Sunday, January 24, 2021

Port Canaveral, Arrived Safe

We arrived at Port Canaveral Yacht Club at 0830 this morning and spent the day resting, getting some exercise, taking showers, enjoying a meal out and catching up on sleep. Which is what I'm going to do again now.

I'll post a wrap up of our pssage from Georgia tomorrow.

Good night.

Approaching Port Canaveral, It’s Warm!

24 January 2021 03:45
28 32.7N 080 20.9W
Approaching Port Canaveral Channel

The wind shifted to the east, blowing strong, around 21:00 last night which required unfurling the jib so we could sail on a close reach. That pulled the boat speed way up, so when we reached the first waypoint for our approach to the Port Canaveral channel entrance, we dropped the main sail to sail on just the jib.

Now we've turned to head southwest and are moving along at a sedate pace on rolly beam swells. We should enter the port somewhere around 08:30 this morning, perfect timing for getting our slip in the marina.

It's warm!

I'm wearing just a light fleece sweater and cracked open one of the salon hatches because it was feeling stuffy and I'm still wearing long underwear. The Gulf Stream is only about 30 miles offshore and it isa an amazing source of atmospheric heat in this part of the world. Very grateful for it.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

En Route to Port Canaveral, Sailing Too Fast

23 January 2021 11:00
29 49.4N 80 41.7W
Passing St. Augustine, Florida

The wind piped up around 03:00 last night and we started sailing at a good clip. Too good, in fact. The wind was blowing 17-plus knots and we were bolting along on a broad reach at over 6 knots under jib and a reefed main sail. At that speed, we would arrive at Port Canaveral around 23:00, way too early.

So, I furled the jib and sailed under just the reefed main. That pulled our speed down to a bit over 5 knots, just about right for arriving at dawn. Later, the wind dropped a little to help with our arrival timing.

A pod of dolphins visited twice while I was on watch, playing in the bow wave. I entertained myself and I hope, them, by flashing a light on them when the surfaced next to the helm. The light revealed their sleek grey bodies and their white underbellies as the twisted to look up at the light. Dolphins' bright eyes and slightly upward curved beaks always make them look like they are smiling to me.

Kyndy stood her first night watch. She did very well, experiencing the displeasure that all sailors do of having to get out of a warm bunk and out into the elements and alert after just a few hours sleep.

It's mostly cloudy, with patches of blue sky peeking out between strata clouds. The sea color ranges from a grey-blue steel to a rich dark blue where the sun is shining on it. We are sailing under reefed main and jib, making a nice 5.5 knots.

It's almost warm! The sunlight streaming into the salon is very uplifting and encouraging. Today should be a good one for sailing.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Enroute to Port Canaveral, Rainy Start and a Minor Hiccup

22 Jan 2021 18:00
31 9.82N
081 7.7W
Passing St. Simons Island, Georgia. 12 nm off coast

We woke up to dreary rain this morning but I used the time to orient Kyndy various safety gear and procedures on Intermezzo for coastal sailing. I also made a big pot of vegetable soup- onions, garlic, carrots, celery, parsnips and turnips- good to have on hand in the galley for chilly temperatures.

After preparing Intermezzo for the ocean, we weighed anchor in Back River around 12:30 this afternoon. As we departed the anchorage, Kyndy noticed the tachometer for the port engine wasn't working and alerted me. The battery warning light was also lit. Bummer.

I took a quick look at the engine while Kyndy held the boat on station and noticed that one of the small signal wires coming from the alternator was broken. Fortunately, we had plenty of time to stop and fix it, so we dropped anchor again and I set to work on the repair.

First I looked at the starboard engine to make sure I knew where the broken wire needed to be connected. Pretty straightforward, it shared a plug connector with another wire. I got out my tools, found a new connector, cutoff the old connector, stripped the two wires, stuck them in the new connector, crimped it and started the engine to test it. Yay! Success. Total elapsed time, less than 45 minutes, anchor up to anchor up, again.

We left the Back River and headed into Doboy Sound and out its inlet. Dreary, grey, rain, chilly, very light wind, fairly calm seas.

We're now motoring on one engine, a bit slower than normal to time our arrival at Port Canaveral during daylight hours. The rain has stopped and the evening sky shows signs of promise of clearing. It is damp and chilly though. The vegetable soup is appreciated.

We'll likely motor until about midnight when the wind is supposed to start building and we can hopefully start sailing.

Tomorrow's weather continues to look promising- fair skies, decent, favorable winds and light to moderate swells.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Doboy Sound, Long Day

We motored 50 nautical miles (nm) through the sinuous Intracoastal Waterway today, a long eight hours under grey skies and through a chilly headwind.  We traveled through wide open spaces, along rivers wide and narrow and across broad sounds. Had it been a sunny day and warmer, it would have been glorious yet, even in less pleasant weather, the mostly uninhabited estuary landscape had a subdued magnificence.

The diesel engines continued to sing a lovely song to my ears today. I'm not sure why they sound so good. Perhaps the colder air temperatures are to their liking. Perhaps the worn bearings of the coolant pump I replaced were singing out of key, ruining their past chorus. I don't know and I'm not normally a fan of machinery noises, but I've enjoyed their steady throbbing hum over the past couple of days.

We are anchored on Back River, a short, small tidal tributary of the Doboy Sound. We're again surrounded by water and marshland with a stand of trees nearby, home to many cormorants, pelicans, terns, egrets, and a few bottlenose dolphins. The water surface is smooth and calm, but the current is swift as the tide changes. We'll swing 180 degrees on our anchor through the night.

Tomorrow we head out on the ocean, assuming the weather forecast doesn't change, heading to Port Canaveral, about 180 nm south.  We'll weigh anchor around noon, head out Doboy Inlet and turn right for a straight shot down the coast. At normal cruising speed it would take us about 36 hours to get to the Canaveral Harbor Channel, but that would mean arriving at night, in the wee hours of the morning. Instead, we'll sail the boat slowly to time our arrival for sunrise on Sunday.

Favorable westerly and northerly winds are forecast for tomorrow, though they will likely be too light for sailing, and it supposed to rain most of the day, which will be miserable start. However, the winds are forecast to build to a nice 10 to 15 knots on Saturday, with sunny skies. Good weather should continue through Sunday. Seas should be comfortable, with long period waves in the 2 to 4 foot range.

Tomorrow morning, I'll orient Kyndy to offshore sailing aspects of crewing on Intermezzo, prepare the boat for an ocean passage, and make a hearty vegetable soup-stew for the trip.

It will be nice to be out on open water after all these miles of navigating confined channels through inland waterways. I'm looking forward to making some good distance and getting to Florida and warmer temperatures.

Elegant, understated home on a remote island along the Doboy Sound, Georgia

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Skidaway Narrows: Intermezzo Sails Again

 It's good to be on the move again, after 13 days in a marina.

Intermezzo is anchored in the Skidaway Narrows, about seven miles south of Savannnah, Georgia. This is an area of winding creeks through marshlands, patches of pine trees and occasional stands of palms. It was a nice, clear sunny day getting here, breezy and chilly most of the day but we ended with a warm-ish afternoon. We saw lots bird life and several dolphins along the way, including a mom and baby who cruised by the boat this evening.

I'm sailing with new crew, Kyndy, who signed on via the CrewSeekers website. She's a physical therapist from Boone, North Carolina who sailed a lot 20 years ago and wants to get back into it, possibly buying a boat for when she retires. Kyndy will sail with me on this leg to Florida, where we will have a crew switch for The Bahamas.

The boat is feeling good- clean, organized and the engines running sweetly. It's nice to sailing again.

We'll be winding our way along the Intracoastal Waterway for a couple days, then I'm hoping to head out into the ocean and do an overnight passage to Port Canaveral if the weather cooperates. It's looking pretty good for the weekend.

Sunset in the Skidaway Narrows

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Hilton Head Island: Busy Days, Impressions, Wrapping Things Up

I've been here on Hilton Head Island now ten days, mostly busy with boat projects but also having some limited opportunities to get acquainted with the place. Now I'm wrapping things up, getting ready to depart on January 20 to sail south to Florida.

First a summary of the boat projects.

I replaced both the raw water and coolant pumps on the port engine. Both were leaking from their shaft seals. The raw water pump was a quick job. The coolant pump should have been, but the pump re-builder left out a bolt and I didn't discover it until coolant started spewing out of the bolt hole. Unfortunately, the only way to get a bolt in the hole was to remove the pump and its hose fittings and install it again. In other words, do the job twice. I will be informing the pump re-builder, an otherwise very talented and responsive guy, of his oversight. 

The big project I wanted to do was an upgrade to the engine charging system, installation of new, better alternators and a sophisticated external voltage regulator that will charge the batteries like they should be charged, as opposed to how the current alternators try to just shove electrons into them continuously. Unfortunately, the voltage regulators got shipped out late and, by the time I received them, I didn't have enough time left to tackle the project. However, I was able to layout the job and I now have a pretty good understanding of how I'll approach it when I do have time to do it.

I re-sealed the starboard hull-deck joint, again. Rainwater was leaking into the head compartment (bathroom), again. I though I had fixed this last summer, but apparently I didn't. I think I got things sealed up well enough for the time being. Sometime in the future, I'll repair it once-and-for-all by using epoxy rather than caulk to permanently fix one of the few defects in Intermezzo's build.

I finally mounted the inverter remote control at the electrical panel where I can get to it easily. It has been dangling around under the galley sink since I installed the inverter back in the summer of 2015. It looks so nice in its proper place.

I also culled through and catalogued all the stuff in the lockers. I have quite a bit of stuff to donate to people who need it more than I do in The Bahamas or Mexico.

Okay, so that's all the boat projects. On to other stuff.

I'd say my most significant action was executing the "Booking Note" and making the first payment for shipping Intermezzo back to La Paz in March. I contracted with Peters & May to transport the boat via ship. My "loading window" is between March 15 and 31. I chose Peters & May because they have a lot of experience shipping Leopard catamarans, were recommended by the Leopard broker who sold me Intermezzo, whom I trust, and, my technical questions were answered by none other than Peters & May's CEO! I'm excited about getting Intermezzo back to the Sea of Cortez and hope I made the right choice. I'll post updates as the shipping process unfolds.

Finally, I've had a chance to explore a little bit of Hilton Head Island.

Intermezzo is berthed in Skull Creek Marina which is on the west side at the north end of the island, within the Hilton Head Plantation gated community. It is pretty remote from the main development and commercial centers of the island. The local community is an enclave for, shall we say, "the privileged", complete with golf course, country club, armed private security and highly restrictive, aggressively enforced homeowner covenants, conditions and restrictions. Not the sort of place I would choose to live in, but I can understand the attraction to others.

What I really like about the place is that they left lots of mature trees standing when they developed the residential areas of the community. These big trees, draped with Spanish moss, provide a shady canopy and natural habitat for birds and other wildlife. The woodland is interspersed with natural and man-made creeks and ponds. Between the woodland and shoreline are marshes and wetlands.  You can get everywhere by bike and foot trails, no need to drive.  Aside from the sterile, artificial golf course in the middle of it all, it is a very pretty, very quiet, very natural place to be.

I've enjoyed running and biking in the evenings, even though the weather has been mostly overcast and always pretty chilly. I've kept my rental car to run errands to stores located off the plantation, ,although I've found everything I've needed- groceries, hardware, post office, pharmarcy, bank- within five miles of the marina. If it were warmer and drier, my bike would have sufficed.

Today I did laundry, took care of "paperwork" and cleaned up the boat. Tomorrow I go grocery shopping, mail out my leaking pumps for rebuilding and return the rental car. Tuesday, crew arrives. Wednesday we set sail.

Though I wish the weather had been sunnier and warmer (and that my engine charging parts had arrived on time), my stay here has been productive, pleasant and peaceful.

I'm definitely ready to get Intermezzo moving again!

Bike trail on the Hilton Head Plantation

Beach at Dolphin Head, north end of Hilton Head Island

Tree growing bent sideways- not sure why

Egrets roosting at dusk