Sailing and travel tales

Sailing Tales of Calusa – in chronological order – Florida

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This tale of The Adventures of Calusa is assembled from the emails sent to family and friends as we sailed our way from Key Largo in Florida around Cuba to Jamaica, Puerto Rico then down the Caribbean Islands to Grenada. Then from Grenada to Curacao completing the first leg of a journey that will take us into the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.

Calusa is a 2004  42 ft Robertson & Caine Leopard catamaran and was purchased in Ft Lauderdale in 2009.  She is fitted with 2 x  40 hp Yanmar engines but the challenge is to sail as much of our way as possible. To this end when travelling the 3120 nautical miles from Key Largo to Curacao the engines were used to cover only 20% of this journey yet much of it was against the wind.

For me, the writer, cook and watch keeper,  it was my first time seriously sailing more than 1 kilometer off shore. For Captain Andreas it was the dream of his lifetime coming true.

We invite you to join us often and do not hesitate to ask questions or make recommendations. We welcome them.


shower Mould jacuzzi

19 October 2010…………………………..

It was not a pretty sight when we climbed on board our boat in the

AAAA Boats andTires Boatyard, Rock Harbor, Key Largo, Florida.

The savings in having it brought here for storage 9 months ago have turned into
costs. Nobody had properly checked our boat at any time, that is clear.
A window latch on the starboard side in the saloon had not been secured and two
latches on the bottom window in the forward starboard bedroom had not been
Lots of water had come inside. It caught most of the boat manuals up on the top
shelf behind the seating, there was a “Jacuzzi” in one of the under-seat compartments
– filled to the top. It flooded down from the saloon into the shower box below
which was full of green yukky water and of course, caused mould to grow. Most
of the starboard side was badly infested with mould. The forward starboard
bedroom was all over black with mould and I had to toss out the mattresses in

I have cleaned and cleaned and it is nearly back to normal but of course there is
still probably mould growing where you can’t see or get to.

Removing the diesel

The Port bilge was flooded with diesel.

We removed just over 100 litres of diesel from the hull. It was very very close to triggering
off the bilge pump!

We were very careful in removing the diesel – it was clean and had no water in it.
We strained it back litre by litre into a fuel container then very carefully
(me holding the funnel ) tipped it into the starboard tank, listening very
carefully to hear if it was coming up the pipe. ( we could not use the
electronics to watch the fuel levels because nobody had disconnected the
batteries when the boat was put on the hard and everything was dead flat). We
stopped when we heard it coming up the inlet..

The rest of the diesel we gave away.

Next day the boatyard owner came by checking around
and found a small patch of diesel on the ground – below the fill . He went into
a rage and all hell broke loose.

The spill

He called in a company from Miami called Branching Out to make a report and take
soil samples away for testing! In the meantime we have worked out that a little
diesel must have gone out the fuel airvent , which is sited down the side of
the boat, below the fuel fill.
I contacted Bob Ross of The Moorings in Ft Lauderdale about that and

he said that has been known to happen before
– so watch that one on Leopards. Imagine if that happened while fueling up on water!

A ” Proposal to clean up the “ spill” of US$6880.00 has been handed
to us and they will not put us back into the water until that is paid. We are
talking about 1 – 2 litres here !

In the meantime the boat was transferred from a storage site (on grass) @ US$
14.00 a day to a worksite (onto broken concrete) 20 metres away for US$84 a

Also in the meantime there is another large catamaran in the “storage area
” owned by absent Germans, oozing diesel / oil onto the ground in several places
and looks like it has been doing that for some time and Sam is doing nothing
about it !

Painting on anti fouling in the "work" area

We are feeling very tricked and trapped. Insurance will cover it. There is a scam
going on here but right now we don’t want to be the scam busters.

We just want to be rid of America and go cruising.

23 October 2010


We have found doing business with Americans, in Florida, generally an
unsatisfactory experience. Unlike in New Zealand and Switzerland integrity
escapes these Americans.

We also experienced this in the process of purchasing the boat last year.
This year in January we had prepaid Sam Stoia of AAAA boats and Tires
US$5000.00 to store and care for the boat after had it had been delivered for
us by a boat captain we had employed to do this.

We have been criticized for not being on hand to deliver and oversee the
“storing” of the boat but we had waited too long – 4 weeks -for the US
Coastguard to delete it from the registry. It had already cost us two Delta
flights from Orlando to Los Angeles – no you can’t just change your booking
dates, you have to buy new tickets. We do not refund but you can use your old
one another time.

“Good” I said, thinking I would be returning to the boat the following year,
“Can I use it from Los Angeles to Orlando rather than Orlando to Los Angeles”.
”No” she said “Only Orlando to Los Angeles”

That’s why we do not fly Delta any more.

So with huge costs in having to already once change flights for a later
return to New Zealand and then the ongoing costs of the rental car and living
aboard on the marina in Ft Lauderdale

And with no glint of when the US Coast Guard was finally going to process
the deletion, we reluctantly left the boat to the captain to sail down to Rock
Harbor as soon as the “paper work ” was completed. In New Zealand or
Switzerland this is something that you could comfortably leave to others to
competently do but not in Florida!

Even when specifically instructed to do so as soon as the boat came in in
mid January (we wanted to limit sun damage) Sam Stoia did not have the sails
down and stored until May. The mystery is; did the person who placed the sails
in the saloon not smell the diesel in the bilge? Why did he not investigate and
deal to the problem.

Whoever took the sails down must have been over powered with diesel fumes
when the saloon doors were opened.

All the boatyard owner, Sam Stoia can think of at the moment is “insurance”.
I asked him if this is what americans are living on these days, other people’s
insurance, and then gave him the “good news” about all the damage on
our boat as a result of his negligence.

But I am not looking forward to the morning….

They will try and make a mountain out of a molehill and all the while they are
polluting the environment with uncontrolled removal of anti fouling paintwork
off boats less than 100 metres from us!

God, how I hate the American way of things down here. It is not a nice place… they are
like sharks circling

So not good news … we hope it will be one day though

PS:  We are insured and Neil Bailey and his team in New Zealand have been good to work with.

25 October 2010

Florida is hot and humid and I am itching all over from mosquito
bites and fungus allergy and god knows what else.

I wish I was home ! (almost)

We are staying in a motel / resort on one side of the Gulf of
Mexico side of The Keys and about 300 meters across on the other side is the
boat yard where Calusa is.

The boatyard owner says we would have to pay US$ 42 extra a day to live aboard the
boat in his dusty polluted ( antifoul dust etc ) boatyard so we decided for
US$18 extra a day we would live across the road at the air conditioned motel.

This is a nice motel where we are staying. It has a peaceful
meandering garden going down to the beach. There are big shady trees with
hammocks and swinging chairs hanging from them here and there. There is a
shaded concreted base barbeque area, an outdoor spa, a jetty and lounging
chairs under palm leaf covered sun shelters.

Little squirrels live in the motel gardens too … I really like them and very
little geckos are scurrying everywhere. Try as I might they are too fast for me
to catch. It’s a pity we didn’t have more time to enjoy this garden but we are
paying $ 84 a day for the boatyard site now and we have to work hard and fast
on the boat to get free of the boat yard.

See how they store the small boats here. This is just a little
stack, I have seen really long high stacks and many with a galvanised steel
roof over. Are they doing this in NZ yet ?

30 October 2010

I am still itching all over and have been so for at least five
days now… allergic to mosquitos, no-see-ums (sandfly things so small you can,t see
them ) ,fungus ( the mould in the boat I had to kill and clean ) the cleaners,
the diesel, the antifoul paint, and the boatyard full of antifoul and
fibreglass sanding dust blowing about in the wind. Then when it rains much of
it washes down to the sea.

I feel so concerned for the four fulltime workers here.The mechanic is the only one who
is American and who should know better than to live and work in this boatyard
if he wants to see old age, but he is high on dope most of the time. The others
are immigrants, also living as well as working in the yard; no doubt illegally.

Calusa with the rental car parked under. Last night we bought
lots of groceries and drove in under the boat to the escape hatch, opened it up
and Andreas was able to unload directly from the boot of the car onto the
kitchen floor

29 October 2010

Andreas is sanding off the antifouling paint on the hull of the boat today.

Antifouling is so toxic –

I keep away but he is kitted out so should be protected as well
as possible. Funny thing is there is no control in the yard regarding the toxic
dust from all this boat sanding. It just washes away in the next rain into the
sea a few meters away. But our 1 – 2 litres of diesel is a major catastrophe it
would seem. I think the real situation is that Sam the boatyard owner has just
zero’d in on naive foreigners to give a mate a job for a few days. I have been
checking through the Florida regulations governing this situation and I do not
find anything that calls for such a “clean up” when the
“spill” is so minor. I have found out from the people that we bought
the boat off that fuel can go out the fuel vent outlet in some situations so
probably that is what has happened, otherwise it is sabotage (unlikely, I do
not think they are that desperate here yet !)

I would like to ask Sam for a couple of spades and we could go and dig out the
contaminated part for him but of course that would be a bit like admitting
liability and while it is hopefully going to become an insurance payout I can’t
do that.

In the
meantime Sam comes up with different “rules” for us everyday.
Yesterday’s one was that we had to be out of the yard in 10 days… then later
in the day it was “we won’t relaunch your boat until the payment from the
insurance has been made” … every so often he demands that I give him a copy
of our insurance policy. I told him I don’t have it with me. Then he wanted my
policy number … but if I gave that to him that would be also admitting

I am waiting on the insurance company to get
back to me and am holding Sam off with the other hand.

This is Jamie and Keith’s catamaran Kookaburra in the travel lift.

The travel lift operator is a young lady from Hawaii.

The travel lift is how we move about! Sam is quite cunning really. Our boat was placed into storage for 9 mths. But it was in a “storage” area of the yard.
That costs US $ 14 a day. Then when you want to work on your boat you have to
pay for the travel lift to move you to the other side of the road to the
“work ” area.. The area has a hard surface .. lots of broken up dusty
concrete. You can pollute like hell here because they kid themselves they can
scrape it all up from time to time and that deals with it.

The work area is $84 a day, something Sam omitted to tell us when we first inquired about the costs of staying in his boatyard.

Sam does not have a standard price sheet to hand out to customers. Sam just sits down at his computer and types up one he thinks you will pay. Then the other thing Sam does not tell his customers until too late, after they have been lifted out of
the water, is that they have to buy all materials used in his yard through him!

Sam also decided that we have to pay a further $42 a day to live on our boat while it is in his yard. One of the reasons why we chose to bring the boat here is because
when we visited Sam last December to see his yard he said we could live aboard
for a very small extra cost. So instead we are paying $60 a day to live in a nice
seaside resort across the road from the boatyard instead. We are also paying to
rent a car right now too. So it’s quite a dollar drain per day at the moment.
But we are saving on food .. it’s too hot and sticky to feel hungry so we are
living on apples, bread and swiss cheese ! We get a cheap – meal out every
second day maybe. But on the other hand we are drinking quite a bit of wine and
beer because we get so thirsty.. and stressed!

30th October 2010

Today has been very hot and we ran with sweat from the moment we got up 7.00am till we come back into the airconditioned motel room at 7.00pm.

We put the sails up today so in a few days we hope to be in the water…                Then we will go to Marathon further south along the Keys to a marina and tie up while we finish what Andreas wants to finish on the boat before we start sailing to Bimini.

I am all over itchy and raw. Allergic to mosquito bites, fungus and mould and
stress and cleaners and anti fouling paint and the dirty polluted dusty
boatyard and God knows what else , maybe even the sun..maybe different bathing
soap … don’t know, but the mosquito bites started it off. I have been scratching
for days now and had to finally give in and buy some over the counter pills to
try and contain it but I am still not really improving much. Just hope it runs
its course soon because I do not know what else to do.

are a few photos from today.

The first one was about 7.00am by the sea at the end of the motel garden yesterday.
In the catamaran are friends we have made. They are a couple who lost
everything in the $ crash and built this catamaran in five and a half months on
their credit card… I think it is still on the credit card .They are so angry
with the banks and the USA government bail out of the banks that they have no
intention of paying it back. They are kind of sea gypsies now. He was a boat
builder and is an experienced around the world sailor. Mike helped us to put up
the main sail today and will assist us in taking the boat to Marathon.

This one is a picture looking back at the boatyard. You can’t see Calusa but
the mast is the third highest one along from me.

The third one is Rhonda and Andreas … both smokers

This one is us looking at the dredged channel, our way out, at low tide. We
can only get out at full tide.

Both Mike and Rhonda are going to help us sail Calusa down to Marathon on Monday evening. Hopefully we will be “released “by then. The insurance assessor came by today. We will pay up on Monday.

We went into the water finally today and are tied up on the boatyards dock.
We leave at 7.00am tomorrow just after full tide for Marathon.


What a hassle of a day.

The boat yard owner wanted a cash payment for our yard expenses and the
costs of the proposed diesel cleanup ( that is not yet cleaned up) He wouldn’t
take the Mastercard. You can only draw out US $ 300 a day cash on your Mastercard
if you do not have and American bank account. Finally he did say we could send via
telegraphic transfer, knowing that would take a day or more. He rang the bank
for a bank account number – he didn,t ask his office worker … funny I thought.
We took the bank details directly to his bank along with his invoice and Andreas’s
gold Mastercard .

We told the bank manager we wanted to pay the invoice but that Sam had wanted it
in cash and that the boat insurance company required it to be on the Mastercard.
The bank manager oblidged and in a matter of minutes it was in Sam’s bank
account. We had great pleasure in going back to Sam and telling him the “Cash”
was in his bank account and gave him the receipt the bank manager gave us to
give to him. Then Calusa went into the water.

We took the couple who are helping us take Calusa
to Marathon out to dinner, went grocery shopping at 9.30 pm and came back to
the boat and unloaded the groceries into the boat. When Andreas was climbing
back on to the dock his glasses dropped down into the water. He can,t drive
without them. So off went his clothes (it was dark ) and on went the snorkle
and about 10 mins diving later he found his $400 glasses . Now we are taking
our last sleep on land for a good while.

Catch you next at Marathon, about 5 hrs sailing away.

As they were placing Calusa back into
the water at Rock Harbor an eagle flew onto the top of the mast and whistled a
bit. He stayed there for about 2 mins and then flew off. It was a very strange
thing. I asked one of the guys putting the boat in if it was a sign of things
to come. He said it was a good sign.

I sure hope so. This is the beginning
of our “life” with Calusa. It is the first time (other than a very short
excursion with the sales team in Ft Lauderdale) we are going seriously sailing
on Calusa. It is the beginning of our sailing adventure.

5 November 2010

We waited overnight to catch the high tide at
6.30 am the next morning.

Our friends joined us in the morning and we had to wait until it was light

enough to move – about 7.00am.

There is a very narrow dredged out channel, about 400 meters long to the

deeper water. 20 meters from the deeper water Calusa grounded! This channel is
overdue for dredging and the end posts are not coloured and are not placed so
that it is clear which side to pass them.
We had to wait till the next tide in the evening.

So we drank a lot of beer. (I couldn’t, I am on allergy medication still.) and
generally enjoyed ourselves while Mike worked out how to free us.

The strategy worked and we floated free on the
next high tide then went out into the deep and anchored being too late / dark
to continue safely.

At 2.00 am the wind was singing, or more like
whining, in the rigging. A violent little squall was going through and the wind
was blowing up to 30 miles an hour.

We got up and found that the boat had dragged anchor
and we were not far off hitting another moored boat. All hands on deck and we
motored back into the dark and deep and re anchored.

Mike said we need a much longer anchor chain ASAP.
Our 220 ft chain turned out to be only 80 ft. The boat surveyor did not check the
validity of this sales claim and neither did we.

A yacht slipped close by in the dark seeking
shelter also. The squall

moved on and we went back to bed… until about 4.40 am when another one came
in. This time we held firm.

As soon as it was light we got under way on the two motors and the foresail. The
weather was too unpredictable to put up the main sail. Not only was it chopping
and changing too much but also we had to run the gauntlet of the cray pot
buoys. The best way was through the cray pots buoys;
otherwise we had to go out past the reef into the Gulf stream.

In these conditions we learned to use
the helm well, the autopilot, and how to watch out and communicate well like: one
o’clock, 50 mtrs, 12.30, 100mtrs. It took two pairs of eyes most of the time.
Some people just run over the cray pot buoys but we did not want to have
anything tangle in our props so best to practise steering the boat.

Half way down the port engine died so we had to be even more vigilant at

missing the cray pot buoys. The whole forty miles is covered in them. It

would have been hopeless to try and sail that route at night.  Andreas

revived the diesel engine by replacing the diesel fuel hoses with real diesel fuel
hoses. The wonderful “regularly maintained “(another sales claim)  Calusa did not have real diesel fuel hoses.
What she had, had gone soft and sticky. Another point missed by the surveyor of
the boat. The engine died again but Andreas restarted it again. This time he
thinks it was air in the system.

So finally we reach Marathon and we thought our trials and tribulations were
over….but… this morning we went to track down where the new parasailor
Andreas had bought in Germany before he left was. It was marked for a “yacht in
transit”  but it is held up by US customs who want a US tax ID number to release it because it cost XXXX amount not just X amount, even though it is for a “yacht in transit. “

DHL was about to send it back to Germany but I think we have managed

to catch it before it left. I have arranged for the use of someone else’s US

tax ID number. It should not cost anything tax wise because we are a “yacht

in transit.”


9 November 2010

We are now moored in the City Marina in Marathon and life is a lot
better now that Sam is out of it. I am going to go to the government
environmental body in this area and give them the details of our experience at
Rock Harbor. Most people think that Sam will have just pocketed the money and
no one will come in and dig out the diesel in the ground. So I will make sure
the authorities are aware and then leave it to America to sort out their own.

Marathon is on a strip of land in some place about 150 mtrs between the
two seas and some places maybe 400 metres. Again the “Overseas” Highway running
down the centre and shops and houses each side to the beaches. America here is
very relaxed and fairly rough and unfinished and a bit untidy.

We bought two very cheap bicycles, US $ 60 each from the Kmart here. We
will carry them on the boat as we travel down the Caribbean so we can explore
more cheaply.

We took our first grocery shopping trip on the bikes today but kind of
overloaded ourselves because Andreas just could not walk passed a wine deal
which required one to purchase 6 bottles of wine!!

12 November 2010

We dinghied down the harbour last night with a couple from another boat
and had a US$10 beer and meal of barbecued chicken wings and blue vein cheese sauce,
while the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico Gulf. It held it’s colour so long
after the sun had gone that I suggested that the oil wells were now on fire.

The social life in this marina is pretty hectic. The marina is about a
quarter full and many of the people tied up here are pretty much permanents. It’s
a real Peyton Place. When we end up chatting with somebody new they already
know something about us! Interestingly most of the people here now are of our
age group. There are lots of old hippies, still in hippie mode some of them,
living aboard and on land in The Keys.

There are a lot of old men mum’s age too. I think they escaped from
their wives some time ago and are happily living tied up on their boats now.

Beside the hippie types there are a lot of
very odd people about, even the ones who are in business, shop keepers etc. Some
real “characters” abound. (a bit like Kaeo ) There are also quite a few Blue
Heelers about as well !  I think of it as
the last wild outpost of USA and I am sure it is the last stand of pirates (
like Sam ) and societies misfits..

Soon the locals will be joined by people from northern parts of USA and
from Canada who will come down and fill the marina up before Xmas. Winter is
the main holiday season for Florida.  It’s too hot in summer.

The land here on the Florida Keys is extremely expensive. I find this amazing                                                                                                                                       considering “Global Warming ” theories and changing weather patterns in this area.                                                                                                                          Certainly I would not sink my money here!

The old Florida railway was an extraordinary project. Even now it
is awesome to see and consider. They called it the 8th wonder of the world
around the time it was built in the early 1900,s.

Did you ever hear anything about it?

A  small section got destroyed by a hurricane in the 1930,s and                                                                                                                                                                        they decided not to repair it. It was the time of the big Depression.                                                                                                                                                             Flagler had originally anticipated that Key West would grow into a big port                                                                                                                                            because of  it’s proximity to the Panama canal and Cuba but                                                                                                                                                                               the port had not grown as aniticpated.

The great railroad was left in disrepair but parts of it were
utilised and replaced by this 4 lane motorway, The Overseas Highway – going the
whole way down to Key West.

I think it would have been better to have kept the rail systems
and only allowed residents in with cars. The road is too busy and noisy now.

Everybody seems to been really scratching for a living down here. Most
of the buildings and shops are pretty shabby. Even the main road going through
the City of Marathon (6000 people ) has no curbing – well actually they are in
the process of slowly changing that now. Between the road and the footpath is
either rough grass of loose coral gravel. After the foot/bike path it can be
back to rough grass, trees or coral gravel .. or maybe some badly laid concrete
or tarseal as a parking lot in front of usually one story shops. So it is quite dusty
and the road through is very busy so very fumey when biking along. It is also
dead flat so Andreas does not mind biking now to get things.

There are some wealthier subdivisions along the coast but still the
infra structure supporting them is shabby . You really can be  quite proud of the way NZ has been put
together. Florida has been settled for about the same length of time as NZ. It
was the last mainland state to be settled because the environment was so
hostile. First came the black Americans – I guess the freed slaves. Then
Henry Flagler  built the railroad from St Augustins in the top east hand
corner of Florida right down to the Southern tip of Florida. That brought the
white settlers in and more latterly the Cubans, Hispanics, Mexicans, and South
Americans. Now more people speak Spanish than English here but that
is not a problem to us most of the time because most of them speak some English
as well.


Because it’s so flat and the vegetation all the same it’s not really an
inspiring place to live in forever, from our point our view.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No wonder they are such big “foodies” and drinkers.

The usual domestic (as opposed to marine shops ) shopping is very
limited in choice. For example I am looking out for plastic ware, bowls,
containers, storage etc and there is virtually no choice and I can,t find
exactly what I want. Its very frustrating. At home there is a huge range of
plastic ware in the Payless Plastic, The Plastic Box company, The Warehouse etc
you can find something to fit any situation.

The supermarkets have rows and rows of personal care items – soaps,
shampoos etc…. where ours would be lucky to have one row. Yet I can,t find a
natural bristle body brush to make my itches go away. (Thats what I find best
when I get itchy at home ) If I was at home I know exactly where to go and buy
one in Whangarei !

22 November 2010

Fish jump around us all the time flop and pop, flop and pop but
nobody except the birds try and catch them. They say they are mostly catfish –
and you don,t catch and eat catfish in a marina because they are bottom
feeders. The only thing we are putting into the marina water is our cooking / dishwashing
water and I try and keep that to a minimum – by washing the dishes every second
day. I had half a bottle of milk turn on me (because the fridge is also on
restricted power) It took ages to actually curdle and then I put that in the
toilet – which goes into a holding tank and gets pump out once a week by a pooh
covered operator ( well he was this week anyway – a bit sprayed with it YUK!)

We are just sitting about nicely. Andreas cleaned the bottom of the dingy today.
It’s been in the water for three weeks and it was already really coated with
little barnacles especially on the stern . He scraped them off.

This marina is bad for rapid attachment of barnacles and we are moored next door
to Barnacle Bill who lives in a house boat here permanently.

Guess what his job is ? You got it,cleaning boat bottoms.

Barnacles are food on the table for him. If you do it yourself you need
to wear a good thick diving suit because they say there are little shrimp
things that jump on you and as they say get into every orifice !

The power systems on the boat are not adequate for
what we will need. Right now we have a Honda 2000 generator going almost
constantly to keep the boat’s systems powered up. Andreas
bought this Honda 2000 this week to boost up the boats batteries so we can keep
the fridge, the lights, the computer and the cell phones charged up, the water
pumps, the radios, the fans, the gas stove starter, and the navigational equipment

The boat is light on power producing facilities probably because
it was a charter boat before and people chartering boats like this usually
travel about on the motors. They do not sail much. The motors charge the batteries
and make hot water when they are running. This means that the sails are in good
order and we will mainly be sailing, which means no motors running, no power. When
you are tied up to a mooring it is not a good idea to run the boat’s motor to
charge batteries, neighbours don’t like it!

So the next thing to happen here is that we will be installing solar panels to
make power for us.

It’s pretty hard work living on a marina.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    To go to shore you have to jump in the dinghy. In a marina you use the shore facilities
like in a camping ground; the laundry, the showers and whenever possible the
toilets. So you have to plan everything a bit better. We are now getting the
groceries and whatever Andreas needs to fix things on the bicycles. We have
little backpacks and I have a front basket on the handlebars, but when you are
buying in your drinking water, your beer and your wine the loads get pretty


We paid for a locker on shore which means we can
hold things there  so they don’t all have
to go backwards and forwards across the water to the boat.

We are here at Marathon for at least another month
waiting on the radar. It’s hard to imagine having to wait a month for something
in USA isn’t it.? There was very big annual boat show in Annapolis about 3
weeks ago and another big one at Ft Lauderdale a week later.

I suspect they must have sold lots of radars there. Bad timing on our part.

Never mind Andreas just keeps on fixing things on the boat and will eventually  take it out
for sailing practise as soon as the fixing is done … if fixing ever gets done!

Because we are waiting on tradesmen and goods to arrive so much of the time Andreas
and I are often literally twiddling our fingers . Such a change of lifestyle for us !

You come to realise after so much inactivity that a busy life is not such a bad thing.

We are on the “pathway” to the shore and if Andreas doesn’t watch out

he is going to become like the little man in the cuckoo clock,                                                                                                                                                                        popping out every time a dingy goes by to see who it is this time !

I can always find an endless amount of cleaning and polishing to do.

When the boat is finally “moving” I guess if we start twiddling our fingers, we’ll just sail on.

We could end up home by June not just at Curacao !

I am a bit tired of the “hot” and the weather being almost changeless, fine day, fine day, fine day.

I am very tired of being bitten constantly by mosquitos and the little tiny flying bugs called
noseeums. We can’t cool off with a swim in this harbour. We shower and do the
laundry on land and take the computer over to the marina centre to do a long
session. I guess when we actually start sailing / cruising things will improve.
To begin with the bugs will not fly out to sea to bite me.

17 November  2010

We are discovering that generally Americans in this
area (Florida)  lack integrity. They do  business in a way quite different from NZ and
Switzerland. They feed on you and then they recommend their friends so that they
can feed on you too. An kind of extreme form of business networking!

We found this when we were buying the boat and we are finding it now. When it comes to
business and money they cannot be trusted. There are some nice people who charge
fairly but then they recommend this person or that person to do this for us or that
for us and usually we find out later we have been truly ripped off. We should
have not trusted the recommendation. We should have shopped around more. I
think maybe there is a kind of kick back payment system operating which means the
referrer gets something for referring..

For example we found a couple of small holes in the
rubber dinghies inner cushion. Easy enough to fix really with PVC but the man fitting the electronics
on the boat said oh take it to so and so he does a good job and quickly. . So
Andreas took up the suggestion. US$100 later the dinghies inner cushion was
fixed . Next time we do it !

But the big stores are OK and cheap. It’s the small
companies and the individuals that are the problem.


20  November 2010

We are sitting around on the boat waiting on people
or orders half the time. Most things have to be ordered when you go shopping.
That is a sign of the times here. The shops are cutting back on their stock
holding as much as possible. They often ask you to prepay and they often expect
you to pay the freight to order a basic item in like light bulbs. Probably they
have ordered one or two others to put on their shelves at the same time, but you
wouldn’t know that.

And we are stuck here until mid December waiting on
a radar … hard to believe having to wait for something like a radar in the
great USA ! Nothing fancy just a Garmin radar.

The time is filled with fixing.

One of the engines had two broken coupling bolts
between it and the propellor shaft and the other two bolts were almost worn
right through too. We went looking because the engine became very rattly on our
journey down from Rock Harbour. ( remember the other engine stopped on the way
down due to incorrect hosing used in the diesel lines from previous cheapsgate
repair work. Andreas has since replaced all the diesel hoses in both motors.)

The starter motors in both engines failed, then one
of the motors still wouldn’t start and Andreas found a bad connection somewhere
in the middle of the engine. He said there were wires going everywhere doing
nothing. Behind the electronics board was the same, a real mess of wires many
doing nothing.

This boat was offered for sale as regularly maintained and ready to go !                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             It was privately owned but had been leased to The Moorings to use as a charter boat.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The revelations of Calusa since we have finally got to use her means                                                                                                                                                                     I would never allow my boat to be chartered by such a company.

The fridge is also not working reliably even though
it was supposedly “fixed “as a condition of buying.

Most of the filters, water and oil, throughout the
boat needed cleaning and some were not even fitted correctly.

Next problems are the toilets needing replacement
of bits and pieces … YUK !!!

Look on this link. We are starting to hit back at
the man who ripped us off in Rock Harbor.

This thread is located at:

It is interesting to see how other people have

8 December 2010

Looks like we are here for another month, at least!
We still have things to do on the boat and still have to get to know the boat
better before sailing which means quite a few day trips in and out of the harbour.

Marathon is Ok if you don’t want to go shopping.

The restaurants are cheap enough when we
want to go out to eat – although we do mostly eat on the boat, often with one
or two other people. Catamarans tend to be “social centres” in marinas because
there is space on them. There is space in the cockpit for about 6 people to eat
around the outside table and inside 6 people easily fit around the table. One
of the people who often eats with us is a young man called Jamieson who has
been fitting the electronics and is an ex- Leopard charter captain (our
catamaran is a Leopard ). He is just over thirty, lives on his own yacht in the
marina and will help us a lot in learning to sail and manage this boat. He will
come with us on our day trips.

One of our other “regulars” for dinner is a half
indian (red indian) half European who is shortly to sail for The Phillipines
where his Phillipino wife is currently. Another man who drops by a bit has his
own catamaran and is shortly to sail home to Hawaii. He is 65 yrs old.

The harbour is fill of men alone so if I don’t
watch out I will be feeding lonely men every night , young and old. The oldest
one here is Captain Jack who is 78 yrs old. He is fit but does not go out
sailing in his yacht any more.

Then there is another young man in his early
thirties. A very nice young man, who has decided to take himself out into the
world in a yacht called “Perspective” with his golden labrador called Leroy for
company. He plans to go to Brazil where Zack told me there are 4 girls to every

The man beside us is called Barnacle Bill. He lives
permanently on the marina in his houseboat with his wife. She goes off to work
on shore at something every day and he jumps into his diving suit most days to
go scraping barnacles off the bottom of boats. He is in his 70’s ! He is quite
miffed with us that we do not want him to clean the bottom of our boat yet.
Andreas plans to do that himself when we are in cleaner waters. We do not expect
to find many barnacles because we painted the bottom with anti fouling before
we left Rock Harbor only 6 weeks ago. There really should not be any on the
boat if the antifouling paint is doing its job!

Here in Marathon marina there are more dogs than
children on the boats. People seem to have forgotten that dogs are very good swimmers.

Many or these dogs have life jackets.

The marina is starting to fill up a bit with
holidaymakers from Canada and northern USA. When we arrived it was mostly the
permanents in here. It is quite a contrast to where we were last year, Ft
Lauderdale, surrounded by the super launches, cats and yachts.

There are yachts of all shapes and ages  here. The owners are not allowed to leave
their boats unattended so most are in reasonable condition

We are sailing, we are sailing ……

Well not exactly yet, we are in trials &
training mode.

For example we had a great day out sailing
yesterday testing the new spinnaker / parasailor for the first time. It was a
work of art to behold and made 3-4 knots in the very light 3-4 knots apparent

On Saturday we were sailing beam on in 20 – 25 knot
apparent winds and doing 7-8 knots under normal sails in big rough and rocky
seas – unfortunately I got seasick, first time ever.

On Friday we went out in normal seas in 15 knot
winds and the boat averaged 7 – 8 knots then beam on.

So all in all Andreas is pretty happy with how it
sails and I am now learning all the practical know how now…I can man the
helm, negotiate it through the mooring field in the marina and out the river to
the sea. I can pull up the mainsail with the help of a special attachment on a
heavy Milwakee drill, I can reef the sails and sheet the sails. And we can
anchor the boat; me at the helm and Andreas on the anchor controls and we lift
the anchor as a team too. The anchor is a new NZ made Rockner 25 kgs.

By early January this 1st mate should be pretty
competent in things to do with sailing this boat.

Dolphins joined us today, big ones and we saw a
turtle swimming in the sea grass which was floating in drifts on top of the


We particularly enjoy the Pelicans. They are incredible
to watch, flying in unison inches above the waves and anticipating even the
upwards air pressure movements of the waves. They fish and dive in tandem
often, perfectly matched. They dive and dive and dive and one of the downstream
effects of this diving long term is they often go blind. We had a squadron of
about 12 fly at mast height over us over the marina recently and one of them
had to swerve to dodge the top of a neighbouring mast. He must have not seen it
till the last minute. Another strange thing is despite being fined tuned to be
able to work so closely together they cannot judge the depth of the sea bed
very well. Another common injury is split and broken bills.

We are sailing on Xmas day – it will be fine, quite
calm and flat – parasailing I think !

The weather is rotating predictably now, Florida / Caribbean winter style. Every 7 to 10
days a cold front comes by. Strong wind for about 36 hours,a little rain, then
the wind drops and it turns cold for about 3 days – really quite cold I have to
put my winter woollies on.

27 December 2010

We did spend the best part of Xmas day out sailing.

As we left the Marina and motored down Sisters creek to the Ocean
side I heard a very squeaky noise and was trying to work out what it was. Eventually
I looked up to the top of the mast thinking it was the weather vane up there or
something like that squeaking but then a little black bird stuck his head over
the side of the top of the mast . He was very agitated, squeaking and
squawking. He obviously did not know what to do. He knew his roost was on the
move. He travelled a good kilometre with us squeaking and squawking and finally
abandoned ship as we went out the mouth of the river into the ocean. I hope he
has been able to find his way home. I do not know why he took so long to go.


We went sailing between the
lobster pot floats. One would not normally choose to do this because it really
is no fun trying to avoid them and sail to get the maximum speed one can out of
the wind, but we are practising and in fact this was our first day out alone,
so a BIG step, and nothing went wrong but things continue to go wrong with one
of our Yanmar engines.

To begin with we found that 2 of the 4 coupling bolts ( coupling
the mains part of the engine to the propeller shaft ) had broken

off and were in the bilge and the other two were so worn they were about to do the
same. They were replaced, but there were still problems.

The transmission was leaking oil. Andreas removed it and we took
it to the authorised Yanmar mechanic in Marathon to have the seal replaced.

Then we found that the engine mounts, which should have been

2 X 200 one side and 2 x 150 the other, were all wrong.

Instead we found 2 x 100 one side and 1 x 200 and 1 x 150 on the
other side)  This will have caused the coupling bolts to break and the transmission to leak oil.                      Then the mechanic found that the bolt holes into the part the coupling fixes to were damaged .                       He could not supply a replacement part so in the meantime we have to live with two
stretched bolt holes.

Andreas has fitted
everything back together again but now it is looking like the engine will need
realignment, again!

Around and around we go and somewhere in this loop of things we should
have also gone for a swim to check and see that the propeller shaft is straight
– not moving from side to side on the outside… in case that is contributing
to the vibration problems too.

But the harbour is not the place you would want to swim, as I have told you
before, and when we out in the sea yesterday Andreas backed down on going over
board to check it because it was too choppy.

So fun, fun, fun, thanks to irresponsible, unprofessional previous maintenance.
I tell you do not buy an ex- charter boat off The Moorings.

Do not lease your boat to The Moorings to be chartered.

The other engine is fine so far but occasionally won’t start

off the key so Andreas has to go in and start it with a screw driver.

The boat has now been outfitted with a radar,
AIS, a new Garmin chart plotter and a VHF with a DSC capability

Mostly small things are being tidied up now like
getting an expert in to retension the shrouds – one was quite slack- cleaning
and regreasing the winches, sorting out why the boom locks not locking
properly, props to reclean, because there are many many barnacles living in
this harbor, the propellor shaft bearings to check and annodes to replace when
Andreas finally does don his wet suit and go under the boat!

The last major job is building an aluminium frame
and fixing 4 x 225 watt solar panels to the boat, having them connected, and
then GO…. when the weather permits.

10 January 2011

super busy with last minute ( weeks) work.. We are
moving off in the direction of Cuba in early in the morning  (we both think Cuba is the most
interesting of places to visit at the moment socially and scenically and it will not be
overrun with American tourists of course, as the rest of the Bahamas and
Carribbeans are right now. ) Shortly – in less
than an hour – we are leaving our mooring and going to anchor off shore for a
quick start in the morning.

I will write more at length when we get near
internet again — whenever that will be I am not sure – but we have a
satellite phone – number 870776419512 – very expensive for you to ring us though
but if there is panic your end well ring it …we should be at the other end of
it loud and clear – even in Cuba !




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Written by teoranga Edit

September 4, 2011 at 11:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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Written by teoranga

August 18, 2011 at 9:13 am

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