Category Archives: Florida

Back to the USA

We have sold Tusen Takk II.

When we moved aboard in July, 2005, it was with the agreement that we would stay on the boat only so long as we both wanted to.  After 13 glorious years during which we both felt like we were indeed “living the dream”, one of us decided that she was ready for something else.  I resisted.  When that didn’t work, I begged for just one more season.  That was granted, and completed in May, 2019.  And so we readied the boat for the anticipated sale and for the long cruise back to the USA.  Among other things, I spent a huge amount of time painting all of the bilges and surfaces in the “downstairs compartments”, and a considerable amount of time revarnishing interior surfaces “upstairs”, including the saloon table.

Our very good friend Bill (nee Dolce Vita) offered to join us for the passage, and we accepted at once;  he arrived several weeks before our planned departure, the better to enjoy Bonaire one last time and to help with the preparations and to be present when a weather window appeared.  Even before his arrival, I had begun preparations by opening up the middle fuel tank in order to see if it needed cleaning after our 14 years of use.  It was remarkably clean, presumably due to our habit of always running the built-in fuel cleaning system whenever we were underway.   When he arrived, we prophylactically took apart the stabilizers in order to check the condition of the trunions supporting the hydraulic cylinders.  We replaced the John Deere serpentine belt, and I changed the JD oil and filter.

It was windy when Bill arrived, and it stayed windy, with no prospect for improvement, causing our minimum standards for the passage to Puerto Rico to slip a bit.  We decided to depart on May 22, knowing that the first half of the trip would be somewhat bumpy.  We planned on leaving around midnight to effect an late morning / early afternoon arrival at Puerto del Rey Marina in Puerto Rico some days and 425 nautical miles later.  Just as the sun was about to go down, I expressed regret that I wouldn’t be able to see Bonaire as we were leaving.  My crew mates were sympathetic, and so we made a hurried departure.

All of our careful calculations about arrival time were soon scrambled. During the initial 12 hours we experienced numerous uncommanded resets of the stabilizer system with the stabilizer system deciding to occasionally turn itself off, sometimes raising an alarm that required a manual reset, and other times just resetting itself. The sea conditions were pretty rough in 4-5 foot seas with 6 second intervals at about 60 degrees apparent. There was also an unfavorable current varying from .5 to 1.0 knots.  We were only making about 6 knots SOG instead of the anticipated 7.5 knots.  Worse, the starboard stabilizer began squeaking so noisily that we decided to remove it from service.  

We arrived at Vieques on 5/25/19, and proceeded to Puerto Del Rey Marina on mainland Puerto Rico the next day. We contacted TRAC about the reset problem, and they sent us a new servo box and an associated control panel.  While we were setting the appropriate parameters in the control panel, it froze.  TRAC sent us another.  While waiting for the parts, we drained and replaced the hydraulic fluid for the stabilizers.  We drained the coolant for the JD and genset and removed and cleaned their heat exchanger cores. We replaced the JD thermostats. We replaced coolant and seawater hoses.  We took the opportunity to get rebuilt two hydraulic cylinders for the stabilizers, and commissioned the removal of broken locking screws in two extra stabilizer yokes. We replaced the zincs on the rudder. We cut a new through hull and rerouted to it the stabilizer heat exchanger sea water line. We replaced the windshield wipers. We replaced an anchor roller on the pulpit. We replaced a defective hi-pressure gauge for the stabilizer hydraulic system. And when the parts finally arrived, as I have said, we replaced the stabilizer servo box and control panel.  And then replaced the replacement control panel.  Whew!

 On our penultimate day in PR we used our rental car to do some exploring along the southeastern coast.  We found for lunch a restaurant (Vinnies) in Naguabo that specialized in seafood.  Later we stopped at a charming little shop (La Casita Amarilla Café, in Humacao) for coffee. We observed many signs of the devastation of hurricane Irma, including many damaged homes and the universal damage to all wind generators. 

When we left Puerto Rico on June 14, the stabilizers were strangely ineffective.  In fact, the boat seemed more stable with them off than with them activated.  We double-checked all of the parameters, and found nothing wrong.  The starboard stabilizer once again got noisy and we deactivated and pinned it.  We had a very rough night on June 16 between Turks and Mayaguana.

Late on June 17, we decided to stop for some rest and to check our fluid levels at Atwood Harbour on Acklins Island in the Bahamas.  While snorkeling to check our anchor, Barb got a scare when she noticed a big shark.  It didn’t take her long to get out of the water.  Later, a local fishing guide stopped by. Barb asked him if he would use our “lookie bucket” to check our anchor.  When he returned with good news, she rewarded him with my last bottle of rum!  He later returned the favor by gifting us with three lovely lobsters.

We spent 6/19 working on both stabilizers and got our first clue as to the cause of their continued misbehavior; there was excessive play on the shaft of the starboard stabilizer and that was causing excessive wear.  Bill got advice from TRAC and learned how to tighten a nut and eliminate the wobble.

We departed on June 20, and quickly realized that the stabilizers, although quiet,  were not providing stabilization.  Fortunately, the seas becalmed and we could continue with them pinned and deactivated.  We stopped briefly at Highbourne Cay to do some reprovisioning.

We spent the night of June 21 in Nassau at the Yacht Haven Marina, where we had a great Snapper dinner at the Poop Deck.

On June 22 we left Nassau and travelled through perfectly calm seas, arriving at Bahia Mar Marina in Ft Lauderdale 23 hours later.  On June 24, the East Coast head of TRAC service came to the boat. He reviewed the parameters in an effort to find an explanation for the ineffectiveness of the stabilizers.  His initial puzzlement vanished once his attention turned from the parameters in the control panel to the servo box itself.  As he smacked his palm against his forehead, he explained that on most boats the servo box is mounted to a forward or rear bulkhead.  On our boat the servo box was mounted on a side panel to starboard.  Inside the servo box is a gyroscope that senses roll.  But with the servo box mounted 90 degrees off from the usual orientation, our gyroscope was sensing hobby-horsing rather than roll.  No wonder the stabilizers weren’t able to counter the roll we were experiencing while underway!  The solution was easy:  the gyroscope within the servo box could be remounted within the box to be oriented correctly.  It took only a minute.  Then, we spent some time discussing optimal parameter settings to minimize wear, and perhaps most importantly, received an admission that the official admonition to not lubricate certain parts in the stabilizers is an instruction that neither the West Coast nor Each Coast service managers follow.  They strongly recommend the use of a suitable lubricant in order to prevent wear (and the accompanying squeaking that had plagued us).  

We ordered new parts to replace the worn parts and made the parameter adjustments.  When the parts arrived, we rebuilt the stabilizers with the new parts one final time, lubricating liberally.  But each major repair of the stabilizers required the setting of a certain parameter to enable the use of a special device to adjust the orientation of the sensor that informed the system of the position of the stabilizer fin.  When we had completed the repair we needed to return that special parameter to its original value.  Somehow in performing the reset we “stepped on” a different parameter, although it was not immediately recognized.  The result?  As we left, the fins barely moved at all, providing no stabilization!

There were some tense moments, and some invocations of “sailor speak”.  But then a careful review of ALL of the parameters revealed the existence of the grotesquely out-of-spec parameter,  We made the correction, and for the rest of the trip to Brunswick, GA we had lovely efficient and smoothly working and blissfully quiet stabilizers.

It was  June 26 when we left Ft Lauderdale and proceeded up the coast toward Brunswick, GA.  We arrived at about 6 am on June 28.  We found Brunswick Landing Marina to be a very pleasant place, as was the village of Brunswick.  The Marina has a very nice Yacht Club which is the site of Monday, Wednesday and Friday “happy hours” that last from about 5:30 pm until about 8 pm or later, and which feature snacks and nibbles provided by the marina guests and free wine and beer provided by the marina.  Furthermore, the keg of beer is open to guests 24/7!

On August 3 we welcomed our first (and only!) visit by a potential buyer.  They professed to be very impressed.  A few days later they made an offer, and by August 15 we had settled on a mutually-agreeable price.  The sale was completed on September 13.  We are sad to close out that part of our life, but are pleased that our beloved boat will be in the hands of enthusiastic new owners that will take good care of her.  We hope they enjoy her as much as we did.

And so we are boatless and homeless and living in our 2011 Tiffin Allegro Bus 40′ RV diesel pusher.  We expect to stay that way for the foreseeable future.  We spent some time parked west of Flagstaff on the property of our friend and benefactor Bill.  We are now in Phoenix, where we will store the bus and join Bill and Colleen on an extended trip to Spain and Italy.  We depart on September 30.  In addition to sight-seeing in Madrid and Granada, we will all spend about a week helping our Norwegian friends Lars Helge and Tove with their almond harvest near Itrabo, Spain.  Then on to Florence and Matera.  Then on to Rome, where we will begin on November 1 our return to the USA on a Celebrity cruise on their latest ship (Edge) that will take us from Rome to Florence/Pisa to Provence (Toulono) to Palma de Mallorca to Tenerife (Canary Islands) followed by a week at sea before landing at Ft. Lauderdale on November 15.

This is how we counter my grief at no longer living the dream aboard Tusen Takk II !

 

 

 

 

Punta Gorda, Florida: Oct. 25-28, 2012

On Oct. 25 we rented another car and drove down to Punta Gorda, Florida, stopping along the way in Green Cove Springs to pick up our packages, voting ballots and correspondence at our mailing service.  Cruising friends Ann and John Taylor now live in Punta Gorda in a lovely home on a canal; their sailboat Livin’ the Dream is docked in their back yard.  We visited an art gallery that featured large format black-and-white nature photographs.  We visited a bird sanctuary/hospital, and we attended a concert by Jim Morris and his Big Bamboo Band during our stay in Punta Gorda.   Morris’ band and songs are similar to those of Jimmy Buffet.   He even has a fan club reminiscent of Buffett’s “Parrot Heads”.   There are a number of YouTube videos of his songs, including this one.

At the last day of our visit we were joined by another cruising friend, the owner of the DeFever trawler Sojourn, John Hromadka, who drove down from Jacksonville.   John’s wry comments are always enjoyable.  Barb felt guilty about our taking the bed that by rights “belonged” to John, since his visit was planned before ours.

On Oct. 28 we drove our rental car from Punta Gorda to Miami, where we booked a motel room for the night.   Next day we caught an American Airlines flight directly to Trinidad, where we rejoined our favorite vessel Tusen Takk II, which had earlier in the day been moved out of the secure yard and into the yard where it could be worked upon.  But the account of our activities in Trinidad will have to wait until the next exciting edition of “Chuck and Barb Go Cruising”.