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VELOCIR- An Albin Vega’s Journey from Graveyard to Blue Water Cruising Sailboat

Photos, photos, photos and the whole story!!! A narrated photo slideshow detailing the four year rebuild of the Albin Vega 27 sailboat Velocir. From bare hull to blue water cruiser.
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A Singlehander’s Cruising Costs

cruising costs

Our friend recently shared his cruising costs and trip statistics with us aboard his beautiful 37 foot sailboat.  He is a singlehander, which means he cruises by himself.  Below are his costs for 257 days cruising along the East Coast of the US and throughout the Bahamas. These costs were incurred after leaving and do not include- $15,000 or more spent on the boat or $1,100 on food provisions before leaving.

Singlehander Cruising Costs

Food = any food purchased except restaurants
Restaurant = food someone prepared for me
Tips = given to dock help,  tips at restaurants etc not in this number
Boat = maintenance along the way, insurance for Bahamas $1,400
Laundry = just fun tracking
MISC = did not fit anywhere, ex. T-shirts
Total = divided by 257 = $78/day or 30 x 78 = $2,340/mo

Bigger boats cost more, but it is the marinas that get you.

 

Trip Statistics:
257 days
70 days at marinas, 29 different marinas, avg. marina $60/night, avg. marina depth 10.6 ft.
123 days at anchor, 51 different anchorages, avg. anchor depth 10.7 ft.
31 days at Free docks, 15 days on moorings, 18 days on hard

531.9 Engine hrs., $1,768 diesel fuel, avg. $4.43 gal, diesel engine 4JHE Yanmar 44 hp, .73 gph
This trip makes 6 Gulf Stream crossings and thus far all uneventful.
Water prices per gal ranged from .20 to .40 per gal and some offered daily, week or monthly rates.  For the combination purchased $228.90 between December 26 and April 16.

Tallship Bounty Sails to Philadelphia

For our final leg up the Delaware River HMS Bounty sailed side-by-side with privateer Lynx. We were astonished by the strength of the current in the Delaware River and the amount of debris in the water. Many large chunks of wood and even a 30 ft tree!

It has been pushing 100 degrees the last few days with little to no wind, but we came in under full sail for the city of Philadelphia.  It took the crew just 20 minutes to set every sail on the ship, quite a feat in the hot weather!! Although we were motoring in the calm conditions, those towers of white canvas were, as always, a wonderful sight to see.

hms bounty by velocir

After all the sails are set the work is not over, later when they are struck all crew must go aloft to furl them back up on to the yards.  (Much more work than our sloop Velocir!!!!).  It is exhausting for us to keep up with the crew.  Hands become calloused and muscles ache.  But after a few weeks you become astonished at your own strength!

hms bounty by velocir

One of the best parts of being on the ship is climbing all over it.  Out to bowsprit, up the masts (three to choose from) and down into the depths of the ship.  Amelia’s favorite spot is the bowsprit.  It juts up and gives a beautiful view of Bounty cutting through the water.

hms bounty by velocir

Captain Robin brought the massive ship into the dock as smoothly as if she were our little Velocir. (He knows the ship well; even dropping the massive 900lb anchor twice doing a 180 degree turn in tight quarters with a side wind while we were in Annapolis to line up the dock just right.) After helping get the sails furled and the many, many lines coiled down; we went over to help the 110 year-old barkentine Gazela dock close to Bounty and watched yet another masterful docking of these huge ships. (www.gazela.org)

Amelia and Grant took the night watch of the ship last night so the crew could sing their chanties and drink their beer with the other tallship crew. While Grant was below pumping bilges (wooden boats…) he felt the boat suddenly heel 15 degrees….at the dock! Amelia was on deck saving the flags before the thunderstorm/squall came upon us blowing gale force and causing a complete whiteout. The crew stopped hanging the disco ball in the tween decks and burst from the ship clad in foul weather gear to rescue a tent on the dock that had exploded and then everyone jumped to repositioning dock lines and gear in the pouring rain after the wind had subsided.

We have had a lot of fun seeing old shipmates and getting to see all the historical sights Philadelphia has to offer. We will miss the wonderful crew of the HMS Bounty and although this the end of our journey on the ship, Bounty’s does not end: (www.tallshipbounty.org)

Aboard Tallship Bounty

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We have left Velocir for a larger ship!  Well, only temporarily to crew the tall ship BountyBounty was built in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia in 1960 for the 1962 Marlon Brando movie Mutiny on the Bounty.  A wooden ship- she is 180 feet long overall.  The height of the main mast is 115 feet. (www.tallshipbounty.org)

This ship is significant to us because it is how we met!  Grant was a professional crew member and Amelia was a volunteer when they crossed the Atlantic together on Bounty in 2009.  Being back on the ship three years later is a fun experience.  It is also a lot of work!  Bounty has over 18 sails to hoist, furl and many projects to attend to.

Tallship Bounty by Velocir

Our watch the first morning was from 4-8 am, so we enjoyed the beautiful sunrise on the calm waters of the Chesapeake Bay as the anchor was hauled up and we got underway.  We had spent the night near Turkey Point, where the C&D Canal and Susquehanna River part.  There was a lot more current here then we expected, and moving into the Delaware River the current picked up even more.Tallship Bounty by Velocir

During the day, the barque rigged tall ship Guayas from Ecuador (launched in 1976) moved past us in the channel just before the entrance to the C&D Canal. Many crew members were aloft in orange work suits and waved to us.

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From 12-4 pm is work party!  During this time the Bosun gives the off-watch crew (crew not on watch) maintenance projects to do around the ship.  Today all the lines were taken off the pin rails so that the wood could be oiled.  Amelia and other crew also went up to the top of the rigging to tar the shrouds while Grant hung off the side of Bounty to do some painting.  We’ve tried to highlight these interesting and unique projects in our videos!

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Amelia stood bow watch as we came into our anchorage.  Just for a fun challenge, the mates turned off the GPS and used traditional navigation (compass bearings and paper charts) to get us near shore.  We were only .2 miles from our intended destination, so we did rather well.  Dodging crab pots was also a challenge but we managed to avoid them all!

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Later in the day privateer Lynx anchored near us.  (www.privateerlynx.com) After we are at anchor Bounty goes into a rotation called “anchor watch.”  One person spends each hour on watch logging our GPS position, writing down the compass bearings of three specific buildings on shore, completing a boat check and pumping the bilges.  We spent the night off Newcastle, DE in anticipation of our next stop, Philadephia!

Check out more tallship activities at: www.sailtraining.org

Cost of Cruising: Albin Vega Velocir

The cost of cruising is always a hot debate.  The general rule is that the smaller you go, the less expensive.  Every foot of boat increases costs exponentially.  The Albin Vega is about the smallest one can go in, and we think our costs reflected that.

Many people are curious about these things, and we hope this is helpful for any planners out there. 

Cost of Cruising: Albin Vega Velocir

Amelia has tackled the ominous mega-binder of everything Velocir to bring you a pretty fair outline of our costs.

Ways We Saved Money:

– Grant’s employee discount at Bacon Sails, so most of our budget was slashed 30%

– Buying a large portion of our materials and gear secondhand.

– Wedding gifts (tools, cookware, safety gear, SPOT, AIS etc)

– Lived with family and on Velocir while working

– Completed all installation and work ourselves

– Under age 26 (health care covered through parents)

– No debt to pay

– We were given hand-me-downs and many materials were lying around the family workshop

Cost of Cruising: Albin Vega Velocir

Outfitting Costs:

How much do you spend before you even leave!?!  Many people, Grant included, are very wary of knowing the actual cost of outfitting Velocir.  Well, Amelia can’t calculate it 100% anyways because we didn’t keep perfect track. We’d also like to point out that we went above and beyond in preparation.  It was worth it for us, but many of these things certainly do not need to be completed before going cruising.  It was as much a journey as it was an education.  Velocir was not purchased to go cruising. Amelia got it with her Dad as a father-daughter project and completely re-built it from the hull up.  A budget-minded cruiser would probably buy an already outfitted boat to save time and money.  But then you can’t have it “your way” and know every inch of your boat. Ah, compromise.

Approximate Total Cost: $27,000 (without employee discount 30% more)

To see a slideshow of the work done on Velocir click here.

Cost of Cruising: Albin Vega Velocir

To give a sense of our discount here are a few stats:

– Our New Sails: $2768 (Retail $5500)

– Our Chain: 85 cents a foot (Retail $3 afoot)

Cruising Costs:

Our cruising costs are 100% accurate.  Every receipt was recorded into a spreadsheet and reviewed monthly. Our goal was to spend no more than $1000 a month.  As you can see, the average cost per month was $920, and could have been less if not for our towing incident!  The total we spent during 8 months was $7421.  It turns out, once the boat is cruising-ready, it is the cheapest thing we can do.  (Not many lifestyles where you do not pay to sleep at night.)

Month 1 (Annapolis, MD to Wrightsville Beach, NC)

We are still working out the kinks, but focusing on sailing not motoring.

Cost of Cruising: Albin Vega Velocir

Boat Items: cleaning supplies, hose fittings, fasteners, extra manual water pump, deck wash pump

Misc Items: surf wax, cleaning supplies, books, postcards, fishing supplies, fishing license, etc.

Month 2 (Wrightsville Beach, NC to St. Augustine, FL)

A new toilet takes a chunk out of the budget.

Cost of Cruising: Albin Vega Velocir

Boat: new Nature Head composting toilet, hose, installation parts

Dockage/Mooring: St. Augustine

Misc: fishing supplies, leisure

Month 3 (St. Augustine, FL to Marsh Harbor, Abacos)

We stock up on food before the Bahamas, get snorkeling gear & pay customs fees.

Cost of Cruising: Albin Vega Velocir

Boat: oil, fasteners, hardware, paint

Dockage/Mooring: Cocoa, FL

Misc: Bahamian Customs, snorkeling gear, fishing gear, rum

Month 4 (Marsh Harbor, Abacos to Governors Harbor, Eleuthera)

Off on our own, not buying stuff.

Cost of Cruising: Albin Vega Velocir

Dockage/Mooring: Spanish Wells Mooring

Misc: rum, beer, taxi

Month 5 (Governors Harbor Eleuthera to Georgetown, Exumas)

By a grocery store again, enjoy fresh food!

Cost of Cruising: Albin Vega Velocir

Misc: rum, ice, festival tshirts

Month 6 (Georgetown, Exumas to Morgans Bluff, Andros)

Get stuck in Andros with no anchorage, fill-up on fuel for crossing.

Cost of Cruising: Albin Vega Velocir

Dockage/Mooring: Fresh Creek, Andros 3 nights

Misc: straw market, Androsia

Month 8 (Fort Pierce, FL to Morehead City, NC)

Towing incident, then resort to motoring to get through the ICW.

Cost of Cruising: Albin Vega Velocir

Boat: tow offshore, hoses

Dockage/Mooring: Fort Pierce, FL (towing related), St. Augustine mooring & NC

Misc: books, taxi to customs, local art

Month 9 (Morehead City, NC to Annapolis, MD)

Fuel: $56

Velocir makes 98 miles in 14 hours

We had waited in Old Point Comfort, VA two days for good weather.  It would take us three days (140ish miles) and realistically the weather didn’t look good for the entire week.  Our family had planned a party and relatives were coming- oh  no!

It was a tough to be so close but yet so far.  We’d gone out and come back one morning when NOAA called for S  10-15 knots but it was ENE 25 knots all day. With 4 ft choppy swell on our beam, Velocir couldn’t make much speed and we were getting tossed around, so it wasn’t worth it.

The next day the wind finally turned S 25-30 knots.  A bit rough for Velocir, but we were headed N so the angle to the waves was okay.  We put up our main with a reef in it, kept the engine going and let out a scrap on genoa that keeps us from rolling in heavy seas downwind.  We were screaming down the bay at 7.5 knots the whole day!!!!  From 6AM to 8PM we made 98 miles to Solomons, MD.  Quite a feat for us and a distance we’d thought would take two days.Chesapeake Bay Lighthouse by Velocir

The Chesapeake is fun because instead of bouys our new marks are historic lighthouses.

Commercial Fishing on the Chesapeake by Velocir

Amelia saw some major commercial fishing on the Chesapeake Bay near the entrance to the Rappahannock that she didn’t know existed.  There were three massive blue fishing trawlers (like you would see in Alaska).  Bigger than shrimping trawlers, probably over 150 ft.  They were doing circles off the channel, which was very confusing to us and other cruisers around us.  Many people tried to call them on the radio but they did not respond.

As we got closer, Amelia realized each huge trawler was momma boat to two 30 foot silver fishing boats that were open-deck and had two giant 20 foot cranes on deck.  The cranes supported giant nets, and the two smaller fishing boats would circle around dropping the nets and picking them up again, while the huge trawler circled them. (Three groups of momma trawler with 2 crane boats)

To complete the whole process, two white planes circled them in the sky the whole time, obviously a part of the fleet.  Amelia was surprised this kind of fishing went on in the Bay?!?  Also worried because she spotted a sea turtle nearby.

We made it to Solomons, MD with an hour of daylight left to spare, staying at a friend’s dock.  Our last day is tomorrow!!!!

Straight Through the Alligator River

After a relaxing day at the town dock in Oriental, NC we headed out into calm calm weather and were greeted by a beautiful sunrise.  The wind picked up as predicted mid-morning so instead of motoring inside the waterway, we sailed around a few peninsulas before coming up the Pungo River to Belhaven, NC.

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Calm as can be outside Oriental, NC!  Later that night in the Pungo River massive thunderstorms swarmed around us.  To our north, lightening continued in bright bursts for hours and hours!  It was fun to watch and we didn’t get directly hit.

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The next day we motored through the Alligator River, which we’d skipped on our way down last Fall by sailing near the Outer Banks.  It was a straight canal, with submerged logs and stumps everywhere.  Thankfully no collisions!  We made it to Elizabeth City a day later, sailing across the Albemarle Sound.  It was some great sunny weather and warmer temperatures!

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When we finally reached the Dismal Swamp Canal we felt home-free!  Almost back to Annapolis. (After this we are practically in the Chesapeake Bay!)  The swamp canal was just a beautiful as we’d remembered.  Lots of birds, tons of turtles and lily pads.

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The first lock, South Mills, raised Velocir up 8 feet with water gushing in.

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At our second lock, Deep Creek, we added a conch shell to the lockmaster’s collection.  The conch garden is quite full! 

We headed to an anchorage we like near Old Point Comfort, VA.  It was so close from the Dismal Swamp Canal but many obstacles were in our path.  The only scheduled bridge was on a temporary schedule, so it was opening less-frequently than we thought.  By the time it opened, a train bridge in front of it had come down and a train was stopped in the middle, not moving.  It took two hours and there was a huge pile-up of boats waiting!

Now we will sit near Old Point Comfort for a weather window to sail north up the Chesapeake!

Velocir has an Off-Day…twice

After Charleston last weekend, we sure have been struggling in the cold weather the past few days!!

Cruising Velocir

While Amelia was on watch a bunch of dolphins were playing in the channel.  They don’t usually get that curious about Velocir, but came over to check us out.  Amelia got really excited and took a picture.  Seconds later, Velocir was aground.  It didn’t even seem like we were really outside of the channel, and we weren’t very close to shore either.  It took about 5 minutes of maneuvering and we were off!  (Beware of tricky dolphins!!) And we didn’t even get a very good picture…  :(

Cruising Velocir

Grant was on watch the next day.  It was raining and he saw a small group of men standing on the side of the waterway under a tree. He assumed they were trying to get out of the rain.  Then, Grant witnessed them take a body and throw it off the cliff.  He was pretty freaked out!!

As we got closer, Grant saw a fire truck, ambulance and more trucks.  The men were wearing yellow safety gear. We realized the body was a “dummy” and they were doing a safety drill.  (In the photo the “body” it the little curved lump on the beach towards the left).

Cruising Velocir

After that shock was over, we continued a little farther.  Amelia was down below cooking some scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese.  All of the sudden the boat jolted to a stop, like a car crash, and threw both of us forward.  Grant did a face plant into the cockpit, bruising his face.  Amelia fell into the table in the main cabin, testing it’s strength.  Amelia just remembers falling, seeing the flame on the oven with no food, and then immediately turning the propane off.  Breakfast, pan and all, had fallen behind the stove.  Just some bruises…but if we had been injured the safety team rescuing the dummy was still close-by!

We assume that we hit a submerged log.  The waterway is covered with fallen trees, it is not uncommon (picture above).  But this was different than running aground.  When you run aground, it is a somewhat gentle weird lurching feeling, like you are bumping and sliding along the bottom.  This was a crash, an immediate jolt to a stop.  We had never experienced this before.

Velocir got off the submerged object with a little rocking.  No contact was made to the rudder or propeller luckily.  Hopefully all is well with our keel.  We wanted to dive on it but there is no visibility in the water!  (Needless to say, Amelia had bad dreams that night.  They involved running aground in a marshy area and a battered keel on Velocir).

Cruising Velocir

We improved our week by staying at a marina we like in Barefoot Landing, SC.  They have really nice showers and a hot tub.  It was so cold out but we were relaxing! 

It has begun to warm up as we head for North Carolina.  We are even getting birds on Velocir, trying to scoop up some bugs on our deck!

Beautiful Charleston & Towboat Velocir

Charleston by Velocir

After spending time with family friends in Beaufort, SC, we are back to our trek northward.  Every day we are trying to get 40-60 miles (8-12 hour days).  We travel at about 5 mph.  This is a lot faster than the way down, where we did 15-25 mile days, mostly under sail which made us usually slower.

We spent a rainy but beautiful weekend walking around Charleston.  Some great food, a fun Farmer’s Market and sailboats racing in the harbour.  The town is just restaurants, clothing stores and houses so we took advantage of the fine cuisine with a night out for sushi!

Charleston by Velocir

We enjoyed walking through the city last fall, but we especially enjoyed it in the spring with all the flowers out.  We even stumbled upon the carriage houses of Charleston.  There were 4-5 of these large buildings full of horses and carriages.  One carriage looked like a Princess carriage and was all dressed up.

Charleston by Velocir

After two rainy days walking around town, we pulled up anchor on an equally rainy morning.  We had two anchors down, a bahamian moor, because of the current (to keep us from swinging a lot).  So, we pulled up our primary anchor first, fell back (down current) onto our secondary anchor and pulled it up.  Charleston harbor is pretty mucky!

towboat velocir

As we were heading out of the harbor we noticed a 40 foot Beneteau tacking back and forth under genoa sail alone.  They were trying to head up current with less than 5 knots of breeze.  Really, they were drifting backwards in the channel towards a bridge.

We realized their engine may not be working and they probably needed help.  Sure enough, they were in need of assistance so we offered them a tow.  They accepted so we readied our 120 foot long yellow 1” polypro line we tow our dinghy Raptor on.  We have never cut it short in case of a situation like this where we received or gave a tow.  Amelia led it to the winch for a strong hold, then threaded it back to the chock for a good lead.

Velocir  was much smaller than them and we hadn’t towed anyone before, but we went slow and it went smoothly.  Amelia tossed the line solidly, and they used the big looped end to secure it to their boat.

Grant maneuvered us across the channel over to Charleston City Marina, where two staff members were standing on a dock waiting for us.  As we got closer, a trawler started to motor out of the narrow channel between the piers. The two young dock staff told us a boat was coming out of the marina and to get out of its way. We were up current and under tow, so we stopped, radioed them and asked that they give us the right of way.  Actually, we kind of demanded it.

In the confusion of this, the boat we were towing decided they were close enough and let go.  We didn’t really make a judgment call on this decision and just went with it.  It was too early to let go.  They drifted in the current to the left dock instead of the right dock (picture above).  After making light contact with the sailboat on the left dock (people were onboard) another boat got it’s dinghy going and passed lines over to the right dock.  Within 10 minutes they were all tied up and secure.

However, Amelia would like to point out that she saw a Charleston City Marina runabout boat on several occasions during our time anchored nearby.  At no point did they attempt to assist in any way beyond having line handlers on the dock.  Maybe there is some liability reason, but it seemed odd, because they were in radio contact with the sailboat and aware of the situation but did nothing to help.

Back to the USA: Good & Then Really Bad

To get a sense of the first two days of our voyage please watch this video:

It was our “watch activity” to record a little something about how everything was going.  To summarize the video: everything was going GREAT.  Beautiful weather, a fresh caught Snapper for dinner, doing a little sailing (only used 6 gallons fuel the whole way), boosted speed by the Gulf Stream.  It was so great, and the weather predictions continued to be so good (wind 10 knots, calm seas) that we decided to be ambitious and continue for St. Augustine.

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Then it all went downhill and ended very badly for us.  The boat is healthy and we are healthy.  But the whole ordeal was so traumatic we couldn’t bring ourselves to take any video or photos so we will just describe what happened.

At about 6 pm Amelia was preparing dinner and we changed watches.  Everything was great.  The weather was calling for calm wind and seas, with a slight chance of thunderstorms inland and south of our location, near Lake Okeechobee.  We were sailing along at 7 knots in the Gulf Stream 30 miles NE of Fort Pierce, FL, and we were going to push another day for St. Augustine.

After about 15 minutes on watch Grant spotted thunderstorms forming on the horizon.  Dinner was finished.  We immediately took down the main and reefing leaving a little genoa out for stability, got out our hatch boards to protect the main cabin, putting on our safety gear.  Boat check, cockpit check.

The first storm was south of us, and was going to miss us, but we turned the motor on to get closer to shore and closer to Fort Pierce.  Given the drastic change in weather our destination was now Fort Pierce.  We were north of the inlet, and the Gulf Stream and swell was continuing to push us north, but we motored through the swell.  It tossed Velocir every which way being so close to the wind and swell.  The wind picked up to 30-35 knots and the swell increased.  Amelia wedged herself in the v-berth while Grant steered.

Amelia closed her eyes to try and relax and let the time pass, knowing it was only hours before Velocir would be safely inland.  She looked up too see how Grant was doing and noticed smoke coming from the engine.  She immediately leapt up and started screaming to turn it off.  We turned the engine off.

The thunderstorms were all around us now, and one was approaching.  The weather reports had changed– now thunderstorms/squalls with winds reaching 55 mph were being predicted, with squalls continuing throughout the night and into the next day. Velocir calmed down immediately as we turned north again with the swell astern (behind us).  Waves, peaking at about 10 feet, still crashed over Velocir, soaking the cockpit, but the movement was not as violent.

A hard downpour and winds came with the storm, but it was only the edge of it and lasted about ten minutes.  Amelia sat in the cockpit steering and having a mild panic attack, while Grant tried to fix the engine.  A water intake hose was kinked, so he quickly replaced it.  Amelia never wanted to sail Velocir offshore again, wanted to stop cruising.  What was so bad about living in a house and turning up the volume on your TV when the thunder got loud? Closing a window when it rained?  What was wrong with us?  Grant fully agreed but told Amelia to get it together.

Amelia quickly composed herself and the rain stopped.  She started pumping the manual bilge pump.  There was A LOT of water in Velocir.  The engine cooled down and we started it up again, went a little ways and it overheated again.  Amelia pumped out Velocir again—more water.  We tried again to let the engine cool, thinking maybe the oil pressure was just having a hard time recovering.  More water came into Velocir.

Every time we turned the engine on not only was it overheating, but more water was coming into Velocir.  Was it pumping raw water or exhaust water into Velocir?  How could that be related to the overheating, if at all?  The only way to know for sure was to unscrew and remove the cockpit floor (a fair weather option only).  The water could be coming in from other places too:  the cockpit drains, a thru hull, the water tanks etc.  More storms were coming and it was now dark.

The moon was half-full, but we could see lightening nearby.  And without an engine we did not have enough speed to get 30 miles to Fort Pierce because the Gulf Stream continued to push us north.  We called the Coast Guard to keep them advised of our location and situation in case things deteriorated.  We asked for an updated detailed weather report.  She replied it was, and we quote: “nasty.”  A few minutes later Grant started to feel physically ill, exhausted and had to lay down.  Thirty hours of 3-hour watch rotations were catching up to him.

After another storm passed the wind shifted from SW to N.  It was freaky.  Now we could not sail.  We tried to sail West, closer to shore.  But with the swell and Gulf Stream we couldn’t make any progress.  The wind pushed against the prevailing swell, causing steeper chop.

It was time to call it quits, our safety is priority one.  We hailed a tow boat to come get us.  It was now 1930 and it would take them 2.5 hours to reach us—okay.  It felt like forever before they arrived.  The Captain kept hailing us, asking if we could see his blue flashing light.  He was ten miles out, could we see it?  No.  Six miles?  No.  Four? No.  Amelia tried to explain Velocir is only a few feet off the water and that we would probably not spot him for a while in this swell.

Finally he got near Velocir and threw us a tow line.  Grant went up on deck and wrapped it around our bollard that has a ridiculously reinforced backing plate.  Thank goodness for that!! ..because he was towing us almost directly into the swell.  Velocir was bucking and hammering, literally being pulled through the waves.  The tow boat slowed down a little in some parts because it was just too rough.

28 miles before we were inside the cut.  Amelia had been steering, still in warm weather clothes.  She was freezing in the night, so she went down to change while Grant took the helm.  He steered Velocir behind the Tow Boat for a long time while Amelia huddled under a blanket.

Then, Grant started not feeling well again, and Amelia came up to relieve him.  We sat in the cockpit together for a few moments while Grant realized the NAVIK did not look right.  The lower paddle that helps steer the boat (when in use) was horizontal in the water, not vertical as it should be.  Grant was able to grab it before it completely detached from the upper unit.  (The cast aluminum frame it is pinned into had shattered).  Due to the force of the waves and speed?  Not sure, we were not going faster than usual but we were getting thrown a bit.

Grant headed down below.  Amelia sat down on the starboard side of the cockpit and saw a jerry can full of diesel fuel perched, all alone, on the deck.  What?!?  She calmly yelled down below, “take the tiller for a minute,” then grabbed the can before it went overboard.  With a harness and life jacket on, she quickly went forward to put extra lashings on the other three jerry cans still on deck.  The amount of water pouring over Velocir was immense.

8.5 hours later, at 4 AM Velocir was at a marina in Fort Pierce.  It cost us $1400 to be towed in.  Quite a bit to swallow, but we would do it again.  In the long run, I think we got off easy.  He told us he didn’t charge us the full rate and we believe him.

We are now members of Tow Boat US, which we hadn’t joined before because we didn’t think we were coming back to the States so soon and then forgot. For us:  If Velocir runs aground we can get her off, and if Velocir has an engine problem inland we can anchor for a few hours and fix it.  But unfortunately this one unlikely situation where we would need a tow happened to us.

As soon as the Tow Boat left we called family, started the customs clearing-in process, and checked email .  Amelia read this blog comment aloud as Grant changed our water soaked sheets so that we could collapse in bed:

WOW!! So, my Hubby and I sat down last Sunday evening…. found your blog and enjoyed EVERY picture, video and comment. We’re just learning to sail and you have sparked a dream in us!!! You make it look like so much fun! I know we have MUCH to learn, but you have taken the fear out of it for me!! Thank you for sharing all that you have! It’s a lot of work!! We have a Flying Scot which we’re removing old paint and repainting ourselves!! It’s a blast!

Thanks again and have a safe and fun trip back to the US!!!

Amelia, exhausted, could not help but laugh.  We are still laughing at the comedic timing, it was so perfect.  This is one of the first comments we’ve ever gotten from someone that’s not close family or friends.  Thank you, we hope this experience does not dissuade you.  Despite this event, every bit of preparation we did has paid off and we have had almost zero problems overall.  It’s been extremely rewarding, all the time we’ve spent together and all the amazing experiences we’ve shared.  With the ups must come the downs.

24 hours of retrospect: everything is okay, we made the right decision, these things happen, thankfully it happened within the USA, cruising is fun, this is the only bad thing that has happened in one year of being on the boat and it turned out fine, we still like cruising and will continue for a while, a house one day will be nice.

The engine is now fine….we think.  It was a series of little mishaps that resulted in the overheating.  The hose kinked starving the engine of water.  This caused the coolant to overflow.  Without the coolant it wasn’t cooling down.  The exhaust hose had come loose and was gushing most of the exhaust water into the bilge.  After repair and test runs we think we are good now.

There was a Publix grocery store near the marina we were towed to.  Being around so many people and a large developed area, we just stared at everything.  Inside the grocery store we grinned like idiots at all the nice and inexpensive food.  Grant bought beer and ice and now he is happy.  Amelia bought strawberries and now she is happy.

UPDATE: THE GULF STREAM DILEMMA

We have had several people ask us about the squalls we ran into off the coast of Florida and why we made the decision we did; so we decided we would take a moment and review the situation, our potential options and the factors leading to our decision. These are excellent questions to ask and lessons can always be learned.

So, lets recap: “Nasty” squalls predicted for the next 36 hours, large (peaking 10ft) steep confused swell, shifty heavy breeze, no engine, taking on water from an unknown source.  Our position: 30 miles offshore in heavy shipping traffic unable to make ground, Gulf Stream pushing us NE 3+ knots

Options:

1. Heave-to:

We heard this a lot from people, the classic salty thing to do. Heave-to, lash down the tiller and strap in, go below and take a nap, let mother nature rage, the boat can handle it. When the weather lightens up try to fix the engine or sail on in to St. Augustine.

Why we didn’t: Well we did, for a little while. Vegas do heave to well; however, from that point on North, the Gulf Stream begins to head NE and the coast of Florida goes West a bit, so if problems worsened we would be a lot farther than 30 miles off the coast. (If you are 30+ miles offshore it is extremely unlikely a towboat will come to get you, the Coast Guard will come and rescue your person, not your boat).  Also, we could not in good conscience have no one on watch; many freighters use the Gulf Stream to save on fuel and bright lights or no, like the race boat heading down to Mexico last month, freighters do from time to time run things down.

Let’s not forget a big one, exhaustion. It is near impossible to sleep on Velocir when she is pitching every which way. We had been underway for over 36 hours and 3 on 3 off was beginning to wear on us physically and mentally. We would not have slept that night and if conditions had worsened we would have an even harder time with it.

2. Get Towed

While we were in touch with the Coast Guard we also got in touch with TowBoat US to find out if they would even come out to get us and what that might cost. There is a $150 insurance you can buy, but this is about the only scenario we could think of we wouldn’t just want to handle ourselves. So, to add on to all the reasons listed above not to continue on is the idea that the tow services are not as likely to come any farther than 30 miles out to get us, especially if conditions worsened. That assumed we would be even near a navigable inlet. We had our EPIRB and a life raft, but if had more problems we could lose the boat and that would cost us a LOT more than a tow.

So, all of these reasons and a few more combined to paint a pretty clear picture of the most reasonable thing to do. When reviewing all these options the #1 motivation was to keep us safe, while the tow was certainly expensive and not at all glamorous, it was the safest thing to do.

In the end it was one of the most miserable experiences of my life. We broke our wind vane, got numerous cuts a bruises, and were really glad we put a huge backing plate on the bollard on our foredeck we were towed through that mess on. The engine problems and water coming in were what we suspected but could not confirm, a series of minor problems that took about 20 minutes to repair. The predicted 36 of squally Hell that was predicted never materialized.

Hindsight, we should have hove-to and continued for another pleasant day of sailing. However, with water coming in from an unknown source and an easy exit  quickly slipping from our grasp I would make the same decision a hundred times over.

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