Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 26, 2009.

Hey look!, guess who’s still not in Beaufort. The day after our marathon trip from Vero Beach up to Charleston we were up and underway for Beaufort, NC.

0500 came way too quickly but we had to be underway in order to arrive during daylight hours. The forecast for today was calling for light winds from the east that would veer to the southeast and build to 10 to 15 knots. As usual, no, not even close.

Our course would have us on a heading of 68 degrees for the first 110 miles. I figured that we would have to motor sail into the light east winds so the morning went pretty much according to plan. The wind was starting to veer but instead of coming more from the south it started to veer out of the north. We were now faced with the prospect of having to drop sail and motor directly into the wind all the way to Beaufort.

At least the seas were calm until NOAA came on the radio and revised the forecast. The new forecast had winds in the 15 to 25 knot range with violent thunderstorms coming straight out of the northeast. The prospect of pounding into big winds and building seas for close to 200 miles was less than attractive.

We could divert to the Cape Fear River but our arrival would be somewhere around 0200. Heading into someplace called Cape Fear in the middle of a moonless night was not going to be an option. So we decided to alter the plans even further and stop in Georgetown.

While I’m bitching about the weather, how’s this for irony. The other night we were in the middle of the Gulf Stream, 60 miles offshore surrounded by the most intense display of lightning I’ve ever seen. We were literally the tallest metal thing for 60 miles in any direction and sailed away unscathed. That same series of storm cells happened upon the Florida neighborhood of weather guru Chris Parker. His antenna was struck by lightning resulting in the destruction of all of his communication, computers and forecasting equipment. I found it ironic. Maybe even divine retribution, kinda like God looking down and saying “didn’t see this coming did ya, prediction boy” At least nobody was hurt…lightning on the water just scares the crap outta me.

Another thing that happened during our trip north the other night was some sort of miracle. A boat called the Coast Guard and reported finding an unoccupied small boat bobbing about 20 miles east of Miami. Rough seas, violent thunderstorms and an empty boat. Seems like somebody fell out of his boat and was adrift in horrible conditions. Two hours later several miles away, a small freighter on its way back from the Bahamas came across a guy treading water out in the middle of the freaking ocean. They weren’t out looking for him, they just tripped across him. He was rescued and didn’t need medical attention. Lucky guy.

Anyway, back to today. Once we made landfall we were inundated with the scourge of the Carolinas, The Green Head fly. The biggest reason to go offshore in Georgia and South Carolina is the shallow water and the damn Green Head flies. We killed thousands of them in the time it took us to travel the 7 miles from the inlet until we dropped our hook. I’m not sure why but they only show up while you're underway. As soon as you drop the hook they all disappear. Their vicious, disgusting and its pure pleasure killing as many of the little rat bastards as possible. In fact, I hope it hurts when they die. I hope they realize what’s happening as the swatter is just about to make contact. I even hope their families realize that they’re gone and are broken hearted. Yeah, I hate the Green Heads.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 25, 2009.

*Warning* Very long trip report. Grab a sandwich; I’ve got a lot to say.

I’m in a little bit of a quandary about how to begin this installment of the blog. I could go with the time tested….Hey, Guess who got their asses kicked? But it wasn’t that bad and that headline is getting a little old. So I’ll borrow from the classics, to quote Snoopy…………..
It was a dark and stormy night……

It really begins with us leaving the fuel dock in Vero Beach at 0800 hours. We didn’t get underway earlier because we wanted to hear what Chris Parker said about the weather before we even slipped the mooring lines. It boiled down to two choices. Leave on Saturday and face the prospect of a continuous line of squalls marching north along the Florida coast. This would provide wind for sailing but the squalls could contain anywhere from 30 to 40 knots of wind. Or we could wait until Sunday and have less squalls but very little breeze and probably have to motor the entire way north. We’ll take windy and stormy weather for $100 Alex.

We pulled out of the mooring field and into the ICW and were immediately hit with a 30 knot squall. It passed quickly and we motored the 2 hours south to the inlet at Fort Pierce. As you pass through the bridge at Fort Pierce you can catch a glimpse of the Fort Pierce Inlet. When Christy saw it she said “Oh my God, it’s all breakers”. That’s never good. We turned down the channel leading to the inlet and we took a wide turn so we could both catch another glimpse before committing to transiting the inlet.

The water was a little rougher than I had hoped, but the breakers looked to be fairly small. Right at that moment we were set upon by another nasty little squall with instant wind and a quick downpour. We decided to pull off to the side of the channel and drop the hook and let this squall pass while we decided what to do. I booted up the laptop and found that we had internet so I again checked all the weather sources we have and things still pretty much looked the same.

At around noon a little patch of blue came sliding up the coast so we decided it looked like an opportunity for us to get going. We hauled the anchor and turned the corner and got our first real good look at the inlet.

The waves were breaking all the way across with one row of white water after another heading in. We rode the ebbing tide out as the wind came in, so what we had was a rage. As we got closer to the oncoming waves we realized that they were a lot nastier than they at first appeared. Then we also realized that they weren’t moving. They were just kind of standing there…waiting. The tide rushing out and the wind blowing in had formed these perfect malevolent walls of standing water. People in their little center consoles were driving out to the beginning of the inlet to take a peak before turning around and heading back in to safety. Both jetties were lined with fishermen, photographers and people out to look at the conditions. I’m sure there are a few spectacular pictures of us circulating the internet right now, probably with the heading “What the hell were they thinking?”

The waves were 8 feet tall or so and very, very close together. They were so close together that it was deceiving as to their apparent size, ya know, until it was too late. When we rode up the first one we kinda collapsed onto the second one causing a huge explosion of water out from beneath both sides of Verandas bow. Before the bow could recover we drove down into the base of the third wave. We’ve driven our anchors into waves before, but this was the first time we’ve ever buried the entire bow rail. We literally had the first third of the boat completely buried. Then the rise of the next wave lifted Veranda up and flung all that water up in an enormous explosion of water and spray. Once the boat started to move forward again we repeated this series of events 2 more times until the waves got a little further apart. It had to be impressive as hell to watch from the jetties, being in the boat, well, it made me kinda sad.

Everybody I know has a story about getting their ass kicked in one of the cuts between the Bahamanian Cays, us included. Now I laugh at those stories.

Once out into the ocean things weren’t great, but they beat the hell out of the inlet. The 4 to 6 foot seas we had been promised were more like 6 to 8 feet. We had decent wind to sail north, but we had no chance of getting out to the Gulf Stream due to the continuous line of northbound squalls between us and the Gulf Stream. We opted to parallel the squalls and hope for a break to dart through to the Gulf Stream. You know, as fast as our 30,000 pound boat can dart.

Finally, our decision was made for us as the parade of squalls started to veer towards shore. So right after dark we took our shot and headed offshore. We actually hit a perfect spot and were rewarded with some of the best stargazing we’ve ever done. Beautiful stars against a circle of black sky above us. Once out in the Gulf Stream we found ourselves a part of the procession of storm cells headed north. All the cells around us were alive with lightning striking the water.

Eventually the storm cell behind us overtook us and our stargazing was done. What we received in exchange was the most beautiful, most horrific display of lightning we’ve ever seen. It was intense, it was spellbinding and it would have been a whole lot cooler if we weren’t bobbing along in our boat in the middle of it. There were huge bolts of electricity blasting down out of the sky and they would splinter off into several probing “fingers” that danced along the surface as the power discharged into the water. It was like watching the hand of God at work. It was humbling and scary as hell, oh yeah and loud too.

Thankfully, our individual storm cell decided it was through with the light show and decided to teach us something about rain. I can’t begin to describe how hard it rained.

The scuppers on our boat are designed too put the ocean back in the ocean when it makes its way up onto the boat. It rained so hard that our scuppers were overwhelmed and the water filled the bulwarks to the brim and the excess water cascaded over the toe rails and into the ocean. We literally could see nothing at all, I couldn’t see the water next to the boat, it was almost disorienting. I had no idea that rain could be so loud, we really couldn’t speak to each other. It rained that way for close to 4 hours straight…..and then thankfully it stopped.

The whole time we were barreling along anywhere from 7 to 10 knots with a double reef in the main and a very small slice of jib out. As each squall overtook us it showed us some lightning, some gave us some rain and they all threw some wind our way. After 150 miles the remaining squalls were turning in towards the coast and running up on shore near the Florida / Georgia border. This left us 70 miles offshore with just a hint of breeze riding the Gulf Stream north.

We were only “sailing” at about 3 ½ knots with the streams boost bringing us up to a respectable 6 knots or so. Right when we got to our decision spot, the wind died completely. Absolutely no wind. We still had about 200 miles to get to Beaufort, NC so we decided to head straight north for the 100 mile trip to Charleston.

Another factor in our decision to divert to Charleston was to give me some time at anchor to attend to a few “issues” that had come up.

Our lazy jack system suffers from a serious design flaw. The lazy jacks support the stack pack (large bag that contains the sail when it’s down). So we can’t really ease the lazy jacks as they should be when we’re under sail. During one of the squalls the port side lazy jacks parted and flopped to the deck. This requires a trip up the mast to repair.

We made the whole trip with a double reef in the main. We were a little slow when the wind was light but we couldn’t take chances having too much sail up when the squalls were overtaking us in the pitch dark. But anyway, our reefing line sort of exploded during one of the violent little blows. The line was several years old so I was glad it failed rather than having the sail get shredded. I made a temporary repair by switching the first reefs line over to become the second reef line.

One of the semi bright spots of our trip was the fact that we caught a large fish. We fought and successfully landed what we thought was a Little Tunny. Unfortunately it turned out to be the almost identical yet regrettably inedible Frigate Mackerel. The bad part about this was that the only way to tell them apart is to fillet them. I felt bad about killing a fish that we ended up not eating but probably not as bad as he did.

So after 340 mostly boisterous miles we dropped the hook in the Ashlee River in Charleston, SC. The trip as a whole really wasn’t too bad. The inlet had all the ingredients of a disaster film, the lightning was truly terrifying, the rain was miserable but other than that it was pretty good.

I repaired the reefing line and jury rigged the lazy jacks. I figured that we would be here for a day or two but then Christy told me that we were heading out in the morning. So in the morning we’re once again off for Beaufort, NC. It’s about 200 miles so we’ll be up and underway by 0500 to assure a daytime arrival the next day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

May 22, 2009.

Okay, here’s the plan. Well, the plan at this 10 more minutes who the hell knows.

The weather still looks like a go for tomorrow. The forecast is for 15 to 20 knots out of the east with 5 foot seas. The downside is that there is also a 40% chance of rain and squalls. The even lower downside is that the squalls can contain winds in the 30 to 40 knot range. As we get further offshore the ferocity and frequency of the possible squalls is supposed to diminish, so that’s an upside.

Our base plan is to head offshore to a little west of 79 ½ ° longitude which should put us in about the center of the northbound gulf stream. By riding the gulf streams current we should get an average of a 2 knot boost in speed over ground. Once there, we’ll be running just about due north for about 200 miles. At this point we can decide where to go, based on the conditions we’re experiencing and how we’re physically holding up.

I’ve checked the weather along our route at the times I expect to be at various locations. The squall activity should diminish, while the breeze should remain steady in the 10 to 15 knot range. When we get to about 79 ½° west and 30 ½° north, we’ll have a decision to make.

If the wind remains straight out of the east it may get a little sloppy heading off to the northeast in an effort to get to Beaufort, NC. If we can only make north northeast then we have the option of Georgetown, SC. Or if the wind remains straight out of the east we may opt to continue pretty much dead north and right into Charleston, SC.

Chris Parkers report has us pretty much aiming for Beaufort, NC but we’ll have to see how it all plays out. He says that by the time we get to our decision spot the wind should be clocking and coming more out of the south which would be perfect for us to head to the northeast. He’s even saying that this would be a decent window for continuing on and up around Cape Hatteras. This would give us the ability of cutting out the five days of being on the inside from Beaufort, NC up into the Chesapeake. It would end up adding close to 30 hours to our trip so we’ll have to see how we’re making out. He does warn that whatever we do we should be inside by late Thursday as the wind will star blowing from the north. I haven’t even looked to see if it’s possible but if we could make it to Solomons Island, Md. by then it would be great. I dunno, once we get past Charleston everything else is gravy so we’ll leave it up in the air for now.

So with the plan sorta set we spent the day getting the boat ready for the trip. Christy made a couple of different reheatable meals for the trip such as a big pot of chili and a huge pan of lasagna. We also raised the dinghy and stowed the outboard on the stern rail.

I donned my wetsuit and cleaned the propeller and shaft of the creatures that had taken hold during our stay here. We had a half dozen sunshades and rain screens up that needed to be put away. We checked the weather 4800 times today and plotted the location of the gulf stream as of today. Then of course, there was laundry to do and fluids to check in the engine room. And yes, the bilge pump is working.

So once we hit the fuel dock in the morning for some diesel, some water and a pumpout Veranda will be on her way…..somewhere.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May 20, 2009.

Well, it’s Wednesday and we’re still here. It rained for about 30 hours straight alternating between raining hard and raining really really hard.

Yesterday morning we heard the Coast Guards side of the conversation they were having with the schooner Corsair who left on Saturday morning. Since they had left the mooring field here on Saturday and Cape Canaveral is only 65 miles away, something must have happened. We don’t know for sure but evidently the Corsair must have stopped in Fort Pierce for some length of time before heading out. Which makes even less sense than leaving on Saturday did.

So even after stopping off in Fort Pierce they headed out just before the approaching cold front. They only got as far as Cape Canaveral before the sea Gods decided to make an example of them. The coast guard established a 30 minutes Comms schedule with them. So every 30 minutes the coast guard would hail them and get an updated position from them as they made their way to the safety of the port of Cape Canaveral.

I'm not sure if they had a mechanical failure or if they just needed guidance but Towboat US was dispatched to meet them at the outer marker to assist them to enter the harbor. So its good to know that they are safe and all I can say is thank God we decided to delay our departure. Christy still wouldn’t be speaking to me if we had run into those conditions.

I got up at 0630 to listen to Chris Parker’s weather synopsis this morning. He said that the sea state off Cape Canaveral was still 15 to 18 foot waves. I can’t imagine what Corsair had run into the day before….thank God we didn’t go.

Anyway, C.P.’s forecast says that we should have good conditions for heading out on Saturday morning……so I guess we’ll have to see.

Monday, May 18, 2009

May 18, 2009.

We’ve been watching the weather and it looks like we’ll be here for a few more days. I had wanted to leave on Saturday morning but that would have led to an ass kicking off the coast of Georgia. So imagine my surprise when one of the other boats in the anchorage slipped their lines and headed out.

Not just any boat either. This boat is a fifty something foot schooner that’s been here in the mooring field every time we’ve ever been here. I mean this boat is practically a permanent fixture here. So this guy decided this would be the time to hire some crew and head out for North Carolina. I hope it works out for them but I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be ugly.

So while we were waiting here we decided to devote our time on Sunday to making the dogs look like Schnauzers again. Secretly I was hoping that all day Sunday would actually be enough time to make them presentable and if somebody was able to recognize them as being Schnauzers, well….bonus!

We started out with Christy watching our Schnauzer grooming video while taking copious notes. Then she insisted that I watch the video while she got started by cleaning the dog’s ears and trimming their nails. So I watched the video and committed all the subtle nuances and techniques to memory for possible later use.

We decided to do the grooming out on the aft deck and after about 5 minutes we realized that it was hot as hell out. We had to stop and hang our large shade screen so we could work in reasonable comfort.

Once Tucker was trussed up so he couldn’t move I picked up the electric shears to get started. That’s when I realized that Christy had been using the shears as a paperweight to hold something down. Once the weight was removed we both watched as her mornings notes took flight and landed in the water. In fact there was so much ink on the page due to the sheer volume of notes that they sank almost immediately. Oh well, I don’t need no stinking notes, I committed it all to memoryish, mostly, sorta, kinda…..

First Tucker and then Molly. We sheared enough gobs of curly hair to build a spare Schnauzer. We trimmed around the naughty bits, eyes and ears with nary a scratch. They actually came out pretty good and it only took about 5 freaking hours. Once they were trimmed we bathed them and made them smell as good as they look. Mr. Williams House of Hair and Fabulosity now caters to the upscale Schnauzer crowd as well.

Today we had to take the bus to town to run some errands. We got back to the boat just before the cold front arrived. We had just enough time to prepare the boat for the coming inclement weather. We closed this and that and hung a few weather shades that would enable us to leave a hatch and some ports open even in the driving rain. Remember, when living on a boat, ventilation is your friend.

This is actually the first real rain that we’ve seen since January. So once it started to really pour I stripped to my skivvies and went out on deck and gave the boat a scrubbing with the deck brush. Besides the rainwater is really good for my hair. Lol.

It’s now Monday evening and it’s raining steadily. The forecast was right, it’s a good thing we didn’t head out on Saturday, there would have been much sorrow in the village. As of now Wednesday, Thursday is starting to look like a go for launch. We’ll see….

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 17, 2009.

I spent some time today straightening out some video and photo files. I thought some of you might enjoy this one....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May 15, 2009.

It’s been awhile since I’ve last written. We’ve been busy running around doing personal stuff, seeing people and taking care of land based issues. We’ve gotten everything accomplished that we wanted too so we’re clear to once again start heading north.

We spent today getting the boat squared away. If you remember we left our bicycles at the Far Niente’s house while we went to the Bahamas. So today we picked the bikes up and went about trying to figure out how the hell we ever put them in the boat.

We rearranged this and that and finally squeezed them into the vee berth. While we were at it we emptied several of the food lockers to bring our inventory up to date.

We keep most of our food stores in 6 different lockers. Posted out of sight, adjacent to each locker is an inventory of that locker’s contents. This way when you remove a jar of jelly, some salad dressing or a can of black beans you’re supposed to adjust the inventory sheet. Even though we try to keep everything accurate we have to do a physical inventory every 6 months or so.

The attached photos show the contents of just one of our lockers. Once reinventoried it was all put away and then it was on to the next locker.

I wanted to get underway on Saturday morning but the weather doesn’t seem to feel like cooperating. I’d like to go out Fort Pierce inlet and jump in the gulf stream and head straight for Beaufort, NC. Tomorrow would be a pleasant day on the water off the coast of Florida. The problem is that by the time we get up to South Carolina a cold front is supposed to pass through. Our 10 to 15 knot beam reach would morph into a 30 to 40 knot, on the nose, ass kicking. Been there, done that, don’t need to do it again.

What we really need is a nice 3 to 4 day window. We could go out and knock out part of the trip but then we’d be stuck for a day or 3 while the weather settles so we might as well do our waiting right here in Vero.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

May 7, 2009.

I’ve been having to deal with head issues every 3 months or so and it was time to care of business once and for all.

When the head has been pumping slowly I usually give it the Nigel Calder approved muriatic acid treatment. This usually dissolves the immediate problem but doesn’t really help against the long term build up of “sediment” in the plumbing.

The problem again reared its ugly head and it was time to face the music. There was so much back pressure that nothing was going anywhere. I decided to completely disassemble the pump and give it a complete rebuild. The pump is a pretty simple assembly although pretty disgusting. I disassembled it and cleaned all the parts, replaced all the seals and put everything back together. The pump body itself had been pretty caked with sediment and some of it had made its way into the joker valve yet again.

Now with everything either clean or new I was pretty disappointed to find that once assembled, pulling the lever still didn’t send anything anywhere. Crap. That means that one of the 1 ½ inch hoses has to be clogged.

That means I’m going to have to drain the Lectra San and remove the 2 big hoses. I had already replaced the rest of the hoses in the system so I know that they’re in good shape. I decided that if I’m gonna go to the trouble of removing these 2 hoses then I want to replace them while I’m at it so everything will be fairly new. So I’ll wait for morning to remove them so once I have them out I can measure them and head over to West Marine and buy new ones.

I slept fitfully as I tossed and turned while dreaming of the prospect of opening up the Lectra San again. In the morning I emptied out the locker that holds the Lectra San. Don’t forget that we just got back from the Bahamas and yet I was astonished to find that we still had 31 rolls of toilet paper aboard. Christy might have a fetish that I’m not aware of.

Anyway, I watched as Christy assumed her role in dealing with head issues; she dinghied ashore to do laundry. I drained the Lectra San into a bucket and poured it down the forward head so the “flushins” would go into our forward holding tank. Then I removed the longer of the 2 hoses. This hose was downstream from our Lectra San and went to the vented loop in our system. When I peered inside I was pleased to find that it was clean as a whistle. I guess the Lectra San really does do a number on the flushins as there was no sediment build up in the hose at all.

This left the shorter of the 2 hoses; the one that runs from the toilet directly to the Lectra San. It was only 4 feet long but passed through 2 bulkheads and removing it was like arm wrestling an Anaconda. The thing was kicking my ass but I finally prevailed. When it was removed I was pleased to see that indeed this had been our problem.

The 1 ½ inch hose was closed up so badly that the opening was less than a quarter of an inch wide at either end. I don’t know about you but expecting to stuff one of my turds through a quarter inch opening would be unreasonable. David Copperfield couldn’t make that happen.

Since my cup is always half full, even when I’m up to my elbows in excrement, I thought I might have a piece of hose on board long enough to replace the clogged one. Even better was the fact that the hose was in the first place I looked and sure enough, perfect fit.

So after an extensive clean up of my tools, the bathroom and myself things are once again happening like they should when the magic happy handle is pulled. Afterwards I played a bit of charades with the dogs which they really seem to enjoy. Here's Tucker doing his John F. Kennedy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May 6, 2009.

We survived the Cinco de Mayo party with no ill effects. It was a nice time. I had no idea just how many different Mexican chip and dip combinations there could possibly be. There had just been a weather window so dozens of boats had crossed back from the Bahamas so the mooring field had really filled up. It was good to see so many of our friends again.

Several months ago Gary from the Packet Inn and I had an interesting conversation. It seems that he had read something about building a water filled manifold to add to your cars engine. The thing was supposed to increase gas mileage 5 fold just by using water and 40 dollars worth of parts.

I do realize that almost everything you read on the internet is true (ie, the mayonnaise / Titanic incident, right Jay lol) but for some unknown reason I was skeptical. I know they have water injection in high powered race cars. But that is to cool the combustion chamber and has nothing to do with gas mileage.

I mean, doesn’t it make sense that if this “technology” worked that auto makers would be adding it to cars at the factory so they could charge you through the nose for it. Yeah, I’m skeptical alright.

So today when we walked out of one of the stores I kinda surprised to actually see one of these homebuilt units on the front of a jeep. Some PVC pipe, some clear plastic tubing and I swear to god, a Mason jar. I actually felt a little bad for the guy. He’s probably the guy who falls for those Nigerian; I wanna send you money scams. He was probably on the way to the bank to check his balance.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May 5, 2009.

As you probably know Christy and I are big fans of history. The history of some of the places we’ve visited has been just amazing. Since we’re sitting here in Vero we haven’t seen or done anything new, but I did read something that I never knew, so I think I’ll share.

Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellman's mayonnaise was manufactured in England. The supposedly unsinkable Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after New York City.

The Mexican people were eagerly awaiting delivery and when the great ship went down, they were disconsolate with the loss. So much so that they declared a national day of mourning which they still observe today. It is known, of course, as Sinko de Mayo.

Sorry for that but it’s Cinco De Mayo, and I really had nothing else to say. There’s a Mexican themed cruisers get together up at the marina this evening so that’s what’s on tap for us. Adios mi amigos.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May 3, 2009.

We’ve been sitting here in Vero Beach for a few days. We’ve taken advantage of the bus system to do a little food and clothes shopping.

On Friday I went for the ride to Fort Lauderdale with Jay and Greg from Far Niente and My Destiny. Jay’s wind generator had died just before they departed for the Bahamas and there hadn’t been time to deal with it beforehand. Now that they’re back in the states he had dropped it off at an approved repair facility down in Lauderdale.

It’s about an 85 mile drive to Fort Lauderdale but I also had a reason for wanting to go. Blue Water Books is the largest retailer of nautical publications in the country. Since my buddy Barrack is going to do his best to allow me to visit Cuba I thought that perhaps we should get a few charts before the rush.

Picking up Jays newly repaired wind generator was easy and went quickly. Best of all that it was free, they honored the 3 year warrantee. After that we headed over to Blue Water Books. I was a little disappointed at first when I realized that the most relevant cruising guide to Cuba had been written by Nigel Calder almost 10 years ago. That part was a little disappointing. The big disappointment was when I looked at the price and the thing was 70 freaking dollars. Considering that there’s probably been 2 dozen major hurricanes since it was written most of the crap has probably been blown away. I figured I could get it used on the internet through Amazon for a lot less, so I took a pass on the cruising guide.

Things went just a bit better when I got to the charts themselves. Cuba has about 2000 miles of coastline. As a result the coastline has been divided up into a series of 7 chart books. A single chartbook was 80 dollars. Similar chartbooks dealing with the US or Bahamas run between 50 and 60 dollars and are extremely detailed. These charts of Cuba could best be described as “a little vague”.

These chartbooks are also fairly rare so Blue Water Books has been selling full sized photo copies of the book. The good part is that the black and white copies are 50 bucks apiece. I can always get Christy some colored pencils and have her color in the land to make it easier to avoid.

So I got 2 of the chartbooks that deal with the section of the north shore of Cuba as that would probably be the extent of our first foray into the country. I also picked up a single chart that covers the entire Cay Sal Bank and another single page that shows the entire country of Cuba.

The single page of Cuba will be good for planning as it puts everything into perspective with the chartbooks providing somewhat more detail. The chart of the Cay Sal Bank will enable us to do some “dream cruising” as if all the cruising we’ve done hasn’t been already dream cruising.

The Cay Sal Bank is actually a part of the Bahamas. The lobsters there are plentiful. So once checked into the Bahamas you are able to do all the spearfishing you want. The Cay Sal Bank is right under our nose but still way off the beaten path. It’s located in the triangle between Florida, Andros in the Bahamas and the north shore of Cuba. There’s no settlement or people living there so there is no place to check into the country on the Cay Sal Bank. So “technically” the easiest thing to do would be to check into the Bahamas in Bimini and then head south for 120 miles along the edge of the Gulf Stream. Shallows to the east and the northward bound Gulf Stream to the west makes this route less than an attractive option. We wouldn’t take the chance of stopping there without being checked in but we are considering a more “creative” route.

So, we now have the charts for Cuba and the Cay Sal. This adds a whole new option for this falls cruising season. In the meantime we’ll just have to wait and see what happens on the world stage.

Far Niente is on the hard in a local yard for hurricane season. The boat has been blocked up and tied down to huge cement blocks to keep it from blowing over if a storm strikes the area.
It’s the only yard I’ve ever been in where chaining the stands together wasn’t routine procedure. Most of the boat owners are aware of this shortcoming and lash the stands together themselves. I can’t believe this place operates this way. Heck, they don't even tie your boat down unless you specifically arrange for it.

Oh, and the joke is on me. When I checked the price of the used cruising guide on Amazon they were even more expensive then the brand new ones at Blue Water Books.