Tag Archives: Preparing to cruise

Workups and Breakdowns

It’s the peak of hurricane season, but November is only six weeks away. That means it’s time for us to start waking Eagle Too up from her lazy summer slumber and start exercising systems and gear to make sure we’re ready for our next cruising season.

In the Navy, a ship and crew preparing for deployment go through a series of increasingly complex exercises called workups. The purpose is to get the crew out of their casual in-port mindset and once again thinking and acting like sailors, as well as testing the ship’s systems to verify that it’s ready for an extended voyage. This past weekend, we got underway for the first time since mid-July to begin our own workup. The plan was to spend four nights at anchor in Little Sabine Bay at Pensacola Beach in order to attend the annual Taste of the Beach culinary event. The plan didn’t include soul crushing, energy sapping heat. But that’s what we got anyway. Four days of temperatures in the mid-90’s with humidity that pushed the heat index above 110 degrees.

It was not a fun four days. The crew of Eagle Too was sweaty, tired and cranky. But we stuck it out in order to give everything onboard a thorough checkout.

The verdict is that we’re not quite ready for sea. While most everything onboard did fine, it looks like our 42 month old house battery bank is on its last legs. Bus voltage was just too low for the number of amp hours expended. And our usually trusty outboard gave us fits. Even though I’ve run it regularly to keep the carburetor clean, it apparently suffered heat stroke and quit running, causing us to have to resort to rowing at one point. Ah, outboards. They truly are moody beasts. I mean, they’re really no more complex than your garden variety lawnmower. But they seem to be 10 times more temperamental.

Back in our slip, plugged into shore power with the air conditioning blasting away, we started working though the issues we discovered. We may have solved our outboard problem. It seems like it was a stuck float valve that eventually worked itself free. But we’ll have to test the house battery bank again at anchor for a few days to see if the equalizer charge we performed upon returning from the beach has jolted them back to life. I’m only mildly optimistic. Personally, it makes more sense to suck it up and replace the batteries while we’re here in the US where it’s easy and fairly cheap. If we try to make them last one more season and they end up expiring while we’re somewhere south of somewhere, we’ve learned it can be a long, long way to someplace that sells batteries, and they’ll be priced like they’re made of gold with diamond and emerald accents.

Eagle Too anchored in Little Sabine Bay, Pensacola Beach, Florida taken by Annie Dike from www.HaveWindWillTravel.com

We Might Just Pull This Off After All…

Today is April 1st. It’s the day we picked over a year ago as Departure Day, the first day of what we hope will be a grand adventure. Back when we first stuck a pin in the calendar, we hadn’t really noticed that the first of April was a Friday. As you may know (or are about to find out), there’s an old maritime superstition that it’s bad luck to begin a voyage on a Friday. Now if all we were talking about was a quick jump to the next island or a move to a new marina, well, we’re really not that superstitious. But to actually head out on the first passage of our long planned journey? It can wait a few days. Just to be sure.

And it’s also raining. Quite a lot. Much more than we’d want to try and drive the boat through if we didn’t absolutely have to. Which we don’t, because we have all the time in the world now. Well, technically we want to be in Boca Chica marina across from Key West by the end of the month, because we’ve told the Coast Guard that we’re jumping off for Cuba on May 1st. But that’s four whole weeks from now. Plenty of time to sit out a rainy spell and await sunnier weather.

So where do things now stand? Well, for the first time in 40 years, neither of us owns a car anymore. I signed the title of my truck over to its new owner last Tuesday. The buyer was actually the same person who purchased Rhonda’s car the week previously, believe it or not. As we were finalizing the deal on Rhonda’s convertible, I jokingly asked, “You wouldn’t happen to want a nice truck by any chance, would you?” Turns out he did. Rhonda’s happy that while they’re no longer ours, our former rides will continue to keep each other company in their new home.Colorado

We also finally cleared out of the storage unit we wanted to vacate. It’s hard to believe that not that long ago we’d open this door to a wall of boxes stacked front to back, floor to ceiling, the result of only having three weeks to move from our home of 18 years. It took over a year to process through all of it, but we finished with a few days to spare!Storage

We managed to arrange the necessary appointments at the Health Department to receive our second round of hepatitis A & B shots. It’s a three shot series for full immunity, with the second shot being required 28 days after the first. We were worried we wouldn’t get in before Departure Day, but we set the alarm yesterday and started calling at 7:30 AM on the dot and succeeded in getting a same day appointment.

The generator is serviced. We rebedded a lifeline stanchion that had developed a leak. The fuel tank and the on-deck jerry cans are all full. The bikes and the watermaker are lashed down. Our new mattresses are onboard. Our rigger is stopping by in the morning to give the new rigging one last check. GeneratorStanchionMattress

The outboard? Sigh. Let’s just say it’s being a pretty typical outboard. Even though we ran the carburetor dry last fall so that we wouldn’t have any issues with bad fuel when we recommissioned it this spring, it still refused to return to life. I rebuilt the carb and changed all the fluids and filters, but it’s still acting wonky. The local Tohatsu dealer tells me they don’t have any carbs in stock and will have to order one, which will take at least a week. But we’re not going to let it tie us down. I’ve been able to get it running well enough to make do until we can get to St. Petersburg, where we expect to find some real marine dealers that actually keep parts in stock.Outboard

My Nemesis

My Nemesis

The plan all along has been to wait for the first mild Spring cold front that sweeps through after April 1st, and then ride the north winds that follow it south. Right now, it looks like Sunday might be our day. The prediction is sunny and 72° (22° C) with a brisk north wind. A perfect beam reach to St. Joseph Bay, 120 nm to our east. An easy overnight passage with a favorable breeze.

Rhonda is making our final provision run tomorrow. We’re returning the borrowed car to her sister. We have a few things yet to stow or tie down, but nothing that would prevent our departure. If the weather holds true, we intend to bring the lines onboard at 0800 on Sunday April 3rd.

And then the fun really begins… 🙂