Saturday, December 31, 2016

Please be seated

Cabin seat upgrade

The PO. had installed high level seating in the cabin, they provide a ton of storage beteew them and the original seats, but... the wooden supports were just plain ugly, sorry Deke.

I used some left over stainless tubing and some unused rail fittings.  20 mins work  on all done.

Give the outboard the old heave ho.

Making it easier for Peggy to manage.
Sitting on Lake Boca for the New Year's weekend, we put the dink in the water and prepped to lower the outboard.
Peggy commented that it would not be so easy when we get the bigger engine for our trip to the Bahamas.

Add another project to the in case it rains list.

By the time I had updated the project list, the plan was complete.
I had a cleat on board,  and a block and shackle, and I always have the tools with plenty os stainless screws.

Cross that off the list.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Where am I

Another Step towards greater Safety

Ok, so we haven't taken Eximius on any long trips - YET! but that is our plan, and when we do, it will most likely be just Peggy & I aboard, that's shorthanded sailing. So we take boat safety pretty seriously.

Where are we?

We know where we are, heck, we have a Main GPS with Radar, a Handheld GPS (battery powered), and at least 2 cell phones onboard each with GPS and a tablet running Navionics, as well as always carrying paper charts on board.

You know where we are!

Ok, close friends and family know where we are. We carry a SPOT locator on board and typically it's on and tracking whenever we are on the boat away from the dock, even when at Anchor or rafted up with a buddy boat. So our BFFs can check the web to see where the boat is (and has been for the past week)  and we send out 'We're OK' emails from SPOT with the link to the website several times during trips.

But Where am I?

More importantly, if I'm not on the boat and should be, where the heck am I?

Peggy gave me an early Christmas gift this year, an ACR ResQLink+ Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) - very cool! Here's a link to the ACR site for this PLB

Of course, it's not just a case of Buy it and Use it, everything has to get registered nowadays, so here's the process so far today:
  • Register the device with ACR for Warranty 
  • Easy, create a new account at
  • Complete the online registration - All done  
  • Register the device with NOAA so that they know who they are looking for (hope it never comes to that, but it's great insurance)
  • Setup an account at and confirm
  • Complete the online registration - our boat is already documented so that was easy, but it's just as easy if the boat is not documented.
  • Verify the account and get the completed registration form as a PDF via email immediately. All Done.
  • Submit the Rebate form for the $50 rebate (WooooHooo!)
  • Print out the form from
  • Mail it with the WestMarine receipt, Noaa Registration, Proof of Purchase and the completed rebate form. 
  • All done - but I'll wait till the rebate check arrives within 3 months before celebrating.

 Me thinks that the best use for this safety device is that it will be worn by any crew that is out of the cockpit. Perhaps I'll make a baggy for it with quick attachment to our PFDs. Another project for my sewing skills. ๐Ÿ‘

See you on the water.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It's on the Boat

Since I retired, my HDL (Honey Do list) has grown to the point where Peggy suggested that I write it down somewhere that I can always get to it, so I'm in the process of adding my Honey Do list to the blog site. I guess that's another item for the list!

One list item was to replace the master bedroom door, it's the last hall door to replace with a nice varnished door to match the others. Of course I needed a few tools to do it and make a nice job, including a spatula to smooth out the filler that I used to clean up some of the older screw holes in the door frame. I have a whole set of spatulas, but could not find one anywhere. So I recalled the last time I used one. AhHa! I was working on varnishing the teak around the boat Companionway, so they must be on the boat. Sorry honey! It will have to wait till I get back down the boat and pickup my spatulas that I used while refinishing the tea around the Companionway.

Well, that worked!

It might be winter, but the grass still grows down here in South Florida. I lent my mower to a neighbor as his had broken. "Don't forget to check the Blade" was Peggy's response when I got the mower back. It's not that long since I checked the blade and then thought it was fine, but now it really does need a sharpen. Time to get out my trusty Angle Grinder, Oh! It's on the boat! "Why don't you get another one so that you have one at home too?" Good idea. Off I got to Harbor Freight and find the latest model that uses the same size cutting disks.

That worked!

Now sometimes I screw up, honest! The last time I was at the boat I replaced the Engine Stop cable which had seized solid. The new cable was about 3' too long and the only way to cut it neatly is to use an angle grinder, and I have 2 of them. What did I screw up? I brought the second one home last week with a bunch of other tools. Peggy had requested that I cut back on the number of tools on the boat, so I brought a whole crate load home - including the 2nd angle grinder.

That didn't work!

We keep the documentation for the boat in a satchel so that we can take it with us when we go away for a trip on the boat. You might be surprised how much stuff there it to have aboard. Not just the boat documentation, but the instrument manuals, owners manuals, etc. So the bag concept works great, well, that's great if you take it home. So when Peggy asked me about a function on the GPS - at home - at breakfast time, I had to reply - It's on the Boat!

I'm sure other sailors have a list of things they left on the boat and needed at home or worse, left at home when needed on the boat!

Perhaps I should build a list of what's On the Boat! Another task for the Honey Do List.

See you on the water.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Sticky Subject

We all do it!

I had a saying in the Navy: Eat, Drink and don't forget the toilet paper!

Despite the fact that sewage is dumped from cities along the coast within the 3 Mile Limit, most Boaters know that you have to be outside the 3 mile limit before they can pump out their holding tank into the ocean. Reading on the Internet (so it must be true!) Whales can poop up to 3 Tons of Poop per day! So I don't feel so bad when we dump 10 gallons in the Ocean, but how do we do it (dump it!)

Like most boats that have a head on board, we have a holding tank. It has 3 vents: #1 is an air vent, that allows the air to escape when we flush the head into the holding tank. #2 is the Pump Out. That'w where we connect the local Pump Out Station hose so that it can suction out the contents of the holding tank. #3 is the Overboard vent: We have a Macerator Pump that has it's input connected to the Holding tank and the outlet is connected to a valve and then the Overboard vent. The vent has a locking mechanism so that we can lock it closed except when we need to dump overboard. 

How do we pump out? Pretty simple really. We head out from the coast beyond the 3 mile limit and if need be, we'll change onto a Starboard Tack (wind coming over the Starboard side of the boat) so that the boat heels down on the Port side which is where the Overboard vent is located below the waterline. Once well past the 3 mile limit, we hold a steady course away from land, unlock the valve and then turn on the Macerator pump. The holding tank contents typically pump out within a couple of minutes, then turn the pump off, close and lock the valve and proceed on our way. 

So this weekend, we headed out for a sail and went way past the 3 mile limit.
We left the dock around 11am, as we headed to the 1st bridge, for us, on the North Fork of the New River, we passed a sunken sailing vessel that was either sitting on the bottom or was being held by a couple of scant lines on the vacant lot where it was previously docked. It happens, we often see derelict boats this far up the river. We motored on to 11th Street Swing Bridge. Coming around the bend, we called the bridge tender to request an opening. We got the very unusual reply of 'You know that the bridge is broken and unable to open right now?' No! But we talk on the radio to each of the bridge tenders and we kinda feel that they know us (by our boat name) (well, the almost never ask us how to spell the boat name anymore :)
A brief few communications and we determined that they might be able to open the bridge manually within about half an hour. Do we head back to the dock and scrub the weekend or wait to see of the bridge can open? The bridge Tender indicated that they had been down since around midnight, but that someone from the Coast Guard might be along to see if they can get the bridge open.

We agreed that we would tie up/drop anchor within sight of the bridge and call back to see how progress is being made. As we rounded the bend, we saw a boat owner working on his Trimaran and called to see if we could tie up along side. He politely agreed and stopped work as we turned a 360 to come along side. After passing a line, we docked along side smoothly. Paul (that's his name too) was starting to fix up his boat in anticipation of doing some cruising into the Gulf next year. Ex Coastie, he was happy to share some of his sailing experience but declined my offer to help out on his boat for the half hour. We stood chatting (as all sailors do) for nearly 45 minutes. At that time I noticed a man walking onto the bridge and stepping down to the workings. A few moments later, and the bridge klaxon sounded - looks like they are going to try and open the bridge. After a short call to the tender, we bid Paul farewell. I ducked down into our cabin and grabbed a bottle of wine then stepped back aboard his trimaran, Walkerye, and thanked him for his generosity. He gladly accepted the wine and then helped cast us off to head towards the now opening bridge.

Forty minutes later and we were headed out of Port Everglades. We hoisted sails and turned 90° off the wind, which happened to put us on a course almost Due East, ideal for a broad reach out to the 3 mile limit. This was the first time we had raised the sails since putting them back on after Hurricane Mathew last month. Of course, I screwed something up, and had a heck of a time raising the sail to the first reef. After fooling with the lines for 10 minutes, I let out the reef and hoisted the main to the mast head. That took care of that. With the wind getting up there, it hit 18knots several times, we had the Jib reefed, and the calm seas were not! Peggy had the heavy sailing while I worked the discharge process. 

Having done duty, we then sailed back to Port Everglades, the wind was from the North / NNE and down to about 15 knots, we made good time until it backed and we were running wing on wing. As we neared the entrance to the Port, we turned into the wind and dropped the sails so that we could motor into the Turning Basin before heading North and up the Intracoastal waterway.

As we passed inside the channel markers, with the rocky jetty on the south side and the rocky beach area to the North, we saw a couple of inflatable boats each towing a half dozen or so Optimist Dinghy's from the Ocean into the Port, I'm pretty sure they are part of the Fort Lauderdale Yacht Club's youth sailing program. They were all getting a tow from the inflatable looking much like a line of ducklings following Mama duck home. 

Of course, some Yahoo, in a huge power boat screamed out of the port causing a considerable wake that rolled us, but we're a 34' Sailboat with a Deep Keel, the Optimist Dinks are a lot less stable, someone should have taken the power boat's name! Oh! I'm pretty sure it was KL5.

After turning North towards 17th Street Causeway Bridge we could see a Canadian Boat Goinger headed in the same direction. We heard them call the bridge tender asking for the next opening. The Tender noted that it was 20+ minutes till the next opening, then commented that the boat may fit under the spans closed and that the skipper should check the status of the bridge height clearance on the Starboard Fender of the bridge. While that was going on, we passed Goinger to Stbd and headed for the middle of the spans. The Fenders were indicating 56' of clearance, that's great for us, so we proceeded. Several of the smaller boats were gazing up as our mast passed beneath the Span lights hanging down from the middle of the spans. By the time we were at the first Channel markers north of the bridge, we could see that Goinger was working their way through the spans. We could see the sunlight glinting on and off as the masts passed between the open and closed portions of the roadway above the boat. They were fine. I called them on #9 to switch to 68 for intership calls. He did, and we quickly discussed his destination, wondering if he was headed into Lake Sylvia like us. But his journey was Los Olas Marina with a final destination of Port St Lucie. He has a few days motoring ahead of him, especially with these Northerly winds that we're expecting for the next week.

We motored past the moored Dredging boat that is still in the process of deepening the channel all the way from 17th Street Bridge up to Los Olas Marina, they want bigger boats to get up there. Once past the dredge, we turned in towards the Lake Sylvia entrance, hugging the Eastern side where we know it's deeper. The anchorage looked pretty crowded, but we found a nice place to drop the hook that would allow us to swing around with plenty of room.

Of course..  A big 42' Catamaran dropped their anchor between us and our closest neighbor, pretty close to us. Perhaps they are just stopping for lunch and then get on their way. Nope! During the night we stayed within 50' of where we dropped the anchor despite swinging in practically every conceivable direction at the whim of the wind and the curious currents that flow around Lake Sylvia.

We dined on Turkey Burger & Veggies for dinner, with a bottle of wine and some Rum for me.
First time using Brookstone Ice balls.

The next morning as we drank coffee in the cockpit, our stern came within about 10' - 15' of the bow of the catamaran, that felt a bit too close. I had a large fender at hand just in case we needed to fend off. 

We had an early lunch, checked with the 11th Street Bridge tender that the bridge would be able to open, and 'Mary' responded that the bridge was stuck open until Tuesday, so we could come and go as we please. Cool! 

After lunch we started up the engine (flawlessly ๐Ÿ˜Ž), pulled up the anchor and headed out of the Lake.

The trip backup the New River was totally without incident, I don't mind that, and the bridge all opened quickly so we barely needed to hold station at any of them.

Turning into the canal where we dock Eximius, we could see a new boat to the neighborhood had tied up on the North side of the canal, opposite a Catamaran on the South side. It's a tight squeeze, but Peggy managed it without a sweat.

We're starting to get the routines down for when we get back to the dock. I take care of securing the boat, fenders, lines, power cord. Check the rigging and wash down the hull and topsides. Peggy removes the instruments, clears out the fridge and loads up any left over food into our soft sided travel coolers. We stow the cushions, close all the valves, make the boat look nice for our next visit and move everything we need to take home onto the dock.

Just as well, our next trip is on Friday, after Thanksgiving. Perhaps I'll complete the window treatments by then. I already have a small list of projects to complete over the weekend. I cannot spend the entire weekend socializing, eating, drinking and just taking it easy! 

Here's a short video of the anchorage
Lake Sylvia

See you on the water.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sewing Machine Paying for itself

Is it worth buying an Expensive Sewing Machine?

Nearly a year ago, I spent the money on a Sailrite Sewing Machine, that's a Boat Buck! (Break Out Another Thousand) but I figured it could pay for itself.

Over the past year between everything else that we have done on the boat, I have practiced using the machine, trying to get even a straight stitch line to show that I am making progress towards being proficient in using it.

Now I feel that I'm getting there. I have watched dozens of How To project videos on 
learning the many different techniques and concepts on their wide variety of DIY projects.

Some of the things I have learned include:
  • Measure Carefully.
  • Draw clear lines where to cut and where to stitch.
  • Don't make a start till I get to understand the next step.
  • Check the Bobbin before each run of stitching - it's a pain to run out of bobbin thread part way through a line.
  • Take it easy! Don't rush! It's better to run a slow stitch than to have to undo it later.
  • Draw the project, for me a simple sketch is worth hours of work.
  • Don't Rush! - Oh, I said the above, but it's worth repeating. 
  • Do you remember how difficult it was to learn to drive a car? Well, learning to drive the sewing machine requires just as much practice. So start with repairs and easy projects.
  • Watch the Sailrite Videos - seriously! It's like going to sewing school.

Is it worth it?


Todate I have made Fender Covers - they almost look regal! - but I'm biased. I have restitched our Dodger and replaced the plastic windows of the dodger side panels, made covers for the Dodger frame where it touches the new windows to prevent burning and made a cover for the firepit on our patio at home.

Now for the next sewing project: Replace the cabin curtains.
When we purchased the boat, the cabin windows had white fabric curtains on sliders on each side of the cabin - above the galley and above the nav table, in the head and in the quarter berth. They were showing their age and did not survive going through the laundry. The windows were shaded behind the curtains with blue fabric that was snapped into place, but it is a real pain to unsnap them to brighten the cabin during the daytime.

So it's time for new cabin curtains.
Here's what we're starting with:
Window Shade above Galley - Closed
Window Shade above Galley - Opened
Window Shades Port Side 
Window Shade - V-Berth Stbd side

As you can see, they are functional, not particularly nice and are a pain to use. The smaller ports open inwards so the window shade has to be removed.

The plan:

  • Remove the sliding tracks on both sides of the cabin (above galley and nav table)
  • Clean up the cabin sides 
  • Make replacement shades to cover each small port and each of the fixed windows.
  • The shade over the galley will have a smaller insert that can be easily removed (hook & loop) to allow for extra light at the galley.
  • All of the smaller port shades will have the option to be rolled up and secured in place so that we don't have to stow the shades, and they will continue to add a bit of color to the cabin.

The Process

After removing the slides, 5 minutes, the cabin sides needed a good clean and careful measurement.
A trip to the local JoAnn's store and we picked out a suitable outdoor material - it's Gaudy, Bright, and will make an impact inside the cabin. I purchased enough fabric to do all of the windows and have enough left over to make a matching cushion - I'm getting seriously domestic in all of this!
Not really and Ad for RedLobster!

Next to make the first small window shade. Here's some pics of the progress.
This is seriously going to brighten up our cabin

If you could see through the windows, it would look pretty good too.
We should be heading down to the boat tomorrow to check she is still ok despite the King Tides we're having this week. I hope to install that first window shade.

Well the grotty weather put the boat visit to Wednesday (at least) so I worked on installing the new Zippers on the Dodger & Side panels. That took most of the day but they look good and they work!

I'll load up the truck for tomorrow and see if we can get a trip down there to install the Dodger & Side panels, and test fit the new port shade. 

See you out on the water.



1st Shade Installed.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Making Fending Off soft and cuddly

My 1st Real Sewing Project

All my sewing projects for Eximius so far have been repairs rather than New Stuff. Ok, so the blanket tubes to protect the new Dodger Side Panel windows from damage by the Sun heating up the Stainless Steel dodger frame was a real project, but, seriously, it was just cut to size and stitch a piece of velcro along one side.

We purchased 2 new fenders just 17 months ago, it surprising how quickly they stop looking new! And my Sailrite Sewing Machine has been yearning to to actually make something, so I made my first Fender Cover, inspired partly by Pam from Sjofn after Dave and Pam showed their new Fender covers made to match the boat colors.

Here's what the fender looks like in the nude.

And here's hot it looks dressed up in it's new Fender Cover.

It's a simple project, but after yet another restitch job on our Dodger today, I felt confident that I could actually sew in a straight line and have good stitch form on both sides.

I copied the concept that is on the website. Used a piece of the carpet fabric left over from the dodger frame cover job and some odds of the Hook side of Hook & Loop.

They sure look fine! But best of all, I'll not worry about our fenders being a concern for any boat that we raft up with. The whole job probably took 40 minutes, the second one should be less as I have the measuring done.

Now I just have to get the Red Felt Tip Pen ink off of my fingers!

See you on the water.


#2 - We have Twins!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Seeing the Light

Cloudy Window Panels

When we purchased Eximius, the Dodger side panels (wings) were decidedly cloudy, making it nearly impossible to see through them. Having gone through getting new Canvas panels made on Joint Decision, our Catalina 250 that we sold over a year ago, I know the process is expensive! With that in mind I purchased a Sailrite LZ1 sewing machine nearly a year ago based on the concept of the cost of sewing projects would easily repay the cost of the machine.

So, upgrading the Dodger side panels is the first real sewing project even though it really counts as a repair.

And here's how they look after replacing the clear window fabric

Here's the carpet covers that protect the new clear window fabric from being burnt from contact with the stainless steel dodger tubing.

Sorry about the quality of the Videos, did them quickly due to excitement of getting the side panels installed (Yep, that's the kind of thing that excites me every day :) 

See you on the water.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Making Oktoberfest work for us.

Oktoberfest 2016

Our local sailing club, HISC, celebrates Oktoberfest every year if the weather permits and traditionally it has been held on Lake Boca and that was the plan this year.

Early in the year, club members volunteer to host the various events so that they have plenty of time to get organized, promote the event as well as giving time to the members that will participate to get their part ready. That normally involves preparing an Appetizer, Main course, or costume for the event.

This year, the original volunteer had a last minute urgent event that conflicted with the Oktoberfest, she was moving homes! Pam & Dave of Sjofn stepped in to host the event and asked us if we would co-host the event.

We were not too sure how the event would work out with 2 monohulls and so only agreed to co-host if we could find a 3rd boat to co-host. Joyce & Mike of Spruce Goose stepped up. So we had our 3 boats.

During the week prior to the event, we published the schedule and a flyer out to the entire club membership via the Google Group system we use just for that purpose. Pam, Joyce and I agreed on provisioning, which really meant that Pam & Dave would locate German Beer, and come up with a dinner plan for the host boats on Saturday.

By the end of the week, we had sorted out the most of the little things and were ready to head up to the lake. Peggy & I prefer not to do one day events as they tend to be further up North and take about 4 hours to reach compared to most of the club members that are located nearer to the Hillsboro Inlet and Lake Boca. Both Sjofn and Eximius were planning on getting there on the Friday, Joyce & Mike altered their schedule so that they could also meet with us Friday.

We had finished putting the boat sails and canvas back on after taking it down in preparation for a visit by Hurricane Mathew that didn't happen. So the boat was clean and ready to go.

Friday morning we headed down to the boat, a bit later than planned after a late night (at the HISC) and we loaded up the boat. It was Full Moon weekend, actually Harvest Moon and King Tides, so we expected high tides and fast currents on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW).

Motoring out of the slip canal and down into the North Fork of the New River was very smooth and without incident. The engine was running beautifully, purring along at 2,000 RPM and very little vibration due to the work done on her over the past few months. Over half a tank (10 Gallons) of fuel with another 5 gals on board. At ~3/4gal per hour we had plenty for the trip, enough to motor for 20 hours with an expected max time under power of 9 hours.

Traffic on the New River was surprisingly heavy, we were boat #2 of six as we all passed under the 4 bridges on the New River, even with the ebbing tide we had no issues getting out of the New River, that's always a good thing.

Checking SailFlow, NOAA, and the local Radar services, we could see that it was most likely pretty lumpy outside of Port Everglades, so we made the decision to head up the ditch (ICW) to Lake Boca instead of sailing out of the Port and in via Hillsboro Inlet. Motring up on the inside route is nowhere near as nice sailing up on the outside (Ocean) but it was the prudent thing to do. 

We could hear both Sjofn and Spruce Goose calling for the Camino Real bridge opening at 2pm while we were near to the Atlantic Blvd bridge, so we figured they would arrive about 1 1/2 hours ahead of us. No need to push it, so we just made the bridges almost leisurely, barely having to wait for any of them. 

As soon as we passed Camino Real bridge and were inside Lake Boca, we could see Sjofn & Spruce Goose rafted up together in the North East corner of the lake. So Peggy took the helm as we motored up the West side of the lake and then swung Eastward. I prepped the fenders and dock lines, and Peggy did a great job of turning us 180ยบ and putting us alongside Sjofn within easy dockline distance so that Dave & Pam & Mike could secure us alongside. 

We needed to get a few things done on board before we accepted guests, sorting out the canvas covers to shield us from pending rain and high winds, moving the gas & diesel cans from the Stbd side of the boat onto the Cabin top so that guests could walk around the boat if needby. Setting up the GPS Anchor Alarm and setting up our Bar (joke!)

As always, there were a few minor tasks that I wanted to complete, such as re-securing the Solar Power Cable from the Solar Panels to the Bimini rails with tie wraps in place of the disintegrating electrical tape that had been in place when we purchased the boat - seems hard to believe that was nearly 18 months ago.  Installing our new Flag Pole for the US Flag, hoisting our Cruising Flags, and setting up the Cockpit table which it turns out was a good idea. Last job of the day was to lower the dinghy from the foredeck and setup the engine. Peggy & I got that done pretty quickly - Pam assisted by managing the dink engine lowering while I attached it to the dinghy. A few quick pulls on the start cord and it sprang into life. It needed topping up with fuel and then I let it run for about 10 minutes. 

Soon it was time to take a break - boat ready for guests, and both of us ready for the break. We had a lite dinner of Chicken Salad and a few glasses of wine (Papi). After the usual sailors banter we turned in early, both of us beat up by the trip up the ditch after a short nights sleep.

Saturday we woke and started breakfast: Eggs, Turkey, Tomatoes, Toast and French Cheese and of course the ever important Coffee. Just as I sat down at the Cabin table, Dave called out that there was a slight change of plan - the Communal Breakfast was moved from Sunday to Saturday - Awwww! So we finished our breakfast then joined the others with coffee in hand. 

Mid morning I started up the dink and visited Eileen and Larry on Kokomo, we shared a few sailor stories and I learned a bit more about the Bahamas from their experiences.

After lunch the phone started to ring as guests let me know when they would be arriving at the Palmetto Park Bridge parking lot for taxi ride out to the raft up. We were ready.

I was almost done putting our German Appetizer together when the 1st call for a pickup came in. So Peggy finished them off by planting a German Flag in each while I took the dink over to the bridge to pick up Alexandria, the wind was picking up, but no issues getting back to the boats by which time other club members had started to arrive in their dinks from their boats. At this point there were 11 boats in the fleet and we quikly had a full parking lot off the back of our boat which was the easiest to board from a dinghy. Shortly, Bob & Pat called in for pickup, so I headed back to the bridge.

We ended up with nearly 30 people spread between our 3 boats. As with every HISC cruising event, there was plenty of food, good food. Dave had setup the Beer kegs and was quickly emptying them. Food was passed between the boats but not all of it arrived at the 3rd boat (Spruce Goose) as the trays were being attacked en-route! But it looked like everyone was having a great time.

We were ready to start the Toast contest, but not many folks had worked on that part of the invite, so we only had 4 toast plus my intro toast.

Wir sind Sailors
We are Sailors

King Tides & Strong Winds

One of the highlights of the weekend was the King Tide, making the high tides much higher and the subsequent current flows much stronger. The winds were mostly from the North East and were in the high teens most of the weekend. This meant that our journey back to the slip had to be coordinated with the tides just so that we had safe transit at our slip and through the bridges.

During the cruise festivities (eating, drinking and sharing sea stories) the wind popped up quite a bit and matched some of the howling winds of Friday Night. But around 6pm Saturday, the wind popped up higher to at least 42 knots. I had turned on the Nav instruments on Eximius and flipped the instrument display to show the 10 minute wind history graph, it showed 35 to 42 knots several times. It made for some exciting rides to and from the bridge parking lot in the dinghy.

Before dark, our guests started to head back to their boats or request dingy rides back to the parking lot, probably as we had run out of Beer, most all of the food was gone, and perhaps the rising winds signaled the end of the Party. 

Most guests departed by climbing down the backside of Eximius into the dinks that were all tied up to our stern. Larry from Kokomo was running a regular taxi service for those guests that did not have their dink that day. I learned the advantage of having a decent (15HP) motor and rigid hull on his dink, something others had told me were almost a necessity when we go to the Bahamas where the current could be faster than our 2.3HP outboard could manage.

With the event guests all back ashore or to their own boats, the three host boat crews sat and reflected upon the event - An All Round Success! After evening cocktails we all returned to our own boats.

Overnight a couple of other boats (not HISC) anchored near to the three rafted host boats, a little on the close side, not a problem if they have set their anchors properly.

Shortly after midnight, the wind piped up again, but this time it coincided with the change in tide and the rafted boats swung 180ยบ and our Anchor Alarm went off. Quickly getting into the cockpit and checking for anchor drag by taking a transit line on the shore buildings, it looked as though we might be dragging anchor. I took a couple of minutes to average out the swing and transit lines and thought I had better get the other skippers up on deck for a 2nd opinion. Dave was first out of his cabin and we concluded we were probably ok, but I said I'd stay up on anchor watch for a while. Mike joined us and we all agreed. I remained in the cockpit checking on the swing.

About 12:30 during another swing in the weird Lake Boca currents, I noted that the 3 rafted boats were pointing North, the power catamaran was pointed at our stern and the 3rd boat, the one that had arrived earlier that night, was pointed away from our bow. That is, we were all pointing along the circumference of the same semi circle - as I said, the Weird Lake Boca Currents!

The clouds were scudding along in the stiff breeze and I started to get glimpses of the Harvest Full Moon directly overhead. So I took this video;

Then I waited a few minutes for a break in the clouds and took this picture

The Trip Home

Sunday Morning we were up around 6am planing on joining Mike & Joyce, Dave & Pam for breakfast aboard Spruce Goose. Before breakfast I was able to get the dink outboard off the dink and onto it's mount on Eximius, then I moved the dink around the starboard side of the boat and secured it for lifting onto the foredeck. Peggy was ready to go at that time and helped me raise the dink and tie it down on the deck. We put the coffee on, but no sign of the other crews yet, so we had some toast - didn't realize how little of the food we had eaten last night.

Joyce called us all over for breakfast, Peggy & I took our coffee pot to share, but only Dave & Pam drink coffee and already had their own too. Peggy was having a bit of tummy upset and returned to our boat to be near the head :( Meanwhile the rest of us enjoyed some of Joyce's Oats Nuts &  Cranberries and some of Pam's Strudel. 

Our return trip plan had us leaving for the 0840 bridge opening. So around 8:30 we cast off from Sjofn & Spruce Goose, motored around the back of the power catamaran, up the East side of the Lake, turned westward then south down to the bridge. We got there a little early and had to turn into the pretty strong Easterly wind to hold station while we waited for the bridge to open at 8:40am.

From there on it was plain motoring all the way back down the ditch, we nailed the openings despite the strong current reducing our GPS speed. The bridge tenders were kind to us and held the bridges open till we passed.

As we passed where the A1A roadway is close to the ICW, we could several docks that were underwater at the King High Tide and in some places the A1A was flooded, police cars were blocking traffic from heading towards the floods.

After passing under Los Olas Blvd Bridge, we could see how the canal is dramatically reduced in width due to the expansion work on the upgrades to the Los Olas Marina, the canal is probably half it's previous width! We wondered how much of the new marina will be open for public use when it's finished.

Once we were past Bahia Mar we turned west to pass north of Sand Bar Park, which was empty, only the dredge barge was nearby where they are deepening the canal all the way down to the 17th Street Bridge. We now started to feel the resistance of the current flow from the New River and had to push the throttle up as we passed by the New River Bridges, we could see the current flow at the bridge fenders clearly, but we were on schedule and didn't need to keep pushing once past a bridge. Cooleys landing was flooded and had it's usual crowd of visiting boats tied up in the slips.

I was below when Peggy turned Eximius into the canal where we keep her (the boat) docked. There was a newbie tied up on the North side of the canal, pretty big motor vessel, so that narrowed our passage quite a bit, but Peggy nailed it again. We came along side and turned Eximius around to face east for our next adventure. 

It didn't take us long to unload the food, drinks, bedding, linens, tools that I needed at home onto the dock. Then it was a quick rinse down of the topsides, lockup the boat and head home.

Great Trip, Event, Guests, Food, Drinks, Stories equals A Great Weekend!  

See you on the water.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Hurricane Mathew

We only have to worry about the boat and house

Mathew devastating Haiti
So far, like most Florida residents, Mathew is just an inconvenience, but our neighbors in the Bahamas, Cuba, especially Haiti it's far worse. 

I'm only posting this as a record, the last one that hit us was Wilma, Fence and Pool Screen damage here, our Neighbor's home lost it's Roof. Mathew should be a glancing blow here. 

I spent 5 hours on the boat yesterday removing her sails, canvas, dinghy, adding extra lines and fenders. She has 8 extra long lines that should allow her to survive a 4' tidal surge although the forecast is for just 1' in Broward County inland (she's about 1/4 mile from I-95). Then a couple of hours putting up the shutters at home (thanks go to my neighbor John for helping out). This morning we'll be loading the garage with the patio - tables, chairs, -BQ, etc.

At least we have a Garage! That's a whole lot more than most Haitians!

Sails Bagged


Fenders and Midships Spring Line

4 lines on stern

Cabin is sealed
Lines are secure

With the boat sealed up, I'm sure she'll stay dry, and the longer dock lines and fenders should prevent damage from the dock. Good news is that the new Solar Vents are working great!

Guess what I'm planning on doing on Saturday! - Yep! putting her all back together!

See you on the Water!


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Update on Local Boater Registration

More paperwork.

When we took our previous boat 'Joint Decision' over to Bimini about 8 years ago, we enrolled with the Local Boater Option program so that it was easier for us to report back into the USA with the Customs and Border Protection agency. That was pre 9/11, but even then we had to go down to Miami and visit the local agency office with our Passports, Identification documentation for an interview. Wanting to make sure we are OK for our trip to the Bahamas next year, I followed up with the US CBP agency and found that things have changed just a bit.

We already have our LBO (Local Boater Option) registration number, but we need to register our boat too.

So far we have renewed our Vessel Documentation (1 year) and obtained a FCC registration ID so that we can login to the FCC website in order to get a new MMSI for use in our VHF Radio. Now we're working on updating our LBO documentation. We need to get a DTOP account (done) and then get a Private Boat Decal. We applied for that online and their site suggests that it will take about 6 weeks for it to be delivered (assuming it's issued!)

This whole process is really not so bad, and I'm happy that they (the US CBP agency) takes all of these steps to ensure that we're doing it right and that we're qualified to have everything.

The big plus, in my mind, is that once we have the boat registered with the US CBP, then we can file float plans with them too. And Float plans are a big safety issue in our book.

So, just to recap - So far:

  • Register the boat with Florida State (Tax) 
  • Document the Vessel 
  • Get FCC private vessel Radio License
  • Get MMSI for the Radio
  • Update our LBO documentation 
    • Get DTOP account number
    • Get DTOP purchasing account number
    • Apply for Private Vessel Decal
    • Register vessel with LBO
I think that's it! So far we've paid $220 for the MMSI, $27 for the Decal (Annual), renew State Registration (Annual), renew US Vessel Documentation (Annual) 

And of course, when we head over to the Bahamas, we'll have to pay the tax of $150 (current rate) because our boat is not over 34' long. That's $150 a year if we return to the Islands within 6 months of departure. That would be nice!

I'll update this when the Decal arrives.

See you on the Water.


Private Vessel Decal

October 29th 2016.

Well, that was easy! An email notified us that the Decal was going to ship, and a few days later it came in the mail courtesy of the USPS. Next it's time to register Eximius with the LBO service. 

So far, the whole process is just a lot of comparatively small steps, each takes a little while and a little patience, but not so bad really. We're actually getting to the point where we are starting to figure out or first International Cruise - we might see if we can do a mini cruise locally, perhaps to the Keys first. As long as we can get in some sailing time it will be good.

See you on the Water.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Time to vent

No, not a political statement!

Most of the projects that we have completed on Eximius over the past year have been driven either by a Safety issue or a Reliability issue (Ok, so installing the AC was a Comfort issue) but this project was driven by necessity - but it's also a comfort issue.

Boat on the water, especially here in South Florida, tend to suffer from Mold and Mildew if the air in the cabin is not circulated - vented. Eximius has a pair of cowl vents on the cabin top that refresh the cabin air when there is wind or if the boat is moving, but when tied up to the dock on a windless day, humidity can climb and mold-n-mildew are just waiting to start growing.

We wipe down the interior of the boat on almost every visit, chlorox wipes do a great job of inhibiting M-M's but if we're away from the boat for several days, quite normal, then that just won't be enough.

Not sure if the Solar Powered Fans in the head and aft berth are original, they seem like it! Not that it matters, they were both broken, old, inefficient even if they did work. So time to replace them. 

After research we decided to use the Marinco Nicro Solar Vents but information on the web was confusing. It seemed like every site, including the Marinco site, gave varying specs on the fan housings and I was not sure if they would fit in the existing 4.25" holes in the head and aft berth cabin top. So I took one of broken fan units down to West Marine and compared it to the new unit still in the box. It was a tight fit, but looked as though it would work even if I had to remove the original insert from the cabin top. 

Decision made, and we left the store with a shiny new pair of Solar Powered Vent Fans.

We stopped by the boat and within 15 minutes they were installed - I did have to remove the old insert, and that took most of the 15 minutes! Now they are securely installed and their batteries are charging. We'll go down to the boat mid week and turn them on. 

Cool (no pun intended)

See you on the water.


Friday, September 30, 2016

Getting our MMSI ready for our 1st trip offshore

Getting our Radio ready for 1st Offshore trip

Our VHF Radio has the DSC, built in GPS and so it can pass information about our position and who we are if we ever have to send out a Distress Call. In order to pass that info, we need an MMSI number plumbed into the VHF Radio, so we started the process yesterday in anticipation that it would take a while, but we wanted to be ready long before our 1st Offshore trip which is probably going to be in the first part of 2017.

MMSI's can be obtained from many organizations such as Boat US, but not if there is intent upon International Travel - then the MMSI has to be obtained from the FCC. And that requires an extra step.

So! Step 1: Get an FCC Registration.
If you look through all of the documentation, it looks daunting, but when it comes down to it, we were able to register with the FCC online in just a few minutes.

After completing the online Form and submitting it, we had the first part of the equation: A login, Password and FCC Registration code. Sweet!

Step 2: Get a Radio Station Authorization (includes the MMSI) Again, visit and this time Online Filing Login. Now we could proceed with the information required. 
We needed:
  • Owner Information.
  • Emergency Contact Information (two)
  • Boat Information (including Vessel Documentation Info)
That was about it! It took all of 20 minutes to complete the process and be ready to pay for the application, $220. Once all was confirmed, we paid by credit card.

Then it was wait! We expected we would have to wait several weeks, so it was a huge surprise when we received an email with our License and MMSI first thing this morning.

Now we just have to make sure that our Local Boater Option (LBO) is still valid from when we last used it back in 2008.

See you on the water!


Friday, September 23, 2016

Day sail out of the USA on Auto Pilot

Well, nearly!

After all of the work done over the past couple of months, we went on a day sail yesterday beyond the 3 mile limit.

Weather was calm, winds around 10 knots mostly from the East backing to NE by E and it was a great sail. We were on a steady reach doing an average of 5+ knots under beautiful skies. Of course, it's that time of year, so there were storms developing in the South overland so we had a good view of the lightning strikes that were probably 5 to 10 miles away, looked like they were hitting Hollywood.

So once business was done (had to do a pumpout) we turned back to port just as the wind dropped so low that we were doing less than 3 knots. Peggy took the helm and I lowered the sails, bagging the main just in case the wind piped up again. Then, once heading back to Port Everglades, we tried out the Auto Pilot, 1st time since I cut out all of those useless cables that were part of the non-functional instruments that used to be on the Stbd side of the Pedestal. It worked! I used the AP to steer us all the way to the inside of the 1st pair of channel markers, adjusting the compass setting on the AP control panel rather than disengage the AP and steer to the new course. Worked great! 

We headed back to Port Everglades, not much traffic, but we had anticipated that by looking up the Port schedule online in the morning. It was high tide, and the 17th Street bridge showed 55' above the fenders, but I swear that our antenna looked to be within inches of the underside of the center of the bridge as we passed beneath it.

The storms had passed as we headed up the Intracoastal to Sand Bar Park and then turned West into the New River. Plan was to pass under Andrews Avenue Bridge and tie the boat alongside the Briny Pub for lunch. No big deal tying up, had to be a bit careful to avoid scraping the hull against the raw concrete dockside. A couple of the cleats were loose, secure but loose and, if you go there, do not lean on the dockside lights! I didn't fall in, but it was close!

Lunch at the Briny was great. We explained to our server that we had to leave to make the bridges by 4pm, so he quickly took our order and it was delivered hot and quickly too. Really good Mediterranean Tilapia Salad for me and Peggy had the Same with Chicken. 
It was really pleasant sitting there close to the dockside watching the traffic on the water and on the sidewalk all the while listening to the music. It was 3pm, so not many patrons in the pub, we had plenty to chat about, so it was a nice lunch together.

Paid the bill and walked the few yards to the boat. Peggy boarded and started the engine while I prepared to cast off the lines. A stranger sat on a dockside bench close to the boat commented on how nice the boat looked. I'm too aware of the bumps and bruises that our boat has, and where she could do with new paint. But he was right - she is a beautiful boat!

See you on the water.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Passing By

We were motoring back towards our slip just before noon today, Sunday, after an overnight at Lake Sylvia during the Harvest moon.

So, forgive me as I just take a few minutes to share what it's like motoring backup the New River in Fort Lauderdale, which is probably much like motoring through any river towards the boat's slip, anywhere in the country. I would like to think it is.

Over the past year we have gotten to recognize the voices of the bridge tenders at each of the 4 bridges we have to pass as we motor up the busy New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

We're familiar with the twists and turns on the river, and used to the friendly waves and the camera snapshots as we pass by. We know where the trees overhang the river and need to be avoided. There are the sharp turns where current tends to twist the boat's direction. By Andrews Avenue Bridge there are two pump outflows that have a habit of opening just before pass them, that outflow will push us across the river if we don't have enough momentum (enough way in sailors parlance.)

If you spot us as we head up the river, you'll notice that we'e wearing our lifejackets, one of my boat rules - If we're not tied to something, Anchor, Dock, Another boat, then anyone outside the cabin must wear their lifejacket. You'll also notice that we are probably the only boat you'll see the crew wearing them, but that's ok, we'll set the example.

As we motor along, we'll pass many boats tied up to slips or docks. Some have the telltale thick green crud along their water line, that usually indicates they have been there a while, months if not years. Some of the boats seem abandoned, and some are always spotless. There'll be the occasional crew onboard, and they will normally take the time to wave as we pass.

It always crosses my mind as we see those boats, tide up, as we pass. I envy them sometimes, probably living on their boat, perhaps stopping in Fort Lauderdale for a break as they transit the ICW or even the world. And I wonder how many of them envy us because we're not tied up, we're moving!

When it comes down to it, it's the Moving part of being on a sailboat that I enjoy the most. You might hear the phrase that 'You get there faster in a Power boat' and 'You're already there in sail boat'. I agree totally, we're already there when we're on our Sailboat. And when we're moving, either outbound to the Ocean or inbound back to our slip, it doesn't matter, we're there.

See you on the water. - Moving!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Engine Crankcase Breather Mod

During the engine work this summer, we spent a good while cleaning the surfaces of the Engine, particularly those visible from above as those were the ones that were coated in engine grime probably spewed out of the Engine Crankcase Breather Hose.

This pic of the Engine prior to the work shows where the Breather Hose is just located near to the Air Filter and some of the grot on the surfaces of the Engine.
It also shows the Water heater by-pass hose that connects the coolant pump to the Thermostat housing. ie. The hot water tank is not connected to the engine cooling system, so no hot water unless we are plugged into shore power.

In this pic, taken after the Engine work, is shown the New Breather Hose connection to the Air Filter and the Hot Water Heater tank connections in place of the by by-pass.

Today's work includes running the Engine to confirm that the Coolant system has been Burped successfully.

And it's time for an Engine's Running Video.

Dockside Engine Test

Local Kubota Dealer

Kubota Dealer - Pompano Beach FL

One of the benefits of DIY engine service is that you're forced to find local resources for help on the engine. I found one just 10 Minutes away from our home in Margate FL.

Southeastern Power Products in Pompano Beach FL 

I had an issue replacing the Air Filter in our Universal M25-XP Diesel Engine on Eximius, not a surprise, it's nearly 30 years old. The old air filter looked pretty much like a wad of stainless steel shavings - a bit like a Stainless Pan Scrubber. I asked the guys at Southeastern Products about my options.
Most stores would tell you that you're out of luck, here's a possible replacement and it costs a BOAT or two. One of the guys in the store researched the engine specs and the air flow requirements and was able to bring out an alternative unit - if it would fit inside our engine bay. One of the guys in the store is a Marine guy, obviously knows his stuff and was able to find several alternative methods of connecting one of the new Air Filters to the engine.
Meanwhile, I asked a 3rd guy about the Thermostat for our engine and commented on the fact that it's been missing since we purchased the boat. Several guys chimed in on the consequence of running a diesel engine so cool - our's ran around 110°F - the guys recommended a thermostat that kept the engine around 173°F but not for a water cooled exhaust system. So I'm ok with our 145°F thermostat that I had purchased previously. Again, they took the time to listen to my issues and coming up with qualified responses.

I took a few pics of the Air Filters that they suggested with a tape measure included so that I could figure out if the filter would fit.

The whole unit was about $50, very reasonable, but would it fit?

We went down to the boat to measure, and sadly it would barely fit and would have to be removed in order to change out the internal air filter.

So on the way back home, we stopped by Southeastern Power Products and thanked the guys. They took the time, again, to answer a question I had about the starter solenoid - they had one in stock $66 but during discussion, I realized that I could just re-install the old, but serviceable, solenoid that I had removed 2 months ago in preference for a slightly different unit.

While there, I took this pic - not especially exciting, but that wall is just the front a computerised storage system that is nearly 18' tall behind the wall. That allows them to stock a huge inventory of parts.

It's nice to know that a company that obviously handles a very wide range of products and stocks a gazillion Kubota Parts and has a really supportive attitude to their customers.

While there I could hear one of the girls handling calls for parts, so I assume they take calls for mail order.

Thanks Guys! Somehow I think I'll be back again. Hope you all have a great Labor Day.


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Good Vibrations - Part V

WooHoo! It worked

After a small 'gotcha' in the initial start up yesterday, today we're all smiles!
A quick trip to West Marine (waste of time today) and a successful trip to Boat Owners Warehouse, we then went to the boat intent on getting the initial startup after all the work on the Engine Exhaust, Electrical Harness, New Instruments, New Engine Mounts and hooking the Engine Coolant system to the Hot Water Heater.

Considering this was really my first big job on an engine system, I'm really pleased. Ken Kloeber of Weekend'r Products was able to supply all of the wiring & wire lug needs and the New Tachometer, the rest came from various suppliers via Amazon.

Before we started the engine for the first time, we had all of the boat's extinguishers handy and Peggy out in the Cockpit and myself with an escape route just in case anything went really wrong. It felt a bit like the first start of the Star Ship Enterprise! 

Peggy turned on the Ignition, I could hear the fuel pump running - good sound! Ran the engine bay blower motor - another good sound! Next the Glow Plugs, no sounds - that's good, and no huge spike in amps as displayed on the Electrical Control Panel. Raw Water valve open, ready to go! Peggy pressed on the Start Button and the engine sprang into life - a little hesitant but we realised the boat was in gear - we had let the moment obscure that little fact. Into Neutral, engine is purring!

That initial run was just to make sure the starter worked and there were no initial leaks - Passed!

We shut down the engine and gave it a breather while we celebrated with an ice cold water and lunch sandwich.

2nd Start (In Neutral) and it started without hesitation. We both compared the vibration to what we had previously experienced and both of us concluded that it's vastly superior!
The engine quickly came up to 145F, all of the gauges working (lites too) let it run for about 5 minutes this time. 

So with that success, it's time to finish up: New Exhaust Riser Insulation Jacket - Done, Water Lines to Bathroom connected - Done, Electrical wiring inside engine bay secured - Done.

Next it was time to check out the water heater - but Mom Nature stepped in to put that test on hold - Heavy storms heading up from the South East. So a quick tidy up - Put all tools away, toss out all of the hose cut offs less than 4' long, close up the boat and head home.

Really pleased with progress today - if the weather had not intervened we would have refilled the water tanks & completed the hot water heater test. Tomorrow!

Engine Ready to Start

New Breathe hose to Air filter input

New Riser Insulation jacket

Water Heater Hosed Reconnected to Engine Coolant System

Electrical wires secured from chaffe 

Alternator Reconnected

Engine Hast not been this Clean since we purchased her.

Raw Water Hose & Filter in front of Repaired Aqua Lift Muffler

Next pics should be of us underway and Eximius back out on the Water. Well, it is Labor Day Weekend!

See you out there.