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On Route to Florida In Florida
  Arriving at Fort Lauderdale     Arriving at Fort Lauderdale    
Lauderdale Marine Centre

Waiting for 17 St. bridge to open coming into Fort Lauderdale

 

 

 

At the fuel dock

 

18 February 2009.

Left Marathon around 5pm on 18th February, both engines running smoothly for the first time in ages. Headed out via the shallow Sister's Creek to avoid the overhead cables.

Two miles offshore, the water a little rougher and the port engine died again, never to restart. We put the sails up and motor sailed for a while on the starboard engine until far enough offshore to catch the SE wind and then sailed all the way to Fort Lauderdale. It was rough to start with when we entered the Gulfstream where the waters are always confused, particularly after a northerly wind.

The sea calmed over night, but we had a few other challenges with which to contend. One of our mainsail battens and a reefing line came adrift at the aft end of the boom. So while surfing through the Gulfstream at around 10 knots, Iza climbed onto the rear targa arch and retied both.

Then a bilge pump started. Turned out that the exit hose on one of the automatic engine room bilge pumps had come adrift so the pump was just re-cycling the same water. We weren't sinking after all!

Geoff had a go at fixing the port engine and was sitting comfortably on the port engine muffler while we surfed along at 10 knots or so. Achieved our fasted speed to date, 11.6 knots as we turned out of the Gulfstream towards Fort Lauderdale.

We arrived into the very busy Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale waterways at mid-day on 19th February, still on one engine. No problem until there's a problem!  Headed for Lake Sylvia, a small lake surrounded by elegant Florida style waterfront homes and the only real anchorage in Fort Lauderdale. There is a 24 hour anchoring limit, but we squeezed a few more days.

There are still some people around with money

 

 

 

 

On the hard
Colin comes to help
Back in the water
The social scene
Los Olas
Engines
Lightning
Back to LMC
Quick trip to Bahamas
Friends
Pompano Beach

      Lauderdale Marine Centre                                                   
 

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And out she comes

 

 

The mast step uncovered

 

 

Installing the new mastlight at the top of a horizontal mast

 

Mast reinstalled.  Docked at LMC dwarfed by neighbouring mega yachts

 

23 February 2009.

Our final destination in Fort Lauderdale was Lauderdale Marine Center, to have our mast pulled for the mast step repair.

The New River is incredibly busy, many blind bends, boats moored on both sides and 6 opening bridges to navigate. We really hoped to have the port engine running before heading up the New River to Lauderdale Marine Center to have the mast pulled. However, the engine refused to cooperate. Next best thing, to follow the famous Jungle Queen, locally known as JQ, a replica of a Mississippi River boat as she made her regular tourist run up the river.

Looked up JQ's schedule, then early on 23rd February we weighed anchor and went to the fuel dock to get fuel before she left her dock. First there was an unexpected queue at the fuel dock! So we sat there and watched the Jungle Queen and our chance to follow her motor away. No problem, we could still make it up the river before she turned around as we did not want to meet her on a blind bend!

Then the police closed the waterway so a very large mega-yacht, (one of the many in Fort Lauderdale), reversed out into mid river to receive a helicopter. So we bumbled around for a while back in Lake Sylvia until we knew the Jungle Queen was on her way back down river and clear of the bends before we headed up river. A little nerve wracking, but good practice. The bridges on the New River are so used to the traffic that their timing is superb. Then, just before the fixed bridge carrying Interstate 95, under which we cannot pass, a tight entry into our marina slip. Interesting when your one engine is 12 feet off the centre line!

The following day, 24th, preparation began on the rigging for mast removal. By the afternoon, we moved the boat, (still on one engine), back out of the marina area to the boatyard haul out slip so a crane could reach the mast. Just after the mast was removed a pre-arranged fuel barge came alongside and pumped out all our fuel for polishing. They spray cleaned and wiped out the accumulated gunk that was inside the tanks and then returned our cleaned fuel. Quite a service.

Meanwhile, with the mast safely parked, work started on the mast step. Removal of the old upper fibreglass layer and marine ply core, then laying new marine ply.

On 25th a Yanmar specialist arrived to look at the port engine and left a couple of hours later taking the injector pump and injectors for service. At the same time work continued on the mast step and the main structure was complete by the end of the day. Just final leveling, sanding and gel coating to be completed before the mast was re-stepped on Friday 27th.

While the mast was out, we mounted a mast top LED tri-colour navigation light/anchor light combination with photovoltaic cell for auto switching the anchor light at dusk and dawn. Saves us power and remembering to switch the anchor light on and off.

Also while at the dock our new 12V refrigeration unit was delivered and also 300 feet of new chain for our main anchor. The chain gypsy on the anchor windlass is also being replaced. Plenty to keep us busy!

During an evening walk to the local shops from the marina, 2 raccoons leisurely crossed the road in front of us. Guess they are used to suburban life.

The mast step fix in Fort Lauderdale was completed extremely quickly and very professionally by Just Catamarans. We were very impressed with Kent, Johan and their team and their knowledge of the boat. A bonus is that the boat is also far better rigged now.

 

Dreaming On fully dressed before being fully undressed

 

Taking down the genoa

 

Getting ready to lift the mast

 

Placing slings on the mast

Mast going back in

      On the hard - now a land yacht!    
 

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Haul-out

 

All done with remote control

 

The prop needed some work

 

Painting the bottom

 

3 March 2009.

Moorings, who sold us Dreaming On, had also agreed to re-do some of the badly finished Belize gel coat when we reached Fort Lauderdale.

So, after much discussion, we were finally hauled on 3rd March, the day our friend Colin Myles was coming to visit!

We had hoped to be out only for 5 days so at least Colin would experience life on water. In the end, we were on land for 18 days!

Living on a boat when parked on the hard is never great fun. First you have to be careful not to fall off! Then there are the little plumbing inconveniences, hence the ladder to the ground becomes known as the "Bladder Ladder."

When the boat was pressure washed after haul out, the water pressure removed all the remaining anti-foul paint and revealed some keel damage and poor repair work. So, while the gel coat repairs were being done, we had to prep and repaint the bottom. (Nasty stuff!), and do some keel repairs.

We also took the opportunity to have new graphics made to change Dreaming On's image. This involved a tremendous amount of hull preparation in addition to the gel coat repairs being done by a contractor on Mooring's behalf.

In charter mode there is no time for maintenance of esthetics. Short sighted maybe, but it means there is 5 years deterioration in the gel coat leaving it with a dull chalky finish.

We spent hours sanding and buffing and then sanding and buffing again and finally wax polishing. But the results are well worth it, particularly with the new graphics. She is looking so much better.

 

 

 

 

Sanding and buffing the gelcoat

 

Quicksigns fixing the new graphics

      Colin comes to help    
 

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Colin working on the fridge

 

Colin in another tight place

 

The boys on the bikes

  3 March 2009.

Our great friend Colin Myles arrived from England on 3rd March, tool bag in hand on a working vacation to help with our various installations.

It was great to have another brain involved in the planning and Colin's enthusiasm and momentum were a good influence.

He was everywhere where something needed doing or fixing but seemed to spend his time with his head in a hole, cupboard or locker.

Grinding down a keel for fibreglass repair work, replacing the anchor chain and fitting the new anchor windlass, final plumbing of the new 12V refrigeration system, completing installation of the watermaker, tracking down electrical glitches and even volunteering to fix a long overdue bike puncture. Never a dull moment.

As it was clear Colin was not going to have the experience of helping us take Dreaming On down the fascinating New River, we took half a day off chores and made the journey down in the dinghy instead.

Colin also met some of the local wildlife when a medium sized iguana strolled through the boat yard. They are wild here but all from escaped pets. We don't think they are indigenous.

We would have been glad to have Colin around for another month, but unfortunately he could only stay for 10 days, nevertheless, we achieved a great deal in that time thanks to his efforts.

 

Colin working on the water maker installation

 

 

Geoff testing the water maker  product

      Finally! Back in the water    
 

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Back in the slings ready to be launched

 

  20 March 2009.

So, after 18 days on the hard, we made the last launch of the day on Friday 20th March. That was a busy day.

The gel coat team still had some finishing touches.

There was a great deal of cleaning up to do and hull prepping before the graphics guys came to apply new stripes and name with graphic.

We had a visit from the owner of CruiseEmail, our onboard email service, delivering the new grounding and antenna set up for our single side band radio installation.

All targeted for a lift at 2pm so we could finish off the bottom paint where the chocks had been and a launch at 3pm.

One night in the marina after launch, then back to Lake Sylvia over the weekend. Returned to the boatyard for one day to have the rigging checked and to install the radar. Back to Lake Sylvia for a few days and to start buffing the topsides now that the hull looks so good, plus the many other jobs still pending before we can set off south.

 

Back at the dock at LMC, sporting new graphics

 

      The Social Scene    
 

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Dreaming On in Lake Sylvia

 

 

  March 2009.

While Colin was with us, another catamaran, a Lagoon 47 called "Dancing Bear" registered in Cardiff, UK. was hauled out and parked beside us. Met up with the owner, Graham Lewis, a great character, English, but been in Canada and the US for most of his life. Graham and wife Catherine live in Fort Lauderdale and know where to find whatever is needed for a boat, so gave us some great tips.

Graham and Catherine invited the three of us to their home to meet some of their family and some other English friends, David and Carolann and then head off to a restaurant. Graham and Cathy have a fantastic house on a canal not far from Lake Sylvia and their boat is usually moored at their own dock.

David is a great character. He's English but has been in the US for a while. Turns out that he is a cousin of a guy called Robin Grant who Geoff worked for in Nairobi from 1978 to 1980. Small world! Carolann is a busy divorce lawyer.

Then one evening on Lake Sylvia a few days later, having just arrived from what we thought would be our final visit to the boatyard and enjoying a quiet drink having spent hours buffing the topsides, we were invaded by kayaks. Graham and Cathy, David and Carolann with friends Tim Elms and his brother Chris. They were all relatively happy having just kayaked from a local happy hour and this developed into a very enjoyable and raucous evening on board Dreaming On. There were a few sore heads the following day!

What a fantastic group of friends they have all turned out to be.

Following on from the kayak invasion, Tim invited us to his house on a canal for his birthday party on 27th March. Rather than take the dinghy and face a late, dark and possibly happy trip back to Dreaming On, we motored Dreaming On across the main waterway to his house and moored at his dock overnight. Saves driving home!  Met up with Tim's wife Tina and daughters Samantha and Devon. We had a great evening and met some fascinating people. David was barbeque chef for the evening and turned out two superb chateaubriands.

On Saturday, we left Tim's dock and motored south down the ICW to South Lake in Hollywood about 6 miles south of Ft. Lauderdale.  We anchored and were able to invite friends Carie and Anthony, who are also English to dinner.  Carie and Anthony are friends of Curtis, our friend based in the Rio Dulce.

Most Tuesday evenings while we were based at Las Olas, the kayak group zero's in to Dreaming On for wine and snacks. Most Sundays, we join the kayak group, kayaking from Tim's house and either across Port Everglades to a local beach park or occasionally out to sea, then north along the beach to a beach club for breakfast. Great exercise!

We have had some great times with our new friends here in Fort Lauderdale and really enjoy their company and value their friendship. All have been very generous with invitations and David and Carolann have been particularly generous with regular loan of a car, an internet 3G connection for our laptop and fridge and freezer space when lightning took out our on-board refrigeration.

This is the positive side, the bonus of being stuck somewhere.

 

 

 

 

      Las Olas    
 

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April -May 2009

Since our engine seizure on 3rd April, (see below), we have been hanging out on a mooring buoy at Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale. In between jobs and preparing for an engine change, we have met so many other great people.

Las Olas, is the "IN" place in Fort Lauderdale, right beside one of the main bascule bridges on the Intracoastal Waterway. There is interesting boat traffic all day long, when we have time to sit and enjoy it. The river is quite wide here and lined with upmarket marinas with mega-yachts and upscale waterfront des-res.

The moorings are on the west side of the river, so a short dinghy ride across to the marina on the east side for shower facilities etc! From there, it's a 5 minute walk to the fantastic Fort Lauderdale beach which goes on for miles. We often walk the beach road sidewalk in the evenings. Beach and Atlantic Ocean on one side and busy trendy restaurants on the other. 

If we go back over the bridge to the west of the ICW and head inland along Las Olas Boulevard, that becomes the local equivalent of Rodeo Drive in Beverley Hills. Really trendy and more expensive restaurants, upmarket clothing boutiques and antique shops all on a tree lined village avenue ambience.

Except for the occasions when David very kindly loans us his car, cycling is the name of the game. We keep our bikes at the marina so they are ready for action. Luckily Florida is flat, except for the bridges over the ICW. Las Olas bridge, right beside the mooring is not very high, but still gets the heart and adrenalin going. If we do the circuit through town and come back over the much higher and wider SW 17th St. Causeway bridge, that's a real challenge.

Everywhere the scenery is superb. Fine houses, hundreds of exclusive boats, palm trees and the beaches. So we love Fort Lauderdale.

The friends we have made here are a real bonus. Tuesday evenings at Las Olas usually means kayaking happy hour on board Dreaming On.

 

 

 

 

      Engines    
 

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  April -May 2009

We were almost ready to head south to the BVI to pick up our cockpit hardtop and on to Honduras. Just some final installations of Single Side Band and a VHF radio repair.

Had anchored for a few nights in South Lake, Hollywood, 6 miles south for Fort Lauderdale at the beginning of April. On the way back to Fort Lauderdale, the port engine began to make some strange noises and then within a few seconds it seized.

Geoff removed the cylinder head and found that a valve had dropped. A valve stem and spring had broken and the head was perfectly embedded in piston number 2. The pressure this caused breached the head gasket which allowed water into the cylinders. The head was also damaged.

We made strenuous efforts to find a new replacement. (Our model engine is out of production), with no luck. Also tried to find a good secondhand one. Still no luck. The cost of rebuilding the old engine, assuming the block was still useable was more than the cost of a new engine. (The later model). However, the new model produces power at a much lower rpm so if we installed only one of the new version, we would have had a power imbalance. Also, by the time the starboard engine needed replacing, we may have found that the current engine version had been replaced, so we would never have caught up and had a matching pair. Running with differing motors would have required 2 sets of spares and affected the resale value of the boat.

After discussion with engine suppliers, surveyors and our insurance company, we have finally decided to change both engines. A major decision and financial commitment, but something we would probably need to do within 3 years. At least at this time we have a chance at a partial insurance claim.

 

 

 

 

      Lightning    
 

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  May 2009

During May there was a LO sitting off the south coast of Florida which resulted in a 3 week period of continuous rain and thunder. Eventually, this caught up with us and while we were (fortunately) off the boat on 28th May, the boat was struck by lightning.

The first we knew was when we tried to turn on the propane solenoid for a cup of tea, the circuit breaker just tripped. Then we tried a few other things that no longer worked and gradually the truth dawned. Geoff went up the mast to find that the VHF antenna had vapourised. Our new mast head LED navigation and anchor light fried.

Odd lights were working, odd fuses had survived but all our electronics, most recently installed, had blown. Our inverter had blown, navigation lights, one air conditioning unit, fridge and freezer. The list is endless. Once again David and Carolann came to the rescue and we placed all our cold and frozen food in their fridge freezer until we have both fridge and freezer replaced.

 

 

 

 

      Back to LMC    
 

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  June-July 2009

So here we are at LMC again!

With no instruments and very little in the way of electrics working, we decided to take a tow up the New River by Tow Boat US on 2nd June and back into the haul out bay where we spent time in our first visit for the mast step repair.

First priority to remove old engines. With a very clever but simple gantry, the engines came out easily and new engines went in easily through the transom hatches. However it then took some time to get them connected up and aligning the new model of engine which is slightly different from the old.

While the engine change is taking place, (which also required temporary removal of generator and dive compressor), all our electronics were also removed and sent off to manufacturers for testing.

We had to make a few temporary wiring connections in the boat to enable us to have basic electrical supply as things were removed.

The new engines required new and larger propellers, due to different gearing. We intended to have a diver install these, but when the port engine showed a problem with the cutlass bearing on the prop shaft we decided to haul the boat for three days to pull out and check prop shafts, install new cutlass bearings and seals and the new props.

The new engines were installed by 15th June, but final river trial not carried out until the last week in July by the time Geoff had completed re-installation of the generator and the engine driven fridge compressor and we had new props installed.

We were out of the water from 23rd to 26th June.

Once back in the water, we moved to a more pleasant location in the LMC marina and will most likely stay there until the lightning damage is repaired.

New engines signed off by the last week in July so only the lightning damage repairs and replacements to fix..

 

 

 

 

      Quick Trip to the Bahamas    
 

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  July 2009

Tony Wall an English friend of ours, who is also a qualified boat captain and has a sail training company, called and asked if we would be interested in a quick trip to the Bahamas to help him deliver a 39' sailboat from Marsh Harbour in the Abacos back to Miami.

Having not moved very far for a while and having not seen Bahamian waters since 2006, we agreed. Flew to Marsh Harbour via Nassau on 29th June and boarded the boat, a fairly new Jeanneau, around 5.30pm. A bad start to the arrival when the ignition key broke off the keyring as Tony was boarding and the only ignition key we had sunk into the mud. Geoff donned mask and snorkel and was about to give up when the dock shadow moved and he saw a small glint. Turned out to be the shaft of the key while most of the key was buried in the mud.

Too late to go anywhere that day and we had to provision for the trip, so a trip to the supermarket that evening and all set for a morning departure.

However, the following day was just a series of heavy squalls, so spent a wet day in the marina. Finally left on the Wednesday morning heading north, then northwest around the Sea of Abaco between Abaco island and the outer reef islands. Had some brief heavy squalls on Wednesday evening just before leaving the Bahama Banks into the Florida Straits. Decided to go into West End to top up with fuel as the wind had been low except for the squalls and we did not know how accurate the gauges were. Just as we were looking at a night entry into West End, the engine faltered, so hung around outside until daylight then entered on idle speed only.

This was the Friday morning of the US 4th July holiday. It seemed like every boat on the US East coast had come across the Gulf Stream that morning to the Bahamas and wanted fuel at West End. It was crazy. We were in a very long queue with new boats arriving all the time.

Finally left West End around 10am Thursday, then sailed south towards Bimini to stay out of the northerly Gulf Stream current. Cut across the stream late that evening and had a calm motorsail using the current to take us slightly north again across to Miami.

Left the boat at a private dock in Coral Gables south of Miami, then drove to Miami port to clear back into the US.

It was a very interesting trip and made quite a change from being static in a marina. Our conclusion is that for pure sailing experience a monohull wins out, but for livaboard cruising, a catamaran wins hands down.

 

 

 

 

      Friends    
 

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  July 2009

We have kept in touch with English friends Elaine and Richard Berry who we met in Annapolis a year ago and live in Jersey when not cruising. They have just sold their catamaran called Bagheera and are buying an ex Moorings Gib Sea 51 monohull based in St. Martin in the Eastern Caribbean.

To finally sign off on the purchase, they had to visit the Moorings brokerage office, which coincidentally is at the end of our dock at LMC.

So, it was great to catch up with them again, to hear their news and their sailing plans. They have shipped their stuff to St. Martin and will pick up the boat mid July and head for Grenada before the real hurricane season begins. We hope we catch up with them again along the way when we finally leave the USA.

 

 

 

 

      Pompano Beach    
 

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  August to October 2009

Our Lightning repairs were not completed by the time we had to move the boat to a private dock for the hurricane season, so we will have to return to LMC in October to finish the electronics.

Through our expanding group of friends here, we met up with Kim Hackett and business partners, Natalya and Jamie. Kim very generously offered us use if his dock for Dreaming On while we went to UK.

We arrived at Kim's dock on 7th August, just in time for a birthday party. Kim has been very welcoming, hospitable and generous and we very much enjoy his company along with his colleagues. Kim's house doubles as business office. The door is always open. The coffee is always on and the washing machine is always available.

While we were away, Kim noticed the boat listing to port. He took a look inside to find the port hull filling with water. Turned out to be a broken connection in the fresh water system, which was running to supply our watermaker flushing system. Due to a failed charger in the new inverter, the bilge pumps were not coping due to low batteries.

Kim, Jamie, David and Tim all turned out to save the day. Kim hired a pump and about 2000 gallons of water was pumped out.

Some damage to electrical connections and burned out float switches on bilge pumps, plus a few damaged clothes and shoes, but otherwise we were very, very lucky.

 

 

 

 

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