Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Key Biscayne Florida, Waiting forWeather

We pulled out of Ft. Pierce at 4 pm on Saturday afternoon and headed south again. I won't lie, I was a little hesitant about another night passage after our last two trying nights at sea. There was no need because Friday night was beautiful. There isn't words to describe the beauty of this world God created. Alone on the ocean without all the distractions of everyday life you can't help but be in awe of majesty of the seas and the beauty of the moon and stars. It is truly a spiritual experience.
We motor sailed all night and were around Delray Beach as the sun came up. There was a lot of boat traffic around this area. Seemed to be a great morning for fishing as I was dodging all sizes of charter boats as well as the weekend fisherman.( Those that know e know traffic is not my thing at all.) The wind was a little erratic so we continued to motor sail, really pushing it to 8.2 mph to arrive at Crandons Marina and pick up a mooring around 6 pm Sunday night. No big stories this passage. Things were a little tense when we were trying to negotiate the inlet to Crandon's but all is good.  We met an incredibly nice lady that when we asked about the bus to town just took us there and even gave us the biggest avocado I have ever seen. Thank you Arnetta, you made our day! Did take the bus on  Tuesday and it was a neat experience. Hope to leave for the Bahamas Thursday or Friday according to weather. The internet connection is pretty bad here but I hope to get more pictures uploaded later.

Fix it Freddie tightening the bolts he couldn't get done on Cumberland

The dingy after Fix it Freddie's repairs

Sunset for another night at sea.

Much faster yacht than us blew past us and all the fishing traffic.

Stiltsville house off of Key Biscayne
Another Stiltsville House. Interesting history on these houses.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Harbortown Marina

Good News. We contacted Raymarine and our C80 was caught in a power cycle. Easy and FREE fix. We learned a lot from our experience and are really enjoying this marina. The place is great with friendly helpful people and very nice facilities. We highly recommend this place if you need a place to stay. Lots of full time residents, Whiticar Marine on site, a short walk to West Marine, Publix and CVS, plus one of the best pizza places ever. If you are ever here do not miss out on Brooklyn Pizza it is awesome. Now just checking out all of our equipment and making necessary repairs while waiting for a good weather window to continue south.
Big fish eating little fish. Looked like a seen from a movie about Piranhas.

This guy stand guard each morning.

Stray Cat snug in her berth.

The pool right across from our berth.

Caught three otters on the dock this morning. This guy was rolling around in our previously neat docklines.

This is evidence as to why you never pull your dingy behind the boat on passage. Not so smart of us but Fix it Freddie is on the job!

Making new friends.

A Season of Firsts

I had no idea how many " First Time for That" this trip would involve and it has just begun. We floated off Cumberland Island around 9 pm and proceeded to exit through the channel. We have been in and out of that channel many times but this was the FIRST time in darkness. (notice I did not say total darkness. that comes later) The dark was slightly disorienting but the channel is well marked. We did go out much further than necessary . we usually cut out after marker 16 but the fact that we weren't sure which marker was which until we actually used our heads and a flashlight we exited at marker 12 and headed south.
Bottom exposed the cheap way

Freddie working on the zincs

Beautiful view off Cumberland

It started raining on my Monday early morning, 5 am watch. I was thoroughly soaked but collected enough rain water to rinse a small load of laundry. Cruisers will usually wash their clothes in sea water and rinse them in fresh as long as there is a sufficient supply. Fresh water is one of those things that is always conserved on board. The wind was blowing from the north so we attempted to actually travel by sail power alone for the FIRST time. Success! We are Sailing! We actually got up to 6 mph and sailed a true course all afternoon.I can't express the joy we both felt in that accomplishment. Later in the afternoon we tried to reset the reefing points. Our main is a hefty fully battened mainsail which is a real bear to hoist up. Since we had to take the mast down during our repairs, we needed to reset the reefing points another FIRST. Note to would be cruisers, if you never enjoyed a hobby horse you will not like sailing, at least on a catamaran. Everything you do will have to be accomplished while balancing during that motion. It can provide quite the comic relief from time to time. I would provide videos but it would look like I closed the bar last night and promptly have everyone seasick. Never the less balancing on top of the cabin that is moving like a hobby horse and threading a line (sailor talk, rope) through the sail was quite an accomplishment. Unfortunately it was done backwards and had to be repeated.  More comic relief. At almost sundown things took a turn for the worse. Our beautiful weather turned nasty big time. All the forecasts had very light seas for the duration of our trip south. The highest forecast ed seas were 4 feet during the week. We were just getting to Cape Canaveral around sunset and were around 20 miles out from land, when I looked ahead and the only thing I could see was blackness. Seriously it looked like a curtain of black velvet. The wind , now blowing directly on our nose, picked up and the seas kicked up as we were swallowed by the black velvet. Sailing in total darkness (another FIRST) . No moon, stars or  any lights from land. We could not tell where the sea ended and the sky began and our rocking horse was kicking as if he had been injected with steroids and drank a case of Red Bull! We took turns donning our foul weather gear and sitting at the helm and being thankful for an AIS which would hopefully alert us if we were about to run into something or vice verso. We slowed the boat down to try to make the ride a little more comfortable but it still shuttered with each wave that would pick us up and drop us down. When the sun came up the next morning The sea still looked like a washing machine, the wind was still on our nose but what was disheartening was we were right where we were at sunset. Tacking in and out in our giant washing machine, we spent all day just to  make it around the point of Cape Canaveral and go into the Port there, refuel and head back out late Tuesday afternoon.  Ok by now the seas had died down and the sun was shining, A Record 91 degrees, and we headed South with winds forecast ed to clock around to the west and then the northeast. An hour later the weather forecast changed with the storms we had thought we had left behind us to the north are now popping us where we were. In fact they were advising boaters to seek safe harbor (no where to be found) Oh well another bouncing night of little sleep to look forward to. I was taking the first night watch so I decided to take a short nap before going on watch when around 8 pm, I was suddenly awakened by Freddie heading down to the nav station saying we had just lost our electronics! In my sleep deprived stupor I donned my gear and after bumping into everything possible I went up to take the helm while Freddie worked on the C80. The C80 is our chart plotter, radar, AIS (target spotter and alert er) tells us where we are, how fast we are going , how deep it is and pretty much everything and it wasn't talking. Note to self, and any other first time cruiser, always take periodic location readings. We have paper charts, a must, but we had no idea where we were to know which chart to use. Another possible black velvet washing machine night for two exhausted newbie sailors and this time now electronic help. Again, not good. At the helm I was praying a true foxhole prayer. I begged God to please divide the storms I saw ahead and let the moon and stars shine that night. Well He did more than that, He also calmed the seas. We found a little handheld GPS that a friend had picked up from a flea market (THANK YOU STEVIE!) and located our coordinates to match them on the map and plotted our night. Around 2 am we were comfortable enough with our navigational engineering to start taking shifts at the helm and getting a little rest. The helmsman/helms-woman was treated to a watch that included the moon shining on calm seas, and a brilliant array of stars  as we made our way to Fort Pierce at dawn to regroup and repair. That is where we are now. Snug in the Harbortown Marina exhausted but grateful and still looking forward to continue the adventure. The pictures are of the easy stuff. No time for photography during the challenges.
4.5 mph under sail!
The main takes a lot of muscle

more sails, what can I say we were stoked!

Freddie isn't always at the helm.

This was before we put up the sails

Sun just starting to peek over the horizon after a long night without instruments.Happy to be able to see to enter Ft. Pierce and make repairs and rest!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

We finally cut the Dock lines!

We pulled out at 9:45 am and headed out. The first Island that we visit on our journey is Cumberland Island. Hee Hee . Ok for those of you that don't know us this is our home sailing grounds and on the way out to sea. Today we had an agenda. Beach Stray Cat in the soft sand and check the zincs (which were fine). We got to Cumberland around 11 am and waited until around noon to beach. Now we are waiting for the tide to float us so that we can head out. High tide isn't until 10 pm but  so we still have a while to wait. We both got in a good nap since we will be taking shifts and sailing all night. We are excited to finally be away and starting our adventure. And yes a little terrified also. It feels a lot like when you are standing in line waiting your turn to ride a new roller coaster. We have a good breeze out of the Northeast which should help us travel south.
The Boatyard in the distance.

These Egrets weren't ready to wake up

The beach at Cumberland

Sunset from cumberland

Thursday, October 17, 2013

AHH it's the little things...

That little neck of hose that connects the water tank to the fill spout was the source of great tribulation. WE were really concerned that we had a leak from below which would have been horrible. When we added water it would leak down the top of the tank and back through to the other hull and into the bilge. Simple repair. We just had to tear apart both forward cabins and spend hours on our heads to track down the source because It's A Boat.

Cleaning and tracing the source of the water
The culprit

Culprit vanquished for today.

Our next activity was to remove 500 lbs of old batteries and purchase and install replacements. The old batteries were in pretty bad shape, which we didn't realize until removing them after turning on the bread maker caused a problem. Freddie has certainly been getting a workout physically and financially. Oh well we know what BOAT stands for: BRING OUT ANOTHER THOUSAND!
The water is being turned off at the house today to save us a little while we are gone. And YES we are leaving (I think I am, I think I am, I think I am!)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

You just never know!

Yep Still in the same place.

Crazy couple of days. Things are moving right along. We took care of cutting most of the land lines and were set to have family take the car back from the boatyard. And then......
Around 1 am we herd strange sounds. Tracing them down we found water in both bilges. The starboard bilge had LOTS of water. Looked bad and was messy but pretty simple fix. The non return valve attached to the bilge pump failed ( because someone had previously taken the little ball out of it) and was siphoning water back into the bilge from outside, The port side had much less water but it was a potential serious problem. The bilge had been bone dry less than a week before but now we could see water weeping into it. OK did we miss damage while we had her out of the water and repairing the hulls? Are we going to have to come out of the water instead of taking off for the Bahamas? Needless to say we did not sleep much Thursday night. Vacuuming out the bilge and watching how fast the water came back in while we made a dash to West Marine to purchase a couple of non return valves while scratching our collective heads occupied our time on Friday. Very little water weeping in all day Friday so we cleaned the bilge real good and dry and waited to see what happened. Continuing other boat projects (there are always boat projects) I would check the bilge and was encouraged by what I saw. We had thought that maybe with me spraying and cleaning the boat combined with the heavy rains after that possibly a leak from above had slowly made it's way down behind the walls into the bilge. Checked tonight and ugh water. Almost as much as Thursday night. This time I tasted it ( way to nasty looking Thursday night). Fresh not salty. I called Freddie and he confirmed it did not taste salty.That's good news but what is going on. Idea, both Thursday and today we emptied and refilled the water tank overflowing it in the process. Next project is to check out the water tank and hopefully find the issue and that it can be fixed easily.
Got to love a boat!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day Three

Each day we get a little more done and Stray Cat is beginning to look more and more like a home. The weather has really changed. We woke up to much cooler temperatures and gray skies that gave way to a beautiful afternoon. Fall has arrived and it reminds me that we need to get a move on. Did have a couple of small victories. Got the Salon straightened up and  finally got some pictures downloaded from my GoPro camera.If you have never worked with a GoPro, it does not have a view screen on the camera itself. The camera is controlled through an app on your tablet, phone pr PC. I have definitely been camera challenged. Here are a few of my learning photos.
Freddie wondering exactly what I am doing.

This is when we had the Port berth taken apart and working on solving the black smoke issue.

Going crazy trying to figure out how to work this camera.

The Grand Kids came by as we were packing up our last night before moving on board.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sleeping on the Boat

Well we are finally moving on the Boat. Spent last night tied up at the dock and doing the same tonight. Hung the curtains for the glass sliding doors still have them to set up on the salon windows. It is a rainy dreary day but finishing up loose ends to set sail. Happy to finally start making Stray Cat Home and be on the moove.
Still a mess but getting better.

Gray Rainy Day

Other boats on the hook in the river

The new anti-slip strips are looking good and really help on a wet deck.

Still beautiful in the drizzle
You really can't beat the views