Florida, 8th January - 23rd February 2013

Back in Green Cove Springs, our priority was to get our beloved Anju floating as soon as possible. After two and a half years on land, it was high time. There was a serious job list to attend to. More or less everything on board had to be either recommissioned or reinstalled. First of all, however, after removing the shade cloth enveloping Anju, we had to deal with the welcoming committee of dead cockroaches (at least they were dead!) and pressure wash all the stubborn black mould and dirt from the deck. Yeuch! The trees surrounding Anju in the storage yard may well have protected her from high winds but also had their drawbacks!


Before we could start re-installing, re-commissioning and fixing equipment aboard, there was the small matter of trying to remember where things were, what everything did and how it worked in the first place. Two and a half years is a long time, plenty of time to forget things which were second nature when we last lived aboard full time!

After a couple of days, Anju was habitable and we moved back aboard. Dorothy had already re-covered enough of our saloon cushions that we had somewhere to sit, the others followed close behind. After Harvey-the-RV, the extra living space was quite a luxury, guess we'd been spoiled living in a house for two months!

Some jobs would have to wait until we were afloat, work up the mast and reinstalling the roller furled genoa for example, but getting the main and mizzen sails back on their booms freed up more space inside the boat.

Paramount was the re-commissioning of the engine. We were able to run it whilst ashore by providing cooling water through a hose, instead of from the sea. Anxiously we turned the key and Yanny fired into life, a major step towards the water....

We checked through the hydraulic steering system, after all it would be handy to be able to steer when launched. Everything seemed fine. Next we tried out the instrumentation and autopilot. It turned out the display for our depth and log, although it worked, no longer actually displayed anything. Unfortunately this Simrad model was discontinued and with all our electronics being interfaced, we needed the same model. Never mind, on E-bay there were several for sale and we made our first ever bidding attempt. It seemed there was no other interest in the items we were optimistic, at least until a minute before the close time, when somebody leapt in and outbid us on all four of the instruments for sale, effectively blocking us from upping our bid. Frustrated, we decided this would be the end of our E-bay career. Luckily, rather then having to wait for whoever scooped up all the available instruments to re-sell them (we presumed it must be a dealer), we tracked down another from Commercial Marine Electronics in Florida, who had previously done a wonderful repair job for us.

Our little Honda generator, used for recharging the batteries when at anchor, if the solar panels and wind generator didn't suffice, was fired up and proceeded to kangaroo around the deck, cough and splutter. We learned that the trusty little engines don't like to be left standing with petrol containing ethanol in the carburettor. Even though we'd drained it all out, our carb seemed to be clogged and we had to track down a new one from Texas.

Dorothy made the final few alterations to the canvas enclosure for our new improved cockpit and we installed the two seats we'd bought the year before. Imagine the luxury, being able to sit down when helming, stay dry and see where you were going, all at the same time! The improved dog house was going to be fabulous....

Anjulita all "gooped up" and ready for action

Before we could launch, we needed to make sure we would be able to get back to shore. Anjulita, our somewhat fatigued rib dinghy was suffering from a bad case of deflation. We'd made our best attempts at tracking down the leaks in the worn hyperlon material. The glue we'd used on patches we'd previously installed had failed in many places, presumably due to the heat, so that didn't seem to be a possible solution. By trial and error, we found that RV Goop, when applied liberally to a semi-deflated Anjulita would seal the holes and yet remain flexible enough to continue to work when the dinghy was fully inflated again. Hopefully, it we took plenty of Goop on our trip to the Bahamas and made sure to always carry the pump in the boat, we'd get another season of use from our tired little friend!

The equally weary outboard miraculously started fine but had developed a leak in the connector where the fuel enters the engine. We tried to source a new fuel line only to find it discontinued, next we tried to find a new connector, also discontinued. Eventually we took the connector apart, took the faulty O-ring seal to our helpful Ace hardware store and returned with a handful of O-rings in the size to fit. These were safely stowed next to the Goop and Anju was 'go for launch'!

Crystal had kindly arrange a few days on the dock for us, as we had a lot of work to do up the masts. The rate fluxgate compass, radar and wind generator had to be reinstalled on the mizzen mast. This work involved dismantling parts of the interior of the boat to re-run the wires back to the control units. After spending the best part of two days hanging from the mizzen mast, his best bits being crushed in our climbing harness, Phil enlisted the help of our buddy Tyler, who volunteered to climb the main mast to refit the tricolour light, two wind instruments and flag halyards. Julian the "Sparman" came by to tune up our new rigging wire.

Anju is go for launch.

Our beauty back in her natural element.

Before leaving the comforts of the dock, mostly the mains electricity, we managed to acquire a tiny indoor propane heater, so we wouldn't freeze when at anchor. In fact, the little "Buddy" heater proved so efficient we were in more danger of heat exhaustion!

It seemed our batteries missed the constant supply of electricity more than we did and finally after worrying about them failing to hold their charge long, we decided to bite the bullet and replace them. Our anchorage neighbour, Roger, pointed us in the direction of the local Golf Cart dealer, who had the batteries we required for considerably less than the marine suppliers.

All we had to do was haul the heavy batteries back to the marina in Harvey-the-RV, carry them between us down steep steps to the dinghy dock, lift them into the dinghy, dinghy them to the boat, lift them on deck, into the cockpit, through the boat to the back cabin where they were to be located. The whole exercise was repeated six times and then a further six times with the old batteries in the reverse direction. It was quite a workout!

Finally there was the small matter of the grungy black mould, which was clinging stubbornly to Anju's newly repainted masts. It would have been a shame to set off with Anju's good looks marred by the revolting dirt above her decks. It was decided it was a pink job to head up and clean them off, after all a volunteer is worth ten pressed men, especially when the "man" in question was still recovering from his previous excursions aloft! It seemed that all the training in the park on the climbing frame with the grandchildren was paying off.

Half girl, half monkey!

Hell of a view from up here! Seagulls keep giving me funny looks as they fly by!

Finally we were ready to head out, leaving the familiar surroundings Green Cove Springs. We took advantage of a day of SW winds to make the 25 nautical mile trip downstream and ironically northwards to Jacksonville. We managed to evade the tricky railroad bridge downtown, which normally decides to drop in front of us and tied up for a couple of days at the Jacksonville landing, where the city kindly provided free docking right at the heart of downtown. Whilst in the city we had to take a trip to the Customs office, conveniently located several miles out of town in a "not very nice" part of town. Fortunately our friend John stepped in to give us a lift there in his truck. Once we'd picked up our official clearance papers, a tour of Jacksonville followed as we took a wrong turn and found ourselves on the wrong side of the river! The city was a veritable maze when visited by road, with bridges and fly-overs heading in all directions. Definitely a place simpler to visit by boat.

After a couple of days enjoying the sights and sounds of downtown, we headed further down river towards the ocean, ready to make an early start out to sea the next morning. It seemed we were to have a stretch of several days of NW winds, ideal for making headway south, so we decided to get maximum benefit, heading straight for Miami, 48 hours away. The northerly winds, however, did bring with them some miserable, murky, drizzly weather but we didn't care, we had our fabulous new cockpit enclosure.

As ever, the trip was not without incident. First evasive action was required when we spotted some large floating buoys far out at sea, not on our charts. Turned out they were yet more of those hideous helium balloons, which end up littering the oceans.

As we headed downwind and the wind fickley flicked from side to side of Anju's stern, we lost count of the number of times we gybed. It was a great test for our new mainsheet traveller, which proved far easier to gybe than the old, cruder one. No longer did the off watch person need to be roused for a gybe, at least in light winds.

After a first dark, damp night at sea, far from shore, as we headed around Cape Canaveral and as dawn broke, so did the engine! At least it suddenly stopped running. The Captain leapt into action as we continued slowly under sail alone in the light winds. The fuel pump was changed out for a spare and the primary engine filter changed, the engine was bled and running again in less than half an hour. No mean feat in a rocking boat. Perhaps we shouldn't have scrimped on changing the primary engine filters after two and a half years in the storage yard!

Later in the day with the engine running again, we decided to test out the watermaker and fill our tanks. This we did at a rate of 6 gallons per hour, as we motored south. We failed to notice, however, that the watermaker had sprung a not insubstantial leak of sea water and was slowly filling up our bilges too! Another job for the list on arrival at Miami!

Our home in Miami for a week, quite a contrast to the dark nights at sea.

Quite by chance, it turned out that the Miami boatshow was in full swing the weekend we arrived. What better opportunity, we thought, to sort out the spares we needed after our trip. However the following morning the wind was howling and we weren't able to make it to the Convention Center until the afternoon.

The scale of the show was mind-blowing, involving a shuttle bus ride to three different locations. Of course, at the Boat Show, nobody is actually selling spares, more interested in flogging a whole new engine, watermaker or boat. The manufacturers with stands were, however, able to point us in the direction of local dealers who could help. We even ran into friendly Charles from UK based Sterling Power, fortuitous as our thirteen year old battery management system was seriously suspect. That and a battery switch which stubbornly refused to switch had us seriously confused about our power consumption on our trip.

Charles offered us his display model if we were able to come back on the last day of the show. As the kind people from C-Map had given us complimentary tickets, this wasn't a problem.

The following day we ran all over town by taxi, picking up all the parts we needed and then headed back to the show. After two frantic days of running around we were exhausted but had all the parts we needed to fix all our problems. We had our work cut out for the rest of the week.

As we had to head to downtown Miami a couple of times, to visit our friendly customs people, we made the most of our trips to the marina to pick up some jerry cans of diesel. We found the marina full of cigarette boats, serious racing motorboats, all gathered for a race. Somehow our sad, dilapidated dinghy got mixed up amongst the race contestants, causing much amusement amongst the field!

By the time we'd been anchored for a week, we'd been joined by Roger and Judy on Hanoah and George and Nancy on Trumpeter and all enjoyed afternoon tea together.

Time to head across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas....

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