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Retirement to Bahamas
Mike and Judy have been sailing for some 25 years. We have dreamed for years about retiring and sailing to the Bahamas and Caribbean. We are living our dream!
Bahamas Bound

We are now anchored off of Key Biscayne and expecting to leave USA early tomorrow morning to head to Bahamas. It's only 45 miles or so across but it is a very complicated an dangerous piece of water 'cause of the need to cross the gulf stream. An abbreviated post for now and it may be several days before we get internet again so don't worry about us. We'll fill in the blanks when we get to Nassau, in a few days.

Miami Vice Grips

With that fuel problem we had, I determine that I'll need to get the fuel cleaned or "polished" and not run the risk of an unreliable engine in our anticipated winter in the Bahamas. We are able to access just about any service here at Crandon Park and I get the name of a guy who does fuel cleaning. He agrees to come on Sunday and we then have to make arrangements with the Marina to bring Sea Sharp into a slip where he can access her with his equipment. The Marina folks are very cooperative and find a convenient slip for us to use for this procedure. The bigger chore is accessing the fuel tank.

The cleaner guy will need to be able to get into the fuel tank where he will remove all of the fuel, run it through filters to remove the offending stuff, spurt it back in under high pressure, thus dislodging the junk obviously inhabiting the nether regions of the tank and repeat this several times.

Sounds easy but the tank is way aft under a deep cockpit lock which, along with bushels of gear is occupied by my propane locker. I installed the locker so I know all of the intricacies of dismantling the rigging, exposing the tank and removing the large inspection plate which I had actually made in anticipation of just such an eventuality.

So on Sunday, this chore becomes Bob and my brunch date. We hope to do this expediently because the winds are supposed to come up in mid afternoon and sometimes it is hard to get out of a congested marina and back on the mooring under windy conditions. Judy and Carolyn wisely clear out and head into the village as the boat will look like a disaster area during this procedure.

I have to purge the lazarette (fancy name for locker) off all the detritus we've stored there then dismantle the propane system. I spend an hour upside down in a confined cubby hole getting everything ready. With Bob's help, I have the locker cleaned the tank exposed and the inspection plate removed. I had just filled the tank up so there's fuel right up to the top and any rocking of the boat slops diesel perilously close to our cabin. Heaven help me if I got smelly diesel on Judy's new nautical sheets and bedspread!

I siphon off five gallons and then wait for Oscar, fuel polisher to arrive. As promised he arrives about 11:45 along with his pal, Chris. They've got a big, honkin' truck with large tanks and many hoses.

As they are pulling up, the Assistant Harbour Master (read Assistant Trailer Park Supervisor (although he looks more like Lahey than Randy)) comes running over waving his hands and shaking his head! You can't do this in this yard ! You can't do this on Sunday! Etc. Our two intrepid polishers are not put off and convince him that we've obtained permission for this.

These two fellows are huge; probably over 300 pounds each so getting into the locker for them is not gonna happen. So I'm the one who has to manage the hoses. It quite an operation but very effective. We suck all the fuel out spray it back in and repeat this procedure. They assure me that my fuel is now clean and problem solved.

It takes a while to get the stuff back on board and the locker back together and as soon as we can, we cast off, back out and head to the mooring. By this time, it's blowing hard and it's a good thing we timed this as we did.

The girls get back, and we have a pleasant, if blustery late afternoon. We eat on board and watch Sea Biscuit this evening.

12/13/2010 | Jerry B.
There once was a man who had algae in his fuel,
in his mind he had to face a duel.
do i do it now or later,
and drift into a mouth of a gator.
I'll do it now so i will keep up with the plan
and dog gonnit, show all I am quite the man !!!

Michael, You are the man !! miss and love you.

your old partritge hunting buddy, stay safe
Audacious in the Miami Cup

So after a quiet night in Lake Sylvia and decompressing after our engine problem, we head out for Miami. Again, we're going into the Atlantic for this relatively short 25 mile trip. It is very pleasant but there's that constant nagging at the back of my mind that the motor will again conk out when we're entering the very busy Miami shipping channel. But, the engine shows no hesitation. I will want, however, to do something about the fuel because I know there's got to be more junk in the tank.

There's always some adventure, however, and as we near the entrance to Miami Harbour, we not many, many vessels around including sport fishers, container ships, luxury vessels and what as we approach we realize is a large fleet of very fast sailboats, appearing to be poised to start a race. And, just as we approach, we further realize that they've just started and we're right in their path! We later find out that these are RC44's competing in Miami Cup and they are being sailed by the best sailors in the world including Paul Cayard, Russell Couts, Rod Davis and many other names familiar from America's Cup racing. They're coming at us hard and Bob's at the helm but he manages to weave our way through with no disruption of their intended course. Roger and Jacquie, on the other hand, who are behind us are caught up in the middle of the fleet and have to make some dramatic course corrections to keep from being clobbered by several of these boats. We own the water just as much as they do but you can be sure that several crews would have had choice words for these two Canadian cruising boats ! It makes for great teasing after!

We complete our journey today into the extremely busy Miami Harbour, and then head into Key Biscayne to a place we've moored before; Crandon Park. We'll spend several days here relaxing, restocking and fixing the fuel problem. There is a fantastic beach, public transportation and lots to do. We are on a mooring along with Audacious and another cruiser we know Winsome.

The weather has been good for the last day or two and there was a narrow window. However, there's a big front coming through on Sunday and we would not make it to a comfortable place in advance of this front. So we opt to stay put and wait for the next window.

A Boat for Adam

Now I know that I had earlier committed to do a recap of our summer in Fredericton to bridge the gap from last year's cruise to this year's but time and projects over took me. However, I do want to let you know that I was fortunate enough to have been loaned a boat for the summer by a fellow yacht club member who was working away from town and felt it better to have the boat used than languishing on the hard for the summer. So, I sailed a very nice Tanzer 26 called Puissance. I was also very fortunate to have made the acquaintance of Adam, the son of friends of mine, who is very interested in all things sailing, including racing. So Adam became my crew, race partner and general factotum around the boat. Adam already had a great introduction to sailing from the Fredericton Sailing School an combined with his keen interest and sharp mind, he learned a lot and was an excellent crew member.

Adam wants very much to own his own boat and has been hounding his Dad to buy a boat. Well, as we were coming into Fort Lauderdale (and just after the almost disastrous engine failure chronicled in my previous post) we were followed up the river by this boat which I think fit's the bill as Adam's first boat.

Mitseah is 155 feet long and has a crew of nine. Oh and by the way, Jamie, she is for sale at $18.9 million!

12/11/2010 | Adam
Hi Mike, its good to see that your engine didnt cause you too much problems, Glad to seee its working better! I looked up mitseah online, its really really nice, but i dont think dad will buy it. The docking fees for 1 day must cost more then a tanzer 22. I hope you guys are having fun, Its really cold here in Fredericton, Tell everyone I said hi.
Diesel Diaries

After a quiet night in Lake Worth north, we awake to heavy rain. It was our plan today to leave at 7:00 am and go on the outside to Fort Lauderdale but the visibility is not so great and the piloting out of Lake Worth is tricky. So we decide to wait a while and finally leave around 8:30. It's a longish run today of some 55 miles but rain notwithstanding the conditions are quite benign with winds of 10 to 15 knots from the north west. Winds coming off the land means that as we skirt along the shore, we won't have much seas.

Its an interesting run today and we put out our jib and gain some real good speed. It gets a bit lumpy as we approach Fort Lauderdale/Port Everglades late in the afternoon which is exacerbated by the many vessels going in and out and around the entrance to the port. Roger and Jacquie are ahead of us on Audacious and as we work our way into the harbour.

But first, a bit of a primer from the Port Everglades web site, "Located In the heart of Greater Fort Lauderdale and the City of Hollywood, FL, Port Everglades is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world. It is a leading container port in Florida and among the most active cargo ports in the United States. And, Port Everglades is South Florida's main seaport for receiving petroleum products including, gasoline and jet fuel." It's a very very busy port with not only many cruise ships but cargo ships of all kinds and loads of pleasure vessels; many large, high powered sport fishers and motor launches.

Now, we turn into the channel after a long but pleasant day and mid channel, the engine suddenly conks out. This can be calamitous with the extent of the traffic and the congested narrow channel. But, fortunately I had prepared for this eventuality by having installed before we left for our cruise two years ago two primary filters in parallel. Actually, I have to credit my great friend and mentor Norman Raine for having suggested this improvement. The notion is that if you have a suddenly clogged fuel filter, you can simply twitch to another and hopefully restart the engine. Well, within thirty seconds, I flew down the companionway, moved the mattress from our aft cabin, removed a small access hatch and turned on our fresh filter. Turned the key and the engine immediately fired up and away we went - disaster averted.

We make one more opening bridge then proceed to this small "lake" called Lake Sylvia. It's actually more like a pond in a bunch of rich peoples' front yards. There are probably ten boats anchored in this pleasant place and we join this fleet of mostly Canadian cruising sailboats.

Now the fun begins! We have to figure out why the filter got clogged in the first place. So, I dig down into my spares bin and find a new filter, remove the old and with much spilling of diesel, change the filter. The offending filter is clogged with algae which grows in diesel, despite me being very careful about using biocide and trying to keep clean fuel. It must have got dislodged when we took the wake from a large cruiser on the way in. Anyway Bob and I spend a couple of hours and use many rolls of paper towels draining the crud from the two filters. The engine starts fine and things look better. However, I'm still concerned about whether there's more stuff in the tank and certainly don't want the engine to stop at the time when you least expect it, particularly in transiting to the Bahamas. I will try to obtain the services of a "fuel polisher", a guy with an apparatus which essentially sucks the fuel out of the tank, filters it and recirculates it back in.

Just another adventure but thanks to Norman's foresight we were able to continue with only the most minor inconvenience

12/16/2010 | Janet Trenholm
What are those "occupational therapy devices" I see on your face?
Boat Buddies

So, as planned Bob and Carolyn fly down to join us to help us begin our cruise this year. I pick them up in Fort Lauderdale and bring them back to Sea Sharp. They have fled a winter storm but, unfortunately have arrived in temperatures not much more temperate than home. In fact, when we get up the next morning, record cold temperatures have been set.

We are very happy to have our great friends on board again, but I think Chopin may be the happiest to be reacquainted with his good friend Bob. So we hustle to sort things out and the next morning, we leave Stuart to start our trek south. Our destination today is West Palm Beach/Lake Worth. It warms up as the day progresses and by mid day it is warm and balmy; at least in the cockpit of Sea Sharp where the enclosure acts like a green house and warms us all up.

We take the intercostals today and, in the company of Roger and Jacquie on Audacious, have an uneventful, but pleasant trip. We drop anchor in Lake Worth North and have a great dinner anticipating to leave early the next day to go on the outside (Atlantic) to Fort Lauderdale).

I used the davits for the trip and am very pleased. Moving though the many bridges, its' comfort9ing to know that you're not dragging the dinghy behind; and I've been able to maintain a half knot more speed. All in all, a very good investment.

Adventures await us the next day and you'll have to stay tuned for the next episode.....

12/10/2010 | Janet
Looks like Bob got his hair 'trimmed' for the trip! He and Chopin are looking good!
12/10/2010 | Sarah-Jane & Norman
Not sure if Chopin looks too happy with big hand on head. Glad your davits are working out and they are worth it to get the dingy out of the water. It has turned very cold here in Haliax but no snow. Enjoy your visit

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Preparing for Retirement Trip
Who: Mike, Judy and Chopin (the boat cat)
Port: Douglas Harbour, NB, Canada
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