Dream Away Update 30-Jan-05
I want to get this update out, now that we have moved further south.
Our decision to stay at Regatta Pointe Marina was made on the basis of their advertisement in the Boat/US catalog stating that they gave a 25% discount to Boat/US members. I had a choice of two marinas in the Bradenton/Palmetto area. Since I was being towed into a marina, I chose Regatta Pointe because of the 25% discount. When I discussed the discount with the marina manager, she said that they would not honor it. There was even a link on the Boat/US WEB site announcing the 25% discount, to the Regatta Point WEB page. The manager did give me a 10% discount, and we have since checked the BoatUS web site and found that the original ad has been changed to offer a 5% discount. At any rate, we decided to stay a month because we were not sure how long it would take to repair the steering. The pricing in West Florida was quite a shock compared to Texas. The transient cost for one month was $18.00 a foot plus a live aboard fee, key and electricity deposits, and a Florida Resort Tax. The slip fee did include wireless Internet connection, cable TV hookup, and pump out access between boats, though that wasn't working well during our visit.
Our time in Palmetto, Florida, was well spent. The first thing we did when we arrived at the Regatta Pointe Marina was get the boat cleaned up and secured from the eleven day crossing of the Gulf of Mexico. The second thing we did was to make a list of the projects that had to be accomplished while we were in Palmetto. The third thing that we did was get all of the steering parts removed from the boat so that we could get whatever was broken repaired. Our crewman, Al, and I had taken the binnacle mounted pump apart at sea and it seemed to be working properly. We had also taken the autopilot pump apart at sea, and it also seemed to be working properly. Our opinion was that the hydraulic ram had a blown seal, or worse. We also removed all of the hydraulic hoses from the system and thoroughly cleaned them out.
Al had to get to the airport in Tampa to fly back to Houston. I was able to borrow a vehicle from David and Claudia, friends who lived nearby us in our Legend Point days. They had gone out cruising, had come back to fortify the cruising kitty, and were now living in Bradenton, Florida. With their help I was able to combine delivering Al to the airport with a visit to my family in Tampa. I also took the steering parts to a shop in St. Petersburg, and well as collected and delivered our kids from Tampa Airport for a Christmas visit.
We were also able to visit with some Scottish friends, Harry and Hillary, whom we had met in Texas. We also were able to visit with and renew our friendship with an old high school friend and his wife, Tate and Lucy, who live in Sarasota. In fact, Tate was able to help me get the staysail stay attachment fitting repaired.
Getting this fitting repaired was "relatively" easy, but getting the fitting out of the chain locker and back in was a lot of "fun". The fitting actually goes through the deck, and the anchor point is the backside of the dolphin striker mount, which is inside the chain locker. Naturally, I could not get to the fitting in the chain locker with all of the anchor chain in it, so I had to pull out (and lay on the deck) the 350 feet of 5/16" Hi-Test chain for the secondary anchor, and the 400 feet of 3/8" Hi-Test chain for the primary anchor. It all got done, and we now have a staysail stay that is usable and in better condition then it was when we started out.
The engine oil leak project was ongoing as the engine still leaked oil after I changed the gaskets in Houston. I decided to take the front of the engine apart again, and replace the gaskets again. I ordered the parts from American Diesel, and when they came in, I started to work. I had to borrow a bottle jack from Tate, and I purchased some really good gasket cement from Permatex. I got the job completed and now there is no engine oil leak!!!!!!
Another big project was the mizzen mast rigging. Since the installation of the wind generators, I have not been able to tune the mast to my satisfaction. I decided to move the forward intermediate stays from the top of the mizzen mast to a location at the bottom of the wind generator mount. I had fabricated two tangs for this purpose before I left Houston. I was able to find a 5/8" stainless steel bolt in Bradenton to use as the tang mounts. After getting the stays shortened and mounted, and the remainder of the stays tuned, I was able to get the rake out of the mast. All of the rigging on the mizzen mast is where I want it, and there is very little vibration from the wind generators.
I also got a lot of small projects done that were necessary before the next passage. The starboard navigation light had to be repaired. Fuel filters for the gen set were changed. I needed to correct the grounding on the SSB, which, once done, and with a little guidance from David, made it possible for me to transmit on the SSB at least across the Gulf of Mexico.
I also changed the lift pump for the water maker. The pump that I was using was not a continuous duty pump. Based on a recommendation from Great Water, Inc, I installed a new 12 VDC lift pump, and the water maker has been working great ever since.
Our friends from the UK, Nicola and Noel, arrived on the 12th of January, about the same time that I got the steering parts back from the shop. It had taken a very long time to get the parts. The seals in the ram had blown apart and they all had to be replaced. The gasket and seals in the manual steering pump were also replaced, but the shop failed to take apart the autopilot pump! The shop manager said it looked okay, and also offered to take it apart as originally requested. But this occurred when we picked the ram parts up, and he said that, if there were a problem inside the autopilot pump, it would probably take one to two weeks more waiting for parts! Good thing that I left instructions to check all three units. I decided not to wait, and to use the autopilot pump as it was. ( More later).
Noel helped me get all of the steering parts installed and connected. We got the system filled with fluid, and bled the system. In fact, we bleed the system over the next two days, and the system was working as designed.
My month was up on the 17th at Regatta Pointe Marina, and I hated to pay for more time there. Also, there was another cold front coming, so I decided that we would leave the marina and anchor out in the Manatee River the night of the 17th. We did anchor out, and it was a very cold night (39 F), plus the wind was blowing about 15 knots. The next morning we got the SSB weather faxes and headed out of Tampa Bay toward the Dry Tortugas. On the way down to the Dry Tortugas, the autopilot hydraulic pump gave up the ghost! After that, we had to hand steer.
We anchored behind Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas around three in the afternoon on the 19th. On the 20th, we visited Fort Jefferson, and generally relaxed. There was another large norther heading our way, so we decided to only spend two nights at Garden Key. The morning of the 21st, we were under way heading for Boot Key Harbor and the city of Marathon. The wind was from the southwest, so we were able to sail at a good pace. Our plan was to arrive in Marathon on the morning of the 22nd. By four in the afternoon, the wind had dropped to the point that we had to motor sail. By ten that night, we were only on the motor at 900 RPM. We had to take it slow so we could get to Sombrero Key Light in full daylight, estimated for around 8 AM.
We came into the Boot key harbor channel on the morning of the 22nd, and stopped at Pancho's to get topped off with fuel and water, and to empty trash. We also met a friend of mine from my days working at Digital, Paul, who is running a charter operation here in the keys. He came aboard and helped us into the anchorage and to get settled.
We put down two anchors because the predicted norther was coming in on the 23rd, so we settled in and prepared for the front coming through. The harbor was filling up with boats right up to the arrival of the front. The good news is that the front was not as bad as was predicted, wind at 22 knots instead of 30 knots, and our anchor did not drag and no one dragged down on us.
We had a wonderful time here with Nicola and Noel, and also took them to Key West for some sightseeing and the traditional sun down at Mallory Square. We took them to the airport on the 28th so they could go on to their boat in Houston. We drove to Miami where long time friends, Marilyn and Mike, put us all up for the night, and Mike gave us a tour of Lincoln Avenue in South Beach. We dined amid the hubbub, and had a nice visit all round.
We are still at anchor in Boot Key Harbor, and are planning our next move. I turned in the autopilot hydraulic pump to a shop directly across the road from the City Marina. They had it back the same day. A magnet had come loose in the motor. I will be getting that installed into the hydraulic system tomorrow. That will entail bleeding the entire system over a two-day period.
We are planning to sail to Miami, and hope to be there before the boat show. The question is to gunk hole up to Miami or just go off shore and do an over night to there. We will be pondering that question for the next couple of days. In the meantime, we are getting adjusted to the cruising life. Last night we had a dinner of fresh garden salad, champagne (a lovely gift left us as a surprise from Nicola and Noel), and three pounds of stone crab claws (thanks to an insider tip from Mike)! Oh, did I mention the rum cocktail hour with ice cubes from my icemaker, a Rum Wookie? (Thanks, Kathy).--
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