Part 5 of 7: Sailing to Fort Lauderdale Florida (USVI to North Carolina)

For our first full day after leaving the paradise of Hogsty Reef, sailing to Fort Lauderdale, we had our normal routine. The adults drank a lovely cup of coffee, Sienna had her Lucky Charms, we had fantastic discussions about the state of the world and we cleaned up the cockpit and boat.

Before 11am one of our fishing reels went off.

Sailing to Fort Lauderdale

Hogsty Reef in the background – this is us leaving 🙁

Simon hopped up and started reeling in. I furled our headsail in and pulled the main into the boat to quickly slow us down. I then washed down the back deck, grabbed our fish cleaning towel, our cutting board and Kyle and I dug out our huge wash bucket.

After fifteen minutes Simon pulled up a 86cm Mahi Mahi (also called Dolphin Fish or Dorado). Kyle was in awe of how colorful the Mahi Mahi was – when you seem them alive they’re spectacular.

Sailing to Fort Lauderdale

Simon’s MahiMahi catch!

Once they’re no longer living they quickly turn gray and pale

Kyle offered to fillet the fish. We have a ‘Cruisers Guide to Fishing’ book onboard so Kyle read what he had to do and went to work. To date, Simon has only filleted one fish while crossing the Atlantic. As for me?! When I was younger I remember filleting fresh water Bass and Perch but I’ve become more emotional as I’ve gotten older. I never kill anything – whether it’s a spider or a fly I catch it and put it outside. I don’t even like killing mosquitos. Whenever I kill one I say a little prayer and wish them well…not that I’m religious or anything. Perhaps I just value nature more than I ever have before? Hmmmm. I’ll have to ponder this line of thought, but not now.

So – Kyle filleted the fish and Simon went downstairs to cook it for lunch

Sim cut the fish into fingers, dusted it with flour, dipped it into egg, then into breadcrumbs and the Britican Galley Seafood Blend and finally cooked the fingers up on our electric hotplate.

Sailing to Fort Lauderdale

MahiMahi dipped in flour, egg and then breadcrumbs with Sailing Britican Seafood Blend- YUM!

The end result was two meals worth of fresh natural deliciousness

We gave thanks to the universe for providing the Mahi Mahi and of course thanked the Mahi Mahi for giving his life. Hopefully our daughter will grow up valuing where food comes from due to these experiences. In the past I wanted to shield her from the filleting process but I’ve never stopped her from watching.

Kyle was extremely pleased with the meal. I think he said, ‘this is probably one of the best fish meals I’ve ever had.’ I couldn’t help but wish that Kyle caught the fish. There’s something very rewarding about catching a fish and then cooking it. I explained to him that there’s plenty of time for him to get one.

Interestingly, Kyle mentioned after the meal that he felt a bit emotional regarding the Mahi Mahi and the killing process. I think it was brave of him to share his thoughts. We’re all so far removed from where our food comes from that we just eat it and fail to consider that a few hours ago…or perhaps a few days ago it was a living being. Unless you come from a fishing or hunting family it’s a somewhat uncomfortable experience to kill something.

I feel I’m getting way off on a tangent so allow me to get back on track

After cleaning up from lunch we were all so hot. With a lack of wind and full bellies we all were desperate for a dip in the dark blue waters. As chance would have it the boat was passing over Columbus Bank having only 15 meters below us. Not liking to swim in deep deep waters we were all eager to jump off.

Simon tied a fender to a rope allowing it to trail behind the boat. With all the sails removed the boat moved at around 1 knot. With one person on the boat at all times we took turns jumping in and holding onto the rope as the current pulled us and the boat along our route.

At first I was super scared to jump in

It wasn’t until I grabbed my mask that I had the confidence to hang off the moving boat. At least with the mask I could clearly see the ocean floor. We spent a good 15 minutes being pulled by Britican and noted a Barracuda and Trigger Fish that joined us.

After the swim, Kyle hooked another Mahi Mahi but lost it before he got the fish to the boat. Later on that day Kyle hooked what we thought would be a big one only to discover it was a plastic bag. Ho-hum…

I explained again that, ‘you still have time…it will happen!’

And about the plastic bag. I wish I could report that the amount of rubbish in the Atlantic is reduced from what I saw in the Mediterranean. Sadly we’ve passed and have successfully collected a wide range of plastic bags, wrappers, broken buckets and unidentified crap.

Sailing to Fort Lauderdale

Kyle’s first Baracuda

Finally Kyle landed a fish! A Baracuda…

Errr…Kyle managed to get the silver, sharp toothed, big-eyed predator to the side of the boat. As he kept it dangly in the water while we went to seek pliers and gloves the beautiful fish detached from the hook. On one had we were relieved as Barracuda’s are aggressive fish but on the other hand I couldn’t get the iconic picture of Kyle holding a 3’ to 4’ Barracuda stretched out in front of him out of my mind.

Luckily we were motoring when Kyle hooked the Barracuda so it was easy to slow the boat down. With no sails out we simply put the engine in neutral and went to work preparing for the fish.

And then the alarms went off. Beep….Beep….Beep….Beep.

None of us knew what the Beep was for. We have loads of alarms. Alarms for waypoint arrives, boats being within one mile, shallow depth, a clogged water separator filter (Racor), anchor alarm and on and on but this alarm we’ve never heard before.

And then the smell hit our noses! CRAP – Turn the engine OFF! TURN THE ENGINE OFF!

Simon opened the engine door and smoke, heat and the dreadful overheated engine smell wafted out of the small compartment.

CRAP…There’s no wind. We’re in a shipping channel. CRAP.

We all went into problem solving mode. I said to Simon, first thing first, let’s get the sails out so we are at least harnessing what wind we do have. Even if we’re going 1 knot at least we’ll have more control over the boat rather than drifting.

After the first survey Simon noted that the area below the engine was filled with rust colored water. In hindsight I should have immediately known that it was an issue with our closed looped water cooling system rather than our raw water (sea water) intake…but when things happen you seem to default to what you know.

Sailing to Fort Lauderdale

Simon and Kyle checking the raw water intakes.

We waited for the engine to cool down and first checked our raw water intakes

There are large filters that catch anything that can clog the system. We then took the raw water impeller out. In the past we’ve overheated due to the impeller breaking down. The impeller pushes the water through the system and cools the engine.

While surveying the engine for the fifth time Kyle yelled out, I found it!

It was a u-bend hose connecting the closed water system near the oil intake. The hose was busted allowing all the water to spill out.

Simon removed the hose and we considered how we might make a repair. We wondered if we could extend the hose and re-clamp it. We discussed whether or not we had extra hose on board…

Duck tape was even mentioned, but only as a joke!

We discussed our passage without use of an engine. Discussion was had about diverting to Cuba but after a quick look on the maps we couldn’t find a safe haven. Considering that the forecast was calling for little to no wind I started to wonder how many days it would take us to get to Florida! Key West was mentioned…And then we spoke about having to get a tow from the entrance of Ft Lauderdale and how we might make arrangements.

Before the engine overheated I used our Satellite phone to pull down the latest weather report. Finding 10 knots of wind seemed to be a challenge! What a predicament.

While Kyle and I sat in the cockpit looking at the defective part we heard a ‘YEEEEEESSSSSSS!’ come from down below. Simon found the spare part we needed, the hose, in our Perkins Spare Part Kit.

Sailing to Fort Lauderdale

The u-bend pipe that split and the mess the leak made!

The excitement in the air was full-blown!

It then took Kyle a good 45 minutes to get the hose replaced and clamped on. In the end our engine problems started around 10am and by 5pm we were ready to use the engine again. Fingers crossed we turned the engine on and she purred as usual.

With our engine working again we motored through flat calm waters. I know that it’s not proper sailing but I felt great!

No seasickness at all when we’re motoring without a swell

I managed to create a Mahi Mahi stir-fry meal for dinner that had garbanzo beans, broccoli, red onion, green pepper, Chinese mushrooms and rice noodles. I used some lime, soy sauce and a wee bit of sugar. The meal was a success.

In addition to the stir-fry I also made a batch of brownies and boy did we all enjoy them.

It’s amazing how something small like brownies makes everyone happy.

The night watches were uneventful. We had some squalls but we were actually happy to find ourselves in a storm – it was the only time we got some wind. I did the 2am watch and Kyle didn’t get me up so I woke around 3am. I sat reading from 3am until 6am, letting Simon sleep in.

The thriller I was reading, ‘The Girl on the Train,’ was so, so, so captivating that three hours went in a matter of minutes. Never did I read thrillers before doing night watches but now they’re my definite go-to to keep me awake!

During my watch I could make out one lighthouse but other than that there were no ships. The sky was magical. With a crescent moon behind some clouds I had a full view of the Milky Way.

Around 6am Simon came up into the cockpit and asked, ‘why didn’t you wake me up at 5?’ and I explained that he needed some sleep. The book was so engaging that I was happy to stay up longer.

I then slept until 9am when I woke and drank my lovely coffee

Unfortunately the real milk had run out so we moved over to the cartons of long-life milk. One thing is for sure about how I’ve changed by living on a boat. I am certainly not picky anymore. In my land based life I wouldn’t even drink coffee from home…it had to be from an overpriced gourmet coffee shop. Now I love my coffee brewed by our Brazilian coffee maker…and I’ll settle for long life milk.

Incidentally, I’m not even afraid of bugs being on my fruit or vegetables either

Before I’d throw away the whole piece of fruit or veg if I found something living in it. Now, I cut the bad part off and eat the rest. In some ways I’m not even that concerned if I have to eat bugs. Weird or what?! Perhaps I simply feel that any food is better than no food!

So I drank my coffee while considering what to make for breakfast. The day before I made pancakes for everyone. Today, however, it was only me that was hungry. I quickly scrambled up some eggs, threw in some jalapenos and onions. Added cheese to them and slid the concoction into a pita. YUM.

While eating my pita Simon and Kyle decided to see if they could fix the manual furling unit on our gennaker

Our gennaker is a downwind sail (a sail you put up when the wind is behind you) and might just allow us to sail instead of motoring. We have enough fuel to make it to Florida but we’ll be getting close to empty. Ideally, we want to sail! Watch Sailing with a Gennaker

Kyle and Simon fiddled around for a while and discovered the problem! The furling unit was being attached to the deck upside down – that’s why it wasn’t furling. Hehehehe. We all make silly mistakes. We’ve flown that gennaker loads of times so I’m not sure where the brain fart came in but it did. Needless to say, when the guys got it set up correctly the sail unfurled and we managed to sail for a bit.

After going below 1 knot however, we furled it in and turned on the engine

As the three of us where on the foredeck packing the sail away, I heard the noise I didn’t want to hear again.


Kyle ran back to the cockpit, turned the engine off and took a quick look. We once again overheated but there was no water on the engine floor. We decided to let the engine cool down and then check the vitals.

After checking the oil and the water Simon discovered the water was down. What we think happened is that we added water to the closed water cooling system but only to the bladder rather than the whole system. Once the engine ran it pulled in the water that we added but it needed more.

Simon added more water, we turned on the engine and everything was fine.

We then started checking the engine and water every three hours. It was so hot…with no wind we were all feeling it – even our lovely workhorse of an engine.

Here’s a picture of our Log Book during the journey

Sailing to Fort Lauderdale

Our log book!

After five days at sea we eventually saw a line of buildings on our horizon!

It was Miami. Big smiles were on all our faces. Knowing that we’d be on land soon caused us all to discuss what we wanted to eat first – a hamburger, chicken wings and a huge salad were mentioned.

Sailing to Fort Lauderdale

Sienna keeping an eye out in the Fort Lauderdale channel entrance

Hogsty Reef sailing to Fort Lauderdale Video