Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Once more, with feeling

As I begin typing we are still on the hard at Lauderdale Marine Center (map), waiting for the Travelift to come pick us up for our afternoon splash. It's been a productive few days and Vector is once again ready for sea.

Scratch that. The above paragraph was the one and only thing I managed to type Monday before I was interrupted for the remainder of the day, dashing my hopes of getting the blog posted before we left. We're now in the Atlantic Ocean, east of the Florida Reef and about even with Key Largo. I am on watch and Louise is asleep below.

Sunset over Fowey Rocks Light.

We wrapped up the holiday weekend in Hollywood Lake, tendering ashore for a final meal on the waterfront before decking the tender in preparation for our return to Fort Lauderdale. Tuesday we weighed anchor uneventfully a little after 10am to give us a slack-water arrival at the New River, and we had an easy run upriver to the yard, despite rather high winds the entire day.

As we made our way upriver we heard a familiar voice and a familiar boat name on the radio. Our friends Steve and Barb aboard Maerin had come south down the ICW and made the turn upriver just ahead of us. They had just finished tying up at the downtown docks as we passed, and we waved and exchanged shouted greetings as we passed. The marine radio is far too busy on the New River for either of us to even have said hello.

We were tied alongside by 1pm and put the scooters back on the ground. Mindful that the thief who stole my scooter is still there and still has a key to Louise's scooter, we were diligent in locking them up every minute were were in the yard, I collected our waiting mail from the office, and we ran some errands before going to one of our old standbys for dinner.

Wednesday morning first thing, again in high winds, we moved into the liftways where Joe, the unflappable lift operator guided us in before deftly lifting Vector from the water. I think we were both holding our breath as she rose in the lift, not knowing whether we would find some horrible mangling of metal on her underbelly.

Our stumpy Nemo fin looking forlorn. But no damage to the hull nearby.

I could hardly believe my eyes as the keel came level with the ground. The fin had stripped off cleanly and there was not even a scratch on the hull. Something sharp dragged along the keel about two inches from the bottom, leaving a horizontal scratch in the paint that was perfectly level and ran half the length of the boat. Whatever it was also scraped against the skeg, but there was no evidence of a strike on the propeller or the rudder. The port fin also had a small amount of damage on its leading edge at the very bottom.

This long scratch 2" above the bottom of the keel was the extent of the other damage. Hard to make out unless you click to enlarge the photo.

Stabilized Marine arrived shortly after we were blocked and on the stands. They inspected both actuators and shafts and determined that they had not been displaced and needed no adjustments. They popped the remains of the starboard fin (the "shoe") off, replaced the shaft seals as a precaution, and headed off to Naiad to pick up the new fin. I had to call the insurance company's surveyor since this work was proceeding before he could arrive.

A close-up of the aft end of the scratch and the scrape on the skeg.

The guys had the new fin on before lunch and declared everything good to go. In the meantime, the bottom crew from the yard inspected the paint damage so they could give us a quote on sanding, primer, repainting, and the fiberglass touch-up on the port fin. The insurance surveyor arrived after lunch and spent barely fifteen minutes looking at the damage before declaring it a covered loss and the repair quotes to be reasonable.

New fin before installation. The old shoe is on the white cloth to the right.

Somewhere in all of this, I had to again jury-rig the gray waste sump to empty into the black tank, and the condensate from the mini-split to empty into a coffee can. That was all much quicker the second time around, since I had installed a fitting for the purpose on the black tank, and the hole was already drilled for the condensate hose. Of course, this time I first had to empty 200 beers from the bilge before I could run the waste hose.

I had to move all this beer to access the gray sump. The new fitting and valve for temporary connection to the black tank can be seen at upper left.

I had girded myself for having the stabilizer guys there until past dinner time, as had been the case when they serviced the system in January. Since they wrapped up before lunch, we called Steve and Barb and arranged to meet them downtown. We enjoyed cocktails in their saloon before walking to a nice dinner at the Royal Pig across the river. It was great catching up with them after some two years.

Thursday the yard sanded the scratches down to bare steel and applied the primer, and by the end of Friday the paint was done. As long as we had to buy an entire 5-gallon can of anti-fouling, they also touched up the areas where the lift belts had bit into the paint. They barely used a full gallon and I have most of the can aboard now for future touch-up.

Scratch sanded out to bare steel. New fin is visible to the right.

Shortly after the boat show and the resulting purchase of new navigation software for the helm, we had signed up for a two-hour class on how to use it, and Thursday afternoon we we left the yard to its own devices while we participated.  I think we were the only owners in a class of ten or so; the other participants were megayacht crews, including some from Never Enough and Usher, two yachts we've crossed paths with a time or two. As these things go, we got about fifteen minutes of useful information in those two hours, but that fifteen minutes has saved me hours of frustration in coming up to speed on the new software. Plus, they had cookies.

We spent the weekend dealing with paperwork and running errands while the paint cured. The cat, who is continuing her amazing recovery, needed more prescription food, and I had a couple of scripts of my own to fill. I also made a three-hour round trip scooter ride to Miami Beach, where we had cleverly forwarded our mail when we were quite certain we'd be anchored there after the boat show.

That mail included the warranty replacement through-hull valve that we replaced a couple of weeks ago; I took it back to West Marine with the receipt from the one I had to buy there on short notice. It also included the title to the new scooter, which we are happy to have before heading offshore.

Shiny new fin shortly after installation.  It had to be sanded before priming.

As long as we again had a good address, we had a 35-pound Manson Supreme anchor delivered for use as a stern anchor, kedge, or emergency lunch hook. And I rode back over to the chart store, where we had taken the class, with a thumb drive in my pocket, to buy the Bahamas and Caribbean chart package that had been the incentive to install new software in the first place.

Speaking of the Caribbean, we finally got a quote for insurance, and it is literally double our current annual premium just so we can spend less than three months cruising the closest group of islands. We've asked for more quotes. Irma and Maria have made Caribbean insurance an expensive proposition.

Dylan works on the seals.

Monday, as we were wrapping up and getting ready for our afternoon splash, I got a call from good friends Curtis and Gill who were driving back up from the Keys after attending the Looper gathering there. They had a last-minute reprieve on their busy schedule and were able to stop by for lunch; they brought sandwiches, which we ate on he aft deck as we did not want to leave the yard so close to splash time. It was great catching up with them.

We splashed with no issues and tied up for the night at the face dock closest to the river, right next to where we had been blocked, for a speedy escape. Our departure options Tuesday were to shove off at 6:30am to beat the bridge closures before high slack, or else right at the noon checkout time, just ahead of low slack. With a projected 26-hour trip to Key West, we opted for the latter, which had no risk of us getting stuck between bridges at the morning rush hour.

All better. Fresh paint center-frame is touch-up of the area where the lift straps rub.

First thing in the morning the yard hauled another boat and dropped it where we had been. It was a 42' Cigarette with five 350hp outboards; wicked fast. This million dollar boat (literally) was merely the tender to a much larger yacht, Checkmate. It had run aground somewhere in the Bahamas, puncturing the outer fiberglass of the hull. Apparently they left it there in the water for two weeks, leaving plenty of time for the balsa wood core of the hull to saturate thoroughly, probably a six-figure repair bill. Perspective.

This P&O cruise ship was in port as we departed. We sailed on her Princess sister ship.

We dropped lines right at noon and made our way downriver and out to sea at Port Everglades. Maerin had departed the river ahead of us, and they hailed us on the radio from their anchorage at University Cove as we passed Haulover Inlet. We're glad we squeezed in a second outing with them over the weekend, and hope to cross paths again in the Bahamas.

Update: I did not manage to get this post finished last night before the change of watch at 0300. We're now abreast of the abandoned American Shoal light, with just 20 miles to go to Key West. We should be in quarters by 2pm or so. Given that the weather for passage gets lousy in a couple of days, we've booked a week at the marina. That will give me time to fix the two things that broke on our way here.

American Shoal light.

The first of those was our davit crane. Fortunately we had already decked both scooters before the "up" function stopped working, as I was getting ready to stow it after using it to get the 50-lb can of paint aboard. It's a bad solenoid and I have spares on board, but we needed to get under way so I just lashed it down.

The other failure is more serious. Here in the clear blue waters just off the Gulf Stream we gave the watermaker a workout after servicing both pumps in Fort Lauderdale. Production dropped rapidly from rated capacity down to zero in short order and now it will not work at all. In Key West I need to take the pump motor apart and see if it has some kind of problem. We're not going to the Bahamas without a working watermaker, so this problem is tops on my list.


  1. Wow...recently it has been nearly a "full time job" keeping up with repairs and upgrades. Hopefully some "slack" time is in your near future.

  2. Thank goodness you know what you are doing and can make repairs yourselves. I wouldn't have the foggiest of how to fix most of it. Take care, Happy Sewing and smooth sailing from Iowa


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