Archive for December, 2008

Entry for December 20, 2008

December 20, 2008

Things are well on Second Wind as we near the end of our first month in Marathon, FL.  We continue to work on a few boat projects, walk to the stores and visit with friends and local boaters.  Rob and Sue left for Christmas back in the northeast last week and we wish them well on their travels.


Last week we installed the new raw water pump for our main engine.  It looks and works great.  (It should for $1,000…..)   We’ve also installed a new instrument panel downstairs with Plexiglas our friend Wayne helped us get in NY.  The old panel had many holes in it from broken instruments that had been removed and, after over two years, we finally decided to fix it.  I also worked on the water high-temp switch (main engine) that had a broken wire and fixed a problem with our TV antenna amplifier.  Today or tomorrow we are going to repair a “crunchie” in the deck where we bumped a dock a little too hard and cracked some paint.  We’ll sand that down and apply epoxy then paint to keep the water from getting to the underlying wood.


Laura has taken a few local canvas jobs and the word is getting around that she does good work for a decent price.  It’s nice to bring in a few extra dollars while we try to start the charter business down here.


We are still looking for a marina partner to help with our charters.  We can’t use the City Marina facilities for bringing people to the boat so we need to find a local marina that will allow our guests to park a car and us to pick them up and drop them off.  The issue seems to be legal liability but we’re hopeful to get good news soon.  If not, we’ll be looking for jobs after Christmas to “keep afloat”.  One marina is still thinking about working with us and we have another that we’ll contact if there are problems.  We are also going to contact a local restaurant that provides a dinghy dock for boaters to see if they would be willing to let us pick up and drop off guests there.  The last resort would be to take the boat around to the other side of the island and stay in a marina that does have charterboats there already.  That would be expensive so we’re keeping that to last.


Last Tuesday we sailed down to Bahia Honda State Park to check it out for bringing guests there on day-charters.  Hank came with us and we all greatly enjoyed several hours sailing the 10 miles down and back.  The picture was taken by Laura to show how hard Hank and I were working while sailing back.  It was a beautiful day and we all ended up several shades darker from the Sun.  I made a few changes to the website that reflect things we saw and did.  The biggest thing is we’re not calling these ½ day sails anymore.  They will take a whole day to sail down there, enjoy the park and sail back.


Christmas comes this Thursday and we’ll be spending it with just the two of us.  Hank’s niece is coming for her annual trip and he will be joining her for the next week in Islamorada.  Then his daughter and son-in-law come in for New Years so he’ll be busy with family.  I think this is the first year that I ever missed Christmas at home including the 9 years I spent in the Air Force.  When we decided to not spend the money for putting up the boat and travelling home I didn’t think I’d feel this bad about it.  But, we’ll get through it and hopefully do something locally with other friends.


We’re thinking about sailing down to Key West and anchoring out there a few days over New Years.  We’d dinghy into town for New Years Eve which sounds like a lot of fun.  Hank said they may drive down and meet us somewhere – that would be cool.


Entry for December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

This picture was taken about an hour after the one below.  It is the Hudson River on the morning we left.  The water temp was still in the 60s and the air temp was mid-20s which created very thick fog.  This wasn’t the worst of the fog but the really foggy pictures you can’t see anything.

Can you find the channel marker in the picture?

Entry for December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

Here is a picture from the morning we left Catskill, NY.  Notice the frost on the red sail-cover and ice on the clear canvas.  The temp was 22 degrees.

Entry for December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

Ocean sunrise just north of Miami.  The clouds are over the Gulf Stream.

Entry for December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

Here is a sunset pic from ICW – enjoy!

Entry for December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

We spent almost a week in Titusville with Rob and Sue – helping them on boat projects and doing a little shopping and sightseeing.  By the weekend things looked pretty good on Mandate and she launched on Friday morning.  Rob and Sue spent the weekend at a slip in the marina to finish putting everything in its place and stocking up the boat.  Bright and early Monday morning they motored out of the marina as we were pulling up our anchor.  By 8:15 am we were under the first bridge and heading south together again for the first time in almost 2 years.

It was a beautiful day – bright and sunny – as we motored south on calm waters.  We rolled the jib out a few times to help move us along but the winds were pretty light most of the day.  Around 5:00 pm we motored behind an island at Rock Point just off the ICW about 5 miles south of Melbourne.  It was a beautiful anchorage with a small, white, sandy beach directly in front of us.  Sue pulled Mandate alongside of us and we tied up together for the night.  After a nice dinner together we retired to our own boats for a restful night’s sleep.

The next few days were going to be excellent for sailing off-shore so we were up early motoring down to the Ft. Pierce inlet.  We fueled up at one of the more inexpensive places which was $2.59 / gallon for diesel.  The boat took 85 gallons which was our usage for the past 900 miles.

We followed Mandate out of the inlet onto a calm ocean as we prepared for another night at sea.  We figured this would be as uneventful as the past few passages because the weather was the calmest yet – HA!

The sunset was beautiful and Laura went to bed around 10 pm as I started my 4 hour shift at the helm.  About 30 minutes later I happened to look at the engine gauges and noticed the water temp a little higher than normal.  I kept an eye on it and about 10 minutes later it went up fast.  I quickly shutdown the engine and went below to check things out.  We had the mainsail up with the autopilot on and the boat ran about 1 ½ to 2 knots on a light wind and gently sea.

Laura and I checked the engine and found the raw water pump was broken and letting in a lot of seawater.  I shutoff the seacock (inlet) and called Rob on the radio to let him know we were having problems.  I then pulled the water pump off the engine and it just about came apart in my hands.  The bearing was completely shot.  As I was thinking of what to do next, Laura said she thought she had seen one of these on the boat somewhere so she went to look.  A short while later she came back with a spare in her hands which had been on the boat since we purchased her 2 ½ years ago.

I took the broken pump and spare to the workbench.  I replaced the impellor in the spare pump and the rest of it looked pretty good.  The only thing left was to take the pulley off the old pump and put it on the spare.  Pretty simple, huh?  NOT!

We spent the next 2 hours working on removing the pulley from the old pump shaft.  I eventually took a break to think about other options – it wouldn’t come off!.  We had secured the pulley in a vice and I was beating on a 1 foot long ¾” open-end wrench with a hammer – it wouldn’t budge.

Rob and Sue were slowly sailing around us watching for any other boats in the area and I called them on the radio with the bad news – I couldn’t get the pulley off the old pump.  Rob suggested I cut the nut off with my Dremel if I had a spare nut.  I checked and the spare pump had a spare nut in the package.  As I looked at it I noticed the threads were reversed.  OH SH……!  I put the pulley back in the vice and wacked it a few times in the “wrong” direction.  The nut loosened on the 2nd wack.  YEA!  I had the pulley mounted on the spare pump and everything back on the engine 20 minutes later.  We started her up and the pump worked fine.  We motored at a slower speed for awhile while I checked thing out but no other problems came up.

The next morning (Wednesday) we motored past Ft. Lauderdale and Miami on our way to Biscayne Bay.  The afternoon Sun was much warmer than we were used to and really felt tropical.  Laura and I quickly put on shorts and started soaking up the rays.  By 3 pm we were tied up in a great little anchorage called No Name Harbor which is part of Bill Bags State Park.  Once again Mandate tied up along side so we could easily enjoy Thanksgiving together.

Later that afternoon I called our friend Hank who was already in Marathon.  He had his car there and agreed to drive up the next morning to share Thanksgiving dinner with us.  The next morning was warm and beautiful.  Hank was there by 1 pm and we had a great afternoon with good friends, good wine and a GREAT turkey dinner.  Laura outdid herself (as usual!).  We had turkey with all the fixings and I was looking for a place to nap afterwards.  A few hours later Laura pulled a warm apple pie out of the oven and we gorged ourselves on dessert.  The picture is our gang sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner.

Hank stayed the night and departed after coffee the next morning.  We had about 50 miles to go for the next anchorage south so we wanted an early start.  Second Wind followed Mandate out of the harbor and down the Hawk Channel heading southwest.  We had a little wind behind us so made good time.  But…..

An hour later I heard something that didn’t sound quite right.  I realized the engine exhaust didn’t sound right and look down at the engine gauges to find the water temp way up again.  YIKES!  We shutdown the engine and anchored the boat in 20 feet of very clear water.

I checked it out again and found the pulley had turned loose on the pump shaft.  I pulled the pump off the engine again and saw the pulley hole had worn – it was now very loose on the shaft.  I found a couple big washers that would help hold it temporarily and cranked the nut as tight as I could.  The pulley didn’t turn exactly straight but it didn’t look too bad.  After remounting on the engine we started it up and it seemed to be working.  Water was coming out of the exhaust (as it should on a boat) and the engine had cooled down. 

We motored toward Marathon at reduced RPM and hoped everything would hold together.  Just after sunset we motored into the anchorage behind Rodriquez Key and dropped the anchor in 8 feet.  As I remember we went to bed early that night…..

The next morning we were up early again as we needed to make another 45 miles to Marathon at lower-then-normal RPM on the engine.  The winds helped us a little but we were close-hauled most of the day (trying to go as close to the wind as we could).  By 4 pm we had motored into Boot Key Harbor and tied up to a City Marina mooring right behind Mandate.  1,500 nautical miles in just over 5 weeks.  YEA!

The next few days we reconfigured the boat for “staying put” and tried to adjust to the non-cruising life. 

We’ve been here just over a week now and I still don’t feel “right”.  I mope around don’t seem to have any energy for anything.  We take the dinghy to shore for walks and watch movies on the boat.  I guess I’m a cruiser at heart and don’t really want to spend the next 5 months cooped up in one little harbor.  Boo Hoo…. 

One thing we have done is start the research and paperwork for running charters down here.  I emailed the City of Marathon and Monroe County for information and received a call a short time later.  They told us we couldn’t operate a business out of the City Marina and would need to contact one of the local marinas as a base of operations to pick up and drop off our guests.  That wasn’t a big surprise so we made a tour of the local marina to speak with the managers.  The last marina (Key Marathon Marina) seemed amiable but asked that we submit a request to their corporate office.  I did that on Friday so we find out early next week if that will work.

The other big project we have on-going is fixing or replacing our dinghy.  It’s in pretty bad shape and not big enough to haul 4-5 people around on charters.  We figured this would be a good area to find a used replacement with the 1,000s of cruisers passing through here in the next few months.  Monday we are meeting with a local boat shop for an estimate on repairing the air leaks – hopefully that will last us until we can book a few charters and have some money available for this project.