sailing

Engine cover sound deadening replacement

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Sat, 07/18/2020 - 20:29

Two days ago I removed all of the old engine compartment sound insulation. It was coming loose and had nice carvings in it from the water pump and alternator...since when we bought the boat (1,000 engine hours ago). Today I installed the new sound deadening material so it is finally fixed!

The part that is down against the table (most boat maintenance projects involve trashing the "dining room") is where the steps are, and faces forward when the cover is installed over the engine.

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Cumberland Island, Brunswick, and Beaufort

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Fri, 07/03/2020 - 06:31

We motored almost 60 miles to Cumberland Island--a long day!  The next day we went on a long walk on some of the trails there and along the amazing beach.  And the day after we traveled to Brunswick, GA to see our friends Leanne and Mark.  After we anchored near the marina they had us over to their catamaran to visit.  For supper we walked into downtown to find something but not much was open so we went back to their boat and made burgers.  The next day we made the difficult decision to travel on even though we would have loved to stay and visit more.  The holding for our anchor in that spot was not great and storms were forecast, the marina was fairly hostile about us taking our dinghy to their customers' (our friends') boat, there was no other dinghy shore access, and it was very hot.  It was best to keep moving, but only barely.

After a late start at about 11:00am, we made it maybe 5 hours until inclement rain made it seem wise to anchor in a creek that was actually only about a half mile short of where we had been thinking about stopping.  Of course we were still not fast enough and had to do the anchoring in light rain.  That and the next two nights were all spent kind of in the middle of nowhere; Darien Creek, St. Catherine's Island (we noticed magnolia trees/blossoms for the first time here, but did not spot any lemurs), and Skull Creek.

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Vero Beach to St. Augustine

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Fri, 07/03/2020 - 05:41

From Vero we motored to near Palm Shores, FL.  I changed the oil the next morning and we motored on to New Smyrna Beach.  We anchored, took the dinghy to the nice public dock, walked around the abandoned (COVID19) downtown with Louise, and got some food to go from Panheads Pizzeria.  It was VERY buggy when we got back to the boat with our food.  I think this is the place where so many of the bugs (sort of like gnats?) got into the boat before we put the screens in, that eventually we just left one light on in the v-berth to attract them all.  Periodically I would swat the cloud of bugs around the light to kill as many as possible.

The next day (April 22nd) we arrived in St. Augustine.  We pulled in to the fuel dock for diesel and water and to figure out where to rest for a few days.  A mooring ball would have been ideal but they were not available for two boats or for more than two nights.  We didn't want to anchor because it would be pretty windy and the current really runs through that area.  So we decided to spend three nights at the dock and Keelin' It would do so too.

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Bahamas: Great Harbor Cay to Norman's Cay

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Tue, 04/21/2020 - 11:26

Better late than never to write about what we did in the Bahamas...

Our first day in Great Harbor Key we went and talked to Rhett and Deb on SV Twin as we recognized them from the marina in South Bimini (and they have the same model boat as we do).  They were planning to move around a point about 1/2 mile away and we decided to move with them.  We would be more protected from the winds for the next day or two.  Then we went to walk around town.  There was a wild preaching sort of thing going on in the city park, sort of like slam poetry maybe.  The one lady was rhythmically shouting (rapping?) into the microphone and a few others were gathered around.  They had their maxed out PA system pointed outwards so everyone could experience it!  We went to a little restaurant on top of a hill and had some OK food.  We also bought a few things at the relatively well-stocked grocery store.  Then that evening we went over to their boat for supper; I was a little late as I took the dinghy to the marina to get the MyIslandWiFi hotspot unit.  The cut through rock into the harbor is pretty neat.  It was dark on the way back and I had the dinghy lights on.  As I was about halfways back to the boat (a couple miles trip) I felt a wake.  You can tell from the feel of the waves how recently the wake was made, and these felt very recent.  And then I smelled exhaust.  So basically some maniac with no lights on buzzed right past me in the pitch dark.

Leaving the Bahamas

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Tue, 04/21/2020 - 11:07

About a week ago we decided that it was finally time to leave the Bahamas.  We had basically been sitting on the boat for three weeks as more and more restrictions were put in place.  I don't remember all the details but it was a progression: first all gatherings were prohibited, then all beaches were closed, then more and more until we were literally forbidden from leaving our boat for any purpose.  Grocery delivery was to be arranged with a $150 minimum and $15 delivery fee.

Every time a new restriction was announced it was always slightly open to interpretation so the situation was changing every day as different officials were asked questions.  There were many interpretations of whether travel back to the US was allowed, with or without stops to sleep, refuel, get groceries/water, etc.  I was very stressed out and losing a lot of sleep.  Most recently they did publish guidelines to answer some of those questions, which also included a line "encouraging boaters to return to their home country".

Trivia via VHF

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Fri, 03/20/2020 - 20:15

For entertainment tonight we played trivia via the VHF radio. There were about 15 teams playing.

The host read four questions for each round on the radio and we submitted our responses for each of the five rounds in a Google Docs form. At 5 points per question and a bonus point for signing up early we were in the middle of the pack with 31 points going into the final question. We wagered two points!

The final question asked who performed the song that was played at the beginning of the cruisers net this morning.  The cruisers net is also a VHF affair which consists of announcements, comings and goings, buy/sell/trade, and requests for help.  The host typically plays snippet of a song at the beginning of the program.  Of course no one knew that it would be a question in trivia that night, and based on the scores we heard I don't think anyone got it right.  It was '39 by Queen.  Pretty interesting that Queen wrote a folk song like that.  Betting only two points paid off and we tied with one group for third place!

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Seawater Pro watermaker install on our Hunter 376 sailboat

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Mon, 03/09/2020 - 09:33

In this post I will document the Seawater Pro watermaker that we installed one year ago.  It currently makes 15 gallons per hour here in the Bahamas at about 850 PSI membrane pressure while consuming about 850 watts.

I ordered and installed the system in March 2019, probably total installed cost was about $3,100 and a solid week+ of learning, working and running to hardware stores.

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A week on South Bimini

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Sat, 02/01/2020 - 12:37

We spent a week and a day on South Bimini until the weather was right to sail east.  On the first day I did customs and immigration at the airport in the afternoon.  Then we started meeting all of our new neighbors; about 12 boats had arrived to the marina with us that day, and it was almost empty previously.

We spent some time marveling at the comically clear water.  It was about 10 feet deep around the docks and we could see perfectly to the bottom.  There were lots of minnows, plenty of 6" fish, and even some 12-18" ones.

The first or second day we went to North Bimini to see what it had to offer.  Louise came with to help.  The dinghy parking situation was not that good, just an aluminum swim ladder on a beat up concrete wall, with the east winds making some weird little waves to push our dinghy into the wall.  We walked around for about an hour.  Very interesting.  There was what appeared to be the power plant of the island, which I think was just a large diesel generator.  It makes sense that the marina charges $30/day for power, and we have seen some that have meters and charge $0.80/kWh (4-8 times what you might pay at a house in the US).  There were some grocery/convenience stores, some just small rooms absolutely packed full of packaged/canned food and some with a little more organization and potatoes, onions, etc.  Most prices are double that of an average US grocery store.

Crossing to Bimini in the Bahamas

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Sat, 02/01/2020 - 11:49

On January 7th we left No Name Harbor just as the sky began to lighten.  As the sun rose above the horizon we were clearing the last channel markers off of Cape Florida.  A few boats were ahead of us and as we went a few more appeared behind us.  There were about 10 boats visible in total.

We held a course maybe 20 degrees south of straight towards Bimini in order to make a little headway south before reaching the Gulf Stream which would swiftly carry us north.  I don't remember the exact characteristics of the Stream that day but let's just say that about 5 miles out it became strong, so I altered course to maybe only 5 degrees south of straight east (yes, that would be 95 degrees).  I altered the settings of the chart plotter so that lines indicating both heading (direction the boat is pointed) and track (direction of boat movement over ground) angles emanated from our location marker.  It was interesting to see them differ by 15 degrees or so due to the combined current and boat movement through water.

Randy arrives

Submitted by aaron.axvig on Wed, 01/22/2020 - 09:45

My dad arrived around midnight, having driven from the Orlando airport to meet us at the marina in Stuart.  The next morning we used his rental car to buy some groceries, soda (10 12-packs), and beer (maybe 150 cans or so?).  At the time it felt like we were making a significant dent in our provisioning for the Bahamas but in retrospect it was just a small start.  It was enough to fill up half the rear seating area of the rental pickup.  Then we rode the marina bicycles about 20 minutes to Total Wine to stock up on some liquor.

After a day or two of rain, the weather was OK for sailing outside so we departed early in the morning to head south.  The bridge right by the marina was just opening for some other boats so we skipped our planned stop at the fuel dock for diesel and water and just kept going.  Sailing conditions were brisk with a sustained 20 knots coming from shore.  By staying within a mile or two of shore we kept the waves below a foot or two but they were still splashing off the hull and then the wind would blow the spray sideways into the cockpit.  We might have enjoyed being even closer to shore.  As we approached Port Everglades we determined that we would be stuck there for 3-4 nights due to weather so we decided to push on to Miami.  We fired up the engine to make maximum speed (there was plenty of wind but it is only desirable to heel so much) and were able to anchor in marine stadium just before dark.

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