washers and a lot of other things I want to keep, but really don’t require them on the boat right now.  So, we’re considering a cheap storage locker where we can remove some weight, store those items in a safe, dry location and have access to them when we return in the spring.

It will clear out our Vee Berth, giving us room for some traveling companions if necessary, and a place to sleep for visitors.   In roughly six to nine weeks, depending on the weather, we’re planning to head for Bahamas.  The trip out will take a few days and we will sail outside away from shore and down to Marsh Harbor area.  We’ll tell you more on that as the plan coalesces.

Back at Southport and Adventure

We arrived back to the boat a couple of days before the 1st, sooner than we’d planned but still in plenty of time for the beer contest.

Beer:  We brewed our first beer on the boat, which I apparently neglected to mention in previous blog entries.  Mostly I didn’t want to give away what we were making, what type, or how much, so the judging could be fairer.  I’m not sure that happened anyway.

The beer was an America Amber category, and we moved it to a specialty beer category (Fruit, 29B I think).  We had a red beer (still in Amber category) with cherries and honey.  The hops were a specialty hop – and for some reason the judges didn’t like the hops with the fruit beer.  I suspect had we simply made it a Red Ale, it would have likely come in First or Second.

The judging was taking place between the 1st and 7th with the get together and announcements on the 8th.

Surprisingly, we didn’t even place.  I won’t complain though.  We had a lot of people taste and test our beer and we had good reviews all the way around, including one person who said “I’d buy that beer”.  Too bad we didn’t win, he might have had the chance to buy it at Check Six.  Don’t think we will enter another contest there though.  I don’t think I liked the way things were judged.  Granted, I’m not certified as a judge, but I know good beer, and I know how to judge it.  Sometimes winning isn’t necessarily a good thing.  We’d have to give our recipe out.  Think I’ll refrain from doing that for awhile.  🙂

Ants: I’ve been fighting ants on the boat:

Image result for Science Fiction ants

Not the godawfulbigones like in the movies, but somewhat more docile, and a tad smaller:

Monomorium minimum
Monomorium minimum casent0173040 profile 1.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Solenopsidini
Genus: Monomorium
Species: M. minimum
The little black ant is a species of ant native to North America. It is a shiny black color, the workers about 1 to 2 mm long and the queens 4 to 5 mm long.  They are present in almost every region of the USA, and most of Europe.
From what I’ve discovered, they can live in the Earth in little built up colonies of up to about 2000 individuals, or they can get into cracks and crevices in your home, in the walls, under and in the house – or in my case, the boat.  They are living apparently between the teak wood making up a vast amount of the inside of the ship and the fiberglass walls.
They can have multiple queens in a single colony and they generally don’t get very large colonies.
Hosing them down with chemicals is rather out of the question.  Bug bombs won’t penetrate into their living areas.  And spraying chemicals that could conceivable kill me around the interior of the boat is, for me a No-Go.  Also, the aerosols used can be flammable and on a boat, explosive.  We use sparkers on the stove to ignite the burners.  So being sure all the fumes are out… not a good idea.
I know from previous research into this stuff, that boric acid will kill most insects.  Mostly, all they have to do is walk through it and they ingest it.  It desiccates them from the inside out.  It is an abrasive and works on their exoskeletons.  It has an effect on their nervous systems as well as it disrupts their intestinal digestive systems.  The best part about boric acid (and borax) is that they eat it, return it to their nests and feed their young and the queen(s).  Who, in turn, die.
I am, I believe dealing with not one, but two colonies of ants in the boat.  One colony lives forward in the boat, the other in the galley area somewhere behind the wood.
We tried boric acid powder, which has had no effect on them.  I tried the Tero type traps which are a liquid, and they spill and make a mess.  The first time I put one of those out, the ants went after it instantly.  And then stopped after a day.  I think they figured out not to eat it.  Or they weren’t returning to the nest to get “helpers” to come get the food source.
Others I’ve spoken to on Facebook swear by that stuff.
Yesterday, I picked up some Raid ant baits.  They are four small traps with a different sort of chemical inside called Avermectin B1.  It too, is a nerve agent and will disrupt their bodies after they ingest it.  It is a small enough quantity that they will take the food source back to the nest, and like the other stuff feed it to the young and queen, who then die.
Last night within thirty minutes of putting out the traps, three in the Galley and one in the forward cabin, all four traps were covered.  Ants were coming out of tiny crevices under the wood to get to them.  And they were going off in force only to return later with more ants.  Eventually the traps each had somewhere around 100 ants on them.
This morning, there is not a single ant floating around in the Galley.  The forward cabin however, in the floor tells a different story.  There are still dozens of ants scurrying to and fro to get to the food source.
I have to assume that one colony in the front is MUCH larger than the one in the back.  And the one in the Galley has been wiped out, or at least pushed back to the brink of Apocalypse.   I can only hope.  I also hope there are no “Prepper Ants” who are going to come hunt me down in the middle of the night.
“I am AntGirl, you Killed my Momma, prepare to die!”
Or something like that.
We think that any ants that survive will eventually die due to starvation or, they will come out and get the traps and die from the poison.  I hope they are gone within a few days.  We will keep you posted.
Cleaning and Preparation for Sail:  I went back to my regular part time job at the marina, and have been scheduled a few hours, and a few days off each week to work on the boat to prep for a sailing trip in a few days.  We’re thinking of either just sailing out for a few hours and knocking the dust off the rigging, or even heading for Georgetown for a day or so and then coming back.  Weather permitting.
Unfortunately, the heat and humidity have been stifling.  I need to reinstall the jib (I took down before departure from the boat, to prevent any wind incidents, ripped sails etc) and put all my running rigging back.
I also need to drop the main, replace a line going to the furler.  I’m sure it will be fine, but it’s getting old and somewhat worn and I don’t like the idea of it snapping at a critical moment in time, like, say a storm or something similar.  You always have things go wrong when they shouldn’t, and keeping equipment right helps prevent cascade failures.
But, man, that’s a lot of work in this heat.  But it’s got to be done too.
JoAnne has a lot of things to stow.  I have to remove a few things from the forward cabin and will probably just stow it in the car.  We’re considering a small storage locker to move a few things too (larger things which we probably do NOT have to have on the boat right now) and a few things we can just remove altogether.  We have two coolers, both of them can come off the boat, though JoAnne and I are at odds on that. I want them off, she thinks they should be here.  We’ll come to some conclusion sooner or later before we leave for the Bahamas.
I’ve removed most of my tools from the boat and left a small bag with a few.  But, honestly I don’t need my power tools when traveling.  Just at the dock.  I DO want some of the heavier wrenches just in case I need them to repair something I’ll need them for (like an engine!) – and they are, unfortunately, heavy as well.
Then we have dirt for the composting toilet.  Not a lot, but it’s bulky.  Can’t seem to locate coconut coir around here.  Not sure why.  Supposedly it’s more compressed and can store better.  I have yet to see it or locate any.  I hate ordering things over the Internet without being able to see them.
Wind Generator: Think I have decided on a wind genny.  More on that next time, if I buy it.
So, in conclusion here… ants.  They are hateful little things, getting into everything.  But, they can be controlled and eliminated if you are persistent I think.  Beer making on the boat is a difficult task, but we can do it.  It’s just that there’s not that much room and it takes both a steady hand, and steady water ( like that of a marina) to make it work.
Catch you all on the next entry.

S/V Adventure Video Tour

I think I posted this before, but because it’s one of Kurt’s most watched videos, I’m going to post it again… with comments.


This video was shot by Kurt A. Seastead of s/v Lo-Kee.  He is currently doing a refit of his boat.

Adventure was purchased in January of 2015 by Rick and JoAnne Donaldson (that’s us) for a long term cruise and travel.  The boat had a few things wrong with it, but over all, she floated.  The equipment was old (and mostly still is), but it all worked.

Some of the comments on the Youtube video included comments about how “sloppy” I am. 🙂  Another comment was about how dangerous in mast furling is (or perhaps could be?) and that the person writing the comment would NEVER use it.

I’ll make a few of my own comments.

I’m currently working part time in a marina.  I’m handling boats coming through from the Caribbean and Bahamas headed north.  I count the number of in-mast furling rigs I see daily.  I see no less than 5-6 out of 7-10 sail boats.  I find it interesting that there are so many who’ve traveled oceans with these rigs so far.  I have traveled IN the ocean but not crossed it yet.  But so far, the only issues I’ve had with the rigging was having to replace all the halyards and make sure the proper maintenance was performed on the rig.

The boat came with the rigging installed.  I’m not going to undo everything just to make a couple of people happy so they can assume they are right.  The truth is, if the rig gets jammed, the sail can be lowered and treated like any other main sail.

I wonder how many people who make claims about how “bad” something is, have actually used those pieces of equipment.  I venture to say “Almost ZERO”.

As to my “sloppiness”… We had not cruised before we bought the boat, except on bare boat charters and a smaller boat in lakes using our trailer to get there.  Out of necessity we packed lightly, moved the boat and sailed, but generally for 2-3 days at a time.  We couldn’t get enough stuff on the boat to support us.  That included food and water (rather important items).

We also LIVE on this boat, full time.  We don’t have a house, don’t want to waste money on “storage units” we will never visit.  Have no place close by to store things with friends and honestly, don’t want to do so.  There is certainly only so much room on a boat.  We have spare parts for a lot of things.  We have tools to do repairs (and tools take up a lot of space, but without them, we’d be lost).  Tools also can keep me working when necessary to earn some money, because, I know how to do a LOT of jobs.

So one person’s sloppy, is another person’s “organized chaos”.

Also note that we had been on the boat LESS than three months when that video was shot.  We’d owned the boat less than a year and moved aboard in August 2015.  We were still learning how and where to store things.  It was somewhat haphazard at the beginning.

Truth is, we have gotten rid of a lot of things, BUT, we still have clutter and things we can’t yet part with, and until we can find smaller, like items to replace things we use we won’t be doing that just yet.  We have significantly reduced the weight of several items though and we now have a car at our “new marina home port” so we use it to store extra tools I won’t need when cruising.

There are things on this boat a lot of people wouldn’t want.  I’ll give you a little idea.  Composting toilet (a lot of people HATE them, but have never used one.  A lot of people swear by them. I’m still in the middle on this).  OLD electronics.  I have very old radio, doesn’t do AIS.  Broken radar, I’m not paying 2 grand for a new one.  Old, but functional chart plotter (old…. is 1990s, updated firmware for 2009 and no more support).  But it has brand new charts (days old now).   We have no microwave.  We have no freezer.  We DO have a working refrigeration unit (I repaired the ancient one and it works fine).  We have a gas generator (Honda 2000eu version) which people hate because it uses gasoline.  (A lot of people have a gas motor for their dink…../shrug).  We have a propane engine for the dinghy (hard to get propane I hear…. so far, so good, no problem with that).  We have a NEW stove and oven (ok a year or so old now) but my wife loves it.

And so on.  I’m absolutely CERTAIN that if you’ve ever been on and sailed a sailboat something in that list will make you cringe.  And some of you will think “Cool, I use one of those!”

Here’s my point, and the point of re-posting the video once more.

Everyone has their way of doing things.  We each have an idea of what we like, don’t like, and how we would do it, and how we would NOT do it.  You, me, him, her, doesn’t matter.  There are people who wouldn’t GO in a sailboat, because they are power boaters.  We have some who pick at us calling us “Blow Boaters”.  I take it as a compliment, and point out the price of fuel, and the wind is free….

We’re on this journey because my wife wanted to travel.  We think it is a neat way to see things.  We love meeting people.

We’re not on this journey to please ANYONE other than ourselves.  Perhaps that’s selfish, but after 60 years on this planet, doing everything for everyone else, I’m a little peeved at armchair sailors and snobs who nit pick everything anyone else does “because it’s not how *I* would do it”.

A few years ago, I stopped visiting Cruisers Forums, and Sail Net (and I HELPED form sail net!) because of the armchair sailors who would denigrate others for what they considered “dumb questions”.  There is a large group of people out there that are at work every day, getting up, going to work, going home, and logging into the computer – and on weekends they go out to their marina where they store their boat, they climb aboard and drink “sundowners” and wake up with hangovers.  On Monday they go back to work.  During the week they call some company to go polish their boat or wash it, and pay through the nose for the privilege of sitting on the dock on weekends drinking their Bud Lites – but during the week, they bitch and complain about all of us who actually live on the boat, go places, and make due with significantly less space than they have, no or low income, squeeze Lincoln until he screams and buy our cheap beer at the grocery store, and our liquor from the local markets.

They do this because they feel as if they are better than the rest of the cruisers out there.

I’ve yet to meet a long distance cruiser who has a perfectly clean, perfectly cared for boat, that isn’t somewhat cluttered, full of extra “stuff” they “need” (hoses, extra lines, pieces of “small stuff” – that’s bits of twine and line for those of you who might not know that), tools, the odd “silver tea service” or plastic wine goblets.

You know why?  Because they are out there doing their thing, being happy and not complaining about how the other half lives.

Kurt and I are discussing a remake at some point.  A follow up video to this one.  It will address some of the questions you all have, assuming we find the time and can connect somewhere to do it.  But, it will also be real, personal and it shows the truth.

The fact is, I write this blog on the same basis.  I tell it like it is.  Not how you want it to be.  There’s no such thing as a perfect boat, day, trip, travel, or location.  There’s rarely a perfect day of sailing (it happens, but it’s not often).  Extended cruisers sometimes pick up jobs.  They sometimes have to stop and work for a living.  Sometimes they travel and are out of contact for weeks at a time.  Sometimes they even catch fish.  Sometimes they get hurt.  Sometimes, unfortunately, they can die.

I write about everything.  Good. Bad. Ugly. Fun.  Doesn’t matter.  I enjoy writing about our Adventure(s) and what we go through.  I was beat up by a once-friend on Facebook because she disagreed about how I presented my store about a marina.  We had a ROUGH time there.  We had a lot of things go wrong.  Most of them happened when we were not even at the boat.  And yet somehow having these bad things happen and writing about them upset this lady to the point she de-friended me.  I was, in her eyes “putting down her marina”. /Shrug

As I said, I’m not here to please anyone else.

Kurt wanted to do the interview above.  It was impromptu, we had not really cleaned up the boat after having been traveling for a few weeks. The wife was off doing laundry.  I was going Kurt the tour.

So, sometimes, sloppiness is a perceived thing (mostly to OCD people who have a penchant for correcting where someone sits their coffee cup) and equipment issues are almost ALWAYS, ALWAYS based on 3rd hand, biased reporting by people who have zero personal experience with them.  I’m sure that a lack of spit and polish on the bronze pisses people off to no end. 🙂

When it all comes out in the end…. If we have a good time doing what we’re doing, why would anyone be upset?  Except for the people in Florida that don’t want over night anchoring because, well, they are armchair sailors and boaters and honestly don’t know anything about how the other half lives.  They just don’t want to see us in the waterways.

If we all had to please everyone around us, all the time the task would be to ensure everyone is happy.  And you’re not.

That is not the way to live your life, friends.

Go out and be happy.  If you’re going to sail a boat, do it.  Don’t complain about how others do it, how they live, that their equipment isn’t like yours…. be happy we’re different.

 

 

 

Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

Extended Cruisers… that’s what we tell people now when they ask us where we live.  We get questions on where our house is (the boat).  Where do we live?  How do you cook? Where do you go to the bathroom?  Where do you shower? What do you do when you get tired of being on the boat?  One person asked us “Do you use sleeping bags every night?” Another asked us about doing laundry.  Everyone asks “Where are you going?”  Even other cruisers ask that question, including me.  We’re all curious about how everyone else deals with life I suppose.

I think all of us in the cruising world have these questions asked at one time or another and very likely as we were entering into the world of cruising, we all might have asked the same questions of others, or of ourselves.  At first, it’s fun explaining it all to people.  Eventually though, it can be tiring.  Not in a bad way, but in a way that shows you’ve answered the question a thousand times and you get the point you try to reword it more efficiently, using less words, or just simply shrugging your shoulders when you haven’t the energy to respond again.

It isn’t that the questions are stupid, inane or silly.  They want to know, and you have to tell them. So you do.

One day perhaps, I’ll write a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Cruisers to pass out to anyone asking them questions.  Or maybe not.  Because everyone is different.

Speaking of “different”.  JoAnne and I started this “journey” almost 10 years ago – actually, I don’t remember the exact date or year any more.  A lot of water has gone under the keel since we started.  For the past two years we’ve cruised “Differently” than others.

Most people pick a destination and go.  They get there as fast as possible, barring difficulties, and they stay long enough to enjoy the scenery, a pub, a beach bar, a beach, fishing, or simply meeting new people.

For two years we’ve “cruised” down the coast, running into trouble – we might call it “Adventure” but most call it trouble.

From broken engine parts, to broken engine, broken halyards, dead and dying batteries, leaks, busted hoses, pipes and lines, getting hit more than once by other boats (one time being rigging and bow being severely damaged), to getting beat by the Chesapeake Bay and Cape Fear River Inlet we’ve persevered.  We’ve gotten up each time and kept going, albeit, slowly.

Plodding along at a snails pace from New York to Norfolk, Norfolk back to the Potomac River and then Potomac River as far as North Carolina.

We’ve been here in Southport for about eight weeks now.  On 6 February 2017, it will be just over eight weeks.  Throughout the time on the boat, we’ve also been off the boat traveling around the country.  We’ve made trips (several) back to Colorado.  We traveled from Colorado to Missouri, Tennessee, Florida down one coast and back up the other.  We’ve traveled around the DC area, throughout Virginia, back and forth and up and down.  I am guessing because I haven’t figured out the distances yet, but, we’ve put on 25,000-30,000 statute miles traveling by car and boat so far.

We loved the Northern Neck of Virginia – but it was remote.  We made good friends there.

Southport has been different though.  Not just the people.  Not just the place.  A combination of everything.

We have fallen in love with the place.  That doesn’t mean we want to live her forever.  But in the two months we’ve been here, we’ve made a lot of friends, met a lot of cruisers passing through, including some friends we’ve met elsewhere.

For the past few days we’ve been debating moving on.  We are here late enough in the season that if we depart now, we can still get to the Bahamas for the Spring.  Do we stay or do we go?

Yesterday, I went through Active Captain, sent emails, made phone calls and wrote up a budget based on our cruising kitty’s contents.

We can move on and still have enough money, assuming nothing goes wrong from now until we locate a place to go.  But every marina we contacted gave us “No room at the inn” or were willing to ask us for more than normal to hold a slip for us to use.  One of my fall back plans was mooring balls.  I found some, very inexpensive places. No living aboard allowed though.

The cost of staying at a slip here versus Florida is a shock.  Double in almost all cases.  Except certain places on the West Coast of Florida. But, there are a lot of places we won’t “fit”.  Can’t get in.  Canals too shallow, fixed docks to climb out of the boat at low tide (JoAnne simply can’t do that now).

Last night we talked about staying for awhile, enjoying Southport, and perhaps even working a bit to regain some missing cash from the Kitty.

I had three job offers yesterday in the space of an hour, without even asking.

Yesterday afternoon, the dock master told me he “found me a slip if I wanted it”, and told me if I was interested, he was looking for another dock hand.

This morning we made the decision.

We are going to hang out here a while longer.  Enjoy the beer over at Check Six Brewing Company, our friend’s company and probably try to throw a few bucks back into the bank.  The health insurance is (pardon the pun) bleeding us dry at this point and working to offset it even a little will keep us floating (another pun?) for awhile.

This is not truly what I wanted to do, but it seems to make sense.

For everyone wondering about it… no we’re not staying forever.  I told the Dock Master that October we would leave, or November.  But we might come BACK as well the following season.  He thought that was a good plan.

So, not technically “swallowing the hook” yet.  Just going to test the air and see how it smells for awhile.

Anyway, my son, Nick reminded me this morning – Life is not a destination, it’s a journey.  He’s right.

We’re Free People.  We do not have anyone to tell us what to do, when to do it, where to go, or how to accomplish what we do.  We CAN come and go as we please, when we please and where we want.  Complications are something that life throws at you constantly (case in point, running north to get my car from Virginia, going all the way to Detroit to see my brother in the hospital, even if he couldn’t see me).  That along with our own personal medical histories, we have to be sure we’ve got insurance for a bit longer.  Boat and car insurance.  Money to eat…. yeah, life’s complications.

To all our followers (I think there are three of you now) no worries.  I’ll still write here, I’ll still keep you all up to date.  And let me say something about why I actually do this blog.  Please follow along a few more minutes.

Why do I write this blog?

For all the years prior to actually doing this I read everyone’s blog.  I sat sometimes awaiting a new entry on a few of them.  I read EVERY book I could get my hands on, either buying, borrowing or shopping them online on Kindle.  I read grand tales of Blue Waters, great fishing stories, scary weather stories, and I read every thing in Cruisers Forums, Sail net (I helped start Sailnet, did you all know that?  Then got kicked off of it because some people didn’t like my political views, haha).

Through out it all, I found very, very few stories of what REALLY happens to people or the gory details of daily life on a boat, hanging upside down in the bilge with a finger blocking a hole while trying to reach back up to get a mallet to pound in a wooden plug.

What I DID encounter on the forums was a smattering of good, quality information interspersed inside of a lot of hollow knowitallness from many armchair sailors.  Oh, I am sure they weren’t all arm chairing it.  Many did live on boats in marinas and I found most RARELY ventured from the docks.  They polished their boats daily, cleaned the stainless steel, painted the bilges, and plumed the depths of their Sundowners in the evenings.

I look around at my ship – and ship she is, big, beautiful and ungainly in a marina, but wonderfully agile and quick upon the sea under sail – and look at the dents, dings, weird, dirty spots I can’t seem to clean off, a few gel coat spots that probably need redoing and see the Dock Queens in this place (most of the boats haven’t left in months or years) and wonder what I am doing wrong.

I’m on the boat working on this or that ALL the time.  JoAnne broke her back on a dock, slipped and fell on another and lost a pair of glasses.  I’ve cracked my head on things and drawn so much blood, my long bones and marrow are having troubles keeping up the replacement blood cells.  No one else writes about these things.

No one tells it “like it is”.

I find that both appalling and fascinating.  Over these last few years of doing all the reading, I rarely came across a story or blog, book or tale of all the terrible things that happen to people.  When I chose at one point to tell about the things that happened in one certain marina, I lost friends over it.  They misread into my words that I was complaining and believed I was denigrating the marina and not telling the story.

I’ve had a difficult time putting some things into words since then because, frankly, I don’t like upsetting people and especially not real, true cruisers.  But, telling this story is my way of leaving something for my kids to read and think about long after we’re all gone and dust (or fish food).

I write because I have a passion for writing.  I don’t do it for money (ok, I have one published book.  Makes me about 3.75 a month….) and I have other books waiting in the wings for publication, but it’s not about money.  Never has been.

I don’t advertise on the blog like so many do.  I don’t think it’s fair.  Advertising permeates everything. Our phones, our Facebook accounts, email, television, radio, in-your-face in the stores, malls, on the sides of the roads and for cruisers to plaster their pages with “ads” to “Buy our book!” irritate me I guess.

I write because I like to, I like to tell the story.  I want people to know, beyond any doubt that anyone can cruise.  Anyone can become a sailor, and a good one.  But you have to work at it, and it is NOT easy.  It’s NOT going to come to you like magic.  And no destination is as pristine as made out by many books and articles.  There are problems ANY where you go.

Human beings are simply put, pigs sometimes.  They throw crap everywhere.  The water is full of plastic and junk and I daily pull things out around the marina.  But, humans can be kind, considerate, helpful and just all-around, wonderful.  They don’t have to throw junk in the water and pollute, but they do.

Because cruising today is NOT what it was twenty years ago, we are not on the “cutting edge” of visiting places.  Boats aren’t any longer seen as “strange, new visitors from a far away place”.  Boats are, unfortunately, considered a “Cash Cow” and the inhabitants are considered “wealthy”.  Except those on derelicts.  Who are considered by everyone to be “scum of the earth”.  This is a wrong assumption, but sometimes it’s true.

The truth about cruising is there are good and light things, and deep, dark secrets.  Some places we’ve seen have people doing drugs, drunks everywhere (I suspect those are the cruisers actually haha) and dirty, sinking boats. Other places have beautiful, spotless Dock Queens who never move.  Wonder why they look so nice?

Then there is us, and Adventure.  And almost EVERY OTHER extended cruiser we’ve met.  All of our boats aren’t the best, well kept.  They are sometimes messy inside.  They are sometime dirty outside.  We have too much crap.  Too much in the lockers, too much in the forward cabin.  Too much on the deck.  Lines everywhere.  Old lines. Not new, pretty braided stuff.  Junky “look what I found in the trash” lines sometimes.

This is the stuff I write about.  I do it because… honestly, I want people to see what it is like.

I don’t always tell the whole story either.  There are no words for some things that would not offend a lot of people (try talking about composting heads in mixed company and you will grasp what I mean!)

I hope that folks enjoy what I write, and I’ve had a few tell me they love it.  I’ve had a small number that hate on me.  That’s ok.  Everyone has an opinion.  Some are just wrong, that’s all 🙂

I will let you all know in a few days how it’s going and whether or not we can “hang” at this for awhile in Southport.  If you get here, let me know.  We’ll meet you on the dock and greet you!

Fair Winds

Rick

 

Cape Fear

In 1962 a movie was made about Cape Fear.  Saw it as a kid.  Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen, Telly Savalas were in the movie.  It was a thriller type movie.  Criminal, murder, stuff like that.

Yesterday we could have starred in our own thriller movie.  Or horror movie.  Or just a documentary about puking.

We left the docks at 0900 on the way out the Cape Fear inlet.  We were supposed to leave at 0700 and JoAnne listened to the NOAA weather, and said “Not going out in 9 foot seas” and she was right.  Completely, totally right to trust her instincts on departure.  After discussing it with Judy and Stephen for a few minutes, we all agree a couple more hours sleep might be prudent.

We pulled out on time, at 0900, and headed back to the inlet.  Tide was just starting to come back in and we slogged a bit through it in places.  Bentana had little trouble with a newly repowered boat, brand new engine.  We, on the other hand couldn’t make more than about 4 knots maximum most of the time and that was pushing the engine.  I almost turned back and said “Nope”.  But I didn’t.

We got out to the channel and dodged a ship.  He called me and asked if I’d be polite enough to step out side the markers for him, to which I replied that he could have the entire ocean should he desire it.  We moved outside the channel in 40′ of water and his bow bulb was as big as my whole boat.  After he passed, I called him and “thanked him for the slow pass” and I think I made his day, he laughed and said “Good travels”.

No more incidents for a bit.  Then the shoals came into view.  And the water turned into a rocking wash tub.  I almost turned back…. but I didn’t.

We called Bentana who was now gaining ground and moving at a quick pace out to sea.  Judy said that they were going past marker 6 I think it was and then turning to 180 degrees to catch the wind, get out to sea and then would tack back later.  I followed her lead.

We didn’t make it to the mark she turned out at.  We were taking a pounding by then and the wind was wrong, and so were the waves.  Making a decision to stop taking a pounding, I checked depths, and objects in front of me and turned to 180, raised sail and steadied the boat considerably.  I consulted with JoAnne about turning around.  She said “I want to go to Charleston.  We’re already out here.”  She had a point. I could have turned around… but I didn’t.

We sailing relatively well at that point going up and down the waves, and not getting slammed now, things somewhat smoothed out.  But JoAnne kept getting sick.  At some point I had to go below to check on something.  What it was, I don’t even remember now.  That’s when I started getting sick.  First time ever being “seasick”.  When we took a steep wave and most of the ocean washed over the foredeck and back to the cockpit coaming, it was at that point I thought “We should turn back…”.  But I didn’t.

I called Bentana to check in at 1230 as we’d planned.  They were “doing ok” and we all exchanged encouraging words.

By 1300, JoAnne was doing all she could to keep from throwing up, and I wasn’t.  It was my turn.  I got so sick I threw up for five solid minutes.  I think I nearly passed out from it.  I had heart surgery last year in May.  I still have pain in my ribs and back from where they cracked open my chest.  All my ribs crack like knuckles.  I think they all popped yesterday.  It was right about that moment in time I realized just how stupid this was.  I stopped and considered the situation carefully.  We could go on and we didn’t know the sea state would settle for sure, or we could go back, reverse course back through the washing machine, tides, current and winds all from different directions, we could heave too (we were about 8 miles out perhaps by then) and hope things settled.

At that moment, I made the “prudent” decision to turn around.  Finally.  All DAY I had not listened to my inner voice telling me “Today is not the day!”  Please note I called it a “Purdent Decision”.  It truly wasn’t a prudent decision.  It was a mistake to go out when I had thought it wasn’t a good day.  And to be clear I DO know weather conditions pretty well, and I wasn’t sure I was comfortable, but we were tired of being here, ready to go, ready to roll, get going, go somewhere else.  All the way around “prudence” was jumping up and down trying to be noticed and I was ignoring “her”.

I called Bentana and told JoAnne, Judy and Stephen at the same time we were headed back in.  I can’t bear to see JoAnne sick like that, and if something had happened to me she’d have been helpless at that point to do anything about it other than call for evacuation.  That wasn’t going to happen.

We rode the waves back in, partially under sail, trying to keep the winds right and give us some speed.  We made 4-5 knots back in, until the channel, where the waves were crossing us, and hitting the side of the boat.  Not that we had a LOT of choice in which way to go.  Shoals were coming up and waves were big, ships were headed out, and winds were still only 20 knots maybe.  Not enough to bother the boat.  It was the wave action that was sucking bad.

We passed three more, outgoing ships, I gave them wide berth and even used their wash to get into smoother waters for a bit.  That helped.  I had long since stopped being sick.  Nothing left.  JoAnne was settling down too I think by then.  I occupied her with helping watch for markers and ships.  (Hard to miss a ship, though, you really want to miss them….)

We hit the junction of Cape Fear River out going current, the incoming tide, let a giant cargo ship pass, and a tug pulling a barge, and I made it to the ICW cut headed back in with little difficultly.

The engine was still running so that was a good thing.

After we docked with help from Norm from the Marina, who was kind enough to stay on the dock until we arrived, Jay from Knot Working and the folks from the power yacht Chrysalis, I discovered the water pump running down below.  I killed the breaker assuming the worst.  A bit later, I discovered all the water in our main tank was pumped out (probably to sea) and the pump was running for awhile I guess.  I’m surprised it didn’t burn out.

This morning I heard Judy and Stephen got beat up pretty badly as well, Judy was also, apparently ill as well.  They made it as far as Georgetown.  Far short of Charleston.  I believe they said (JoAnne reported) they are on anchor now and resting, well and safe.

I have work to do on the water tank.  I’m going to extend our visit here at least a week.  I have work to do on the ship, repairs to make and I’m going to have a little chat with a few local business establishments around here…. because I came back to a message about my credit card being compromised (AGAIN) and five transactions for 17-28 bucks occurred yesterday in Raleigh, a good distance from here… but there are three suspects who could have used my number (having all three taken my card out of my sight to take a payment, or getting the number some other way).  The rest of the places I used it, the card was never out of my sight and they swiped it into a machine so they couldn’t have easily gained the information from the card).  I’m NOT happy about that happening either and if I discover for a fact who did it, there’s going to be consequences.  I HATE thieves and I won’t hesitate to take whatever action is required to prevent them from stealing again  (legal or otherwise given the right circumstances).

Today, JoAnne gets to relax her back and rest, I’m tearing things apart, making coffee and preparing for the cold weather coming.  We are discussing giving up and quitting, selling the boat, getting an RV, going back to Colorado defeated, going on down the ICW, or choosing better sailing days on the outside.

Stay tuned.  We will let you know what’s next.

Fair Winds!

Rick

Setting Sail

This weekend coming up appears to have SNOW in the forecast.

For all you snow people, that’s good. For sailors, that’s not so good.

JoAnne and I and the good ship Adventure set sail tomorrow in the best 48 hour weather window we’ve seen in some time to head as far south as the winds will take us.

We’re aiming for Charleston, SC (with emergency stopping in Winyah Bay if required) and if weather continues to permit, and the waves/wind and boat cooperate, Savannah, GA perhaps.  Fifty hours roughly from setting sail is Savannah, which Charleston is about 24.

JoAnne is still not “sure” if she can handle a shift, let alone several, but I’m confident we can do it.  We will test it over the next 24 hours and see how we do.

We should have good winds (starting off all wrong at first tomorrow morning) and then turning to give us some Northerlies which ought to take us pretty far south.  The speed and movement of the boat will depend on my skills as a sailor and of course the wind and waves.  But at this point I’m confident I can do it.

Traveling near by us, on their own ship, Bentana, are Judy and Stephen.  We met them about two years ago in New York.  They are long time cruisers (about 7 years now) and they are going to Florida as well.  They came into the docks here yesterday morning to meet up with us.  I don’t really think they intended to travel with us, but it appears since we’re all going the same way, we’re all going at the same time.  That’s cool because we can chat on the radio and keep in contact.

I think we will probably decide once we hit the area of Charleston to go on or stop based on how our boat is doing rather than the other boat.  We really WANT to go on, and try to get more than a single day of sailing in, but by nature no one is really a “sailor”.  You have to learn the skills, you have to learn to live on the water, you have to learn to live on a small vessel going some place perhaps unpredictible and in conditions unknown to you for more than a few hours… and yet, it’s done.

People have sailed for months and months to go around the world, to get to the “New World” and did it with nothing more than a compass and an innate sense of well being (because, you can’t stay on a boat more than a few days at seas, without some kind of “well being” now, can you?) lol

JoAnne doesn’t think she is ready and I know she is, but I also know I AM, but am not ready to do it alone.  So, therein lies the problem.  If she can’t handle a shift for 2-4 hours, I might as well be alone.  But, I can’t do a 24 hour shift without stopping at some point, and I can’t sleep for 15 minutes at a time either. So, it’s complicated.

For all you folks that see your dreams on a boat, and think you can do it – think again.  For all of you that have your dreams on a boat, and think you CAN’T do it — think again.

You CAN do it it.  All you need is careful planning, careful and critical thinking, knowing your weather, knowing how long you can actually sleep for and knowing your boat.

In all honesty, I’m JUST to the point I’ve gotten to know the boat well enough to do the right things with the sails.  I know the weather well, and know what it’s going to be like for 5 hours in the future.  I also know my body’s limitations.  But, I also have a crew, my sweetheart, whom I worry obsessively over, and care for, and don’t want her injured again, so anything I do (as Captain) makes me rethink five or six times what is right and that is a good thing.

Until it isn’t.  In the military, we said “Make a decision or die”. In real life that doesn’t happen to many, but it does happen to those who go to sea.  But decisions MUST be tempered with common sense, good judgement and training.

I hope I have all three of those.  The next 48 hours will determine the truth.

All my best to everyone for a fantastic New Year.  May all your Dreams come True – but, remember, you must plan for them to come true 🙂

Fair Winds all!

Christmas 2016

Hi everyone.  Thought I’d try to get in one more blog post before the end of the year.

It’s been a long, challenging year for us. In fact, two challenging years.  (I already posted a message for Christmas on Facebook, and will probably restate a few things here so if you think you’ve read it before, you might have).

In 2009 we decided to learn to sail, and eventually to become cruisers.  JoAnne and I have read literally a couple of hundred books over the course of time since that day we made the decision.  While all of them were helpful, some were stories, fiction, true adventure, and books about storms.  All of them helped prepare us for everything we have encountered and a few things we’ve yet to (and don’t want to) encounter.

Last Christmas we were sitting in Colorado with our kids and Grandkids after JoAnne’s back injury.  We thought more than once we wouldn’t get back to the boat and would have to sell her.  But, things didn’t turn out like that.

We’ve traveled back and forth across the country about five times since July 2015, for medical appointments, visiting and due to injuries.

This season we moved the boat to Cole’s Point Marina, where we worked on the boat.  We added solar panels, repaired the refrigeration, I had already added a new stove, refurbished the sails, repaired many little things, added a composting toilet, removed a broken electric toilet and replaced it with a Jabsco pump toilet.  I’ve added strip LED lighting to the main cabin area (and will add some to the forward cabin in time, along with some new wiring I’ll pull in when I have an opportunity).  We’ve eliminated a few things (not enough).  We’ve picked up an inline water filter to remove the bad tastes and to take water aboard.  I’ve made a water catchment device to collect rainwater, picked up a propane heater for the cabin, as well as an electric heater.  We’ve worked out how to make the wood stove work properly.  I’ve rewired the nav station, radio gear (neatened it all up and added a special power strip for DC radio gear.  Eventually all the radio gear will be tied there).  Oh, and I varnished about 80% of the woodwork aboard Adventure.  I have been testing some varnish.

I certainly am missing a few jobs we did.  I’m sure I’ve forgotten something.

A few weeks ago we ran into some more alternator problems (which I documented) and had that repaired and discovered a LOT of other issues on the engine which we also had taken care of.  During the work, I had the mechanic teach me a few things since I was paying and arm and a leg (I know why pirates have hooks and peg legs now…).

We paid up our bill here through 6th January and decided to stick out Christmas here.  One of the folks sailing down from Canada we’re friends with (Rosemary and Joe, aboard “Winds of Change” were coming down and so JoAnne invited them to dinner.  Turned out other boats were traveling with them.  We thought two, then it was actually four boats total.

So the dinner turned into a pot luck.  Then more cruisers and liveaboards near by joined into the dinner.  All told, on Christmas Eve we had about 15-18 people (I never counted them up), and one boat’s couple left to visit relatives so they missed the dinner.  Others joined in and everyone brought food, drink and stories.

Over all, a grand success.  JoAnne was worried about putting something like that together.  I’m not sure why.  She has always fed an army (usually doing ALL the cooking herself, raising five children, usually having boarders in the house, and random neighbor children who ALWAYS were there for dinner almost every night).  So, whatever trepidation she had vanished as she turned on her “Chef Skills” and made a giant pot of stew which likely would have fed everyone in the marina that day with a side of rice.  Fortunately, there was plenty more food than we could ALL eat.  Everyone brought something, from sloppy joes to stew, to small “sub sandwiches” to enchiladas and bottles of wine and rum.  I was shocked at the amount and quantities.  I tried a little bit of everything and had two full bowls of stew.

“Winds of Change” happens to have been the name of our first boat, our Macgregor Venture.  So when we saw the name on the group, we had friended them on Facebook immediately.  After all, we share a connection.  The boat name, and now the Leaky Teaky boats, ours the Transworld 41 and them the Formosa 41.   It was wonderful to get to meet them in person finally!

I have to say that I still like our center cockpit a bit better, though I think sailing from the aft of a sailboat this big might have a few advantages over the CC.  I can’t tell you though, what those might be.

All in all, this year traveling from the Potomac in late October to here has been relatively uneventful compared to last year.  Although, we have gone aground a few times, we’ve bumped some pilings, and I have some small damage on the port side where I caught a pole in the water, the engine conking out…. we haven’t really had major issues.

Yes, it was stressful coming down the ICW.  I was at ease going outside and motorsailing at night, but I always worry about all the things that can “go wrong” out there.  I worry for JoAnne’s safety much more than mine (because, quite honestly, I’d done some really dangerous things in my life and while the majority of them I wouldn’t want to repeat, I understood what I was doing, and knew I could die).  Sailing in the ocean is one of those things.

You understand it.  You know you can die.  But you also, always, concentrate on the moment in time, staying alive, staying safe, staying on course, going there you’re going and knowing you have options to handle almost anything.  Even, right down to closing down the hatches and doors after taking down sails and putting out a sea anchor, then hoping the boat will ride out whatever you hit.  In almost all cases, a boat will do fine.  It’s generally the crew who can’t handle it.

We have one issue on our boat.  JoAnne isn’t really able to run the boat alone.  I’m worried she will injure her back again and she has been prone to falling in the past so I won’t put her in danger.  That means I tend to do everything on deck, though I have been letting her toss lines out, and put out fenders to get used to doing it again.  So running a “shift” isn’t too easy, unless I set things up and let her stand watch, let the autopilot take care of things until the wind changes or we have to tack.  Then she can wake me if I’m sleeping and I can do the work.

This basically means for us, sailing straight to Florida isn’t going to be easy.  From here at five knots it would take us about 65 hours (give or take where we pull in).  And just two of us doing it.  Then we have to count on the engine from time to time to charge batteries if the sun isn’t out (solar, remember?)

Therefore we’ve come up with muliple plans to get south now.  From here we are planning to sail straight down to Jacksonville area.  And as we go we’ll make changes to our thinking based on the conditions we encounter and how tired we get.  We’re going to try it in pieces as well.  So, we’ve picked a half dozen distant spots to pull into if need be to anchor and rest.  We’ve also planned part of the route inside as well.

We have many options from here, but the main goal, to “get south and to warm” is the priority.  That and using the engine the least amount necessary, anchoring when we need to, and staying warm.

So as the year closes on us, we are shooting to be in Florida not later than about 3 weeks from now, whether we can move more quickly, or slowly will depend on a lot of factors including the weather and my ability to take us long distances on the boat.

To this day, I am not ready to lie down and sleep with the boat moving.  So, I’m probably going to have to learn that skill next 🙂

I want to wish everyone a “belated Merry Christmas” as I’m posting this the day after.

And I want to give everyone something to consider for the New Year.

Many people make “resolutions” to accomplish or do something important in the New Year.

I made a resolution never to make resolutions a long time ago, so I don’t do that.  But I do make plans, I do set goals, even if they are in my head and not written down.

For the cruisers, the dreamers and the wanna-be cruisers who’ve not quite gotten here yet, I’m going to give you a secret.

The secret to success is “perseverance”.

That is the secret ingredient to “success”.

If you have a dream to move aboard a boat and go cruising, you will have to work at it.  You will have to plan.  You will have to make decisions, some easy, some difficult.  You will have to write your notes down.  You have to learn to sail if you don’t know how.  You have to work your ass off.  You have to practice.  You have to learn new skills.  You have to travel a bit, you have to stay home a lot, you have to spend some money, and you have to save money.

With out laying out a map for you, I’ll tell you this:

  1. Make a plan (Do you want to cruise full time, or part time? Do you want to just travel the Chesapeake?)
  2. Get your skill set together as you go, every day work on it (Can you sail? Learn! Wood work? Plumbing?)
  3. Study hard, study sailing
  4. Save your money.  Spend it wisely on learning, important books you need (Use the LIBRARY, it’s FREE!)
  5. Pay your bills.  ALL Of them.  Eliminate them.  If you use a credit card, PAY it off EVERY MONTH.
  6. Have your goals written down and check them off as you go.  Once you get one, check it off. (Then go back and pat yourself on the back!)
  7. PERSEVERE!  Do NOT give up.  Do it.

Adversity has a way of weighing people down, depressing them, making them believe they can never get up again and sometimes adversity will literally break your back, bones, make you sick and leave you in pain.

Pain is the one thing that tells us we’re still alive and we should be doing something else.  Find a different route.

If you want to sail, do it.  Start small if you have too (I didn’t, I am glad I didn’t.  I started on a 30′ boat and went SMALLER to a 25′ boat for practice, and the 25;’ boat was like a part of my arm when I stepped aboard).  Getting on to a bigger boat like this ketch at first will be daunting and probably stop one from sailing without a very good instructor.

I’ve been teaching myself how to sail this boat.  She handles differently that a fin keel, from a sloop and from a dinghy.  She handles much differently that my little Venture did.  She has a mind of her own and I’ve had to learn to tame her, and make he go where I want her to go.  It’s difficult to do with no books on the subject and only the meager knowledge I gained from an instructor and sailing my own sloop.

The point, though, is don’t give up.  Continue.  Persevere.

That, folks, is the secret to success.  You just take that and apply it to your set of circumstances.  YOU are the one to make it happen.

All our best for a Happy New Year – and I mean the whole of 2017.

We’ll see you in the Warm.

Rick and JoAnne

(PS I will add images into this a bit later, so check back when you have time)

 

 

Coinjock to Belhaven

Here are some notes I wrote the other day to put into the blog.  I’m just too lazy today to rewrite everything into a different set of notes.  But, it gives you an idea of my thinking a couple of days ago versus today.

Traveling

We departed early yesterday (Election Day, 8 November 2016) morning from Coinjock, at Midway Marina.

We dropped anchor at Tuckahoe Point, directly in front of the Alligator River-Pungo Canal entrance about 1525. JoAnne wrote “Anchor Down” at that time. We found 7-9 feet of water moving out of the channel to that particular spot. We spent the night on a quite anchor, occasionally hearing engines coming through the canal (I believe for the most part they were barges being push by tugs.

This morning (9 November 2016) we up anchored at about 0700. We went back down to the spot I’d entered the anchorage and we turned into the channel right after a barge went through past us in the channel.

Through out the trip we saw birds and occasional fish jumping. Did not run aground (that’s a good thing!) and managed to remain mostly in the center of the channel.

We were passed by mostly power boats, the majority of whom did not call us and ask, just usually blew past us leaving a large wake shaking us up pretty hard and usually before I get get the bow into the wake. A few called us. Every sailboat that passed (three I think) called us and requested permission, and asked which side to pass. A couple of power boats did the same thing, but generally the power vessels ignored us like we weren’t there.

One guy, who passed me as we entered into the very large area just out of the canal had been calling sailboat behind us all day, requesting permission to pass, and was polite all the way through. His boat name was “Trixie”. When he passed us, we had a very wide area and he didn’t need to call me, but I called him and told him to pass, and I’d slow for him. He thanked me and went on around with no wake. He was the largest boat we’d seen in the canal moving.

At Coinjock Marina the morning we pulled out, there was a very HUGE cruise ship sitting there I think called Independence. It was taking up 50% of the docks and honestly, I have no idea how they got in there or where they came from!

I have been checking the engine carefully either the night of the stop or morning before we pull out, and adding a tint bit of oil to keep it at the right level, and checking the belt, the bolt on the alternator, coolant levels and the fuel.

Tonight, we’re at about a 1/2 tank of fuel on one tank. Full on the other. We have good coolant. I’ll probably have to add a tad bit of oil in the morning.

I put up the enclosure tonight, cleaned the deck (mud from anchor), added gas to the generator and fired it up a bit ago so I can run the shortwave, and do this blog. We have no internet or phone service at all here, therefore I’m writing this “ahead” of being posted. I’ll post it as soon as I have service again.

Tomorrow, we will be doing a very short day and stopping in a small creek or river across the Neuse River (away from the “magenta line” and away from the crowd for the most part. A lot of people are heading south and the marinas and anchorages are getting filled quickly (the standard and well known anchorages). We’ve been looking for things slightly off the beaten path because then we don’t deal with dragging anchors and loud noises haha.

Tomorrow, we’re looking at two places. Either a very short run of about 25 statute miles or a 40-something run. I did not find a good anchorage at shorter distances.

I’ll write more later.

Now, is later…. so.

With plans to be out of here this morning I woke up early, and made coffee, JoAnne was putting things away and I went outside to take the trash and visit the head.  And then got to thinking.

Tonight it is supposed to rain.  And tomorrow, it’s supposed to rain all day where we will be on anchor.  And it’s pretty chilly and JoAnne is getting cold and can’t stay warm.  So, debating about getting 25 miles south of here to an anchorage where we sit all night and all day tomorrow in the rain with no internet connection, versus sitting on the dock an extra two days with electricity, wifi, access to showers, head, town (and I need to replace a propane tank) caused a quick discussion, and a go-over of the weather reports.

The final decision?  We didn’t leave.  We will wait out the chill and rain here on a dock until Tuesday.

Tuesday through Friday should be 60s (warmer than the frost last night for sure), no rain, plenty of sun, light winds (for crossing the next two large bodies of water) and we will have North West Winds on Tuesday for the Neuse River which should be pretty ok, since we will be motoring anyway.  The winds will be too light for us to sail starting today for the next week anyway.

So – comfort has been a major determining factor for us.  If it’s kicking up and good sailing weather, we’re ok with that, as long as it’s kicking up in the right directions.  Why go out and get our asses kicked trying to hold a course under sail when there are channels to worry about?

A friend asked me the other day, “In a do-over, would you chose a different boat?”

I believe at this point the answer is a resounding “YES”.

To travel the ICW in a full keel, deep draft sailboat isn’t fun or easy, and nothing about it has been simple.  I’ve had more white knuckle moments than sitting in a Jungle in Central America getting shot at caused me.  I could at least shoot back.  I can only adjust the sails in changing winds – which is great if you’re not constrained by the channel….

I’m certain that, somewhere down the line we will wind up sitting on an anchorage, in the wind, rain and hail or something and waiting out another weather condition.  So, why bother putting yourself in that situation?  When it comes right down to it, we’re honestly not in a huge hurry to go anywhere in particular.  We just want to eventually get someplace warm.

What is funny is, when I ask “Where are you headed?” to the other cruisers, all have the exact same response, “Someplace warm… south….”

We have met some very nice people so far along this part of the trip.  All of them save one or two are like us, first timers.  Many have only been at cruising for two or three months.  One person has been sailing forty years, but this is his first trip down the ICW.  Another retired a few weeks ago and started down.

In general, ALL of them have had almost the exact same thinking processes as we have.  Make a plan, get the plan in motion, move the boat south – and every one of them have had the same thoughts of “quitting”, going back home, the boat was wrong for the journey, and a host of other tid bits about this trip.

In other words, all of the people who’ve gone before us who had no issues probably had the same issues and they didn’t consider them to be “issues”, or just problems to be solved.  I think that is perhaps the best attitude.  Everything is a problem to be solved, and solving it is what comes to the forefront when dealing with moving the boat.

Whether it is plumbing, engine issues, alternator issues (as in our case), fuel problems, electronics malfunctions or simple failures, we all have the same problems with which to deal.  In my case, it seems like there are more problems to solve at once probably because I let them get to me and worry about them too much.

One problem we had was the charts we have.  For some reason, I don’t even recall why now, I picked up ALL the charts for the east coast.  And yet, did NOT pick up all the charts for the east coast.  I was missing a rather important set.  Florida and the Keys.  How I did that, I’m not sure.  Perhaps because I took one of the chart titles at it’s word and didn’t actually open it up and look inside until much later.

That chart (Maptech) says “Norfolk to Florida”.  I made a dumb assumption I suppose and thought it contained Florida charts.  Nope.  It should really have said “Norfolk to Florida: Not inclusive of Florida” haha.  Anway, I mentioned this and Judy Long and Stephen who were in Washinton offered to come and bring the chart.  When I said I didn’t want them to make a special trip, they said they were coming anyway.

Turns out, and I had not quite put the puzzle pieces together yet, Bentana, their boat is sitting nearby!  So they were coming to deal with some problems too, on their ship.  So we had a get together on our boat, with some wine and nibbles.  And they brought the missing chart for me.

I still need the one for the West Coast of Florida, but apparently Maptech is phasing them out now.  Everything is going digital.  Mark my words, that’s a BAD idea…. but that’s another discussion for another time.

Alright, time to get going to get some propane.  The hardware store opens at 1300 today.  I’ll take a golf cart into town (it’s four blocks, long ones, but I don’t want to carry that tank back all the way)!

Lastly, I’ve uploaded some images of things along the way.  Hope you enjoy the image dump!

Here’s some pictures of places along the way:

Sunset over Cole’s Point Marina before departure

ICW Canal

Norfolk Naval Station

Two very large ships… Aircraft Carriers (Don’t know which ones)

The same A/C carriers in the above picture, from Willoboughy Bay.  Adventure in the foreground.  We were aboard the s/v Acadia visiting and going over charts with Marcia and Jon

Behind us somewhere a couple of days ago

The Sailing Ketch Adventure in the back, Sailing Schooner Adventure in the front

Sailing Schooner Adventure

(Our neighbors one night)

The Great Bridge Lock

Great Bridge Lock, looking back

Taylor, from Atlantic Yacht Basin, Great Bridge

(Thanks for everything, Taylor!)

Me, JoAnne and the USS Sequoia – Presidential Yacht, Fishing Bay Marina

Some Right Piraty Looking Rigging

A visit to the Reedville area, and we discovered this ketch waiting for Kurt to come and get her in the water 🙂

Lo-Kee

Lo-Kee

Willoboughy Bay – Elizabeth River, Virginia

We spent the night of 30 October 2016 in a little river called the Poquoson River. Last year on the 17th of October, we were up that same area, but in a different creek. The next morning we had prepared to wait out some chilly weather and some stonger winds when the marina I’d planned to go to for some assistance on the rigging finally called back with the words, “IF you can get here TONIGHT (it was a Sunday), then we can look at your boat tomorrow.”

Against my better judgement, we pulled anchor and made for that marina. We didn’t really have a choice (we did, but we were led to believe if we didn’t hurry we were going to be delayed) and we did it anyway.

Yesterday, we looked at the weather and headed down the bay. It was nice, cool, but nice. Crossed into the Elizabeth River and made it a short hop to Willoboughy Bay, just past the bridge Tunnel on the Elizbeth River. We anchored out last night, and today was supposed to bring winds. And about 2-3 AM this morning, the weather reports came to fruition.

A Nor’easter like last year, slammed the Bay. Listening to weather reports there were 4-5 foot waves, and gusts at 30 knots from the NE all today. The warnings are in place until this evening. Several sailboats, including one traveling with us, wisely remained on anchor this morning. In checking my GPS settings, it appears we’ve not moved at all, no dragging last night or today.

Thankfully, the winds have somewhat simmered down and the waves have stopped slapping us. We’re still rocking and rolling a bit, but I have the mizzen sail out a bit to help point us into the wind. Works pretty well. Winds are currently out of the NNE at about 15. Gusts are about 19 now, instead of the almost 30 knots they were earlier this morning.

Our companion boat, “Acadia” with Marcia and Jon were ready to head for a staging at Hospital Point this afternoon. I pointed out that though I haven’t been there, it appears unprotected from the north and in the river, so besides currents there are wakes from passing vessels. Everyone opted to stay put here. Since this is the first time for all of us to traverse this area, we all felt it prudent to wait a little longer. We’re all “novices” at something. I’m not a sailor novice any more, but I’m a “cruiser novice” and I’m still pretty timid about driving this monster. She’s got a full keel, doesn’t turn rapidly unless we’re moving quickly. The rudder and keel combination just doesn’t bite quickly at slower speeds.

Our next destination is somewhere around the Gillerton Bridge and/or the locks. Or something. I’m unclear at this point on what our decision was yesterday because mostly it was the ladies looking over the charts and telling us where to go… which is typical I suppose. 🙂 Honestly, that’s not the case, it’s a joke; we all know where we’re headed, we’re just not SURE where our destination will be due to the large number of cruisers passing through.

We tried the Atlantic Yacht Basin south in the channel near (past) the locks and they “couldn’t guarantee” anything for us, except they MIGHT have docks with no water or power… of course they cost the same as those with water and power…. ok. I guess we will play it by ear at this point.

While a nicer day might have more boats headed south with us, I think that’s ok. I also think I really need the “practice” in busy areas. I was white knuckling it through the river at the bridge tunnel before I figured out everyone wanted to go fast, faster than me and I mostly let them, except for the barge whom I cleared almost 2 miles in front of him and he was only doing about 4.5 knots anyway. I was going faster.

One sailboater was coming from my starboard side while I was traveling a channel under power (now I’m a power boat, and he’s obviously a sail boat perhaps under power, perhaps not, so I gave him benefit of doubt) on a crossing path. Cool. But he maintained course and speed. According to the rules he was wrong on two counts. Yes, he was a sailboat, I was under power. But a sailboat approaching from a “behind position” which he was doing, gives way to the motorboat – and I was in a channel (shallow I might add, and we were in an area where had I gone out, I could have gone aground with my draft). However, I gave way as a “power boat” because he did not appear to be doing anything and I couldn’t go any faster. Going slower was rather difficult too in the location based on the winds on the nose as it would have slowed me significantly. Which it did.

And being a sailboater, I gave way anyway to avoid a collison. Now, I’m sure there are some out there that might argue that I should have given way as I was motoring, and I’ll point out now, you weren’t there. I was. He was approaching from the rear (off the starboard quarter) at a pretty good clip and COULD have passed easily behind me, but CHOSE to pass me and cut in front of my bow. I honesty would never have tried that with anyone, or any boat unless traveling at a significant speed faster than the boat being approached and even then would have passed him father forward, changed course to parallel the other boat or passed behind.

Am I complaining? Not at all. Pointing out what we saw. The boat behind us thought we should have kept going instead of coming almost to a dead stop. I didn’t want to risk a collision (which was becoming rapidly apparent at that point). I will point out that the other boat was sailing with two sails up on a starboard tack, and we were driving into 24 knot winds at the time. I couldn’t have sailed there to save my life due to the depth challenges in that area. Oh well.

Today it is chilly. In the mid 50s. I ran the generator for a couple of hours to ensure charging of the batteries, and shut it down a bit ago, leaving the solar panels working and the refigeration turned on to chill things back down.

I’m about to go sit at the table and go over the charts carefully, so I know the charts, the course, what I can expect and where the bridges are located. We already know there are two railroad bridges we should be able to traverse easily. We’ll need tides/times tomorrow, and to know the exact bridges/lock, times for those and approximately how quickly we will get there and can traverse the area, and finally where to stop tomorrow night.

We all have our own ideas, and as long as those ideas somewhat jive and don’t put anyone in danger, a handfull of Noobs should be able to accomplish what thousands of others have done routinely. (That’s the best part about books, and knowledge from others, you aren’t doing it FIRST, just the first time for you.)

Engine:  The engine in this boat is a Perkins 4-108.  Nice engine.  Leaks though.  Found it’s dripping oil (finally).  Can’t find the location though.  Had the alternator bolt loosen yet again.  Tightened it up.  Checked new belt, it’s fine.  Added a little over a pint of oil this morning.  Need to watch this thing carefully from here on out.

My friend Jeff Ryan (@K0RM –  Former ARRL section Manager) in Colorado has a mechanic/boater friend down range from here.  Gave me his name, over in Washington, NC I think he said.  Supposed to send me information to contact him.  He’s a master mechanic, and a boater, lives aboard.  Probably understands what we’re going through too.  I’ll give him a call passing through just to say hi if nothing else from Jeff.   Either way, babying the engine will likely turn into a full time job for me.  It’s another reason I chose to remain at anchor today instead of pushing the limits through waves I didn’t want to deal with (and currents, and wind, all of which were in opposition this morning).

Man, I’m learning some of this the hard way (by reading about it, then experiencing it first hand) lol

I will add to this, or edit it later. Right now, I only have a hot spot to access the Internet and have to turn it on and off as necessary to prevent wasting the data. I can’t type this on my telephone, the tablet or hand write it to the Internet.. so that’s the way it is for now. LOL

Safe At Fishing Bay – Part Two

I sort of ended on a half thought out “thought” yesterday.

When we headed into the bay here yesterday, the wind was almost dead on the nose.  Once we cleared Windmill Point it slackened a bit, but not much.

Haul out:  Today… we got our haul out and clean.  The bottom was covered in barnacles and stuff.  Not too much slime as I think we peeled it off on the run down the Potomac River a couple days ago.  We managed almost, but not quite 7 knots under sail alone for most of that trip.  I was pretty impressed with the boat, even as dirty as her bottom turned out to be.  I think some of our speed issue yesterday was the prop being covered in barnacles as well.

They cleaned it, removed the wildlife, and some of the paint in the process.  Replaced a zinc on the prop (which was simply GONE. No idea when it came off, or where it might have gone to).  Rudder and prop looked good.  I checked all the through hulls for any damages, problems or barnacles in them, all were ok.

I was able to easily bring the boat from the dock we were on, diagonally across the channel to the lift slip, the guys grabbed the bow and held her while the wind shove the stern around, and they pulled me in backward.  Killed the engine climbed off and watch the lift, and even took pictures.

I just wish we were going to have paint put on before we leave but, not happening.  I’ll be doing the next cleaning myself when I dive the boat in the Bahamas I hope.

Tomorrow our mail should arrive, we’ll hit “town” once (I need a couple of things from West Marine and we need to hit the grocery store for small things), mail in our ballots, I’ll prep the boat for depature tomorrow afternoon after we do our running around, and we’ll back out of this slip early, round the bay, raise the sails and try to look competent for once. lol  (Can’t get stuck here except in two places, and I KNOW where they are.  I’ll avoid those at all costs).

Engine:  Had an electrical guy come in to help me trouble shoot what I thought was a problem.  The Alternator.

There was no problem with the Alternator.  My batteries… not so sure of them, but we’re going to watch them closely and see how they do.  They appeared properly charged, the alternator appeared to be sending voltage properly.

Alternator Belt:  Not so good. Over heated somehow.  Neither the mechanic, me, or the guy at NAPA could figure it out.  Probably too loose was the diagnosis.  I replaced the belt, bought a spare to replace the one I used (I’ve got three spares right now, might get a couple more though).  I did buy extra bolts to replace the one.  I need someone with a laser checker to determine of that stuff is out of kilter, but no one seems to have one, or know what I’m talking about.
Cleaned up the deck, coiled some lines I’d left hanging from the dinghy davits (I was in a hurry to escape from Reedville and didn’t take the time to mess with it, and fortunately, it wasn’t in my way, and I ignored it, otherwise we’d have missed the time yesterday to get in here before the place closed shop for the evening).

Cruising and Pretending to Be Cruisers:  I have begun to suspect the other cruisers out there.  So many talk about minor issues, going from place to place like they are teleporting down from the USS Enterprise on an Away Mission, and going back to the ship with no problems.  Rarely do I see real “problems”.  Although, a few do write up their problems, I’ve also noted a distinct and at times ridiculous ability of others to put down those actually “doing it”.

Basically, the reason I write this blog is to document (for our family) the trials and tribulations we go through just to move the boat from one place to the next.  I’ve figured out that EVERYTHING is difficult, and sometimes impossible to do – but we’re here to do the “impossible”.  My wife and I have performed the impossible in our jobs, our lives, our daily existence and we’ll continue, I suppose to do so until we can’t any more.

But I guess what I don’t like in the cruising community isn’t the cruisers.  It’s not the boats.  It’s not the travel.  It’s not the places we go, people we meet, or the stuff we get to do. Instead it’s the online Forums.  I used to frequent several of them as we were learning.  I thought in my naivety that people were helpful (and indeed PEOPLE are helpful, outside, in person, on other boats, in marinas, walking by, standing on docks).  The people who are unhelpful are those who also frequent those same forums I was frequenting.

I have yet to meet ONE of the people (who sometimes came off as obnoxious assholes on the forum) in person.  I wonder then where these “cruisers” are?  At home?  In a nice warm home, sitting by the fireplace with their tablets talking down to the people who are actually out there?  Probably.

Now, a few months ago I wrote up our problems in a marina in Norfolk.  I even clearly stated I didn’t have any problems with the PEOPLE there, and they were wonderful, but the problems we encountered were inside that marina, most all of them were the result of others’ actions.  With the except of my wife falling off a dock (which they had placed a boat on we were going to visit, the dock being partially disassembled and probably too dangerous anyway, but we CHOSE to walk there… but I digress).  Asking them to do things, expecting a good job and then paying for the services performed is normal in ALL walks of life and a marina is NO different.

I made a couple of enemies over that blog post and it’s still bugging me a bit.  The REASON it bugs me is the one lady is a cruiser, an accomplished cruiser, smart lady but she took my blog post as an attack.

I’m making it clear here and today, my blog, my posts, my words are mine.  This blog is about what happens to JoAnne and I and our boat, Adventure.  It’s NOT about anyone else’s experiences.  It’s NOT about putting down or ridiculing others.  It’s about making SURE that anyone that reads this blog can see what experience WE had.

Take it as you wish, a story, a warning, or simply a blog post.  But, I don’t accept rude comments in the comment section, and I’ll block you on Facebook if you attack me in that mode over something I’ve posted here.  I tell the truth about what we have had happen to us.  Period.

Don’t like it, don’t read it.

The header says “Cruisers and Pretending to be Cruisers” for a reason.  There are people who I know sit at home and post insulting messages all the time on some of the more “popular forums” online.  That is the reason I walked away from them.  I still check from time to time for information, but even on Facebook now, I’ve stopped offering help.  I’m a radio guy.  Electronics tech and later engineer.  My expertise is in building, maintaining and repairing systems – complex systems.  And yet, one guy told me how “stupid” I was about radio antennas. I just laughed and moved on (I’ve designed and built a dozen different antennas, I’m an Amateur Extra Class ham operator, I held a Third, Second and First Class Radio Telephone license over the years, I spent eight years as a Senior Radio Tech for the White House.  I know my stuff, I don’t tolerate people calling me stupid when it comes to radio and electronic theory).  But that incident occurred not ONCE, but three or four times over the years on similar subjects because people are NOT educated in electronics and claim they are.  But they continue to pass on “Myths” as truths.

Therefore, I no longer assist people when they spout this kind of stuff.  If they want to listen to “Free Advice” from the local yokel on the forum who is spouting nonsense or the “Free Advice” from a profession (I’m not asking anyone to pay for the information I provide), so be it.  Good luck not getting electrocuted, or RF burns.

A lot of the issues we run into daily are things no one really mentioned (some cruisers write books and I do see where we ALL go through the same learning curves).  But there are a LOT of people who go out on weekends, travel down the Bay, turn around and go home and that is certainly “cruising”.  But, they go back home to their home, their job, the rat race and sit down at their computer and pooh pooh things some of us have to ask about.  It’s insulting for them to do it.

Lately, Facebook and some of the forums there have degenerated to the same degree.  I’m sincerely saddened by the people who feel it more fun to attack others for “being stupid”, insult them by calling them names, tell them how dumb they were to “do this or that”, and never give an honest opinion of what THEY did to get around similar problems.

Ok… I guess that’s enough for my rant.   I guess I needed to vent.  Now, WHY did I write all that?

An insulting comment I deleted without even reading the whole thing.  It started, “Smart people wouldn’t have gotten stuck…” and went on from there about my blog post yesterday.

All I can say is some people are assholes and really, honestly, need to get a life.

Presidential Yacht:  As I mentioned, I spent eight years at the White House doing communications for President Reagan and George H.W. Bush.  During that time I flew on Marine One, Air Force One, Air Force Two and was even on a couple of boats in Kennebunkport, ME with Bush Sr. doing my job.  In all that time I never saw the Presidential Yacht.  As it turns out, I saw it last year when we passed through here and didn’t realize it.

Yesterday I happened to look again, and thought I was looking at a house being built.  Turns out, it’s the USS Sequoia, sitting on a rail ramp and she’s been sitting here for a couple of years.  JoAnne spent some time looking up the boat and found out some fascinating information about the boat.  Hoover bought it, Kennedy and other Presidents rode on it, met heads of states, and Carter sold it.  A lot of other Presidents have been on it since it was sold.  It’s currently the object of a lawsuit and fight over ownership.  It’s also a National Monument.  Hope they get it worked out someday.

This is a plaque on the starboard side on a door.  It was too high up for me to read it.

The stern, you can see she is made from wood, and is dire need of work.

Name plate on the stern

The smoke stack on the top, Presidential Seal, name (USS Sequoia).  Sorry for the poor image quality, but that’s my phone.  My real camera is on the blink.

Here’s a shot of the starboard side.  She’s 105′ long according to the research we did today.  The US Navy used to station sailors on this ship to run her.  Carter sold her off under some “saving money” pretense apparently.  It appears that never happened with the government. 🙂

Fishing Bay Marina:  This is a WONDERFUL marina.  It is unlike any we’ve been in so far, with the possible exception of the Kona Kai on Shelter Island, San Diego.  The people are helpful, FAST, accurate, do what they say, and it’s not horribly expensive.  And we don’t have a lot of experience getting things fixed at Kona Kai. lol

They were prompt and efficient here, answered all my questions, sent a mechanic and electrician immediately this morning, pulled my boat, cleaned it and put her back with no issues.  I’ll HIGHLY recommend this place.  However, be aware coming in, it’s quite a distance in from Chesapeake Bay, and there’s a rather circuitous route to get here.

Fishing Bay is large and you can put a large number of boats at anchor.  There were at least seven or eight out there today, some as large as us.  One catamaran was considerably larger than us in all directions.  The fuel dock is easy to access, and is a long, fixed dock so you can roll right up and tie off.  All the posts and pilings have plastic built-in fenders.  In fact putting out fenders just gets in the way here.  All of the docks I’ve seen are fixed.

The bathrooms are large, clean and have showers (3 in women’s, 2 in men’s). Ladies get a hair dryer, most of the guys seem bald that I’ve met lately…haha.  There’s a “Captain’s Lounge” with radio, TV, CD player, books and games, Laundry (one dryer, one washer), Pool (closed now), grill (propane), covered patio.  Next door is the boat yard.  Courtesy bicycles and car.  The BEST part are the people.  The owner (I think) is Jon Farinholt, the folks in the office, were awesome, helpful and nice.  The boat yard is run by Jon’s brother, Lee.  The mechanic was great, the electrician was named Rick and was helpful. (Side note, in the space of thirty minutes today, I met no less than FIVE “Ricks” around the place, and heard at least one other guy from a boat called “Rick” besides me.  RICK is a pretty cool name, if I say so myself).

So – there’s my answer to “Cobb’s Marina” in Norfolk.  It wasn’t a BAD place, but the showers sucked, it’s a working yard, dirty, noisy and if you like that sort of thing, great.  No pool, the folks were ok, but they rarely had a smile for you, didn’t really want to talk to you and I stand by my original report of the place.

By the way…. if you’ve not run aground while cruising… either you’re really new at it, you’ve gotten lucky, or you’re lying.  Even very smart people do it.  It happens.  Especially when you look at the charts and it’s not marked as shallow.  Good luck

Fishing Bay, VA

We arrived here on Friday, one day.  Long trip. Had engine problems, lots of wind, no wind, wind in the wrong places….

Anyway, we’ve been sitting in Fishing Bay, Va, through the deluges of rain.  It’s actually raining again, but only drizzle.

We are planning to leave in the morning and try to make it as far as we can, but had “Sandy Point” as one route (it’s about 29nm) and some places up along the Coan River and… somewhere else I’m not remembering at the moment.  Anyway, it’s all written down and I can check the book we use to plan our locations.

Weather is looking ok tomorrow  Cloudy tonight. T-storms tonight, 54F.  Tomorrow sunshine and 80s.  But almost not winds. So motor sailing I guess.  Fortunately I filled the tanks today. Winds have all but died down.  They were pretty strong last night, but my anchor held well.

Dinner tonight was salmon and salad. And a couple of Guinness!  Wonderful!  I hope that one day soon it will be salmon I caught.  I’m getting the hang of things, I think.  Except the sitting and patience part.  That’s gonna take a lot longer.

The marina apparently left some parts off.  Nuts, lock washers, washers… on the bow.  The bow platform is damaged again because of it too.  The anchor roller came lose trying to bring up the anchor.  I found no screws in it (ok, ONE, but no washers to speak of on either one).  I spent an hour putting washers, lock wasters and new nuts on some of the screws.  Unfortunately, when the anchor came up it slammed into the platform and punched a nice hole in it.  I’m considering ripping that thing off and putting in a solid platform instead of that “fancy thing”.  I want something sturdy and useful, not “cute and expensive looking”. I’m trying of crap breaking because it’s built like willowy lace and not solid oak.

We have two leaks.  Kurt thinks one might be from the port hole. I’ll tear it out when I get a minute and check, and seal it.

The other one is the butterfly hatch.  That needs to be sanded, sealed and varnished (or as some say, oiled).  The consensus on varnishing teak, versus oiling, versus leaving it to go gray just isn’t there.  I’ve gotten twenty different opinions, all different. hahaha

On the boat top, deck and topsides, I’m leaving it alone for now and keeping it clean.  It looks great that way.  One suggestion is, if I use oil, to use tung oil, because it tends to form a hard surface.  I might do that.  Or at least put it in a couple places to test it.

Anyway… I’m tired, we’re leaving early tomorrow and I need to sleep.  So… until next time, this is the sailing ketch Adventure signing off!

 

New Home

We got up early this morning (about 0800, that’s retired-people-early) and got ready to go, and drove 2.5 hours north of Norfolk to a marina that Kurt Seastead sent up too.  Kurt is a good friend whom we made after he invited us to the Transworld 41 Facebook Page.

He recommended this marina for a lot of reasons, but mostly because he’d kept a boat there, it’s close to his “family vacation home” in the area and it will handle our keel and mast height.

The marina was a long damned drive from here in Norfolk.  Two and a half hours by car.  One hundred twenty-one miles by car.  It’s about an eighteen hour sail, but I’ve not measure it on the charts yet… something for me to do tomorrow.

Anyway, they had nice bathrooms, a pool, they have camping and cabins.  The owner and I have a LOT in common.  He and I are both ex-Air Force.  He and I both worked for the Missile Defense Agency.  Two of the guys he introduced me to are former Navy Chiefs, guys for whom I have a lot of respect anyway.  So all of us are former military.  All of us are sailors to boot.  How cool is that?

The marina is half the cost of the place we’re currently located.

So…. JoAnne and I have to work out the details.  We have to get a car, bicycle and a boat up there for the summer.  So, likely we will rent a car in the area where the new marina is located, take it and our car and my bike over there, then drop them, drive back to Norfolk…. turn in the rental, have them drop us at our old marina, and then drive the boat up.

We will take between 3-5 days to move the boat in the day time.  JoAnne’s back still isn’t up to doing night shifts, and sleeping two or three hours between shifts.  Thought, God knows, that lady can sleep if there’s a nuclear war going on around here, and I CAN NOT.  Which is the problem. I’d rather stay awake and do the job and sleep when the zombies are dead than try to sleep when bombs and shot guns are going off around me.

I haven’t been right since certain incidents have happened to me.  Long ago, I could sleep anywhere, standing up.  Now, I can’t sleep if a cat sneezes six blocks away.  Oh well.

What remains is setting a date that includes decent sailing weather for sailing northward up the Chesapeake Bay and into the Potomac River.  Probably some time next week.

 

Update: 2 September 2015


JoAnne and I arrived here on the 27th intending to spend a couple of days.  Those couple of days turned into almost a week now. 

However, we enjoyed our time here and meeting new friends.  Judy and her husband Stephen of S/V Bentaña were our hosts and we met with them several times.  Stephen went way, way out of his way to help me when we arrived to get the alternator repaired and a part welded, driving me all over New Jersey to find places that might have parts. 

On our way out of the docks at Stony Point, the boat proved just how slow to respond she is and I nearly bashed into the sea wall while trying to turn.  I gave us a little too much power and the boat didn’t move at first then picked up momentum.  Slowing her down wasn’t easy either.  Lots of back thrust of course.  Missed the wall, as Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 would say, “By THAT much”.

We set a course for the channel and made that in good time, though some of the markers we were looking for we never actually located. We traveled in the middle of the channel at first then moved to one side to make sure we weren’t in the way of anything. A barge passed us, then what appeared to be a crane. As we got closer I suddenly realized it was a light marker, not a crane and it was marking a huge rock formation. I was driving us on the wrote side. Doh!

After checking the chart I realized my mistake and figured out we were further along than I’d thought.

The chart plotter isn’t working and I can’t get it working as it is too old and too broke I guess.

About two miles out of Nyack, we decided to come in and pick up a mooring. The day before we’d visited there and a couple of the guys sitting there told us that we didn’t need to call in to just pick up the mooring. We did that. We knew there was a $20 per night fee and have no problem paying it, but apparently some were concerned we wouldn’t 🙂 We did later in the week.

Today is Tuesday the 2nd and we were going to leave about an hour before high tide today to head across the river to get fuel, water and a pump out of the holding tank. About 5 minutes after I started the engine, I began checking the boat and found we were over riding the mooring for some reason. I backed the engine slowly to pull us off the mooring and something didn’t sound right.

Alternator, again. This time nothing was broken but it isn’t, or wasn’t installed correctly to begin with and when I put it back in, I put it in the same way it came out. Wrong. I took it BACK out, about 30 times, and had to add washers, a longer bolt and a few new nuts and stuff to make it line up correctly. Now I know why it broke in the first place.

Of course we were about 5 minutes from high tide and it will take us 20 minutes to cross the river, and probably an hour to get water, fuel and pump out putting us on the down side of the time. Not bad except that it gets shallow over there at low tide.

Most likely we’ll try again in the morning. High tide tomorrow is later, around 1 PM so we should try to get out of here early enough to motor across, give us time to get in, out and look for engine issues.

We haven’t sailed a boat this large in almost 10 years, even though it doesn’t seem so long ago. The last time we sailed anything was four years ago, so you can imagine the concern we have. This isn’t an ocean where we won’t hit anything, or a lake we know like the backs of our hands. It’s a busy river with a lot of traffic, some rather large vessels along with a lot of speeding boats who love to leave big wakes behind themselves. We are 1.2 miles from the Tapanzee Bridge where there is massive construction, a lot of construction barges and general construction traffic taking place. We have to pass there after getting fuel. So – we’re both a bit scared to do this.

But, the truth is we know we can do it. We just have to put one foot in front of the other…. or, water beneath our keel, or something.

We have enough little issues in the boat, piddly things mostly, to keep us busy for awhile. That said, I know we invited a lot of people to visit us and we still expect visitors, but give us some time to get used to the boat, get down stream, get south, avoid hurricane season and finish cleaning up and figuring out storage problems.

Right now our vee berth has become the go-to for storage. I currently have the shore power cables, solar panels, extra sails, loose items, extra lines, ropes, buckets, clothing, extra PFDs, tools and a few other things stored in there. The forward head has become my parts locker, or at least one of them.

So…. tomorrow we will do our best to head over across the river, get some fuel and make for either the 79th Street Boat Basin, or alternatively, find our way to Gravesend to drop anchor and figure out how to sail around New Jersey to Chesapeake Bay. If I am right, the Autohelm is working (I’ll test it tomorrow anyway to be sure) then we can do an over night if we need too. The moon is still pretty full.

That’s all for now friends. Hope you’re all doing well. As always, JoAnne and I look forward to hearing from you. Write us at Adventure.Rick.JoAnne@gmail.com

Fair Winds to all!

D-Day Approaches

Folks, I first apologize for not updating this blog sooner, but the truth is I have been working steadily since the last entry on various jobs and honestly haven’t had the time, nor energy left at the end of the day to sit down and write. Plus the tablet is a royal pain in the ass to use.

Yesterday our “unlimited data” became “limited” in speed. They FAILED to tell us that after so many gigs of data they reduce the SPEED. Bastards.

But, tomorrow is Thursday, the 27th. High tide here will be at about 8:53 in the morning. I’ve prepped everything to get out of the docks in the morning. I need to top off water, disconnect the hose, electrical system and undo a few of the dock lines.

Normally, I’d have three lines, but because of the weight of the boat, the flimsy dock fingers, the fact we’re sitting at low tide in 3 feet of water, I’ve decided that the wear and tear on the lines isn’t justified so I added extra lines. We bounce pretty good when a tug or a freighter goes by a thousand yards out, and the wake comes through the sea wall…. so I’ve been worried about ripping things apart since we go in this slip.

I’ll remove the lines, all but the last couple in the morning, and I’ll set them up to slip off so JoAnne or I can do it easily and we’ll be ready to go.

Our first trip will be a relatively short trip, down river to Nyack. It’s about 15 miles or so, perhaps 3 hours away. Not far as distances or time goes, but we want to make sure we can still sail, the systems function under sail, the engine runs well, the sheets, lines, sails and all the other items work correctly,

And that we float out, not sink in the middle of the marina.

And we can still remember how to sail.

Also, there’s a hurricane that will likely, by Saturday hit the southern US. We want to not go TOO far in case we need to run back up the river and find a hidey hole for a day or two.

Sounds like Erika might head for Chesapeake…. which is precisely where we want to go. We’re not ready to try to run south and beat a hurricane coming nothing. Not yet.

Prudence….

Anyway, that’s where we stand tonight.

I’m exhausted and need rest, and so does JoAnne.

For the past few days we spent a lot of money on other things, including provisioning the boat. As long as we have water we have enough food to last about a month. Without refrigeration. Which doesn’t work.

We do have water, we have toilets, sort of and need to go do a pump out. But we have at least once bad valve in one head, which is closed off for use now until we can repair it.

We made a lot of mistakes of stuff we kept and sent home too. More on that another time.

We sent home about 50% of our belongings.

But we DID, eventually, find a spot for almost everything. I’m still messy on some things but it will work itself out.

We have NOT set up the HF rig yet.

Haven’t been able to use our printer.

Etc.

But we’re getting where the major projects are becoming smaller things now.

Soon…. we can get a few more things done.

But, one mystery to solve at a time, and each little adventure at a time.

Today, we turned in our rental car at 3pm and they brought me back to the marina. My friend, Mark showed up to visit and we had a good chat. He took some good pictures, and I’ll get him to email then so they can be posted later.

And that friends is that for the night. I’m done, tired and have to get up pretty early.

All of our best to everyone.

Rick’s Thoughts on Pirates

This is not about the sailor that hoists the Jolly Roger at the local raftup, or the Parrot Head Pirate.  This is about real, modern-day pirates.

A sailor I know (cruiser and actual “Sailor”, former Navy SEAL) posted a link to Facebook a couple of days ago and I just got around to reading about it.  The article was about a pirate attack.  Not off the coast of Aden, not East Africa, not by Somalian Pirates; but by pirates of the Caribbean.

Andy Wasinger and Loretta Reinholdt relax on the beach at Jeanette Kawas National Park shortly after being rescued from the jungle following an attack by pirates in Honduras.

Andy Wasinger and Loretta Reinholdt relax on the beach at Jeanette Kawas National Park shortly after being rescued from the jungle following an attack by pirates in Honduras. (Ciro Vladimir Navarro Umana)

A couple from Canada recently were learning to sail with a hired skipper off the coast of Honduras.  Two weeks ago, retired nurse Loretta Reinholdt, 54, and former computer programmer Andy Wasinger, 46, set off in a 17-metre hired boat with a captain, heading from Belize to the Honduran island of Roatan.  Their purpose for being there was to learn to sail.  Instead they wound up being attacked by four armed men who boarded the boat and took them hostage, threatening to kill them for money.

https://i2.wp.com/travel.state.gov/content/dam/tsg-global/country-maps/ho-map.gif

“They were yelling,” said Reinholdt. “They were demanding more money. They didn’t believe we only had that amount. And the more angry they got, the more scary it was.”

“And,” she stated, “they actually had me, pulling my hair and a knife on my throat, demanding more money from the captain.”

Wasinger added: “I knew we had to comply with the pirates and not be heroes.”

The pirates then rammed the stolen boat into the shoreline of a remote beach in Jeanette Kawas National Park.

They cut the line to the main sail and tore out the engine wiring. They took the gasoline, the radio and the drinking water, leaving Reinholdt, Wasinger and the captain stranded in the jungle.

map of pirate ordeal

A map showing where the pirates grounded the couple’s sailboat in the Escondido Bay, and where the victims left SOS signals while they hid from the pirates in the jungle. (Google Earth )

The Canadian Government has put out substantial warnings about visiting Honduras.  The United States Department of State has at least one warning listed I could locate on the site:  http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/honduras-travel-warning.html

In 2014 a Canadian from Calgary was killed for his iPhone during a night on the town, bar hopping with a couple of local women.   While this did not happen on the water, the murderers are still “pirates” after a fashion.  Every country, including the US and Canada has it’s pirates.  Pirates are real.  They have no remorse or compunction about taking something from someone else, especially if they have this “perception” the victim is weaker, has money, is Rich, is Norte Americano.  Honduras, indeed many small countries in Central America, and islands in the Caribbean do not have vast sums of money to go around, and iPhones are like gold.  Many of these countries count on tourism and believe me, many of us have spent large sums on vacations in the region in the past.

Canadian Tim Vallee was shot and killed while on vacation in Honduras, October 2014.

The last time I was personally in Honduras, I was getting shot at from bad guys across the border of Nicaragua.  I seriously have no intention of revisiting that sort of environment in my life time – at least not with any deliberate consideration of doing so.  My thinking is that Americans, Canadians – and really anyone who ventures out on a sailboat into areas which have issued warnings about them are taking their lives into the hands.

The other thinking that many cruisers have is that “The world be damned, I’ll go where I wish….” and I can respect that.  I tend to think along similar lines.  But, when there are stories of “pirates” who actually attack people, your best bet is to be forewarned.  Praemonitus, praemunitus. Forewarned is forearmed.  Knowledge of the preexistence of danger in an area gives one the ability to logically determine if they wish to place themselves into a dangerous situation.

In general, most sailors I’ve met are relatively cautious individuals.  Absolutely so, the cruisers I’ve met.  They study the weather, fix broken things, watch the skies, the tides, reef before they should and so forth.  But many pooh pooh the dangers of the human animal believing that human beings are, at the heart all good people.

In my travels, not sailing, but flying from place to place, I’ve visited 50 countries.  I’ve encountered good, bad, evil and angelic people throughout the world.  No country in particular has any more of it’s bad share of people than any other.  There are concerns for places in the Middle East these days; and though I have been there in the past I won’t visit in the future.  The Caribbean has a long, storied history of Pirates.  Some countries, in particular those of a third world nature tend at having desperate people who take desperate measures, whether to feed themselves, or their children is irrelevant to me.   But, desperation at times drives good people to do bad things.

Cruisers should be wary.  They should not advertise “wealth”.  They should not wear expensive rings, and jewelry and in fact don’t even bring it to the boat with you if you can avoid it.  Leave it to your children if you’re traveling for extended periods of time, or leave it home if you’re going back soon.  Don’t flash your phone.  Wear cheap sunglasses.  Dress down, unless visiting the Port Captain of course….  separate your money.  Keep a small amount of spending cash in a pocket, anything extra hidden or plan better and don’t bring extra at all on the islands or into town.

Do common sense things; avoid people who look like they are trying to scope you out.

Finally, if you hear of, or know of attacks inform the local authorities if you can and warn other cruisers away if you can. However, don’t pass rumors, only get the facts, dates, times and exactly what you know or saw, or experienced.  Don’t repeat others’ stories as “sea stories” because they get blown out of proportion, the truth gets lost and eventually people discount what was told because it sounds just too outlandish.

For those who absolutely believe in the good in humans I wish you luck and hope and pray your beliefs hold true.

For the rest of us, there are other measures to fend off “pirates”.

Whether we have to use those methods… or die trying, is obviously, ultimately up to each of us to decide.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-couple-survives-pirate-attack-on-sailing-trip-in-honduras-1.3027545

http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2015/04/articles/crime/canadian-couple-attacked-sailing-to-roatan/

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/b-c-man-killed-in-honduras-over-iphone-1.1003267

Update:

There was one other blog entry on this subject on 6 April 2014.  This does not only affect people who are cruising sailboats, a crew member from a large cruise ship was also killed, for his iPhone as well.

http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2014/04/articles/crime/ncl-crew-member-shot-killed-in-roatan-honduras/

What do you think?

Alright – I know we don’t have many followers because quite frankly we’re not actually out there sailing yet.  At least not cruising anyway.

But for those who do read here, or see this message, I’d like to ask your advice.  Before I ask the question, let me give you some back ground.

 

We have been diligently looking for the “right boat for the right voyage”, a phrase used by our instructor years ago.  He would tell us that we needed to find the right boat for the voyage we intended to make and obviously this is good advice.  We bought our first two boats in Colorado for lake sailing – one was a dinghy and the other was our Macgregor Venture 25 with a swing keel.  Both were perfect for what we wanted to do.  Both have been sold since we thought we’d have been out of here by now.

When we found the boat we believe is the right one for our next voyage – through the Caribbean, we looked for a blue water capable boat that would be safe, comfortable, allow the two of us to sail the boat without extra crew and yet, allow us to take on 2-3 more crew for extended trips (and vacations for some of them, we were obviously thinking of our children and some friends to fill those slots).

So the boat had to be able to cross oceans and still go to the Caribbean, eventually to the Mediterranean and points north (England, Ireland, Scotland, France and Spain to name a few).  We found the boat in New York state.  Not precisely where I wanted to look (I was sticking to the Gulf Coast and Florida, my wife found THE boat in New York).

Her almost immediate suggestion was, “Since the boat is in New York, it’s common sense to consider sailing to Ireland…”

My first thought was “Yeah, that’s true.”  My second thought was “Oh, we’re not ready for that”.  I am not confident enough to attempt such a thing right off.  Not without plenty of experience on the boat.  While I am confident we CAN do it safely, it’s still going to be quite a learning curve to jump off the face of the world and into the Deep Blue North Atlantic, dodging icebergs, whales and the Roaring Forties.

A friend (and an author) Matt Bracken suggested the ICW to me.  I’ve been reading up on it, but it wasn’t precisely my idea of setting sail to the Caribbean either.

However, in looking at this I am beginning to think that this would be “smooth sailing” for us to both break in the two of us to the boat, and do our shake down cruise doing short Atlantic stints instead of trying to do it all at once.

So – the question, or request for advice is simple.

If you have already “done” the ICW, what are your thoughts of going North to South along the course and what do you think about this idea?

Thanks in advance if you comment.

Rick

Cruising Skills

In the five years we’ve been preparing to sell the house and get out cruising we’ve had to learn a LOT of things.  We’ve bought books and read web sites of knowledgeable people, asked questions and performed “hands on, on-the-job” training for many different things.

A while back I created a list of skills that occurred to me as I was trying to decide where to go in my “learning curve” next.  The list is a couple of pages long with several dozen skills listed.  Many things we know “in real life” can translate.  As an example I have traveled to many countries and as a military member had personnel for whom I was responsible on various trips through foreign ports.  We generally (as a team chief) would check in at terminals and customs with the passports for our team members and make sure things went (relatively smoothly); this equates to a skipper checking into and out of a port for example.  Not exactly the same thing with a boat as a traveling crew, but similar enough.

The funny part is that the list of skills required to run a boat on a daily basis is as varied as one can imagine.  In fact when we started down this path the thought didn’t occur to us as first how many things we’d have to know and understand.

From some of my reading I figured out that some folks don’t know enough when they start, but learn as they go.  Others prepare before leaving.  Some never get off the dock because they are still preparing themselves or fitting out their boats; some for years it appears.

In our case we have enough “life skills” that we can equate to something on the boat to at least give us a leg up.

As life goes on the wise become wiser as they realize they don’t have every skill they need to do something, and KNOW they don’t KNOW.

As another example looking at the list there is a category called “Electrical” or “Electrics” for a vessel.  Various people call the electrical “stuff” on a boat by various names.  As an electronics technician for nearly forty years, it’s all the same to me.  Ohms and Watts laws, resistance, current, voltage, soldering, crimping, inductance, capacitance, analog and digital are the same ashore or afloat.  The one thing thrown in that isn’t there ashore is salt water, salt air and dampness.  Those are separate issues with which to contend.  So, I suspect I’m more thoroughly prepared than most for electrical issues.  My list looks like this, and remember these are just a few things that came to mind:

Electrical Skills

  • Lighting
  • Navigation lights
  • Anchor lights
  • Cabin lighting
  • Wiring
  • Power calculations
  • Power panel wiring
  • Solar Power
  • Wind generator
  • Alternator (engine)
  • Inverters
  • Radio systems (VHF, HF)
  • Antennas and the connections to the radios
  • Antenna couplers (tuning units)
  • Stereo systems and speakers
  • Computers
  • Windlass
  • Miscellaneous electrical systems

When you begin to break down the systems on a vessel into smaller units like the above you start to realize that everything isn’t as simple as it seems at first.  In the past few years I read a lot of information on various forums about radios (I’m an expert in that field by the way, more so than any other area probably) and realized that there is so much misinformation out there about many things.  And the numbers of opinions vary to the point of being so wrong and incorrect it’s amazing that some folks are able to “get by” let alone “survive”.  (I’m not just talking about electrical systems here either).

The hardest lesson I learned in the last five years wasn’t how to set an anchor properly, tack, gybe or dock a vessel.  It was learning NOT to listen to others in some instances (many in fact).  I’ve also learned from others by asking questions.  But when one asks a perfectly honest and normal “newb” question and gets twelve different opinions, most of which aren’t even right to begin with, or gets yelled at for asking “stupid questions without looking it up” before you get out of the starting gate, it’s a turn off.

Thus, learning technical material without the aid of teachers is just one thing that makes becoming a cruiser that much more difficult.   From now on, if I want someone’s opinion, I’ll hire a professional not stick my nose into some of the forums.  (There are a couple I like, the people are nice and they aren’t trying to beat you over the head with the ONLY RIGHT way to do something…..)

When talking about electrical connections in a marine environment one has to take into account the quality of the connection and the fact that salt water causes corrosion.  I was once “admonished” that I didn’t know what I was talking about when it came to connections.  I pretty much let it go and ignored the insult, since I DO know what I am talking about.

In electrical work you have two types of connections, especially when we’re talking about power delivery systems.  That is, batteries and the connections at them.  You have an “electrical connection” and you have a “mechanical connection”.  The mechanical connection is what MAKES the electrical connection work, and keep working.  Basically if you make a good, solid connection, say a crimp, you will ensure that current flows.  But sometimes those mechanical (crimped) connections in a marine environment will get corrosion.  Corrosion causes resistance thereby reducing the electrical connections effectiveness.  Resistance causes voltage drops, voltage drops across bad connections cause higher current level, heat and  drains batteries more quickly, sometimes to dangerously.  Regardless of how well the mechanical connection will hold down in the battery locker when a vessel is bouncing up and down over time, the resistance is going to increase with the corrosion.  You can crimp that connect as nicely as you like and let a couple of drops of salt water in and in time, it will fail at the crimp.

The “admonishment” came when I suggested soldering the lug to the wire either in addition to, or in lieu of the crimp.  I’m a “solder it” guy.  Went through the old NASA high reliability soldering training (among other types of training for making reliable connections) and learned that my stuff was good enough to go to the moon, into outer space, let alone a marine environment.  So getting chewed out by someone on a forum for disagreeing with HIS method of doing something irks me, and really makes me wonder how some of these people get by.

Now, certainly, I don’t CARE if some guy does things HIS way, on HIS boat; I’m going to do them MY way on MY boat and I’m going to teach the way I learned that something is reliable to others if they ask; people have to make the decision not to be bloody sheep somewhere along the way.  Think for yourselves.

I guess it comes down to opinions versus facts.  I use facts to base my opinions.  Many just form an opinion on whatever they want to imagine and many just “don’t like the way you think”.  Others might use their experience (no matter how much or how little of it they have) to form an opinion. Perhaps they have had good experience doing something a certain way and it hasn’t failed on them.  Good for them.  Not good for me. If it isn’t common sense and meets scientifically sound principles, I’m not buying it.  (Global warming is a very good example of something that DOES NOT MEET scientific principles.  Just because a scientist SAYS SO doesn’t make it SO. )  Perhaps I should have listened when we were first learning to sale when our instruction said “I neither offer, nor accept advice from other sailors”.  I didn’t get it then, but I “get it” now.

This isn’t to say I can’t learn from others and won’t give up trying.  But learning from Internet Sailors who frequent forums isn’t necessarily the way to go when learning!  On the other hand, some forums have some smart people.  They have experience.  They have traveled.  They DO things.  Those people are almost never online either.Why not?  They are… well, traveling and doing things.  They aren’t posting in forums.  They have blogs, they spend time writing up the misery they have in repairing the head, or getting stuck in the engine room upside down while cleaning fuel filters out or getting the air out of the fuel line.  They talk about the problems and how they solved them, rather than opining how “You shouldn’t do this or that, you should spend as much money on the problem as you can and move on…” (which is really all I get from the vast majority of the forums out there).

What this whole thing comes down to is my own list of “skills” I have compiled.  My skills are more important to me than to anyone else.  And no one’s skills are more IMPORTANT THAN MINE.  I need my skills to get by.  I can use others’ if they are part of the crew.  If not, they are useless to me.  Everything on my list I can ‘check off’ as something I have learned about ON MY OWN now.  I either knew or had the skills already when I started down this road or I have taken the time to purchase a text book and study it.  Granted I’m a bit slow on diesel mechanics (but I have enough information to train myself and all that I need is the “hand-on” or “on-the-job” training to make use of the knowledge).

I can’t say I am an “accomplished” sailor.  I’m not. I’m a novice. I’ll remain a novice until I am not a novice.  I don’t know when that will be, I don’t know what will cause it to happen.  But when it does, I will know it.  But the day is fast approaching when I’ll be leaving Colorado for good… and every single, last skill I’ve collected has gotten me there and will get me through the next part of the journey.

————————————————————

Just for the heck of it… here’s a partial list, in no particular order and with no connected explanation. This is not an all-inclusive list, nor in any particular order, but it’s what I’ve learned I need to know thus far.  I’m sure I don’t know it all.  Your lists may vary.  It’s not something you SHOULD do.  This is what I have learned and am still learning:

Cruising “Skills”

Keeping log books

  • Shopping lists
  • Preventive Maintenance lists
  • To DO Maintenance lists
  • Daily chores
  • Inspections of engine, plumbing, riggings (standing and running) etc
  • Tracking what has been done and what hasn’t

Electrical Skills

  • Lighting
  • Navigation lights
  • Anchor lights
  • Cabin lighting
  • Wiring
  • Power calculations
  • Power panel wiring
  • Solar Power
  • Wind generator
  • Alternator (engine)
  • Inverters
  • Radio systems (VHF, HF)
  • Antennas and the connections to the radios
  • Antenna couplers (tuning units)
  • Stereo systems and speakers
  • Computers
  • Windlass
  • Miscellaneous electrical systems

Mechanical skills

  • Diesel engine
  • fuel
  • fuel lines
  • air cleaners
  • water pumps
  • oil/oil changes
  • two-stroke engines
  • gas engine mechanics

Plumbing

  • Fresh water pumps
  • Salt water pumps
  • Head

Fishing

  • fishing
  • fish
  • lobster
  • crab
  • other food

Overall general seamanship skills

  • Anchoring skills
  • Weather patterns
  • weather forecasting
  • heavy weather sailing skills
  • Sailing
  • Safety
  • Marlingspike
  • Rigging skills
  • Rigging repair
  • Voyage planning
  • Celestial Navigation
  • Sextant use
  • GPS Navigation
  • Dead reckoning
  • Chart reading skills
  • Plotting courses
  • Plotting fixes
  • Knot log
  • Bearings
  • Navigation
  • Lead line/depth finding

Emergency repairs

  • stopping leaks
  • repairing hull
  • rigging
  • sails
  • anchor and rode
  • preparing for storms in anchorage and during a passage

Foreign Travel Skills

  • Clearing in and out
  • Dealing with foreign offices
  • Keeping records
  • Weapons aboard (or not)

Shipboard Management

  • Galley
  • Plumbing
  • Fuel
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Water supply/collection
  • Propane

Communications

  • email (Pactor)
  • weather faxes (Fax programs)
  • Ham Radio
  • Marine SSB
  • VHF
  • How to call for help
  • When NOT to call for help

Business and Bureaucracy (and things to have/keep on vessel)

  • USCG documentation
  • business/boat cards
  • ham radio QSL cards
  • ship’s papers
  • passports
  • legal documents
  • birth certificates
  • marriage certificate
  • boat insurance certificate
  • International shot records
  • radio licenses
  • extra passport photos
  • ship’s stamp
  • medical prescriptions (if required)
  • Banking/cash/credit cards
  • telephones
  • bills
  • deposits
  • mail
  • taxes

Safety

  • Rules of the road
  • Avoiding collisions
  • Reading buoys/signs
  • Flare guns/flares
  • Deck safety (harnesses, PFDs, Jack lines etc)
  • Personal self defense (and not getting into positions of requiring said self defense)

Leaving boat/miscellaneous

  • rowing/oars
  • sculling
  • dinghy sailing
  • kedging/setting second anchors