Cruising 2007

To Return or Not?

Chapter 1: Keystone Cops

Top most on my mind as I begin this season’s cruise is the notion that this might be the first leg of the journey to return the Sirius II to Puget Sound—from whence I came nearly 14 years ago.  Thus, the subtitle.  However, in the recesses of my mind are the many interesting areas of the Caribbean where I have not yet sailed.  I am mindful of the Leeward Islands, the Windward Islands, the Lesser Antilles, Venezuela and Columbia.  But that might be more than this aging sailor can do.

Another subtitle I toy with: “The Voyage of the Keystone Kops,” as so many things happened on this trip that can’t happen.  But, they do, as you will read.

So, for the first time in three years, the Sirius II will set out on a southerly course with Isla Mujeras, Mexico as the first stop.  Sailing with the winds for a change, rather than heading into the winds.  But hold this thought:  I didn’t reckon with no wind.

The usual steps are taken in preparing for this trip.  First, the trip to one of the few working boatyards remaining in the Key West/Stock Island area for a haul out.  (The boat yards are one-by-one being bought out by investors who want to built exclusive condo-marinas, similar to what is occurring with hotels and trailer courts throughout the Keys.)

Grandson Spencer Spencer sailed with me to Mexico

First and foremost I want to locate and repair the metallic “rattle” noticeable at certain rpm’s when the motor is running and the forward gear is engaged.  This irritating noise, and potential damage that might be associated with it, is what brought me back early from last year’s cruise to the Bahamas.  Then, check and repair the bottom for blisters in the fiberglass, sand the repairs, apply multiple coats of epoxy sealer and bottom paint and, of course, a general cleaning and bright work maintenance.  During much of this time  Grandson Spencer is with me and is put to work assisting in some of the maintenance topside.

The yard mechanics note that the cutless bearing is worn, but all other components of the drive system are A-OK.  A crack is later discovered in the propeller and that is replaced, although not with an identical propeller, which might explain the problem with speed that is experienced later.

Finally, back into the water to fuel up and take on the remaining stores.  We go back to the anchorage to retrieve the mooring ball held in place by two anchors, anchors which are needed aboard the Sirius II for this trip.  I still hear the rattle.

Another long day is needed to secure the houseboat for my absence—especially in the event of tropical storms or hurricanes.  Housemate Ray will still occupy the lower deck, but I need to secure the skiff, dock boxes, sliding glass doors aft, etc.  Then, we are ready.

It is early morning Saturday July 7, 2007.  Stores have been properly stowed, the cabin is secure, extra water, diesel and gas cans are secure, the dinghy is covered and lashed to the foredeck.  It is a beautiful day in Key West Harbor, a proper setting for a new journey.

  Chapter 2

Copyright © 2008 Steven Jones. All Rights Reserved.
2007 Cruising