Bruadar Sailors

Vessel Name: Bruadar
Vessel Make/Model: Formosa 51, William Garden Ketch
Hailing Port: Newport, RI
Crew: The Pitman Family
About: Raising a family and enjoying sailing in the Chesapeake Bay and beyond!
Extra: Gaelic-English Dictionary [bruadar] nm. g.v. -air; pl.+an, a dream
30 April 2015 | Georgetown Yacht Basin
12 September 2009 | Block Island, RI
30 April 2007 | Charleston, SC
29 April 2007 | Offshore South Carolina
28 April 2007 | Port Everglades, FL
Recent Blog Posts
30 April 2015 | Georgetown Yacht Basin

Spring Commissioning Work Begins!

Bruadar is on the hard and the work to get her back in the water has begun. The admiral and I have started prepping the bottom for a new coat of paint, fun fun fun. In addition to freshening up the anti-fouling paint and zincs we plan to install a day tank, wind generator and tile the shower. That's all!

12 September 2009 | Block Island, RI

New England in Early May

07 May 2007 | Charleston, SC

Duct Tape, water leaks, water pumps and no Ino?

Using slack tide to our advantage we motored in and anchored at Charleston’s City Marina the following morning. The winds had died down and after a good night’s sleep and in ideal conditions it was ‘easy cheesy’. We called Pam and Ino to let them know we were good to go! The question was, “now [...]

30 April 2007 | Charleston, SC

We get by with a little help from my friends...

With the bilge pump working overtime and a strong northerly approaching I decide to alter course. Instead of Beaufort, NC, we now turn northwest and head for Charleston, SC. I do not tell the Admiral about our leak; she has enough to deal with! It is time to investigate just what is going on in the engine [...]

29 April 2007 | Offshore South Carolina

Babymoon Cruise? Part Two

28 April 2007 | Port Everglades, FL

Shakedown/Delivery/Babymoon Cruise?

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Spring Commissioning Work Begins!

30 April 2015 | Georgetown Yacht Basin
Capt. Dan
Bruadar is on the hard and the work to get her back in the water has begun. The admiral and I have started prepping the bottom for a new coat of paint, fun fun fun. In addition to freshening up the anti-fouling paint and zincs we plan to install a day tank, wind generator and tile the shower. That's all!

New England in Early May

12 September 2009 | Block Island, RI
Captain Dan


Two years after Grayson was born and Ebeth was pregnant again we decided to plan a trip to NE for the sailing season. Little did we know that the summer of 2009 was to be a complete wash out. It rained more days than anyone could remember. Newspapers had headlines titled "What Summer" and waterfront businesses suffered. A group of friends helped me deliver Bruadar to Newport, RI, thanks guys! Leaving Block Island our 51 foot ketch was tossed around like a dinghy rowing into oncoming waves. We finally got chased out of NE by Hurricane Bill. Back down to the Chesapeake Bay.....

Duct Tape, water leaks, water pumps and no Ino?

07 May 2007 | Charleston, SC
Captain Dan
Using slack tide to our advantage we motored in and anchored at Charleston’s City Marina the following morning. The winds had died down and after a good night’s sleep and in ideal conditions it was ‘easy cheesy’. We called Pam and Ino to let them know we were good to go! The question was, “now what?”

Ebeth and I talked things over and even though we did not want the ‘Babymoon’ to end, it was clear to us that it was already over. I set about looking the boat over to evaluate the extent of our maintenance problems. After about an hour I came up with the following list:

1. Stern Tube leaking steady but under control (about 20 drops a minute)?
2. Bilge pump switch sticking on (better that the off position)?
3. Engine water pump bearing getting loose (but the engine was not overheating yet)?
4. Depth Sounder still not working (but heading up the ICW was starting to look like a good idea)?
5. How tall is our mast?
6. Still do not have a fuel gage for either tank?

Ebeth needed to head home and look after herself and our unborn baby. She was not happy, but being seasick 24/7 was not much fun either. Ino had volunteered to help me crew and I felt confident that after a short offshore voyage around Cape Hatteras we would have no problems heading up the Chesapeake Bay. Ino had just completed this trip last season. He was a true ‘Old Salt’ of the North Sea and nothing ever phased him when he was at the helm of a sailboat!

I got on the phone and ordered a new water pump from Bob Smith at American Diesel. I also e-mailed several other Formosa 51 owners that we met through the Owner’s Association Website, http://www.force50.org/ (now defunct), to ask advice on our stern tube dilemma. A trip to West Marine should buy us the parts to fix the depth sounder, no worries?

We had a plan in place as Pam and Ino walked down the dock to welcome us to Charleston. Something was not quite right, Ino would walk about 30-40 feet and then sit down. He assured me that all was fine, he just slept on the wrong side of the bed last night. After a short visit Pam and Ino were on their way home and I had to get to work on my short to do list.

Ebeth and I hopped in the car Pam and Ino had left us and headed to West Marine to buy some repair parts. We bought a new bilge pump switch, battery charger (it was on sale and ours got fried back in FL, oops), some underwater epoxy (to repair the stern tube) and a depth sounder that we hoped would match the transducer already mounted in Bruadar’s hull. What do they say B-O-A-T stands for; Break-Out-Another-Thousand? We felt luck that we only spent $600.- on this visit, ouch! When we returned to the boat I jumped down in the engine room and got to work. As dinnertime rolled around the bilge pump switch and depth sounder had been fixed. We had also received several e-mails from the owners association on repair options for the stern tube. Things were looking up so Ebeth and I went out to dinner.

Later that evening we received a call from our friend Pam. It appears that Ino had done a little bit more than sleep on the wrong side of the bed. The day before we arrived Ino was stepping the mast on his 22 foot trailer-sailor. As the mast was just about into position Ino slipped and fell off the bow of the boat onto the parking lot six feet below. He did not tell Pam about it until after he saw us. Ino was embarrassed and thought he would be fine in a few hours, but as it turned out he had cracked a few vertebrate and would be laid up for a few weeks. It is now late in the evening on Saturday the 5th of May. With Ebeth heading home and Ino out of commission I needed to find crew if Bruadar was going to leave Charleston, SC.

We get by with a little help from my friends...

30 April 2007 | Charleston, SC
Captain Dan
With the bilge pump working overtime and a strong northerly approaching I decide to alter course. Instead of Beaufort, NC, we now turn northwest and head for Charleston, SC. I do not tell the Admiral about our leak; she has enough to deal with! It is time to investigate just what is going on in the engine room. With the amount of water we are taking on it does not take long to figure out where it is coming from. The stern tube that houses the prop shaft has a crack about three inches long and water is spraying into the bilge! I swallow hard, this is not good. I began to think of hoses I could split and clamp in place or epoxy and fiberglass I could wrap around the tube to stop the leak. In a moment of clarity I realized - duct tape! I had about four rolls on board and this seemed to be an easy and quick solution. I jumped up from the bilge went to my toolbox and grabbed a roll. The first few wraps were not pretty but as I began to layer the duct tape the leak slowed to a trickle. I grabbed the tube and gave it a good pull to see if it might flex, it did not. I took a deep breath and sighed with relief. Our first potentially major problem had been adverted, remind me to give the Engineer a raise!

I came back up on deck to let the Admiral know of our course change and estimated our arrival in Charleston to be around 1800 hours. It was not until a few hours later that I let her know about the bilge leak. Ebeth took the news in stride; a problem that had already been solved was not something she wanted to dwell on. The straight line motor sail to Charleston seemed to last forever. I had been at the helm for around 40 hours now and fatigue was starting to set in.

We had friends that lived just south of Charleston so I e-mailed them to get directions to the anchorage in Charleston Harbor. After you pass through the breakwaters into Charleston you intersect the ICW and can go north or south. Our friends Pam and Ino had kept their Island Packet 32 in Charleston and I knew that they could steer us in the right direction. Pam and Ino are also members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary on Edisto Island. Their training or perhaps their instincts told them that my request for information was more than information on a popular anchorage. Pam wanted to call the Coast Guard straight away, but thankfully for everyone involved she did not. Her response to my e-mail put things in perspective. Even though we were not in trouble we could be very soon. If I did not make it into Charleston and anchor before the northerlies arrived my fatigue and Ebeth's condition could be more than we could manage. In the six hours that followed I sent and received e-mails back and forth with Pam every two hours. As we approached the breakwaters marking the entrance to Charleston Harbor the northerlies were blowing 20-25 knots. Thankfully, our decision to change course and leave the Gulf Stream when we did ensured the swells never got too large. As we entered the harbor a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. We shut down the engine and beared off onto a beam reach with only the jib and mainsail. As we made six knots through the calm harbor and I went down below to call Pam on our cell phone. They had guided us in and to our surprise even paid for one nights berth at City Marina, we were extremely grateful. As Bruadar approached the MegaDock at City Marina we hailed the dock hands on the radio. They had an inside slip set up for us and wanted to know if we needed help. After I analyzed the current and winds we decided to anchor out in the harbor. The current was a strong three knots and the northerlies were still blowing around 15 knots even inside the harbor. We were just to tired and inexperienced with our boat in these conditions. I told them we would dock in the morning with the slack tide. About 15 minutes later we were swinging on the hook and I fell fast asleep in our aft cabin. The first leg of our trip was complete.

The following morning we came in and docked with the slack tide. Pam and Ino met us later in the day and even dropped off their spare car for us to use! We now needed to re-evaluate or plans and make some repairs. The next leg of our trip was to be postponed for a few days. No one was complaining!

Babymoon Cruise? Part Two

29 April 2007 | Offshore South Carolina
Captain Dan

The morning sunrise was spectacular. I felt very confident as we made twelve knots motor sailing north. Bruadar was now well into the Gulf Stream. Our newly installed SSB and Pactor Radio Modem was working well. I had spent a few years studying Amateur Radio and the wonderful benefits it could bring us while cruising. After some hard work and studying I earned my General Class License; this meant we could communicate with the almost anyone. With Bruadar's SSB we could use radio voice communication as well as data/e-mail via a Pactor radio modem to keep in touch with the world and more importantly Commander's Weather Service. Early on in the trip planning process we came to the decision that an outstanding weatherman on the payroll was worth the a small fee. After all, we were in the Gulf Stream were things can go wrong quickly and the piece of mind seemed well worth the $150.00 it cost for a professional offshore forecast. A few times a day I would send e-mail to friends and family as well as update our position on Winlink. (http://www.winlink.org/positions/PosReports.aspx) Our friends could log in daily and look up our progress. Our nephew, Thomas Updike (3), would look at our position each evening and say "Uncle Dan and Auntie Ebeth!" As our romantic day offshore came to a close we experienced porpoises dancing under our bow. What a great sign of luck and the omen of a successful voyage. This was to be the highlight of Bruadar's first offshore passage.

As Ebeth and I approached the North Carolina coast from 90+ miles offshore things started to get complicated. Ebeth was starting to feel really seasick. The Admiral had suppressed these feelings for a full day but now it was starting to catch up. The only way she could feel OK was to lay in the fetal position on deck. This meant that the Captain had not really had any time off watch. After 28 hours at the helm I knew that our plans to hit Beaufort, NC, just did not seem realistic. I went below deck and fired up the radio modem to check my e-mail. More discouraging news, Commander's Weather Forecast was letting us know that the wind was about to increase to 20+ knots from the north over the next two days. This meant that the moderate 10 foots swells we were in would now increase to 15-25 feet as time progressed. The strong headwinds would also slow our progress. While below deck I could not help but notice the bilge pump was running a lot..... what was going on? My worst fears were realized when I peered into the engine room and saw a heavy stream of water running from the stern tube. It was time to get out of the Gulf Stream and head for land.

Shakedown/Delivery/Babymoon Cruise?

28 April 2007 | Port Everglades, FL
Captain Dan
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I have no idea where to begin..... After we purchased Bruadar we needed to bring her home. This would be a great adventure! Ebeth (the Admiral/Cook) and I (the Skipper/Engineer) decided to make this our babymoon as well. Ebeth was pregnant with our third swab and this would be a great vacation before our new child's arrival. On several occasions I suggested looking for volunteers to help crew. This was not the Admiral's idea of a romantic trip so I agreed, it was to be a exclusive and romantic voyage. It is funny how plans work out!
This ended up being nothing but a Shakedown Cruise. After leaving Ft. Lauderdale we planned to plot a course for Beaufort, NC. To keep our speed up the Skipper would head for the Gulf Stream. Our weather forecast called for light northerly winds.


Reality sets in and our first snag came the morning we planned to leave. The 'new' depth sounder had died the night before and we needed to return our rental car. Because of my (the Engineer's) attempts to make some last minute repairs we ended up returning the rental car the following morning. Since we needed to leave on the incoming tide this set us back 12 hours. We waited for the tide and left around 7 pm with daunting task of hitting each of the four bridge openings and making it to the Seabreeze Blvd. bridge for its 'on the hour' opening. I have to admit to being nervous but in the end it all worked out just fine. We were now in the Atlantic Ocean headed north.


As we settled into our 'four hour on four our off' watch routine the Admiral told me that she was feeling a little off. We chalked this up to nerves and motion of the ocean and decided to wait and see how she felt in the morning. The Engineer got the first watch and he/I had to calibrate the new autopilot. No rest for the weary! Oh did I forget to mention the depth sounder was still not functioning?


Enjoy our first sunrise.....more to follow...
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Bruadar's Photos -

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