Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cruisers and cruisers

Looking to the channel that we use to enter the canals of Grand Bahama 
Well it’s been just over 2 weeks here on Grand Bahama and we've only covered some of the beaches, and reefs here. I know there are people who would say this is not cruising because we are in one place and not moving; these would be the same people who want to give me advice on how to tie my boat off, but tie theirs with lines across a dock for people to trip on, and have their lines chafe and break on them saying it was extreme conditions, the same people that try and tell me how to maneuver a boat, but crash into a dock on their own; the same people who say their going to,… well you know what I’m getting at. 

Here is the definition of cruising according to the internet; we think it’s pretty close, as I discuss it with other cruisers in the hot tub here, with a cold beer.
According to this as long as I'm on my well equipped boat, for an expended period of time, I'm cruising,...

Other side of the channel we use to enter 
Some out here are doing it because they have a nice retirement fund, a house or 2, with their boat being a prize time for them, reaching and exploring beautiful places and people. There are many, like Arline and I, that try to live as minimalist while still traveling on our boat as far as tides, weather and timing allow to see and exploring beautiful places and people . Note the part where it says “reducing ones possessions” and “Self-sufficiency” in the internet description below
 There are also those that live and work as they cruise all year, but I would still put them in the category of simple living, as us. Living this way gives us a smaller base from which I’m taxed, meaning I can work less and keep more. It’s logical. We work hard for 6 months and then we don’t.  It seems Fairly Pointless to work too hard at this time, learning from lessons of the past. There is nobody out here that we have met or that we hang out with that has a feather in their cap or who claims to be better at something or somebody else, aka narcissistic. None of our boats are the perfect boat, we've all had our share of scares, problems, and adventures which we share and learn from. That is why it is a cruising community.   


So we've had some time on our hands and we visit beaches by dingy, snorkel and fish as needed. We take
our bikes, on days it’s too windy to get out on the open waters. We’ll go to town for provisions (we don’t need much) or to a beach. Earlier this week we rode about 10 miles on our bikes to Banana Bay near Fortune Beach and had a great time. We brought the cooler, wind/shade tent, Blue and my sketch pad, check the photo out of Arline in the wind screen and my drawing of her. 

We are looking at weather and tides, thinking we might head south to Great Harbour Cay, where we’ve spent some time. If you remember that is where we left Sara after loosing her last year. But if tides, weather, and other issues don’t line up we can’t do it, we'll wait and watch here till its right,…..we don’t care.  I’ll start doing boat
chores in the AM next week, I’ve a few things like re-bedding some fittings, reworking some of the working rigging, fuel for the dingy, transfer beer from the v-berth to the cooler, polish fuel in the tanks and the bikes need to be oiled. 

So it's off to the pool,...





Enjoying our time in the Islands

Lobster yum yum
Day Dreaming


Dinghy sunset party on a canal
The dinghy's start to raft-up

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Life is good.........Did I mention warm too.



Tom, Peter,Arline and Jon having cocktails. 



Saturday, December 14, 2013

Stuart to the Bahamas


Jenson Beach Light house



After all our shopping, doctor appointments and vet check we are ready to go. Now we just need at least a 24 hour window for the crossing, so its time to watch and study the weather. We watch at least four different sites for weather and then listen to Chris Parker as a back-up to decide the best window. This window must include clear skies, wind below 20 knts and not with any north in it, and predicted waves not larger than 2 to 4 ft.  While it's only 54 miles across to West End in Grand Bahama from Palm Beach, it is the strongest and largest moving body of water in the world, yes tides and rivers flow faster but this is mother nature moving warm water to cold water. It flows north at 1.5-4 knts and is just 6 miles off the coast. as narrow as 10 miles and as wide as 30. Since it flows north any wind from the North has an effect of building waves, big deal you say your a boat deal with it. Most people choose not to, rightfully so,

Click here for great Facts about the Gulf Stream

Well after 3 days it looked like a good weather window may arrive on the weekend. The only problem was that there was a large front coming in after that with winds up to 30 knots so we looked everything over twice and decided to move from Stuart to North Lake Worth in hopes to catch the window. The night before we left we read what Chris wrote for the forecast and it sounded like maybe it wasn't for us but we looked again at our stuff and decided it was perfect.
First container ship off our bow.

Jon checking all tie downs at bow






















The trip to Lake Worth went really well, we called Boat Us to find out how the Cross Roads at the entrance to the St. Lucie River was because we would be there at low tide and always bump even at high tide and were told they had dredged it so all was fine. We did manage to bump near Jensen Inlet but with the tide coming in the current helped us up and over.
Lake Worth was quiet and no real issues except the sheriff boat that went to different boats as we were trying to set the anchor, we figured he would stop at ours but never did.

It's funny who you can count on while underway. We look to the charts for info in depth, bridge openings and clearances, and as mentioned NOAA for weather. You can't go by just that NOAA. Some of the best places for weather are "On The Line" LOL (Watch the 2000 movie "Intern" for a great laugh and to see where this came from) These are the most dependable, detailed and trusted weather.
Click to see one of the best weather sites
The bump in The St Lucie River if you call USCG they will tell you look to the charts for the controlled depth. Hint-it's off so call the people that really know, Boat Tow and Boat US, They'll tell you EXACTLY what it is and where. The Bridge operators work for the most part on a timed opening and have never operated a boat. Around the bridges there are currents on both sides of the tide and winds. Operators of the bridges deal with traffic and buttons. When it's time to open, if you haven't checked in with them and you're the only one there for the opening, he may not open it for you and he'll make you wait the half hour for his next opening. If its time for the opening and there are a bunch of boats maneuvering around they tell you to all get really close so his bridge is open only for a short time for the cars, OK I get that, But what he doesn't get is 3 knt currents carrying you to his bridge, or fighting 3 knts to get to his bridge, that doesn't even count a 20 MPH wind on the nose or pushing you wherever. Not a Clue,... "Get closer Capt - Back it down Capt. Keep clear of the fender system until the spans are all the way up".  We heard one Sport fishing boat Captain ask for info of Clearance in the Center over the story board posted. Bridge guy says This is great,..."I can't give you that info Captain"!!!!

I called a RR bridge to ask if he could tell me before leaving the marina if there was a train coming soon so I didn't have to idle around for ever, "Sorry Captain I can't give that Info Out to you, just come on out and I get your though as fast as I can" REALLY like I couldn't gather this top secret info from a car with a watch and note pad to plan some devious thing, I'd really call him to plan my evil thing,......


Customs Dock @ West End
At way point for Silver Cove Inlet.
Anyway,...We woke up around five am and decided it was time to go, but by the time we walked Blue and secured the dink the wind had picked up a little and we figured we would look at our AIS to see who was out the cut. Not many took this window because of Chris's report so we were not sure who would be out there if anyone, Jon found a Boat with AIS about ten miles outside and remembered the boats name the day before on the ICW so he gave him a shout on our working VHF. S/V Windward answered back to say the inlet was rough but smooth in the Gulf Stream. We finished getting the boat ready and by 8:30 we were heading for the inlet. Windward was heading for West End as we were so we kept in touch with him throughout the day. It was fantastic out there and even sailed for most of the trip. At one point I went down below to check some stuff and heard a noise up on deck that sounded like a wrench or light tool landing on deck and hoped Jon wasn't up there without me on deck, he wasn't and I just forgot about the noise until I was on watch and started looking around, as I looked at the wind instrument panel which stopped working in Stuart I thought maybe that was the noise. Sure enough our wind instrument up the mast was gone "SHIT" another thing to buy for the boat.

We had an ETA of about 7:00 pm so knew it would be dark going in the channel but it is well marked and just called the office just before five to let them know we were heading in and needed customs in the morning. The dock master radioed back to let us know customs would wait for us. Wow that was fantastic and better than that they had a special for slips so we ended up at a dock for the night.
The Customs guy was so quick Jon was done in about three minute and we got all the 120 days we wanted.
Zig-Zagging our way in the channel
The next morning we departed for the south shore of Grand Bahamas as we rounded the corner the wind picked up and was from the southeast 15 to 20 which was great sailing but not to good for the narrow inlet we needed to go into at high tide. About an hour before our way point the wind settled down and we had a pleasant ride in the Channel.
Not much room coming in
Now we are sitting here enjoying the resort for about a month or so till we decide what to do then. I get spoiled here but Jon said we will look at it in a month and decide.








At dock sitting pretty

 











Our Ericson hats at work....

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Indiantown to Stuart Work

One of many frogs in a scupper hole on the boat.
 Well once again our arrival to Kasidah in Indiantown and working on her was a great adventure. This year the new thing for everyone in Indiantown was “Frogs”,….Yeap everyone had frogs on their boat and still do,…jumping, sticking frogs, so that should describe a few surprises that we encountered as we uncovered and started cleaning her. You've seen some of the photos on Facebook, but what you have to picture is having a frog jump at you as you uncover something while the boat is on the hard, meaning you’re 15 ft off the ground, the frog jumps up and over, misses you lands on the hard ground and jumps off again like it’s nothing. Of course, I have an arm full of things climbing down the ladder, which has only one rung that isn't a double, about 4 feet off the ground, throwing me off my balance, so I jumped off to save myself from falling, landed on my feet OK but,…The meat dish I was carrying to the grill in a Corelle bowl hit the ground and shattered into 10 thousand little pieces as they do. I wasn't wearing my jumping shoes but my flip-flops and the ground being all little pebbles and rocks was not a good thing. The bottom of my feet hurt like a @#$%^K&($ for many days. Thank goodness for the 800mg Ibuprofen on board.
Mic and Blue during a dinner @ Indiantown


A mans job.......plugged head hose
Mic,Jon myself and Sue
A few things needed attention this year, our Raymarine VHF radio seemed OK but I found it would send but not receive. We had a spare Standard VHF on board, 2 hand held and a spare Antenna, (just like the Department of Redundancy Department). Yeap my trouble shooting showed ours would send but not receive the other one would receive but couldn't send. Hand held and both antennas where fine. When we got to Stuart we shopped for a new one, (Defenders of course had the best price but was 4 days away and a weather window for crossing was coming up real fast) but I really wanted to make sure my troubleshooting was correct. We found this little mom and pop tech repair place called Coral Reel Electronics, retired Navy guy said he could test the radio for $30 before I ordered the new one. Both radios in tow we get there and this guy has a shop full of parts, pieces and a test bench to die for. He test the Raymarine and in 30 seconds confirms it sends but don’t receive. OK thank you, he tries to sell us a new one he has in his store but it wouldn't match the remote station in the cockpit without buying his remote station too which would put us over the price from the plug and play from Defender. He ask how much we were paying for the Raymarine, looks at his computer and said he could get us one for that price, even with out shipping,….. “When?” was my 1st question,… “Tomorrow noon” he said,…And because I just watched a week of the TV show “Pawn Stars” I ask my 2nd question,,..Can you loose the $30 charge for your 30 second test and also give me another 30 seconds to test this Standard VHF. “Yeap” ,..deal. I take the 2nd out of the bag hand it to him with the 120 volt to 12 volt supply which it was hooked up to when we got it. One of the little things like you charge a phone or something with, “What the hell is that?” looking at the 120 to 12 volt thing, and my electrical experience kicked in and my face turned bright red. It’s not a large enough power supply to send of course. He plugs it in to his power supply and the test proved it would end and receive. So I had Arline huge the guy and we where WAY ahead with the mom and dad store. We got the new Plug and Play replacement radio for the lowest price even with any taxes, didn't have to pay for shipping or wait,  made sure the old one was bad and we now have a fully functional 2nd radio, WAY AHEAD. Thank you Coral Reef Electronic in Stuart. You’ll be my first call for anything electronic.
Our meats for the trip
Making new back cushions for Kasidah


Can't go without the beer
The tri-data (Depth, speed and temp) thru-hull is removed and replaced with a blank when ever we sit too long, as growth around the speedo wheel will not allow for an accurate reading through the water.  I also remove it from the boat if we are being hauled because straps can damage it. I can install it before we are launched because we can check the position of the straps. Last day on the hard at Indiantown I go to put it in and notice the threaded retaining ring holding it into the thru-hull fitting is cracked. I tried to get the ring off as I have several spare blanks on board (Department

of Redundancy Department at it again (DRD)). Yeap it can’t be done. Several phone calls to Raymarine saying you could do it, nope you don’t know what you’re talking about,..called the maker of the tri-data Airmar, Nope, they know what it is and I have  confirmation you need to buy a new one. Well that’s the dumbest deign I’ve seen. Defender package 4 days later arrives and the new one is here but not tri-data, just temp and depth. Now we don’t have it in time for the launch and the trip to Stuart, but that’s Okay as we do have a totally separate 2nd depth meter and gauge on board, plus a hand held,  (DRD). I still wanted the speed thru the water as it is information I like to have in front of me as we go along. Arline could'nt watch and never does as I change this 2 inch fitting while in the water. I put the broken sensor in anyway but put a hose clamp around the broken threaded part so it couldn't separate, come out of the thru-hull fitting opening that 2 inch hole to the sea while under way. It worked fine on the way over and am confident it would never come loose, the new correct one showed up is installed and now I have a back up tri-data thru-hull making the “People from The Department of Redundancy Department People” (PDRDP) some what happy. Now I just need to remember where I put the damn thing.

There is also the story of why Arline was so nervous about, what she thought was the vulnerable 2 inch opening in the hull that could open to the sea. It involves other cruisers/friends of ours that we've been watching and waiting for. They sold everything and bought the boat of their dreams. Lived aboard for the summer in the states and while on a passage early November things went very bad for them and they lost their boat. They were picked up by the USCG 300 miles into their trip. All 4 on board are OK, but everything they had is in 6500 ft of water. I've not talked to them yet but by e-mail and will not discuss who they are or where and what happened as they are still working into a new life which will not include anything on the water they tell me.  It did bother me as I heard it was a matter of things going bad in bad weather. We feel so bad for these folks and hope they do well in their next adventure. While talking with Mick and Sue, and another couple in Stuart, both long time cruisers in distant waters, telling this story and the ramifications it would have on our judgement calls, while enjoying sun-downers, some cold, some red and some white. While going over what could have happened and all the what ifs, what would you do, and how sad. The other couple with us pointed out all of the fire trucks and ambulances that we were hearing and seeing go over the bridge at night, (sometimes both directions at the same time). Making the point that in life, Every Day somebody somewhere loses something. Some of the fire trucks were headed to house fires where the best trained responders couldn't prevent people from losing everything they had, ambulances were headed to choking people who just went out to eat or hurt people in car accidents that just went to the store, People hurt at work, falling off roofs, ladders and more, and it goes on and on. I guess the point of this is that no matter what, each day we should count ourselves lucky for the life that we have. We can take all the precautions in the world, and if it's your time, it's your time; and if it's not, it's not. That doesn't mean you can throw caution into the wind or try and tempt fate, your not going to do that and we all know it and we don't think that was what they did. I'll end this with our favorite song "Pink Guitar" by the Sim Redmond Band. A song that moves us every time we hear it, a song that should be played every time the Tiki Bar is rolled our at FPM (it was in the transfer deed of ownership for the Tiki Bar), The words tell us;

 "People say don't live in the past, live each day like its your last, but you should try it in reverse, live each day like its your first.

You've seen me jump around to this song, and I still do. Now join me in the moment and go to the link.

http://www.simredmondband.com/audio/PinkGuitar.mp3

Thank you all for following.