As many of you may have seen on our Instagram (@sv_sabado)- we made it out of Cape Canaveral!👏🏼 We worked our way South in small hops, stopping in Ft. Pierce and West Palm Beach before settling in Key Biscayne. We spent a couple of weeks on anchor waiting for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream and head to the Bahamas, after which we planned on high-tailing it South to Grenada for hurricane season.
Unfortunately, another wind instrument issue derailed our plans.
While on anchor, we had a couple of squalls blow through, and we noticed our wind instruments reading 800kn when we were actually experiencing ~25kn. Occasionally the data would completely cut out, and we’d have to reboot the system to resume readings. Sound familiar? This is the problem we thought we solved in January when we replaced our anemometer.
After a few days of research and monitoring, we decided to go to the Bahamas despite the malfunctions. We seemed only to be having problems while on anchor, which led us to believe the errors were due to miscalculations by the software rather than a bad instrument. It could have also been due to the static electricity in the air from nearby lightning storms… Either way, we planned on heading South, keeping a close eye on it, and replacing it along the way if needed.
Once that was settled, we jumped into preparation mode: we scheduled our COVID tests, worked on our health visa and cruising permit paperwork, and put together what we thought would be our last grocery delivery order. It was stressful, but in an exciting way- we were finally getting out of Florida. 🤗
The day before our COVID test (two days before we would set sail), we heard from our insurance broker: we couldn’t get insured for the Caribbean. Supposedly there is only one US-based company writing policies for the Caribbean this year and unless you were already insured through them, getting a policy is difficult. Our broker recommended we consider non-US-based companies, and we agreed, only to be disappointed again when she still couldn’t find anything for us. We reached out to several other brokers and were met with the same results. With Sabado being our biggest asset, sailing uninsured seems stupid and irresponsible, so we decided to pivot.
It was a tough pill to swallow; our entire plans for the year would have to change. We spent a few days pouting and trying to adjust our expectations. We missed our Gulf Stream crossing window but decided that if we were spending another season just in the Bahamas and the US, it might be fun to check out the Florida Keys first. So we got out the guidebooks and started to get excited again… until we noticed our house batteries were unusually low…
I’m going to breeze through the next series of unfortunate events for you here:
We thought our house batteries needed to be replaced. We went to run the generator and it died. We couldn’t get a spot on a dock anywhere in South Florida to get new batteries and/or a new generator. One of our refrigerators wasn’t working properly. Our watermaker broke again (that’s the second time this year!!), and one of our wind turbine regulators was busted (even though we had just installed a new one).
Now, I don’t know if I believe that the universe gives signs per se… but if it does, WHAT IS IT TRYING TO SAY?! 😡
We were spiraling at this point, honestly. Ray was calling and emailing absolutely everyone to try and get some advice/assistance. At one point, we— and I hate to admit this— bought a ticket to the Miami boat show and spoke to a yacht broker about potentially selling Sabado.
We felt stuck and helpless. No matter what we did, it felt like doors were getting slammed in our face left and right! We sat down, had a long talk about our situation, and decided to take on the issues one by one and see how it went. Worst case scenario, it’s really as bad (and as expensive to fix) as we think.
Ray started by taking apart the generator. He identified the problem (the temperature sensor had failed) and dug through our “garage” to find our spare. Once replaced, our generator was back in working condition. Next up: the watermaker. This one was a bit trickier, but the issue ended up being a clogged check valve before the filters (so it was full of seaweed!). Once we cleared it, the watermaker was fine. We turned off the refrigerator that was giving us problems, and our house batteries have been performing well ever since. We think the gasket on the fridge door was not the right size, compromising the door’s seal and causing it to run constantly to keep cold, in turn draining our batteries. Ray replaced the gasket, but we haven’t turned it back on yet simply because we can’t emotionally deal with another problem right now if changing the seal didn’t fix it. 😂 We have two other refrigeration units that we’ll be using until we’re ready to investigate that further. The wind turbine regulator is still malfunctioning, but it’s more of an annoyance than an actual problem- we’re still able to collect a charge from it- so we decided to cross that one off our list for now.
Things were looking up, and it was a nice reminder that it’s normal for things on the boat to break. Not everything that fails will be as difficult to fix as it was when we were in Cape Canaveral. Maybe we were being a bit dramatic this time!
So, with that, we decided it was time to use our boat. We needed some clarity on why we’ve spent so much time and money on this thing, and what better way to get that than sailing somewhere where we can swim off the back of the boat, right? We decided to head to the Keys.
We left last Saturday morning and had a gorgeous sail down to Rodriguez Key.
It took us about 8hrs, and we averaged a SOG of 6kn in 12kn of wind! Our new sails performed well. 👏🏼 Towards the end of our trip, the wind died, and we had to start an engine. We regretted not rigging up our new gennaker before heading out, but at that point, we were so happy to be moving that using an engine didn’t seem so bad!
We spent the night on anchor then continued on the next day. We remembered to set up the gennaker before we left this time and were able to fly it for a few hours that afternoon!
Crew morale was high, finally!
We dropped anchor near Marathon that afternoon and fell asleep shortly after that- nothing like a day full of sailing in the Florida sunshine to tire you out! 😴
We decided to stay put on Monday. There was some bad weather headed our way later in the week, so we wanted to slow down to ensure we’d be somewhere with a bit of protection when it hit. We took the dinghy to shore and had French fries and lemonade at the local tiki bar. We were getting back in the groove of cruiser life!
On our way to bed, we noticed some switches on our control panel glowing, despite being in their “off” position. We took some deep breaths and started taking everything apart, per usual.
Ray tested all the wires and examined every connection but couldn’t find any reason why they’d be glowing like that. Then our voltage alarm for the engine batteries started going off (which is located on the same control panel), but when we tested the voltage of the batteries, they were fine.
We poured ourselves some wine and got to googling. Ray found several forums about similar problems occurring due to radio frequency interference. I know that sounds like a stretch, but it’s the only thing that made sense given what we were experiencing. It was midnight at that point, so Ray did a few last tests to ensure nothing was a fire hazard, and we called it a night.
The next day I woke up sick. Knowing we were only heading towards more and more remote places, we decided to stick around Marathon in case I needed a pharmacy or a doctor. This also gave Ray some more time to fuss with the control panel… 😉
By Wednesday, we were pretty confident in the radio frequency theory. I felt much better, but it was Ray’s turn to be sick. By the time we were both feeling back to normal, the weather we’d been anticipating had arrived. We weren’t in the most protected spot, but the anchorage was big enough for us to hunker down far away from anyone who could potentially drag into us.
So, we’ve spent the weekend cleaning and watching TV (our usual stormy weather activities) while the wind and rain move through the area. We’re planning on going to shore today to do some laundry and pick up some veggies, then we’re hoping to get out of here tomorrow or Tuesday and make our way down to Dry Tortugas for some well-deserved snorkeling and beach days!
I hope you had a great week! ❤️