During the first day we all noticed the bilge light on quite a bit, but didn’t give it too much thought. None of us were really sure what all was connected to the bilge. Maybe it was the refrigerator draining into the bilge or possibly water washing over the decks. There was no high water alarm or water coming up from the floorboards so we didn't give it too much though. But we’ll come back to that later.
We had tried fishing with zero bites for the first couple days, stowing the pole at night so we didn’t have to deal with filleting a fish on the back deck in the dark. After some time we were able to land a Mahi. Teddy had the honor of bringing the first fish aboard his new boat. We started to filet the fresh catch and discussing our new options for dinner. When the first side was cut we heard the whirr of the line being run out behind the boat. We had a second fish on and haven’t even cleaned up the first. Days at sea without so much as a bite on the line and now we have more than we can process. Brett grabbed the pole to bring in the next one while Teddy continued to finish up the first fish and make room for more fish cleaning. The second Mahi was landed, cleaned and put in the freezer since we already had 20lbs of meat to get through. We stowed the pole for the rest of the day. We had the line out every other day with no luck. It was just as well since we had plenty of meat to eat, even if we wouldn’t be able to cook it for much longer.
Jesse woke for his shift, planning to get a nice hot cup of coffee before starting his watch. Unfortunately, the stove refused to light. A quick walk to the back deck to check the propane tank revealed a regulator that was literally in pieces. It had corroded so far that it simply fell apart. With no other regulator on board he set out gluing and taping it back together and hooked it up to the second tank. The first one quickly emptied when the regulator disintegrated. The repair would last a couple days, but it was leaking when we used the stove so we were blowing through twice as much fuel for cooking. It was a great repair for the conditions but we all knew it wouldn’t hold up forever. We changed our meal plans to cook more food until we inevitably ran out of propane again. Then it was tuna and PB&Js for the final push to Florida.
While I was quietly sleeping one night I heard a racket in the cockpit. I figured the wind had just slammed the sail during a gybe and went back to blissfully ignorant sleep. When I woke for my watch Teddy let me know that the topping lift had snapped during the night. The wire portion was currently wrapped around the mast and shrouds while the rope that had connected to it hung limply off the back of the boom. Nobody had thought to bring a bosun’s chair or climbing harness for the trip. I decided to fashion a swiss seat out of one of the docklines. We woke Brett up so he could steer while Teddy hoisted me up the mast with the spinnaker halyard. Jesse heard the plan but stayed in his berth until we turned the boat and slowed down. Unbeknownst to him we just kept on trucking towards Fort Lauderdale and I scaled the mast without slowing down or taking the waves smoother. We didn’t have time to delay and pure testosterone would keep me safe anyway. I tied some paracord around the wire and led it to the boom. Jesse came up on deck and grabbed the cord to stitch it to the line. Fortunately for me he dropped it, sending the wire around the mast yet again. So I got another opportunity to try out my climbing skills. On the second ascent I pulled the rope up with me and fed it through the wire. With the topping lift restrung we were off sailing again.
You usually hear unfamiliar sounds with a new boat and this was no exception. We noticed a loud constant buzzing. When Teddy investigated he noticed the aft bilge was getting pretty full of water. The bilge light was now constantly on but the pump was no longer pumping. It seems the pump had finally given out after days of near constant use. Teddy grabbed the oil extractor and began sucking out the water he could get. We emptied 6 gallons of water and the bilge was almost dry. Not knowing how bad of a leak we were dealing with we waited for the high water alarm to sound again. 3 hours later we had our answer. Another 6 gallons were manually extracted by Teddy. With a tired crew not ready to tackle an unknown leak and no extra bilge pumps on board we continued with manually pumping the bilge. After a day and a half Teddy was through manually pumping water and found that the deck wash had its own water pump. He routed the hoses to the bilge and overboard. Now it was a simple flip of a circuit breaker to drain the bilge. However we still had an unknown leak aboard. Teddy started pulling up all the panels he could. Finally he got to the rudder stock. This is where our leak was coming from. We were 2 days out of Fort Lauderdale, and I wasn’t that confident I could fix the leak without causing more steering problems. I’d rather have a controlled leak than a seized rudder. Jesse and Teddy agreed. It would be something to be fixed when the boat could be hauled, or at least with only a couple feet of water underneath instead of a couple thousand feet.
We finally made it into Fort Lauderdale and tied up just inside the ICW since it was dark when we were in the channel. We met up with Kristen from Life in the Key of Sea for a pizza dinner to celebrate the landfall. It was really great that Brett and Kristen were staying in Fort Lauderdale and could help with ground transportation while we were finishing up the delivery. Early the next morning we untied and started making our way North on the ICW. After 7 bridges and some close quarters maneuvering we had Asante tied up just before the rain started. The crew quickly departed a couple hours later for our flights home. Teddy stayed awhile longer to make sure all was secure and Asante had a good wash down since he wouldn’t be able to return for a few weeks.
None of the issues were insurmountable and it most assuredly was a shakedown cruise. The crew worked well together to fix any of the issues we found. We sailed over 1000 miles without ever touching land. The crew and captain enjoyed the ride and compiled a list of items that needed attention before Teddy sets sail on his trip around the world. Asante will no doubt serve him well and I can’t wait to hear all about his adventures.
I had a great time sailing across the Caribbean with TeddyJ from Sail Loot, Jesse from s/v Smitty, and Brett from Life in the Key of Sea. Be sure to check out their pages and follow along on their adventures.
Thanks for the sail TeddyJ.