Boat jobs in Florida – part 3

On Friday – after I’d finished blogging and doing the laundry – I returned to Morphie.   The guy from the boatyard had been by and agreed that they would be sending someone to help with the heads on Monday morning.   So the weekend is ours…… Then a fellow marina guest came by and asked if he could use the end of our floating dock to repair his dinghy – we said yes – but only if he promised to shift it by Saturday night as I needed the space for the canvas on Sunday. No problem was the response.

The weather closed in…..torrential rain and thunderstorms so we went by the office to pick up some parcels – and yay, the new starter battery had arrived. When we kitted out Morphie for cruising we replaced and increased the house bank but not the starter so this was the original which had failed – but after seven years, of which four were in charter, I guess that’s not too bad.

New starter battery

The rain kept on coming….so we spent the rest of the afternoon in the boaters lounge ordering more spares, doing more research, before returning to Morphie for an early dinner and going for a couple of cold ones to round off the day while catching up with Rachel and Jan – our friendly barmaids.

Jan our barmaid

Saturday and it was another rainy day – we went out shopping and purchased a few more goodies like pepper spray!   Not readily available in many places so we thought we’d take the opportunity while it was openly for sale – although, funnily enough, the only time we have heard gunshots on our travels have been here in Fort Pierce!   This is a dangerous place if you cross the wrong tracks….

Richard then removed the old starter battery and replaced the old plastic Lifeline cover for a new Sunbrella one….. while I carried on ordering goodies.   The credit cards are definitely quivering every time I get them out of my purse LOL.

Prepping for changing out the starter battery

Spares 1New Lifesling cover

Oh yes and I ordered a new hire car too – the baby one we have right now is fine for running around town but we are planning a road trip before flying from Tampa and want a car with a boot for our luggage.

Ordering and researching

And that was kind of it for the day – we didn’t fancy the bar as the really bad singer was playing – so had a quiet night on board.

Sunday up early – and the sky was blue and the sun was out – hurrah!   So I removed all the canvas from Morphie onto the dock trying not to get too irritated that the guy’s dinghy was still there…. Grrrr….  I started washing the canvas down while Richard took the heads apart again and started to pour muriatic acid down the hoses trying to clear them.

Muriatic acid again

We can’t replace them ourselves – they are too tightly packed and difficult to access – so we are working on cleaning them out instead. Toilet smells permeate the air for the day…. Nice!   By 5pm we had both had enough – I’d washed, re-waterproofed and re-installed all the canvas and Richard had one hose completely clear with some progress on the other.

Waterproofing the canvass

So we decided to take ourselves off to the pool for a late afternoon bob – both pretty tired – and we’re sitting on the steps chatting when suddenly I look down and there is this great big beetle thing clinging onto my left boob!   I shriek, jump up, and knock it off.   Richard was laughing and, because he couldn’t see the beastie, told me I should stop drinking!   Then I spot it – climbing up inside his shorts.  Suddenly mayhem breaks out – out of the pool – and we get the critter out.   A four inch stag beetle no less.   Yuck!   Funny after it was over LOL.

Stag beetle

Monday morning and we have a professional from the boatyard coming to look at our heads. Yay, hoping for a working toilet again….. Peeing in a bucket at night is getting a little tedious.   I take myself off to the boaters lounge to talk to mum and do more research while Richard and Joe get on with it.   Oh yes – and a manatee came by the boat to visit – typical that I wasn’t there to see it….

Visitor to the dock

Well – they push and pull and can’t shift the hoses.   They cut out a bigger access hatch – and still can’t shift the hoses. But they do manage to remove the Y valve so we have access to both ends of the dodgy hose. Neither of them are Island Packet fans at this juncture! They work at it all day….. and manage to completely clear one end to end….. but the second is being really annoying. It appears that the calcium builds up in the bends and unless you can pull the hoses out a bit to take the kink out of the hose then you can’t clear it either. But they worked really really hard. Eventually – hot and sweaty and a bit frustrated – Joe knocks off for the day and Richard carries on with the acid job…..

Professional help Cut the hole bigger

I have to admit that I was a bit of a wimp as my leg was playing up so spent most of the day resting up…. but did help when needed, and Richard managed to spray me with dirty water at one point. Yuck, time for another shower!!!!  Richard persevered and managed to unblock the second hose before he called it a day and we had another quiet night on board.

This morning – Tuesday – and Joe is back again.   They flush water through and both hoses remain clear. Hurrah!  Then they check the final hose to the overboard discharge and this one is also bad – but, luckily, it can be swapped out easily so they do that.

Prepping the new hose Another hose bites the dust

In the meantime Richard has gone off to switch our rental car….   Final checks – toilet back together – and we have a working head, providing it goes into the holding tank. It turns out the through hole is also restricted so Joe is going to return on Monday – once we’ve hauled – to sort out that final job.   Still very frustrated that we couldn’t change the hoses – even with professional experienced help and tools.  Bottom line is that we are going to have to carry acid with us in future and run this through the hoses on a regular basis to ensure this doesn’t happen to us again!!!    Lesson learnt….  Don’t even want to think about what would happen if the hoses fail….

Tomorrow – Wednesday – we were going to the Island Packet factory to visit – but not feeling like it right now. Their “practical” advice was for us to sail 400 nautical miles to a boatyard that is experienced in doing this work – well, thanks for that useless suggestion!!!   The professionals here at Harbortown say that this is not the first IP model they have had difficulty with – although this is the first model they have actually failed to achieve the swap out.   Hmmmm…..    Would love to see how the boats are put together but not sure we can keep a civil tongue so might be better for another day?!?

We cleaned up – reordered the boat again – and headed off shopping. Got some more essential things like pillows / sheets / restorer wax / coat hangers / ziplock vacuum bags etc etc…. and have just booked to go to Universal Studios for a couple of days from tomorrow night.  Very excited!  We’re looking forward to having some fun after the trials and tribulations of the last few weeks……

Bye for now


Working hard in Florida – part 2

Wednesday afternoon Blaine arrived – we settled him in and quickly hit the bar for a few drinks and dinner and caught up whilst enjoying a lovely sunset.

Getting reaquainted Goodnight 1

Thursday morning I started cleaning down the stainless again – it gets a bit sticky from the masking tape and, inevitably, Richard had managed to get some varnish onto the rail too which needed to be removed.   We had also accumulated some rust areas that needed a bit of hard work – so I was armed with wet and dry very fine sandpaper too along with cleaner and polish.    So that was me for the day.   It was very very hot and there were some awkward places to get to as you can see – with the water side being done from inside the dinghy. (For those of you who are particularly observant, yes, I am wearing my ankle brace – nothing to worry about but feeling a little tender from the constant climbing on and off the dock so decided to give it some support.)

Working on the back rail

Richard and Blaine were off out to the shops to get the materials they needed to create some boards for Morphie’s port and starboard rails. These are for storing jerry cans for both diesel and petrol for our future journeys further afield.  They returned with their goodies and set to work on the dock.   As you can see they did a pretty good job.

New addition to the rail

They then unfurled the sails, washed them, dried them, and removed the staysail and the genoa and bagged them.   The main stays on until the last minute as the foil inside the mast from the furler rattles and creates a hell of a noise. But it is ready to go having been washed and dried….

Posing boys

Later in the afternoon we had a thunderstorm come through so we called it a day and headed to the bar.   The live music had been cancelled because of the rain but that didn’t stop us having a good time and we enjoyed chatting with Rachel our barmaid.

Storm coming Rachel at Harbor Cove

Friday morning and I carried on with the stainless….. while Richard and Blaine tackled main engine storage jobs, even checking out the manual every now and again….

Checking the manual Blaine being eaten by the engine

before coming outside to service the outboard and the generator on the dock.

Generator being serviced Outboard being serviced

This is a great dock for doing all this work!   Was a busy, hot and sweaty day and we all worked hard so treated ourselves to a few drinks before we retired for the night.   Again live music was rained off….   There is definitely a pattern to the weather here in Florida – with sunny mornings, cloudy lunchtimes followed by a few storms moving around in the afternoons.   And when I say hot, I mean hot, like 95 degrees with the humidity pushing it up to feel like 110 degrees!

Goodnight 2

Saturday morning Richard and Blaine hauled dink for me onto the dock – so I could clean him.

Cleaning dink

They drained and replaced the engine coolant; drained and replaced the transmission oil; before they then removed the chart plotter from the binnacle. This meant they could access the 12v socket which had come loose and install a new 12v switch for the compass. The compass was originally wired to the bow / stern navigation lights but with no switch it meant when we run on tricolour only – which we added to the top of the mast as part of our cruising refit – we have no compass light.   While this was going on I cleaned the black caulk off the edges for later….

Transmission oil time Removing the plotter Inside the binnacle Cleaning off the caulk

Back together - and new switch installed

Saturday night we had a steak dinner on board before retiring to the bar for a few well-deserved drinks. And there was live music – but he was awful.   We even prayed for rain to stop him from playing / shouting / talking – sadly our wish was not answered – and he carried on.   Absolutely dreadful – can’t imagine why anyone would want to pay him for this assault on the eardrums – but the locals seemed to like him.   Thankfully he did finally pack up – not before we had moved onto rum, vodka and ice cream to numb the senses – and we had a good time before returning to Morphie for a sleep.

Ice Cream

Sunday and I turned dink over and finished cleaning and polishing him.   Richard and Blaine were going to tackle the toilet hoses – this is a smelly and cruddy job, but essential as we had a build-up of calcium and it was time to replace them.  Oh yes, and every time they tackle a job, they have to move things around either in the cockpit or down below – you can guarantee that whatever one of us needs is behind or under the place stuff has been moved to…… The boat is an absolute mess!!!! They went out to purchase new hoses and came back and started looking through all the access hatches.   These are very small and in awkward places – at one stage Richard was pulled out from an access hole by Blaine using his legs…. Not sure he could have got out without assistance LOL. Anyway….they got the hoses separated under the sink…..and yes definitely calcium.

Calcium build up in the pipes

So……they took the toilet apart to access the hose…..and then attached the new one and started pulling….. But they couldn’t shift it… they removed the shelf under the sink to get more space….and still couldn’t shift it….. These hoses are so tightly packed it is an impossible job.   So they went out again and Richard purchased an augur and he started drilling through the calcium to break it out.

Using the augur Heat gun in action

Then when it was looking clear they cleaned the U-bend and the hose the other side of it…..   To break it down further they put muriatic acid to sit in there for a while.   When the toilet was put back together and we started pumping water through it worked but leaked – problem with the actual head itself this time. Luckily we had a spare in our inventory already so it was replaced.  Then they pumped and it worked – yay!  The hose replacement project will have to be put off for another day.

While all this was going on I had finished dink so started washing down the bow back to the mast – this is where dink will be stored so needs to be washed, waxed and polished to protect the gelcoat.

Waxing the bow

After a while I felt really rough and took myself off to lie down in the cockpit to recover – I think I had a touch of heatstroke.   Anyway…..although downhearted to be beaten by the toilet….we at least had less calcium and a working toilet.   We decamped to the bar and enjoyed fantastic live music – wow this guy was talented.   Thoroughly good evening.

Fantastic talent

Monday – and I carried on waxing and polishing – while Blaine and Richard did some quick jobs like removing the accessories from the arch and the blades from the wind generator – before tackling the main task for the day – the water maker.

Removing the ropes from the archThis sprung a small leak earlier in the season so needs to be fixed.   Well – they got it off the wall – and realised that this small leak was actually coming from the cylinder which is a fixed unit. Not good!

Videoing watermaker leak

So Richard rang around Spectra mechanics in the area to get advice – and sent a video to them. Then we received the bad news that this was a unit failure – but the good news was that Spectra would probably replace for free due to its age (installed 2012). Richard then got onto Spectra and sent them the video – and they confirmed they would send a replacement for no charge.  Unfortunately they couldn’t do it in the time we have left here so we need to organise this for our return in November – so they reinstalled the unit and we pickled it ready for storage.

Pickling the watermaker

By now it was quite late in the afternoon so we all went bobbing in the pool with a couple of beers to cool down….before having dinner on board.

Time for a bob

Tuesday we were planning a few more jobs and then to spend the afternoon pontoon bashing – Morphie has a long keel and is not easy to manoeuvre in reverse – and we also have no experience of dealing with the types of marinas they have in this area which are largely multiple pilings with very short and narrow pontoon piers (if any at all)….so Blaine was going to give us some hints and tips.   We were particularly looking forward to this……but, of course, then the heads stopped working with huge back pressure and we are no longer able to flush.   What a nightmare – so after going out and getting a propane fill – as the tanks ran out when I was cooking dinner the night before!!! –

Propane fill

…they tackled the toilet again.

About to tackle the heads

I stayed away from the cussing and the smell and sat down on the dock working on the anchor chain and on the dorades – these were red inside when we picked up Morphie – but had faded to a weak pink over time. There was also rust inside that I needed to deal with….. So that was my job for the day and, after two coats, I was pretty happy with the results!

Painting jobs Dorades painted

Oh yes and I cleaned the sink taps with special fine wire wool – and they came up great too….  And the new dodgers we ordered arrived – not fixed on properly at this stage – but will give us more protection from waves that  hit us side on in future….  We really are looking like a cruising boat now!

New dodgers

Meanwhile – back in the heads and under the floor in the forepeak – Blaine and Richard identified where the blockage was and were going to have to replace this hose.   The blockage was beyond the U-bend so they started to try to remove it.   But guess what – it is not possible to remove the Y-valve because of its position – and you cannot get tools into the area.   Why did Island Packet not put an access hatch above this?   Really frustrated and fed up –  they both spent the whole day on this but failed and had to give up – by which time Maria had turned up so we all got cleaned up and, avoiding the torrential rain, we had a nice dinner together.   And of course we had to go to the shore bathrooms during the night as ours was out of action.

Out for dinner

Wednesday morning we started off with a nice breakfast – and then Blaine showed me some rope skills in catching pilings. I’m not very good at the rope throwing bit – especially when Richard usually shouts ‘make it count’ every time which makes me worse! – so was pleased that I was able to lasso pilings on the dock quite easily. Will definitely practice and practice now that I know the technique.   Richard enjoyed watching too…..

Watching the action

Being silly! Catching pilings

Then it was time for pontoon bashing – and we got off the slip and went out into the main channel.   Richard turned the boat around – Blaine showed him a few techniques – then he went up and down backwards.   Bit nervy to start but he got it very quickly and we then tied up to the fuel dock – filled up with diesel and then pumped out the holding tank.   Then we went reversing into a number of slips – went really well – well done Richard and thank you Blaine!

When we got back to our dock we lifted dink onto the bow under the hoyt boom. We then said our farewells to Blaine and Maria and chilled for a while before heading out shopping. The most important item was a large electric fan that we could rig up in our cabin as dink had closed off our forward hatch. Back to the marina – admiring the boatyard where Morphie is going to stay from the car park – and went into the on-site marine works company.

Our little hire car Morphie's home for the summer

They are going to send someone down to look at our heads – perhaps professionals will have specific tools / techniques that will enable them to replace these hoses?   Hope so – we also e-mailed Island Packet to ask for technical assistance.  Wednesday we had a quiet night before turning in early as we were both pretty shattered after a hard week’s work….and the jobs aren’t finished yet!

Thursday morning we were up early – and received a glib reply from Island Packet which made Richard mad! – and went to West Marine to pick up a new light unit which we had ordered. Sadly the part was the wrong one so we’ll need to source that elsewhere.    But we cheered ourselves up by buying some new Columbia clothes; Richard got a new pair of sandals; a new dinghy anchor; and we also ordered two new Spinlock Offshore lifejackets.  Unusually we could have got them slightly cheaper in the UK but the known hassle of getting an agreement to carry them on an airline to the US offset the pain at paying a little more!   When we got back the guy from Whiticar turned up and inspected the heads – he then went away to talk to one of his specialist guys and will get back to us with a quote.

Just after noon Jim and ShaSha turned up to pick us up. We haven’t seen them since Christmas and New Year 2013/14 in Grenada – since then they have swallowed the anchor, sold ShaSha their boat, and purchased a luxury coach and a plot in a RV park near Okeechobee Lake, which isn’t that far from here.   Small world eh?   So we were very excited to see them again – and they looked amazing and very happy!   We had a wonderful day visiting their beautifully landscaped plot – checking out their huge tikki hut and the plans for the new shed – and met Molly their little dog who is such a pretty little thing. And as for the coach – well – it is stunning!   Check out the bedroom to see what I mean.

Sha Sha's yard

Jim and ShaSha Richard trying out the bus Jim and Richard geting reaquainted View from the tikki hut Beautiful bedroom on the bus Molly

After the usual afternoon storm passed through we went out and about around to look at the park – including the pool; the library; the gym and much much more.   Pretty nice eh???

Silver Palms Cheers! In the library Little runaround Park pool The RV Park

Oh yes, and on the way to their place, we popped in to see ShaSha’s mum who has just moved nearby – who loved Richard’s accent – and the OK Corral Gun Club which was a pretty neat place to see….

OK Corral Gun club Gun club 2

Lovely countryside around here – flat and green – with a stunning lake which is so vast it looks like the sea – and beef cattle.

Lake Okechobee

After a wonderful afternoon together – catching up and imbibing wine – we went out to Brahma Bull for dinner. This is a diner that served fantastic liver and onions – yum – with Richard going for the prime beef.   We also enjoyed Christmas in July….

Brahma Bull

Out for dinner 2 Christmas in July Out for dinner 3

Back to the marina – having witnessed a stunning Ockechobee sunset – and we said our farewells. We definitely hope to see them again either before we leave and/or when we return.

Goodnight Okeechobee

Today I’m blogging and doing the laundry at the same time. Richard is sorting out the boat and waiting on the mechanic to turn up to let us know when they can fit us in to fix the heads…. We have lots of jobs to be getting along with but I’m hoping that we can take a couple of days out for fun next week – really fancy going to see Universal Studios and riding all the rides!!!

Bye for now


Boat jobs in Florida – part 1

Thursday morning we were up bright and early and prepared Morphie for her capping rail to be varnished….   The anchorage is quiet – as in we are the only people in it – but the ICW is busy….   The Inter Coastal Waterway runs all the way down the East Coast from Canada to past Miami and is commonly known as the ‘ditch’.   The water is not brown this morning – and we’re moving 180 degrees with each turn of the tide – but a green colour instead.   And we’ve seen fish behind the boat and a couple of dolphins have gone past….   Pretty serene place when you aren’t rocking and rolling in the constant wake of the fishing boats, the pontoon boats, the wetbikes and the trawlers…   Not that many sail boats around here…

So it’s ropes tied up; stainless cleaned; some stainless removed; some blocks loosened and anchors / snubber secured out of the way…..   Then we taped up above and below the rail…..   Took us pretty much all day – it is blisteringly hot here – and we had had enough by late afternoon.   So we dinked in to Harbortown Marina for happy hour, some good food, and more live entertainment.   This place is growing on us!

Morphie at anchor near the ICW

Harbortown marina Goodnight 1

Friday morning and it’s our first rub down……   I worked under the rail from dink and Richard started on the bow sprit…. Then I rejoined him on the rail and we met eventually – job done!

Rubbing down 1 Rubbing down 2

Ready for varnish.   So we both got in dink and Richard moved it around the boat while I varnished under the rail. Then we climbed back on board and I relaxed while Richard varnished the top sides.   Phew job done….

First coat

So back into Harbortown for dinner.   Tried the dinner menu this time and was actually disappointed – the appetizers and smaller meals are much better.   But had a good time and returned to Morphie for the sun to set and an early night – exhausted and drained by the physical hard work.

Goodnight 2

Saturday morning and we did it all again…..

Man at work

Rubbed down again 2

Entertained by the large tug boat pushing a barge who ran aground three times and had to be rescued by a smaller tug. Even the professionals run aground in the ICW!

Tug that run aground

By the time we finished we couldn’t be bothered to go ashore so had a relaxing night on board.   So far so good though….

Another coat Another coat 2

Sunday morning and we did it all over again…..   This is physical work for both of us and Richard’s knees are complaining!   I even managed to burn my bum on the deck as I shuffled along…

Final rub down 1 Final rub down 2

Oh yes and it was madness on the ICW – hundreds of wetbikes were out and although went slowly up to where we are, which is a manatee zone, they then buzzed off at full pelt.   I stopped work for a little while to watch them as rubbing down isn’t easy when you are moving from side to side at the same time!!!

Final coat being applied Here come the bikes And they are off! Quiet day on the ICW

I also enjoyed watching the bastille bridge opening – as this is where we will be going through to Riverside, Morphie’s final destination this year.

Anyway – late afternoon – and we’ve finished! Yay!   We are very happy – although Richard is not keen on his suntan lines LOL – and we went into Harbortown Marina to celebrate.

Strange suntan lines!We were also happy because they had confirmed that they have an alongside floating pontoon slip for us to go into on Monday.   Then we can get on with the other list of jobs….. We had a few beers in celebratory mode and ended up going back to Morphie just before it got dark.


Monday morning – up early with the sun – and we got ready to go into the marina. We knew where the slip was, as we’d already scoped it out, so quickly reinstalled our rub rails and I removed the blue tape from below the rail. The deck tape can wait another day…..   Fenders on, lines ready, and in with go.  We have about 6 inches above low water – and it is supposed to be dredged to 7 feet throughout – but of course we find the shallower parts of the channel but luckily managed not to touch bottom on our way in.   Great manoeuvring by Richard on the helm and we were set.   At low tide we have less than 4 inches below the keel in this slip – but not too worried about this as Morphie is a long keeled boat and she would just sit on the bottom if we did touch.   Doesn’t she look beautiful?!?

Morphie in her private slip

I went into the office to pay and was told that it was cheaper to pay for a month than to pay for two weeks – so went for it – we can stay until we want to leave basically. Water is included but electricity is metered rather than the $7 a day fee for a shorter stay. The only downside is that they charged us for 45 feet as that is the size boat that the slip can accommodate – oh well – never mind. Actually overall it worked out pretty reasonable. Oh yes, and we’ve heard from Blaine that he needs some summer work, so we’ve asked him to come join us on Wednesday for five days. Win win on both sides – particularly me as I don’t get to winch Richard up the mast this year LOL!!!

In the afternoon we did the laundry, found the boaters lounge, ordered a hire car and generally got our bearings. Nice little pool too – although sadly rules suggest no bobbing, but we’ll see…. Later on we had a couple of beers and a snack in the marina bar but quickly called it a day.   Very very tired….

Harbortown marina 2 Marina pool Harbortown marina 3Goodnight 3

Tuesday morning up early and we were picked up by Enterprise and taken to the office to sort out the hire car. Initially we have booked it just for the week…..     We drove through downtime Fort Pierce and were surprised by how poor this area is – a combination of historic buildings and some pretty depressed looking housing and cheap rental apartments.   Numerous lots for sale and buildings abandoned.   Guess this area hasn’t recovered from the global downturn yet.

Historic buildings

We went shopping first – to West Marine – Richard’s favourite shop. He was disappointed by this flagship store as it catered more to fisherman than to boating – but we joined their system anyway so that we get a discount and got a few bits and bobs. Basically I think we will order online and pick up from there…..   Then we went on to Publix the large supermarket.   Provisioned up for Blaine’s visit and returned to Morphie where we stowed it all. Then we had Edouard on board from the local canvas shop – he came to quote us for a pair of dodgers.


Having stowed all our goodies we headed off again – this time our destination was Riverside Marina which is where we have booked Morphie to stay. Well – this place is a nightmare. It is filthy, dusty, rubbish strewn, boats falling apart, little sign of any real security other than CCTV camera signs and haphazard storage areas to say the least.   Wires were everywhere too… We spoke to one guy working on his boat – funnily enough an Island Packet – and he said that it was good and cheap but you have to watch out for your stuff as it gets ‘borrowed’ constantly.   This is starting to feel like a nightmare….. We went into the office – introduced ourselves to Sue – and picked up our parcel which held the connectors for our cradle system from Brownell that had been delivered directly here.   We didn’t tell her what we thought of the place as we are not sure we’ll be able to find somewhere else that will accommodate us now and we may be stuck – but both of us were pretty depressed by the thought of leaving Morphie there.

When we got back Richard removed all the tape from the deck while I went to see the office here in Harbortown Marina to see whether they could accommodate us in their boatyard – it is a full service yard, so no work can be done by us but we can do most of it from the dock – and of course it is not inexpensive.  But it is clean – the boats are well spread – and there is good security.   The first response was yes we have space but probably not OK to use our connector system…..   Will let us know….. Damn…

Business office

We chatted over dinner and had an early night. Not hopeful at all and I was quite teary by now.   Neither of us slept much at all – not helped by the constant freight train traffic blaring their horns as they cross over the highway behind us – so we spent the early hours researching other boat yards online. Feels very familiar….and frustrating…..and depressing…..   Anyway, I found another yard in Stuart, Florida – about 20 miles south of us – and fired an online request off to them explaining about the connector system.

Eventually we nodded off – but ended up getting up early feeling very tired and puffy eyed. So this morning – Wednesday – and we checked our e-mails first.   The boatyard in Stuart had responded – happy to accommodate the connector system – but not sure if they have space to match our dates. Someone else will get in touch about that….. Fingers crossed.   Feeling much more hopeful we headed out – this time to Home Depot to buy Richard some more 110v power tools and other bits and bobs…..and then to West Marine for more bits and bobs….and then Publix for more beer…..and then back to Morphie. Oh yes, and we went into a Centrestate Bank to get some drinking vouchers – we have banked with them since 2008 but have never set foot in one of their branches before! Very swish – now we know where our bank charges are going LOL!

CentreState Later on Edouard came on board to make his pattern – we paid 50% of the quote – and hope to get the dodgers done by Monday.

Eduoard making his pattern

We’ve just cleaned the boat down below and cleared room for Blaine – he arrives this evening – and I’ve just checked emails again and wow Harbortown will accommodate us and our cradle!!!  Obviously going to cost us – but who cares – there comes a point when you just have to throw money at a problem!!!   Soooo relieved…..   Will visit the office tomorrow morning to sort out logistics of it all – including finding out the rules and organising some haul out tasks like thru-hulls, prop cleaned, hull waxed, fresh water through the engine etc etc etc…..   Not going to think about the bills – just that Morphie will be safe and sound and in a better place!  Luckily Richard already has a job offer on the table for a few months when we get back again this year to help reduce the pain a bit.

Blogging in the cockpit now – waiting for Blaine to arrive….and the weather is closing in a bit.   Guess we might have rain later.   A social evening beckons before the huge boat jobs lists starts in earnest tomorrow – will be back with part 2 soon!

Bye for now


Goodbye Bahamas, Hello Florida

Thursday we had a quiet night in Crab Cay enjoying the sheltered anchorage.   We sat on the coach roof and watched the sun go down;   marvelled at the spectacle of the huge orange moon; and enjoyed the sight of Jupiter and Venus so close together in the sky…. Love this life!

Goodnight from Crab Cay Orange moon

Friday morning we decided to move on.   Crab Cay was a great anchorage – flat calm – but not much else to offer apart from scrubland and rocks.   So we motored the seven miles (no wind again) to Allens Pensacola – was a lovely bright start to the day.

Motoring away

We had just tucked into the entrance to this anchorage and were sitting in the cockpit and I realised that the fridge was playing up again……and drawing more power than needed.  So Richard quickly got out his refrigeration manifold set and added a bit more gas – which seems to have solved the problem – fingers crossed!  My hero…..

Later on Chris and Amanda sailed into the anchorage on their boat Empathy.  We went exploring by dink for a while before meeting up with them on the beach.   We all went in the water – and saw a few critters, including a sunfish, which was the first time we’d seen one of these whilst snorkelling.  Richard also got a good shot of Empathy at anchor from the water. Later on we had Chris and Amanda over for sundowners and had a great time catching up with the news.

Sunfish Empathy at anchor

Saturday morning and we picked them up by dink and we went out through the cut to explore the Atlantic side of the island and go snorkelling. It was very weedy at the beach but some good fish and coral to be found further out.

Richard and Amanda Heading out the cut Chris

Snorkelling Snorkelling 2 Snorkelling 3 Snorkelling 4 Snorkelling 5 Parrot fishWe headed back through the cut and visited another part of the shoreline.   Well – this was not my favourite place!   I could see things pulsing / throbbing on the bottom but wasn’t sure what they were – and Richard came by to see and, as we were so shallow, he disturbed a few of them.   Oh no – they are jelly fish.    And they were everywhere….. Have never seen them sitting on the bottom like that before…..   Yuck!!!   I have to say I didn’t hang around in the water much after that – although did have a face off with a couple of baby barracuda which was fun.


Watching the clouds coming over we decided to head back – and dropped Chris and Amanda off – just in time for the heavens to open and another thunderstorm to move through……   Sooooo hot and humid….   We had a lazy afternoon and evening on board before having an early night.

Thunderstorm again Rain rain go away

Sunday morning and we left the anchorage bound for Great Sail Cay.   Chris and Amanda had left two hours ahead of us – and the plan was to catch them up!  Well … no chance … the wind was too light for Morphie and although we managed to keep the sails full and hit over 6 knots in the occasional gust at other times we were struggling in the 3-4 knot range.   But we were determined to sail all the way as it had been a while since we’d had any wind at all – and managed the 32 miles in just under seven hours…. Slow but fun – although the constant power boat traffic was a bit of a menace at times.

Sailing again....

As we rounded the top of Great Sail Cay the colour of the water was stunning……

Colour of the water

Anchor down and we headed ashore – this time we were going bobbing and had supplies with us.   All four of us were in the water and then we were suddenly surrounded by tiny bait fish….and then the sharks came by. Well – they were pretty big sharks – and so we had to keep an eye out for them.   They were very actively hunting the fish and even beached themselves a few times – a great spectacle and kept us amused for sure.

Great Sail Cay 3 Bait fish Shark 1 Bait fish 2 Hunting! Hunting 2

Having had a fun few hours we said our farewells to Chris and Amanda and headed back to Morphie for a quiet night on board.   They are heading off to Florida too but are staging at West End so that they can do the crossing in daylight…… Crossing the Gulf Stream both ways on a small trailer sailor is quite an achievement and huge kudos to them.

Later on during the evening we sat out on the coach roof for a while – this time we were watching some critters that glow in the dark passing by in the water…… Isn’t nature wonderful?


Monday morning and the wind had picked up – yay! – so we moved further up the coast of Great Sail Cay to get a bit more protection from the chop. We are the only boat here now…..

Morphie on her own in Great Sail Cay

We have been ashore and explored by dink…..

Great Sail Cay Great Sail Cay 2

Dinghy exploringBack on board we got on with passage planning to Florida – trying to ensure we hit the tide leaving the Bahama banks and the tide going in at the Fort Pierce inlet to give us the best conditions.  The rest of the day was spent doing pre-passage engine checks and Richard cleaned Morphie’s water line while I blogged off-line.

Tuesday morning and we were up early getting ready to go to sea – Richard was doing more maintenance checks and hit a problem with the holding tank Y-valve and ended up delving into a nasty blocked hose.  He fixed it – but definitely needs replacing – so something else for the list.  The list of things to do – things to buy – is starting to outnumber the days we have left!!!  Finally at 3.30 pm – only 30 minutes after we had planned – we picked up anchor and left our last Bahamian anchorage for this season.   Bye….it was fun!

Of course the wind has died again and the forecast 10 knots turned into 0-2 knots…. so we had to motor.  It was like a millpond out on the banks with gentle ripples on the water broken only by the occasional leap of the flying fish getting out of the way.


We played some tunes – loudly – and sang along…..praying for wind….   This is our last long passage of the season – please Sir we want to sail!!!!!   But the wind gods decided not to play – but at least the thunderstorms which were circling us decided to leave us alone.

Storms around Rain ahead

After an early dinner together we moved into our three hour shift patterns and the storms kept on coming through – and I’m alone in the cockpit when suddenly I saw a huge loggerhead turtle surface for air.   Well my excited ‘radical dude’ greeting to the turtle obviously woke Richard up because he came up into the cockpit all discombobulated wondering why the boat was moving LOL.   The sun went down and we continued motoring…..

Goodnight from the banks

No boat traffic either – all a bit weird – feel like we are the only people left in the world right now!   We exited the banks around 1am – with the falling tide – and moved into the deep water.   Still with no wind.   But at least there are ships…. six of them to be precise with only one getting close – and the radio woke me – when Richard and the captain agreed that we would pass behind his stern.

We made some southing to compensate for the anticipated escalator ride north that is the Gulf Stream and carried on….   Richard was on watch to enjoy the spectacular sunrise at sea heralding the start of a new Wednesday.

Sunrise at sea Sunrise at sea 2

Even the Gulf Stream wasn’t in the mood running at only 2 knots and didn’t even carry us as far as our rhumb line – so once we were out of the stream we corrected our heading and enjoyed the ride.   Eventually we saw the buildings on the coastline of Florida – we’ve made it. We’ve sailed (er….motored) to Florida. Woo hoo!!!

Coast of Florida appearing

Arriving at the Fort Pierce inlet, in time for the ingoing tide as planned, we picked our way through the confusing ICW markers (including one red marking shallow water on the wrong side of the channel) and eventually anchored in skinny water off Harbortown Marina. The passage was 118 miles in total.

Into Fort Pierce inlet Into Fort Pierce inlet 2

But, oh dear, the water here is nasty!!!   Muddy and brown…. Not sure what we were expecting but this wasn’t it!  Oh well….. never mind.

We telephoned the US authorities and gave over our information – all good – got a ‘locator reference number’ and told to report to customs at St Lucie County Airport.   Got dink down, went into the marina, ordered a taxi – and waited for a long time in the heat of the day. Finally the cab turned up and the guy didn’t know where the customs office was – eventually he got some information from his controller and we found the right place.   In and out in minutes – very easy process – hurrah!   Back to the marina, we went into the bar to have a late lunch and a few celebratory beers, enjoyed the views and the start of the entertainment.

Harbortown Marina view Live music

Oh yes….and the pelicans are back. Certainly didn’t see any in the Bahamas…. Check them out in front of Morphie at anchor. Back on board, safe and sound, and we had a very early night – going to bed even before the sun went down.

Pelicans in front of the anchorage

The plan is to stay here on anchor for a while to top up our varnish again….   It doesn’t seem that long ago that we did it, but actually, it was January so it is due…. Yes – an endless task – just like painting the Forth Bridge!   After that we’re thinking we may go into the marina if they can accommodate us – so that we can start on the huge list of boat jobs, which are always easier to do on a dock with power for tools and unlimited water. Another option is to move further up the coast to a better anchoring spot and work from there.   Decisions, decisions, decisions…..

We need to use the time in Florida wisely where we have access to marine stores and services.   Although not sure of our routing yet we are planning to cruise to Panama next season; and if we go through the canal the following year into the Pacific, then we need to have on board a huge array of spare parts and tools.  That’s without the periphery things like new lifejackets, scuba tanks, jerry jugs etc….. And other checks like the rigging…..and the sails…..and the navigation / communications gear….and on the list goes…..   Oh yes, some new summer clothes and swimsuits would be good too, as each year I get home to find the shops full of autumn wear LOL.

So a car is necessary – and somewhere to stay when Morphie is hauled while we do the final jobs on the hard – and then we need to make transport arrangements to Tampa to pick up another car from the airport to visit with friends over on the West Coast before flying Tampa to Toronto…   Toronto???  Yes, seriously!  We are going to visit some good friends in Canada on the way home to London. All very exciting – but just writing the list makes me feel tired!!!

Bye for now


Green Turtle Cay, Spanish Cay and Crab Cay

Saturday afternoon, as planned, we went over to the Beer Festival. Well……there were about six cruisers there along with a couple of locals.   We chatted with a couple who have an Island Packet catamaran – nice couple.

We had a few beers and some BBQ food – but then I needed the loo and there was no facilities.   So we wandered the town – everything was closed – so ended up back on Morphie.  We watched from the cockpit to see if it got busier but we gave up and had an early night…. Very disappointing for the organisers – there must have been a ton of food wasted too.

Goodnight 3

Sunday morning and we picked up our anchor and headed into the White Sound anchorage.   We had spoken with the people at Bluff House Marina and they were happy for us to use their laundry – so once we had got through the narrow channel and safely anchored – we headed in with our washing.   Well it seems like everyone else had the same idea as we ended up in a queue for the driers.   Never mind…. might as well enjoy ourselves…..  So we caught up on the internet, had a fantastic lunch, and eventually headed back to Morphie later in the afternoon.    It was nice to be able to see her from where we were sitting too……   Thunderstorms had been moving around us all day – and the rain came down again later – so that was it for the day.

More rain.... Morphie in the anchorage Storms heading our way

Monday morning and we headed out to explore. We had wanted to get a golf buggy but, surprisingly, they were fully booked. So we headed off for a hike – through the Green Turtle Yacht Club – and up over the hill towards the Atlantic beaches. Well…we must have made a wrong turn…and never actually found a beach. By this time Richard is calling for ‘water….water….water….’ so I knew he had had enough LOL.


So back to the Green Turtle Yacht Club – watched more weather moving through – and back on board.

View from Green Turtle Club

Later on that evening we headed into Bluff House Marina for happy hour and had a great time with some other visiting cruisers before heading back for the most spectacular sunset after such a stormy day.

Goodnight 2

Tuesday morning and we had more rain, more storms moving through, but waited a while until the worst had cleared. The sun didn’t really come out properly but we decided to head over the hill to the Bluff House’s own private beach and beach bar called the Tranquil Turtle. As we were walking up the hill we got a lift by a member of staff – which we were grateful for – and settled into a nice afternoon bobbing and even getting romantic with pledging our love to each other by the palm tree…. Ahhh bless…..

Tranquil Turtle beach Time for bobbing Tranquil Turtle beach 2 Time for bobbing 2 Being romantic

Tranquil TurtleLater on we went into Bluff House’s Ballyhoo Bar and Grill for dinner. We knew they were having surf and turf night with live music.  We were very excited about the food as we had had such an amazing lunch there before. Waiting for our order to be taken we were aware of a commotion on the dock – a woman had fallen off a boat and broken / dislocated her elbow – ouch….   They had to get medics over for her and then the ferry to transport her to Marsh Harbour where the nearest proper medical facility is…   Not a great start to her holiday, that’s for sure!

By now we had enjoyed a bit of wine and the food turned up – and we were very disappointed.

Dinner venue

No starters available, no bread, and pretty average food.   The steak was rough and the mahi mahi was average….. Never mind – at least we enjoyed the musical entertainment in between a few power cuts!

Live musicOut for dinner

We had a great night actually and left quite well hydrated if not a little poorer….

Wednesday morning we awoke to rain – so had a lay in – and then got ourselves moving. We wanted to go shopping in town for some fresh produce as we are planning on leaving on Thursday and this is our last chance before we get to Florida. As we were leaving Morphie the woman on the trawler next to us said that she thought we had dragged as we were closer to her than before…. Well, we have an anchor alarm, so we knew for fact that wasn’t true just a change in the wind meant that we appeared closer. But they were there first and she was obviously concerned about it all – bitch wings were very evident – so we picked up our anchor.

We then decided to go back through the channel and re-anchored out in Settlement Harbour.   We headed ashore – Richard took me out for lunch – and then back to Morphie for a quiet night on board.  We enjoyed the antics in the anchorage as boat after boat arrived – on Friday it is the start of Regatta Time in the Abacos – which starts with a very large party so boats are coming in thick and fast. We would have loved to have stayed for this – but time is ticking – and we want to do a lot of shopping for boat parts in the US when we get there, along with putting Morphie to bed properly, so have decided to leave before it starts.   Will power or what!!!   A beach party with free booze, burgers and hot dogs for 1500 people and we’re leaving…..   Who would have thought it LOL????

This morning – Thursday – we were up early and left as more and more boats arrived.

Goodbye Settlement Harbour

We were going straight to Crab Cay for some exploration but decided to stop off in Spanish Cay first.   The storms continue to rattle alongside us – wish they would give us a break!

More storms...

At the marina they have a customs guy so we decided to enquire about checking out – everyone tells us that they don’t have to check out of the Bahamas, but we had been told we had to.  Now whether that is because we are British not American we’re not sure – but thought it was worth clarifying – as to check out will add some time to our trip…..   Well – the bottom line was – they don’t care!   Spanish Cay Marina’s bar was very inviting – but as a private island and not guests in the marina – we knew that we shouldn’t be there….. So we left…..and spotted two huge sharks under dink waiting for us!   Yikes….   Was nice to see lots of birds around too…..

Spanish Cay Marina

Drying his wings....

Back on board we picked up anchor and carried on to Crab Cay – and dropped our hook by 5.00 pm. This isn’t what we thought it would be like at all…… Bit disappointed but hope that a sunny morning might make it look a bit more attractive.

Panorama of Crab Cay

Tomorrow we are off to Allens Pensacola – another uninhabited place – and then continue on our passage towards Florida.   We are amazed we can pick up a signal here in Crab Cay from a BTC tower on Little Abaco so making the most of it.   But we might not get another one… don’t worry….we’ll be in touch when we can.

Bye for now