Monthly Archives: January 2017

Minor Maintenance and Major Playtime

I am sure most people think Frank does all of the boat work on LIB and I just reap the benefit of his efforts, but I do actually contribute.  Case in point is changing the anodes on our engine propellers, which I did last week. 

p1010722New zinc on the left and what was left of the old one on the right!

Anodes are dome shaped pieces, usually made of zinc, designed to be ‘sacrificial anodes’ that counteract galvanic corrosion between metals on the boat. Essentially, zinc will give up its’ electrons more quickly than other metals such as the bronze of the propeller or the stainless steel of the propeller shaft on the boat and therefore absorb the galvanic action of these metals. Zincs are there to protect our propellers and other metal pieces.

I zinc it’s missing on the left! New one installed on the right.

Anyway, we had checked our zinc anodes while traveling the ICW and they were in good shape (greater than 50%), but this week when we looked, they had eroded completely! So I donned mask, fins and a dive tank and replaced our anodes.

The point in telling you that is to prove that I am occasionally useful and to remind boaters out there to check their zincs periodically.

I completely forgot to share with you the fun we had with our Rally friends at Shroud Cay (pronounced “key”).  We had read about a cool cut, like a small river, that you can take your dinghy through and move from the west side of the island to the east side.

One bright morning, we followed the cut to a breathtaking beach on the east side of Shroud Cay.  There was nothing to do on this beach except enjoy the water, play in the sand and climb up a small hill for a birds eye view.  We were happy to spend the better part of a day perfecting these activities! The pictures are better than words.

spanish-blog-3Crystal clear water of the cut on Shroud Cay

The water in the cut was so shallow and clear that I wanted to capture it with the GoPro. Unfortunately, the camera ran out of battery, but still photos will give you an idea of the view from our “car.”

spanish-blog-1Arriving at the east side of Shroud Cay

p1010748The “hills” aren’t very high, but the view is still great.

We left Shroud Cay and pointed north toward Spanish Wells in the Eleuthera Islands while our Rally buddies headed south. Our route to Spanish Wells required us to navigate through the Middle Ground, a section of the Bahama flats that is very shallow, probably 12 to 20 feet,  and extends for miles.  The water is clear enough to see through but it is dotted with coral reefs throughout the area and you must pay attention while navigating between the reefs.

As we motored, the wind was nearly non existent and the water was dead calm so it was hard to believe that predicted bad weather was driving our decision to move to Spanish Wells.  In fact it was so calm when we were maneuvering through The Middle Grounds we decided to drop our anchor and snorkel a couple of the reefs.

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What a great decision! These reefs were the most vibrant we have seen since we moved onto LIB.  We did not see many fish, but we sure saw some lively and colorful coral.  It was such a pleasure to see healthy reefs for a change!  The pictures don’t do it justice but here they are. (Time to buy an underwater filter of some sort for my camera!)

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Spanish Wells was a long trip from Shroud Cay, but it was definitely worth the effort.  The Yacht Harbour Marina was rebuilt less than a year ago and the results are impressive.  The docks are very secure and clean which was good since the weather did change and brought some strong winds and rain.  The pool, restaurant, bathrooms, laundry room, etc are all first rate at Yacht Haven Marina.  The dock master, Treadwell, is fabulous! He met us at the dock to catch lines and secure LIB and every day his attitude was upbeat and helpful. The office was exceedingly clean and the staff was very pleasant. We cannot recommend this marina highly enough!

spanish-blog-5The restaurant at Yacht Harbour Marina with the slips in the background.

As for the town, we first explored on our bikes, then we walked parts of it and finally we rented a golf cart. The town of Spanish Wells is amazingly homogenous. The houses were pretty uniform in size and we didn’t see an extremely wealthy or very poor areas.  Plus the yards and homes were well tended and most had gardens.

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A typical street in Spanish Wells.

Frank and I had read a lot about Harbour Island and specifically the pink sand beach there.  But the two options for visiting Harbour Island from Spanish Wells were to take a ferry and stay for about 5 hours or hire a pilot to take LIB through a treacherous pass called The Devil’s Backbone.  We compared cost and decided to hire a pilot. 

dsc08462Kristen and James at Pink Sand Beach

Then we invited our dock neighbors, Kristen and James on s/v Tatiana, to join us on LIB and spend two nights on Harbour Island.

dsc08494Bandit is a super pilot and great guy!

We hired Bandit as our pilot and we were very glad we didn’t try to make the trip on our own. The water was churning and Bandit didn’t follow the chart at all. He followed a curvy track between breaking waves and hidden rocks that only an experienced driver would recognize.  We were happy to have Bandit at the helm.

Bandit and his ancestors have lived on Eleuthera for generations and he had a ton of stories to share about his life on the island.  I enjoyed learning about him and his various occupations which included farming 20 acres on Eleuthera.   

The first day on Harbour Island we walked the town which didn’t take more than 2 hours at a casual pace. 

spanish-blog-1-6-35-10-pmLibrary on Harbour Island

spanish-blog-3-6-35-10-pmMISSOURIANS where are you? Not one plate from The Show Me State!

spanish-blog-6  I just liked this.

We saved the pink sand beach for our second day and Frank’s birthday! The four of us took a short tour of the area via golf cart then stopped at the beach.  The pink tint is difficult to capture but you can see when on the beach. us-at-pink-sandPink Sand Beach is absolutely beautiful!

The weather was perfect for hanging on the beach, playing in the water and turning Frank into sand sculptures.

 frank-turtleTurtle Frank

frank-mermanMer-man Frank

dsc08486James and Kristen treated us to lunch at Sip Sip. It was fabulous!!!!

dsc08484The birthday boy enjoying “Sky Juice” at Sip Sip.

We contacted Bandit to take us back to Spanish Wells and he arrived bearing gifts of sour limes from his farm and baked goods from his wife. The limes taste a bit like sour oranges to me and per Bandit’s recommendation we have used them to marinade meat. Yum!

spanish-blog-3Departing Spanish Wells for Harbour Island

spanish-blogOn the way to Harbour Island

spanish-blog-2Frank and Cap as we sail through aquarium clear water.

spanish-blog-2Returning to Spanish Wells.

After leaving Bandit, Kristen and James in Spanish Wells, we headed south toward Royal Island where we could wait out the next predicted weather front in a secure anchorage but first we took a detour to a small spot near Egg Island, south of Royal Island.

We had read about a ship wreck off of Egg Island in the 1970s. A Lebanese freighter named the Arimoroa was on its’ way to Europe from South America when a fire started in the galley. The cargo was fertilizer and the fire spread so quickly that the captain had to head for the nearest visible island to get his crew to safety.  No one was injured but the ship was lost and supposedly the wreck smoldered for three months.

As a result of the leaked cargo, the reefs were poisoned and destroyed as was the sea life in the area. However, the regrowth around the ship wreck is now a point of study for scientists from several schools in Florida which are trying to understand the drastic turnaround of this area.  Today the area is well known for its’ abundant fish population and unusual number of grey angel fish, very large parrotfish and even stingrays.

Of course we wanted to try to dive this wreck even though the weather wasn’t really cooperative.  We anchored near the dive site, dropped a grab line in case the current became difficult, then proceeded toward the wreck.

DCIM100GOPRO You can see it was murky even though we were in shallow water.

For the first time in my diving experience, I did not do well on this dive.  The current was intimidating, the visibility was not great and I was a little disoriented.  We dove for about 30 minutes and were only about 18 feet down, but I could not enjoy the dive.  The little we could see around the wreck did show a LOT of fish and I would have loved to have a better day to enjoy snooping around.

We knew the day was not a good one for diving, but we wanted to see the wreck while we were in the area. Essentially we tried to force our activity when the weather wasn’t right. Hopefully we won’t make that mistake again.

Once we were safely back on LIB and I finished “feeding the fish,” we picked up anchor and quickly motored to Royal Island and the sedate anchorage it offered.  I was really, really happy to enter the harbor where the water flattened out completely!

spanish-blog  Sunset at Royal Island

Thankfully I felt better quickly and was able to enjoy a sundowner and the sunset before heading to bed early for a recuperative night of rest.

Interconnected: a One Word Description of Life on a Boat.

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If I had to use one word to describe life on a sailboat, it would be interconnected.  This word applies to our boat, our marital relationship and our friends.  I find life on LIB forces me to understand and acknowledge how much Frank and I need each other to accomplish everyday tasks that require coordinated effort by two people, or at least are much easier with two. 

We rely on our friends to share their experience and knowledge about everything from anchorages to weather to boat repairs and spare parts. They rely on us to do the same.

Finally, the systems on our boat are intertwined and enmeshed such that if something happens to one facet, it is likely to affect other parts.  LIB is a tiny city. We must produce our own energy and water and we must regulate how quickly we expend them.  On land, these things were automatic and inexhaustible as long as we paid our bills.

Plus most of the systems in our land home were independent of each other.  Suppose you walk out to the garage and the door opener has quit working.  You check the fuses and all is fine. Assuming you have paid your electric bill, you probably need a garage door repair person, but for now, open it manually. 

That system is independent of the rest of your house.  Everything else in your home continues to work and is unaffected.

Now suppose on our sailboat, I turn on a light and it doesn’t work.  I check the fuse and the fuse is fine.  The light is not burned out.  Well, if this light doesn’t work because it isn’t getting energy, then on our interconnected boat, other parts on board are probably not getting energy.

Since we generate/maintain our own power, we have to determine immediately where the issue lies because if the lights are not receiving power then our refrigeration, freezer, bilge pumps and other things probably aren’t getting power either.

As a result of the interdependency of systems, when there is a problem on the boat, it cannot be neglected until its source is detected and we understand the repercussions of the problem. I know it sounds overly dramatic, but if we neglect to diagnose a system problem, it could lead to some extreme issues.

Take the example of the lights not working. We know we have a little problem with our energy but we don’t really want to worry about fixing it right now.  We decide the refrigeration will stay cold for a while and we will determine the problem later.  Well, what if the boat also has a leak and water is slowly entering the bilge? Our bilge pump is designed to detect the water, sound an alarm and pump the water out of the boat.  But the bilge pump is electric.  No power, no bilge pump, no alarm.  I guess the water will continue to accumulate until we fix our electrical issue or we see water in the boat.

This example demonstrates how one problem on a boat can have a domino effect and lead to some serious problems.

Living on the small city of Let It Be requires us to learn and understand all the electronics, engines, charging systems, etc and be able to diagnose and fix problems.  Essentially we must become our own engineers, repair people and hardware supply store.

This leads me to the second word I would use to describe life on our sailboat: Balance. 

No, I don’t mean learning how to stay upright on a shifting platform.  I mean finding the balance of having enough spare parts, tools, reference manuals, etc and living in a relatively small space where we don’t have a ton of extra room to store those parts, tools and manuals.

We have to balance the work required to keep our little city functioning well and having time to play and explore the new places we drop our anchor.  AND we have to balance our toy to tool ratio ~ which can be difficult for us!!    😉

For these reasons and others, when friends ask; “Don’t you get bored out there?” or “What do you do all day?”

The resounding answer is no, we are not bored and we have plenty to do.  We are challenged both mentally and physically in this lifestyle.  Everyday tasks, maintaining balance and making sure our interconnected systems are in order require extra effort and time compared to life on land.  We keep detailed records of maintenance done to all systems/engines and we have a calendar of when things like oil changes, water filter changes, etc are due, and we have an inventory of supplies for maintenance.

Additionally, everyday tasks on land become time consuming events on our boat. Please read about our grocery adventures here.

So for us, for now, we are far from bored and we find the challenges, the learning and the skill building suits us.

Perhaps in time we will long for the simplicity and convenience of land life, but currently we are happy with our boat life choice.

Do you agree with my one word description of living on a sailboat? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Gratuitous photo of Let It Be in the fabulous blue Bahamian water!

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Hard to believe these colors are real!

  

T R A C K I N G…. Back on Track

tracking

Well, I hesitate to say it, but I think we have just reinstated our LAST replacement since our lightning event in July!   TRACKING is back.

One feature of our blog that we really enjoyed having was the page that allowed our readers to see where Let It Be is anchored or our progress during a passage.  We were really sad when our Iridium Go! was killed by lightning and we lost our tracking ability and history.

And honestly, it was kind of fun to see the little track LIB made across inlets, anchorages and oceans.

But the good news is that our tracking is now up and going once again! We just reinstated it so our progress down the east coast of the U.S. and over to the Bahamas was lost, but you can see where we are now and as we move forward.

If you want to find us, look to the pages listed on the right side of the home page. You will see “Where is LIB?”  Click on that and a map with our location will load.

Al Young, I thought of you as I figured out how to get this working again! 😉

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We relax while LIB makes tracks.

LIB is a Sailing Vessel Once Again!

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Poor “neutered cat.”

After watching our Rally friends leave the marina, Frank and I prepared for our trip up the Miami River to M & M Boat Yard.  Back in September, Frank had arranged transportation for LIB’s mast from Jabin’s Yacht Yard in Annapolis to M & M Boatyard in Miami.  After three months of being a “power cat,” we were very ready to have our sailing vessel back.

mastMiami harbor with at least six cruise ships.

Motoring toward the Miami River, we were amazed by the number of cruise ships in the Miami Harbor.  Each of those cruise ships is a small town…. think of the number of people who move in and out of Miami when you consider these ships and the international airport!

mast-2Fixed bridges are easy.

I have mentioned several times how smart it was to have our mast removed from LIB before our trip down the ICW because of the bridges, and that was driven home when we motored up the Miami River.  M & M was only about 3 miles up the river, but we had to cross under 15 bridges! Some of the bridges were fixed but probably nine of them would need to be opened once the mast was back on our boat.

mast-1At least three bridges in this picture.

Below is a photo layout of the mast being returned to Let It Be. I did have to put down the camera and help, so it isn’t as complete as it could be..

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Attaching and tensioning the shroud.

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Attaching the boom.

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Sail bag and lazy jacks up; now for the sail.

By the time the mast and boom were in place, we only had time to attach the sail bag and put on the main sail before dark descended. 

***A special thank you to John Sheldon, who rigged our mast.  He was very professional and timely.  He did an excellent job of stepping the mast and we really appreciated his efforts and expertise.

 The next morning we got up early to wash the decks which were filthy from so many shoes during the mast stepping and the general dirtiness of a boat yard.  As soon as we finished, we pointed LIB out of the yard and toward the ocean.

Happily, our motor out of the Miami River went smoothly and the bridge tenders were very accommodating.  We did have one instance when a barge, being pulled by tugboats from the bow and stern, needed to go through a bridge at the same time we did.  Needless to say, we stood down and gave him the right of way! 

Other than the huge barge, we didn’t have any issues clearing bridges but our perspective was certainly different as we watched the mast and antenna passing under the fixed bridges.  Even though we knew we had a couple of feet of clearance, it looked closer from down on the deck.

Several of our Rally friends were hanging out in No Name Harbor in Biscayne Bay, and they reported that the anchorage was excellent so we headed there to finish our work returning LIB to a full fledged sailboat.

mast-21The view just outside the entrance to No Name Harbor

No Name is a pretty little anchorage with one restaurant and several paths to walk or bike.  Both mornings we were there, dolphins swam around the anchorage very close to the boats. 

hearding-dolphins

Cappy thinks she is herding those dolphins.

Captain was going crazy barking and running around the boat following the dolphins, so finally we told her she could go swim…. and she did!  For about an hour Captain swam around the anchorage trying to catch those illusive swimmers!

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Frank offers support for herding activities.

As you can see, Frank put a paddle board in the water and paddled nearby so that when Cap was tired she could swim back to him and rest.  Of course, once she spotted another dolphin, she jumped back in the water to give chase.

Captain is an English Shepherd and I swear, with this breed, if you don’t give them a job, they will create one.  Apparently Cap has decided that dolphin herding is her new responsibility!

I would guess that several of the Rally boaters have more experience racing sailboats than making ocean passages on them.  When it was time for a discussion about when to cross to the Bahamas, they gathered on LIB to discuss options and weather windows.  Although we were not planning on leaving at the same time our friends were, we wanted to hear their thoughts and share the weather tools we use when planning our passages.

mast-18Conveyances tied to LIB as we discussed weather services and windows.

No Name was a pretty and very well protected anchorage.  We would have enjoyed staying a bit longer, but we were heading toward Key Largo where our friends Mary and Glenn live.  Our plan was to have the boat in Key Largo when our son, Clayton, arrived for a short Christmas weekend.  That would allow us to sail a bit with Clayton but also be in a good location to wait for a weather window to travel to the Bahamas.

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So fun seeing our spinnaker flying again!

We left No Name Harbor, put up our beautiful red spinnaker and SAILED to Key Largo.  It was great to finally turn off the engines and zip along using the power of wind. 

Even though we live on LIB, this was our first sail in FIVE months! Between the repair time required after our lighting event and shipping our mast so we could traverse the ICW, we had almost forgotten how to be sailors!

Thankfully, LIB has not forgotten how to sail.  I think she was as delighted as we were to fly sails and glide quietly through the water.

mast-20 A huge thank you to Mary and Glenn for finding us this awesome place to wait!!

This well protected canal is where we docked LIB for several days as we waited for a window to go to Bimini.  We both enjoyed the Key Largo area and think this would be an awesome place to spend a hurricane season!  Perhaps this will be our location for hurricane season 2017.

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