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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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Moving Day but not the right move
84 and sunny
02/12/2009, Miami, Fl

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Needless to say we're still in Miami. We still need to get water & fuel, plot where we're going, etc... We got up this morning and over coffee started going over the charts and our options. There was a little friction since I tend to question things - sometimes it seems - a bit too much... During our discussions a motor yacht - Dolphin Moon - decided to zoom, zoom us from 15 feet away, kicking up a 4 foot wave, then came back a few more times for good measure a little closer and faster with larger wakes. A few things went flying below and I was just glad that my water filtration container didn't break as it went flying off the galley counter. I got on the radio and hailed him - thanking him for the consideration. I'm sure the property owners appreciated it too with all the salt water coming up over the seawall to water their grass and sending their skidoos bobbing into the wall. It looks like a lot of the mega yachts are filming their wakes for some reason - probably a selling point at the Miami Boat Show!

We decided to move to the east end of the Venetian Causeway, so after finishing coffee we re-anchored near Spirit and Last Boat. They spotted us coming in, dinghied over as the welcoming committee, and filled us in on where to get water, where the Publix is, hardware, etc., etc., etc... They were given a pink slip by the police and told they can only anchor 7 days total in the Miami Proper area so we were waiting for that welcoming committee only it never came. We dinghied over to the Police Station (we're anchored in front of it) to ask about anchoring and where we could get copies at, only nobody was there. Lunch time and water patrol would probably be two good reasons why nobody was there - so we walked to the Publix (yes I got 2 more Cubans- love that crusty bread), then we went to the gas station to get transmission fluid, and Office Depot to make copies of our boat documentation for Customs at Bimini. It was interesting wandering around Miami. Most of the people we heard talking, were speaking Spanish and the people that we spoke to had accents. I almost felt like we were in a foreign country already - but we're in Florida.

After we got back to the boat Wayne scrubbed the waterline of the boat & Marie and Chris (Spirit) came by to invite us over to the boat for dinner with Ondra and Nelson (Last Boat). We had a very nice time. Marie made a wonderful dinner of Lasagna with a mild sausage, salad, and cheesecake and I found out that Marie and Ondra were also teachers at one time! After dinner we went over some of Chris's Bahama Charts. He had a full set of the large ones that were really terrific! They're heading down to the Keys before heading to the Exumas so maybe we'll see them down there. Last Boat is heading for Cape Coral to visit with family - seems we both have brothers there! It'd be funny if they knew each other!

It was a most enjoyable anchorage and evening - tomorrow would be a good weather window to head out but we're not ready yet. Laura emailed us about Friday the 13th and 2 Abens heading into the Bermuda Triangle - did we want to do that - LOL annnnd she's probably right - good thing we're not leaving tomorrow! Saturday and Sunday are looking good so, if we can take care of everything tomorrow, and the weather holds, it looks like Saturday will be our departure day.

Moon over Miami
Very nice weather
02/11/2009, Biscayne Bay, Miami FL

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I had to check to see if there was a full moon... I couldn't sleep much last night. I kept waking up to the dream/thought that I'd be standing in water if I got out of bed. So I'd lay there, listening to silence, waiting and expecting for the bilge pump to kick on, only it never did. New fear: the bilge pump has stopped working! But, it hadn't, it came on in the morning during my coffee.

I tried finding the phone number to any of the bridges, around here, on the charts and couldn't. I wanted to call one of them to see if they could give me any data on the restricted times for the bridges on the Miami River. I know the first one is restricted between 7 and 8:30 in the morning and 4 to 5:30 but didn't know the schedules to the rest of the bascule bridges. Since there are so many that we need to transit to get to Riverside, in order for them to look at our leaking stuffing box, I figured it would be a good idea to check the times. The river is narrow with a lot of freighters in it (on Google Earth) and one of our books says it has swift currents so I wanted to know what to expect and how many of the bridges opened on demand. I figured not many since it was down in the heart of Miami. I finally decided to call Tow Boat US. I figured they'd probably know the bridge schedules (since they're local). In chatting with the guy, he asked if we were the sailboat with the stuffing box problem from yesterday and I told him yes and how nobody had ever returned our calls yesterday but we did manage to get through to Riverside finally and they're up the Miami River. He'd never heard of them, and asked if we were getting hauled out? I told him I hoped not, and told him about our problem of not being able to turn the locking nut and hoping that was all we needed to do. He said he'd come out and take a look (to my surprise and relief), so we gave him our coordinates and waited for them to show up. They didn't have a specialized wrench but actually had something better - a filter changer with a tarp type cloth that wraps around the item. With that and a hammer, the stuffing box tightened in a jiffy. He then asked if we had a wire brush so the next time we had to do this it was cleaned up for us and then proceeded to remove the patina from the locking nut. We then heard a clunk, then "oops" and a comment "my you have a deep bilge". Wayne said, "oh oh, you added to our collection?" He added our wire brush to the bowels of Kolibrie, so we now have an antique hammer, chisel, and wire brush in Kolibrie's growing toolbox! I gotta tell you - Towboat US are my heros. They always seem to come to our rescue. So to the guys at Biscayne Towing and Salvage/Boat US - Cudos to you for your help! You fixed our problem (hopefully), saved us a trip up a river that I didn't want to make, and hopefully spared us from losing our weather window if they talked us into hauling out and repacking our gland in the stuffing box (hence saving us some needed funds too)!

After squaring things away again below deck, I radioed over to the Island Packet - "Surprise" to see if they were heading to the Bahamas (they are). They're waiting for the same window. In looking at the projected forecasts it looks like it's backed up to Saturday instead of Thursday and Tom said that Chris Parker was projecting the same thing. Tom & Linda (Surprise) are heading for Nassau which is a longer jaunt then ours to Bimini - 30 hours.

While I was up top I spotted 2 dinghies coming our way from the West. I looked and saw a beautiful head of white hair and thought "is that Marie from Spirit?" I didn't think so because I thought they'd headed for the Keys with Last Boat, so strained my eyes a bit more - Yes it was - the dinghies from Spirit and Last Boat. I had to laugh because I couldn't believe they were here - I thought both couples had headed for the Keys. It was good to see them again - they were tooling around in the dinghies visiting various places at the boat show and were anchored down in front of the Sunset Marina in the east end of the Venetian Causeway. It sounds like it's a quieter anchorage (wake wise). [We keep getting these huge motor yachts roaring by us and waking us - and I mean a couple come really close to us going back and forth like they're on a mission. A couple of them had cameras going off the back end so they might be video for the boat show, but some of the wakes had things falling over below.] Anyhow from what they were saying, there's a Publix, hardware, etc... in dinghy/walking distance and they're anchored in front of the Police station & we can get water there, so it might be worth taking a look...

02/13/2009 | Pat Hock
Have been following your adventure and we about 2 weeks behind you as we have been in Melbourne Fl since the 1st. It really must be the Aben's luck with the weather. We will be here until April. We were also in NC just after you. Beckie had a baby girl. Have fun in the islands. Will keep following you. Pat
02/13/2009 | Pat
Aha - 3 Abens in Florida - now we know the reallll reason for the cold streak LOL I'm so glad Becky had a girl! Daughters are wonderful! We hope the weather warms up for you here! I'm ready to start looking for shells and some snorkling!
drip......drip.....drip...drip..drip.dripdripdripdrip Yikes!
78*; 15-20 knot winds ENE; Mostly sunny conditions
02/10/2009, Biscayne Bay, Miami Fl

This was just one of those days where things didn't go right... We've had a drip problem from somewhere in the boat - so today Wayne was going to check all the thru hulls and see which clamps possibly needed tightening, then start stowing stuff (dingy on deck, etc...) and prepping for our offshore trip.

Last night our bilge pump went off twice during the night, it's not normal for it to even go off once... The day before that it went off once. Wayne's been attributing the water in the bilge to rainwater and condensation collection. I've been saying no, it's too much and thought well maybe our water tank has a slow leak that's been gaining speed? Anyhow, to keep things in the dry mode below, I've been manually pumping it once a day for the last couple of weeks and once every few days for the last couple of months. This is not something I've normally done; the boat's been fairly dry in the bilge since we got here and I would check the bilge pump once or twice a season just to make sure it worked. A few days ago, when the automatic pump kicked on, then went off Wayne got in the dinghy with a bucket to measure how much the bilge collects before the auto-pump kicks on. We measured it at 6 gallons. To see if it was fresh water i.e. from rain or our freshwater tank, Wayne tasted it (he's either very brave or you know we have a clean bilge for him to do this). Good news - its salt water, our water tank doesn't leak. Bad news - its salt water, our water tank doesn't leak, so we knew it was coming from outside the boat.

So today, Wayne got all the floorboard openings up to check out the thru hulls, we found one little pattern coming from the front that he attributed to when he was working on our water pump, but said it wasn't significant enough for the amount of water in the bilge. After checking all the thru hulls (front one is still damp where he attached sanitary hose) and still not finding anything that would account for 6 or more gallons in a 12-24 hour period, it was time to get into the engine compartment. Yep, there be water back there behind the engine with a drip, drip, drip coming off the propeller shaft. Our stuffing box appears to be leaking (a device that allows the propeller shaft to go through the hull of the boat without appreciable leaking - I think normal is about 1-2 drops a minute). There's a mechanism to tighten it but we don't have the proper wrench to do so (Wayne tried). You have to make them I guess - per Rick (a fellow boater that came by admiring our boat) by cutting off part of a wrench in 3 spots. So after much of the day-spent calling around and not much success - one place that "we" finally called back (their guys were out to lunch when we called earlier or not to be found) said, "yup we can do it - you might need to be hauled out. If you bring it in tomorrow, I'll have my guy here". It amazed me how many places we called that never returned our calls (Riverside included). Even the people from Boat US took until early evening to get back to us and then couldn't do much after thinking that their guy (who was out) would be able to help us. It seems they all heard "stuffing box" and decided they didn't want the job. After we called Joan (Boat US) again and left a message, she did give us the name of a marina to call but nobody answered and I couldn't find them on the web. I probably have the wrong spelling (Campone's Marina).

The guy at Riverside Boat Yard said they were about a mile up the Miami River, which didn't sound to bad. We'd have to transit a couple more lift bridges but that's par for the course around here.

Yikes - okay, I just found Jone's (not Riverside) on Google Earth and it's all the way up the river and towards the end of the canal that continues past the river proper. It looks like there is about 13 bridges between them and us with every other one a lift bridge... This concerns me - especially since nobody seems to have heard of Riverside. He indicated that to find them we need to look for Jone's marine and they're next to them. Whomever it was that Wayne talked with said they were a mile away - not over 5 up past the river).

After a long day of trying to find the leak, trying to fix the leak with the wrong tool, spraying it with WD 40 to loosen the locking nut (then watching the drip turn into a strong trickle after that), losing a chisel down into the bilge, fretting, calling various places, looking up places, and waiting for people to get back to us, and re-calling people, it's time to figure out something for dinner. I'm thinking BLTs. What a day of chasing tails... At least I can sleep with the portals open tonight - the low is supposed to be 68-70 with ESE winds. It's nice to see that nobody around here needs the repair business - the economy must be good in S. Florida. I think that I'll pump the bilge before bed again for good measure.

On a brighter note - the sunset is wonderful and weather awesome...

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