Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby timp4411 » Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:56 am

Thanks for the notes and video of the adventure.

I just watched Day 1 and am looking forward to the rest.....

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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Wed Jul 23, 2014 1:40 pm

Abacos 2014 Adventure - Day 1 - July 3, 2014

In an earlier post, I showed a video vignette of the run for our first day. We only needed to get from Savannah to Jekyll Island. A four hour run on the ICW. It should have been a cake walk. We had planned to leave between 4 PM and 5 PM from BerZerKeR's dock which is right around the corner from Buena Vida's and a 60 minute run for Sea Dawg from our dock due to the no wake zones. It was also on the way towards Jekyll on the ICW. The captain and admiral of BerZerKeR had to work on the 3rd while the captain and crews of Sea Dawg and BV had decided to take the day to allow for provisioning.

Bettie and I had been bringing loads of provisions, supplies and clothes down to the boat in the days prior and all we had to do today was pack the coolers, load them on the boat, run to Isle of Hope Marina to fuel up and to get a pump out. So Amy and Alan, our fellow crew members for the run to Treasure Cay, agreed to come over and assist with the final provisioning starting at 10AM.

We run with three 7 day Igloo coolers on the back of Sea Dawg tied to the swim step. They are 7 day coolers meaning that they are supposed to keep things cold for 7 days without adding additional ice. In the hot Bahamian sun what this actually means is that they are 1 day coolers. Each day, we added 10 lbs of ice to each cooler to keep things cold. One cooler was for beer and wine, another was for soft drinks and waters and the third and biggest was for our cryopacked hard frozen meats and other food stuffs that we would be eating while in the Bahamas. In addition to those three coolers, Sea Dawg has a dorm size fridge/freezer in the galley and a small fridge/icemaker in the cockpit. All would be crammed full of food for the trip.

In the weeks before the trip, the meats had all been purchased and hard frozen in the freezer at home. On the day before the trip, the produce and other fresh foods had been purchased and placed in boxes to be taken on board, or in the refridgerator. I had a spreadsheet to help remind us what we were supposed to take out of the fridges and freezers. It was while I was packing food into one of the coolers from the outside fridge that tragedy struck.


Yes, we would now be starting the trip with 50% of the sliced dills lost to tragedy. Luckily, the rest of the provisioning went well and we had no more accidents. We had the boat loaded and were ready to go by about 12:30. I had been checking in throughout the morning with the captain of BV to make sure that his plans were tracking and they were. I did not check in with BZ as they were working and I did not want to disturb them and cause them to be later in leaving, or to make them feel like I was rubbing it in that we were ready to go and they were having to work. So we didn't call them.

We had agreed to be off BZ's dock at 4PM and available to help them. We still had to fuel and get a pump out so the crew of Sea Dawg agreed to meet back at the boat at 2PM for a 2:15PM departure. Below is a picture of Sea Dawg's crew for the trip to the Abacos.

Abacos 2014 - Day 1 The Sea Dawg Crew.jpg

We were on the boat and in the Wilmington River by 2:45PM. Finally, now that Sea Dawg was on the way, I texted the capt of BZ and let him know we were headed his way and would be at his dock by 4PM. I got a text back from BZ that there was a problem at work and that they were not going to be able to leave work until 6PM! What a shame. The first day of our trip and we were already going to be having to run at night in the dark on the ICW! So I throttled Sea Dawg back to idle and slowly worked towards Isle of Hope Marina. I now had four hours or more to run eight miles. I thought about abandoning him and running to Jekyll, but decided against it. I sent him a text telling him that we would be off his dock by 5PM and would do whatever we could to help them.


Alan took this opportunity to serve the ladies a congratulatory champagne so that we could toast good weather and great friends.

Not 15 minutes later I get a text back from BZ saying that I had been "BerZerKeRed" and that they were actually gone and already south of Ossabaw Island. He had deserted me! So I sped back up and got to IoH to fuel up and pump out and we high tailed it south. I kept texting him trying to figure out which story was the lie as I had to figure out if BV was with him or still waiting to go. Nothing, a total info blackout.

So we finally made it to his part of the river and it looks like BZ was just pulling away from their dock. All of a sudden I see a huge splash at the dock and something in the water. I start laying into my horn to get their attention as they are now 30 yards off the dock and whatever is in the water is chasing them. I see a couple of the kids scramble onto the swim platform and they pull one of the family dogs out of the water and take her back to the dock. They then leave again and the dog breaks away from the sitter and jumps into the water again as BZ pulls away. The kids scramble onto the swim platform a second time and retrieve Lilly and when she is returned to shore this time, it is with the capt of BZ's belt being used as a leash.

With the excitement behind us, we are finally able to start the adventure.

The bad news is that BZ was very weighed down and could only make about 15 mph. Since both Sea Dawg and BV could not plane at that speed, we let BZ run ahead and then would do a series of sprints to catch up. The map dots show either 23 knts or 7 knts and this pattern would follow for the remainder of the day. We had planned to arrive at Jekyll Harbor Marina by 9PM, and since this is after the marina office closes, I had earlier in the day called and gotten the wifi codes, the bathroom codes and had asked for slip assignments. They willing gave the bathroom and wifi codes, but when it came to slip assignments, there was an awkward silence. I told the marina guy that we had booked slips several months earlier and he siad not to worry, that there was room, he just would need to walk down to the dock to figure it out and call me back. That was at 2PM. It was now 6PM, the office was closed and they never called back. And we were running slow.

We encountered a thunderstorm south of Sapelo Island and were just entering the Altamaha Sound as the sun set and darkness fell. We ended up running the last 20 miles in a little over two hours in the dark.

Day 1 Sunset on the ICW web.jpg

Here is the course track for the first day.

Day 1 Course Track.jpg

We ended up getting to the Marina at 11:15PM and we could barely squeeze onto the fuel dock. It turned out that because Hurricane Andrew had come through that morning, many boats transiting north had decided to hunker down and wait out the storm track before following north. The dock was crammed full! There was some space at the fuel dock. I let BZ go first because I had pods and there was a current running. He got in and some of his crew went and pulled a RIB that was tied to a boat taking up dock space out of the way and I squeezed in with a foot to spare on BZ's swim platform and my bow totally overhanging the RIB and almost over the transom of the boat in front of me. BV, being a shallow draft boat was able to run farther down the dock and squeeze in. Luckily we planned an early departure and would be gone before the other boat got going.

Here are the pages from the log that my wife keeps for the first day of the trip.

Day 1 Log Page 1.jpg

Day 1 Log Page 2.jpg
Last edited by Sea Dawg on Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:14 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Fri Jul 25, 2014 3:40 pm

I have uploaded the video vignette for our Day 2 Run from Jekyll Harbor Marina, Jekyll Island to Inlet Harbor Marina, Ponce Inlet. I will add some commentary in another post but wanted to get this video up now as it is rather interesting. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I bought a Garmin VIRB Elite to run with at the helm this year. It has more features than the GoPro including a GPS and some form of inertial sensors as it can sense G loads. I put the first day's video up using my old GoPro editing SW while in the Bahamas as that was what was loaded on my laptop that I took with me. I produced this video using the VIRB Edit software provided by Garmin. This SW allows me to display the GPS heading, speed and G load for each recording (in addition to lots of other parameters that I am not interested in for the purposes of this forum). These data display at the top center, bottom left and bottom right portions of the screen respectively.

The data are cool to display and when viewing the video within the application, include the option of having a split screen with a map indicating position for each moment of the run. The SW is buggy and simply terminates without reason or error message quite frequently and clips the title info on the right side even when the title is short.

I also could not find a shot transition object (this may be my lack of knowledge of how to use the SW) but if I wanted professionalism, I would probably publish each little snippet of video with the Garmin VIRB Edit SW to get the image with the data objects and save them as MP4s and then combine shots, use transition features and create titles using a more robust movie editing SW. But I am not that kind of guy...

I am excited about the G load indicator because on Day 4, we did some significant bouncing and it will be interesting to see if we ever got outside the circle...

Please enjoy the video and commentary will follow in a couple of days in another post.

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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby timp4411 » Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:21 pm

Sea Dawg,

I just watched the video. Looked like you missed the worst of that storm.

But I enjoyed the video. It was clear and showed a great perspective of the operators point of view.

Keep em coming...... Thanks !
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:45 pm

Abacos 2014 Adventure - Day 2 - July 4th - Jekyll Island to Ponce Inlet

The trip for today would be a 126 nm offshore run if the weather was cooperating. As I mentioned in a prior post, if we were able to run offshore, it would be a 7 hour run for BZ. The worst case scenario was a total inside run on the ICW and with all of the no wake zones (and the need for BZ to wait for bridge openings, could easily be a 12 or 13 hour day. Based on our experience from the night before though, BZ was so loaded down, they were only able to sustain a 15 mph cruise, not a 19 mph cruise, so the offshore day would be over 9 hours and the inshore run would be easier to measure in centuries instead of hours.

So even though we got in very late to Jekyll, we needed to get an early start. The marina office was supposed to open between 7:30 and 8:00 AM and since we had not checked in the night before, and we needed fuel, and we were blocking their fuel dock, we were all up at the crack of dawn to get things moving. So when the office opened, I went up and checked in and asked them to head on down to the fuel dock to get BZ fueled and on her way. We helped BZ get off the dock and heading down range by 8AM. While BZ was checking out, I fueled up Sea Dawg and was ready to pull off the fuel dock by 8:15. BV had docked way down at the end of the dock and still had to fuel up, check-in and check-out so as I pulled off the fuel dock, they came to the dock to tie up, fuel up, handle their paper work, and, being in a small boat with spartan facilities, take one last run up to the shore based head.

Here is a picture of BZ at the fuel dock.

Day 2 BZ at fuel dock web.jpg

Here is a picture of a rather tight docking situation for Sea Dawg. This is one of the times that I am thankful to be a pod (IPS) boat.

Day 2 Sea Dawg Docked.jpg

We slowly worked Sea Dawg down past the marina and at idle headed down the southern tip of Jekyll Island towards the Atlantic. I was on the radio with BZ trying to figure out if it was going to be a 17 hour day for them (inshore) or ten hour day for them (off-shore). The captain of BZ was not really answering my questions about which way he was going and at one point said that he was not going off-shore because the waves were too high. This entire time, I am sitting slowly working down the ICW side of Jekyll Island and can’t tell if he is kidding or not.

I believe that he was still sore with me about some of the e-mails that I had sent in the days running up to our departure date where I had said that I would be hovering off his dock at 4PM on departure day and if he wasn’t there by then, we were going to dump all of our heavy stuff on his boat to slow him down even more and set all the pre-sets on his radio to Rap. So he had been feeding me bad info for the last two days straight. I was going to have to sit down with him that night and tell him the story of the boy who cried wolf if he didn’t start shooting straight with me…

While we waited for BV, I had the opportunity to enjoy the Sea Dawg version of the "breakfast of champions", a Pop Tart and a Diet Coke.

Abacos 2014 - Day 2 Breakfast of Champions.jpg

The forecast for the day was light chop on the ICW, 1-2s offshore with a reasonable period, 10 knot winds out of the SW and isolated TSs. I know that the weather reports sometimes got it wrong but couldn’t believe our luck that it was as bad as he said.

The captains of all three boats had discussed the preferred route each day and had agreed that this day was the preferred offshore day (if at all possible). So as I slowly made it around the southern tip of Jekyll and saw that there was only the faintest ripple on the Atlantic that morning, I realized that I had once again been “BerZerKeRed”. I had some ripe words to share with BZ, but they were already so far ahead of us that they were out of radio range.

We proceeded to continue to wait for BV to clear the fuel dock and follow us. While we all tried to stay together, BZ’s slow speed required her to run whenever she could. So we hung back on Sea Dawg and waited for BV to follow us into the Sound. Finally, about 9:30AM, we saw BV coming around the southern point of Jekyll Island and after confirming with them that they were comfortable with the 1-2s offshore, we proceeded to run out past Cumberland Island to head south and cut the corner and miss all of the no wake zones. We were finally on our way to Ponce Inlet.

Here is the actual course track taken for day 2 and as you can see we had a great run offshore.

Day 2 Track.jpg

The weather was beautiful and though the waves were on the nose, they were relatively small with most being 1-2s with only an occasional 2+ to wake us up. The autopilot was running the boat and we set in a comfortable 22-23 knots and watched the time to destination tick down on the MFD. In the picture below you can see the heavy work involved in running Sea Dawg on a beautiful open ocean run. You can also see the Nite-2-Day low light camera used at night and the Garmin VIRB used to make the movies for this post.

Day 2 Running Sea Dawg.jpg

Since this was an offshore run, we had one set of eyes responsible for always being on BV. BV was supposed to stay in our wake a couple of hundred yards back. But every once in a while, we would see BV shoot out of our wake and run sometimes a mile off the course track, I was trying to figure out what was going on and would call BV on our working channel and often, would not get a reply. Then I noticed a pattern forming, BV tended to run wide every time that we were running close to a fishing spot. He wasn’t dropping a line in. He was just heading over to scope out the bottom contours and see which had the most fish. The captain of BV likes to fish…

So about an hour and a half after we started running in the ocean, I saw a spec on the horizon that eventually grew to be BZ. We caught up with her off of Jax Beach and soon left her behind. I would like to say that we “Sea Dawged” her. Here is a photo of BZ as we passed her in the Atlantic on Day 2.

Day 2 BZ offshore.jpg

Here is a video showing Sea Dawg and Buena Vida overtaking BerZerKeR in the Atlantic on Day 2. This video was taken from BZ using a GoPro. The problem with both the GoPro and the Garmin VIRB is that they both have wide angle lenses that make them easy to point but that make things look much farther away than they actually are. Although we were not running right beside BZ, as you can see from the above picture, we were definitely closer than we look in the video.

As lunch time approached, we throttled back to allow the ladies to use the facilities downstairs and to make lunch. We threw a bag full of sandwiches over to the guys on BV. You can see this in the video. What you don’t see is instead of catching the bag, the bag hit the bimini pole and fell in the water. Luckily the sandwiches were in zip lock baggies and the entire lunch was double bagged in plastic grocery bags that had a substantial air pocket. So the lunch floated long enough for BV to turn around and fish the bag out of the water with a net. They had a good lunch and we continued our trip south.

I have two Garmin 5212 MFDs on Sea Dawg and have a 4 foot open array radar on the boat. When running offshore, I always keep one MFD on charts at varying levels of zoom depending on how close to shore or markers we are getting and the other 5212 is either on charts with radar overlay or on straight radar. I will run straight radar when out of site of land because it is easier to pick up boats and weather. I run in radar overlay as we approach land to confirm that the chart datum aligns with the world so that we are not miles off course should the GPS start spoofing. As we travel along, I also keep track of our divert ports and tick them off as we go by and every 15 minutes or so take a distance and bearing measurement to the nearest port.

So as the trip progressed, we passed St. Mary’s River, St. John’s River, St. Augustine. And finally, we were within 15 miles of Ponce Inlet when an error message pops up on the MFD. Garmin Radar error code 0. Followed soon after by an error message that the system has lost connection with the radar. Well, I thought to myself, now I would have something to sort out while enjoying my arrival beverage and waiting for BZ to get to Inlet Harbor Marina.

This was not my first run in with Garmin Radar. At this point, this was the third radar head on Sea Dawg. The first lasted under two years (thankfully it failed two months before the warranty was due to end). The failure was in the onboard circuit board in the head. It had gotten cooked due to the seal failing and it getting doused with salt water. OK, so had Sea Dawg taken some green water over the bow in her tender formative years, yes she had, but if Garmin wanted to play in the big boy offshore radar arena, then they needed to step up their game in my book. So Garmin replaced the head unit under warranty with a re-man unit, which lasted less than one trip before it started giving circuit board overheat errors and shutting down within the first hour of being turned on. So the folks at Tidal Marine Electronics in Charleston arranged to get a new head unit for Sea Dawg which was installed 8/24/2012. And now here it was 7/4/2014 and what was failing right at the end of its two year warranty? That’s right, the Garmin Radar head.

Did Garmin take a page out of the Chrysler play book circa 1970? If they did, they would need to get their units to last an extra couple of months. As an aside, now that we are back, my first call after the call to Hinckley to get Sea Dawg hauled was to Tidal Marine to get them to place a warranty claim for this radar head. When I spoke with them, I asked them if they had experienced any problems with Garmin radar? The technician said that he had one in his truck right now taking it to a boat, had another boat with a warranty claim pending and we were next in line. So as much as I like the Garmin suite of products, it appears that their radar may be their weak link.

So getting back to the story, as the radar is failing, I see that on the horizon just past Ponce Inlet is a long grey line of something. I call BV and ask them what they think about the storm we are approaching and can they see what it is doing. BV has a 12 inch Garmin Radar that really could not pick the storm apart to let us know how big it was. Being this close to the inlet and due to the fact that we had not yet seen lightning in the storm, and the clouds were just a really dark grey, not black, we decided that since we could still see the inlet, then the storm must be south of the inlet and we should go ahead and run for it.

Prior to getting into the weather though, BV had to pull down all of their canvas to keep the rain (if it came) out of the helm. They were also a mile or more off shore from our track at this point as we slowed down to lower our antennas and to drop our canvas as well. As we waited for BV to catch up to us, the storm did. And so we ran the inlet in near zero visibility in the rain with only the occasional bolt of lightning. Luckily as we got to the breakwater, the storm was largely past and we were able to navigate the actual channel with relatively good visibility and limited winds and waves.

Day 2 Shoaling in Ponce Inlet.jpg

As you can see from the photo above, the Ponce Inlet is another inlet that is notorious for its shoaling and so the markers are constantly moved to reflect the current location of the channel. Once you get into the inlet, you can either turn north up the Halifax River or south to connect with the ICW and enter New Smyrna Beach. We needed to turn north and run about a mile up the Halifax River to Inlet Harbor Marina. There is significant shoaling in this area and we were concerned that we would run aground somewhere. Luckily, there was a water taxi running up to Inlet Harbor Marina and I was able to hail him and ask him where the channel was. He directed me to the place to transition from the Inlet to the Halifax River and which side to hug and at 4:00PM we were hovering off Inlet Harbor Marina sorting out our slip assignment.

We docked with BV close (I would argue from the video a little too close) behind us, Alan made me and the crew of BV our arrival beverage while we checked in and Bettie went and made friends with all of our slip neighbors. BZ was going to be about an hour behind us and as we got Sea Dawg washed and powered up at the slip, we heard BZ checking in as they ran the Ponce Inlet. As you can see from the picture below, we tried to make sure that BZ knew where to dock. We e-mailed this picture to BZ while they were still outside of VHF range (but in cell range) so that they wouldn't get confused.

IMG00621-20140704-1634 web.jpg

But we really should not have worried as you can see from the picture below, BerZerKeR has a large crew who seem to know their jobs very well (it is rumored that floggings on board are frequent).

Abacos 2014 - Day 2 New Pic BZ and Crew.jpg

And by 5:15PM, BZ was docked and we started celebrating the fourth of July.

Abacos 2014 - Day 2 New Pic BZ Docking at IHM.jpg

I cannot say enough nice things about Inlet Harbor Marina. They are a hopping place and yet when I called in March to make transient slip reservations for one night only on the 4th of July of all nights, they waived the multi-night stay holiday weekend requirement and treated us right.

As the sun set after a beautiful day’s run, we prepared to watch the fireworks from Daytona to New Smyrna Beach. We logged a lot of miles and the only casualties were BV’s masthead light had fallen over and he couldn’t transmit over his VHF radio at long range (he could hear us but we couldn’t hear him), so he was using his hand held VHF to talk to us which had very limited range. Oh yeah, and then there was a little issue with Sea Dawg’s radar yet to be sorted out.

IMG00624-20140704-2025 web.jpg

Here are the log pages for the day:

Log Day 2 - Page 1.jpg

Log Day 2 - Page 2.jpg

You can usually tell that if there is not a lot of writing in the log, then it was a pretty uneventful day.
Last edited by Sea Dawg on Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:21 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:25 pm

I hate to do this to anyone reading this topic, but I just received photos from one of Sea Dawg's staff photographers for the trip and have gone back to the Day 1 and Day 2 posts to add some additional pictures in. They add some context and enjoyment and luckily are all on this page 2 of the topic.

I have not yet gotten many pictures from BerZerKeR of Sea Dawg so don't have many pictures of a Regal nature to post but there wouldn't be that many anyway as we were almost always just coming up from behind BZ and just passing her... Not too much time to get the camera out and take pictures.

I will post as they become available and may just have a post of pictures at the end so that you patient readers don't need to keep going back to old posts to look for new content.
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby timp4411 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:39 pm

Sea Dawg,

Thanks for the additional Pics.

I feel like I'm there getting ready to hand out the Bloody Mary's. :D
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:18 pm

Abacos 2014 – Day 3 – Inlet Harbor Marina to Hutchinson Island Marina

This day’s trip is never the most difficult, but it can be the most boring (unless you were with the crew of BZ last year and ran off-shore). The trip consists of several distinct segments if you run the ICW. The first is the no wake zone through New Smyrna Beach. This initial segment of the run can take about 45 minutes to run but seems to take forever when you know you have 145 miles yet to run and want to get on it. Then, after a brief chance to run fast, there is a 5 mile long no wake zone running past many fish camps that finally dumps you into the Mosquito Lagoon. While you can run fast in the Mosquito Lagoon, there are often small boats and sometimes fishermen in kayaks or just hanging out on the rocks right by the channel that you have to be mindful of. Finally, after clearing the Haulover Canal and getting into the Indian River, you can run at speed for a significant amount of time. The channel is narrow but mostly straight. The channel goes all squiggly once you get south of Melbourne as you run past Palm Bay and Sebastian Inlet. There are some short no wake zones near Vero Beach and Ft. Pierce but by the time you leave Ft. Pierce, you are only 15 miles from the St. Lucie Inlet so you are home free.

Normally, we try to leave by 0800 to start this segment of the run and easily make it to Hutchinson Island before 1700 which is an hour before their stated closing time (more on that later). But this day was a little different.

As you may remember, the prior day was July 4th, which as true red blooded Americans meant that we had to celebrate our nation’s birthday. We did not stay up late, but we definitely were moving a little slower than normal the morning of the 5th. The evening before, the captain of BZ had stated his intention to be gone as soon as he could fuel up. Wanting to insure that he didn’t decide to sneak away early and run offshore to potentially repeat the mutiny of 2013, I made sure that I was awake before the crew of BZ by getting up at 0700. As I went up to enjoy my morning Pop Tart and DC, I saw that Sea Dawg had been boarded during the night and been BerZerKeR’d!

Day 3 Berzerkered.jpg

Eventually there was motion on BZ and BV and we got things moving. The captain and crew of BV had slept in the cuddy cabin of the Parker (like they did the night before) but having no facilities and no space, this meant that everything that they stored in the cabin for the run, they had to take out and pile in the cockpit to make room to sleep in the cuddy. Now, in addition to their morning constitutionals, they had to re-stow everything that they had taken out of the cuddy the night before.

The only downside about the Inlet Harbor Marina is that the restrooms and showers for the Marina are a long hike away across a couple of parking lots and behind a building behind the boat racks for dry storage. So for the crew of BV, there morning ritual took a lot longer than for the crews of BZ or Sea Dawg. There was also the issue of sorting out BV’s masthead light and poor radio transmission.

The sheet metal screws holding the mast head light into the fiberglass cabin top had worn the holes too big to bite. The solution would be simple, bigger screws or replace the screws with bolts. The problem was that the screws were already as large as the base opening would allow and we did not bring a power drill to ream them out. Also, the cabin top was a two layer top and had not been through drilled, so having no drill, the options for repair were more limited.

So we could have 5200’d the fixture in place which would have made future replacement more difficult, or 4200’d it in place and hoped that it would hold. We eventually agreed on a compromise and 5200’d the screws into the screw holes, 4200’d the base and duct taped everything down so that we could run and hopefully not bounce the post over before the adhesive set. We then looked at his VHF and the cable coming out of the cabin was cracked and showing signs of age. So BV would continue to have to use a hand held VHF until such a time as he could get a new antenna.

By this time, BZ had warmed up his engines and moved to the fuel dock. While BZ was fueling, I decided to take a look at the Radar issue on Sea Dawg. When we left off the last post, the Garmin MFD had first shown a radar error code of “0” and then lost the connection as we were approaching the storm off of Ponce Inlet. When the radar connection is lost, then the radar no longer appears as a device option on the MFD. After firing up Sea Dawg’s engines to allow them to warm up on the 5th, I started up the Garmins and the radar was once again a discovered device. So letting the radar cool down over night had allowed it to be seen again. I would be running inshore this day, so unless a big thunderstorm came up, I was not going to need the radar. But it was good to know that the radar was back on-line if needed.

After fueling, BZ departed the fuel dock at about 0800. We wanted to get over there next but a couple of center consoles had moved in to fuel up and ice up for the day. We finally were able to get to the fuel dock about 0830. Sea Dawg needed a fueling and a pump out. Just as I was finishing off the fueling of Sea Dawg, BV moved over to the fuel dock and then I heard BZ hailing Sea Dawg on the radio. I pulled the nozzle out of the tank as Bettie answered the radio. BZ told Bettie that if I hadn’t started fueling, to hold off. Well it was a little late for that now.

BZ had just exited the no wake zone south of New Smyrna Beach and had tried to power up. As he did, his engines bogged down and he had just pulled into the shallows and dropped anchor to investigate. We waited at the fuel dock and BZ came back on the radio and said that his fuel filters were totally clogged. BZ carried one set of spare filters but if the fuel he had taken on was super dirty, they wouldn’t last long. It was a good thing he was not running offshore!

I got off of Sea Dawg and went to the marina manager and asked if they had had problems with their diesel recently, he stated that they had not and burn through over 5,000 gallons a week. I explained what had just happened on BZ and the manager went and offered to run the particulate report for his tank and came back with the results of the last seven days. As he had indicated, his tanks were clean. I got back on the radio with BZ and shared this information with him and asked him where he had fueled up in Savannah. He said he had fueled up Sunday night while taking his family to dinner at a place up one of the back rivers where there is a marina next door. But being way off the ICW and way back up a shallow river, that marina does 90% of their business as gas and only 10% as diesel. When needing fuel in Savannah, I always fuel up at Isle of Hope Marina which is right on the ICW and is a frequent layover marina for transient boats so I always know that their diesel is fresh. I had actually done this on the 3rd on the way to BZ’s dock to start the trip. So chances are that my filters were good. BZ was running again and now that he had changed all of his filters but he now had no spares. So while running, he now was trying to source some spares and offered to do the same for me.

At 0930 Sea Dawg and BV were finally running, in the no wake zone for New Smyrna Beach. I had the crew digging the spare filters out of storage just in case and getting the numbers for those spares to BZ who was going to have someone in Savannah go to West Marine, River Supply and NAPA and get the filters to BV’s son who was driving down that day with his girlfriend to make the crossing over to the Bahamas on BV.

Well, BZ has good old Detroit Diesels and his filters are stock items at West Marine. Sea Dawg on the other hand, has filters that cannot be sourced in Savannah. The on engine filters are VP and would have to come from VP and the primaries, though Parker/Racor, were not available in Savannah either. So BZ found double spares for his engines (and gen set) and we kept our fingers crossed on Sea Dawg that it was bad fuel in Savannah that had snake bit BZ and not the fuel at Jekyll or Inlet Harbor.

As Sea Dawg made it past New Smyrna Beach and into Mosquito Lagoon, I could finally relax. Of course every time the tone of the engines changed even the tiniest amount, for even the briefest second, I would catch myself wondering if this was it. The ICW run on this day offers many chances to see Manatees along the fish camps and in the Haulover Canal. We did not see any this day.

Day 3 Mosquito Lagoon.jpg

Once clear of the five mile fish camp no wake zone, we spent the next few miles speeding up and dropping back to idle as we passed tons of fishermen out in skiffs, small boats, kayaks and even just wading in the shallows. Finally, after transiting the Haulover Canal, we were out of the no wake zones and able to fly. Well, I mean that we were able to fly within the 25MPH channel speed limit where indicated.

As we approached Cocoa Beach, at 1340, we caught up with BZ. Here are some pictures of Sea Dawg and BV in trail behind BZ.

Day 3 Sea Dawg catching BZ web.jpg

Day 3 Sea Dawg and BV web.jpg

Here are some pictures as we passed BZ.

Day 3 Sea Dawg Passing web.jpg

Day 3 BV web.jpg

Here is a video taken at the same time showing our pass of BZ.

Here is a picture of the Indian River south of Melbourne. The afternoon thunderstorms had begun to kick in by this time and a healthy chop had set on the river.

Day 3 Running the Indian River.jpg

Because we were going to be arriving during the end of the business day for the marina staff, I had called ahead to get our slip reservations. They did not answer the phone so I left a message. This was going to be the 10th time we had stayed at Hutchinson Island Marriott Marina in the last five years and on many occasions the staff has bolted prior to the posted time. There is a locked gate to get onto the docks and so I wanted the gate code and wifi code before they left in addition to our slip assignments. What I really wanted was help with the lines as this marina has fixed concrete finger docks that are only about 20 feet long with dolphin stakes out in the water for bow lines. My crew, good as they were, needed time to get the dolphin stakes lassoed and so a little dock side help to keep my boat off the concrete was (and is) always appreciated.

So they finally call me back at 1600 and tell me that they will be leaving at 1700 hours, because all of the other boats are in. I tell them that we are planning to arrive close to that time and would like assistance with our lines. They give me mine and BZ’s slip assignments and tell us that these are 65 foot slips. What this means is that the dolphin stakes will be way out in front of the bow of the boat and that the slip is much wider than our boats making the lassoing job that much harder. I asked why we were being put in these slips and the guy said that “we were lucky to get any slips as the marina was full for the holiday weekend”. I then reminded him that luck had nothing to do with it, that I had made a reservation for these slips three months prior.

Anyway, I was fuming about the total lack of service from the staff at HIM and worried about how to get the fore deck crew as much time as possible. We were just north of Ft. Pierce when a pretty bad thunderstorm came up dropping visibility in the ICW causing us to need to slow down and I watched the time tick by.

We arrived off the marina entrance at 1700 on the nose but my hailing the marina on the VHF brought no response. We found our slip and with the help of our neighbors got tied up without kissing any concrete. Here is a picture of BZ and Sea Dawg docked and the start of our preparations for dinner.

Day 3 Docked at HIM.jpg

I have always loved using HIM because they have a pool at the hotel, a Publix within walking distance and a West Marine just up the road. But if the staff habitually leave early and are not reliable, it does not matter how good the facilities are. I have attempted to take video of all of the marinas on our journey as that was one of the requests from last year, but I have written HIM off my list of recommended marinas and so no video of them (said to “no soup for you” cadence).

Here is our course track for the day. You will notice that I did not turn tracking on until a couple of hours into the run. I guess it is a good argument for checklists. The issue with BZ and her filters and our needing to get our filters out took me out of my normal preparing for sea ritual and it wasn’t until my primary emergency contact texted me and asked where we were that I noted that tracking was not on.

Day 3 Track.jpg

Here are the log pages for the run.

Log Day 3 - Page 1.jpg

Log Day 3 - Page 2.jpg

No writing means uneventful. So another good day went in the books . Bettie and I walked to the Publix while Amy and Alan made a great grilled Salmon dinner and a great time was had by all as we prepared for crossing day.
Last edited by Sea Dawg on Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:25 am, edited 2 times in total.
Sea Dawg
2010 Commodore 4460
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Sun Aug 03, 2014 5:15 pm

Abacos 2014 – Day 4 – The Crossing

St. Lucie Inlet to Spanish Cay

The run on day 4 was planned out as a 145 NM run crossing the Gulf Stream and entering the Little Bahama Bank at a place south of Memory Rocks then running on the known way points of Mangrove Cay, Great Sale Cay and Angel Fish Point. All boats had the same waypoints and the plan was that BerZerKeR was going to get running as soon as the fuel dock opened and they could take on fuel. What was an under 8 hour run for them at 20 mph was a ten hour run for them at 15 mph so they needed to get going.

The plan was that BZ would fuel and leave, then Sea Dawg and BV would get fueled and follow soon thereafter. We planned to pass BZ somewhere in the Gulf Stream and would slow down as we approached the wall to let BV fish for a little bit and would all meet at the Memory Rock waypoint.

As you can see from the chart plot below, a pretty straight forward plan.

Day 4 - Planned Route.jpg

As I had listened to the Marine forecast that morning, my hopes for a smooth crossing were actually reinforced. The forecast out 60 NM from Ft. Pierce was for 1-2s out of the south with winds at 10 knots and scattered thunderstorms. The forecast was quite good. And as I looked around, all I saw were white puffy clouds scattered about!

But before we could go, a lot had happened on day 3 that still needed to be addressed (BZ’s bad fuel) and a lot didn’t happen on day 3 that we would have to take care of before leaving (our checking in, BV’s radio issues, etc). BV was having a total crew change out so, Jeff, who had run down with the captain of BV had to pack out and arrange for a rental car, BV’s new crew (BV’s son Robby and his girlfriend Laura) had to get their stuff loaded, and BV needed to buy ice and bait. So BV was very busy that morning.

Robby had brought down the replacement filters for BZ, so with a cool engine room, BZ’s first task of the morning was to pull and replace the filters. Not knowing where the bad fuel had come from and not knowing how bad the fuel was, BZ did not want to get stuck in the middle of the Gulf Stream with a filter issue. So with two sets of spares, one was used at dockside to replace the filters installed on day 3. At 0800 BZ was through with the swap and had moved to the fuel dock to check in, check out and to fuel up.

Sea Dawg was all ready to go at this point as well and so after checking on BV’s progress with stowing everything, we cast our lines off and headed to the fuel dock to also check in/out and fuel up. We hovered off the dock while BZ finished fueling and then took her place at the dock. We said a bon voyage to BZ as she pulled away from the fuel dock around 0845 and re-confirmed that we would meet her at Memory Rock on the other side of the stream. We proceeded to dock, fuel up and check-in and out. We also needed ice and the marina was almost out but was able to scrounge up four bags for us.

As we completed fueling, a couple in a beautiful brand new Tiara 43 docked behind us. I went to help with their lines and asked where they were going and found that they planned to cross the stream as well, anchor near Mangrove Cay and then come to Spanish Cay the next day. I wished them a great day on the water and said that we might see them in Spanish and now through with fueling and the paperwork, went to figure out why BV was not at the fuel dock yet.

BV and crew were still in the process of getting BV (and themselves) ready for the run and so there was ice, bait and a new radio antenna still needing to be loaded. We got BV loaded up and got him down to the fuel dock so that he could fuel up. At this point it was 1000. We decided to move Sea Dawg off the fuel dock to wait for Bob to fuel up and follow us out to the ICW and out the inlet.

While we had been loading BV and getting her to the fuel dock, a storm had been working up from the South West. I hailed BV on the radio to ask him to get moving so that we wouldn’t get slammed, but by the time he got in the channel about 40 minutes later, we found ourselves in our first (of what would turn out to be many) storms of the day.

This first video shows us transiting the ICW and the St. Lucie Inlet while being clipped by the edge of the storm. One of the challenges when you get in these types of storms is that the rain beating down on the isinglass creates a zero visibility situation and with the narrow channel and boats running the opposite direction fleeing the storm, I needed to be able to see those boats and the channel markers. The only way to do this is to raise the middle section of isinglass which lets tons of rain into the boat and is also right above the companion way. It just so happened that the companion way door was open because my wife was down in the cabin securing things for the run and so I slammed the door (sometimes it catches in the track so you really have to put some muscle into it, this time it didn’t). In a little while, during another storm, I would find out that I had actually broken our cabin door.

And here is a picture showing the storm as it chases us on the first part of our trip.

Day 4 Leaving Ponce Inlet.jpg

Often when crossing the bar at an inlet, or as the water shallows, the waves will build and so I was not really worried when we encountered 2-3s at the inlet with an occasional 4. It would settle down. I knew it. The forecast said it would and BZ, in a situation report before leaving radio range said that it started out a little bumpy but smoothed out a couple of miles offshore. And that thunderstorm chasing us? Oh that is just one of the scattered storms to be expected…

By the time we crossed the bar at the inlet, it was 1110. BZ had a solid two hour head start on us across the Gulf Stream. As you can infer from the course track below, the milk run across the Gulf Stream was anything but that. We initially ran a little north of our intended bearing trying skirt around the leading edge of that storm that had gotten us as it moved from South West to North East and had a little hook out south of us. Then you see that we bent back around to the South East as we got around the first storm. You will also see some things that look like message boxes. Those were BZ and me exchanging satellite messages. You see, BZ had expected us to pass them by this time (four hours into his run). But we hadn’t, when we passed St. Lucie Inlet, BZ was two hours ahead of us and in the seas that day, we had been unable to catch up, and with our deviating from the rhumb line to the waypoint, we could be miles apart if we passed him. BZ had been hailing us on the VHF but we were still way out of radio range. One of the messages that BZ sent when we were only a third of the way across the Gulf Stream was that there was a storm at Memory Rocks, so he was not going to loiter and wait for us but was going to push on to Mangrove Cay. So BZ was now on the Little Bahama Bank and Sea Dawg and BV were still fighting a storm and had 40 miles to go to the bank.

Day 4 Track.jpg

Day 4 Crossing the Gulf Stream.jpg

I am glad that BZ was not planning to wait because at that point, I did not even know if we could make Memory Rock. The further we got into the Gulf stream, the more storms that popped up and as you can see in the above picture, we were now in another storm. At this point, the seas had continued to build and the cabin door decided to let us know that it was broken. The latch was latched, but was no longer bonded to the plastic. So as the boat would roll, the door would break free and slam open, and then on the other side of the roll would crash back the other way and slam into the lock fixture. There was a tab to lock the door open, but with all of the rain and the waves, I did not want a huge hole like that going down into the cabin. So Alan and Bettie worked to secure that door and were successful with a pendant staff and some scrap wood I keep on the boat. You will see it in the next video.

What you will also see in the next video is a picture of what was going on in the world, because we could not run faster than the storms, they were starting to surround us. As you can see in the radar image, there was a small gap between two storms. This gap was actually near our bearing for Memory Rock and so we were working to shoot that gap. I was honestly thinking that we should divert to West End as BV was getting really tossed around trying to follow us, but the storm and the lightning was way worse on the bearing to West End. You will also see in the video Bettie sitting with the ditch bag handy. Finally, you will see the storms collapsing together and our just having to power through.

On a technical note, the Garmin VIRB computes speed and bearing information from its internal GPS (comparing changes in position to generate these data). There were times when we were in heavy cloud cover that the unit could not get GPS signal so you will see speed go to 0 and bearing go to north. But you will see the bouncing ball continue to bounce so the G’s are measured by the unit.

When we got to the other side of the storm, we were near the Bahama Bank, but well north of the normal channel used to transit Memory Rocks. So with the worst of the storm behind us, but trying to catch up, we slowed down so BV could get themselves re-sorted out and I figured out a route that would takes us well clear of the shallows north of Memory Rocks.

If you look back up at the course track, you will see that I messaged BZ to let them know that we were past the stream and approaching the Little Bahama Bank. The good news is that though the storms continued to chase us, once we got on the Bank, the waves had layed down and we were able to run.

Here is the final video of the day showing us running on the Little Bahama Bank, catching BZ south of Great Sale Cay and docking in Spanish Cay. The nice thing about running between Florida and the Abacos is that everybody uses the same waypoints to transit the Little Bahama Bank and the Sea of Abaco so even if you are running solo, you will see that there are almost always boats on the horizon or certainly within radio range. Though I had been forced by the storm to run way north of Memory Rock, by the time I got to the Mangrove Cay -> Great Sale Cay portion of the run, BerZerKeR and I were on the same course, all I had to do was run her down.

What should have been a seven hour run for Sea Dawg with plenty of time to stop midstream for a dip in the 4000 foot deep water and some fishing for BV had turned into a nine hour run that had left all of us exhausted!

And here is the view from BerZerKeR showing Sea Dawg and Buena Vida passing BerZerKeR on the Little Bahama Bank. You can still see that some portion of the storm is chasing us even 2/3rds of the way across the bank.

Here is a picture of Spanish Cay during our approach.

Day 4 Arrival in Spanish Cay.jpg

Here are the log book pages for the day.

Log Day 4 - Page 1.jpg

Log Day 4 - Page 2.jpg

Lots of writing on this one...
Last edited by Sea Dawg on Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Sea Dawg
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Tue Aug 05, 2014 3:58 pm

Abacos 2014 – Spanish Cay

After the tossing that Sea Dawg and BV took on Day 4, we were not really interested in an early start for Day 5. And after editing those videos down for Day 4, I reflect now on how exhausted we all were by the experience. I have been through some bad thunder storms over the years and in some high seas and high winds, but never with the responsibility of shepherding a smaller single engine boat along and never for the sustained period of time that we were in the thick of it.

BerZerKeR had gotten out ahead of most of the storms and though they had a bumpy ride, it was not until they were on the far side of the stream that things started getting stormy for them. But BZ has a really good Furuno radar and he could see what was behind him as well as what was in front of him and the fact that he never saw us pass them and never even saw us on the radar as the weather closed in behind them is what led him to start messaging me on the inReach.

Day 2 and Day 3 it had taken BV about an extra 45 minutes to an hour to get sorted out each morning so BZ always had a little bit of a head start, which with their slower speed was a good thing. But we would always catch up to BZ by the third hour of the run. On Day 4, when the head start ended up being over two hours due to the crew change and the need to re-supply, and that BV and Sea Dawg got slammed by weather that BZ did not have to deal with at the beginning of the run, BZ never saw us and by the time they were near the end of the Gulf Stream, they didn’t know if we were coming, had problems mid stream, had turned back around due to the weather or had diverted to West End due to the weather. So I definitely appreciated their concern and value the inReach Satellite PLB because we were able to communicate with each other even though we were 40 miles apart.

The Day 4 run was also a hard run for a couple of other reasons. Sea Dawg was handling the seas and the weather well, but our broken cabin door created a risk that took time to sort out while we were in mid stream and in high seas. The solution that Alan and Bettie finally got to work was not the first solution tried. And though the boat was handling the waves well, moving around on the boat in the swells was not an easy thing, and at one point during the multiple attempts to fashion a jury rig, Bettie was in the doorway, the cabin door was open and I reached over to give her a piece of duct tape right when we hit a big wave. I was not holding onto anything, fell into her and grabbed the handle on the side of the companion way and we both almost ended up in a heap three feet down in the cabin. That would have hurt and probably would have meant broken bones or worse. I realized then that I needed to focus on running the boat and letting Bettie, Amy and Alan work out a solution to the door.

Another issue was the amount of water coming into the boat. We were in high seas with torrential rain and were taking water and spray over the bow that was blowing back at times in sheets onto the windshield. I have never understood why Regal did this, but there are two six inch by one inch slits at the bottom of both front segments of the windshield. I guess they were designed to get airflow into the inside of the windshield for some purpose, but in heavy seas or heavy rains, what they do is also let a steady river of water into the cockpit that runs down rails in the side of the cockpit coaming inside the side windows and much of it spills into the boat. Also, there are channels cut into the aft deck section where the side decks meet the radar arch and water channels directly back into the rear cockpit of the boat and runs down into the engine room. There are drains on the underside of the removable deck panels but these small drains often get overloaded by the volume of water and so the water doesn’t exit via the drains, it collects in the bilge and must be pumped out. Here is a picture of water coming into the aft of the cockpit from underneath the side decks in a steady rain. Imagine the volume of water coming in in a torrential rain with spray...

Day 4 - Water Running in.jpg

The 4460 has a forward bilge pump installed with its own switch and indicator light at the side of the helm. Every couple of minutes I would look down and see that the forward bilge pump was running. The forward bilge on my 4460 almost never gets water in it so I was trying to figure out what was happening that was causing the bilge to cycle that much.

The 4460 comes standard with a single aft bilge pump in a sump in the very stern of the engine compartment. It also has a switch and indicator light at the helm. This pump was cycling every ten second or so for a couple of seconds. After my first year of owning the boat and having the aft bilge pump burn out trying to ingest a wire tie that had been wire tied to the macerator pump thru hull as a spare but had worked its way loose, I had had a second bilge pump installed in the engine room in the portion of the bottom where the AC raw water and Gen Set Raw water through hulls were located. This bilge pump did not have an indicator light but had a separate discharge pipe plumbed and a separate hot lead wired so that the failure of one aft bilge would not mean the need to start finding a bucket.

So I was not as worried about the aft bilge as it was not running for very long, it was just running frequently. But then the high water alarm started to chirp. The high water alarm wasn’t blaring, but it was chirping or had a low buzz sound. That required attention because if the high water alarm was actually being activated by water, then we had a big issue to address. We couldn’t stop the boat as our motion is what made the ride tolerable. So at our compromise speed of somewhere between 13-16 knots, I went to figure out what was going on.

There are two ways to access the engine room on a 4460. The first is via a day hatch. Inside the aft cockpit at the front of the engine room, you lift a section of the aft facing seat and you can see the front of the engine room and if you get down and stick your head in and flash a light, you can see the back of the engine room above the engines, but not the bottom of the bilge. But what you can see is the forward portion of the bilge between the engines which is where the high water alarm float switch is located (towards the middle of the engine room). The forward to middle portion of the engine room bilge was dry.

That means that I had to look at the aft portion of the bilge. Since the boat was bouncing around too much for me to climb down into the engine room and crawl over the engines, I had to use the second method to get into the engine room which I hate doing at sea. I had to open the rear facing engine room hatch which lifts up half of the entire aft cockpit of the boat. A pooping sea with this hatch open would spell the end of Sea Dawg. Luckily we were taking the seas on the starboard bow. So I went back and raised the engine hatch and shown the light in there. There was an inch of water swirling around in the bottom of the bilge and due to the motion of the boat, it was swirling around the bilge such that it was causing the bilge pump to sense that there was rising water and start pumping, but then swirling away and breaking suction and causing the pump to think that all the water was gone. This happened with every wave.

This was good news. Sea Dawg was not sinking, nor was she taking on much water. Once we got onto the Little Bahama Bank and got ahead of the storms, the seas, though bumpy, were calm enough that Sea Dawg was no longer shipping seas aboard and there was no rain so nothing was being added to the little bit of water in the bottom of the bilge and the motion of the boat was not creating any wave action in the water that was in the bilge. So both bilge pump indicator lights stayed dark for the remainder of the trip.

When we arrived in Spanish Cay, all we wanted to do was clean up the mess in the cabin, have a beverage and figure out whose turn it was to cook dinner. Because of our late arrival, we could not check in with customs, but being a private island, there wasn’t really any place to go other than the beach, the bar, the pool. Being Sunday night, the restaurant and bar were closed so food and drinks were our own responsibility which we met with gusto after so recently cheating death once again. As my wife and I discussed the after action report for the day we also realized that we have become somewhat complacent about traveling in marginal seas. In my old 36 foot Cobalt, we always had life jackets out and clipped to stanchions so that they could be quickly donned in the event of an emergency (even when the seas were calm). On our current boat, the life jackets stayed stowed, even when the winds and seas were pretty high. Day 4 was a day that the life jackets should have been out and it is reasonable to argue that they should have been worn. My wife asked about this half way across the stream, but I was not thinking through the issue with the depth that it deserved. She was right on this one.

I like Spanish Cay. It is a great stop. It is the perfect distance to arrive from the US or to jump off to the US. 145NM is a doable day even if the weather is a little iffy. Spanish Cay is expensive though. The dockage is reasonable but the water is metered, the electricity is a little more than other islands but where they really get you is fuel. Diesel for us was $6.30 a gallon with a 5% surcharge if we used plastic. At Treasure Cay, diesel was $5.80 a gallon with a 3.5% credit card surcharge. Spanish Cay also has some condos that can be rented in case you don’t want to stay on the boat and has a small store that though well stocked with food and liquor is once again very pricey for the Abacos.

But if you look at the picture below, you will see why we come here. It is not only the perfect distance for a day’s run, but the beach is a short walk from the marina and offers both a sandy beach as well as nearby reefs for snorkeling. I took this photo from the Spanish Cay Web Site and it shows the marina as well as the island’s owner’s boat that he had in 2011 (the big one). I understand that he sold that and had a bigger one made that he uses now. He has also had five wives and so you can understand that a man with a boat that big, who owns an island, has four ex-wives, as well as a current wife, is going to have some expenses that requires that the diesel and the liquor be a 10% more expensive than elsewhere in the Abacos.

Day 5 Spanish Cay Marina aerial-view.jpg

One of these trips, I want to see if we can spend several days at Spanish Cay instead of simply treating it as a launch or recovery point. The fishing in this part of the Bahamas is supposed to be better because there are fewer boats and the diving and snorkelling are also supposed to be top notch. The facility is great. The bathrooms are great for the Bahamas and they have a pool and a beach within walking distance. The docks and facilities are in good repair and every evening a bunch of huge sharks come cruising through the marina looking to see if any fishermen are cleaning fish. So the kids love it, the fishermen love it and after a long day on the water, my wife loves it. What can be better?

It is worth a stop if you find yourself in the area.
Last edited by Sea Dawg on Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Sea Dawg
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:52 pm

Abacos 2014 – Day 5 – Spanish Cay to Treasure Cay

We arrived at Spanish Cay on Day 4 a little after 7PM. The dock master (Tornado) was still at work as was the dock dog (Hurricane), but everything else was pretty much shut down. We came in under the Quarantine (“Q”) flag (the solid yellow flag) and technically were not supposed to get off the vessel until the captain or his agent had checked everybody in with Customs and Immigration, but since the C&I lady had left at 5PM, it was pretty much understood that since we aren’t going anywhere anyway, we had access to the marina and adjacent property until check in could be done the next day.

So on Day 5, we got up bright and early and found that the C&I lady was not there yet so we all went up to the restaurant and bar to grab some breakfast. The menu was eggs anyway you like them, bacon or ham and toast made from baked that morning Bahamian bread. Oh was it good!!! The breakfast was, you guessed it, pretty pricey, but when you reflect on the fact that we were burning about $6,000.00 worth of diesel to get over there and back, $15 for breakfast wasn’t much in the larger scheme of things.

After breakfast, we went and checked in at the marina office and found that the C&I lady was now in business. So the captain and crew of Sea Dawg collected our boat papers, passports and $$$s and went to the bar to fill out all of the paperwork to get our cruising permit and to get immigration sorted out. The C&I lady has an office on Spanish Cay, but it is very small, so the last few years when we have come to check in, we have met the C&I lady in the air conditioned bar. It should be noted that Spanish Cay had to seek permission from the Bahamian Government to station a C&I officer on Spanish Cay. They did this as a service to their clients. Many boaters seeking to check in but not planning to stay at Spanish Cay will still stop here to check in because it is very convenient and if you are in a go fast boat coming over from the states, it is easy to get to Spanish before 5PM but may be more of a challenge to get to the offices in Marsh Harbor or Treasure before 5PM. For those travelers who are just coming to check in, SC charges a $50 fee on top of the fees charged by the government. For those of us staying overnight, the fee is included in our dockage.

While we were checking in, BZ and crew got their paperwork together and got next in line. Finally, BV and crew were checked in as well. So now all we had to do was take down our Q flags, raise the Bahamian courtesy flag as seen in the pictures below, fuel up and go.

Day 5 Checkin 1.jpg

Day 5 Checkin 2.jpg

Day 5 BZ at Spanish Cay.jpg

Well not that quick because, as we were walking back to the boats, we casually looked southward and another huge thunderstorm was moving across the water.

Day 5 Waiting for Weather at Spanish Cay.jpg

We had been there and done that and no one seemed in a hurry to cheat death once again so we decided to wait for the storm to pass. It did but was soon followed by another and another. By 1PM, we were having to figure out what to do as very much longer and we were going to be staying an extra day at Spanish Cay.

While we were waiting for the storm(s) to clear the couple in the Tiara that we had seen on Day 4 at the HIM fuel dock came and docked. We compared notes on the storm. They were fueling when the storm that got us on the ICW blew through so they were able to leave the inlet between storms. They said that the run was very bumpy and that they had storms from about mid stream on but by the time they got to their anchoring spot near Mangrove Cay, the storms had pretty much blown through. We compared notes on where they were going and where we were going and found that we might both end up in Green Turtle at the same time so we said we would hopefully see them again soon and went off to fuel up and wait out the most recent squall line.

So we moved the boats over to the fuel dock and got everybody fueled up and by the time that was all done, there was a break in the storms and we were able to run south for Treasure Cay.

As you can see from the actual track taken, it was not a long run at all, under two hours dock to dock.

Day 5 Track.jpg

Here is a brief video showing portions of our run down from Spanish Cay to Treasure Cay. The video also shows us running out into the Atlantic around Whale Cay and the initial approach to Treasure Cay.

As we approached Treasure Cay, another storm was brewing to the southwest of the entrance channel to Treasure Cay. I told BV about a short cut he could take using the “Don’t Rock” pass that is often used by shallow draft boats. That allowed him to cut a couple of miles off his trip and not get caught by the storm. BZ and Sea Dawg however, were going to run out into the Atlantic and go around Whale Cay to avoid the shallows and sand bars that BV was small enough to be able to scoot over. Technically, depending on the tide, and the current position of the shoals, BZ and Sea Dawg might have been able to run the Don’t Rock pass but we both were more interested in keeping the wheels on than in saving three miles of run.

So with BV scooting off to get docked at Treasure before the storm hit, Sea Dawg slowed down to wait for BZ to catch up so we could run around Whale Cay together. As we approached Treasure Cay, we started getting the first edge of the coming storm.

As you can see from the picture below, the channel to Treasure Cay is actually very well marked for the Bahamas.

Day 5 TC Channel.jpg

You can also see in the video below that there is significant shoaling encroaching on the starboard side of the channel. But the water is so clear, if you hit this shoal, you have to get your eyes checked.

The entrance to Treasure Cay has the fuel dock half way down the channel. As the channel continues, there is a mooring field for sailboats or other frugal boaters (trying to be gentle here). Treasure Cay has a large complex of fixed wooden docks (1-2 foot tides), a nice pool and an on-site bar and restaurant. The bathrooms are reasonably well maintained but during our stay there was a sail boat in the mooring field with about eight teenage boys on it that seemed to find a way to get very muddy everyday and they would descend on the bathroom and pretty much wreck it until the cleaning lady would come by. Treasure Cay has free wifi that was slow but reached out to where our boats were docked and there are on-site condos and nearby rental houses. There is a well stocked small grocery store, a liquor store, a bank, a cell phone store, several golf cart rental agencies, a killer bakery, laundry mat, and a hardware store within a three minute walk from the docks.

Everyone was glad to be out of travel mode and on island time.

Day 5 TC the Captain and Admiral.jpg

Day 5 BZ Ladies at Treasure Cay.jpg

And the best thing about Treasure Cay is that right across the street is a 3 mile long beach that Conde Nast Traveler has rated consistently one of the top ten beaches in the world. It is amazing! And to make it even better, there is a wonderful tiki hut cooking up the freshest grouper fingers and conch and mixing the most wicked Ting-Vs. I will post some beach pictures in the next post to help you understand why we do what we do to get here.

Since it was such a short run, we had plenty of time to relax after getting checked in. The Captain of BZ couldn’t decide whether he was going fishing or going swimming with the family so he decided to compromise. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted a world famous Sea Dawg anti-scurvy potion or to go swimming so I compromised.

Day 5 BZ pool compromise.jpg

Have you ever noticed how wooden docks make the best cutting boards?

Day 5 Wooden Docks make great cutting boards.jpg

We enjoyed a nice evening at Treasure Cay with a great dinner and great friends.

Day 5 TC Relaxing Dockside.jpg

And once again, the clouds were back to being pretty little fluff balls in the sky.

Day 5 TC Sunset.jpg

Here are the log pages from a short and easy run.

Log Day 5 - Page 1.jpg

Log Day 5 - Page 2.jpg
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Tue Aug 12, 2014 10:09 pm

Abacos 2014 – Day 6 – Hanging Out at Treasure Cay

After running 600 miles in the last four days, the merry armada was ready for a down day at the beach. As I mentioned in a prior post, Treasure Cay Marina is right across the street from a three mile long beautiful beach that is rated one of the top ten beaches in the world. The beach is not only stunning in its beauty, but it is also almost deserted. Of the four prior times that we have been to Treasure Cay, this was the most deserted we have ever seen the marina and the beach. But even in past years when things were hopping at the marina, the beach was not crowded.

Here are a couple of pictures of the beach.

Day  6 Wish We were at beach.jpg

Day 6 beach.jpg

Three miles long and maybe fifty people in total across those three miles! There are houses and condos to the north and south of the portion of the beach by the marina but even when they were full in years past, the beach was never crowded. Below is a picture of my boat anchored in five feet of water about 50 yards off the beach (taken last time we were there in 2011).

Day 6 Sea Dawg off Beach.jpg

There are condos on the property at Treasure Cay with docks in front of them as well as condos next to the marina with docks. Here is a picture of where we stayed our first run over in 2009 when we had the Cobalt 360. We stayed in one of the condos in this picture and it came with a slip large enough for the 360.

Day 6 condos.jpg

I say we wanted a beach day, but the weather was not smiling on us. Very early in the day the first of many storm systems moved through with torrential rain. The kids drove the golf carts around through the puddles while the adults read, visited, napped and hydrated. Well that is all of us but the skipper of BZ who spent his day on the phone trying to source a replacement for his steering head which had sprung a leak on Day 4 and which was getting worse. Finally, by the end of the day, he had found a supplier in Tampa who could rebuild a steering head for BZ and get it shipped Tuesday for a Friday delivery (Thursday being the Bahamian Independence Day and Customs being closed). Luckily BZ had hydraulic steering and not some fancy Swedish electromagnetic viscous fluid with metal bits fly by wire steering...

Day 6 Storms.jpg

Day 6 more storms.jpg

Day 6 even more storms.jpg

So we sat, visited and watched while each storm line passed.

There are no log book pages because Sea Dawg didn't move from her slip on this day.
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:05 pm

I have finally gotten some video from BerZerKeR who ran with a GoPro this year. I have integrated the videos for days 2 and 4 back into their respective posts but in order to make it so that those of you who are reading this topic regularly don't have to go back and re-plow any ground, I am linking them in this post as well.

Here is a video showing Sea Dawg and Buena Vida overtaking BerZerKeR in the Atlantic on Day 2. This video was taken from BZ using a GoPro. Since these videos were made using a GoPro, there are no GPS or G load data to allow me to populate the data bars, so I have left them off of the videos. The problem with both the GoPro and the Garmin VIRB is that they both have wide angle lenses that make them easy to point but that make things look much farther away than they actually are. Although we were not running right beside BZ, we were definitely closer than we look in the video.

Here is Day 4 showing Sea Dawg and Buena Vida passing BerZerKeR on the Little Bahama Bank. You can still see that some portion of the storm is chasing us even 2/3rds of the way across the bank.

One of the other interesting facts is that, as some of you may have read in my earlier post about the bugginess of the VIRB Video Editing SW, Garmin must read the Regal Forum because just last week, they issued a new release of the SW that addresses the title clipping, memory management issues causing abnormal termination and added scene transitions. Now it is all really rudimentary stuff, but it creates a much more polished product.
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:24 am

I am on the road this week with limited band width. I just went back and looked at the quality of the videos posted yesterday and am not happy with them so I will re-upload higher definition videos next week.

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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:19 pm

Abacos 2014 – Day 7 – Day Trip to Hope Town (We Hoped)

After a down day filled with rain, napping and hydrating (with a little beach time between rain storms), everyone was ready to get going. In addition to the wonderful beaches and water, The Abacos is a series of islands that each offer their own unique style and entertainment. As you can see from the below course track, Sea Dawg would eventually visit many of these islands in our ten days in the Sea of Abaco.

Local Cruising with tags.jpg

The above map shows why so many people want to visit the Abacos. You can visit each of these islands easily in a boat with distances between most islands that you would hop from and to being single digit distances. There are also ferries to take those poor souls who must fly to the Abacos and can’t bring a boat. The Sea of Abaco is a body of water sheltered from the Atlantic swells by a series of islands that make up part of the chain of islands collectively called the Abacos. The Sea of Abaco can get bouncy but is normally calm to a light chop and easily navigated.

The crews of BZ, BV and Sea Dawg were ready for a change after being stuck at Treasure Cay by rain for the prior two days, so the decision was to visit Hope Town on Elbow Cay and let the kids explore the island and climb the Lighthouse and dock at Cap’n Jacks for lunch and one of their world famous Rum Drinks.

Day 7 On the way to hope town we thought.jpg

As you can see from the above picture, the crew of BZ joined us on Sea Dawg for the run. The captain of BZ was waiting for the replacement steering head to arrive and did not want to run BZ unless absolutely necessary though I think that the crew of BZ was just ready for the comfort and style of Sea Dawg. The crew of BV decided to take BV as BV had never navigated in the Sea of Abaco before and wanted some wheel time.

So we fired up the engines and cast Sea Dawg off and met BV in the channel to head out of Treasure Cay. In the picture below, you can see that Bettie takes her job of updating the log book seriously as she is sitting collecting engine data as we start the run.

Day 7 Updating the log.jpg

Even before we had left the dock, we saw that there was some weather activity to the south and west of us but everyone wanted to at least try to see if we could make it to Hope Town. We couldn’t really see how far the weather was over water from the dock so we decided to give it a shot. On Sea Dawg we also had an equally pressing need. You see the waste tank on Sea Dawg is only forty gallons and we had not emptied it since running down from Spanish Cay 48 hours prior. So the holding tank needed to be emptied. So we went three miles offshore into the middle of the Sea of Abaco and while watching the weather getting worse and moving across our bearing to Hope Town, Bettie went down and worked the macerator to dump the holding tank.

Treasure Cay Marina (like most marinas in the Abacos) does not have pump out facilities. One wonders what the long term boats do about that, but all I know is that I never willingly dive in the water at a marina in the Bahamas, nor would I eat any fish caught in the marina.

OK, I should not have used the word “never” in the above sentence because I have had to dive into marina waters in the past but definitely try to hose off as soon as possible afterwards. In 2011, we had just docked at Treasure Cay and were offloading all of our supplies when someone dropped one of our two 36 roll blocks of Scott toilet tissue into the water. Since we were about to spend seven days in a house with 17 people (the vast majority women), I immediately dived in and got the block out of the water. We lost the bottom row of tissue (12 rolls) but the other two rows were still dry. So yes, in an emergency, I will dive in waters at the marina, and as circumstances would require, I was only days away from having to do it again.

The other issue with marina waters in general and Bahamaian marina waters in particular is that sometimes the physical plant is a little run down and/or some of the boats at the docks are in pretty bad repair. It is not uncommon at some marinas to have your zincs totally cooked by a fair amount of stray electrical current in the water. If it will cook a zinc, is it enough to cook a person? I don’t know and don’t want to find out.

So after conferring with my fellow captains and seeing that the storm coming at us was not only getting bigger, but also appeared to be getting worse, we scrubbed the trip for the day, and with an empty holding tank, Sea Dawg literally flew back to Treasure Cay. As you can see from the picture below, we just got back to the dock in time.

Day 7 Back Just in Time.jpg

And as you can see in the following picture, soon the storm was upon us big time!

Day 7 Gonna Rename Sea Dawg the Ark.jpg

It pretty much rained (poured) for several hours and scrubbed any plans of boat or beach but I would rather be on my boat in the Bahamas in the rain, than at my desk in my office in the sun, so all in all, it was still a good day.

The boat did move, so here are the log pages.

Log Day 7 - Page 1.jpg

Log Day 7 - Page 2.jpg
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Tue Aug 19, 2014 3:52 pm

Abacos 2014 – Day 8 – Bahamian Independence Day!

It was the Bahamian Independence Day and most stores were planning to close at noon or 1PM and the weather did not look good for running to another island so we decided to try to get all of the laundry done and work in some beach time between the storms.

There is a laundry facility in the store front behind the marina. Like many laundry facilities in the Bahamas, it was at one time self serve, but ended up becoming staff served. I have cruised through several sailing/boating forums over the years and read as boaters flamed this practice. IMHO, I did not spend $6K in diesel and $2K for dockage over two weeks to blow a day sitting in a hot laundry mat making sure nobody dumped my clothes on the floor because they wanted the machine. So we came to do laundry and finding that it was staffed instead of self serve, learned that the price was $4 per load per machine plus tip so a load washed dried and folded for only $10 while I am hanging at the beach sipping a rum drink made a lot of sense to me. My wife, on the other hand, who won’t let me near the washing machine at home because I still wash the way I did when I was in college (cram it all in and wash on cold), was concerned that they might not sort the loads correctly so she pre sorted all of the clothes. Then for a few minutes she fretted like she was leaving our children with a sitter who had just gotten out of prison, finally, after a pina colada, she saw the wisdom of my perspective.

We actually have the Spledide combo washer dryer on Sea Dawg, but it takes three hours to wash and dry two towels and we had all of the towels and sheets from a week’s worth of four people living on the boat in addition to all of our sweaty nasty clothes that we had worn in the last week. So we were actually overdue for some laundry time. We would have gone earlier, but it seemed like every day, the girls on BZ were taking 8 loads over to get washed. Those girls could go through some towels and clothes. And with the wet weather, there had not been any opportunity to air dry towels or bathing suits during our marina days. Not that I was counting, but BZ had already done laundry at Hutchinson Island, Spanish Cay, and Treasure Cay (twice) and before we would get home they would also do laundry at Green Turtle Cay and West End. If you want a review of the laundry facilities across the Abacos, let me know and I will try to get someone from BZ to write it up.

So with a wonderful lady left in charge of Sea Dawg’s laundry, we headed to the beach for a dip in the water and a TingV or two. I like to carry a Turvis cup with me on these types of journeys as you can pour the local libation into the Turvis and it will stay cold so you don’t have to drink it fast to keep it from melting. Now the fact that it can hold doubles of most island anti-scurvy pours is just an additional benefit as I am twice as likely to get scurvy as the average individual.

Here is a picture of Bettie and me between storms (and between wash and dry cycles).

Day 8 capt and adm.jpg

As the day wore on the storms rolled through, the crew of BZ exhausted their supply DVDs and so came over to borrow some from Sea Dawg, also, though it was Sea Dawg’s night to cook, the chef on BZ was whipping up a surprise entrée that she simply needed to borrow one of Sea Dawg’s machetes to prepare.

Day 8 BZ borrowing SDs DVDs and paring knife.jpg

As we approached dusk, Sissy, who would never be found out of the water or without a fishing pole was banished from the cabin of BZ until she could be “de-squidded”. It seems that someone had given her some rotten conch to fish with (the fish love it) but it does leave a lingering odor. Luckily, on Sea Dawg, we keep a brown sugar scented exfoliating soap by Caress on board for just such situations and it works wonders. After a few lather, rinse repeat cycles, Squid Girl was de-Squidded!

Day 8 Squid Girl Gets Hosed down.jpg

And as the various crews started gathering for our pre-dinner beverages and snacks…

Day 8 - Day 4 wasnt so bad.jpg

It became apparent that mutiny was never far from the surface on BZ as squid girl put her best stare on the captain of BZ when she was informed that having been de-squidded, she could not fish again until after dinner.

Day 8 - The stare.jpg

After dinner, while the crews of many of the boats left to join the Independence Day celebrations at the bar, the captain and admiral of Sea Dawg retired for a nice quiet evening on freshly laundered sheets.

Sea Dawg did not move so there are no log book pages for the day.
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Wed Aug 20, 2014 4:10 pm

Abacos 2014 – Day 9 – The Grand Tour – Hope Town (Elbow Cay) and Guana Cay

Our ninth day of the trip dawned with some clouds but no storms on the horizon. We were all feeling the heat of having to try to fit several island hops in over the next few days before starting home. The bad weather had severely limited boat movement since our arrival but we always were within an easy walk of a beach, a bar, or a pool. For the fishermen in the group though, other than squid girl doing her thing daily, there had not been a hook in the water yet. But there had also not been any “tourist stuff” done, so the ladies voted for tourist stuff and the captains delivered.

As you can see from the course track, we were able to run all over the Sea of Abaco. The plan was to depart Treasure Cay by 10AM, go to Hope Town on Elbow Cay (about an hour’s run) and have lunch at Cap’n Jacks. Then, dock at the Lighthouse Marina and take on some diesel while the kids ran up to the top of the light house. Then make the 30 minute run to Guana Cay and get in the ocean at Nipper’s Bar and hang out there for a while and then go back home to Treasure Cay.

Day 9 Course Track.jpg

We also decided to just have everyone join us on Sea Dawg as docking at Cap’n Jacks is very limited with only room for two boats bow in with a stern anchor and a dingy or two. So everybody (17 souls) boarded Sea Dawg and we set off. One of the nice things about the 44 foot Regal is that it can accommodate that many people without them sitting all over each other. We had folks on the front sunpad, folks at the cockpit table and folks on the two aft benches. I even had the Admiral and Squid Girl sitting with me at the helm.

Day 9 on way to Hopetown.jpg

The first video below shows us as we are leaving Treasure Cay and entering the Sea of Abaco.

There was a little chop on the water but nothing bad. After exiting the Treasure Cay channel, the water gradually deepens to about 14 feet. I took the Garmin off its mount to try to show the clarity of the water, even as we were running in 15 feet of water. As you can see from the course track above, the run took just about an hour (each dot represents a position check at 10 minute intervals so count the dots and multiply by ten and there is the number of minutes any run took).

Day 9 Hopetown.jpg

Above is a picture showing our approach to the harbor entrance for Hope Town with its iconic light house.

The harbor itself is very sheltered from winds from any direction and has a large mooring ball field. The harbor bottom is very grassy so anchoring in the harbor is very difficult. The harbor bottom is also deeper than the harbor entrance so the water in the harbor tends to stagnate because even though there is a tide, a lot of detritus collects on the harbor floor and cannot be washed over the shallows out to sea by the tide. Below is the video showing our arrival into Hope Town. You can see several things in this video. You will see the light house. You also will see how shallow the water is on our approach into the harbor (under 5 feet deep in places). At the 1:30 mark you will see one of the little inter-island ferry boats cruising by taking folks to Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island. You will also see how the harbor entrance really flares out to include a fairly large harbor. What you won’t see is our docking at Cap’n Jacks. I should have probably unclipped the Garmin and handed it to someone to show the evolution.

Having watched the video, please note that since Sea Dawg does not have a dingy, securing a mooring ball for a transient stop at Cap’n Jacks is not an option (even if one was available for a few hours). Cap’n Jacks does have a private dock which has about a twenty foot finger dock sticking out past a fourteen foot wide face dock. This is just about half of what Sea Dawg needs to safely dock. The preferred method for docking in the various bars ringing Hope Town harbor is for each boat to nose in and tie off their bow while dropping a stern anchor in the harbor to hold the boat off the dock. This is relatively straightforward on a 25 foot center console, but a little more challenging on a 44 foot boat. Especially with a grass bottom that refuses to let your stern anchor dig in. The proprietors prefer this method because then more boats can nose up to their establishment and more dollars can flow into their till.

But as you can see in the pictures below, with careful orchestration…

Day 9 - Docking at Captain Jacks.jpg

And plenty of lines…

Day 9 Docking at capn jacks.jpg

Sea Dawg and her hungry and thirsty crew can own 50 percent of the available dock at Cap’n Jacks. In years past I have asked them if they were OK with us docking like this as this is the only way that Sea Dawg can come to Cap’n Jacks. When you see that not only do we own the dock, but when we show up we own the restaurant, they are usually OK with our docking there for the hour or two it takes to feed us and allow us to quench our thirst.

Day 9 Owning Capn Jacks 2.jpg

Even docked like we were, the entire south side of the dock was available for other boats and a constant stream of dingy traffic came and went and a large center console nosed in and was tying off on the south side of the dock just as we were getting ready to leave.

Day 9 Capn Jacks.jpg

Day 9 Hope Town Harbor.jpg

Above is a picture of the mooring field at Hope Town as viewed from Cap’n Jacks.

Day 9 VHF.jpg

Above is a picture that Sea Dawg’s staff photographer found interesting due to the sign, but what I find interesting is that every business in the Abacos (and many of the people) communicate via VHF. It is not only with boats either. We found the channels filled with conversations of varying descriptions during our travels.

Below is a video taken as we left Hope Town on our way to Guana Cay. As we come around the bend, you can see one of the inter-island supply LSTs pretty much owning the channel. I basically had to run Sea Dawg into the shallows and stop so that we would not plow a new channel with my props. The video also shows that the portion of the Sea of Abaco between Hope Town and Guana Cay is a lot shallower than the portion on the run from Treasure Cay to Hope Town. I was often running in five feet or less of water and a few yards to the starboard of my course it was even shallower.

Guana Cay is home to the world famous Nipper’s Bar and Grill. The bar sits on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. There is a reef system directly off the beach that is supposed to be part of one of the largest in the world. Here is a picture of Nippers from the water from my old Sea Dawg taken in 2009.

Day 9 Nippers from the Water.jpg

And here is a picture of my old Sea Dawg anchored out between the reef and the beach. I would never even dream of bringing the current Sea Dawg into this space but in calm seas, I didn’t have an issue bringing the Cobalt.

Day 9 - Old Sea Dawg Anchored off Guana Cay.jpg

On Sundays, the place is just ripping and is so crowded that you cannot stand anywhere near the bar nor can you get your boat near the beach (in calm seas). They have a pig roast on Sundays and though the food is good, the entertainment provided by the customers can get out of hand and should not be witnessed by anyone of a genteel or bashful nature. Nipper’s has their own dock on the Sea of Abaco side of the island that you can bow tie and stern anchor to if you are shallow enough (under four feet). Sea Dawg is too big and too deep to use the Nipper’s dock so we dock at the Orchid Bay Marina. It has a $1/ft half day rate (no power) for boats that want to go to Nipper’s (or Grabber’s, the less well known bayside establishment).

The Orchid Bay Marina is a sad story. I do not have time to go into it here but there are ownership issues that make the stable operation of the facility a crap shoot from day to day. It was once a great stop and though bumpy when winds blew from the west (topping the sea wall) it was a fine facility run by nice people.

Guana Cay has some great snorkeling just off the beach as well as some mooring balls in the reef structures off the north end of the island. Bakers Bay is being built up on the north end of the island and charges Paradise Island transient rates ($5/ft) to keep all but the megayachts out of their marina. We did not go to visit them as we were fine paying our $1/ft at Orchid Bay and hanging at Nippers.

As you can see from the below picture, Nipper’s was almost deserted while we were there.

Day 9 Nippers.jpg

The reason is that we had just beat a nasty storm that was thrashing the Sea of Abaco.

Day 9 Nippers Weather.jpg

We were forced to hang out in the ocean and sample the world famous Nipper’s Nipper drink while waiting for the storm to pass.

Abacos 2014 - Day 9 Nippers.jpg

Luckily it ran to the north of us and as you can see in the video below, we had a very pleasant cruise back to Treasure Cay as the sun set.

The log pages appear below as Bettie had maybe a bit too much Nipper’s to remember to finish the numbers.

Log Day 9 - Page 1.jpg

Log Day 9 - Page 2.jpg
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Sat Aug 23, 2014 12:01 pm

Abacos 2014 – Day 10 – The Sea Dawg Taxi Service and Engine Trouble

Our tenth day of the adventure was a happy and sad day. Many of the crew that had joined us on the adventure would be leaving on the next day to fly home. Also, BZ had done Fed Ex status check on Friday and found that his replacement steering head had arrived in Marsh Harbor and had expected it to be delivered to the local Fed Ex Office Saturday morning. When he went to check on the delivery, the local Fed Ex office told him that it was still in Marsh Harbour as it was not yet released by Customs and Customs was closed (since it was Saturday).

The good news is that it was a beautiful weather day and so the captain and crew of BV were going to go do some local boating and snorkeling, the crew of BZ were going to hang at the beach, and the crew of Sea Dawg, joined by the captain and admiral of BZ were going to run to Marsh Harbour to pick up our replacement crew (Walter and Terry) who would be joining us for the run home when Amy and Alan left the next day.

Day 10 Mangoes.jpg

The plan was to pick Walter and Terry up at Mangoes (the best Bar and Marina in Marsh Harbour) and to run them back to Treasure Cay where they could hang out for the afternoon and then catch a taxi to the Ferry Dock to run them over to Green Turtle Cay where they had rented a cottage for a couple of days. Walter and Terry were flying on a charter flight that runs from Jacksonville to Marsh Harbour and it was scheduled to leave at 11:30ish JAX time and arrive around 1PM in Marsh Harbour.

It takes just under an hour to run from Treasure Cay to Marsh Harbour so we left a little after 11AM to insure that we would beat them to the marina. We arrived at Mangoes around about noon and decided to sample one of Pete the bartender’s special rum punches. Here is a picture of Sea Dawg docked at Mangoes.

Day 10 Sea Dawg at Mangoes.jpg

It ended up being another rum drink and several glasses of water and several rounds of appetizers as Terry and Walter’s flight was delayed for a couple of hours due to weather in JAX. During this time, BZ kept wondering about what it would take to break his steering head out of Customs. I counseled that a B&E rap was not the best way to prepare for our return trip.

Day 10 Course Track.jpg

As you can see from the above course track, due to the late arrival of Terry and Walter, they would have missed the last ferry to Green Turtle Cay from Treasure Cay so we went ahead and ran them up to GTC. The tides were low and though there is only about a two foot tidal swing, those two feet are pretty important in portions of the Abacos. One of those places is GTC. Terry and Walter had rented a cottage on the south end of the island in a settlement called New Plymouth. The water way into the public docks on GTC near New Plymouth are barely navigable by Sea dawg at high tide and are not navigable from mid tide or lower.

Day 10 New Plymouth.jpg

So we took a picture of New Plymouth as we rode past and took them up to Green Turtle Club which maintains a dredged channel to their dock. After letting Terry and Walter off at the dock, as we maneuvered clear of the dock, I got a port engine overheat alarm and shut down the port engine. We maneuvered back to the fuel dock at GTCC and started the trouble shooting which included my diving under the boat to insure that there was nothing obstructing the raw water intake.

The mechanical issue and its resolution have been documented in another post which you can find here.

We finally got back to Treasure Cay around 8PM (a lot later than planned) and I backed into my slip using one engine and only scraped a little bit of lumber off the dock. Luckily members of the crew of BZ were there to take lines and insure that I did not make more of a mess of it. I had started making the calls to attempt to get diagnostic help while at the dock at GTCC at 5PM and now, safely at the TC dock, I went into full e-mail mode trying to get answers to what went wrong and how to fix it.

The log pages from today and the next couple of days were all combined by the admiral and will be displayed on another post.
Sea Dawg
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Tue Aug 26, 2014 2:05 pm

Abacos 2014 – Day 11 – The Lord’s Day, A Day of Rest

One of the reasons to own a boat and to take it to a place like the Abacos is to allow your mind and body to relax and enjoy running at a different speed and to a different drummer. I find that when I am working, it is my alarm clock that wakes me up and the requirements of the day that hound me late into the night. When I am on the water though, it is the dawn that wakes me. Sometimes the predawn gently nudges me to wakefulness and encourages me to start the day. And as the day ends and the sun sets, I am ready to retire as well. No late night partying at the Tipsy Seagull for me! I also sleep amazingly well on the boat, even with all of the rocking and machinery noises.

Day 11 was a Sunday, it was the Lord’s Day, it should have been a day of rest, but instead it was a day of goodbyes, urgent e-mails and phone calls and planning, before we finally remembered that we were on vacation!

First the goodbyes. Our great friends and crew for three of our Sea Dawg adventures, Amy and Alan, were flying home this day. We were all up with the dawn to wish them well and to watch as they walked over to the taxi stand to grab a cab to start their trip back to the states. There are two airports that have commercial flights to/from the States and the Abacos. Marsh Harbour, is the larger airport and is about an hour cab ride from Treasure Cay. The other is Treasure Cay airport which is very small but is only a ten minute ride by cab from the Marina.

After seeing Amy and Alan off, I started getting serious with the issues at hand. While stuck at the dock at Green Turtle Cay Club on Day 10 trying to figure out why I was getting no water flowing to the port engine, I had called everyone I knew. I had called Superior Diesel, but their phones were on an answering machine. I had a cell phone number for the mechanic at Superior Diesel who commissioned my engines and also has done most of the work on them over the years, but it turns out that the number was no longer in service.

I was about to break down and call the VP 800 number, that is how desperate I was, when I had a brilliant idea. Even though it was now 6PM on a Saturday night, I called Duncan’s Boats in Charleston and spoke to Brandon, the dealer who sold me my last three boats. My thinking was that no salesman worth his salt ever doesn’t take a call from a guy to whom he has sold three boats. And quite frankly, as the owner of a small business for the last 22 years, one of the secrets to my company’s success is that we always take the customer's call – 24x7. That is how we keep our customers.

Now I knew that Brandon was not going to be able to trouble shoot the problem I was having, but I figured, and he confirmed when he answered the call, that he had the private numbers for the higher ups at Superior Diesel, so I had enlisted Brandon in getting in touch with the honchos at SD and getting them to get the lead mechanic to give me a call. And, as the captain of BZ, was pulling raw water and exhaust pipes from the port engine looking for the cause of the problem, he heard me talking to Brandon and said Superior Diesel, why he had just met with their VP a couple of weeks ago, he said that if the mechanic didn’t call, he would have someone run by his office and get the contact number that he had. After we got back to Treasure Cay and had safely docked Saturday night, I sent e-mails describing the issue and troubleshooting steps taken to date to Brandon who had forwarded them to the VP of service at SD, who had already e-mailed me that he was tracking down the mechanic.

So Sunday morning arrived. The captain of BZ came over and we sat there trying to plan without access to actionable data. We had no idea what was wrong with the engine on Sea Dawg as everything that we did should have worked. We also did not know what was going on with his steering head. I had told him to fax a copy of his cruising permit to the supplier to have him include it with the part when it came in so that it wouldn’t get hung up. The supplier told him that it wasn’t necessary, so he hadn’t…

So there we sat, two boats with problems of unknown resolution, which meant unknown completion times. I committed to BZ that Sea Dawg would not leave him stranded in the Bahamas. If he had to stay, we would stay. It is the code!

Then I received a follow-up e-mail from Brandon asking if SD had ever called me (another sign of a great salesman, follow through). I replied that they had not. Within five minutes, I got an e-mail from the VP at SD and within another minute I got a text from the mechanic asking what was up. I sent him a text and say that I am calling him. I get him on the phone and describe the problem, and then hand the phone to Jeremy so that he can tell Steve (the mechanic) everything that we had done to troubleshoot the issue.

Steve said that he had only seen this happen one other time and the cause was a loose raw water intake plate on the pod. I told Steve that I had had the raw water intake plates removed so that the intakes could be scraped to remove barnacles back in February. If the intakes had not been re-installed and sealed correctly, Steve said that that could be the cause of the issue. But to make the repair, the boat would have to be hauled. So with instructions on how to make the repair, and knowing that we had all of the tools required, Jeremy and I now could put an action plan together for Sea Dawg.

BZ also had decided that though my offer of staying in the Bahamas until he could get his steering head released from Customs was a gracious offer, it was also somewhat self serving and that active measures were required on his part to get his steering head released. So with action plans for both boats, we went to the beach to enjoy our last day on Treasure Cay.

Here are some pictures showing the beautiful day we had at the beach.

Day 11 Beach 1.jpg

Day 11 Beach 2.jpg

Day 11 water.jpg

We also have a video of some of the fish that would swim around you at the beach and some of the crew from the boats. These videos were shot with GoPros in waterproof cases so since there is not very good sound, I borrowed some music to help set the tone.

Finally, as we prepared to leave Treasure Cay, here are a couple of more pictures of the Marina. Lord willing, we will be going back there next year, and the year after that, and the year after that…

Day 11 Last Day in Treasure Cay.jpg

Day 11 Last Day in TC SD and BZ.jpg

Here is a picture of Sea Dawg at the dock

Day 11 Looking Back - Sea Dawg.jpg

And here is BV docked in front of their condo

Day 11 Looking Back - BV.jpg

The boats did not move so no log book pages.
Last edited by Sea Dawg on Thu Aug 28, 2014 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sea Dawg
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Re: Adventures of Sea Dawg - Sea of Abaco 2014

Postby Sea Dawg » Thu Aug 28, 2014 12:57 pm

Abacos 2014 – Day 12 – Treasure Cay to Green Turtle Cay

The run from Treasure Cay to Green Turtle Cay takes less than an hour. But like so many of our runs during this trip, the day kind of got a late start. BZ had to take a taxi from Treasure Cay to Marsh Harbour to the Customs House to pay ransom to get his steering head released. My understanding has always been that boats on cruising permits are allowed to ship items required to repair breakdowns in necessary systems (and it is reasonable to argue that steering is a “necessary ship system”) into the Bahamas duty free. But I have always heard that a copy of the cruising permit has to accompany the part being received (which the shipper in the States said wasn’t necessary) so BZ never sent a copy of his cruising permit to the shipper to include with the paperwork sent with the steering head. So Jeremy and Lesley, with ship’s papers and cruising permit in hand, left about 8AM to arrive by 9AM at the Customs House to get the steering head.

They returned a little before noon with the steering head but an additional $500 dollars poorer between taxi fare and Customs Duty. According to the Customs person they were “discussing” the issue with, even though they had a valid cruising permit, the duty could only be waived if the paperwork was being handled by an agent, not the vessel owner. This made no sense to me when they related the story, but getting the steering head was their primary objective and so they paid the ransom to get the part.

Jeremy, the captain of BZ, had planned to install the head prior to the run to Green Turtle Cay, but now that it was after noon, and with a foul experience ruining his morning already, I could understand why he would want to just get moving. So with BZ suffering from a leaky steering head and Sea Dawg only able to run on one engine at idle or in docking situations, we prepared to leave.

BV had been packing out the condo and saying goodbye to all of his family and crew. The captain of BV would be running solo on all of the remaining legs of the trip as all of his family was flying home this day. But BV did offer to hover near BZ and Sea Dawg and take us in tow if either of us totally broke down on the run.

On Sea Dawg, we had lost two members of our crew and would not pick up our two new members until we got to Green Turtle Cay. Normally Bettie and I can easily run the boat by ourselves but with the loss of the port engine during low speed and docking maneuvers and the need to have someone monitoring water flow into the port engine raw water system during the high speed inter-island run, it was decided that we could use a couple of more crew for the run. So we borrowed two members of the BZ crew.

I had spent the morning confirming the size of crane needed to haul Sea Dawg by calling Hinckleys in Savannah where Sea Dawg gets her annual haul and calling around Green Turtle Cay to see who had a 50 ton crane and time to haul Sea Dawg either Monday or Tuesday. Using a combination of the Garmin “Services” page on the MFD and Active Captain, I was able to find Abaco Yacht Services and gave them a call, described my needs and confirmed an 11AM haul time for the next day.

So all we needed to do was get from Treasure Cay to Green Turtle Cay and get Sea Dawg docked at the GTCC fuel dock for the night. We got BZ off the dock and headed down range and BV had checked out of his condo and was ready to go. With our fresh crew, we pulled out of our slip and only brought a little bit of lumber off the dolphin stake with us as we tried to turn the corner against the wind on one engine.

Once out of the marina and the no wake zone, and with a member of the crew watching the glass top of the raw water intake screen full time to insure that we were getting water through the system, I was able to start the port engine and eventually spool it up to Sea Dawg’s normal 3000 RPM cruising speed. We made the run to GTCC in just under an hour. The course track is below.

Day 12 Track.jpg

Green Turtle Cay has one settlement called New Plymouth that sits at the south end of the island in a little shallow bay. There are marinas and yacht facilities in a sound just north of New Plymouth in a body of water called the Black Sound. The Black Sound is too shallow at low tide for Sea Dawg to enter but the channel, such that it is, is well marked. Abaco Yacht Services, where Sea Dawg would be hauled the next day, was on the Black Sound. The Green Turtle Cay Club is a marina on the north end of the island that resides on a body of water called the White Sound. The White Sound has a dredged channel that is navigable by Sea Dawg even at low tide (I believe that there was a minimum of five feet of water at mean low water when we ran up to the marina). The channel is well marked and you can see it in the video below.

Being true to its name, we saw a big green sea turtle on our way up to GTCC. This was our first time staying at GTCC. When we make these trips each year, we try to insure that we have at least one known home run location and then try other marinas for other transit days so that we keep each trip an adventure. Green Turtle Cay’s beaches are not as nice as Treasure Cay or Guana Cay, but the reef structures are directly off shore so the snorkeling is fantastic. Also, the settlement of New Plymouth is very quaint and neat to walk through. The marina itself is at the very north end of the White Sound and was fixed wood docks that were in good repair with a nice fuel dock. Both water and electricity are metered.

Justin, the dock master is the older brother of Tornado, the dock master at Spanish Cay so he really knows his stuff. The facilities on the property were very nice with a nice little store, laundry and a nice pool. The property has two restaurants, one bar side and one a fancy linen table cloth affair. We ate at the bar restaurant twice and the food was pricey but excellent. There is a dive center and a place to rent golf carts in the complex as well.

After getting tied up at the fuel dock and getting BZ, docked in their real berth and getting BV docked over at his condo, it was time to get busy. We got checked in and my wife decided that after a dip in the pool, she needed to do laundry. I know I wrote that we did laundry on Day 11 at Treasure Cay but I was wrong and that post has been corrected. Both BZ and Sea Dawg brought out loads of laundry to do.

After carrying the laundry to the laundry room (this one was self serve), I told Bettie that I needed to help BZ change out his steering head. My definition of help is handing tools and mixing anti-scurvy potions. I performed my assigned duties flawlessly and within an hour, Jeremy had his steering head swapped out and the hydraulics refilled and system pressurized.

With BZ ready to go, the crew of BZ set off to explore the island. Bettie and I hung out and did laundry and got Sea Dawg prepared for her new crew who would be joining us in two days. When Bob, the captain of BV, cleaned out the condo, he was left with tons of food and wine that needed to be consumed so dinner and the after party was planned to be held in the bachelor condo crash pad! What living! We had an enjoyable dinner, and soon, it was time to leave and head back to the boat.

There are no pictures of the run today as Amy and Alan had been Sea Dawg’s staff photographers and they were now gone. With having to monitor the port engine during the run, the crew was somewhat pre-occupied. So I apologize for the lack of pictures.

I will make up for it by pre-publishing the log book pages from Days 10 – 13 and will promise double videos for Day 13.

Log Day 10 - 13 - Page 1.jpg

Log Day 10 - 13 - Page 2.jpg
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