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Quick Haul Out Checklist

Hauling out SV Winterlude from www.CommuterCruiser.com

Mary Christine is scheduled for haul out tomorrow morning for some fresh paint and a few minor repairs to be made over the next few days before we begin heading North, up island.

Before we go, we wanted to make sure we are totally prepared. We knew our good friends at Commuter Cruiser would have JUST WHAT WE NEEDED! Jan and David have put together a very helpful checklist of all the things we need to remember to do BEFORE, DURING and AFTER our time on the hard. The process may seem like a no-brainer for some, but Peter and I both found some very helpful things in this article that we wouldn’t have thought of otherwise during our first time hauling out.

With many of our cruiser friends also getting hauled out this time of year, we urge you to take a peek at the wisdom Commuter Cruiser has shared.

Check out www.commutercruiser.com for a TON of helpful how-to articles!

Getting Engine Parts in the Exumas

Before we left the Bahamas, it was imperative that we make a major repair. You may remember we had trouble with the main engine exhaust hose leaking into the engine room. It took awhile to pin point exactly where it was leaking from but we figured out the elbow only accessible from inside the cockpit locker was leaking in several places due to corrosion at the connections.

It took all day and many uncomfortable voyages into the line locker to be sure we had found the culprit. I had to stuff my whole body in there, hang my head over a wood divider upside down practically strangling myself to see what was going on. Bright flashlights and telescoping mirrors help tremendously!

The Leak:

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Now, the Exumas are well traveled but very remote when it comes to supplies and marine parts. Virtually non-existent. We determined which parts we would need while in Black Point but there was no way we would find anything useful there. We could either trek back up to Staniel Cay to have parts flown in via Watermaker Air service, or we could scoot down to George Town where we hoped to find a few of the parts we needed.

Our friends on S/V Anneteak (another Whitby 42) helped us make a temporary repair moving the main engine exhaust discharge hose over to where the generator exhaust hose exits the boat on the port side. Although this is NOT recommended and creates quite a bit of exhaust fumes in the cockpit, it was really our only option. The leak was too severe to leave it as-is for the journey south. Although we hoped to sail most of it, we wanted to be prepared in case we had to motor most of the way south. We made the repair with the help of a few borrowed tools and limped down to George Town.

There are really only three stores in George Town that could have carried what we needed. Napa Auto Parts (north of George Town), Top II Bottom near town, and Brown’s Marine which is a pretty far dinghy ride south out of George Town. We tried all three and no one carried 2.5″ marine exhaust hose. Brown’s was the only place that was able to order anything in from the U.S. They would charge a 30% markup on the catalog price (ie. West Marine, Jerry’s Marine, etc.) plus freight charges and customs fees. Duty is free if the parts are essential for the propulsion of the engine. Disposable items such as oil don’t count as duty free.

While it would have been nice to just order the parts we need and be done with it, I couldn’t bring myself to pay 30% on top of all the other fees we would already be paying. Ordering parts from the U.S. and having them shipped to George Town via DHL was another option. We would still be paying freight charges, but atleast there wouldn’t be a 30% markup.

Just before we put in our order, we were told by a few people to try Reggie’s Express Services, Inc. which provides air freight services to and from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and George Town, Exuma. DHL may take up to a week and a half  or even more (depending on how long it takes for the shipping of the parts to DHL stateside) to get any parts in since the freight is routed through Nassau for customs. Reggie’s flights leave Florida every Wednesday morning arriving directly in George Town later that day. The freight is cleared through customs at the airport by the next morning.

You can reach Regina at 954-583-8545 or reggiexp@bellsouth.net to coordinate any shipments. She’ll need a pdf of your cruising permit as well as an invoice for the parts that you are having shipped to her in Florida. She charges $1.75/lb with a 5% fuel surcharge. Just make sure your packages are delivered to her by Tuesday morning.

Once the packages arrive in George Town, contact Dejuan at 242.544.9090 that Thursday morning. His office is at Doeboi Unlimited just across from the dinghy dock to the right. He is a customs broker who will handle all the paperwork for you on the Bahamas side of things. He charges $20 for delivery from the airport and $30 for his paperwork fees.

We had quite a few items shipped from Parker/Racor, Jamestown Distributors and a specialty store to get the exhaust tubing in time so it was much easier for us to have Dejuan bring it all back from the airport instead of us renting a car to go get everything. (p.s. if your iPhone cable breaks while you’re in the Bahamas, Doeboi carries some great knockoff cell phone accessories that have a flat cord which is way more durable than the regular round cords and he sells them for only $12. He’s got all kinds of other accessories like 12v plugs too.)

After our special-order fiberglass connector, fiberglass 90-degree exhaust elbow, 6′ of marine wet exhaust hose, a few extra hose clamps and some other miscellaneous parts arrived it was time to put it all back together the right way.

New friends on SV Dream Ketcher (another Whitby 42) came over to help with this major project. It’s always a puzzle trying to figure out the best way to pry off 30-some year old parts and replace them with new ones.

The Fix:

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All Fixed! We connected new hose to old hose inside the lockers in the aft head with a straight fiberglass tube. The generator exhaust hose was fastened back to where we took it off inside the cockpit locker. Hose clamps were secured and we are BACK IN BUSINESS!!

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Diving the Sapona Wreck and Crossing the Bahama Banks


2.10.14 We left Brown’s and went back to the Sapona wreck at Turtle Rock. This time the anchor dug in good. Peter dove the anchor, then came back to help me get the watermaker fired up. It took a bit of deciphering but we finally figured out how to unpickle it from when the previous owners stored it last. It’s slow but it works! 6 gallons an hour is actually pretty good in terms of watermakers. There is a tiny tinge of saltiness in it but nothing a little ice won’t cover up :) Now we are totally self sufficient!




Peter couldn’t wait to jump in! This man is a fish :)



The guys played around with the Air Line hookah system for a little bit right off the boat. It works pretty well to just leave the engine on the aft deck and run the hoses off the back. That way they don’t have to mess with lifting it up and over the lifelines down into the water. There wasn’t a whole lot to see under the boat but it was fun to play around with it. They did a quick inspection of the bottom of the boat too. One of these days we need to clean the bottom now that we are in clear and warm enough water. Another thing to add to the list…








After awhile, they decided it was time to go look at something really cool and swam over to the wreck with their masks and snorkels. It was a little intimidating for me and Leah so we stayed at the boat for now.


If you haven’t read the page on our website that explains why we chose the name “Where The Coconuts Grow,” be sure to check it out and click the link ‘here‘.

We are finally in a place where we meet all the requirements of what we call the 80/80/80 Rule:

80° Air Temp

80° Water Temp:


80′ Water Visibility:



And we see coconuts floating by all the time ;)


The next day (Tuesday 2.11.14) we all took the dinghy over to the wreck to look for lobster and so Leah and I could look around a little. It was amazing! There was a nurse shark hiding inside the wreck and lots of small fish and coral were fun to look at too. Even though it was just a nurse shark, I wasn’t too interested in getting close to it. Peter and Josh are like fish so diving down to nab those tasty little buggers was no problem for them. Still difficult nonetheless, but we ended up with four lobsters and two conch.

After dinner we pulled up the anchor, began the stowing process and left around 7pm to begin our crossing to the Berry Islands. The Bahama Banks are no joke either. There are some crazy deep areas and it was a good 70nm stretch. To our dismay, the winds were much stronger than we anticipated, giving us an average of 20 knots on the nose. This was yet again another long passage motoring into the wind. This time Peter, Josh and I did fine without taking any seasickness meds. Leah took some just in case. It was a very rolly ride. Trying to use the heads was like being on a roller coaster!!

Half way into the trip we noticed a lot of sea water rolling back behind our port side lockers in the galley. We were heeled over pretty good and dipping the bow into the water a lot so it was really tough to find out where it was coming from. We emptied out all the lockers, sopped up the water and finally determined nothing else was leaking.

We still don’t know what it was, but we have a few ideas. Either it was leftover water that ended up in our anchor locker as we took water over the bow, or it was from one of the seacocks backflowing into the boat as we crashed down from the waves. The aft head had spilled sea water over from the bowl. It hadn’t been locked shut properly and there was just too much pressure to keep the bowl from filling up. The most likely culprit is the leaking anti-siphon hose that is connected to the generator. At least its all clean and dry now!


Wednesday 2.12.14 around 6:30pm we made it into Great Harbour Marina. It was dark but we had storm clouds on our tail and we got there as fast as we could motorsailing and tacking like crazy. The marina is super protected and tucked away. Docking was easy and the still water was incredibly peaceful. It was so nice to just be still. The showers were hot, the wifi reached the boat (although spotty and super slow) and there was a restaurant nearby to fill our bellies after a long crossing.


Houston, We have a problem: NO STEERING


Saturday afternoon, 2.8.14, we began to stow everything away to head back to Brown’s Marina. The water tanks needed to be topped off and we needed to fix the leaking bladder tank. The anchor went up without any trouble and we began to navigate away from the adjacent sand bar. Suddenly, it was very apparent to everyone that we had NO STEERING!! The current was strong, but there’s no way it could be strong enough to counteract our steering all together. The rudder position moved back and forth clear as day in the autopilot gauge but the rudder itself was just not moving.

In a panic to stay off the sand bar that was almost underneath us we let out the Genoa to the port side to catch enough wind to turn the bow in the direction we were trying to turn. With the help of our trusty prop walk to starboard in reverse (she only goes to the right in reverse no matter which way you steer) combined with full sail to port, we got back to our original location and quickly dropped the anchor again.

Peter dove off the back to see if the rudder moved at all as the wheel turned and to see if maybe it was hung up on something. Negative on both. There were no obstructions and it was no longer connected to the steering mechanisms.

Immediately, Peter told me to go get the emergency tiller arm. The previous owner, Steve, had it strapped inside the corner of the forward hanging locker with old, crusty and almost disintegrated bungee cords because they had been untouched for so long. This is one of those things that you haul around with you ‘just incase’. It’s a massive two-part aluminum pipe that could double as a weapon if we were feeling barbaric.

I scrambled to lift it up through the companionway into the cockpit and bring it out to Peter where he needed to insert it through the hole in the aft deck. It runs diagonally down into the aft cabin. The mattress had to be pulled off to access a removable board covering the hydraulic steering arm that connects to the rudder. We had the emergency tiller all ready to attach and then… BINGO! That was it! One of two bolts holding the top of the arm in place was completely busted off. With it just hanging there, the hydraulic steering system was unable to grip and turn the rudder. We were lucky it was only a bolt and nothing worse. The second bolt had bent a bit from the force of keeping it all together but it kept holding. There had been a grounding wire attached to the bolt intended to diffuse the electrolysis in the water and had completely disintegrated the bolt from the inside out. Guess it should have been placed somewhere else :(






We made it back to Brown’s Marina two hours later. Josh steered us all the way with the emergency tiller arm while Peter navigated from the helm. By the time we arrived, it was already dark and the current was whipping through the channel as usual. It was past closing time so no one at the marina answered our call on the VHF radio. We tucked in on the outside of the dock behind a catamaran in the only space that was visibly available to us at the time and hoped someone would come out to help grab a line. It took two tries but the Mary Christine was finally tied back up at the dock safe and sound for the night.

We were all exhausted so we tied up the dogs in the cockpit to guard our home and walked up the road to Sherry’s for some dinner. It was a decent local meal but way overpriced. The bill was $100 for four people for some fish and lobster plates. After our minor disaster, it was worth not having to make dinner. Plus we got to relax in a super cute little beachfront patio.


Back at the boat everyone at the dock was wondering what had happened. With the help of new cruiser friends John (S/V New Moon) and Alex (S/V Nikimat), Peter was able to put a new temporary bolt in, reconnect the hydraulic steering arm, and they even temporarily fixed a leak at the stuffing box packing nut. Before they made the fix Peter borrowed John’s 4lb hammer and used a screwdriver to pry off the emergency tiller arm. It had to be done that night or Peter and I wouldn’t have anywhere to sleep.

We spent that Saturday night 2.8.14 and Sunday night 2.9.14 at the marina. Betsy had been confused and shamefully peed on one of the cockpit cushions while we were underway coming back from North Rock. Poor thing. It was just too hectic when we lost our steering. Sunday we cleaned the boat and did a tiny bit of laundry. The cockpit cushions and covers got washed on the dock and the guys did a soap test on the water tank bladder to see if they could find a leak. That night we grilled some steak and lobster with our neighbor Alex. It was a nice relaxing evening before casting off the docklines  again in the morning…


Shakedown Shivers


We left the marina yesterday for another shakedown cruise out in Pelican Bay/Cayo Costa. Our first stop was the Burnt Store Marina fuel dock on the way out for our very first fill up. It was a little strange being on that side of the dock as we have been walking past there for the last three months. We filled up both tanks and our jerry cans too. The dogs got their daily treat from the marina staff as we handed over the credit card. Ouch! It was almost five times the cost of filling up an SUV! As the old saying goes, BOAT stands for bust out another thousand!

We had a nice sail out across the harbor with all three sails up. Toward the end we motorsailed a bit and dropped the sails before following our tracks into the narrow entrance to Pelican Bay.

Peter and Josh raised the dinghy over the lifelines with the main halyard and prepared for the trip to shore. The outboard was acting up and not getting fuel correctly. Peter and I chanced it to take the dogs to shore but Josh and Leah hung back just incase it stopped working all together. We made it to shore and I took the pups for a quick dinnertime walk to do their business. We got back to the dinghy dock only to learn that the outboard wouldn’t start again so Peter and I had to row back. Luckily the current was heading towards our boat this time. We forgot to grab the seat for the dinghy.

We made it back and started prepping for dinner. Leah and I had everything ready to go and I went to turn on the stove to boil some rice. AND there’s no propane! I checked the safety button on the wall, checked the breaker, everything seemed right but there was just no gas in the lines. The guys checked the tanks and discovered the needle in the gauge for the house tank was broken off. Weird! The BBQ worked fine off the small tank so they switched it to hook up the small tank to the main lines. Still no propane getting to the galley. We checked the breaker and wires but it all tested fine. It was getting late and dark and VERY chilly! We were all looking forward to a hot meal. Looks like this will need to wait until we get back to calmer waters back at the dock.

Even though we had a change of plans, we still put the steaks on the BBQ and cooked a bunch of veggies in the microwave. Our FourWinds wind generator was cookin all night long so we had enough juice to run the inverter for the microwave for awhile.

After dinner we tried for hot showers again like we did last time at anchor. For some reason the hot water heater just wasn’t getting as hot as it normally does. Peter tried a shower anyway and it was not a pleasant experience with the weather so cold outside. We’re going to test out our solar shower next time. So weird though… first the outboard, then the propane, now the hot water heater? We sure are shaking out some kinks while shivering on this shakedown :( Better to find out now than after we leave the dock for good!

It howled at 25-30 knots all night long. Josh and Leah were kept awake by the loud crashing of the waves against the bow while Peter and I had to listen to the wind generator prepare for lift off. It’s crazy how loud that thing gets when it’s really cranking. Peter and I were also paranoid about dragging anchor with the high winds so we didn’t get much sleep. Maybe an hour or two all night. The anchor alarm went off a couple times and scared us half to death. Turns out we were just swinging all the way around from where the anchor was dug in. After the sun came up we were convinced we were still holding good.

Gunner wouldn’t go potty before bed but Betsy did. It was too cold and windy out and Gunner wanted no part of that! They both went on deck in the morning though, thank goodness! No #2s but we’re off to a good start. At least we know they’ll go if they really have to.

We got the dingy back in place on the bow and began stowing everything down below. Josh drove while Peter tended to the windlass and pulled the anchor up. This time he wore gloves :) The wind was still blowing 15-18 but we got out of Pelican relatively easily. Our boat does circles around the anchor no matter how you drive her when there is wind and strong currents. The keel hit sand a couple times on the way out with 5.6 on the depth gauge. We made it out only to hit 15 knots on our nose all the way back to the marina. Peter opted to motor back to get to the dock before sunset.

We’ve got the tunes going in the cockpit as I write this and we’re all relaxing in the sun for a rolly ride back to Burnt Store :)