Saturday, June 4, 2016
We headed back to the boat today after stocking up on long dock lines and cleaning gear. We lost a fender sometime in the past 4 days, so we adjusted all the lines, added a line, and fixed up the fender situation. Between storm clouds I headed up the mast for an inspection. It's always great to get a new perspective!
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Monday, May 30, 2016
Today's excitement started during Frank's balls-to-04 watch (that's for all our SWO buddies!). At about 0100 he woke me and called me onto deck (in my skivvies!) so he could investigate intermittent slowing of the engine. Thankfully it was quickly resolved by switching fuel filters, made especially easy with our Racor dual filter system. It always happens at night!
0400-0800 watch was awesome again! Look at that sunrise! We were offshore between Destin and Pensacola by this point.
Katreina joined me around 0700, just in time for a ton of dolphins to join us!
Just before noon we entered the ICW in Pensacola and began an afternoon on the water with Memorial Day boaters. They were really quite good with ROR!
This ICW is really nice--wide and deep! We had some pretty big thunderstorms in the area, but they kept to the north of us so we pressed on. After we crossed into Alabama the traffic got more commercial and we saw our first oil platforms.
We pushed on to an anchorage at the west end of Dauphin Island for the night. It was the first time we'd stopped the engines in 56hrs. Yes, I know it's a sailboat. But <5kts or 10kts on the nose aren't going to get us where we need to be. Anchorage was great! We enjoyed a few beers, I took a quick skinny dip in the insanely warm water, and we took showers up on deck. And with the breeze it cooled off enough for a good night of sleep. I've missed all of this so much.
Sunday, May 29, 2016
I'm happy to report this was a mostly uneventful day! K and I came on watch at 0400 and enjoyed a quiet sunrise watch. Ok, she slept and I stood watch!
The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. We filled diesel with a few of our jerry cans, slept, ate, and stood watch!
The kids joined me for the start of my 2000-2400 watch and a nice sunset.
Trent left us shortly after sunset and once again the girls had some excitement! ~2130 we heard a loud bang from up forward on deck. I clipped in to go investigate and found that the noise came from our anchor light assembly finally breaking free and falling. But the night sky was amazing again!
Saturday, May 28, 2016
We got to the boat last night around 2100 and promptly went to work putting things in order, picking up provisions, and filling lots of diesel cans as we expect to have to motor a lot.
This morning we returned the car, filled water, and were ready! As we tossed off the lines and headed out Frank said, "something's wrong--we're not moving." "Yes we are," I replied but he had already thrown it into reverse to get back in the slip. Something was definitely not right. He said we barely moved with high RPM's and suspected a fouled prop. Frank won (?) the toss and dove on the boat. The prop was seriously fouled and the rudder and hull were covered in barnacles, too. After about an hour of bloody, challenging scraping, he was done. We hit the fuel dock for a BSF and we were on our way ~1200!
Kids were great--they hung out on deck a bit, but mostly slept!
As we headed out we watched storms grow along the FL coast. By some miracle they all stayed behind us and we got an amazing lightning show from a distance! And we picked up a seagull that decided to ride our boat and poop everywhere. Yippee!
Nightfall brought some new challenges. We haven't had a masthead steaming light for some time so we usually throw on the anchor light with our nav lights--better to be lit wrongly and seen than not seen at all! Well, our anchor light is now flopping at the top of our mast, blinking in and out. Awesome. Add that to the list...
Katreina and I took the watch at 2000. Mars was amazing and I loved sharing the beauty of the night sky with her. Then about an hour into watch, as I was sitting at the helm with K at my right side, BAM! SLAP! Something had come from the port side and literally slapped me in the left cheek, then ricocheted off me and hit K in the face! We screamed, waking up the Captain. I was sure it was that damn bird, but it was a flying fish!
Thankfully the rest of the night was peaceful. We are on our way!
Friday, May 27, 2016
With the kids out of school, a long weekend, and a forecast that, while not perfect, isn't horrible, we are heading to the boat! Today we'll drive over 9 hours, give the boat a once over, and get provisions. Tomorrow we fix anything that needs fixing, fill the tanks, and head northwest!
Thursday, March 31, 2016
We arrived in St. Petersburg yesterday to a so-so forecast and some concerns about how tight the weather windows were. Oh well, we were here! The boat was in great shape and after a quick scrub it was back to looking like the home we know and love. I optimisticly filled the fridge.
Today we woke up to a hard decision. We need a 4 day window. A 2 day window could get us to Panama City Beach, but we would have to find a marina there and figure out the next leg. We were stuck between thunderstorms and light winds, with a leg at the limits of our motoring range. Then all those sayings came to mind..."you can't fight the weather," "if there is any doubt, there is no doubt," and "this should be fun." It's just not meant to be this time. And honestly, I think we knew it when we got in the car to drive here and we knew spring storms were going to be a challenge, but I'm glad we did it. We know the boat is in great shape and we have planned an alternate fun spring break!
And even though we didn't get underway today, we had plenty of boat fun!
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Once again it's been way too long. There is my daily life, then the one that occupies my daydreams. In one week, all 4 of us will be aboard our home for the final push to bring it closer to our house. The kids have asked about meals and watches, and I've packed more snacks and ginger ale than I did when it was just Frank and I. I need this. All of us need this. Just need to make it through this week and get a good weather window!
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Now that leg 2 (of 3???) of the world's longest boat PCS is over, we'd like to thank those that made it all possible! THANK YOU!
Grandma and Grandpa Katrein--Had they not signed on for 2-ish weeks of childcare and a trip to Louisiana so the kids could stay in school, we'd still be planning how to get the boat out of Jacksonville! Thanks, mom and dad!
Sadler Point Marina--Seriously impressed with the customer care this small yard provided. We certainly wouldn't have made it to Tampa if they hadn't splashed us on an "off" day.
My carrier Shipmate, Craig--Craig drove I don't know how far out of his way to pick me up at the car rental place and take me to the boat on NAS Jacksonville. We had been so crunched for time I didn't even manage to get him an adult beverage to thank him! I'm so thankful for the many great Shipmates I've met along my Navy journey, and especially thankful for Craig.
Another great Shipmate and friend, Bethany McDonald--Despite work, grad school finals, and holiday events, Beth provided us with weather routing on this leg. I know, I know, I'm a METOC officer, but I've actually never been an official forecaster! Beth has been a ship router and forecaster and provided critical information when we were offshore and couldn't access all the models, and it was always nice to have another (trained) opinion! She basically walked us in to Tampa Bay with an hour-by-hour breakdown--we were not surprised by the conditions we saw at all thanks to Beth!
My Maine Maritime classmate, Brian--As we sought out a place to leave the boat around St.Petersburg, Brian generously tried to fit us in at his home's slip, but we wouldn't fit. He gave us a great recommendation for a marina though, and we now know that we have a friend near the boat--so comforting!
My stellar XO, Mike--I think he hates the fact that it was his idea that I use the middle of December to try to knock this out, but Mike covered down as acting CO wonderfully while I was out and allowed me to focus on my duties underway.
We pulled the hook at sunrise as planned, or rather tried to. We were set good! After a few tries we were off. Once we cleared the channel into Tampa Bay the real fun started! 20kts of wind across the length of the bay had stacked some impressive short period waves--we slammed our way across! As we were headed for a tight channel with very little extra depth, the wave motion was concerning. The Tampa bridge dampened the waves at the start of the channel, but all that wind had managed to blow water out of the bay and the channel was extra tight! In one spot of reported shoaling Frank saw 7'--we draw 6'3"! Tight!
We got a little reprieve as we made our way toward the marina and had a few friends join us.
The marina approach was shallow and the tide was going out--more stress! We were finally to the dock and still couldn't catch a break. The current and 15kt wind kept pushing us all over the place as Frank tried to back in. After 4 tries and much help from our new dock neighbors, Lehe Paine was docked! Whew!
We quickly packed, grabbed a rental car, had a nice lunch as the marina fish shack, and buttoned up the boat. That's the end of this leg of the move!
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Well, the problem with having a schedule is that weather may not always be on your side. This trip has been a prime example! With about 24hrs of thunderstorms in the forecast between here and Panama City Beach, our childcare and leave running out, and our strong desire to see our kids, we have made the decision to leave the boat in the Tampa area until we can start again. We thought that decision would be the hard part, but finding a marina with room for us proved even harder! After about a dozen calls we found one that had "one more" slip available! We will strike out at sunrise to make the 20nm journey and then rent a car and head home.
It's been crazy windy today so we spent the day cleaning up the boat (when we weren't trying to find a slip!).
Friday, December 18, 2015
Well, last night was long and action-packed! We continued to run into crab pots through sunset, so I manned the bow armed with a headlamp and a whistle to alert Frank of any buoys.
After a bit we got into deeper water. The shrimpers took over and we secured the crab pot watch...for now. Our friend Beth kept us updated on the timing of the strong front and some heavy rain ahead of it throughout the night via our DeLorme InReach as we were out of cell range (p.s. She's the next big thing in weather routing for cruisers--I can feel it!). As we approached Tampa Bay and the water got shallower the crab pots returned. And to keep it exciting, heavy rain came shortly thereafter. I was getting soaked, but we were able to see the pots! My job was tough, but so was Frank's as he had to respond to my blasts of the whistle with quick helm or engine changes. Tough all around!
We slowly made our way into the pay through heavy rain and low visibility. We set the hook just inside for a few hours (of course, dodging more crab pots in the rain on our way in!), then woke at sunrise to make our way through a tight channel to a protected anchorage in Bradenton, FL just ahead of the really strong front. We had big breakfast burritos, OJ with rum, and a nice sleep! We spent the afternoon tidying the boat, drying out our soaked gear, and relaxing.
Next step is to rest up and wait for strong N winds to abate and look at forecasts to see if a leg from here to Panama City, FL is possible by Wednesday. So far we have gone 650 nm since Saturday--pretty good considering we had to duck inside for weather for two days.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
After a night offshore we pulled into Marathon Wednesday afternoon to top up on fuel. Due to a shallow stretch and warnings of many crab pots after you pass to the Gulf of Mexico side, we initially planned to anchor there and wait for daylight. However, as we crossed under the bridge with 3 hours of daylight remaining and good visibility on the crab pot buoys, we decided to press on. This would give us a bit of a leg up on the front coming in Friday and perhaps allow us to make Tampa.
To lessen the chance of grabbing a pot line around the prop, we set the genoa at sunset and ghosted along at ~3kts for the night. What the heck? It was 30 miles we wouldn't get if we had anchored. It went fairly well, though as I took the rev watch Frank reported we had slowed a bit. About an hour into my watch I saw why--in the faint glow of the stern light I could see a line stretching behind the boat a few feet under the water. Not trusting my eyes, I checked with the boat hook--we had a pot hooked on the rudder. I pulled in the Genoa and tried to free it. It seemed to work, but as I got speed on again I could tell it was still there. I pulled in the Genoa again, this time Frank got up to see what was up. This time I successfully scraped the boat hook down the length of the rudder while leaning off the swim platform and pop! Up came the floats and they drifted away. I reset the sail and got that missing knot of speed back!
As the sun rose we were only making 2.5kts good. We doused the sail, took off all the speed, spun the boat around, checked all around for pots, lines, and buoys, and decided we were good to start the engine. We backed for a bit just to make sure nothing was on the keel, then we were off! If we make 7kts, we will be in Tampa ahead of the front!
Watches have been stressful, dodging line after line of pots. If this keeps up we may have to sail after dark. We still think we can meet our timeline if it comes to that. As Frank turned the watch over to me he set a fishing line. About 2 hours later I was enjoying the company of some dolphins. I had just turned off the auto pilot to dodge more pots when the line took off. No rest for the Skipper! He pulled this little tunnie in on his hand line! Dinner!
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
"Wow, you guys are heading offshore. Will you be safe?" Thanks for that question, friends and followers of the blog! We have spent a lot of money on safety gear we hope to never use--a life raft and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB)--and set ourselves up with a bit more gear when we are on deck.
Here I am modeling our Mustang auto-inflating PFDs. We wear them with leg straps and safety tethers.
The safety tether clips into strong points around the boat, or to Jack lines if we have to head to the bow for anything. Here I am clipped in at the helm.
But that's not all! When you're on watch you carry a few more things, like our floating, handheld VHF radio (a watch turnover item) and this nifty pouch full of survival gear!
Inside the pouch is a knife, signal mirror, emergency blanket, dye marker, flare, and another watch turnover item, the Personal Locator Beacon (PLB, we only have 1 so we have to share!). The EPIRB stays with the boat, the PLB stays with the person.
That should cover the wave tops on that topic! Here we are, 3 miles east of Palm Beach, FL, heading out for a few nights off shore!
Monday, December 14, 2015
Winds stayed from the south today, so we stuck with the ICW to at least make some progress. It made for a pretty chill day...I made a "fancy" breakfast of sausage and egg burritos, we knocked out some chores, and even got a nice visit from dolphins near Fort Pierce.
We decided to hit up a marina tonight so we could shower, top off the fridge, and do a little laundry. We picked one near the mouth of the St. Lucie River that had a grocery store nearby. Eh, I'm not normally a fan of marinas and this one proved why! We called ahead and got a slip assignment, and even told them when we expected to arrive. As we approached we called for more info on where the slip was and to ask for line help, but the marina office was closed! Pulling in sucked. Huge slip, very windy, and to top it off, we touched bottom trying to back in. We had some "help" on the pier that was a bossy know-it-all, and another guy that really did help. We eventually had to swing around and go bow in--touched bottom again outside of the slip just trying to make that maneuver! Finally we got a few lines secured, but it wasn't pretty or fun! So the marina wasn't quite right about the slip being deep enough for us. They also didn't provide wifi info, code for the big gate at the end of the pier, basically didn't provide anything one needs when arriving after the office closes. But alas, we were tied up, showered, did laundry, overpaid for dinner, and managed to replenish some stores at a grocery store that was a 10 minute walk away. And we found really yummy libations there! Time to rest up as tomorrow we are heading back out to the ocean!