After months spent mostly at docks, we venture out to live on the hook (which happens to be less than a block away from a grocery store, but hey, baby steps).
This one has a little bit of everything. We pick up where we left off in the previous episode, with Lauren cooking breakfast underway, and getting an underwater view of a pod of dolphins leaping in our bow wave. We finish the second day of our Gulf of Mexico crossing, work on a boat project, travel the ICW, and become marooned on our own boat — but are saved thanks to the good nature of two fellow sailors.
Hope you enjoy!
Lauren & Kirk
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Adventures – A Himitsu https://youtu.be/8BXNwnxaVQE
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Our camera gear:
[Lauren] Last time on Sailing Soulianis, we made one more short hop along the Panhandle of Florida to the Port of Saint Joe. After spending a incredibly rolly night here at anchor, we set off on our 190 nautical mile passage across the Gulf of Mexico to Clearwater. The first day was a bit rough with six foot following seas, throwing our Autohelm for a loop, requiring us to hand steer at all times.
We’re still making good time. We’ve been doing better than six knots over ground the whole time. We’re looking at getting in tomorrow afternoon between one and four.
See you in the morning! What cha cookin’, good lookin’?
Greek scrambled eggs.
[Kirk] Aw, that’s really close to coming out of the pan.
I know, isn’t it? Every once in a while that thing gets swinging really good.
And I feel like I need to stop it so that it–
[Kirk] Yeah, I put my hand on the handle. That looks amazing!
It’s like cooking on a rollercoaster. Pretty much is cooking on a rollercoaster. Okay, what’s next? Butter. A little more spinach. We need a little bit of oregano.
[Kirk] Oo, that smells nice! What’s going on up top? Auto, at the helm.
We’re about three hours away from finishing our 36 hour Gulf crossing, our longest sail yet. It was kinda rough. To be honest, we left heading straight into five, six foot swells. We were rocking all over the place for the first five hours and actually, it continued that way for most of the trip, just slightly diminishing over time. We would’ve had some sleep before starting this. Last night was terrible, couldn’t sleep a wink. Day and a half passage, it would’ve been so much better, but we were zombies. We hand-steered pretty much the whole way. It’s probably not a huge deal, I know a lot of people hand steer. Actually I’m curious. What’s the longest you’ve hand steered for? I guess is what I want to know. And how often you do that? I’m interested. The one awesome thing, actually there were a few awesome things, but one awesome thing was I have not gotten sea sick, which is amazing. I wear these bands that my mom gave me. I’ve had them on the entire time so they’re digging into my wrist, I guess that’s how they’re supposed to work. What else? The stars. It’s been a really long time since we’ve been out in the middle of nowhere and actually seen the full Milky Way. And then the dolphins at night, stirring up all bioluminescence in the water. They were like glowing torpedoes, it was really freakin’ cool!
[Kirk] We had a request to go into a little more detail about some of the processes we do on the boat.
[Lauren] Here we are dropping our main sail after a passage.
[Kirk] Lauren usually goes forward to flake the main, Even though we have lazy jacks, it’s helpful to have someone to ensure it’s done nicely.
[Lauren] And then Kirk will actually flake the back of the cell to help me out.
[Kirk] Once we’ve got the sail down, it’s time to put on the sail ties. Next, I adjust the topping lift to keep it above my head, and then I remove the preventer and reattach it to the back of the boom to pull the boom from off to side.
[Lauren] That way we can keep the shade off the solar panels. And next we put the sail cover on. There’s about 25 of those little,
[Kirk] Twist snaps.
[Lauren] Yeah, to get.
[Kirk] And we have to put the zippers around the lazy jacks.
[Lauren] Once the sail cover’s on, we detach the halyard and tie it around the sail. And we gotta make sure that all the lines are tucked up under the sail cover. Sometimes I forget a snap, so I have to go back.
And give the sail a hug. So we’re about five nautical miles out of Clearwater beach. We’ve sailed all the way here. So, it’s been a pretty good crossing. We’re going to pass within about 200 feet of another sailboat that looks like it’s on its way to do a crossing. He looks like he’s turning towards us, or did he change his course to avoid us? Can’t tell.
So weird just staring at them as they go by.
Why? That’s what they did to us. We’re just checking out their boat.
Making sure they don’t turn around and murder you out in the middle of the ocean and then steal your boat, like pirates. Good, they’re still going the other way. So we just flipped on our engine to finish out our crossing here ’cause we got in a dead spot and it’s the first time we’ve turned on our engine since we put in the new battery bank and had pretty depleted batteries. We were down to 60% and this is something I wanted to monitor because I knew that this large a battery bank would accept more than what our alternator could put out, so it would be forcing our alternator to run at its max output for a while. We have a stock alternator from 1979 which puts out 51 amps. It’s a automotive alternator, which means it’s not really that heavy duty, not really intended to run at max output for very long. When I opened my battery monitor app as soon as we started the engine, I saw that it was putting out 38 amps.
We were pleasantly surprised until we went down below and started smelling electrical burning.
We quickly throttled back the engine to slow down the alternator output and pulled out the infrared thermometer and sure enough, the alternator was at about 220 degrees Fahrenheit. So we kinda let things cool down and then slowly throttled back up and the alternator’s only putting out about 10 amps now, probably because it sensed an overheating, although I don’t know if it’s that smart. Maybe we fried something, I’m not sure.
[Lauren] Uh, I think we had a few feet to spare.
Just a couple.
It’s always mildly nervewracking going under a bridge.
No matter how tall it is.
No matter how tall.
There’s a secondary channel, or a primary channel. In secondary, they said if you draft five foot, he wouldn’t recommend it. I told him to draft four and a half, he said ah you should be fine. But it cuts off a bunch of time, so I think I’m gonna take it.
All right. Once we tied up at the marina, I cooked a late breakfast of pancakes and bacon, after which we immediately fell asleep. Whatcha doin’?
I am pulling down the headliner, because we are going to run our solar panel cables through the deck up here in the cockpit. In order to get to the spot where I wanna do it, I’ve gotta pulled down this whole panel, which requires me to pull off this panel, which requires me to pull off this strip, this strip, and like, try to figure out how this origamis all together. I don’t wanna break anything. I don’t know how much this stuff can bend. So I might need to go one more screw.
[Kirk] Look at all that fun stuff!
[Lauren] Cool! So did you find your spot?
[Kirk] I found my spot.
[Lauren] Right up there, right?
[Kirk] It was pretty easy. So you’re going right, there.
All right, we’re gonna do this one first?
All right! I think this is looking pretty good! There’s big cracks there.
[Lauren] The cracks in the rubber?
[Kirk] Yeah, so I cut it to get it over the cables. That’s what you’re supposed to do. But as you screw this on down, it’s supposed to squeeze it all together. I’ll dump water over this. I hope that works. We’ll have to test it in a little bit with a bucket of water. Come on, it’s clean up time. I gotta cut all these cables and re-route them down there.
[Radio] Turn a good morning into a great morning with new breakfast croissants, now at Subway–
Is the boat ever clean? Five percent of the time? So I do this?
Yeah. Can you pull on it a little?
Stuck like tighter in the end. Here we go.
Put pressure on it. Yes!
[Kirk] All right! Sweet! So we got the cable coming down here with a little extra. In case we need to make changes later. Which goes down in here. Through into the engine compartment. Comes out right here. Goes down and into our solar charger. So now, we’re gonna do the water test. To make sure it doesn’t leak. Can you tell me if you see leaks inside Lauren?
Ah sh it’s like a waterfall!
[Kirk] Stop it!
[Lauren] Yeah, it’s actually coming through the cables.
[Kirk] No joke?
[Kirk] There was some water seeping in next to one of the cables. But only a few drops. And I figure since the gland is under the dodger and won’t normally be subjected to water being dumped directly on it, then we’d be just fine. After two days of putting our boat back together after a crossing, it was time to live on the hook. We found an anchorage with a public dock and a grocery store right across the street. The funny thing was we can almost see that anchorage from the slip that we just left. But to get there by boat, we had to travel almost 10 miles on the ICW.
We’re going to end up about 300 feet from we just were.
After two hours of driving.
While at the marina, Kirk had given Rahm our dinghy a good cleaning and topped him off with air. So we were eager to take him out for a spin. After dropping the hook, we got ready to make a trip to the grocery store. There was just one small problem. We’re going on our first real provisioning run with the dinghy. And we’re heading over to the grocery store.
[Kirk] Shoot you know what I forgot to do?
[Kirk] Forgot to put the plug in it.
So now our dinghy is sinking? During the cleaning the drain plug had decided to run away and find a new home. And so we were up a creek with two paddles and a rather sizable hole in our dinghy. But not five minutes later, who motors by? A couple we met at the marina the day before. I’ve got just the stuff to patch it up he said. And they pulled a u-turn and zoomed back to their boat. The secret stuff was flex seal. Even though we knew it could be applied under water, we figured it’d be easy not too. So we pulled Rahm back on deck. And so, we waited. Then, just like boat fairies they returned with a magic fix for our tender troubles. Of course, then we chatted. And the sun sank lower and lower. And by the time we got around to that grocery run, Kirk and I decided we should divide and conquer. Bye love!
Nice and clean and inflated, it’s nice!
So Kirk’s leaving me back at the boat so I can do some editing. Is the tape holding?
This is the first time we’re going to be taking our dinghy to go get groceries. Up until this point, we been at marina’s mostly so we’ve been using the courtesy car at the marina. Feels like we’re actually, actually living on the boat. All right, time to edit. Holy smokes Kirk!
[Lauren] That is a giant bag of produce.
[Kirk] Yep, they had all sorts of fun stuff, frozen peaches, nectarines, and–
[Lauren] Ginger snaps.
[Kirk] All sorts of good things.
[Lauren] Cauliflower potatoes. How was your grocery run?
[Kirk] It was very nice and pleasant. This was like a little paradise anchorage we found, it’s like I don’t know maybe 500 foot diameter. There’s four boats in here, right next to a beautiful little restaurant. And a free public dock. And it’s absolutely peacefully calm in here. No boat traffic. It’s dead calm out tonight, glassy water, it’s gorgeous.
[Lauren] So that means we’re going to get a wonderful night’s sleep.
All right, let’s eat dinner. Yay! Oh no!