Tuesday, April 8, 2014

California!




We made it! The boat made it! All the parts made it! Yay! We are back in San Diego and doing more boat work. What a surprise. Haha. We are doing some maintaince while we have the time before we start new jobs. Happy to be back finally. 

Awhile back our steering got really stiff and the problem wasn't obvious. Now that it is sitting on the hard we can investigate more. Started with dropping the rudder and looking around a bit. Looks like a missing spacer. Hopefully it will be an easy fix. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

New Adventure





Ellen Louise is going home. We have come to a point where a decision needed to be made. What to do next? Matt and I both decided that California was where we want to be next, the question was just how to get there. Obviously one choice is to sail there via the Panama Canal but that doesn't seem like the most efficient option. While we do enjoy sailing, making that trip on our budget with our 50 year old wooden boat just doesn't have very much draw for us. Our other option seems to be the same way we got to this coast: trucking over land. So, it is decided, the boat will return to San Diego on the back of a boat moving truck. We have thought about this choice a lot and we always come back to the same choice, we like the West Coast more. That is all there is to it. Plain and simple. 

The boat is all packed up and ready for it's journey. While the boat is making it's trek we will also be making our own trip across the country in our land yacht - the Imperial big blue Vandura. I'll be checking in and posting about our road trip and we will meet the boat in San Diego around April 4th. Should be a fun ride. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hauled out Again





(Disclaimer, this post is boring and all about bottom paint)

It's been less than a year since the boat was out of the water but she is on the hard once again. I've gotta say, I'm more than disappointed with how our bottom paint has performed. When it came time for bottom paint last time we didn't know exactly what would be the best plan. I talked to paint reps about how to apply bottom paint to a bare wood boat. There were a lot of mixed opinions about what to prime with. I wanted to use red lead but the government frowns on lead based paint usage so we were kinda stuck. I searched on the internet and no one seemed to have the same thoughts. We didn't want to use any epoxy based primers since the wood has been wet for 50 years and putting epoxy on the outside can lead to rotten planking. 

Our Pettit rep advised me to apply bottom paint directly on to the bare wood with a thinned hard paint for the first coat. We chose to use Pettit Trinidad Pro in black first then red on top. It ended up taking 3 or 4 coats in total and looked pretty good.

Flash forward 9 months and the bottom paint looks years old. It is flaking in places and barnicles were growing all over. It was not what I expected less than a year after applying a new bottom. There are obvious adhesion issues and just isn't working like it is advertised. Not sure that Pettit is to blame completely, I just don't think there is a better base coat option besides using proper lead based paint. Neither Pettit or Interlux have a fool proof painting application guide for painting directly onto bare wood. Next time I think we will just have to go to Mexico and use the toxic stuff! Haha. For now we will just patch her up and hope for the best. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Deflatable Dinghy

Remember that storm we ran into in Northern Florida? Well, I guess it was a pretty bad storm in West Palm also because when we got back to the dinghy we had quite a surprise waiting for us. 

We paid to keep our tender at West Palm Sailing Club assuming it would be safer there. The area we are moored has a lot of crime and we were a bit worried about someone stealing our outboard. When we got back to the club we found our dinghy half deflated, under water and our outboard tied to the dock. Some locals at the club informed us of the casualties of the bad storm; our tender being hit the worst. We were told the outboard was under water for about two days. 

It was early evening when we arrived and immediately drove to a West Marine to get a patch for the inflatable. The store was out of the good patches so we had to use the temporary West Marine brand patches. The packaging said it takes 6-12 hours before we could use it in the water. (Great, another night sleeping in the van.) 

In the morning the patch seemed a bit schetchy at best. Matt went to work trying to get our sunken outboard fixed instead of worrying about the patch. It took him most of the day and another trip to the store. All of his tools were on the boat so he had to make due with cheap generic gas station tools. At the end of the day he got it running great and it wasn't the worst thing that could have happened so we were still happy. Then dinghy was another story. The patch was holding air but leaking slowly. It was holding enough air to get us out to the boat but needs some more attention. For now, time to get some rest. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Disaster at Disney




After leaving the winery tour we headed back towards Palm Beach. The gps said it would only take about 3.5 hours but it was still raining and the traffic was backed up. Our route took us through the middle of the Disney area so we stopped at Downtown Disney to take a look around. One of the attractions is a restaurant called the T-Rex Cafe. It's kinda like a Rainforest Cafe if you have seen those.

There was a long wait so we decided to walk through to wait at the bar. About 5 seconds after we were inside there was a loud bursting and water gushing everywhere. One of the main fish tanks in the restaurant sprung a big leak and completely soaked the tables next to it. Little kids were crying and grandparents were laughing. The employees acted fast clearing the area and tried to catch the water in trash cans. Two employees climbed down into the tank with little nets to save the fish. The fish were freaking out and the employees obviously had never been inside a fish tank before. 

Once the guys in the tank figured it out though they were removing the tropical fish and putting them in another bin where the fish were safe. It was pretty exciting but handled efficiently. The bar didn't close during the commotion either.  

Nice job Disney. Save Nemo!

Back in Florida

Sand storm 

Vineyard 

Winery 

The weather was turning pretty narly by the time we were entering Florida so we knew it was time to get new tires. I had been watching them for a few days and the rear tires were rapidly getting worse and worse. 

After getting new rear tires it had gotten really late so we decided to find somewhere to stay. We pulled into a spot at a walmart and snuggled in for the night. The rain started and didn't stop for 2 days. We set up the tv in the back of the van and waited for it to lift to continue toward Palm Beach. It wasn't really getting lighter so we decided to keep going but take it easy. About an hour later it was still pouring and we saw a billboard for a free tour and wine tasting at a winery. Why not?! We can wait one more day to get back to the boat. 


Snow, Whisky, and Music

On the road

Jim Beam

Nashville 

Big bucket

Fried pickles 

Jack Daniels


Native American ruins

After leaving Maryland we figured it would be a good idea to stop by Ohio seeing as we were only about 400 miles away. We had our van checked out by a local shop and they gave us the ok to take a road trip. In fact, what the dude actually said is, "It looks excellent. It's in outstanding condition." Needless to say, we were stoked. 

We spent a few days visiting Matt's family in Ohio, got to play in some more snow, and were happy to be able to see everyone. When it came time to leave we had a decision to make. It seems from Ohio it is the same distance to Florida whether you drive down the coast or through bourbon country. Naturally we chose bourbon country. 

Our first stop was the Jim Beam distillery in Kentucky. Next was Tennessee. Nashville, then Murfreesboro, then the worlds largest cedar bucket, then Jack Daniels distillery, then Chattanooga. I enjoyed the southern feel of this area more than I thought I would. Everyone moves just a little slower and doesn't seen to have the same urgency of the North East. 

After Tennessee we didn't really have much of a plan. We thought maybe Atlanta would be cool but by the time we got there it was raining so we just kept going. I needed a break sometime about then so checked for local attractions. We managed to fine a park with a Native American heritage and it turned out to be amazing! The sun was low in the sky and hit he hills in a very beautiful way. What a great surprise.... 

Then it was time to spend another night sleeping in the van. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Planes, trains...

ICW and Atlantic Ocean 

Natty Boh

Yes! The only good thing about winter. 

Rides


A few days after returning from Siesta  Key we found ourselves high above the sea traveling faster than imaginable back toward the winter. We were surprised to find out that spring had not yet arrived to the North East; snow was falling to the ground. We spent a few days in Maryland visiting family and friends, playing in the snow, and trying to enjoy the winter that we have been avoiding. One afternoon we were walking in the woods and came upon some forgotten sleds. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to relive my childhood excitement so I took a few rides down the hill. It was bliss. 

The real reason we took the flight was to pick up some of our land toys. Florida is not a particularly easy place to be without transportation and seeing as we happen to own two land vehicles we figured we might as well use them down in Florida. 

We bought our van from some other cruisers who also ended up in Florida but didn't want to be tied to cars any longer. We also thought seriously about giving up all of our land possessions too but decided to keep these. The bike actually fits inside the van so it is easy enough to hold on to. The van doubles as a place to live if it comes to that. (Maybe park it down by the river.) Anyway, it will be nice to have the van around town for a little while. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Land Yachting




Took a road trip over to the Gulf Coast to visit Matt's parents who were on vacation in Siesta Key. Siesta Key is near Sarasota on the West coast of Florida about three hours from here. 

The beach there is vast and impressive. It is crowded with American excess, and we loved it. Matt's parents took us out to dinner and it felt good just to catch up without worrying about the boat. 

We are back in Palm Beach now and were welcomed home with a huge fireworks show. I am guessing it has something to do with Mardi Gras next week but it was a fun unexpected surprise either way. 

West End to Palm Beach

Sunset in Old Bahama Bay

Chloe and Stefan

Sunrise in Palm Beach

We arrived at Old Bahama Bay knowing that we would need to wait for a few days for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream. It was nice to stay at a resort marina for a few days with a pool and private beach. We relaxed and swam and are wonderful food. While we were there we met a fun, awesome couple and got to have dinner  with them a couple times. It was a nice respite from worrying about boat safety and anchor dragging. 

We planned to cross on Sunday night to arrive in West Palm on Monday morning but woke up at two in the morning to severe thunder and lightening. We waited for the storm to pass and we able to leave around 7am. Our Gulf Stream crossing was light and glassy. The extra days of waiting at West End paid off because the winds were light and variable and the seas were less than one foot. Once again, we didn't even notice anything strange while crossing the notorious current. If I hadn't known it was there ahead of time, I wouldn't have I noticed it was there. 

We arrived at West Palm beach about 4:30pm and safety anchored with no problems. Thanks to some other friends we met along the way we have access to a free mooring for a few weeks in Palm Beach. (Thanks Johnny!) we will be here for a bit while we figure out what we wanna do next. The Bahamas were a fun adventure for a couple months but it feels good to be back in the States. 

(Ps - Our phones are back on now in case anyone misses us and wants to say hi.)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Green Turtle and Guana Cay







We left Treasure Cay with the intent to head straight back to Grand Bahama after spending a beautiful week in Treasure. We headed to Green Turtle Cay about 20 miles away. We had to go outside the inner cays to get there which meant going out one inlet and back in another. We had heard from other cruisers that it could be a tricky passage but it turned out to be a calm, easy day. We arrive in Green Turtle early afternoon and picked up a mooring ball. Inside the harbor it was very calm and we were happy to be on a mooring ball rather than anchored. 

We arrived on Valentines Day with no real plans. Matt and I generally don't like to go out on that day because it always seems very inauthentic. Another boat arrived the same time as us and it turned out they were also young cruisers. We went over to their boat for a bit then headed out to see what the town was like. There went much there but we found one very fun beach bar that had special Valentine themed drinks. The four of us were the only ones there but we had a blast. It wasn't your traditional romantic day but none the less a very exciting night. 

We were planing to leave on Sunday but heard that there was a beach on Guana Cay that was not to be missed. We hopped a ride on a go fast power boat and headed to Guana for the afternoon. The beach was amazing and the beach bar was a pretty entertaining experience. I'm glad we stayed the extra day but felt good to leave the next morning. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Treasure Cay







We made it to Treasure Cay which is only about 15 miles from Marsh Harbor. Next stop is Green Turtle Cay. We have to wait out a windy front that is coming. If the inlet isn't settled enough we will have to wait until Saturday to make it out and around The Whale inlet. Anchored here in the harbor for now. We will make a decision in the morning. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Time to go




Planning on leaving Marsh Harbor tomorrow. Got the coupling installed yesterday and changed the oil today. Gonna fuel up in the morning and head out of here. Exploring the Abaco Islands is on the schedule then heading back towards Florida. 

The Bahamas have been fun and interesting but also kinda a let down. There is a lot of poverty here and the rum is not as cheap as people say. The beaches are unbelievably beautiful and the sunsets are amazing but the sustainablity of living here long term seems a bit daunting. Assuming you could get work; everything costs so damn much it almost doesn't seem worth it. It's been a real adventure but I'm not sure this is the place for us, at least for now. 

The winter frontal systems kept us from getting as far south as we planned but maybe it's a blessing that we didn't go further yet. We had some serious break downs and it was a good thing that we were here to get parts and fix everything. From here we will head back West along the North coast of the Abacos then cross the Gulf Stream back to Florida. 

We don't have any grand plans yet but Ellen Louise has been known to do 55 mph to windward in the past. The West Coast is calling...yolo.