Monthly Archives: May 2015

Dodging the lows and wishing for favorable winds.

Catende It’s Thursday and we just passed Cape Canaveral on our way north on the ICW.  We stopped last night in Cocoa and enjoyed a brief walk ashore (and a beer too, of course).   After a few days of rain we were happy to see the sky clear up but there were enough clouds remaining to make for quite a show at sunset.  Cocoa is a very cruiser welcoming spot with good shore access abutting a lovely waterfront park. 

buy provigil over the counter Today we are headed up to New Smyrna for the night.  After that, probably St Augustine to wait for the low to clear out and then, well, we’ll have to see what the weather brings.   I had hoped to be able to jump out for an ocean run from the start, as I have done for the last two years on my runs from the Bahamas, but there is a nasty low that just won’t quit just off of the Carolinas.   It’s expected to land sometime over the weekend which should give way to some nice favorable winds early in the week.  I am a bit concerned that our run north might stretch beyond two weeks and necessitate a crew change along the way.  Oh well, at least I have a boat that folks want to crew on.  Fingers crossed that we can keep moving.   Anyone interested?  Hmm…

Besides, the crew is getting along well.  Don’t we look happy in this “selfie”?  Yes, pretty happy after a happy hour brew.  Nice way to end a day on the water with friends.The view from the rooftop bar in Cocoa, a brand new place that just opened, was terrific. One way or the other, we’ll have fun at the various stops along the way while we wait for a favorable weather window.   

Here’s Jim steering away at the helm.  Love that hard dodger.Today we were treated to a flyby, several actually, from my favorite bird, the pelican.   With their 4’ wingspan, they are an impressive sight.Well, I guess I had better wrap this up and make lunch for the crew.  I wouldn’t want to trigger a mutiny brought on by low blood sugar, would I?  So far, none of my crew has died from hunger aboard Pandora and I am working hard to keep that from happening.  

Ok, I’ll just ditch it and leave.

It’s Wednesday morning, beginning to get light to the east and the rain has stopped, for now.  After two seasons of fair winds to head north to CT, this year is certainly going to be tougher with a low centered off of Hatteras that is moving so slowly off to the north west that we won’t see favorable winds till the weekend, or perhaps early next week.

Ideally, I’d like to make a short offshore run to get a feel for the new boat as I have never even had the sails up, much less sail offshore with her in nasty weather.  I think it is prudent to take it easy and wait for more ideal conditions to make the “first” jump out.

Yesterday, I called Chris Parker, the weather router, to see what his recommendations were and was surprised and here’s what he advocated.  He thought that my best option was to leave Ft Pierce today and sail a few hundred miles east, to an area just north of the Abacos to take advantage of the northerlies for easting and then hang a left when the low gets further west and I hit SW winds behind the low to turn north to Cape Hatteras and home.  

It was an interesting thought but my concerns are that I don’t have any experinece with this new boat and worse, I don’t have any long distance communication gear to stay in touch with him as the trip progresses for updates on the storm.  This boat doesn’t have a SSB radio so after I am about 25 miles out I won’t be able to get weather updates.  So, if the low persists I might run right into the backside of it and hit some really nasty weather, something that I really do not want to do. 

I took another look at the weather gribs today and it seems that the low is moving faster to the NW than was forecast as recently as last evening. even yesterday so we could probably do what Chris is advocating.  However, I am not going to take the chance with a new boat and limited communications.   Besides, the current model seems to suggest that we might find favorable winds near shore as early as the weekend, a few days sooner than it appeared as recently as yesterday.

So, here’s the plan.  We will head up the ICW for the next few days and jump out and run offshore as soon as the winds are favorable again which could be as soon as the weekend.   One way or the other, we are going to leave and put some miles on.   

Or, to put it another way, we are going to “ditch” the ocean part for now and just go up the “ditch” and be done with it.  Get it?  The “ditch” is the ICW.  Pretty funny, yes?   “No Bob, pretty lame joke but a fine idea.”

Thanks, wish us luck.  

“Hey Bob, where are the pictures?  There should at least be a sunrise. What gives?”

Sorry.  Next time.  

Pandora’s finally ready but the weather’s not.

It’s Tuesday morning and, as Brenda would say, “it’s blowing a gale”.  Well, I don’t think that gale is confirmed but it’s plenty windy, let me tell you.  Not a good day to head out for a 1,000 mile run in a boat that I have never sailed.   So, we wait…

Yesterday we left the boat yard where Ariel became Pandora with the application of the new name and hailing port of Newport RI.  We are also sporting a new and very shiny pair of davits to pick up our dink, which is also very shiny as it’s only a few months old.   Good news, the boat came with a brand new Caribe dink due to the previous owner turning in the “slightly worn” one for a warranty problem.  It’s very white, for the moment.

I left Harbor Town Marina, where I am now, on Friday to head over to the boat yard to have the work done and settled in on what was supposed to take a day and a half at most.  Alas, as things seem to go on boats, especially in sunny Florida where most move more S-L-O-W-L-Y than in NYC, the project stretched into four days with everything finally completed on Monday.  Well, technically, it was three days as they don’t work on Sundays.   However, delayed or not, the work turned out quite well in the end.  The folks at the boatyard are very nice but it’s not the sort of place that you want to hang out compared to Harbor Town Marina which is a much nicer place at a much higher price.

The yard sports all sorts of boats, some in various stages of decay.  These two commercial boats have been here for who knows how long.  I wonder if someone is still paying rent on the space they are taking up?  Anyone need a slightly worn fire-boat, cheap?Believe it or now, someone actually paid money to haul this one. It looks like a science experiment gone badly.  Is that a prop under that anemone?  And folks wonder why I am so anal about keeping Pandora so clean.  Beware, EVERYTHING dissolves into chaos…The boat yard is also very tight with boats tied up every which way and I was very pleased to have the nifty bow thruster to turn around in what was an impossibly small basin to back into the slip.  And I should note that the pilings we squeezed into were less than two feet wider than the stern of the boat, not quite enough space to wedge into with a fender on each side.   We had to step on the fenders to get them to squeeze in like partially deflated balloons.  After securing to the dock we built a scaffolding off of the stern so that the welder, Joe, could stand and work his magic.They “tacked” individual pieces onto the structure and stepped back to be sure that everything was level and looked about right.  Frame supports were bent into shape with brute force.   Some of the work required climbing skills in addition to being an expert welder. After everything was secured the welding began in earnest and soon, well sort of soon, everything was ready for polishing.   I was amazed that something that looked like this would eventually gleam brightly, but it did.The finished product looks great and was ready to fit the dink.  My crew, Michael and Jim both shimmied out to the end of the frame to secure the blocks that will pull up the dink. I don’t regard the arrangement of blocks to be quite worked out but it’s quite serviceable for now as I use what I had on hand.  More to come on this when I get back to CT and decide how to refine everything.

CW, the sign guy, did a great job with the logo, based on the one from the “old” Pandora.   It’s grey and silver which looks terrific on the dark green hull.  Earlier in the day we pulled out of the slip and backed in bow first to be sure that there was plenty of room to apply the new name.

He applied it perfectly from a floating dink. He does very nice work. So, all was done by mid-afternoon yesterday and we were ready to return to the marina.  Not…

Oops.  The tide was to low, we were hard aground and couldn’t budge.  Besides, the wind was blowing about 15kts on the beam (not good) and the distance between us and the boats to our lee was less than a boat length.  I had no idea how I was going to back Pandora out of the slip and turn her to get out in that tiny basin without banging into someone.   From the front of the bow-sprit to the back of the davits is something like 53′.  Long boat.

Here’s an idea… Michael is a retired tug captain so let’s have him jump into the dink and do his “tug thing” to keep us crashing into the other boats in the marina.

So, after waiting another few hours for the tide to come up a littlemore, we powered off in reverse while Jim pulled with all his might to help “ooze” our way out.   Michael did his magic and off we went with “no loss of life” as his wife Terri once famously quipped.

Finally…out and on our way.  It was a thrill for me to call the bridge tender  and say “sailing vessel Pandora requesting an opening” for the first time aboard “New Pandora”.

After docking back at Harbor Town Marina we all enjoyed a well earned G&T, well actually, Jim prefers Rum and Tonic.    The bar as open aboard Pandora as the sun was setting. Well, as I mentioned, the weather isn’t cooperating at all so today we’ll be hanging out at the marina, with some sightseeing on the side, for at least another day till this “gale” blows itself out and we can get underway. 

However, dink secure and we are ready…Yes, I am pretty excited about beginning our journey north and our new life aboard Pandora.  You know, the Aerodyne 47 composite one.  

Departure, soon. But first, a few projects…

It’s Saturday morning and we have officially owned our new boat, Pandora for two days.  Yesterday, I took her from the dock for the first time.  I have to say that I was nervous and wasn’t very confident about how she would react to the helm and propeller and being alone didn’t make me feel any more certain. Fortunately, the instruments and software on the plotter are nearly identical to our last boat, which made it easier.

I did have someone cast my lines off from the dock and I was also thankful that there was only a slight breeze and current.  Oh yeah, I used the bow thruster.  Pretty neat.  Actually, a lot of problems can be cured with that little baby.   I am sure that I’ll learn to work it fairly quickly but for now I am unsure, at best.

I was moving over to another yard, a “working” yard nearby with “working” being code for pretty rough.  However, Joe the welder, perhaps the owner, not sure, at the yard does very good work and seems reasonably priced.  The plan is to have him put on a new set of custom stainless davits so I can pull the dink up and also have a spot to mount some additional solar.  It was a very tight squeeze to get the boat into the slip stern in.  However, Joe and some others met me and helped guide me in.

With the thruster it was pretty easy.  I can see why “traditionalists” scoff at thrusters.  However, I was in no mood to put a scratch on my new boat.  Mission accomplished.  To be clear, that’s on a successful docking, not scratching.

Here’s Pandora in her temporary home.  Tight?  Yup.  Davits to come. Yes, the cockpit is trashed.  In order to weld onto the arch we had to remove all the wiring, lest it melt from the heat of the welding. Let me tell you, removing all the wires from the arch and replacing them with wire messengers was no simple task.  However, by the end of the day, all was ready.  Now, they have to build the davits.  I am told that they will have everything done by this evening.   I sure hope so as my crew arrives tomorrow morning.   What a mess.  Well, at least I now have nice clean stern lockers.  There must be a half mile of spare lines in the starboard locker.  And, four fuel cans and plenty of other stuff in the port one.  Unfortunately, some of that “stuff” leaked out in the starboard locker so there was a nasty oily mess to clean up.  Good news, it’s clean now.

As is the case at most shops that I have seen in FL, the fabrication area is outside here.  It looks chaotic but they do very nice work here.  Note the welder’s clothing.  The locals that work outside take sun exposure very seriously and cover up every part of their body.  Tourists could learn a thing or two from them.   They say that “there’s no such thing as a good tan”.   With my yearly derm visit, I have to agree.
A show of another “local” a young manatee napping near Pandora.  Cute in a sort of nasty way.For such a populated area, there is indeed a lot of wildlife.  This heron was looking for a hand out.  “Did someone say bait?  I’ll take a dozen.”My friend Carl, an ex SAGA 43 owner, who lives nearby, stopped to see the new boat a few days ago and took me out to run errands.  Along the way we stopped at a marine consignment shop.  Actually, this was the marine consignment shop to end all marine consignment shops.  While most shops I have visited have a lot of used equipment (reads junk), this one had mostly new “extra” stuff from boat builders and suppliers, left over from changed models or perhaps places that have gone out of business.

Anyway, imagine “used” marine equipment that would fill a small Walmart.  A ton of stuff.  The first thing you see as you enter the parking lot is hundreds of bimini frames, center console stations and dozens of huge fuel tanks all stacked up in rows.   And, they are all unused and look brand new.  I would expect that it would be a lot less expensive to have something modified to fit a boat from one of these as opposed to building one from scratch.  Take your pick. Need some instruments to put in that nice shiny new console?   Take your pick…from hundreds, all new.Don’t want to drill all those holes?  How about a full panel system?  Yeah, they have em.How about a propeller to round things out?Electrical panels?  Hmm… so hard to choose.I wish that I had known about this before I bought my new muffler the other day. Alas, they didn’t have one that would have fit. I checked, of course, while I was there just to torture myself.  Of course, you need shade.  Bimini anyone?  Water tanks?  The list goes on and on…  That’s my friend Carl.  He was hard at work choosing and he doesn’t even own a boat.  But, perhaps he can make one from spare parts.  So many choices.    I have no idea what was on this row.  However, I am sure that it would all come in handy.    Anyway, you get the picture.  This place is sort of the guy version of a shoe outlet.  “Oh honey, wouldn’t this pair of speedos look perfect aboard?”  “Whatever… “

Well, I guess that’s enough for now.  I think I have made my point.

Let’s hope that all goes well as there is a LOT that has to go well today to keep everything on schedule.

Oh yeah, the title “Departure soon…”  I put that in to remind myself that time’s short and crew arrives tomorrow.  Yikes…