Running With the Nordhavns by Mark

It was back at Lee Stocking Island when we met Don and Debbie at a bonfire on the beach.  Our boys were busy building a fort while we talked with the other cruisers and watched another sunset over the Exumas.  The next day, we met Don and Debbie again at the old research lab on the island.  Don started explaining fuses and electrical panels to our boys with a home field advantage he had gained from years of experience as an electrical contractor.  Debbie had been a teacher and took a liking to our boys and asked them how they liked the cruising life and schooling on a boat.

We told them about all of the exciting things we had discovered on the island and that the boys were busy writing a couple of spooky stories about the island and the research lab.  Don and Debbie couldn’t wait to hear their tales and we promised them the stories as the boys completed their chapters.  Over the next several days, and anchorages, as we traveled up the Exumas, the boys read them their stories over the VHF radio.  Finally at Shroud Cay we anchored Truansea next to Don and Debbie on their boat Valkyrie, a Nordhavn 55.  They had been traveling with a friend of theirs, Tom, who also owns a Nordhavn 46 named Lucent.

Valkyrie cruising to Shroud Cay.

Valkyrie cruising to Shroud Cay.

To sail with Nordhavns is a bit like sailing with the US Navy.  Maybe it was the touch of battleship grey in their paint or the slanted windows of their bridge but there was certainly a feeling of security just in traveling with these ocean capable cruisers.  Valkyrie overshadowed our little dinghy when we motored over the day before Easter to dye eggs.  Tom had graciously donated the eggs for the occasion and Deb had the food coloring.


Coloring Easter eggs.

 If the outside of a Nordhavn appears slightly militaristic from a far, the interior is anything but!  Both Valkyrie and Lucent had interior designs that were so attractive and so comfortable that after we went back to our little boat, by comparison, I felt like I was waiting at a bus stop when I sat back down on our bench style settees.

The engine room showing the main and secondary engines.

The engine room showing the main and secondary engines.

Don later gave us the full tour of their boat.  He showed us the engine room with its main 8.2-liter, 330 horsepower, John Deere engine and a secondary engine, a 70 HP Lugger diesel with its own shaft and folding prop.  Some trawlers of this size may have two main engines but it is easy to imagine the added expense of having two primary engines.  The secondary, or wing, engine gives you the added security of making it back to port if the main engine failed at a lesser expense.

Don had to replace some of the anodes under his boat and invited our boys over to dive beneath his boat using a regulator.  Needless to say they jumped (in the water) at the chance!  Beneath the water the boys dove along Valkyrie’s hull.  Toward the bow, two small wings spread out on each side of the hull.  These were the stabilizers that operate while the boat is underway to reduce their rolling in rough seas.  Simply put, when the boat heels to port, the port stabilizer will tilt up at the same time the starboard stabilizer will tilt down.  The effect is similar to putting your hand out of a car window and feeling the wind raising or lowering your arm as you move your hand.

helm D&D & dog

Don, Debbie and Roux at the helm.

Their Nordhavns displacement was a mere 125,000 pounds.  That’s nearly as much as two semis.  It takes a bit of fuel to push something that big through the water.  I guess it’s why they have a pretty big fuel tank, to the tune of 2,300 gallons!  At 7 knots, their engine burns 3.8 gallons of fuel per hour.  Don laughed when he said anytime you measure in gallons per hour, it is a good indicator that you’re not talking about great fuel economy.

 Don, Debbie and Tom all came over to our boat for Easter morning (7am) as the boys searched for eggs.  Who knew the Easter bunny could swim!

Searching for eggs on Truansea.

Searching for eggs on Truansea.

Valkyrie moved on, back towards the states via Nassau while we waited for a break in the weather to cross to Eleuthera.  The day we chose to cross turned out to be too windy for our comfort and we turned back while Tom on Lucent pressed on through 8 foot swells, but hey, if your bow is at least that high so is your comfort level.

Tom raising the anchor on Lucent.

Tom raising the anchor on Lucent.

We caught up with Tom the next day as we drifted into Rock Sound but that’s another story.  Suffice to say, I was happy we hadn’t chose to sail the day before!

Till next time,


Recipes for conversation by Mark

We have now been at Lee Stocking Island, the site of an abandoned oceanographic research facility, for 5 days.  Since we are not in a big rush to move north (the wind has been in the wrong direction for us to sail), we have been content to spend our time exploring the island and made friends with some of the other boaters in the anchorage.  I thought that the reader might enjoy meeting them yourself so asked two couples on different boats a few questions about themselves and their boats.

First Nanny

The boat just astern of us at the moment is called First Nanny.  She is a Cape Islander 36.  Her owners are Tony and Renate, originally from Berlin, Germany they bought a piece of land and built a cabin in Nova Scotia after choosing to change their lifestyle and retire early.  After that they started thinking about cruising on a traditional boat.  Tony had thought about building his own boat but ultimately he chose to renovate a retired lobster boat because he liked the looks of a more traditional craft.  Built for heavy work in the North Atlantic it has a low sheer aft and a precipitous bow.

First Nanny

First Nanny

Their boat is a reflection of their life I think.  She is a simple fishing boat converted for living aboard yet is equipped with all of the extras that a long term cruiser would want.  They have an SSB radio for getting weather information and their electrical power comes from three solar panels and a 2kw generator.  They have recently added refrigeration and use a simple camp stove and a toaster oven for all of their cooking.  Renate bakes bread in the oven every other day, which is run off of an inverter.

First Nanny

First Nanny


Tony and Renate aboard First Nanny.

First Nanny was built in 1964 and was used to fish for lobsters and is powered by the original 135hp Ford Leman diesel engine.  After purchasing the boat they made improvements to make her more comfortable for cruising.  They added several feet of interior cabin space and replanked the cabin sole. Altogether they spent 5 summers working on rebuilding her.  Tony and Renate cruise on First Nanny about 6 months out of the year and then either go back to their cabin in Canada or to their home in Berlin for the rest of the year to visit their two children.

Their cabin, which is as unique as their boat, is located deep in the woods of Nova Scotia, 35 miles from the nearest town.  They have no power but use a generator to pump water into a holding tank.  The latest addition to their property was a bathhouse that Tony built.  It is a glass gazebo with a bathtub inside and wood heats the water heater, which fills the tub.

Logan and Cole in First Nanny's cabin.

Logan and Cole in First Nanny’s cabin.

Christine & Logan in First Nanny's cabin.

Christine & Logan in First Nanny’s galley.

I have read of accounts of sailors who have seen apparitions while cruising so I listened eagerly when Tony related an experience he had on their first gulf crossing. They were crossing the Gulfstream at night when all of the electronics on their boat went down.  With no VHF or chart plotter to guide him thru the darkness he was trying to troubleshoot his systems when he saw the image of a bearded man on the forward deck looking back at him through the glass.  He spoke to Tony and told him not to worry, that he just needed a few minutes.  After ten minutes all of the electronics began working again.  It was some time later when Tony realized that the person he saw on deck was the same fisherman that is in a very early photograph of the boat when it was used for lobster fishing that he has framed in the cabin.

Picture of First Nanny when it was a lobster boat.

Picture of First Nanny when it was a lobster boat.

We were invited over to their boat for dinner one evening and Renate made a delicious fish soup and an equally fantastic potato salad another night.  Their lifestyle may be simplified but like the extra equipment on their boat Renate was preparing gourmet meals with a minimum of ingredients and spices. Her recipe for fish soup follows.

Fish Soup Recipe

2 big onions chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
4-5 stalks celery chopped
3-4 carrots sliced
1 green pepper or hot pepper chopped (we omitted this too but used red pepper flakes)
3 T curry
1 T milk ground red pepper powder
1.5 liters chicken stock or bullion

Simmer for 20 minutes.  Then add the rest of the ingredients.

1-2 yellow zucchini sliced (we omitted this)
cubed fish (They say Monk Fish is the best.  We had Mahi Mahi this night)
½ cup dry rice

Simmer about 15 minutes until rice and vegetables are tender.

Sea Camp

Our other boat neighbors are Bud and Eileen on Sea Camp a Witby 42.  Their boat is a center cockpit design with a spacious aft cabin.  When they purchased their boat they had a five-year plan for cruising the Caribbean.  The boat had come with and engine driven refrigeration system but that required running their 65 hp Perkins twice a day for an hour to cool down the coldplates.  Bud has since converted to a more conventional 12v compressor. His large battery bank is kept topped off with a wind turbine and a 200w solar panel mounted to the top of his davits.  Six batteries onboard are capable of storing an impressive 1400 amp hours!  As a comparison our single house battery stores a more modest 230 amp hours, an amount that has been adequate for our needs but it just goes to show the lengths you need to go to get those precious ice cubes in ones drink.  It’s also why we like to suggest having cocktails on their boat whenever the opportunity permits!

Sea Camp

Sea Camp leaving Lee Stocking Island.

Bud and Eileen carry equally impressive reserves of water and fuel.   With enough tankage to hold 270 gallons of water and 200 gallons of fuel they rarely have to buy water or pull into port to take on more fuel.  They are a ship of the desert but unlike their “camelian” counterpart they store their vast reserves not in a hump but closer to the keel.

Bud & Eileen in s/v Sea Camp's cockpit.

Bud & Eileen in s/v Sea Camp’s cockpit.

If the wind doesn’t blow and the sun refuses to shine they still have a 2kw generator as a last resort but there are few days in the Bahamas I think when they would have to resort to using the generator.  They bought their boat on the Chesapeake and have been sailing in the Bahamas for five years now.  They still have their home in Manitoba and have another lake sailing boat there, a C&C 26 named Gypsy that they sailed with their two children before purchasing their Whitby.

Bud showing the boys the engine.

Bud showing the boys the engine.

Bud had worked in Canada as an electrical engineer and Eileen taught high school chemistry.  While they have enjoyed the cruising lifestyle they are thinking about the next adventure and would like to travel abroad, perhaps living in different countries for several months at a time.

One day when Christine was contemplating how to cook up a squash on the boat for a little variety Eileen offered the following recipe for yet another fantastic soup.

We have enjoyed listening to their Canadian perspectives almost as much as the sound of another tray of ice cubes being broken into!

Squash soup

2 small butternuts cubed (we used 1 pumpkin)
1 medium onion chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
3 carrots sliced
¼ cup brown sugar
1 T cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp curry
¼ tsp cayenne
8 cups water

Simmer until vegetables are tender then puree.  We do not have a blender so we lightly mashed it with a large spoon.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.  We did not have either of these and it was still fantastic.

Fair winds and good eating,

The Clog Before the Storm by Mark

I noticed on a trip to George Town that the stream of cooling water on our outboard was barely coming out at a trickle, so I pulled the lower end off and replaced the impeller.  I performed the operation in the cockpit with the assistance of another boat neighbor, Jim on s/v Lameroo.  Both the impeller and the gear oil needed to be changed.  Unfortunately the water had no more pressure behind it after we had it all reassembled.  Logan suggested that we poke a wire into the end of the tube in case something was blocking the flow.

Changing the impeller on our outboard.

Changing the impeller on our outboard.

Darkness and another approaching cold front halted further progress on the outboard and we all took turns peeking out from behind the dodger as the wind picked up to nearly 30 knots!

People were calling other boats on the VHF who had started dragging their anchors.  We had a trawler anchored in front of us a little closer than I would have preferred.  The owner was a former pastor and while many people take comfort in the thought of the hand-of-god, the thought of the hull-of-god crashing into our boat kept me awake half the night.

The gathering storm.

The gathering storm.

The next morning I took Logan’s suggestion and cleared the cooling water tube on the outboard.  It was full of salt crystals and after I plugged the hose back together, the stream of water was back to its former force.

It was another lesson in trouble shooting for the boys, and I was glad they discovered that the root cause of the problem was the simpler of the solutions.  I just wish it would have been the first thing I had tried and not the last!

You may get the feeling from my posts that we spend a great deal of time fixing things that break.   That couldn’t be more true.  More than a few other sailors have told me that cruising amounts to little more than fixing your boat in exotic locations!  In fact while I had my lower unit off, our neighbor in his trawler was replacing one of his water pumps.  I might go so far as to say that if you don’t see a sailor on deck with a drink in hand, they are probably lying on their backs contorting themselves in some way to work in their engine compartment.  One cruiser told me the story of how their engine fell into the bilge while underway.  His girlfriend at the time said I never knew why we had a three foot long crowbar on the boat before that day, but I was sure glad we had it when he used it to lift our engine back into place and limped our boat back into port to repair a broken motor mount.

It’s like all the people out here took the movie Apollo 13 to heart and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing they can fix nearly anything on their boat.  We even met a solo sailor that had converted his aft cabin into a workshop complete with a welder.  He could not only fix parts, he could fabricate them as well!

Monohulls cats and Trimarans?  These are the people in our neighborhood.

Monohulls, cats, and Trimarans? These are the people in our neighborhood.

Sometimes I think we have stayed in George Town too long but getting to know numerous other cruisers has been worth it.  Our boys have seen the insides of several boats and met just as many interesting captains and their crews.  The cruisers in George Town are an eclectic mix.  Anything from former bomber pilots to MIT professors.  We’ve met managers to morticians.  There are parents with kids, solo sailors, and retires, but no matter the age or occupation all of them seem to share the same desire to seek out a new adventure, or in the words of Tennyson “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Fair winds ,


Let There Be Light! By Mark

We have just made an exciting new addition to our boat in the form of a salvaged solar panel.  After a little soldering and TLC we starting getting power out of the gently used 90 watt panel.  Two aluminum bars from a broken patio umbrella provided the mounting brackets plus some electrical wire from the local hardware and we have completed the best improvement made to the boat since leaving Florida.  Bimini

We have always had to watch our batteries closely so as not to draw them down too much before we ran the engine or generator to charge them back up.  The solar panel has since given us precious watts while we are at anchor so we can continue to run the refrigerator when we need store perishable foods from time to time. Solar 1

Your tools will be some of your best friends when you are cruising and mine are always close at hand.  Unfortunately, it is hard to watch them grow a layer of rust over themselves as they soak in the ever-present salt air.   BracketsSmooth Sailing,


Education Afloat by Mark

Over the year we will be gone, we have been homeschooling our boys on the boat.  The experience has been great so far in that we have had the opportunity to show our kids practical applications to many of the lessons we have been teaching.  For example, a discussion about latitude and longitude is concluded by plotting our position on the chart. We talk about the relationship between degrees, minutes and seconds and they get to take turns reading our position on the chartplotter as well as plotting our position on the chart throughout the day.

Mark and Cole plotting our position.

Mark and Cole plotting our position.

For Christmas the boys received an invention kit from Radio Shack.  The kit included the materials to make simple motors, a radio, a telegraph and a number of other inventions.  We invited some of the other cruising family’s kids onboard to make the telegraph.  We incorporated some of the literature we picked up at a pony express station in Nebraska because it was the invention of the telegraph that made the pony express obsolete after only 18 months of operation.

A successfully built spinning motor.

A successfully built spinning motor.

Our lesson using the telegraph lent itself to learning about Morse Code.  The next day the kids used flashlights to send messages using Morse Code to one another.   The trivia question for the day is, what does SOS stand for?

And so goes learning on a boat.  We learn about radios and then we use them in a practical application.

This week we have been held over at Black Point in the Exumas .  While here, the boys are going to the local school.  The kids in the school have been very friendly and the teachers and principal were open to having any of the cruising kids attend while we are here.

Helping out in Black Point.

Helping out in Black Point.

Christine and I were invited to help out in the school as well.  She has been helping with some of the kid’s reading, while I gave a short lesson to the class about energy and simple machines.  I brought in a chisel/wedge, a pry bar/lever as examples of simple machines and scavenged up a wheelbarrow from one of the locals and a propeller and can opener from our boat as examples of compound machines to demonstrate how simple machines can be combined to make more complex ones.

Recess is fun where ever you are.

Recess is fun where ever you are.

Meeting new friends at school.

Meeting new friends at school.

More importantly than the lessons they are learning in class is the experience they are getting by attending school in another country.  They are making new friends in a different culture and while that isn’t part of the lesson plan it’s all part of the experience.  Who knows if they well ever study abroad, but if they do now they have at least a taste of what they could expect it to be like.  We thank the teachers and kids at Black Point for inviting us into their school.


Adventures in Nassau by Mark



We arrived in Nassau at 11:00AM this morning, our crossing from Bimini took us 21 hours and was about 120 nm.  We fueled up at the Nassau Harbor Club and took on 11 gallons of diesel averaging just over .5 gal/hr.

"Ten Years After" Sailing with us to New Providence  Island.

“Ten Years After” Sailing with us to New Providence Island.

After anchoring east of the fuel docks we all jumped in the water to cool off.  The boys watched eagle rays gliding  along the bottom while I cut away some monofilament line that was wrapped around the prop shaft.


Woke up this morning to a change in the feel of the motion of the boat.  Going up on deck confirmed my suspicions that we had run aground!  Being low tide we were fairly certain that we would float off by morning, but still, it was disconcerting to have run aground and visions of towing bills danced in my head.


Morning came and we were all happy to see that our boat had also risen with the tide.  We hoisted our anchor and wasted no time motoring to the Atlantis Resort.

We spent the day at the water park and were thoroughly exhausted by evening.

Atlantis, sharks  and water slides, who would have thought!

Atlantis, sharks and water slides, who would have thought!

Staying at the Paradise Island Marina turned out to be a good value.  The slip cost us $4/ft and there was a 40ft minimum but for $160 we also received free admission to the water park.


We took showers, checked the weather and did our laundry before checking out of the Marina and relocated to our old anchorage but this time in a little deeper water.

We put out more rode and set the anchor and felt confident that we had picked a better spot for the night.

That evening we invited a boat neighbor over for dinner.  Just seeing the boat that he was sailing was enough to tell me that he would have a few stories to tell.  David’s boat was a Pacific Seacraft Flicka, a 20ft boat capable of crossing oceans.  We listened to David tell stories about crossing the Atlantic ocean in his Flicka “Mist” to the Azores and beyond.  He told us how he used to dive for abalone and his encounters with great white sharks and the seals that would hit you from behind to steal your shells.  If you knew what was good for you the smartest thing to do was to let them have them and get out of there.

David had lost 7 boats to hurricanes and just about the time I started thinking that some of his stories might be a little too fantastic to be completely true a squall blew into the harbor and our anchor started to drag.  David thought that out rode had wrapped around  our keel so I put on my snorkel and fins and dove over the side to clear the keel.  By the time I surfaced David had hopped into his dingy and rowed out to unfoul our anchor which had wrapped around his own anchor line.  He lifted our 70ft of chain and anchor not once but twice into his dingy and reset out anchor before rowing back to our boat and calmly said to my wife. “And that is why I remain so fit!”

David getting ready to row away from "Mist".

David getting ready to row away from “Mist”.

That a 73 year-old man could row out at night, in a squall and rescue our boat was more than a little like watching superman swoop down out of the sky and lift a plane about to crash back to safety.

The worst of the winds passed and we were all eating spaghetti when I noticed a brightly lit boat pass our stern.  We all went up into the cockpit and watched a Christmas parade of boats traveling up and down the eastern channel blasting music and fireworks into the night sky.  Clearly, Toto, we’re not in Kansas or Idaho anymore.


Boat work: posted by Mark


Our friend Lee came out to our boat yesterday and today.  We have been replacing a homemade navpod with the real deal.  Monday when Jason from Nance and Underwood came out to work on our reefing system we discovered one of the supports for the running rigging was missing where it attached to the base of the mast.  It had broken at some point in the past.  Lee welded a new support back in place returning the brace to its former strength.

Lee adding a brace at the base of the mast.

After two days we completed the work on the new navpod.  We relocated the auto pilot to the port side of the cockpit.  I had to have a new bar fabricated to hold the navpod.  The work was done by Stuart at JTL Marine Engineering.  He did a great job bending the new bar for us, it was a prefect fit.  Lee was a big help working on the navpod and moving the autopilot to say the least. It was like the cavalry had shown up when he arrived with a welder and tools in hand.

Relocating the autopilot.


This morning Cole caught a Checkered Puffer Fish at the dock.  He was using a piece of shrimp on a jig head.  The puffer had 4 little bony teeth, 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom and he puffed up when we took the hook out to let him go.  They are very comical looking fish.

Checkered puffer fish.

Christine splicing the anchor line.

Yesterday, Christine finished whipping the anchor line and we started provisioning for the trip.  We bought about $300 worth of canned goods at Wal-Mart.  The boys wrote the names of the contents on all the cans just in case we lose the labels in the bilge.  We completed the task of clamping 2 boards between the stations where we will attach extra fuel and water jugs.


Logan and Cole helping each other on yet another boat project.

I finished the work on our engine hoist yesterday.  Essentially, I mounted an L-shaped bar upside down and next to the outboard on the stern.  The bar rests on a flange that allows it to rotate the outboard over the side of the boat and be lowered to the dinghy using an old mainsheet pulley system that we brought with us from Idaho.  A couple of U bolts keep the bar firmly against the stern rail but not so tight that you can’t rotate the bar.  At $85.00 it was a low-cost, low-tech solution to moving our outboard to and from the dinghy.

Logan tries out the outboard hoist.

Last week we replaced our anchor chain, which was only 27 feet long with 70 feet of new chain.  Christine used her braiding skills to splice the rope rode to the chain.  The combination of 2 boat lengths of chain and our new Rocna anchor will help us rest easier when we are at anchor.

The door of the anchor locker was another project, which took some time to find a solution to.  When we bought the boat, it had a windlass mounted to the locker door but the door wasn’t mounted to the boat.  My solution, was to cut the door in half, hinge one half for access to the locker, then permanently mount the other half with the windlass to the boat. Since the windlass would be putting a great deal of strain on the door, its attachment needed to be robust.  I used 2 stainless steel bars through bolted to the deck and a piece of aluminum angle iron to anchor the door at 3 points on the deck and to keep the door from flexing when you walk on it.

Top if anchor locker.

Inside of locker showing reinforcements.

In all we are pretty close to being done with all the work we need to do in order to go on our cruise.  The projects have taken longer than I expected them to take.  It’s hard to believe that we have been working on the boat for almost 2 months now.  The upside is we have addressed all the areas of greatest concern and we have learned a great deal about our boat in the process.

Fair winds,