Attempting to Keep the Dream Alive...
November 14th- December 8th, 2020
We left St. Augustine on November 14th for an overnight sail to Fort Pierce. The day started out beautiful. Low wind but we were able to motor sail with both the main and jib up and we were flying along at 7.5 knots. About halfway through the day the wind changed direction and the rain rolled in. Seas were extremely lumpy and lots of slamming under the hull. It was a long seasick filled night for me. Kevin has a stomach of steel. Rounding Cape Canaveral, it was cool to see the Space Ex launch site all lit up for there was a planned launch the next day.
We arrived in Fort Pierce, put the anchor down, showered and took the dinghy up a long creek to find the Publix. The creek wound its way under bridges. Lots of birds but it looked like it could be full of alligators. Found the Publix, but no place to leave dinghy so headed back to a marina nearby and walked to it on foot. Got hamburgers for dinner and stayed up till 8:00 to see the shuttle launch. For about a minute you could see it and you could hear people onshore cheering who had also come to watch. We then went to bed right after the shuttle launched to head to Lake Worth the next day.
Oh, what a day… Picture perfect , 80 degrees, a few miles off the coast of Florida, motoring along at 6.5 knots. I went up and sat on the pulpit on the bow and reveled in the sunshine. Just as I said to Kevin, what an unbelievable day, this feels fantastic, I watched the 6.5 knots speed slow to 5.5, 5.0, 4.5, 3.0 even though the engine was running. Somethings wrong! Kevin jumps up and we put the engine in neutral and first thoughts were, we lost a prop. We turned off the engine and Kevin dove the prop but it was still there although seized for it wouldn’t turn. We fired up the other engine, looked up where in Lake Worth, West Palm Beach a catamaran can be hauled out. Rybovich Marina could do it! We struggled a bit getting to the marina on one engine and we followed a tug in. As soon as Kevin tried to dock the boat, current and wind made it impossible on one engine. Chaos assumed as he went over a buoy but I threw Jorge the tug operator a line and he said, no worries, I got ya! The expression on my face probably said it all because without the tug we would not have been able to dock.
Once we were tied up, we looked around. We were the smallest boat there. Mega Yachts owned by Beyonce and hedge fund manager Dan Loeb surrounded us. There were “Below Deck” yacht crews everywhere. This was Monday November 16th. Kevin and I kept thinking, “wow”, this is going to cost us some serious money.
Numerous phone calls were made to knowledgeable boat owning friends and John and Jay at CYOA to help figure out the problem before the mechanic arrives. First mechanic backed out, (too difficult a project) but we went outside the Rybovich mechanics and JAS marine responded. Transmission seemed to be intact, most likely something broke in lower unit of sail drive. Waited for parts to be shipped and weekend to pass and sail drive to be painted. Tuesday before Thanksgiving we were hauled out and kept suspended in the straps. Getting on and off the boat required a 10 foot ladder.
On Wednesday November 25th, we were moved further into the yard, still on lift. The mechanics arrived at 8:45. The work took until about 3:00. Rybovich staff were breathing down the mechanics necks to finish. Everyone wanted to get us back in the water to go home early for Thanksgiving. In the water, we tested the engines before straps removed and then backed out following the tug. It got a bit hairy again (cats don’t move well in reverse) but we made it out the channel down to the anchorage known as Lake Worth 2 and settled in for the night. Hallelujah!
Two nights later we moved down to an area between Flagler and Royal Park bridge known as Coconut Grove. It is right across from the public docks. It is great because on the Palm Beach side we are flanked by beautiful homes and on the West Palm Beach side are high rises of condos and restaurants along with Christmas displays lit up at night. We can take the dinghy in and get water from the fire hose tap at the dinghy dock, walk to Publix and get our one free hour of wifi at the library with all the homeless before they kick you out. Many fantastic places to walk.
We were enjoying our time here and waiting for the next weather window. On Wednesday December 3rd, we were seriously considering crossing to the Bahamas on Saturday and contemplating submitting our covid tests when the generator began acting up. It would work fine a couple of hours and then begin sending out erratic voltage to our inverter charger so the charging would kick off. Our hearts sank. By this time, we were losing a little patience. People joke that living on a boat means fixing things in exotic places but the number of things we have had to fix lately have been overwhelming plus we are in Florida, not an exotic place. That probably has been the one plus to all of this because help and parts are available in the U.S. We decided to abort our plans to work on getting the generator fixed. Again, Kevin read a ton and it appeared the most likely thing could be the AVR or the voltage regulator circuit board. He first cleaned all wire connections, measured that the voltage was wildly fluctuating and again communicated with others the symptoms we were experiencing. We took a gamble and ordered the part overnight to see if it would work. The thought of spending another 10 days at a marina or worse yet having to buy a new generator was worth a try fixing it on our own. It arrived yesterday and Kevin replaced the AVR. The generator started up and we ran it for two hours yesterday afternoon, an hour and a half last night and an hour and forty minutes this morning. So far so good. It is painful constantly watching the monitor for two straight hours, on pins and needles keeping fingers crossed. I hope this does it!
Next weather window possibility looks to be this weekend again. The dream has been reignited. We can feel the flicker of anticipation burning.