Hi Friends and Family:
Today is February 17, 2019. The last time I worked on a journal release was January 23rd but I didn’t publish it. I guess time flies when you’re having fun…
Anyway, I’m pressing the button today and will try to crank out another edition to cover the time from January 23rd to present day so you all are caught up with our goings on.
Today is January 23, 2019.
This first blog edition of this cruise is long overdue. I have written some daily logs and will incorporate them into this edition. The trip so far (almost 2 months to the day) has been filled with excitement and some beautiful sites and we’ve been kept very busy.
I’m sitting at the helm in the pilot house rocking and rolling from 20-25 knot winds gusting to 30. It’s been like this for two days and nights with one more night to go. Every day some boat has broken loose from their anchor. The first night (03:45) I was awakened by 5 prolonged blasts of someone’s horn – the international maritime signal for emergency – and high intensity lights flashing into my cabin from a fellow boater next to me.
He woke me because a sailboat had pulled its anchor and was being blown right for me in gusts to 30 knots. There was little I could do but watch and fortunately for us both, they were able to maneuver away from me and head further out in the harbor and get their hook set. Yesterday a catamaran broke loose and almost hit me – at least it was during the day and I was awake and up and had enough time to start the engines and prepare to maneuver if warranted. Again, fortunately they were able to get their engine started and maneuver out of the way. One boater has affectionately nick named us the “Fiberglass Magnet.” All this while being single handed as Meryl has been in SoFL visiting Sarah, Ethan, and Becca and Matt. They all froze at Disney while I was being rocked around and used for boat target practice. Meryl returns Friday.
Today is January 12, 2019. We’ve been cruising since November 25th and I’m finally getting around to writing Volume 1 of this new adventure.
Since our last post, Kokomo spent eight months at Soverel Harbour Marina, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. It’s a very nice, upscale marina surrounded by shops and restaurants and within walking distance of virtually everything a boater needs. I could write an entire volume about the maintenance and refit work that was performed on Kokomo by me and some contractors. But because I know it would bore most of you to death with lots of technical details I will simply list the projects completed, just to give you an idea of what I was doing while Meryl was living with Becca and taking care of Ethan our new grandson, from when he was two months old to eight months old.
You may recall that in our last edition we were about to cruise home from Eleuthera with a newly rebuilt davit. Unfortunately it didn’t last and we were faced with making another repair or replacing it and starting from scratch. This project together with a long list of project upgrades and deferred maintenance that I felt had to be completed before we set out for this current adventure took nine months to complete. The partial list:
- Researched new davits while engaging a repair firm to engineer and quote repairs to the existing davit, interviewed prospective suppliers from coast to coast (literally) and decided on a local company as one stop parts and labor – to remove and supply us with an entirely new system. That project wasn’t completed until September!
- With the help of Bob Breum, designed, acquired parts and installed a new stereo system for the salon and fly bridge. Thanks to several friends who helped us with the technology side, we now have thousands of songs and movies on various hard drives from which to select. We won’t run out of media for a long time. Streaming outside of the US is very expensive.
- De-greased and painted main engines
- Cleaned all bilges
- Changed hardware on Blue Water Baby (our dinghy)
- Ran new wires from batteries to master stateroom for sanitation system
- Ran tubing from all four fuel tanks to central location for installation of new gauge system
- Installed new gauge system (tank tender)
- Removed old helm chairs from fly bridge. Shopped for and acquired suitable replacements and installed same
- Designed and installed new post filter system for our water-maker so we have not only unlimited supplies of fresh water made from sea water but great tasting water as well.
- Cleaned and refinished teak chairs
- Discarded old vinyl chairs and acquired new teak furniture for boat deck
- Cleaned and waxed all fenders
- Changed zincs on engines as needed
- Flushed air conditioning system with Barnacle Buster
- Uninstalled and shipped single side band (SSB) radio to manufacturer for service, reinstalled upon return receipt
- Uninstalled and shipped chart-plotters to manufacturer for service, reinstalled upon return receipt
- Acquired updated electronic charts and installed
- Acquired new paper charts
- Installed new measuring system on 300′ of anchor chain using colored cable ties instead of paint
- Rebuilt 2 Racor fuel filters
- Replaced exhaust elbows on both generators
- Replaced worn cooling system elbows on main engines
- Changed water filters in Galley purification system
- Hauled Kokomo out of water to dry dock
- Refinished (removed, sanded, painted, reinstalled) stateroom ports
- Repaired and painted rear gate (which was damaged the prior summer leaving DE)
- Painted Kokomo bottom and made general repairs to hull
- Designed and had installed aluminum shelves in engine room to store 20 gallons of engine oil and heavy special tools
- Serviced old propellers and spare propellers and now using spares as main propellers
- Painted all running gear with new special paint
- Replaced sundeck Bimini top
- Repaired windshield bra and other canvas pieces
- Replaced air conditioning water pump
- Serviced Blue Water Baby (dinghy)
- Serviced anchor windlass
- Serviced stabilizer system
- Relocated 110v fresh water pump circuit breaker
- Removed cockpit chest freezer
- Removed washer and dryer from salon
- Acquired and installed new combo washer/dryer into salon and new freezer in salon
- Uninstalled and shipped Automated Identification System (AIS) back to manufacturer for upgraded model, reinstalled upon return receipt
- Acquired satellite phone/hot spot communicator
- Acquired offshore life jackets
- Replaced both water pumps for water maker system (low pressure and high pressure)
- Installed registration numbers on Blue Water Baby (finally)
- Created Map Share in InReach Delorme Satellite Communicator (so if you want to follow us as we move you can! Just let me know if you want to be added to that list)
- Relocated Wifi router, switch and cloud server to utility closet
- Cleaned all interior teak in preparation for application of teak oil (oil didn’t get done and have to clean again!)
- Plus all the general day to day changing of filters, tightening hose clamps, cleaning this or that, and preparing for fishing!!
Starting this past August while all this was going on, I spent a week in a maritime school in an “Approved Engine Course” designed and overseen by the Maritime Coastguard Academy of Great Britain where I learned the basics about electricity, propulsion, motors, pumps, etc. We even dismantled and reassembled a small three cylinder generator down to the crank shaft.
Then in late October went back to school for an 11 day Captain’s course where I passed the test to be eligible for a USCG Master’s license up to 100 tons. As it turns out I don’t have the sea time for 100 tons on a large enough boat to qualify for 100 tons but I do qualify for 50 tons. My application is currently being processed by USCG/NMC (United States Coast Guard/National Maritime Center) but is in limbo due to the government shut down.
Then we spent several days provisioning for our trip, figuring out where to store everything like 4 cases of paper towels and 4 cases of toilet paper (enough for a year!) (Turns out the paper towels might not last that long).
Finally, we slipped our lines on November 25th and headed for the Berry Islands along with our friends Matt and Dana Pitchon aboard Corsair, their 50′ Beneteau performance sloop. Just before hitting the inlet I realized that our computerized navigation wasn’t working correctly. With the help of tech support from the software company (Coastal Explorer by Rosepoint) we determined that some of the components weren’t getting power from a USB hub I had installed behind the helm.
While underway, I had to crawl in the cave (as we affectionately call it) unplug the devices from the hub, reroute the wires up through a hole in the console and plug them directly into the laptop to get 5v of power. The workaround works and we’re keeping this configuration until we arrive in the Georgetown a month from now. (We’re now here and I’m not sure I want to mess with it – if it isn’t broke don’t fix it syndrome). I think I will wait until we reach Grenada where I will have several months to refit this system.
All of the weather forecasts (we utilize three or four sources for comparisons) were for 3 foot (calm) seas and slight winds and with all that intel we still had a lousy crossing, rocking side to side for almost 24 hours… yeah right!
During the first two two weeks we had both of our generators fail, the water maker system failed, and the new davit system failed! So, one at a time, and with a lot of support and help from Matt Pitchon, we troubleshot the issues, I dove under the boat on three separate occasions to clear sea weed from the thru hulls of each of the generators’ and water maker systems’ thru hull fittings. Matt rewired the davit for me, only to discover that in doing so, we neglected to ground it properly which I discovered the first time I touched it and felt 220VAC for the first time!
I then figured out the way to fix the davit was to change the wiring from 220VAC to 110VAC so that I could properly ground the system. This required changes at the ship’s AC distribution panel (the breaker box) rewiring the motor from 220 to 110 and rewiring a 12v relay component inside the davit’s black box but viola – it works and no more electrocution!
During the first two weeks we dealt with big “Christmas Winds” and cold fronts which kept us aboard for days on end as the seas in the anchorages were too rough to take the dingy out. (Still dealing with it. When does Santa go home?!?)
The winds subsided some (although they are still around) and we have become relatively mobile. So far our cruising log looks like this:
We stayed at Normans Cay for days and were boat bound for much of it while we waited out a “westerly.” We were protected and safe and did have a chance to explore the area but didn’t take any meaningful photos except for one.
The Exuma Land and Sea Park, with its headquarters at Warderick Wells is the oldest land and sea park of its kind in the world. No fishing, lobstering, or otherwise hunting anything is strictly forbidden, so the place is teaming with wildlife and is as pristine as it can be given the number of visitors it accommodates. Besides the spectacular scenery we were fortunate to have spent Christmas day there (albeit a rainy one) at the headquarters where the staff cooked ribs and a turkey and all the cruisers brought covered dishes and beverage of choice. Meryl brought a little touch of Chanukah to the party with her homemade potato latkes with sour cream. Yum! It was a wonderful day and not to be forgotten.
The following pictures were taken from our dinghy on my cell phone, a Galaxy 6S at the “Sea Aquarium” inside the Park. The fish are in the wild with nothing to bother them. They come up to the boat like pets. You can see our friend Matt in the background of one as he swam slowly through the water while the fish were swimming with him. I’ve never seen anything like it.
During our stay at Warderick Wells we hiked up to Boo Boo Hill. The following pics were taken on a Canon Sure Shot
While at Warderick Wells we were constantly being entertained by the Eagle Rays – giant sting rays that actually fly out of the water. I would guess some of them have wing spans of upwards of six feet. Below are a few pics of a pod as they swam from Kokomo’s aft to her bow. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to capture a shot of them actually flying but take my word for it, they do.
From Warderick Wells we went onto Sampson Cay then onto to Staniel Cay. We’re told that Staniel was the original ‘outpost’ for cruisers which has now become developed and touristy which follows the natural progression of things. Nevertheless we enjoyed our time there, re-provisioned in three stores and in a couple days moved onto to Black Point Cay on December 30th.
Some nice shots of Black Point Cay’s harbor
January 5th we headed out the northern cut from Black Point Cay and turned south for Emerald Bay (just 10 miles or so north of Georgetown) to take on fuel. Emerald Bay is the home to one of the many Sandal’s Resorts. From there we continued south and made our anchorage in Georgetown later that afternoon.
February 17, 2019
We took a great day trip to the sand flats here. Similar to those in Shroud Cay these were quite spectacular. The thing about sand flats is that you can only see them at low tide but you can’t get there when it’s too low or you can’t there without dragging your dinghy for a long stretch – so there’s a bit of luck involved as to when you can see these. Plus we usually go with Corsair and Dana only likes to go in the mid/late afternoon when the light is right for her to take her professional perspective photographs
Among other things we’ve spent the last five weeks in Georgetown meeting lots of new cruisers (there are about 250 boats anchored in the harbor and we’re in the beginning of the 39th annual Cruiser’s Regatta
To kick off Regatta we joined the Poker Run with 51 other boats. We all had to drive our dinghies to 5 restuarant/bars to pick up one playing card per stop, plus we got one at the starting place and the last one back at the starting place/finish line. The best poker hand out of the 7 cards won = this year was 4 dueces. It was a great time – running all over the harbor and throughout town, and we had a great lunch at one of the stops at February Point.
The talent show on Saturday was very good indeed. Over 100 attendees crammed the beach at 3 which lasted until past 5:30 and we were entertained with jokes, singing, dancing and even bagpipes! Quite a show together with free rum punches.
Yesterday Meryl and I took part in the Coconut Run which is where four people jump into a dinghy (LeMans start) without a motor and use fins (that’s right – flippers) as the only means of propulsion – Meryl was one of the judges which also meant she had to manage the dinghy parking and then assisted the director with part 2 – read on) . We paddle at a sprint around a cove with 19 other dinghies collecting coconuts – leaning over the side, grabbing and throwing them into the boat. Meryl then helped with the counting of the coconuts before going onto part 2. We also have a bucket in the boat with which to splash the competition to distract them from collecting the coconuts.
Our team collected 129 coconuts – second place. Part two of the Run requires the team throw coconuts backwards overhead and for as many as possible to be caught into a plastic garbage bag some twenty feet away in a 30 second period. After 15 seconds one of our catches stepped over the line and we were forced to stop with 14 coconuts in the bag. The winning team had 27 coconuts. As it turned out, we came in fourth but were in a solid second place before being penalized. Meanwhile, this was about as much fun as I have had in years and let me tell you quite the workout. Hope to do it again someday. Meryl helped manage the flow and order of the teams as they prepared to enter the field of play. She had a megaphone and clipboard and got to be the boss of us!
I’ve been playing beach volleyball on and off for the last few weeks and tomorrow is the fun volleyball tournament which I am very much looking forward to. While I play ball, Meryl plays dominoes with a group of women.
All in all Georgetown is like sleep-a-way camp for adults who live on boats – at least part of the time. In fact, this place is filled with 6 month cruisers – many from Canada and beyond who come here to hide from harsh winter climates to enjoy the community, safety and fun of hanging out with like minded folks.
I’ll leave you with a few shots from Georgetown, Exuma, Bahamas
Meryl and I are not wanting for much. Most nights we go out to other cruiser’s boats or other cruisers come to us. The evening usually consists of cocktails starting about 30 minutes before sundown where we all partake in the beverage of our choice together with great hors d’oeuvres, and sometimes sit down dinners. In fact as I am writing I am looking at my watch as I need to make a batch of fresh guacamole to bring over to Corsair at 5:30 where we will have a sit down dinner as well.
So that’s about it for now which reminds me of a tee shirt I see one of the guys here wearing all the time. It reads “I bet my life is better than your best vacation.” I’m a very lucky man to have married a gal who is willing to go on an adventure like very few others are willing to. We’re enjoying life while we can in a way that is very special and we count our blessings every day! Hope all of you stay healthy, happy, and warm. Until next time.