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Friday, December 15, 2006

01 DEC thru 15 DEC 06, Miami Beach, FL

GPS Position: 25°6’.156N: 80°08’.341W

After 37 days in Charleston, we are back on the water again. We need to get as far south, as quickly as we can so we can make the Bahamas by Christmas. We're achoring out as much as possible to maximize our float time and minimize our expenses. As we head south, however, we're beginning to have problems on the boat with the alternator, the autopilot motor (again) and the breaker panel blowing breakers at odd times. I spoke with Hunter and they've instructed me to stop at St. Augustine Marine and they'll have someone there to correct the problems.

After passing through the Bridge of Lions, we made a northerly turn up the San Sebastian River to St. Augustine Marine. We'll be staying here until the "laundry list" has been completed to our satisfaction. St. Augustine Marine appears to be well run and very professional in their approach to repair work. We'll see.

On the 7th, we learned that we have our first grandchild. A girl, Havyn Ansley, was born in Atlanta, GA at 2359 EDT, on December 6, 2006. How cool! Kim will be leaving for Atlanta as soon as we hit St. Augustine; me, I'll stay with the boat.

By the end of business on the 8th, the laundry list was complete. A threshold was installed in the aft head shower to prevent water from running out of the shower, onto the main head floor. Hunter Marine sent in a technician who replaced both the AC and DC breaker panels and the AC/DC control panel with upgraded units. The main engine alternator is now working after finding a 10-amp fuse blown in the control circuit. A second Mamba Motor for the Autopilot was installed in the Helm (this one has a new style of clutch that is supposed to cure the motor failure issues.) And lastly, two (2) new zincs were installed on the main prop shaft.

With the repairs finished, it's on to Miami to meet with my Bahamian friend, Perry Neilly, who lives in Current, N. Eleuthera. We paln to do some Christmas shopping here and take everything over to his home in the boat. We'll meet Kim in Nassau and all go to Eleuthera for Christmas.

The first night, I anchored off of the town of Oak Hill, FL. Originally, I intended to anchor just South of the last New Smyrna Beach Bridge. When I got to the site, however, it was packed with boats at anchor. As a result, I had to continue on South until I could find a proper spot to drop the hook. Oak Hill is the last town before the Great Mosquito Lagoon, which is best navigated in the daylight.

The second night, I ended up just off of Palm Bay, FL. I elected to stop early as there’s no other place to anchor along this stretch for another two hours and in two more hours it will be pitch black outside. I’m anchored near “I WANDA,” which is a boat we met in Charleston, SC. The owners are French Canadian and they left Charleston about three days before Kim and me. We chatted on the VHF for a bit and then both hit the hay. In the morning, I was underway at 0630, but I WANDA wasn't leaving until 0700, so we parted company and I continued on south.

It's taken three days to get to the town of Tequesta, FL and shortly before my arrival, the alternator failed again. I replaced the blown fuse, but it blew almost immediately. I got on the radio and arranged to stay at the JIB Yacht Club Marina and when I pulled in to the palce, there was Milano Mist.

Once berthed, I called Hunter and they'll have a new alternator on the way to me in the morning. So, for the short term, I'll have to sit here patiently and wait on my parts. What I can do while waiting, however, is to tear down the alternator and get the new unit ready to be installed. By doing it that way, I can have the new alternator installed and running within 30 minutes after it arrives.

The alternator arrived at 1030 EDT sharp on the 14th. I had the new unit installed, the engine running and power going to the batteries at 1045 hrs. Not too bad! I was underway and heading south by 1055 with all systems go. I'll have to figure a way to send the bad alternator back to Hunter sometime in the future, but for now, it's on to Miami.

I made it to Ft Lauderdale and went past Port Everglades to the Dania Cut-off Canal. Just inside the canal, I anchored in about 10 feet of water and spent a quiet night. In the morning, I Made my way back to Port Everglades, went outside and headed south, parallel to the shore, towards Miami.

I arrived in North Miami Beach around 1330 EDT and called in to the Miami Beach Marina. I was able to get a slip there and was docked by 1430. Once docked, I got on the VHF and made contact with the fishing boat that had given Perry a ride from the Bahamas to the US. The Captain said he'd bring Perry to the marina after they were done with customs and immigration.

While waiting, I called and arranged for a rental car for the next couple of days. We'll be able to pick it up in the morning after 0930 hrs. With that done, the Captain dropped Perry off at the marina around 2300 hrs. Both of us were dead tired, so knowing we'll have pleanty of time to catch up on old times, we both hit the hay and prepared to get an early start tomorrow.

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