The cure for anything is salt water:

Sweat, Tears, or the Sea

Karen Blixen

For Dragonfly you’ve got to add luck.



For those of you who’ve been wondering how it’s been going on Dragonfly since the last repair log and report, let’s just say there’s been normal cruising-boat mechanical problems.  Nuts and bolts do fall off a boat and that’s why we use cotter pins, lock rings, seizing wire, double bolting and ny-lok nuts.  We’ve been fortunate enough to see, find and hear quite a number of those little items when they hit the deck or make those unusual sounds. Gives the crew an audible or visual reminder to keep looking for the harpoons that Neptune is throwing at all sailors.

Jill is particularly adept at sounds, especially those that are out of the ordinary from the normal squeaks, rumbles and chatters of Dragonfly.  She’s always the first to know when the autopilot has kicked out, or when the invertor isn’t charging correctly.  We all heard when the starboard drive train sounded like an agricultural combine running thru a neighbor’s laundry line of drying Indian rugs.  The flogging banging thumps reverberated thru both the 65-foot hulls when I put Dragonfly in gear when pulling back the starboard engine while Al, in the water at the anchor, watched to see it set further.  Much louder than when we hit the second of two crab pot lines backing to anchor near where Polecat was spawned in the Keys.

As always with every lemoney sticket that Dragonfly suffers, the charms keep falling on her as well.  Several sailors have already guessed correctly that the coupler and shaft came loose from the transmission coupler and were swinging around on the sole of the engine room.  The lucky charm Dragonfly gets to add to her weighty collection was that not a single bolt was lost or suffered thread damage.  It was only a 45-minute fix, time mostly spent getting access to the errant bolts.

Most of the other “sounds” telegraphing needed repair attention have been far less noisy, like the tang plate corner that thoughtfully hit the windscreen before sliding on to the cabin top.  However, as many of us can report, one of the loudest sounds is when a wind generator blade or even the generator itself hits the deck. It’s always much more fearful-sounding than it is, and in Dragonfly’s case the port wind generator’s blade flew loose at least a minute after Al had finished closing the hatch of the engine room just below the retiring blade.  Why is it that blades always fly down and not off into the sea?  Another charm for Dragonfly, or two charms because Al had a spare set of blades ready to install.  (Note for wind generator owners: It appears that non-stainless bolts will rust, expand and crack the plastic out from their holes, allowing the blades to “disengage.”)

And since I’m trying to recall mostly from the last several weeks, we found a main sheet block nut on the cockpit arch, that the inner jib clew shackle lost it’s pin, and Al discovered that the compression beam seats at the aft point on the beam needed larger pads as they were cutting into the fiberglass of the main bridgedeck beam.  There’ve also  been a few more electrical quandaries but none as significant as the “great electrical panel re-work.”

About Dragonfly

For those who’ve not seen Dragonfly I thought I’d post a few photos of her interior so you can see for yourself that she’s as big as our condo.  The Kurt Hughes designed 60’ by 32’ catamaran is so commodious with it’s various spaces that using the land based term “great room” most aptly applies to the bridge deck salon or saloon as the British and French call it.  The Galley is large enough for standard appliances and has almost 20’ of countertop.  The Nav Station is they same dimension as the Galley just not as deep and provides 14’ of counter with office, mechanical and small tool storage beneath.




A couple could do yoga on the floor in the open space between the companionway door and the 8 person booth for dining (or three person sleeping while underway – in fact it’s probably possible to sleep 4 in the salon alone).







There are four queens-sized berths, two on each side of the catamaran along with 3 separate heads with showers.  The two forward cabins have two additional stacked single berths.  As you can see from the photos each cabin has a sink with ample counter space.


Last couple of days have been pretty successful fishing days.  On the banks just south of Duncan Town we finally found an underwater rock structure conducive to some of the fish we’d been hunting.  Only trouble was there weren’t any Hog fish or Snapper.  But there were dozens of lobster in almost every hole that structure had.  That doesn’t mean we were able to take all of them but nine traveled back to Dragonfly in the dinghy with us.  And we did manage to see a smaller Nassau Grouper who’d been watching the foray with the crayfish.  Seems like it should have been quick work to pluck a few out of those holes but we must have spent over an hour diving down craning our necks and spears round rocks to where we could pick one off.

On the way out past the Columbus Banks south in the deep channel off the southern Bahamas toward the Turks and Caicos we ran across a school of aggressive Mahi who hit two of the four lures we had behind Dragonfly.  As it was they hit the two on the port swim platform so we had to deal with two jumping and flopping 36” fish at the same time.  The smaller of the two wouldn’t allow any reeling in until I got seated and he dove and fought for at least five minutes and then only reluctantly, slowly came toward the boat.  Al had already landed his and was starting to filet it by the time I pulled the second up on the platform.

Cleaning fish isn’t always a fun task but with Mahi it’s compensated with not just the just reward of a delicious meal (or in this case meals) but Mahi’s themselves are so iridescently beautiful; watching the vibrant yellows and greens slowly turn to greens and deep blues is amazing in itself.  At 8 knots it’s challenging to filet on the swim platform where Al does his chores, I moved the operation up a few steps when I took over.

The third one was hooked shortly after the first two were fileted and in the Galley for trimming.  All in all we scored a full 9×13” pan of double stacked Mahi steaks, which I failed to photo before Jill had them vacuum bagged for the freezer.  We still had London Broil and scalloped potatoes left over from the night before to finish off before getting back to a fish menu.  If you’re paying attention we probably have about three meals each of lobster and Mahi frozen away for less fruitful anchorages.



We’ve been slowly working our way down the Jumentos chain of islands in the Southern Bahamas, with short 3 to 4-hour hops.  Almost all these islands and anchorages are totally uninhabited due to their remoteness, lack of vegetation and water, and primarily exposure.  They are only in the 10’s of feet high, some with nary a bush.

This whole region of the Bahamas is very shallow with the average depth somewhere less than 20 feet so the water is very clear and turquoise when the bottom is sand.  We’ve spent most afternoons fishing for edible fish.  Al’s has been the most successful with hog fish, lion fish, lobster and conch.  Joe “caught” , cleaned and prepared 9 conch for dinner the first night.  The photo with Al’s handful of Lobster was a gift from the departing fishermen in the background.

We did get an invitation from a Conch fisherman from Spanish Wells to come watch him and his son clean conch on his boat.  This guy is well known on the Chris Parker weather net so we accepted the invite and were amazed at his operation.  They pick and clean about 600 conch a day, all by hand.  They encouraged us to take photos, so I shot a little video to show how fast they extract the meat and then skin the conch for packaging.

DejaVu has committed to coming with us so we’ve been sharing meals and camaraderie with them this entire time.  Joe’s boat is very competitive with Dragonfly, often besting her in some of the legs.  As in most passages the winds are very close to the nose, but these captains do quite well close hauled.

We’ve still managed lots of boat projects.  Jill has been purging all the lockers and Al’s been trashing “some” of the treasures.  We’ve even be caught on camera reading the manuel to “tune” Dragonfly’s TriMetric digital Amp Meter.

Our last stop in the Bahamas is at Hog Cay in the Raggeds.  TheNext cay has the only settlement in the area and the town boasts a cell tower, power generation and water desalination.  Evidently Bahamain law requires any settlement greater than 50 must be provided these amenities so Duncan Town population 65 has all this and a school of 15.

Fortunately our BaTelCo SIM card is still working and we can just barely receive and send email from my iPad.  My hopes for this Blog are slim, we’ll see.  Especially for photos.

Anchored still – Georgetown

We’ve been taking advantage of the adverse winds on our course further south, by laying over in Georgetown and doing projects on Dragonfly.  The shake-down, mentioned earlier, continues and a number of things have demanded attention over the normal chores and remaining projects.  But Al has managed to finish installing a second set of shrouds to a point about 60’ up the mast.  BTW Dragonfly’s mast stands 81’ above the water and he looks like a dwarf from the deck when he’s at the top of the mast.

One advantage we have here in Georgetown is that we’ve purchased a BaTelCo SIM card for the iPad like we did last winter in Thailand.  Price was exactly the same at $15 for the card and $30 a month for unlimited 3G access (pity we can’t get that in the States).  I also learned that the latest iOS allows for tethering (creating a local hotspot from one device so others can access the internet), so we are all able to get online from the boat.

That being said, in theory technically it works super, in practicality it bogs down and even goes down at certain times of the day.  Downloads are the biggest slowdown, but web sites, email (without attachments), and text messages work great.  McKenney has tried numerous times to Skype and Facetime but the system can’t handle voice let alone video.

As we move down the chain of islands that comprise the Bahamas we may have continued internet access but nothing is guaranteed.  We’re taking photos daily but getting them uploaded seems to take too much time, so we won’t be including as many from these locales.

Joe has gotten all his projects done and is ready to go.  Both Dragonfly and DejaVu have a complete new suit of battens, giving their sails a fresh look and hopefully more drive.

Regarding the instrument panel fire:  we are slowly working our way thru the entire board, checking each connection, replacing connectors, running down wires and organizing, trying to determine the cause of the glowing ground.

Looking at our Condo webcam the Animas River appears to be super low and not a hint of winter weather.

To Georgetown

The fire was extinguished with one new ABC extinguisher which fortunately only leaves a white powdery residue once the fire is instantly extinguished. Now tracing the cause is another story.
Leaving Northwest Channel Cut after an almost flat sea day, we turned south into the Tongue of the Ocean for a second overnight down past the south side of Nassau to the Exumas. Easy night, especially with the full moon for Stanna’s and my midnight to 2AM watch. One navigational addition on Dragonfly, and new to us, is AIS (Automated Identification System) where all commercial ships must use a transponder with Name, Bearing, and Speed sent on a VHF frequency that radios with that receiver can read. Really great for freighters whose well-lit decks mask out the red and green running lights, where you often can’t tell if they are coming or going.

We arrived at an anchorage just north of Staniel Cay called Big Major Spot just before noon. We knocked off a few more chores and had an early dinner, a round of Kings in the Corners (a card game new to me, which demonstrated my lack of experience with Solitaire, following simple procedural rules and bad luck – I out-scored everyone in a game where the lowest points wins).

Chris Parker’s morning weather net foretold of rough seas and high winds for the next five days for anyone leaving later than that morning, so we battened down Dragonfly and bashed our way thru the cut and into 8 to 10 foot seas with occasional 13 ft’ers (we know cuz the captain says when the horizon is blocked when he’s at the helm the wave is greater than 13′). What was best about this leg, was that during the daytime we could see exactly where all the salt water was coming thru into the salon, cabins and shower. Actually we knew about the shower as the solar vent on the port deck slid down toward the helm and Joe snatched it. This photo show Al screwing it back down in heavy seas.

We made the northern Georgetown cut by mid-afternoon so Joe and Helen had time to go check out Deja Vu before dinner time. For those who hadn’t heard, a tropical storm named Sandy hit Cuba first then passed over Georgetown at a reported 112 MPH before heading north to mess with New England. They’d heard via email that Deja Vu was fine but until you see her for yourself there is still a tad bit of doubt. She sat high and bright in her hurricane hole when we dinghy’ed in to her. From looking at the outside she looked like someone had just painted or waxed her. And because the crew had left her super clean inside she looked like they left her yesterday. They “love” the Kevalli Marina and hurricane hole now and see that as her berthing for next several years, if they don’t need to go back to Florida Dredge and Dock in Tarpon.

As you can see from the photos we rafted the two cats while we transferred all the booty scored in Florida. Amazing how much smaller a 45‘ cat is next to a 64‘ cat. BTW Paradox was just as diminutive when rafted to Deja Vu.

Keys to Bahamas

We arrived in Key West about 10:30 at night and thanks to a previous track in the navigation system were able to find our way to a place Dragonfly has safely anchored in the past, just north of the crowded cruiser and liveaboard anchorage.

Jill surprised us in the morning announcing it was a Dragonfly tradition to have Egg McMuffins following an overnight passage into a calm anchorage. Quite a Welcome treat.

Shopping in Key West was limited to marine parts stores and the hardware store. We came back to town after lunch, but this time just to the fuel dock, where we put on the 18 gallons of diesel we’d used coming south from Tarpon and topped off the water tanks. Joe realized that his discounted Port Supply anchor he’d purchased in Tarpon was $70 cheaper at the local Key West marine store, so he hoofed it down the fuel dock with his new 40# to West Marine, returned the more expensive anchor, took the refund, and bought a larger 50 pound Delta for less than the price of the 40-lb he’d originally purchased.

We’ve easily managed an hour a day on our boat chores. In fact some days we’ve  done a fortnight’s worth. But one needs to remember we are still in shake-down mode, from laying up in the yard for five months, and there are countless systems to check out that can’t be done on the hard.

Here’s a list of a few things we did in the first days:

Al was up the up mast a couple of times, but not while we were underway.
Windlass repair
Fuel filter on starboard engine
Flash the generator
Reworked main electrical on panel
Reef line on main
Traced wires
Added carb cleaner to Yamaha

Only one nut fallen to the deck

Oh and one night at anchor Stanna was cleaning up the dinner dishes, going down the transom steps in the dark, missed the last step and tumbled pot, spoon and all into the water. Nothing was hurt, the pot was held onto (and rinsed clean), but the spoon was lost. (Al rescued the spoon the next morning in the daylight.)  Once we helped her back on the swim deck she shook like a dog and only then realized her iTouch was in her pocket. Bummer.

That afternoon we motored up the chain of Keys to shorten the distance to our departure point if a weather window presented itself. We called Don Pole just before we dropped anchor just outside of his previous home port of New Found Harbour. Holding wasn’t good on the first drop and as we kept backing down we caught not one but two crab pots. One came loose easily but the port prop wound a deep snarl that Al couldn’t slice thru in the waning daylight and dive light illumination. Plus it was pretty damn cold to judge from the shivers he had out of the water.  Next morning at first light Al was back in the water and spent 20 minutes more sawing thru the polypropylene line with a serrated knife.

Tuesday we motored (wind on the nose) all day to Alligator Reef where we decided to stage our late evening departure across the Gulf Sream. GRIB forecast said we’d have the least wind and favorable conditions for about 75% of the distance before a more northerly wind shift and high velocity.

Our watches have been favorable because we got to sleep much of the way across and only had about 90 minutes to South Riding Rock when we came back on. Just as we could see the marker for the cut onto the Banks the wind rose up as expected, but midway across the 54-mile stretch winds died down again and we had to motor all the way to Northwest Channel Cut.

Without crab pots to deal with while on watch we had Quesadeas for dinner. Most of us were in our bunks about 8 pm when Jill, who was in the salon waiting out the last of a battery charge from the generator, smelt smoke and discovered a  fire on a 4′ #10 glowing bright orange ground supply cable in the nav panels.