The best way to share the peace and beauty of Hope Town is with this photo essay. Radeen and I along with many others, really love Hope Town on Elbow Cay in Abaco, Bahamas. Settled by Loyalists after the Revolution, it has retained a unique character and charm. For example, the Elbow Cay Lighthouse is still lit by hand each night using a kerosene lamp and the rotating mechanism is still wound every two hours throughout the night, as it has been since 1864.
During the week, we really enjoyed spending time with Island Packet Owners IP440 VIVO, IP38 Thursday’s Child (formerly Purpose from Rock Hall), IP38 Cat Tails, IP445 No Walhalla, , IP485 Sanctuary, IP35 Serenade (formerly Fiesta from Santa Fe), IP380 Cool Change and former owners of IP380 Packer Inn. No photos to prove it, but we also enjoyed seeing dear friends Ed and Sue of Angel Louise, with their fellow trans-Atlantic passagemaking guests, Dick and Moira. Lunch at Cracker P’s was so much fun.
We had not intended to stay here an entire week, but two strong cold fronts gave us the excuse to do just that. Please enjoy our photos.
We hope you see the beauty and the fun of spending a week in Hope Town with boating buddies while living on our boat on a mooring ball in the harbor. This cruising life is a dream, and we appreciate it more and more every day. Thank you for sailing along.
What a sail it has been! After leaving Lake Worth Inlet, FL, at 0700, we anchored off Great Sale Cay at 2330 and the next day we were underway by 0700. The forecasted approaching front was right on schedule and we could see it as we motored north to round the island. The front looked a lot worse than it really was. It was forecasted to be only 10-15 knots from the NW, so a nice easy front. Well, it was PERFECT as our course was East and, with the NW wind, we rolled out the sails. Check out these great sailing photos of the front. WARNING: This blog post has some really cool sailing photos. I hope you all enjoy these.
The Wind died out, the front has passed
You have to LOVE springtime sailing when the cold fronts are not as strong and the NW winds are not 25-30 knots. Then, when the front passes, the air behind the front is cool and the sea is calm. Look at the Abacos as we powered around Crab Cay to Green Turtle Cay where we needed to check into the country.
Customs and Immigrations, welcome to the Bahamas
We docked at Leeward Yacht Club at 5 p.m. We cleaned off the salt and spent the night. We did not go anywhere as we could not check in until the AM. So we relaxed and had a Mahi Mahi fish dinner onboard, of course, some wine and called it a night. This was one of our best runs to the Bahamas. Sadly, we are missing our buddy boat 380 SHAWNEE. After weeks of preparation, Drew and Deb had a fuel problem and then a broken motor mount. Darn, we were so looking forward to sharing this run together 🙁
The next day, we checked into the country with Customs and Immigrations. We arrived at the office at 1100 hours and they had a sign on the door that they would return at 1235. No problem, MON, we will come back, it is Island Time. At 1400 hours, the customs officer finally arrived and we were able to process our paperwork and pay our $300 for a cruising permit. The fee is based on boat length. As it states on the government website, the fee is $150 for 35-feet and under boats and it is $300 for a 35-feet and over boats. We are a 35 foot boat. Do you see a problem here? Well, we have learned that it is at the sole discretion of the office to choose a price for 35 footers! Five times we have paid $150, this time and one other time, we paid $300. Welcome to Da Bahamas, Mon.
Let’s Go Thru the WHALE
When heading south from Green Turtle Cay you have to go out over a reef to sea, run in front of Whale Cay, then cut back into the Sea of Abaco over another reef. This “Whale Cay Passage” can be very serious. It can also hold you up on either side of the passage for weeks if the swell is breaking over these two cuts. This day, the winds were SW 15-18 and that makes for a dream run as you can sail out to sea. beam reaching, and then close reach back into the Sea of Abaco. Perfection! This day will go down as one of the best sailing days in many, many years. We had about an hour of engine time, to leave the harbor, set sails and then to motor into the next harbor, drop sails and anchor. The water color changed several times on this leg. First, there is the Bahamas Banks at Green Turtle, then the indigo blue of the deep ocean outside Whale Cay and finally the Teal Blue Green of the Sea of Abaco. Navigating around here is easy, the waters are protected and we simply love sailing in the Bahamas. I hope you enjoy these photos. Some of the best.
Arriving at MARSH HARBOR for the JIB ROOM
It is Saturday night and, if you are in the Abacos, then you know it is STEAK NIGHT at the Jib Room / Marsh Harbor Marina. We LOVE to treat ourselves to this great meal, wonderful bar, fun limbo show and, best of all, fun with sailing buddies. Our boat buddies on IP 485 SANCTUARY, Sheryl, Michael, and Andrew arrived from Naples FL via Key West to here. We also connected with Caliber 40 HIGH ZZZs, Sheppard and Deb. We bumped into IP 445 GRATITUDE, Mike and Lizzie, new owners out of Rock Hall, MD who joined us as well. Our World Sailing, Ocean Crossing Buddies on Catalac Catamaran 44 ANGEL LOUISE, Ed and Sue, came over from Hope Town. We all had a great time gathering at the happy hour, drinking BILGE BURNERS and enjoying a wonderful steak dinner at THE JIB. This is like coming home for us. We count this as one of our “happy places.” We do miss the previous owners, Tom and Linda!
WE ARE HERE and We are Happy….
We are so happy to be out cruising again with our boat repaired. Now we can keep going and set sail for the Exumas and the Berrys. First, a full review tour of the Abacos.
Wednesday, we departed Lake Worth Inlet at 0700, en route to Memory Rock (50nm) where we would enter the Little Bahamas Bank and turn east for Great Sale Cay (45nm). Arriving at midnight, we dropped anchor and slept. Next day, onward to Green Turtle. We had the “Mother of all WX Windows” as perfectly predicted for a week by www.PredictWind.com. This service is so exact that it has become our primary service, in addition to Chris Parker. Last year, when we ran the Thorny Path, (Bahamas to US Virgin Islands) it was dead on for many passages. (Thank you, Don Roy of buddy boat FEZYWIG, who turned us onto Predict Wind while in the Turks.) This time, Predict Wind had a great WX window identified for a week in advance so we targeted Wednesday am to take the calm south winds across the Gulf Stream. Here is a picture of the entire route we ran.
Mahi Mahi FISH ON
This was our 12th Gulf Stream crossing and many times we have trailed fishing lines behind the boat times. We have never caught a fish. Everyone jokes that Island Spirit can’t catch fish. Well, to change that, last year, I started using my old cedar plugs and we started catching fish. Last year, we caught two nice sized tunas and this year, 2-3 hours out of Lake Worth inlet, we landed a 40″ Mahi Mahi. THE SPELL IS BROKEN! Team Island Spirit CAN catch FISH! DONE. It was so exciting and also very exhausting as I fought the fish to the boat. In fact, it was a full hour Chinese Fire Drill. The fish ran out a bit of our 60 lb line until I could increase the drag to stop it. Radeen, at the helm, slowed the boat down. Then the fish pulled a smart move and dove under the stern and wrapped the line around the dinghy davits. I was on port with the fish now off to my starboard stern. Now, it was getting serious. “RADEEN, turn the boat to port, circle left!” “WAIT, the MAINSAIL is still up!” “So what? There is only 5-10 knots of wind.” I fought the fish with the rod aft and over the davits and managed to get the line free. Now the fish took a run to our starboard side and went for full air, leaping totally out of the water trying to shake this single hook. I kept full tension on the line and brought the fish to the side of the boat. WOW, what a beauty!
Rookie mistake not having gloves on, I barehanded the 60 lb test line and secured the fish to the side of the hull next to the cockpit. With the gaff in my left hand and the line in my right, I missed try #1. OH BOY, the fish went nuts and the line around my hand started to dig into my fingers. Try #2 I gaffed the back 1/3 of the fish, right where I wanted to, and pulled him up tail first. Now with the fish on the gaff, I could lasso the tail with a preset line. NOW I GOT HIM. I could hold the fish with the rope AND the gaff and cut the gills over the side. This allows the blood to drip into the water and NOT all over the boat. After 4 cuts with the filet knife and one whack to the head with a winch handle, I had the fish killed. We now tied the fish to the top lifeline and hung it there to bleed out. OH MY GOSH! That was CRAZY. We snapped some great photos and then proceeded to filet the fish and bag the meat for the frig. That night on the Bahama Banks, we had Mahi Mahi fish tacos, yum yum. Here are the best photos. ENJOY….
ONE HAPPY FISHERMAN, Hayden
Here is my favorite photo. Radeen did a great job getting the photos. WOW, that was a big fish to land on a sailboat. My comment is…. imagine landing this fish in your living room, then sitting on the sofa and cutting filets off on your living room floor. YUP….fishing on a cruising sailboat. Imagine the clean up!
Motor Sailing the Stream up onto the Bahama Banks
With this “mother of all weather windows,” we continued to motor sail toward Memory Rock, but we discovered that if we headed more northerly to the next waypoint, Little Bahama Bank, we would pick up 1 knot of speed. So we kept going northeast with the boat pointed on about 110-120 degrees but making 70-80 degrees over the bottom, doing 7.2 knots. We liked it and it put us onto the banks by 1600. One of the beautiful situations of this leg is that the Gulf Stream is so blue, dark indigo blue. Then, going from 2000 foot deep water up and over the shelf onto the Bahama Banks, the water colors change to a spectacular teal blue (Kathy Heck, IP380 Tianui) and all the shades in between. This color change happens during about a half of a mile and it is breathtaking. We tried to photograph the various colors and here are a few water color photos…..
FOOD: How do you eat while underway
Radeen is a great cook onboard and at home. She plans and makes wonderful meals at sea and when we are on anchor. For example, here was our dinner created at 1830 while underway on the Little Bahama Banks:
Traveling at NIGHT! How do you see?
One of the hard parts about making long boating trips is that you have to travel in the dark. We have learned to use radar as our number one tool. It is the only thing that will tell you that there is nothing solid in front of you. Remember, we do not slow down, we are on passage and we want to get there, so it is full steam ahead in the black of night. Radar is #1. As the sun goes down, we prepare the boat and ourselves for nighttime. Red LED lights, red LED headlights, instruments set to nighttime mode, the enclosure down because it will be cold, and then we keep simply going. I am really proud of Radeen because how she knows how to run all our gear and the boat. She is not afraid to stand watch at night offshore.
Finally, we reach Great Sale Cay, 2330 hours
Here is the review, the map, of our route. We have made this eastward Bahama runs seven times now, and we really enjoy the trip, especially when you can wait for the best weather window and go with a south wind. Thank you all for sailing along with us, it is great to share the adventures….
Stuart Florida, Sunset Bay and Marina, is rated by many boaters are one of the greatest marinas on the USA East Coast, and we must agree. We have spent exactly two months here, working with Mack Sails and repairing our boat after Hurricane Marina damages in Puerto Rico. Now, with one last beautiful sunset and several gatherings with great friends, we actually departed. Hard to do, but we did it. Take a look at our final sunset….
Friends Friends Friends
Did I say, friends? Yes, we really enjoyed our many friends and shared meals together! Every night at sunset people gather on the porch or around the firepit and share a snack or a bottle of wine and visit. It really is an amazing place to live on a boat. Many people simply make this their winter destination, then in the spring they all depart and head north. Some live here full time, and we can see why. This is THE BEST place to live on a boat, hands down. We could easily live here if we were not cruising. Check out these great friends we shared our time with….
Fun Fun Fun times with so many buddies gathering in Stuart and passing thru. One more reason this is a hard place to sail out of, but we did, once all our work was finished.
NEW PLACE TO DISCOVER
With the winds EAST and the Bahamas due EAST, we have had to wait for a south wind or a cold front to head out. Well, with EAST winds, we can sail SOUTH so that is what we did. We powered out thru the St. Lucie Inlet to sea under full sails and turned south. But with only 6 to 8 knots and a 2-3 foot quartering sea, we added the motor to push through the chop. Still, we were in the Atlantic and heading to a new destination. That was West Palm Beach, FL. We have passed this 6+ times and never stopped. Others have told us how great it is. So, we headed to drop anchor off the town of the rich and famous. West Palm Beach was created and built by Henry Flagler to be a winter resort for the wealthy who would ride his train south and stay in his luxury hotels. They found it to be a perfect place to winter over. His idea, started when he was 65, worked and now, the town is better than ever and people still love it here. Mr. Trump has his Mar a Lago resort just down the waterway south of here. Lucky for the waterway at West Palm, when he is in town, it does not affect this area. Here we are, anchored off West Palm Beach….
We Found a DIVER
For two weeks, we tried to get a diver at Stuart, but it just never worked out. They are so busy and we were out in the mooring field, so we left with a dirty bottom and dirty prop. This slows down the boat, so we really wanted a diver to clean the bottom. A phone call to BoatUS and they referred me to SCUBA SCRUBBERS. We intended to leave a message, but theowner answered the phone on Easter! She said she would call me Monday to see if she could schedule a diver. She did, and by 12:30, she had a diver at our boat. WOW WOW WOW, now that is GREAT SERVICE. One hour of work and the boat bottom was cleaned of all barnacles and the prop was spotless, too. Each thru hull was cleaned and now we are ready to go. Outstanding company and outstanding service. I am really impressed with how they helped us out. http://ScubaScrubbers.com
Did I say we hoisted full sails on our way to WPB?
Passing MEGA YACHTS in West Palm
Yes, the 1% people of the world use the Lake Worth Inlet and the West Palm Beach area to have their yachts serviced. Here is motor vessel AQUARIUS; she is 301 feet long, 5 stories tall, she takes 16 guests in 8 staterooms and she carries 31 crew members to cater to the guests and to manage the yacht. It is PRIVATE. Can you say KA-CHING$$$$? Imagine paying 31 people’s salaries just to manage your private yacht! I guess the owner is not a public school teacher 🙂
HAPPY to be on Island Spirit
We are content and happy to be on Island Spirit and to be cruising to wherever we want to go! This little boat will take us anywhere. Lucky us! We are thankful and we appreciate this every day.
CALM South WInd = Easy Gulf Stream Crossing
We waited out the East winds, now a mild front is coming which will pull the Tradewinds south and that is when we go, Wednesday at daybreak. Yes, we prefer to sail, but any time you can cross the Gulf Stream in a south calm wind, YOU CROSS. Otherwise, it is 4-6 foot seas and you take a beating for 8+ hours. We do not mind a motor run. We will skip West End because the front is slow moving, so we can run all night on the Banks. We will pull up to Great Sale Cay around midnight, drop an anchor and sleep. Wed night into Thur, it will be NW and N winds but only 10-15 knots. So this will be a nice sail as we push on to Green Turtle Cay. See you Thursday!
Our LIVE TRACKING MAP is HERE
Thank you for sailing along! We enjoy the Bahamas and the cruising life and we love sharing it all with you. Please leave us a comment; we receive them in our email.
We have spent 18 days since our last post wrapping up hurricane repairs on Island Spirit. NOW, she is better than ever. We are very thankful we shipped back from St. Thomas to Stuart, Florida, to work with Mack Sails. Overall, we are very happy with the work accomplished and working with their team of 31 employees! Living aboard in Stuart at Sunset Bay Marina was an extra bonus! If you are looking to repair or refit your Island Packet Yacht, or any other yacht, then I highly recommend working with Mack Sails. You can read about their work and you can request a quote here: http://www.MackSails.com
A quick overview of work finished: We wrapped up the mast deck collar and caulking/sealing the joint, finished mast base wiring, connected VHF & TV to the new LMR400 wires, added a code zero masthead crane extension, added a halyard and mast winch for the code zero, re-commissioned the autopilot and compass, had the boat compounded and waxed to a level never seen before, installed mainsail reef lines, added code zero sheet blocks, made dyneema loops for shackles, worked on yamaha 15, test sailed a third time, provisioned, helped buddy boats, attended the Island Packet Factory Rendezvous, and worked with multiple Island Packet Yacht buyers, showing boats and working on offers.
Now, we are on the LAUNCH PAD. The weather window is opening and it is moving and changing, but it looks like this Sun, Mon, Tue or Wed there is a window for motoring over to the Bahamas. We plan to take it if we can. We have worked all of February and now all of March and we are READY to go sailing.
Here is a photo story since our last post…
We love MIAMI BEACH, so it was off to another Wallcast. this one was all Baroque music, which was performed in Bach’s coffee house in the 1730’s. If you like high-quality outdoor concerts, (FREE) then google this up and attend one of these. This was our 11th Wallcast!
New Cockpit Table
We bought a NEW Teak table and hired a professional varnisher to apply a finish. LOOK at the shine! WOW, this is the most beautiful piece of wood on the boat. We can’t wait to have a fine dinner on this lovely table.
Sealing the Mast Deck Joint
We always seal up our mast with simple BOAT LIFE CAULK and then we use 4″ mast boot tape. Here are some photos of how we finished off the mast collar and sealed it so rain and sea spray will not leak and drip into the cabin below.
Mast Wiring Continues…
The continuing saga of the LMR400 wires seemed to never end. Here we ended up running LMR400 from the mast base to the nav desk to maintain the low loss cable 100% of the way from the VHF to the masthead antenna. Our VHF was always good, but now we are hearing Vero Beach from Stuart! WOW. LMR 400 wire is THE BEST.
Rig Tuning with a PT-3
Tuning the standing rigging was another job. I always use a LOOS GAUGE PT-3 tool to read the tension on each wire. The Island Packet Yacht Factory publishes the rigging tensions for every yacht. We have a copy onboard and there is one at http://www.IPYOA.com/docs. Every year, before sailing out to sea, we tune (tension) the rigging wire to factory specs.
Commissioning the new Zeus3 and Pilot and Compass
Out into the North Fork of the St. Lucie River, we did a few circles to recommission the B&G autopilot. We replaced our chartplotter (Zeus2) with a Zeus3 and the software needed to be commissioned. This requires a few circles. Here is our track as we tuned in the pilot and digital compass.
OFF TO THE ISLAND PACKET YACHT FACTORY RENDEZVOUS
Since we were still here in Florida working on the boat, we decided to attend the first ever IPY Factory Rendezvous. Leslie and Darrell, along with the entire factory team, hosted a great weekend of events. The best part of any RDV is the reconnecting with good friends and IP owners. Here are some photos of this great time….
Doc. Jr. and Doc. Ette….
While over in Tampa, we decided to drive north and visit our friends’ son at Starbucks. Nicholas and Bethany are wonderful young people who are both a joy to visit. We nicknamed them Doc. Jr. and Doc. Ette. (PhDs are brilliant!) Thanks for taking time away from your academics to share a coffee.
Back to work on the boat
After a fun weekend at the IPY Rendezvous in Tampa it was back to Stuart and continuing to work on the boat. We decided to buy something FUN after all this work and expense. So, we bought a Mack Sails CODE ZERO, a top-down furling spinnaker. This sail is a large jib, about a 175%, and it is good in winds up to 20 knots apparent. They are mainly used for light air so this will be fun to sail north up the coast in May. To add this new sail, we needed a masthead extension, a new halyard and a mast winch. Now, we are just waiting for the sail to be built. Then the FUN can really begin.
Cut and Finish the floor around the mast
I grabbed a jigsaw, made a template and cut the wood pieces that fill in around the mast. This finally finishes off the entire job and we can now focus on other tasks like preparing to sail and returning to cruising.
TIME FOR A DETAILING JOB
With all the work finally completed, (March 22, 2018) we hired PASQUALE DETAILING to compound and wax our hull. WOW, what a job that was. Our boat has never ever looked like this in 17 years. He worked off a floating platform, in the water and used a massive buffer. With 800-1000 grit compound, he ground the oxidation off the hull, taking it back to better than factory new. Then he waxed, and when he was finished, the hull now has the best shine it has ever had. (Pasquale usually is repelling off 100-150 foot yachts buffing them, so this little 35 footer was easy for him.) Great job!
Yacht Brokers for Whiteaker Yacht Sales
There is nothing we like more than showing others the quality of an Island Packet Yacht. Lucky for us, we get to share our passion together with others as we have the honor and privilege to show yachts for the Whiteaker Yachts Sales team. Here we are taking a break from our repair work for a yacht showing. We really enjoy this activity. We like to help others….
One more SHAKE DOWN SAIL
We headed back out into the creek for one more shake down sail. Island Spirit is ready to head EAST to the Bahamas. Let’s get back to our program of cruising and sailing and exploring.
Time to PROVISION
Here we go. We know this process. Go to every store and buy up all you think you need, then stow it onboard. This is run #1 of 3 or 4 runs….
Let’s Gather the IP owners…
One more IPY gathering of owners at Sunset Bay turned out to be yet another great time to visit with the 22 people who attended.
VIDEO recoding on ISLAND SPIRIT
Ed of Starboard Films wanted to interview us about our hurricane challenges and our decision to ship the boat back to Florida. So, up with the lights, camera and ACTION as Radeen and I shared our story. How fun, thank you, Ed!
AND NOW IT IS TIME TO FLY…
It has been a long process. November assess damages in Puerto Rico. December return to Puerto Rico and launch the boat. January ship back to Florida. February pull mast, March finish repairs. April WE SET SAIL….where to????? First, we will sail to the Bahamas where we can set long legs and sail for many hours. From there, we will sail back to Florida, pick up our Code Zero sail, and then set sail NORTH. We will sail back to the Chesapeake Bay where we can enjoy the boat for a summer and fall. Then in the November, we will sail south and back to the Caribbean Sea. We see no reason to sail back there now, only to store the boat June 1 for hurricane season.
We want to sail and we want to use our boat after all this effort and expense. Thanks to the team at Mack Sails, we can now do exactly that!
With any job, big or small, the hardest aspect is finishing and wrapping up the “punch list” of loose items and redo items. That is where we have been for the past 10 days! The mast was pulled Feb 5, the new mast installed Feb 28. The final jobs are outlined below as we enjoy living here on mooring ball #2 at Sunset Bay Marina. Yes it is far cheaper to be out cruising and anchored out on our 55 lb Rocna, but until we can raise a sail and shakedown this new rig, we simply keep plugging away on the remaining jobs.
Job #1 Install the deck collar mast pin. This is 3/8″ stainless steel pin that goes through the bolted down deck collar and all the way thru the new mast. The purpose of this mast deck pin is the stiffen the deck and prevent it from flexing upward when you tighten down the wire rigging. The new wire rigging is loose when installed and then it is tensioned to the published factory specs. The proper tension is measured with a PT-3 Loos Guage. For our Island Packet 35 these settings are 25 for the uppers, 18 for the lowers and 10 for the backstays. It is easy to do, you simply snap on the PT-3 to the wire and then tighten the Sta-Lok until the gauge reads the proper number. Here is a photo of my PT-3 at 25 on the upper shroud.
But first, lets get back to this mast pin. Many Island Packet Yacht owners do not know about this pin and some yachts do not even have one because it was left out when rigging. Some people think the pin is to keep the mast in place if the yacht flips upside down at sea. NO, that is not the purpose. The sole purpose is to add strength to the deck. Imagine if you pull and push on the sides of the boat just abeam of the mast. Push hard inward and upward, What will happen to the center of the deck? It will flex upward due to the upward arch of the cabin roof. Now, add a solid bolted down metal collar around the mast, centered on the deck. Drill a hole, insert a heavy pin and now push in on the edges. The deck will flex upward against this pin and the deck will be solid with zero flexing. This pin basically creates a triangle between the two upper shrouds and the deck collar. Once the rig is put under full load and tensioned, this pin is locked into place and can not move. The deck will not move when bashing offshore in heavy seas. It makes the boat really solid. Here are photos of how I drilled the deck collar and fit the pin into place.
After finishing the mast pin I now returned the rigging wire to full loads and re-tuned the rig for the 2nd time. I like tuning the rig, I do it every year before we set sail for sea. The final task on the rigging is to add the cotter pins into the turnbuckles and then, finally, she is ready for a shakedown sail.
Our other punch list item we have been working on far longer than we like, is the wiring in the mast. We bought and had installed the best wire and very expensive wire for the VHF and the digital TV antenna. The wire is called LMR 400, and it is very thick and very heavy. This wire requires special end fittings in order to mate the thick core to the proper antenna. The LMR- 400 is very thick and it was run to the VHF antenna. The thinner wire core is the 75 ohm and it was run to the digital TV antenna, all new antennas. The issue became that we discovered, after a few hours of troubleshooting, that the bottom fittings were reversed. TV on VHF and VHF on TV wire. Form the job photos we could tell that they proper wire was connected to the proper antenna on the masthead, so that seems good. We just need to cut off the bottom wire fittings and install new fittings with TV fitting on the TV antenna wire and a VHF fitting on the VHF antenna. An easy mistake to make because the wires look the same, but the core diameters are different.
During these little punch list jobs, we celebrated Radeen’s and Alan’s birthdays together. Something we have done for years. Thank you, Alan and Kathy for diverting to Stuart to make this happen…
Of course, I spoiled Radeen with a gift of a new Propane Regulator which was still in the original package. Then after installing this, I made her scones and homemade bread. To top it off, I took her out shopping and then to Bonefish Grill. In all, it was a very fun birthday bash for a few days.
One more job accomplished is our replaced B&G Zeus2 chartplotter. Our national B&G rep, Steve, was so kind to replace our 2 with a 3 because the screen was not as clear as we expected. This has been in the works for nearly a year, and now, we finally have received our replacement with a Zeus3.
So, as you can see, we are working thru the punch list. Soon we should be able to go sailing and test out this new mast. For now, we do not mind being in Stuart, Fl. We have missed two shipping dates so far, for shipping back to the Caribbean, and the longer we are stuck here, the more the Caribbean sailing season is slipping away. We are not sure what we are doing related to sailing out, sailing back south, going to the Bahamas, or sailing for home. Who knows. One thing is for sure…..we need to finish this job and shakedown…..then we can start our 2018 season!
Thanks for sailing along…even if we are not sailing….yet….
Team MACK SAILS has completed our hurricane Maria repairs with the installation of our new Charleston Spar #S622 and all new wire rigging with swagged tops and Sta-Lok stainless steel fittings on the bottoms. This team is so professional, and it is very obvious they all have done this hundreds of times before. With Colin Mack leading his team of 5, and the expert crane operator on site for 3 hours, the mast installation and rigging was flawless.
Last week the deck opening was cut larger and a new mast collar was bolted down to the deck to allow this new section to fit into our boat. They no longer make the NG-60 Isomat Spar, so this is the recommended replacement. Jeff, the master craftsman, cut the deck and seated the new keel step. Now it was time to step the mast.
Overall, the cutting of the deck and the mounting of a new keel shoe was not that big of a deal. We were worried about this part of the job, but Mack Sails has 31 people on their team with everyone is skilled in different areas, so the work was easily handled. Great job, Jeff!
In with the mast, let’s go! The crane picked up the mast 55+ feet overall, 500 lbs, and lifted it from the new spreaders which have a solid bar thru the mast. The crane rotated around as Colin and his team positioned the mast over the deck. Jose and I went below deck to help guide the mast down into the keel. The 7 wires coming out of the bottom of the mast needed to be fished through a side hole, then fished into the keel and forward thru a chase to the junction boxes. The final process was directing the crane fore, aft, left and right to position the bottom of the mast onto and over the shoe. The mast shoe has a groove and a raised metal ring that matches the profile of the mast. This locks the bottom of the mast into the keel and secures it. At this point, the mast was through the deck collar and onto the keel shoe, so it will stand on its own now.
With the mast NOW in place, it was time to cut the standing rigging wires and tighten down the rig. The wire tops had stem balls swaged onto the wire using hydraulic presses back at the Mack Sails Shop, and the bottom fittings were cut on-site using Sta-Lok fittings. What a great way to rig the wire. These Sta-Lok fittings are easy to repair at sea or in a remote site. They are expensive but they are strong, if not stronger, than swaged fittings. Sta-Lok info here.
The mast installation wrapped up with the mounting of our B&G 4G radar antenna just below the spreaders. This needed to be drilled and tapped into the mast and wired. They waited to do this to make sure the mount did not hit the rigging wire as it exited the mast. We like the radar up the mast, even though it is more complicated to wire. One IP owner said, mount the radar as high as the highest waves you want to see over. So, it is up the mast for us. We want to see over 10-15-20 foot waves!
At the end of this afternoon, the Mack Sails team had the mast installed, radar mounted, all wiring rigged and cut, new Tides Inn Strong Track installed, new boom gooseneck and new boom vang fittings mounted to the mast. This was an amazing process. Working with a team of people who hustle and simply know how to get it all done was a joy. Again, we cannot imagine trying to do this job in Puerto Rico. Our decision to ship back and to hire this company was the right decision. We have ZERO concerns with their work. Thank you, COLIN MACK and your entire team. WE HAVE A NEW MAST.
Thank you also to Ed who shot video and photography material for use on the Mack Sails website and their YouTube channel. This added even more excitement to the entire job. Great job, Ed!
The next day, we installed sails and Richard returned to complete the spinnaker car track mounting and winches and cleats on the mast. At the end of that day, we backed out of the service slip at Apex Marine and hosted a Jib and staysail and we sailed down the river. It was wonderful to be sailing again! IT HAS BEEN A LONG PROCESS….but now we can begin the shakedown, stretch in this new wire and begin our 2018 season.
Team ISLAND SPIRIT is BACK…..Hurricane Maria knocked us down and Mack Sails rebuilt us back to better than ever.
Now, time to buy Radeen a nice new present, I think a new CODE ZERO would be very nice for her……..go MACK!
As with any major yacht repair job, challenges come up that are unexpected and this mast replacement job is no different. The challenges stem from the fact that the new mast is 1 inch larger in profile front to back. This one inch increase has caused the need to replace the deck collar and the keel shoe. Not only do these items need to be replaced, the fiberglass deck and fiberglass headliner, along with the embedded metal plate, need to be cut to allow this mast to fit into our boat! So, off with the old deck collar, out with the old keel shoe and off to the welding shop and powder coating shop they go. Of course, the mast came with a new shoe and a new deck collar, but these are being machined and worked into our design. Here are the two items we are working with…
The next challenge this week has been the inspection of the port side chain plate. WHAT?! Did I say, “CHAIN PLATES!” YES, We took out the bathroom cabinets and hull liner to inspect and verify that the welds and chain plates installed in 2013 by the Island Packet Yachts factory were all OK. This meant that I had to remove the teak plugs, unscrew the teak cabinet and remove the hull liners. The trick to removing teak plugs is to first drill a 1/8″ hole into the center of the plug. Next drive a screw into this 1/8″ hole and, when it hits the screw head, it will pull the plug out of the hole. Very easy to remove all the teak plugs.
With the teak cabinet removed, we now could remove the shelf….
Once the shelf was removed, we could remove the hull liner. This is the whiteboard with the teak trim making the inside of the cabinet look so nice….
Looking up under the deck, we can now see the port forward chain plate. These are NEW chainplates made by Garhaurer Marine and installed by the Island Packet Factory in 2013. We wanted to make sure the welds were not cracked and that the structural fiberglass was not damaged.
While we were in here with the chainplate fully exposed, we decided to add some more epoxy putty around the hull, as suggested by the factory. This was not necessary, but while here, and with everything opened up, why not? We used Pettit Epoxy Putty.
With the satisfaction that we had zero chainplate damage, we reinstalled the bathroom hull liner, shelf, teak trim and cabinet. This all simply screws together, with zero glue used. It is incredible how the original Island Packet Yacht craftsmen hand cut compound angles and chiseled custom fits for all these trim pieces and supports. I was amazed as I took this all apart. No wonder an IPY costs so much $$$!
While working on these inspections by us on the boat, the Mack Sails Team (Jeff) was working on our mast wiring and new mast building. Jeff is wiring in a new Digital TV antenna and a new VHF antenna, wiring them with LMR 400 wire. This new wire is massive and has very low loss due to the size of the solid center copper core. Of course, this requires LMR 400 end fittings and soldering and crimping to make the proper end fittings. All halyards and lights were installed and wired, along with the blocks needed on the spreaders for the stack pack and flag halyards. The mast is finished and ready for install.
We entertained ourselves with a spur of the moment drive to Miami Beach to attend our 10th Wallcast. These are outdoor symphony concerts in “Soundscape Park” and are considered the #1 venue in South Beach. We always try to attend these events. With a rental car, we were able to drive down and enjoy the concert along with 1,000 other people….There were pieces by Stravinsky and Debussy, plus Stravinsky’s early work from 1910, “The Firebird.”
The final job we accomplished while waiting for our mast install, was repacking the chainplates. This requires sealing the chainplate tangs with silicone. There are two ways to do this, and we did both.
#1. Remove the cover plate, pick out all the old silicone and inject new GE Silpruf to reseal. The problem with this process is that it breaks your varnish seal around the cover plate. I do not prefer this way.
#2. The other way to seal chainplates is to simply apply more silicone GE Silpruf around the tang above the plate. This requires no removal of the plate and it maintains the varnish seal around the plate.
So, we have been working on the rebuild as we await the mast install and new wire rigging. As soon as the deck is cut and the new keel shoe is installed and the wire rigging is made, then the mast will be installed and we can add the boom and our sails. Hopefully, NEXT week we will raise a sail. Until then, we have been enjoying our friends and this dream marina, Sunset Bay Marina, Stuart, Florida.
Installing a new mast that is a new design and a new profile into a 1994 Island Packet Yacht is not an easy task. All we can say is, thank goodness we are not trying to accomplish this in Puerto Rico. If I had known that the mast profile was NOT the same and that our mast was not an exact replacement, then maybe, just maybe, I would have repaired my original mast in Puerto Rico. But we are here now and we made the decision to replace the mast.
Onward we go….New Mast installing SOON…..thanks for following our misadventures!
We are so glad that we invested the extra effort and expense to ship our boat back to Stuart, Florida to work with the team at Mack Sails. Colin and Travis have built a great company and with a good team capable of rigging and installing anything on yachts. Everyone thinks of them as sails only, but in reality, they are a serious rigging shop and also they do fiberglass, electronics, and millwork. So, anything you need they can take care of and complete the job. If you can’t get it fixed here, then you are in serious trouble. Thank you Team Mack Sails.
Within a day or two after shipping our boat into West Palm Beach, we removed the remaining gear, boom, vang, and loosened all shrouds and prepare for pulling the mast. On Monday, Feb 5 Colin pulled the old mast out at Apex Marine with ease and set it on the ground. Now with the old mast on stands, we could inspect the damages at the spreader even more. Whatever hit the mast was very large, heavy and forceful because it broke the spreader base and tore open the mast, above and below the spreader. The spar company said it could not be repaired, so we are here to refit with a new Charleston Spar section #S622. Here is a photo of the damaged area at the port spreader welds.
Now that the mast was pulled and on the ground, we could strip off items like the VHF, Digital TV, Lightning Protector, Winches, and all spare ropes, etc. The new Sparcraft / Charleston Spar Section #S622 is at Mack Sails and we will next rig the new gear onto that mast. One surprise came up and that is that the new mast is 1″ larger front to back than the old mast! That does not sound like a lot, but it is. The mast is the same width, but being one inch larger front to back means that the deck mast collar now needs to be removed and laser cut and the new deck collar welded onto our plate. Then we will need to cut the deck around the mast hole larger, as well as the headliner underneath. This will all need to be re-fiberglassed and sealed where the deck and headliner gap open. The keel step, at the bottom of the mast, needs to be removed and a new mast shoe, as they are called, needs to be lag screwed into the concrete and lead and fiberglass keel. All of these changes were not noted on the insurance settlement as no one knew the new mast section was so different. So, we are now dealing with these new challenges as we make the repairs. Note: They no longer make our old mast section, it was from 1993.
Here are some photos of the deck collar.
The next challenge turned out to be the Kato Radar mount that we had made in 2002. These cost about $1,200 and we wanted to reuse the mount. Well, from last year when we mounted the new B&G 4G radar antenna, it did not fit properly. So, with this mount off, we wanted to solve this and move the new B&G antenna to the center of the radar guard. This project went thru all kinds of bids to re-weld it and then we even ordered a new Kato Mount which would have cost $,$$$, so we stopped that. Then Radeen and I designed a simple solution of adding two 1/4″ stainless steel bars to the bottom of the B&G radar and simply bolting down these bars. Well, thanks to the best welder in Stuart, Mike at NATIVE WELDING, we will have these bars. Now, all we have to do is remount the B&G onto these bars and bolt it down. EASY.
So the B&G radar / Kato radar mount was a bigger project than expected, but we solved that. Now onto the new VHF and Digital TV antenna and wire. As recommended by Chris and others, we will be using the best coaxial wire, Times Microwave LMR-400 cable and end fittings. With this coaxial cable, loss to the antennas is less than 12% where normal RG-8 and RG-59 are near 30% loss. Yes, the LMR-400 is more expensive, about $1.00 to $2.00/foot in bulk, plus the good end fittings, but we hope to never have to do this again! So we decided to put in the best wire. Thank you, Chris of s/v Temerity for the info. I was not aware!
During this time we also had some Island Packet Fleet fun where Radeen and Terri (IP 38 SAILBATICAL) organized an Island Packet Minivous. We gathered together 19 owners and 10 yachts here at Sunset Bay Marina from 2-4 pm on Feb 10th. We shared stories of cruising plans and yacht systems, enjoyed a few drinks together and really had a fun time. Of course, we hung up the IPY Battle Flag (5′ x 9′) and shared stories, some true and some exaggerated 🙂
Week one of the repair was removing the mast and removing the gear and identifying challenges. Week two is building the new rig and solving these new challenges. Next goal is to finish the rig and step the new mast, that may be week 3 if all goes well. Again, Radeen and I are so happy to be here in Stuart, Florida and to be working with Mack Sails. We made the right call shipping the boat here. This team will solve all these challenges. Imagine this in Puerto Rico…..that would have been a real issue.
Welcome to Florida, West Palm Beach, for that matter! Our Island Packet 35 arrived safely there on Wednesday morning, salty as salty could possibly be. We now can move forward with our mast replacement and new rigging, working with Mack Sails in Stuart, Florida.
We learned a great deal about this process. The most important thing we learned is that it was far easier than anticipated, with the support of great friends who pitched in and supported us! We were homeless from the time we put the boat onto the ship in St. Thomas until 4 days later where we received her at the port of West Palm Beach. Between these days we flew from St. Thomas to Miami, where we were graciously hosted by Reuben and Molli, our good friends and boating buddies of IP 380 PRIORITY. They totally spoiled us…..
While with Reuben and Molli, we enjoyed staying in their high rise condo in North Miami Beach, swimming in the pool, touring Vizcaya and taking in some mighty fine dining experiences with great conversations and fine red wines! This was a 5-star vacation for us, after being on the boat since Dec 5th in the Caribbean. Thank you, Reuben and Molli for the wonderful hospitality and for our dear friendship. We really treasure our times together.
On Tuesday, we learned that we would be the first boat off the ship! To show their ultimate support, we all got up at 0500 and departed for I-95 at 0530 for a 1.5 to 1.75 hour drive to West Palm Beach to meet the ship. Now that is true friendship! THANK YOU, Molli and Reuben!
Arriving in West Palm Beach, we entered the security zone at the shipping terminal where I had to get a guest pass and clearance to enter the port. Meanwhile, Radeen, Reuben, and Molli remained outside the fence until I returned. This part of the shipping is a bit odd. I was required to board the ship and remove the backstays. This allows the crane to place the slings under the boat without hitting the rig. Once this was done, I got off the ship, we left the port and drove around to Riviera Beach Marina, with a minor delay due to a train stopped on the tracks.
Well…..here came our next surprise. As we walked up to the tender, there onboard were our good friends, Ed and Sue of sv ANGEL LOUISE! These are the world sailors who just finished the American Great Loop and also the European Great Loop. They are the first boat in history to have completed these two voyages. Of course, to do this you need to cross the Atlantic twice and also lock up to 1,330 feet in elevation. These guys are amazing boaters. Well, here they were from Stuart to help us receive Island Spirit away from the ship in very windy weather. THANK YOU, Ed and Sue!
Waiting is what we did! After racing to the ship by 0800, boarding the ship around 0830 and removing the back stays, then racing around to meet the tender, we ended up standing off the ship from 0845 until about 1030 hrs. The problem was that Customs did a virtual check out via online, but the US Coast Guard decided to inspect the ship. So, with our boat hanging in the slings up on the crane for over an hour, we waited in the tender wondering when she would ever be lowered over the side. The winds were blowing 20+ knots into the marine terminal while we were bouncing around and waiting.
Now the excitement began as we watched them lower our 17,500 lbs 40 feet LOA sailboat 30 feet down to the water. We were not allowed to approach until the slings were removed and the crane lifted out of the way. So, they splashed her and tied bow and stern straps to the railing of the ship and we simply hoped that the engine intake hose would not come off and sink the yacht. That was the only open thru-hull as we wanted her ready to start up ASAP. If I were doing this again, no thru hulls would be left open until we are onboard. The workers can just wait for us to properly prepare the boat to be started and driven away.
With our unexpected crew of Ed and Sue, we had help loading our two rolling travel bags and two backpacks onto Island Spirit. Then the four of us boarded her and prepared her to drive away from the ship. The wind was blowing 15-20 into the terminal onto our stern. We needed to back away from the ship as they were offloading another yacht right over our heads. They yelled down to us to move on, and get going! We wanted the engine to be running for at least a few minutes, but we backed away quickly. WOW, talk about exciting and lots of crazy action.
From the ship, we had decided to take a dock at the Riviera Beach City Marina. This turned out to be another exciting process as the current runs thru this marina at about 3 to 4 knots. Of course they placed us, a transient, in the far back corner of the marina with a difficult current. Lucky for us, this current was running out of our slip but across the fairway. The slip was to my port. PERFECT. So we planned to back into the slip to port as I turned downstream to starboard. Island Spirit will spin clockwise to starboard in reverse and she did. We hit reverse and powered backward into the current and into the slip. ONE SHOT was all we would get! Miss this and we could do damages to other yachts. Finally, WE WERE DOCKED! Thank you, Ed and Sue, for being onboard to help with the lines and docking.
After docking at 1100 hours, we caught our breath, happy to be back in Florida to begin our repairs. We went out for a quick lunch and then, of course, to a PUBLIX grocery store for some provisions. All this made possible because Ed and Sue drove down from Stuart, Florida to help us out. This entire shipping process has been supported by our dear friends. Radeen and I really appreciate all they did to help out. Big thank yous to Reuben, Molli, Ed and Sue!
We learned that shipping a boat is a very detailed process with many steps along the way. It costs around $10,000 from St. Thomas to Florida for 17,000 lbs and 40 feet LOA. It is fast, only 2.5 days of sea time. Your boat is saltier than ever before when it comes off the ship. The shipping companies are pros at doing this. Overall, it was an exciting process and we may, just may, ship back in March….who knows. But for now, we need to see to our repairs and get this boat sailing again. Then we will decide on how we will get back to the Caribbean Sea. Thanks for following along.