Monthly Archives: June 2017

USEXIT (aka BRentrance!)

The adjustment to the Code 0 done in record time by Mack Sails, we set out on Wednesday, May 17th, to head back to New Bern, NC.  The original plan was to go out through the St Lucie Inlet, but the conditions didn’t look favourable, so we headed back up the ICW to Fort Pierce.  We went out through the Fort Pierce Inlet at about 3:30pm and headed out towards the Gulf Stream.  With high winds and lumpy seas, the ride was not as comfortable as we had hoped, and we considered heading back in to Cape Canaveral.  We decided against that, as we would be arriving after dark, and while it was uncomfortable, we felt safe.  The worst thing was that the autopilot wasn’t able to handle the conditions, so we manually steered.  This meant that instead of our normal three hour shifts, we took one hour shifts.  From Wednesday night to Friday morning, we were able to make good headway under sail alone, helped by the Gulf Stream current, but at about 4:30am on Friday, the winds died, so we motored until 2am on Saturday, when we started to motorsail.  At 10:30am, we entered the Beaufort Inlet.  There were lots of boats headed out for a day on the water, many of whom turned right round and went back in when they realized how rough it was out there!  We were getting anxious that we might not make it to New Bern – so near but so far – but right at 5pm, we pulled into a slip in New Bern Grand Marina.  We had covered 534 miles in just over 75 hours which meant we were covering 173 miles a day, or an average of 7.2 knots, which we were very happy with.

We connected the power and water, went to Bayleaf Indian Restaurant, one of our favorite restaurants in New Bern, to pick up a takeout, and then settled in for a good night’s sleep.

The reason for being in New Bern was to take care of several projects before hauling the boat out and storing her for the summer, while we go home for 4 months.  These included…

  1. Remove and replace the 2 water tanks, one with a plastic water tank and the other with an aluminum tank for diesel.
  2. Plumb boat for shore water so we could remove the tanks.
  3. Autopilot drive unit replacement.
  4. Replace anchor 1 ton shackles with 2 ton shackles.
  5. Investigate blockage in forward sink.
  6. Installation of a breaker for the solar panels so that they could be turned off when on shore power.
  7. Pickle watermaker for the summer.
  8. Service PeekaBooo shades.
  9. Replace the overhead hatch and install a recessed screen for the forward cabin
  10. Clean all stainless.
  11. Clean all teak.
  12. Organize flights/cars for travel to the UK

Most of the time here has been work, work, work, but we have managed to get in a few fun things.  First of all, the marina provides cable TV to each boat, so we were able to watch the live coverage of the America’s Cup.  It was amazing to see, and now we are waiting to hear the schedule, so we can start working on our plan to visit the southern hemisphere in 4 years’ time!

We took the opportunity to renew our CPR/AED first aid certifications, both because it is always good to refresh your skills, but also because it is a useful certification to have when applying for volunteer positions which we hope to do next summer.

We also visited the local Escape Room one Saturday evening.  Along with another group of 4, we had an hour to solve the clues to escape from the office of the serial killer doctor, who wanted to add us to his list of victims!  It was a lot of fun, and I am happy to report that we escaped with over 15 minutes to spare!

Now we are getting very close to hauling the boat out.  We have rented a storage unit to house the items that will be better stored in air conditioning, and the fridge/freezer is all but empty.  To prepare Sol Purpose for hurricane season, the sails have all been washed, dried and stowed, and the bimini cover and dodger have been removed.  On Friday, we will move Sol Purpose to Wayfarer’s Cove Marina (we are praying that the water level will come up a little so that we can get in!), and haul her out of the water, so that she can be cleaned, painted and repaired.  We will spend the weekend working on the repairs, while staying in an Airbnb nearby.  Then, (at last!) we will be driving up to Newark, to fly home.  4 months in the UK – here we come!

We will write a couple of blogs while in the UK as we travel.  We intend to buy a second hand camper van to tour around the country which we will then try to sell before we leave.  This will help with hotel costs and give us more freedom to explore.

One last thing, we have to give a huge shout out to Bob ad Clare, who lent us their brand new truck while they were in Bermuda for the Americas Cup.  It was a major boon to us for everything from grocery shopping to getting us to our first aid training.  It’s great to know people like this when you are a cruiser.


Sol Purpose has no Sole (part one)

Back in January we had tried to convert one of the water tanks to a diesel tank to increase our motoring range.  Leaks in the tanks put a stop to this project.  We knew that the issue would have to be addressed eventually and so we have used our 6 week stay in New Bern to remove the cabin sole, remove both the old water tanks, measure them and have new tanks made.  As we are leaving to go to the UK for 4 months over the summer, I wanted to get as much of the work completed before we left so that we could hopefully take no more than 2 or 3 weeks to get it all installed and the sole back down before heading South in the fall.

The project had many issues to face, not the least of which was that the sole is fixed in placed and tabbed to the hull.  The furniture sitting on the sole would also have to be removed first as this is also tabbed into the hull.

It took half a day to remove the port settee “uprights”.  I did not want to remove the seating surface as this is what is tabbed to the hull behind the seat backs.  As the seating surface was supported at the hull, galley bulkhead and forward cabin bulkhead I was not concerned about leaving the settee this way over the summer.

The removal of the sole took another two days.  Firstly I removed the trim around the inspection hatches and then took the sockets for the table legs out.

With this done it was time to remove all the fittings and hoses from the tanks to make sure that, while cutting out the sole, I did not damage any of them.  I then used a jigsaw to cut out the sole above the tanks, removing as little sole as possible.  I had to cut two inches off the jigsaw blade so it would not bottom out on the top of the tanks.

The cross members that border the fore and aft edges of the tanks were not where I expected to find them.  I thought the forward member would be directly under the bulkhead between the salon and forward cabin but it was about 4 inches aft of this.  I expected the aft member would be under the bulkhead between the galley and the salon.  It was about 3 inches aft of this.  This caused 2 sets of problems.  The first was that the removal of the aft water tank was difficult as I could not pull it directly upwards due to the galley bulkhead overhang.  The second was that the sole was 1 inch thick and was comprised of a 3/4″ marine plywood sub-floor and a 1/4″ teak and holly plywood glued on to the sub-floor.  When replacing the teak and holly part of the floor I would have to line it up with the teak and holly sole that was not removed.  The original join between the teak and holly in each area was the doorway through to the forward cabin and the bulkhead between the galley and the salon.  I would therefore have to route down all the teak and holly above sub-floor that was not being removed in the salon area to bring it level with the new sub-floor.

With the sole removed, I was able to see that the tanks were held in place with spray foam which held the tanks away from the walls and off the hull.  Both tanks had fill holes in the top of the starboard walls.  This caused an issue with the aft tank removal and so I had to cut the fill off.  I wanted to have the fill holes in the top of the new tanks so this would not prove an issue on reinstallation.

tanks 018

aft tank fill fitting removed

I now had to pry the old tanks out of the holes.  There was not enough room to get anything of any strength down the side of the tanks so I cut four slots in the top of each tank near the corners.  I was then able to insert a crowbar into these slots and pry the tanks out with the assistance of a car jack and fulcrum

tanks 014

crowbar and slots

tanks 016

technique to lift tanks out

With the tanks removed I could clean out the area beneath the tanks ready for the reinstallation of the new ones.  The space was surprisingly clean.  I had expected dead cockroaches and dust bunnies galore as the mast base drains through this area to the bilge but there was very little to clean up.

tanks 002

Now that the tanks were out I was able to clean up all the edges, route down the teak and holly where required and cut and fit sections of wood to screw the new sub-floor into around the perimeter of the holes.  With this done I bought 2 pieces of 3/4″ marine plywood and cut them to fit the hole.  This was problematic as the hole was not rectangular due to the inability to make cuts where desired.

The sub-floor was screwed down temporarily to allow us to move around the  boat till the new tanks arrived.

The second major issue regarding the project was that I was not able to find a manufacturer that would custom fabricate a plastic tank for both the water and fuel tanks.  I had to order the fuel tank in aluminum which is not an issue as our existing aluminum tank is 22 years old and has no signs of pitting whatsoever.  Boyd Welding in Ocala, Florida took the order for the fuel tank and was very helpful through all stages of the process.  I sent them the original design drawings that I was able to get from George McCreary at Caliber Yachts.  I tweaked the drawings to reflect the fittings required for a diesel tank as opposed to the original water tank.

I did not want to make the water tank out of aluminum as this is what led to pitting in the original tanks.  I was able to order one made from polypropylene from Dura Weld in Lake Worth Florida.  They were also very helpful through the whole process.

We intend to haul the boat just before we head to the UK to get the crack in the skeg repaired and also get a bottom job done.  We will leave the boat on the hard until we return at the start of November.  Luckily Tom at Wayfarers Marina and Boatyard agreed to accept delivery of the tanks and store them in his warehouse until we return.

I spent the next week ordering all the hoses required for the new fuel tank along with all fittings.  I will run all hoses that I can before we leave.  I plan to install two 3-way fuel valves.  One will be used to choose which tank supplies fuel to the engine.  The other will be used to ensure that the fuel return line goes back to the same tank.  These will be attached under the inspection hatch for the aft fuel tank.

Part two of this project will be completed when we return from the UK…

Wrap up of our first year

The first year is now in the books, so it’s time to reflect.  As I did for the first six months, I have put together details of our travel days, expenses and a few observations.  I hope you will find these interesting/useful.

Where we have been

For various reasons set out previously, in the first six months, we had spent more time in marinas than we had anticipated.  The second half of the year proved more in line with what we had envisioned, with much of the year spent at anchor.  At first, we had thought that we would need to run the motor when we ran the watermaker, in order to keep the batteries charged, but after talking with some other cruisers, we learned that, so long as it was a sunny day, the solar panels, along with the wind generator, would be enough to keep up with the watermaker.  This was great as it meant that we didn’t have to use precious fuel in order to keep up with our water needs.  Another advantage of being at anchor is that, except in a few circumstances, you always face into the wind, so you can get a nice breeze going through the boat, thus removing the need for air conditioning.

Here is the breakdown of how we spent the first year:

First six months Second six months
Overnight travel  26   5
At anchor  62 139
Free marina/moorings  14   7
Moorings  11 4
Marinas  71 26
184 181

In the first six months – 5,161 miles, 2 countries, 14 states, 45 different anchorages/marinas.

In the second six months – 2,801 miles, 2 countries, 2 states, 57 different anchorages/marinas.

The link below shows the route of Sol Purpose since we left Kemah, TX.

Route of the first six months

The link below shows the route in the second six months:

Route of the second six months

The Bottom Line

As mentioned in my previous post, we are trying to keep our spending below $3,000 per month.  The first six months saw us way over that target, but things were much better in the second half of the year.

We did buy a complete set of sails from Mack Sails, but we had saved this money and set it aside before we left, so I have not included this expense.  The new sails, in particular the Code 0, have enabled us to sail in winds in which we previously would have had to use the motor.  Although there were the inevitable repairs, these were much more routine and less expensive than in the first six months.

We did a lot better in the eating out category!  Christmas was a bit of a blip, as was the time we spent in Georgetown, but overall, we did much better.  Of course, when you spend four months fishing for lobster, conch, and mahi-mahi, why would you need to go out to eat?  By the way, let me know if you need suggestions on how to prepare mahi-mahi – I have at least 10 recipes!

Finally, in this six month period, we sailed a lot more, which saved on fuel, and spent the vast majority of our time at anchor

Here are the details:

Category 5/12/16- 6/1/16- 7/1/16- 8/1/16- 9/1/16- 10/1/16- 11/1/16-
5/31/16 6/30/16 7/31/16 8/31/16 9/30/16 10/31/16 11/12/16
Fuel         527.96        317.19        154.65        193.81          381.50            48.91  –
Insure Boat  –  –    2,564.80  –  –  –  –
Registration  –  –  –  –  –            26.00  –
Other Boat         111.73    1,981.97            1.95        115.26          220.60          929.74          163.32
Dining         171.36        646.18        890.38        787.98          328.21          370.63          148.01
Ent. & leisure         270.51        930.64        812.30        395.57          249.09          650.64  –
Groceries         533.00        417.52        801.87        806.71          819.51          599.73          422.22
Household         101.78          83.31        256.87          90.12            97.36          560.47            92.00
Medical  –    1,057.18        701.33        713.51          721.33          691.77  –
Misc.  –        137.12          59.00          10.85  –  –  –
Travel to UK  –  –        288.09          74.52  –  –  –
Slip fees         709.30        448.90        310.00        746.24          510.00          607.95  –
Telephone         149.28          69.14          69.21          69.25            76.71            80.24               8.50
TOTAL     2,574.92    6,089.15    6,910.45    4,003.82      3,404.31      4,566.08          834.05
Category 11/13/16 – 12/1/16 – 1/1/17 – 2/1/17 – 3/1/17 – 4/1/17 – 5/1/17 –
 11/30/16  12/31/16  1/31/17  2/28/17  3/31/17  4/30/17 5/12/17
Fuel           11.24        248.64        676.24                 –            321.43            34.00          153.07
Registration                  –                 –          70.00                 –                   –                   –                   –
Other Boat         178.17        362.60        201.67            3.24            20.00                   –                   –
Charity                  –                 –        240.39                 –                   –            25.00                   –
Dining         193.90        293.25        163.19        910.55          413.21          381.00          414.57
Ent. & Leisure         190.40        920.14        212.90        396.80          290.00          385.74          348.42
Groceries         399.95        780.00    1,583.60        288.08 897.67          638.31            53.44
Household         676.49    1,534.14    1,170.01          33.48          213.78            42.30            38.50
Insurance                  –                 –        110.00                 –                   –                   –                   –
Medical         135.15                 –                 –                 –                   –                   –                   –
Immigration fees                  –                 –        300.00                 –                   –                   –                   –
Internet                  –                 –                 –                 –                   –            56.26                   –
Slip Fees                  –        719.77                 –                 –                   –                   –            85.00
Telephone           60.64          68.74          58.39          28.40            10.00                   –            66.15
TOTAL     1,845.94    4,927.28    4,786.39    1,660.55      2,166.09      1,562.61      1,159.15


We have stayed in so many places this year, all memorable, whether it is for the beauty, the solitude, or conversely, the camaraderie of fellow cruisers.  It hasn’t always been fun, but there has not been a day when I regret the decision we made, to quit the rat race and start travelling the world.  We now have to start planning the next adventure!