March 6, 2022
Saturday morning at 3 am, we dropped anchor just off of West End, Bahamas. Phew, we’re in The Bahamas. It has been a crazy, crazy week to get here, but we are here. Now Sunday, we have decided to hang out at Old Bahama Bay for a couple of days and wait for the worst of the winds to pass through, relax and enjoy the sunshine without concern. The featured image is looking onto the resort at Old Bahama Bay.
After arriving in Florida in mid-February, it was apparent that my boat repairs would be delayed. I love the guys who do the work, I don’t trust anyone with my boat as much as I trust the folks at YachtTech, but apparently a lot of others feel the same and there are many things that you can control on a boat except the schedule. We will get back to that.
My list of things to do was pretty long, but as I neared North Palm Beach, I picked something up in my propeller and required even more work than originally planned. The delay in starting the work and the extra work caused by my propeller issues meant that the folks at YachtTech worked miracles to get us to the Bahamas almost on schedule.
I have new batteries for my house bank and my stern thruster, (but not starting batteries or bow thruster as these batteries (4D) are impossible to get right now). During the installation, the guys found a bad cable and so a few cables needed to be replaced to ensure that I didn’t have more problems.
One of the more problematic items for my mental state was the status of my engine exhaust. With a hole being ripped in my exhaust blanket and regular rust showing up under the manifold, I elected to look at and replace the blanket. Michael Tinney completed the blanket and it is quite beautiful, meanwhile Rob and YachtTech replaced the gaskets and bolts in the manifold itself, as well as modifying my stack blower mounting hardware to install a new stack blower. Hopefully that will resolve all of those issues for the next few years at least.
The water pump issues were supposed to be resolved by installing a second, 6.9gph water pump and allowing either pump to be used for our house water system. That took much longer than I planned and unfortunately it still hasn’t solved the problems, but now I will work on it as one of those ‘boat projects in exotic places’. Clearly I have a leak somewhere and I am going to find it one way or another. For now, every use of the water requires a run to the engine room to prime a pump, which is good exercise, but not very relaxing. Here is Rob with the results of his handiwork.
The bottom of my boat was cleaned and painted, anodes replaced and main engine coolant was changed after a flush and a cleaning. There are many cool bits to this, and the photos below show off some of the handiwork.
First off Glenn who refused to have his picture taken, something about plenty of pictures of him on the wall at the any USPS in the country, flushed my coolant and used this handy gadget to vacuum all of the water out of the system. Being a dry stack boat, it is a closed loop, so putting the whole thing under vacuum, ensures that the water is removed before filling with new coolant. This is particularly important given that I changed the coolant in my engine (to the pink stuff), so that all of my engines use the same product. (Not clear in that sentence . . . mixing coolers is really bad for the seals on the engine, so get the old stuff out before putting the new stuff in.)
The damage done to my propeller and shaft housing was substantial. The first picture below is the housing where there is normally a line cutter. The line cutter was completely ripped off by the rope that got caught. You can see the rope on the ground behind the shaft (background). The good news is that it mostly did its job, and sacrificially cut the line and allowed my shaft to continue spinning freely. Subsequently, we know that the shaft is straight and after repair to the prop and a new cutter, things work well.
Here is the repaired and balanced prop, ready for installation.
Home Free hasn’t been professionally detailed in two years, so I paid a small fortune to get it detailed, and the entire hull and topsides were cleaned, polished and waxed and before the boat hit the water it looked absolutely gorgeous.
Here are a couple of photos of the results, at least from the ground. Home Free only looks this good for about 60 minutes after a professional detailing. I don’t know why, perhaps I am hard on the boat, but the look wears off quickly. I did learn that I AM part of the problem. I have written here about Starbrite cleaner which makes my boat clean, but I learned from the detailers (thanks for the insight Peter and team) that it eats the wax that they so diligently protect my boat with. Never use Starbright deck cleaner, or Dawn dish detergent on wax. They eat through it. The things you learn!!
Because time was running short I took on some of the work myself, changing oil and filters in all three engines as well as the main transmission. I also took on most of the post work cleaning since the guys working on the boat cost a small fortune and they would be the most expensive cleaning service ever if they did the work. I also did some prep on the dinghy, including a new battery. I don’t know why I am so hard on batteries, but it seems I am!?
In the end, the team worked miracles and the boat is in great shape. Not to say it is perfect, because I missed on some of the items. The house water system is not working properly yet, I purchased parts for the maintenance of the water maker and those have not been changed but generally speaking, the miracles provided by the YachtTech team made it possible to make this vacation possible.
As I said earlier, I am back to the schedule thing. As the boat repairs reached their end, I was intent on getting to The Bahamas. Jinhee has just two weeks for vacation this spring, and while the start date (originally planned for last Wednesday) could change, the end date won’t. She needs to get on to the next thing in two weeks. The weather window was best on Thursday, but by end of day Friday it was closing for sure and Monday, Tuesday and maybe even Wednesday were going to be horrible for a crossing. I had a schedule, to get us to The Bahamas before that weather window closed, so without much ceremony we finalized the last required purchases, tested things that had undergone repair and headed out of the channel at Lake Worth (West Palm Beach). From there it got worse.
There is a general rule, perhaps an adage, perhaps wise advice, that one shouldn’t make the crossing when the winds have any of a Northerly component. The wind was coming from the East, really it was (except for the most minor of a northerly component). The reason for that rule/adage/advice is that the waves turn into square waves and you bash into them. I heard it is quite uncomfortable.
We bashed for 12 hours into those square waves. Not so big really, only 3-4 feet but let me confirm. It is really uncomfortable. It was a really rough ride. There were plenty of random fish feedings, even Jinhee felt seasick. Our beautifully clean boat was really not quite ready for the journey, and now it needs a thorough wash down again to get salt off of every single inch of the boat.
The good news is that we are in The Bahamas and we will wait out the coming storm in the warm clear waters of The Bahamas. More pictures to come starting next week!