Friday, March 31, 2006

Key West Living

Hello Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea. Let's go to press...

Scott and Sue are still anchored off of Christmas Tree Island in Key West. At the left is a picture from our anchorage from Sunday when there was an informal sailboat race sponsored by Schooner Bar (over rated..$3.50 for a 6 ounce plastic cup of beer accompanied by some really bad music.).

This is actually not the greatest anchorage except it is so FREE and the sunsets are great! The wind has really not abated since we arrived a week ago and there is a bit of boat traffic right through the anchorage. Still...IT'S SO FREE! There is a strong reversing tidal current here and I did reset my second anchor yesterday. Now we have a very nice Bahamian mooring. Not that tough to do. I first layed our all chain anchor and set it well. Then I tied a yellow ribbon to the chain. Now we back off a distance equal to how much chain was already out. Drop the second hook and begin motoring back the way you came while I reel in the chain and pay out the rode on the second anchor. About half way back I snub the rode to set this anchor and then motor up the rest of the way again paying out rode and reeling in chain until I see the yellow ribbon! Now I can snug up both anchor lines/chain and feel a little more secure in that I have two anchors down and that I won't be spinning in a giant circle among the other boats.

We now have our first guest aboard since my daughter and husband visited us in Ft. Lauderdale. Sue's sister is staying aboard and enjoying a long weekend vacation from the frozen tundra of Joliet Illinois. We wish the anchorage was a little calmer for her (and us!) but we are all coping well.

Plans are afoot as to our next destination but nothing is decided yet. We will probably spend a month or so here in Key West. For one reason, its fun here and for another, Scott has found some work again! Something about removing a roof from a house but I'll know more next week. Sunset from Key West anchorage

I've made some progress understanding the SSB radio that we installed back in Ft. Lauderdale. I'm receiving pretty well and hearing boats calling various SSB nets from way down in the Caribbean. I'm not sure that I'm broadcasting all that well though but experiments are continuing. Any SSB experts out there drop me a line.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Key West!!!

Although slow, LeahC (that's right, that's LeahC of Chicago Running Fame) has now updated the map to correctly show where sailors Scott and Sue are. I promise in the future to be more on top of that as they move around as it really only takes about 1 minute to update the picture.

Monday, March 27, 2006

282 days to Key West

Yes fans...we've made it! After 282 days of the Great Lakes, Erie Canal, Long Island, buying a new boat, the ICW, keeping the dirt on the starboard side, sailing the Atlantic, numerous breakdowns, and two months in Ft. Lauderdale we are at land's end. The place not the store! We are very happy and more than a little amazed that we've actually made it!

We got here in two very nice sailing hops. From Boot Key we went into New Found harbor and spent three great days anchored outside of our friend Larry's brother's (Mike) house on Ramrod Key. Good people, and good FOOD! It is very shallow here but Mike came out and helped to lead us into a nice 7-9 foot deep anchorage.

From there ANOTHER nice sail into Key West. This means that we actually SAILED the entire Hawk Channel from Miami to Key West with motor only getting onto and off the anchor! What a treat. In Key West we are anchored just west of downtown off of a little island called Christmas Island (I think). Lots of abandoned sailboats washed up on the shores of this island so I guess this is NOT where to be for hurricane season! We will spend maybe as much as a month here while deciding our next destination and getting our front sail cover repaired and taking care of some other minor things. Since our arrival here the wind has not stopped blowing 20 knots out of the north making our anchorage a little (ok a LOT) rolly. The wind is supposed to clock around to the NE and then E and we hope that will allow the channel to calm down a bit.

More pics to come but blogger is being BAD!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Pictures from the near past...

Here we are in the Overseas Lounge in Marathon Fl. They have free wifi, beer, food, sports, live music, pool table, games, and friendly people. All that's missing is a cot to nap on! Anyway, here's some pictures from our launch in Ft. Lauderdale down to our anchorage in Boot Key Harbor.

Finally Enne gets launched from her parking place in Ft. Lauderdale. Launching is always gut-wrenching. But the crew at Pier 17 are pros and nothing to worry. And no leaks detected as Enee touched down!
However, starting was another in it didn't! Turned out to be a minor matter of wires that were not reconnected after doing some initial engine work back in January.

Once in the water, Sue jumped up the mast to connect our 'Mack Pack'. This is our new sail cover that allows us to just drop the sail into this pack and then zip it up. A great addition to a boat with a very high boom such as ours.

Happy sailors heading for Miami!
Well, Sue IS really happy. Just has trouble showing it!

Here we are on the anchor just off of Key Biscayne. Where's BeeBee Rebozo? Nice sunset too!

More pics later as we are enjoying our little stay here in Boot Key Harbor. Oh yeah...GO IU!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Adventures in Towing

Now that we are on the hook for a bit in Boot Key Harbor we can catch up on a few recent stories. Boot Key has a mighty fine wifi signal from right here in the cockpit! What follows are the gory details of our entrance to Miami...

Coming into Miami. We couldn’t have been more excited. After two months on the hard with long days just either working on our boat or on other people’s boats to make some cash, we were finally arriving someplace new. Then it happened. We’d navigated government cut into the port of Miami and taken the southern route around Lummus island. Huge container ships off to starboard and buoys marking the shallows off to port. And then the engine quit. Just like that. Running fine and then just shut itself off. Of course you do the obvious things. Restart. That never works and didn’t this time either. Go below and stare at the engine and see if it has its left ventricle sticking out of the oil pan or something obvious. No. It is just a maddening hunk of iron that won’t spin right now.

OK. Luckily it’s a sailboat and we can keep some way on by flying a little sail. So we roll out about half the jib and begin sailing in circles staying off of the big container ship and also off of the shallows. Not unlike the moments before the start of a sailing race we just continued to jibe back and forth (Thanks DaveR.!). While that was going on I did two things. I called Tow Boat US (with our unlimited towing package why wait?). They ask for the nature of our problem and our location. Now our location is easy on a number of fronts. For one I gave them our lat and long. That alone pinpoints us on the planet. Additionally, I said we are south of Lummus.island by a big container ship and we are the only 40 foot sailboat sailing in circles here. Fine. Next I had to find a marina to be towed to. Using our Florida cruising guide I began calling marinas and boat yards. Bad news. There is a regatta AND fishing tournament in town and there are NO slips. I mean NONE. While this is going on Sue is steering the boat and calling me topsides to help jibe the boat one way or another. While I am below one time Sue says, “Here comes the tow boat”. That seems about right and then she says, “And there they go out to sea!” At first I thought that they were probably going to another emergency and OUR rescue boat would be soon after. No. Pretty soon we got a call from the tow boat guys who I will hence forth refer to as Wayne and Garth. “Now, WHERE are you exactly?” What does one say after you’ve nailed your position down with GPS to within 10 meters? “We are south of Lummus island, sailing in circles and there is not another sailboat anywhere around us. Yeah, they cruised out to the ocean and started looking around for us. Finally they found us and actually did a great job towing us up the Miami river through 5 lift bridges including one with only one working span! With no available slips we were towed to their little working dock for only $80 per night (not covered by the insurance!)

Upon our arrival we were greeted by an over friendly dog who immediately jumped aboard, chased Gracie below, and the took a leak on our deck.

I have officially recorded this moment as my personal low point of the adventure.

I had called Stem to Stern soon after the engine quit as they had just worked on it and given it their seal of approval. True to their style Erik drove down to Miami from Ft. Lauderdale after putting in a full day of boat work to help us get it started. Erik worked on the boat from 4:30 to 10 pm not only getting her started again (had to bleed the fuel system completely including the four injectors) but also re-doing the front seal on the engine which was showing a little oil seepage.

Afterwards everything seemed fine and it was. We started the engine the next morning and let it run for a half and hour or so and then cruised up river for a bit just to ‘make sure’ it was fine. OK, on ward! We negotiated the five bridges to get us back to Miami harbor proper and followed the buoys under the Rickenbacker bridge and then veered a little off to the East and anchored just off of Key Biscayne in what they call Nixon’s. If you remember Richard Nixon or was it BeeBee Rebozzo had property on Key Biscayne.

And then……………….we did nothing for three days. It’s not that we didn’t want to go places it was just that we were pretty exhausted from working like rented mules for two months! We read, napped, ate and napped. Nice anchorage with an east – south east wind. A few boats came and went but it was really just us. And just us didn’t need anything right then nor did we want anything right then. No wants and no needs. That’s a beautiful thing!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Hello to all...We have been (happily) out of communication for a few days now. After effecting final repairs in Miami thanks to a visit from Erik of Stem to Stern (had to bleed the fuel system) we motored down to Key Biscayne, threw out the anchor and sat for three days. We read, ate, and napped and that was about it. Just enjoyed being back on the water.

From there we sailed to Tavenier Key. Rough going to get out to the Hawk channel but once there it is ideal sailing. We sailed in 20+ knot winds with reefed main and full genny in 1-2 foot seas! It's amazing. The outer reefs prevent the seas from building up. We sailed around 7 knots all day! Bad anchorage but that's a story for another time.

From there we sailed to Channel 5. This is where there is a tall bridge for us to get under and anchor on the INSIDE of the keys and thereby protected from the still 20knot east winds.

Yesterday then, we made another hop to Boot Key harbor. In here there are about 500 boats on anchor or mooring balls. We found our friends Joe and Peg who we met way up at at the start of the Intracoastal Waterway in Portsmouth way back in November! We're anchored right next to them and are having fun trading stories.

We plan to spend a few days here and accomplish such things as laundry, some shopping and, hopefully, computer repairs. Laptop is about to become the dingy anchor!

More stories and pictures at a later date but for now...I was wondering at some points in the long layover on the hard in Ft. Lauderdale if when we got going again would I wonder if it was all worth it...

IT IS! We love sailing our boat and it is GREAT sailing down here.

Oh... one more thing. Gracie lives but was violently seasick during our run to the Hawk Channel. Sue is laundering our sheets even as I type!


Monday, March 06, 2006

Miami Vice? Miami Nice?.......

Well not so much for the crew of Enee Marie. Scott called me yesterday around 4:30 sounding VERY sad. They had a great sail down to Miami from Fort Lauderdale, sailing all the way. When they got down there however and tried to start the engine they were a no go. The engine just wouldn't start! So they had to call in for a tow (always Scott's favorite thing to do) and apparently this was quite the adventure just to be found by the towing guys.

Eric (Erik?) from Stem to Stern is on his way down to Miami to check out the engine. Apparently it's leaking oil which is one of the problems. This morning Scott called to say he thinks he knows why the engine is not starting. Something about the plunger? I know nothing about engines so that's about all I know.

Hopefully they can get the engine problems fixed soon and they can be on their way to the keys. Stay tuned for more details from Scott as he just wanted me to alert you to his unfortunate situation.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Launch Tomorrow!

Sometimes I feel bad about this layover in Ft. Lauderdale. It was expensive in the two things that nobody has an infinite supply of: time and money. Then I made a list of what we did. I don’t feel so bad anymore…except about the money!

(note: STS means that ‘Stem to Stern’ did the work)

Sanded and 5 coats of Cetol on toe rail and rubrail

Replaced plexi in 4 hatches and cleaned and re-bed (via STS guidance!)

Sanded and Cetol 2 of four hatch trim teak

Removed, cleaned and replaced stainless steel rub rails

Replaced rear seal on engine to fix oil leak (STS)

Rebuilt water pump and installed new impeller (STS)

Installed drip-less packing gland (STS)

Removed all the decking below and laid 140 feet of copper strap for SSB counterpoise

Fished wire for and aft for radio to tuner connections

Removed backstay and installed insulators for SSB antenna (STS)

Installed SSB radio in locker and head at nav station

Installed 12 volt refrigeration and custom exhaust fan in locker below galley sink

Made a cutting board to fit on top of the stove

Made a plywood support to hang dingy motor to rail

Built and installed four teak wood strips on transom to bear off dingy

Hull stripped down to the fiberglass and dried (STS)

Hull sanded smooth (STS)

Hull gets 3 coats of barrier coat and 2 coats of bottom paint

Straightened swim ladder and re-installed

Removed all plumbing from forward head and re-plumbed

Installed new ‘Mack Pack’ sail cover

Changed oil, coolant, and all filters

Replaced main sheet fiddle block with one with a cam cleat

New dodger, bimini, and binnacle cover. (Beaver Canvas – Ft. L.)

Replaced wooden deck fitting for propane cabin heater

Re-bedded two feet that connect binnacle to deck

Re-installed bow pulpit

Put the name and hailing port on the boat

Had new lifelines re-fit

Cleaned out both fresh water tanks

Fastened bilge pump and float switch to bilge (were not connected previously!)

Reglassed the foam rudder (STS)

Removed EVERYTHING from drawers and reorganized tools and hardware supplies

Worked about 50 hours for Stem to Stern and learned a TON

Non-Boat related…

Drove to Chicago

Drove back

Visited Tampa three times

Tried to keep the blog updated

Watched season 1 of ‘24’

Gave Gracie cheese

Went up and down the 15 foot ladder about 1000 times

Never got back to the beach

Whew! What next? Sail to Miami, drop the hook and contemplate our respective navels for a few days and then on to the Keys.

What did we miss? Well, since money is not infinite we left the following for another time…

new sails

replace all seacocks

install some solar cells

maybe a watermaker

Maybe next time we’re in Ft. Lauderdale…like in 2045!!

Here's some random pics of finished projects.

Our new SSB. Turned it on today and no sparks came out so that's good!

At the right...What can I say? It's a happy day when a man can install a dripless gland!

Here's our own inovation. The teak strips are not just decorative. For one thing the two central ones provide a resting place for the swing down boarding ladder. The four together provide some protection from the rubbing and banging around of the dingy. Oh, and of course, finally got our hailing port proudly displayed.

The two above show a little of the before and after of our teak toe rail. This 80+ feet of teak was mostly sanded and painted by SUE! Nice job!

So, as the porpoises said in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: “So long and thanks for all the fish!”