To The Bahamas, Part 1: Start of a Real Cruise

2012-03-31, 20:00 — Eggmont Key

Well, the long-rumored and long-planned sail to the Bahamas is finally here. Dream SeQueL has been on the hard at Snead Island Boat Works (SIBW) in Palmetto, FL, for almost eight months! I sailed her to SIBW in late July 2011 for a simple bottom job…renew her antifouling bottom paint. As I recorded previously, though, the discovery of several largish (up to 4 cm diameter) osmotic blisters and many, many “pimples” (blisters about 1 to 4 mm diameter) meant removing the gelcoat, grinding out the blisters, letting the hull dry out, filling and fairing the blister “divots”, applying an epoxy barrier coat, and finally applying the antifouling bottom paint. Can you say sticker shock? I knew you could!

While she was on the hard, I spent about three weeks starting in mid-January 2012, with Barbara joining me for the last 10 days, staying in a nearby motel and working all day, every day, on many other items that needed attention. We also had SIBW replace our cracked quadrant with a new Edson quadrant, adding a strong (also Edson) tiller arm at the same time. They replaced our turning blocks (a/k/a foot blocks), the lower sheaves of which were frozen solid due to galvanic corrosion, with new Garhauer blocks that look and work great. They also replaced the stainless-steel muffler, which had developed some pinhole leaks, with a custom fiberglass muffler and installed a new through-hull (plus vent loop) for the new high-capacity bilge pump we’re adding to supplement the existing pump.

My long-time friend and business colleague, Frank Pellow (who lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada) is going to the Bahamas with us. Frank and I, along with another friend and colleague, Murali Venkatrao, went to India together a few years ago for a month, doing some trekking in the Indian Himalaya and visiting a few cities. We’d planned for all three of us to do this new adventure, but Murali’s oldest sister’s husband died in February and he had to go to India to help his sister relocate from Mumbai to Bangalore.

Additionally, Frank’s wife, Margaret, has been having some health problems, so Frank thought that it would be unfair for him to be gone for a full month, which is roughly the time we’d planned for the trip. Frank decided that he wouldn’t start off with us leaving SIBW, but would join us in Miami, and would also return home from Miami instead of sailing back around to Clearwater Beach with us.

I went back to Palmetto in mid-March just after SIBW put Dream SeQueL back into the water, and Barbara joined me a few days later. We spent those days doing last-minute tasks and initial provisioning for the trip to the Bahamas.

One thing we did was had our fuel tanks cleaned and fuel polished. Back in March of 2011, we’d attempted to take some of my standards colleagues out on a day sail, but we had fuel problems. We discovered later that the fuel intake in the port fuel tank was clogged and discovered what we presumed were algae and/or bacterial mats in the tank. So, before leaving, we wanted the tanks cleaned. In the process, the polishing company representative and I discovered that the “mats” were actually pieces of paper towel! How the hell they got there, we can only guess, but we suspect it was caused by somebody using paper towels as fuel “collars” during refueling and allowing shreds of towel to get into the tank!

We also had the lifelines replaced. There was visible rust on the (coated) lifelines, which is a certain sign that the wires inside were in bad shape. We went with uncoated wire this time, which will both reduce the opportunity for corrosion and make it far easier for us to detect any corrosion that does start. Expensive, but absolutely necessary for safety!

Unhappily, early today, we discovered that the boom was not riveted to the gooseneck fitting! At our request, SIBW had drilled out the old rivets so we could repair a set of four line clutches built into the mast end of the boom (used for the outhaul and reefing lines), but they’d failed to re-rivet them when that work was finished! Happily, their yard manager, Steve, lives on the premises and came right over with the tools to do the job. Steve is definitely one of the Good Guys, but I’m worried about such a major error on the part of his boatyard crew. I hope that nothing else of this magnitude surfaces; if something does, I’ll have to have a word with Gary, the owner of Snead Island Boat Works.

Barbara and I finally set sail late this afternoon (March 31, 2012). We eased out of our slip at SIBW, ghosted out of the yard, motored down the Manatee River into the waters near the mouth of Tampa Bay, where we anchored off the east side of Egmont Key (one of our favorite places to hang out).

We’re still having problems. This is a lot like a real shakedown cruise after a major refit (which, in many ways, we guess it is). For example, even though we just had the fuel tanks cleaned and the fuel polished, the port tank still doesn’t supply fuel (or, if it does, it’s at a significantly reduced rate).

Worse, we’re having problems with the instrumentation (among other major projects, we added a Raymarine X30 below-decks autopilot and some ST70 instruments, but are having problems getting all of the data to display on both the ST70s and the E80 and E120 chartplotters; Raymarine is stumped at this time), heading alignment, etc. Sigh… (In fact, I’ve spent many hours over the last week talking to Raymarine’s chief instrument technician and support guy, who has offered several ideas, none of which have helped in the slightest. When we return, I’ll start spending even more time on the phone with them. I mean, really…I’ve got about $15,000 of their gear on board and we can’t get it to all work together!) This is such a huge issue and time sink that I will probably blog about it in a completely seperate thread later on.

Oh, I forgot to mention that, a couple of days ago, I got email from Don Deutsch (friend, mentor, chair of ANSI INCITS DM32 and DM32.2, ex-boss, etc.) telling me that I have been chosen by INCITS (InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standardization) to receieve their annual Lifetime Achievement Award! There’s a dinner presentation of the awards on April 23. If we are back in the States by then, Barbara wants me to go to the dinner. I’m truly honored by this and will think about going. If we’re back by then. If.

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