Not the Bahamas but Port Canaveral is on the way
31 March 2012 | Port Canaveral Florida
Sylvia - lovely cool evening breeze blowing
Oh, where to start?! The last 7 weeks have certainly been busy and interesting and costly and frustrating and wonderful. But the bottom line is that we still aren't in the Bahamas yet. After 2 years of being on Eos she evidently decided that now was the time for the shake down cruise issues to occur.
We finally got the water maker functioning after waiting over 2 weeks for the tech from Jacksonville to get the replacement part and get up to Fernandina Beach to install it. He was very good, just very busy but since it all - replacement part and his trips and service - was all under warranty we can't complain very loudly about the time it took to get it all done. We simply took advantage of the time to do other things like do the standard checks on the movements of all of our Marelon thru holes and valves. We were told that they have a tendency to seize up if not turned on and off regularly. All was going well except for the Y-valve on the head (switches it between the holding tank and the outside). It didn't want to turn so we needed to find out why. It turned out that salt and uric acid scale build up was quite extensive in the Y-valve and all of the head hoses. Our 1 ½" hoses were restricted to an opening about the size of Bill's index finger. This normally means either removing the hoses and then beating on them until the buildup starts to break up or simply replacing all of the hoses. However, Bill had been talking to support at the Groco head manufacturer about what to treat the head with. We had been using vinegar which is very common among boaters. The tech didn't like vinegar because of its effect on rubber parts. He recommended the product they use when they get a head in to be rebuilt. It is called Sew-Clean (found it online) and we had just ordered some so when it came in the next day we used it and it REALLY worked. It just turned all of that hard scale into mush that could be flushed through the system. It is non-toxic, bio-degradable and can be flushed down sewage systems. So take note you other boaters. We highly recommend it and are now going to use it regularly for maintenance and cleaning.
We had an email from Marv and Rose Thompson from MN who were spending the winter down in Flagler Beach just south of St. Augustine. They drove up one day and we had a lovely lunch with them at Barbara Jean's and had a wonderful time catching up on what has been happening in their lives and with mutual friends in the Twin Cities. Of course, Marv was ready with jokes that had us all laughing and quickly took me back to the days at Unisys when Marv was always good for a new joke or two.
After they left that day we heard a knock on the hull and it was Clyde and Sherri on Morada. They are in Brunswick but had gone to Jacksonville and decided to stop and see if we were still at Tiger Point. It was late in the day and we didn't get to spend much time with them but it was great to see them.
We met another couple from the Twin Cities when they came in to Tiger Point to have their 1000 hour engine checkup. Pam and Ben and Lila the cat were heading out with plans to go all the way to New Zealand on Cricket, their Hans Christian sail boat. They were only at Tiger Point for a day and a half and then they headed straight east and turned to starboard and went south all the way to the BVIs. It was a long two week trip and sadly a very hard trip for them. The weather was just awful the whole time, Ben was very sea-sick most of the time, somehow Lila got out on deck and was evidently washed over board and then they had more engine problems - probably caused by the very rough seas causing tank residue to shake loose and get into the fuel. They arrived safely although without Lila but the blue water experience and the expenditures for a tow and engine repair meant that they have given up their blue water sailing dream. They have decided that they are better off being coastal cruisers. They were so very, very excited about going to NZ and I am sure they had a tough time giving up the original dream but they appear to be content with the new direction their sailing will take. We wish then fair winds and following seas as they enjoy the islands and on their return sail to the States.
John Lane on Changing Lanes got to Brunswick mid-February and after getting things unpacked and settled some he drove down to see us, came back several days later with his brother who had flown down to spend some time with him and then Joan flew in from Canada March 4. John and Joan came down soon after that. How wonderful it was to see them again. We were hopeful that we would be able to go to the Bahamas together but I put a real clinker in that plan.
As I was getting off the boat Friday afternoon 3/9, I fell backwards and hit my head on the concrete dock. I got up and called for Bill and told him to bring me something cold from the freezer. Evidently, he brought a small bag of turkey meatballs which I didn't like so I told him to bring me something bigger and more solid. I don't remember this, or the trip to the hospital or the CT or MRI or most of the time in the ER, the trip to ICU or my clothes coming off. Anyway, I ended up very confused and they took me to the hospital where I spent Friday night in ICU for observation after having the CT and MRI done. The bottom line is everything is okay - not even a concussion. I had TGA - Transient Global Amnesia - caused not so much from the hit on the head but from the tensing of all of my muscles in my torso when I fell. It caused a short partial blood flow stoppage from the brain which resulted in confusion and an inability to remember short term things for several hours. I was fine by 0630 the next morning and was released later that morning. This article talks about it. www.mayoclinic.com/health/transient-global-amnesia/DS01022 (If you link through to the causes, it was the 5th listed not the 3rd. :-) ) Anyway, no after affects or recurrence or anything is expected. The neurologist did tell me as he was leaving my hospital room that my brain looked good but that he wanted to see me one more time before we headed down the coast. So we were delayed again.
I don't know why I fell. It was a VERY low tide and I must have just misjudged when my foot first touched the dock. Two of the boats on the dock were aground and quite heeled over. Thank goodness, I was going down the steps backwards. Heaven knows what would have happened had I gone face first. Might have ended up with a broken nose or something much more serious.
While waiting the week before returning to see the neurologist, we found out that we had a spot to put Eos on the hard at Puerto del Rey in Fajardo, PR for June through Nov and so began working on getting the insurance taken care of and finding a place to stay there. We were working the insurance and were able to get the Jackline policy from IMIS but they wanted a new survey. More $$ and time. So on the 15th Jack Allinson came out and did our survey. It was the several more days before we got the final survey but the underwriters accepted it. IMIS has a total $$$ limit for all of the boats they will cover in northern Puerto Rico with the Named Storm rider so we would need someone to cancel out and there is already someone ahead of us on the waiting list. I had been busily looking for places to rent in PR and we were looking forward to spending hurricane season there. But after more consideration of costs and the fact that we might very probably not be able to get the Named Storm rider which the marina requires we have decided to get to the Bahamas and maybe the Turks and Caicos and then we will return to Brunswick for July through October as the policy specifies. Then next season take the eight months and work our way to Trinidad which is below the hurricane belt and so we won't need any Named Storm rider for the 2013 hurricane season. Changing plans, always changing plans.
As we were making plans to continue down the coast and cross over to the Bahamas, we met a lovely Canadian couple, Elizabeth and Paul on Liesel. I had just been rereading Bill Rohde's blog for Jubilee on their various crossings and he talked about the folks on Liesel. I was just sure they were one and the same and so they were. We had a lovely all you can eat rib dinner out with them and we talked about heading out together which seemed like a good idea to all of us. Their plans were to head out and go south cross over the Gulf Stream at a good spot and with the right weather go all the way to Nassau in one trip. We were looking at the same thing only going as far as West End in the Bahamas and then on to Nassau a little later. Tuesday, 3/20 was to be the day.
I saw the neurologist on 3/19 and he went over everything again and reassured us that all was well and he didn't expect me to have it happen again. I asked what he had meant by my "brain looks good". There were no signs of any strokes and he saw nothing that even indicated that strokes should be of a concern for me. That was great to hear considering mother, my brother Bruce and my sister Diana all had or have had strokes. I called them mini-strokes but he said as a neurologist he doesn't consider any stroke a mini - a stroke is a stroke to him.
We got up on the 20th still trying to decide if we liked the weather for a long haul down the coast and across to the Bahamas. We have signed up with Chris Parker's weather service and had talked to him specifically about our plans. He suggested we wait until later in the week and leave on Sunday after the front had passed when the winds and seas would be more favorable for the trip south and the Gulf Stream crossing. We still had a couple of deliveries that were to come into Tiger Point that day (one didn't arrive until the day after as it turned out) so we decided not to leave that afternoon with Elizabeth and Paul after all. They had engine problems out in the entrance and ended up anchoring Tuesday night and then carried on Wednesday. We haven't heard from them yet on their trip but we are presuming they are in the islands and have connected up with the Snyders (more MN sailors) and are enjoying their time there. They will have a short season this year so getting going as soon as they possibly could was key for them. Maybe we will still be able to connect with them when we finally get there, although they may be on their way back to Fernandina Beach by then.
Well, we tried to get out on Sunday 3/25 as Chris suggested. We had checked various weather sources and talked to Chris Parker who suggested waiting until the front passed through and then heading down and making a decision near Canaveral whether to cross the stream there (if winds were from the NW 10 or less) or continuing down to Lake Worth and then waiting until later in the week to cross - probably motoring.
We were excited about possibly being able to sail all the way to West End or even to Lake Worth as far as that goes. Anyway we took off and about an 1 ½ hours out (still going out the channel before turning for one nice long tack all the way to Lake Worth) the auto-pilot started shutting down. We were certainly not going to go 48-60 hours without an auto-pilot. And we had to make a decision fairly soon since we had to get back into Tiger Point by mid-tide at the latest. So around we turned and beat back into the waves. They weren't very big (2 - 3 with an occasional 4-5) but the winds that were predicted to be 15-20 were solidly over 20 with several gusts 30+. We got back in and there were some very nice folks on the dock to take our lines but with the wind the way it was we could have done it ourselves but the help was great.
I thought we had lost Spanker overboard. I couldn't find her anywhere. I was almost in tears as we were motoring back in and then I was sitting in the cockpit and happened to look in one of the little bins set in the seat coaming. There she was all hunkered down - on deck with us, away from the engine noise, in out of the wind and spray and sun. Guess we will have to make sure that bin stays clean enough for her to nestle into. I quickly tied a 4' bungie leash on her harness which would let her get back down onto the first step in the companionway but wouldn't let her get washed over or bounced off the deck.
We were all beat when we got back in. Nothing like a little trauma to wear one out. It turned out that I had packed too much around the auto-pilot power supply and it had over heated. It was smarter than we were (or rather I was) and protected itself by shutting down and not damaging any thing. Once it cooled off it worked just fine. It turned out to be very fortuitous that it happened when it did. It would have been a tough, tough trip in the winds and building seas with no auto-pilot. I leashed Spanker on the boat that evening and she evidently jumped after a bug and went over the side and right out of her harness. Ooops, that needs to be tighter. So for a day that didn't really get us anywhere we learned a couple of lessons - keep the power supply in the open and tighten Spanker's harness.
We were hopeful that the winds would lay down some the next day and we would try it again but it would only be to either Canaveral or Lake Worth. The winds did lay down and we took off at 1030 3/26 for a glorious trip down to Port Canaveral. Once we got out the channel from St. Mary's river we turned to 165 degrees and stayed on that tack for the entire 26 hours to the turn into the channel to Port Canaveral at 1240 the next day. We sailed at least half the time with the main and jib and going a spritely 7kts. When the wind eased up some we did have to motor sail just to keep Eos moving above 6kts which is what we needed to make sure we got into Port Canaveral before dark. The auto-pilot ran the whole time with no problem and we had porpoises playing in our bow wake for quite a while. It is a good thing we kept up the pace because when we cranked the engine to head in there was "no joy in Mudville that day". NOTHING HAPPENED. The battery was good and we could hear a click when the starter button was pushed so Bill was sure that the starter motor had conked out. Luckily, we have TowBoat US towing insurance so it was give them a call, wait a little over an hour for them to get out to us and then sit back and be towed the 2 hours to Cape Marina where we had reservations for a couple of nights.
Once tied up a T-head we got in touch with the local Cummins dealer/repair man and he came right out that afternoon to check it out. Dennis from Atlas Yacht Services (we highly recommend him, by the way) quickly verified that the started motor was kaput. We told him to be sure a get TWO. We want a spare on board. By Thursday 1830 he had returned with both of them and the new one was installed and all was well with the engine.
But in the meantime we had discovered a couple of other little glitches. When we plugged into shore power that first night to charge the batteries our Xantrax Prosine inverter didn't work. When I turned on the water, the water pressure pump didn't work. We discovered that the head was not securely attached to the floor and was rocking and we got a notice that the insurance company wanted a couple of items from the survey taken care of. One, of which, would have meant major reconstruction of the battery compartment. (Oh, and when we had started to run the water maker out on the big water we noticed that the in-take filter was really dirty so didn't continue to run that.) I discovered that our IBM Thinkpad had a Trojan and needed to be cleaned up. As you can imagine, about this time we had both about had it. And then we got a phone call from Lynne and Bob on Traveler who are here at the Harbortown Marina. They came and got us and we went out for pizza. We had so enjoyed them in Brunswick and it was a joy to see them again. The time with them and some good food started to revive us.
We got back to the boat around 2030 and now had to at least do something about getting the batteries charged. Bill cranked our little Kubota 2 banger and it chugged away for about three hours and got the batteries charged up enough that we were willing turn it off for the night. I got on-line and found a distressing email from our friends, the Robinsons. Darlene Ramacher, another friend from Lake George, had fallen off the steps of their motor home onto the cement pad and hit her head. It resulted in a massive brain hemorrhage. They had gotten her to a very good trauma center in Scottsdale, AZ but there was nothing that could be done and she died. That news very quickly put all that we were going through and facing at the moment into its proper perspective. They were only frustrating problems and could be solved with time, money and work. None of these things can compare with what Don and his family are going through right now.
We went to bed Tuesday evening with a whole different attitude and awoke Wednesday feeling blessed that my fall had not been as serious as it obviously could have been. We said a prayer for Darlene and Don and got up and started to attack our problems. Lynne came by and she and I did some running around. I took the PC into PC Mod Squad (I recommend Chris if you need PC work). Bill did some trouble shooting on the Xantrax and called to tell me he thought he had figured out the problem. He had done a reset and it was now working and charging the batteries. Great! Bill got busy working on cleaning the water tanks out as long as we were going to be messing about with the water system. By afternoon the Xantrax was again not working so Bill spent time on the phone with the support folks. When I got back I got on-line with the insurance broker and got things straightened out so that we don't have to do battery compartment reconstruction. They are very securely tied down gel cell batteries and the requirement is that they not break loose in a knock down. They don't have to be in individual battery cases. I got busy looking for the spare pressure water pump. The copy of our storage spread sheet which was on our external drive was an old one and didn't list it. The up-to-date was on the PC in the shop. NOTE TO SYLVIA: Set up a schedule to make document copies on the external drive every 2 weeks!!!! I looked in bins and bins and compartments and compartments and had only TWO left to go when I found it. Wouldn't you know it?!
Bill and Joe on Pixie Dust berthed next to us spent a great deal of time Thursday morning with the electrical post on the dock and their meters trying to figure out if it was that or our Xantrax that was the problem. They thought the voltage was too high coming in and the marina called in an electrician to check it out. There was quite a different reading from their little meters and the professional one so all was okay with the dock. It is back to our problem. Lynne and Bob came over about noon and we all went out to lunch and did some running around to West Marine, Ace HW, PC Mod Squad and the likes. When we came back Bill tried the Xantrax and it worked. Who knows why. So we started charging the batteries. By evening, the Xantrax was again not working. Bill had cleaned out the water maker filter and found out the water maker pump is now not working. Are we having fun yet??!!??
That evening Bill replaced the water pressure pump and all is good with that. I could now wash dishes and we didn't have to tote water in a jug for personal use. One problem off the list. We have a spare on order and it will get here either Monday or Tuesday.
Friday Lynne came by again and off we went. Bill spent more time with the Xantrax support folks but we now have a fellow coming over tomorrow morning who works on Xantrax systems and thinks he knows what the problem is. He was working on Joe's boat and as he was leaving I asked if by chance he worked on Xantrax systems. Joe is very pleased with the work he does so we are hopeful that tomorrow that will be taken care of.
Bill spent Saturday making a base plate for the head so it is now very securely bolted down. I did some internal cleaning and worked on the blog. And we watched the Disney Fantasy cruise ship take off this afternoon on her maiden voyage complete with accompanying fire fighting tugs spraying water arches. What fun to see it and hear the big air horns sing out "When you wish upon a star" and "It's a small world after all". The amazing thing is that even with the cruise ships just across the channel they often both come and leave without us even being aware of it. There is no wake at all and they are very quiet. Even the morning announcements are quiet enough that we can hear a voice but we can't hear what is being announced.
If Scott can get the Xantrax working then the only thing hanging out is the water maker. We will get on the phone Monday and leave another message with their tech support folks. If it goes like it did in Fernandina Beach, they will refer us to a local dealer/technician which is okay we just need to know who they recommend. Of course, support is in CA so it doesn't do us any good to call there until 1100 our time. That could make it tough getting some one out here on Monday. Hopefully on Tuesday. And if the pump has to be replaced who knows how long that will take to get here. The marina is a nice one, there always seems to be something to look at or watch in the channel and, of course, Lynne and Bob are here to spend time with and enjoy.
We will most likely be here for several days and then we will be looking for another good weather window to either move down to Lake Worth or go directly to West End. There are so many folks in the Bahamas now that we would like to connect with if we can only get there - Duffy and Steve on Kat, Jeanne and Doug on Hawke, Paul and Elizabeth on Liesel, Paul and Donna on Cavalier and John and Joan on Changing Lanes. So as time goes by we think more and more of just going to the Bahamas and enjoying them and going no further this season.