Michael & Edi have headed out on a slow, thorough exploration of the globe.
Refit in Florida
27 June 2012 | Saint Augustine, USA
On Monday the 4th of June we had secured alongside a float at Saint Augustine Marine Center on the northeast coast of Florida, USA. We had come 9375 miles from Puerto Montt, Chile through Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego and around Cape Horn in a little under six months. In the three years since we left Vancouver on our shakedown cruise, we had made 20,044 miles. Both we and Sequitur were in need of a refit.
We were met on the float by Peter, the Customer Service Manager and Jim, the Yard Manager, and I quickly reviewed with them the list of work required, which I had emailed to them from Puerto Rico. We were told it would be a few days before any work could begin, but that we would not be charged for moorage while we are waiting, nor during contracted work. What a refreshing idea!
The modern 9.3 Hectare waterfront site was established in 1993 by the Luhrs family to provide repair and maintenance for their own brands: Hunter, Luhrs, Mainship and Silverton, as well as other boats. Among its facilities are a 110-ton travel lift that takes boats with up to 7.2 metres beam, a 250-ton marine railway capable of handling up to 12.2 metres of beam and a huge hangar for inside work.
After we had settled-in, we walked ashore through the old town. The city was established in 1565, and is considered to be the oldest continuously occupied community in the continental United States of America. Even with all the modifiers to its title as the oldest, there are no surviving buildings from the early period. No wooden buildings survived the British burning of the city in 1702. The oldest remaining house is believed to have been built at the end of the 16th or early in the 17th century.
The oldest wooden school house in the US is here, and it first appears in the records in 1716. It sits nestled among other buildings of a similar age along St George Street, although many of these are reconstructions of destroyed structures.
We walked along to Castillo de San Marcos, which is titled as the oldest masonry fort in the United States of America. It was begun in 1672 and completed in 1695 using a locally quarried stone called coquina, which consists of ancient shells bonded together into a coarse limestone.
One of the benefits of the coquina is that it is soft enough to absorb offensive cannonballs without shattering the structure. The fort was never taken by force despite multiple periods of attack. There are records of cannonballs being harvested for reuse from the exterior walls after attacks. We saw many ball holes in the walls along the seaward side.
A rather stagnant and pungent saltwater slew called Maria Sanchez Lake cuts into the southern part of the old city. We walked around it through an area of upscale houses, estates and mansions. From the grandeur of some of the estates, it appears that waterfront is waterfront regardless of its aroma.
We continued on to Sailor's Exchange, a wonderful big shop full of new and used, but mostly used boat parts. Almost immediately I spotted a used windlass that appeared complete and in good condition. It had Lewmar above-deck components, which looked to me to be identical to those installed in Sequitur.
The motor was different; a 1200w 12v Mako, instead of the Sequitur's 1000w 12v Cima. However; in my earlier research on replacing or repairing our windlass, I had determined that our existing wiring could easily handle a 1200w load. The price was $700, rather lower than quotes of $3023 plus shipping from the States to Uruguay, or the $3100 plus shipping to Puerto Rico. I took measurements and photos and gave the manager a $20 deposit to hold it for three days so I could make sure it was the way to go.
I then priced a new gearbox and other parts needed to repair our existing windlass. With our discount through the Marine Center's storeroom, I calculated the repair to be almost the same price as the used replacement and I decided to go with the used windlass. The upgrade to 1200 Watts will better handle the 40kg Rocna, and it is very likely that the used unit has been through many fewer anchorages than we put Sequitur's through. The replacement windlass fit perfectly and in post-installation trials, it worked flawlessly.
We continued on to the Winn-Dixie supermarket to buy some fresh produce and other essentials. Sequitur's fridges, freezers and pantry were rather depleted. We found a nice selection, including wonderful crimini mushrooms, Roma tomatoes, fine green beans, asparagus, baby zucchini and shallots. In the evening we enjoyed pangasius fillets sautéed in butter and slivered garlic served with grilled potato coins and steamed asparagus.
It was the rainy season, and we had daily humidity buildups culminating in heavy thunderstorms in the late afternoons and evenings. The daily temperatures remained very stable, hovering a few degrees either side of 30º and the humidity seemed always near saturation. It was well over a week before we had a rainless day.
Just over a week into our stay, Dave the electronics and electrical whiz came aboard to diagnose the problem with our Raymarine chartplotter. On 16 December, one week out of Puerto Montt, it had begun randomly shutting down and rebooting, and in the process resetting the system to factory defaults. This gave us chart soundings in feet rather than metres, time in AM/PM instead of a 24 hour clock and other similar US-centric units. I had thought it was a software problem. Dave quickly found it to be hardware-related.
The radar input cable in the back of the master unit at the nav station was badly corroded. Everything else in the space was dry and dusty. On finding the corroded fitting, his first words were: "It looks like this cable has been dropped into saltwater". The system had been installed by Specialty Yachts in Vancouver. Dave removed the chartplotter and had it sent to Raymarine to replace the corroded socket. At the same time he ordered a new radar cable.
Among the items I had authorized on the work-order was up to two hours to investigate a freshwater leak, which since our fit-out in Vancouver has been slowly draining our water tanks into the bilges. The service Manager at Specialty Yachts had dismissed this as condensation. The water flowed into the central bilge through the after limber hole, so my many sporadic and unsuccessful attempts to find the leak had concentrated on the plumbing aft of the bilge. This included the supplies to the galley sinks, the aft head toilet, sink and shower, the washer-dryer, the cockpit shower and the shore water connection. However, before the work could be scheduled in St Augustine, while Edi was four layers down into the compartments below the salon seats cleaning and rearranging stowage spaces, she found water.
It was seeping from the hot water fitting on the water heater. The last two items of work done on the water heater were at Specialty Yachts in Vancouver during the installation of the water-heater feature of the Espar furnace and during the installation of the wind generator's overload power dump to the tank. St Augustine Marine's mechanical whiz, Mark removed the fitting and we quickly saw that its threads had been damaged, and there was evidence of an attempt fix it with putty. Within minutes, Mark had replaced the faulty fitting with a new one, with its threads properly wrapped in Teflon tape. We no longer have a freshwater leak.
On Thursday the 21st of June we were hauled-out to inspect the hull, replace the zincs, repaint the bottom and clean, wax and polish the topsides.
We were pleased with how well the anti-fouling paint had held. Except for where the side of the keel had rubbed against the shoal during our grounding in Caleta Olla, the paint was nearly intact.
The zincs had lasted well also, the one on the VariProp having about one-third remaining. This was better than I had expected with all the stray current alongside Macalvi in Puerto Williams and on the wharf at AFASyN in Ushuaia.
Our grounding in Caleta Olla in January had been so gentle that my thought at the time was that the worst damage would be some paint being scraped off the side of Sequitur's keel. Out of water examination proved this true.
Among the accepted things in sailing is that sailboat hatches leak. We have been extremely fortunate in Sequitur not having any leaky hatches. Contributing to this is our diligence in servicing the gaskets and keeping the dogs properly adjusted. However, after many deep sluices of breaking waves over her decks in Force 12 and Force 11 storms, we noticed a small dribble from the port hatch in the fore cabin.
We dug into the ceiling above our berth and found the area dry, but with evidence of some slight seepage through the hatch bedding. The starboard hatch looked fine, but we decided that while we were at it, we would have both hatches re-bedded. Also, because it had some minor water staining, we decided to have the port headliner replaced.
We had been getting up early because the workers start at 0700, but on Saturday morning, with no workers coming aboard, we slept-in. When we finally did get up, Edi prepared a delicious pain perdu slathered with Hollandaise and sprinkled with sautéed button mushrooms. With it we enjoyed coffee from the last of the stock we had laid-in before entering Mexico in 2009.
We spent the remainder of Saturday onboard, cleaning and doing some maintenance, but mostly relaxing and enjoying the wifi signal from the marina. It remained rather clear through the afternoon and into the evening with no thunderstorms and it was sufficiently clear at sunset to offer a rather pretty scene from the cockpit.
Edi had organized two loaner bicycles through Peggy at the reception desk in the Marine Center. They were retro models: one-speed with balloon tires and pedal brakes. On Sunday afternoon we pedalled to Winn-Dixie for another round of grocery shopping. The cooler bags, held in place with bungie cords, balanced nicely on the rear carriers and a ten-pack of Stella Artois cans fit securely in one of the front baskets. We made it back to Sequitur with our stash just before the beginning of a heavy rainstorm and rapidly increasing winds.
Tropical Storm Debby was moving very slowly through the Gulf of Mexico some 275 miles southwest of us and we were likely feeling the effect of its spirals. Through Sunday evening the wind built to around 40 knots and it continued to rain heavily.
The winds had decreased and the rain had slowed by the time we got up at 0650 for the workers at 0700. At 0800 on Monday NOAA showed Tropical Storm Debby near stationary 245 miles west-southwest of St Augustine. Its three-day and five-day cones of probability were nearly concentric circles centred on the current position, indicating that the storm could move in any direction.
During a lull in the rain on Monday afternoon, Jay and Bobby came and acid-washed the boat, removing stains and build-up and preparing it for polishing, waxing and buffing.
Like clockwork, at 0700 on Tuesday, Burt from the Canvas & Upholstery Center knocked on the hull and came aboard to remove our cockpit enclosure canvas. After five years and many storms it needed re-waterproofing and some minor restitching. Also we needed to replace two isinglass panels in the dodger. The sailmaker in La Punta, Peru had had only enough to do the central panel.
The Canvas & Upholstery Center's loft is in a huge room above the offices of the Marine Center. Hunt Bowman and his wife Judy own the company, and they also own SouthEast Sailing & Yachts, the Hunter dealer for the region. Hunt runs this and its associated used boat brokerage from offices in the canvas shop, and he had invited us to drive to Alachua with him to visit the Hunter factory.
At the Hunter factory I was able to put faces to the names of people with whom I had corresponded over the past few years. After numerous exchanged emails, I was delighted to finally meet Eddie Breeden, the Customer Service Manager, and we shared a lively banter before he was forced back to work. We did a casual tour of the facilities, with Hunt showing us around, and among other things, we examined a series of Hunter 33s being assembled on the line. I had previously visited the factory in November 2006 when Sequitur was in the moulds, and again in January 2007 when she was nearing the end of the production line. We learned that 102 Hunter 49s were built before they renamed it the Hunter 50 in 2011. With a length of 49'-11", 50 is closer to the truth.
Before we left, we visited the stock room and picked-up the new headliner for our fore cabin, as well as a few obscure pieces to bring Sequitur back up to snuff, pieces such as a replacement for a broken stove knob and an electrical junction box cover.
We arrived back at the yard in St Augustine mid-afternoon to find Jay and Bobby nearly finished polishing, waxing and buffing the topsides. The cockpit looked strange without the canvas, and I saw that during rains we will need to close the companionway and the four small hatches under awnings. Heat, high humidity and no ventilation are not good companions to comfort. Within minutes of our opening-up the boat, it began raining. Between the heavier downpours, I went out in the rain and blustery winds in my bathing suit and rigged a tarp over the boom so that we can keep at least the companionway and a couple of the small hatches open.
At 1800 on Tuesday, Tropical Storm Debby was 160 miles to the west-southwest and moving almost directly toward us in St Augustine. We could see the headlines: "Debby Does St Augustine". Through the remainder of the afternoon and the evening it rained heavily with winds in the mid-30 knot area with gusts into the 40s. We remained snug and dry, though with the added noise of the tarp rattling in the winds. It was raining heavily and blowing a gale when we went to bed at midnight.
The 0500 Wednesday NOAA report showed Debby to be 22 nautical miles southeast of St Augustine and tracking directly toward us at 9 knots. This put the eye of the depression directly over us at 0730. We were pleased that the system had weakened and had been downgraded to a Tropical Depression.
During the lull as the eye passed over, Jay and Bobby finished cleaning, waxing and polishing the deck, and then began a thorough hosing-down and buffing. Sequitur soon looked new again.
This month marks six years since I ordered Sequitur, and five years since I took possession. For the past four years Edi and I have enjoyed many superb adventures in Sequitur as she safely and confidently took us in grand comfort and style to some very remote and wild corners of the planet. I turn 68 this summer and Edi's first old age security deposit has just arrived in her bank account. We are ready for some more sedate and gentle boating. As a part of our change in direction, we have listed Sequitur for sale with Hunt at SouthEast Sailing & Yachts.
The listing can be found at:
SouthEast Sailing & Yachts