Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hello Fort Lauderdale

Poot, poot, poot, pshee....engine dies. Turn the key, poot, poot, pshee. Crap! We just went through our last bridge of the day, number 10, and are now in bustling downtown Fort Lauderdale, looking for a marina or anchorage to pull into, when our engine dies. Now we are looking for anywhere to drop an emergency anchor before we drift into one of these mega yachts cruising by us or get swept aground. Time is wasting, and that we do not have. We immediately hoist the jib to keep up some speed and control over our boat.

I'm thinking to myself, do I activate the SPOT emergency help message? Hmmm, how will my sister or Hans help us right now if they receive this Help message. I wish it connected directly to Seatow right now, so they would be at our side in the next few minutes.

Mike is dashing around the boat hoisting the jib and preparing the anchor, while in search of his Seatow card. I'm at the helm, maneuvering through the traffic and trying to get us to a reasonable location that Mike spotted on our charts, off the main channel of traffic where we can drop our anchor. We find the spot, what we later hear called "The Bermuda Triangle", to drop anchor, it's about 8 feet of water.

We've tried to re-start the engine a few times and realize it's not going to start. What went wrong? We couldn't possibly be out of diesel, we haven't been running the engine long enough, so we think. But I run the numbers and it's been 38 hours since our last fill up. That should give us at least 20 hours left of fuel, but we've been running it 500 rpm's faster and maybe we are burning through more fuel than usual. Yes, that is it. We've run her dry! And we've tried to re-start a few too many times, so now we have air in the fuel lines.

Next question, how to bleed the fuel lines? We use all our lifelines, watch Youtube videos, phone a friend, phone family, process of elimination...we still can't get it working. Luckily for us, Seatow shows up 2 hours later and tows us to a free anchorage. He says it's a good thing our anchor did not drag because just 100 yards behind us is such shallow water that people are walking around in waist deep water! Seatow says he's always towing people with no draft that have run aground here, hence the name "Bermuda triangle". That was a close one.

We arrive at the anchorage just a mile away with Seatow escort (how classy) and here we meet Justin, our neighbor, on a 42 foot ketch. He was in Fernandina on his grandfathers sailboat, Oba, in front of us at the dock a couple weeks ago and remembers our boat, so he comes over to say hi. We find out quickly that he's quite the handyman and he also just returned from the Bahamas a couple months ago from an 11-month trip. He says he'll stop by later that evening and help us bleed the lines. We also discover that Justin knows way more than just bleeding fuel lines and he's willing to help us while we are in Fort Lauderdale, teaching us Boat 101 Maintenance. How lucky are we?! He knows how to install a working refrigerator, get the good discounts, fix the holding tank, and fix a dinghy carburetor, just to name a few of his many skills! We are most likely staying in town for awhile now, in our free anchorage, at least until we learn as much as we can from Justin. What a nice guy. We will hopefully see him again in the Bahamas as he's on his way south again in January!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


We set sail at 8am this morning and no longer than an hour into motoring, we stopped the engine, hoisted the sails and sailed 7 hours straight at a clipping 7.0 knot average. You are wondering how fast that is? Well, 1 knot equals 1.14 miles per hour, so that was a good 8 mph. I know that doesn't sound very fast, I mean, I could probably run that, but sailing at that speed on a 32 foot vessel, well, that is moving!

Plus, today is Thanksgiving day and we have not been to a grocery store in over 3 days and we are planning to cook our big meal today! Luckily before we left St. Augustine I had gone on a legendary grocery run (1.5 miles out), running there and trekking the way back with 50 lbs. of groceries that I had to balance between two bags, one which ripped along the way. Thankfully, Mike met me half way and helped carry the bags back, if it weren't for his help I would have had to leave more of the groceries behind, due to weight constraints on my carrying behalf (2 smashed bananas were, unfortunately, left behind).

Being Thanksgiving and all, we thought we would have a short travel day, giving us time to prepare the big meal, but that did not happen. We were on a beam reach! This is the best point of sail for any sailboat and we were not going to stop until dusk, even if it was Thanksgiving! We made a good 60 miles, plus Mike said it was a family tradition to go out sailing on Thanksgiving. So, at around 3pm, I thought it would be prudent to start prepping the food and at least put the turkey in the oven.

This was my first solo Thanksgiving meal preparation and I was a bit unsure how I was going to get it all together, especially given the fact that I was cooking in a galley (this is the boats kitchen and also means a 3x4 foot area, which leans at least 20 degrees at most times and usually is rocking and rolling, especially when you are trying to prepare food and consists of only one pot and one pan and a handful of miscellaneous kitchen utensils). Thank goodness for the oven gimbal (this is the hinge on the oven that allows you to cook at an angle when the boat is heeled over)!

I had the following ingredients to work with: 3 lb. frozen turkey, white potatoes and sweet potatoes, acorn squash, biscuits, green beans, pomegranate, and champagne.

What I made was a baked turkey breast rubbed with salt, pepper and indian curry cooked in our one cast iron pan along with diced acorn squash served with mashed potatoes, using lots of butter and evaporated milk from a can, baked sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar, sautéed green beans with an olive oil, garlic, apple cider & soy sauce dressing, and bellini's, a pomegranate infused champagne.

The meal turned out great! Most food on a boat does taste great, even if it's not, it's kind of like camping, where all your food tastes 10 times better, same thing here. So I think it would have tasted great to the real world as well, but it was definitely satisfying to Mike and I. I'll post pictures of it soon. Bon Apetite!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The hairy armpit of Florida

Grandma Marilynn, Aunt Terri, Me

That's how my aunt Terri refers to Palatka, Florida. It use to be an old mill town, but once the mill shut down during the down turn of the economy, so did most of the town. We met Mike's cousin, Denise and John, for a couple hours in Palatka and had to go to the Quality Inn to get a cup of coffee! Sad.
Tyler, Me
My aunt, uncle and cousins live in Palatka, so Mike and I received the full 20 minute tour of town on ground and above. My cousin, Tyler, is a pilot and he flew us around Palatka and St. Augustine, where we saw our boat still anchored in the harbor. This was a relief!
View from plane of our boat just North of Bridge of the Lions in St. Augustine
It was our first time off the boat for the night and it's a little unnerving leaving the boat because you worry about it like a child! I know that sounds funny, but in the back of every sailors mind the questions arise, "Am I dragging anchor?", "Is the bilge filling with water and need to be pumped out?", "Did another boat drag anchor and hit me?", "Is the wind/current too strong?".

We had a great early Thanksgiving dinner with the family, then received our last haircuts for potentially a long while, from my cousin Holli. Afterwards we rushed back to St. Augustine marina to catch the last water taxi back to our boat. Whew, we made it and all was okay with the boat and the cat!
Holli, Bailee, Me, Rylee

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Nelly Chronicles Part 2

The Nelly Chronicles Part 2
by "Daubie" Jim Daubenberger

Freedom at last!!! We have pulled into a dock at Southern South Carolina and finally I am granted shore leave. Since moving aboard this boat I have been watched every minute. They report on my every move to each other, where I'm at, where my hiding places are, even, can you believe it the quantity and quality of my bowel movements. "Nelly took a dump!" one will shout. "Good solid logs." How disgusting.

So we pull into this dock and pretty quickly they cut me some slack and I'm on semi solid footing. I don't want them hassling me so I just stay pretty close for awhile. Then Mike & Sara go off to do laundry or some other boring chore and the old guy is the only one around and he's not paying any attention. So I'm outta here, down the dock stretching it out.

So much to see, so much to do, and so many birds to kill. I can't decide what to do first. Think I'll hop on this boat and check it out. After an hour or so of exploring and a couple near misses (I am so close to nailing this one little seabird that thinks he's a protected pet of our neighbor boat) I hear the old fart calling my name, so I duck into a big old boat and hide till he goes by. I can hear a little worry in his voice. It's so satisfying. He'd be in deep do do if I disappeared on his watch.

After a couple hours it doesn't seem like anyones looking for me anymore, guess I better go back and remind them of my exi1stence. Two whole days tied to the dock and I only got locked in the cabin a few times. Heaven! Maybe this cruising thing will be okay.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Budget

Payday!! Whoo Hoo....this is always every-other Thursday and I always have the day highlighted in my calendar, so I don't forget, like that would happen! Today is my last Payday, though, and I think Mike dried up a few weeks ago, so now is when we really need to start thinking about our budget! The first few weeks on the boat has seemed like a never ending money pit...

We've had to buy spare parts, buy navigation equipment, provisions and the list goes on. Here is a list of a few of those items that we still want or are working on:

1. New dinghy motor (where you can actually push in the choke and trust that you will make it from point A to point B)
2. A working refrigerator (right now ours is a glorified ice box)
3. A toilet that you can use (we have a Y-valve leak - this is hopefully an easy & inexpensive fix)
4. An inverter that works (we have DC Power, but it would be really nice to be able to use the AC outlets)

And that's the scary part! There is always a list of what needs to be fixed next and what you'd like to improve or what would just make your life a little easier, but you have to prioritize because all of these things cost money and take time.

This luckily has not been a complete shock to me. I new a little bit about boat expenses from my grandparents experience on the Queen B. Grandpa was always in the engine room fixing broke generators, water makers, alternators, planning the next boat remodel/upgrade and so forth. He was always sending the grandkids on errands around town to the nearest Napa Auto Parts to buy the tool he needed to get the job done or the replacement bolt or filter. I guess you just don't realize how Expensive those improvements can be until you are the one opening the wallet!!

And on top of all that, it sometimes feels like you say the word "Boat" and everything is 10 times as expensive!! We had the same experience with our wedding and almost wanted to tell people we were having a Birthday party, so we could get cheaper prices.

The last day Daubie was aboard, he taught us about the Sailor's Gold Star Day. This is a day when you spend no money and you can enter in a gold star into your log. Lots of cruisers are cheap, at least to some degree because if you are going to live this life style and not have a steady income, most people have to watch their money if they want to continue on, not everyone has a trust fund. However, being out here, you do realize that there is A LOT of money out there and there are tons of multi-million dollar yachts and sailing they get this type of money, I'm still trying to figure out! But, long story short, the "Gold Star Day" is what Mike and I are striving for, plus it would help out on the whole budgeting!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Heading North to Cumberland Island

We made a crazy decision, last minute, after Daubie left The boat, to head North, yes North! You might wonder, why is that so crazy? Well, the reason is, most all the cruisers around these parts are sun chasers heading to the warm waters of the Bahamas and Carribean Islands. We, on the other hand, took a 180 degree turn and crossed back into Georgia from Fernindina, FL, where we had spent the last 3 days.

It was only a few miles away and after reading a little bit about Cumberland Island, we decided that we couldn't miss the opportunity to check it out. An island with Carnagie mansions, white sand beaches, wild horses and 50+ miles of trails, who wouldn't want to stop and check it out! We spent two nights there and met two fellow cruisers, where we were given the opportunity to check out their boats, the Tartan 30 and 37. When you spend long days on your boat, it's always exciting when you get the chance to check out someone else's "home"!

Cumberland Island was an amazing stop and I'd recommend camping there if you are ever in southern Georgia. Check out the link:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sailing 101 Down the Intercoastal

November 1, 2011 - We set sail on the Tanqueray, Mike, Sara and Captain Daubie from Charleston, S.C.  Today was the beginning of our 11 day, 241 mile voyage, where Mike and I would try to learn as much as possible from his Dad, Daubie, who has over 50 years of sailing experience around the world! 

This was a huge task to undertake, but we had a lot of fun along the way while learning everything we need to know for our 1 year journey to the Bahamas and beyond.  Daubie taught us how to navigate using navigation charts, bouy's & markers (red right return), garmin devices and gps navigation tools, he taught us how to set  an anchor and how to set a second anchor in stormy weather, how to follow the weather forecasts and what a Norther means, how to cook a mean cheesy potato dish (excellent for open ocean passages) and his favorite paella, how to cast a shrimp net, how to us the VHF to request bridge openings and moorage at marina's, how to play the ukulele (at least get us started with some chords: G,D,C & Em), how to trouble shoot boat problems, how to connect to shore power and open up the circuit board, how to check the oil, how to check the bilges and make sure we are not sinking, how to provision, how to land and take-off from the dock, how to travel at night, how to tie knots, how to splice line and whip it, how to jibe and more importantly how to prevent accidental jibes, how to set up a safety harness system, how to get our dingy to run with the finicky carborator, how to pump out the toilet tanks, how to watch the tides, how to fix leaky valves, how to train a cat not to use litter, how to log the trip and how to sail a beam reach!

My brain is about to explode just listing off all of the above (and that is only the beginning of the list!), but we had a great trip together and Mike and I feel ready to set sail on our own now, we think.  It was so great to have someone so experienced teach us the ropes and help us get the boat ready for a year cruising adventure. This took both of Mike's parents, Daubie and Mary, over a month of hard work, money, fun sailing and dedication to continue south to make it to Charleston in time to meet us and beat the winter weather! Thank you for all your help Daubie and Mary! 

It's sink or swim now, we said our good-bye's to Daubie today as he left from Ferdinanda, Florida on his way back to Port Townsend, WA.  Tomorrow will be DAY ONE of our voyage without "Adult Supervision".  We continue to head SOUTH to the warm weather.  Wish us luck!!

Intercoastal Sailing Trip November

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The Nelly Chronicles Part 1

Chapter  1
by "Daubie" Jim Daubenberger

It’s about time someone set the record straight.  For some months now I have been hearing rumors about a big trip, well you know I am all about trips.  I just love to ride the dash on the freeway obscuring the speedometer and taking swipes at anybody that tried to shoo me away.  Speeding along next to other cars, cars without cat friends, and then arriving at new places for exploration.  So when a trip was proposed I was all over it. 

Well, the next thing I know my people are stuffing me into a “cat cage” that some nasty feline had previously occupied.  I mean really!  Would you want to check into some sleazy motel and find previously used sheets on the bed, smelling of god knows what kind of activities. 

Of course I tossed a fit.  Finally they got me a new cage and that was a bit better.  Then they fed me some rather rich food and while I enjoyed it greatly, it did seem to have a detrimental effect on my bowels.

After stopovers at several boring places I found myself in some miniature space with big bunch of humans.  They all seemed to be related.  The littlest one seemed to think I was some kind of relative myself and kept chasing me around trying to touch me.  Well, I fixed her!  She reached her dirty little paw out one too many times so I gave her a good nip. What a wimp, she wen off crying to that old lady with the nice garden where I stayed once.

I got a little scolding from her but what the heck!  Anyway, next day everybody left and finally they let me go outside.  It was weird no trees or grass and the little house thing we’re in is surrounded by water and jumps around all the time like there’s an earthquake.

The next day my people scurried around and suddenly the whole house shook and rattled.  I dove under some blankets and hid.  Then it started moving, then it stopped, then the people were pumping, stuffing and pumping stuff out and the whole damn boat was jumping around.  Oh did I mention, I figured out that I wasn’t in a weird house, this was a “boat”.  A kind of thing that floats on the water.

Suddenly the engine began roaring again.  I wanted to hide but, oh my that rich food, I really need my litter box.  I NEED IT NOW!!

Finally after I get Sara’s attention he comes back and sets it out in the “cock pit”.  I have to tell you I’m scared as hell.  The boat is jumping around and I know there must be a big must be a big rooster hiding somewhere in that “cock-pit”.  Anyway, I make it to the box, barely, and just as I squirt liquid fire the damn boat rolls, I lose my balance and make a mess of the box, the boat and myself.  How EMBAR-ASSING!

Mike has to cleanup while the other two laugh.  I am disgusted.  I went below to clean myself, which only caused them to make foolish faces and laugh more.  I’m definitely going to get even especially with that old one.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Up The Creek

We arrived in Broad Creek Marina just yesterday and I would say it's the BEST marina in all of South Carolina.  It's an amazingly beautiful place, with dolphins swimming around the docks, marshes full of egrits and the people here are so friendly (friendly does not actually describe the people here), they have given us free parts galore, loaned us their bikes and cars, offered us rides around the island, bought us drinks and on top of all that, this spot has free moorage (yes, I said free!).  Typically a boat moorage along the East Coast, with wifi, showers, laundry, electricity, water and pump out is going to cost anywhere from $1.75 to $2.50 a foot.

When I called Bobbie, the dockmaster, before we arrived to Broad Creek Marina, he said "just tie up and walk up to the bar, it's free!"  I told Daubie and Mike this and they could not believe me.  They thought, surely he was just talking about the pump out or the water being free, it couldn't possibly be free moorage at the dock!  Oh and by the way, if you don't know what "pump-out" is, well, that's when you connect a huge hose to your boat and pump out the holding tank for the toilet, so it is contained and not just released into the ocean.  This is a pretty gross job and luckily, we have had good luck with this and no poop has gone flying or oozing overboard, I have heard and read horror stories of pump outs gone wrong!

Bobbie has shown us true island hospitality, and to be honest, it's hard to leave a place like this!  The plan is to take off tomorrow, but we'll see if that happens, right now, I'm enjoying the $4 all day happy hour Bloody Mary's!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Maiden Voyage

We set sail November 1, 2011 at 13:40 from the Charleston Maritime Marina. Crew onboard was Mike, Sara and Daubie and cat Nelly. This was Tanqueray's maiden voyage with her new captains. It was a bit rollie heading out, but all seemed to be going smoothly with me at the helm and Mike and Daubie storing the fenders. About 5 minutes later, however, Nelly comes out into the cockpit looking for her litter box. Not the best timing, since we are just on our way out of the marina for the first time and learning how the boat operates and waves are rolling us around, the wind is blowing fiercely and we are still working on stowing the gear. Mike runs below to bring up her litter box, which is a plastic storage container and maybe a little too small for her, but it seems to still be working. Well, maybe not, Houston we have a problem! It appears that Nelly has not adjusted to her sea legs yet and she looses her balance in the litter box and now there is screaming and yelling in the cockpit as cat diareaha is everywhere and the boat is rolling around! Mike gallantly begins to cleanup the mess, luckily he has some experience with this from our previous days with our dog Brodie. Daubie and I try to keep our distance with the excuse that someone still needs to steer and navigate the boat. Mike locks Nelly down below in the head for fear of cat poop being tracked everywhere. After cleanup is completed, we continue on to Tom Point Creek, where we anchor at 6:40pm. The Tanqueray has been christened on her maiden voyage, just wish it was with champagne instead!!