Sailboat Windlass Woes

Sailboat WindlassAs usual our plans to leave on a set date to sail off into the sunset didn’t work out. This time, we experienced sailboat windlass woes. Allow me to tell you what happened, how it happened and what we did to remedy the situation.

Our intention was to leave Florida on the 28th of December so to leave after Christmas but before New Year. During the lead up to our departure a small issue with our windlass turned into a giant problem involving three days worth of labor and the assistance of several people.

Four three years our windlass, the winch that lets out and pulls up the chain for our anchor, has worked fine. We’ve always used a snubber, or bridle, to ensure the mechanism never had too much pressure on it. We treated her with love and respect – never making her work too hard.

Snubber: A snubber takes the load of the ground tackle, wind and current off the windless mechanism (thing that pulls the chain in and out) and places it onto the hull of the boat. In other words, when the wind blows it’s not the tiny windlass taking the brunt of the pull…it’s the whole boat.

Before leaving Charleston, in early December, our windless ‘down’ button died on us.

We discovered the problem previous to anchoring up a river during Hurricane Irma. That was the start of our windlass drama. Prior to leaving Charleston, for the season in the Bahamas and Caribbean, our volunteer crew member, Andrew, installed a new ‘down’ switch.

Once Andrew was finished, both the ‘up’ and ‘down’ switches worked well.

Fast-forward to our first anchoring debacle.

After leaving Charleston, we started sailing down the east coast of America to Florida. We went to Amelia Island, St Augustine, Cape Canaveral, West Palm Beach and the next stop was somewhere closer to Fort Lauderdale. Until this point we had either picked up a mooring ball or berthed in a marina.

Heading down the Intracoastal Waterway.

Simon, Sienna, Andrew and I spent a full day traveling down America’s Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale (outskirts). The plan was to raft up overnight at a restaurant called the Two George’s (if space was available) or carry on a bit further to a small anchoring area.

The Two George’s had one long powerboat tied right in the middle of the dock!

We had to keep going. Eventually we got to the anchoring spot and it just didn’t look large enough for us. A couple smaller boats were circling around to determine if they might be able to anchor. Simon headed for the northern part of the anchorage very slowly and BAM, we hit ground. We were going very slow so it wasn’t a big deal but it was annoying. The charts said 13 feet and our keel is almost 8 feet. It wasn’t even low tide.

With nowhere to raft up or anchor we decided to carry on knowing that darkness would set in soon.

My biggest question was, ‘do the bridges open all through the night?!” Luckily, the answer was yes. We wouldn’t be stranded between two bridges having to ‘hang tight’.

We had a sailing companion with us – Michael, from sailing vessel Entitled. His keel only drew 6 feet so we stayed behind him as both boats made their way through the waterway. Michael would radio us if he noticed a shallow patch within the channel.

By nightfall we had gone through around 13 bridges, most of them opening within 10 to 15 minutes from arrival. Most of the bridges on the ICW open at set intervals so if you motor seven knots consistently you’ll be able to make each bridge on time.

In the pitch black we eventually came up to another anchorage that had the depth we needed.

We all held our breath as we ventured out of the ICW channel and into a tiny pond to the side. Michael did a depth finding mission for us before we entered so we had a tiny bit of intel. The issue with anchoring is that you don’t know how the boat will swing and where it’s going to swing exactly.

Feeling anxious, Andrew and I made our way to the bow to let the anchor down. Being the first time for Andrew to see how we anchored, I took my time explaining how the system works.

When I went to let the anchor down, I depressed the down button and nothing happened. Nothing.

Simon dropped down into the cockpit to ensure the windlass breaker was on. It was.

We then tried to drop the anchor manually but the winch seemed to be totally jammed. That was probably a blessing in disguise. I’m not sure we’re strong enough to lift the weight of the chain and anchor if the windless didn’t work manually.

A decision was made to raft onto Michael who had successfully anchored. Rafting means that we tied our boat onto his along the side of his boat. As long as Michael’s anchor didn’t have too much pressure for too long we’d be okay. With very light winds and a slow running tide we thought an hour attached to Michael would be low risk and give us time to think.

My first reaction was to find the windlass fuse.

Andrew and I located it and after pulling the 100 Amp fuse out we noted that it had blown. Interestedly, it’s one of those fuses that ‘isn’t suppose to blow’.

I then searched my mind for the location of our spares. After pulling apart Sienna’s room, and 1/2 hour later, I found a spare 100 Amp fuse under the bunkbeds.

The fuse was replaced, windless power turned on and we went back to the bow to test the down switch. It worked!

We untied from Michael, dropped anchor and ended up around 1/4 of the way into the ICW channel. The wind was blowing a constant breeze that kept us in the channel the whole night. Thankfully not too many boats went by but when they did, I’d hear myself think, ‘Please see us, please see us!’

Simon put our spreader and boom lights on so we were well lit up.

The next morning I went to pull up the anchor. The chain was pulled by the winch but the sound and speed wasn’t quite right. I could instantly tell that it was going much slower than usual. Something was wrong.

Just as the top of the anchor shaft came out of the water I stopped the winch so to throw a bucket of water over the anchor. The anchor was full of mud. The winch then failed once again. Andrew and Simon manually pulled it up and we fixed it in place with some rope.

All that we could come up with was that perhaps the batteries were so low that it just couldn’t power the winch. One of our jobs in Fort Lauderdale was to replace our full battery bank – domestic and engines.

After getting to our mooring on the New River in Fort Lauderdale, and having the new battery bank installed, we tested our windlass. We needed to let out all the chain on the river bank so to spray paint our depth markers (as seen in the picture and the video below).

Sailboat Windlass

On an anchor chain you need something to tell you how much has been let out so to determine your scope.

The general rule of thumb is that, in very light conditions, you put out 3x – 5x the amount of chain as there is depth. So if you’re anchoring in 10’ of water you’d put out 30’ of chain. To determine how much chain is out you need something visible on the chain to help you keep track.

Simon and Andrew got the chain out but when they went to put it back in the windless died again. After a few hours it then worked. It seemed like something was heating up and causing the system to fail.

It was time to call in a professional.

Fortunately, we had the name of a reliable contact. Our dear friends Ron and Mercedes on s/v Samana (in Charleston) told us to contact Vern. Over the festive period Vern came to our boat to check things out.

As Simon, Sienna and I were driving a rental car to see my father and step-mother (3 hours away from the boat) we got a call from Andrew (who stayed on the boat) and Vern. Apparently, the windless winch, gearing and motor was forced into preexisting holes that didn’t correctly fit. It was a bodge job. All the gearing was working lopsided and we were told it’s amazing that it’s lasted as long as it did.

It took Andrew three full days to get the windless off and took quite a bit of brute force, a crowbar and saw.

Simon and I didn’t spend too much time feeling frustration over the original installer. We had the job done in Greece and as we’ve later come to find out finding a good marine technician/mechanic/service person in the Med is like finding a needle in a haystack.

At least we now knew what the problem was and could do something about it.

Sailboat Windlass

As the issue became larger and larger our quickly approaching date for departure started to look questionable.

Once the windlass was removed from the boat we found cracks throughout the whole unit. One guy told us that we were about four months from the winch element falling off and flying through the air.

The first solution was to see if we could salvage anything and get parts. Eventually it was determined that we needed a whole new unit. West Marine had one for $5,900 (trade price!) and we sourced one locally at $4,000 but it wouldn’t take chain – only rope. In the end we found one from Defender for $2,900 (trade price) and could get to us overnight.

We missed the December 28th departure date and aimed for the 30th.

The 30th came and went and we still had issues. The new windlass was installed but there was a power problem.

As with all sailing passages it wasn’t just our equipment that was controlling our departure date. We also had to contend with the weather. With a storm brewing in the Atlantic Ocean if we didn’t leave on the 31st we’d have to wait a few more days – perhaps a week.

Every day we stayed at the current location we paid an extra, unexpected, $100/night. Alternatives were more expensive. So far, we paid $300 extra and of course, the cost of the windlass. We wanted to get out of Florida and head out to anchor in the Bahama’s.

On the 31st, New Years Eve (and Simon and my 19th wedding anniversary), we woke up hoping that we could finish the windless project.

From all other fronts, we were set to leave. The engines were serviced, all the jobs/servicing were done.The freezer was jam packed. The boat was in the best shape she’s been in for years.

Vern came to our boat in the morning and the three guys went to work. All day things were being tested, trips to the marine store were made and work was being done. I took the opportunity to upload a video to YouTube not knowing when I’d find my next Internet connection or how good it was going to be.

During the day Simon called all the fuel docks in the area trying to find one that wasn’t closing early for New Years Eve. Eventually he found one that was staying open until 7:30pm.

Around 5pm we did several tests and the windlass was working perfectly.

We packed up our electrical connection, put away the water hose and detached from land. All of us looked at each other thinking, ‘Are we really going to get out of here tonight?!’

Watch the video to find out if we did, indeed, make it out of Florida before the New Year arrived.

Windlass Issues & More – Episode #26

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‘Life’s roughest storms prove the strength of our anchors.’ Anon. And now we can say that our windlass is strong too! More here…Click To Tweet

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Sailboat Windlass



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Sailing Florida – Fort Lauderdale

Sailing Florida Fort LauderdaleHave you or will you ever sail to Ft Lauderdale? This post, ‘Sailing Florida Fort Lauderdale’ offers an article and video about our trip on the ICW and up the New River. Read on to join us for the journey…

If you missed our last sailing adventure, check out  10 Reasons to Sail down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) The article lists 10 reasons why you might want to follow our footsteps, or passage plan.

And in the video, Simon shows our navigation path from West Palm Beach to Lettuce Lake via the ICW. I point out president Trumps house. We go through loads of bridges and our volunteer crewmember, Andrew, does some bird watching. Sienna does here homeschooling.

Simon runs us aground four times.

Michael, our solo sailing companion on his Island Packet, Entitled, becomes our depth sounder. We look for a place to stop. It gets darker and darker and then when we do find a place to anchor our windless decides not to work.

The windless, or mechanism that drops and pulls up the anchor, is a long story. To make the long story short, we eventually discovered that our two year old windlass was on it’s last leg. It wasn’t installed properly. We managed to get it to work but a longer term solution was required. I’ve written a separate post about the windlass upgrade. (Make sure you get my weekly newsletter so you’re notified when this article is available. Sign up here)

Moving on…

After pulling up our anchor, Simon, Andrew, Sienna and I made our way down the ICW, and then turned right, up the New River. The New River is a tidal estuary and is connected to the Everglades through a series of man-made canals. After passing through Fort Lauderdale, the river connects to the Atlantic Ocean at Port Everglades cut.

Similar to the ICW, there were blocks of beautiful homes separated by canals.

We saw amazing properties, huge motorboats and a variety of activity along the river.

As we continued forward, the New River became more and more narrow. The traffic seemed to increase and buildings got higher and higher. Every moment brought new stimulus! It was fantastic.

Eventually we found our mooring spot. Michael on Entitled visits the same mooring every year so we were lucky to get a spot in the area. Simon effortlessly docked us up against a concrete river wall with wooden pylons. We then helped Michael get his boat tied down.

My first reaction was, ‘This river is as busy as heck!’

Tourist boats, giant motor yachts, dinghies, small craft and even a floating tiki bar passed us by. The bridges on the New River open on demand so there’s always a constant flow of traffic.

And there’s not much room when two large boats have to pass each other. There’s often lots of shouting and horns blown in addition to bridge bells and alarms. Not a moment goes by without some sort of entertainment.

Within the area of our mooring, you’ll find a lovely river walk, various restaurants and bars and several high-rise accommodations. And one street away there’s the Los Olas bars, restaurants, boutiques and art shops. You’ll also find a Theatre in addition to a Science Museum offering Imax shows. Within a few minutes walk there’s a Publix supermarket. What more could you ask for?!

Mooring your boat along the New River in Fort Lauderdale is a ‘must-do’ for sailors. There’s loads to see and do! #sailing Click To Tweet

The only thing that was a bit too far for walking was the beach.

But with a bicycle the Atlantic Ocean is not far at all. So how much did all these amazing sights and sounds cost us? It was around the $100/night mark for our 56′ sailboat including electricity and water. In comparison to the Fort Lauderdale marina’s the New River location was way cheaper than the alternatives.

To get a good feel for what it’s like to be moored up along the New River, watch our Fort Lauderdale via the ICW video (click the image below). We’ll take you from Lettuce Lake to our final mooring stop. You’ll enjoy the immediate surroundings in addition to seeing some of our visitors (not all humans). Sienna will give you a glimpse into her seven-year-old world and Simon, Andrew and friends work hard to complete a variety of boat jobs.

You can also join us on our date night (with Michael).

Sailing Florida – Fort Lauderdale Video

If you enjoyed this article & video, check out:

Helpful Resources for Fort Lauderdale

Any questions, comments or thoughts?! Leave them below.

Visit our Sailing Britican sailing guides books shop if you’re thinking of buying a boat, are in the process of buying a boat or if you own a boat! All guides are digital. Some hard copy versions are found in our Etsy shop and on Amazon. The guides will help you to save money, avoid making mistakes and ultimately allow you to get out sailing quicker.

Check out our one-of-a-kind nautical t-shirts and other sailing gifts at our Sailing Britican Etsy shop. We have great stuff for men, women and children. Grab a t-shirt, bathing suit cover-up, spices for sailors, nautical pillow covers and more!

Profits from the guides and t-shirts are allowing us to keep this website going but it’s not enough!

If you enjoy what we offer please support us. Buy a guide/guides, a t-shirt, become a Patreon Patron (click the link for more information).

Or donate to the cause  below through Paypal (see button below). Proceeds from the guides, Etsy shop and Patreon supports are keeping these articles and videos free. If you like what you see and want us to continue please support Britican today. (And if you already have, thank you very much!)


Sailing Florida Fort Lauderdale

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10 Reasons to Sail down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW)

Intracoastal WaterwayThe Intracoastal Waterway, or ICW, is a 3,000-mile (4,800 km) inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the United States. It runs from Boston, Massachusetts, south along the Atlantic coast and around the southern tip of Florida, then following the Gulf Coast to Brownsville, Texas.

The ICW allows boaters to travel the east coast of America without having to entering the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s a rather narrow river, or canal, that’s protected from the ocean. The best boats to travel down the ICW are motorboats or sailboats with a mast no higher than 64’ or a keel not too much deeper than 5’.

There’s a stretch of the ICW that will, however, allow boats with tall masts (over 64’) and deeper keels (7’ or so) running from Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale. All the bridges within this stretch open up. The depths are around 13’ for the whole passage (or so the charts stay). In other parts of the ICW the bridges are 65’ high and don’t open.

After spending loads of time in the Atlantic swell we thought we’d have a go in the flat calm waters of the Intracoastal Waterway. The plan was to stay one night at the Palm Harbor Marina in Palm Beach where we exited the Atlantic Ocean.

After our night’s stay we found a restaurant dock that would allow us to dock overnight.

The Two Georges, located north of Del Ray, had a jetty with a depth deep enough for our 7.5’ keel. And our solo sailing companion, Michael on s/v Entitled would be able to ‘raft’ onto us. Rafting means that we’d tie ourselves to the jetty (side-to) and then Michael would tie Entitled on to us. And failing the Two George’s, there was an spot that allowed for anchoring with the depth we needed not further on.

In the end, we ran aground four times, couldn’t stay at the Two George’s due to a big power boat taking up the whole dock (the Captain tied on right smack in the middle of the dock) and couldn’t find a place to anchor until it was pitch black at night. We were suppose to go through four bridges and stop and I think we finally found a place to anchor after 13 bridges or so?!

Needless to say, it was a brilliant journey.

If a you’re going to sail to Florida consider motoring along the ICW. Here are 10 reasons why:Click To Tweet

Here are the 10 reasons a sailor should take a journey down the ICW

1. Boaters don’t follow any rules. Boats go as fast or as slow as they want. And regarding speed, as long as the boat is not in a ‘no wake’ zone it can fly by. And for the most part, the ‘no wake’ zones are only around the bridges. It’s a rather lawless canal where huge mega yachts cruise through at 30 knots and small sail boats putter along at 3 knots. You have to experience it to believe it. There’s no etiquette.

2. The architecture is eclectic and there’s loads to look at. There are no duplicates. All the properties are different. Some are ginormous palaces and others look like inner city apartment blocks. You’ll see traditional homes and super, super modern fortresses. One plot will have a shack and the next will have a 50 million dollar mansion. There’s so many properties to look at, there’s never a dull moment.

3. The boats that you’ll see along the journey are eye-catching! Some of the mega yachts are larger than the mega homes. Others are flat out interesting to look out. There are gold pimp-yatchs and four story moving islands. There are tour boats and even a floating tiki bar to check out. If you’re not ogling over the homes, you’ll certainly ogle over the boats.

4. There’s no swell – errrr, there’s no constant swell. The Atlantic swell can really get a sailor down. Every few minutes the boat shifts from left to right, left to right, left to right indefinitely. It’s annoying. For those that experience seasickness it’s down right debilitating. In the ICW, however, there’s only a swell when a boat larger than you passes by. Sure, there were many boats passing us through our passage but the swell was only temporary!

5. The atmosphere is electric. There’s always something happening. One bridges is opening and another is about to close. A super yacht is trying to pass. You’re trying to pass a slow poke. A bunch of silly teenagers are jet skiing within inches of your bow. A tiny motorboat is pulling a tuber. Bars are turning out loud live music. You run aground. It’s crazy.

6. There’s nature to admire. Interestingly, amongst all the mega yachts, mansions and hubbub there’s a massive amount of birds, mangroves, natural areas, green areas and sea life. If you get out of your cockpit and away from the constant chatter on the VHF, there are parts of the ICW that are actually quiet and peaceful.

7. There’s an awesome sense of camaraderie. During our two day passage we enjoyed saying ‘thank you’ to the bridge operators for opening and hearing their ‘thank you’ back. And at one point of our journey there were five sailboats in a convoy. The first boat, a boat that we didn’t know, would VHF the bridge operator and give the names of all the boats in the convoy. Although it was a crazy waterway there was a sense of kinship with the people we had to interact with and travel with.

8. Bridges. Even if you’re not a keen bridge lover it’s amazing to see each and every bridge. They’re all different! Some open faster and others slower. Some have really awesome gears. Others are broken and only one side opens – providing the captain a very narrow gap to maneuver (watch my video below)!

9. A sense of adventure – especially if you have a deep keel! The charts are not accurate. We ran aground four times. Each time only spending a few minutes being stuck. It’s not ideal to run aground but it certainly adds a bit of spice to the journey. Ever time we ran aground it was more of a slow stop. We were only going a slow speed so no damage was done. And eventually the tide would rise if we got really stuck.

10. Stories to tell. Perhaps our journey wasn’t typical? I can only speak for ourselves but I felt it was a very fulfilling experience. There was loads to see and take in. Yeah, we ran aground which isn’t ideal but we found a way off. It was an adventure. One that I will always remember.


So there you have it. Ten reasons to take a journey down the Intracoastal Waterway. Watch our video below to gain a tiny insight to our journey 🙂 Perhaps after we’ve had enough of sailing (if that ever happens), Simon and I will buy a motorboat and do the Great Loop.

The Great Loop is a system of waterways that encompasses the eastern portion of America and part of Canada. It’s made up of both natural and man-made waterways. These include the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Rideau Canal, and the Mississippi and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Amazingly, the entire loop is approximately 6,000 miles long.

More Information on the Great Loop

Britican does the Intracoastal Waterway – Video

Any questions, comments or thoughts?! Leave them below.

Visit our Sailing Britican sailing guides books shop if you’re thinking of buying a boat, are in the process of buying a boat or if you own a boat! All guides are digital. Some hard copy versions are found in our Etsy shop and on Amazon. The guides will help you to save money, avoid making mistakes and ultimately allow you to get out sailing quicker.

Check out our one-of-a-kind nautical t-shirts and other sailing gifts at our Sailing Britican Etsy shop. We have great stuff for men, women and children. Grab a t-shirt, bathing suit cover-up, spices for sailors, nautical pillow covers and more!

Profits from the guides and t-shirts are allowing us to keep this website going but it’s not enough!

If you enjoy what we offer please support us. Buy a guide/guides, a t-shirt, become a Patreon Patron (click the link for more information).

Or donate to the cause  below through Paypal (see button below). Proceeds from the guides, Etsy shop and Patreon supports are keeping these articles and videos free. If you like what you see and want us to continue please support Britican today. (And if you already have, thank you very much!)

Intracoastal Waterway

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Sailing Florida – West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach What’s it like to sail into West Palm Beach? Find out here by joining us on the journey. From Cape Canaveral out into the Atlantic Ocean and then into the Intracoastal Waterway, we made our way to Palm Beach Harbor Marina.

In our last article and video, Sailing to Florida – Cape Canaveral, Simon demonstrates our passage from St. Augustine to Cape Canaveral, our volunteer crew member Andrew, slips our mooring ball lines. Sienna thanks St Augustine for having us, Andrew comments what it’s like sailing at night and I discuss my excitement to see Kennedy Space Center. Simon docks us at Cape Marina followed by our solo sailing companion, Michael on Entitled. Finally, I offer a tour of Cape Marina and show some clips from the incredible Kennedy Space Center.

Our trip from Cape Canaveral to Palm Beach was fairly uneventful.

We had an amazing sunset, managed to sail half the time and motor the other half. We also enjoyed a yummy sausage pasta bake. Prior to entering the marina, we had to wait for on bridge opening. After we went through the bridge the Palm Habor Marina was directly on our starboard side.

West Palm Beach

The tide was running and Simon had to navigate between the bridge and the jetty. With the tide pushing us towards the bridge he had to drive straight at the pontoon and then quickly turn at the last minute. Simon did a great job. Michael, our solo sailing companion, was lined up to come in behind us but the marina put him on the T-head making the docking job much easier.

Once we tied the boat down we cleaned the inside and outside.

We all had showers and got ready to go out to dinner. Lucky for us we were invited to a free BBQ by the marina staff. A photographer was doing a photo shoot and needed extras. I think the photographer really wanted our daughter, Sienna, more than anything else. In addition to getting the free BBQ we were all given $25 gift certificates to use in the marina store and deli. That made the $200 berthing fee not so bad. We saved money on dinner and had $100 worth of goodies that we could get.

West Palm Beach

Palm Harbor Marina

The crew on Britican and Michael all met at the Palm Harbor BBQ area and had a lovely meal. We simply had to act like normal and the photographer went around us taking photos. Afterwards, we went to the main strip and took in all the sights and sounds of West Palm Beach at night. There were festive sand castles, a meet Santa area, festive music and loads of lights.

As we walked down the strip there were bars and restaurants packed with people. We ended up a sports bar/restaurant so that Sienna could get an ice cream and the adults could enjoy a beverage.

The following day, we left the marina for our Intracostal Waterway (ICW) adventure.

Little did we know what we were in for. Make sure to subscribe to my weekly email notification to find out when the next article/video is published. Sign up here!

West Palm Beach Video

Any questions, comments or thoughts?! Leave them below.

Visit our Sailing Britican sailing guides books shop if you’re thinking of buying a boat, are in the process of buying a boat or if you own a boat! All guides are digital. Some hard copy versions are found in our Etsy shop and on Amazon. The guides will help you to save money, avoid making mistakes and ultimately allow you to get out sailing.

Check out our one-of-a-kind nautical t-shirts and other sailing gifts at our Sailing Britican Etsy shop. We have great stuff for men, women and children. Grab a t-shirt, bathing suit cover-up, spices for sailors, nautical pillow covers and more!

Profits from the guides and t-shirts are allowing us to keep this website going but it’s not enough!

If you enjoy what we offer, like this Sailing to Florida St Augustine article and video, please support us. Buy a guide/guides, a t-shirt, become a Patreon Patron (click the link for more information).

Or donate to the cause  below through Paypal (see button below). Proceeds from the guides, Etsy shop and Patreon supports are keeping these articles and videos free. If you like what you see and want us to continue please support Britican today. (And if you already have, thank you very much!)

The post Sailing Florida – West Palm Beach appeared first on Sailing Britican.

Sailing Florida – Cape Canaveral

Sailing Florida Cape CanaveralAfter spending two enjoyable days and nights in St Augustine, we, and Michael aboard s/v Entitled, slipped our mooring ball lines. It was a crisp cool morning and there was a very slight breeze. The sun was shining and we were eager to head down to Cape Canaveral, a 20 hour sail.

If you missed our last article and video, Simon explained our passage plan from Amelia Island to St Augustine, our volunteer crew member Andrew gave an update regarding the race we had going between us and our sailing companion Michael aboard s/v Entitled. We entered the port at St Augustine and took a mooring ball for two nights.

We enjoyed the festive boat parade and millions of lights for the nights of lights. The five of us went to the Castillo de San Marcos and I provide a bit of history and we stop off at the Flager College to appreciate the architecture. Get the full scoop here Sailing to Florida St Augustine.

As we motored out of the harbor we all said our thank you’s to St Augustine for having us.

We went out through the Lions Bridge heading back into the Atlantic Ocean. The water was calm and the temperatures were finally rising.

Our seven-year-old daughter, Sienna, and I played in the cockpit for quite some time. First we played hair salon and then we played on the iPad. Previous to setting sail, Sienna and I completed her homeschooling.

We’re on week three of homeschooling and so far it’s really going good. I’m in the process of writing a full article on what I’m using for homeschooling (a variety of resources and tools), so I’ll share that with you when it’s finished. The whole concept of educating a child is overwhelming. I’ve been struggling for years with the concept alone but with some help from a friend and loads of research I’m definitely making progress.

Sailing Florida Cape Canaveral

Our passage into the night was non-eventful.

Simon and Andrew put a fishing line out but had no luck. The sunset was lovely but there wasn’t any wind. We motored until darkness set in and then a bit of wind finally appeared.

We sailed through most of the night. My husband, Simon, and Andrew, our volunteer crew member, did three hours on and three hours off doing night watches. During a night watch there’s not much to do or see. It’s usually pitch black helping to easily spot boats. If our AIS or boat positioning system is working we’ll see them on the plotter way before they appear by sight.

Aside from keeping an eye out for any lights, the person on watch ensures the sails are trimmed appropriately in addition to looking for potential squalls, or short storms. When a storm is approaching sails often need to be pulled in. For 95% of the time, however, a night watch consists of watching a movie on the iPad, playing a game or reading a book. It’s quite peaceful being in the cockpit alone in the dark. Many would think it was scary but it’s such a pleasant experience. For more on night sailing, read my article Sailing through the night – is it scary, exhilarating or boring?.

Sailing Florida Cape Canaveral

The sun eventually came up and the sea was flat calm.

I was able to join the boys up in the cockpit to excitedly talk about the Kennedy Space Center that we could see on the horizon. For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to tour the Space Station. When I was a kid, if someone asked me to go to space without being able to return to Earth I would have gone. I love the moon, stars, and all the amazing photographs that the Hubble Space Telescope takes.

And to be able to share a visit with our daughter too! What a treat. I couldn’t wait for Sienna to actually see the rockets and shuttle that went up into space.

Entering the canal leading to the Cape Marina was easy.

We had to sail quite a bit more south and then come back on ourselves due to NASA restrictions and shoals. But once we were in the canal it was a straight motor to the Cape Marina. Along the canal we saw tankers, a variety of ships, boats, and pleasure crafts. There were industrial buildings, marine storage facilities, restaurants, casinos’s and bars. It was a hodgepodge of all sorts.

The marina was easy to spot and since our berth was on a t-junction, Simon simply used the tide and our bow thrusters to slowly and easily line us up to the jetty. Andrew and I fixed the warps and then we helped Michael, on Entitled, moor next to us.

Like little kids we all jumped up and down (err…Sienna and I jumped up and down) thinking that we’re one step closer to the Space Center.

Simon and I booked ourselves into the marina.

There’s a marina store filled with touristy clothes, trinkets and all sorts. We also found drinks, food and ice. We were pleasantly surprised at all the facilities the Cape Marina offered – ATM, security gate (locked at night), coin operated laundry room, picnic table area, BBQ grills, a lovely pool and a games room (air hockey, foosball, pool, TV, games console and tiny workout room).

The one thing to note about the marina, from a boaters perspective, is that the marina operates with a pylon system. When parking your boat you’ll need to tie the bow or stern to the jetty and the other side to two opposing pylons. If you’re not accustom to this type of set up it’s probably best to enter the marina when staff are on hand to assist. Getting lines from the boat to a pylon isn’t always easy.

Sailing Florida Cape Canaveral

Britican moored up on B dock, Cape Marina

Within walking distance from the marina there’s a handful of restaurants and bars. We opted for Millikens. Another boat that visited the marina just days before we did said that they had a fantastic Prime Rib special for $14. With Prime Rib on my mind, we all headed to dinner. The meal was fantastic.

After a good nights sleep we woke the following day excited to see the Space Center.

Using Uber, we got a taxi within five minutes. The cost was $30 for the twenty-five minute ride to the Space Center. We were dropped off at the front door and then spent the entire day going from one exhibition to the next.

Sailing Florida Cape Canaveral

The Kennedy Space Center was fabulous.

Just seeing the Saturn Five rocket that took Neil Armstrong and others to the Moon was awesome – and I’m using that word it’s truest form. And the Atlantis Shuttle making 26 voyages to space – we saw the actual shuttle!

What I loved most about the Space Center was that there was a consistent message, music and theme across the whole park. Every exhibition spoke loudly to me and what I learned/felt was that as humans we can do amazing things. We can work internationally to create something magnificent. It’s not just about America or Russia or China… it’s about all of us as humans. When we all work together we can move mountains or at least go to the moon.

The first exhibition we saw was about ‘Hero’s’.

It starts off with a slide show and video of kids, adults and astronauts talking about who their hero’s were. Some said my mom and dad, others named a super hero. The list went on and on. After the show we then walked into an area that had all these pods with a characteristic of a hero over the top. To name a few, there was tenacity, confidence, discipline. In each pod the characteristic was showcased with examples of that characteristic in action.

I couldn’t help but think that if every child had the opportunity to just see this one exhibition they’d be better off for it. After the pods we walked through the astronauts hall of fame. Sienna quickly noted that the pictures were all of men. I quickly said, ‘oh no…there’s loads of women that have gone to space.’ We then looked further down and saw the many women that have been a part of the space program.

When walking out of the exhibition I felt proud to be human, proud to be a woman…and proud to share the amazingness of Earth, space and life with my daughter. Amen! (Make sure to watch my video on Cape Canaveral to get just a small feel for the Space Center – press the play button on it below.)

Sailing Florida Cape Canaveral

After our tour, we returned to Cape Marina and shared our stories and experiences with Michael. He stayed back so to visit with his sister and brother-in-law.

It was nice to have someone to talk and share or excitement with.

All feeling very tried, we went to bed ready to make for West Palm Beach the following day. Simon was very excited as our plan was to motor down the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway). There’s one small part of the ICW that had the depth we needed to make the passage. For me, I was slightly nervous. I couldn’t help but wonder if running aground was in the cards.

Stay tuned to find out how our West Palm Beach voyage goes and join us for our trip down the ICW. Subscribe to my newsletter and get a notification when I post a new article and video. Sign Up Here.

Sailing Florida – Cape Canaveral Video

Any questions, comments or thoughts?! Leave them below.

Visit our Sailing Britican sailing guides books shop if you’re thinking of buying a boat, are in the process of buying a boat or if you own a boat! All guides are digital. Some hard copy versions are found in our Etsy shop and on Amazon. The guides will help you to save money, avoid making mistakes and ultimately allow you to get out sailing.

Check out our one-of-a-kind nautical t-shirts and other sailing gifts at our Sailing Britican Etsy shop. We have great stuff for men, women and children. Grab a t-shirt, bathing suit cover-up, spices for sailors, nautical pillow covers and more!

Profits from the guides and t-shirts are allowing us to keep this website going but it’s not enough! If you enjoy what we offer, like this Sailing to Florida St Augustine article and video, please support us. Buy a guide/guides, a t-shirt, become a Patreon Patron (click the link for more information).

Or donate to the cause  below through Paypal (see button below). Proceeds from the guides, Etsy shop and Patreon supports are keeping these articles and videos free. If you like what you see and want us to continue please support Britican today. (And if you already have, thank you very much!)

Resources on Cape Canaveral

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Sailing to Florida St Augustine

Sailing to Florida St AugustineAfter sailing to Amelia Island (American Georgia/Florida border) from Charleston Harbor Marina we headed further south. Sailing to Florida St Augustine was our next destination. Knowing that the warmer weather would kick in the further south we went, we were all eager to get going.

When leaving Amelia Island it was slightly above freezing!

The trip to St Augustine took 12 hours. We left our mooring in the darkness at 6am and arrived in St Augustine Municipal Marina mooring field around 2pm. Our aim was to leave early so to ensure a daylight arrival at our destination. Getting back into the Atlantic Ocean was uneventful. Simon motored us out with the backdrop of industry behind us.

Once we were in the Ocean we put our headsail out leaving our main down. The wind was from behind and it was easy to simply unfurl the jib. Similar to the previous voyage, my daughter, Sienna, and I laid in bed under the covers watching movies on my laptop. It was so wonderful to relax and let my husband, Simon, and Andrew, our volunteer crew member, get us to our next stop.

Usually Simon, Sienna and I are all in the cockpit but with the cold temperatures it wasn’t exactly enjoyable!

It wasn’t long before Simon came down and let us know that we were entering St Augustine. We were all excited to see America’s oldest city. Additionally we arrived just in time to see the Nights of Lights Christmas lights and the annual Christmas Boat Parade.

After sorting ourselves out we dropped the dinghy, collected Michael on Entitled (a solo sailor joining us for the journey to Fort Lauderdale) and went into the marina dinghy dock. After paying our fees of $25/night staying for two nights, we parked Doris the Dinghy. We immediately went to the highly recommended restaurant, Harry’s, and booked a table being told that the wait was around an hour at least. In actuality I think we waited around two hours but it was worth it.

If you go to St Augustines, make sure you eat at Harry’s – from what I’ve experienced, and heard from others, it truly is the best value for money spent.

At Harry’s we were hoping to get a table overlooking the harbor to enjoy the parade from inside to escape the cold weather. While waiting for our table, we took a stroll around the town. We were all so impressed with the rows and rows of cute streets, eclectic shops and old style buildings. My husband announced, ’this is one of the most un-American cities I think I’ve ever been in…’ In other words, it had quite a bit of character…it was devoid of the standard American franchises, new builds and high rise hotels.

We were fortunate to get a fantastic table at Harry’s. We enjoyed the parade from inside and gobble down some great food. It was the perfect night. After the meal, parade and enjoyment of the festive lights, we took the dinghy back to the boat and all passed out.

The next day we went to St Augustine to explore the town, Castillo de San Marcos (Castle built by the Spanish), and Flagler College (all in the video). Considering I’ve covered our exploits in the video I’ll allow you to simply watch the video below to get a taste for St Augustine.

Out of all the east coast American cities to visit, sailing to Florida St Augustine should be on every sailors ‘must-see’ list.

It’s beautiful, usually warm/hot, has something for everyone and is down-right cute. History buffs will enjoy the past. Shoppers will love the boutiques. Foodies will be filled with amazing options. And sailors will be very pleasantly pleased with the St Augustine Municipal Marina moorings, slips and facilities.

Sailing to Florida St Augustine Video

Any questions, comments or thoughts?! Leave them below.

Visit our Sailing Britican sailing guides/books shop if you’re thinking of buying a boat, are in the process of buying a boat or if you own a boat! All guides are digital. Some hard copy versions are found in our Etsy shop and on Amazon. The guides will help you to save money, avoid making mistakes and ultimately allow you to get out sailing.

Check out our one-of-a-kind nautical t-shirts and other sailing gifts at our Etsy shop. We have great stuff for men, women and children. Grab a t-shirt, bathing suit cover-up, spices for sailors, nautical pillow covers and more!

Profits from the guides and t-shirts are allowing us to keep this website going but it’s not enough! If you enjoy what we offer, like this Sailing to Florida St Augustine article and video, please support us. Buy a guide/guides, a t-shirt, become a Patreon Patron or donate to the cause – click below 🙂

The post Sailing to Florida St Augustine appeared first on Sailing Britican.

Sailing to Florida – Amelia Island

Sailing to Florida Amelia IslandThe lead up to leaving Charleston was hectic. I had to keep focusing on sailing to Florida Amelia Island. Saying our goodbye’s while fixing necessities on the boat and stocking her with food wasn’t easy. So much to do. And we had a new crew member join us – Andrew from the UK. Thankfully Andrew fit in immediately and helped get stuck in with all the jobs.

Aside from making Britican look pretty by polishing her stainless steel, topside and hull, there were various little and large jobs. My husband Simon and I had an Excel list of around 30 jobs prioritized with a one, two or three. The ‘one’s’ were must-do jobs.

The day before departure we discovered a problem with our batteries.

Simon went to test to the main engine and it wouldn’t start. Within an hour all our floorboards were up, friends were lending their knowledge and a waft of uncertainty loomed in our saloon.

Would we be able to make it out of Charleston?

I couldn’t help but feel a pull. There was something similar to a magnetic force that we had to overcome. We had to gather all our energy and firmly decided that it was time to set sail again. After a year of living on our boat in the Charleston Harbor Marina we had grown roots (and barnacles). Heck, we had so many valid reasons to stay.

As the boat was being seen to, I sold our car at CarMax, a large car supermarket. I didn’t get what I wanted for it but the luxury of walking in, handing over the keys and getting a check was very convenient. Giving up our car was a difficult hurdle. I’m not sure if you’re like me, but I develop relationships with some of my possessions. To me, our sailboat, Britican, is certainly alive – I talk to her often! And I grew close to our car too.

It felt so abrupt to park her in a parking lot and walk away.

The day to leave finally came – it was a week after Andrew arrived and the weather had turned freezing cold. It was gray out with a mist of very cold rain.

Friends came to wish us off and, as usual, there were tears. I tried my best to stop the blood flow to my heart so I wouldn’t feel the sadness. I kept reminding myself that I wouldn’t feel so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that I had so many lovely friends and great memories. Sailing to Flordia Amelia Island was going to be great.

How many people visit an area for a year, make amazing new friends, and then say goodbye?

It’s not normal. And it’s not easy for any of us. The people around us in Charleston were more than friends…they were family. We’d do anything for them and they’d do anything for us.

After making an epic trip into the city to give my license plates back to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and to the tax assessor to request a refund, I took and Uber (taxi) back to the boat. I experienced the last walk between the resort hotels, the final viewing of the main dock to the jetties. I looked around and felt heavy yet there was a tinge of excitement too. The day to head out on our new adventure was here. It was time to stop looking back and turn to face forward.

We finally untied our lines and motored out of the marina and then out into the Channel.

We said our ‘thank you’s’ to Charleston. Sienna and I clambered into bed to have a Scooby Doo cartoon marathon while Simon and Andrew navigated us south towards Florida.

With Andrew on board I didn’t even have to pull the fenders up. He was eager to get to work. Andrew runs a boat sightseeing company in the Farne Islands (North England) so he was no stranger to dealing with fenders, warps and general boat management.

Andrew freed me up to go down below, get under the covers and endure my first sail for a few months. Within the past year we took a few small day trips out and one extended trip to Bermuda. My last experience of sailing included 16 Atlantic squalls so I was a bit apprehensive about being back on the sea. (Check out our Sailing in Rough Seas episode if you haven’t seen it already)

I took my ginger pills (to settle the stomach), Kwels (British anti sickness remedies pills), and had my head down on my pillow. I covered Sienna and I with all the blankets we had – it truly was freezing.

A crazy cold front moved in and although the sailing was good the wind was bitter.

While settling into bed around 11:30am I felt relief. After all the planning, preparing, goodbye’s I just wanted to sleep. For the entire day I felt so relaxed. I didn’t have to do anything or be anywhere. Upon reflection I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so devoid of responsibility or a self-imposed pressure to get things done.

While laying in the aft cabin I simply felt calm and peaceful. The time resting felt like a necessary, but welcome, letting down. A smile kept coming over my face when I thought that I could sleep the entire day if I wanted to!

That evening, Simon made us some macaroni and cheese that Sienna and I ate from big bowls in bed. Our Scooby Doo marathon turned into a movie night. With the lead up to Christmas we decided to watch ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’ Having watched the movie with my mom for years I wondered if Sienna would share the tradition with me. Being a long black and white movie I wasn’t sure if it would hold her interested.

When the movie ended, Sienna turned to me with a tear in her eye and said, ‘Mum, that’s the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen.’ My heart warmed and I felt grateful to have such a lovely daughter.

After checking on Simon and Andrew I went back to bed ready to embrace a night sleep at sea.

The waves weren’t particularly large but the angle of our sail caused quite a massive back and forth motion. The Atlantic Swell was certainly present and I had to do my best to keep myself from feeling green.

Sienna seemed to drift off effortlessly. For me, on the other hand, it wasn’t until 3am or 4am that I finally fell asleep. The back and forth motion was just too much. And if it wasn’t the motion, it was some sort of projectile flying around and crashing that kept me up. We did our best to secure everything but stuff was sliding, clanking, and at times, soaring through the air.

In the morning I woke and laid in bed.

The rocking wasn’t as bad and I smiled when I heard that we’d make land within a few hours. The first trip is often the hardest – your body had to get back into the swing of things. Although I didn’t sleep well I was still feeling okay. I wasn’t able to get up and walk around but a trip to the heads didn’t cause me to spiral into a full-blown seasickness. I kept feeling ever-so-thankful that Andrew was with us.

As we entered the passage way towards Amelia Island I couldn’t help but wonder why this particular stop-over was selected.

I could see a bit of green land but otherwise the riverbanks were filled with factories and smoke stacks. What an eyesore! This isn’t what I expect to see while I’m sailing around the world.

Let me back up a bit to how we planned our passage. In fact, allow me to start off with the big picture and work backwards.

Our ultimate goal is to go to Grenada, an island just above South America way down in the Caribbean Sea. We’d like to be anchored off this island for the next hurricane season. Considering that we got hit by two hurricanes and one tropical storm in Charleston, we’re hoping to have better luck in Grenada.

Furthermore, we’ve heard from other sailors that it’s a great place for kid boats. So…hurricane season starts in June and it’s December now. We have six months to get to the bottom of the Caribbean.

It’s worth noting that sailing plans often revolve around hurricane, typhoon and/or winter seasons. Our insurance won’t fully cover us if we’re in a hurricane zone during hurricane season so that helps us determine where we’re going and when we need to get there.

Our plan on getting to Grenada is very lose.

We intended to take short 1-day sails down along the coast of Florida in an effort to get me back into sailing. After our last passage, the 6-day sail from hell (Bermuda to America) I wanted an easier ride. Simon had a few places picked out but then he started talking with our boat neighbor, Michael, Captain of Entitled.

Michael had a passage plan lined up to get to Fort Lauderdale stopping at six different locations. One thing led to another and we decided that we’d join Michael all the way down to Florida.

The great thing about sailing is that you not only make fantastic friends easily, but you can learn a great deal from those with experience.

Michael has sailed the east coast for many seasons – he knows the good spots, the great restaurants and all the less expensive marinas. Thankfully Michael was willing to share his passage plan and his company with us. And being a solo sailor, I’m sure it’s nice to have a sailing companion for him too. We can enter a marina or anchorage first, get settled, and then help him. And when there’s something odd on the sea, (ex. a tanker that we can’t determine his/her intentions) we can call on the VHF and discuss our thoughts.

Back to Amelia Island.

As we motored up the river there was smoke and smog. The air was bitterly cold and it was raining. I was happy to see land but I couldn’t help but think we erred when asking Michael for ‘good’ spots to visit on our way down to Fort Lauderdale.

When we arrived at the anchorage around 11am and discovered a mooring ball field. Simon called the marina and a very nice gentleman gave us all the details about the fees, facilities and where to find the dinghy dock. Within minutes we tied onto a mooring ball ($20/night), dropped our dinghy and the boys headed over to Michaels boat to see if he needed any help.

Meanwhile I fried up some bacon preparing for a nice breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast.

All three boys came back to the boat and we enjoyed a lovely meal. After doing a night watch system of three hours on and three hours off, Andrew and Simon were very happy with the comfort food. And so was Michael!

We then tidied up the boat. I did Sienna’s homeschooling, which takes around two hours. And at 3pm, we put our wet weather gear on, go in the dinghy and headed to the marina. After a bit of paperwork and paying $20 for the mooring ball, we headed to a bar/restaurant right at the marina. (Link to the marina we stayed at below).

We all wanted to catch up using WIFI and cheers our beverages to our first successful sail. Inside I couldn’t help but think, ‘thank God we made it out of Charleston!’

It was such a push to make it happen but that first sail made me realize that we’re not done sailing yet!

The four of us then strolled up the main street. There was a Christmas Festival planned for the weekend. Unfortunately, due to the cold raining weather it was canceled. I’m sure it would have been amazing as the line up of music, food, and entertainment seemed extensive.

As we strolled along the street it dawned on me why Michael suggested Amelia Island as a stop. The town was beautiful. The main street was lined with adorable boutiques, cute cafes, eclectic bars and some great looking restaurants. Surely when the sun is out this town is a bustling hive of activity.

Furthermore, the marina was well kept, had nice bathrooms, laundry and everything you could ask for is in walking distance.

Unfortunately the marina is closed due to hurricane damage but the mooring balls, dinghy dock and facilities are available.

We settled on an Italian restaurant for dinner. Looking like drowned rats; we walked in and were greeted as if we were family. After peeling our wet weather gear off, we settled into our meals and enjoyed each other’s company.

COMING NEXT: Heading from Amelia Island to St Augustine. Make sure to subscribe to my weekly newsletter to get a notification of my latest video/newsletter. Sign up here

Sailing to Florida Amelia Island Video

Please be sure to leave a comment at YouTube or below. I try my best to answer YouTube comments first, website comments next and then if there’s time left over (after Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest) I will get to my emails. And I always answer Patreon emails as soon as possible.

Links to things mentioned/covered in the video

Grab a copy of the FREE GUIDE, ‘How to buy a boat without getting screwed

Visit our Sailing Britican sailing guides/books shop. All guides are digital. Some hard copy versions are found in our Etsy shop and on Amazon.

Check out our one-of-a-kind nautical t-shirts and other sailing gifts at our Etsy shop. We have great stuff for men, women and children. Grab a t-shirt, bathing suit cover-up, spices for sailors, nautical pillow covers and more!

The marina we stayed at (on a mooring ball) was Fernandina Harbor Maria (highly recommended – the staff and facilities are great there) and if you’re not familiar with how to tie onto a mooring ball, avoid making mistakes by reading my short easy-to-understand Mooring Balls Explained – A Checklist For A Secure Mooring.

Check out Andrew, our guest crewmember’s website at: Farne Island Tours UK

Am I missing anything? Did I leave anything unmentioned? Let me know 🙂

The post Sailing to Florida – Amelia Island appeared first on Sailing Britican.

Time To Set Sail

Time to set sail

Simon & Sienna taking one last walk down the beach near Charleston

There comes a point where you can’t do anymore and I’ve about hit that point. I’ve provisioned, pre-made meals to cook from frozen, have cleaned and stowed away anything and everything that I could possible fit. Space has been freed up by clearing out the old and bringing in the necessities. It’s time to set sail.

I think we have more food on board than when we did for our 18-day Atlantic Ocean crossing!

Simon and our new crewmember, Andrew, have accomplished massive amounts of jobs in the last week. The hull has been polished, the steel is glistening, our safety rails have been checked and secured, the davits (things that hold our dinghy) have finally been fixed (new cog, new motor, new controller), the outboard is working great, our mast has been fixed, the CopperCoat antifoul situation was remedied and our engines are working great.

Loads of odd jobs have been taken care of too – missing padding on floorboards replaced, cupboards and drawers cleaned out and organized, a door stopper replaced, our broken windless ‘down’ button swapped out, a broken fan replaced in the forward berth and… knock on wood…Britican has no leaks!

I’ve even purchased and stowed all the Christmas presents and purchased a ham.

The only things that need a bit of attention, before it’s time to set sail, are our watermaker and the new batteries. Both things can be seen to in Fort Lauderdale. And we need to sell our car too! I think we’ll be saying goodbye to her tomorrow.

So, in two days we’ll be heading south along the east coast from Charleston, South Carolina to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There’s a few stops that we’ll make in between but the ultimate goals is to get down to Ft Lauderdale within the next couple weeks.

From there we’re a bit torn as to which direction to head in.

We’ve been planning on visiting the Bahamas. Recently, however, we’ve discovered that it’s fairly difficult to get from the Bahamas over to the port we want to enter in Cuba. Cuba is high on my destination list. Furthermore, we have friends leaving Guatemala now who will be able to meet us Cuba (s/v Delphinus). So…we might just head south to Key West and then down to Cuba. We never know where we’ll end up until we actually get there.

Our ultimate destination for the end of the season is Grenada.

We’re looking to spend the hurricane season at anchor there. I’ve heard so many great things about the area so I’m quite excited to have a new long-term ‘home’ base. I just hope that we don’t have to dodge hurricanes like we have had to do this past year. Living through Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma was not a fun time.

On top of all the organizing and planning I’ve had a terrible cold. And to make matters worse, I also had to have a root canal.

I keep visualizing blue seas, warm wind and the smell of salt water. And of course, I constantly remind myself that it’s all worth it. A friend on a neighboring boat told me that there are three things that cause ‘trauma’ to people – dealing with death, something else (can’t remember!) and the third thing was moving. I wonder if our lifestyle fits into that heading? In some cases I think it is traumatic yet the excitement of it all, perhaps, counters the negative effects. I don’t know.

Looking back over our yearlong stay in America after sailing around for three years I have mixed feelings.

Staying so long has enabled us to make incredibly awesome friends, see my family often and grow roots. I can see why many sailors take a break from sailing and never get back out to sea. There’s a pull that’s very strong. A part of me just wants to stay.

Leaving land the first time in 2014 was far easier than it is leaving land now. The first time, I was running away from everything that I didn’t like. I was in search of a better way to live, freedom, sunshine and a closer connection to hubby and my daughter. This time I still want those things and I know I’ll get them…but I’m not running away.

Isn’t that interesting?

All the things I wanted to achieve by living the life of a full time cruiser were, for the most part, accomplished. I found a way to life a far more fulfilling life than I ever had before. During our stay in Charleston that new fulfillment must have remained with me. In other words, on my scale of living a fulfilling life I must have been around a 4 out of 10 in 2014.

Once we got out sailing my fulfillment levels increased massively.

I found absolute pleasure in the amazing sights. The lack of news and media was incredible. Eating local fresh non-processed foods was so gratifying. Having the time to grow closer to my husband and daughter was brilliant. And meeting all the lovely sailors/cruisers/live aboards that we’ve met throughout the years was way more fantastic than I could have ever imagined.

Fast forward to 2018 (almost) and I’m an 8 out of 10.

Although we’ve mostly been in a marina for a year, aside from our six weeks in Bermuda, we’ve been very happy. As usual it’s the people around you that make all the difference. Having our amazing boat neighbors for the year has really made the whole experience one that we’ll hold in our hearts forever. And the staff at the Marina have been fantastic.

So…the journey continues. As always, I’m excited to see what path we take now that it’s time to set sail. It will be interesting to find out where we end up and all the amazing people we get to meet along the way.

Check out our latest SailingBritican vlog update by clicking on the image below. In this one you’ll spend a bit of time with my family for Thanksgiving, watch us complete some of our many jobs, discover a bit about provisioning, meet our new crewmember, Andrew, and get an introduction to the concept of incinerating toilets.

Time to Set Sail vLog Video

If you have any comments, suggestions or something that will benefit all of us, please leave a comment below. I read and respond to all website comments (although if I’m sailing it could take a bit of time for me to respond). For more information on the lead up to our departure, please read: Preparing to Sail Away from America. And if you’d like to watch Britican as she makes her way south, make sure to check out our Britican’s Location page.

If you haven’t already, grab a copy of the FREE GUIDE, ‘How to buy a boat without getting screwed’ and/or visit our Etsy shop to get your hands on one of our many nautically themed t-shirts.

Check out our new crew member’s website about Farne Island Tours here:  and his YouTube channel.

Help us to keep making these free educational videos by becoming a part of our Patreon family.

To read more about our preparations for leaving America, read and watch Soon to be sailing away (again). If you like reading about our life living on a boat, consider buying my book…

Changing Lifestyles READER REVIEW
“I finished your book this week and absolutely loved it! It was great to read about your early days in many places we also sailed. I loved the way you combined your blogs/real life scenarios with advise on boat maintenance, letting go of your previous life and about your honestly throughout. I enjoy your style of writing Kim, and I loved the little Sienna quotes.” Jayne Eames-Thornton, s/v Delphinus

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Preparing to sail away from America

Sailing away from America

A trip to Costco to stock up on provisions for the boat!

I’m not sure when we’ll leave land? It could be in a few days or a week. It’s 2:50am and I woke with a spinning mind. There are many things to consider and complete.

Buying food is top of my list.

Once we get back into the Caribbean, cereal is over $10 a box, wine and beer is extortionate and niceties like crackers, cookies and snacks become luxuries rather than the norm. And of course meat costs more and in some areas it’s unrecognizable.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened a small mini market freezer quickly deciding that meat was off the menu for the evening. In the Caribbean, in the more remote areas, you might find a freezer chest that has frozen meat labeled, ‘Chicken’ or ‘Beef’ but due to it’s frozen state you can’t identify what cuts are in the bag or if, indeed, it is the meat you intend to buy!

When I stocked the boat with food in the past I considered all sorts of possibilities. I’d walk the grocery isles and think, ‘I might need this or that…’ I might want to make a pie (not that I’ve ever made a pie before). Or I might want to bake bread – no…haven’t made it to the bread making stage yet!

Now, I instead only fill the boat up with items that we use regularly. My best advice for provisioning is to make a list of your top five to ten meals and buy the ingredients for those meals.

It makes sense doesn’t it?

So…we love chili con carne, chicken curry, pasta, a range of soups, one pot meals (casseroles, pies, and stews), BBQ and salads. Sourcing local produce is easy – you buy whatever looks in-season. For the most part, fruit and veg can be sourced at a reasonable price. Furthermore, considering it’s perishable storing it on the boat isn’t too easy. You can freeze or get dried fruit and veg but overall, it’s often the least expensive item to buy while cruising, so why stock it?

Finding a can of kidney beans, Tikka Masala curry paste or even salad dressing can be difficult and it’s most certainly more expensive than in the States. So it’s those unique items that I stock in our bilges. It’s also the special treats that I like to have hidden away in the recesses of the boat – my Pepperage Farm cookies, Cranberries (for when we have Turkey), Ranch Dressing for my salads and PF Chang’s Sesame Sauce.

And back on the topic of vegetables…

…what I’ve discovered is that you often can’t get things you’ve relied on in the past. For example, broccoli and cauliflower are a staple veg in the States. They are, however, not easily found in many remote places. And an item like parsnips might be a normal occurrence in your household, but certain countries, like Italy, don’t stock or eat them (they feed parsnips to the horses only!).

Once I remember going three months not being able to find celery – that was in the Mediterranean. And when we were more recently in Bermuda I remember finding a variety of amazing looking veg but soon put it back on the shelf when I looked at the price!

With vegetables I’ve realized that substitutes are rather easy, however. In other words, I often go to the market and simply pick out the veg I can find that is reasonably priced and looks in-season. I then add it to my favorite meals. In many instances you can’t tell that anything has changed!

I’ve said this time and time again…living the sailing/cruising life teaches you to be flexible.

And when I say ‘flexible’ I mean that you end up being flexible about getting to where you want to go, seeing what you want to see, meeting people you want to meet and finding ingredients for your upcoming galley creations!

Interestingly, I assumed that I knew about all the fruit and veg that existed in the world. To my amazement every time we enter a new country or island it’s not uncommon for me to find something new. There’s loads of produce that doesn’t travel well so it simply doesn’t get exported!

In Italy I remember trying my first prickly pear and enjoying a fig sandwich (yes – fig in-between two slices of bread). In the Caribbean I recall a market woman explaining how to cook breadfruit and telling me to try soursop. At first I was nervous about trying and cooking new items but after a while it became fun to determine where and how to use my new found range of vegetable options.

In addition to food, the other biggie on my mind has been my daughter, Sienna’s, homeschooling.

We’ve recently been informed that she’s dyslexic so I’ve had to really spend quite a bit of time researching materials that will best help her to learn. Dyslexia is a condition where the child has difficulties learning to read and write. The difficulties can also extend to Math and other areas of life.

Thankfully there’s a huge range of items on the market to help dyslexic’s learn. What I’ve discovered is that a multi-sensory approach works best. The teacher has to teach with visual, auditor and feeling-based methods. I’ve been able to source a few programs that have teacher workbooks and all the materials for the student.

In many ways I think that homeschooling Sienna might be in her best interest. Finding a school that specializes in dyslexia isn’t easy nor is it cheap. And most of the public (free) schools don’t have systems in place to easily cater to dyslexic children.

Homeschooling is a big task to undertake…and working with a child with a condition makes the weight heavier on my shoulders but I feel that I’m armed with the right resources and have some good connections with people that can help. It will be interesting to see how the process unfolds. My goal is to provide my daughter with an education that really enables her to want to learn and grow more and more. I want to provide here with the tools and skillset to be able to learn, explore, create and to ultimately allow her to figure out what she likes to do so she can go unleash her abilities on the world at large.

So…I’ve covered food and Sienna’s education.

I suppose the next thing on my mind taking up space is Christmas. I’ve ordered all of Sienna’s presents and have secretly placed them in the bilge. I’m hoping that none of the presents get lasting bilge smell! I’ve obtained the meat for our Christmas meal – I went for ham having just had turkey for Thanksgiving. In the next day or so I’ll grab a few items for Simon…and I think we’ll have at least one crew member with us so I’ll grab a couple little things for him to open.

And just this evening Simon and I went on a manhunt to find our Elf on the Shelf! We located him wrapped in red tissue paper in a ziplock bag under our forward berth bed. We had to move some sails and really hunt around but alas, our Elf named Noddy, will soon appear on Britican for the Christmas season.

Noddy is an interesting character.

We’re not sure if he has in issue with his geolocation settings because he can, from time to time, end up on a neighboring boat! Sienna has learned that when she can’t find Noddy immediately that he might be a boat or two down the pontoon or in the anchorage!

While finding Noddy we also found our Christmas decorations. Before we leave America we’ll put up anything that is suitable. We’ll decorate our small fake tree and then find a way to secure it while we sail! Both Simon and I feel that traditions are super important so we do our best to make the holidays a fun time on Britican.

What else is rumbling around in my head?

Well, there’s all my emails, video’s, sailing guide amendments/improvements/updates and new guides – the whole business side of that I have to consider.

We’ve been doing a vLog style video offering in addition to ‘how-to’ videos and my aim has been to publish one video every week. vLog videos show watchers what we get up to every week and it’s somewhat like a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary. I love to make these kinds of videos but it’s hard to stop what we’re doing and take a clip! Oftentimes something really cool happens and I totally forget to take my camera out. And when I sit down to make a vLog video I never know if I have enough footage – or if it’s interesting enough. Hehehe.

This week I’m going to have to postpone my video production, however. I just can’t fit it in. To give you and idea of the time involved in making video’s, it takes me around two full days to put one together and that’s not including taking the video. The editing process is massive – I usually take around an hour of footage and reduce it to 10 to 30 minutes. And then there are voice overs and a whole slue of other things. I absolutely love making the video’s though…

And the final big thing on my mind is sort of an elephant in the room.

After 20 years of living in England I’ve had the opportunity to live back in my home country, America, for just over a year. It’s been so fantastic to drive on the correct side of the road, enjoy breakfast at IHOP, get anything and everything I want delivered within two days from Amazon, smell the smells of America and take in the amazing sights. I am ‘home’ in America and it’s going to be hard to leave once again.

And there’s all the amazing friends we’ve made in Charleston. We’ve met so many great people in the marina, at the resort and in the local area. Every time we see them we act like everything is ‘normal’ but we all know it’s almost time to part ways.

Most importantly, I’ve had my family around me.

My brother and his family in addition to my mom and step-dad live only four to five hours away. For 20 years I’ve had to spend around 24 hours to fly in and see them but for the past year we’ve been able to drive up to them. And just knowing that I can see my family anytime I want has been such a treat. We’ve probably visited over 20 times! And that’s not including our weeklong stays with my brother due to hurricane Mathew and Irma!

Last week for Thanksgiving my family and I stayed at my brothers. As always we had a great time. Interestingly, however, none of us talked about the fact that we’re sailing away from the States. None of us broach the subject of ‘when will we see each other next…’

The pain of leaving my family is big.

I’m feeling heartbreak, sadness and grief. After speaking with my friend, Pauleen, I’ve realized that I’ve been pushing away these strong feelings. My hope was that I could just ignore them until I’m sitting on some tropical beach and able to forget my pain.

But as Pauleen helped me to realize if I didn’t feel this pain it would mean that I didn’t have such a strong connection and love for my family. And having that strong connection and love is good. It’s very good!

A wise person once told me that there’s no good or bad – there’s only your perception.

The feelings I feel – the heartbreak, sadness and grief are there only because I care. And when realizing that, I feel like I can appreciate those feelings and allow them to be. I’m still sad but the sadness has a purpose rather than being something I want to ignore.

And just as a side note…Simon and I have talked about staying in the States. We’ve talked about stopping our sailing life. But when we envision doing something else we can’t see anything. In other words, we can’t imagine ourselves doing anything other than what we’re doing. Although it’s very difficult, at times, to do what we’re doing we do absolutely love to do it. And we have to push ourselves to do it.

Once again we’re going out of our comfort zone.

Sure, we know what to expect, more so than when we first left land, but it’s still hard. There are many unknowns. In fact, in some cases we now know enough to know that there are way more unknowns then when we first sailed. Ignorance truly is bliss.

Why do I share this with you?! Well, I want you to realize that it’s hard for us. Often people tell me how confident I am and I turn to look at them like they’re crazy. I’m not confident. I’m freaking scared to death half the time…but I’ve learned that it’s often by forcing ourselves into the unknown that we really feel fulfilled with life.

So…it’s almost 4:00am.

The tide has changed and I can hear the water push up against the stern. A Great Heron just squawked overhead. I can also hear the floor heaters (it’s cold here!) and the freezer pump (which I turned on yesterday). Simon is snoring and Sienna is moving around a bit. In a couple hours we’ll all be up doing our normal and not-so-normal routines.

Sienna will go to school for the last Tuesday (ever?), Simon and I will fix the outboard kill switch, finish waxing the boat, put the sails on, buy more food, cook meals for the voyage, prepare for the arrival of our newest crew member, and post this article. In the evening we’ll have some boat friends over to help Sienna decorate our tiny Christmas tree and it will be another great day of living life on a boat.


To read more about our preparations for leaving America, read and watch Soon to be sailing away (again). If you like reading about our life living on a boat, consider buying my book…

Changing Lifestyles READER REVIEW
“I finished your book this week and absolutely loved it! It was great to read about your early days in many places we also sailed. I loved the way you combined your blogs/real life scenarios with advise on boat maintenance, letting go of your previous life and about your honestly throughout. I enjoy your style of writing Kim, and I loved the little Sienna quotes.” Jayne Eames-Thornton, s/v Delphinus

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Soon to be sailing away (again)

Soon to be sailing awayWith the hurricane season finally drawing to a close, we are soon to be sailing away. Yippie! Over the past couple weeks, we returned from time away from the boat (we flew to England to see friends and family). Upon our return we put Britican back into the water, moved her to Charleston Harbor Marina and have been preparing for our imminent departure to Florida, Bahamas and down into the Caribbean.

We took the boat out of the water so to get our antifoul (hull bottom paint) issues remedied. For some reason something didn’t work right so we’re hoping that our CopperCoat antifoul story will ultimately end with a positive conclusion. Britican was hauled out of the water and CopperCoat touchups and sanding were completed. We won’t be for sure about how it’s worked for a couple months but I’m feeling optimistic. For more on that, check out my article and video entitled, Liveaboard life. Let’s hope that we’ll now be able to rave about how amazing the product actually is.

While Britican was out of the water we had our underwater zincs changed on the propeller and shaft, cutlass bearing serviced, mast paint job fixed and Simon painted the propeller with five coats of egg whites (a secret anti foul recipe).

At the marina we’ve been doing various boat jobs including getting the outboard serviced and a variety of jobs on our watermaker. Water comes at a premium in the Caribbean so we need to ensure we can make our own. Our primary pump died so we ordered a new one. And all our membranes need to be changed – the component that takes the salt out of the water. As with many things on our boat we started off thinking it wouldn’t be too challenging yet every step has been quite difficult.

Fortunate for us we have amazing friends around to help us out!

Aside from the boat jobs we’ve been socializing with other boaties, enjoying beach walks and preparing for our departure from the U.S. of A. I’ve ordered all of our daughter’s homeschooling materials. After recently discovering that she’s Dyslexic I took quite a bit of time to research the overwhelming amount of options. There’s loads of help out there…you just have to weed through it all! After weeks of research I decided to go with a program called, ‘All About Reading,’ and ‘All About Spelling’. These programs have been designed for children with reading disabilities.

I’m secretly thinking that while teaching Sienna how to read, write and spell that I might finally get my act together on the topic. Hahahahah.

So…the official countdown has begun. We’re aiming for a departure from Charleston around the beginning of December! Below is our latest Sailing Britican vlog style update. We hope you enjoy…

Soon to be sailing away video

Any questions, comments or stories that you’d like to add? Please leave them in the comments below 🙂

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