If time is money and you have more time, Do you need more money?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Up the creek without Paddling.

One thing that is a great plus is the fact that we now use the motor on the dinghy.  Two years ago we rowed everywhere the dinghy went.  Needless to say it was a limiting factor especially at Morgan's Bluff.  Today we took a dinghy ride looking for the "Healing Hole".  We never found the final destination but had fun in the creek.  Life is an adventure!

Internet at the Straw Market

USA side of Bimini

Heading out for an adventure up the long channel inside North Bimini

Motoring along the creek as it opens up into the bight

Blue chart view of today's trip

Catch of the Day, 6 Conch per dinghy

We will be off soon toward Morgan's Bluff and hopefully a good supply of fish, conch, and lobster until we get tired of it.  

Gremlins in Bilge

We had a huge window of 7 days for a crossing to the Bahamas.  Of course some of those 7 were better than the others.  Day one and day two were occupied by s/v Liberty and the dinghy saga.  Day three was used for final stocking of items and a last meal on shore.

Wing and Wing on the way to Rodreguez Key

For a last meal we chose Burdine's for no other reason than it was close by.  As Ben and Darren entered the dinghy I offered Dockside as a second option.  We remained with Burdine's and took the chart books and iPad with us.  Of course dinner became an adventure but Brenda, our second waitress, made it all excellent.

Sunset over Rodriguez Key

Our plan was to leave by lunch on Monday and sail overnight to Bimini from Marathon.  This is when the "What if Gremlins" started to eat after midnight and seemed to get wet. So now instead of hours to get ready in the morning we were rushing to do it tonight so that we could leave to go to Rodriguez Key at 6:30 in the morning.  Just past sunset we anchored trying to eat, check weather and sleep a before for a 3 am wake up buzzer to go to Bimini.  By 11 something we were asleep with a NW changing to W forecast.

I woke at 2 am and stuck my head out, DAMN NE at 10.  Rechecking the weather everything said all on the other side of N but the reality of life was NE.  At 3 am I heard a Gremlin on the radio, "What do you think about this weather?"  Well it was time to go back to bed and try again tomorrow.

As the time got close I could here the Gremlin, "What do you think about this weather?" "All good" I answered.  Then a Gremlin put water on the oil pressure sensor.  As we crossed the reef, "What do you think about this weather?  "All good", I answered.  As we hit the Gulf Stream speeding onward at 9 knts in the little Vega... "What do you think about this weather?"  "Full sails! Wide open motor!" I answered.

Sunrise on the way to Bimini

About 30 miles from Bimini I powered down the motor and sailed for a little while at 7.7 knts.  As the speed fell to 6 knots with the falling wind I started the Honda once again.  The Gulf Stream is for getting there!  Islands are for day sails!  Get what you can while you can!   Better to be safe in an anchorage when the surprise squalls come than leisurely sailing along.

Liberty a mile out of Bimini after the wind blew out. 

We were never out of our comfort zone even with the 10-15 N winds crossing the stream (Forecast was for light and variable after Alligator Reef).   All those seminars about never crossing with any N in the forecast the Gremlin left white knuckle marks on the tiller.  Just like a pig on a bike that Gremlin going to go "Wheeee!".

Raising the Bahamas Flag after check in.

Good news is that the 32 foot s/v Liberty received a check in fee of only $150.  Also a plus is that we can still get conch after the Bahamas posted on the site last fall that cruisers would no longer be able to.

We will hit the next weather window and head toward Morgan's Bluff.  Time for some lobster and fish!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Damn Rabid Dinghies

We went to a meeting the other night to support the boating community.  Actually it was a follow up meeting to the December meeting for which there are comments on the Boot Key Facebook Page in case you missed the basics.  The short summary of the meeting is as follows:

After attending the meeting last night if felt an immense presence of smoke in my shorts and shook my head all the way to the boat in disbelief.

I don't even know where to begin to explain the long version.  Nothing I could say would be anything other than my opinion.

  1. First to openly admit that you have no clue to the exact law you are writing tickets for missing registrations on documented boats and dinghies. They then referred all Documented Boats to the Coast Guard to find out what they needed to make sure they were legal.  So... write tickets now and let the courts settle it!
  2. Then there is the dinghy light issue.  Maybe a Ouija board or Rosetta Stone could help decipher their interpretation of what the Coast Guard said.   So... write tickets now and let the courts settle it!
  3. On the 7mph dinghy dpeed you are at the mercy of their radar/plotter.  At least with this you have a definitive number that can be right or wrong.  But do you get undiputed proof that it is your dinghy?
  4. The Coast Guard must have done a good job with the flare number and identification as this was to the book and simple.  
  5. My favorite was the small outboard internal tank issue.  Seams you can bolt a 12 gallon tank to the floor of your dinghy, run a hose with all it's failure points to the motor and you do not need a fire extinguisher on the dinghy since it is not enclosed.  But if you have a 3.5 with the internal tank you need a fire extinguisher because "it is not removable!"  
So there you have it... the jist of the meeting.  It's all about the dinghy!  Not one word about fishing regulations while you are here in Florida!  

But it wouldn't be a meeting without a personal agenda from someone.  

Round about the cauldron go,
In the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Sweltered venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' th' charmèd pot.

 Double, double toil and trouble,

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Two little creatures missing their hats seemed to cast their spell trying to condemn a boat in the eyes of others.

Live and Let Live.

Key West 2014

Our yearly Key West trip didn't follow the standard plan this year.  First we took Ben and Darren from s/v Liberty with us.  Ben was on a mission to buy a Mercury 3.5 from a guy in the Key West Anchorage that was posted on the City Marina "for sale" board.  After the compulsory photo at the "Southern Most Point" and a cold coconut later we made it to Sloppy Joe's for lunch.  A little more playing tourist and we made it to Garrison Bight dinghy dock.  There  chained to the dock was the little Mercury.  It looked awesome for the $350 asking price.

City on a hull. Damn this boat is big.

The colors of key west

screen shot of Darren and I on Sloppy Joe's web cam

 I now have new victims for the "tourist photos" 
since Ayrton thinks he is too old.

Motor deal going down

Done deal now to pack it to the bus stop

Key West dock to Marathon dock

Crazy bus ride with an outboard

Off to the dinghy races.

The view from the lead boat.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Stainless Treasure

An update on the adventures of Laurel and Hardy are they have refused to settle with Shauna citing her absence from the scene was justification for denial of event and her damage was spontaneous combustion.  .

s/v Liberty 

Ben dressed like he is cold finally dropping the hook for the 1st time int he keys

We were recently greeted by a message from our friends Ben and Darren.  After returning their call we added up their estimate and thought they would be into Boot Key Harbor in a little over an hour.  Seems the visual presence of the 7 mile bridge made them think they were about an hour closer than they were.  Closer to three hours after the call they arrived across the channel.

I stepped out on a limb when they said they were trying to sell their RIB and motor.  "Bring it down to Boot Key and sell it."  I guess my expectations panned out as they have sold almost everything in the first two days.

And of course there are sunsets

One of the things about Boot Key is the cruisers net with it's buy sell trade.  Tthis week we picked up a used Magma Kettle Two in decent shape but mostly stripped from the free shelf.  We have been wanting a series two due to the hinged lid.  With the series one the lid is tethered by a stainless steel lanyard which often allows the lid to go... "DING! DANGLA LANGA DING! Ding! Ding! Ding. Donk. Donk. Donk."  As it crashes past the rail and Bimini finally banging repeatedly into the hull.  The burner was obviously in need of attention.

It wasn't until we tried to remove the remaining burner fragments until we realized how much attention.  This obviously was the deciding point for it's previous owner.  We had nothing on board that would get the brass burner base to unscrew.  We ended up having to drill holes all the way across one side and use a couple of crew drivers to pry the disc apart and slip it over the threads.  It was actually way more effort than this sounds.  All the while leaving brass, iron oxide and black char all over the lazerette.

With the burner disc removed we cleaned the threads with a file.  We dug out a new burner from below and started to reassemble the parts.  We chose to use our pot support and cap. Also we used our grate but kept the kettle two's cap and grate for spares.  Next we added our rail mount. We screwed the elbow with regulator and tank attached onto our "new" grill.  Once it was on the rail and a rum and coke in hand all was good.  Two hours of work and parts we already had aboard gave us a "new" kettle two for $188 less than West Marine wants.  Now if I can find my magma cleaner it will look "brand new".

Have I said anything about a sunset?

With everything done we took our shell of a series one to the swap shelf for the next person to have.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Abbott & Costello Vs. Laurel & Hardy

 s/v Storm Song a Morgan Out Island 41
The Crew

After bailing out on Bahia Honda and making the close reach back to Boot Key Harbor for safety we motored down the channel past Pancho's.  Then it occurred to us, "How tall is Storm Song?"  We made a quick 360 and pulled up along side them pointing out the 65 foot clearance.  They are 64!  They cleared without problems so I quickly motored down the channel toward marker 18 looking for spots to anchor.  Our previous spot was occupied by a huge Catalina and the far end is always full so we turned around and dropped the hook just west of marker 16 setting it with our forward momentum.

I quickly set off in the dinghy and pointed out the best location I could see for the big Morgan to anchor.  After dropping their hook the captain of the Sojourn (i'll call him Hardy) behind them buzzed up in his dinghy expressing his discontent.  Seems that big boat from Texas thought he needed the Ponderosa for himself.  There was plenty of room and when he didn't get his way he zoomed back to the big trawler.   After returning he sat on the bow pouting.  This is Boot Key after all, if you need one hundred feet all the way around you, you are in the wrong place.

I decided to go get sushi from Publix and stopped by Storm Song before going to see if they needed anything for the night or a ride.  All was good but Hardy still sat on the bow.  "Well, here's another nice kettle of fish you pickled me in!"

Around 9:15 you could hear the wind pick up whistling in the rigging.  Mixed with random drops of rain the show was about to begin.  Here in Boot Key the holding is excellent!  It is sandy, clay silt and creates not only a place to dig in deep but an extra suction when trying to pull free.   We were anchored in front of Scotia a huge 55-60 foot trawler when the wind was from the South but now as the wind clocked around with a little west we were directly in front of another small sailboat.

By 10:00 the wind was mostly west and at this point you would expect all boats to be swaying pointing into the wind.  But Scotia was on the move.  slowly back stepping her way toward the East.  The small sailboat was now mostly behind Scotia and in their cockpit as they could see the approaching mass.  The crew of Scotia was running back and forth in the cabin and on the deck like Abbott and Costello.  They must have been hoping the anchor would reset as Costello looked at the bow perhaps saying "Anchors on first, Boat's on second".  I gave a loud blow in the conch horn to alert the 2nd boat behind us that trouble was on the way.  A skif with a 25 horse motor showed up from no where to try and help but couldn't get between all the boats.  Then with about 5 big lurches from the collision Scotia settled almost broadside against the second sailboat barely missing the one directly behind us.  As they rubbed back and forth I guess hope progressed to panic and then to rational thought as Scotia finally motored off to the north and tried to anchor next to the bridge easing way up into the shallows.  We could hear someone giving them a warning on channel 16 about the depth.

Like a late arrival sunset show there were boats meandering around looking for the sign that says Deltas and CQR's work here.  I think one trawler must have put on a couple miles or more trying to find the elusive spot inside the harbor.  A couple of boats idled in the channel waiting for the worst to pass before finding a new location.

The proximity of the above incident took precedence for us as the show continued on.  There was another smaller trawler trying to anchor in various spots, several of the large sailboats were "plowing" (pun intended) their rows.  We could see masts moving all over the anchorage try to find a place that may be better than where they were.  This went on for a couple of hours, the confusion with the boats that is not the wind and rain .  Through the binoculars we could see that Storm Song was still where they intended to be and their Nemesis, Hardy, was not on his deck anymore.  No one was up on the shallow flat but one boat may have been bumping the wall next to it but not hard aground.

All quiet 2 days later

The next morning we awoke to find the small boat behind us gone.  To where we do not know.  But Scotia had moved from the tight wind shelter near the bridge to one of the most open places in the anchorage with the hook in the channel.  A big 47+- Hunter DS was anchored diagonally in the channel along with a trawler.  The big Catalina was moving probably due to the collision the night before moving their neighbor to close.  several other boats were doing the anchor thing all over again and it was only blowing about 18 front the same direction as last night.

I forgot to mention that we had less than 30 knots in a protected harbor.  "The safest place in the keys"

"A lot of weather we've been having lately." Hardy

The entertainment of a situation is based entirely upon the perceived personal expense.


Why do people blow those shells every night?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bahía Honda con Vitztlampaehecatl y Cihuatecayotl no son buenas.

Office cubical Bahia Honda style

Typical south side of Bahia Honda

Giant hermit crab

I spy...


Down he goes

Working it

Brain coral gives great protection

Over exposed to see better underneath

Can you find the lobster?

Let me take a few minutes to catch you up on the last few days.

Sunday:  Weather is coming Wednesday night and the best day to sail back to Marathon is tomorrow.  In the morning we will go to Marathon.  It was blowing mildly from the west around 15 knts as the sunset approached.  Two sailboats tried to anchor with one finally hooking up.  After several tries the second boat returned to Hawks channel with the first pulling their freshly set anchor and following.  The spent the night on the south side instead.  Living between bridges is not for everyone.

Sunsets, it is all about the water vapor in the sky. 

Monday:  Upon waking, while still in bed an epiphany of "It is better here!" occurs and I lay back and relax.  Tried taking the yearly photo tour with Ayrton but he was having an Ayrton day.  After that I needed some space so I took a dinghy ride all the way around the island by myself.  Recognized Tom on the beach so I made a stop to say hi.

This cloud bank rolled it's self right into our sunset

Tuesday:  Plan "A" was to re-anchor in deeper water with more sand on the bottom.  Our normal spot had been stripped barren of sand and was now just hard bottom.  We were holding but only by tooth and nail!  We were not set for a blow!  The short comings with plan "A"?  It is Bahia Honda and the holding is ALWAYS questionable.  Also there are those two bridges!

The crew of s/v Storm Song, a Morgan Out Island 41 motored by in their dinghy and we asked why the moved off the one mooring that Bahia Honda has.  Seems the non existent local NOAA uncloaked long enough just to ask them to move.  Now we had plan "B"  -   Take the mooring for the blow.  Our adventure in Nixon Bay would make this 25 knots seem like a kiddie ride.

The daily weather check shows the front has weakened but not to the point of "Safe in Bahia Honda".  We keep watching as a trend started  to show.  The duration and intensity of the SW wind was getting longer!  Not forecasting for more than 25 kts but you know how the beginning of a front can crash right on through that forecasted peak velocity.  This pretty much took plan "C" out of the options.  Anchoring on south side of Bahia Honda.  With the SW winds it would be another night in Nixon Bay type conditions.  Even the wind would be from the same direction.

Wednesday:  We woke up to calm conditions and mostly sunny with approaching impending doom.  At this point we were still going with plan "B" but had not relocated as of yet.  No one with any sense would enter Bahia Honda at this point for the night   After checking the weather (yes all you do while cruising is check the weather, at least sometimes it feels that way) plan "A" and "C" we definitely off the table.  Plan "B" was looking like a rough night but we would still be in our little paradise.

We had began talking more with the crew of Storm Song sharing info and weather sites.  Or at least trying for their English is better than my Spanish but not by much.  Originally from Venezuela Hector single handed his way to Miami a couple years ago and flew in the family.  With only room for one on the mooring and no good anchorage spots for the forecast.  I suggested the safest place would be Marathon (I know that other harbor to the west, uh no).  We could use a grocery trip and I didn't want to take the bus to Big Pine leaving Gemini Dreams tooth and nail with the wind increasing.  So here it was 1:30 pm on the day the front arrives and we decide on plan "D".  A close reach into 15 knt SE winds.

The calm before the storm

We left in such a hurry that we didn't get time to email Tom that we couldn't stay for the party this afternoon.  Maybe we can get back for a cook out or something.


The crew of  s/v Storm Song
Hector, Laura, Juan, Leandro

Click your heels together three times...