05 December 2004
St Augustine, FL
Still at St Augustine, FL. The weather has been cold and not very Florida-like. But we've been having a nice time roaming around the shops of the ‘historic' district, which is a nice way to say “tourist trap.”
This is from the historic Spanish Fort.
We are anchored in the Northern Anchorage, northwest of the bridge. The dinghy dock is just south of the bridge.
Anchoring as close to the bridge as possible is wise.
This view shows the location of the marina office (at the end of the fuel dock) and dingy dock.
Jane has been hanging with Judy (Bob and Judy on “Sanctuary”) She had met them in Charleston. They have been at the dock with a broken prop shaft. Bob now wants to sell the boat.
There is another Westsail 32 in the anchorage: “Neverus” or something like that, out of Las Vegas, NV. We circled their boat a couple of times in the dinghy, but didn't see anyone.
Then, today, Gary and Ann Maddox, s/v Reparata, W32 #543 rafted-up with us for an hour or so while we toured each other's boats. He bought his as a hull and deck and spent 15 years building it. He did a hell of a job. It's very nice inside.
s/v Reparata comes along side for a little visit
We are just North of Daytona Beach.
This is a very tight little anchorage. We're in here with 6 other boats. We talked with Ted and Gail on s/v Ragtime. They, too, are on their way to the islands. Also here are s/v “Slow and Easy” and “Fretless.” We had seen both of these before. First, after leaving Georgetown, SC. I noticed them because they were obviously traveling together, they were both from Ohio, and the were the first two boats we had ever passed! Then we saw them again at Belhaven and Barefoot Landing.
We saw a lot of single digit depths today. And the entrance to this place had some 6-foot spots. But I guess I'm getting used to shallow water.
We left St Augustine in a bit of a hurry. I was just putting the dinghy on deck when I noticed several boats leaving the anchorage and heading for the draw bridge (Bridge of Lyons). I suddenly wanted to make that opening (0830) So we hurried up and just made it. Then to the City Dock for a pump out and we were off.
As we went past the Southern anchorage, we saw yet another Westsail 32 (“Necessity”). We had 4 of them there.
Finally hired a mechanic to repack the stuffing box. He had a hard time doing it but now it should be easy for me to repack it when it next needs to be done.
This marina had a van for us to use, so we made a big run to a Super Wal-Mart. Bought a lot of stuff. Food and some things for Michelle for Christmas.
This was just a long day of motoring down the ditch. Mostly 11-foot depths so it wasn't too nerve-wracking. Tomorrow we go to Cocoa, FL. Michelle is mailing us a package and we will wait there for it. If it doesn't get there by the weekend, we'll have to hang around till Monday or Tuesday.
I'll call my buddy Jim Kelly, too. He lives nearby. Maybe he can come by for a visit.
The weather today was warm (80 degrees) and sunny. For the first time, we were on deck in T-shirts and shorts. We might finally be getting far enough south to put away the down blankets.
We're anchored out with a bunch of other boats. The water is 8-feet deep and there's little or no tide here. We'll have to wait for that package from Michelle. There is a community park on shore and some organization is putting on Christmas concerts each night. Sounds nice over the water.
11 December 2004
Still in Cocoa, FL. Would you believe it: the Post Office isn't open on Saturdays? So we'll be here until Monday.
Fuel: 15-stbd, 34-port. Added 19 gal to stbd tank.
We picked up the package this morning (Thanks, Michelle) and had a nice visit with Jim Kelley. He was my jeep driver when I was in the Army. Now he lives near here.
I just wanted to get a jump on tomorrow's run to Vero Beach. It's about 50 miles from Cocoa. So I figured we'd move just a few hours South. That brought us to this place. A relative nice little marina. It's the first place that actually charged us by the overall length of the boat, not just the length on deck. As we were fueling, the dockmaster said “Nice Westsail, Captain. Do you happen to know her actual overall length?”
Galena is a Westsail 32. That is, it's 32-feet from stem to stern. That's how long the hull is and that's how it's documented. But then there's a 6-foot bowsprit sticking out the front and about 3 feet of boomkin hanging off the stern. That makes it 41 feet long overall. When we come into a marina, and they ask for our length, I usually say something like: “It's a Westsail 32” and they just charge us as a 32-foot boat. But if they are putting us on a bulkhead, with boats in front and behind us, then they can reasonably charge us for actual length.
But we needed to have the holding tank pumped out and could use some fuel so here we are. The fuel wasn't too expensive, but the pumpout… They charged $1 per foot. That cost me $40 to have 16 gallons of waste pumped out. And we had to do it ourselves! Back at St Augustine, it was free and most places it's $10 or less.
Also, I noted that the port fuel tank was at 28 gals. It was 34 when I last looked. And I hadn't selected that tank since I filled it. So there was some cross-leveling going on. I checked, and the valve to the returns was open, That might have caused a siphon action.
As we were turning into the marina off the Banana River, I glanced at the moored boats and noticed “Sanctuary” (Bob and Judy). Jane and Judy had become friends in Charleston and had spent some time shopping together in St Augustine. And here there were again. They dinghied over and we had a very nice visit.
We'll be leaving in the morning for Vero Beach.
We were assigned as the third boat on mooring #16. This was the only the second time I have ever attempted a raft-up. As we slowly approached, the captains of the other two boats came out to assist. The starboard boat (“Mystic”) had fenders on her Starboard side so I was aiming for her. The current was almost right on the nose. I approached dead slow. Jane set the port-side fenders. She was on bow with the port bow dock line. She had already rigged the stern dock line and I was ready with that one as we came near. Gordon and Doug came out on deck to take our lines (and to fend-off if necessary).We passed the lines to them as we were just stopping, about one foot off. Then the bow swung away to starboard in the current. Doug tried to hold us in, but Galena's full keel had other ideas. I was about to shout that we were going around for a second approach, when I noticed that Gordon had already secured the stern line. So, a little forward thrust with the rudder hard to port and the bow came back around. We were secured. Later, I ran our own line to the mooring ball.
Galena, Mystic, and Dream Catcher on a mooring.
Three on each mooring ball in Vero Beach, FL
We were invited to join them on Gordon's boat, s/v “Dream Catcher,” for coffee and pie later in the day. There we learned about them and their plans. This was the first time down the ditch for them and they were having the same problems that I was: Shallow water and swift currents. Dream Catcher draws 5.5 feet and has been on the bottom about 9 times. They were planning on going off-shore from Lake Worth direct to Grand Bahamas Island. The next day they changed their minds and were planning on going to Miami from Lake Worth.
I had not really looked at the charts between Lake Worth and Miami, but when I did I saw why they were going off-shore. There were 19 drawbridges and most were scheduled openings. That would make for a lot of circling and waiting. And there were very few places to drop an anchor.
So, now we've decided to consider the outside route to Miami, too.
We went shopping at Wal-Mart and bought a lot of warm clothing. We had not planned on being this cold for this long.
This was just a short run to get halfway to Lake Worth. Lake Worth was a case of too far for one day's run, but halfway was a really short day.
Storm casualty along the ICW. We saw a lot of this.
We talked with Michelle. She has a web page setup for us. She's going to be updating this page and posting some of the photos we email her.
This anchorage is on the South side of the bridge abutment. And right now the wind is from the Southeast. So it's really rough. But the wind is supposed to swing around to the North tonight, so we should then be in the lee of the bridge and have a quiet night.
Lake Worth anchorage, looking toward North Palm Beach, FL
We will stay here until we can go outside to Miami. There's a couple of cold fronts coming through so that looks like it might be Tuesday with arrival in Miami midday on Wednesday. We will be pretty much in downtown Miami when we get there, so I want to have everything we need to have on board before we leave here. Right now the one big thing we need is fuel for the stove.
Also, when that cold front comes through on Sunday night, it's going to get very cold. Monday night it's expected to be down to 40 degrees. I'd like to be in a marina that night so we can run our electric heater. Also, we need to do laundry and there's not one to be found near here.
On the 18th we walked down to a mall (about 1.5 miles) and noticed it has been a long time since we have been around that many well-dressed people. People wearing more than just shorts and T-shirts and sandals.
We walked to West Marine (about 0.7 miles) for stove fuel but they didn't have any. But there was a Blockbuster nearby so I bought a couple of DVDs
Jane went to the grocery store and I walked the other direction from here and found nothing in 1.5 miles.
We talked to a boater that said there were hardware stores at the next bridge south of there. But that's about 4 miles and while we were getting used to walking, that's just too far; especially to carry several gallons of stove fuel back. Besides, that's near where I plan on going for a marina Monday night (We need a shower). So we'll see then if we can get what we need when we get down there.
On the 19th we went to the Library (across the street from the mall) to e-mail Michelle, send her some pictures, and look at her new web site. We're looking for a marina for tomorrow night. It's supposed to get very cold (around the high 30's).
Fuel 23-stbd, 34-port.
We're going to a marina tonight. Really.
Then, on Tuesday, we're going to head off-shore to Miami. They are calling for East winds 10-15 kts then East 5-10 kts that night. Then SE 10-15 kts Wednesday. I plan on leaving here about 1400 Tuesday, sailing all night Tuesday night, and arriving on Wednesday morning.
The marina charges $2/ft/day plus $8 for electricity. $1/load for laundry. Nice showers. Marine stores and hardware stores within a couple blocks of the marina. We found and bought 5 gallons of fuel for the stove (denatured alcohol) and a bucket, and a quart of catalyst for the quart of paint we have for the hull. We have some scratches to fix.
(Grab a mug of your favorite adult beverage and sit back… this is going to be a long entry.)
We departed Palm Harbor Marina at 1230 hrs, 21 December, to make the 1245 bridge opening. (There's this bridge, see, between where we were and where we wanted to go… the Lake Worth Inlet.) The ‘going-to-sea' prep routine is becoming more routine, which is nice. We still take some shortcuts. Like not moving the life raft up to the deck from its in-port position at the end of the table in the main saloon. Also, once again, we did not mount the storm sail in its track for instant use. In the last outing, a reefed staysail worked well enough.
We left the Lake Worth inlet and put up all the sails. We were sailing under blue skies, with 15-kts of wind on the port beam and 2-4 foot swells on the port beam as well. Galena was making 6-kts and heeled over at 20 degrees with rolls to 30 degrees. It was ideal conditions.
From 1330 hrs to about 2000 hrs we flew south. The GPS said we would make the 62-mile trip in a little less than 10 hours.
Then at about 2000 hrs the wind picked up. So I figured we should reduce sail. We put a double reef in the main and dropped the jib. Well, that was the end result. What we actually did was: put a reef in the main; drop the staysail; drop the jib; put the staysail back up; take another reef in the main. That all took about half an hour.
Then we were still making 4.5 kts. Respectable, but the seas were building and the boat was handling a little poorly: heavy weather helm.
The wind then started to clock from East-Southeast, to Southeast. That puts it just past the point where Galena can point. So we were required to run South, but a little West of the course. Specifically, the course was 180 degrees magnetic. The best I could make was 190 degrees. That put us closer and closer to shore. When we got about half a mile off-shore, I had to tack away, but we tack in these conditions almost 110 degrees. That puts us at 80 degrees, just North of East. With the waves from the East, that gave us only 1.5 kts of speed. Making it back to the course line took about half an hour and put us a quarter of a mile back to the North in the process. During this time, we covered 3 miles in 3 hrs.
Also during this time, I decided to motor-sail. See, with the engine running just over an idle, that little push would let us make about 5 kts and be right on course. But after motor-sailing for about 30 minutes, the engine started to vibrate… badly. Jane was asleep in the bow and it woke her up. The whole boat shook. I pulled the engine out of gear and it idled quietly. As soon as I put it in gear it tried to shake itself apart. So that's why we had to just sail the rest of the way to Miami.
At the rate we were going, we'd make Miami by late at night on the 22nd.
During the night, when I tried to tack around, Galena would not bring her bow through the eye of the wind. There just was too heavy a sea and too little speed (we were only making 3 kts). So I had to gibe around at each turn.
Just before dawn I shook out the reefs in the main. We then had the full main and the staysail. Just then the wind picked up to 15-20 kts and veered back toward the East. So, once again we were sailing along at 5 to 6 kts but in seas that were building to 6 feet. Not bad, just a little exciting.
Now, all night long I had been wondering what we were going to do when we got to Miami. I mean, one usually doesn't sail into a harbor. With all the commercial traffic and other recreational boats around, it's better to be under power with as much control as possible. And we had no engine. But we did have towing insurance from Boat US. And we had never used it before. So when we were at the Miami inlet, I called them on the cell phone. They patched me through to the local affiliate (Biscayne Towing and Salvage) and Dave came out for us in a tow boat. We had dropped the Main and were basically just hove-to with the staysail just off the channel. Dave passed us a towing bridal and we attached it to the bow cleats. Well, again, that was the end result. Jane and I spent about 15 minutes getting the bridal properly run with respect to the whisker stays and bowsprit and other stuff we have hanging off the bow of Galena.
The channel (“Government Cut”) was very rough. We saw breakers averaging over 6-feet tall. Dave later said that there was a nasty combination of an outbound tide and an east wind. Yeah, I'd say it was nasty. We would learn a lot about contrary current and wind in the coming months.
Dave towed us to their salvage yard's dock and promptly got us stuck in the mud. He broke his tow line pulling us out and over to his dock.
There we met Tom, the boss, and Corey, the owner, and Les, the mechanic. Tom said he would charge me $2/ft/day till I figured out what I wanted to do.
After listening to me description of the problem, Tom suggested I disconnect the shaft coupling and see if the vibration is still there. If it isn't, then it's in the shaft or prop (which is what I thought). If it was, then it was in the transmission (can you say ‘Kah-Ching). When he said that my heart sank. I hadn't thought about the transmission being a problem. See, just a couple weeks ago, I changed the oil in the transmission for the first time. What if I didn't fill it right? What if I didn't use the right oil? What if I cost us bunches of money just because I was stupid? So I went to work to take apart the coupling. Well, Jane made me take a nap first. I'd been at the helm for almost exactly 24 hours. So I sort of passed out for two hours. Then I went to work on the coupling. As soon as I had it apart, Les came by and climbed into the engine bay and started looking around. He watched as I fired it up and put it in gear. No vibration. That was good. Then he grabbed the coupling and it came off the shaft in his hand. He handed it to me and pointed out that the key was missing and the coupling had pretty much destroyed itself by wobbling around on the shaft. The shaft, too, had been damaged by the coupling.
Add to this the fact that it was 1500 hrs, and just a couple days before Christmas. Tom said $85/hr plus parts plus outside shop charges. I said do it. So, very quickly they pulled the prop, pulled the shaft, took the shaft to the prop-shop to be welded and re-machined. The coupler was too messed up to fix and had to be replaced. We would have the shaft back by tomorrow at 10.
Now, Les had noted the poor condition of the engine mounts. He and I had been talking about him working for me directly. Instead of paying Tom $85/hr, Les said he'd work for $45/hr. He went out and got new engine mounts and we agreed that he would come to the marina and do the work tomorrow.
By the 23rd the reworked shaft is ready and they reassemble everything and most of the work went smoothly. Then they notice that the alignment is about a quarter of an inch off; the engine is that much too low relative to the shaft. Usually these alignment measurements are measured in thousandths of an inch. Well, I was already going to pay Les to put in new mounts and do a full alignment in the afternoon. But Tom (who of course couldn't be told of the agreement with Les) said the miss-alignment really had to be fixed before they could put the shaft back in the boat. So I reluctantly agreed. Les said he would just do a quick-and-dirty alignment and then do a really good one when he installed the new engine mounts.
Les found that the engine brackets that connect to the mounts were loose. In fact one of the two bolts on the port side had sheared off. The back of the engine was so loose he could lift it about an inch. They had to go to the store and get a new metric bolt for that bracket. And that cost me more time and money.
Finally they were done. The total bill came to $673. Tom even had the audacity to charge me for storage while he was doing work on the boat! As we left the yard heading to the marina, I noticed that the engine was running much, much smoother. We cleared the last (first?) bridge on the Miami River and were about to head over to the marina when I noticed that there was no throttle response. The lever moved, but the engine just idled. I got on the radio and called Tom's people to come out and fix it. I can maneuver at idle, but stopping Galena usually takes a little more power than that. While we were cutting circles in Biscayne Bay waiting for Tom I opened the engine compartment and found a loose bolt on the back of the throttle lever assembly. I had it fixed in a few minutes and called Tom to turn him around just as they were coming into sight.
We called the marina and got a slip assignment (Bayside Marina, slip C-14). I came in very slowly. There were some beautiful yachts in there and I didn't want to dent one of them. There was also a band playing at the bar on the edge of the marina. There was actually a mall there. And the Miami Hard Rock Café was on the marina grounds, too. We found our slip and pulled in bow-first. Jane and I said at the same time, “This is going to be expensive.” But it wasn't. Just $1.85/ft and nothing extra for electricity or cable TV. Oh, the USB WinTV I got for this computer works great. Sometimes the sound gets a little out of synch, but other than that, this little laptop makes a very nice TV.
Les showed up and brought his wife, Sandy. Jane and Sandy went shopping and Les worked on the engine. Every few minutes he said “Shit!” and I knew it was going to cost more. Things like: the other (stbd) rear mount bracket had also sheared off one of the bolts holding it on. Well, he got most of the back mounts done tonight and will be back here tomorrow to finish up. He has to buy some new bolts and do a few other things he hadn't planned on. So it looks like I'll be making his Christmas a little greener for him.
We'll stay at this marina for at least two days, maybe three. Les will be done tomorrow. Then Jane and I need a day to ourselves.
Les only worked 3 hours today. That's understandable since it is Christmas Eve. But he got the back mounts finished and now has to replace the forward mounts.
On the 25th, Jane and I had a nice quiet Christmas morning. We exchanged a couple of gifts and had a little quiet time while waiting for Les. Again, he brought his wife. Sandy is a nice lady and Jane gets along fine with her.
Just about everything was going badly for this project today and it was taking much longer than anticipated.
The total bill for the mounts and labor was$880. Add that to the $670 from the 23rd and you have quite a costly week. I know that's not so bad for the work that was done. And Les worked very hard (and on Christmas to boot) for the money. And he did a very good job. But, man, this was not an anticipated expense. I think Les did a good job. We'll see when we actually run it for a while. But the short trial we gave it showed an engine that had almost no vibration. Impressive.
Today we also met Chris and Mary Liz (s/v “Wandering Albatross”; Westsail32 #638) They came into the marina for a 3-hr visit to have lunch with parents. They are at an anchorage waiting for the right weather to cross to Bimini. They have re-powered their boat with and electric motor. They have very little range. So, they have been sailing down the ICW. The only time they use the engine is at drawbridges. The motor was supposed to be highly regenerative. It charges the batteries when sailing. But in his Westsail, Chris said the best he's ever seen on the charging side was 1-amp while sailing at 6-kts. That's not much. So he has to go to marinas to charge up. He has no other onboard charging mechanism.
We'll stay one more night in this marina. Jane needs a real day off. But they are going to have a boat show here and they want all the boats out of the marina by noon on the 28th.
The weather forecast for the next 5 days does not look good for a crossing. So we'll be sitting at anchor using our supplies and waiting…
They said that, yes, you really do need to order a Use Decal from US Customs before you leave the country. So I walked down to the Port of Miami to do just that. It was a 45-minute walk. I was sent to several buildings and finally got to the right one. The guy there said, “No, we don't do that anymore. You have to do that on-line.”
So back to the ten-cents per minute internet place near the marina. Finally got the thing ordered. All we need is the number from that document when we get back. And Michelle can give us that over the phone.
We're anchored between Greg and Gladys (“Into the Mystic”) and Chris and Mary Liz (“Wandering Albatross”) It's a crowded anchorage but we're hooked well and we don't have to worry too much about swinging around. Since, if the wind blows from the south, we'll be on our way to Bimini.
The wind has been bowling at about 15 kts and we've had rain showers every few hours. We're still waiting for a weather window to leave (like everyone else in this anchorage). It looks like we'll be here till at least Monday; possibly longer. The wind generator is really doing its thing. The batteries have been so well charged that we could be running the refrigeration, if we had anything to refrigerate.
We're going to town (Miami Beach) later today. There's a Publix and a library and we'll see if we can't get this log to the web mistress.
Still waiting for a weather window. We need wind from the Southwest to West and it has to last for at least 30 hrs. This time of year, that usually happens when a cold front comes through. So we wait.