Repairs in Ft Lauderdale

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       Engine Failure    
Engine Failure

3rd April 2009

We were almost ready to head south to the BVI to pick up our hardtop bimini for our cockpit then 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, as this was not in our plans or budget for the near future with half life engines on board. 




Los Olas
Hero's Maiden Voyage
Lightning Strike
Repairs at LMC
Quick trip to Bahamas
Pompano Beach

      Las Olas    

April -May 2009

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Since our engine seizure on 3rd April, 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.


      Sailing in the English Channel on Hero    
  April 2009

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Adam, Iza's oldest son caught the sailing bug and decided to buy a boat. His choice, a 1987 Beneteau Oceanis 350 called "Hero". Based on our experience with our first boat Dream On, a Beneteau Oceanis 430, we think he made a good choice.

Adam is in the British Army and wants the boat to use as a home and to increase his sailing experience. To this point, all his sailing experience had been with us on charters and sailing onboard Dream On.

The new boat was purchased at Keyhaven, a small, very tidal creek in Hampshire on the south coast of England but had to be moved to Tollesbury Marine in Essex. This meant a 4-5 day journey in the English Channel. Adam had arranged for friends to crew with him, but as it was during the Easter break, family commitments prevented any from assisting him.

As we were still sitting on a mooring ball at Las Olas, pondering on engine decisions, Geoff offered to help and flew at one day's notice to UK. Adam and girlfriend Louise picked Geoff up at Heathrow Airport, they drove straight to Keyhaven and Immediately loaded the boat with basic supplies. By early afternoon, the boat was ready for its maiden voyage.

Louise then drove to Lymington, a very popular sailing location with a good marina while Adam and Geoff sailed Hero to Lymington, a two hour trip. Picked up two young guys in a broken down dinghy on the way and towed them into Lymington. Adam's first ever marina berthing experience was extremely smooth. Spent one night in Lymington.

Day 2. Lymington to Portsmouth, about 5 hours sailing which involves crossing the Solent, a major shipping and yachting area north of the Isle of Wight, passing the old Napoleonic forts built out in the sea. Portsmouth Marina was built in what was Royal Navy territory when Geoff last visited to area many years ago. The Marina Club House, restaurant and facilities were all built into a modified old lightship.

Day 3. Portsmouth to Brighton, about 7 hours sailing, heading east along the south coast of England. Brighton Marina has been built on reclaimed land at the base of white limestone cliffs, and is a complete mini township with many restaurants, a shopping centre, residences and workshops.

Day 4. Brighton to Dover, again about 7 hours. Dover is the major ferry terminal for cross channel traffic and very busy. This is also the narrowest part of the English Channel and we had to be careful to stay out of the shipping lanes.

Day 5. Dover to Ramsgate, around the SE corner of England and beginning to head north. Arrived in Ramsgate Marina at the same time as a schooner regatta. Many drunken crews and loud music that night.

Day 6. Ramsgate to Tollesbury. This final leg took us across the Thames Estuary. We did not realise how shallow this area is and how many east/west lying sand bars there were until we planned the crossing. The route becomes a real slalom course timing tides. To our complete surprise we suddenly came across a giant wind farm under construction out at sea, with no reference to it on the latest charts. In the slight haze that had been with us for most of the journey, this was a confusing sight until we worked out what it was.

Had to anchor in the Blackwater River just outside Tollesbury for a couple of hours as the marina is at the end of a marshy creek and only accessible for one hour each side of high tide. Finally made it in to Tollesbury, a very small, tight marina to negotiate and Hero was home.

Geoff's previous memories of sailing in the English Channel in winter was back in the late 60's early 70's. He remembers being cold and wet permanently. On this trip, it was also cold, very cold at night, but at least the sea was calm, with light winds most of the way. Hero is a great little boat with a very responsive Volvo engine and Geoff thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the time with Adam.




  May 2009

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      Lightning Strike    
  28 May 2009

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Thunderstorms in Fort Lauderdale


Lightning damage at the top of the mast



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 navigation electronics, (most of which we had just finished  installing), 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 had both fridge compressor and free standing freezer replaced.

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.


Tow up the New River



      Repairs at LMC    
  June-July 2009

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So here we are at LMC again!

With no instruments, only one working engine 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. We had to remove the generator from the starboard engine room and modify its mounting frame before we could remove and replace the starboard engine and the dive compressor from the port engine room. 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 was taking place, 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 RPM and gear ratio. 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. 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.

Although the new engines were installed by 15th June, the haul out for alignment issues and new prop installation, then Geoff's re-installation of the generator and the engine driven fridge compressor delayed final engine tests until late July..

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    
  July 2009

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Tony Wall, married to Carie, English friends in Fort Lauderdale, 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.





      Pompano Beach    
  August 2009

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As we were booked to fly back to the UK on 9th August, we knew we would not complete all the Lightning repairs before we were due to leave, so agreed with the insurers that we would complete these repairs in October on our return.

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.



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USA: 1-954 4785948        UK:  +44 7855388258         Skype: geoff.iza