Category: Boat Projects

All is well!!! Engine is fixed.

Sorry for the lack of follow up on our last dramatic post!  We managed to install our new pump and the engine is working well.  Phew #1!

Caitie’s parents had an awesome visit and we all had a fun time sailing aboard TARA in gorgeous calm conditions.  Phew #2!

There are no northerly fronts forecast for the next week and we are looking forward to some calm and quiet days.  Phew #3!

PS Caitie’s mom took some amazing photos which will soon be spicing up our lazy blog!

Mark and Caitie 

Broke Down (and Out)

Ok, first of all – we are safe, as of writing this post, and the boat is too.  But it was a challenging few days after our first engine failure of the trip, which happened this week (on Valentine’s day, but who’s counting?).

We were en route to black point from Georgetown in the Exumas to meet Caitie’s parents for a week visit when we heard a squeal and a hint of burning coming from our Diesel engine.  We cut it quickly (thankfully) and after a quick series of deductions and tests discovered that our fresh water circulating pump (that which circulates the coolant) had seized and was not allowing our alternator vee belt to cycle around.   Despite spending a lot of time and money organizing spares for this trip, this, of course, was not one of them, so there was no easy way to fix it on the spot.  We were headed almost directly upwind and there was no way we could sail to black point before dark, especially since this involved getting through one of the high current cuts from the Exuma sound (aka ocean) side of the islands to the bank (aka shallow) side.

Since there is no real coast guard or towing service here, we issued a pan pan and luckily had two high powered dinghies come assist to pilot us in through a cut and onto anchor.  This went smoothly enough, except for the fact that we were now anchored at an uninhabited island, 30 miles from civilization and our newly arrived guests.  To add insult to injury, our cell phone cards had unexpectedly expired and we had no email or phone communications.  DRAMA!

After taking our dinghy to a few nearby sailboats we managed to get an email out to Caitie’s parents as well as a weather check to decide what our plan would be.  After much deliberation, we decided to continue up to black point and try to fix the engine on anchor there (with the assistance of a newly flown in part from Florida), with the hopes of still salvaging some of the visit.  A very kind Bristol 47 sailboat towed us out of the cut the next morning at slack tide, which was still very scary as the wind created a “rage” condition of steep, short waves that jerked us around.   We managed to sail the 30 miles up the Exuma sound in high swell but safe conditions and had an adrenaline filled downwind run through Dotham cut (hitting over 8 knots), passing by the steep rock walls closely but safely.  We anchored under sail and even managed to get in to have a celebration drink with Caitie’s parents at their rental cottage.

We’ve ordered our replacement parts and have had to sail off and onto anchor again, to move to a slightly safer location for a heavy northerly front coming in tonight.  We have been channeling the spirit of Lin and Larry Pardey (wherever they are), as their books of sailing around the world in small boats without engines have been sources of inspiration and awe on our trip so far.

Although this has been really challenging, emotionally and logistically, to deal with this situation, it has been a learning experience and will hopefully make a good story… Once it’s all sorted out :)

PS – Thank you so so much to our boat friends (and family) for reaching out to offer assistance, encouragement and kind words these past few days.  We are beyond grateful and only hope we can pay it forward.

M & C

First month cont’d

Well …we didn’t shoot many photos during the first month…we kept saying “just enjoy the moment”…most at of what we got were project photos but here goes!

Still somehow smiling

Still somehow smiling despite finding half an inch of sludge in our drinking water tanks.  Don’t worry – they’re clean now.


Blue water shot. It really looks like that, which is wild.



Starting to chill a bit

Starting to chill a bit :)


Mark destroyed the dinghy pull cord with his brute strength.  Caitie braided a new one with some small twine on board.  Works like a charm!





Gratuitous sunset shot



One month in the Bahamas!

Ok we haven’t posted for a month! Sooooooo lets get caught up.

First of all – we’re doing this post on an iPad, using data, on a SIM card that we bought during the THREE hours per WEEK that the Bahamas telecom employee is available in black point, Exumas, since our other one expired two months earlier than we had expected.  Oh yea, did we mention that was the day we had a serious engine breakdown and also the day Caitie’s parents arrived?  More on that later…but please excuse the horrible editing, typos and general quality decline compared to our usual attempts at blogging…

Week 1 – the Berry Islands.

Our main man JWay came to visit (Jeff money)!  We picked him up on a beach with lotsa swell – not a great decision as I fell out of the dinghy and got soaked en route to pick him up from the airport, and he got soaked on the way back to the boat.  Welcome to Tara Jeff!

we spent the week exploring the relatively empty Berrys and had a blast snorkexploring including a cool visit to hoffman’s blue hole (undoubtably filled with deep sea monsters)



We caught a few fish (mackerel, amberjack, and a couple barracuda) but…the crowning achievement was the Mahi-Mahi en route to Nassau :)

imageimageJeff with a sweet gaff job.  Mark with a sweet filet job. Caitie taking the photos and navigating the per.




The joys of working underwater

Now that the water is a bit clearer (and warmer) it was time to break out the snorkel gear and check out the boat beneath the waterline!  Fun stuff, eh?

We discovered:

The good – The coat of antifouling paint we applied before we left is holding up great!  No barnacles to be seen – woo hoo!

The bad – Our zincs (sacrificial metal that is supposed to corrode before your propeller does) have mostly corroded away…and by mostly, I mean MOSTLY.  For sailors, it’s hard not to cringe at the sight of the photo below…

Crumbling away…


So today, was zinc replacement day :)  We didn’t want to go for a haul out, so this meant gearing up and getting in the water.

I learned a couple cool tricks via the interwebs:

– Tie string to all tools you plan on using underwater (lanyards around the wrist) – this was a no-brainer.

– Duct tape the anodes together (across one side of the split) to keep the halves from falling apart when trying to get it on the shaft – this one was actually really helpful because it would have been hard to tighten both screws in one breath of air

– Wear one glove on your left hand (assuming you’re right handed) to wedge bolts into when you’re diving…(no, not just because you’re trying to do your best underwater moonwalk)

– Paint nail polish in key areas to avoid corrosion around bolts


Tools of the trade


Impossible to look cool in a snorkel mask.  Believe me, I tried.

It’s impossible to look cool in a snorkel mask. Believe me, I tried.




It was a major success getting the (2) new anodes on.  I got to use my shorty wetsuit (though I probably didn’t need to), the snorkel gear, and tools…underwater!  It felt good getting this one done.  Officially crossed off the list, with more projects to come.

No Name Harbour (Part 1)

We are now sitting in No Name Harbour in Key Biscayne!

We’d heard about this anchorage as the “go-to place to wait for a weather window” for a crossing to the Bahamas, and we weren’t sure what to expect…I’d envisioned a packed/busy place with lots of amenities (like most of Florida), and Caitie envisioned the opposite.  Honestly, it’s kind of nestled perfectly in between.  We have enough room to anchor (though it is a little tight amongst the 20 other boats here), and there are washrooms. pump out facilities, and a restaurant/bar that makes a great grilled snapper ;).  On the other hand there is no fuel, no water, and no access to provisions.  The anchorage is in the middle of a natural park, so there are walking trails and beaches, etc. etc. etc., (though honestly we haven’t had much chance to explore – we hope to take some photos tomorrow/this weekend to do a proper update later…see part 2).

Frankly, we are in GO mode.  This is our last chance to get our shit together in the US and we want to make sure we have enough food, spares, and supplies to make it in the Bahamas (and potentially beyond).  First thing we did when we arrived was to rent a car.  We spent an entire 8 hour day (yesterday) hitting major marine stores and filling our CNG tanks.  We even managed to hit the Westerbeke distribution center just outside of Miami to stock up on all the necessary engine-related parts (and manuals) at rock-bottom prices.  We felt great, despite now having worn out our credit cards :S

And yes, I treated myself to some fishing supplies – including a hawaiian sling for spear fishing 😉


Honestly, this isn’t even 1/4 of the stuff we have purchased as spares/provisions/toys…

When we got back to the boat today, we re-did our TO-DO list.  Every boater knows this is never ending, and for us it’s the same way.  It was a good opportunity to re-prioritize what we need to work on, and to appreciate the fact that we have actually done a lot…

Here’s a snapshot.  DONE:

  • Put top batten in main
  • Re-rig lazy jacks
  • Tighten reefing lines
  • Install lower slug/hank for main
  • Replace toilet seat hinges
  • Fix coolant leak
  • Tighten throttle cable
  • Check rigging and tighten shrouds
  • Tighten ignition key/instrument panel
  • Build solar panel stainless steel frame
  • Install solar panels
  • Drill weep hole in mast step
  • Install filter for foot pump in galley
  • Replace all batteries, and add 100ah to house bank
  • Install battery monitor
  • Install LED lights
  • Fix wiring for high output alternator

TO-DO starting tomorrow (and hard to read):


Honestly, thus far on the trip, we haven’t let ourselves settle into a place, so it’s really nice to just have some time to relax and work on things at our own pace (in nice weather!)

Lastly, here are some random self-indulgent shots, for the sake of completeness.

SUNRISE!  Leaving Lake worth.  First day on the ocean in a loooong time.

SUNRISE! Leaving Lake worth. First day on the ocean in a loooong time.

Ft. Lauderdale Mc. Mansions

Ft. Lauderdale Mc. Mansions



My boat is bigger than your boat.

My boat is bigger than your boat.

Tall buildings looking tall

Tall buildings looking tall

Like Vancouver, but with palm trees :)

Like Vancouver, but with palm trees :)

Miami Skyline at night

Miami Skyline at night

Merry Xmas! It’s almost 2015…

Soooooooo….We stashed the boat at Titusville Municipal Marina (Florida), and went back to South Carolina for Christmas.  It was a quick jaunt back, and honestly we didn’t really shoot any photos while we were there.  Oh well.  We were too focused on kickin’ it old school with my brother and cousins Annie and Mickey…Been way too long…

On our last day, we decided to make a sign representing all the places that people had traveled from/called home.  It was fun!  Everyone took their own creative liberties.  Here’s to adding more signs to the list in the future 😉

Xmas SIgn

Now we’re back on the boat and tackling projects (12v fans, solar panels, toilet seat hinges, mast boots, jerrican holders, etc. etc.).  We’re slowly checking them off the list.

p.s. I received a GoPro for Christmas (thanks Grandpa!), and this is the first video/test.  Caitie says I need to up the “wow factor”.  I suppose that’s reasonable feedback.

Fan Friday

We crossed into Florida today!  In eager anticipation of the Florida HEAT, we started installing our 12V fans.

I’m actually kind of blown away (har har) by how much of a breeze they put out…they don’t use too much power either.

We have a long list of projects to do before we go to the Bahamas in the new year, and we are happy to start crossing the easy ones off the list.

Happy Holiday party Friday tout le monde!