Almost there, but not quite hardly

Tuesday morning…..

We are nearing completion of all of our boat projects! Finally!

Last weekend I was grinding rust in the lazarette preparing to paint it.  (The lazarette is the aft-most locker in the boat and backs up against the transom.  It normally contains propane bottles and some small storage items.)  While using a chisel to remove rusted metal, I punched completely through the hull, leaving a hole.  The very corner of the locker where the hull, transom, and floor of the locker all come together had rusted almost completely through.  All it took was a hammer and chisel to make a hole.

This wasn’t a major problem forthree reasons.  First, the area was a foot above the water line.  Second, the lazarette is a watertight locker completely separate from the rest of the boat.  Third, there is already a drain hole in this locker located on the centerline of the boat to allow water and propane fumes to drain out of the boat.  One of my buddies observed that the rust had just improved ventilation in the propane locker and we should leave it as is.  Of course, he was joking.

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The picture above shows the hole from the inside.  This was after I ground on it some more to get back to good metal.  The welder cut it out a little more so it was a out 3 inches by 4 inches when he started welding.  It took a couple of days but we now have the damaged area welded and reinforced with good metal.  I am still painting it with epoxy paint to prevent future rust, and have two more coats to go.

We should be ready to depart Thursday.  The weather looks pretty iffy, with 40% chance of storms, so we are counting on leaving the dock Friday for a short sail down to Galveston.  We will spend the night there and depart early Saturday morning on the Intercostal Waterway.  We plan to take three days to reach Houma, LA, where we will take the Houma Navigation Canal to the Gulf of Mexico.  From there it will take us another five days to reach Dry Tortugas National Park.

This park has been a goal for us for a long time.  It is the western-most island of the Florida Keys and is accessible only by boat or sea plane.  The US built a fort on it long ago and it is now a National Park.  Google it – it looks like a beautiful place.

We plan on spending a couple of days at the park before moving on to Florida.  We are not sure where in Florida we will visit, but we are limited by our draft of seven feet and the vertical height of our mast, 70 feet.  Most fixed bridges and power lines in Florida are 65 feet, which excludes us.  We can get into Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, so we may visit one of those before heading to Bermuda around April 22.

I will try to keep this site updated as we travel.  We will keep an eye out for wifi access!

 

Geoff Knowers – our fourth crew member

I asked Geoff to write a short note telling a bit about himself.  He fails to mention that he’s a really good guy with a ready laugh and a great sense of humor, so I’ll say it for him.  He is also a fabulous chef and we are looking forward to crossing the Atlantic with him!

__________________________________________________________From Geoff Knowers

Hi, Marie and I were married in Rayners Lane (Greater London, England) on October 11th 1969.

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We have three children, Suzanne, Christopher and Caroline, who are now all married. Five grandchildren, Ashlie, Kristin and Matthew, who are Suzanne’s children, Kylie and Caleb, are Caroline’s children and one great grandchild, Jaison, who is Ashlie’s child.

I started my engineering career as a marine engineer and worked for Esso.  I left after several years and became a packaging engineer.

We came over to Houston in 1982 and have not looked back. We both worked for the same company and we both retired at the end of August last year.

We started sailing in 1988 and purchased our first sail boat, an O’Day 25. Both Marie and I took the Power Squadron’s sailing course and found it to be not only very informative, but we also made several good sailing friends. We sailed it to Red Fish Island on our first sail and spent the night. We had great fun with it sailing around the bay and down to Freeport. We were members of the TMCA (Texas Mariner’s Cruising Association) and did some great cruises with them. In 1994 we purchased our current sail boat an Endeavor 32, “Nauti-Lady” and have sailed her extensively up and down the Texas and Louisiana coast.

We have bare boated in the Virgin Islands and helped bring back a Hans Christian 43 from Panama City to Seabrook.

Every fall we take the boat to Port Aransas for a traditional “Men’s Cruise”, with two of my good friends.

We are looking forward to spending more time sailing in our retirement.

Genset and Freezer – check

More projects are getting completed!

We had one major project get added to our list recently, and it is now finished.  When we were hauled out of the water a few weeks ago, we had a complete survey done.  This is very similar to a home inspection, and involves a certified surveyor doing a thorough inspection of the boat.  The surveyor was very complimentary of our boat, and made several comments in his report of the overall excellent condition.  He did find a small amount of standing water in the area under the cockpit, and it turns out this was from leaks in the genset AND main engine exhaust hoses.  To remedy this, I replaced a lot of hoses, hose clamps, and fittings.  $500 later (parts only) and this project is now finished.  Afterwards, I ran both engines for extended periods to confirm that the system is now leak-free.  I then went ahead and changed the oil and filters on both engines.

The freezer has been on my “to-do” list for some time, and it is also finally finished.  The freezer has always run fine, but the insulation of the icebox was lacking.  As a result, the freezer compressor ran continuously and rarely shut off.  This caused us to use quite a bit more power than should be required.  To save our batteries I added four inches of foam sheeting to the bottom of the freezer (the purple stuff from Home Depot that comes in half-inch sheets).  I then finished this with 1/4″ of fiberglass to provide a sturdy bottom and protect the foam.  I will be monitoring this to see how much it helps our energy usage by reducing the freezer run times.

 

Windvane, Electronics, Haircut – check

We are down to about a week and a half until we are ready to depart.  Weather will play a big role in our actual departure date, but the boat will be ready to go the week after next (March 16-20).  The weather has not been cooperating, however.  I know a lot of you live in places where it is really cold and snowy, and may sniff when I tell you the weather Thursday was in the high 30’s and low 40’s, with a 15-25 knot wind.  However, remember that I am trying to do work outside in this weather, including some painting.  It has slowed me down some.

The windvane is completely installed.  It would have been done last week, but I managed to drop a piece in the water and was unable to retrieve it.  The piece I dropped came Wednesday, but I waited until Friday when it warmed up to the 50’s to install it.

Windvane rudderwindvane air vane

 

The picture on the left shows the new auxiliary rudder we added for the windvane.  In addition to steering the boat using wind power alone, this unit also serves as an emergency steering device should we lose our main rudder.  Although this is a remote possibility, it is nice to have the emergency backup just in case.  The picture on the right shows the back of our boat, and there is a lot of equipment mounted there.  The big, black trapezoid with holes in it is the paddle that senses wind direction to drive the wind vane.  You can also see the solar panels and all the antennas mounted on the stern.  The antennas blend in with the masts behind it and are hard to make out, but there are a total of six – wifi booster, GPS, NAVTEX, AIS, DSC for the SSB, and a spare VHF.  (I couldn’t think of a techie sounding acronym for “wi-fi booster”.)  All of this is operational and ready to go.

We purchased charts for the Atlantic crossing.  The electronic charts cover the entire Mediterranean, as far as the Black Sea.  We updated these (which you can now do online very quickly IF you have a high speed internet connection) and have them installed in our chart plotter.  We have paper charts for Bermuda, the Azores, the west coast of Portugal and Spain to Gibraltar, and a single small-scale chart of the entire North Atlantic.  If we lose our electronics, we can still navigate.

Our crossing of the Atlantic is scheduled for mid-May.  We are hoping to depart Bermuda around May 11.  Again, weather will play a big role in our actual departure date.  Crew for the trip will be Steve and Laura, son Cory, and very good friend Geoff Knowers. (Note: “Geoff” is British for “Jeff”.)  Geoff is a retired Mechanical Engineer with many years of sailing experience and professional sea time as Chief Engineer.  He and his wife have an Ericsson 32 sailboat on our dock, and they were one of the first couples we met when we brought Orontes II here four years ago.  Geoff is also a great guy and a wonderful cook.  He also knows how to use a sextant and plot a course using celestial navigation.  We are looking forward to having him on board.

Oh, and I took time to get my last $5 haircut before departing.  Lots of things getting checked off the list!