Saturday, January 27, 2018

We’ll call this our Lucky Trip to the Bahamas of 2017.

After the Big Thanksgiving parties at Indiantown Marina, the kids coming to visit, everything on Kasidah was finishing up as planned, we got lucky with a good 4 day window of weather and tides in our favor. The tides are at 3 locations that we needed a high tide; 1st The cross roads of the ICW and the St Lucie River, there’s a known and shifting shallow spot (Called the hump) that we usually bump or even worse, get towed off. So we like a good high tide to cross it, Luckily high tide was at 11 am on Saturday giving us a 2 hour window or more to cross it. 2nd The West Palm inlet leading out to the ocean is best to leave on an ebbing tide, (outgoing) The current in that inlet can be as strong as 3-4 knots and being a small heavy boat that at best can push 6.5 knots it can take you ½ - 1 hour to get out that sucker and if a large ship is coming in it gets even worse. Luckily On Sunday morning Ebb tide started at 6 am, we were planning to leave just at sunrise. 3rd The inlet or channel in the Bahamas where we go to has been having issues with filling in to a point of 3 ft at low tide, we draw 6 ft and need a high tide to get into the inlet. Luckily on Monday the high tide was at 2:08 pm giving us all morning to sail 26 miles from west End Bahamas to the inlet.

We left Indiantown Marina on Friday Morning after Thanksgiving with our son-in-law Jeremy and headed to Stuart and Sunset Bay Marina.
Jeremy at the wheel passing a good sized tug on the way to the Lock

 The trip involves the one lock which if your timing is wrong and arrive there having to wait for the lock to cycle from up to down and then back up again with boats in both directions it could take better than an hour. Luckily it was open and we motored right into the lock being the 3rd boat in to be lowered. Amy and the kids watched us come in and leave from shore at the lock and got some photos of us. The rest of the trip was as smooth as could be ending as we picked up a mooring ball in a pretty empty marina. At $35, plus tax, per night just for a mooring ball, yeah no wonder right. We put the dinghy in the water and motored to the office where Amy and the kids meet us. We had a nice meal at The Pelican Restaurant and said good-bye to them all.
$35 per night at Sunset Bay Mooring Field 

They went back to Indiantown Marina and moved their RV to another Campground in Hobe Sound. Arline and I went back to the boat, played some cards and called it a night.

We didn’t need to get up too early to head down the ICW toward North Lake Worth because of the timing at the cross roads. Our timing put us there about a 1½ hour before High Tide, Arline was a little nervous and wanted to slow down. But as we rounded the last corner we saw a Boat US Tow boat pulling out of a little bay. I hailed him on the VHS and told him our depth and concern about the hump. “Captain I’m Just in front of you right, I will do some soundings as we go through together, Just stay in the middle, follow me and we’ll be fine” Captain Woody was right and we had about 4 ft under our Keel. We felt pretty Lucky again. At the first bridge “Hobe Sound Bridge”, we were in contact with Amy and Jeremy with the kids by phone. They were on the bridge to watch it go up for Grams and Pop Jon. We saw them wave and hope they had a good time.

There are a couple of bridges where the distances between them put Kasidah’s speed at her max and we really had to push her while the tide was against us but we made them all. Pulling into the anchorage we had enough time to walk Blue twice, have a nice dinner, and I think we watched a movie. We felt really bless to be this lucky.
North Lake Worth Anchorage

Decal we put on for the Grand Children 

The morning of the crossing we got up before 5 am, walked Blue and put the dinghy away for the crossing. I take the motor off and tied the dinghy with several additional lines. We were expecting some waves and the last thing I wanted was that thing to start moving back and forth on the davit rig. The anchor came up in the darkness and we motored down the last of the ICW toward West Palm Inlet, Peanut Island and the real adventure of our crossing. Arline was up on the bow with the million candle power spot to look for markers as we headed south. The sunlight was just starting to come up as we rounded the last bend in the ICW when,…..the engine started to sputter promising to quite! Luckily we were 100 ft from the fuel dock at Riviera City Marine. I hit the emergency fuel pump switch on our “Filter Boss fuel polishing system” to add extra fuel pressure to the engine and we made the dock without an issue. The Tide was just starting to go out so a 180 turn and our nose was to the current and the reverse prop walk to port set us on the dock like a boss. No need for panic at this point but what the hell was going on was the big question.

As Bob Bitchin would say with a diesel; It’s either fuel, fuel, or it could be fuel, and it was fuel. We have two tanks, a main tank of 40 gallons, and a day tank of 9 gallons. I have a valve to pull fuel from either tank and another valve to return fuel to either tank, and the option of 2 filter to go through. I even have a vacuum gauge and warning light to show if one of the filters gets plugged. No lights, no warning on a gauge to indicate a bad filter but I still tried the 2nd filter. Stated the engine and it quite after a bit. I changed the filter on the engine itself, nope. Then I checked the fuel pump on the motor and saw that no output was there, tah-dah. I had always assumed that if the electric fuel pump on the engine stopped the second pump and switch I had would push by it. I guess that’s something I’m going to have to work on. After a little troubleshooting I found a loose connection at an engine harness. I proved to myself that the fuel pump was now moving fuel to the engine, put it all back together, a quick power test at the dock and we were off just as the dock master was about to say you can’t stay there. Lucky again.

Our trip to West End is always a full day usually arriving at dusk or in the dark. We spent about 1 ½ hour at the dock and knew our arrival would be in the dark thinking around 9 pm or so. We’ve been there many times and have tracks on our GPS system into the harbor so we felt fine leaving this late and continued.

Going out the West Palm inlet was as predicted with an outgoing current of 2 knots, we flew out into the ocean in minutes. The winds couldn’t have been better being from the NW around 12-20 knots. With the gulf stream and crabbing to point at West End the wind was on our beam which Kasidah LOVES. The waves were 2-4 ft with and occasional 5 or 6 ft, and  at least 7 seconds between waves it was real sailing. We each steered for 2 hours just because it was great sailing and we thought the auto pilot might not keep up with the larger waves close to shore in a little shallower water.  We were doing really well and making up time to West End. About 2 hours out all that sloshing around of fuel in the tank the engine had that sound of changing RPM, we did clog a fuel filter. We had the warning light and vacuum gauge to confirm it. Even a visual of the filter showed it was ugly. Luckily with the “Filter Boss” switching to the 2nd fresh fuel filter is just flipping 2 levers and away she went.

Lunch and the autopilot was put to work,…Excellent!!! We were fishing, napping motor sailing and kicking the clock in the butt showing an arrival time just at dark kicking 1 ½ hour or more off our crossing time. Then with 2 hours left I heard it again,.. that faint change in the engine RPM. A quick look below didn’t show anything at all, kicking on the extra pump did nothing, and then it stopped. It cut our speed by only 2 knots but we didn’t have all sails up. It’s still fuel for sure but why. After about 10 minutes for some unremembered reason, as I was thinking about the main fuel tank gauge showing still quite near full after 18 hours of running I checked the day tank in the cockpit box, which is only checked by taking the cap off and looking into it. It was empty, bone frigging empty!!! But the valves are set for the 40 gallon main tank. Okay this is simple bad valve. Move a few hoses around to eliminate the valve in question and get fuel to the day tank with transfer pump, make sure it‘s pulling and returning fuel to the day and we‘re off running again, and she ran the rest of the way to West End no issues, arriving just after dark about 6:30 pm. So with all the trouble and delays, but with great wind, waves and a very gentle Gulf Stream current we had the best crossing period! We did have one fish in the middle of the Stream which was a small Barracuda which got thrown back.

Too late to check in at customs so we set about the task of getting ready for the following days trip to Silver Point Inlet. High tide was at 2 pm so we wanted to leave by 9 am. So to the fuel issue at hand now; The Day tank if full would be more than enough fuel to make our trip to Silver Cove, but it wasn’t so how do I fill it. Move more hoses around, switch valves and hope that what ever was wrong would get set back. Nope! I had 10 Gallons of fuel on the deck in Jerry cans. I only needed to fill the day tank and leave stuff alone because she ran fine the last 6 hours. And so she did run fine all the next day.

Up early the next day I used the internet to check in with folks and wait for the customs office to open, There’s a new customs building and 2 new people for a total of 4 people I had to go though. They didn’t open till 9 and at 9:10 they still had to stick their breakfast pockets into the microwave before they could start my paperwork. They have a cashier now too and she’s got 4 new stamps. It was the longest check-in ever but we were off by 9:45. Once out into the ocean the wind was quite behind us and I really didn’t want to waste 3 minutes to head up into the wind to hoist the main and another 3 minutes to take her down once there, so the big head sail came out on her own and we were again flying, great sailing. As we rounded the corner near Freeport the wind shifted as predicted was close to on the nose. A little bit of running away from land just with our stay sail pulled in close till we had a good line to the inlet and we arrived right at high tide. We had a couple of friends in boats come out to guide us in as the channel had again been compromised by storms and our 6 ft was going to be an issue again. There was a bit of confusion as to when high tide was and one boat with a depth meter read 5 -5.6 ft at a long, low, new spot. Arline said “What the hell, lets go for it, this is all we‘re going to get for tide and water today”. Easing  our way into the calm water Arline was up on the bow trying to read the water but it was very sandy, ¼ way in and I feel Kasidah touch and she comes up out of the water just a bit and starts to slow down. “Go!!!” is Arline’s command, “Which way?” was my next question thinking right or left. “FAST!! FLOOR IT !!! GO GO GO JUST GO!” I gave Kasidah all the fuel she could get and she moved straight though, we pushed thought 100 foot of very soft sandy stuff and we were in deep water, YEAH!

Blue waiting for mom to come back from shopping

New underwater light, and new LED lighting on the bow and in the cockpit.

We are at the same dock as last year and very few people were here, friends here all greeted us to catch lines, let the tennis and fishing begin.

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