Sailing down the lower Keys, Newport reunion

After Biscayne Bay, Anne Marie and I motored into Card Sound and dropped the hook right in front of Alabama Jacks. They have a dock but it’s too shallow for me to use. So I anchored on the other side of a row of mangroves in about 5 feet of water, right in front of the cut. We dinghy through the mangrove cut and as soon as I step into the restaurant the waitress asks me if I anchored there on purpose, giving the whole place a scenic view of my lovely ketch in the afternoon sun. You bet I did, CJ at Alabama Jacks.

IMG_20161201_141608489

From there we sailed most of the way to Tarpon Bay, just past Blackwater Sound in Key Largo. There we met up with Elizabeth again and sailed on to Islamorada. It was blowing about 20 out of the northeast and we had an amazing sail through Florida Bay.

 

We stayed in Islamorada for a few days, enjoying the good weather, caught the Gator game, tried some fishing and made a daily ritual out of the $1.25 drafts at Lorelei’s for happy hour.

From there, Anne Marie and I took the boat to Marathon and got a mooring at Boot Key Harbor. This place was interesting. Met a guy named Neil who told us that at peak season there will be 400 or so boats either moored or anchored there. Its a vibrant community of about half full time liveaboards and half transients like myself. He had been there for 3 years or so, but there were many who have been living there decades. The location wasn’t that great though as far as walk able grocery stores and the like, but it was a good stop for a couple of nights.

Elizabeth joined back up with us the following day and after a little provisioning, we again dropped mooring lines on a big northeast blow and shot all the way down to Key West. There was plenty of breeze and we slid along the coast at about 6.5 knots under only the jib. That’s probably become my preferred way of sailing: lots of breeze at the back and just rolling out the jib. Its just so easy. Since it was blowing so hard we decided to splurge on a dock for a few nights right in Old Town.

Key West was a wonderful Newport reunion of sorts. Andy and Katie, Greg and Alana, Chris from the original Newport to Baltimore sail, Jeff and Natalie, even Emyl from my first delivery on When and If back when it all started. Everyone was there.

After a particularly raucous Saturday night, which may or may not have included time spent at the Garden of Eden, I awoke the next morning to the dock master knocking on my hull.

Dockmaster: “Did you lose your phone last night?”

Me: “Um, yeah, how on Earth did you know that? I’m guessing you know where it is?”

Dockmaster: “Yeah, tried to call you to ask if you were staying another night, which it looks like you are. Your phone was picked up by some tourist and is at the Sebago Wastersports desk on Duval Street.”

Yeah, at some point my phone fell out of my shallow board short pocket and ended up on Duval Street.

Elizabeth and I spent the remainder of the week we had there visiting the beaches, public gardens and museums, capped off with the boat parade on Hindu. We’re back in Stuart now for the holidays with Pi resting on a city mooring ball still in Key West. I go back on the 26th, fingers crossed the Coast Guard approves my paperwork for Cuba!

 

 

 

Live from Biscayne Bay

img_20161128_070333

I write this as I am bouncing around at a mooring in Biscayne Bay near Dinner Key. The wind has really picked up in the past 24 hours and is gusting to 30. Elizabeth, Anne Marie (a new friend who contacted me through sailing forums and wanted to do some sailing) had a great downwind run yesterday from Ft Lauderdale to Government Cut and down into Biscayne Bay. Port tack the whole time, doing about 6 with mizzen and jib.
Previous to that was a simple motor down the ICW before Thanksgiving.

Things are going well with the boat. The engine, rigging, fridge, solar system, and other parts of the boat continue to function without issue. I guess my only complaint is my trusty 3.5 hp Nissan isn’t peeing water as much as I’d like, but it still gets us to shore. And in non-leaking comfort, a first for my dinghy, thanks to a massive discount on a 10′ Walker Bay.

We’ll spend another night here before making further progress south, probably to Boca Chita tomorrow, 10 miles south. Might not get the sails up if the wind clocks south as predicted but it should be a good couple hours of motoring across Biscayne Bay, which isn’t terrible for a Tuesday either.

Pi is ready

Concluding the renaming ceremony attended by none other than my nephew Brody, wife Elizabeth, brother Brent, Hal, Laurie, Ruth, Maddie and Cam, I can say that my beloved and renamed sailboat is ready to tackle all that lies ahead. The last four months have been a whirlwind of both moving into a new house and fully restoring a 52 year old sailboat. It took a lot, and I owe a lot to those who have taught me all I know about how to do it properly.

So why Pi? Soveraine was just too difficult to explain spelling-wise on the radio when approaching bridges. A little deeper, it’s full circle, pun quite intended. Being a math teacher, marrying my college and pre-sailing girlfriend, laying my boat up for nearly three years and restoring her to the glory she deserves. She was quite a wreck again when I first got back to her four months ago, I’d say worse off than when I’d first laid eyes on her in Watch Hill over five years ago, but you’ll have to ask Matt Hartke about that.

Elizabeth and I took her for a wonderful first sail on the St Lucie River on Sunday. Flat water and a consistent 15 knots from the north. It confirmed that all she needs is deck paint and a willing body to start the journey. I head south in about a week, bound for Key West. A simple sail down the east coast, continuing the trip I put on hiatus in 2013.

img_20161106_094446290

img_20161021_090650

It’s finally happening. My wonderful, capable and ready boat and I are going to do some real voyaging. This is what I had pictured when I left Boston, getting to mom’s house in Sarasota was only the first step, now the fun begins!

Special Delivery

When Rogan, my former crew buddy on Weatherly, called me last week to ask if I was available to do a weekend delivery from Annapolis to Newport, I realized I hadn’t been sailing offshore in nearly two and a half years. I accepted.

The boat is a brand new carbon fiber sled and had been left in Annapolis for the winter after the boat show in October. The current owner wanted it back in Newport for some spring racing. Rogan, Zach, Austin, Jeremy and I departed Annapolis on Friday afternoon, headed north up the Chesapeake and through the C&D canal.

Motoring along...
Motoring along…

 

A dense fog enveloped us as we slid under the railroad bridge.

IMG_20160513_212609

We rounded Cape May at daybreak, but with still very little wind, kept motoring at about 8 knots. The breeze finally filled in on our starboard quarter so we decided to pull out the asymmetrical spinnaker, which pulled us along at over 10 knots.

PANO #1

This is when things got eventful. The steering quadrant had not been secured correctly by the boat yard who worked on her that winter, and as such it jumped up and into the base of the grinding pedestal. The spinnaker was shrimped and dragged to the boat as Rogan worked out the steering situation. Luckily nothing was broken and we returned to sailing under a main and jib. As night fell the breeze picked up to about 20 knots sustained, right on our port beam. With no way to reef the main, we were soon overpowered with gusts over 25 knots. Zach was having the time of his life surfing down the 5 foot seas, still at our backs, and hit a delivery high of 17 knots of boat speed.

Its worth mentioning that at this point I had not gotten much sleep. A carbon hull is very echoey with a lot of vibrations from either the engine if it’s on, or wave action if it’s not. Also, this boat was outfitted with the most horrendous pipe berths I’ve ever seen. No cushion, just a taut mesh and a gap between the berth and the hull your whole arm and shoulder could fall into. There was absolutely no way to get comfortable and the only way I ended up getting any sleep was due to exhaustion after a cold 2-4 am watch.

It was too much though, and I called for Rogan and all other hands to assist in taking the main down. This went, thankfully, without incident. We continued under jib alone and still made about 8 knots. Montauk was in sight at 8 am Sunday morning. Zach and I were on watch again and we surfed down the now 6-8 foot faces as we motor sailed. Good times!

 

The boat was safely tied up in Newport by 3 that afternoon. Diegos was the next stop for some much needed beverages. I slept soundly that night.

Although I was completely exhausted in both mind and body by the end of the trip, it was absolutely worth it. My first offshore experience in well over two years was well due and has only served to reinvigorate my taste for those kinds of experiences. Sailing into Narragansett Bay was extremely nostalgic and nearly brought tears to my eyes. I vowed it would be the last time for a while though, especially during the shoulder months, I am thoroughly done with high latitude sailing. But damn, seeing Montauk Light, Block Island, Point Juidth, Beaver Tail and finally Newport Bridge rise from the horizon after a long delivery was moving to say the least.

Great strength of feets: removing the old diesel

After a blissful Christmas at brother’s house with his family in Stuart, and my new little nephew, I drove back to Sarasota to start working on getting the engine out from under the cockpit. I got to my sweet Soveraine on Sunday morning and, after getting the lock open, couldn’t slide the companionway hatch forward. This had never happened before. No amount of pushing could get it over the drop slides, it was as if they had swelled for some reason. I took out my sawzall and cut a tiny bit away from the top drop slide and it slid open.

I was dumbfounded. The entire cabin was submerged in four inches of standing water. Nearest I can tell, during the fall the oak tree, that the jackass trailer park owner let the jackass of a hauler park my boat under, had shed all its tiny goddamn leaves which clogged my cockpit drains causing water to spill into the cabin.

Luckily my dad was there to keep my spirits high and attitude in check, because I was in a throw in the towel, no good, dirty, rotten mood after I saw that. In addition, about three dozen wasps had moved into Soveraine and threre was mold EVERYWHERE. We piled into his truck and headed to Home Depot to rent a generator and 2″ sump pump.

The pump worked quickly and dad and I called it a day to let the boat dry out. I checked the wooden bulkheads for any signs of rot and there were none.

 

I appreciate the juxtaposition of this one.

The following day the boat was aired out nicely and we got to work on the engine. By noon we had most of the accessories stripped away, including the instrument panel, wiring harness, alternator, fuel pump, starter, and the gear box separated from the block and the prop shaft. The volume of blood shed removing the coupling bolts on the prop shaft was minimal.

Next came the ordeal of how on Earth we were going to get it shoved out of the opening in the bulkhead forward of the engine compartment. We went back to the Depot and bought a single 2×8 which was just as wide as the bottom part of the bulkhead opening. Then using some pry bars and great feats of strength/great strength of feets, on the count of push (please tell me you got that reference) it popped out onto the board, resting on the oil pan. It was then fairly easy to shimmy it down a bit so it was completely out of the engine compartment. We cleaned up and were out of there by 4. It took less time than I had planned, how often does that happen on a boat?? I only want to rent a crane once, so there it shall sit until the new one goes in this coming summer.

Over the next few days I continued to work on the engine compartment and start the glamorous task of cleaning 40 years worth of sludge out from the bilge. Mat came along and his dad lent me his generator to run the shop vac. I only dropped the container filled with sludge once, which I’d say is pretty good.

I also put together a little system so that whole flooding thing won’t happen again, which includes my existing bilge pump and 5 watt solar panel and a new battery and charge controller. In addition to a partial cover to keep those God forsaken leaves off the deck. I’ll be back in two weeks to check on her.

 

aaand we’re back…

Yes, I know this is only my second post in 2015, which is almost over. Not much to report on however, just living in New Jersey and teaching math at a local public high school. Soveraine has been on the hard in that trailer park in Sarasota since last November, and I’ve been down a few times to work on her. As of right now, she is completely gutted with the exception of the engine, which will be coming out next week.

Elizabeth and I purchased a new Beta 25 3-cylinder diesel from the boat show in Annapolis in October. I decided a few months ago to go the repower route as opposed to trying to keep up with an aging foreign model for which spare parts are harder and harder to come by. The Beta was our choice for a few reasons, not the least of which is the support they offer along with many options that make a repower from an older diesel a breeze.

In addition to the new engine, I will be replacing her standing rigging with new stays and a set of swageless fittings, probably the Hi-MOD brand. I’ll be upgrading her nav equipment to something more modern, possibly with AIS, as well as a new galley with a small fridge unit and a couple of 100 watt solar panels. A fresh coat of paint inside and out and replacing some ancient teak trim should round out the refit nicely.

It should be a busy 6 months, with a light at the end of the tunnel of some real cruising.

Chris Christie Says He Will Not Run in 2016…to Go Sailing?

TRENTON – In a dramatic move that has stunned not only Republicans in Washington but has sent waves from coast to coast, Chris Christie has announced that he will not be running for the nation’s highest office in 2016. From his home in Trenton Tuesday afternoon, he stated he will instead “pursue a quietly held lifelong dream of living and cruising on a small sailboat.”

When asked why this sudden change of course occurred, Christie looked away from the cameras and other press members, and gazed somberly into the distance for a moment before saying, “I just can’t do it anymore. It’s gotten to the point where even I don’t believe half the crap that comes out of my mouth. I’m not apologizing for anything as Governor, but I have to admit I haven’t been at my best the past few years.”
Sources close to the Governor said in recent months he has been furiously reading the blog and newly published book, both titled I Hate Shoes, of New Jersey resident and veteran seaman, Scott ‘Sailor’ Keddy. “He always keeps the blog open in a tab in his browser, and hits refresh a few times a day, at least,” confessed a top aid to the former presidential hopeful. Keddy has been hired as the mental, physical and spiritual guide for Christie as he transitions from high-profile GOP politician to wayward vagabond sailor.
“I am genuinely looking forward to working with him” Keddy said in a phone interview following the Governor’s announcement. “There is a lot of work to be done. He and Mary [Christie’s wife since 1986] will be joining my fiance and me in Florida on our 30 foot ketch as soon as we can sever ties with his political career.”
Christie is wasting no time, and has already put multiple items owned by New Jersey’s First Family on Craigslist at the behest of Keddy. “It’s the first step in a long process of shedding one’s old life, habits and material possessions to clean the slate,” Keddy explained. When asked what goals Christie was looking to achieve out of this radical and unexpected life decision, he replied, “The only goal Chris Christie has, for the foreseeable future, is to find out who Chris Christie really is. See you out in the chop!”

 

The (second) haulout

It was a bittersweet decision. On the one hand, I wasn’t using Soveraine all that much and over $300 per month to keep her in wet storage was getting expensive. Sure, I visit Florida pretty often, about every second or third month, but by the time I got to her slip and started in on some projects I’d want to complete I would realize how far behind I was on basic maintenance. This was getting annoying. Two steps back for every one step forward, and it seemed like every time I would visit she would be in worse shape than before. The piles of bird poop, the dead batteries, surface rust on the bow pulpit, oiling some teak, cleaning a musty, moldy cabin…you get the idea. It left little time for any actual improvements to her let alone any time to actually enjoy a sail in a short 3-4 day period.

On the other hand, I need to replace the standing rigging, build and install a windvane, finish repainting the interior, shore up some play in the rudder, get some new ground tackle, completely redo the galley with a fridge, the possibility of a complete repower (?), among a myriad of other small projects.

That entire decision was brought to the front burner a couple of weeks ago when I got a certified letter (almost never a good thing) saying I had to be out of my slip by November 15th due to the fact Manatee County found the docks unsafe and had to be replaced. Luckily I already had a plane ticket down and scrambled to find a place to haul out and someone with a hydraulic trailer to transport my boat inland where the rent was cheap. I found both and as of tonight my sweet Soveraine sits on the hard in a trailer park in Sarasota awaiting a nearly complete refit.

The purpose of this whole shenanigan? More cruising of course. I won’t allude to what my grand plans are (never good luck to do so) but I will say that when she goes back in the water, 18 to 24 months from now, she will be as ready to cross oceans as when she was built 51 yeas ago.

I leave you with pictures courtesy of my mother who was kind enough to drive up and find her still on the trailer from the boatyard:

Book is published!

Well, self-published but nonetheless, I am on Amazon and you can get your copy today! Here is a link to Amazon’s site where you can get either a Kindle or paperback version. If you would like a signed copy mailed to you, simply pay me via PayPal (smkeddy@gmail.com) and don’t forget to include your address!

From the back cover: “Growing up a sun-drenched kid in Florida, it was a rude awakening when I became a desk driving engineer in frigid Boston. So began a five year odyssey to return home via sailboat, filled with adventure, tragedy, love and heartbreak. From humble starts in questionable boats to high seas sailing from Hawaii to Alaska, and ultimately restoring a 50 year old world cruising boat, no, the journey wasn’t always easy, but it was unquestionably worth it in the end. You only get one spin around this merry-go-round, you better make it count.”

My goal is to sell a few hundred copies to justify my time and expenses, so your purchase of this book today helps fund the next one! Thanks!

Windvane self-steering, sailing on the Hudson, book coming soon!

I’ve been in New York (well, technically New Jersey) since February. I moved here to be with my new fiancee Elizabeth, and things were very quiet on the sailing front until recently. I’ve been working for a charter/sailing lesson company up on 79th Street and its been going very well so far. The Hudson River is known for its currents, fickle and shifty winds, massive amounts of boat traffic, very surgey unprotected marinas and things in the river that, well, shouldn’t be. It does have some nice views of the city and Statue of Liberty though. All in all, not a great place to sail, but I’m on the water, and that’s something.  I also managed to get my NJ teaching certification and hope to be using it in a classroom this fall.

My sweet Soveraine is docked in Florida, where I visit her every few months. I still plan to cruise on her extensively, but it will be more piecemeal for the next couple of years. I need to do some work on her anyway, including installing a wind vane, redoing the galley and possibly installing a self-contained cooler/refrigeration unit. I’ve heard it before and its true: refrigeration makes the difference between living civilly and camping.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited Scott and Kitty at their home in Connecticut. We went for a short cruise which allowed me to see how their wind vane self-steering system operates. I took many pictures and videos and Elizabeth was kind enough to hold the tape measure:

Over the course of the last week, I have built a model out of cardboard and balsa wood:
Which actually works, with a fan to simulate the flow of water over the pendulum…

 

I’ll be visiting Florida next week and will be working on a full size model from plywood, which is what Scott’s was made from originally when they went around the first time in Bebinka.

With all that said, I’ve been working on a book! Its a chronicle of this crazy sailing/life adventure I’ve been on for the past 5 or so years, and goes into much more depth than this blog. I decided to write a book mainly for my great-great-great grand kids. I would have loved to read about how Alexander Kady came over on Winchelsea in 1749. Why he decided to leave England/Scotland, what his thoughts were, his challenges and new life in Nova Scotia. This book will be for generations after me to look back and give some inspiration to step out on a limb and try a different lifestyle. Of course, if you’d like to purchase one and help fund my next adventures, that would be fantastic as well!