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Cruising with Sharon & Wallace on the Benford Fantail 38, DIRT FREE

From here on we will combine the blog and Marine Surveyors Newsletter on this one page, doing both is too much with the limited WiFi access while cruising.

Old issues of Marine Surveyors Newsletter

Links to Last years SHARON"S BLOG

Part 6 - Florida to The Abacos
Part 5 - St.Augustine to Verobeach FL
Part 4 - Charleston SC to St.Augustine FL
Part 3 - Norfolk to Charleston SC
Part 2 - Chesapeake City to Norfolk
Part 1 - Toronto to Chesapeake City

DIRT FREE with hurricane straps at Indiantown, Florida
December 9, 2017 from North Palm Beach, Florida.
It's been a long wait for the transmission rebuild and not an easy task getting it back in but everything is fresh and clean. I had some red paint left over , hence the spiffy red muffler. Now that everything is back together we have nothing to do but wait for a window to cross the gulf stream.

Rebuilt Transmission arrives

Transmission installed
December 2, 2017 from North Palm Beach, Florida.
Transmission out and we sit at the dock waiting for it at an upscale marina in Palm Beach. They pick up your garbage, come and operate the in-slip pump out, will drive you to the store, take your mail and arrange postage. This was the only available slip within 20 miles (too far to paddle). Below we have included a few shots of out dock neighbours, we are the smallest boat in the place. We have not asked how much this stay will cost ..... we're afraid to.

We got our solar system up and running again with a new contoller. It turned out the cheap junk circuit breaker provided as part of the package from Arizona Northern Wind & Sun was arcing and destroyed the control panel. They actually acknowledged their breakers "were not the best" but offered no compensation so I got a new controller and circuit breaker from another vendor, they are not a supplier I would recommend.

Tonight we watched the Palm Beach Christmas boat parade. Having the transmission out gave me a chance to clean and paint the area of the bilge that was inaccessible due to the gear box. Looking forward to a nice fresh, clean installation.

Palm Beach Christmas parade

Lots of fun
November 30, 2017 from North Palm Beach, Florida.
After six weeks of back breaking work in Indiantown (scroll down to see that) we finally moved
down to West Palm to wait for a weather window to cross the gulf stream. After about nine days a pretty good window opened up and off we went. Half way to Grand Bahama the transmission blew out. We called TowBoatUS and got towed back to West Palm. The ride back was vicious, being dragged head on to 6' waves at greater than hull speed. We took some serious slamming. Somewhere along the line our new solar controller also crapped out.
Being the Friday of a long weekend in an area that is still recovering from Hurricane damage no slips were available so we anchored til' Monday when we were towed to the only available slip within 20 miles, Old Port Cove Marina where we are the smallest boat in the place. Now begins the torture of dealing with US Customs again (Nine phone calls and 11 visits in two weeks). I fully intend to write a separate article (after I cool down) about the circus known as US Customs & Border Patrol.

So now we start dismantling everything around the engine and gear box so we can jack up the engine to pull the transmission out. Our next task to to find someone who has the parts and can rebuild it for us. This can be a very frustrating part of cruising .... a complete lack of knowledge of where to get parts or help from in an unfamiliar area.

We got the transmission out and fouind the damper plate in about forty pieces inside the bell housing. New damper plate on order and having the transmission rebuilt and replacing the oil cooler even though they seem fine. It is just not worth this effort and not repace everything while we have the access.

The culprit damper plate
Transmission out
November 16, 2017 from West Palm Beach, Florida.
At Anchor waiting for a weather window to cross to Bahamas. There were several good windows last week but they seem to be thinning out now. We are anchored just across from Abramovich' yacht. His three tenders are each bigger than our boat and he has a swimming pool but does not have a Sharon .... poor guy !. Sharon claimed she was making a repair to the bottom of the cockpit table. I suspect there was alcohol involved.

Alcohol involvement ?

Anchored across from Abramovich' yacht
October 11, 2017 from Indian Harbour, Florida.

After spending the summer (boatless) in Ontario we wandered back to Florida for the winter cruising season and we do mean "wandered". NY, OH, PA, WV. KY, (fantastic caves), MS, TN (had to see Graceland), AK, AL, GA and finally Florida and home to DIRT FREE.

We had almost 2 weeks in the storage field (no power or water), hurricane strapped to the ground before we could get her moved to the work yard for two weeks where we had some significant projects planned (Man plans, God Laughs), then two weeks on the dock grateful for the a/c. We were not expecting to take more than a week just to clean the boat inside and out due to sugar cane ash, extreme heat and humidity damage (could not open most lockers) along with frogs, ants and crawly bugs inside the boat. We took all the recommended precautions, putting scrubbies in the throughulls, pans of charcoal, tubs of DampRid, wipe everything down with vinegar etc. but we will never leave the boat in a Florida summer again.

Our first project was to replace our failed dripless seal unit which meant also removing the shaft flange. This alone took two weeks of working doubled over like a pretzel for very long days. The failed seal had sprayed salt water over the flange, fuel tanks and gear unit. The flange had virtually rust welded to the shaft.
Indiantown Marina
After working very long days in 105°F with devasting humidity I gave up, bought a reciprocating saw and a 7.5" disc grinder and cut it off. It came off in 11 pieces and even that took two days due to heat and limited access.

Other projects included cutting out a corroded aluminum (idiot builder) waste tank and building a new integral epoxy tank, new toilet (didn't feel like rebuilding), new Bullet Wifi antenna system, new GPS antenna for the Standard Horizon plotter (dead internal battery, who knew ?) ,
new solar system with Kyocera 170Watt panel with Blue Sky MPPT controller, new cork sole in the v-berth to match the rest of the boat, new bottom paint, re-painting non-skid, new custom made freezer door, expand size of freezer and install new dinghy hoisting cables ..... Lots of photos below.

We Leave Indiantown in a few minutes with a few smaller projects on the wish but it's time to get out of here. Real life is on the water so we'll complete and detail other projects as we complete them over the winter in the sea of Abaco.

to cut up the aluminum (stooopid builder) waste tank to get it out

Waste tank out and bilge cleaned and ready for epoxy

Four layers of biax cloth and two gallons of epoxy, same for the top plate

New tank completed and all put back together

Old flange, two weeks of back breaking work and 11 $%#@&% pieces !

New dripless seal, shaft flange and compartment cleaned of rust

Sharon pulled up the old carpet (not good on a cruising boat), always full of sand.

Then laid new cork tiles. Note the compound curve cuts, not an easy task

Entire solar installation done in one day and we are thrilled.

Most of the day was spent just running cables
Others tell of nightmare complexity programming the Bullet but thumbs up to Sailors Solutions for their plug'n'play, pre programmed Bullet Wifi system. One half day install
On our trip south last year we built a freezer while underway. The door was a rather crude plywood unit with foam board glued to it. It worked but we knew we could do better.

Soo .... back in Ontario for the summer we built this gasketed, 5" thick aluminum frame unit and installed it while in Indiantown. It works much better but as always I have another idea on how to gasket it even better. Unfortunately we can't do that til' we eat the 30lbs. of meat in there.

Old temporary door
New freezer door
It hasn't all been hard work, we also took a couple of date days. One at the Indiantown Rodeo a first for both of us.
Date day number two - Finally convinced Sharon to try sushi .... she liked it ! Spent the day doddling around Port Salerno visiting marine consignment shops and walking the docks
Look closely, this rusty old boat was built using the roof and glass work from an old Studebaker.
Entrance to Mammoth Caves, Kentucky Mammoth and fascinating
Entrance to Mammoth Caves, Kentucky
Mammoth and fascinating


Elvis had same taste in decor as his clothes
2016 - Random photos of our cruise from Toronto to the Sea of Abaco

Sharon Paints and sketches for the entire trip

Swimming pigs on No Name Cay

I Win - Wallace

Little Harbour, Sea of Abaco

Beer flavoured ice cream ...... works for Sharon :)

Marsh Habour sunset

stingrays at Manjack Cay

Lunch - oysters and blue crab

Wallace slaves over a hot stove

Never gets old !

Dirt Free at Little Harbour

It ain't all lobster and rum

Queen of my world

Wallace and the Bean

6' nurse shark

DIRT FREE from the Elbow Reef Lighhouse

Sharon likes to do sunsets

Another Sharon sunset

Tahiti Beach

Sharon and Wallace on Tahiti Beach

Sharon's sketch of Sharon and Wallace :)

Manjack Cay

A Wallace Arrangement

I hold Sharon's beers while she takes my photo

Oh Sharon, what have you done ?

My lucky pants ..... very lucky !

Sharon at Manjack Cay

Spinning rod, trolling rod & Hawaiian sling - Lets go out for lunch today Sharon

Eagle ray off our stern

Lunch :)

Wallace doesn't always slave over a hot stove

No swimming !

Lunch and dinner

Simply the best

The bean and Wallace

This beauty got stepped on :(

Lobster & chicken

Elbow Reef lighthouse from DIRT FREE :)

A Sharon sunset with Lobster and short ribs - This never gets old either :)

Sharon and Wallace

Sharon and Wallace

A Sharon arrangement

Bikes at the beach

Oh Sharon, what have you done ?

Albany, NY

Troy, NY

Phoenix, NY

Cape May, NJ

Atlantic City

Atlantic City

NJ Ferry terminal on the Hudson

An entire cheesecake for dessert

Sharon's first loaf made onboard

Whooo Hoooo ! Sharon let me drive for a while

Music in every park on the NY State canal System

We have no idea !

Sluice lock on the Erie

Sharon loves locks :) .... a very unusual woman.

Phoenix, NY

Sandy Hook, NJ

Jamaica Bay, NY

Elliott Cut, SC

Upper Hudson River

Cleaning debris from canal after heavy rain
Phoenix, NY
Blue Rose Inn, Cape May, NJ. Site of our honeymoon

10 more and I have a meal

Waterford, NY

Lyon, NY

Phoenix, NY

Erie Canal lock

Lake Oneida anchorage

Phoenix, NY

Seneca Canal Lock

Erie canal lock

Oswego, NY

Croton on the Hudson at anchor

Yonkers, NY

Canajoharie, NY

Canajoharie, NY

Canajoharie, Ny

Canajoharie, NY

Oswego, NY

Sylvan Beach, NY

Sharon lets me drive sometimes

Sharon and a glass of wine on the beach ....... go figure :)

Yonkers, NY

Yonkers, NY, free dock

Bike Night, Syvan Beach, NY. Our Trek bikes have belt drive just like the Harley's

No idea where this is :)

We fit right in with the Harley's

Canajoharie, NY

Canal weeds in the strainer every day

Like the sign says

Fulton, New York

Erie Canal

Dredges on the Erie Canal
My Sharon at Fulton NY Dirt Free giant next to Ranger tug

Tugs on the Erie Canal

Flight locks into Waterford NY at the Hudson
What did you expect :)

oops ! saw this too late

Little Falls NY

Best burgers, Copper Moose, Little Falls. marinated in porter beer & served with melted porter cheese

Liberty Park, Liberty Island NY

Little Falls NY

Manhattan background

Ribs marinated in whiskey and molasses mmmmmmmmmmmmmm :)

We do eat well :)

Manhattan from our slip at Liberty Landing

Ellis Island

Ferry from Liberty Island to Ellis Island

The original flame

Model of Liberty's framework
Inside the Statue of Liberty
At anchor, cape May NJ

Many of the photos above are from the NY State Canal System, one of the best and cheapest cruising grounds around. If you'd like to know more about this system take a look at our Cruising the NY State Canal System article for many more photos of this beautiful system.