Finally leaving Florida and learning about the Virus Lock-down!
20 May 2020
May 10th, 2020
Well, the Apollo was put on the hard at Salt River Boat Yard for the hurricane season and I came home for the summer. While I was home a new auto pilot was installed, the first one just was not powerful enough to handle downwind sailing.
When I got back after the first of the year I moved Apollo over to the Gulf side at Madeira Beach Marina to continue out fitting for the next leg of the trip, US & British Virgin Islands before heading to Panama and the canal to the Pacific Ocean and on to Tahiti and all the other South Seas islands.
Leo wasn't able to join me as he was still doing PT on his shoulder repair, so I picked up a "Looks Good on Paper" crew and on March 17th, just two days before the virus Lockdown started, we set sail south. Had a great sail down to the Dry Tortugas, which was closed, but about 12 boats in the anchorage wondering what to do now that all the foreign ports were closed to tourists and other visitors. This was where we found out that all the Pacific Islands were closed for the duration, so set sail for the USVI and possibly Puerto Rico to haul the boat until I could go on to the South Pacific.
A very intense squall hit us while I was sleeping and the crew, Andy, didn't know what to do even though I'd told him to heave the boat to and then call me to wait it out. He panicked as he was only used to calm lake sailing before and let the sheets go causing the main & jib to flog in the 30+ kn wind. This managed to tear the main sail & damage the jib's clew and damage the jib furling spool.
Now only able to set one sail, the small staysail just forward of the mast, and use the motor we headed for Kingston, Jamaica, about 150 miles behind us, the nearest port I could expect to have the sail repaired and top up fuel & water. We arrived just at dusk and were only able to raise the Port Pilot boat to get directions to the Quarantine Anchorage, after 20 minutes or so they gave us a Lat/Lon of where to anchor in Port Royal, the designated Quarantine Anchorage across from the Jamaican Coast Guard base.
The next morning the CG sent a boat out to get our documents and my request for repairs & fuel, we had used most of it up getting back to Jamaica from about 100 miles east of the island.
After 3 days of getting the "We're Working on it", but no action I contacted the American Consulate using my cell phone and was assigned a case officer who know who to contact and press for our "Free Practique" a very old way of entering a port for the purpose of getting repairs & supplies over a 72 hour period. The next day the CG sent a boat out with the sailmaker's rep. to take the sails back for repair. The following day they ferried out 30 gals of water as I wanted to be sure to have plenty for the next leg to the Virgin Islands. The next day they delivered the repaired sails and said the following day they would escort us to the Royal Jamaican Yacht Club to get fuel & fill up the water tanks.
About dusk the CG escorted us out of Kingston Harbor to the anchorage outside where the commercial ships anchor waiting their turn to offload fuel and supplies. After a rough night in the open anchorage we were able to set sail for PR and/or the US Virgins, about 900 miles away.
The entire trip was about 1,500 miles done in 3 ½ weeks of hard into the wind sailing, no fun, but had to be done to get south & east for the run to Panama. I had chosen to go south of Cuba because the current & winds against us would be less force than using the northern route, the Bahama Channel which is used by boats coming from the Bahamas or Miami. The distance is a little greater, but smoother conditions would in the end pay off. I was right because we were able to have 10 to 15 kn winds and very little current against us.
During this time Andy used his Garmin IN-Reach satellite device to contact friends & relatives via email to let them know where we were and what was happening, and get weather reports for the area we were in. After seeing how useful it was and how affordable it is compared to Satellite Phones, I'm sold on it and will be getting one to carry on board in the future.
After dropping Andy off in St Thomas, I sailed down to Christiansted, St. Croix to put the boat up until I can resume the trip to the So. Pacific. Currently all the Islands are closed, and it has caused a lot of problems for any boats that were cruising in them or trying to sail from one area to another. One New Zealand boat & crew had been on their way north from NZ to New Caledonia, but were turned away and had to sail all the way back to NZ, a nearly 2,000 mile round trip, as this was the only place they would be allowed to enter. The captain was a Kiwi, but his crew were from other countries. He was allowed to stay and go home, but the crew was escorted to the airport to book flights to their home countries.
So now I'm at home waiting for the South Pacific Islands to open up to tourism again, hopefully early next year in time for me to get to French Polynesia by June or July.
That's all for now folks,
The FL Keys
10 June 2019
June 10, 2019
Well, waiting for all the above things to get done made me a little depressed while at Ft. Pierce and I just didn’t feel like doing any writing, so here goes.
After Ft. Pierce, left May 12th, it was too late in the year to go to the Bahamas, so I’m on my south to the FL Keys.
The motor-sailing down to Ft. Lauderdale was interesting as I’ve now entered the Multi-Multi Million $$$ Mansions country. Wow, some of them are kinda plain looking, some so big & fancy you think they’re a condo complex with great landscaping!
After Lauderdale I kept going through Miami and on to Biscayne Bay, 43 miles long & very calm. I say two racing catamarans of some class racing south at a bout 60 mph, awesome. When I finally got to the end of the bay I was at Key Largo and their famous Tiki Bar, the biggest Tiki Bar in all of FL. Had a beer and started looking for some parts to fix my anchor roller. Found the part in Marathon the next large key in the FL Keys. It took two days to get down there and get the shaft and have it machined to replace the failed roller shaft. Best thing that happened there was I had a good hit on Crew Finders.com, and after talking to him he met me and turned out to be a great crewman. Leo is a 27-year-old Brazilian who is an oil platform mechanical engineer who decided the corporate life is not for him, so he wants to do some sailing while he thinks about what to do with his life. In the meantime, he’s turned out to be a great crew for me on Apollo.
From Marathon we went to all the reefs and good diving spots on the way to Key West, the southernmost point in the contiguous US. Very interesting town, lots of rich history and the home of Mel Fischer, the diver that found & salvaged the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, the richest Spanish galleon that has ever been found. Home of Ernest Hemingway and hot spot of the FL Keys.
Saturday the 8th we left for The Dry Tortugas, a national park 75 miles from Key West and a great diving area. On the way into the harbor while I was furling the mainsail, I was thrown from the cabin top by an unexpected roll into the lifeline stantions and got my shoulder and back pretty well banged up. The Ranger at the fort on the island recommended I go back to Key West to have X-rays and see a Doc. So I hitched a ride on the Ferry Boat and went to the Urgent Care, got pills and a sling and brace for the cracked rib and bone bruised shoulder. All is well and I’m on my back to the Dry Tortugas tomorrow.
So far everything is working great on the boat and we had a really super sail from Key West to the Dry Tortugas. The boat is all that I had hoped for and then some.
Next stop is St. Petersburg via all the interesting places on the FL west coast to haul her out for the summer Hurricane season and come back in October to continue sailing in the Gulf of Mexico stopping at Belize, Costa Rica, Panama and any other place that looks or sounds interesting.
When I get home, I’ll have a “Coming Home Party” to celebrate, tell stories and show pictures.
Till then, Live Life to Its Fullest!
PS pictures to follow when I get a chance to download & send them.
ARRGGRRG!! The Good, Bad, & Ugly of Boat Yards!!
22 March 2019 | Ft. Pierce, FL
I'm sorry I haven't posted lately, but not really anything to say about the repairs & up grades other than ARRGG I hate all the time it takes to get anything done. Worst part is I have to get in line behind all the other work their doing.
First boatyard was Sebastian River, 6 weeks to get;
Hauled for bottom paint, repairs to keel, just fairing & sealing due to all the groundings in the past.
Replace old over-sized three blade prop with new two blade folding prop. Old prop had one blade bent due to hitting log in Dismal Swamp. New prop is FlexO-Fold from England, rated one of the best in SAIL Magazine test of folding props. I get 1/2 Knot better speed at same engine RPM as old one, expect sailing speed up too.
Polished hull to get rid of ICW brown tannin stains for swamp water.
Polished transom and had Apollo of San Diego put on over wrap material to hide old names & various scratches, gouges, dings in surface. Looks right now.
Replaced old chain locker hatch with frozen anchor windlass with new material & better access to each compartments for the two anchor rodes. Rep[lace windlass with new better, light, stronger modern windlass, and new wires & switches.
New anchors on the bow, a 35 lb. Vulcan, top rated by independent test, and 22 lb. Bruce. both have new rodes of 50 ft. 5/16 BBB chain, and 200 ft. 5/8" nylon rope. Moved old Danforth anchors to stern locker for extras. Can't have too many anchors in a cruising boat, you have to be able to ride out a full gale at anchorage with out dragging.
Replace old ratty life lines with new and replaced broken stantions. Replaced several old sail control lines, running rigging, with new. Sure looks Bristol now on deck.
Replaced Kerosene stove with Propane stove with thermostatically controlled oven & auto cutoff if flame goes out.
This was all Sebastian BY could do in 6 weeks!
Moved down 40 miles to Ft. Pierce and Whiticar BY, got in line to have;
New cushions in salon and berths.
Remount radio & autopilot controls to nearer to wheel.
Install transducer for depth sounder.
Make rack for solar panels and install all. This will keep from having to run motor to charge batteries every day.
Possible install of small fridge to keep food & beer cold.
Things I can't get done due very long lead times, this turns out to be High Season!, Replacing lights on Mast, adding halyard block for Reacher light air sail.
I'm slowly going crazy being Project Manager for all this and everything taking so long to start & get done.
Hopefully I'll get going by April 12th to Ft' Lauderdale, and then Bahamas and Virgin Islands.
To see pics you must how click on the "Photo Album" block on the right side of blog posting. This way I can add as many pics as I want, not just one per post.
Fair winds and smooth sailing,
I’ll cross into Florida tomorrow!
09 January 2019
Jan 9th, 2019
Since leaving Wacca Waccee River Landing just south of Myrtle Beach, I’ve pulled in to Isle of Palms Resort New Year’s Eve, no fireworks unfortunately, too many affluent young ones that raise heck there is my guess. I stopped at Parris Is. (yes the big Marine Corps training camp) where I heard the Marines doing exercise and shooting practice from my anchorage. The nest day I got about 5 miles and the engine stopped! Long story short, I ran out of fuel cause I wasn’t used to estimating usage every night to plan my nest re-fueling point.
When I left the fuel dock near there, it was foggy, but I waited until it got kinda clear then went. Within 4 hours the rain, fog, & wind stopped me for the day and I anchored Pinchany Island at Mile 565.On to Isle of Hope & then I went through Skidaway Narrows and Hells Gate with now problems as I went through during high tide so now shallow spots to trouble me, although there were many warnings in the Sailing Guide for that area.
I’m now at the Jekyll Is. Marina, GA where I took on fuel & water and did laundry because today was supposed to be Small Craft Warnings, It was a little windy with no rain, so much for weather forecasts!
Tomorrow I’ll cross into Florida and be on the final leg of this part of my journey!
I’ve now covered 1,014 miles since Perth Amboy, NJ, and have 222 miles to go to Melbourne, FL where I plan to haul out and do all the upgrades I’ve planned for the boat and hope to meet up with some of the women I’ve met on the Crew Wanted web sites! Cross my fingers that at least one of them turns out to be suited to go on south with me.
Happy New Year to All!
31 December 2018 | ICW
HAPPY NEW YEAR’S TO ALL!!
Well, here I am at Isle of Palms, a resort area just east of Charleston SC, since no fireworks are allowed on the island, too many affluent teenagers is my guess, I only saw a few set off on Goat Island across the river from here.
Since leaving Oriental, NC on Dec. 24th, I’ve made 252 miles along the ICW, with stops in Cape Fear, NC, Little River, NC and Wacca Waccee River Landing just south of Myrtle Beach where they’re still recovering from Hurricane Felicia about 3 months ago, much flooding still going on and many, many docks and marinas wrecked and still being repaired.
On Thur. the 27th I had my last day of below 50F weather but had a full day of rain. The really bad part was that my old foul weather gear was leaking like a sieve, so I was cold, wet & hungry when I got the marina that night. A few rum drinks, a hot shower, clean, dry clothes and a nice dinner of pork & scallops and all was well again.
Today I went to West Marine & got new rain gear and restocked groceries and got a nice bottle of Chardonnay and some great Sushi for my New Year’s dinner, very nice.
I have now passed the 450 mile mark from Norfolk, about 330 miles from Perth Amboy, NJ, where the ICW starts and have 437 miles to go the get to Melbourne, FL where I expect to haul out and do upgrades to the boat before going on to the Bahamas and Caribbean in Feb. Melbourne should take about 10 days or so, depending on Wx & other variables.
Since the Wx has now gotten much warmer than up north, too many mornings of Ice on the boat & docks!, I don’t need to stop at Marinas for the night and get shore power to run the little heater in the cabin to keep warm during the night, so I’ll be anchoring until I need supplies or fuel to keep plugging on to the warmer weather in FL.
I haven’t been able to write often due to lack of WiFi at most of my stops, the same will be true here on till I get to FL. Not too many pics to post as the scenery is mostly swamp, marsh and sand islands.
My daily routine is to get up early, and head out on the ICW after my Mocha Coffee and make best speed possible, about 6-7 knots, find a place to settle in for the night, too risky to travel at night, and besides I’m Single Handed now, then plan my next days travel to a marina or anchorage, make dinner & get to bed by 9 PM! A real healthy lifestyle, and I’ve lost 10+ pounds so far and have had to poke 3 new holes in my belt to keep my pants up! I’ve also noted I’m much more limber and stronger that when I started out with Matt, my faithful crew that wanted experience the ICW, Inter Coastal Waterway, and had to help me do some of the work around the boat.
The first time we anchored I’m not sure I could have pulled the anchor up by myself, it’s the weight of the anchor plus the weight of the chain from the bow to the bottom, 20 ft of water is 22 lbs of anchor, + 20 ft of chain, about 30 lbs more! Now I can pull up the anchor easily with out having to use a winch to lighten the load.
Well, that’s about it for now,
Oh, and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people on the way and had a lot of prospective crew people want the meet me when I leave FL for the Bahamas & Caribbean, so that’s looking up as well.
Me bundled up too
18 December 2018