Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Anchor Chain Loaded on

...Miami Cordage is THE place..
Team Island Spirit, along with IP 380 Plan Sea team Loretta and Jim and IP 380 Tamarak Bill, loaded of 250 feet of new 5/16" G4 HT Acco USA made anchor chain. We found our best pricing from Stuart to here at Miami Cordage via the friendly and helpful owner named Jason. Using our $9.99/day Enterprise rental car we drove the 20 minutes north on I-95 and picked up the chain in the trunk of the car.

Stainless steel 1 1/2" ratchets, very nice

While there, we discovered that they also sell stainless steel ratchets that we use to secure the dinghy in the davits. We have never had SS ones, we always bought the cheap $20 ones from Home Depot and they would only last about a year. These are 1 1/2" wide, beautifully made by Suncor, cost $75 and should last many years. With our order complete, they cut our chain and asked if we wanted it in buckets. "OK" we said, wondering how we would lift a 125 lb bucket. They lifted both buckets at the same time with a fork lift. It was really cool how they did that from the loading dock and down into our trunk. These guys are pros and so pleasant to work with. Of course, on the way back to Dinner Key, we took a wrong exit off I-95 and ended up in downtown Miami. There we hit the brakes too hard and the chain buckets fell over and all the chain pushed into the back seats. Oh well, it is a rental :-) ....

Our cheerful Chain Gang, Radeen, Loretta, Jim & Bill
Once back at Dinner Key, we arrived precisely at high tide as planned to load the chain out of the trunk and into the bow of the dinghy. At 250 lbs, it made the dinghy bow go down, but it was no more weight than one or two people, so the 10 foot AB dinghy handled this easily. Thanks to our "Chain Gang" of Bill, Jim, Loretta and Radeen, we had this loaded and out to the boat in a very short time. Jim then helped us offload the old chain out of the boat locker and down into the buckets in the dinghy.

250 ft in the dinghy for sale
We are offering this old chain at $1/ft to other cruisers, cutting off whatever they want. I already sold 100 feet to one boater. The reason we replaced the chain is that it was bought in 2002 and we are sailing onward to the Caribbean Sea for the next 5 years, so we wanted to go with new chain and a new shackle. Note: 5/16" G4 HT chain has a 3,900 lb working load and we use the USA made Crosby HT 3/8" shackle which has a 2t WLL or 2 tons working live load. Many people put the wrong shackle on their HT chain and that becomes the weakest point. We also do not use a swivel because we have a horizontal windlass and the chain does not get turned or twisted very much.

So, our new anchor chain is on and we have one more boat job to do and that is to tune the standing rigging and tighten the forestays. After a trip to Costco today, then it will be a waiting game for a weather window.

Radeen smiling in the rain as we load provisions on Sunday

250 lbs of new anchor chain in the trunk of the car

Taking the chain out to Island Spirit

That is 250 feet of HT chain in the dinghy bow

250 feet of chain loaded up to the deck

USA Crosby 2T HT shackle. The proper one. USA made.

SS wires secures the anchor shackle 

This should just about do it for the refit of Island Spirit, new sails, new electronics, new running rigging, new Spectra watermaker, and new anchor chain. Now if the east winds will just stop blowing we can head out. Looks like next week now.....

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Miami Prep for Departure

...Drop off Laundry...
Every time we have sailed to the Bahamas, now this the 6th year, we have left from Miami. Why would we stage here, people ask? The bottom line is because it is easy and close. There are plenty of anchorages for waiting for weather and there are grocery stores, hardware stores, car rentals, pubs, gas docks, water docks, dinghy docks, all to support our preparation to sail out to the the Bahamas. Every year, we bump into friends at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club and others who are also preparing to leave. This is a great place to stage up and get ready to sail out. Every thing you need is is within an easy walk of this harbor, and we love it here. Add to this, the end of January is always the World Cup Sailing Event where the best of the best from all over the world come to Miami to compete. Many times these races are qualifying races for the Olympics, so it is great meet and watch these world class sailors. This is a sailing event like no other.

The boat in prep for laundry day
So what are we doing?

Well, we have a punch list of final jobs and it always seems to be the same. Firs,t buy up all the food and booze we think we will need for the next 3-4 months. Fix the last items on the boat like: 1. replace the impeller. 2. tune the rigging. 3. fuel up and fill 4 diesel jugs and tie these on deck. 4. Watch the weather and be ready to sail out on any day the weather is good.

This is 8 Gallons/hr from the Spectra Ventura 200t watermaker
We also fired up the Spectra Ventura 200t Watermaker and turned salty Biscayne Bay water into pure drinking water. It is amazing how easy this machine is to run. Simply open the seawater intake, turn on the feed pump, dial up the pressure and out comes fresh drinking water while only using 8 amps of 12 volt power. WOW, that is really amazing. Yes, it is low production at 8 gallons per hours but then again we are running this off wind and solar power which is really cool. We plan to run the watermaker every day during mid day when we have extra solar power. If this all works as planned, then we can keep our water tank full via wind and solar, using about 7-10 gallons of water a day.

ACCO USA 5/16" G4 Chain
Added to these common prep tasks, we have decided to replace our 250 feet of 5/16" G4 HT USA ACCO anchor chain which is 16 years old. We beat it to death last year during a bad night on the Bahama Banks. So, we will use the rental car to load 250 pounds into the trunk. Then we will take it to the dinghy dock and haul it into the bow of our 10 foot AB dinghy. We will take it out to our boat, load it up and onto the deck via the windlass. Then we will offload the old 250 feet of old chain. This will be the final refit job of 2016-17 for Island Spirit. Island Spirit is almost like new and she is ready for a new Caribbean adventure. We are excited and we are ready to get sailing. We should be after nearly 3 months of refit work!

Here are a few photos of this week...
Anchored out with a sunrise on Biscayne Bay

Cappuccino Girl Radeen with her green eyes 

 LASER World Cup Sailing Miami

There they go down the launch ramp...120 boats in the the Laser Fleet

We spent a day in the Library working on the internet web servers

Taking laundry to the boat

5 loads of laundry from the drop off service

Sunset on anchor

Our IP 380 friend Bill of TAMARAK sails by

Perfect water made from Biscayne Bay saltwaer

Salinity tested out at 108 ppm

The machine, The Spectra Ventura 200t

Worlds Cup Sailors

The awards stand and jumbo tron

The winning team of the 49er fleet, the Brits

Radeen packing up the Lasers

Walking around Dinner Key area, amazing architecture
 .....So, here we are in the final prep for sailing out to the Bahamas and then onward to the Caribbean Sea. Who knows what is ahead, but we have been here before and we know that leaving is the hardest aspect of any voyage. We ARE leaving and we hope it is soon, very soon......

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fred and Gail Discover Miami

...Fred and Gail visit Team Island Spirit...
Longtime great friends, Fred and Gail, made the effort to fly from Philly to Miami and join Team Island Spirit for a 5 day visit filled with laughs, fun and sailing adventures. We have been sailing together since the early 80's and have taken several Caribbean sailing charter vacations together. With winter weather up north and with Island Spirit just arriving Miami, this was a perfect time to jump on board. We docked the boat at Dinner Key Marina for a late Friday night arrival, where we stayed up until midnight catching up. Then after a Sat morning walk around Dinner Key and the Grove, we departed for a day of sailing on Biscayne Bay in a perfect 15 knots of south wind. When the winds go south from a normal east wind, then a new front is coming and the weather can become serious.

The Wallcast a top venue in Miami Beach
We had been timing the arrival of this cold front which was forecast to be very strong, with winds of 30 to 40 knots from the west for Sun night and and Monday. This south wind and building southwest wind prevented us from sailing back to Miami Sunday a.m. from South Beach, where we really enjoyed the New World Symphony Wallcast. So, with this strong cold front arriving Sunday afternoon, we decided to run 15 nm north back up the waterway to the town of Hollywood, FL. Here we secured a dock for Sunday and Monday, keeping the boat safe, but more importantly, allowing us to get off the boat and walk to a very cool beachfront town.

Hollywood, Florida, a dream beach town
Once secured in Hollywood City Marina, we immediately walked east over the bridge and two blocks to the beach. This beach town is very nice with pavers for the boardwalk right on the sand level. Every day we would walk over to the beach in the late morning and then walk back to the boat for lunch and then walk back to the beach for an afternoon swim. This was a great way to spend our time while the front arrived and blew 30 knots. Over night when the front hit, we had thunder, lightening, downpours, and gusts to 40 knots. 12 miles away, a tornado struck with winds of 175 mph in Hialeah, Florida where many buildings were damaged.

Sailing Biscayne Bay, close hauled, 40 degrees
By Tuesday, the front had passed and we headed 15 nm back down the waterway through the city of Miami and back to the beauty of Biscayne Bay. There we set full sail with main, jib and staysail in 15 knots of WEST winds once again. Sailing Biscayne Bay is always a joy because the winds are usually 10-15 and the waves are usually 1 foot or less. Team Island Spirit won our first race of the 2017 racing season as we sailed close hauled next to an S2 who first crossed our bow and then we tacked behind and climbed windward of him and passed him. Fred and Hayden love to trim sails as we used to race together on a J-35 on Long Island Sound for about 7 years. Team Island Spirit was locked on autopilot wind vane steering and we simply sat back and watched her sail up and over this S2 who had a 135 jib against our 110 Mack Sail. We love our New Mack Sails, they look GREAT!

Here are two maps of our adventures. First, an overview of Fred and Gail arriving in MIA, then taking a car to Dinner Key Marina, then up to South Beach, then north to Hollywood, then south to Biscayne Bay. The next map shows us sailing up, down, across the the Bay, then back to Dinner Key where we dropped the hook and where I am writing this blog entry.
The overview of where we went and how the 30+ knots of winds arrived.

Here is a close up of our route around the Biscayne Bay area and then over to South Beach
The Biscayne Bay focused area and Miami Beach

The Sailing World Cup Jan 27-29
Now, to top off the visit, Fred and Gail were lucky enough to be here for the Miami World Cup Sailing Event where the best of the best from all over the world meet in Miami to determine Olympic qualifiers. We have Lasers, 420s, Finns and 49ers. As luck would have it, as we sailed back north on Tuesday we were able to place Island Spirit directly on the starting line for the Laser start. We counted 80+ boats. Freddie being a race committee chairman of many races took the helm and expertly drove Island Spirit around to the pin end, one boat length off the start at exactly the starting gun. Then we motored up the course along with these world class sailors right up to the weather mark. Next, we stood off the weather mark and watched as the leaders rounder the mark. Amazing way to watch the race. Fred knew exactly where to position Island Spirit as to stay out of the way, but yet be right next to the racers. Photo Boy got these great shots....
The Men's Laser Class Start

The weather mark

Dinner Key Marina Office
After chasing the World Cup sailing around the bay, we had to return to Dinner Key area, and drop an anchor because, sadly, it was time for Fred and Gail to return to the cold, cold north. So we dropped an anchor off all the moorings, about a mile offshore of Dinner Key, and we loaded up into the 10 foot AB dinghy and splashed our way into shore. There we dropped off their bags at the marina and then headed up into "The Grove" Coconut Grove where we walked the fun town and had dinner at the farm-to-table "LOKAL" resturant. Here we ordered alligator strips and great sandwiches. We walked back to Dinner Key to order an UBER and it was off to MIA for a flight back to Philly. This was a very fun visit and we packed in a lot of activities. Thank you Fred and Gail for coming down. It was really a great time!

 Here are the best few photos of the 350 I shot!
Fred the master sail trimmer

Hayden and Fred racing Island Spirit style :-)

Gail and Radeen racing Island Spirit style

The Projector at the Wall Cast, South Beach

The Wave Machine at the Beach, Margaritaville

Of Course we watched CAPTAIN RON on our 32" HD Samsung TV

Did I say Wave Machine!? Surfs UP!

The Beautiful Hollywood Beach

Gail and Radeen dressed for dinner out, Thank you Fred & Gail

Fred and Gail, our dear friends

Radeen and Gail at Le Tub, the 1959 local burger joint in Hollywood, FL
Thank you, Fred and Gail for a great night out at a fun place.

Required Selfie, Hayden, Radeen, Fred & Gail

Fred and Gail get a new Bentley

World Cup 49ers

Team Island Spirit racing with ease

Radeen racing, tough job

Heading into South Beach via the Collins Canal under the roadways.
We enjoyed the concert with Bill of IP380 Tamarak
and Jim & Loretta of IP380 Plan Sea

The Sat night Wallcast in South Beach, a MUST ATTEND event

The ICW as seen from atop the Hollywood Bridge

Radeen and Fred on the Hollywood walk

Hollywood pavers and beach walk, about 2-3 miles

The waves were big on Sunday

The girls in the ocean

A fine dinner of Moroccan Chicken Stew by Radeen.

Walking over the ICW to the Hollywood Beach

This is how you wash your 100 foot+ sailing yacht

Washing the bow, WOW

Brickell Point, always a photographic scene

Setting sail again on Biscayne Bay, beam reaching south

ZIP....there goes another 49er at 20 knots!

ahhhh, there goes Island Spirit at 6 knots

Gail is a great sailor, Radeen is a great helper

And what would a trip on Biscayne Bay be without a view of Stiltsville?

Yes, the WASZP sailboat can FLY, see this one up on foils...WHAT?
(Photo credit to Radeen)

Biscayne Bay and Miami and Coconut Grove and Miami Beach and Biscayne Bay, all of this is a must see stop when sailing and cruising. We really enjoyed showing this to our good friends!