Sunday, April 25, 2010

Key West destination Galveston aboard Kipeki

I was invited by Nick to help him move his Swan 46 from Key West to Galveston TX a distance across the Gulf of Mexico of about 7500 nautical miles.  
The chronicle:

Day 1:
We bought fuel and departed Key West channel under overcast skies and 5 to 10 knot winds.  After several hours we discovered that the bilge pump was on but not running.  Nick and I cleaned the filters, gave the pump a sharp rap and it was all good.  We also tightened the cutlass bearing to slow the drip.

Day 2:
After motoring most of the night in very light winds we arrived at the dock at Ft Jefferson Park in the Dry Tortugas and tied up.  We took a quick tour of the fort.  Nate and Mike went to the gift shop and fell in love with the young lady clerk.  She apparently lives on the key for about 22 days at a time and was quite lonely.  However, duty called and we departed the Dry Tortugas for Galveston before she got off work for the day.  About 5 miles out a water hose let loose so we had another fire drill until we found the leak and repaired it.  By this time the wind had completely died.  Nate and Mike jumped overboard and cleaned the bottom.  Then we motor sailed into the sunset.

Days 3 – 5
They start to blur.  Somewhere along the next day we started the engine to charge the batteries and found that we were not getting any water out of the wet exhaust.  After a bit of research we decided that the external sea water pump was failing.  Since the approach to Galveston requires navigating a 30ish mile long safety fairway through the oil wells we decided that the prudent thing to do was to turn around even though we had made about 300 miles toward our destination.  Of course at this point the wind once again refused to cooperate blowing directly at us from Key West.  In addition we were feeling the effects of the Yucatan Current which was setting us strongly to the south east given that our boat speed was only 1 to 2 knots.  We considered our options:  continue to Galveston; go with the flow to Mexico, or take a long tack to Cuba, pick up the Gulf Stream, and tack back to Key West.  We decided that option three was the most prudent and off we went.  Each tack was about 24 hours.  We got about 20 miles from Havana, close enough to see the glow of the workers paradise from the shore, and then tacked back to Key West.  Since the wind was from the East and the Gulf Stream from the West the wave action really picked up, as did the wind.  Before we knew it we were close hauled into 25 knots relative with short period 5 – 7 foot waves.  What a beautiful sailboat is the Swan.  It shrugged it all off, cut through the waves like they were not there, and gave us a beautiful sailing experience.  Of course 4 miles from Key West we took one wave that was about 2 feet above the deck – it drenched us all.  But the day was sunny and warm and we were almost home after 5 days at sea.
In the meantime Nate had jury rigged an old bilge pump to replace the salt water pump and we came up the Boca Chica channel with good water coming out of the exhaust.  It was a really cool solution – pictures attached.
We tied up at the service dock and adjourned to the bar.  I lasted about 2 pitchers and one hour before crashing for a 10 hour nap.
Day 6
We moved Kipeki from the service dock to a slip so that we could start on repairs.  About half way across the marina the exhaust water stopped flowing again even though the bilge pump was pumping away.  But we got her put away safely and will start the debugging process tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Roger,
    The " Full Set " looks good on you.....Sue says " Almost Dignified "
    Bad luck with the boat problems on the trip, it's a good job it wasn't really 7,500 miles!
    But handled successfully and now time to fix.
    Beware of tropical things that grow in the water inlet pipes !!
    And...... Where was your spare water impeller ??

    I will have to mail you " Total Loss " ......after I've read it again !

    Nigel & Sue