The Maiden Voyage.

We woke early on the 2nd August before light and our friend Lane was there on the dock to see us.  Frantically we rushed around, basically loaded up the last of the items from the dock and cleaned up our mess.  Did one last quick weather check jumping on Lanes 3G hotspot and then said our goodbyes and released the dock lines.  Just like that we left, we were on our way.  It was a real surreal moment and I am forever grateful to Lane for coming out at such a hour to see us of.  It made it feel like we were really leaving, it was for real. 

For days before I kept saying to Morgan are we really going to do this?? We weren’t ready and realistically Nomadica wasn’t quite ready either. Half of her interior is still in a mess, there was minimum plumbing, minimum electric’s connected and a ton of material packed chucked in the boat.  But what choice did we have.  Morgan’s 2 month visa was due to expire the following day on the 3rd of August.  We have always been people that stuck by the rules and although realistically we could probably have stayed a few extra days, the thought of being controlled leaving later outweighed our readiness.  We had done everything in our power to make Nomadica safe, the rest was up to us and the weather a head.  We were also tired of working against the clock.

As we motored down the channel, I thought back to 4 years ago when we watched our friends on ‘Silver Shoes’ motor down the channel out of sight and thought ‘Wow this is happening, its our turn’.  We exited the breakwater and continue slowly out of the channel.   We didn’t look back.  We tried to do some auto pilot calibrations, but it just wasn’t working, so we hoisted the sails and started slowly sailing east.  There was a gentle 10-11 knots of wind from the north and we sailed slowly away from shore.  It was quite a liberating feeling. 

Originally we had toyed with the idea of heading south along the coast, and then hang a right towards Mexico and Belize.  This would have been the quicker 1000 mile trip.  However the days leading up to our departure there was a tropical depression forming in the Gulf of Mexico and we had to delay our departure as it was by a day to wait on the weather to pass up the East Coast.  The long range forecast showed more disturbance in the area for the days to come to.  Not wanting to risk it, we just thought East.  Head East. 

IMG_7877

Dolphins of the bow.

It was a great first day.  We even had a pod of dolphins play of Nomadica’s bow.  Something that hasn’t happened in years.  It was beautiful.  With no auto pilot we found that if we trimmed the sails right and tied the wheel in place, she held a steady course.  As the day turned into night the wind slowly dropped of.  By Midnight that same wind came from the East and we were plowing into a light breeze and building sea.  We were being tossed around under low RPM’s.  The night turned dark and squally. It wasn’t at all what we imagined our first night out would be like.  With each squall the wind would intensify and we would have to take over the steering.  We were soaked more times than I wished to remember.  Winds often reached 30-35 knots in these squalls.  As dawn came in the skies around us stayed dark and heavy and the day carried on relentless and squally. By the end of the day we were both a little exhausted.  As we prepared ourselves for another long dark night a head I really wondered if it was really the right direction to be going.  Luckily the second night was better and the squalls became less and less and the skies slowed cleared and the winds once again shifted back in our favour.  Friday we were back to sailing slowly east with a beautiful sunny day. 

The next few days the winds dropped completely and the ocean became like a milk pond.  The only thing with no wind was that we had to hand steer which in the heat of the day became pretty intense.  At one point whilst I was at the helm I saw a whale heading straight for us.  I clicked the engine in neutral and watched in awe as this magnificent creature approached within twenty meters of us, it was a Sperm Whale.  It hovered on the surface for a few seconds before diving into the depths.  We stayed drifting for a few minutes more and watched as she surfaced again.  Its moments like these that will stick with us forever.  A few days when we both got tired or jobs aboard became over whelming we just switched of the engine and drifted.  This allowed us both to fix, clean and sleep.  At this point we also took the time to put out the fishing lines and caught two small Mahi Mahi’s.  It was nice to have fresh fish again and something we both have missed about life on the sea. 

The forecast that first weekend showed a possible depression building in the Atlantic with a possible trajectory of the northern Islands of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic.  Well there went our second possible destination.  No way were we able to head south at that point as the winds around the system would be against us.  So we continued East until it had passed and in fact by that following Wednesday it had dissipated.  By this point we had headed East for a whole week and had covered nearly 1000 nautical miles. 

IMG_7928

1000 miles down 1000+ to go.

The next day on Thursday we had our window to point south.  There’s something about Thursday’s as this was another black and squally day.  As we altered course we found ourselves in a stiff breeze and another 24 hours of squall after squall. 

Conditions pointing South was completely different to the week before.  As we continued the easterly trades really kicked in.  Luckily Nomadica held a good course in a stronger breeze.  Anything from 7-25 knots and we could get a hour or two of not touching the wheel before having to untie and re-adjust.

IMG_8048

Beautiful night skies. 

Originally we wanted to go as far east to allow a course outside of the Island chain.  However conditions didn’t allow us to point that far.  Once again looking at the long range forecast for the week a head we could see yet again another system forming in the Atlantic  and once again heading towards the Island chain later in the week.  This gave us only a short week to get pass the depressions trajectory.  Not wanting to waste anymore time struggling against the winds, we decided on a course to cut directly through the Island chain. 

As Sunday became Monday we entered the Caribbean Sea and with it conditions stiffened.  As we observed the the glow of Anguilla and St Maarten in the distance we were reaching along in 25-30 knots of breeze.  With waves breaking over the side of the boat.  It was a wet and windy ride.  The days weren’t a lot better and as we pushed on through the Island chain the conditions persisted.  We saw very little of the Islands themselves as there was a thick haze all around.  Making a bee line south we pushed on during the day with as much sail as we felt safe and then at night was vigilant with our sail choice based on the nights skies.  A few nights Morgan slept in the pilot house so that he could assist me quicker when the winds picked up out of no where.  The last few days was pretty tiring, it felt like we did sail changes with every passing cloud, and they rolled through quickly.  Finally on Wednesday, exactly two weeks after we had departed we broke through the barrier of weather with a good 40 knot blow and driving rain.  Luckily we had rolled up both head sails and reefed the main significantly.  We saw the grey thickness approaching and the force in which it hit was impressive.  The rain stung our skin and we had to turn our backs against it to function. Nomadica heeled over and stood her ground.  And then just like that it was gone and conditions lifted.  At this point we were running parallel with the Island chain but 40 miles of shore from them.

Land was sighted just before lunch on Thursday.  In the distance the silhouette of the Island came into view.  The winds had dropped at this point and we were being headed so progress was slow.  It was a wonderful sight to see the grayness of the distant Island turn to colour.  The sun started to set behind us as we pushed the last few miles and the pinks and oranges lit up the sky a head.  As the last of the day faded we slowly made our way into the crowded anchorage.  The lights ashore started to light up the coast line and the smell of lush vegetation was a welcoming change.  After exactly 15 days and 12 hours here we were for the first time with Nomadica dropping anchor in the shallow waters of the Caribbean. 

We couldn’t have been more happier.  We keep grinning at one another in disbelief.  We did it, the hardest part is over.  Most of all we couldn’t be more please with Nomadica.  She performed brilliantly and proved to be strong and steady.  We kept saying she felt a live.  Who would have thought she had spent the last 12 years in a ship yard and 4 years ago prior to us buying her she was destined for the scrap yard. 

After a 2 hour motor trial and a 2 hour sail trial back in Charleston here we are having just completed a 2000 nautical mile maiden voyage.  Sitting in the cockpit gently rocking on anchor and looking up at the stars….this is what we have been dreaming of. 

Grenada couldn’t look any prettier.

 

A new beginning…….a new name.

Tonight we bid farewell to KATA BRAVA and ask that Neptune the god of the sea welcome into his Kingdom NOMADICA.

Nomadica

We ask the mighty and great ruler of the seas and oceans to keep her and all who sails upon her safe.

We ask the gods of the winds, Great Boreas (North Wind), Great Zephyrus (West Wind), Great Eurus (East Wind) and Great Notus (South Wind) to grant this worthy vessel NOMADICA the benefits and pleasures of your bounty. 

May there be fair winds and smooth seas.

Cheryl & Morgan

 

 

What is it like arriving in the USA – Our story.

Warning LONG POST a head.

The most common question’s we seem to be getting these days are how much longer are you here for and where are you going next? 

Well I thought it was time I answered these questions or at least tell our story.

In August of last year when we were in Madagascar we decided it was time to quit our job and come back to the USA to complete our project.  We were absolutely ecstatic to finally be making plans to do something for ourselves.  We couldn’t wait.

We had the vision that we would arrive, find a place on land to stay, work on the boat during the week and enjoy our weekends exploring this country.  Enjoying some land time whilst working towards getting our future home fit to live in.  It all sounded easy enough and I had hoped it would have been a fun relaxing time finally working at a slower pace towards our future.

How far from that dream has the last six months been.

I will start at the beginning cause it does require some understanding of what is like to get here. There is several different visa’s for visiting the USA.  With the exception of once on a 10 day holiday, we have always come here boating related. Even then in the marine categories there is various different visa’s. The both of us have always had B1/B2 American Visa’s. These visa’s are valid for 10 years and normally allows entry into the country for up to 6 months at a time.  You have to apply in advance for these visas, which is a fairly lengthy online process that can take 2-3 hours and it asks some of the strangers of questions.  I’m not sure if someone who had a plan to do some wrong doing here in the US would actually answer those questions honestly.  Hmmm well we have no intention of doing anything wrong here, we have a clean record and we have always been approved.  After the lengthy on line application process and after paying the approximate processing fee of $160 you have to make an appointment from the online schedule.  Then you go to your appointment and prove why you want to enter the country.  Just going to an American Embassy is a process in itself and really puts you on edge.  I’ve gone through this process four times to date, first in Belize, then in Singapore, last year in Capetown and most recently in France.

After getting married last year and getting a new passport to carry my new maiden name I needed to apply for a new American Visa.  This I did on arrival in Capetown in October of last year.  Under occupation I have always put ‘Yacht Cook/First Mate’. When at my interview last year in Capetown I was asked why I wanted a new B1/B2 visa. My reasons was because I work on boats and have my own boat in the USA to.  At the end of the interview I was told by the official that my visa was approved and I would be receiving a 5 year B1 visa within a few days. I questioned why just B1 and not the B1/B2 that I applied for and was told ‘they don’t issue those visa’s to people like myself anymore’. We all know not to argue with an American in authority so just assumed things had changed and this would all be OK.  After all American was in for big changes with the presidential election and new President announced. 

So fast forward to December when we arrived in the country.  We had just completed a circumnavigation, done a 10 day extensive crew handover and had packed up our lives from the last 3.5 years and arrived at busy Miami International Airport.  It was a few days before Christmas and our plan was to spend Christmas with my Uncle and Aunt in Florida before coming up to Charleston to start on our project.  As we approached the American Immigration line Morgan realized that in his haste he had packed his old passport containing his visa’s in his check in luggage.  Crap. Not a problem though as we had also gone through the online process to apply for a Visitors Esta Visa which allows up to 3 months stay over a 2 year period.  When the official asked what Visa’s we had we explained that Morgan had forgotten his B1/B2 visa in his old passport that had been checked in.  He said not a problem just use your Esta.  So I asked should I do the same as I had a Esta and a my new B1 visa.  So he said no use your B1 thats better.  Not thinking anymore of it we had arrived in the USA.

In February we had to go to Antigua for 10 days for Morgan to be part of the race crew on Louise.  He had committed to this for months before.  On arrival back into the country on the 25th February, things didn’t go as smoothly.  We arrived back at about 9pm in Charlotte North Carolina.  When we went through the initial immigration line the officer starting asked questions.  ‘You were here before for nearly two months, why are you back again’?  Then he took our passports and handed us a red card instead and sent us on our way.  With the red card in hand we soon got ushered of to the side and into another room where there was a Indian guy and a Mexican family.  Well secondary inspection isn’t a great deal of fun at all.  The Customs and Border Protection official was not very happy with us.  I remember his words like it was yesterday. He said ‘You two will need to explain yourselves. I will deal with you first (pointing at Morgan) and then you after (thats me).  They have such a way of talking it makes your knees start to go soft. We were both scared and trying to figure out what we had done wrong.  They were not happy that we had just left the country 10 days before and were trying to come back in again.  He proceeded to tell us that going to Antigua was not classed as ‘out of the country’.  All neighboring countries and Caribbean Islands were not classed as being away from the US and especially not considering the time frame we had been gone for.  Like seriously…….all these countries have their own governments, flags, money and even language, but hey you can’t tell an American official that when he’s on a roll. He kept repeating that even though we had gone to Antigua for 10 days this wasn’t classed as leaving the country for any significant time.  So then he wanted to know why Morgan had come into the country in December on a Esta, so we explained why, then he asked why I had come in on a B1 so I explained.  Then the big problem came to light. He explained that B1 is for Business or working in the US on a boat, had I been working here? Well on my own boat but not making money.  I told him that the officer told me in Miami to use that visa. They try to twist things around and said had we said we were working here and of cause we told them the truth which was no, why would we say that when Morgan had come in on a Esta.  Its amazing how intimidating this whole process is.  They kept asking the same questions over and over, ‘what were we doing here, how can we stay this long in the country without working and where were we getting the money from to support ourselves’.  Seriously, we’ve worked our butts of for the last 12 years, we don’t own the big American house, or have the fancy American car, or the crazy American loan and we unfortunately don’t have a family either. This is how we can afford to be here.  However how can you tell someone on a power trip this though, at this point you know not to speak unless you’re asked.  Apparently because I am here on my own boat working this was classed as pleasure and therefore I needed the B2 section of the visa.  So I again explained that I had just applied for a B1/B2 in the American Embassy in Capetown (I had all the paperwork to prove it) and was told they don’t issue those visa’s to people like me anymore (not sure what that actually meant).  Anyway the officer said that was ridiculous and that I would need the B2 to stay here for pleasure.  So thanks American Embassy in Capetown for screwing up on this.  By this point I was nearly in tears as we explained we were here fixing up our boat which was a project and we would need at least 6 months to get the work done.  We told them that no way would we get the work completed in three months and that we would have to leave the country again to come back.  We asked ‘what was considered out of the country and for what period’.  His answer was basically that we needed to go back to our country of residence or birth ie. the UK or France. However he wouldn’t answer how long we would have to go for.  After over a hour and the same questions being repeated he finally said ‘I could just send you packing however I will be lenient on you and let you in for 3 months only on the Esta.  Wow.  He said he could give Morgan 6 months stay on his B1/B2 visa but advised us to stay together, which we agreed on, so he got three months to.  At this point the officials were getting tired and even said its getting late its been a long day, yet they proceeded to ask why we had taken a one hour flight from North Carolina to South Carolina when we could have driven the 3 hour drive. Honestly you’re made to feel like you’re doing wrong no matter what.  Our passports were finally handed back to us and we had to make the dash to our connecting flight which at this point over a hour later was about to take of. 


So there we were totally deflated with just a three month stay in the country.  A lot of pressure to try and get things done in such a short time.  We always knew this project could take 6-8 months uninterrupted, and that was being optimistic. To now have this time pressure on us was not a lot of fun.  Morgan worked 7 days a week the entire time, literally putting in 12-14 hour days.  It was stressful and far from what I imagined our time here would be like.

By the end of March we could see how our progress was going and decided we needed to try to see if we could get a extension or something.  So we booked an appointment with US Immigration Services.  Although I had seen on line that there was no way to get an extension with a Esta, it was worth a try.  The official was very nice and explained that Morgan could possibly apply for an extension however the paper work could take months and months to process and she would advised against it. We told her about our experience with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and she basically said that its up to the individual we got at the time.  The lady told us that basically they won’t say what is the time frame we needed to leave the country for because there was no rules on this and that the officer we get determines how long we can stay or not.  She was very sympathetic to us however said at the end of the day the CBP officer has the power to make the decision he wants.  Wow can you believe this is how the system works.

During the month of April we often saw CBP officers near the yard going out to the ships. One day we decided to approach an officer and ask him what was considered out of the country and for how long. He didn’t understand why we had been given a hard time.  He confirmed that Antigua where we went was ‘out of the country’ and 10 days out of the country was fine. 

At the end of April we went to the CBP office at the Port to enquire about what we would require to do when we wanted to leave with KB.  We had a very nice lady CBP officer deal with us.  At the end of our conversation she asked what was our ‘Immigration status’ so we explained the situation to her and what had happened on arriving in the country back in February.  By this point we knew we would have to leave the country by the 25th May to then return.  So we asked where would we need to go and for how long would we need to go for to come back to the country without any problems.  She didn’t see why we had had any problems coming into the country however took our passport details and said she would enquire this to a CBP officer in the Immigration section.  The next day she called to confirm that we shouldn’t have a problem coming back into the country.  We didn’t need to go to France or the UK and could just go to the Bahamas for a week and that should be fine.  Again we would just need to prove to the official that checked us back into the country that we didn’t want to live here.  We made the decision to go to France to see family before our time expired.  Whilst there I also applied for a new B1/B2 visa at the American Embassy.  I explained my situation and presto was issued a new 10 year B1/B2 visa.  We felt confident at this point that this would make our lives much easier.

5 weeks ago on the 3rd June we arrived back from 2 weeks in France (Morgan’s country of Birth) and entered the country via Miami International Airport again.  We got asked the same questions at the immigration booth, ‘why are we coming back into the country, how long do we want to be here, how can we afford to be here’.  You are really made to feel that they don’t believe you and its intimidating process.  The CBP officer looked at my passport and new visa and stamped my passport for 6 months.  Phew a sign of relief, then he looked at Morgan’s and slipped a Orange card in his and told us to wait. Here we go again.  This time we got escorted through to another office and was made to wait with a bunch of other people of mix origin.  There’s a movie we saw years ago based on a group of people in a Secondary Inspection room. I forget what its called but its a horrible movie but its a true portrayal of what it can be like in secondary inspection.  You are treated like you have done something wrong. You are literally barked at.  Why they don’t realize they can get the same message across without shouting or being so authoritative is beyond me.  Based on our previous experience of nearly losing our flight, we had booked to have a 6 hour lay over in Miami. It was a good thing to as nearly two hours later Morgan was finally called up to the window for his interview. I went with him holding my passport but was told in such a way ‘to go sit over there’.   Therefore I don’t know exactly what was said but Morgan explained to the CBP official why we were here.  Apparently this official was not interested in anything Morgan had to say.  He told Morgan that he didn’t have to explain himself as he could see his records of being in the country.  We had all the paper work to back up why we were here, boat papers, letter from the yard, but he didn’t want to see any of it.  Instead he told Morgan that he had been in and out of the country too many times in the last 10 years.  Morgan explained that previously it was mainly because we worked on a US flagged vessel that we had been here and prior to December we hadn’t been in the country for 3.5 years.  Nope this young CBP officer had a attitude and was clearly on a power trip.   The only reason that this officer had for not allowing Morgan in for longer was because he had been in the country too many times in the last 10 years. Really.  Which is absolute bullshit as we have been traveling together for the last 13 years yet I got a six months stay granted.  Knowing I had already been approved in the country by the previous officer he then asked Morgan what was the minimum time he needed to finish the boat.  Morgan said two months hoping we would at least get three. Nope he was stamped in for just two months.  The officer also told him that should he try to leave the country again to come back his visa would be revoked.  Morgan asked him what was seen as a ‘reasonable time frame out of the country’ but again that question was ignored. On top of only stamping him in for two months he also wrote on his stamp ‘Limited Stay’ and stamped Morgan in on B1.  B1 means for business or work, even though we had explained we were here for what is considered ‘pleasure’ B2. So if an officer was to look at our passports now Morgan would be considered to be here working.  Seriously the system is completed screwed.

So there you have it, it would appear that going to our country of residence or birth being France had no pull in the matter. Basically that last CBP officer contradicted everything the previous officer in February had told us. According to the CBP officer we spoke to at the Port non of that is true anyway. There is no time frame needed out of the country or any preferred locations that we would need to go to to qualify being out of the country.  Its all just ridiculous.  The power is in the CBP officer’s hands, the first American contact you have when arriving in this country.  Its amazing to think that your life is in the hands of this one individual, and if they are having a bad day, going through a divorce or perhaps even racist then your day could probably end up bad to. Aren’t we human, isn’t this how it works. If you’re not happy everyone around you feels the vibe.  For weeks this whole ordeal has angered me as we are not doing anything wrong here.  We have tried to explain ourselves until we are blue in the face, all we are doing is spending our hard earn cash here and trying to get our boat ready to leave.  We have the paperwork and the boat to prove it.  We have no intentions of living in this country. I have always said entering the USA was not fun and you could think that perhaps arriving by plane to join a boat you get this experience. However back up to five years ago when we sailed into the USA on a US flagged vessel.  We arrived in early February (Winter) in Newport. It was a cold frosty morning with temperatures at minus degrees.  We were the only boat there as we arrived early to get a massive refit done.  When we saw the two officers coming down the dock, Morgan and Ronan our crew stepped onto the dock with one foot on the boat to pull the boat in for the officers. Immediately they were shouted at to get back on the boat.  So honestly in our experience I don’t know if there is a difference.

We can say we have officially sailed around the world, and have dealt with corruption, bribery and cultural difference.  The United States of American for both of us takes the prize for the worse treatment.  This whole experience has left a horrible taste in our mouths.  Our plan was to return next year to do the North West Passage.  Honestly I don’t know if I want to come back to this country again. 

So the bottom line is we have to be out of here by the 3rd of August.  We still don’t know exactly where we are going yet.  North or South. Although North would be out of the hurricane season, South might be easier on us.  So for now we are leaning in that direction.  Right now we are thinking Belize.  We are not ready to leave, the boat isn’t ready to leave, we still have a ton of things to do, but what choice do we have.  We have to leave and this time we are taking our boat with us. 

So the next few weeks we are going to have our heads down to try and do as much as we can to make the boat safe for our departure.  For those that follow us I will give you an update in a few weeks.   

Thats our story.  Welcome to the USA.

Week 20. – Phase 2. – A big week.

This week has been a massive week.   We can finally see the light, although the tunnel is still long. 

Monday was our big day and our big girl got launched.  We are still on a high from the fact that she is actually in the water.  Not a day has gone by where one of us have said ‘can you believe it, she’s in the water’.  We had been talking about this day and dreaming about it, and perhaps having a few nightmares about it for the last four and a half years.  To see and feel her bob around to the motion of the ocean is just fantastic. 

Monday we also started the process of moving out of our rented apartment, so late afternoon we went back to the apartment and bought a car load of stuff back.  Then I found myself spending the rest of the evening and following morning packing away and organizing things. 

This was basically the pattern the entire week.  In the afternoons we would drive to the apartment, get a car load of stuff and then come back and pack it away. 

Morgan spent the first two days tinkering around with the engine and generator.  Fine tuning as one may call it.  He also started to bring some of his stuff from the container in the yard back to the boat. 

Wednesday morning we got a email from the supplier of the engine and Cummins representative that they would be coming by around mid day to do the engine trials.  There was lots to do to prepare for our first motor trial, so we got the tender pumped up and engine on, just in case we needed it.  For this to happen I also had to install the two of the 5 winches back on the mast to enable us to launch and lift the tender.  Everything in the interior had to be secured or stowed away.  At 12:30 the representative Ed arrived and started his checks.  Its amazing how much they actually have to check and the amount of information he had to supply.  He literally had a whole book full that he needed to full out.  I guess this is all required for the two year warranty. Once he was happy with everything we fired the engine up and prepped to leave the dock.  On such short notice we wanted a extra pair of hands to help us, so a friend lent us one of his workers for the afternoon.  Not knowing how the boat would respond in gear or once moving we were both a little apprehensive.  However she did amazing. 

Getting of the dock was a piece of cake and she responded well.  We motored down the channel at various speeds so that Ed could check the engine, RPM output, temperature and various other things.  The maximum speed down the channel topped at nearly 10 knots.  Happy with everything we came back to the dock a few hours later.  Ed was impressed with the entire installation and we got the green light for the engine.  Yay another weight of our shoulders, especially Morgan’s of cause. 

With the engine box ticked of Morgan could finally move on to other jobs that needed doing.  Since Monday we have been living aboard.  Its not all fun and games as half of the boat is still gutted and we still don’t have running water, electricity or a toilet yet.  Luckily the yard has supplied all of this on the dock and a toilet and shower is just a few hundred meters away.   Since Tuesday we have been eating on board as well. Just like that our stove worked perfectly.  I haven’t used gas in over 4 years and I’m just amazed at the heat our stove gives of. 

IMG_7648

Lighting the stove for the first time. 

Friday we officially moved out of our flat that we had rented for the last 6 months. It was a bittersweet moment.  Being between the boat and the flat all week was tiring and we were happy that the move was finally over.  However I wished I had enjoyed the flat more or the apartment complex facilities more, but I guess that wasn’t to be.   

Other jobs started or completed this week :-

With cooking on board Morgan made a support for the gas cylinders outside.   Originally there was a designated locker in the stern compartment for these, but right now we will make do with the both gas tanks being harnessed to the push pit. 

IMG_7707

Making a support for the gas cylinders.

He also made a support for the tender engine.  Both of these are made out of wood for now.  Once we get a spare moment we will also get these painted white.

IMG_7713

Tender engine support.

The Jon Bouy and Life Sling was mounted on the port stern quarter. 

The silent wind generator was assembled and dry fitted.  We still need wiring for this but right now its another box out of the container and another item on the boat.

The Glacier Bay fridge and freezer compressor was assembled and dry fitted into place.  This was quite a task as I had originally dismantled it, cleaned it and then resprayed the parts.  So there was Morgan left with a box of parts to put back together again.  Fingers cross this will work.  We had intended to redo the entire refrigeration system, however we recently learnt that this was a new system installed prior to the boat being put on the hard, so we’re hoping it works with a little persuasion. 

So lots have happened this week.  We still have a ton of work to do to make it comfortable. Our days are long being on board and starts before sun rise and ends when we stumble into bed at night.  However unfinished things are its still nice to be in our home.

Have a good week.

Cheryl

A day worthy of its own post …… Launch day.

Yep thats right, Kata Brava is in the water.  You’re probably thinking we kept that quiet, although anyone who knows boats would have guessed that we were close from last weeks post.  We set this date to launch two weeks ago.  Last week I was still second guessing whether we were ready or not.  But as Morgan constantly tells me, we will never be fully ready and the fact is we need to get her in the water to get all her systems checked.  Plus once living on board we might actually progress more to.

To say the last few days have been stressful would be an understatement, I have woken up every night for the last week at 2am and find my mind racing until nearly 5am. 

We bought Kata Brava whilst she was sitting on the hard four and a half years ago, and as far as we understood she had been on the hard for 6-7 years prior to that.  So that comes to approximately 11-12 years out of the water.  She’s an impressive sight on land so to be honest I struggled to imagine what she would look like in the water.  We have just one copy of an old article on her to go by.   I kept saying to Morgan ‘Will she float’ 🙂 .

Our anxiety about the launch meant we couldn’t say anything in fear of jinxing things.  What didn’t help either was that a month ago whilst we were in France the sea wall along where the travel lift pit is collapsed. This meant that boats are being hauled and launched via crane and then travel lifted the 200 meters or so round to the yard.  This all sounds reasonable until you have a boat like Kata Brava.  A heavy steel boat that is too heavy for the resident crane.  So a bigger crane had to be hired for the job and Friday we got notified that our launch would cost over four times more than what it would if we had been launched via the travel lift.  This made us both pretty pissed of and angry to say the least.  We don’t see it as being fair, but what can we say……our backs are up against the wall. We needed to get in the water and start thinking about getting out of this country.

So this morning at 8 am the 200 ton (imperial) crane arrived along with his truck full of weights to act as counter weights.  KB was prepped for the ride from the yard to the new launch area and then it started.  It was quite a process to get the whole operation set up.  Fortunately everyone seemed to know what they were doing and everything went smoothy.  On transferring her from the travel lift to the crane slings we got a accurate weight reading of 55 000 Ib’s which is approximately 25 tons for us Europeans.  Everything happened pretty fast from there and at 10:35 she touched the water.  What a wonderful sight and a wonderful feeling.  We checked and still continue to check her, seacocks, transducer, shaft and rudder stem are all dry.  YAY we have a floating boat.

To top it all of this evening Morgan wanted to connect the batteries for both the engine and generator and start them both up.  The generator had to be kicked over 2 times before it roared into life.  All systems checked…..all systems go. Next it was the engine and of cause first turn of the key and she came to life to.  Once again all systems checked and all systems go.   Its been a good day on the water and tonight we spend our first night aboard our home.

Cheryl & Morgan

Week 19. – Phase 2. – Frustratingly slow…..but slowly progressing.

Summer is officially here in Charleston.  We knew it was going to be hot and humid but I don’t think we realised it would be this bad.  Its horrible.  With the intense heat comes the nearly daily thunder storms.  We are so glad we got the painting out of the way when we did.  We did it thinking of the heat but didn’t realised it would be so wet also. 

Just when you think we should be building momentum it feels like we are slowing down.  Not because we really are, but because things are taking longer and most of this week I have found myself stuck without ‘constructive’ jobs to do.  I so want to start rebuilding the interior, the two heads, the aft cabin and the pilot house, but its not like I am a carpenter or master of anything crafty.  In fact I can’t even carry any of the wood or tools up the ladder, which in my defence is 4-5 meters high.  Morgan has been going non stop and I often feel like I will slow him down if I keep asking for help in the jobs, so for now they are pushed to the side.  He promises we will get some things done within the next few weeks.

So this week we have spent nearly every other morning running errands or getting the last of the supplies needed.  Coming to the end of the ‘BIG’ spending now means that Morgan often has to rush of to get another clamp or a tool that we need to make the job easier. A small stop on route to the yard means we often get there a hour or two later than we had anticipated.  The traffic here is crazy, especially in the morning and if there is one thing we have both realised in living here for the last 6 months, it is that we would never want to live this ‘rat race’ kinda life. 

So Monday with a quick stop of at West Marine to pick up our Port Supply Order we finally got the majority of the lifelines and terminals in.  We got all four of the top life lines measured of and cut and then I spent a fair few hours crimping the terminals on the lines with the hand held crimper.  We were missing a few terminals so I had to finish the rest of at the end of the week once the remainder of our order arrived, but now all the lifelines have been changed out and is looking good.

Whilst I busy myself with this Morgan installed the water pump and heat exchanger back on the generator.  So now the generator is all ready to go, lets keep our fingers cross that it will start up.

We also got the Pedestal top and navigational light mounts installed in place.  So this is now another job coming to close.  By the end of the week we got the compass block temporarily dry fitted and its all looking good.  The compass did get shipped to Germany. Hopefully we will receive it back in a week or two.

Tuesday our day started of with a survey from True South Marine.  We have been looking at various insurance options and everyone wanted to get a survey report before making any final quotes, so we had to get this done earlier than we had hoped.  However at the end of the week when we got our Survey Report back we were happy that we got it done.  Jeff Kibler the surveyor did a great job.  Fingers cross we can get some more solid answers now.  We are still waiting on our Registration Certificate from St Helena, I believe they are waiting on the Certificate template from the MCA, so everyone is waiting on someone which makes it s a bit of a slow process in itself.

The afternoon before we had finally humped the life raft up the ladder and on deck.  Not easy weighing 48 Kg and just the two of us.  However Morgan needed to make 4 steel supports for the life raft bracket.  So after measuring and cutting 4 pieces of steel the life raft was installed in place.  Previously there was 2 x 6 man life rafts on deck however these had been last serviced in 2002, 15 years ago so definitely wouldn’t be any good right now.  We had enquired about getting them serviced but was told that nearly everything would need to be replaced after all this time which in the long run would probably be more expensive than getting a new one.  A life raft should be serviced anything from annually, to every 3-5 years.  Luckily the Viking 8 man life raft that we have will only require servicing every 3 years. 

Morgan started looking at the battery installation.  Previously the house battery bank was split into two, with an additional two battery bank for the engine and a two battery bank for the windless.  These all consisted of various different batteries.  Now that we only have one main battery bank and an a two battery bank for the engine and a two battery bank for the windless Morgan wanted to wire things differently. 

Wednesday our morning started of running around looking for a battery cable crimper.  We literally tried everywhere and finally found a place that would rent out a crimper.  With only being able to rent Morgan went back and got himself organised with what size lugs he would need for the different cables. 

Whilst Morgan did that I continued to organized the interior and put non slip linings in all of the cupboards and draws.

We also pulled out the oven to check the propane gas line.  Whilst the whole stove unit was out I got the area behind cleaned up.  Four years ago when we were doing the welding jobs on the hull, one of the areas that needed welding was directly behind the stove.  So we had to remove the stainless steel plate and cut out the wood lining of the bulk head to access the area.   Now that this was all done, insulation was put back in the open space and everything was secured back into place.  This weekend Morgan connected the gas line inside.  We filled up our two propane gas tanks last week.  Originally there was a gas locker inside the stern steering compartment, however for now we will secure the tanks outside.

Thursday we actually took a day of and drove two hours away to meet up with Jon and Nicki in Savannah.  In February when they were here in the US they came to visit us and we had promised to go and see them.  It was a great day away and so nice to have the break and to catch up with friends.  I think we all talked non stop for 8 hours.  It was good to see where they were settling down on land for the next few months and to see a little of Savannah. 

Friday our day started of on the wrong foot.  We will reveal more later.  However the travel lift was there waiting for us and once the back stays was released they lifted KB in the slings about two feet so that we could access under the keel.  Morgan spent a few hours chipping away and grinding at the rust spots.  We also lightly sanded the spots where the chuck supports were.  Once these areas were all cleaned I gave the first coat of primer.  That afternoon Morgan applied the second coat to these areas.

In between drying times I continued the life line crimping whilst Morgan started on the battery lug crimping.  We did the same thing on Saturday.  Unbelievable how much time it all takes.  He didn’t count them but Morgan estimates that he crimped between 30-40 battery cable ends.  

Over the weekend several coats of antifouling was applied to the spots where the chuck supports were and under the keel. 

It hasn’t stopped in the yard, the last few nights Morgan’s been preparing our fender and dock lines.

IMG_7578

Preparing the dock lines. 

I also purchased a spot cleaner to get the upholstery cleaned this weekend.  However I only got the master cabin bed done before the little machine started spitting out water from everywhere.  So in the end the rest of the saloon upholstery was done mainly by hand.

Morgan installed the Fire Boy Extinguisher in the Engine room and went over his engine installation and also through the battery bank installation.  Everything is ready to go and will be connected this coming week.  Wish us luck.

IMG_7611

Fire Boy Extinguisher installed.

Fingers cross for a productive week a head.

Cheryl

Week 18. – Phase 2. – Slowly slowly.

Slowly slowly things are coming together.  As each day passers we wonder where the time has gone. 

We’ve concentrated our efforts this week in a few specific areas.

At the beginning of the week we took the big step of applying our anti-fouling.  So once again a new look for Kata Brava.  I’ve been dreaming about applying this black antifouling for weeks now.  The first coat was tough but the following two coats applied much easier.  So three coats in total, each taking the two of us two hours to apply.  Morgan worked on the flat surfaces whilst I did the joins, the T bracket which in our case is more like a V bracket and the rudder and skeg. 

 

So this is the perfect time to reflect on what we have done these past few months.

 

Once the antifouling was completed I started the process of lightly sanding, priming and then antifouling the prop and shaft.  Every few days another coat was applied until we finished the little tin of paint. Hopefully this will stop any growth for a while.

 

In the final prep of the below water areas Morgan got the anodes installed.  Being a steel boat we calculated the amount of zinc needed to last us for several years. This equated to 9 anodes on the boat it self and 2 on the shaft.  Of cause they needed a little modifying to install on our existing bolts, which again took quite a bit of time. 

IMG_7506

Anodes installed.

Morgan finished of the last of the engine plumbing. This is pretty much completed now so he will move onto the electrical requirements in there from this week. 

He also took apart the generator and got the injectors sent of for testing.  The heat exchanger had quite a bit of build up, so this had to get a full clean along with various other parts.  The raw water pump was taken apart and cleaned also.  When we got the injectors back at the end of the week we also got a can of Westabeake red paint so we could get the parts sprayed and looking in top shape again.  All new hoses were also installed. Hopefully this little red beast will work a charm.

 

He also worked on the fuel system this week getting the fuel day tank filled up.

We’ve both worked on the pedestal area.  We got the remainder of the existing holes closed up.  After several attempts of applying a final coat of paint to the marine ply this piece is now in place.  We had hoped to finish this project early in the week, but its been a little windy and dusty and our freshly painted parts kept attracting the dust. Its looking good though.  We just need some more sika to finish the trim and then this will be done.  The compass block is also coming along after several coats of epoxy resin and a light sand in between.

 

I know we mention dust a lot, but we are probably in one of the dustiest areas and with the ‘sand like’ pile in front of us there are days when its really quite bad for painting.  So this has been going on for two months already and this is where they are right now.

IMG_7511

Lots of dusty activity right in front of us.

Unfortunately the compass that was sitting on the pedestal is in a sorry state. After we took it apart the half gimbal literally shattered into pieces.  After lots of emails back and forth to Carssen & Plath the manufactures we’re thinking of getting it shipped to Germany for the installation of the new parts. I didn’t realize a compass would be so complicated.  Its such a shame we didn’t realize this earlier as we could have taken it ourselves when we went to France. 

Morgan finalized the main battery support this week, adding a additional steel strap across the top of the bank to limit movement with pieces of wood between each battery to allow adequate ventilation.  He also worked on the area in the bow where the two batteries needed to be installed for the anchor windless.  There was a battery support already there, however the new batteries we have are a lot slimmer than the older batteries so he had to modify the support to hold the batteries snugly in place.  Whilst in there he got the rest of the storage area closed up and supported better.

 

We also spent a fair amount of time this week running errands.  We got a a good majority of our safety equipment in which included a Jon Bouy, Life sling, Epirb and Life raft.  We also received our Fire Boy Extinguisher for the engine room, this along with our existing two fire extinguishers on board was sent for servicing.  Staying with safety we also got our existing life lines measured.  The currently life lines have been on board since day one so we figured it would be time for a change.

 

IMG_7519

3 Fire extinguishes all serviced.

Morgan also did some work on the steering this week, connecting news cables and installing the sheaves for the cables. He also had to make a step key to hold the quadrant on to the rudder shaft as the original key had worn out and in turn wore the rudder shaft. 

IMG_7534

Steering quadrant.

Along with all of this and assisting Morgan where possible I gave the entire interior of KB a good and thorough clean this week.  Every cupboard, draw, and bilge was vacuumed and wiped out.  We still have lots of work to do in the interior, but with a good clean she looks a whole lot better.

IMG_7531

Hopefully this week we will get our provisional registration documents.  We’re also narrowing down our insurance options.  I didn’t realize this process would be so complicated either.  With hurricane season officially on us, we want to make the right decision. 

Cheryl