It’s been almost six months since I last wrote (To The Bahamas, Part 16: Lake Worth Beach to Clearwater Beach — the End of the Journey), but that doesn’t mean that nothing’s been going on.
I spent the first 16 days (including two travel days) of August down in Clearwater Beach, FL, working on Dream SeQueL. There were a number of jobs that I needed to get done, but Barbara was not able to get away from her Sheltie Rescue responsibilities and join me. Instead, I took my Sheltie, Abby, as my helper and confidant ♥ In the two weeks we were there, we got quite a lot of work done, the most significant of which (at least in terms of time spent) was a near-complete reconfiguration of our instrument system.
A word of advice: If you’re planning to upgrade a generation X instrument system to a generation X+2 instrument system, don’t try to do it in bits! There are so many gotchas involved when, as in our case, one mixes Raymarine’s Seatalk(1) and SeatalkNG networks, particularly when there are also a SeatalkHS network and an NMEA 0183 network involved. Suffice it to say that, has I the cash in hand, it would be far, far simpler to simply rip all of the generation X devices out and replace them with corresponding generation X+2 devices.
Sadly, we worked so many hours every day we were there (yes, Abby was helping!) that we did not take the boat out for a sail even once. That’s not a huge loss, because August on the Gulf Coast of Florida is brutally hot and humid, but there is very little wind with which to sail. A 5 kt zephyr is about as good as the winds usually get.
Tomorrow, I leave for two weeks of business trips — one in Lyon, France, and the other in Jeju, Korea. I return from those trips on Sunday, November 11, and will have but two days to recover from the travel and get some stuff done around the house. On Wednesday, November 14, Abby and I will fly down to Florida, “wake up” the boat, and start getting some work done. Barbara will join us on Thanksgiving day, November 22. We’ll spend a couple more days getting some work done, but then we intend to go cruising for a few days!
Our tentative plan is to sail south about a hundred miles to Boca Grande Pass, the entrance from the Gulf into Charlotte Harbor. Once inside, we’ll spend two or three days exploring the area, using our dinghy to get to places without sufficient draft (6′) for Dream SeQueL. Believe it or not, this will be the first time we’ve really cruised in the sense of not really having a firm destination or a deadline, but merely exploring places that look interesting, whether a little town or an uninhabited island. After those few days, we’ll head back to the Tampa Bay area in time to attend the St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show. We attended this show several years ago and benefited enormously from several of the (free!) seminars they offered, and we hope to do so again this year. With a lot more miles under our keel than we had then, we’ll also benefit a lot more from the vendors’ booths, too. Once the show’s over, it’ll be time to thoroughly clean our boat and put her back to sleep until our next trip to Florida. We fly back home (Utah) on December 6.
Here’s a sample of the kinds of work I want us to complete on this trip:
- Take our liferaft, Mom (man overboard module), and EPIRB (electronic position indicating rescue beacon) to be serviced.
- Remove the old dinghy (that came unglued during our Bahamas trip) and replace it with our new (ordered today!) Hypalon, welded dinghy.
- Service at least one winch, and perhaps all five winches.
- Refinish the caprail, the handrails, and other exterior brightwork.
- Thoroughly clean and re-oil the teak in and adjacent to the cockpit.
- Remove several boards from the teak deck, removing the screws that hold them down, fill the screw holes with epoxy resin, redrill them, and replace the boards (actually two or three of them might have to be literally replaced because they’re split or broken). In fact, we have at least two known leaks in the decks that must be fixed pronto.
- While we’re at it, repair numerous chips and cracks in the gelcoat on deck.
- The deck port to our holding tank is “frozen” and I’ve been unable to unfreeze it chemically and using brute force, so we’ll either succeed or replace it completely. While we’re working on this, we’ll completely clean the holding tank (ugh!) and accurately measure its capacity.
- Complete the work on the instrument system, which might mean spending time on the phone with Raymarine. Once the instruments are all working properly, we have to recalibrate all of them (electronic compass, depth, speed, temperature, wind direction, wind speed).
- We need to repaint several interior surfaces with good waterproof (e.g., epoxy) paint: the interior of the refrigerator and freezer compartments; the interiors of the lockers beneath the galley sink and the head sink; and the headliner in the saloon.
- Replace the loudhailer that was ripped off the mast during the Bahamas trip.
- Completely and thoroughly clean the bilge (especially the sump), and repaint with a good waterproof paint. Evaluate whether the primary bilge pump’s float switch should be replaced (it occasionally sticks in the off position!); otherwise, just clean it and the pump thoroughly. Re-engineer the mounting system for the primary bilge pump and its float switch, the new high-capacity bilge pump’s electronic sensor, and all of the bilge pump wiring.
- Make up lines necessary to utilize our newly-repaired whisker pole.
- Repair various pieces of canvas (e.g., sail maincover, windlass cover, handrail covers, etc.); get a canvas shop to measure and prepare a bid for other (new and replacement) canvas pieces, especially for a cockpit enclosure.
- Replace several pieces of fuel hose that are not USCG approved with approved hose.
- Better organize our spare parts and supplies storage areas.
Well, I’m intimidated!