Bye Bye Cocoa

P1020722After waiting an extra day due to a cold front and strong Northerly winds, we left Cocoa, Florida on Tuesday, 23 March to begin our transit North, back to the Chesapeake Bay.

We don’t anticipate the trip will take the same 8 weeks as our transit southbound was in the autumn.  But, we also don’t really know how long we will be on the move.

We anticipate that this transit will entail off shore passages which will decrease the number of miles/kolometers but will also increase the number of days we may be sitting in marinas or at anchor waiting for a good weather window for going sailing.

But first, we will transit back up the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) through Florida for the next week.

Today we left Cocoa and arrived in Titusville, FL on what was a lovely and uneventful day on the water.  It felt good to be moving again.


Our first manatee close encounter…

manatee signAs if to say “good-bye” to us, we saw our first manatee in the marina today, the day before we plan to leave Cocoa, Florida.  (No photos unfortunately)

We have seen manatees from a distance as we transited the ICW but this is the first time we were stationary and had one swimming next to our boat.  They do move SLOWLY!  And are really quite cute.

Per the marina staff, if we were to stay through Spring we would see many more mating in the marina.  We will be missing that show as we begin to head North.

Charting the way….

With Spring approaching and many boat projects now completed, it is time to start charting our way back North.

Planning the returnBob has been researching and planning our transit back to the Chesapeake Bay.

The current plan is to depart Cocoa, Florida on Monday, 21 March and retrace our path up to northern Florida, arriving in Fernandina Beach a week or so later.

There we will excitedly wait for a beautiful sailing day and do our first offshore daysail to St. Simon’s Island in Georgia.


Engine is ready…

The engine has 1600 hours or so on it and we were not sure what maintenance or service previous owners had done over the past 15 years.

So one of the things we wanted to take care of while in Cocoa was to have the engine serviced, and checked out to be sure the manufacturer recommended things were done.

Finding a mechanic in Central Florida in the height of winter is challenging, and after waiting several weeks for mechanics that ended up not being able to fit us in the schedule we found a great outfit who did the work very professionally in a very timely manner.

Among other things this entailed having the heat exchanger checked, which we were very glad to have done as it was found to be corroded and would have most likely failed at some point.  And two bolts holding it on could not be loosened and had to be cut.

Additionally the injectors were pulled and found to need adjustments.

And although Bob could have replaced the thermostat, we were very glad to have the mechanic do this because again the bolts could not be loosened and required a special torch.


We were very glad to have hired professionals to do the work.  And now we have confidence the engine is ready to go.

And still more projects…

We decided to take the opportunity to do some teak work while we have been in Cocoa.

When the boat was refit last year, the rigging was changed and controls for the main sail which used to be handled from the cockpit table are now elsewhere.  This meant that we had a now superfluous winch in the middle of the cockpit table.  Bob used this as a hat rack, but we decided removing it would make better use of the table for eating and entertaining purposes.

So our first teak project was to remove the winch and stain the weathered teak on the table with Cetol to make it a bit more attractive.

Table 1 Table 2Table 4






Now that  Bob had experience working with Cetol, we also decided to touch up and put a new layer of gloss on the toerail.  Now our teak is shiny and looking great still.  This is a pretty easy maintenance project which if done once a year should keep the boat looking good.


More boat projects…

Our stay in Cocoa, Florida has lasted a bit longer than initially planned, but with the crazy weather and winds this winter in this part of the world we don’t think we missed much by not moving further south or crossing to the Bahamas.

While we have been in Cocoa we changed our the holding tank sensor – which was not pleasant work, but not as bad as it could have been.

The holding tank is where human waste is collected onboard.  Knowing when the holding tank is getting full is important to us as there are some things we don’t want to overflow.  So we wanted to have a working holding tank sensor that would indicate the level of waste in the tank.

Holding Tank Sensor 2

This entailed replacing the old plastic model with a new shiny (for the moment) stainless steel one.


Holding Tank Sensor 3 Holding Tank Sensor 4The process went pretty smoothly.

Another system of the boat has been learned.  And Bob got to continue to hone his electrical skills.


The New Outboard Has Arrived

The battle of the outboard has been won.

IMG_0187The new Yamaha 6HP 4 stroke outboard has arrived.

We are happy to report it starts everytime.  We have motored around the marina for the recommended 2 hours of initial engine use to wear in the engine.


Now we can comfortably anchor or moor out anywhere, and have reliable transportation to and from shore.

Replacing the Bilge Pump

Boat repairs and maintenance are excellent opportunities to really learn about the boat, where things are located and how they work.  It takes much of the mystery out of it, and for every repair there is a sense of satisfaction that a problem has been addressed.

Once we arrived in Cocoa, Florida we ordered a new bilge pump and went through the process of replacing the old one that didn’t seem to be automatically shutting off.

IMG_0176Bob located the pump at the bottom of the companionway, disconnected and uninstalled the old one.



IMG_0178When it was time to connect and install the new one, the big question arose of how was the old one attached?   Did it go on this way….. or that way?

Was it pointed forward or aft?

Yeap, it took a couple of tries before getting it right.

Lesson learned — take a photo BEFORE uninstalling the old one so we know how to replace it more easily without so much guesswork.

After figuring that out we tested the pump and it seemed to work in that it pumped out a small amount of water from the bilge.

Now to figure out why and where water is getting into the bilge.  To date – where the water is coming from is still a mystery and the new bilge pump has not come on automatically – and most importantly the boat is still afloat.

What’s that noise…..?

Most people envision living on a boat to be quite relaxing and stress free.  And trust us, there is a lot of relaxing on board.   But, living on a boat also has its own constant level of stress.

Living on board a “new to us” boat means learning all the different noises, smells, and sights of the boat.  This is most important especially if one of those noises, smells or sights changes unexpectedly.

This heightened sense of awareness can result in a constant level of stress, affecting sleep, and overall enjoyment.  We can attest this has been true for us this first year on board.

Water pumps that come on, crackling noises on the hull, banging of shrouds, and more keep us alert.

Imagine our surprise and ultimate concern when back in November on (US) Thanksgiving Day night in the middle of the night around 2am, we were awakened by a new sound.

At first we thought it was a neighboring boat’s wind generator, but when we popped our heads up through the companionway we could not hear the sound outside.

Uh oh!  That means it is coming from our boat!  As the fog of sleep quickly cleared, we pondered what could be causing this whining mechanical noise.

It was only then that we noticed the automatic bilge pump light was illuminated.  We flicked the switch off and the sound went away.

First mystery solved – but now for all the questions and concerns that get raised because of it.

  1. Why did the bilge pump come on?  – The bilge pump is set to automatically come on when it detects water in the bilge and pumps the water out.  In the 6 months we had been living on the boat at the time, the bilge pump never came on.
  2. We were thankful the pump did come on – but why was there water in the bilge? Where was the water coming from?  Was there a leak?  and where?
  3. Why didn’t the bilge pump shut off automatically when the water was evacuated?

We knew there wasn’t much we could do at the moment, the boat didn’t seem to be in immediate danger, we have a second bilge pump which had not been activated and we were safely tied up in a marina so we could get help quickly if so needed.  We set the pump back to automatic, and went back to sleep pondering the many possibilities.

Two nights later, again at 2am, the pump came on again and didn’t shut itself off.  Urgh!

We concluded we do indeed have two separate issues:

  1.  Water is getting into the bilge
  2. The pump is faulty and won’t shut off

At this point we were halfway through our 2 month journey to Florida and decided to monitor the situation and try to figure it out.  So, when we would stop for the night each day we would switch the bilge pump to “on” to pump out whatever water was in the bilge.  Then reset it to “automatic” so it would come on if water was detected.  This plan solved the middle of the night alarms.

But knowing we had the problem meant we were not going to be comfortable leaving the boat for a weekend getaway on land until things were fixed.