Allans Pensacola Cay

Jan 28-30, 2015

A very exciting thing happened today —We put the sails up!!! Angie started working on the boat inventory list and started getting seasick, so that got nixed. The water temps are getting COLDER – 67 degrees. That was NOT in our plan for heading further south. A-P looks to be the first real BEACH sighting/landing we have had (or, at least one that was not completely covered in dead seagrass).

I spy sandy beach!
I spy sandy beach!

There is suppose to be a path that cuts through the island to the Atlantic shore side, where all of the snorkeling, diving, fishing, is suppose to be. So, very excited about doing some hiking too. We dinghied around, checking out the cay and when we came back to Uno Mas, two fishing boats had anchored next to us. This perturbs Angie to no end, ruining the views and having to anchor so close. We have heard about the “Herd” mentality of boaters. They always seem to have to cluster around each other. Well, that does not work for us. Much prefer being as far away as possible from other people and their boats that tend to drag anchor, usually at night. But, what were we going to do? So, we chose to completely ignore them and do our own thing. Then, just before sundown, a little yellow monohull that dragged anchor at Rosie’s on Grand Cay, anchored on the other side of us. They left the next morning.

Day 2- We decided to find that path! We thought we had it, then we didn’t. Mark needed a machete, which we had left on the boat. We scrambled our way through the brush and mangroves to the Atlantic side of the island anyways. Very rocky, course, volcanic type stuff that will cut you up. And, the plastic and shoe soles and trash were everywhere. So sad to see.

A-P Atlantic Beach side
A-P Atlantic Beach side

Then, we actually found the other end to the “Path”. It looked like it could have an actual pathway associated with it. So, we tried that on the way back. It was very nice.

Walk this way
Walk this way

However, the “beaches” on the inside of the island were littered with beer cans and large pieces of broken glass as well. We found Allans Pizza hut but decided to skip having lunch there.

Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut

So, we decided to dinghy around some of the outer little islands, looking for lobster holes and fishing areas. Found an AWESOME beach on Guineaman’s Cay next door. Beautiful, clean beach! When we got back to Uno Mas, AGAIN, another trawler decided to anchor between us and the other fishing fleet (who, were already too close). Mark dinghied over and told them that we had 80 feet of anchor chain out. So, they knew we would swing into them if the winds shifted. They decided to stay put anyways. Well, that night, we ran the generator for 3 hours, watching movies(this seems to be an obnoxious thing boater can do to other boaters). That little boat left the next morning.

Day 3 -The Sea Eagle has launched!! So exciting, our inflatable pontoon kayak that you can put a small outboard on (like our 2.5 hp Johnson,maybe?? ) has been aired up, never to return to the original size and compact packaging it came in.

The Sea Eagle has Launched
The Sea Eagle has Launched

Awesome day getting into really shallow areas. Instead of hanging out on the beach while Mark fished and snorkeled, Angie tilted the seat back and hung out/snoozed on the kayak while tied off to the mangroves. Mark got a couple of lobsters and a snapper. Life is good!

Watched the fishing fleet dinghy to shore, and we believe they burned their trash. Since they were zinging right past our boat, I decided to wave to them, just so they know we are not completely rude A-Holes with a generator. We kept the generator quite that night.

Old Yankee Cay and Great Sale Cay

Jan 25 – Jan 27, 2015

There is suppose to be a beach made up of beach glass on Old Yankee Cay (Pronounced KEY), so that was priority on Angie’s must see list. When arriving at the prime anchoring spot, we found that there were fishing boats all around , very shallow water behind us and a kicking current infront of us. We decided to move and tuck in behind on the back side of the larger island. We installed some chafe guards on our anchor bridle, had a nice dinghy ride to a beach loaded with dead sea grass and had a BEAUTIFUL sunset. We are glad we moved anchorages because it was a very windy and rocking night.

Dinghy Ride to Old Yankee
Dinghy Ride to Old Yankee
Seagrass beach
Seagrass beach
Palm Tree!
Palm Tree!
Awesome Sunset
Awesome Sunset

The next morning, we bailed on the glass beach excursion and hightailed it to Great Sale Cay to weather out the next round of storms. They were rolling in fast! It was hard to imagine, but the hull slamming was exponentially worse than our crossing of the Gulf Stream due to the wave direction and trying to power motor to our next location before the blow set in. Our trampoline untied itself and we had our first over 35 knot wind gusts and were very glad we had the windshield up when the rain started. While waiting out the weather, we ran the generator, watched a couple of movies, and transferred some fuel (we have only used 17 gallons of diesel since Ft Pierce, FL). The next day, the waves were kicking so we did not go to shore, but decided to completely rebuild our “New” Springfield helm chair from Defender that did not survive being in a marine environment. We installed it in April. Had it covered until just before we left. We just now have actually USED it at the start of our trip, and it was falling apart. There will be a very long write up in Boat Projects about this at some point. To summarize, we had a forest of mushrooms growing out of the seams and from between the delaminated sheets of plywood it was made with, once we tore into it, trying to figure out what was wrong with it. UNBELIEVABLE! This seat was not cheap. But, it is now completely rebuilt with PVC board for support, has breathing holes for moisture and Mark also built a storage box on the underside for helm items.

Old Helm Chair - Less than a week of usage
Old Helm Chair – Less than a week of usage
New Helm Chair
New Helm Chair

Mark installed the IKEA grey plastic deck boards for the cockpit area and I washed the boat with salt water, trying to get the first layer of boatyard dirt, bottom paint, and rust spots off the top side.

Uno Mas at Old Yankee
Uno Mas at Old Yankee
New Cockpit Flooring
New Cockpit Flooring

Uno Mas is going to need A LOT of TLC after the last 2 years of living in the yard. On a good note, the wind generator is kicking!

Walker Cay-Grand Cay-Double Breasted Cay-Back to Grand Cay

Jan 21- 24, 2015

There are multiple places to Check-In for the Bahamas. Having brought two cats, we were under a deadline of having to get them to a Bahamian Vet (closest one is in Marsh Harbor) within 48 hours of checking in. So, we headed to Walker Cay to Check-In, the closest check-in point. Bad information. No one was there except a groundskeeper for the last standing dilapidated building. The island is abandoned from a hurricane a few years ago. We had to go to the next island, Grand Cay. Exhausted, we decided to do that the next day and anchored behind a small island next door. The water was warm (76 degrees) and the water color was beautiful. Life is good.

Customs Office on Grand Cay
Customs Office on Grand Cay
Customs dock on Grand Cay
Customs dock on Grand Cay

We spent a few days around Grand Cay, Double Breasted Cay (cool place to kayak), found a HUGE piece of a 3 ft amber jack head floating in the water…it had been chomped by a shark, and Mark got his first lobster.

Amber jack head - fish bait
Amber jack head – fish bait

We went dockside at Rosie’s on Grand Cay to ride out some crazy wind changes/storm. There we saw 2 out of 4 boats anchored in front of us drag toward other boats, so were glad we were tied up to a dock. We also had the opportunity to remember how to use fender boards and TideMinder balls on our dock lines to deal with fixed docks and 4 foot tide swings. The night before, in DB Cay, we found the current and wind was a bit disconcerning, pushing us around A LOT when we were in that channel, so it was nice to be tied to a dock.

Double Breasted Cay Channel
Double Breasted Cay Channel

At dockside we completed a few boat projects …Mark was still working electrical (duo charger to power the battery that runs our Lectra San…our “septic system” in the starboard hull)added a couple of line cleats with backer boards to tie the genoa lines to, installed our windshield, installed 12v outlets in our berth so we can charge our cell phones and use the 12v spotlight out our window to check boat movement at night, installed a few rivets in our bimini structure and did 6 loads of laundry.

Departing Rosie's Marina on Grand Cay
Departing Rosie’s Marina on Grand Cay

All in all, a good start to this season. We got some nice dinghy rides in, Mark nabbed his first lobsters, and we found out we did NOT have to take the cats to the vet within 48 hours as advertised on the official documents.   So, no major rush to go anywhere. Which is nice……

 

Splashing -ICW-Departure to Bahamas

Jan 16 -Jan 20, 2015

Finally splashing the boat was a relief. No major issues arose. Well, except, the new props were specified to operate in the opposite direction as the previous. This means forward is reverse and vice versa at the helm. Mark anticipated that this could be the case with keeping the old helm engine controls. We had the replacements on board, but didn’t have time to complete that project prior to splashing. The initial docking was a challenge, but we made it (thankful for our new rub rail). Uno Mas has a new tatoo on the port bow now as well. The controls and cables were replaced subsequently, at dockside. We also tested the windlass (hauls the anchor up and down.) It would haul up but not down. This is ok to deal with, but since we had the new one in the Spare Parts Storage (anywhere there is room on the boat), Mark replaced it before we departed as well. We had to have the cats get health certificates within 48 hours of departing in order to clear in to the Bahamas. They also ended up having to be chipped. These old kitties (17 & 18 years old) used up quite a bit of their “vet units” to become international travelers.

Safe Zone for the Kitties
Safe Zone for the Kitties

We provisioned the boat anticipating 6 months out (which probably really equates to a year for most people). THAT could be part of the boat weight issue as well. We shall see as the goods start depleting.   We parked the RV and car trailer in a long term storage lot, and we headed off.

We motored down the Intercoastal Waterway from St Augustine, Florida to Lake Worth, stopping each night, anchoring in different areas off the main channel. Of course, we ran aground twice on the first day. This was not suppose to happen since we installed a fishfinder sensor in the starboard hull for a depth reading, the one that we always seemed to ground on before. More about that in Boat Projects.

Mark at Helm
Mark at Helm

It was good to get the feel of being on a boat again, introducing the CREW (now two cats—Black Kitty died May 26, 2014) to boat life, and relearn how to do just about everything. The new Spade anchor works flawlessly. It was a huge difference between being up all night worrying if we were going to drag or not.

Anchoring up at The Cement Plant anchorage
Anchoring up at The Cement Plant anchorage

The chartplotter,radar,AIS and other Garmin systems worked as advertised. Dolphins greeted us most days, which is suppose to be a sign of good luck, and we saw some cool birds and Cannonball jellyfish. The weather finally warmed up (above 40 at night when we got to Mosquito Lagoon on the ICW in Florida. The local radio channels played Latino music. It started to feel like how living on the boat was suppose to feel. Warm, sunny, and listening to music you cannot understand the words to. It was a good day!

The trip down “The Ditch” took 4 days. We got to Lake Worth, saw a 30 ft twin jet powered cigarette boat being chased by a sea cop with four 350 hp outboards on their inflatable, which was pretty cool, but that didn’t make up for the rest of the area. We anchored for an hour and prepped the boat for our SECOND night crossing of the Gulf Stream. While anchored in Lake Worth just off the main channel, we swung around 360 degrees five times in that one hour, while prepping the boat. This was a bit discerning with all of the other boats hanging out, BUT, no one ran into us and we didn’t run into them, so it worked out. This is the second time we have anchored in this area and find it to be unsightly and unnerving with the permanently abandoned boats sporadically placed out of the cargo ships paths. One hour was too long.

Departing Lake Worth
Departing Lake Worth

We pulled anchor around 5 pm and headed out the inlet hoping this time crossing the Gulf Stream we would not run into a Tropical Storm like last time (Beryl in May, 2012). We did not, but it was not a smooth ride. I had forgotten about multihulls’ hull slap where the center salon bottom is slammed with water (Where everything gets thrown up in the air a few inches, and the floor flexes…a lot.) This happens when big waves are coming at us from the bow or beam, which was most of the night. The weather predicted 5 ft seas to start and calmer 2-3 ft once in the stream. We found 5 ft confused seas for about half of the trip, then significantly reduced after that. Our escape hatches leaked A LOT, while being slammed with waves in the Gulf Stream. But, we made it. We did a couple of helm shifts, motored the whole way, avoided a 4 boat collision(thanks to radar and AIS), 2 of the boats being cargo ships, and ran from a couple of mysterious vessels that followed our every move and were acting weird, at 3 AM. We have radar and an AIS system that allowed us to track vessels within a 50 miles radius. I have to say, the clear night provided us with some AMAZING star gazing. We got across to the Bahama Bank (shallow area) waayyy early (like, 3 hours too early) so we motored around, killing time until the sun rose so we could see what we were entering into on the bank. Except , we were heading East and the sun comes up in the East, so you really could not see anything. We decided to trust our Garmin chartplotter to find the cut we needed to go through. Once on the Bank, we remembered how shallow(15 ft) it can be, but Garmin showed the typical routes to follow (from the Chartplotter) so we followed its suggested route and avoided sand bars and coral heads, and we did not sink. Also, we found out the cats did not get seasick, which is a very good thing.

Once on the Bahama Bank , the sea flattened out to a backyard swimming pool with no wind. Like a scarey movie, we wondered, what was going to come at us next? Nothing happened once we were on the bank. We saw one or two boats and that was about it.

Initial Blog Post for 2015

What are we doing, where are we going, Etc.

For the past couple of years, we have had Uno Mas hauled out and have done NUMEROUS boat projects.  The major ones being complete navigation, radar, radio and pretty much anything electronic replacement, new Beta engines and saildrives, and variable pitch/ feathering props, new generator (didn’t anticipate THAT one), complete bottom of hull sandblasted, barrier coated, and new bottom paint.  And, unfortunately, we are even starting to replace things we replaced 5 years ago. Boat, salt, water…not a good combination in or out of the water. There is a different header for “Boat Projects” that  will eventually get most project information posted to.

This trip started out as a test for all new systems and to find out which of the existing  systems have died while sitting in salt and humid air conditions, which means carrying  A LOT of spare parts trying to anticipate the next failure.  Even though we raised our water line a few inches (which should be good for an additional 2500 lbs—more in Boat Projects, later), we are STILL heavy in the water. Which means the real water line is above the raised bottom paint line. This is bad because growth attaches to the bottom of the boat where there isn’t any ablative paint, causing the hull speed to go down, and it also means there isn’t the additional barrier coat paint that helps seal the fiberglass from water infiltration. If you want to read horror stories about bottom paints, just Google boats and osmosis, blistering, hull delamination.  We found the overweight issue right off, before we even filled up the 100 gallon water tank,  and 125 gallons of fuel. (Originally we only carried 52 gallons of fuel —see Boat Projects,  sometime in the future) So, we have already added “raise the water line” again to the next haul out project list. (Or put the boat on a diet-Mark)

Our itinerary changes daily. Initially we were going to go to the Bahamas, Spanish Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico (LOVE me some mofongo),  sail along to Panama and get through the Panama Canal this sailing season (Nov-May).  Our long term goal is to circumnavigate.  Realizing we had A LOT of new systems that we wanted to make sure were running properly and tying up loose ends in Colorado, we decided to cut it back to Abacos, Bahamas only, in case we need to get back to Florida quickly.  So far, Uno Mas is running like a champ and we are very pleased with everything, even though since starting out, we have already replaced an over 10 year old (original) outboard dinghy motor, windlass, and Mark is currently working on replacing the water maker (See Boat Projects …someday).

The move onto Uno Mas permanently  factors include if we have property to sell/deal with back in Colorado (unfortunately, yes) and Mech Tech projects(our 18 yr old contracting company).  If we get a huge project  this summer that is currently on the back burner, then we will be heading back to the States in March and have to stay in the Abacos.   If we do not get it, then we will be heading back in May and can head further South, maybe to the Exumas. How far South we go in the Bahamas pretty much is hinging on if that job goes through or not.

Downsizing – A Kitchen Fiasco can be Helpful

I have to admit, I am a sucker for info-mercials….All of the late night gadgets on tv that you get 2 if you order RIGHT NOW for only $19.99 RISK FREE!  Yeah, only I never do order RIGHT NOW, thinking I will get over the impulse.  That all goes out the window when I see them in Bed Bath Beyond or WalMart or some other retail shop.  Nope, you definitely do not get the 2-FER deals there.  My anti-impulse impulses always cost me double.

Part of my downsizing dilemma has to deal with all of these kitchen gadgets. More specifically, all of my electric/non-electric chopping, grinding, mixing, juicing, blending, slicing gadgets.  I had one of two appliance garages in my kitchen dedicated to all of these items.  They all do one or two jobs really well.  But, there is NONE that does it all! I was having a hard time trying to figure out what ONE or TWO would be most useful on the boat with the limited amount of space I have, where my entire kitchen storage is about the size of one normal appliance garage, if that.  Part of decluttering for the Open Houses (We HAVE to get rid of the houses/mortgage payments before we move onto the boat) entailed me taking SOME of these gadgets and hiding them in the oven, so my appliance garage had the appearance of having room for somebody else’s gadgets.I never really store anything in the oven, ever.

To my great surprise, after one of the hellacious Open House, 7 hour days, Mark decides he is going to make dinner for me.  Starting off with asparagus wrapped in proscuitto – a favorite.   We both work on wrapping  the aspargus when all of a sudden we start smelling something rather caustic.  Yep, Mark had turned on the oven without checking inside.  I had a molten plastic mandoline, a melted Magic Bullet and accessories, very warped stick blender and all of its accessories, and slightly warped onion/potato dicer and its green dicing grids.  I forget what else. Thankfully, most everything peeled off the oven racks.  They were all still rather hot and flexible.

Part of my decision was made for me.  I no longer had to choose what goes and what stays.   However, the stick blender and attachments were pretty high on the GO list.  BUT,  I am waiting to see if something else GREAT AND MARVELOUS  (that I can’t live without) comes along that will hopefully incorporate a few more accessories to take over the other chopping and slicing and dicing,  oh, and juicing and ice crushing, needs!!  Will somebody Please invent the ONE and ONLY kitchen gadget?? Its dimensions need to be less that a foot tall and about 6 inches wide and made out of stainless steel.  It would also be VERY helpful if it was 12 v, actually had decent power, and have a handcrank option, geared so that the hand cranking actually works…That’s all I ask for, at the moment.  Meanwhile, I am playing the devistated kitchen gadget collector. (Just kidding) But,  Mark keeps bringing me the Bed Bath Beyond coupons that everyone throws out at the post office, so he must be feeling a bit guilty.

Now, what to do about pressure cooker vs crock pot vs rice cooker vs deep fryer??? Dare I even add ice cream maker????

Happy Anniversary, Birthday, and Every Other Celebration Day for the Next 20 Years

I am so happy,happy, happy!  We never have to come up with another “gift” idea, ever, for either of us!  Our new Garmin electronics package for the boat has been unpackaged so Mark can see if we have enough wire, if we need additional connectors, remotes, etc, etc.

Mark - Opening Packages