Yume is back in Marathon Key, 40 miles east of Key West, on a mooring ball for a couple of months.
It’s great to be back here, where we are sort of known, and slow down a bit after 1250 miles from DC to here in about 45 days – including a 14 day yard break, and a ten day layover in HHI for Christmas. That is averaging 60 miles a day for 21 days! No wonder I crashed when we got here!
The trip from St Augustine to here seemed to fly. We had lots and lots of wind as cold fronts kept barrelling down from the north every other day. At one point somewhere around Melbourne we were seeing almost 40mph winds. That is a lot of wind on the water!
We stopped overnight in a marina in Palm Beach so Shelly could have a night out with her long time friends Sue and Kathy – and we fueled and did laundry while the wind blew some more.
The next day we jumped out of Lake Worth Inlet on an absolutely beautiful day and sailed south. 75% of all the bridges across the waterway are between Palm Beach and Miami so we wanted to get outside into the ocean and sail around them.
We passed the inlet to Miami Beach around 3 in the afternoon with a goal of Hurricane Harbor in Key Biscayne by sunset.
The wind had increased during the day and the seas were getting a bit uncomfortable as we passed our Key to the south to come back up into the channel. It was good to pull into the harbor just as the pink glow of the sunset winked out into darkness. We were out first light and back at sea with two days to go.
We grabbed a couple of little mackerel on the way which were delicious! Goose loves fresh fish…
Once south of Biscayne we were officially in the keys. The wind was still blowing pretty hard from the NE so as we turned more to the west as we started passing keys we came under the lee of the islands which made for a much more peaceful sail. Too peaceful in fact.
We were out in Hawk Channel after lunch. The sun was out, the wind behind us, and we were sailing along at hull speed with few boats in sight about three miles from land. I was in the cockpit alternately reading a book and looking around to watch for boats and our course.
I saw four or five Cormorants fly left to right directly in front of the boat. That in itself was very strange as those birds usually do not fly that high, and are usually long gone by the time we get to them.
Our foresail is cut way too low and I cannot see under it very well, so out in the ocean I get lazy and do not bend down to check.
There was a piling with a marker that I did not notice on the chart, and had not seen.
The birds were sitting on it and flew off just before the sail caught the marker.
3 miles out in the ocean and I hit a marker. Bummer.
The noise was enough to wake the dead and scared me so badly I was still shaking 15 minutes after it happened.
And it happened so fast it was all over in less than 10 seconds as we were moving through the water at about 9 mph with a 28,000 pound boat!
Apparently, the foresail caught the wooden marker on the piling, which pulled the sheets very tight that control the sail. The sheets are lines that are 3/4 inch in diameter and very strong. One of those snapped in half, then a section of the sail about 3 ft along the leech and foot simply ripped away. Later I found that the block the sheet runs through was also mangled pretty badly and must be replaced.
Right about then, the boat hit the piling on the port stainless rubrail, ripped a 3 foot section right off, and left another 3 feet sticking straight out.
All this happened in just a few seconds. And we were still under full sail downwind with the main and mizzen, and the Genoa flapping like crazy free as a bird. I am holding the torn end of the sail with one sheet left on it, looking back at the piling rushing away from us and noticed that the marker was in the water.
I was sick to my stomach, and Shelly and Ryan are now on deck thinking we are sinking…
End result is I am very fortunate that we didn’t hit the damn thing head on, or that we didn’t catch the rigging and bring the mast down, or something like that.
I have known for a year that sail had to be fixed and couldn’t figure out how to afford the changes. Well, that has been decided for me. And now we get to finally get rid of the last of the old canvas color. The new Genoa sun protection canvas is going to be a beautiful bright yellow! It still made me physically sick, as well as very upset with myself.
After all that fun, we pulled in behind Indian Key about 430 and picked up a mooring at the state park. While Ryan and Shelly took Goose in, I dropped and folded the foresail, and cleaned up the lines and mess from the piling, again realizing how lucky I was to just tear the sail and a little rub rail. It could have been so much worse!
We pulled into Marathon around 1 pm last Thursday to find a backlog of boats in the harbor. Many boats come here before jumping over to the Bahamas or further south in the Carribean. The weather had not cooperated and many were waiting for a weather window to leave.
It took three days for one of the 300 moorings to free up. It took us a little longer to shift attitudes from traveling mode to stationary.
So now we are playing softball three times a week, stopping into the Hurricane Restaurant across the street for the $2 Gunniess happy hour, and playing some music on Saturday nights at the Tiki Hut.
Shelly got into maintenance mode and the varnish is getting an uplift. We ordered new floors as Goose has used these up. And I am trying to figure out how to stop these last couple of very annoying oil leaks on the engine.
And of course we are working on the sail.
Friends have made noises about coming to visit – so we plan on staying until about the first of March, then turning the bow north again.
After two weeks in the boatyard, much of it in 40 degrees and rain, cloudy and otherwise yucky weather, we are all very happy to be back on (and in) the water heading for warmer days.
Most of our want-to-get-done list was completed including replacing three broken through hull valves, a broken port in the hull, reapplying bottom paint, and fixing the refrigeration one more time and we are very pleased!
I have learned a lot about refrigeration! It had been acting up by defrosting itself (not supposed to do that but handy) and I knew something was wrong. In the end I figured that a little moisture had entered into the system during the emergency repairs last summer and was freezing at the orifice in the evaporator. To fix this is fairly simple. Just use a vacuum pump to suck everything out and recharge.
The problem was the quickest anyone could come do it was two weeks! So I ordered the pump to do it myself. Gotta love Amazon! Unfortunately Fedex missed their delivery so we had to hang around and wait until Tuesday. In the end, I learned how to replace the filter/dryer, vacuum, and recharge. Amazingly, it works and we are very pleased!
I was still checking it as we dropped the lines and headed out Tuesday around 4 pm. We figured a couple of hours with the swift outgoing tide would get a jump start on the trip out the river.
After we had settled in, and Yume seemed to be running well, I set the autopilot and went below to check the refrigerator. As I headed back to the cockpit, I could hear the alarm. Crap!
The water temperature had spiked during the three minutes I was below!
I shut down the motor and dove below to find the cause. It was easy to find as the salt water pump pulley was lying in the bilge…
Luckily the pulley, nut and shaft key were all right there and easily reassembled. Weird why it came off but who knows. We were back running in less that ten minutes.
However, somehow the engine which had not been leaking any oil now seemed to be pouring out of the starboard top of the oil pan.
That was enough. I steered over to the side of the river, dropped the anchor and got a rum.
During the night it occurred to me that I probably had too much oil in the engine, and that the overheating had allowed things to loosen up causing the leaks. I was up and working on it at 4 am as I wanted to catch the tide.
It took until 545 to pull, caulk and replace two bolts. They were very hard to get to but turned out to make a big difference. Still have the hardest one to do.
We were underway by 6am in the dark, but you could tell it was going to be a beautiful day! As Yume motored on a glass still river and we approached the I295 bridge around Jacksonville Fl – I realized what is was that made all the work we do worth every minute.
After 12 hours yesterday we made it to St Augustine, filed the fuel tanks, and dropped an anchor for the night. After a run on the beach for Goose and the crew early this morning, we are southbound again with plans to be in Ponce inlet by this afternoon.
I shot this video of St Augustine while waiting for the bridge. The audio is bad due to the engine. Sorry!
On the hard – also known as hauled out- means we are busting our behinds to get a bunch of maintenance and repairs completed that can only be done out of the water.
Before we catch up, let's take a minute and say thank you again to everyone who commented, who called, who actually helped, and who prayed to help us find Goose New Years. We believe you made the difference, and cannot begin to tell you what it means to all of us.
We left Darien Ga and our new friends to head south once again. At Jacksonville Fl, we took a turn to the west to travel the 25 miles or so up the St Mary's River to Green Cove Springs Fl.
It was blowing fairly hard and we were able to sail through Jacksonville proper, but the river takes a hard turn to the south and we ended up motoring directly into the SW 15 knot wind all morning.
This Marina is a haven for do-it yourself boaters with hundreds of boats out of the water either in long term storage as people go back to work for cruising funds, or in the yard as we all do our own work. It is quite the community.
As they haul a lot of boats these guys have it down to a science. The travel lift picks you up and the hydraulic trailer gets you from the lift and sticks you in a hole among many other boats.
Then we get to work. But first, Mother Nature decides to send a super strong cold front with 30 mph winds and 30 degree temps, followed by cold, windy rainy days. Yuk.
At least there are no bugs!
We finally get a bit of a break and get to sand and paint the bottom. We spend $150 each on 3 gallons of an epoxy paint full of cuprous oxide (copper) which is supposed to kill the marine organisms that love to grow on the boat. Before the EPA there were much better products that actually worked and were much less expensive. Now only governemnt vessels get to use those.
Other fun stuff is replacing broken thruhull valves, zincs (to stop disimilar metal corrosion), fiberglass repair to the stern tube (where the shaft from the engine passes thru the hull to the propeller), and adding two coats of paint to the boot stripe above the waterline.
A big project, and a scary one, was to find and fix the oil leak on the engine. If you remember, back last August we had to stop in Myrtle Beach for a month and basically rebuild much of the engine due to an exploded transmission pressure plate.
At that time, I decided not to replace the rear main oil seal and I had just had enough by then.
Well… It really only took a couple of hours to take it all apart again, but even more this time, to find out the oil pan gasket had gotten kinked during the install. Now with the whole thing apart it is easy to see and fix. (Easy being relative of course!)
This is a pic from the back of the engine. I have removed the transmission, ring gear, bell housing and oilpan. Now everything is cleaned and painted and ready to back together. First the oilpan ( making sure the gasket seats correctly… Hehe)
The refrigerator is acting up again, and since there is no one who seems to want to come work on it, I just ordered the tools to do it myself!
Shelly is cooking up all the stuff in the defrosted freezer, and the milk is almost warm. This makes for a grouchy crew!
No worries… We will back in the water, and heading toward much warmer climes by the first of the week and this will be just another memory!
I was pretty sure we had lost GOOSE and was doing my best to prepare Shelly. Things were miserable around Yume.
Not only had Goose been missing for two days on a 6 square mile swampy island inhabited only by hundreds of huge feral hogs and alligators, but when he ran into the swamp after a pig on the first day he was already dehydrated from vomiting, plus he had bloody diarrhea just an hour before. I felt sure he would have come to our calls if he were able.
Things looked bad.
But I didn’t know Goose, and I did not know the townspeople of Darien, Ga, nor the absolutely incredible support system of friends and complete strangers we are so fortunate to have behind us.
This will take time to write (and read) and I will cry as I write it. But we feel it is very important to tell.
On Monday morning at Ft McAllister Marina, GOOSE had run off, and I thought for sure an alligator had gotten him. (I wrote about his in the last blog post here) He had never been gone that long before without coming to a whistle or call. He came out of the woods just as I had decided to wake Shelly (it was 6am) and tell her to come help call. I knew immediately he had been gorging on something dead just by his look and his attempt at cleaning the gore from his lips.
I was ticked and told Shelly I hoped he paid the price for his stupidity. Not sure now who paid the most.
We left that morning from Ft McAllister heading South slowly with our oldest son Ian visiting from the Air Force, and younger son Ryan and wife Shelly. We stopped early at Blackbeard’s Island to walk the beach on the north side and enjoy family time.
GOOSE started his diarrhea just after we went to bed. It was pretty bad and we could see that whatever he had eaten had a shell of some sort. He woke us up about 3 am so we put him out on the deck for the rest of the night. There were 3 piles of presents on the deck in the morning.
Fortunately, it is easy to get a bucket of water and wash the deck off. It was a little harder to clean out the dinghy when he did not quite make it to shore before letting loose that morning.
When I got back and ready to go, it was clear I goofed and let the boat settle in the mud when the wind shifted, and had to wait for the tide to come back in to leave about 11. No harm done and I washed the starboard hull while Yume was keeled over.
Once underway, we headed for the Altamaha River inlet as there is a really cool place to anchor. GOOSE was feeling pretty bad, throwing up bile and looking pitiful. We had stopped his food and made sure he had plenty of water. Served him right.
Just as we reached the anchor spot, GOOSE let go again in the cockpit, (narrowly missing my foot!) but this time there was blood. Of course that changes everything to a more medical concern.
We decided to continue toward the nearest veterinarian who we thought would be in Brunswick about 20 miles away. An hour later, we decided to go ahead and stop, allow GOOSE to eat white rice, and monitor him overnight as I am loathe to run the waterway at night and we still had a good four hours to go.
I saw up ahead a decent place to stop that looked like it had a couple of big sand dunes. This was great as most of the shore in this region is swamp grass and thick black mud. Not fun to get off in at all.
We dropped anchor in the South Altamaha River about 3 and everyone piled in the dinghy to give GOOSE an opportunity to clear out bladder and bowels if needed.
I stayed with the dinghy as the tidal current was roaring out, and felt better holding the dink and waiting.
Then I heard Shelly yelling to GOOSE and knew he was running after something again. I ran over the top of the dune just in time to see Shelly stop at an impenetrable wall of thicket and swamp grass calling GOOSE to come. He didn’t.
We could hear him baying and it got further and further out into the swamp. I was really ticked at GOOSE and was going to kill him when I got my hands on him.
We called for an hour or more, and the boys even tried to go in after him. They found numerous hog beds in the thick undergrowth and decided to come back when they realized it was very easy to get lost. There was no way I was letting anyone in there with darkness coming on.
We went back to the boat thinking GOOSE would come back soon. But when we went back at dark to call him there was no sign. We thought we could hear him, and could sort of pinpoint a direction, but no GOOSE . Plus it was obvious that there were a lot of very large feral hogs out there. It also looked like alligator heaven.
I was having a bad feeling about this. If a dog – weakened as he was – had cornered a boar or a sow in that muck, he would probably come out on the losing end of a fight.
Shelly was beginning to panic a bit to say the least.
At first light the next morning (neither of us had slept much) we went back to the dunes and called. Nothing. T
he wind had picked up from the north and it was cold, windy and miserable. So we got in the dinghy and started up the river calling, then saw a creek and went up that.
Almost a mile into the creek we saw a hunter in camouflage in a duck boat. We came up behind him and whistled trying not to startle him.
Charlie Williamson turned out to be our hero.
We told him our story while we drifted out with the current, and he told us he would look for, and call for, GOOSE – and would call us on the phone if he found anything.
We went back to the dunes and called GOOSE for another hour and then heard GOOSE howl!
I ran back to the dinghy, out to the boat, got the boys and something to semi -protect ourselves, and hurried back to Shelly. We called and he answered but it seemed a long way off.
Ian, Ryan, and I headed in after him. It was surreal in the marsh, easy to get turned around, hog paths everywhere, and then you break out into the true swamp. Black gooey mud with 7 ft tall swamp grass all around. You try to step on the grass to keep from sinking but not always successful.
Once we got into the swamp, GOOSE went quiet. No matter how much we called we could not hear him. We stood out almost a mile in the swamp and had to make the decision to return as there was no way we were finding him if he did not call to us. We were heartbroken.
I decided to pull up the anchor and go up the north end of the island just to see. It was about three miles against the current. We anchored, got into the dink, and motored all along the bank for 2 miles or so.
The wind had really kicked up, and since it was against a strong outgoing tide the ride was uncomfortable and wet. The waves were breaking against the shore causing a lot of foam, and since the tide was low we were 6 feet below the level of the grass and could not see anything.
When we got back to Yume, there was a call from Charlie who said he had called and called GOOSE with no answer. I was lost at that point not knowing what to do.
Charlie suggested motoring up the river to a local marina and he had some ideas. I was glad for some direction so we pulled up anchor and motored 6 miles up the river to Two Way Fish Camp and marina.
We will never forget this place and these people.
Charlie met us at the marina with his son Chase and they had brought us a loaner car, and an offer to help that was beyond our imagination.
We got to the marina at 3 pm. By 4 we had been introduced to Rick, the owner, Cricket who owned the marina store and managed the marina, and everyone knew our story and was doing everything in their power to convince us we would find GOOSE.
By 430, Charlie and Chase had retrieved their fast boat and we were on our way back to the north end of Broughton Island to call for GOOSE.
What I had not considered was that we were calling GOOSE upwind, and they explained that there was no way GOOSE could hear that. So we called from the north end and downwind.
It was while we were at the marsh calling for him that a small plane made its appearance and began a search pattern. Rick had arranged a search plane and the pilot was in the air and searching within 45 minutes!
I began to have some hope, but the effect on Shelly was even greater.
We searched until dark. By this time I was back feeling like there was no way GOOSE could survive two nights out there. Being sick, and weak, and that he might be lost – or injured in a fight. Plus the fact we were calling from all these different directions could have him starting one way just to hear a voice from another way.
It was overwhelming.
Shelly and I talked about how horrible it would be to have a child or loved one go missing.
I was still trying to prepare her for the worst. There were lots of tears. No one ate much that day.
New Year’s Day dawned kind of cool and cloudy but the wind was much less. I did not know what was happening with our help, and also did not want to impose.
Charlie, who owned a printing company had graciously printed some lost flyers (those were REALLY hard to write) had delivered them Wed night to the boat, so we resolved to get those out as early as possible at the local hunter’s restaurant, and the boat landings. It was even harder to do that looking at the pictures of GOOSE on them but we were done by 7 am.
Back at the marina, Cricket was opening up for the day and was about to make a big difference. Cricket has lost one of his dogs on the same island. They did not find his dog Frog, for four days and then only by helicopter.
What Cricket did for us that day is convince us that GOOSE was much stronger than we were thinking, and that if we did not give up we would find him.
I still tried to stop Shelly from getting to hopeful as we split our forces for the search that day.
What a way to start the year hmmm?
My plan was to take Yume to the north end, anchor and call GOOSE with the PA system I use to play music. Shelly and Ian took the dinghy for the 6 miles back to the sand dunes, armed with a borrowed whistle to call GOOSE from there.
As we motored out into the morning, messages began to pour into the phone, and Facebook. The support was amazing.
Just as we dropped an anchor, I got a call from Davis Poole in Atlanta saying he had received an email flyer and wanting to know if it was legit. He had even tracked us back to High Country Stables and called the new owners to see if we were real! He told me he spent a lot of time in Darien, and was calling out the shrimpers and fishing buddies he had to help and to look for them. I had a lot of trouble talking as I was very choked up by his (and everyone else’s) willingness to help complete strangers.
Shelly’s Facebook post had over 75 comments of support!
Ryan set up the PA, we turned the volume all the way up, and started calling GOOSE. It was loud for sure.
It was within minutes that Ian called on the phone and said they could hear GOOSE and he was going into the swamp. Shelly was against Ian going in alone but we were more that 6 miles away by water and it had to be done.
He told me to keep calling so we did. Whistling, calling his name, telling GOOSE to,”speak” and “guard” which is another command to bark loudly. I was worried that if GOOSE was weak and I kept getting him to put out the effort he might run out of steam before Ian got to him. I slowed my call down some and tried to call Ian for an update.
There was no answer. I thought great – now Ian has lost signal.
Meanwhile Shelly is standing on the dunes with no way to communicate to us or to Ian, worried about Ian out in swamp alone with 400 pound feral hogs and alligators, and a lost GOOSE.
My friend Wade Everett called from Atlanta to give support, but I was too choked to talk to him either.
We just kept calling hoping for the best.
Meanwhile Ian had gotten on a relatively dry hogs nest, but GOOSE had gone quiet. If you cannot hear GOOSE, you can’t find him. We had learned that the day before.
Ian stood on that hammock and yelled for GOOSE to “speak”. No answer. Then in a normal tone of voice he simply said “GOOSE speak” and he heard something right in front of him.
He took a step and something jumped in the mud and growled. Ian jumped back just as he realized it was GOOSE he was looking at. He said “come GOOSE” and it was over.
He called me on the phone and said “I got him” and I started crying.
Shelly realized I had stopped calling on the PA, but could hear Ian coming back through the tall grass talking to GOOSE and she started crying. It was quite the reunion.
We picked up the anchor for the 45 minute trip back to them, and I got on the phone first to Charlie. He told me Rick had just called and pilot was ready to go back up, and that they were looking for both a helicopter, and for two hog hunters who knew that island like the back of their hands.
I was simply astounded at these people.
The dinghy with two very happy people and one very happy, hungry and filthy dog raced up to the sailboat. GOOSE, except for being very muddy, seemed healthier than when he ran off.
The news spread quickly!
By the time we made it back upriver to Two Way Marina, got GOOSE washed on the dock, everyone was calling, texting and face booking congratulations and relief.
We introduced GOOSE to his supporters and began looking for ways to give some sort of incredible appreciation we all had for the amazing efforts of these people we were complete strangers only two days prior.
So to these and others we do not their names (including the local police lieutenant who gave me a speeding warning for 87 in a 70 that night when he heard the story) we want you to know our home and our help is always available to your amazing openness, willingness to give, and awesome support through a very difficult time for us.
Charlie Williamson owner of Sea-to-Sea.com a printing company in Darien. Without Charlie and his son Chase GOOSE would probably still be in that swamp.
Rick Smith owner of Two Way Fish Camp and other businesses who in the middle of the holidays and horrible situation of his own spent time and energy finding a plane a pilot to air search. Wynn Baker the Viet Nam veteran and pilot who was in the air searching within 30 minutes of being called for GOOSE no questions asked.
Cricket Mobley and his lovely wife – owner of the Two Way Marina Store, who provided amazing support and encouragement. We will post his story “The Legend of Frog” when he sends it to us after he gets back from his hunting trip in Louisiana next week.
And to each of you who offer encouragement, support, thoughts and prayers, we cannot begin to tell you what it means.
From the bottom of ours hearts, (and GOOSE’s) thank you!