Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ernesto No Problema

Ernesto danced past us, bringing 35mph winds. We were very comfortable at the Bostik's house last night. There was a lot of rain, but that was about it. We're leaving the house now to go to Stardust, but don't anticipate any problems.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ernesto Storm Track

Ernesto Update

Last night, we returned to Stardust at 8:30 after a wonderful dinner out with the Bostiks. Whitefoot was gone, having chewed through her leash. Kathy and Rachel were beside themselves. I dinghied back to shore, but in a different direction from where we had come. I saw a couple walking a dog on a leash, but something was odd in the way they were behaving. So I beached the dinghy and ran to where they were last seen. A man was holding Whitefoot by her partly chewed leash. His wife had gone to their condo to call the number of our vet on the back of her tag. A quick lucky find, otherwise it would have been a miserable night for all of us. (Well not Whitefoot. She probably would have spent a comfy night in a deluxe condo). So now we need a wire inside a web leash. (Chain is no good, it would drag all over the deck). All’s well that ends well.
Storm prep began today. We scouted potential anchorages, and will decide in the morning which one is best for the expected wind direction. There has been a high tide all day which would have prevented us from going under the causeway. The mast is 63 feet high and that is what the causeway scale read all day. We know from experience that the mast-top antenna scrapes the bridges at 63 and a half feet. Sure don’t want to take off the mast-top wind instruments, or worse.
I installed a new bilge pump float switch. The old one was intermittent. No good with a tropical storm coming. So the good news is that Ernesto is expected to remain a tropical storm until passing Florida, possibly becoming a hurricane off the Georgia coast. The bad news is that the storm track is right on top of us tonight. It’s been changing, tracking more easterly with the hour. Maybe we’ll wake to a new track tomorrow which puts it out to sea.
We’ll move the boat tomorrow, put out both anchors, and then head for Georgia Bostik’s house for the night, possibly the next 2 nights. Joe is out of town flying for Northwest Airlines.
Out of the 17 boats anchored around us, only two owners arrived today to prep their boats. We don’t want to be around here for the storm. Who knows where these boats will end up. The anchor lines are frayed, and the boats have a significant coating of barnacles- they haven’t been moved in a long time.
We feel good about the impending storm. It helps not to keep watching all the hoopla and hype on tv. Mainly we track the storm on the computer. So we’ll go to bed comfortably tonight, and will be comfortable if not free of stress at Georgia’s tomorrow.

Hurricane Ernesto

We're in Cocoa preparing for hurricane ernesto. The boat is in a good location, we'll take everything off deck, and put out both anchors. We'll spend the day/night ashore with friends. Gotta go, work to do. Wish us luck!

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Our trip from Vero Beach to Melbourne was uneventful and easy. Motoring the ICW with the autopilot on, hitting +1 or +2 degrees of course change down the straight channel, allowed us to view all the million dollar homes lining the sides of the waterway.
We spent the first night anchored off the SW corner of the Eau Gallie causeway in Melbourne. Joe met me and we went to the airport to get his van out of the hanger. A huge storm prevented me from taking the dinghy back to the boat, so Joe and I had dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant.
When the rain stopped, I took the dinghy back out to the boat. The wake was phosphorescent from the bioluminescence of the tiny plankton. Rachel thought I was shining a flashlight on the wake it was so bright. We splashed on the stern of Stardust and watched the sea light up. Fantastic! But we couldn’t keep the van in that area, so we moved to the NE side of the causeway. The van was parked securely in the Publix parking lot across the street from our vacant lot dinghy “dock”.
Then the generator quit again. With lots of helpful advice I tried everything to get it running. No dice. So we bailed on the boat and drove to Clermont to swap out gear in our storage unit. I worked at the gliderport on Saturday and then flew Gene Gonyaw’s glider, an SZD 59. Spent 4.5 hours flying cross-country, doing loops, and spins. Did 5 consecutive loops at one point. Boy did that help clean the carbon out of my pipes. Much needed therapy from the frustrations of the genset. Kathy did the storage unit chores, and Rachel spent the night with her friend Erin. We had an awesome dinner with the Kreilings.
Then back to the boat and the genset. Through Dennis Disinger’s brother, David, I got the name of a fantastic mechanic, Tim Hunt. Tim was sick with a bug, but came out anyway, and spent hours of frustration on his own hunt for the problem. After 3 days of a couple of hours a day, he found the offending wire connection in the maze of the controller wiring harness. Now I know even more about the generator. We’re very glad to be cruising the coast where parts and mechanics are plentiful. This is the warm-up for the Caribbean where help will not be so easy to come by.
We’ll move the boat to north Cocoa today and anchor for a week there. We want to see the shuttle launch, and visit the space center. Hopefully we can get in a daysail with friends too.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Vero Beach

We’ve been in Vero Beach Municipal Marina for 3 days. Kathy and Rachel are working on enrolling Rachel into the Calvert home school program. Rachel took a 4 hour entrance exam today, bless her heart. All this time off from school, and wham! A 4 hour test. Kathy sent the test to Calvert, and we’ll go from there.
Joe Bostik and family sailed with us on Sunday, just north of the St. Lucie inlet. We had a wonderful day in light winds and smooth seas. Joe delighted the girls by towing them behind the boat using a loop of rope. Kathy just about had a heart attack. Georgia enjoyed a last day of freedom before starting a new job on Monday.
Monday, we motored up the Atlantic in building north wind and seas. All of the sudden, the engine temp rose. I shut down the engine and we raised the sails. In rowdy conditions, I went below to find a broken fan belt. Put on a spare, and we continued to motor straight into the 20 knot wind. We made the Ft. Pierce inlet just before running out of energy. Rough seas really take it out of you. The motor up the intercoastal waterway was glass smooth, even in 20 knots of wind.
Then the engine quit. We hastily threw out the anchor in the middle of the “ditch” (can’t just anchor if the engine quits in an airplane). The coast guard happened by after 2 minutes to tell us we couldn’t anchor there. Well, hello! So I changed out a filter, and discovered that the other filters which the Sailors Wharf marina in St. Pete (where we bought the boat) was supposed to supply, were the wrong filters. Makes me think that they didn’t replace the filters as requested either. So I drained the fuel lines, bled the lines, and the engine ran fine. We entered the Vero Beach Marina, and took a mooring. Today we got the filters installed, and spares on board.
Tomorrow we head for Melbourne for another rendezvous with Joe. He’ll loan us his van to get around. We plan on visiting friends in Clermont and taking care of some errands.
I cooked steak on the grill tonight, and Kathy and I watched a blue heron fishing not far from the boat. Yesterday, Rachel and I encountered a group of porpoise on the dinghy ride back to the boat. I shut down the engine, and we watched the porpoise play around us, listening to the sounds of their breathing on each surface. Whitefoot was in the dinghy as well, and was going nuts. Once again, the choke collar was needed.
We continue to mix the good with the bad. Running a modern boat with complex systems isn’t easy. Corrosion and vibration really mess with things. But we’re still on the “plus” side of the curve. Kathy just told me that Stardust feels like home. Rachel still laughs all the time. What a crew!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ft Lauderdale

We had a tremendous day of snorkeling off Turtle Reef on August 4, my birthday. Saw two spotted eagle rays with a wingspan of seven feet glide by us! A couple of curious barracuda, all the usual beautiful reef fish, lobsters hiding under coral shelves, and a new sighting of the rare labster fish. That’s right, Whitefoot jumped ship again, shrugging off her collar and leash, jumped in, and swam a quarter mile to where we were having all the fun without her. So we piled her into the kayak, and hauled her back to the boat. Now, when we expect fun boat action, we put her choke collar on to prevent that from happening again.
Stardust gave me a great birthday present by not having anything break down.
But the next day, the genset gave up again. This time, a stripped pulley. So we sailed to Key Biscayne and anchored in Nixon’s back yard. That takes us into Sunday, no parts departments for the pulley. We moved to Stadium Harbor, just past the Rickenbacker Causeway, with tons of jetskis blasting around. It settled down at nightfall, and we enjoyed a superb dinner at the Rusty Pelican, overlooking downtown Miami, and our own Stardust out on the water.
No luck this morning on the phone with various parts departments, so we upped anchor and headed out the Government Cut. 2 knot outgoing tide, versus an incoming 15 knot wind from the east. Guess who lost? Us! It was horrendous, with huge waves crashing over the bow. When I saw the huge breakers ahead, I should have turned around and waited for better conditions. Now we know just how rough it can be. We made it out, thanks to a great vessel, and made for Ft. Lauderdale with reefed main and jib. No seasickness, due in large part to the electronic wrist bands that Kathy and Rachel wear. What troopers! We entered Port Everglades with a favorable current, and had an easy motor to our present mooring off the Las Olas Bridge. Tomorrow, Dennis Disinger (glider pilot from Seminole-Lake) will loan us his car to get the pulley and other supplies. He is an experienced sailor, and has been generous with phone calls and advice.
This Las Olas mooring is a great spot. We had dinner in the cockpit, and watched the small boats and large yachts come and go under the bridge. The moon is bright, and the weather is good. The water is smooth for a good nights sleep.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Chris Downgraded

TP Chris has become disorganized, and the track is now through northern Cuba. Probably wants to pay it's respects to dear old Castro.

We are now a day's sail from great anchorages in Miami, and therefore may spend a day on the reef before heading on.

We anchored off the west side of Tavernier Key, just west of Key Largo. An old storm cell brushed us in the night. A few raindrops fell, no lightning, but still caused us to get up at 3am and close hatches and bring Whitefoot down below for the rest of the night.

This morning, skies are cloudy. We'll have to look for a sunny area for swimming to help with the visibility. Yesterday we had fantastic sailing conditions with beautiful water. We could see the reef passing below us at a depth of around 20 feet.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tropical Storm Chris

Chris is forecast to become a hurricane late today or tomorrow. We're leaving Marathon this morning and put as many miles as possible between the mid-keys area and us. Marathon is the current bulls-eye.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


We anchored off the Boot Key entrance to the harbor for the night. The next day, the genset ran for 5 minutes, then shut down. It’s fully automatic. If it overheats, or oil pressure is too low, or any other major problem, it shuts down. Well, we just replaced the impeller in Key West. Mike from Paradise Marine did the work with me looking over his shoulder. He beat the new impeller in with a hammer, and didn’t grease it either. Now I know both to be major blunders. So the new impeller burned up. We moved to Marathon Marina to be close to mechanics and other services, and to give Kathy and Rachel easy access to town. Jimmy Pierce with Marathon Marine helped me get out the impeller and install a new one the right way. Now I know the right and wrong ways to install a generator raw water impeller.

Kathy and Rachel visited the Turtle Hospital where they rehabilitate injured and sick turtles. They had a fantastic time, and Rachel “adopted” a sick turtle. You can check out her turtle “April” at

So we’re set to depart in the morning for Washerwoman Reef. Snorkel, spearfish, that kind of thing. You know, Knarly Sailor Man Provides Food For Family, and all that. All three of us are looking forward to more fantastic sights on the reef.

Dad says a tropical storm is heading our way, so I’d better post this and then find out the latest. Will we run for it, or stay put? Tune in next time for the latest edition of As the Boat Rocks.