"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret do cuments the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now.“Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised
May 22, 2013
Position: 31 17.00N 79 17.77W (0730 Wednesday, 22 May) In route to Cape Fear Inlet, North Carolina
Hello mis amigos, the little lady is back at sea doing what she does best, shaking a bit of salt. She passed under the 17th St Causeway Bridge in Ft Lauderdale at 0800, Monday, May 20th following N46 Anita Cay heading for Nantucket. On May 16th, 2004 she passed under the same bridge heading to Gibraltar on the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally. At the time, we didn't think she would ever pass under the Causeway again. Of course plans change and she has several times since. So this time we will be noncommital and we'll see if she returns.
Anita Cay rafted off Egret at daybreak on Monday prior to departure. A/C needed to clear their canal before the water fell out and trapped them for the tide. Here's the Anita Cay crew: Kal, Anita, Eileen (3) and son Eric. Eric and my nephew Mark joined Egret in Tahiti in July, 2008 for the trip thru French Polynesia island hopping to American Samoa where they flew home. Eric will be a senior at Cornell in the fall.
(I wrote this paragraph Sunday afternoon prior to leaving Monday). The weather on the rhumb line course to Nantucket is changing rapidly. A couple days ago it was forecast to be blowing 30, gusting to 40 during our anticipated arrival time in Nantucket. We ain't gonna do anything of the sort. In the past few hours NOAA predicts the rapidly moving front will pass to the east by the time we arrive. However, there is some nasty stuff south of the major front passing thru very quickly and there is a very short window to miss the worst. Weather forecasting more than a couple days out isn't super accurate so we'll plot a course from a turning waypoint off Ft Lauderdale in deep water to a single waypoint at the entrance to Beaufort, North Carolina and enter the Intracoastal Waterway north to the Chesapeake. At the Chesapeake we may head back offshore and Anita Cay may head into the Chesapeake to visit family if the weather offshore is nasty. However there is a chance that 2 or 2 1/2 days into the 3 day trip to Beaufort that we may be able to turn more for Nantucket. Its Anita Cay's call so we'll see.l If we do turn for Nantucket there will be no turning back because of geography. With Anita Cay calling virtually every shot and they apply for OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) membership it will be 100% deserved with zero controversy.
OK, back at it. Both boats cleared the inlet at 0800. However there was a serious wind against falling tide situation and both boats were hobby horsing severely until we were able to get out of the main shipping channel. Unfortunately the tight seas continued for the next few miles and Eileen (3) wasn't doing well. Its strange because Eileen has quite a few sea miles including a few trips in the Bahamas, down to the Florida Keys and coastal cruising north from Ft Lauderdale. Nevertheless, by the end of the day Anita Cay turned for an inlet to bring some relief to the little one. (Later......it's just as well. It calmed late in the day but by midnight it wasn't calm unitl mid morning and to be out in that not feeling well would not have been fun. Also, I'll mention again in a bit, there is NO WAY that Nantucket is going to happen, even for Egret. There is a severe front passing by Cape Hatteras at the exact time both or either boat would be passing.) So Anita Cay has the rest of the summer to take smaller steps getting the A/C crew up to speed. In the big picture it doesn't matter. Its all good.
When it calmed later in the day we put out a couple worms to see if something would snap. It did. Yup, a nice fat dolphin (mahi mahi) got a fliet and release and produced 5 zip lock bags of 2 person meals. Later just before dark, Mary reeled in a small sailfish which we released. The freezer is full so we can't fish until Egret gets closer to shore and we can give away what won't hold in the fridge.
Today (Tue) has gotten calmer as the day progressed. The wind hasn't been much and it has been puffing from variable directons during the day, mostly NE. Egret's speed has dropped from a high of 9.1 knots average (at 1450 rpm) to 7.7 knots currently. Now at 1424 she is making 7.0 knots. Mary got her cuppa in bed this morning as usual and again, as usual, she made a great breakfast. So now we're just chugging along swapping nap chores and taking it easy. 309nm to go to Beaufort.
So while we are loafing along its time to climb up on The Box for a short rant. It is coming up on insurance time for Egret and every time I get rates that seem unreasonable, I wonder way. This is a perfect example of why rates are what they are.
I very rarely criticize our fellow cruisers. When I do I keep it as vauge as possible so the boat or person can't be identified, and I only do it as a teaching tool and not for any other reason. In this case, a foreign flagged vessel was cruising during the summer cruising season making multiple stops. One of those stops was described by the cruising guide saying the entrance to xxx harbor was "difficult". The cruisers' opinion of difficult made difficult look simple and extreme was more like it. So late in the day with the wind puffing hard from astern they made a "desperate choice".....to enter the harbor. The story went on to describe why the entrance and harbor interior was difficult and we can see it would be, particularly in low light with the wind puffing.
Here's the point. Just like we described in the last VofE, using a parachute anchor to wait for a safer time to unsnarl debris from the prop or solve whatever issue; if it takes until daylight, a day or more tor the weather to settle down or whatever, there is NO REASON at sea to take a chance. These folks took a BIG CHANCE. For what? To keep from staying at sea until the next day where they could enter that harbor or another safely? Most years in the South Pacific a boat or boats are lost on the reef. Many times they are exhausted single handers or exhausted mom and poppers who decide to enter at night even they absolutely KNOW BETTER because by the time anyone has cruised the South Pacific their seamanship skills are well above when they left their home port. South Pacific cruisers KNOW that charting isn't always the best and entrance lighting is usually a fairly tale. So anyhow, NO schedule or plans are important when it comes to safety.
And while we're rolling, let's keep going. The ocean crossers bible is Jimmie Cornell's Ocean Cruising Routes of the World. Jimmie breaks down nearly every route from wherever to wherever into the optimum time of the year. Using those dates as a rough guide, you will rarely encounter anything more than a simple gale at sea unless you are in high lititudes. For now let's talk about something more reasonable like an Atlantic or Pacific crossing without crossing in higher than usual north or south latitudes. Let's say buddys on N64, Ocean Pearl encounter a severe storm on this year's passage from St Johns, Newfoundland to Ireland. (You may follow Ocean Pearl's blog on the N website. The first posting is up.) A gale, much less a storm is highly unlikely but let's just say they do encounter one or both. How dangerous is this? Not at all. Braun and Tina have years of experience. I guarantee you if it gets nastier than they wish while holding course, they will turn Pearl upsea and match the throttle to the wave sets making minimal headway until things settle down. Egret has only had to do this 5 times in her miles and those 5 locations are somewhere normal cruisers will never get close to. Each of those 5 times was for 12 hours only. Once you turn up sea in a proper sea boat the drama stops and the boat just goes up and down. So using that analogy, if you use caution, follow the seasonal rules and have a proper sea boat, there are few places in the world you can't visit safely if you wish.
OK, off The Box and back at sea. Its Tue evening. Egret is caught in a strong counter current and is making but 4.6 knots. (Actually, that was a minute ago and now, and now its up to a whopping 5.1 knots. Yea!!) So you can see how arrival times change. Egret is still more than 1.5 days away from Beaufort so we'll see how it works out.
Later in the evening. The counter current slowed Egret from 3.6 knots to 4.1 knots for hours. Watching weather and inlet tides, we made the decision to divert to Cape Fear River in North Carolina, about 55nm south of Beaufort. By diverting a bit more west than north we Finally got free of the current and now at 0735 are making 6.3 knots.
Anita Cay popped back offshore at Ft Pierce Inlet (Florida) and are under way up the Florida coast. At St Mary's Inlet at the Florida/Georgia border they will make the decision to keep more toward the coast in forecast calmer water or do a direct shot to Cape Fear. Cape Fear for Anita Cay is also a better choice of inlets because the wind swings later in the week.
One thing that is important to remember is that VofE is not reality TV. We never forgot where we began. Egret's first big trip ever was up the Florida coast to St Mary's Inlet. It was a BIG DEAL. The trip up the Florida coast and beyond is a BIG DEAL to the Anita Cay crew. It isn't business as usual. This is their long distance beginings. This is where we all start as you will or have as well. Also look at the decisions being made here by both boats and why. Yes, the trip direct to Nantucket is a BIG DEAL but in the big picture, safety and comfort are more important than that particular passage. A/C will have many passages over the years and every one will be based on safety and comfort, just like Mary and I.
May 17, 2013
Position: Ft Lauderdale living on the BFYC……..but not for long.
Hello mis amigos, the little fiberglass lady is on anchor in Lake Worth, Palm Beach (Florida) waiting on battery day tomorrow (Mon). We had a super calm ride up the coast in the Gulf Stream running up to 8.9 knots @1450 rpm along the 400’ – 125m line hoping to catch dinner. Nothing snapped. So Mary roasted a chicken.
If you remember my little rant the other day about anchors; this evening we had a real life lesson in anchors. There are quite a few boats in the anchorage including some interesting foreign flagged boats. A front swept thru with torrential rain and gusts to just under 40 knots and over 30 sustained for a bit. The boats on both sides of Egret dragged. The Panamanian flagged 35’ sloop to the south has a chain and rope rode and during the worst it was sideways to the wind meaning it was dragging. The large steel ketch to the north was obviously motoring against the wind to keep off the megayachts docked a short distance downwind. The small sloop had no one aboard which is scary. The steel ketch made several attempts to re anchor but its chain was doing ‘the hop’ while its girl anchor skipped along the bottom. Hopefully it is set well now but it probably doesn’t matter because it is calm, unless of course another front blows thru and then of course it will be at night and things will get ugly fast because it is shallow to the west to limit motoring into the wind and ketch folks will be in a jam because their girl anchor turns loose and they could possibly crash into the swell boats downwind to the east and by looking at the ketch it is probably one of those no insurance deals and that would be bad for everyone.
The good news is the streetlight didn’t blow away in the gusts. So what’s the streetlight? A couple years ago, Egret’s anchor light sun rotted and blew away in a blow. So as a temporary fix we covered the light fixture with a plastic water bottle. Welll, a water bottle has all of those swell ribs that sorta act like a freznel lens and sends bright light in every direction, better than the original light ever thought of. We change the bottle from time to time and now the latest one even has a new LED bulb with lotsa LED’s that makes the streetlight look like a stadium light. Well, perhaps not that bright but the brightest yet. You get the picture.
The other day a friend we have known forever from ye ol’ car days (CJ), came by with a fishing buddy (Doug) who has followed VofE for years. So we gave Doug a boat tour and talked quite a while. Doug is 2 years out from selling all – buying a boat (Doug has already looked at a couple brokerage N46’s) and chugging into the sunset. Doug is ready but the Admiral needs some help. To encourage the Admiral, Mary told them how we chartered a boat from what is now NW Explorations in the Pacific North West and spent a magical week cruising the San Juan Islands. That week in the San Juans was another small piece of our personal cruising story and why we did what we did. The following year we chartered a ‘rent a wreck’ from Calley Cruisers and spent a delicious week on the Caledonian Canal in Scotland. This too helped send us on our way. So a light went on and they said they could charter together in the Bahamas to encourage Doug’s Admiral. I know what the Boys were thinking – they could fish! Both Boys have spent time in the Bahamas so it would be great but not that different. They need to go west for a totally new experience. So as we talked, our buddy CJ sorta hinted at trading dirt for water and he and his Admiral are a couple years out as well. Big surprise and the first we ever heard of it. Anyhow they both left dreaming about cold water and small islands far to the west. Of course if they lived in the PNW we would suggest a Bahamas or Caribbean charter for a complete change. Obviously the story goes on with many details but this is the gist of what we talked about except for one major point*.
*Major decisions like selling all or even buying a cruising boat and keeping the dirtstead needs to be a 50-50 deal. Not 80-20 or 70-30. The only way to reach near equal enthusiasm is to share the information so both the Captain and the Admiral are on the same page. This is not to say the Admiral needs to know mechanics like the Captain or the Captain needs to know the ins and outs of the Admirals duties but the destinations, worries, fears, and whatever needs to be shared and worked on. It is my opinion that the biggest single reason that folks get out of boating is not financial or family or whatever you may think or folks suggest, but it is the lack of confidence on one or both of their parts. They simply aren’t comfortable and in many or most cases don’t share their feelings with their other half, and I’m leaning toward the Captains here, not the Admirals. All of this can be overcome if you work together and do whatever it takes to improve your comfort level of the tasks we all face like docking, anchoring, navigating, or time at sea. Just start out slow, don’t think you need to go right away to some far away destination, just enjoy yourselves and stay out of uncomfortable weather until you baby step forward. You will find that what seems so intimidating at first isn’t. As the comfort level climbs with experience and sea miles, together you will get better and better….and more and more comfortable sorta like perpetual motion as the cruising pendulum swings from experience to comfort, experience to comfort, e c, e c, etc, raising the bar. One last thought before the bottom line. Comfort level can’t be bought, it must be earned. But it isn’t difficult.
So after this rambling, the bottom line is: share your concerns and work together as a team. After all, I imagine the far majority of boaters have been a team for years except now you have to be…….to be……..hummm, let’s use a modern word – a little more transparent.
Today was battery day. So how difficult could it be to R&R 4 batteries? So here’s the deal. Egret has 4 – 8D Lifeline AGM batteries in the house bank. Two are under the master berth and two under the guest berth. Of course the guest berth was covered with woodwork from the clothes dryer surrounds while we are waiting for parts. So the woodwork went from the guest berth to the second berth on the stbd side. Then the linens and pillows have to come off and be stuffed somewhere………then the mattress has to be stuffed into the forward head and two plywood panels under the mattress has to be removed to expose the battery boxes. Of course over the battery boxes and everything around them is stuffed with spares. So the spares have to be put somewhere. Finally we can remove the battery box lids.
Both sets of battery banks have on/off battery switches. Originally I was going to hire Strong Backs (Lifeline 8D’s weigh 156 lbs/71kg EACH!) to remove the first set of batteries, set in the new set and I would hook them up. To keep the guys from waiting, I shut off both switches to speed things up and would work with a flashlight instead of cabin lights. So we did. NO ONE couples battery cables up to batteries like I do (well actually probably quite a few do if they know and take the time.). Lifelines come with new stainless steel nuts, bolts, flat washers and lock washers. However we double nut everything and use 2 lock washers per bolt (one in front and behind the first nut) instead of one to eliminate the usual loosening over time. Then we butter the battery posts and cable ends with Koppor Shield which is a pure copper slurry that guarantees perfect contact and keeps away corrosion. However, Koppor Shield so super messy it’s like 3M 5200. You can’t use it without getting it on everything. So it takes a while to get everything perfect and clean up the mess. Then everything has to be put back together, spares returned to The Deep, mattresses back on, linen, the woodpile back in place and so on.
So we were getting ready to leave, fired up the Happy Little Lugger and went about getting everything turned on. Except the 115V stuff wouldn’t turn on. Bummer. So I checked the inverter and there was a memory fault. In the troubleshooting guide it had all these different fixes for every issue except Memory Fault. The fix is to Call Xantrax. Because of past experiences, I would rather eat worms than call Xantrax. So I tried and believe it or not, after a short time I got a Real Person that lives in America and he was a Good Guy who was Thorough and Patient. So we tried this n’ that but in the end he said it is one of two things; a built up electrical charge inside the inverter that needs to dissipate or it’s busted. Bummer. So we tried the first option, turned off the batteries with the two battery disconnect switches, removed the 12V hot wire to the inverter and let it sit for 2 hours to bleed off the charge. I asked him if he would PLEEEEEZ call back in 2 hours and he did. It worked! Oh happy days and thank you to Xantrax! These are NOT problems we need just before departure.
Now this brings up another point. What happens if your precious doesn’t have A/C voltage? Can you navigate, run the stabilizer cooling pump, etc? Of course Egret has a 12V Groco secondary stabilizer pump. We spent a lot of time explaining in a recent VofE how Egret has a 115V stabilizer pump that has run for over 12,000 hours without failing but we still felt it necessary to have a 12V backup. In Egret’s case she has 12V refrigeration so at least that isn’t an issue but she does navigate by laptops and the main navigation laptop also has a monitor so 115V is important. We have a small emergency 200 watt inverter that plugs into a cigarette lighter socket that will handle a single navigation laptop. The other alternative to not having A/C voltage is run the generator. But that is a pain and if you are on a passage it’s more than a pain. So the bottom line is: it pays to have redundancy. (Later. We now have a brandy new 600 watt inverter in spares to run the minimal AC requirements)
So now it has just gone dark and we are 8.2nm from Ft Lauderdale inlet. The seas have been super calm with 12-15 knots of breeze from behind blowing our little home along at 7.1 knots. For the first time ever we tried running southbound tight to the beach to keep out of the north bound Gulf Stream. Normally we slug it out offshore and fish but we have things to do and people to see so we be jammin’. By staying 1/3 to 1/2nm offshore you literally double your speed or more by staying out of the Stream and riding the slight southbound counter current.
The 17th Street Causeway Bridge in Ft Lauderdale is a thing of great beauty……a work of art. When Egret and the other 17 boats departed on the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally on May 16th, 2004 we had zero plans to ever return with the boat. Of course cruising plans change and we did after returning from Europe in 2011 and again last year after spending the summer in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. So we will be back again? Who knows?
I won’t climb up on The Box here but to say that being full time cruisers we do whatever makes us the happiest. So if we would rather be somewhere else; we go, if we are having too much fun to leave, we stay and so on. Its kinda cool actually. And it’s not just the Egret crew, it’s the norm.
So now it’s time to dream. What if we could do anything? There is one last Grand Adventure I would like to attempt but that is for me to dream about and most likely won’t happen. Something more practical would be go to South Georgia Island in the Way South Atlantic. Antarctica would be nice but South Georgia would be better. A few week return to St Helena would be super special. St Helena is one of those magical places that is the crossroads of the South Atlantic. Every new arrival has an itinerary to move on with the season so St Helena doesn’t get what it deserves….sorta like the Azores. We spent 10 days or so and looking back, we should have spent more. The Namibian coast is pretty special if it is calm with no fog but inland Namibia is available by air so that isn’t difficult. However, after rounding the Cape of Good Hope and spending time in Cape Town, Walvis Bay, Namibia should be a must stop. Mary was talking tonight about the Aegean Greek Islands. Egret was there 3 times and we would love to spend a few more months in the islands. And let’s not forget Venice. We never did make it by boat and would love to spend real time enjoying the center of the Western world in the 15th century. Egret spent a month in Tonga but we had to move sooner than later because of insurance. We missed the Hap’ I Group (Tonga) that friends on N55 New Paige visited and they said they enjoyed that area the most. We never did get to Fiji and the northern Fijian islands are many folks favorite. Same with Vanuatu. The Kingdom of Tonga is the eastern most N/S South Pacific island group, Fiji is next and Vanuatu is the western most. Farther west, New Caledonia is a favorite with the French cruisers and the eastern satellite islands are super special. Some of the more intrepid cruisers visit the Solomon Islands on the way to and from Japan. The Balearic Islands off Spain are great cruising as is Italy. Northern Europe is many folks favorite and there are anchorages every few miles. Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are special and just a hop from the U.S. East Coast. Of course the U.S. East Coast is great cruising as well as our neighbors, the Bahamas and the Out Islands. Let’s not forget the Pacific North West where you could spend a lifetime and never see it all. The Sea of Cortez has always interested me and it would be nice to visit.
Since we have been living on the BFYC we have had internet. When we read world news (and U.S. news) it turns our stomach. It’s disgusting. However, even though areas of the world will be in turmoil for years there is still a big world to see and see safely. One thing makes it so safe is the available information thru websites like http://www.noonsite.com/ and others whereas in our beginning days it was magazine articles that fueled the fire. Cruising guides today are better than ever. Boats are safer than ever and more comfortable. Accurate electronic charting and AIS (Automatic Identification System) for shipping and private boats have made things so much safer. Radar today isn’t like it was even a decade ago. Fuel around the world is cleaner than ever and nearly without exception everyone takes credit cards. So don’t even BEGIN to think that world cruising has lost its charm. If anything, it may be better because the downturn is leaving anchorages more deserted and friendly locals friendlier. So anyhow…………
We plan to leave Ft Lauderdale in a few days in company with N46 Anita Cay. We have a lot of details to tend to. The boat stuff we’ll report to help the newbies and it will be included in this VofE. Once we leave we will have at-sea reports without photo’s. We’ll pass along the conditions and experiences in text so when it is Your Time, you know what to expect. In the past at sea we struggled to send a couple photo’s via the Iridium phone on VofE’s but the picture quality was poor and it ate Iridium time. Today with internet nearly universal we’ll send any interesting photo’s along from shore.
The service tech came to repair the Asko dryer. He did a great job and now I could repeat it. With help from John from N62 Rover in Barcelona we changed a dryer belt. I had forgotten how to do it so I took off the back of the dryer (thinking it was a belt problem at the time) and got stuck. Then we found a broken drum roller laying in the bottom of the pan so we picked up the phone. So here’s the deal to change an Asko dryer belt.
Remove the dryer lid – 3 screws on the back of the dryer lid. 3 screws only!
Remove the outside screws along the back side of the dryer but leave in the two bottom screws. You do this to slip the belt around the dryer drum from behind.
Remove the front bottom panel.
The white plastic air ducts snap out. Remove the ducts and spray them clean with a hose.
Now you can clearly see the motor and tensioner pulley.
Slip the new belt over the drum from behind.
Put the belt over the tensioner pulley and align the belt.
Before buttoning the bits back together, clean the squirrel cage fan in front of the dryer.
Replace the pieces in a last out – first in order.
You be laughin’ and the Admiral will think you are a genius when you finish.
Take your credit and spend it.
Anchor Petroleum* delivered 800 gallons of fuel today to top up plus we added the appropriate amount of Stanadyne Premium Fuel Additive. Fuel was $3.39 USP/U.S. Gallon plus 6% Florida Sales Tax. The thousand gallon price was $3.36. We have bought fuel from Anchor for years and as a plus it has Valvetec additives.
*Anchor Petroleum – Ft Lauderdale – 954 764-2407. The price we paid and have shown is for a check or cash.
Today we took the Jeep in for an oil change. I know it doesn’t have anything to do with boating but it does. We never leave any engine in the boat with dirty oil and because the Jeep will sit for 5+ months, it will sit with fresh oil. We are going to leave the Jeep in a dehumidified garage in the Florida Keys. Part way down the Keys is the Marlin Food Store/Gas Station. They have gasoline with NO ethanol. So we’ll arrive at Marlin with low fuel and fill with non ethanol gas and after arriving at the garage, we’ll add Stabil Fuel Stabilizer so the gas doesn’t rot and the ethanol doesn’t turn into water. We’ll also fill 2 – 6 gallon – 23ltr Yamadog gas tanks with non ethanol gas for the dinghy. (For those of you going to Canada this summer, Canadian gasoline doesn’t have ethanol. We filled the dinghy tanks before we left Nova Scotia last year to get the best gas we could. Only when we ran out of Canadian fuel did we have a water problem in the outboard tanks.
Mary is out shopping for Stuff and one item is Viva Paper Towels. They are the best and paper towels in Europe are poor quality and expensive. So we’ll leave with 10 cases or so under the small dinghy cover…….just like we did on the NAR. Along with paper towels we added 7 – 5 gallon/20ltr pails of Shell Rotella T* 15W40 engine oil (*Rimula in Europe and elsewhere). Its a thousand details like this that needs tending to before leaving on a big trip.
OK, Viva paper towels have filled the small dinghy. The 18’ Para Tech parachute anchor is rigged. The photo’s show the way it is pulled tight to the port cleat, ty wrapped along the stanchions and in place behind the Portuguese bridge.
The two floats, float above the parachute anchor and when it is time to retrieve the parachute anchor it is simple to motor up the floats and retrieve the parachute. We have never deployed the parachute anchor even in testing. It is attached to 600’ – 188m of ¾” – 19mm 3 lay nylon line. The parachute is a last gasp to stabilize the boat until we can resolve whatever problem there may be. Egret’s wing engine isn’t powerful enough to maintain headway in a strong sea so we would deploy the parachute if it were nasty and the main were out of service. With the bow to the waves the drama stops and we could fix whatever at our leisure*.
*I added this later but it’s important. We ALL want to get to our destinations as soon as is reasonable. However, in the big picture it isn’t imperative anyone does. Sailors are MUCH better than powerboaters tolerating variable wind, current and so on so their arrivals are much less predictable. So let’s say you pick up a wad of polypropylene netting or line at sea like friends on N62 Autumn Wind on the NAR. Larger boats have a more powerful wing and AW motored until morning when a couple young fellers cut it away with a knife. So let’s say it is puffing and the boat is bouncing. There is NO SAFE WAY to dive a boat in conditions like that. So you throw out the chute and sit back and wait. No biggie. When its time, even if it takes a couple days or more, then you may dive the boat to clear the debris. Why take a chance? This is what parachute anchors are all about.
The main air filter is changed and we changed the anti freeze in both the wing and the gen. The last big item we took care of today (Thurs). We got the latest upgrade from OCENS for at sea e-mail and short term weather (Weathernet 3). Pascal at Global Satellite did the deal and did a good job. http://www.globalsatellite.us/ We also bought 500 Iridium minutes good for a year with a roll over the next year. The following year we plan to roll over the minutes and add 200 minutes which will take care of the 2014 cruising season. For the 2015 season we will have to get another Iridium sim card and start over on minutes.
Buddies on N46 Anita Cay who will join Egret for the trip north are outta control. It’s typical of a first big trip. Their latest dilemma is getting their Iridium phone working. After 2 days of agony the OCENS folks think it is the phone. We have a spare Iridium phone so Kal came over a bit ago for a splash of rhum and take the spare to put in their battery and sim card to check to see if it is the phone for sure. So it goes. It happens to us all and it will to you when its Your Time. So if it is Your Time and you are freekin’ n’ streakin’ getting ready for the summer cruise………its normal.
So that’s it until Anita Cay and Egret head to sea. This time of year there will be a bit of wind but nothing serious. Long range internet weather predict no seas over 2m (6+’) and because there is no appreciable wind so the period (distance between waves) will be nominal. However, long range weather is sorta a fairy tale so we’ll see when the time comes.
If you haven’t signed up for Egret updates when they’re posted, now would be a good time. You may sign up at the bottom of the VofE page. No obligation and its free. The at sea reports will be coming regularly with real life conditions what it is like to be at sea.
May 8, 2013
Position: Ft Lauderdale living on the BFYC……….but not for long.
Hello mis amigos, so let’s see; last VofE we cleaned the fuel tanks and explained the cleaning process in detail, took a short trip to the Fish Camp in the Florida Keys, promoted Bluewater’s summer cruise to Nova Scotia and beyond and the N Rendezvous in Mystic, Conn, did a show and tell about some swell running lights for dinghys and of course gave everyone a sheep shot. So that was fun.
However, as Egret gets close to what she does best, shaking a bit of salt, the techno chores are going at WOT. (Wide open throttle). So this means we are spending money like we have it. Today in fact, we ran out. Yup, empty. We have to wait until Monday to transfer more pesos to keep this adventure moving along. It seems that Smith Barney didn’t keep up with the excessive bleeding.
After that fine whine we’ll recap the past few days. The Naiad techs came and replaced all the hoses including the suction hose to the cooling tower, the hydraulic filter and the hydraulic fluid. So now everything Naiad is brandy new and good for another 10+ years except for fin shaft seal replacement. It took two good guys (Ernesto and Gabreil) 26 hours (total labor) to R&R the hoses, change the filter and make new hoses. It is a good thing we changed when we did. Gabriel said that when they bent the hoses to remove them, that the outer fabric layer cracked. The hoses would have gone longer but why take a chance?
Another big plus is during the Naiad hose refit they made custom hoses that eliminated the couplings and additional fittings the original hoses had. Now it is simply a connection on each hose end and that’s it. Simple. I like simple because simple works and simple is less likely to fail.
We wrapped each hose connection fitting with Densyl Tape (http://www.densyl.net/). (The tape came from Hydraulic Supply in Ft Lauderdale.) Densyl tape is nasty stuff but the silver cadmium fittings protected by the sticky tape will stay and look new forever. Other than being messy, the tape is super easy to use. I just cut it into 4” strips and wrapped it around each fitting and smoothed it into place. In the photo of the cooling tower you can see the wrapped fittings and the fitting to be wrapped. Commercial boats with hydraulic fitting exposed to the weather have used Densyl tape for years along with the U.S. Navy. NAR alumnus, Braun Jones from N64 Ocean Pearl introduced us to Densyl tape some years ago. (In addition to the Naiad fittings, Egret’s fuel fittings are wrapped with Densyl tape as well.)
Today the recertified Winslow 6 man life raft returned. So it has new everything and it is re-vacuum packed and all tickityboo. One more item checked off the list.
We picked up 18 – ½ gallon bottles of Standayne Performance Formula diesel fuel additive from RPM Diesel in Ft Lauderdale. This will take care of two years estimated fuel burn and it is the shelf life of what we bought. I wrote about Standadyne before in VofE so we won’t go there again. Bottom line: Stanadyne pays for itself in spades in fuel mileage and reduced injector and injector pump wear.
Another big project was replacing the Isotherm fridge/freezer combo with the latest model. We flew the original 2 units into New Zealand. We initially had problems with the combo unit, not the freezer, that took a number of tech’s to getting it cooling properly. The U.S. Distributor says that NZ has strict laws about importing something with Freon gas and he thought perhaps the NZ folks emptied the gas before we got it. In any case, after it was repaired properly it worked well until recently. We added additional gas but in the end it didn’t perform well enough to leave the U.S. for a while and have confidence it will work until we return. So we replaced it with the latest and greatest Cruise 200 configuration.
The Cruise 200 is a combo unit with separate fridge and freezer doors. The Cruise 200’s 1.8 cu ft freezer holds around 3 weeks worth of meat for 2 people. The 5.3 cu ft fridge is adequate for an under counter unit. The separate freezer is a Cruise 90 model that is 3.1 cu ft. . Both units are 12/24V only so we eliminate the 17% penalty to invert 115V from 12V, plus the insulation is better than Egret’s previous AC fridge and freezer. Another advantage is the compressors are on top so the heat doesn’t percolate up the sides of the boxes. When we are in places with easy access to grocery stores we turn off the freezer and just use the combo unit to reduce power requirements so basically except for long hauls we don’t use the additional freezer.
Here’s the fridge installation details. Initially we ran 8 gauge wires from the breaker at the panel to the fridge. This time we improved the installation. We added two insulated 18 gauge wires to the 8 gauge butt connector as you can see in this photograph. (You Can Not take power from the fridge regulator itself.) The first wire went to a 3” computer fan wired hot (always on when the fridge breaker is on) mounted on the bulkhead behind the combo unit. The compressors are on the top of both the combo unit and the freezer so the heat rises a short distance to the bottom of the counter and then it evacuates via the screen grill we had custom fabricated in New Zealand. So the computer fan will evacuate the hot air and the cool air will enter at the bottom by convection.
The second wire is wired to a tiny computer fan we installed in the fridge itself to keep the air circulating. We used battery powered fridge fans in the past and when they were running the amp usage decreased considerably. To run the wires we drilled a tiny hole in the foam fill plug on the side of the unit. (You CAN NOT drill the back of the unit because of the condenser). After we took this photo showing the hole and wiring we filled the fill plug with white silicone as well as sealing the wiring on the inside. Everything is kept in place with ty wraps here and there as well as gorilla tape (super duct tape) holding the wiring tight on the outside of the box. Between both fans we expect a considerable gain in efficiency in both the fridge combo and the freezer by evacuating the hot air and circulating the air in the fridge. The computer fans combined draw 5 amps/24 hours. In a perfect world both freezers would also have the same tiny fan circulating air. The amp draw is minuscule and the fans run forever. Of course we have spare fans just in case.
If you are starting from scratch to replace an AC under counter fridge and freezer, Isotherm has new pull out drawer units that are either a combo unit (Drawer 160 combo) or a 2 drawer freezer and a 2 drawer fridge. (Model Drawer 160 light) There is an option of a Drawer 190 fridge only and a Drawer 160 light freezer only. I will say that for Egret, the Cruise 200 combo unit and Cruise 90 work best because we can shut off the freezer as we said. Anyway, if you are interested go to http://www.indelwebastomarineusa.com/ to put photographs and specifications to the model numbers we mentioned above.
After all of this, here’s our opinion if you already have Sub Zero’s or the like installed in your boat or a boat you buy someday. In reality, most folks don’t cruise as Egret. Most folks are part time or seasonal cruisers. Most seasonal cruisers anchor occasionally but not for months at a time. If that is the case, if we are looking at a cost return on investing in a more efficient refrigeration system, it probably doesn’t pay. The Isotherm units are very well built and they are not cheap. However, in Egret’s case we look at long term savings and it is why we invested in more efficient refrigeration, solar panels since commissioning (600 watts) and more recently, the switch to 100% LED lighting (LED bulbs from IMTRA) and so on. For us it is all about reducing generator fuel burn and being as efficient as we can be. It is also the reason we spare no expense in preventative maintenance. Over the long run we have saved plenty of BU’s plus we enjoy peace of mind.
Next up is the %$@@!#%& Asko clothes dryer. After building a platform to slide the dryer from its landing, we slid it out and removed the lid and loosened the back. Our original intent was to change the belt thinking it was slipping after the drier was running for a while and then it would vibrate noisily. It wasn’t the belt. The unit has a bad roller. How do we know? There was a very trashed roller laying in the bottom of the dryer pan. So we fussed some more and in the end I have calls in to two appliance repair folks in FLL that service Asko. I thought it was best to get someone who could fix it in a reasonable time instead of me removing stuff I don’t know anything about and would have to work hard to get it back together. So after a pro does the repair we’re good to go until the next time. One thing I did do was document the steps to get the drier ready to remove from its perch. It requires removing a fair amount of woodwork and one stair step to the pilothouse. This photo shows the landing we made to slide the drier out. We used a 5’ ladder, and piece of plywood to slide the drier onto and a pile of books used as shims to get the landing even.
I will say whoever figured out how to install the Akso washer and drier where there is No Space is a pretty smart person. One thing they did is offset the stairwell inboard leading from the pilothouse to the guest. A separate washer and drier is a BIG PLUS when you live aboard full time.
Reading a boating site I saw where a 1998 N46 is going thru an extensive refit in Thailand. There are a number of detailed photo’s showing the stages of repair. In this case, the far majority of photos are of a full paint job. The boat has been sitting in Asia’s acid rain for the past 15 years and the owner wants it to shine once again so the boat will be pained in a polyurethane like Alexseal*, Awlgrip or the like.
*When we repaint Egret’s feature stripes and bootstripe we will use Alexseal. It is super durable, acid resistant and can be buffed.
Some of the photos show the priming, fairing and top coating process of the teak rails and trim pieces. In this case they started the painting process from raw teak, however there is a simple way to paint over girlkote (varnish) with the ability to reverse the process back to varnish without any penalty if you have a solid varnish base that has aged for at least a month in the tropics. In cool weather, quadruple the time. The process start to finish is:
Scrub the varnish with clear water and a medium scotch brite pad until all the gloss is gone.
Allow to dry thoroughly including the surrounding areas.
Tape off the varnish. If it is to be brushed use a 1” wide tape like 3m’s blue tape and a drop cloth, or if it is going to be sprayed add the appropriate amount of masking paper.
Now is when you have to make a decision to prime or not to prime.
The strength of urethane is durability. Its weakness is adhesion. The reverse is the same for an expoy primer and it’s why no one paints a gloss topcoat with epoxy because it won’t live in the sun.
You may apply a very thin 1st coat of urethane directly to varnish with no problems of lifting. However, if there is the slightest bit of contamination from a hand print, drop of sweat or whatever, the urethane will fisheye and you have a Big Problem. You have to remove the first coat of urethane you just applied. Because varnish is relatively weak the only solvent you may use to wipe off the urethane is denatured alcohol*. After wiping off the urethane coat (don’t even think you can wipe down a small section – it will be a big mess that gets bigger as you try harder) wipe the varnish clean again removing any trace of topcoat with denatured alcohol and start over.
If you prime with epoxy, the primer is much more forgiving than urethane. Epoxy primer is an extra step but it is cheap insurance in the big picture.
We’ll only address brushing however I will say this about spraying. It is Very Important that the first coat, whether it is primer or top coat, is applied very thin so the solvent doesn’t attack the varnish. The second coat can be a medium viscosity. If spraying urethane directly onto varnish, the first coat is a dust coat that dries to the touch in 5 minutes or so. Then after 15 minutes if it is hot and more if it is cool, a second light coat, (more than a dust coat), overnight dry, sand lightly and two more coats; 1 medium and one full wet.
So I guess I did say something about spraying. Spraying isn’t difficult but if you don’t have any experience spraying it is best to brush.
Just like spraying, the first brush coat, whether it is epoxy primer or urethane, should be applied very thin so there isn’t much solvent to attack the varnish and it must dry overnight. A quick scotch brite wipe down the next morning to remove the gloss and a medium coat can be applied whether it is primer or top coat. If it is primer, the second coat is all you really need to insulate the urethane from the varnish. If it is urethane on urethane, that too insulates the second coat from the first. In each case if you brush, it is Important to let each coat dry over night even it feels dry to the touch. If you ‘hot coat’ the epoxy or urethane by brushing, the solvent will attack the previous coat and may well turn the varnish into cottage cheese. That wouldn’t be such a good thing because then the entire mess has to be stripped down to wood. So, just allow each coating to dry overnight and you be laughin’. Once you reach a stable urethane base, you may add several more coats to achieve full gloss. Of course each coat should dry overnight. Protection comes thru millage (coating thickness). The second coat of urethane will shine but two more coats will increase the depth of gloss as well as giving the entire coating system more longevity. Once you have a stable urethane surface it only requires a simple scotch brite scrub to remove the gloss and single wet coat every couple of years to keep it perfect. If you boat in the northern wastelands and stay out of the tropics, the topcoat will last up to 5 years.
*You need to be aware of harmful solvents that were used years ago as the norm. Lacquer thinner contains lead and MEK will eat your brain. Denatured alcohol won’t hurt you and it is a safe clean up solvent. So just be aware.
So now let’s say you want to return to girlkote after your second world circumnavigation and you want your precious to look pretty for the marina crowd. All you have to do is use a heat gun and the underlying varnish will leap off the teak. Gentle scraping with heat will get you back to square one (raw teak) and you can start the varnish buildup so you can out glitter the other sparkly boats living on the BFYC.
Now this is EXCITING. After consulting with our buddy Kal we posted this on the N Owners site. So if you have an N and are interested………….
“Hello all, N46 Anita Cay and N46 Egret plan to depart Ft Lauderdale direct to Nantucket on May 18th - or later with the soonest available weather window. It is a 1050nm trip that will take 5 1/2 days at N46 speed. The trip also qualifies for membership in OCC (Ocean Cruising Club), a prestigious UK based organization whose members have made a 1000nm offshore trip in a boat 70' or less.
This is NOT a commercial or sponsored trip or anything of the like. Buddy Kal Blumberg & family and the Egret crew are good friends and we are happy to invite any Nord owners who would like to join the two of us on this downhill romp to Nantucket.
This is a perfect opportunity to rocket north with the Gulf Stream and stage for the N. Rendezvous in Mystic, Conn. Of course after Mystic, you may join N47 Bluewater, Milt and Judy Baker's group in Maine and on to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland’s Fjord Coast, St Pierre (French Island) and perhaps even Prince Edward Island (PEI). What a summer, eh?
Anyone interested can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Kal & Anita, Scott & Mary”
We can’t wait until mid May. Of course we’ll have to fish along the way. So let’s think about this. Hummmm. The Nantucket sun is dropping, the dinghys are gathered behind one boat, fish are on the grill, rhum & fine wine fueled sea stories are getting wilder, the girl waves we encountered are getting bigger, the Admirals are giggly with pride……and life is good.
Ok, enough dreaming about getting off the dock and back at it. We ordered a set of fresh Lifeline AGM batteries for the house bank (4 – GPL-8DL – 8D batteries). Egret’s current Lifeline batteries are still good. However, they won’t be before we plan to return* to the U.S. so off they go and will be replaced with brandy newbies. After Egret hauls and she is dropped back overboard we will take a short jaunt north on a sea trial and pick up the batteries from the battery folks. In addition to running offshore, we will anchor for at least one night and make sure every system is working as it should. We’ll even practice fishing on the way up and back. Maybe even practice for Nantucket by eating fish fresh from the ocean. NOW is the time for anything to go wrong, not Out There somewhere.
*We plan to wander a bit for a few years. More on that down the road.
So the little lady is in the boat yard; First Performance Marina* in Ft Lauderdale. Today she has her first coat of Interlux Micron Extra green bottom paint, the keel cooler is spotless, a few of the zincs are installed, the prop is painted and she is looking good. Tomorrow she gets a second coat which is Much Easier because the pressure cleaned bottom sucks up tons of bottom paint and takes quite a bit longer than the second coat. The first coat took 2 ½ gallons. (Later. It took 6 gallons for 3 coats – the first two coats were very heavy coats and the third coat was heavy at the waterline and rolled out below.)
First Performance Marina is the last small mom & pop boatyard left in Ft Lauderdale. The owners and most of the employees have been here for years and it’s why we return when Egret is in FLL. It is a small yard, the largest boat we have seen hauled is a 55 Fleming, but it’s nice to return to a place where everyone knows your name and you don’t feel like a number.
It’s a small thing but after all these years I finally figured out how to easily replace the shock cords on the 4 scupper flaps; 2 on the stbd side forward and two in the cockpit. So I’ll pass it along. Start with 8’ of 3/16” shock cord. Push one end of the shock cord thru the scupper flap from inside to outside and bring it back to you. Tie an overhand knot in the end, pull it as tight as you can and feed the knot back around to the back. Do the same on the other end of the flap. So now you have a U of shock cord inside the boat. Pull both of the cords snug to make sure the forward edge of the scupper flap is seated properly. Put some pressure on the cord to see where it will be attached to the eye strap in the middle of the scupper. Wrap the shock cord with tape, cut the cord with a pair of scissors, put it thru the eye strap and join the loop with a single ty wrap. You can snug the ty wrap and when the other side is done you may adjust the tension then pull the ty wrap tight. The simple key is doing the work inside the boat, not outside or trying to reach thru and work behind the scupper flap. The shock cord needs to be replaced every two years or if you have done a ton of miles, every year. Fresh shock cord keeps the leading edge of the scupper flap from shoveling water onto the deck when the bouncing starts.
Back to yard duties. Zincs are done, the keel cooler is a thing of great beauty, she now has 3 coats of Interlux, the tape has been pulled, the antifreeze is changed* and after a thorough overnight dry she gets dropped back overboard tomorrow (Tue). Once back at the dock the little lady will get a top to bottom clean up and then Mary will begin the provisioning process and the usual last minute flurry will be in full swing.
*We have always changed Egret’s antifreeze every 2 years. I use a 5 gallon pail under the keel cooler and remove two of three nuts from the intake end and loosen the third nut until we get a strong stream of antifreeze - but not a geyser that shoots everywhere. This is a 2 – 5 gallon pail effort. Once the cooler quits dripping we just tighten the cooler and fill the Happy Little Lugger with fresh pre mixed Fleet Charge* antifreeze – the purple stuff. (We bought our Fleet Charge from RPM Diesel in Ft Lauderdale but it is also available at NAPA Auto Parts). We refilled the empty antifreeze containers with the used stuff and left them in First Performances’ hazardous waste shed.
*Fleet Charge has all the additives included so there is no initial need to test for SCA’s and the like. On most engines and certainly on a 668 Lugger, there is a compression nut located behind the expansion tank on the right side. Once the expansion tank is full, open the compression nut and let the air escape until it is flowing with pure antifreeze. You will have to refill the expansion tanks a couple of times as the air escapes and the fluid replaces the air. Also, if the boat is blocked level and particularly if the keel is blocked in a slight bow up position there will be an air pocket in the front of the keel cooler. Egret was blocked level so we’ll ask the travel lift operator to lift Egret in a slight stern up position to allow any air trapped in the cooler to percolate up. So far I have cracked the compression nut a couple of times and each time there is still a bit of air escaping. We will bleed the compression nut one more time once back at the dock to double check after the circulating pump has sent the antifreeze thru its loop a number of times. If you don’t bleed the compression nut there will be a Hot Spot (bad news) where there is hot exhaust gas and no antifreeze.
One other small item I can’t believe I remembered to do was to center the autopilot rudder angle indicator. Mary turned the wheel until the rudder was perfectly straight. Then I went into the lazarette and adjusted the link arm connecting the rudder angle indicator until it read 00 on the autopilot. So now it’s perfect.
Later. Ok, here’s a shot of the beautiful little lady hanging in the slings ready to get back at it. Check out TK front and center. TK is one Bad Boy anchor. When TK hits the bottom he takes no prisoners unlike pretty girl anchors that slip n slide and courtesy and may hook up if they haven’t had a bad hair day, no tweets for an hour or heaven forbid, a piece of silly grass is under the anchor or nearby. Girl anchors have no place on a cruising boat.
Ok, enough anchor rant. You can tell I’m getting cranky watching the cruising (sail) boats pour thru the past few days heading north offshore in this great weather. And we’re still here. But not for long.
From time to time we have this visitor stop by. We shot this sneaky snap with a big lens at close range. You can even see the hole for its nose goes completely thru the beak. Pretty cool, eh?
Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.