Thursday, June 30, 2011

Big Day on our Transformer/Sailboat

We are no longer a sailboat. The boys at Cracker Boys yard made quick work of bringing the rig down with their crane. Now she's just a slow motor boat with a draft far too deep for her. She's so deep we've been using the keel to seek out the edges of the channels in the ICW. Yup, we made some new discoveries. Bump, quick reverse, scratch heads as this is *supposed* to be the deep part. Let's try over here ... looks like we made it ... bump. Nope. Hmmm. There were a couple places where we resorted to Carla and Austin going ahead in the dinghy with a weighted line to find the "deep" water (more than 6 feet minimum, 8 is OK, 10 is nice and 12 or more is bliss). After a while it clicked that we should be thinking of this like a river (it's narrow with a current, duh) and use river water signs that we learned paddling to give us hints as to where the deep water really is. For exanple, take this stretch of water. Don't go over on that side. See where the bank eases gently into the
water and it ripples, those are shoals ... better on the other side which is the far bank in a curve; more current on the far, steep bank which usually means deeper water. This worked quite well with only one more grounding in 3 hours. We've been following the ICW creed of "go slow!" so none of the groundings have been bad or ones that we couldn't just reverse off. And I'm sure we've left, on the ICW bottom, more than a bit of the St. Martin/BVI/Bahama reef that's been growing on that hard-to-reach bottom side of our keel.

All in all it was an amazing day for getting things done. We cleared in (amazingly short and painless - a surprise when arriving in the US). We unstepped the mast. Carla managed to blast off a couple critical work-related emails (who knows when we'll find available wifi again) and we made it more than halfway to our next destination (Stuart) when we were expecting to not start this part until tomorrow. And we lost - and - found our Olympus underwater camera. We were more upset about the photos we would have lost, than the camera - after all, the opportunities to take underwater photos are mostly behind us now. Fortunately, the good people at the Marina office, where we had distractedly set it down, kept it safe for us. Lucily, as we passed the marina after getting our mast stepped, Carla hopped into the dinghy and tracked it down while the boys and I carried on up the channel as slowly as we could.

Oh, and how could I forget. Not more than 5 minutes after we went by in our dinghy on our way to clearing in, a boat in the anchorage blew up. Boom. We looked over and there was a huge plume of smoke and flames leaping out of the cockpit. For a few heart stopping moments we couldn't tell if it was our boat or not. Finally we overheard on a nearby radio that there were two victims just being pulled from the water with very bad burns. Very scary. The fire boat arrived too late to really do anything other than chase down the fuel tank when it finally broke free, caught fire and threatened other boats. By the time we got back, there wasn't much more than a smoldering hulk in the water. We hope the two injured people manage to survive.


  1. Yikes, that explosion sounds like a heart-stopper!! Someone wasn't sure how to operate their stove or what ?!?! Maybe a gas leak.... sure hope the occupants were okay.
    I"m really glad you're okay... what does FL look like as you tootle along? Really built up? Hotels, etc??
    Stuart is your destination, right?

  2. Gas leak was probably the cause.

    The ICW was very strange. Some great, some not so great. There are parts that are very built up but most of it isn't (along here anyway). We anchored in a nice little "lake" where the channel opened up for a mile or so so that we could pull over. It was very peaceful. We woke up and it smelled like a campground near a lake! Very nice.