07/23/2012, 3D marina Stock Island
In the two weeks since we've been back we have done more work than our entire three-month voyage. I moved off of Tradewinds into the condo, which has take some getting used to. I find myself running between home and the boat yard where I am fixing what we broke on Tradewinds. The swim platform has been rebuilt. The fabrication shop made new stainless steel brackets which look beautiful, the repairs to the keel are finished and painted. We picked up a used dinghy and took it out for a sea trial and it works great. In another week the big girl will back on the water. We have a new home for her on a mooring near Fleming Key just outside of Key West next to my friends Bill & Nicki.
Nancy and I are already thinking about our next adventure and will let you know more later.
After checking and watching the weather for three weeks on: Windfinder, Intellacast, Passage Weather, Sailing Weather Service and 360 Weather.com, the conditions for making the crossing back to the USA looked best for July 5-7. The wind prediction was 8-10 mph from the South East at 110 deg- (perfect because we were going North East at 50 deg.) The wave direction-South East, giving us a little push, with a wave height of 3.5 ft.
My first calculation for the 350 nm crossing was 45 hours based on well......... it was actually just a wild guess when after a few hours of drinking tequila someone asked me how long will it take to get back to Key West and the number 45 came out of my mouth. In the conditions predicted Tradewinds under power without sails does 6.6kts, but with the Yucatan Channel current and the wind being in our favor, I bumped our average speed prediction up to 7.5.
So with all these calculations and predictions running around in my head on the morning of July 5th with a crew of Nancy and Jackie and I, Tradewinds left El Milagro marina and proceeded to the fuel dock. By 11AM we had loaded 532 liters of diesel which is about 140 gallons giving us a total of 285.
I felt fortunate to have Jackie along for the crossing not only to have a third person to complete the rotation of 4hour shifts, but because of her experience.. She had just come off a several thousand mile boat delivery in the Indian ocean and is a well qualified sailor so I gave her the sunrise watch. Which was her favorite.
Heading out from Isla Mujeres on a course of 50 degrees we encountered 3.5 ft waves and a 8 kt breeze at 72 deg. Yes, once again we were heading into the wind. But the wind was light, the waves were small and we weren't in a storm.
After 2 hours we got into the washing machine with a wave height of 5-6 which lasted about 6 hours. The Yucatan current gave us a push and by sunset we were in nice rolling seas and we were going 9.9 with an occasional 10kts registering on the GPS. The seas were calm through the night with a beautiful, not quite full but still bright moon, we were doing very well. On Friday night 9pm engine begins to surge, by increasing RPM by about 200 then back down again. Then the mighty Perkins died. I started the generator. It ran for about 20 seconds and it died. I started the gen-set a second time and after running a few seconds quit. By this time clouds had covered the moon and we were in darkness. To conserve power I shut down the freezer, fridge, auto pilot and everything else that wasn't essential in order to conserve battery power. So we sailed into the night 30 degrees off course in order to catch the wind abut moving at a respectable pace under sail of 7 kts.
By 0000 hrs the engine room had cooled down enough that I could sit in there without becoming a baked potato, changed out the fuel filter on the generator first. Getting it running gave us all our power back to run everything including auto pilot. I then proceeded to work on the engine. After changing out the engine fuel filter, we were back at cruise power turning 1,800 RPM and back on course. We had no wind so we motored through the ebony night in washing machine seas. We took a pounding for about another 3 hours when the wind came back up . We set the jib which smoothed out our ride and although we were going north 15 degrees off course we were all thankful for no longer being beat up.
2:30AM Mr. Perkins began surging again. Nancy suggested we throttle back to 1500rpm. Even though she is not diesel mechanic it made perfect sense, so that's what we did and continued until 05:30 when it began to surge then we were without power once again. And We had had used our last fuel filter. You might ask; why didn't we just sail? It is a sail boat after all. We were under full sail 45 degrees off course doing 2kts, is the answer. Still, well into the Gulf stream and 30nms from Key West, I spotted a Coast Guard Cutter about a mile off our starboard bow like a big white angle. I radioed the cutter told them we were coming from Mexico, our situation and that we had filed a float plan with customs. There was a long pause. My vision was for us to glide smoothly into Oceanside Marina, not arrive by Sea Tow or Tow Boat US. Then the solution hit me. Back into the engine room I went, removed the fuel line from the generator which comes out of the same tank and put it on the engine using the generator's fuel filter and supply. I bled the line all the way through to the engine fuel injection pump, gave the signal to Nancy to push start and the mighty Perkins came back from the dead. As we basked in our glory the cutter called us back asking if we needed professional service. "We have come up with a solution to our fuel problem and with our fingers crossed will be heading to our home port of Oceanside." "If you need us we will be standing by in one six". Came the voice from our radio. "Thanks for your assistance", I responded as we dropped the sails, throttled up and set our way point for the marina. Until we got to around Woman Key with Key West in sight, I could see the cutter faintly off in the distance. They probably had been watching us since we came around the west end of Cuba the night before.
We arrive under our own power in calm seas Saturday Morning at 12:30PM . 48.5 hours total time including break downs.
Oceanside Marina has changed since we left. Once a nice quaint hamlet it is now being run by BB&T bank and has turned into a shit-hole with worst management I have ever encountered. We have been in countless third world marinas that were cleaner with far superior services and staff. The only negative discourteous attitudes we have encountered since we have been cruising were at Oceanside Marina.
We advise everyone to stay away from this marina and tell your friends to stay away as well.
Please keep checking. There is still plenty of Summer ans more sailing to do. Right now we are making mental preparations to sail to Cay Sal in the Bahamas. So STAY TUNED!!
Hi there! We wanted to let everyone know that we are home safe & are busy cleaning off Tradewinds so we can put her in the yard tomorrow. We would like everyone to stay tuned as we will tell you about our 48 hour cross ( aarrgg!) & add more pictures. Jackie was an incredible mate to have with us. We were Blessed to have her along. Will be back later. YEA! WE'RE HOME!!!!!
07/05/2012, Isla Mujeres
After watching the weather patterns for the past week we have a beautiful weather window for our 370nm crossing. Our course to KeyWest is NE 46 degrees. Winds are ESE 110 dergees at 10-15 mph. Wave height is 2-3 feet from 115 degrees.
So we should have wind in our sales and quarting seas off our stern if the weather guys are right.
We are departing at 10:00 and calculating a 7mph average speed should arrive in KeyWest late afternoonon Saturday.
Will post as soon as we can upon our arrival.
07/01/2012, Isla Mujeres
We eat the indigenous food and we love it, but we don't eat out all that often I like to cook and Nancy loves my cooking. Well what I cook is more like throwing things together than a gourmet cooking, but I did learn a lot for chef John Hines. No matter what I cook; mango pancakes, ceviche , shrimp breakfast burritos, salads topped with fried chicken, Nancy is always there with a great compliment and cleans up my mess and dishes after dinner.
Which reminds me of a funny story my good friend Craig told me. There were these five guys on a hunting trip in the mountains. Four of the guys agreed that if any one complained about the cooking then they could do the cooking. The fifth guy arrived the next day and didn't know about the agreement. The first night's meal that could loosely be defined as, brown slop, was prepared and served. Compliments were handed out by all of the four men. The fifth guy did not agree and complained. You can cook from now on one of the other men said. Because in this camp if anyone complains about the cooking, they cook.
For the next 5 days the fifth guy cooked and never a complaint was heard. Actually compliments were handed out in abundance. The fifth guy decided he had enough of this game and decided to make a pie from moose scat. The pie was served and not one complaint was uttered. Then finally there was a break in the silence. One of the four men said, "Best moose shit pie I've ever tasted."
06/29/2012, Isla Mujeres
This Sunday Mexico elects a new President.
Because of this, they stop selling alcohol to locals tonight at midnight & do not start selling again until Monday. Tourists can buy something to drink at a restaurant or bar, but can't buy any in stores. So - today - everyone is buying up all the beer on the Island. Ha! We have been told there are people that go a little crazy because they can't buy their beer. REALLY??!! This should be an interesting weekend.