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Posted in Trips on May 20, 2013
May 20, 2013
Shear Madness is still safely tucked away at Old Port Cove Marina in North Palm Beach, FL. For the past four months we have been busy attending to family issues. Bradley’s father, Ted continues to be an inspiration to all who know him. He is known as “Mr. Magnificent” because for years whenever someone asks how he is, his response is “Truly Magnificent”. He believes that your quality of life is a result mostly of your attitude and has always embodied the most positive attitude towards all things. He continues to do so as he battles cancer, enjoying life to the fullest between chemo treatments, playing a little golf, spending time with family and friends, and even taking a Caribbean cruise with friends. Meanwhile, Bradley’s mother, Eleanor, continues to recover from a broken hip and leg, as well as the heartfelt loss of her long term companion, Norm, in February. She has now moved from a rehab hospital into an assisted living facility and continues to make progress with her physical therapy and regaining her independence. We feel very fortunate to have had the time to spend with them these past few months as they are both adjusting to the next phases of their lives. This time has also reminded us of how important it is to enjoy each and every day we have – whether it is cruising in some exotic location or spending quality time with family and friends.
Just one quick story in that regard, especially in light of Memorial Day in the US this coming weekend. Yesterday, I took Bradley’s mom out for lunch to a diner within walking distance of her assisted living facility (she is getting more mobile daily, but for this outing was in a wheelchair). When we returned, there was a resident couple sitting outside enjoying the fresh air. We said hello and stopped to chat for a minute. Over an hour later, we were still talking. Ken and Marilyn, we learned, have been married for 68 years. Ken was in the Marine Corps, having joined the day after Pearl Harbor in 1941 and served four years. He fought on several islands in the Pacific, most notably on Iwo Jima, where he was wounded and spent seven months in a hospital afterwards. He is an amazing character, loves to talk, and is a wonderful story teller. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has been married quite so long, nor anyone who was actually at the battle of Iwo Jima. It was quite a day and I am so thankful we stopped to say hello.
During this time we have also had a chance to catch up with many other friends and family, with various photos below. On April Fool’s Day, the 3rd anniversary of our purchase of Shear Madness, we attended our good friends’ Richard and Maggie’s Commitment Ceremony on the beach in Naples. This is like a wedding but without the legal license. We are so happy for both of them! I spent some time in Northern Virginia and saw many friends and in North Carolina where I visited our dog Jordan, now living with his Aunt Meg and still as playful as ever, though a little bit slower at age 14+.
Although we are eager to get back on the water, we have also treasured this time with friends and family. We are planning to resume our cruising in early June. From Palm Beach, we will head north to Connecticut where we will join a rally of Nordhavns in Mystic in mid-June. From there we hope to proceed north up the coast to Nova Scotia with a few stops along the way.
We are also pleased to welcome aboard our new deckhand, Tyler. Tyler comes to us from Alabama and is already proving to be a great addition to the Shear Madness team. He is switching careers from the restaurant business to the marine industry and already has a good start learning about how to maintain a boat like Shear Madness. He’s a pleasure to work with and we look forward to getting him plenty of sea time!
We did take the boat out for a run this past weekend. After spending some time updating our nav software and charts, we were pleased that everything worked well. We exercised the generator, stabilizers, autopilot, Watermakers, and all navigation instruments with no problems. However, we have had some problems with our inverter, which has been shipped back to the factory in Holland for diagnosis and repair. Meanwhile, we will either be connected to shore power or running a generator. But the boat is ready to go and as anxious as we are to get back out on the water! Stay tuned as we resume the cruising adventures.
Posted in Trips on March 18, 2013
March 17, 2013
After bidding a fond farewell to Sid and Stef, we hung out at Cat Island for a little longer and enjoyed some wonderful spearfishing and exploring. Our friend Matt from Halvorson House accompanied us on a great spearfishing expedition, resulting in a cooler full of nice fish. Taylor and Matt did have an interesting moment when a fish Matt had speared was stolen by a shark – but just a fish-eating one, not a man-eater. While this isn’t the first time we’ve lost fish to a shark, it always makes for a bit of heart pounding excitement.
But alas, out time at Cat Island was cut short as we had to return to the States to attend to some family issues. We got the word that Norm, Bradley’s mother’s long-term companion, who had been ill, had taken a turn for the worse so we decided to head back to Florida as soon as possible. We calculated that it would take about 36 hours non-stop and the weather was OK, though not perfect. The biggest problem was getting the tender back on deck as the winds were blowing about 20 knots and there was a bit of swell in the anchorage. In calm conditions, it’s no problem to get the tender on board, but when we are rocking a bit and the tender is hanging from the crane above the deck, swinging like a 2000 pound pendulum, it can get a little exciting. But we got it onboard safely and soon were picking our way through small reefs at the top end of Cat Island and soon we on course to Palm Beach.
Conditions on the crossing were never quite calm, but neither were they uncomfortable. The crossing was pretty uneventful and we arrived back in Palm Beach where we booked a flight to Baltimore in order to try to make it to see Norm who was with his family in Cumberland, MD. We arrived in time to see him and to say goodbye before he passed away on Super Bowl Sunday. Norm was a wonderful man and will be missed by many – his wonderful children and grandchildren, his many golf buddies, his friends from the many chapters of his life, and the Rosenberg family. “Saint Norm” as we called him, brought laughter and joy to all who knew him. His care and loving kindness to Bradley’s Mom also made it possible for us to cruise and travel with no worries. After his memorial service we returned to Florida to spend some time with Bradley’s parents, both of whom have their own health issues. We’ll be spending most of March and April on land with family and hope to resume our cruising schedule sometime in May.
In the meantime, I visited my stepson, nieces and nephew, great-niece and other friends in Colorado, where I was also able to play a little early spring golf with my stepson Mike. Speaking of golf, Bradley has recently decided to give it a try for the first time so after a couple sessions at the driving range with our friend Richard, Bradley, his father, and I played a very successful nine holes. Bradley seems to have a natural ability for the game, so maybe there is hope for him after all!
We are using this time to catch up with many family and friends and were pleased to meet another “Nordhavn Dreamer” couple, Fred and Shirley, who live part time in Palm Beach and came to the boat for a visit and a nice dinner out where we got to know each other a little. We also had a nice dinner with Nordhavn owners Nina and Josh from Escape at our favorite local Mexican restaurant.
Finally, this month we will say a fond farwell to Taylor, our deckhand, who is returning to Maine to enroll in the Maine Maritime Academy where he will continue his pursuit of a career in the marine industry. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly six months since Taylor joined us, but it has been a great experience for all of us and we wish him the very best of luck in the next phase of his journey. Shear Madness is looking quite ship-shape thanks to Taylor’s efforts.
Posted in Trips on February 6, 2013
“It’s ‘Island Time,’ Mon”
[This is a guest blog written by our recent guests Cedric (Sid) & Stefani]
After a long night and morning of two flights and a layover from Southern California, we’d finally arrived in Nassau, Bahamas. This was a mere pause en route to paradise, yet we could already feel our energy and mindset change as soon as we cleared Customs and paused long enough to soak it in. We had a few hours to kill before the last puddle-jumper flight into Georgetown, Great Exuma (GGT). Not really enough time to venture outside the airport, so we decided to find a bar and grab a beer (or two) to get into the rhythm. Naturally, it had to be Kalik (say kaLICK, as one syllable), beer of the Bahamas.
This trip has been a long time coming. I (Cedric) met Kathy through the Nordhavn Dreamers group on Yahoo. Kathy had written a story about the lightning strike that befell Shear Madness and had asked me if I would be willing to assist her with editing the story. Long story made short, I worked on the piece with Kathy and some time later, as we got to know one another, Kathy asked if we’d like to visit them on SM and finally meet in person. Twist my arm a little harder, would ya? Of course we said yes! As a Dreamer, this opportunity is analogous to kid in a candy store. Even more so given Stef and I have been contemplating retirement aboard a long-range passage making yacht; we relished the opportunity to spend some extended time aboard a truly gorgeous Nordhavn—they’re all gorgeous, aren’t they?—while validating our assumptions and learning the ropes from a pair of highly experienced captains and owners. Who could ask for more?
Land Ho!! Following a brief stop in Rock Sound on our island-hopping inbound flight, we had finally arrived in GGT. With excitement building, we hopped a taxi into town and met-up with our hosts at Exuma Market, a cruiser’s favorite. Probably because I was already conscious of the size of our singular, Monster Bag, I could see Bradley look at it and wonder what caliber of dirt-dwelling landlubbers were coming aboard. Not that I could fault him; I’d have done the same thing. We did the bag drag from the market down to the yacht club docks; there were a bunch of go-fast girly boats there, but no Shear Madness. The tender was there though, waaay down there, from a fixed dock at low tide. Monster Bag suddenly seemed even more dubious. Needless to say, it was fun getting gear, crew and provisions aboard. This was the first time, but not the last for a fixed dock adventure. As darkness claimed the sky, we crossed the bay to the leeward side of Stocking Island with some swell and wind chop. We were getting a good bit of spray in our faces but we didn’t have a care in the world at that point. The sea does that to a person, or at least it does so to us. You’d have needed a chisel to get the grins off of our faces, for days to come.
Lesson #1: Fight the Salt. One key focus on Shear Madness is using the shower on the stern to minimize salt brought aboard. Once salt is inside the cabin, especially in the beds and carpets, it’s a pain to get out and it holds moisture making things like the sheets less comfortable. So, we always rinsed off whenever any salt water was involved. As a plus, we also showered on the swim step every day. At first, it felt a little awkward standing on the stern naked to the world, but that didn’t last long and at the end, we agreed that it was one of the highlights of our time aboard that we’d dearly miss. We never did shower in our en suite head. (Editor’s note – this normally occurs after dark or when in an anchorage with no nearby boats during daylight).
Once aboard SM, Kathy, Bradley and able crewman, Taylor, assisted us to our cabin in the port bow and we set about unpacking. Alas, Monster Bag seemed a bit dicey for the trip down the stairwell without scratching the joinery, so we unpacked with a relay method from pilothouse to cabin. Bradley would later say that we’d probably find that we’d packed too much, and he would be correct… For me. Stef packed almost perfectly and she had a little smirk of superiority when we talked about this later. I hate it when that happens. Lesson #2: Pack less; you just don’t need nearly as much as you think, especially in warm climes.
While we could see all the anchor lights on the masts of the sailboats that evening, it was dark with a newly waxing moon so we could not see much else, at least not outside. More importantly, it was time for the Welcome Aboard, “Shear Madness Cocktail,” for which, upon raising your glass for the first time, you say “Shears.” Of course you do, silly. The SMC is a delicious yet secret, rum-based concoction that goes down easy; one could imbibe several without a second thought. Try as I would throughout the journey, neither B nor K would share the recipe for the SMC, but I haven’t given up yet. After a tour of the boat (she’s amazing, of course, but more on that later), and some getting-to-know-one-another-better conversation, we found ourselves exhausted around 9:30pm. Up to the pilothouse and then down to the cabin. With the cabin door, the hatches and the porthole open, we laid there in a perfect cross-breeze all night as the boat rocked us through a wonderful sleep. Priceless.
I awoke before sunrise, before everyone as it happens, and found my way to the flybridge. This is my favorite time of the day, bar none. Sitting there in solitude listening to the sailboat riggings and water lapping at the hull as the dark eastern sky began to give way to the sun in that perfect moment of light was transcendent. I’m logical to a fault; I know that there’s infinitely more to the cruiser’s lifestyle, but in that moment I knew, knew without reservation that this was what I wanted for the next chapter in our lives. Of course, I represented precisely 50% of the decision-making team and it was still very early in this journey of discovery, so the answer for “us” remained to be determined.
As we gathered for our first breakfast aboard consisting of homemade bread, yogurt, sliced fruit and cereal, I queried about our plans for the day. What would we do? What did we need to do (we were aboard as crew-guests after all)? Where would we go? When did we need to be there? These are the questions of a working dirt-dweller. Snap, snap, snap. Obligations. Schedules. Get ‘er done! On this occasion, the response was, “We’ll figure it out as we go. We’re on Island Time, Mon.” Lesson #3: Slow down. A lot. This was a lesson that sunk in more and more over the duration of our visit. Make no mistake; we were very active, yet everything was at a casual, comfortable pace without specific schedule. Over time, a peace set in upon both of us; we were more relaxed than we’d been in a very long time. By the way, Lesson #4 is related to Lesson #3: Respect the Boat or Feel the Bite.” What’s the bite? Well, that’s when you make a mistake or get careless as regards the boat. She will punish your carelessness with a “bite,” whether it’s smacking your toes into gunnel, or slipping on the edge of a step and falling, gracelessly, down the stairs. Trust me when I say this, she’s a lot stouter than we feeble humans and you will feel the pain of the bite. Respect her might and move with careful purpose though and you’re good to go!
Throughout our time on the hook at Georgetown, we’d do many things, most of them simple, yet all rewarding in their own regard. Each day began with breakfast and listening in on the Georgetown Cruiser’s Net. This informal net provided the low-down on happenings around Georgetown: Cruiser’s pot-luck & sundowners, daily volleyball, prayer meetings, trail hikes, church service, sail repair parties, cruisers in need, parts for sale, you name it, all announced by boat name first. I’d heard and read it before, but here before my ears thrived a mish-mash of folks from all points that had established a caring community all because each were cruisers. It sounds kind of silly, but it resonated with me.
We went into Georgetown that morning to shop for provisions. First stop was another fixed dock an hour or so past flood slack. Not so bad getting ashore, but we’d face a bigger drop later. We walked about town in a big loop stopping here and there for various items while Taylor, our young crewman, was on trash duty and then off to find an Internet café to feed his connectivity craving (our onboard connection allowed for email but not big downloads). I’m sure that he also wanted to get away from us “old folks,” not that any of us are that old, right? The rest of the crew hit the Straw Market for a few tourist trinkets for Stef and me. We then hit every grocer within range looking for some good deals. At the store farthest from the docks we struck pay dirt; they had frozen turkeys for $20. Overstock from the holidays, no doubt. We bought one and stuffed it in Bradley’s backpack. I also picked up some Kaliks and Mt Gay Rum, of course. It is the islands, after all.
Somewhere in the midst of all this we decided that we were hungry and set about finding a place for some lunch. In the end, the menus at the nicer places that didn’t quite match what we were after. We finally ate a barbeque lunch of beef, pork and chicken while sitting on a brick wall in the town park, bought from a tiny little roadside shack. Somehow, this simple meal was the best damn barbeque I’d ever had, doubtless influenced by the Bahama breeze and a cold Kalik. Appetites sated and provisions in hand, we headed back to the tender. The tide must have been near low because that drop from the dock to the tender was pretty big. We made it work, but only by sitting on the edge and “dropping in.” There was no going back ashore without a swim, or splinters!
Once back in the anchorage, we rested a bit and then took the dink over to the Chat n Chill for some beach volleyball with the other cruisers. Bradley and I were in it, big time. Stef took in a game but then decided the better of it while Kathy played a couple before yielding to some anxious younger folks. While we gents went on to work our tired old bones through several more games of volleyball, Stef and Kathy set off to windward, wading through the lagoon and then hiking out to the other side of the island. By the time they got back, we were tuckered and ready to roll back to Shear Madness.
On Day Three, we set about some boat chores in the morning, then more of the previous day’s activities that afternoon; hiking for the ladies and volleyball for the boys. The Cruiser’s Net had announced a beach potluck and cocktails at sunset. We were definitely in for that. We also told our fellow cruisers about the $20 turkeys on the morning net. Low and behold, another cruiser announced that they wanted a quarter turkey and was anyone else interested (nearly all were on sailboats with limited storage capacity). Two minutes later, eight quarters were spoken for! We decided to head back in and get one more turkey as well, only this time we had the butcher slice that big bird into quarters with his band saw. The saw made short work of the frozen fowl and the quarters were very efficient for freezer storage aboard. By the way, that first turkey was cooked-up to perfection a few days later for a Bahamas Thanksgiving Dinner in January and many a sandwich for days to come. Twenty bucks very well spent.
That evening, we had our first Cruiser’s Potluck and Sundowner’s Party on the beach. It was a lot of fun to meet with and speak to so many cruisers, especially to hear their stories of how they got from “there to here” on their path to this lifestyle. Poor Taylor, so hungry for younger company struck out again at the party. Other than Taylor, and a few young boat kids here and there, there wasn’t a soul under 40. Still, he had fun. In a clear case of cruisers helping cruisers, we rode over to the party barefoot, which was fine for the beach, but not so good when nature called. You see, back amongst the foliage where a person could privately do their business, there were little burrs, or stickers, everywhere! You could not walk one step without picking up several in your foot. One of the female cruisers, Helen, noticed Stef trying to figure out how she was going to answer the call of the wild, puts 2+2 together and offers Stef her sandals. (Stef here: A girl has to do what a girl has to do, I’m looking at you Helen.) Nice. Lesson #5: Cruising brings out the best in people. Really.
The next day it was time for some underwater activity. As Stef and I are not certified divers we snorkeled. With the skinny (shallow) water in the Bahamas there’s plenty to see and do with a snorkel, mask and fins. For this first of many snorkeling adventures, we took the tender out through a cut below Stocking Island to windward. Whoa! There was a good bit of swell on the outside as we fought our way through the cut. Once out, we ventured further west toward a reef but the Captain decided conditions looked a bit dicey for anchoring and snorkeling so we headed back leeward through a different cut. The return was even more exciting as the swells were breaking in the cut. Our first approach was off course and had us headed to the shallows so we timed the swell, came about, powered over a wave or two and set up for another approach. The second time we got through with a slight bump in a trough, but no problems. Alas, the snorkeling was fun, but not particularly noteworthy other than “Honeymoon Beach” (our name for this lovely, isolated white sand beach), which was lovely. Naturally, I had to kiss the girl!
Day Four brought our first passage. Yay! Everything we could’ve hoped for from the cruiser’s lifestyle had been magnificent thus far, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t aching to get underway. This is what I had been dying to do from the first moment I’d come to understand and respect a well-found passage maker such as Nordhavn. We were headed S-SSE to the deeper cut below Stocking Island, then ENE to Calabash Bay, on the north end of Long Island. Not a particularly long passage, perhaps 4 hours, yet more than enough to get into the swing of things, stand watch, perform engine room checks, and learn approach and anchoring. The passage around Stocking was plotted and navigated with care. Sporting nearly 8 ft of draft through skinny water demands constant attention and a sharp lookout for uncharted obstacles.
Calabash Bay proved both gorgeous, and deserted. While there were a few vacation
homes ashore, and even a small resort, there was but one sailboat sharing the bay with us. The water was stunning and the sunsets amazing. By now we’d fallen into a rhythm of life on board: Hiking (the girls), snorkeling, boat chores, meals, sundowners on the flybridge, nightly swim step showers, and more. Heck, we even had 3G connectivity through BaTelCo, though that’s a mixed blessing at best (I had to “see” my Seattle Seahawks lose to the Atlanta Falcons via a text update every 30 seconds. Ouch). We also battled at both cribbage and backgammon. While the snorkeling was definitely better here than what we’d found near Georgetown, it wasn’t great. This, coupled with a swell wrapping the north end of the island, had us pulling anchor on Day 6 and headed to Conception Island National Park.
The passage to Conception was about 3.5 hours. We caught some swell as we rounded the north tip of Long Island. While not large, perhaps 4-6 ft, the waves were right on the nose and close-coupled. This set us up for a bit of a ride for the first hour or so, but nothing significant; we had a nice ride the rest of the way to West Bay. Not only is Conception stunning—seriously, it was amazingly beautiful—it’s bereft of human habitation; we shared the anchorage with only three other sailboats. We were finally off the grid too. Yay! As we’d taken a lot of salt spray on the way over, the first boat chore after anchoring was to give the big girl a bath. With five of us working, we washed the entire topsides and dried her spotless in a couple hours. Good, hard work to get your sweat on. Boat chores done, we decided to scout the reefs and dive spots to see what was cookin’. We’d been told that the diving was spectacular at Conception so everyone was excited to get going. Alas, our efforts didn’t yield quite what any of us expected, but there were still days of exploring yet to come and the day was drawing to a close. We motored about the bay saying hello to fellow cruisers and invited everyone for sundowners the following day.
The next day was really overcast; not the best light for reef diving. So, we decided to explore the inner lagoon. We’d been told that there were a lot of rays and turtles about so off we went. Talk about skinny waters. The tender on SM is a large, twin-engine beauty that’s awesome for the open ocean but keeps you on your toes when the depth readings start winding off toward zero. We got up into the interior lagoon on a flood tide, but not too far before the depth had us dropping the hook. From this point, we’d explore by snorkeling. The entire lagoon was so peaceful and beautiful. There was lots of sea life about, including a ray that decided to stalk me for a bit, but I did not see a single turtle (Kathy did). I think I must put off some kind of “stay away from this guy sonar” that only turtles can hear. We dove in Hawaii on another trip, in prime turtle country, and I didn’t see any then either. Still, the lagoon was a lot of fun and a great experience.
The following day was still overcast. We did some more boat chores, including fixing a grounding strip in which a screw had broken off leaving some grounds floating; that was a bit of work, but rewarding, as is any job well done. Stef and Kathy took off in the kayak to explore the shore, then hike the island’s north and east sides. Bradley and I took the dink and headed for the north reef. The reef extends nearly four miles north of the island and requires diligence in navigation. The leeward side was pretty dead, sadly; we scouted quite a bit of it to no avail. When we went around to windward, the difference was startling; this side had much more color and sea life, and amazing reef structure. Sadly, one of the recent hurricanes had significantly damaged the reef as well; there were sections that had been broken off that were the size of a VW and entire bone yards of dead areas. Still, much of it was amazing. That night SM hosted sundowners for the cruisers and Mother Nature did not disappoint. This was the best sunset of our entire visit. Lesson #6: One should never tire of a great sunset or sunrise, and cruisers get a lot of both.On our last day at Conception, the sun finally broke out in spades. We went back to the north reef and spent hours exploring. It was majestic. Alas, we were on the downward side of our time on board and had to get to Cat Island to catch a flight out of Arthur’s Town airport back to Nassau. It was decided to conduct a night run of about 7 hours so we’d arrive Cat at dawn. We planned to pull the hook at midnight so everyone hit the rack around 7:30 for a little snooze time. We set up 2-hour watches and I drew 4-6am.
Sleep? Ha! Everyone else on board fell off into slumber while I laid in the watch berth of the pilothouse and read a book, waiting for midnight. Not a bad deal overall as the motion of the boat and silence were so peaceful. We got underway a bit ahead of schedule so I headed down to our bow cabin for some shuteye (Stef had first watch with Kathy and the second with Taylor). As it happened, there was a good bit of swell once we cleared the shadow of Conception’s north reef that well exceeded the forecast. This had me levitating on the fall into each trough between swells, yet I didn’t bother to move aft. Low and behold, I quickly drifted off with no problem until my alarm roused me for my watch at 03:45. I washed the bugs out of my eyes, oddly more alert than I expected, and headed up to the pilothouse only to find it completely empty as we motored on. What? I finally spot Bradley on the closed circuit TV hunkered down in the lazerette examining the rudder actuator (there was a slight leak). OK. That’s better. Anyway, the rest of the passage into Orange Creek, on the north of Cat Island, was uneventful. Radar and AIS were blank until the very end (that is, they showed no traffic). Nothing but a half moon and smooth seas (once in the lee) all watch. Perfection.
Our stay on Cat was but one day, but we made the most of it with a good walkabout, a cruise to Shanna’s Cove resort for lunch (really, really good pizza!), and an amazing dinner and fellowship at Halvorson House with hosts Matt and Sooner for our final night of the trip. On the walk about, nearly everything was closed as the Sabbath was observed, yet we happened across Thelonius and his little roadside bar (shack). We stopped for refreshments (Kaliks) and a chat-n-chill session with Thelonius. The man lives a simple life, perhaps even impoverished, yet was so pleased to share with us his pride and joy, his garden, and show us around his digs sharing a bit of his history with us. It was a great experience and another reminder, or Lesson #7: Your life is what you make of it; be happy for what you have.
Alas, the time had come to bid our hosts adieu. A sense of melancholy had set in when we reached Cat Island; we knew we had to return to our “normal life,” yet there was nothing awaiting us back home—save loved ones—that could compare to what we were experiencing right here. Kathy and Bradley had been excellent hosts, and teachers. They had shared with us their lives and their home on Shear Madness, helping Stef and I to validate our assumptions about the cruiser lifestyle. We would return home the same people who had left 12 days before, yet forever changed in immeasurable ways. In case you hadn’t figured it out, Stef and I were now “100%,” aligned, convinced of our path for retirement. Thank you, Kathy, and Bradley, and Taylor too. We can’t wait to do it all again!
Click to check out the slideshow of Ced and Stef’s visit.Click any photo to enlarge. Please send us a comment/reply – we love to hear from you!
Posted in Trips on January 9, 2013
January 9, 2013
We celebrated the New Year at Staniel Cay with some old friends and new friends. We met Arnie and Susan from Exodus – they are from Houston and Arnie will soon be 80 years old but spend up to six months a year cruising. We visited their boat for drinks and vice versa and we decided to go out in our tender to watch two Bahamian racing boats – Tida Wave and Lady Muriel. These are two of the native boats that participate in an annual Island regatta series and Tida Wave is the reigning champion. On New Year’s Eve, they take on guest crews for a series of races. Crew is mostly to add weight by sitting on long boards that extend over the sides to offset the heel of the boats. It was quite a windy day and we picked up some extra spectators who had family and friends on board Tida Wave but did not want to go out in their small tenders. The first race began and it was exciting as Tida Wave came out strong. Soon she tacked, which was quite exciting to watch as the crew had to quickly change positions. But Lady Muriel’s tack was even more exciting – she went too far over, lost it, buried her mast in the water and capsized, sending her 17 person crew into the water. Fortunately there were no major injuries, though one crew member was briefly pinned underwater as he had been below stowing lines. We were close at hand to observe and assist as the sails, mast and boom had to be removed from the boat – she was not in deep water and was actually still afloat on her side – and the lead weights used as ballast were removed. She was eventually righted, with no major damage, and towed back to her dock. Tida Wave continued to race and was pronounced the Champion for the day.
I participated in the annual “long-drive” contest. There are no golf courses or driving range on the island, but they do have a platform where contestants can hit balls into the sea while judges sort of guess which one went the farthest. I finished second in the women’s division – darn! But there were about a dozen contestants along with bunches of mosquitoes! We celebrated New Year’s Eve with Bill, Rosie, and Peter from Nexus, a Nordhavn 47. The Yacht Club has an annual pig roast and turkey dinner which was quite good (we did count the swimming pigs on the beach the next day to be sure they were all still there). Staniel Yacht Club is quite a busy place during New Year’s and it was a good time.
New Year’s Day brought the annual cruising regatta, where cruising sailboats race along with the Bahamian racers. We went out to observe the start of the race, which in typical Bahamian fashion, was an hour late. Once the race was underway, we headed back to the Yacht Club to buy some fuel for the tender and settle up our bill. That didn’t take long and as we headed back out we were surprised to see that the race appeared to be over already. As we rounded the point to go back to the anchorage, we saw one of the boats from the race, a beautiful catamaran, listing badly to port with people furiously bailing water on the stern. She was headed for the beach but losing the battle. We soon saw why – she had a huge hole in her port hull. We soon learned she had been hit during the race when another boat had not seen her. I won’t provide the details of what happened as they are not important. What is important is the lesson that even a fun event can turn serious and potentially deadly in seconds, as we observed in BOTH of the supposed-to-be-fun racing events. The cat made it to the beach where they were able run it up on the beach, pump out all the water and install a temporary patch over the hole. She was floating again by sundown, but likely sustained some serious damage to engines and other systems, which don’t take kindly to salt water. We hope there is good insurance coverage.
After a final snorkel trip to Thunderball Grotto with Linda and Douglas from Aries Too and their guests it was time to head to Cat Island. We departed early on Jan 2nd and headed out through Dotham Cut, a narrow but deep opening south of Staniel Cay. Then it was 50 miles across Exuma Sound to Cat Island where we anchored at the north end. Along the way we caught a nice tuna, half of which provided a nice dinner with the rest in the freezer. Our first night had us questioning the name of this island. Though we were anchored a good ways from shore, just after sunset we noticed a large moth at our rear door. We weren’t sure if it was a moth or a bat, but soon confirmed the former. But…….. it seems there are indeed bats that reside in the many caves on the island and sure enough, some of them had come to visit. By the time we decided it would be a good idea to deploy the screens for our pilothouse doors, three bats had made their way inside. Sorry to say we were too busy evicting them to get any photos! But since then, the screens have remained firmly in place!
We ventured ashore and met Matt and Sooner who run a small resort, Halverson House, on the island. They invited us to join their guests for dinner at Da Smoke Pot featuring local cuisine and a Rake N Scrape Band. It was quite a fun evening – the band consisted of one drum, one accordion and two saws (which are what is scraped). Taylor even got a turn on the saw.
We found some excellent reefs for snorkeling and spearfishing at the north end of the island. Bradley nabbed a couple more fish, including a large margate (like a snapper), and we also found and caught our first lobster. They made for a very good meal. We did one dive too, as Taylor had just completed his Scuba certification before we left Florida. It was nice, but the large reef where we dived appeared to have damage from hurricanes or other factors (we later learned that in the past fisherman would shoot bleach into the reefs to drive out the lobsters for easier harvesting, killing much of the reef in the process).
We moved a bit south to The Bight and explored the southern part of the island, venturing by tender to Hawk’s Nest Creek Resort where we met owners Jerry and Jane. They provided us a lot of history on the island, which was once dominated by drug traffickers. Hence, the large airstrip and the buildings that now make up the resort. During the presidency of George H. W. Bush, the US worked with the Bahamian government to eliminate much of the drug trafficking in these out islands, restoring them to friendly, welcoming places. We are thankful for that! We also visited The Hermitage, a monument to John Hawes, known as Father Jerome. It sits atop Mt. Alverna which, at 206 feet, is the highest point in the Bahamas!
We’ll head to George Town tomorrow to pick up some guests, then will see where the weather allows us to venture next!
Posted in Trips on December 28, 2012
December 28, 2012
As usual, we were working on projects right up to departure time. The good news is that this gave us time to catch up with some more friends. Richard came over from Naples to help with a couple of woodworking projects and to bring us our mail. We were also able to see Doug and Eloise, who have just purchased a house in the area for dinner before we left. On Saturday, Dec. 15th in late afternoon we headed to the fuel dock to top up with over 1000 gallons of diesel fuel. Then we had a nice dinner aboard before a good nap. As the tide rose, we departed the fuel dock at 10pm for the overnight crossing to West End. Our speed was a little slower than normal as we crossed the gulf stream, averaging just under 7 knots. We arrived at West End on Grand Bahama where we stopped long enough to clear into Customs and hoist our Bahamas courtesy flag to signify legal entry into the country. Then it was off again straight to the Exumas. Once again, our speed was slower than normal as winds and current were against us. We made it to Big Majors, our anchoring spot, just before sunset on Monday the 17th. The next morning was spent washing and cleaning the boat before picking up our friends from Colorado, Alan and Kathleen, at the “airport” (actually just a small airstrip with a little hut).
Taylor took off to visit his family for the holidays where they are planning to attend a performance of Shear Madness, the play, in Boston. After three trips to the local Bahamas Telephone Company (Batelco) office, I was finally able to get our local Bahamas sim card working so we have some internet access (limited and slow, but good enough for email – however, blog posts will be a bit shorter with fewer photos and no videos for awhile).
Once Alan and Kathleen were settled in, we began some exploration. First stop was snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto, followed by drinks at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, the center of activity here. During the week, we enjoyed wonderful snorkeling, beautiful sunsets, and lots of great discussions, with a few Shear Madness cocktails thrown in. Kathleen was “intrigued” by the local sand sharks, one of whom made its home under Shear Madness – we named her Sandy and she was a frequent visitor, always looking for a treat. We also visited the swimming pigs who still patrol their beach, swimming out to greet all the visitors. We ventured south to Black Point where we visited the famous Lorraine’s Café – a small eatery that manages to provide very good internet access free to customers.
Most days, we packed a lunch, went out in the tender to find a snorkeling spot, found a nice beach to enjoy our lunch, and were back at the boat in time to enjoy a beautiful sunset. It was nearly perfect – the only thing lacking was our luck in finding fish to spear and lobster to catch. There are plenty of beautiful fish on the reef, just not the large groupers and snappers we like to eat! On Christmas Eve, Alan, Kathleen, and I attended the 10pm service at the local Baptist Church and we decorated our little rosemary Christmas tree, which also provides a great herb for cooking!
On Christmas Day, our friends Linda and Douglass on Aries Too, a Nordhavn 55 arrived at Big Majors and they joined us for Christmas Dinner at the Yacht Club – a fun evening. All too soon, it was time to bid farewell to Alan and Kathleen. We’ll hang our here for a few more days before heading south towards Georgetown on Great Exuma.
We are enjoying being back in cruise mode for now and although we have a few minor technical issues, I’m not going to report on them this time! REPLY to this email to post a comment (it works now!). Happy New Year to all!
Posted in Trips on December 14, 2012
December 13, 2012
Upon arrival in Palm Beach, I headed out to Colorado to visit some family – my stepson Mike, niece Robin, niece Vicky and husband Mark, and my brand new great-niece Sophia who had just turned one month old! It was a wonderful visit, aside from being too short. Sophia is adorable – what a surprise! Vicky and Mark are handling everything like pros and Robin is enjoying being an aunt. Vicky got me started on Words with Friends and now all of them are regularly humiliating me! I also caught up with our good friend Kathleen and her daughter Florence for lunch in Boulder. Meanwhile, Bradley headed back to Virginia for a memorial service at Arlington Cemetery for a family friend and a visit with his family, including grandson Tyler. Upon returning to Florida, I visited my sister Joan and husband George in nearby Vero Beach. Joan and George are also cruisers and they took me to a small island surrounded by mangrove trees where we went ashore for a hike and exploration. We found some interesting bones and a few washed up treasures and had a nice time.
We returned to Shear Madness to begin preparations for departing to the Bahamas. There were plenty of little projects to complete – getting our satellite phone set up and tested, fine tuning some of our electronic equipment, fixing a couple more leaks, servicing our davit (crane), ordering some spare parts to add to our inventory, and having the boat washed and waxed. Taylor has been working hard and learning a lot about care and maintenance of a boat! It’s really nice to have an extra hand on board. He’s also enjoyed being in Florida where he’s had a chance to catch up with some of his classmates from the Chapman School of Seamanship.
Since we had a nice beef brisket in the freezer, we decided to do a Hannukah dinner on board and invited our friend Bina who lives nearby on Singer Island. It was a fun night and fortunately the brisket turned out really well! We’ve also had a chance to catch up with some fellow Nordhavn owners. Linda and Douglas from Aries Too invited us over for a fabulous dinner and another night we went out to an oyster bar for another great meal. We headed up to Jupiter to see our friends Tom and Marlene. The guys who waxed our boat said they had seen another boat named Shear Madness in Jupiter and sure enough, it turned out Tom and Marlene knew them! After a great dinner at the new Yacht Club in Admiral’s Cove, we met the owners of the other Shear Madness, Mr. and Mrs. Shear! It’s a beautiful boat, a 90-foot Ocean Alexander. Braun and Tina from Ocean Pearl and David and Susie from Last Mango are also here at Old Port Cove marina and it’s always fun to catch up with them.
The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity trying to ensure we are ready to go. I’ve already made several trips to Costco and Sam’s Club to fill the freezers and fridges with as much as possible as we plan to be gone for 3-4 months. We’ve been trying to finish up all the remaining projects so that by this weekend we can top off the fuel tanks and head out to anchor. Then we will depart for West End on Grand Bahama where we will check in with customs before heading on to Staniel Cay in the Exuma Islands. From there, Taylor will fly home for Christmas and our friends Alan and Kathleen will fly in to cruise with us for ten days. We can’t wait to get back to cruising mode with plenty of time for relaxing!
We have a new toy – a SPOT satellite tracking device which will track our location even when we are out of range for other tracking options such as marinetraffic.com. You can click here to see where we are. Right now, it just shows us at the marina, but soon it will show us moving east to the Bahamas, so you can check it anytime. Just don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a plot every day – we do have to remember to press the button every 24 hours to tell it to plot our location. Once we are on Island time, we may not do that too diligently!
Note that you can REPLY to this email but be aware that doing so will post a public comment on the blog. To send a private email click here. Once we reach the Bahamas we will have more limited internet and phone service, so we may not be quick to respond and may post only short blog updates with limited photos. An article I wrote about our lightning strike has been published in Passagemaker Magazine’s Online Edition.
For some technical issues, scroll down below the photos.
WordPress Update – congratulations to Mike L. and to Sue M, who were the winners of the T-shirt and polo shirt for helping to debug the WordPress problem with Comment Replies. Thanks to all of you (more than 30!) who replied – it turns out there were actually two separate problems. The first involved YOUR replies to blog updates where they were not being properly posted as comments. That seemed to be fixed with the last post; however I am then supposed to be able to reply to those comments via email and that wasn’t working. WordPress kept trying to claim the problem was not on their end, but with my ISP. I wasn’t buying that – below is an excerpt from my exchange once I finally got elevated to an “engineer”:
WP: “Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that this message ever reached our email servers So, I suspect something is wrong either with your email client or the email server that you are sending through. Please contact your ISP
Kathy: Sorry, but I can’t agree with that. The reason the emails are not reaching your server is because the “REPLYTO” address that is shown in the message headers coming from your servers is incorrect.
WP: I’m one of the engineers who looked at this issue with Ryan. I realize this is a frustrating situation, but unfortunately we’re positive the issue is not on our end.
Kathy: I have recreated this problem using two different service providers, one using an Exchange server and one not. What I noticed is that for the three comment replies that DID post, the REPLYTO generated by WordPress included comment+rfk537 and for all the ones that did not post the +rfk537 was not included
WP: Your last email has led me on a path to find a possible bug in our system. I’m still investigating but will let you know once I have figured it out.
WP: I think I have fixed the issue
Kathy: Great! Thanks!
Leaking Deck Drain Hose – despite all the work done on our anchor lockers in Deltaville, we were still getting some water in the forward bow compartment (inside the boat) during heavy rains. The problem was finally found – a hose in one of the deck drains seemed to be badly corroded and leaking. So when water entered the drain, instead of traveling overboard via the hose, it was leaking along the way. Replacing the hose, a job that should have been simple, turned out to be a nightmare! The hose runs behind cabinetry in the starboard guest cabin and there was simply no way to access it. In addition, The hose was secured to the wall with fasteners and no way to access the screws to undo them. After many hours, a fair amount of swearing, and cutting holes in the cabinetry, the bad hose was finally removed and replaced. It was very frustrating to see the quality of hose used and to find that it had been installed with no thought given to future maintenance and access requirements. We’ve found that we are not the only Nordhavn owners who have been frustrated with some of the lack of access to plumbing and hoses.
Wave Wifi – this unit allows us to access wireless wifi networks with an amplifier and antenna so that we can create a boat-wide network when we are in range of a wireless network. Our unit was not working very well – it could barely see networks that our laptops would easily pick up. We dropped it off for service and found it had a bad amplifier. It’s all fixed and re-installed and working great!
Autopilot and electronics – we’ve adjusted some of the NMEA input from Navnet to the Autopilot and had no further problems. I’ll report more specifics later.We also had the new FU25 unit installed on the flybridge. Wouldn’t you know, the new unit is just slightly larger than the old one, meaning the existing screw holes wouldn’t work and Brian had to drill new holes in order to get it installed. We hate drilling holes in the boat!!
Snubber lines – we have had two new snubber lines made, one for normal conditions and one for heavy weather. I will take photos when we use them in the Bahamas and include in a future post.
Posted in Trips on November 30, 2012
November 29, 2012
Although we were anxious to leave Portsmouth to begin our journey south, we were not going to depart until the weather was reasonable. Day after day the forecast for around Cape Hatteras was 30+ knots of winds and seas of 8-10 feet. So we stayed put and planned to have a Thanksgiving dinner on board. We went to Costco and bought the smallest turkey they had – a mere 17 pounds! We figured that was enough for three people. Well, at least we like leftovers! The forecast looked promising for the Friday following Thanksgiving, so we planned an early morning departure.
On Wednesday, what should appear in the marina but a beautiful Oyster 56 sailboat! This was the same kind of boat we had previously owned and Bradley went to have a look. He met the owners, Tom and Christian from Norway. They had built the boat, named Astahaya (meaning sunset in Thai) in 2008 and recently sailed it across the Atlantic. Bradley invited them over for Thanksgiving dinner the next day and they were thrilled – they had just spent an hour walking through town looking for a restaurant where they could experience this American tradition. They were delighted to know we would have turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.
Thanksgiving was great. The food was wonderful and the company perfect. We enjoyed introducing our new friends to our tradition of giving thanks and all shared some of the things we are thankful for. Tom and Christian had spent the summer in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, where we hope to cruise next year, so they gave us much advice and a wonderful set of charts. The best part of the day (for me) was getting to watch the Redskins beat Dallas (American Football). Tom and Christian were planning to head south to Charleston and we agreed it would be a good idea to “buddy sail” at least past Cape Hatteras. That means we would stick together, maintaining visual contact when we could and radio contact on a regular basis. We confirmed our departure for the morning.
Friday morning we checked the weather. It looked OK – winds were diminishing but we knew there could be some rough seas around Hatteras. But it looked like it would get worse again in that are in a couple days, so our best bet was to go. We departed Portsmouth in company with Astahaya. It was a 40 mile trip to reach to ocean with 720 more to go once we were offshore. Although the forecast had initially called for winds from the north, we found them to be from the southwest and soon the forecast was updated. That meant we’d be sailing into the wind, slowing us down a bit and potentially resulting in a more uncomfortable ride. It also meant Astahaya would likely have to motor sail. Nevertheless, we started out in quite pleasant conditions with all systems performing well. Taylor, our new crew member, was now able to do engine room checks on his own and was quickly learning the other systems on board. We talked by radio to Astahaya and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
As we made our way towards Cape Hatteras, the wind picked up and the waves increased in intensity. Soon we were seeing 30 knot winds and 6-8 foot seas. Nothing dangerous, just not ideal cruising conditions. We were staying less than 15 miles offshore, trying to ensure we did not get into the Gulf Stream. As we passed Cape Hatteras, we were still getting bounced around pretty good and we debated whether we should duck into Cape Lookout for a night to let the seas settle. But the boat was handling it just fine and after about 15 hours, conditions began to improve. We were over the worst of it without any mishaps – no broken dishes or flying objects. We had prepared well! And we had plenty of turkey leftovers, so no need for cooking.
Soon the temperatures started to rise and the seas settled nicely. We were treated to our first dolphin show and it was nice to get out on the bow and enjoy these magnificent creatures, jumping with joy and playing in our bow wake. We had taken a lot of salt spray and had to clean our windows in order to be able to see! As we continued south, the conditions continued to get better. By Day 3 we were out with buckets, cleaning mitts, and chamois giving the boat a nice washdown. Dolphins came to play with increasing frequency! Astahaya had been able to sail once the conditions improved and had pulled away from us and headed on into Charleston.
It was Sunday so we decided that with all three of us on watch in the Pilothouse, we could turn on some football. Since our favorite teams (Redskins for me and Bradley, Patriots for Taylor) had played on Thursday, we watched DirecTV’s NFL RedZone – a great way to watch football as it switches between games and shows whatever team is about to score! We also put the fishing lines out, hoping for a nice tuna or mahi-mahi. As I went down for a routine engine room check, I stopped to check the fishing lines. Nothing yet. I completed my engine room check and a few minutes later went down to the galley to get a drink – that’s when I noticed that the line on one reel was completely gone! Not just pulled out a ways but GONE! Nothing was left on the reel and some poor fish is now out there with hundreds of feet of line and an expensive lure in his mouth. Another lesson learned – we cannot adequately hear the line being taken when we are in the pilot house – from now on we will only fish if we are in the flybridge or have someone in the salon where they can hear the line being taken.
As we continued south the water got bluer and the dolphin visits more frequent. On days 3 and 4 we ran the engines at Wide Open Throttle for 15 minutes, a standard practice which allows us to look for potential problems and run the engines at full load as recommended by the experts. During the trip we had a few minor technical issues – details as usual below the photos. After 104 hours we arrived in North Palm Beach where we will stay for a couple weeks, doing a little land travel and making preparations for winter in the Bahamas! There are two videos from the passage – the Short Version (3 minutes) and the Long Version (10 mintues)
WordPress – thanks to everyone who posted comments last time. A lot of them were posted, but I have no way of knowing if ALL of them got through. I also was not able to REPLY to most of your comments and WordPress is working on solving this (I replied to most of them, but the replies never showed up). I would like to ask your help one more time. Please reply to this email by hitting the REPLY button on this email, type a comment, and add a cc to “firstname.lastname@example.org” That way I will get a copy of your comment via email. Everyone who does this correctly will be entered into a drawing to receive a Shear Madness shirt – we’ll be giving away one Polo shirt and one T-shirt.
Engine Valve covers – you may recall the cracked valve cover from the last post. We were able to get a “loaner” valve cover for the trip – functional but not the pretty chrome version. We have come to an agreement with the manufacturer and service provider to replace the cover that was damaged and the chrome version is on order.
Watermakers – during this trip we made water and it had been quite some time since the Watermakers had been used. When not in use, we flush them weekly with fresh water to ensure that water doesn’t sit in the system for too long. When Bradley began the process of making water, he was not getting any water pressure in the media filter, the first filter in the process. We checked to ensure the power was on and the valve from the sea chest was open to enable water to flow to the unit. We weren’t sure if the problem was that water was not getting to the pump or if the pump was not working and was not sending water to the filter. Bradley was able to disconnect the input hose from the pump to determine that water was not coming through. That allowed us to trace the problem to a stuck valve at the sea chest. A little moderate tap unstuck the valve and we were soon making plenty of nice fresh water.
Autopilot – we are continuing to diagnose problems with autopilot in NAV mode. We had changed some of the NMEA data being sent from Navnet to the AP and had no re-occurrence of the problem during the trip. We’ll be doing some fine tuning and hopefully another sea trial before departing for the Bahamas and I will report more details after that.
SSB – we were testing our SSB radio with another Nordhavn (with mixed results) but noticed that when we had the sonar displayed on our port-most monitor in the Pilot House, broadcasting on the SSB caused that display to cut out and return to the Closed Circuit TV display.
Stern light – we noticed that our stern light was not working and discovered the bulb had burned out. It was replaced while underway with no incident. However, we discovered it while in rough seas where it would have been unsafe to change, so we ran with our deck lights illuminated, keeping an eye on traffic so that we could radio to alert any boat approaching from our stern that the light was out. No boats did until we were able to change the bulb.
Hydraulic Alternators – we ran the hydraulic alternators most of the way and they did a good job of keeping the batteries charged. We do occasionally experience some anomalies with the alternators – sometimes they seem to “pulse”, causing the engine RPM’s to fluctuate and the alternator itself to shake. Usually, re-starting it solves the problem. We’re not quite sure what the cause of this is.
Posted in Trips on November 20, 2012
November 20, 2012
We planned to make a brief stop in Portsmouth but are still here, watching every day as gale warnings are posted for the Cape Hatteras area. The wind down there has been steadily in the 30 knot range with seas of 8-12 feet, so we will stay put until it looks a little more comfortable! The Portsmouth/Norfolk area is a fun place to be stuck. We had a chance to visit some great friends who moved here several years ago, Gary and Cookie and their brand new addition, little Ruth. I rented a car and did a quick trip up to DC, where I met up with several good friends, attended a breakfast event for the Northern Virginia Tech Council, and scheduled routine doctor and dentist appointments. I also got to visit another baby, this time my friend Christeen and little Sophie. In the meantime, Bradley and Taylor stayed on the boat doing some projects and having some service done on our main engines
We’ve had a chance to do some exploring in the area. We attended the Norfolk Illumination Parade – this takes place after dark on the night they light up all the office buildings with holiday lights. It was a fun event and marked our second parade in two weeks! We also went to Nauticus, the Naval Museum in Norfolk where we enjoyed the exhibits and some short movies and went aboard the battleship USS Wisconsin. We also have plans to see the new movie Lincoln at a local dinner theater – an old style theater in Portsmouth that serves dinner while you watch a movie.
We are planning to depart to head south to Florida as soon as the weather allows. We have fueled up, taking on 2700 gallons of diesel. But we’ve had a solid week of gray skies and strong winds here in the marina and can’t wait to get back out where we belong! For those interested in technical details, scroll down below photos – there is a technical problem that YOU ALL can help me with!
WordPress – this is the site I use to host our blog and they have recently added the ability for you to REPLY to updates you receive via email and have a comment posted to the blog and emailed to me. This was working very well for the posts during Sandy and I heard from dozens of people. However, with my last post on Nov 13, it seems this function quit working. I received only two replies and when I tested it from my own email, the replies never showed up. WordPress tech support has not been able to determine what went wrong but is standing by for this post, so if are getting this update via email, please HIT REPLY, type in something (like “this is the best blog in the world and you are such a great writer”) and hit SEND. Hopefully this will help us track down the cause of the problem. Also, I’m sorry to say that if you replied to my last blog post, I most likely did not see your response.
Engines – the primary reason for stopping in Portsmouth was to have some routine work done on our main engines by the local diesel specialists. The work went smoothly, mostly replacing gaskets and seals and checking for leaks and potential problems. In order to access the engines, the valve covers had to be removed. When the starboard cover was put back on, some cracks appeared around the bolts that hold it in place. Unfortunately, this can be a big problem as it can allow oil to leak. There were definitely not cracks there when the work started. But in a classic case of customer service finger-pointing, the service guys say it is a product defect and not due to anything they did (even though the mechanic did not use a torque wrench or follow the exact instructions for replacing the cover). For now, we have removed the cover and replaced it with a loaner. I’m sure this situation will be resolved satisfactorily, but it will take cooperation between the service group and the manufacturer.
iPhone – this isn’t exactly a boat problem, but the speaker on my iPhone quit working. I took it to the new Apple store in Norfolk and they replaced the speaker in the store, so I was in and out in 30 minutes. Yea!
Sat phone/weather – We are starting to plan for our trip to the Bahamas for the winter, so I have been researching weather services that are effective using a satellite phone with limited bandwidth. I have tested several services but think I like Buoyweather. It allows me to create favorite locations anywhere and to have forecasts emailed on a preset time schedule. The emailed forecasts are text based and very small and can be requested in a variety of formats. I’m using it on a trial basis for now using our regular internet service since we do not currently have a satellite SIM card – we will get one when we get to Florida before we head out of the country.
Gulf stream – one consideration in planning a trip up or down the east coast of the US is the location of the Gulf Stream which runs from Florida all the way to Newfoundland. The Gulf Stream moves more water in one day than all the rivers in the world combined, so it is a force to be respected. It creates strong currents which help you if you are heading north or hinder you if you are going south. Knowing the location of the Gulf Stream is important in planning a trip. Many of the NOAA forecasts for Florida tell you the specific location of the Stream for various points along the Florida Coast, but there is no similar information available for the Carolina coasts. We are especially interested in the Cape Hatteras area as we need to stay inside the western edge of the Gulf Stream but far enough offshore to be safe (the Stream is not fixed, its location changes as it meanders). The easiest way to determine the location is by looking at the water temperature – water in the Stream is significantly warmer than water outside. When you are in or near the Stream, you can even see the difference. We have learned that the Stream is typically 25-40 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, so we will plan to stay between the shore and the western edge of the Stream. We’ll keep a close eye on boat speed and water temperature while staying as close to the coast as we think safe given the conditions and we are looking at the SST (Sea Surface Temperatures) on our daily weather forecasts.
Posted in Trips on November 13, 2012
November 12, 2012
Sandy is gone and so is the Nor’easter that followed her. So things on Shear Madness are back to normal – that is, as normal as they ever seem to get! Just before Sandy, we had a visit from one of Bradley’s old friends, Jeff, and his daughter Anna. Jeff was one of Bradley’s first bosses – when they used to lifeguard and manage pools in high school in Reston, VA. They had not seen each other in years and it was a wonderful visit. They could even pass for brothers!
We bid farewell to our friends Aaron and Liz, a young newlywed couple we met who are living aboard their sailboat Bateau. They are headed south to Miami but were delayed by Sandy. We hope to catch up with them in Florida. We also had a visit from Chris, a member of the Nordhavn Dreamers group who lives nearby and drove over to meet us. Hopefully in a few years Chris will have a Nordhavn of his own.
We have welcomed aboard a new crew member, Taylor Hall, who joins us from Camden, Maine where he has worked as an assistant harbormaster and bartender. Taylor is 21 years old, a graduate of the Chapman School of Seamanship, and soon to be the holder of a US Coast Guard 50-ton Master (Captain) license. Taylor is already learning the various systems on board and helping with the care and maintenance of the boat. Taylor is with us for the month of November and assuming he is still enjoying himself will be joining us as a full-time member of the Shear Madness Team.
We had a great time attending the Urbanna (VA) Oyster Festival, a local event in a small town that attracts over 75,000 people! There are dozens of food vendors including all kinds of seafood (we had crabcakes, seafood chowder and oyster stew), other foods (we had turkey legs and Taylor just had to get a Deep Fried Twinkie to share – it was amazingly good!), arts and crafts, and a wonderful parade. We met our friends Patti and Gary there and had a really fun day. Before departing we also caught up with Mike and Maxine from Mathews for a nice dinner out and tour of Mathews. We have met them on our previous visit to Deltaville. We also met Bill and Mary who joined us for drinks onboard and Geoff and Kathy from Shenandoah, a Hatteras motor yacht. We also had drinks with Nick and Karen, who are aboard a classic 1936 sailboat – a real beauty!
We have completed all the projects we were working on at the Deltaville Boatyard, including work on the anchors, anchor chain, and anchor lockers, replacing engine exhaust fans, replacing various hoses and fittings for our air conditioning system, re-wiring some components of our autopilot system, fixing a leak in a guest cabin, fixing the refrigerator in the flybridge (which had to be removed from the boat to service), servicing both generators, changing the engine oil, and some others. More details are included in the technical section below the photos.
We departed Deltaville and headed out to anchor in the Poquoson River. Gary and Patti came down the Piankatank River in their Grady White to see us off. We anchored just outside the house of our friends Bob and Becky who came out in their Boston Whaler for a boat tour and drinks. After a peaceful night we raised the anchor and headed on to Portsmouth, VA where we will have some routine service done on our main engines before heading south to North Carolina and Florida. We saw three aircraft carriers at dock, including the Enterprise as well as our old friend Warship 55 (we had encountered them on the water back in 2011).
You can watch a 14-minute video of our preparations for Sandy and our time at anchor during the storm. Check out updated book reviews and recommendations and new Shenandoah photos. Click on any photo to enlarge and don’t forget to leave a comment (which you can now do by replying to the email update you get).
We’ve been working on various projects at Deltaville (VA) Boatyard.
Autopilot – in the October 11th post, I reported some problems with the Autopilot Follow Up steering units (FU25′s). We had diagnosed the problem to be a failure of the FU25 located in the Flybridge and had disconnected it from the system, resulting in no further problems. However, it had turned up a flaw in that all the wiring to connect the FU’s was located in a cabinet beneath the pilot house bridge and was accessible only after removing the wheel. So we have now re-wired the five FU’s to two switches located on the dashboard. This allows three FU’s to be disconnected with the push of one button, or two to be disconnected with the other. We’ve ordered two new FU25′s, one to replace the bad unit in the Flybridge and one to keep as a spare.
However, we are still battling the issue with the AP having intermittent problems when steering to a route in NAV mode. We’ve done several sea trials to test various theories, but have no resolution yet. On our trip to Portsmouth, we worked with Brian, our electronics specialist, to reconfigure some of the data being sent to the AP by Navnet. The following sea trial did not result in any more failures but was too short to be conclusive as much of our trip was in a high traffic area where we could not be in NAV mode. More testing to be done on our next trip.
Leak in Guest Cabin – we’ve had an annoying leak in the port guest cabin since we bought the boat and the heavy rains of Sandy made us glad nobody was sleeping in that bunk! Bradley worked with Jim F from Deltaville Boatyard and they were able to find the source of the leak – an errant screw which had been poorly placed during the build process in the port side dorade. The offending screw was finally removed and the hole sealed, hopefully stopping this leak once and for all! This was the second repair to the port dorade, as the first one involved re-drilling the drain hole that had not been correctly drilled during the build and simply went into the deck and not the dorade. We thought we had found the reason for the leak that time too!
Anchors and anchor lockers – we installed a new Ultra Quickline Swivel on our starboard anchor to replace our old worn swivel. Yes, I know there are those who favor no swivels and won’t embark on that discussion here! We installed one and also end-for-ended our starboard chain. We then installed 200 feet of ¾ braided line to the end of the chain, giving us plenty of extra cushion for deep water anchorages. We also did some work in both anchor lockers, which had some small drainage issues, resulting in water getting into the forward bow machinery space. The drains were improved and the port anchor locker hatch had to be re-seated. During the build, the hole cut out had been so large that they had attempted to fill over 1″ with caulk. This resulted in a very leaky anchor locker with water getting into the bow space below. This was a flaw since the boat was built and in both cases nobody previously had the tenacity or resources required to find and fix the leaks.
Generators – both generators were serviced. This was the 2500 hour standard maintenance but did turn up some parts that needed to be replaced; most notably an exhaust elbow and the heat exchanger on our 20kw generator. In addition we discovered some lightning damage to one of the electrical boards that controls the generator.
Air Conditioning – another Nordhavn owner, as result of finding saltwater in his lazarette had been kind enough to post a warning on the owners site that all A/C hoses and fittings be inspected. In his raw water intake for the A/C he found non-marine grade plumbing connectors below the water line, which in less than 5 years had failed. Had he not been on the boat, this could have been a serious issue. Upon inspecting our system, we found the same below standard fittings had been used in the build. In addition we found the raw water hoses were of such poor quality, they were beginning to fail. We replaced all the raw water hoses (almost 50 feet) for the A/C system – not an easy job as they run through some very tight spaces.
Exhaust Fans were damaged by the lightning and we had to have them rebuilt instead of replaced. Why rebuilt? Because the model we have has been replaced by one where the frame was increased by less than an inch and would not into the space. So we had to buy all the parts and assemble them into our existing housing that fits the space. This was the most cost effective approach.
Refrigerator in Flybridge – we have a small U-line refrigerator/ice maker in the Flybridge which quit cooling. Fortunately Jim R at Deltaville Boatyard is well versed in refrigeration, but needed to have the unit taken to his workshop for diagnostics. This of course involves dis-assembling the cabinet it resides in, attaching it to a harness, and removing it using the crane and several people! Turns out it was a $27 part – a thermal control switch, that was most likely damaged by the lightning. Soon repaired, back on board, and back in operation.
We also has some screens designed for our two pilot house doors and the starboard side mid-ships door. Often we have been at anchorages where we want to open the doors for ventilation, but flies or mosquitoes make that undesirable. We worked with the Ship’s Tailor in Deltaville to design screens which fasten with Velcro and will enjoy our first chance to use them!