Georgetown, SC, USA to Delcambre, LA, USA, April 2012
We were finally ready and the crew was ready to go. It was me, our son Stacy, and Noel, our friend from England. We left on the planned outgoing tide and all was well. We had food, water, and fuel all topped off. However, this passage from Georgetown, South Carolina, to Delcambre, Louisiana, via Marathon, Florida, and Morgan City, Louisiana, was aborted by the initial failure of the oil cooler for the Borg Warner Velvet Drive transmission. The failed oil cooler was allowing sea water into the transmission, and then the transmission would not turn the shaft.
We were just leaving Winyah Bay, on an outgoing tide, when the transmission failed. Luckily, we were able to anchor, but it was on a lee shore. It was pretty scary, but we got it done. We then checked the situation, and that is when we discovered the problem was with the transmission. Being prepared, I had a spare oil cooler on board, so we were able to remove the defective oil cooler and replace it with the new one.
We then started the process of cleaning out the dirty oil/sea water mix in the transmission. We did this by filling up the transmission with diesel fuel, then starting the engine and engaging the transmission. We allowed the transmission to pump the mixture out through the hoses to the oil cooler. The hoses were not connected to the oil cooler at this time, but into plastic jugs. We did this five times, and the fluid that came out of the transmission looked pretty clean. We then poured the actual transmission oil into the transmission, and pumped that out twice. By this time, the oil being pumped out was looking pretty good, so we topped off the oil in the transmission, and decided to give it a go.
The transmission worked. We were able to get the anchor up, and continue on our way. But about five hours later, around 2330 the night of 04-07-12, we had the same problem with the transmission, meaning it would not turn the prop. We checked the oil in the transmission, and it was gone. The front seal in the transmission was bad and after a couple of hours of use, the oil had all pumped out, into the bilge!
I decided at that time to turn around and go back to Georgetown to repair the problem. The winds were from the southwest, so we could not sail to Charleston, I was unfamiliar with Charleston so did not want to try to go there. And, I was very familiar with Georgetown, and had friends there.
As we were heading back to Georgetown, we checked the tides for Winyah Bay against our projected arrival time, and they were favorable. I topped off the transmission with oil, so we would have it for use for a few hours if we needed it. As it turned out, the transmission was needed. When we came in the entrance to Winyah Bay, we had to head west. The wind had shifted, and was coming out of the west. We were able to motor all the way to the anchorage that Kitty and I used on our first arrival in Winyah Bay. We got the anchor down and set, had a great breakfast, and rested. We were all very tired.
Our plan, again influenced by the tides, was to wait until the next morning, which was 04-09-12. We headed up the bay to Georgetown, sailing most of the way, and used the motor/transmission only when necessary. While we were at anchor, I topped off the transmission with oil.
The plan worked very well, and we were able to sail most of the way up the bay, and then use the engine/transmission to actually get into Georgetown, and back to the dock we had left a couple of days previously. I had called Bucky, our landlord during our long stay in Georgetown, and he said we could have our place back with no problem. During the trip up the bay, I also contacted Captain Ronnie at TowBoat US, and warned him that we might need a tow. As it happened, we did not need a tow, but being prepared gave us a good feeling.
Once docked, we had to get the transmission out of the boat, which was no easy task. I contacted a person in Georgetown who could rebuild the transmission. I also purchased a rebuild kit for the transmission that was due to arrive the following Wednesday or Thursday.
The process of removing the transmission is interesting! First, we had to remove the hard Bimini and move it to the bow of the boat and get it out of the way. That allowed us to use the main boom to lift the generator and transmission out of the engine room. We took the generator out of the boat to gain access to the transmission, and so we could actually remove the transmission.
On Monday, 04-09-12, after we got the boat securely tied up to the dock, got the electricity hooked up, and had a nice breakfast, we went to work. We got the boat scrubbed down, put all of the sheets, halyards and control lines away. We then got the Dutchman System secured on each mast, and the sail covers put on. Next we removed the hard Bimini and moved it to the bow of the boat. Then we went to work on the generator. We disconnected the exhaust hose, the cooling water input hoses, and the oil filtration system hoses, and got the generator ready for removing in the morning. We did not disconnect the fuel system hoses. By this time, we were pretty tired, so we had dinner, and chatted for a while about the processes of removing the generator and the transmission. Then we went to bed.
On Tuesday, 04-10-12, we finished disconnecting the generator by removing the fuel system hoses. We then verified that all wiring was removed and that all hoses and pipes that were being moved with the generator were secured to it. We got the lifting tackle arranged and connected to the boom, and to the generator, and then started sliding the generator out of its mounts. We started lifting the generator out of the hatch over the garage. At this time, we decided that the lifting tackle was too small. We set the generator on the deck in the garage and changed the tackle. Then we were able to lift the generator out through the hatch, but realized we had not raised the boom high enough to get the generator over the binnacle. Rather than raising the boom more, we changed the lifting point on the boom. We then lifted the generator up, and were able to move the generator around the binnacle, over the life rail, and safely onto the dock. That was a huge accomplishment!
With the generator out, we were able to remove the generator support brackets, the water lift muffler for the generator, and the shelf for the water lift mufflers. We decided it was not necessary to remove the water lift muffler for the main engine.
The prop shaft had to be backed out of the way before we could back out the transmission. We noticed several rust spots on the shaft, so we sanded down the shaft and cleaned it up. We removed everything that was in the way of the transmission being lifted out of the engine room.
By this time, it was obvious that we had a lot of oily water in the bilge, and it had to be removed. However, I had no containers in which to pump the oily water. I solved this problem by calling a friend who makes his own bio diesel with waste cooking oil. He was out of town, but his truck was in the parking lot close to DREAM AWAY. He had several five gallon containers of waste cooking oil in the truck bed. I asked him if I put the waste cooking oil into my diesel Jerry Jugs, so I could use his now empty containers. He happily said yes! I had one partially filled jerry jug of diesel, and a full one, each of which I emptied into the starboard fuel tank. That topped it off. I also had an empty jerry jug of gasoline, which we used. We then went over to the truck and decanted the waste cooking oil into my three jerry jugs. We ended up with three containers that we could use for the oily bilge water. It was late, so we had a light dinner. Stacy, Noel, and I stayed up chatting about all sorts of issues, and finally went on to bed.
On Wednesday, 04-11-12, we had a nice breakfast and then we started removing the transmission. I had to get to the manual electric bilge pump under the galley sink. We were disconnecting the output of the manual electric bilge pump from the overboard discharge, and putting it into our empty waste cooking oil containers. I got everything cleaned out from under the galley sink, and got the output hose from the bilge pump into the empty waste cooking oil container. The bilge pump pickup hose was in the bilge. We turned on the pump, and nothing came out! This pump was working three weeks ago!! To make a long story short, it was discovered the input hose was blocked with debris just ahead of the strainer. The debris had gotten into the hose because the screen on the pickup hose had come off. We finally got all of those issues fixed, and the pump started working. We got the bilge pumped out, and were then able to continue with removing the transmission.
I had kept blocks of wood from my last engine project, so we put one of the blocks into the bilge, under the back of the engine. We put the bottle jack on the wooden block in the bilge, and were able to jack up the back of the engine. Then we disconnected the prop shaft from the transmission, and pushed the shaft back about five inches. We verified that all of the bolts and nuts holding the transmission to the engine were broken loose. Next, we wrapped some line around the cockpit, and ran it through the engine room to attach to our lifting tackle. We got the lifting tackle attached, put additional lines around the transmission, and were able to lift the transmission. We jacked up the back of the engine to get the mounts on the transmission out of the way of everything. We removed all of the bolts and nuts holding the transmission to the engine. With our lifting tackle, we raised the transmission up as high as it would go, then swung the transmission into the galley. We disconnected the lifting tackle from the lines in the engine room, and attached the tackle to the main boom. We lifted the transmission out of the galley, and over to the dock!! This was a job well done.
I removed the mounts from the transmission, and it was ready to go. The rebuild kit had arrived so I called the designated mechanic and made arrangements for the pickup. He came and picked up the parts kit and the transmission. He told us he would get back to me later, after he had torn down the transmission. We cleaned up a bit, and went out to lunch. We came back to the boat, and spent the remainder of the day cleaning oily water out of the bilge. I used my wet/dry vac to vacuum up all of the debris remaining in the bilge. When we had finished for the day, the bilge was in very decent shape and all of the oily water was in containers on the dock, ready to be recycled.
On Thursday, April 12th, as we were getting ready to clean up the engine room and do the other tasks to get ready to put the transmission back in, I realized the mechanic had not called. Just as I had the thought, he called with the great news the transmission work was completed! He had had to put in some additional parts because the old ones did not look good. I was getting a completely rebuilt transmission! He said he was on his way down to the boat with the transmission. As it turned out, he got hung up on another project, and did not get the transmission down to the boat until 1300. That was no problem as we had plenty of other projects to get done. I assigned Stacy the project of sanding, scraping, and painting the aft motor mounts that attached to the transmission. Noel and I went to work finishing off the clean up on the engine room, and cleaning all of the containers, including the wet/dry vac we’d used to clean out the bilge. I also put the electric bilge pump hoses back into position so they would pump overboard, as we had removed the waste oil containers. I put all of the items back that went under the galley sink. By the time the transmission arrived, we were ready for it.
We started getting the transmission back into the boat, which overall went very well. We got the transmission in, and bolted up to the engine, and bolted down to the motor mounts. We checked the alignment of the shaft, and it was under .012". We felt good about that. We bolted the shaft to the transmission, but had to take it apart again as we had forgotten to remove the bottle jack that was supporting the engine. We could not get the jack out with the shaft bolted in place. We got the bottle jack out of the bilge, and also removed the wooden block used to support the engine. Then we bolted the shaft back up to the transmission. We got the oil cooler installed, along with all of the water and oil hoses. I put a new oil soak pad under the engine bell-housing so we would be able to check for leaks. We then filled the transmission with oil, started the engine, and engaged the transmission. It was great! The transmission worked in both forward and reverse! We stopped the engine, and checked and topped off the oil in the transmission. We started the engine again, re-verified we had forward and reverse, then left it running at 1200 RPM in forward. This was 1630, and we were very happy. We celebrated with a tot of rum. As we were enjoying the tot of rum, the engine started to surge, and then it hit me, I had switched off the fuel tank when we disconnected the generator! I quickly shut down the engine, went below, and switched on the fuel. We waited 10 minutes, hoping the fuel would get back into the system. All for naught, the engine would not run. I told Stacy and Noel, we were going to wait until tomorrow to do anything further because I was tired, and wanted a shower, some dinner, and some sleep. We quit for the day. Everyone had showers, and we enjoyed a meal of steak, baked potatoes, and salad.
On Friday, the 13th of April, we bled the main engine and got it running again. We put the generator back into the boat and got it running. Then we got the hard bimini back over the cockpit, and put all of the wiring back together.
Our departure had been substantially delayed. Since my son, Stacy, had planned the time aboard to fit in with all his other travels, the delay meant that now he would not be able to make the passage from Georgetown to Marathon. That left only two people, Noel and me, to make the trip. We needed another crew person. We felt it would not be smart for only two of us to make a six day passage. A tired crew makes stupid mistakes. So the plan was changed. Kitty and Nicola had to cancel most of their planned road trip and join us to make the passage. They were able to visit with our friend Dale, in Cross Hill, South Carolina, for one night. And they did get to Hendersonville, North Carolina, for two nights to visit the Biltmore Estate, with its spectacular home, beautiful gardens, and the winery. Then they joined us in Georgetown on the 13th of April. Stacy drove the ‘Black Beast’ back to Atlanta on the 14th of April, and Kitty and Nicola became our crew for the Georgetown to Marathon run, and the continuation to Morgan City. We departed Georgetown on the morning high tide on the 15th of April.
The following pictures are of us getting ready to leave Georgetown the first time, and pictures of the transmission removal and replacement.
The passage from Georgetown, South Carolina, to Key Biscayne, Florida, was interesting. We left the dock with the four of us on board, those being myself, Kitty, and our English friends, Nicola and Noel. We left around 0730, on the morning of April 15th, on an outgoing tide, and were rewarded with a great ride down Winyah Bay. Sometimes we were reaching over 7 knots.
When we got outside the bay, and headed south, the speed dropped, and it never got much better. The whole passage was a good news/bad news trip. We had hoped for a break with the winds and current, but basically never did get one. The wind was pretty much on our nose for the whole trip. We did not have any really bad weather until our last day of the passage, near Miami. We raised the mizzen sail stay sail to steady the boat, and tried to get any push out of the wind when we could.
When we had left Georgetown, there were 2264.15 hours on the main engine, and when we pulled into the marina on Key Biscayne, the hours registered were 2413.73. That tells the story about how much sailing we did. Needless to say, the newly rebuilt transmission got a great test. Fortunately, it passed with flying colors.
During the passage to Miami, we were never more than 40 miles off shore. After we passed Cape Canaveral, we hugged the shore to stay out of the effects of the Gulf Stream. From Palm Beach south we pretty much rode the 30' line until we turned into Government Cut, in Miami.
We did have one issue come up, and it is not yet resolved. When running off of the port fuel tank, the engine would stop, even though the tank was half full. This happened twice. It was time to trouble shoot the problem. My first thought was that the vent hose was stopped up, but inspection showed that was not the problem. Then I suspected that the fuel hose from the port tank to the fuel manifold was either collapsing or coming apart. We ended up having to hand-pump 20 gallons of diesel from the port tank into the starboard tank so we would have enough fuel to ensure our trip to Marathon. When we got to Crandon Park Marina, we pumped the last 20 gallons out of the port tank, so now it is empty.
On April 20th, my watch from 2200 until 0100, on the 21st, was beautiful. We were making five knots, and DREAM AWAY was in about 40' of water, 1/2 mile from the beach. Kitty came on watch at 0100, and had a pretty uneventful watch. I was with her most of the time, as we were going by Port Everglades with four anchored ships off shore, and lots of boat traffic around the port entrance. When Noel came on watch at 0400, the fun began! We had run up the back of a storm, and it was really windy with lots of rain. We had to get the mizzen sail and the staysail down quickly, because of the increasing winds. After that was done, I went back to sleep, leaving Noel on watch. At 0700, I awoke because I knew Noel needed some hot coffee, so I got up to make it. Before making the coffee, I put the stay sail and the mizzen sail back up to help steady the boat, and to try and get more speed. I got the coffee going, and sat in the cockpit with Noel. It was a very wet morning, but the hot coffee helped!
We listened to the weather radio, and the 2-4 foot seas they mentioned were really closer to 6-8 foot seas, and the wind was much higher than the predicted 15 knots. The prediction for the next couple of days was for a strong cold front with 20-25 knot winds from the west, and then the northwest. This was not good news for us trying to make it to Marathon, in the central Keys. It was at this time that I made the decision that we would not continue on to Marathon, but would instead head into Miami, and make our way to the Crandon Park Marina, on Key Biscayne. It was a fun ride, but we made it into Government Cut. The seas settled down, and it was a nice ride from there to the marina. We arrived at the marina around 1300 on April 21st.
We made arrangements to stay for three days. This was another change in plans. Nicola and Noel had to be in New Orleans on the 1st of May to catch their flight back home to the UK. It was pretty obvious we would not be able to guarantee we could get to them Louisiana by that time.
So, we made a new plan. We would stay in Crandon Park Marina, until the morning of the 24th of April. The weather looked as if it would be good, and we should have 10-15 knots of wind from the Northeast. This portends that we may at last get in some sailing. We plan to leave early in the morning, sail down to Rodriguez Key, and spend the night there. On the morning of the 25th, we planned to finish the trip to Marathon in the central Keys. We planned to be on a mooring in Boot Key Harbor for about a week. On the 28th of April, we would drive Nicola and Noel up to Fort Lauderdale, so they could fly to New Orleans. They would spend a couple of days enjoying the city, and hopefully attending the annual Jazz Festival, before their flight home. That all worked out beautifully.
Kitty and I then drove back to Marathon, and spent a couple of days kickin' back. Our 43rd wedding anniversary was on April 30th, so we enjoyed that day, and watched for a weather window that would allow us to set off on the passage to Louisiana. But I’m jumping ahead.
Not many pictures of our departure from Georgetown and our arrivial into Miami.
We stayed at Crandon Park Marina waiting for the bad weather to pass. What a great decision that was as it really rained and the wind blew at 60+ knots outside the reef. But, it finally settled down, and we departed Crandon Park Marina, on Key Biscayne, on the morning of the 24th of April. I was initially concerned about getting out of our slip, and getting under way, because there was still enough wind to make maneuvering out of the slip a challenge. But it turned out to be a piece of cake. Having three extra, experienced hands on board was a great help.
We sailed down the Hawk Channel to Rodriguez Key, which is just off of Key Largo, approximately 50 miles south and west of Miami. The Hawk Channel is a channel that runs between the Florida Keys and the off-shore reef. Believe it or not, we actually got to sail most of the way to Rodriguez Key. It was not fast sailing, but the engine was not running, and we had the mizzen up, and the 150% Genoa poled out with the spinnaker pole. It made for a nice sail.
Noel and I had quite an adventure getting the spinnaker pole rigged and put out. We finally accomplished the task, but it took a while. We decided there needed to be some modifications to the placement of the hardware on the ends of the pole, and also determined that the control line needed to be changed to a smaller size. I actually finished the modifications after Noel left, so we had a perfectly functional pole for the second leg of the passage.
We did make Rodriguez Key by the evening of the 24th, and anchored on the southeast side of the key. As predicted, the wind filled in from the northeast, so we had a comfortable night at anchor. We were anchored in eight feet of water, and I had the 55# CQR anchor out, and the 22# Bruce anchor was hanging at the 35' mark on the chain. It had a total of 100' feet of chain out. We finished off the evening by completing the game of Mexican Train that we had started while at Crandon Park.
The next morning, we were up early and under way by 0730. At 0816, we officially became a sail boat, again with mizzen sail up and the Genoa poled out. We sailed all day. We made the turn into Boot Key Harbor, called the City Marina, and got our mooring assignment. We grabbed the mooring and got it secured to DREAM AWAY. When we got the boat squared away, we had the traditional arrival celebration with a "tot" of rum. We then put the tender in the water and all four of us went to Burdine's for dinner. I especially wanted their fried Key Lime Pie. We had a great meal, and enjoyed visiting with friends whom we had made when we lived there in 2005. Then we went back to DREAM AWAY, put the tender on the davits, and turned in for the night.
We all had a great night’s sleep. The weather was cool, and there was a nice breeze. Of course, we were all pretty tired. First thing next morning, we got on the Internet so that I could catch up on emails, and Nicola could get reservations made for a flight out of Fort Lauderdale to New Orleans, which was the departure city for their flight back to the UK.
When Kitty got up, we put the tender into the water and made our way to the City Marina to check in, pay our fees, get facility keys, and do all of the official stuff. When that was completed, we headed across the street from the City Marina to the Stuffed Pig. It is a local hangout where you can enjoy a great but inexpensive breakfast or lunch. We did enjoy it, and then Noel and I walked up to the local Home Depot, and gazed in wide wonder! Nicola and Kitty headed down to the local West Marine, with stops at the Monroe County Library, and the Marathon Discount Book Store. Kitty used to work at the Marathon Discount Book Store when we lived in Marathon in 2005. That stop was very sad for Kitty as the store was closed, because the owner, Charley, had committed suicide the previous weekend.
Noel and I finally tore ourselves away from the Home Depot, and met Nicola and Kitty at West Marine. Nicola and Noel were looking into purchasing some binoculars, and I needed some marine fuel hose. Noel got his binoculars, but the price for the fuel hose at West Marine was twice the price I knew it to be at the local NAPA auto parts store. So, believe it or not, I got out of the West Marine, without spending a dime. We made our way back to City Marina, then back out to DREAM AWAY. We spent the remainder of the day working on small boat projects, and being on the Internet. Noel made an outstanding peanut chicken for dinner, and then we played a couple of games of Yahtzee before going to bed.
Next day, Friday the 27th, was laundry day. Also, Nicola and Noel finalized reservations for Saturday afternoon, April 28th, to fly out of Fort Lauderdale. We made reservations with Enterprise Car Rental, for a pickup on Saturday morning at 0900. Late Friday afternoon, we parked the car at the marina and walked over to The Keys Fisheries to have a farewell seafood dinner. We enjoyed the great seafood, and sitting out on the covered porch watching the boats and wildlife.
Saturday morning, we came into the dinghy dock, and Marcus, from Enterprise, picked us up and took us to the airport in Marathon where we got the rental car, a new Dodge Magnum. Then we headed up to Fort Lauderdale. It was a nice drive, but there was lots of rain. We got into Fort Lauderdale early enough to have lunch, and lucked into a great place. We stopped at a BBQ joint known as Tom Jenkins Bar-B-Q. What a find! We had a great lunch, and Nicola and Noel bought us lunch as an anniversary present. When we finished lunch, we dropped Nicola and Noel at the airport. It was sad seeing them go, but we plan to see one another again next year, if not sooner.
We left Fort Lauderdale, and drove to Miami where we stopped to visit with Marilyn and Mike, who were sitting Shiva for her mother. Marilyn's mother, Ruth, was a truly sweet and wonderful person who will be missed, but remembered for all the love and joy she brought into this world. We visited for a couple of hours, and then headed back to Marathon. We stopped and had a great Cuban dinner along the way. When we finally got back to Marathon, we had to wait in the car for 45 minutes for the rain to stop. We finally got a break, and dinghied out to DREAM AWAY. We were able to put our heads on the pillows around 2300.
Sunday, April 29th, we had planned to do grocery shopping early, but were not able to make our way to the dock until 1600, because of all of the rain. We got the shopping done and all the groceries onto DREAM AWAY and put away. Before we went shopping, I had spent most of the day getting caught up on computer stuff like emails, paperwork and receipt separation, paying bills, and lots of items scanned into the computer. During the day, it seemed as if Kitty and I were jumping up every 20 minutes to open or close hatches because of the rain.
Monday, April 30th, was a big day for us in many ways. It was our 43rd wedding anniversary, and also the day I needed to get the fuel problem solved with the port fuel tank. It was raining heavily in the morning, but we finally got a break in the weather and were able to get into the dock to return the Enterprise rental car. On the way to the airport, I stopped by the NAPA auto parts store and purchased 15' of 3/8" marine fuel hose. I wanted to be sure I had enough fuel hose to fix the problem and to have some spare. We got back to City Marina, and back out to DREAM AWAY, by late morning.
I removed the fuel hose that ran from the port fuel tank to the fuel input manifold. This was no easy task. The fittings were hard to get to, but I finally got the hose removed from both ends. The good news is that the fuel hose looked in really good shape, but, since I had purchased the new fuel hose, I decided to go ahead and replace it. The bad news is that the problem turned out to be some kind of sludge in the fuel fitting at the tank. This sludge looked and felt like really thin silly putty. I was able to pull the big wad of it out of the tank fitting after I removed the fitting from the tank. I cleaned out all I could get to, and then put the fittings all back together, and installed the new fuel hose. This sludge problem really concerns me as I have been pretty religious about putting Bioguard diesel fuel additive into the fuel tanks on a quarterly basis, and I also filter almost all of the fuel I put into the tanks. The matter will require more investigation.
After we had showers (love that water maker!), we prepared our anniversary dinner, which was grilled Porterhouse steaks, steamed Stone Crab claws, steamed corn on the cob, and grape salad. Kitty had made a carrot cake with coconut pecan icing for dessert, and, of course, there was wine. We also enjoyed watching the movie "Larry Crowne". It was a wonderful night, and we did a lot of reminiscing about previous anniversaries.
Tuesday, May 1st, was spent getting DREAM AWAY cleaned up and ready to receive new crew. We went over to the City Marina in the afternoon, and got more laundry done. Then we picked up another Enterprise rental car so we could go to the airport in Key West to pick up our nephew, Zach, who would be crewing with us. On our way to Key West, we stopped at the Sunset Grill to have dinner with our friend Captain Marti Brown, who so kindly made dinner an anniversary present to us. We enjoyed catching up on her recent books, and her activities and adventures. When we said our goodbyes, we drove on to Key West. Zack arrived on time, and we were back on DREAM AWAY by 2230 that night.
The next day, May 2nd, we wanted to do our last bit of grocery shopping while we still had the rental car. Also, we had to pick up other last crew member, Gil. He had taken a bus from New Orleans to Marathon, and was pretty tired out, as he had ridden the bus all night. We picked him up, did the grocery shopping, and went back out to DREAM AWAY. Then we went back to the City Marina dinghy dock later in the afternoon so we could return the Enterprise rental car. Kitty stayed on DREAM AWAY to finish passage meal preparations.
We had planned to leave Marathon on Thursday, May 3rd, but I made the decision to wait and leave on Friday May 4th. The weather blowing out of the east at 20-25 knots had still not abated, and Gil was very tired and needed a full night's sleep. I wanted the crew to be fully rested when we left. The weather for Friday looked promising. We spent Thursday getting DREAM AWAY prepared, and the two new crew members got familiar with all of the systems on DREAM AWAY. We went over to Burdine's to have a meal out in the late afternoon sun. It was especially enjoyable as our friend Brenda, who works at Burdine's, was there, newly returned from her trip to "our" Rio, in Guatemala. It was fun to catch up with her and all the news. She sweetly treated us to a big piece of fried Key Lime pie. Yum! We finished the meal and visiting, and went back to DREAM AWAY in the tender. We got the tender snugged up in the davits, and made everything secure for an early morning departure.
The following pictures are of us sailing to Marathon Via Rodriguez Key, and our time in Boot Key Harbor.
We were up early on the morning of May 4th. We had a good breakfast, then dropped the mooring and went out the Boot Key Harbor channel to Burdine's fuel dock. We took on 116 gallons of diesel fuel, and got some bottled water and free ice. We left Burdine's dock around 0810, and headed out to the Hawk Channel. We initially tried to sail, but it was a down-wind trek, and the short, choppy seas remaining from the past week's blow were making the crew uncomfortable. It was decided to motor sail. As it turns out, the motor sailing continued for two-and-a-half days. Then the wind died, and it was just motoring!
We did not have a bad passage across the Gulf of Mexico, but we did not have a good one either. By the time we got to the middle of the Gulf, the wind just went away. The good news was that the seas were down, so the motoring was smooth, and I was able to play the currents so that we could get some help from them ... sometimes as much as a two-knot boost.
The new crew members fit right in and got into the rhythm of the boat and the watch schedule. The schedule was the same as the passage from Georgetown to Marathon, which was four hour watches from 0700 to 1900, and three hour watches from 1900 to 0700. Zack was able to catch and land a very nice 34.5 inch dolphin fish. That was a great dinner for us all. We saw all of the things you would expect on a Gulf crossing. Dolphins at the front of the boat playing in the bow wave, many ships going back and forth across the Gulf, and of course, oil platforms.
We passed a super tanker that was anchored, and transferring oil to a smaller tanker that would take the oil into a shallow-water harbor. We saw many, many oil platforms, and many of the boats that service the oil platforms. We actually saw a fair amount of drilling rigs, which is good news for the industry and economy.
The last night at sea was bad. A cold front had passed over us, and the predicted five-knot winds turned out to be mostly 20+ knot winds, right on our bow. It was hard getting through the oil patch, and we came closer to one of the really big platforms than made us uncomfortable. We pretty much had to hand-steer all night to make any progress. We finally made it through the night, and by early morning we were heading up the Atchafalaya Channel in Atchafalaya Bay. By 1000, we were actually in the Atchafalaya River and in the final stretch up to Morgan City. We were tied up to the Morgan City public dock by 1425 on May 10th
The remainder of the day was spent getting DREAM AWAY squared away. We put the sail covers on, put lines away, and got the boat washed down. We had gone all the way across the Gulf without any salt spray on DREAM AWAY, until the last night, when we really got a lot of spray all over the forward deck.
We woke up the morning of May 11th to pouring rain, with some thunder and lightning. I prepared a big breakfast for the crew. When 0900 came around, the transportation had arrived, so our crew, Gil and Zack, departed and headed for New Orleans and returned to their homes. Kitty and I stayed inside all day because of the rain, and spent that time getting DREAM AWAY back to normal. It stopped raining enough to have the planned free street concert. It was a great band from Lafayette, which we really enjoyed. The concert was on Front Street, about 100' from DREAM AWAY! They played quite a variety of music, everything from the 60's hits to soul music to Zydeco. Lots of people were dancing in the street. Everyone had great fun. And it all closed down at 2100, so we were able to get a good night's sleep.
Pictures of the Gulf Crossing To Morgan City, from Marathon, Florida.
We had planned to move DREAM AWAY to another marina and boat yard that was about 50 miles from Morgan City. It was there that we planned to get a slip and get the mast removed. But, the manager did not call us back with information we needed to negotiate the shallow bay and to get into the marina on Sunday, and our travel plans for visiting Atlanta did not allow any flexibility in our making the trip across Vermillion Bay. We didn’t want to risk it.
We buttoned up DREAM AWAY, so we could leave her at the dock in Morgan City and get to Atlanta to get our truck. We thought we were all squared away, but on the morning of the 15th of May, the dock master came by and asked that we move DREAM AWAY down the dock to accommodate some incoming shrimpers. This was something of an adventure as it caught us short on time to make the move. We had to maneuver DREAM AWAY out from between two shrimp boats, and then put her back on the dock down river between two other shrimp boats. The good news was that there was not much wind or current, and we did have some help from a man who was at the dock almost every day of good weather to fish all day. He has his whole fishing ensemble set up, including folding chair, a table/stand with beer cooler, a radio, and all of his fishing gear in places attached to the stand. He said he would help us, and he was indeed a great help. We were able to throw him our lines when we moved down the dock. We got all of our lines looped over the pilings, and got the fenders deployed. Then we got the electricity hooked up.
We got all our luggage packed, had showers, and waited for the taxi. There are no buses out of Morgan City, and we didn't know anyone for whom we could buy gas and get a ride, so we had taken a taxi to New Iberia where we met the train. The taxi got us to the train platform around 1400. Unfortunately, there was no real station, and the train did not arrive until 1740, so we had to sit outside in plastic chairs for 3 1/2 hours. At least we were in the shade. If we have to take the train again, we sure won't worry about arriving early
Once we boarded the train, The Sunset Limited, life was good. Our 4-hour trip from New Iberia to New Orleans was wonderful, and uneventful. We had coach class seats that were roomy and comfortable. They even had power for the computers, though no Internet service. Once we got ourselves settled, we headed to the dining car to enjoy a meal while watching the scenery go by. We sat with another couple who had started their trip in Tucson, AR, and were going to New Orleans. We had a great visit with them. We were even able to point out DREAM AWAY to them as we crossed the railroad bridge where it passed over the Atchafalaya River in Morgan City. The only disappointing part of the trip was that it was dark when we got to New Orleans, so we were not able to get a good view of the Huey P. Long Bridge over the Mississippi River.
We got off of the train, and took a taxi to our hotel. We got to our room and went quickly to sleep. We were up early the next morning, May 16th, checked out of the hotel, and got a taxi to the Union Station to get on the train to Atlanta. On this train, The Crescent, we had reserved a "Roomette". This was a wonderful way to travel, and it was especially great that the "Roomette" upgrade included three meals. We took advantage of the meal service in the dining car, and really enjoyed both the food and the company. Again, it was quite entertaining to dine while watching the scenery unfold. Kitty took advantage of the drop down bunk, and took a quick nap. It was also a plus that we had a private toilet and sink. We arrived in Atlanta at 1940, wonderfully refreshed, and were met at the station by Tina and Stacy, who took us to dinner at one of their favorite haunts, El Azteca.
Our visit in Atlanta was wonderful, as usual. We got in good visits with Stacy and Tina, and with Judy. On Monday morning the 21st of May, we went to our Atlanta storeroom and loaded the truck with most of the stuff we had removed from DREAM AWAY for the passage, plus a couple of tools that will be necessary to accomplish a couple of projects I have planned for DREAM AWAY. After loading the truck, we drove back to the hotel where we were staying. Stacy and Tina had treated us rather lavishly by renting us a suite at a hotel when they left on a previously planned beach holiday. They also provided the adjoining room for Judy, so we had a really laid back visit with her, too.
The next day, May 22nd, we spent a couple of hours visiting with Judy, then got into the truck, and headed out for Morgan City, Louisiana. We arrived in Morgan City around 2230. We got only the most necessary items out of the truck and onto DREAM AWAY, aired out DREAM AWAY, and went to bed.
May 23rd was a busy day for us. We left DREAM AWAY early and drove up to Delcambre, Louisiana. The folks at Coastal Crewboats were not at the shop. They were off in Venice, Louisiana, working on a boat. We went by the marina in Delcambre that was newly finished. Kitty called the marina manager, and made arrangements for us to keep DREAM AWAY there until the end June. We then went to the local police station where we signed the lease and paid our slip rent.
We then went looking for a storage room in which to store stuff from DREAM AWAY and the tools I had brought from Atlanta. We could not find a suitable, available storage room, in Delcambre, or in the neighboring town of Erath. We ended up renting a 10x10 unit in New Iberia, about 11 miles away. We went to our new storage facility and unloaded all of the stuff from the truck into the storage room. From New Iberia we drove back to Morgan City, stopping in a grocery store to get groceries for the weekend.
Because of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, Kitty and I decided to take DREAM AWAY to the marina in Delcambre the next day, May 24. That way we could get settled in, and would not have to fight the holiday waterway traffic.
We left the Morgan City dock early on the morning of the 24th, and headed up the GIWW at 0700. It was a nice trip, and we were able to motor sail about half way by putting out about 1/3 of the Genoa sail. We got to the marina in Delcambre, and were tied up, by 1700. It was an easy, relaxing trip, and we were very relieved to be mostly settled.
The very last item required to get truly settled in was to retrieve our truck from Morgan City. This problem was solved by some help from Steve, who is a mechanic for Coastal Crewboats. He drove us from Delcambre to Morgan City on the morning of the 25th of May. We got the truck, picked up a few more groceries, and came back to Delcambre. We now felt as if we were truly settled in - at least until the end of June.
I know there is more information in this than is normally in a passage update, but as I mentioned, I took a lot of the information for this passage from my updates.
An Interesting note about this whole passage. The reason the passage was made was to be closer to my job in Louisiana. Just before we left on the passage I got laid off, so technically, had no job to be close to! The problem was there was a lot of plans already in place, that would be very difficult to change or stop. Kitty and I decided to continue with the move. So far we have no regrets, and we are really enjoying living in Louisiana.
Just a few comments about the passage as a whole … DREAM AWAY was a motor boat for almost all of the passage, and the engine performed wonderfully. Every 48 hours of running, I stopped the engine for about 30 minutes to check the water and the oil. It never seemed to use much of either. For the 318 hours put on the main engine, I used two quarts of oil.
Because I knew I would be doing a lot of the meals and cleanup on the passage, we did a lot of meal preparation before departing Georgetown. The meals were then frozen. This worked out very well. We had spaghetti with meat sauce, meat loaf, pork roast, hot wings, and of course, fresh fish. I was able to cook Birds Eye Steamers frozen vegetables in the microwave. This was a great addition. The vegetables were delicious, and seemed almost fresh.
I also experimented with breakfasts. I do like a hearty breakfast, but it can be tricky putting it together while underway. So we cooked up sausage and bacon and put them in small Lock-N-Lock containers and froze them. We also put fresh chopped bell peppers and onions in their own Lock-N-Lock containers and froze those. Lastly, we beat sets of four raw eggs with a small amount of milk, and put each into Lock-N-Lock containers and froze them. Of course, we had to remember to get the containers out of the freezer the night before. In the morning, I put the sausage or bacon, and the onions and peppers, into a skillet, and sautéed them. I then added two containers of the raw eggs. A few minutes later, I had a hearty breakfast for a hungry crew. I even cheated on some mornings and baked the frozen biscuits in the oven to have along with the scrambled eggs. This was a quick and easy way to have a great, hot meal without a lot of fuss. If you have a good freezer on your boat, this is the way to go.
As you may be aware by looking at my setup for the navigation system, it is a bit complicated, but it works quite well. We mounted the Apple iPad in the cockpit and had it displaying the CAPN navigation program that was running on the virtual machine on the MacBook Pro below deck. This was wonderful, and a great help to the person on watch. Our concern about a waterproof case, which I did not have, was solved by covering the iPad with a two gallon Zip Lock bag whenever rain or spray threatened.
Last but not least, let me mention an electronic issue that was very frustrating, and was not fixed until I got to Morgan City. As most of you know, I have a pretty robust computer system on DREAM AWAY. It also serves as my navigation computer. I had some issues with the USB to serial converters. I had a Prolific USB to serial converter that worked just great when sending data using the Globalstar satellite phone from the Windows XP virtual machine running on the MacBook Pro. When I wanted to send data using the Globalstar satellite phone straight from the MacBook Pro, it would not work.
I was advised by two sources that the USB to serial converter to use with the MacBook Pro was the KEYSPAN 19H. These same sources said the USB to Serial converter for the XP operating system was the Edgeport USB to Serial converter. I ordered one of the KEYSPAN products and connected it to my serial switch box. I did not like this unit to start off with as there is no way to mechanically attach the unit to the switch box. I had to just plug it in. As it turned out, a couple of times during the passage, the converter fell out of the switch box.
Once I got the KEYSPAN 19H USB to Serial converter connected to the MacBook Pro, I was able to send data using the Globalstar satellite phone. I brought up the Windows XP virtual machine running on the MacBook Pro, and from that operating system I was able to send data via the Globalstar satellite phone. I also verified that the GPS data available to the CAPN software was also running on the Windows XP virtual machine.
My normal routine before leaving the dock is to bring up the CAPN navigation software and verify it is working in conjunction with GPS input data, and to make sure the CAPN output can be seen on the iPad in the cockpit. When this was completed, we disconnected the power from the dock, dropped the dock lines, and got underway. I soon discovered, as we were threading our way through the harbor and anchorage, that the CAPN software was hung.
I will not go into a huge explanation, but eventually I was able to trouble shoot the problem to the KEYSPAN 19H USB to Serial converter. Whenever AC power sources were changed on the boat, the KEYSPAN 19H USB to Serial converter would hang the system. When I say ‘hang the system’, that could mean just the CAPN navigation software was hung, or it could mean that I would have to reboot the MacBook Pro to get the use of the KEYSPAN 19H USB to Serial converter back. This was very frustrating, as I would run the generator every two days so I could run the water maker. So, this problem occurred every two days.
When I switched off the inverter, and switched on the generator, the system would hang, and I would have to fix it. When the generator was switched off and the inverter switched back on, the system would hang, and I would have to fix it.
As a test, I replaced the KEYSPAN 19H USB to Serial converter from the MacBook Pro to the serial switch box with the Edgeport USB to Serial converter. I did not have the problem with the hangs after that. I was able to make a satellite data call from the Windows XP virtual machine running on the MacBook Pro with no problem. I have not yet checked the possibility of making a satellite data call from the MacBook Pro. That will be a future project
Pictures are from the train trip to Atlanta and trip from Morgan City to Delcambre on DREAM AWAY.
This is an addendum to the Georgetown to Morgan City Passage. Our English friends, Nicola and Noel, made the trip from Georgetown to Marathon with us. They gave me copies of the pictures they took, but I forgot to put them in the update, and have just found them. Instead of trying to integrate their pictures into the pictures already there, I decided to put all of them here in one place. Hope you enjoy them.