One Week Before Moving.

Things have been a bit hectic around here trying to get ready to move. I know I won’t be 100% ready but close enough. My sail-away party Friday night was a success. It was very nice to see old friends I hadn’t seen in years, and newer ones, to say goodbye. Thanks again to all who attended! As a bonus I got enough canned food to last me a few weeks! Not to mention a few other useful items.

Packing has been a horrendous task, or rather, deciding what to let go. I sold everything I could a while ago. It’s unbelievable the amount of items we pile-up as time goes by. If you ever plan on doing the same, start getting rid of stuff early. The last few bags and plastic boxes will have to find a spot on Dagny, but she is already fully loaded. Oh well, I didn’t think the first batch would fit either, so maybe there is hope.

I am still hoping to buy a foul weather jacket, SSB Ham radio and new shoes before leaving, but finances are very tight. I also need a spare bilge pump and a couple fenders. There is the $150 Bahamas entry fee to consider, as well as a full tank of diesel. I sure hope I can get my engine to start without hiring a mechanic. Maybe this blog should be named “Cruising On The Cheap.”

All the heavy projects on Dagny are finished. There are a few tasks left, better done before leaving:

  • Fix the engine; priority #1!
  • Install the companionway and forward hatch locks.
  • Install a 20m band antenna (MFJ-1620T).
  • Install red and green navigation lights on deck.
  • Touch up paint inside the cabin.
  • Troubleshoot my marine SSB antenna tuner.
  • Find out how the wind vane works and set it up.
  • Finish the self-tacking jib setup.

These tasks shouldn’t take more than three days but I now know better than to make time estimates when boats are involved.

My Delorme inReach was activated a couple days ago and works fine. Well, it did after I updated the firmware, which was pretty easy. The only issue I have with it is that the device doesn’t have its own phone number for texting, so you must leave the thread open to keep a conversation going. Your contacts must initiate a conversation by sending a message from the map or reply to an existing thread. Not ideal, but it works. The Earthmate Android and iPhone apps work fine on my iPhone and Acer tablet.

Reading about issues with Navionics charts in the Bahamas, I decided to switch to Jeppesen Plan2Nav CMap. The charts are cheaper and supposedly more accurate. I like the Android app, which integrates Active Captain. For weather, I installed Weather4D, but there seems to be a bit of a learning curve. Sailgrib is great for wind predictions. For an anchor alarm I got SailsafePro, but Plan2Nav I think has that feature.

Assuming everyting works, I will keep an eye on the weather for the perfect window. The winds have to be from the South or South-West. Any nothern component creates steep waves in the Gulfstream, to be avoided like the plague, or so I heard. The passage isn’t even an overnight crossing, so it will be a nice shakedown cruise. I might go for a Little Grand Cay check-in, otherwise I would have to first sail South to Lake Worth to make a West-End landing, which I don’t really want to bother doing. I know the Stream will be pushing me North and I will have to account for the drift. But hey, I’ve done that plenty of times flying airplanes, and things happen much faster at 120Kts. The last time I went to the Bahamas from Florida was flying a Grumman Tiger from Sarasota To Green Turtle Cay. It took but three hours, only ten or fifteen minutes out of sight of land. This time it will be a while longer…

Stay tuned for an update after I settle down on board, with a video and maybe even my first podcast.

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