Tuesday, April 26, 2016

And we are FINALLY off!!!!! 3pm on 4/26/16 we left Key West

Well its finally happened...we are officially leaving US soil.....the last thing I touched was a dock pole as we left Key West after fueling up one last time in the USA ;)

So far so good after a crazy day yesterday!!! As you probably have read I blew up the invertor as we were about to leave on Sunday. I woke up yesterday at 4am...drove it up to Ft.Lauderdale to get repaired, and got back to KW at 4.30pm the same day. Quickly installed and tested it and then jumped in the rental car to return it to the airport. OH WELL did I learn a big lesson....do not speed in Key West!!!!! I was pulled over right at the airport doing 51 in a 30 zone.....all because I was trying to avoid the late car rental fee ;(

Fast forward to today after we stayed up till 2am doing the drivers course to avoid points on my license, I had to go to the court house to get the actual fine as I was so far over the speed limit ;( Well I took my sorry ass in there, presented my drivers education certificate, and had to cough up $281 in fine money....will never do that again, but thats all behind us now!!!

As we get miles under us and slide down the waves under sail I can already feel the stress fading....finally ;)))))))))

Here is a quick video of us sailing away into the distance a few minutes ago:

Us leaving Key West today on 1st big leg ;)

Bon Voyage everyone and all the best...we will miss you all!!! You can still track us on the "track us here" tab on the blog but we wont be able to send updates in word for about 2 weeks.


Monday, April 25, 2016

The Best Laid Plans...

What was it I said in the previous post about the best laid plans...?  Well, according to "the plan", we should be anchored off the beautiful Dry Tortugas, enjoying some snorkeling and swimming, but instead we are still in a rolly marina in Key West!

Were were almost on our way yesterday morning:  dock lines untied, engines running, when Dave noticed that the inverter/charger was not charging the batteries.  We had no power.  We tied up again and he tried some quick troubleshooting.  Was it just a fuse that had blown?  We couldn't find anything like that. When we couldn't get it to work, we realized we had to come up with a plan.  I'll spare you all the stress of coming up with the plan, but here it is:

1)  We extended our stay at the Marina (ouch - talk about bleeding money, but we needed access to land, and anchoring off and dinghying in was not really an option)
2)  We identified an authorized Xantrex dealer and repair company in Ft. Lauderdale, about 3 and half hours from here by car.
3)  We also searched for, found and purchased a new inverter/charger through West Marine, and they are overnighting it to their store here in Key West so we will have it today...in case the old one cannot be repaired.
4)  We rented a car so Dave could drive to Ft. Lauderdale today to see if the inverter can be fixed, or if he needs the new one to install.  (Luckily West Marine knows that if we don't need it, we will "return" it, so we'll only be out the shipping costs).

Dave left at 4:30am this morning, so he could be in Ft. Lauderdale when the dealer opens, and also miss the morning traffic around Miami/Ft. Lauderdale.  I am waiting anxiously to hear the outcome.

On the plus side, staying in the Marina allows us access to their pool, which the kids have been dying to go to, but have not really been able to enjoy because Mom & Dad have always been "too busy" to take them!  So, since it's Monday morning, we'll knock out some school and then enjoy some time at the pool and explore Key West a little more on foot!

I do believe that everything happens for a reason, (the reason for this one, still to be determined!) and that part of this journey was about overcoming obstacles and becoming stronger because of them.

Cool Runnings waiting patiently in Key West

Saturday, April 23, 2016

And Now It Really Starts!

Well, we've spent the last few days in Key West, making final preparations for the first big leg of the trip.  It's been amazing how long everything takes, and how much we still had to do.  It didn't help that Dave had to do a repair up the mast, 70 feet up in the air, with the boat rolling from side to side.  I know I have to get used to situations like that, but I was almost sick to my stomach watching him up there for about an hour and a half.  Luckily he was able to make the repair and come back down safely.  Needless to say, he was the spectacle of the Marina, with Benjamin counting the number of spectators (I think he said it was 67 or something!).

So now we've done a final grocery shop, final download of all apps onto all devices (weather and routing apps, that is!), downloaded weather forecasts, charged all devices, stowed anything that might go flying and that we don't readily need, transferred money to our agent in the Galapagos Islands, caught up on emails and enjoyed the last moments of fast internet access for a while!

Tomorrow morning early we'll fuel up, and then head out toward the Dry Tortugas, about a 70 mile trip.  Depending on weather we'll stay there for a day or two, and then the next leg starts.  That will be the approximately 800 mile trip to Panama, and should take us about 7  days.  It will be day and night, with just Dave and I splitting the night watches.

A number of people asked us what our route will be, and I realized that I never did really clarify.

We'll head to Panama and hope to transit the Panama Canal mid-May.  Once through the Canal, we'll head to the Galapagos Islands.  That will be our last stop before the really big crossing, the 3,000 mile journey across the Pacific Ocean.  That will take about 3 weeks.  Once we've crossed the Pacific, we'll explore French Polynesia and the South Pacific Islands, and make our way to New Zealand, where we need to be by December 1st.  We'll sit out the Southern Hemisphere cyclone (hurricane) season in New Zealand, and hopefully we'll be able to do some exploring there.

Then about this time next year, we'll leave New Zealand and head back into the Pacific.  We'll make our way toward Australia and over the top of Australia around August next year.  Then we have another big crossing...this time the Indian Ocean, and we'll head to Mauritius/Reunion/Madagascar/maybe Seychelles...all to be determined, but ultimately we'll be in South Africa at the end of 2017.

In early 2018 we'll start heading back across the Atlantic toward South America and then into the Caribbean and back home to Florida.   Well, that is the plan, anyway!  And we all know what they say about the best laid plans...!!

Since we will not have access to the internet for a while we will not be able to make any updates to the blog.  We will send updates to Dave's family via our satellite connection, and have asked his sister, Kim, to occasionally post an update on where we are.

So, until Panama, farewell!
Excited to get going

Sorry, one last sunset in Key West!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hi from Key West!!!

Well we made it to Key West!!!!

We woke up at 5am on Wed morning and had anchor up and underway by 5.30am for the 80 mile sail from Marco Island to KW. We had good winds which were predominately 15 to 18 knots most of the way, and arrived here 12 hours later at 5.30pm. It was a long day, a little rough at times for most of the family, but the boat went well. We had a couple of 9 to 10 knot speeds right near the end as the wind really picked up.

Here is a link to the YouTube video we posted of the sail yesterday:
Video of sail to Key West

Unfortunately along the way our radar stopped working again (its been acting up over the last month), so we decided to pull the trigger on buying a new one today. A big thank you to Mac from McRigger for giving me his direct Port Supply pricing on this big ticket item. Key West West Marine did not have it in stock, but are overnight shipping it, so we should get that tomorrow. I will wait till we are in Panama to actually fit it, once I have the help from my best friends Garrick and Adrian. They are joining us around 18th May, to do the 1st part of the Pacific crossing with us. Garrick thanks for bouncing ideas and options around today to finally decide on replacement of the radar. All considered, I think a wise choice. Poor Garrick has become my sounding board for all critical decisions over the last year ;)...but it's much appreciated and valued!!!!

The other hiccup I discovered today was that our brand new main halyard had chaffed almost completely through about 1 1/2 feet down from the top of the mast. Not sure why yet, and I will go up the mast tomorrow to cut out that small section and re-tie to the top of the mast. The big thing while up the mast is to try and figure out what caused that chafe in a 3 day sailing period???

Guds did the final arrangements today with the Galapagos agent (you need permits 1 month prior to arrival) so that is now in motion and committed. My sister is wiring funds to them for us tomorrow....thanks Kim!

Last night we walked around KW in the evening...saw a great sunset off the back of the boat. Unfortunately today it rained almost all day, so we did laundry, and many boat tasks....poor kids just want to go swimming etc, and are tired of Guds and I working on the boat all the time ;)

Lastly we all want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone for their interest in our trip and leaving comments on the blog. It's always nice to get feedback, updates and hear from friends and even people we have not met, so thank you all!!!!

Given the few extra unexpected tasks we need to do, we will likely only now leave KW on Sunday and head to the Dry Tortugas. We will stay there a day or two, and then likely head straight to San Blas Islands....about a 1,000 mile trip and roughly 7 days at sea. So it is important we are rested and the boat completely ready for that segment as its just Guds and I doing the sailing.

Here are a few pictures of the trip down and in Key West:
Dave and Ben facing the elements on the KW trip
An attempt to show the choppy seas
Passing the weird tower / fog horn in the middle of nowhere
Enjoying the sunset on our first night in Key West

Another Key West sunset - Thursday evening

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Little Visitor

Day 2 (April 18th, 2016)
Wind:  10 – 15 knots
Venice to Sanibel

Today was a good day of sailing.  The winds were lighter than yesterday, which the kids and I enjoyed so much more.  We headed down the coast and decided to anchor off the beach off Sanibel Island on the Gulf side.  With the easterly winds, we were fine anchoring in the Gulf.   To start off with, it was very bouncy…waves coming at us from heaven only knows where, and both Ben and Gaby were feeling a little seasick.  It seemed to calm down overnight and by morning it was calm and we all managed to get some sleep!  We anchored together with our new found “buddy boat” – Jay of s/v Nikita, whom we met in Venice.  Jay is also heading to the Keys, but is making a stop in Fort Myers today to replace a sail that was damaged during his trip today. 

The most exciting thing that happened today was a little bird that flew into our boat.  It flew into the salon and we were worried it was going to fly down into the cabins.  It must have been exhausted, because it didn’t want to move.  Eventually it flew outside and rested some more before venturing to the outside lifelines.  It took off, but came back to rest some more before flying off to shore.  We wanted to get a picture, but our cameras were all inside, and we didn’t want to take a chance to get them, while birdie was inside!  Such are the worries that we now face!  

We did, however, get a picture of us at anchor taken by Jay from his boat - thanks, Jay!

End of Day 2!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Finally - We're On Our Way!

Day 1:  April 17, 2016
Wind:  20 – 25knots
Madeira Beach – Venice

Well, we finally departed…it’s hard to believe.

“Johns Pass Bridge, Johns Pass Bridge, Johns Pass Bridge:  This is the sailing vessel Cool Runnings, Catamaran Cool Runnings requesting an opening, please”.

“This is Johns Pass, Captain.  Bring her into the center of the basin and I’ll get the bridge opened for you.”

“Thank you, Johns Pass, Cool Runnings standing by on Zero Nine”.

This was a conversation we’d had with the bridge countless times as we sailed into the Gulf of Mexico and back home again.  However this time, the “back home again” would be a few years later.  I had tried to imagine this moment so many times, but yesterday it was too overwhelming to even process what I was feeling at the time!
John's Pass Bridge - Last opening for a while

Leaving was emotional.  It was hard to say goodbye to the comforts of home, family and friends and leave behind our beloved dog Lucy.  Admittedly, quite a few tears were shed, but it felt good to finally leave and start this epic journey.  The preparation and build up to this day has been so long and intense, that finally being on our way is a good feeling.  As we sailed down our canal, we waived to some neighbours (thanks, Patty, Dave, Sara and Summer for the good wishes! J) and then when we sailed through the bridge, Dave’s folks, Allen and Rosemary, and sister Kim and our niece/cousin Kayla were standing at the side of the pass giving us another final farewell, shouting out good wishes.

Ben and Gaby comforting each other as we left
We had strong wind, but it was good as it allowed us to make good headway at a decent speed.  We are pretty heavy – weighed down with full tank of water, diesel, and of course food, water toys, and everything we need to make Cool Runnings our home for next couple of years!  We left Madeira Beach at 1:30pm and decided to push on to Venice and pull into the Crow’s Nest Marina for our first night.  We arrived around 8:15pm.  We treated ourselves to dinner at the restaurant, which was a great way to end the first day!  The kids were happily surprised, as we’ve drummed into them that we cannot stay at Marinas or eat out at restaurants because we are now on a limited budget!  But it was worth the treat to start our journey that way!

Today we push on toward Key West.  We would like to be there by Wednesday, as on Thursday the winds switch to the South, which would make for uncomfortable sailing conditions.

Thank you again to everyone for their good wishes, thoughts and prayers, and of course to Mom, Dad, and especially Kim for all the help and support in finally getting us on our way!

The end of Day 1
Captain and Crew

And one from inside the boat - and yes, both Dave and Ben have had a haircut!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sunday 4/17/16 Planned departure

OK....quick update...looks like we are all set to go....today was the day, but wind is going to be howling tonight, so we are rather leaving tomorrow and also gives us today to wrap up loose ends at home. The boat is basically ready & loaded ;)

More to come as we sail down towards the keys over the next 3 days....then 2 days in Key West, out to Dry Tortuga's for a day or so, then on to either Cayman Islands or straight to the San Blas Islands depending on wind/how we are feeling ;)

Thanks for everyone's help in the final days of prep!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

One more delay ;(

Sadly we have one more delay....hopefully the last one....and the new date we have set to depart Madeira Beach is next week Friday or Saturday (4/15 or 4/16). Lots of reasons, but main one is unfortunately to get the boat hauled out to fit a ground plate (Dynaplate) for the SSB radio. I had tried an alternative to this (a KISS counterpoise), but so far have not been happy with the results, so we are biting the bullet now and spending the extra to fit a tried and tested ground plate while we still have easy access to everything/facilities in the USA.

Still plugging along on the "to do list" and yesterday got the outside storage shelves installed, new powerful spot lights installed on the bows (for spotting crab pots etc at night...mainly in Florida waters). We have the boat about 80% packed, but still no food/provisions yet. It has definitely gone down about 1" to 1 1/2" in waterline as we have loaded everything as its been "light ship" for so long. We also had the boat detailed over the last 4 days, so its finally looking shiny again!!!

Anyway back to work for me ...up since 4.30am which seems to be the norm these days and normally finish around 8pm, so many long days of preparation.....we are looking forward to those drinks ;)
A different view of the boat - we had to flip her to have the sides polished.
She's usually in the slip with the bows facing toward the canal

Shiny Cool Runnings - itching to get going