Tuesday 11 Jan, cruising day 45, Key West: Marooned aboard again. Fly the FinDelta sail, curse the leaking vang, and not much else.
As expected, the wind howls all night. But surprisingly we get a good night’s sleep, the anchor alarm stays thankfully quiet, and the waves are not too bad.
At first we wake to dull skies, but in no time the cold front has passed and the Florida sunshine returns to warm us up. I say warm us, because this front brings cooler and much welcomed fresh air from the north. The last days have seen the hydrometer sitting above 85% humidity and this morning it dropped to a much more pleasant 65%. It’s so nice to go from being half naked and always sticky, to dry with warm clothes on.
On the 10th January my phone provider, UK Three, was to have suspended our account because we have been out of the UK for too long. But today is the 11th and our internet is still working. So the morning is spent abusing our last few drops of free data before the inevitable.
We mainly do research on customs entry to Mexico and where we can anchor or moor in Isla Mujeres. Thankfully German friends on another Halberg Rassy recently arrived there and Ralf points me to his blog where he has documented their full arrival experience. We are surprised to find it’s a fairly arduous process, taking some boats up to 4 days to complete! Well, at least we are well informed now. We just have to brace ourselves and get it done. Reading their blog and seeing their diving and Mayan ruins photos is definitely motivating to get going. It feels like we have been too long in the Keys now.
With the wind blowing today, it’s time to get the new FinDelta sail up and see what it can really achieve. We previously tested this anchor-riding sail out in Marathon Key in light winds, just to get the setup right. But it needs the next level test with some wind, before it gets put to the real test: a wind above 30kts which would usually see us yawing up to 50 degrees either side of the wind, putting great strain on the anchor gear.
It takes me a while to get organized and on the first hoist attempt it gets a bit out of control, almost taking out the WiFi antenna on the radar pole! Clearly the lines must be all at the perfect length, then hoist it as fast as possible and get it tamed before it can wreak havoc. With it very tightly in place, I can see Cloudy Bay is now yawing with a total of 30degree (15 either side of the wind). This is much improved over the 55 degrees we were getting without the FinDelta. The only problem with it is that it’s shadow covers the solar panels ☹
While wandering the deck, I see there is dampness under the vang. And my suspicions are quickly confirmed: hydraulic oil on the deck. We have an oil leak on the vang, yet again. The original Holmatro vang (now made by Rackmann) started leaking oil during our Atlantic crossing in 2018, so we had new seals installed in Martinique. Then on the way north it leaked again and just a month later we had the seals redone in Antigua. Both times by reputable people. Then, 6 months later more leaks. The following year, 2019, we found a nearly new vang, same make and model, in St.Martin. We had it checked over and swapped for our old one. A completely new vang, surely it couldn’t leak again? Now here we are, 2 years later and surely leaking. Same place: where the rod enters the cylinder. Damn thing. Time to buy a new one! Bugger the price. But is won’t be a Reckmann vang this time, that I can assure you.
In the evening the winds reduced back to 12-15kts and we were treated to a wonderful sunset. Wonderful excepting the many sunset tour boats with their crowded decks and loud music. On one catamaran we estimate there must be 100+ people. And looking at the prices the other day, $111 per adult, they are surely raking in the money for a 1-hour cruise. Man, imagine the money we could make if we advertised a “silent sunset sailing experience on board the beautiful Cloudy Bay”. Second thoughts, no thanks. Not unless, that is, some guests are hydraulic, refrigeration, watermaker or diesel experts! I’d give those discount … for some small favors.