Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Shake Down Sail One

Under sail, at sea, Island Spirit....
She still LOVES to sail; this Island Spirit Yacht is so happy at sea! She dances on the waves and plays with dolphins and pelicans. She handles the inlets with ease, bashing into the seas, and once the anchor is dropped she is a comfortable floating condo with white leather sofas and cozy sleeping quarters. What a joy to sail and to explore the coast aboard this boat. I am never disappointed in how well she sails. Today, we only hoisted a 135% headsail as we were too lazy to break out the main for this short 25 mile offshore leg from Venice Florida to Boca Grande inlet at Charlotte Harbor. Even with only a jib, Island Spirit sailed at 5.5 to 6 knots of boat speed. That is not bad for a 20,000 lb boat. So with the winds on the port beam at 15-19 knots and only a jib, we were able to test out all systems and get adjusted to life on a moving yacht. We are happy to report that all systems are working very well and the work the Island Packet Factory did to the drive shaft, stern tube, cutlass bearing and exhaust system makes this boat seem like a new yacht. It is much smoother running and quieter under power. What a joy to observe this difference.

Salt Spray all over the decks and canvas...errrrrr
Of course while sailing, all was great, no salt spray over the deck, no issues. Then when we dropped sails and had to turn dead into the wind to run the Boca Grande Inlet, we started to take waves over the bow and spray over the roof. GREAT, salt water and salt spray all over all the glass windows, the decks and all the canvas which was just washed and polished all new. Now, on our first day at sea, we trashed the boat, but that is exactly how it goes. 

Salt spray is a real battle out here. For example: it gets onto the deck, then the breeze dries it out and the salt is left. Then you walk on the deck, picking up the salt on your feet and then you walk below taking the salt below decks! That is a big no no. Worse yet, you sit down on the deck and get salt on your shorts or swimming suit. Next you go below deck and sit on the sofa. Now you deposit salt on the sofa or, even worse, your bed. OH WHAT A MESS. Salted sofas and beds then absorb moisture and become damp and never dry out. So, when your boat is covered with salt spray after a sail, you need to wash it off.....by hand.....with a bucket and a sponge! That is what we do. We really try to wash the salt off and keep it off the NICE Varnished TEAK. Welcome to life on a sailboat and we LOVE IT.

Here are some photos of the day.

Celebrating at anchor with champagne 

Stickney Point lift bridge opens for us as morning traffic is stopped

A heron works the low tide looking for breakfast

One of my favorite homes on Little Sarasota Bay

A very cool SWING Bridge, Blackburn Bridge
The bridge tender must go to the center to operate it, then is trapped there until it closes

Pelicans and AM Kayakers

Siesta Kay Bridge

Heading to sea out the Venice Florida Inlet

Beautiful headsail set in 15 knots of beam winds heading SOUTH

The flag on the stern shows the 15+ knots of wind as it cracks in the breeze

Look at the sea, so beautiful

The afternoon sun lights up the waves on the Gulf of Mexico

One Happy Sailing Girl, Radeen

The wind instrument shows the wind angle and the true wind speed

Bashing into the inlet for one hour, taking salt spray everywhere

A digital navigation helm with: Autopilot, VHF mic, RL70 Color Chartplotter
and a 10" Samsung Tab 2 with Navionics for a back up GPS and nav system
Everything is checking out and we are happy to be under way. Not sure where yet, we are still working that out. Will we re-challenge the Okechobee or will we sail to the Florida Keys and out to sea? Today we are thinking of staying here on the Florida West Coast for a little while and sailing this Gulf before heading to Miami. That is the beauty of NO SCHEDULE....let's see where the winds take us....Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Hardest Part is Leaving the Dock

Cruising Year #3 begins at Palmetto, Florida.....
We have said this many times before, but the hardest part of ANY voyage is actually leaving the dock. This sounds crazy, but it is so true. With a car and the comforts of the dock and the safety of shore, leaving is never easy, and we have done this for over 10 years! It is still hard to do. Then, once you leave and get underway, you are relieved at the peace and comfort of being "away." No more driving a car, no more frantic shopping and consuming, no more noise, dust and dirt. Just simple living on a sailboat, off 12 volt power and your own supplies. Once out and away from the docks, the cruising life slowly presents the beauty of the dream. Dolphins swam with us at Longboat Key and looked up at our boat as if to say...About Time You Get Out Here....seagulls and pelicans soared by taking notice as we motored on Tampa Bay. What a beautiful world it is out here and these are some of the reasons we worked so hard getting our boat refit, was so we could return to this cruising lifestyle. No, we really did not "need to" do the refit, but as with all boating upgrades, it was fun and exciting to work out. So we did it and we are glad we did. This 20 year old boat is running better than ever and feels like new to us. Great job, Island Packet Yachts!

Valve Adjustment 2 hours before departure....why not?
The days leading up to departure are always crazy. Shopping for items you think you need. Shopping for items you think you will need for the next month or two. Imagine shopping for a month. What would YOU buy? Prep the boat: Remove the water hose, electric cords, sun shade, extra dock lines, fenders and gear. Stow all items bought and brought on board. Change the fuel filters, check the sea strainer, check the bilges, engine fluids, etc. Find the life jackets, safety harness, EPIRB, radios, and safety gear. Update your float plans, and emergency contacts and SPOT transmitter. Check the 12 volt network and all antennas and communications. On and on and on until you finally say, that is enough....WE ARE LEAVING ....on.....Monday at noon. Then when noon Monday rolled around we were still frantically working, and we simply said, let't go. We parked the car, stowed the keys, fired up the diesel and tossed off the dock lines. 25 NM later and filled up with fuel, we dropped the anchor in Sarasota Bay.

Okeechobee Challenge #2, get under the 49.3' bridge
Our Okeechobee Challenge #2 begins now. We will return back across the center of Florida and we will lean our 49'8" mast under the 49' 4" Port Mayaca Railroad Bridge, allowing us to make Stuart, Florida in 5-6 days. We plan to has Colin Mack of www.MackSails.com do some final rigging for us to complete our refit.

So, let year #3 of cruising begin. Our goals are to return to the Bahamas and to get back to Block Island, RI, for the summer. That is the big plan for 2013-2014. Thanks for sailing along.

Here are some photos.....

Champagne on anchor, as good as it gets

A beautiful shell on new teak varnish

Good friends Debbie and Craig 's FUN dog HOLLY

New rigging and new varnish look beautiful

WILD and BRIGHT yellow dinghy straps. This looks sooooo cool ?

Changing fuel filters 2 hours before departure

Erase last years log record: 2,346 NM.... at 5-6 MPH, imagine that

Year #3 begins: 0.0 Nautical Mile log
The Cortez Bridge at Bradenton, FL, and Anna Maria Island

Radeen at the helm, living the dream
So, off we go heading to Lake Okeechobee for the challenge of sqeezing under that darn 49.3' bridge. Let's hope we can lean over enough to make it through again. Stuart, Florida, here we come!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Yacht Refit Completed

Custom Step Plates at the gate...
On December 24, 2013 after nearly two months of re-building, we connected the last wire and then installed the custom Island Spirit step plates, completing the refit of our 20 year old yacht. What a job. Back in May, we pulled into Snead Island Boat Works, in Palmetto, Fl, and took our boat apart. We hauled it out and truckled it to the Island Packet Yachts factory where she was built in 1993. From May to November, she was inside the factory and the skilled employees at IPY rebuilt systems back to new conditions. Then on November 4, we trucked the boat back to Snead Island Boat Works where we re-launched and then began the re-assembly of all systems we removed for trucking. I must say that the rebuilding of systems took far more effort then the tearing down of  those systems. It actually took us nearly two months to rebuild, but only about 2 weeks to tear it all down.

Radeen is proud of the finished work

While the boat was at the Island Packet Yachts factory, we focused on seaworthiness items and making the yacht better. We looked at any system that could sink the yacht and had that system taken apart and rebuilt. Now we are feeling as if we have a brand new yacht and we know exactly what was rebuilt and who rebuilt it. The work by Island Packet was excellent and I highly recommend them for any and all refit work on their yachts. I am convinced there is no better team.

I am a list person, so please allow me to progress through the order of work to explain the extent of this task. Simple as 1, 2 3 !

#1. Tear Down the Boat, Prep for Trucking May 2013

  • Remove 3 sails
  • Remove all canvas: Bimini, Dodger and full enclosure
  • Remove 4 solar panels
  • Remove all stainless steel canvas bows and frames for canvas
  • Empty sail locker
  • Empty Galley: plates, glasses, silverware, pots and pans
  • Empty Tool Locker, Spare Parts Locker, Safety Locker
  • Remove all food and drinks
  • Empty bow lockers, bilge locker, hanging lockers, etc.
  • Empty and pack all clothing lockers
  • Empty the boat! Box it all up, move it all to a storage facility via rental car!
  • Pull the Mast and Boom
  • Prep for trucking, tape all lids, lockers, etc
  • Move to haul out slip, haul out directly to the truck (May 2013)
  • Truck to Island Packet Yachts Factory, from Palmetto, Fl to Largo Florida

#2. Island Packet Yachts Refit Program inside the Factory, May-Nov

  • Remove all saltwater hoses
  • Rebuild the sewer system with a new fiberglass holding tank, new lines, valves and new macerator pump
  • Pull the stern tube, inspect, replace cutlass bearing, re-install
  • Re-align the diesel engine
  • Remove the exhaust muffler and hoses, replace with new
  • Install new hot water heater
  • Repair any and all grounding wires
  • Build a new laptop teak and almond desk
  • THE BIG job: Remove the entire center interior of the yacht to remove the chain plates and install new larger ones (Chain plates are the stainless steel welded structures that are fiberglassed into the hull, behind all the cabinets. The mast rigging attaches to these 8 points. They are a key structure to the yacht)
  • Rebuild the sump pumps and add new hoses and new anti-siphons.
  • Strip and sand the exterior teak 
  • Install gas struts on the cockpit locker lids
  • Re-powder coat the deck mast step
  • Add a saltwater foot pump at the galley sink
  • Compound and wax the hull
  • Prep for trucking
  • Truck boat back to Snead Island Boat Works, Palmetto Florida (Nov 4, 2013)

 #3. Back at Snead Island Boat Works, Palmetto FL (Nov 4 - Dec 24, 2013)

  • Launch from truck to water, no yard storage planned
  • Sand all exterior teak for varnish work
  • Varnish all exterior teak, 5 coats of Epifanes Varnish
  • Re-install stainless steel rub rails via dinghy
  • Install stainless steel bows: bimini, dodger, and solar frames
  • Re-install and rewire 4 solar panels 
  • Re-install 5 antennas: AIS, Satellite Radio, GPS, WiFi and Bullet2hp
  • Re-install bimini, dodger and full enclosure canvas
  • Woody wax the diamond decks
  • Install new stereo, replacing the one that died during this process
  • Install new stereo speakers and new Blu Ray player
  • Install a new Balmar 614 regulator, replacing the one that quit
  • Re-wire the solar controller due to the new regulator
  • Replace all standing rigging on the mast with OEM Seco South rigging
  • Replace digital TV antenna and run new cable with new fittings in the 50 foot mast
  • Replace VHF antenna and fittings and run new cable in the mast
  • Replace Mast Head light
  • Replace the mast sheaves
  • Wash the mast and polish the radar dome mounts with Spotless Stainless
  • Test all wiring in the mast, prep mast for crane
  • Snead Island Boat Works was hired to cut and rebuild the new OEM forestays and install as specified by Harken
  • Mast re-installed with crane
  • Tune Rigging to factory specs and re-pin the mast
  • Install sails: Jib, Staysail, Mainsail, Run sheets
  • Install Doyle Stack Pack for main sail
  • Re-rig 2 Flag Halyards
  • Rewire and improve mast base wiring connections
  • Reconnect mast junction for Radar and B&G Wind Anemometer
  • Connect the Alternator Stator wire to the battery combiner switch for charging two banks
  • Test all systems: Radar, AIS, GPS, NMEA bus, VHF, TV, Running Lights, Mast Lights, Navigation Computer with AIS feed and Satellite Radio feed.
  • Re-install the Island Spirit Step Plates
The cockpit combing boards with varnish
...and That's a wrap!

We are relieved to have the boat put back together at last. With a single list like this, it does not look that bad, but believe me, this was a ton of work, time and expense. Some days we were selling the boat, then other days we were incredibly happy. Sometimes, it was a real challenge to stay motivated.

So, let our third year of cruising officially begin now. We can start to provision and load up for our third trip to the Bahamas. We will need to sail from Tampa Bay down and around  the Florida Keys and up to Biscayne Bay, Miami, or challenge the Okeechobee Waterway once again and that 49 foot railroad bridge.

We want to spend January in Biscayne Bay and some of February, too. Then as weather allows, we will head out for the Bahamas for three months. Thank you for sailing along with us!

And this was the sunset Christmas Night, what a beautiful sight

My New Christmas T-Shirt, thank you Lee and Judi
CAPTAIN: The Man...The Myth....The Legend
From now on, this will be our car, the AB 10 foot tender

Monday, December 23, 2013

Almost Christmas Almost Shake Down

Radeen the Cookie Baker....
The mast went in but the next day the crane returned and we removed the staysail rig and had it taken apart to re-cut. It was too long and provided zero adjustment when the new rig stretches. So, they cut 1 1/4" off the inner stay, making it better. This required me to pull the cotter pins and loosen the rig and remove the sail once again. After the inner stay was re-installed, I re-tuned the rig to factory specs and re-installed the sail.

Radeen the Christmas Elf has been busy making cookies and Christmas Fudge. I am busy finishing up the single side band radio re-install and improving the mast base wiring. Overall the rebuilding has been a long process and I am not sure why, but it just has been a very long drawn out process. Everyday there has been something to re-install, re-wire, re-connect, test, fix, or improve. It has been far more work than we expected, but how often do you tear apart a perfectly working cruising yacht and then rebuild it. Not very often, and now we know why!

Here are some random photos of the "scene".....Merry Christmas.....

The crane returns....removed and re-cuts the inner forestay

The local Heron says....WHAT? That crane was just there?

All new gear on top of the mast with new rigging

Date Night, yes, we love to go out on dates.....get off the boat

Years ago, I designed this idea. A laptop desk. It slides into a bracket

Laptop desk teak side, we had the IPY Factory make a new one.

Laptop desk almond Formica side, flip it over

Room for a book or notebook to the side. Lower the lid and the table drops over top

Debbie and Craig stopped by for a visit and brought their cute dog, HOLLY

The decks look brand new after we used Woody Wax

Ahhhhhh, the MOET is chilling in the frig for celebration

The old rigging wire will go home to PA for a deck canopy roof structure
Notice the provisions are loading up also....beer....wine....we are ready to go :-)

Re-serviced the liferaft. This is a loan/gift from good friends Greg, Kate and the Doodles

My New Car....Merry Christmas to US...its only money!

What the boat looks like when you are rewiring the mast lights
So, HO HO HO and Merry Christmas! Good friends ANITA and RANDY reminded us about the Jimmy Buffet Song lyrics.....A SAILOR SPENDS CHRISTMAS IN A HARBOR ON A HOOK.....and so we are and sailors soon we will be