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s/v Always & All Ways
Another windy, lazy day at anchor
Mark
04/27/2009, Anchored, off Elliot Key, Biscayne Bay

Sunday, April 26. I spent most of the day going over Bahama charts and cruising guide figuring out how we can leave Florida with Ray & Nadia, cruise part of the Bahamas, drop them off, cruise some more, pick up Dave & Lisa, and eventually make it to the Windward Passage, Jamaica, and Panama. I think we can do it! Tomorrow we will move to N of Sandy Key just to try a different anchorage, and then we will move to Key Biscayne Tuesday in preparation for the run up to Ft. Lauderdale on Wednesday.

Another windy, lazy day.
Mark
04/25/2009, Anchored, off Elliot Key, Biscayne Bay

Saturday, April 25. Wind blew ~20 kts all day. Otherwise, it was sunny and nice. I got the head fixed without problem using the 'sausage' epoxy Deb had gotten me - worked great. Next I decided to try my hand at gel coat repair. We have a variety of dings acquired over the years of chartering that are only cosmetic, but are cosmetic. So I got out the Everlast gel coat patch, actually read the directions, and had at it. It is not quite as straight forward as described. For shallow repairs, it is pretty easy. You spread it on, wait for it to set then scrape it smooth. If your timing and technique are good, it doesn't even need sanding. deeper repairs are problematic as it skins over and does not harden readily inside. I found two options: build it up with multiple shallow repairs, or blob it on and let it fully harden and then sand it later. (The crew @ TMM had a third technique - blob it on and leave it!) Interestingly, I found that some of their blobs sanded out quite decently. While grinding some of the gel coat, I managed to get a fleck of fiberglass lodged in my eye. It wouldn't blink out and seemed fairly firmly imbedded, so I went looking in the med kit for ophthane to numb it so I could dig it out. When I couldn't find any, I remembered that ophthane needs refrigeration and thus was not an option in the kit. Oh well, a bit of teeth gritting and a wet Q-tip got it out. After treating the eye with Tobradex, I rewarded my bravery with a beer and a rest in the hammock. Later, I rebuilt the winch that serves the traveler as it had been sticking. It looked like it had never been serviced. Works good as new now, but I just added five new projects - rebuilding all the other winches. Pappy (author of the Keys Cruising Guide) was right, this place is popular on the weekends. Even with the strong winds, the anchorage really filled up. Beyond the park boundaries, there were several kite boarders. The area around Sand Key Cut was loaded with day boat fishermen. Fortunately, the anchorage spreads quite a way along Elliot Key, so even though there are now some 20 or so boats anchored for the night, it really is not crowded. No one in danger of swinging into someone else and everyone with at least reasonable privacy. It certainly has been a show, however, laying in the hammock (reward for finishing the winch of course) and watching the boats come in and decide how shallow they can go and where to put the hook down. There are all types from a young couple with a 3 year old camping in what looks like an open boat with a tent on the bow to a mega yacht anchored well out beyond the madness. Power to sail about 3:1, only one other sail cat but a power cat too. Very different from the week days. Wind too strong to try barbecuing so I am making pork curry for dinner.

Projects in Paradise.
Mark
04/25/2009, Anchored, off Elliot Key, Biscayne Bay

Friday, April 24. Winds, indeed, are 15-20+ so it is a good day to stay put and work on a few projects. Deb is doing some crafting projects that I cannot say too much about as they are for gifts. I decided to finally attack the plumbing in the heads, the only remaining item from our survey. The only real problem is that the hose clamps are rusting. The hoses themselves seem OK and we have never had an odor problem. The discharge hoses are 2 3/8" ID and I could not fin them anywhere, so I am just going to replace the clamps on them. The discharge hose from toilet to tank appears to be a standard size and since it often has black water standing in it, I figured it would be worth replacing, even though I can see it will be a pain given its run. Replacing the clamps and scrubbing off the rust stains went just fine. Removing the smaller hose was easier than I anticipated, which should have been a warning. The new hose snaked into place without too much hassle and I double clamped both ends with new clamps, but when I tried it out (with just sea water), it drips at the elbow to the toilet. The hose clamps cannot squeeze tight enough to make up for the ease with which it went together. A little 5200 should take care of that, but it means not using it for a week, which means not doing the other head until then. Unfortunately, when I checked it a few hours later, there was 2" of water in the whole head. Now this is no big deal as the head is the shower and has a pump out drain, but it means the "drip" is substantial and the 5200 is not blocking it. So, I will shut off the intake through-hull, wait for the residual to drain and re-caulk tomorrow. The next project went better. I ran wires from the panel to our new wash-down pump in the anchor locker. This uses sea water to wash mud off the anchor and chain as they come up and also will stretch to wash off most of the boat (25' coiled hose). I had previously run the hose from the through-hull in the port stern up to the anchor locker, so all I had to do was mount the pump to the bulkhead, wire it, and attach the hoses. Went smoothly and works great. Time for a swim and lounge in the hammock for a bit before margaritas and nachos.

On to Biscayne Bay
Mark
04/24/2009, Anchored, off Elliot Key, Biscayne Bay

Thursday, April 23. The winds remain out of the E, which is where they are predicted now and so we are going to move to an anchorage up in Biscayne Bay with more protection from that angle, although we spent a very comfortable night. Retrieved the bridle and kellet, then raised the main before finishing raising the anchor. We have to sail through a narrow dredged channel to get from Card Sound into Biscayne Bay. With wind just about 90* this will be close hauled to a close reach, but we should be able to do it under sail. First we have to tack out to the SE to get the right angle. When I think we have gone far enough, we tack back and head for the first set of markers. It's close, but we make it. Just as we are entering the channel, a large, liveaboard power boat approaches from behind. He slows down nicely and waits while I pull as far to starboard (into wind) as I can and then passes us to port. We probably had 10-15 feet between boats which is pretty tight considering I was close hauled and didn't have much room for change. They thanked us for letting them pass and I thanked them for the gentle pass. I somehow think if they had no also been liveaboards that is could have been much dicier. The rest of the channel went smoothly, though we did pass an oncoming sailboat. I hailed him on VFH to recommend we pass port to port (which is pretty standard and how we were lined up). He never answered, but proceeded to pass without problems. From there is was only another 7 nm to our destination. We chose to anchor off a nice little beach by the N end of Elliot Key. We were able to carry 6' reasonably close to shore (for Florida) and anchored much tighter in than the other boats in the area. Once again we anchored for strong winds with plenty of scope and the kellet. When I dove the anchor, it was well buried but doing nothing as the boat was 'anchored' by the kellet which was resting nicely on the bottom, holding the bridle down at a fairly steep angle. We should have a comfortable night. The water was so clear that there was no question about making water, it would be fine. We have been using about 20 gallons a day and run the watermaker at least every other day to replace it. Since we left the Gulf, we have had no problems with the filters silting, though we do make sure the water is good and clear before choosing to run it. After lunch we dinghied ashore. Not a very interesting beach - very few shells, but it did have a fantastic tree that I will have to come back and photograph. Might even be something I could paint. It was pretty weird being on this deserted beach in a lovely anchorage with the skyscrapers of Miami visible on the horizon! They say that this area gets really crowded on the weekends, but for now it is very nice - just a few fishing boats, a couple of larger power boats, and another sailboat, all spread out quite reasonably.

You don't need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
Mark
04/23/2009, Anchored, near Arsenicker Key, Card Sound

Wednesday, April 22. Trivia question of the day: Who wrote the quote in the title and why is it significant? In fact, sometimes listening to the weatherman just confuses you. We awakened to N winds as predicted, so after a leisurely breakfast we moved to the lee of Long Arsenicker (just about where we had started yesterday.) since the wind is supposed to blow later today and tonight, we set plenty of scope and used the kellet - it really does make the boat ride much more smoothly in a chop. As we wer picking up the anchor, I spotted Deb's lost mat. She had lost both Guatemalan mats as they blew off the stern while we were moving yesterday afternoon. One was right at our stern after anchoring yesterday, so I dove in and retrieved it. This morning, I spotted a white rectangle on the bottom as we were weighing anchor. We paused in our moving and I dove in and retrieved the second mat. It really is amazing how clear the water is and how well you can see everything when you are only in 6' or less. By the time we had relocated and re-anchored, the wind had shifted to E. Now it is not supposed to be E until tomorrow which is why we elected to stay here today and move tomorrow, the places N of here only have protection from the E, not N or NE. Wind remained from the E and even ESE at less than 10 kts all day, certainly not the 10-20 from N>NE predicted! Oh well, there is really not a good spot to move to for protection from the E at this point and with all the shallows in front of us I don't think we will get too bad a night's sleep even if it does kick up. Very lovely lazy day at anchor. We swam, sunned, and generally enjoyed. Deb finished the drogue bag and we got it stuffed and rolled. It is now done and ready to be deployed (all I need is the line for the bridle and attachment points on the hull. We have a picture that we will post when we have internet again.

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